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Impeachable Offenses Page 6

April 16, 2007

Conservatives to Bush: Fire Gonzales

The two-page letter, written on stationery of the American Freedom Agenda, a recently formed body designed to promote conservative legal principles, is blunt. Addressed to both Bush and Gonzales, it goes well beyond the U.S. attorneys controversy and details other alleged failings by Gonzales. "Mr. Gonzales has presided over an unprecedented crippling of the Constitution's time-honored checks and balances," it declares. "He has brought rule of law into disrepute, and debased honesty as the coin of the realm." Alluding to ongoing scandal, it notes: "He has engendered the suspicion that partisan politics trumps evenhanded law enforcement in the Department of Justice."

April 15, 2007

WH Lie: Firings caused by failure to pursue voter fraud

When the public first learned about the firing of eight United States attorneys, administration officials piously declared that many of the prosecutors had ill served the public by failing to aggressively pursue voter fraud cases (against Democrats, naturally). But the more we examine this issue, the more ludicrous those claims seem.

Last week, we learned that the administration edited a government-ordered report on voter fraud to support its fantasy. The original version concluded that among experts "there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud." But the publicly released version said, "There is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud." It's hard to see that as anything but a deliberate effort to mislead the public.

Sound familiar? In President Bush's first term, a White House official, who had been the oil industry's front man in trying to discredit the science of global warming, repeatedly edited government reports to play down links between climate change and greenhouse gases. And then there was the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which turned reports on old, dubious and false tales about weapons of mass destruction into warnings of clear, present and supposedly mortal dangers.

April 15, 2007

Divided Iraq has two spy agencies

From its conception, Shahwani's agency has antagonized Iraq's new Shiite elite. In September 2004, his men arrested at least 50 members of a Shiite party in southern Iraq called Hezbollah — which is not linked to the Lebanese group of that name — and detained them for several months. In the same period, Shahwani accused one of the country's main Shiite political parties, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, of being on Iran's payroll and blamed its militia for the deaths of 10 of his agents.

Shahwani's service "is funded completely by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, not by the Iraqi government," a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity. "U.S. funding for the INIS amounts to $3 billion over a three-year period that started in 2004."

April 16, 2007

French knew of al-Qaida plot

PARIS - A French intelligence service learned as early as January 2001 that al-Qaida was working on a plot to hijack U.S. airliners, and it passed the information on to the CIA, a news report said Monday.

France's Le Monde newspaper said it had obtained 328 pages of classified documents on Osama bin Laden's terror network that were drawn up by the French foreign intelligence service, the DGSE, between July 2000 and October 2001.

April 16, 2007

Justice Department's Independence 'Shattered,'

Since the day he arrived at the Department of Justice in February 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has "shattered" the department's tradition of independence and politicized its operation more than any other attorney general in more than 30 years.

Q: In your view, what needs to be done to repair the department?

A: Based upon my experience, it's very hard to imagine how the department can viably move forward now without a Watergate-style repair. By that I mean the appointment of a new attorney general, one who by reputation, background and temperament is well-suited to at least begin the process of restoring the department's previous reputation for political independence and the reliably even-handed administration of justice.

April 14, 2007

Wolfowitz: Confusion, not corruption

More than 100 pages of documents show that on Mr Wolfowitz's personal direction his girlfriend was given increases that took her annual pay package to nearly $200,000 (£101,000) when she was reassigned from the World Bank to the US State Department. Ms Riza remained on the payroll during her external assignment, which was to forestall any conflicts of interest. But they also show the difficult position that Mr Wolfowitz faced when he took charge of the Bank on June 1, 2005.

April 13, 2007

Email shows GOP Attorney Replacements

WASHINGTON, April 13 — A Justice Department e-mail message released on Friday shows that the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed replacement candidates for United States attorneys nearly a year before they were dismissed in December 2006. The department has repeatedly stated that no successors were selected before the dismissals.

The Jan. 9, 2006, e-mail message, written by D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned last month as the top aide to Mr. Gonzales, identified five Bush administration officials, most of them Justice Department employees, whose names were sent to the White House for consideration as possible replacements for prosecutors slated for dismissal.

April 13, 2007

Lawyer: Rove Didn't Mean to Delete Email

Karl Rove's lawyer on Friday dismissed the notion that President Bush's chief political adviser intentionally deleted his own e-mails from a Republican-sponsored server, saying Rove believed the communications were being preserved in accordance with the law.

New documents released Friday by the Justice Department may shed additional light, but their release prompted Gonzales' one-time chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to postpone a closed-door interview with congressional investigators.

