March 28, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters) — A top Spanish court has moved toward starting a
probe of six former Bush administration officials including ex-Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales in connection with alleged torture of prisoners at Guantánamo
Bay, The New York Times said on Saturday.
The criminal investigation would focus on whether they violated international
law by providing a legalistic justification for torture at the U.S. detention
camp in Cuba, the Times said.
The paper said the National Court in Madrid had assigned the case to judge
Baltasar Garzon, known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto
Garzon has accepted the case and sent it to the prosecutor’s office for review,
the newspaper said, citing an official close to the case.
The complaint, prepared by Spanish lawyers with the help of U.S. and European
legal experts, also names John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who
wrote secret legal opinions saying the president had the authority to circumvent
the Geneva Conventions, and Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense
Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five Spanish citizens or residents
who were prisoners at Guantánamo Bay say they were tortured there.
The other Americans named are William Haynes II, former general counsel for
the Department of Defense; Jay Bybee, Yoo’s former boss at the Justice Department’s
Office of Legal Counsel; and David Addington, chief of staff and legal adviser
to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney.
Yoo, already the subject of a Justice Department… Continue reading
EFF Releases How-To Guide to Fight Government Spying
‘Surveillance Self-Defense’ Gives Practical Advice on Protecting Your Private
March 3, 2009
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched its Surveillance
Self-Defense project today — an online how-to guide for protecting your private
data against government spying. You can find the project at ssd.eff.org.
EFF created the Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate Americans about the
law and technology of communications surveillance and computer searches and
seizures, and to provide the information and tools necessary to keep their private
data out of the government’s hands. The guide includes tips on assessing the
security risks to your personal computer files and communications, strategies
for interacting with law enforcement, and articles on specific defensive technologies
such as encryption that can help protect the privacy of your data.
“Despite a long and troubling history in this country of the government
abusing its surveillance powers, most Americans know very little about how the
law protects them or about how they can take steps to protect themselves against
government surveillance,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston.
“The Surveillance Self-Defense project offers citizens a legal and technical
toolkit with tips on how to defend themselves in case the government attempts
to search, seize, subpoena or spy on their most private data.”
Surveillance Self-Defense details what the government can legally do to spy
on your computer data and communications, and what you can legally do to protect
yourself against such spying. It addresses how to protect not only the data
stored on your computer, but also the data you communicate over the phone or
the Internet and data about your communications that are stored by third party
Electronic Frontier Foundation
David L. Sobel
March 19, 2009
Attorney General Eric Holder today issued new guidelines (PDF) on federal agency implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The guidelines were issued pursuant to a directive issued by President Obama on January 21, his first full day in office. Like the Obama directive itself, the Holder guidelines express strong support for government transparency and establish a presumption in favor of disclosure of information requested under FOIA.
Perhaps most notably, the new guidelines rescind the so-called Ashcroft memo, issued by the former Attorney General in October 2001. That directive — widely criticized within the open government community — encouraged agencies to resist disclosure of requested information and to release documents “only after full and deliberate consideration” of the potential harms that might result. The Ashcroft memo also assured agencies that the Justice Department would defend in court any decisions to withhold information “unless they lack a sound legal basis.”
The new Holder guidelines echo the more pro-disclosure policy of former Attorney General Janet Reno and, like the Reno directive, encourage agencies to make “discretionary” disclosures of information that is not clearly required to be withheld as a matter of law. The new guidelines provide:
First, an agency should not withhold information simply because it may do so legally. I strongly encourage agencies to make discretionary disclosures of information. An agency should not withhold records merely because it can demonstrate, as a technical matter, that the… Continue reading
This week, newspapers across the country will once again sponsor panel discussions, Webcasts and op-eds pushing the American ideals of a free press and citizen access to the inner workings of government.
In recognition of Sunshine Week, News graphic artist Daniel Zakroczemski has created a poster celebrating freedom of information. To download a copy of the poster, click here .
