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Impeachable Offenses Page 5

March 3, 2007

Day in Court Denied for Victim of CIA Kidnapping and Rendition

NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it will continue to pursue a fair hearing for Khaled El-Masri, a victim of the CIA policy of illegal abduction and detention known as extraordinary rendition. The ACLU said that the government is abusing the state secrets privilege to cover up its kidnapping and torture of an innocent man.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied El-Masri access to justice yesterday because, according to the court, the simple fact of holding proceedings would jeopardize state secrets, a position advanced by the CIA.

"The court's decision gives the government a blank check to shield even its most shameful conduct from any scrutiny or accountability," said Ben Wizner, an attorney with the ACLU. "Depriving Khaled El-Masri of his day in court on the ground that the government cannot disclose facts that the whole world already knows only compounds the brutal treatment he endured."

March 2, 2007

88 Percent of Guard Units Rated 'Not Ready'

Nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready" -- largely as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars' worth of equipment -- jeopardizing their capability to respond to crises at home and abroad, according to a congressional commission that released a preliminary report yesterday on the state of U.S. military reserve forces.

The report found that heavy deployments of the National Guard and reserves since 2001 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other anti-terrorism missions have deepened shortages, forced the cobbling together of units and hurt recruiting.

March 1, 2007

U.S. Blasted for Treatment of Detainees

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. human rights chief expressed concern Wednesday at recent U.S. legislative and judicial actions that she said leave hundreds of detainees without any way to challenge their indefinite imprisonment.

Louise Arbour referred to the Military Commissions Act approved by Congress last year and last month's federal appeals court ruling that Guantanamo Bay detainees cannot use the U.S. court system to challenge their detention. The case is likely to go to the Supreme Court.

Arbour was critical of the ruling, calling on the judicial system to "rise to its long-standing reputation as a guardian of fundamental human rights and civil liberties and provide the protection to all that are under the authority, control, and therefore in my view jurisdiction of the United States."

March 1, 2007

U.S. Had Doubts on North Korean Uranium Drive

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 — Last October, the North Koreans tested their first nuclear device, the fruition of decades of work to make a weapon out of plutonium.

For nearly five years, though, the Bush administration, based on intelligence estimates, has accused North Korea of also pursuing a secret, parallel path to a bomb, using enriched uranium. That accusation, first leveled in the fall of 2002, resulted in the rupture of an already tense relationship: The United States cut off oil supplies, and the North Koreans responded by throwing out international inspectors, building up their plutonium arsenal and, ultimately, producing that first plutonium bomb.

February 28, 2007

Big Oil in, stability out under new Iraqi law

While debate rages in the United States about the military in Iraq, an equally important decision is being made inside Iraq - the future of its oil. A draft Iraqi law proposes to open the country's currently nationalized oil system to foreign corporate control. But emblematic of the flawed promotion of "democracy" by the administration of US President George W Bush, this new law is news to most Iraqi politicians.

A leaked copy of the proposed hydrocarbon law appeared on the Internet at the same time that it was introduced to the Iraqi

February 28, 2007

Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet

Army Times: Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

"Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media," one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

February 25, 2007

US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran

America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.

In a move that reflects Washington's growing concern with the failure of diplomatic initiatives, CIA officials are understood to be helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran's border regions.

The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.

February 22, 2007

U.S. urged to reassess claim against North Korea

Feb 21, 2007 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States should reexamine a questionable charge that North Korea has a covert uranium enrichment program, a key American complaint against Pyongyang that could complicate the new nuclear weapons deal, experts said on Wednesday.

Physicist David Albright, who recently visited the isolated communist state, likened the enrichment program charge to the "fiasco" of flawed U.S. intelligence that mistakenly concluded Iraq had a secret nuclear weapons program in the runup to war.

February 22, 2007

A Trial for Thousands Denied Trial

Something remarkable is going on in a Miami courtroom. The cruel methods US interrogators have used since September 11 to "break" prisoners are finally being put on trial.

This was not supposed to happen. The Bush Administration's plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla's lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government.

There is no need to go so far back to prove that the US military knew full well that it was driving Padilla mad. The Army's field manual, reissued just last year, states, "Sensory deprivation may result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, depression, and anti-social behavior," as well as "significant psychological distress."