The missing e-mails posed some of the weightiest questions of a sprawling political and legal conflict between the Bush administration and Democrats in Congress.

Democrats are questioning whether any White House officials purposely sent e-mails about official business on the RNC server - then deleted them, in violation of the law - to avoid scrutiny.

White House officials say they can't answer that question, but they say the administration is making an honest effort to recover any lost e-mails.

April 11, 2007

Kidnapped Iranian shows Red Cross 'US torture wounds'

TEHRAN (AFP) - An Iranian diplomat held in captivity for two months in Iraq appeared in public Wednesday to display wounds he said were caused by "torture" from US agents who beat him and drilled holes into his legs.

An exhausted and clearly thin Jalal Sharafi, second secretary at Iran's embassy in Baghdad, gave a highly unusual press conference in which he appeared in a wheelchair and on a serum drip flanked by a group of his doctors.

"Then they brought on a machine to drill holes into my feet. But this happened 50 days ago so the wounds have partly healed," said Sharafi, who was whisked to the news conference in an ambulance.

April 11, 2007

FBI Gets Six Years for FOIA Request

So perhaps it should be no surprise that the FBI has just told a federal court that it will need until 2013 to process a request for information from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy organization. The group sued the Justice Department last fall under FOIA for records that detail how the FBI protects privacy while collecting hundreds of millions of personal records in its Investigative Data Warehouse, a database used for counterterrorism purposes.

Last week, department lawyers told a federal court that Justice has documents that might answer that request. In fact, it has so many pages of documents that might fit the bill -- 72,000, according to a court filing -- that the FBI has requested the court to stop the legal proceedings and give the FBI time to comply: until February 2013.

April 12, 2007

WITHOUT A TRACE: The Missing White House Emails and the Violations of the Presidential Records Act

In a startling new revelation, CREW has also learned through two confidential sources that the Executive Office of the President (EOP) has lost over five million emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005. The White House counsel's office was advised of these problems in 2005 and CREW has been told that the White House was given a plan of action to recover these emails, but to date nothing has been done to rectify this significant loss of records.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, "It's clear that the White House has been willfully violating the law, the only question now is to what extent? The ever changing excuses offered by the administration – that they didn't want to violate the Hatch Act, that staff wasn't clear on the law – are patently ridiculous. Very convenient that embarrassing – and potentially incriminating – emails have gone missing. It's the Nixon White House all over again."

April 11, 2007

GOP created outside email accounts to circumvent disclosure laws

Democrats also have been asking if White House officials are purposely conducting sensitive official presidential business via nongovernmental accounts to get around a law requiring preservation - and eventual disclosure - of presidential records. The announcement of the lost e-mails - a rare admission of error from the Bush White House at a delicate time for the administration's relations with Democratically controlled Capitol Hill - gave new fodder for inquiry on this front.

The Republican National Committee set up the accounts for about 20 Bush aides, such as Karl Rove and his deputies, who get involved in politics, spokesman Scott Stanzel said. Having the GOP create non-White House addresses and provide separate BlackBerries, laptops and other communications gear was designed to avoid running afoul of Hatch Act rules barring federal employees from engaging in political activities with government resources or on government time, he said.

He said staffers used their RNC accounts instead of White House accounts to discuss the prosecutor issue or conduct other official business for several reasons, including extra caution about complying with the Hatch Act as well as the convenience of using one account instead of several. Stanzel said he could not speak to whether anyone was intentionally trying to avoid White House archiving because he had not spoken to all those involved.

April 11, 2007

Red Cross examines Iranian diplomat's torture scars

TEHRAN, April 11 (MNA) -- On Tuesday, the Red Cross representative in Tehran examined the torture marks on the body of Jalal Sharafi, the Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped in Iraq on February 4 and released on April 3.

In a Tehran hospital, at which Iraq's ambassador to Tehran Mohamed Majid Al-Sheikh, was also present, the Red Cross official observed holes drilled in Sharafi's leg, fractures of the nose and neck, some deep injuries on his back, a tear to his ear and evidence of bleeding in the alimentary canal.

Sharafi, the second secretary at Iran's Baghdad embassy, was abducted in southeastern Baghdad on February 4 by a group connected to the Iraqi Defense Ministry which operates under the supervision of the U.S. forces in Iraq.

April 8, 2007

Military and diplomatic analysts attack Bush lies

WASHINGTON - It's become President Bush's mantra, his main explanation for why he won't withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq anytime soon.

In speech after speech, in statement after statement, Bush insists that "this is a war in which, if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here."

The line, which Bush repeated Wednesday in a speech to troops at California's Fort Irwin, suggests a chilling picture of warfare on America's streets.

