By Brent Budowsky
July 26, 2008
Consortiumnews Editor’s Note: As his presidency nears its end, George W. Bush will be faced with a tough choice: either run the risk, along with many of his top aides, of future prosecution for a variety of crimes from the “war on terror” — or fashion a mass pardon for all those involved.
In this guest essay, former Democratic congressional aide Brent Budowsky predicts that Bush will take the latter course, even outdoing his father’s lame-duck Iran-Contra pardons in 1992:
Before leaving office George W. Bush will issue a mass pardon, the largest collection of presidential pardons in American history.
Bush will pardon himself, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of officials involved in torture, eavesdropping, destruction of evidence, the CIA leak case, and a range of other potential crimes.
As George Bush signs the pardons and boards the helicopter to depart Washington as his presidency finally ends, even then he and those pardoned will worry about the statute of limitations.
There is an important point to this, often not recognized in official Washington during the Bush years: When the unthinkable became a way of life, acts were committed that defied constitutional and legal principles in ways never done by an American president.
Torture alone violates international law, domestic law, criminal statutes, and American principles that date back to George Washington.
Eavesdropping without court order violates a statute, FISA, that includes severe criminal penalties. If the courts ultimately conclude that these laws… Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
St. Paul, Minnesota — August 12, 2008 — Impeach for Peace (IfP), along with others looking to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention (RNC), filed a lawsuit Friday with the help of the ACLU of Minnesota in Ramsey County District Court demanding our right to free speech. Plaintiffs include: Jodin Morey and Mikael Rudolph of Impeach for Peace, Colleen and Ross Rowley, and Ron Deharporte.
Impeach for Peace is a grassroots, nonpartisan organization based in Minnesota with chapters in twelve states throughout the country working to achieve the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and holding them and future elected officials fully accountable under the Rule of Law.
The RNC is having their election year convention in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center. During this event, the St. Paul Police have decided to relegate most speech activities in what they call the ‘Primary Event Area’ to an inadequate ‘Designated Public Assembly Area’ or free speech zone. The ‘Primary Event Area’ remains to be fully defined by the police, making it impossible for people to know where in St. Paul they can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. At the convention, members of congress, mayors, governors, the President and Vice-President of the United States are expected to be in attendance. This provides IfP and other potential demonstrators with a unique opportunity to express their political messages to these governmental officials.
The lawsuit alleges that the St. Paul City Council and police have created guidelines for the RNC which restrict free speech to areas that are “inadequate and unacceptably small.”
The ACLU also alleges that the City Council/Police denied IfP their due process rights as stipulated in the Minnesota State Constitution by failing to give notice of their plans regarding free speech restrictions, which would have allowed for public comment and a public hearing.…Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
September 5, 2008
Though few Americans realize it, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked through the 1980s and 1990s on emergency nuclear-response plans which allegedly suspended the American Constitution and also Congress.1 (Through these decades Rumsfeld was CEO of a major pharmaceutical firm, and in the later 1990s Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; but their private status did not deter them from continuing to exercise a supra-constitutional planning power conferred on them by Ronald Reagan.)
Even fewer Americans know that these rules, originally dealing with a nuclear attack on America, were extended by Reagan Executive Order 12656 to cover “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”2 And few Americans realize that at least some of these rules, known technically as Continuity of Government (COG) rules, were invoked before 10:00 AM on September 11, 2001.3
As he did in 2007, President Bush has again, on August 28, 2008, continued for another year the national emergency first officially proclaimed on September 14, 2001, along with “the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency”:
Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks
Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New… Continue reading
Guidelines Released Amid Protest from Congress, Privacy Groups and American Public
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 10/3/2008
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(212) 519-7829 or 549-2666 or email@example.com
Washington, DC — New FBI guidelines governing investigations were released today after being signed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly blasted the Department of Justice and FBI for ignoring calls for more stringent protections of Americans’ rights. The guidelines replace existing bureau guidelines for five types of investigations: general criminal, national security, foreign intelligence, civil disorders and demonstrations. The ACLU has been vocal in its disapproval of the overly broad guidelines, citing both the FBI’s and DOJ’s documented records of internal abuse.
The new guidelines reduce standards for beginning “assessments” (precursors to investigations), conducting surveillance and gathering evidence, meaning the threshold to beginning investigations across the board will be lowered. More troubling still, the guidelines allow a person’s race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.
