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
Wednesday 16 July 2008
By Adam Liptak, The New York Times
Indefinite military detentions of persons apprehended within the United States
are legal, according to a Tuesday federal appeals court decision. (Read text
of decision.) However, a concurrent decision allows detainee Ali al-Marri (pictured)
to challenge his detention in court.
President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions
of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond,
Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision.
But a second, overlapping 5-to-4 majority of the court, the United States
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ruled that Ali al-Marri, a citizen
of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., must be given an additional
opportunity to challenge his detention in federal court there. An earlier court
proceeding, in which the government had presented only a sworn statement from
a defense intelligence official, was inadequate, the second majority ruled.
The decision was a victory for the Bush administration, which had maintained
that a 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force after the Sept.
11 attacks granted the president the power to detain people living in the United
The court effectively reversed a divided three-judge panel of its own members,
which ruled last year that the government lacked the power to detain civilians
legally in the United States as enemy combatants. That panel ordered the government
either to charge Mr. Marri or to release him. The case is likely to reach… Continue reading
Intro, continued: Scott Horton, of AntiwarRadio.com, interviewed Sibel Edmonds and the blogger who’s long covered her important case (which the corporate media still refuses to touch), Luke Ryland, to shine some light on what might be happening here. Again, Congress refuses to hold hearings, and hold anyone to account. This interview reviews some of the information that’s come to light in Sibel’s 6-year case, as well as the utter lack of action by Congress with regard to the entire network of whistleblowers with whom she’s associated.
Sibel on Congress: “What happened to all those promises you made? All the promises they made, none of them were fulfilled! They may look like champions, but all we have gotten with people like Chairman Waxman and Chairman Conyers is all barking … as soon as the issue dies down in the media, they just go away. They don’t do anything. They haven’t brought about any type of accountability, any type of meaningful hearings … nothing that in any way would bring with it type of accountability or further action, and they do have the power. … (Before, the blamed the Republicans) now we see that with the Democrats across the House, like Pelosi. … If the mainstream media were to do their job that would create the necessary pressure on Congress so that Congress would do what it’s supposed to do; it’s not doing favors, it’s basically fulfilling their obligation to the American public. This is why we are in this sorry… Continue reading
Watch the video here; written transcript follows:
AMY GOODMAN: Former Alaska senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel is holding a news conference in New York City today to call for a new independent investigation into 9/11. Gravel will be speaking on behalf of the NYC 9/11 Ballot Initiative Campaign, a grassroots group seeking to place an initiative on the ballot of the November 6th general election allowing registered New York City voters to create a new commission to investigate 9/11.
The group is looking to appoint between nine and fifteen commissioners on the panel to conduct the investigation. Some of the people who have reportedly already agreed to serve as commissioners include Lori Van Auken, a 9/11 widow, one of the so-called “Jersey Girls”; Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator from Rhode Island; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a pastor in Detroit, Michigan; as well as former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, who joins us here today.
He has published three books this year: Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change, The Kingmakers: How the Media Threatens Our Security and Our Democracy and A Political Odyssey. His book Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change has a forward by Ralph Nader. He’ll be joining us on the show later in the week.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Senator Gravel.
MIKE GRAVEL: Amy, thank you for having me. But before we launch into the mission of my appearance, I want to comment on this young man you just had on. I’ve got… Continue reading
Center for Constitutional Research
June 12, 2008
Today is a historic victory for the rule of law. We won! For the third time,
the Supreme Court has upheld the fundamental rights of Guantánamo detainees.
In its historic decision in CCR’s case, Boumediene v. Bush, the Court affirmed
detainees’ right to habeas corpus. One of the oldest and most basic legal protections,
habeas corpus affords the incarcerated the right to challenge the legality of
their detention before a judge and keeps the king and president from arbitrarily
locking people up and throwing away the key.
We’re asking you to take action in two important ways: please make a contribution
to CCR today so we can continue this important work, and please write to the
presidential candidates to demand that they uphold the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Administration has delayed, ignored and sought to evade two prior Supreme
Court decisions, Rasul v. Bush in 2004 and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006, both
of which upheld the rights of Guantánamo detainees.
This decision was, in many ways, made possible by the support of so many –
the over 500 volunteer habeas counsel who have committed themselves to defending
the rights of Guantánamo’s detainees, the thousands upon thousands who have
acted to demand that the Constitution be upheld, and all of our supporters,
who have made this work possible. Today, your support is urgently needed, now
more than ever, to ensure that the Supreme Court’s decision is implemented and
the Constitution restored.