If these techniques drove Padilla insane, that means the US government has been deliberately driving hundreds, possibly thousands, of prisoners insane around the world. What is on trial in Florida is not one man's mental state. It is the whole system of US psychological torture.

February 18, 2007

One in three Iraqis 'in poverty'

One-third of Iraqis are now living in poverty, according to a new UN study, with 5% in extreme poverty, a sharp deterioration since the 2003 invasion.

Oil riches are not benefiting many of Iraq's people, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) study says.

Other indicators show a sharper fall, with half the population having unsatisfactory water supplies and more than 40% deprived of good sanitation.

February 20, 2007

Audit: Anti-terror case data flawed

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors counted immigration violations, marriage fraud and drug trafficking among anti-terror cases in the four years after 9/11 even though no evidence linked them to terror activity, a Justice Department audit said Tuesday.

Overall, nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics on investigations, referrals and cases examined by department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine were either diminished or inflated. Only two of 26 sets of department data reported between 2001 and 2005 were accurate, the audit found.

February 18, 2007

Jailed 2 Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans

After his release from the American-run jail, Camp Bucca, Mr. Ani and other former detainees described the sprawling complex of barracks in the southern desert near Kuwait as a bleak place where guards casually used their stun guns and exposed prisoners to long periods of extreme heat and cold; where prisoners fought among themselves and extremist elements tried to radicalize others; and where detainees often responded to the harsh conditions with hunger strikes and, at times, violent protests.

Through it all, Mr. Ani was never actually charged with a crime; he said he was questioned only once during his more than two years at the camp.

February 18, 2007

Halliburton cited: #10 billion were either excessive or undocumented

WASHINGTON -- A top Pentagon auditor told Congress on Thursday that $10 billion in defense contracts for Iraq reconstruction and troop support were either excessive or undocumented, including $2.7 billion for contracts held by Halliburton or one of its subsidiaries.

William Reed, director of the Defense Department's Defense Contract Audit Agency, told the House Oversight and Government Reform committee that his agency discovered the problems --$4.9 billion in "questioned" or overly expensive charges, and $5.1 billion in "unsupported" or undocumented expenses-- after auditing $57 billion in Pentagon contracts.

February 18, 2007

Oh What a Malleable War

No sooner did unnamed military officials unveil their melodramatically secretive briefing in Baghdad last Sunday than Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, blew the whole charade.

General Pace said he didn't know about the briefing and couldn't endorse its contention that the Iranian government's highest echelons were complicit in anti-American hostilities in Iraq.

Public-relations pandemonium ensued as Tony Snow, the State Department and finally the president tried to revise the story line on the fly.

Back when Karl Rove ruled, everyone read verbatim from the same script.

February 16, 2007

Italy Indicts 26 Americans in C.I.A. Abduction Case

ROME, Feb. 16 — An Italian judge today ordered the first trial involving the American program of kidnapping terror suspects on foreign soil, indicting 26 Americans, most of them C.I.A. agents, but also Italy's former top spy.

The indictments covered the episode in which a radical Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who disappeared near his mosque in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, says he was kidnapped. The cleric, known as Abu Omar, was freed this week from jail in Egypt, where he says he was taken and then tortured.

February 15, 2007

Pentagon Rejected Contracts Because of Party Affiliation

The Pentagon rejected qualified experts for reconstruction work in Iraq because they were not deemed loyal to the Republican party, according to the former chief of staff of the Washington Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Frederick Smith.

"Some people were overlooked because they didn't meet the political saliva test," Smith, now retired, told ABC News.

Smith said political appointees at the Pentagon, including a special assistant to the secretary of defense and White House liaison, James O'Beirne, led the screening.

February 15, 2007

Former Justice and Interior Officials Targeted

The inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was announced hours after The Associated Press reported that the prosecutor, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, bought a $1 million vacation home on Kiawah Island, S.C., with ConocoPhillips Vice President Donald R. Duncan, nine months before agreeing to let the company delay a half-billion-dollar pollution cleanup. It was one of two proposed consent decrees Wooldridge signed with ConocoPhillips just before resigning last month.

The third buyer of the beachshore getaway was former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles, the highest-ranking Bush administration official targeted for criminal prosecution in the Jack Abramoff corruption probe.