Survey Of State Government Information Online
Most Americans can easily find videos of water skiing squirrels on the Internet but they’ll have less luck finding out whether their children’s school buses and classrooms are safe, or if neighborhood gas stations are overcharging. The Sunshine Week 2009 Survey of State Government Information online found that while more and more government records are being posted online, some of the most important information is being left offline. And in some cases governments are charging taxpayers to access records that they already paid for, such as death certificates. Read the report… .
For release: March 13, 2009
Federal Govt. Still Viewed as Secretive; President’s FOI Orders Get High Marks
Washington, D.C. — For the first time in four years, public opinion about government secrecy has leveled off, although more than seven in 10 adults still consider the federal government to… Continue reading
by Michael Collins
‘Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” — Herman Goering, Interview at Nuremburg Trials, April 14, 1946
“The Patriot Act was used against me in total contradiction to its stated purpose. Or perhaps it was the most logical use of the law, since it establishes a legal framework to crush free thinking and interrupt individual questioning of the government. It is the beginning of all dictatorship in America .” –Susan Lindauer, March 9, 2009
March 10, 2009 — Washington, DC ( electionfraudnews.com ) — In March, 2004 Susan Lindauer was arrested for allegedly acting as an “unregistered agent” for prewar Iraq. She challenged the government’s assertion and sought the right to prove at Trial that she’d been a United States intelligence asset covering Iraq and Libya from the early 1990′s through 2003 (see articles).
In an unprecedented judicial ploy that lasted five years, federal prosecutors blocked Ms. Lindauer’s rights to trial or any other sort of evidentiary hearings that would test her story. For 11 months, she was confined at Carswell federal prison on a Texas military base and at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, without a conviction or plea bargain.
During the indictment, she was conveniently gagged from sharing… Continue reading
March 4, 2009
Dear Senator Leahy,
We felt compelled to write to you regarding your recent call for the formation
of a “Truth Commission”. According to your press comments, this
Commission is supposed to look at the following:
* the politicization of prosecution in the Justice Department
* the wiretapping of U.S. citizens
* the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq
* the use of torture at Guantánamo and so-called black sites abroad
These are serious allegations of criminal activity by certain members of the
Bush Administration. While we applaud your initiative in looking into these
matters, we feel this approach is wrong.
As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you already have the responsibility
and legal authority to investigate matters relating to federal criminal law
without having to form a special commission. You are also bound by your oath
of office to support and uphold the Constitution by ensuring that those who
govern also abide by the rule of law.
Furthermore, a “Truth Commission” will not fix the real problems
that our country faces, nor will it guarantee that we will get to the truth.
The 9/11 Commission, which you want to model your commission after, is a perfect
example of that flawed process.
The 9/11 Commission was mandated to follow the facts surrounding the events
of September 11, 2001 to wherever they might lead and make national security
recommendations based upon those facts. Sadly, prior to even beginning their
investigation, like you, the 9/11… Continue reading
by Dave Lindorff
March 3, 2009
The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder
Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on
a comic aspect.
On the one hand, we have President Obama assuring us that under his administration,
there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this
one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that
there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against
the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security
Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken
the law in serious and felonious ways.
What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t.
It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it
There is really no middle ground here.
The latest solid and incontrovertible evidence of outrageous and criminal behavior
by the White House is the discovery–and the public release by the Obama
administration–of documentary evidence that the CIA committed not just
torture but willful obstruction of justice by destroying video tapes of some
92 interrogations of terrorism suspects and captives in the so-called Bush “War”
on Terror. Plus the release of a stack of nine legal opinions by White House
and Justice Department lawyers providing legal cover for torture, including
executive orders from President Bush and directives from then Secretary… Continue reading
March 2, 2009 — Washington, DC ( electionfraudnews.com )
I first wrote about Susan Lindauer’s struggle against the Bush-Cheney regime in October 2007, ” American Cassandra: Susan Lindauer’s Story .” This was initially published in “Scoop” Independent Media ( complete series ) and carried by a wide variety of concerned Internet news sites and blogs. This interview follows the full dismissal of charges against her just before President Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009. This is the first in-depth interview that Lindauer has offered regarding 9/11. Below is part one of the interview.