“The attorney general today gave the FBI a blank check to open investigations of innocent Americans based on no meaningful suspicion of wrongdoing,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The new guidelines provide no safeguards against the FBI’s improperly using race and religion as grounds for suspicion. They also fail to sufficiently prevent the government from infiltrating groups whose viewpoints it doesn’t like. The FBI has shown time and… Continue reading
U.S. Officers’ “Phone Sex” Intercepted; Senate Demanding Answers By Brian Ross, Vic Walter and Anna Schecter
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said the committee has begun its own examination.
“We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration,” Rockefeller said Thursday. “The Committee will take whatever action is necessary.”
WATCH THE NIGHTLINE STORY
“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.
Kinne described the contents of the calls as “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”
WATCH Kinne discuss why it was ‘awkward’ listening to her fellow Americans.
She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States.
Watch “World… Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2008 CONTACT: Jason Lemieux, firstname.lastname@example.org, 760-409-9403 or Kristofer Goldsmith, email@example.com, 516-457-1260
Iraq War Veterans Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Questions to Obama and McCain
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions to the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate, but received no response.
The contingent of veterans in dress and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask questions about poor veterans’ healthcare and supporting war resisters of the candidates, but were turned back by police. IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.
“Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election.” said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.…Continue reading
by Mickey Huff, Associate Director of Project Censored
Project Censored, the media research group at Sonoma State University (SSU), has just released it’s annual report on the top stories that didn’t make the corporate mainstream news from the past year. The book is published by Seven Stories Press. Censored 2009, edited by director Dr. Peter Phillips with Dr. Andrew Roth, exposes the major stories Americans should know and care about that the “free press” just doesn’t deliver. The top stories for this year can be viewed at the PC website and the piece in the North Bay Bohemian can be read here.
Project Censored award winning journalist and researcher Stephen Lendman has just written about the Project in a piece titled Project Censored‘s Media Democracy Advocacy which looks at the history of the Project as well as details in this year’s volume. A lecture series hosting authors of this years top censored stories is presently underway at SSU for those in the Bay Area wishing to attend. The series is being broadcast at Free Speech TV this fall as well.
As acting Associate Director of Project Censored, I invite everyone to explore this year’s book and help support media democracy in action. Our currently calamitous and critical condition as a fragile free society depends upon a well informed citizenry and I strongly believe that Project Censored is a major force in the direction of strengthening our society’s democratic institutions and principles. Help spread the word if you… Continue reading
Bead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia, and other independent media activists
have released a new film, ‘Terrorizing Dissent’, an exposé of events
at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Featuring first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on
the streets, ‘Terrorizing Dissent’ focuses on the story of dissent suppressed.
People charged with “conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism”
speak out against the government’s campaign to manipulate media coverage and
label civil disobedience and community organizing as terrorism.
“If civil disobedience becomes framed as ‘terrorism’ … that’s baloney.
And the reason they’re waving the T-word around, there’s one reason and
one reason only, because they want to squash dissent and they want to justify
what the police do in the effort of squashing that dissent.”
Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality
‘Terrorizing Dissent’ shows the results of the $50 million dollars the Department
of Homeland Security gave to local authorities for security — a large
chunk of which went to weaponize the police — and the $10 million insurance
policy contract between the RNC Host Committee and the City of St. Paul, which
shattered Minnesota’s civil compact between protesters and police.
Full Movie Now Available to Watch Online
Check out the Downloads Page for the latest video versions available.
Disk Image for DVD Burning Available Now
Screenings, Screenings, Screenings
Privacy Advocates Expect Whistleblowers to Share Warrantless Wiretap Info After
By RYAN SINGEL
Nov. 11, 2008
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, Americans won’t just
get a new president; they might finally learn the full extent of George W. Bush’s
warrantless domestic wiretapping.
Since The New York Times first revealed in 2005 that the NSA was eavesdropping
on citizens’ overseas phone calls and e-mail, few additional details about the
massive "Terrorist Surveillance Program" have emerged. That’s because
the Bush administration has stonewalled, misled and denied documents to Congress,
and subpoenaed the phone records of the investigative reporters.
Now privacy advocates are hopeful that President Obama will be more forthcoming
with information. But for the quickest and most honest account of Bush’s illegal
policies, they say don’t look to the incoming president. Watch instead for the
hidden army of would-be whistle-blowers who’ve been waiting for Inauguration
Day to open the spigot on the truth.