February 15, 2007

$10 billion squandered in Iraq

More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall.

According to their testimony, the investigators:

  • Found overpricing and waste in Iraq contracts amounting to $4.9 billion since the Defense Contract Audit Agency began its work in 2003. Some of that money has been recovered. An additional $5.1 billion in expenses were charged without proper documentation.
  • Pointed to growing Iraqi sectarian violence as a significant factor behind bloated U.S. contracting bills. Iraqi officials, they said, must begin to take primary responsibility for reconstruction efforts. That is an uncertain goal, given the widespread corruption in Iraq and the local government's inability to fund projects.
  • Urged the Pentagon to reconsider its growing reliance on outside contractors in wars and reconstruction efforts. Layers of subcontractors, poor documentation and lack of strong contract management are rampant and promote waste even after the GAO first warned of problems 15 years ago.
February 15, 2007

Justice Official Bought Vacation Home With Oil Lobbyist

A senior Justice Department official who recently resigned her post bought a nearly $1 million vacation home with a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips months before approving consent decrees that would give the oil company more time to pay millions of dollars in fines and meet pollution-cleanup rules at some of its refineries.

Sue Ellen Wooldridge, former assistant attorney general in charge of environment and natural resources, bought a $980,000 home on Kiawah Island, S.C., last March with ConocoPhillips lobbyist Don R. Duncan. A third owner of the house is J. Steven Griles, a former deputy interior secretary, who has been informed he is a target in the federal investigation of Jack Abramoff's lobbying activities.

February 15, 2007

Bush Battles Military Over Iran Intelligence

"No, no, no, no," White House spokesman Tony Snow said Monday in response to questions about whether the administration embellished evidence against Iran in a U.S. military briefing in Baghdad the previous day. "I'm almost ready to hit my head on the microphone."

"In the old days, if the U.S. government had come out and said, 'We've got this, here's our assessment,' reasonable people would have taken it at face value," the official said of the Baghdad briefing. "That's never going to happen again."

Bush contradicted the military's account, saying, "We don't know . . . whether the head leaders of Iran ordered" it.

February 14, 2007

EU Parliament report accuses some member nations of colluding with CIA renditions

STRASBOURG, France - The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial report accusing Britain, Germany, Italy and other European nations of turning a blind eye to CIA flights transporting terror suspects to secret prisons overseas in an apparent breach of EU human rights standards.

February 10, 2007

Ex-Agent Ties Firing to CIA Pressure on WMD

A federal judge has ruled that a CIA agent identified only as "Doe," allegedly fired after he gathered prewar intelligence showing that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction, can proceed with his lawsuit against the CIA. The judge has ordered both parties to submit discovery requests–evidence they want for their case–to be completed by March 15, according to the CIA agent's lawyer and a spokesman for the Justice Department, which is defending the CIA in court.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued her ruling after what Doe's attorney, Roy Krieger, described as an extraordinary, secret status conference by telephone this afternoon that lasted nearly a half an hour. So concerned was the CIA about the agent's identity becoming public that the Justice Department prevailed upon the judge to issue a highly restrictive order regarding press contacts by the agent and Krieger. The order barred them from "requesting, allowing, encouraging, or directing" any members of the media from appearing at Krieger's office or even within a two-block vicinity of the building where he works or of any other location of the status conference, until two hours after the conference was completed.

February 10, 2007

Intelligence agencies disagreed with many of its prewar findings

WASHINGTON — As the Bush administration began assembling its case for war, analysts across the U.S. intelligence community were disturbed by the report of a secretive Pentagon team that concluded Iraq had significant ties to Al Qaeda.

Analysts from the CIA and other agencies "disagreed with more than 50%" of 26 findings the Pentagon team laid out in a controversial paper, according to testimony Friday from Thomas F. Gimble, acting inspector general of the Pentagon.

February 9, 2007

Report Says Pentagon Manipulated Intel

He cited Gimble's findings that Feith's office was, despite doubts expressed by the intelligence community, pushing conclusions that Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague five months before the attack, and that there were "multiple areas of cooperation" between Iraq and al-Qaida, including shared pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

"That was the argument that was used to make the sale to the American people about the need to go to war," Levin said in an interview Thursday. He said the Pentagon's work, "which was wrong, which was distorted, which was inappropriate … is something which is highly disturbing."

