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Justice Department

What We Didn’t Know Has Hurt Us

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

Will We Get Accountability? Obama’s Reply to Blogger Bob Fertik’s Special Prosecutor Question

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.

It all started when Bob Fertik, progressive writer and co-founder of Democrats.com, posed this question to President-elect Barack Obama:

“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

Cold War vets sue over alleged germ experiments

By Paul Elias
Associated Press
January 7, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Six veterans who claim they were exposed to dangerous
chemicals, germs and mind-altering drugs during Cold War experiments sued the
CIA, Department of Defense and other agencies today.

The vets volunteered for military experiments they say were part of a wide-ranging
program started in the 1950s to test nerve agents, biological weapons and mind-control
techniques.

They allege in their lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court that they
were never properly informed of the nature of the experiments and are in poor
health because of their exposure. They are demanding health care and a court
ruling that the program was illegal because it failed to obtain their consent.

Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks
class action status on behalf of all participants allegedly exposed to harmful
experiments without their knowledge.

At least 7,800 U.S. military personnel served as volunteers to test experimental
drugs such as LSD at the Edgewood Arsenal near Baltimore, Md., during a program
that lasted into the 1970s, the lawsuit said. Many others volunteered for similar
experiments at other locations, according to the lawsuit.

"In virtually all cases, troops served in the same capacity as laboratory
rats or guinea pigs," the lawsuit said.

One notorious CIA project from the 1950s and 1960s, code-named MK-ULTRA, involved
brainwashing and administering experimental drugs
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U.S. seeks 147-year sentence in torture case

Dec. 29, 2008
Associated Press

MIAMI – U.S. prosecutors want a Miami judge to sentence the son of former Liberian
President Charles Taylor to 147 years in prison for torturing people when he
was chief of a brutal paramilitary unit during his father’s reign.

Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles “Chuckie” Taylor
Jr., is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9 by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.
His conviction was the first use of a 1994 law allowing prosecution in the U.S.
for acts of torture committed overseas.

A recent Justice Department court filing describes torture — which the
U.S. has been accused of in the war on terror — as a “flagrant and
pernicious abuse of power and authority” that warrants severe punishment
of Taylor.

“It undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule
of law,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller in last week’s
filing. “The gravity of the offense of torture is beyond dispute.”

Remainder of article at msnbc.com

Continue reading

Utah lawyer says Obama’s A.G. pick behind cover-up

Accusation–Attorney general-nominee led effort to kill investigation into
prisoner’s death.

By Pamela Manson

The
Salt Lake Tribune

December 25, 2008

A Salt Lake City lawyer who claims his brother was tortured and murdered in
a federal prison is alleging that Attorney General nominee Eric Holder played
a role in covering up the crime.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee members, lawyer Jesse Trentadue acknowledges
the paper trail on Holder’s actions "is scant," but claims he was
the "point man" in an effort to persuade Congress to not investigate
his brother’s death. He is asking that Holder be questioned at his confirmation
hearing next year about his alleged attempt to block efforts "to obtain
a certain measure of justice for my brother’s murder."

The Department of Justice, where Holder served as deputy attorney general under
President Bill Clinton, referred a request for comment to the Presidential Transition
Team (PTT). A statement issued by an Obama transition aide denied Trentadue’s
allegations.

"Multiple independent investigations have found that Kenneth Trentadue’s
death was a suicide," the statement said. "There is simply no evidence
to support the claims in this letter."

The body of Kenneth Trentadue, who had served time for bank robbery and was
being held on an alleged parole violation, was found hanging in his cell at
the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City on Aug. 21, 1995.

Several investigations by state and federal agencies ruled the death a suicide,
but his survivors believe Kenneth Trentadue was strangled with plastic handcuffs
by… Continue reading

The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It’s time to stop the mission creep.

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

Bush Insider Who Planned To Tell All Killed In Plane Crash: Non-Profit Demands Full Federal Investigation

VelvetRevolution.us

Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush’s 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution (“VR”), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell’s activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how to tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that the George Bush and Dick Cheney would “throw [him] under the bus.”
 