But is it true?

Military and diplomatic analysts say it isn't. They accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland.

"The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature," said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. "It's a poor choice of words that doesn't convey the essence of the problem - that walking away from a problem doesn't solve anything."

March 21, 2007

Analysis: White House Likes Its Secrets

From the time he walked into the Oval Office, President Bush has tried to tighten the government's hold on information and restrict public scrutiny. He says he's defending the executive branch from encroachment by overzealous lawmakers and needs to make sure that he and the presidents who follow him have the chance to get confidential advice from advisers.

That push to strengthen the powers of the presidency and clamp down on public disclosure, however, is now contributing to lawmakers' wariness of the White House's latest offer in the U.S. attorney dispute.

Critics of the Bush White House's penchant toward secrecy point to: Bush's executive order restricting the public release of the papers of past presidents; his move just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to clamp down on the declassification of government documents; and the fight, all the way to the Supreme Court, to keep secret closed-door meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force.

They criticize Bush's refusal to allow then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify before the panel investigating the 9/11 attacks (though he eventually relented in the face of bipartisan pressure). And they disapprove of Bush authorizing programs to eavesdrop on Americans' international communications with suspected terrorists without warrants. He acknowledged them only after news reports revealed their existence.

April 9, 2007

Constitutional scholar who criticized Bush added to terrorist 'no-fly' list

A top Constitutional scholar from Princeton who gave a televised speech that slammed President George W. Bush's executive overreach was recently told that he had been added to the Transportation Security Administration's terrorist watch list. He shared his experience this weekend at the law blog Balkinization.

Walter F. Murphy, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Emeritus, at Princeton University, attempted to check his luggage at the curbside in Albuquerque before boarding a plane to Newark, New Jersey. Murphy was told he could not use the service.

"I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list," he said.

When inquiring with a clerk why he was on the list, Murphy was asked if he had participated in any peace marches.

"We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," a clerk said.

April 7, 2007

Insurgents transform US military jails into 'terror training camps'

America's high-security prisons in Iraq have become "terrorist academies" for the most dangerous militant groups, according to former inmates and Iraqi government officials.

Inmates are left largely to run their blocks, which are segregated on sectarian lines. The policy has created a closed world run by Iraq's worst terrorists and militias, into which detainees with no links to insurgent groups are often thrown.

Inmates from Camp Cropper, the US prison at Baghdad airport, described to The Times seeing al-Qaeda terrorists club to death a man suspected of being an informer. Others dished out retribution with razor wire stolen from the fences.

April 8, 2007

White House, Gonzales and Giuliani Ignored Mafia Ties

The selection of Kerik in December 2004 for one of the most sensitive posts in government became an acute but brief embarrassment for Bush at the start of his second term. More than two years later, it has reemerged as part of a federal criminal investigation of Kerik that raises questions about the decisions made by the president, the Republican front-runner to replace him and the embattled attorney general.

They learned about questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption. Most disturbing, according to people close to the process, was Kerik's friendship with a businessman who was linked to organized crime. The businessman had told federal authorities that Kerik received gifts, including $165,000 in apartment renovations, from a New Jersey family with alleged Mafia ties.

New Jersey gambling-enforcement authorities also filed a complaint in 2005 accusing Kerik of misusing his Giuliani administration jobs to solicit gifts from the DiTomassos, who have fought allegations of mob ties, while helping them try to win city business. Kerik asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to answer some questions in the proceedings. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in New York court last summer, acknowledging that he had accepted the apartment renovations.

April 7, 2007

Cheney: Al Qaeda was in Iraq before war

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of Al Qaeda links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq on Thursday as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group.

Cheney contended that Al Qaeda was operating in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 and that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda. Others in Al Qaeda planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the Al Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June," Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. "As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq."

However, a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of the deposed Iraqi leader and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Hussein government were not working together before the invasion.

April 6, 2007

Pentagon report debunks prewar Iraq-Al Qaeda connection

A declassified report by the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble provides new insight into the circumstances behind former Pentagon official Douglas Feith's pre-Iraq war assessment of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection — an assessment that was contrary to US intelligence agency findings, and helped bolster the Bush administration's case for the Iraq war.

The report, which was made public in summary form in February, was released in full on Thursday by Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In a statement accompanying the 121-page report, Senator Levin said: "It is important for the public to see why the Pentagon's Inspector General concluded that Secretary Feith's office 'developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaeda relationship,' which included 'conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community.' "

April 3, 2007

How Bogus Letter Became a Case for War

On Oct. 16, Burba sat on a plane on her way to Niger, while in Washington, copies of the Italian letter and the accompanying dossier were placed on the table at an interagency nuclear proliferation meeting hosted by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

At this point, State Department analysts had determined the documents were phony, and had produced by far the most accurate assessment of Iraq's weapons program of the 16 agencies that make up the intelligence community. But the department's small intelligence unit operated in a bubble. Few administration officials -- not even Secretary of State Colin L. Powell -- paid much attention to its analytical product, much of which clashed with the White House's assumptions.