February 5, 2007

All 435 House Members Can See Iraq Intelligence

To the surprise of the Bush administration, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to allow all 435 House members to see the classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq sent to the White House last week. The report is classified in part because it contains information about sources and methods used in intelligence-gathering.

The document will provide fuel for a House debate, scheduled to begin Tuesday, on a resolution of disapproval of President Bush's plan to boost U.S. troop strength in Iraq. Remarkably, each House member will be given five minutes to speak. The decision to provide such broad access to the microphones is based on the fact that each member got the chance to speak before the Iraq war began, according to House leadership aides.

February 5, 2007

VP appeared eager to blunt criticism

Washington -- Vice President Dick Cheney's press officer, Cathie Martin, approached his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on Air Force Two on July 12, 2003, to ask how she should respond to journalists' questions about Joseph Wilson. Libby looked over one of the reporters' questions and told Martin: "Well, let me go talk to the boss and I'll be back."

On Libby's return, Martin testified in federal court last week, he brought a card with detailed replies dictated by Cheney, including a highly partisan, incomplete summary of Wilson's investigation into what was suspected to be Iraq's program for weapons of mass destruction.

Libby subsequently called a reporter, read him the statement, and said -- according to the reporter -- he had heard that Wilson's investigation was instigated by his wife, an employee at the CIA, later identified as Valerie Wilson. The reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, was one of five people with whom Libby discussed Valerie Wilson's CIA status during those critical weeks that summer.

February 3, 2007

Murder charge filed against Canadian in Guantanamo

The U.S. military filed a murder charge Friday against Omar Khadr, who is the only Canadian imprisoned in the Guantanamo Bay prison and has been there for more than four years.

Khadr, who is now 20 but has been imprisoned since he was 15, is among the first three prisoners to face charges as the military begins a new set of Guantanamo trials after the original ones were halted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006.

February 5, 2007

Guantánamo attorney protests 'new crime'

The latest charges are the military's second attempt to try Australian David Hick, 31, and two other high-profile prisoners at the U.S. detention center in Cuba.

Hicks' Pentagon-appointed lawyer, Marine Maj. Michael Mori, said he had never heard of a charge of providing material support for terrorism.

"It seems to me that they're creating new crimes after the fact," Mori told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today.

February 1, 2007

13 CIA operatives charged

BERLIN - The CIA's clandestine program of abducting terror suspects and taking them to secret sites for interrogation unraveled further Wednesday as German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 13 agency operatives in the kidnapping of a German citizen in the Balkans in December 2003.

The case is the second in which European prosecutors have filed charges against CIA employees involved in counterterrorism operations. Italian prosecutors have charged 25 CIA operatives and a U.S. Air Force officer with kidnapping a radical cleric on a Milan street in 2003 and taking him to Cairo, where he claims he was tortured.

February 1, 2007

Justice releases domestic spying papers

Staffers said the push for access was driven by Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. — the heads of the House and Senate intelligence panels, respectively — who warned Justice Department officials they would face congressional subpoenas if they did not turn over the records.

Reyes and other lawmakers said they would push for other documents the administration has refused to turn over, including the order creating the NSA program in October 2001.

January 30, 2007

Former Abu Ghraib Guard Discussed Gang Rape

....girl, she was probably like 15 years old. Yeah, she was hot dude. The body on that girl, yeah, really tight. You know, hadn't been touched yet. She was fucking prime. So....

One of the guys started pimping her out for 50 bucks a shot. I think at the end of the day, you know, he'd made like 500 bucks before she hung herself.

Really?

Yeah.

She hung herself? How's come she hung herself?

I don't know. She wasn't happy.

In their culture, it's really shunned upon if you get raped. I guess she would have been stoned to death anyways by her people, you know. It's fucked up.

January 30, 2007

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method

One reason why the full-pipe technique raises novel legal questions is that under federal law, the FBI must perform what's called "minimization."

Federal law says that agents must "minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception" and keep the supervising judge informed of what's happening. Minimization is designed to provide at least a modicum of privacy by limiting police eavesdropping on innocuous conversations.