I asked Ms. Lindauer to make her own statement about why she’s willing to go into detail now about 9/11 and the government’s handling of pre-9/11 intelligence.
For five years, I was the poster child for President Bush’s retaliation against Americans who opposed his War Policy in Iraq. In March, 2004 the Justice Department indicted me for acting as an “unregistered Iraqi Agent” (not espionage), because I delivered a prescient letter to my second cousin, Andy Card, former Chief of Staff to President Bush, warning of the dire consequences of War. More dangerously, I had decided to talk. In February, 2004 I approached the senior staff of Senators Trent Lott and John McCain and asked to testify in front of the new blue ribbon Presidential Commission on Iraqi Pre-War Intelligence. Within a month, I was astounded to wake up one morning to hear FBI agents pounding on the door of my house in Maryland with an arrest… Continue reading
By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press on ABC News
March 2, 2009
WASHINGTON — New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of
terror interrogations, far more than has previously been acknowledged.
The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation
in the matter.
The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government
lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit
seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.
“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,”
said the letter by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. “Ninety two videotapes
ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said the CIA should be held in contempt of court for holding back the information for so long.
“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systematic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order,” Singh said in a statement.
The tapes became a contentious issue in the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias
Moussaoui, after prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then
acknowledged two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.
The letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering
more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any
secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents, and the identities
of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.
But… Continue reading
Missing email includes day Cheney’s office told to preserve emails in CIA leak case WASHINGTON — Welcome to change.
The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails in a stunning reversal of Obama’s rhetoric about Bush secrecy on the campaign trail.
Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President, including one of the groups that helped derail former House Speaker Tom DeLay, say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush’s eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort. They expressed disappointment that Obama’s Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration’s bid to get the lawsuits dismissed.
During its first term, the Bush White House failed to install electronic record-keeping for e-mail when it switched to a new system, allegedly resulting in millions of messages that could not be found.
The Bush White House “discovered the problem” in 2005 and rejected a proposed solution.
The exact number of missing e-mails is unknown, but several days on which e-mails were not archived covered key dates in a Justice Department inquiry into the roles of Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides in leaking the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.
Ironically, Cheney’s office is missing emails from the very day President Bush told reporters he’d “take care of” whatever staff member had actually… Continue reading
By Jill Lawrence
February 16, 2009
WASHINGTON – Even as Americans struggle with two wars and an economy in
tatters, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds majorities in favor of investigating
some of the thorniest unfinished business from the Bush administration: Whether
its tactics in the “war on terror” broke the law.
to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations
that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program
of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants. Almost four in 10 favor
criminal investigations and about a quarter want investigations without criminal
charges. One-third said they want nothing to be done.
Even more people want action on alleged attempts by the Bush team to use the
Justice Department for political purposes. Four in 10 favored a criminal probe,
three in 10 an independent panel, and 25% neither.
The ACLU and other groups are pressing for inquiries into whether the Bush
administration violated U.S. and international bans on torture and the constitutional
right to privacy. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and his Senate counterpart,
Patrick Leahy, have proposed commissions to investigate.
Asked Monday about Leahy’s plan, President Obama said he would look at it.
He added, “my general orientation is to say, let’s get it right moving
forward.” Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have declined to rule
out prosecutions. Leon Panetta, named to head the CIA, said this month that
CIA officers… Continue reading
By Dennis Loo
January 30, 2009
Attorney General nominee Eric Holder in written response to a question posed to him during his Senate confirmation hearing by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) stated:
“Prosecutorial and investigative judgments must depend on the facts, and no one is above the law. But where it is clear that a government agent has acted in ‘reasonable and good-faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions’ authoritatively permitting his conduct, I would find it difficult to justify commencing a full-blown criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution.”
this written statement as “carefully vetted by Obama’s White House lawyers.”
In other words, Holder’s statement fairly reflects Obama’s and Holder’s intentions
in this regard.