March 25, 2007

Ghost Prisons, Ghost Courtrooms

"What are we going to do with these people when we're finished . . . with them? Are they going to disappear?" Jack Cloonan, senior FBI agent on the Bin Laden Squad, speaking of the terrorism suspects hidden in CIA secret cells, Nightline, May 13, 2004

On September 17, 2001, the president told the National Security Council that, at the advice of then CIA director George Tenet (who was later awarded the Medal of Freedom by the president) he was going to issue a classified Memorandum of Notification that would give the CIA permission to use "special authorities to detain Al Qaeda operatives worldwide."

Without consulting Congress or any court, Bush had given the CIA the power to ignore American laws and our international treaty obligations to—among other war crimes under the Geneva Conventions—create its own secret prisons around the world. The CIA could also continue to conduct "renditions" to kidnap terrorism suspects to be interrogated in countries known for torturing their prisoners.

April 3, 2007

Police Log Confirms FBI Role In Arrests of War Protesters

A secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain a group of war protesters in a downtown Washington parking garage in April 2002 and interrogated some of them on videotape about their political and religious beliefs, newly uncovered documents and interviews show.

For years, law enforcement authorities suggested it never happened. The FBI and D.C. police said they had no records of such an incident. And police told a federal court that no FBI agents were present when officers arrested more than 20 protesters that afternoon for trespassing; police viewed them as suspicious for milling around the parking garage entrance.

But a civil lawsuit, filed by the protesters, recently unearthed D.C. police logs that confirm the FBI's role in the incident. Lawyers for the demonstrators said the logs, which police say they just found, bolster their allegations of civil rights violations.

The probable cause to arrest the protesters as they retrieved food from their parked van? They were wearing black -- a color choice the FBI and police associated with anarchists, according to the police records.

FBI agents dressed in street clothes separated members to question them one by one about protests they attended, whom they had spent time with recently, what political views they espoused and the significance of their tattoos and slogans, according to interviews and court records.

March 31, 2007

POW Says Torture Led to Confessions

A prisoner held by the American military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, said he had confessed to several terrorist attacks and plots only because he had been tortured, according to a transcript of a hearing held on March 14 and released yesterday by the Pentagon.

The prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, is accused of planning the attack on the destroyer Cole off Yemen in 2000 and playing a role in the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998.

Speaking before a combatant status review tribunal charged with determining whether he had been properly designated an enemy combatant, Mr. Nashiri said he had confessed to many terrorist activities under torture.

"From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me," Mr. Nashiri said through a translator, according to the transcript. "It happened during interviews. One time they tortured me one way, and another time they tortured me in a different way."

March 29, 2007

Gonzales: an active agent to subvert the Justice Department

In light of this pattern, cast a glance back from the US Attorneys scandal through Gonzales's tenure as AG and White House counsel. Look back from the prosecutors he fired to the memos he commissioned on the Geneva Conventions and Guantánamo. Just as Gonzales once tried to redefine torture as not torture, he now tries to define political firings as not political and not firings. In this picture Gonzales is not merely a deferential retainer or simply serving a controversial theory of presidential power; he is the active agent of a campaign to distort and subvert the purposes of the Justice Department and the plain language of federal statutes.

March 29, 2007

Bush's long history of tilting Justice

THE SCANDAL unfolding around the firing of eight U.S. attorneys compels the conclusion that the Bush administration has rewarded loyalty over all else. A destructive pattern of partisan political actions at the Justice Department started long before this incident, however, as those of us who worked in its civil rights division can attest.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.

March 28, 2007

General McCaffrey: "The population is in despair"

An influential retired Army general released a dire assessment of the situation in Iraq, based on a recent round of meetings there with Gen. David H. Petraeus and 16 other senior U.S. commanders.

"The population is in despair," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote in an eight-page document compiled in his capacity as a professor at West Point. "Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate."

McCaffrey is widely respected in the military, having fought in the Vietnam War, commanded a division in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and later served as the commander for U.S. military operations in Central America and South America. After retiring, he became President Bill Clinton's director of drug policy.

McCaffrey, who has met twice with President Bush to discuss the war, most recently in December, was scheduled to brief White House officials on his conclusions late yesterday.