EFF's Bankston disagrees. He said that the FBI is "collecting and apparently storing indefinitely the communications of thousands--if not hundreds of thousands--of innocent Americans in violation of the Wiretap Act and the 4th Amendment to the Constitution."

January 30, 2007

Seven government agencies allege pressure on global warming

WASHINGTON - Two private advocacy groups told a congressional hearing Tuesday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.

January 30, 2007

Troops going to Iraq face shortage of supplies

Trucks are in particularly short supply. For example, the Army would need 1,500 specially outfitted - known as "up-armored" - 2 1/2-ton and five-ton trucks in Iraq for the incoming units, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, the Army's deputy chief of staff for force development.

"We don't have the (armor) kits and we don't have the trucks," Speakes said in an interview. He said it will take the Army months, probably until summer, to supply and outfit the additional trucks.

Still, U.S. commanders privately expressed doubts that Iraq-bound units would receive a full complement of Humvees. "It's inevitable that that has to happen, unless five brigades of up-armored Humvees fall out of the sky," one senior Army official said of the feared shortfall.

February 1, 2007

13 CIA operatives charged

BERLIN - The CIA's clandestine program of abducting terror suspects and taking them to secret sites for interrogation unraveled further Wednesday as German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 13 agency operatives in the kidnapping of a German citizen in the Balkans in December 2003.

The case is the second in which European prosecutors have filed charges against CIA employees involved in counterterrorism operations. Italian prosecutors have charged 25 CIA operatives and a U.S. Air Force officer with kidnapping a radical cleric on a Milan street in 2003 and taking him to Cairo, where he claims he was tortured.

February 1, 2007

Justice releases domestic spying papers

Staffers said the push for access was driven by Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. — the heads of the House and Senate intelligence panels, respectively — who warned Justice Department officials they would face congressional subpoenas if they did not turn over the records.

Reyes and other lawmakers said they would push for other documents the administration has refused to turn over, including the order creating the NSA program in October 2001.

January 30, 2007

Former Abu Ghraib Guard Discussed Gang Rape

....girl, she was probably like 15 years old. Yeah, she was hot dude. The body on that girl, yeah, really tight. You know, hadn't been touched yet. She was fucking prime. So....

One of the guys started pimping her out for 50 bucks a shot. I think at the end of the day, you know, he'd made like 500 bucks before she hung herself.

Really?

Yeah.

She hung herself? How's come she hung herself?

I don't know. She wasn't happy.

In their culture, it's really shunned upon if you get raped. I guess she would have been stoned to death anyways by her people, you know. It's fucked up.

January 28, 2007

Why It Is a Bad Day For The Constitution Whenever Gonzales Testifies

In the history of U.S. Attorney Generals, Alberto Gonzales is constantly reaching for new lows. So dubious is his testimony that he is not afforded the courtesy given most cabinet officers when appearing on Capitol Hill: Congress insists he testify under oath. Even under oath, Gonzales's purported understanding of the Constitution is historically and legally inaccurate, far beyond the bounds of partisan interpretation.

So at the January 18th hearing, Senator Specter asked the Attorney General to explain the betrayal of their agreement. He pointed out that the agreement was that Congress would have "additional safeguards on oversight." And he noted that, nevertheless, the President's signing statement "reserved what he calls his right to disregard those oversight provisions." He then asked Gonzales, "In a context where the chairman of the committee and the attorney general negotiate an arrangement, is it appropriate for the president to put a signing statement which negates the oversight which had been bargained for, which has been bargained for?"

Gonzales simply cited the legal proposition that "a signing statement cannot give to the president any authority that he doesn't already have under the Constitution." But Specter responded adeptly that "if [the President] thinks those provisions inappropriately take away his constitutional authority and the Act's unconstitutional, then he ought to veto it. Or at least not to bargain it away." Gonzales had little to say in response, except to reiterate that the President wanted the Act reauthorized, and had the power not to honor the deal Gonzales had made.

This kind of practice might be common on used car lots, but should not be common in our government. Gonzales missed the bottom line: The President had rendered Gonzales's word worthless, and since a person is only as good as his or her word, he had thus dishonored Gonzales. Therefore, Gonzales ought to have resigned - as I believe many Attorneys General before him would have done.