Holder’s comment came to light when a Holder aide pointed to it in an attempt to refute a Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) assertion, reported by the Washington Times (“Holder Assures GOP on Prosecution”) on January 28, 2009 that Holder had promised him that he was not going to prosecute Bush officials for war crimes. The Washington Times article created a storm of concern among human rights groups and others who are rightfully determined that the Bush White House’s crimes against humanity be prosecuted. Holder and the White House rushed to try to reassure people that Holder has not promised the GOP anything.
Sen. Bond had been threatening to block Holder’s nomination in committee over this issue. Bond met with Holder privately this week twice and Sen. Bond emerged from those meetings supporting Holder’s nomination.… Continue reading
January 27, 2009
A little-noticed twist in an order issued by President Barack Obama the day
after his inauguration may present problems for former White House Deputy Chief
of Staff Karl Rove and other Bush Administration officials that have been targeted
for their alleged role in various scandals.
Rove was subpoenaed Monday afternoon by House Judiciary Committee Chairman
John Conyers (D-MI). When the dogged Democrat subpoenaed him last year, Bush
Administration lawyers invoked “executive immunity” to prevent Rove
This year, however, George W. Bush is no longer in the president’s chair. Determination
of executive privilege must now also be examined by President Obama’s lawyers.
In fact, Rove’s lawyer made direct reference to Obama’s role in any future decision
to enjoin Rove’s appearance on the congressional witness stand Monday night.
“It’s generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege
as to matters occurring during their term,” Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin,
told The Washington Post. “We’ll solicit the views of the new White House
counsel and, if there is a disagreement, assume that the matter will be resolved
among the courts, the president and the former president.”
Luskin doesn’t concede that Rove isn’t covered by Bush’s blanket immunity,
but appears to acknowledge that the question of keeping Rove off the witness
stand has become more complex.
“The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the exercise
of their discretion and after appropriate review and consultation under subsection
(a) of this section, may jointly determine that… Continue reading
January 23, 2009
By Michael Doyle
WASHINGTON — One curious soul on Feb. 8, 2001, filed a Freedom of Information
Act request with the State Department.
He or she is still awaiting a reply.
Nearly eight years have passed, making the early 2001 search for information
one of the State Department’s 10 oldest pending FOIA requests. While extreme,
it also reflects how information flow slowed markedly during the Bush administration.
“In the past, it’s been difficult even for a public agency like ourselves
to obtain information that affects our operations,” Tom Birmingham, general
manager of the Westlands Water District in Fresno, Calif., said on Friday.
As one of his first acts, President Barack Obama issued an order reversing
his predecessor’s approach toward the release of government documents. Scholars,
journalists, farmers and the simply curious now await the reopening of federal
information taps tightened since 2001.
In fiscal 2007, for instance, the Defense Department completely granted approximately
48 percent of the FOIA requests it processed. In fiscal 1998, by contrast, the
Clinton administration’s Defense Department completely granted approximately
61 percent of FOIA requests.
The Pentagon was not alone, a review of federal agency reports shows. Percentages
are approximate, because of how the reports are compiled, but trends are obvious.
The Interior Department completely granted approximately 64 percent of FOIA
requests processed in 1998 but only 47 percent in 2007. The State Department
completely granted 28 percent of FOIA requests processed in 1998, compared with
9 percent in 1998.
Other federal agencies, though not all, likewise lessened access to information
during the Bush administration, the review of public records reveals.…
What Obama Must Do A Letter to the New President
Dear Mr. President:
Like FDR three-quarters of a century ago, you’re taking charge at a moment when all the old certainties have vanished, all the conventional wisdom been proved wrong. We’re not living in a world you or anyone else expected to see. Many presidents have to deal with crises, but very few have been forced to deal from Day One with a crisis on the scale America now faces.
So, what should you do?
In this letter I won’t try to offer advice about everything. For the most part I’ll stick to economics, or matters that bear on economics. I’ll also focus on things I think you can or should achieve in your first year in office. The extent to which your administration succeeds or fails will depend, to a large extent, on what happens in the first year — and above all, on whether you manage to get a grip on the current economic crisis.