"I’d bet there are a lot of career employees in the intelligence agencies
who’ll be glad to see Obama take the oath so they can finally speak out against
all this illegal spying and get back to their real mission," says Caroline
Fredrickson, the ACLU’s Washington D.C. legislative director.
New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources
waiting to spill the Bush administration’s darkest secrets, he said in an interview
last month. "You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them
on January… Continue reading
December 1, 2008
The US Department of Defense plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to terror or nuclear attacks and emergencies, The Washington Post said Monday.
Citing Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces.
The first 4,700-strong unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade, is based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and is already available for deployment, according to General Victor Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, it said.
Two additional groups will later join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops to support local and state authorities nationwide, The Post said.
They will all would be trained to respond to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks.
The newspaper said that civil liberties groups and libertarians had expressed concern that the plan could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would
have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month noted by the Post. But the recognition that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe [Hurricane Katrina might be used as an example] prompted “a fundamental change in military culture.”
“The Pentagon’s plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011,” the Post added.…Continue reading
December 2, 2008
And everyone understands that staging troops within the U.S. to “help out with civil unrest and crowd control” increases the danger of overt martial law.
But no one is asking an obvious question: Does the government’s own excuse for deploying the troops make any sense?
As the Washington Post writes:
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities
may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.
But homeland defense is doing nothing to stop the creation of new terrorists or to prevent bad guys from attacking.
If They Wanted to Stop Terrorism . . .
And the Department of Homeland Security, instead of protecting vulnerable targets, has instead randomly made up lists which include kangaroo centers, petting zoos and ice cream parlors as high-priority terrorist threats. And the administration is refusing to fill important positions at DHS so that our security can be protected.
The government is… Continue reading
Court Rules Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” Gag Provisions Unconstitutional (12/15/2008)
ACLU Hails Victory In Challenge To Government’s Power To Silence NSL Recipients
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court today upheld, in part, a decision striking down provisions of the Patriot Act that prevent national security letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret records demands. The decision comes in an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the FBI’s authority to use NSLs to demand sensitive and private customer records from Internet Service Providers and then forbid them from discussing the requests. Siding with the ACLU, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the statute’s gag provisions violate the First Amendment.
“We are gratified that the appeals court found that the FBI cannot silence people with complete disregard for the First Amendment simply by saying the words ‘national security,'” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “This is a major victory for the rule of law. The court recognized the need for judicial oversight of the government’s dangerous gag power and rejected the Bush administration’s position that the courts should just rubber-stamp these gag orders. By upholding the critical check of judicial review, the FBI can no longer use this incredible power to hide abuse of its intrusive Patriot Act surveillance powers and silence critics.”
The appeals court invalidated parts of the statute that wrongly placed the… Continue reading
By Thomas A. Schweich
Sunday, December 21, 2008
We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.
President-elect Barack Obama’s selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence present the incoming administration with an important opportunity — and a major risk. These appointments could pave the way for these respected military officers to reverse the current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d’etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media.
While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the U.S. government. The first assault on civilian government occurred in faraway places — Iraq and Afghanistan — and was, in theory, justified by the exigencies of war.
The White House, which basically let the Defense Department call the budgetary shots, vastly underfunded efforts by the State Department, the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to train civilian police forces, build… Continue reading
by Leslie Rose
February 23, 2009
A very important case is unfolding in Minnesota–eight people are being singled out by the government for their role in the political protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).
At the September ’08 RNC in St. Paul, war criminal John McCain and right-wing religious fundamentalist Sarah Palin were being selected as the Republican ticket for the presidential race. The national media spent endless hours on things like Palin’s unmarried pregnant daughter. Meanwhile, the streets of St. Paul were turned into a militarized zone with massive police mobilization. Over the course of four days, thousands defied the armed clampdown to make known their opposition to U.S. wars-torture-spying and the imperialist globalization that has brought suffering to a huge section of humanity and caused catastrophic environmental damage. Over 800 people were arrested and scores were brutalized by the police.
Even before the protests started, law enforcement authorities carried out preemptive raids and arrests of activists and independent journalists throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul (the Twin Cities). Among those arrested were eight who are now being targeted for persecution, facing over 12 years in prison. They are known as the RNC 8.
For the first time, a state version of the fascistic USA Patriot Act is being applied to political demonstrations. The RNC 8 are charged with felony conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism and felony conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, along with two other felonies. They were sitting in jail for the duration of the Republican convention–but they are being held legally responsible for anything that any protestor did during that time.