March 27, 2007

US Sent Guantanamo Detainees Home to Torture in Russia

Former Guantanamo detainees who were sent home to Russia in 2004 experienced torture and other abuse despite Moscow's pledge to the US government that they would be treated humanely, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The Russian prisoners' experience illustrates why the United States should stop relying on "diplomatic assurances" of fair treatment to justify sending prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to countries where they are at risk of torture.

The seven Russians were all detained soon after the US invasion of Afghanistan and eventually spent about two years in Guantanamo. Although they complained of mistreatment by the Americans, all of the detainees repeatedly asked authorities at Guantanamo not to be returned to Russia because they expected to be treated worse there. And indeed, three of them experienced serious torture and ill-treatment after being arrested in Russia. Two of them were convicted at unfair trials, and all of them have been harassed and hounded by Russian law enforcement.

March 28, 2007

Justice Department Says Letter on Firings Inaccurate

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- The Justice Department said it provided inaccurate information to members of Congress in a February letter about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

Writing today to lawmakers investigating the terminations, the agency's acting head of legislative affairs, Richard Hertling, said that "certain statements" in the Feb. 23 letter were contradicted by documents that the department provided to Congress this month. Hertling didn't specify what the misstatements were.

The Feb. 23 letter to Democratic lawmakers discussed the appointment of Timothy Griffin, a former aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove, to a U.S. attorney position in Arkansas. The letter said Rove had no role in the decision to appoint Griffin and that nobody "inside or outside of the administration" lobbied for Griffin's appointment.

March 28, 2007

Torture Lawsuit Against Rumsfeld Dropped

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cannot be tried on allegations of torture in overseas military prisons, a federal judge said Tuesday in a case he described as "lamentable."

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job.

The lawsuit contends the prisoners were beaten, suspended upside down from the ceiling by chains, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked inside boxes and subjected to mock executions.

No matter how appealing it might seem to use the courts to correct allegations of severe abuses of power, Hogan wrote, government officials are immune from such lawsuits. Additionally, foreigners held overseas are not normally afforded U.S. constitutional rights.

March 26, 2007

White House Aides Tried to Hide E-mails, Lawmaker Charges

White House staff are using non-governmental e-mail addresses to avoid leaving a paper trail of their communications, a senior congressman charged Monday.

In a pair of letters Monday, House Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, D.-Calif., asked the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign to preserve e-mails sent and received by White House officials using domains controlled by the two groups.

Waxman also asked the two to meet with his staff to explain how they handle e-mail accounts for government officials.

"Such e-mails written in the conduct of White House business would appear to be governmental records subject to preservation and eventual public disclosure," Waxman wrote.

The use of e-mail addresses from domains like "gwb43.com" by White House aides surfaced in the news earlier this month when the Justice Department released hundreds of e-mails between political appointees discussing the firing of several U.S. attorneys. E-mails from Scott Jennings, a deputy to White House political adviser Karl Rove, came from an address featuring the gwb43.com domain.

March 27, 2007

Report Charges Broad White House Efforts to Stifle Climate Research

Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject.

Researchers for the non-profit watchdog Government Accountability Project reviewed thousands of e-mails, memos and other documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and from government whistle-blowers and conducted dozens of interviews with public affairs staff, scientists, reporters and others.

The group says it has identified hundreds of instances where White House-appointed officials interfered with government scientists' efforts to convey their research findings to the public, at the behest of top administration officials.

March 19, 2007

Scientist accuses White House of 'Nazi' tactics

WASHINGTON -- A government scientist, under sharp questioning by a federal panel for his outspoken views on global warming, stood by his view today that the Bush administration's information policies smacked of Nazi Germany.

James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, took particular issue with the administration's rule that a government information officer listen in on his interviews with reporters and its refusal to allow him to be interviewed by National Public Radio.

"This is the United States," Hansen told the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. "We do have freedom of speech here."

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) said it was reasonable for Hansen's employer to ask him not to state views publicly that contradicted administration policy.

"I am concerned that many scientists are increasingly engaging in political advocacy and that some issues of science have become increasingly partisan as some politicians sense that there is a political gain to be found on issues like stem cells, teaching evolution and climate change," Issa said.

March 21, 2007

The Bush administration diluted scientific evidence of global warming

THE Bush administration diluted scientific evidence of global warming, one of its former high-ranking officials has admitted.

Philip Cooney, an oil industry lobbyist now working for Exxon Mobil, conceded during a congressional hearing yesterday that while he was chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality he watered down reports on the adverse effects of man-made emissions on the planet's climate.