CCR was… Continue reading
by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton
Posted at Lewrockwell.com
June 7, 2008
The George W. Bush administration responded to the 9/11 attack on the World
Trade Center and Pentagon with an assault on U.S. civil liberty that Bush justified
in the name of the “war on terror.” The government assured us that
the draconian measures apply only to “terrorists.” The word terrorist,
however, was not defined. The government claimed the discretionary power to
decide who is a terrorist without having to present evidence or charges in a
court of law.
Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy evades any notion of procedural
due process of law. Administration assurances that harsh treatment is reserved
only for terrorists is meaningless when the threshold process for determining
who is and who is not a terrorist depends on executive discretion that is not
subject to review. Substantive rights are useless without the procedural rights
to enforce them.
Terrorist legislation and executive assertions created a basis upon which federal
authorities claimed they were free to suspend suspects’ civil liberties
in order to defend Americans from terrorism. Only after civil liberties groups
and federal courts challenged some of the unconstitutional laws and procedures
did realization spread that the Bush administration’s assault on the Bill
of Rights is a greater threat to Americans than are terrorists.
The alacrity with which Congress accepted the initial assault from the administration
is frightening. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act passed by a vote of 98 to 1 in
the… Continue reading
By Andrew O. Selsky
May 29, 2008
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Defense lawyers accused the government of rushing the Sept. 11 defendants to trial at Guantánamo to influence the U.S. presidential elections, and asked the military judge to dismiss the case in a court filing obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
The filing also shows that the former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo, who resigned in October over alleged political interference, was sanctioned by the military on May 23 after testifying for the defense in a Guantánamo hearing.
The former prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, wrote that the action will discourage any other military members from providing information about the controversial war-crimes tribunals. The tribunals’ legal adviser, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, told the AP Davis was sanctioned because of poor job performance and not because he testified.
Military lawyers for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants revealed that prosecutors are seeking a Sept. 15 trial date — weeks before the Nov. 4 election.
The five men accused of mounting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed almost 3,000 people are to be arraigned June 5 at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the most high-profile of the military commissions, as the war-crimes proceedings are called.
“It is safe to say that there are senior officials in the military commission process who believe that there would be strategic political value to having these five men sitting in a death chamber… Continue reading
By George Washington
April 15, 2008
One of the top investigative journalists in the country, Larisa Alexandrovna (the lead journalist at Raw Story), says the following concerning her attempts to determine whether or not the U.S. is still officially in a state of emergency, such as would justify the continuation of Continuity of Government (COG) Plans implemented on 9/11:
“Well, I have called around… believe it or not, no one seems to have an answer as to this simple question: ‘are we in a state of emergency?’ “
(see comments following essay).
Keep in mind that Alexandrovna has broken many top stories, later picked up by the New York Times and other mainstream publications, and has developed a broad network of contacts. And yet she couldn’t find an answer.
“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 York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, and the powers and… Continue reading
Take Action and save the life of Dr. Sami Al-Arian!
Save a life! Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was acquitted in 2005
of bogus "terrorism" charges by a Tampa Bay jury, yet he still remains
imprisoned in the United States.
Dr. Sami Al-Arian is currently on the fifteenth day of a no food or water hunger
strike to protest the legal manipulations and harassment by the Bush Administration
that are keeping him behind bars despite his acquittal by jury and subsequent
plea bargain (signed under significant pressure from the U.S. government) that
promised his release in May of 2006.
Dr. Al-Arian, a diabetic, is already losing his eyesight and is in extraordinary
danger of renal failure. The federal medical facility where he has been moved
to in Bunter, North Carolina has not given him an IV, despite their legal obligation
to keep him alive. The situation is urgent! Please write immediately to your
elected officials and the federal medical facility to protest this legal harassment
and torture and to demand his release. Dr. Al-Arian’s life depends on it.
Specifically, please contact (call and email):
Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: (703) 299-3339
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax
Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Department of Justice
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
In the streets!
Market & Sansome Sts.
San Francisco, California 94104
DIRECT ACTIONS ON THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRAQ WAR: DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO
7:30 am Multiple actions at multiple locations.
Market and Sansome
Marches to direct action locations leaving from Market and Sansome throughout
Join the March 19 DASW Text Mob to stay updated through the day:
Send a text to 40404 with the words ?follow dasw? (case sensitive,
no quotation marks). Standard rates apply.
On March 19, 2008 – the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – Direct
Action to Stop the War (http://www.actagainstwar.net/)
will be organizing a day of decentralized, multiple-target direct action against
government offices and war profiteers in downtown San Francisco. We have created
a list (see the website) of San Francisco offices of federal agencies, corporations
with military contracts or contracts in Iraq, politicians who have failed to
stop the war, and foreign embassies of countries linked to the war in Iraq.