Editor’s Note:
Our sincere, heartfelt condolences to Heather Connell, her children and family at this tragic, painful time…

 

A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell’s life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR’s attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General , Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell’s not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside… Continue reading

Bush Regime Declares Itself Above the Law

By Paul Craig Roberts
December 05, 2008
Information Clearinghouse

The US government
does not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, but no other government can match the
hypocrisy of the US government.

It is now well documented and known all over the world that the US government
tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and that the US government has
had people kidnaped and “rendentioned,” that is, transported to
third world countries, such as Egypt, to be tortured.

Also documented and well known is the fact that the US Department of Justice
provided written memos justifying the torture of detainees. One torture advocate
who wrote the DOJ memos that gave the green light to the Bush regime’s
use of torture is John Yoo, a Vietnamese immigrant who somehow secured a US
Justice Department appointment and a tenured professorship at the University
of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. John Yoo is the best case
against immigration that I know.

Members of Berkeley’s city council believe that Yoo should be charged
with war crimes. The US government has charged lesser offenders than Yoo with
war crimes. Yoo helped the DOJ achieve the Bush regime’s goal of finding
a way around the torture prohibitions of both US statutory law and the Geneva
Conventions.

The way around the law that Yoo provided for the sadistic Bush regime was closed
down by the US Supreme Court, which voided Yoo’s arguments, and Yoo’s
torture memo was rescinded by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, Yoo’s
obvious… Continue reading

Bush-Appointed Judge Declares Five Detainees Held Illegally, Orders Immediate Release

November 21, 2008
By William Glaberson
New York Times

A federal judge issued the Bush administration a sharp setback on Thursday, ruling that five Algerian men have been held unlawfully at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp for nearly seven years and ordering their release.

It was the first hearing on the government’s evidence for holding detainees at Guantánamo. The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington, said the government’s secret evidence in the case had been weak: what he described as “a classified document from an unnamed source” for its central claim against the men, with little way to measure credibility.

“To rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation,” Judge Leon said. He urged the government not to appeal and said the men should be released “forthwith.”

The habeas corpus case was an important test of the administration’s detention policies, which critics have long argued swept up innocent men and low-level foot soldiers along with hardened fighters and terrorist commanders.

The judge also ruled that a sixth Algerian man was being lawfully detained because he was a facilitator for Al Qaeda, arranging travel for others to fight the United States, and planned to become a fighter himself.

The six men are among a group of Guantánamo inmates who won a 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling in June that the detainees had a constitutional right to seek their release in federal court. The decision said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped them of their right to contest their imprisonment in habeas corpus lawsuits.…

Continue reading

Refuse to Tolerate Torture – New report details shattered lives of released Guantánamo detainees

firejohnyooRefuse to Tolerate Torture
By Linda Rigas
November 18, 2008
Posted at FireJohnYoo.org
Excerpts from Scott Horton’s Justice
After Bush: Prosecuting An Outlaw Administration
in Harper’s Magazine
.

This administration did more than commit crimes. It waged war against the law
itself. It transformed the Justice Department into a vehicle for voter suppression,
and it also summarily dismissed the U.S. attorneys who attempted to investigate
its wrongdoing. It issued wartime contracts to substandard vendors with inside
connections, and it also defunded efforts to police their performance. It spied
on church groups and political protestors, and it also introduced a sweeping
surveillance program that was so clearly illegal that virtually the entire senior
echelon of the Justice Department threatened to (but did not in fact) tender
their resignations over it. It waged an illegal and disastrous war, and it did
so by falsely representing to Congress and to the American public nearly every
piece of intelligence it had on Iraq. And through it all, as if to underscore
its contempt for any authority but its own, the administration issued more than
a hundred carefully crafted “signing statements” that raised pervasive
doubt about whether the president would even accede to bills that he himself
had signed into law.

No prior administration has been so systematically or so brazenly lawless.
[...] Indeed, in weighing the enormity of the administration’s transgression
against the realistic prospect of justice, it is possible to determine not only
the crime that calls most clearly for prosecution but also the crime that is
most likely to be successfully prosecuted.

