Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Impeach Bush

Those Designated 'Combatants' Lose Legal Protections *

Bush Asks Court to Seal Vaccine Records *

Deflation to Depression--a must read

Zogby On Why Democrats Lost

Bin Laden tape 'not genuine'

A Military at War Needs Its Gay Soldiers

Bush's Campaign to end the Constitution

GOP pressure publisher to remove Gore picture from textbook

Convicted Felon Hired by Bush--Poindexter

Those Designated 'Combatants' Lose Legal Protections *
An Impeachable Offense
Reuters.com
December 1, 2002
By Charles Lane

The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say.

The elements of this new system are already familiar from President Bush's orders and his aides' policy statements and legal briefs: indefinite military detention for those designated "enemy combatants," liberal use of "material witness" warrants, counterintelligence-style wiretaps and searches led by law enforcement officials and, for noncitizens, trial by military commissions or deportation after strictly closed hearings.

Only now, however, is it becoming clear how these elements could ultimately interact.

For example, under authority it already has or is asserting in court cases, the administration, with approval of the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, could order a clandestine search of a U.S. citizen's home and, based on the information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base. Courts would have very limited authority to second-guess the detention, to the extent that they were aware of it.

Administration officials, noting that they have chosen to prosecute suspected Taliban member John Walker Lindh, "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and alleged Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui in ordinary federal courts, say the parallel system is meant to be used selectively, as a complement to conventional processes, not as a substitute. But, they say, the parallel system is necessary because terrorism is a form of war as well as a form of crime, and it must not only be punished after incidents occur, but also prevented and disrupted through the gathering of timely intelligence.

"I wouldn't call it an alternative system," said an administration official who has helped devise the legal response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "But it is different than the criminal procedure system we all know and love. It's a separate track for people we catch in the war."

At least one American has been shifted from the ordinary legal system into the parallel one: alleged al Qaeda "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla, who is being held at a Navy brig, without the right to communicate with a lawyer or anyone else. U.S. officials have told the courts that they can detain and interrogate him until the executive branch declares an end to the war against terrorism.

The final outlines of this parallel system will be known only after the courts, including probably the Supreme Court, have settled a variety of issues being litigated. But the prospect of such a system has triggered a fierce debate.

Civil libertarians accuse the Bush administration of an executive-branch power grab that will erode the rights and freedoms that terrorists are trying to destroy -- and that were enhanced only recently in response to abuses during the civil rights era, Vietnam and Watergate.

"They are trying to embed in law a vast expansion of executive authority with no judicial oversight in the name of national security," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, a Washington-based nonprofit group that has challenged the administration approach in court. "This is more tied to statutory legal authority than J. Edgar Hoover's political spying, but that may make it more dangerous. You could have the law serving as a vehicle for all kinds of abuses."

Administration officials say that they are acting under ample legal authority derived from statutes, court decisions and wartime powers that the president possesses as commander in chief under the Constitution.

"When you have a long period of time when you're not engaged in a war, people tend to forget, or put in backs of their minds, the necessity for certain types of government action used when we are in danger, when we are facing eyeball to eyeball a serious threat," Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, who leads the administration's anti-terrorism legal team in the federal courts, said in an interview.

Broadly speaking, the debate between the administration and its critics is not so much about the methods the government seeks to employ as it is about who should act as a check against potential abuses.

Executive Decisions

Civil libertarians insist that the courts should searchingly review Bush's actions, so that he is always held accountable to an independent branch of government. Administration officials, however, imply that the main check on the president's performance in wartime is political -- that if the public perceives his approach to terrorism is excessive or ineffective, it will vote him out of office.

"At the end of the day in our constitutional system, someone will have to decide whether that [decision to designate someone an enemy combatant] is a right or just decision," Olson said. "Who will finally decide that? Will it be a judge, or will it be the president of the United States, elected by the people, specifically to perform that function, with the capacity to have the information at his disposal with the assistance of those who work for him?"