January 28, 2007

Libby case witness details art of media manipulation

WASHINGTON -- A smorgasbord of Washington insider details emerged during the perjury trial of I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff.

No one served up spicier morsels than Cathie Martin, Vice President Dick Cheney's former top press assistant . Martin described the craft of media manipulation -- under oath and in blunter terms than politicians like to hear in public.

Most of the techniques were candidly described: the uses of leaks and exclusives, when to hide in anonymity, which news medium was seen as more susceptible to control, and what timing was most propitious.

Even the rating of certain journalists as friends to favor and critics to shun -- a faint echo of the enemies list drawn up in Richard Nixon's White House more than 30 years ago.

January 26, 2007

Prime minister announces $10.5-million compensation for Maher Arar

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who worked in Ottawa as a computer specialist, was detained by U.S. authorities in New York in 2002 and deported to Syria on the basis of unsubstantiated RCMP suspicions.

An independent fact-finder concluded Arar was tortured by Syrian officials before being released from a Damascus prison in late 2003. While behind bars, he was forced to make false confessions about involvement with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

January 26, 2007

Federal court rules against EPA

The decision late Thursday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that it was improper for the EPA to let power plants circumvent environmental laws - for instance, restocking polluted water with new fish instead of paying to upgrade their technology.

It said the EPA's decisions must "be driven by technology, not cost," unless two technologies produce essentially the same benefits but have much different costs.

January 27, 2007

The Bait-and-Switch White House

All of that was distressing enough. But in Friday's Times, Adam Liptak gave an account of the way the administration — after grandly announcing that it was finally going to obey the law on wiretapping — is trying to quash lawsuits over Mr. Bush's outlaw eavesdropping operations by imposing outrageous secrecy and control over the courts.

Justice Department lawyers are withholding evidence from plaintiffs and even restricting the access of judges to documents in cases involving Mr. Bush's decision to authorize the warrantless interception of e-mail and phone calls. In one suit, Justice Department lawyers tried to seize computers from the plaintiffs' lawyers to remove a document central to their case against the government.

In response to these and other serious concerns, the Justice Department offered only the most twisted excuses, which a federal judge rightly compared to "Alice in Wonderland."

January 26, 2007

Administration employed extraordinary secrecy in defending NSA surveillance

Some cases challenging the program, which monitored international communications of people in the United States without court approval, have also involved atypical maneuvering. Soon after one suit challenging the program was filed last year in Oregon, Justice Department lawyers threatened to seize an exhibit from the court file.

This month, in the same case, the department sought to inspect and delete files from the computers on which lawyers for the plaintiffs had prepared their legal filings.

January 20, 2007

Military case workers laid off

Army Times : Defense Department officials have laid off most of their case workers who help severely injured service members, sources said.

The case workers for the Military Severely Injured Center serve as advocates for wounded service members who have questions or issues related to benefits, financial resources and their successful return to duty or reintegration into civilian life — all forms of support other than medical care.

"I'm just livid about this," said Janice Buckley, Washington state chapter president for Operation Homefront.

She was notified that the two case workers at Fort Lewis were given short notice that their jobs were ending, but she has no further information.

January 26, 2007

Justice wants spying lawsuit dropped

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration sought on Thursday to drop its appeal of a federal court ruling that concluded the government's domestic spying program is unconstitutional, saying the entire issue is moot since the surveillance now is monitored by a secret court.

Responding, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union said they would continue to push for their day in court since President Bush retains authority to continue the warrantless spying program.

January 24, 2007

Bush Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed

In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.

Under Bush's rubric, a country such as Iran -- which enjoys diplomatic representation and billions of dollars in trade with major European countries -- is lumped together with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat," Bush said, referring to the different branches of the Muslim religion.

Similarly, Bush asserted that Shia Hezbollah, which has won seats in the Lebanese government, is a terrorist group "second only to al-Qaeda in the American lives it has taken." Bush is referring to attacks nearly a quarter-century ago on a U.S. embassy and a Marine barracks when the United States intervened in Lebanon's civil war by shelling Hezbollah strongholds. Hezbollah has evolved into primarily an anti-Israeli militant organization -- it fought a war with Israel last summer -- but the European Union does not list it as a terrorist organization.