The prosecution of the RNC 8 would set a very bad precedent that criminalizes political protest. But too few people even know about this case. Everyone who understands the importance of dissent and the ability to resist the crimes being committed by the government and ruling institutions needs to speak out. A big demand to drop the charges on the RNC 8 needs to be raised from a broad cross section of society. This railroad must be stopped cold in its tracks.
In three articles over several issues of Revolution, this series examines key aspects and layers of what has come to light about the unjust prosecution of the RNC 8. The three articles are: “The Case of the RNC 8”; “The Informants and Undercover Agents”–the lies and strategy of the government; “The Clampdown”–the police state, mass arrests, and targeting of journalists.
By Ray McGovern
April 5, 2009
I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
You might think that as African-Americans, they would be especially outraged by torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of white torturers in this country and abroad.
Why is it that they seem to value more their admittance into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?
One might say that Attorney General Holder is proving himself to be part of that “nation of cowards” that he called the United States in a different context, i.e. our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where’s Holder’s courage then?
Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.
Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? “Okay, so waddaya gonna do ’bout it!” It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally… Continue reading
By JOE HARRIS
May 12, 2009
Courthouse News Service
ST. LOUIS (CN) – Two 9-11 conspiracy theorists say St. Louis used an unconstitutional ordinance to violate their right to free speech. Donald Stahl and William Demsar say city police arrested them on Feb. 6 for carrying a banner that stated, “911 Was An Inside Job!”
In their federal claim, the men say it was a peaceful protest calling for a new, independent investigation into the federal government’s involvement into the events of September 11, 2001. The men say they were not blocking pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
They say police arrested them and destroyed their sign based on an ordinance that states: “No person shall sell or offer for sale any goods or merchandise, display any sign or pictures, participate in or conduct an exhibition or demonstration, talk, sing or play music on any street or abutting premises, or alley in consequences of which there is such a gathering of persons or stopping of vehicles as to impede either pedestrians or vehicular traffic.”
Stahl and Demsar say the law is vague and overbroad, fails to provide alternatives for speech and lends itself to arbitrary enforcement. They want the city enjoined from enforcing it. They are represented by Anthony Rothert with the American Civil Liberties Union.
9-11 Conspiracy Theorists Sue St. Louis City
By Chad Garrison in News
May 14, 2009
Riverfront Times Blog
Two 9-11 conspiracy theorists are suing… Continue reading
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on US government plans to launch swine flu vaccinations in the fall, a report of widespread torture at the US secret prison at Bagram, Afghanistan, revelations that weapons inspector David Kelly’s mysterious death may have been related to his intention to expose a worldwide black market in weaponized anthrax, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and the WantToKnow.info Team
Important Note: We’ve been hit hard by the ecomonic downturn. Donations this year are less than half what they were at this time last year. We would deeply appreciate support from any of you that can afford it. To help further this work, please click here.
July 10, 2009, Washington Post
School-age children will be a key target= population for a pandemic flu vaccine in the fall, and they may be vaccinated at school in a mass campaign not seen since the polio epidemics of the 1950s.…Continue reading
We ask signatories of the statement that helped drive Van Jones from office if they stand by it. Updated
By Vincent Rossmeier
Thanks in large part to his association with the 9/11 Truth movement , Van Jones is no longer a member of the Obama White House. Jones resigned last week amid a swirl of controversy — prodded on largely by Fox News’ Glenn Beck — that included the former “green jobs” advisor’s signing of a petition put out by the 9/11 Truth movement urging a further investigation into the World Trade Center attacks. Most controversially, the petition wondered darkly that “unanswered questions … suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war,” before drifting into a list of wild and dubious speculation. (You can read the petition right here .)
Initially, Jones said that he hadn’t fully reviewed the statement before he signed. But that didn’t stop the onslaught of bad publicity that ultimately led to his exit.
The statement was released in October 2004 and has been signed by nearly 200 people, including many relatives of those who lost someone in the attacks. It called for an investigation into 9/11 but also directly questioned the government’s conclusions about the plane crashes.
In the wake of Jones’ departure, Politico’s Ben Smith contacted two other signatories of the statement, Rabbi Michael Lerner and historian Howard Zinn. Smith found that both men felt they had signed a petition of more limited scope than the one that appears at the 9/11 Truth Web site, one that asked only for an investigation into the attacks and not one questioning President Bush’s prior knowledge of 9/11.…Continue reading