There is, however, one area where I feel the need to break discipline. I’m an economist, but I’m also an American citizen — and like many citizens, I spent the past eight years watching in horror as the Bush administration betrayed the nation’s ideals. And I don’t believe we can put those terrible years behind us unless we have a full accounting of what really happened. I know that most of the inside-the-Beltway crowd is urging you to let bygones be bygones, just as they urged Bill Clinton to let the truth about scandals from the Reagan-Bush years, in particular the Iran-Contra affair, remain hidden.…Continue reading
“The Government has determined that continued prosecution of this case
as to LINDAUER would not be in the interests of justice.”*
(Jan. 16, Wash. DC) The Department of
Justice entered a motion to drop all charges against Susan
Lindauer yesterday morning, Jan. 15, 2009. The filing (see
below) at the federal district court in lower Manhattan ends
the government’s attempt to prosecute her for allegedly
acting as an “unregistered agent” for Iraq. Since her
arrest in early 2004, she has repeatedly asked for a trial
to present evidence that she had been a United States
intelligence asset since the early 1990′s.
By filing this order, the government surrendered forever its ability to prosecute
Lindauer as an “Iraqi foreign agent” and for lesser charges contained in the
indictment, including a one week trip to Baghdad in March, 2002.
Lindauer made the
following statement today, Jan 16, 2009: “I am disgusted by
this case. They think that they have defeated me by denying
my day in court. It could not be more wrong. If we can’t
have a criminal trial, we’re going to have a civil trial for
Lindauer was arrested in March, 2004 shortly
after offering to testify before a Bush appointed href="http://edition.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/15/iraq.tm/"
target="_blank">blue ribbon commission evaluating U.S.
pre-war intelligence on Iraq. In late February, she
informed the offices of two commission members, Sen. McCain
(R-AZ) and Trent Lott (R-MS), that she could testify that
U.S. pre-war intelligence was proactive and effective, not a… Continue reading
By Columbia Journalism Review
January 14, 2009
Advocates for open and transparent government are quick to note that no American
presidential administration has, in practice, been enthusiastic about reducing
secrecy in the executive branch–for some obvious and sometimes quite legitimate
reasons. There are secrets that almost everyone agrees should remain secret.
But secrecy must be balanced with the citizens’ right to examine the operations
of their government–to learn, to improve, to enforce, and sometimes to
shame. That’s especially true when there are political or bureaucratic
incentives for secrecy that deserve far less respect than true matters of national
security. And despite the bipartisan resistance from those in power, the arc
of history has trended, if unevenly, toward openness. Claims of excessive secrecy
have become a tried and true political battering ram, easily wielded by the
party in opposition. Technological evolution has not only made the dissemination
of information easier and faster, but also has heightened our appetite for disclosure.
The trend isn’t confined to the political sphere. Betty Ford’s frank
discussion of her struggles with cancer and alcoholism in the 1970s marked a
new era of openness in our personal medical lives, and the invention of the
personal video camera spawned a cottage industry around moments–gaffes,
goofs, tragedies–that were once private.
Against that backdrop, there is wide agreement among journalists and openness
advocates that the administration of George W. Bush was an aberration, at least
in the modern era. Bush and his advisers came into office with a broad vision… Continue reading
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White
As Bush gives his final press conference today, lamenting the “mistakes” of his presidency, some are wondering if he and other members of his administration will get a chance to tell such tales to a special prosecutor.
“History will look back,” he told reporters, most likely hoping the next administration’s Justice Department will solely look forward. Judging from the most recent comments from his successor, that may very well be the case.
“Will you appoint a special prosecutor — ideally Patrick Fitzgerald — to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”
Fertik submitted the question to Change.gov, the official transition Web site for the incoming Obama Administration. The site has a forum called “Open for Questions” where people can post items of particular concern for the Obama team to review. Fertik’s question got so much attention and approval from other users on the site that it made its way to the top of the Change.gov list and onto the Sunday talk shows, finally garnering this response from Obama when George Stephanopoulos asked the question directly:
“We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the… Continue reading