Continue reading

No Pardons! Nadler Introduces H.R. 1531

by Justin A. Martell
911blogger.com

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) took one of the first steps in holding the Bush Administration accountable when he introduced House Resolution 1531 on Thursday.

The official title of HR 1531, which was introduced to the House Judiciary Committee, is “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President of the United States should not issue pardons to senior members of his administration during the final 90 days of his term of office.”

The resolution notes, “President George W. Bush may have committed crimes involving the mistreatment of detainees, the extraordinary rendition of individuals to countries known to engage in torture, illegal surveillance of United States citizens, unlawful leaks of classified information, obstruction of justice, political interference with the conduct of the Justice Department, and other illegal acts,” and that, “Bush has been urged to grant preemptive pardons to senior administration officials who might face criminal prosecution for actions taken in the course of their official duties.”

Rep. Nadler is the current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties . According to an email sent out by Democrats.com, Nadler’s leadership on this issue is crucial because he “can use his credibility and clout to move the resolution forward either during the lame duck session in December or when the next Congress convenes on January 6.”

Democrats.com has also urged the public to persuade their representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 1531. You can contact your representative on your… Continue reading

Attorney General contender carries 9/11 related baggage

Monday’s New York Times reported that former Deputy A.G. and 9/11
Commissioner Jamie Gorelick was a candidate for Attorney General in the new
Obama Administration. Five-time Emmy winning investigative reporter Peter Lance
details a shocking, but little known story about Gorelick involving the loss
of a key al Qaeda operative. This is an excerpt from his 2006 HarperCollins
book TRIPLE CROSS soon to be published in trade paperback.

On December 16th, 1994, agents in the FBI’s San Francisco office made
an extraordinary seizure. Mohammed Jamal Khalifa (MJK) Osama bin Laden’s
brother-in-law and former roommate, was captured at a Holiday Inn in Morgan
Hill, California. If this arrest had been fully investigated by the FBI and
the Justice Department, it might have led to the seizure of 9/11 “mastermind”
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and stopped “planes as missiles” plot dead
in its tracks. But what followed was series of missteps and bad decisions at
the highest levels of the State and Justice departments that had a catastrophic
impact on America’s ability to cut short bin Laden’s jihad against
America.

At the center of the decision making at the time, was Deputy Attorney General
Jamie Gorelick.

KHALIFA’S EXTRADITION BACKED BY TWO TOP FEDS

Even if the Feds were savvy enough to see the value in questioning him, however,
they never got the chance. On January 5, 1995, a decision was made by Secretary
of State Warren Christopher and supported by Deputy A.G. Gorelick, that arguably
ranks as one of the most profound intelligence errors committed by any U.S.…

Continue reading

Bush Spy Revelations Anticipated When Obama Is Sworn In

Privacy Advocates Expect Whistleblowers to Share Warrantless Wiretap Info After
Inauguration Day

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

FBI finds most terrorism threat reports baseless

By Randall Mikkelsen
Nov 7, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI tracked about 108,000 potential terrorism threats
or suspicious incidents from mid-2004 to November 2007, but most were found
groundless, a Justice Department review found on Friday.

The department’s office of inspector general gave the figure in an audit of
the FBI’s terrorism case-tracking system, called Guardian, launched in 2002
after the September 11 attacks.

"The FBI determined that the overwhelming majority of the threat information
documented in Guardian had no nexus to terrorism. However, as a result of information
reported in Guardian the FBI initiated over 600 criminal and terrorism-related
investigations from October 2006 to December 2007," the inspector general’s
report said.

The report did not discuss the result of the investigations.

FBI policy requires that each threat or suspicious incident reported by the
public or other government agencies and law enforcement officers be reviewed
to determine whether there is a link to terrorism.

The report expressed concern over delays in the development of a related system,
called E-Guardian, for sharing terrorism-related information with local law
enforcement. It said the automated Guardian system had improved since it was
first implemented, and the number of incidents tracked had grown dramatically.