Probably the most hotly disputed element of the administration's approach is its contention that the president alone can designate individuals, including U.S. citizens, as enemy combatants, who can be detained with no access to lawyers or family members unless and until the president determines, in effect, that hostilities between the United States and that individual have ended.

Padilla was held as a material witness for a month after his May 8 arrest in Chicago before he was designated an enemy combatant. He is one of two U.S. citizens being held as enemy combatants at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. The other is Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Saudi Taliban fighter who was captured by American troops in Afghanistan and sent to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until it was discovered that he was born in Louisiana.

Attorneys are challenging their detentions in federal court. While civil libertarians concede that the executive branch has well-established authority to name and confine members of enemy forces during wartime, they maintain that it is unconstitutional to subject U.S. citizens to indefinite confinement on little more than the president's declaration, especially given the inherently open-ended nature of an unconventional war against terrorism.

"The notion that the executive branch can decide by itself that an American citizen can be put in a military camp, incommunicado, is frightening," said Morton H. Halperin, director of the Washington office of the Open Society Institute. "They're entitled to hold him on the grounds that he is in fact at war with the U.S., but there has to be an opportunity for him to contest those facts."

However, the Bush administration, citing two World War II-era cases -- the Supreme Court's ruling upholding a military commission trial for a captured American-citizen Nazi saboteur, and a later federal appeals court decision upholding the imprisonment of an Italian American caught as a member of Italian forces in Europe -- says there is ample precedent for what it is doing.

Courts traditionally understand that they must defer to the executive's greater expertise and capability when it comes to looking at such facts and making such judgments in time of war, Bush officials said. At most, courts have only the power to review legal claims brought on behalf of detainees, such as whether there is indeed a state of conflict between the United States and the detainee.

In a recent legal brief, Olson argued that the detention of people such as Hamdi or Padilla as enemy combatants is "critical to gathering intelligence in connection with the overall war effort."

Nor is there any requirement that the executive branch spell out its criteria for determining who qualifies as an enemy combatant, Olson argues.

"There won't be 10 rules that trigger this or 10 rules that end this," Olson said in the interview. "There will be judgments and instincts and evaluations and implementations that have to be made by the executive that are probably going to be different from day to day, depending on the circumstances."

The federal courts have yet to deliver a definitive judgment on the question. A federal district judge in Virginia, Robert G. Doumar, was sharply critical of the administration, insisting that Hamdi be permitted to consult an attorney. But he was partially overruled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond.

The 4th Circuit, however, said the administration's assertion that courts should have absolutely no role in examining the facts leading to an enemy combatant designation was "sweeping." A decision from that court is pending as to how much of a role a court could claim, if any. The matter could well have to be settled in the Supreme Court.

Secret Surveillance

The administration scored a victory recently when the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled 3 to 0 that the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, gives the Justice Department authority to break down what had come to be known as "the wall" separating criminal investigations from investigations of foreign agents.

The ruling endorsed the administration's view that law enforcement goals should be allowed to drive Justice Department requests for special eavesdropping and search warrants that had been thought to be reserved for counterintelligence operations. But the court went further, agreeing with the administration that "the wall" itself had no real basis in pre-Patriot Act law. Instead, the court ruled, "the wall" was a product of internal Justice Department guidelines that were, in turn, based partly on erroneous interpretations of the law by some courts.

There is no clear line between intelligence and crime in any case, the court said, because any investigation of a spy ring could ultimately lead to charging U.S. citizens with crimes such as espionage.

The decision overruled an earlier one by the lower-level Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in which seven judges sharply criticized past Justice Department misstatements in applications for permission to do secret surveillance.

Administration officials say that the ruling permits what is only sensible -- greater sharing of information between federal prosecutors and federal counterintelligence officials.

Thanks to enforcement of "the wall" by FBI lawyers, they note, pre-Sept. 11 permission to search Moussaoui's computer was not sought, a crucial missed opportunity to prevent the attacks.