"My sole loyalty was to the President and advancing the policies of his administration," Mr Cooney told the house government reform committee. He defended aligning supposedly independent scientific reports with the White House political view on the environment by saying the changes reflected a comprehensive 2001 National Research Council report on the issue.

March 18, 2007

Bush's War Has Put the Army in Grave Danger

Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge.

More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a "death spiral," in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand.

March 18, 2007

Release of Guantanamo Prisoners Undermines U.S. Claims of Threat

The analysis, based on government case files for Saudi detainees sent home over the past three years, shows inmates being systematically freed from custody within weeks of their return. It also raises questions on how detainees are selected for release: While some of the repatriated Saudis were accused of lesser offenses -- such as working for charitable organizations with alleged ties to al-Qaeda -- others were released in spite of standing accusations that they belonged to al-Qaeda or the Taliban, or even fought against U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan, records show.

The case files also offer insight into the nature of U.S. evidence against the detainees. For example, in half the cases studied, the detainees were turned over to U.S. forces by Pakistani police or troops in return for financial rewards. Many others were accused of terrorism connections in part because their Arab nicknames matched those found in a computer database of al-Qaeda members, documents show.

"The credibility of many of these accusations is highly questionable," co-authors Anant Raut and Jill M. Friedman write in "The Saudi Repatriates Report," scheduled for release tomorrow. The report is a statistical analysis of the cases of 24 repatriated Saudis, a group representing nearly half of the 53 Saudi nationals released from Guantanamo Bay as of Feb. 1. The authors are members of the Washington office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a law firm that has provided pro-bono representation for five Saudis detained at Guantanamo Bay. The law firm provided copies of the supporting documents to The Washington Post.

The evidence is overwhelming - the US tortures POWs.

March 17, 2007

Probe of Al-Qaeda Leader's Handling Sought

Two senators who observed last week's closed military proceedings against al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed called for an investigation into allegations that the accused planner of the Sept. 11 attacks was physically abused while in CIA custody.

Mohammed told the tribunal last Saturday that he had been mistreated during three years in CIA custody before his transfer to Guantanamo Bay, and he submitted a written description of the alleged abuse. The military panel immediately classified the submission and redacted from transcripts details of Mohammed's treatment in the CIA's secret prison program.

According to one portion of the transcript made public earlier this week, however, Mohammed told the panel of three unnamed military officers that his children had been held for four months and abused during his incarceration.

"Allegations of prisoner mistreatment must be taken seriously and properly investigated. To do otherwise would reflect poorly on our nation," Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a committee member, said in a statement issued yesterday.

March 14, 2007

House overturns Bush order on papers secrecy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Brushing aside a veto threat, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to overturn a 2001 order by President George W. Bush that lets former presidents keep their papers secret indefinitely.

The measure, which drew bipartisan support and passed by a veto-busting 333-93 margin, was among White House-opposed bills the House passed that would widen access to government information and protect government whistleblowers.

March 14, 2007

Judges Say E.P.A. Ignored Order in Setting Emission Standards

The ruling said the agency had ignored the court's order to ensure that the basis for its standards was emission levels achieved by kilns using the most effective technology currently in use in the industry.

"If the Environmental Protection Agency disagrees with the Clean Air Act's requirements for setting emission standards it should take its concerns to Congress," the judges wrote in an unusually pointed final paragraph.

"If the E.P.A. disagrees with this court's interpretation of the Clean Air Act," they continued, the agency should appeal its earlier ruling. "In the meantime, it must obey the Clean Air Act as written by Congress and interpreted by this court."

The corruption within the Bush White House expands to every part of the government now. It will take generations to undo what they've done.

March 13, 2007

Army IG's report points to faulty rating of wounded soldiers

ARLINGTON, Va. — An Army Inspector General's report released Monday details shortcomings in the Army's system for rating how wounded soldiers are.

Among the findings: The Department of Veterans Affairs system for disability ratings needs to be updated to better represent how soldiers are injured, the report says.

The Army Times has reported that critics claim the Army is deliberately giving wounded soldiers less of a disability rating than they deserve to save money, but the Army has vehemently denied this.

March 14, 2007

Gonzales contradicts himself four times in nine minutes

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faced the cameras for all of nine minutes yesterday, but he managed to contradict himself at least four times as he fought off calls to resign over the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Suddenly, the administration is in potentially a bigger flap than the Libby trial ever presented: allegations of political meddling with federal prosecutors at the highest levels of the White House with the complicity of Gonzales, the man Bush dubbed "mi abogado." And Schumer could not quite suppress a smile as he took the stage in the Senate television gallery, proclaiming, "This has become as serious as it gets."