FBI spokesman John Miller said the agency had implemented steps to resolve
concerns and it accepted recommendations made by the inspector general.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source URL: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE4A67T820081107

The Facts Speak For Themselves

by Jon Gold
9/25/2008
Latest Update 11/08/08

Thanks to www.historycommons.org, DHS, and simuvac. This is dedicated to the 9/11 Truth Movement.

Before I begin, I would like to say that theorizing about what happened on 9/11, when you’re not being given answers to your questions about that day by the people who SHOULD be able to do so, is PERFECTLY normal. As is suspecting that the reason these answers aren’t being given is “sinister” in nature. As Ray McGovern said, “for people to dismiss these questioners as “conspiratorial advocates”, or “conspiratorial theorists”… that’s completely out of line because the… The questions remain because the President who should be able to answer them, WILL NOT.” When you think about everything this Administration has done in almost 8 years, the idea that they might not be giving us the answers we seek because of something “sinister” is not crazy. In fact, it’s the most logical conclusion one can come to at this point. After seven plus years of obfuscation, spin, lies, and cover-ups regarding the 9/11 attacks, it is unavoidable to think that criminal complicity is the reason why.

That being said, we have not proven it beyond the shadow of doubt. We do not have documentation that shows they planned it. We do not have a signed confession from someone. We have pieces of the puzzle, and to most of us that have been doing this a long time, those pieces point to more than just Osama Bin Laden,… Continue reading

Deep Events and the CIA’s Global Drug Connection

Peter Dale Scott
August 17, 2008

Recently I published two articles pointing to suggestive similarities between the recurring deep events in recent American history — those events which, because of their intelligence aspects, are ignored, misrepresented, or covered up in the American media. The first article pointed to overall similarities in many deep events since World War II. The second pointed to surprising points of comparison in the two deep events which were followed shortly by major U.S. wars: the John F. Kennedy assassination and 9/11. In the background of all these events, I suggested, was recurring evidence of the milieu “combining intelligence officials with elements from the drug-trafficking underworld.”1

Inthis essay I shall first attempt to lay out the complex geography ornetwork of that milieu, which I call the global drug connection, andits connections to what has been called an “alternative” or “shadow” CIA. I shall then show how this network, of banks, financial agents of influence, and the alternative CIA,contributed to the infrastructure of the Kennedy assassination and aseries of other, superficially unrelated, major deep events.

In this narrative, the names of individuals, their institutions, and their connections arerelatively unimportant. What matters is to see that such a milieu existed; that it was on-going, well-connected, and protected; and that, with increasing independence from governmental restraint, it played a role in major deep events in the last half century.

This of course strengthens the important hypothesis to be investigated,that this on-going milieu may also have contributed to the… Continue reading

Judge Orders 17 Detainees at Guantánamo Freed

October 7, 2008
By William Glaberson

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Bush administration to release 17 detainees at Guantánamo Bay by the end of the week, the first such ruling in nearly seven years of legal disputes over the administration’s detention policies.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court, ordered that the 17 men be brought to his courtroom on Friday from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they have been held since 2002. He indicated that he would release the men, members of the restive Uighur Muslim minority in western China, into the care of supporters in the United States, initially in the Washington area.

“I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for detention,” Judge Urbina said.

Saying the men had never fought the United States and were not a security threat, he tersely rejected Bush administration claims that he lacked the power to order the men set free in the United States and government requests that he stay his order to permit an immediate appeal.

The ruling was a sharp setback for the administration, which has waged a long legal battle to defend its policies of detention at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, arguing a broad executive power in waging war. Federal courts up to the Supreme Court have waded through detention questions and in several major cases the courts have rejected administration contentions.

The government recently conceded that… Continue reading

New, controversial FBI guidelines go into effect – ACLU Condemns

Guidelines Released Amid Protest from Congress, Privacy Groups and American Public

Don't Spy on Me logoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 10/3/2008
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org
(212) 519-7829 or 549-2666 or media@aclu.org

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