We are focusing primarily on corporations with military or Iraqi contracts,
because we want to focus attention on the prominent role played by war-profiteering
corporations in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. We will take direct action on March
19th against as many of these locations as possible, in order to send a clear
message to the economic and political elites that control this country: No business
as usual until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq!
**How you can plug into the March 19th San Francisco Day of Direct Action:**
We?re asking that you:
Media and public interest organizations tell the jurist that his order violates constitutional provisions against prior restraint of free speech.
By Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 27, 2008
A coalition of media and public interest organizations went to federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday urging a judge to reconsider his order to shut down a muckraking website that publishes leaked documents from businesses and government agencies worldwide.
Lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen and several news organizations, told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White that two orders he issued last week against wikileaks.org were prior restraints that violated the 1st Amendment.
Laura Handman, a Washington, D.C., attorney for the news organizations, said White’s order was so expansive that the only way to describe it was as if a judge had shut down a newspaper because of controversy over one article.
“I can’t think of another injunction that was so broad,” said Matt Zimmerman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil rights group that focuses on digital issues.
White acted in response to a lawsuit filed Feb. 6 by Julius Baer & Co., a Zurich-based bank, alleging that a disgruntled former employee had posted internal documents alleging money-laundering and tax evasion schemes at its Cayman Islands branch.
Wikileaks.org specifically urges readers to post leaked documents in an effort to discourage “unethical behavior” by corporations and government agencies. Among the 1.2 million documents that Wikileaks says it has posted over the last… Continue reading
Between The Lines
For The Week Ending Feb. 29, 2008
Posted Feb. 20, 2008
LISTEN to this week’s entire program/view the program summary.
Click here for downloadable or streaming audio, and more information.
Interview with Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild,
conducted by Scott Harris
On Feb. 11, the Bush administration announced it would charge six detainees held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, alleged to be involved in the planning of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Among those being charged are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the purported mastermind of the 9/11 conspiracy. This is the first set of charges brought by U.S. authorities against Guantánamo detainees that related directly to involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.
These trials will be conducted under the rules outlined in the Military Commissions Act passed in 2006 by the Republican-controlled Congress in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the original Bush trial procedures at Guantánamo were unconstitutional.
Although the Military Commissions Act forbids the admission of evidence extracted by torture, it permits evidence obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if it was secured before Dec. 30, 2005. Thus, the Bush administration’s refusal to declare waterboarding as an act of torture will be a key issue in these trials. Other procedures criticized allow a trial to proceed in the absence of the accused, places the power to appoint judges in the hands of the Secretary of Defense, permits the introduction of hearsay and evidence obtained without a warrant, and denies the accused the right to see all of the evidence against them.…Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@acluorg; (212) 549-2666
Ruling Allows Executive Branch To Police Itself, Says ACLU
NEW YORK — The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to review a legal challenge to the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who say that the unchecked surveillance program is disrupting their ability to communicate effectively with sources and clients. The court’s decision today lets stand an appeals court’s ruling on narrow grounds that plaintiffs could not show with certainty that they had been wiretapped by the National Security Agency.
The following quote can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project:
“Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act intending to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and residents, and the president systematically broke that law over a period of more than five years. It’s very disturbing that the president’s actions will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court. It shouldn’t be left to executive branch officials alone to determine what limits apply to their own surveillance activities and whether those limits are being honored. Allowing the executive branch to police itself flies in the face of the constitutional system of checks and balances.”
The following quote can be attributed to Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU:
“Although we are deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to review this case, it is worth noting that today’s… Continue reading
By William Glaberson
The New York Times
Saturday 09 February 2008
Military prosecutors are in the final phases of preparing the first sweeping case against suspected conspirators in the plot that led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, and drew the United States into war, people who have been briefed on the case said.
The charges, to be filed in the military commission system at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would involve as many as six detainees held at the detention camp, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former senior aide to Osama bin Laden, who has said he was the principal planner of the plot.
The case could begin to fulfill a longtime goal of the Bush administration: establishing culpability for the terrorist attacks of 2001. It could also help the administration make its case that some detainees at Guantánamo, where 275 men remain, would pose a threat if they are not held at Guantánamo or elsewhere. Officials have long said that a half-dozen men held at Guantánamo played essential roles in the plot directed by Mr. Mohammed, from would-be hijackers to financiers.
But the case would also bring new scrutiny to the military commission system, which has a troubled history and has been criticized as a system designed to win convictions but that does not provide the legal protections of American civilian courts.