Schumer said he was unsatisfied with Gonzales's sacrifice of his chief of staff. "Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy." Echoing a phrase used in the Libby trial, the senator continued: "The cloud over the Justice Department is getting darker and darker."

March 14, 2007

Investigators say Bush effort to relieve backlog likely will be unsuccessful

WASHINGTON - The Veterans Affairs' system for handling disability claims is strained to its limit, and the Bush administration's current efforts to relieve backlogs will not be enough to serve veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, investigators said Tuesday.

In testimony to a House panel, the Government Accountability Office and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes detailed their study into the VA's claims system in light of growing demands created by wars. They found a system on the verge of crisis because of backlogs, cumbersome paperwork and ballooning costs.

March 12, 2007

The Justice Department's false statements

Based on the DOJ's false assurances, Congress dismissed away the concerns of Russ Feingold and The Post and overwhelmingly voted to re-authorize the Patriot Act. In doing so, they re-authorized the dramatically expanded NSLs, which were first authorized (in expanded form) in September, 2001.

In other words: all of those assurances we gave you in order to convince you that we were using NSLs in strict accordance with the law were false. Now that the IG Report proves that what we told you is false, we are retracting what we said, and when we get around to it, we will also correct the false testimony we gave at Congressional hearings and the false assurances we gave you in secret, classified meetings -- all of which successfully convinced you to re-authorize the Patriot Act.

It is inconceivable that these false assurances were made in good faith. They were plainly the by-product of either deliberate deceit or a reckless indifference to finding out whether those statements were true. The IG Report documents that the illegal use of NSLs was not isolated in any way, but instead, was pervasive and systematic. As the Washington Post Editorial yesterday noted:

March 11, 2007

The Army is ordering injured troops to go to Iraq

As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.

On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. These are the men responsible for handling each soldier's "physical profile," an Army document that lists for commanders an injured soldier's physical limitations because of medical problems -- from being unable to fire a weapon to the inability to move and dive in three-to-five-second increments to avoid enemy fire. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny.

March 10, 2007

Federal officials secretly schemed to limit payouts for sick and dying nuclear weapons workers

Federal officials secretly schemed to limit payouts for sick and dying nuclear weapons workers, including thousands from the Rocky Flats plant outside Denver, newly released documents show.

The officials responsible for helping those workers went behind their boss's back, called on White House officials for help and tried to hide their efforts, according to internal e-mails and memos obtained by a congressional committee and posted on its Web site.

They also wanted to get the White House to override scientific decisions granting compensation and pack the program's advisory board with members less sympathetic to workers.

March 10, 2007

FBI broke the law

WASHINGTON — Years of suspicion about the government's authority to secretly poke around in Americans' personal information boiled over yesterday when the FBI admitted it did so illegally in some cases over the past three years.

At a glance...
  • Who did what: Federal law enforcement chiefs say the FBI broke the law in prying into Americans' personal information.
  • So what: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III apologized and pledged to stop it.
  • What next: Disciplinary action, not criminal charges, are likely.
March 8, 2007

Government Scientists: "Don't discuss polar bears"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday.

Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration's history of muzzling dissent over global climate change.

March 7, 2007

GOP Was Aware of Problems at Walter Reed and Did Nothing

Senior Republicans who knew about problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center while their party controlled Congress insist they did all they could to prod the Pentagon to fix them.

But C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., former chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he stopped short of going public with the hospital's problems to avoid embarrassing the Army while it was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, who was the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he sought appropriations to address problems he found during visits to military hospitals. For example, he obtained money for air conditioners for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and modern stretchers for a Baghdad field hospital.

Murtha focused blame for the Walter Reed scandal on the Bush administration and said the Pentagon discouraged patients from talking to lawmakers in both parties.

"My impression is that the military was constrained, even intimidated, from telling me and other congressional members about the real problems and the real needs," Murtha said.

March 8, 2007

Historians Fight Bush on Access to Papers

President George W. Bush's 2001 executive order restricted the release of presidential records by giving sitting presidents the power to delay the release of papers indefinitely, while extending the control of former presidents, vice presidents and their families. It also changed the system from one that automatically released documents 30 days after a current or former president is notified to one that withholds papers until a president specifically permits their release.

Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to discuss a new bill that would overturn Mr. Bush's order, said a committee spokeswoman, Karen Lightfoot. The sponsors, who include the committee chairman, Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, hope to bring the bill to the floor of the House next week.

March 6, 2007

Pentagon Closes Door on Terror Hearings

Reporters will be barred from hearings that begin Friday in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the 14 suspected terrorists who were transferred last year from secret CIA prisons, officials said Tuesday.