January 26, 2007

Scarcity of safe vehicles in Iraq deemed worse

WASHINGTON //  After nearly four years of war in Iraq, the Pentagon's effort to protect its troops against roadside bombs is in disarray, with soldiers and Marines having to swap access to scarce armored vehicles and the military unsure whether it has the money or industrial capacity to produce the safe vehicles it says the troops need.

On Jan. 10, The Sun reported that most of the 21,500 troops President Bush has ordered to Iraq as reinforcements will not have access to specialized blast-resistant armored vehicles because they are in such short supply.

January 26, 2007

EU states aware of CIA misdoings

Still digging for the truth about European governments' role in CIA activities... A special committee of the European Parliament has approved a report that presents a dark view of Britain, Poland, Germany, Italy and other EU states. It alleges that they were aware of American secret intelligence agency flights over Europe, and the abduction of suspected terrorists to detention centres.

The European Parliament committee has also upheld the complaint of Murat Kurnaz. The German-born Turkish national was arrested in Pakistan and imprisoned for four years in Guantanamo. The life-long resident of Germany was not said to represent any terrorist threat, and the Americans offered to send him back to Germany in 2002. Berlin turned down the offer. The case reflects badly on current Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeyer, who is at the centre of suspicions that Germany tried to prevent the detainee from returning there. Kurnaz was eventually freed last summer.

January 17, 2007

Defense official says Pentagon hid unspent funds in accounts

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has hidden at least $1.4 billion in other agencies' accounts instead of returning unspent money to the U.S. Treasury, the Defense Department's internal watchdog told Congress Wednesday.

Thomas Gimble, the Pentagon's acting inspector general, said Pentagon offices between 2002 and 2005 used the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Interior Department "to 'park' or 'bank' funds that were expiring."

GSA and Interior then spent the money on Pentagon contracts, circumventing the law, Gimble said.

January 19, 2007

GSA Chief Scrutinized For Deal With Friend

The chief of the U.S. General Services Administration attempted to give a no-bid contract to a company founded and operated by a longtime friend, sidestepping federal laws and regulations, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

January 19, 2007

Wiretap review plan is still unclear

Disputing the suggestion that the warrantless program, run by the National Security Agency, had been "terminated," Gonzales said, "It took us a period of time to develop what we thought would be an acceptable legal argument that would be acceptable to the FISA court."

January 18, 2007

Rules for terror suspect trials: Hearsay, coerced testimony OK

Last September, Congress — then led by Republicans — sent Bush a new law granting wide latitude in interrogating and detaining captured enemy combatants. The legislation prohibited some abuses of detainees, including mutilation and rape, but granted the president leeway to decide which interrogation techniques were permissible.

Passage of the bill, which was backed by the White House, followed more than three months of debate that included angry complaints by Democrats about the administration's interrogation policies, and a short-lived rebellion by some Republican senators.

January 17, 2007

Secret Court Will Oversee Spying Program

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration, after a year of refusing to allow outside supervision of its domestic eavesdropping program, agreed to seek approval for the electronic surveillance from a secret federal court.

January 17, 2007

Gonzales: Judges unfit to rule on terror policy

In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who "apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences."

January 16, 2007

Law groups want Pentagon official fired

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Pentagon official should be fired for suggesting a boycott of American law firms defending detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, four law organizations said in a letter to President Bush on Tuesday.

January 12, 2007

Gates denies US forces will enter Iran

The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.

BearingPoint is fighting to restore its reputation in the US after falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders.

BearingPoint's first task in Iraq in 2003 was to help to plan the introduction of a new currency, and it was hoped that it would eventually organise small loans to Iraqi entrepreneurs to stimulate a significant market economy. The contract award was immediately criticised by public integrity watchdogs and by the company's rivals, because BearingPoint advisers to USAid had a hand in drafting the requirements set out in the tender. It spent five months helping USAid to write the job specifications and even sent some employees to Iraq to begin work before the contract was awarded, while its competitors had only a week to read the specifications and submit their own bids after final revisions were made.