War-crimes charges against the men would almost certainly place the prosecutors in a battle over the treatment of inmates because at least two… Continue reading
December 23, 2007
By Tim Weiner
A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus
and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.
Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the
Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons.
Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary
to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.”
The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous”
to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried
out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided
by the bureau.
The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The
index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately
ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote.
“In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends
the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” it said.
Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has been a
fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush administration’s
decision to hold suspects for years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has made
habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress and the Supreme Court today.
The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended “unless when
in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.”
The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the F.B.I.…
Ellsberg Says Sibel Edmonds Case ‘Far More Explosive Than Pentagon Papers’
‘Gagged’ FBI Whistleblower, Risking Jail, Says American Media Has Refused Her
Offer to Disclose Classified Information, Including Criminal Allegations, Information
Concerning ‘Security of Americans’
Charges Several Mainstream Publications Have Been Informed of ‘Full Story’
by Other FBI Leakers Nearly a Year Ago, Have Remained Mum…
Brad Friedman, The BRAD
“I’d say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers,”
Daniel Ellsberg told us in regard to former FBI translator turned whistleblower
“From what I understand, from what she has to tell, it has a major difference
from the Pentagon Papers in that it deals directly with criminal activity and
may involve impeachable offenses,” Ellsberg explained. “And I don’t
necessarily mean the President or the Vice-President, though I wouldn’t be surprised
if the information reached up that high. But other members of the Executive
Branch may be impeached as well. And she says similar about Congress.”
The BRAD BLOG spoke recently with the legendary 1970’s-era whistleblower in
the wake of our recent exclusive, detailing Edmonds’ announce that she was prepared
to risk prosecution to expose the entirety of the still-classified information
that the Bush Administration has “gagged” her from revealing for the
past five years under claims of the arcane “State Secrets Privilege”.
Ellsberg, the former defense analyst and one-time State Department official,
knows well the plight of whistleblowers. He himself was prepared to spend his
life in prison for… Continue reading
MADRID, Spain (AP) — They’d been longing for justice for more than three years and instead got what they call a gut punch of acquittals and convictions on lesser charges.
People who lost parents, children or spouses in the 2004 Madrid train bombings plan to appeal the verdicts and sentences handed down Wednesday by Spain’s National Court.
“It was like a slap in our face,” Jesus Abril, who lost his 19-year-old son Oscar, said of the verdicts.
Three Muslims were charged with masterminding the bombings of four crowded commuter trains at rush hour, which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800. None was convicted of the main charge of mass murder, and one was acquitted altogether.
Two of those alleged ringleaders and two others also facing murder charges were convicted of the lesser charge of belonging to a terrorist organization. Rather than sentences of nearly 38,000 years as sought by prosecutors, some got terms of 12 years. And of nine Spaniards charged with supplying stolen dynamite for the attack in exchange for drugs and cash, five walked free. Altogether, of 28 people tried, seven were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Abril, a 54-year-old former teacher, attended each of the 58 trial sessions, and was in court to hear the verdicts. He and others whose loved ones died in the maelstrom of explosions and burning metal on March 11, 2004, said they could not believe the decisions read by Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez.
“Some of us were crying, hysterical, angry.… Continue reading
BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 10/29/2007 5:30AM
EXCLUSIVE: FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Will Now Tell All – and Face
Charges if Necessary – to Any Major Television Network That Will Let Her; She’s
Prepared to Name Names, Including Those of Two ‘Well-Known’ Congress Members Involved
in Criminal Corruption
The ‘Most Gagged Person in U.S. History’ Tells The BRAD BLOG She’s Now Exhausted
All Other Channels…
— By Brad Friedman
Attention CBS 60 Minutes: we’ve got a huge scoop for you. If you want
Remember the exclusive
story you aired on Sibel Edmonds, originally on October 27th, 2002, when
she was not allowed to tell you everything that she heard while serving
as an FBI translator after 9/11 because she was gagged by the rarely-invoked
"States Secret Privilege"? Well, she’s still gagged. In fact, as the
ACLU first described her, she’s "the most gagged person in the history
of the United States of America."
But if you’ll sit down and talk with her for an unedited interview, she has
now told The BRAD BLOG during an exclusive interview, she will now tell you
everything she knows.
Everything she hasn’t been allowed to tell since 2002, about the criminal
penetration of the FBI where she worked, and at the Departments of State and
Defense; everything she heard concerning the corruption and illegal
activities of several well-known members of Congress; everything she’s
aware of concerning information omitted and/or covered up in relation to 9/11.
All of the information gleaned from… Continue reading