Interest in the 14 is high because of their alleged links to al-Qaida. Among them is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. He was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.

A New York-based human rights group that represents one of the 14 men accused the Pentagon of designing "sham tribunals." The organization contended that its client, Majid Khan, has been denied access to his lawyers since October 2006 "solely to prevent his torture and abuse from becoming public" and to protect complicit foreign governments.

March 2007

Confessions of a Torturer: The story of Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis

Lagouranis says his own interrogations there were just talking, "right out of the army field manual." Some of the older interrogators, however, were still using harsher methods. Some detainees judged to be uncooperative were stripped of their mattress, blankets, and extra clothing to expose them to the cold in their cells. Others were kept in isolation for months at a time and hooded when they were taken to the interrogation booths, so that they'd see no one but their interrogators. Nevertheless, it seemed to Lagouranis that the administration of Abu Ghraib was getting progressively cleaner. Also, it was common knowledge that the CIA was torturing prisoners, he says, so anything the army did paled by comparison.

IN APRIL 2004 the New Yorker and 60 Minutes II broke the story of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib. Not long after those infamous photos were published, Lagouranis was transferred from Mosul back to Abu Ghraib. CNN broadcasts played constantly in the area where the interrogators wrote their reports, and it was there, while watching congressional hearings, that Lagouranis heard Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld say that the detainees in Iraq were being treated according to the Geneva Conventions. "I also heard [Lieutenant General Ricardo] Sanchez say that dogs were never authorized to be used in Iraq." This testimony flatly contradicted guidelines for interrogations that Sanchez, the military commander in Iraq, had issued in September and October of 2003.

"That's when I got really pissed," Lagouranis says. "I was like, 'Shit, these guys are fucking us over.'"

NY Times List of Impeachable Offenses
March 4, 2007

The Must-Do List

Today we're offering a list — which, sadly, is hardly exhaustive — of things that need to be done to reverse the unwise and lawless policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Many will require a rewrite of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, an atrocious measure pushed through Congress with the help of three Republican senators, Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham and John McCain; Senator McCain lent his moral authority to improving one part of the bill and thus obscured its many other problems.

March 5, 2007

Two FBI Whistleblowers Confirm Illegal Wiretapping of Government Officials and Misuse of FISA

State Secrets Privilege Was Used to Cover Up Corruption and Silence Whistleblowers

The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) has obtained a copy of an official complaint filed by a veteran FBI Special Agent, Gilbert Graham, with the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG). SA Graham's protected disclosures report the violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in conducting electronic surveillance of high-profile U.S. public officials.

Before his retirement in 2002, SA Gilbert Graham worked for the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) Squad NS-24. One of the main areas of Mr. Graham's counterintelligence investigations involved espionage activities by Turkish officials and agents in the United States. On April 2, 2002, Graham filed with the DOJ-OIG a classified protected disclosure, which provided a detailed account of FISA violations involving misuse of FISA warrants to engage in domestic surveillance.  In his unclassified report SA Graham states: "It is the complainant's reasonable belief that the request for ELSUR [electronic surveillance] coverage was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters."  Graham blew the whistle on this illegal behavior, but the actions were covered up by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General's office.

March 4, 2007

U.S. Troops Deleted Journalist's Images

A freelance photographer working for The Associated Press and a cameraman working for AP Television News said a U.S. soldier deleted their photos and video showing a four-wheel drive vehicle in which three people were shot to death about 100 yards from the suicide bombing. The AP plans to lodge a protest with the American military.

Gul said the U.S. troops took his camera, deleted his photos and returned it to him. The journalists came across another American, showed their identification cards, and he agreed that they could take pictures.

March 2, 2007

Why is Gen. Kiley back in charge at Walter Reed?

YESTERDAY THE Post reported that Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley heard years ago from a veterans advocate and even a member of Congress that outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was distressingly squalid and disorganized. That commander proceeded to do little, even though he lives across the street from the outpatient facilities in a spacious Georgian house. Also yesterday, the Army announced that Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, the head of Walter Reed since August, had been relieved of his command. His temporary replacement? None other than Gen. Kiley.

Here's where the story stops making sense. Much of The Post's article detailed the abuse by omission that Gen. Kiley, not Gen. Weightman, committed, first as head of Walter Reed, then in his current post as Army surgeon general. Gen. Weightman, who very well might deserve his disgrace, has commanded Walter Reed for only half a year, while Gen. Kiley, now back in charge of Walter Reed, headed the hospital and its outpatient facilities for two years and has led the Army's medical command since. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and his wife say they repeatedly told Gen. Kiley about unhealthful conditions in outpatient facilities.