January 14, 2007

Military Expands Intelligence Role in U.S.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

January 12, 2007

IRS Auditors: Big business allowed to cheat on taxes

Of roughly 50 auditors interviewed, only one said he agreed with the new policy, arguing that it was better to audit more companies lightly than a few thoroughly as a strategy to improve compliance with the tax laws. But even this agent agreed with the others that large companies were being allowed to pay far less than they owed.

Mr. McGinley drew an analogy contrasting the I.R.S. approach to the way the government investigated John Gotti, the organized crime boss known as the Teflon Don.

Across the country, several presidents of local I.R.S. union chapters said there had been a steady flow of complaints from auditors, specialists and others who examine tax returns that they are not being allowed to do their jobs. They said some of the most highly trained and respected auditors had quit or plan to leave the moment they were eligible to retire.

January 5, 2007

White House Visitor Records Closed

The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.

The Bush administration didn't reveal the existence of the memorandum of understanding until last fall. The White House is using it to deal with a legal problem on a separate front, a ruling by a federal judge ordering the production of Secret Service logs identifying visitors to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

January 8, 2007

Tony Snow: Democrats Can Cut Off Funds, But Can't Stop President's 'Surge'

NEW YORK At his briefing today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was naturally peppered with questions about President Bush's upcoming speech to the nation about his plans for (it seems to be an open secret) sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Snow wouldn't quite admit that this was indeed set in stone but sparred with reporters over why the president thinks the public will find this appealing.

December 31, 2006

Guantánamo Review Boards - POWs Held Without Charge

The prisoner had seen just a brief summary of what officials said was a thick dossier of intelligence linking him to Al Qaeda. He had not seen his own legal papers since they were taken away in an unrelated investigation. He has lawyers working on his behalf in Washington, London and Pakistan, but here his only assistance came from an Army lieutenant colonel, who stumbled as he read the prisoner's handwritten statement.

As the hearing concluded, the detainee, who cannot be identified publicly under military rules, had a question. He is a citizen of Pakistan, he noted. He was arrested on a business trip to Thailand. On what authority or charges was he even being held?

"That question," a Marine colonel presiding over the panel answered, "is outside the limits of what this board is permitted to consider."

January 15, 2007

Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury: Bush Must Go

The only action that can stop Bush is for both the Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and Senate to call on the White House, tell Bush they know what he is up to and that they will not fall for it a second time. The congressional leadership must tell Bush that if he does not immediately desist, he will be impeached and convicted before the week is out. Can a congressional leadership that lives in fear of the Israel Lobby perform this task?

January 17, 2007

Secret Court Will Oversee Spying Program

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration, after a year of refusing to allow outside supervision of its domestic eavesdropping program, agreed to seek approval for the electronic surveillance from a secret federal court.

January 17, 2007

Gonzales: Judges unfit to rule on terror policy

In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who "apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences."

January 12, 2007

Gates denies US forces will enter Iran

The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.

BearingPoint is fighting to restore its reputation in the US after falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders.

BearingPoint's first task in Iraq in 2003 was to help to plan the introduction of a new currency, and it was hoped that it would eventually organise small loans to Iraqi entrepreneurs to stimulate a significant market economy. The contract award was immediately criticised by public integrity watchdogs and by the company's rivals, because BearingPoint advisers to USAid had a hand in drafting the requirements set out in the tender. It spent five months helping USAid to write the job specifications and even sent some employees to Iraq to begin work before the contract was awarded, while its competitors had only a week to read the specifications and submit their own bids after final revisions were made.

January 14, 2007

Military Expands Intelligence Role in U.S.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

January 12, 2007

IRS Auditors: Big business allowed to cheat on taxes

Of roughly 50 auditors interviewed, only one said he agreed with the new policy, arguing that it was better to audit more companies lightly than a few thoroughly as a strategy to improve compliance with the tax laws. But even this agent agreed with the others that large companies were being allowed to pay far less than they owed.

Mr. McGinley drew an analogy contrasting the I.R.S. approach to the way the government investigated John Gotti, the organized crime boss known as the Teflon Don.

Across the country, several presidents of local I.R.S. union chapters said there had been a steady flow of complaints from auditors, specialists and others who examine tax returns that they are not being allowed to do their jobs. They said some of the most highly trained and respected auditors had quit or plan to leave the moment they were eligible to retire.