In practical terms, the ruling means that the attorney general would still have to convince the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that he has probable cause to believe that a given subject of a wiretap or search is an agent of a foreign terrorist group, a standard that is not dissimilar to the one required for warrants in ordinary criminal cases.

Yet civil libertarians say that targets of such investigations who end up being ordered out of the country or prosecuted would lose a crucial right that they would have in the ordinary criminal justice system -- the right to examine the government's evidence justifying the initial warrant.

"So the government starts off using secret surveillance information not to gather information upon which to make policy, but to imprison or deport an individual, and then it never gives the individual a fair chance to see if the surveillance was lawful," Martin said.

Commentary:
The Constitution has been completely shredded by this president. Does anyone think the Supremes will undo anything this tyrant does? If ever there was a reason for the Supreme Court to stay out of election disputes this is it. Now they can't and won't undo their puppet has done to the Constitution--they can't--they are a party to it.


top

Bush Asks Court to Seal Vaccine Records *
Orginal Title: US Government Asks Court to Seal Vaccine Records
An Impeachable Offense
November 26, 2002
By Todd Zwillich

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) - Attorneys for the Bush Administration asked a federal court on Monday to order that documents on hundreds of cases of autism allegedly caused by childhood vaccines be kept from the public.

Department of Justice lawyers asked a special master in the US Court of Federal Claims to seal the documents, arguing that allowing their automatic disclosure would take away the right of federal agencies to decide when and how the material should be released.

Attorneys for the families of hundreds of autistic children charged that the government was trying to keep the information out of civil courts, where juries might be convinced to award large judgments against vaccine manufacturers.

The court is currently hearing approximately 1,000 claims brought by the families of autistic children. The suits charge that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which until recently included a mercury-containing preservative known as thimerosal, can cause neurological damage leading to autism.

Federal law requires suits against vaccine makers to go before a special federal "vaccine court" before any civil lawsuit is allowed. The court was set up by Congress to speed compensation claims and to help protect vaccine makers from having to pay large punitive awards decided by juries in state civil courts. Plaintiffs are free to take their cases to state courts if they lose in the federal vaccine court or if they don't accept the court's judgment.

The current 1,000 or so autism cases are unusual for the court. Because it received so many claims, much of the fact-finding and evidence-gathering is going on for all of the cases as a block.

Monday's request by the Bush Administration would prevent plaintiffs who later go to civil court from using some relevant evidence generated during the required vaccine court proceedings.

Plaintiffs' attorneys said that the order amounted to punishment of the families of injured children because it would require them to incur the time and expense of regenerating evidence for a civil suit.

"Wouldn't it be a shame if at the end of the day our policy would be to compensate lawyers," said Jeff Kim, an attorney with Gallagher Boland Meiburger & Brosnan. The firm represents about 400 families of autistic children who received the MMR vaccine.

Kim accused the government of trying to lower "a shroud of secrecy over these documents" in order to protect vaccine manufacturers, who he said were "the only entities" that would benefit if the documents are sealed.

While federal law clearly seals most documents generated in individual vaccine cases, it has never been applied to a block proceeding like the one generating evidence in the autism cases.

Administration lawyers told Special Master George Hastings that they requested the seal in order to preserve the legal right of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide when vaccine evidence can be released to the public.

Justice Department attorney Vincent Matanoski argued that to let plaintiffs use the vaccine court evidence in a later civil suit would confer an advantage on plaintiffs who chose to forgo federal compensation.

"There is no secret here. What the petitioners are arguing for are enhanced rights in a subsequent civil action," Matanoski said of the plaintiffs. "They're still going to have unfettered use within the proceedings."

Hastings would not say when he would issue a ruling on whether to seal the court documents, but did say that his decision would be "very prompt."

Commentary:
Only one word can describe this president--Disgusting. The real reason they hate trial lawyers is they fear juries and the will of the people. The idea that the government is going to seal information needed in a trial is beyond contemptible. It is an imnpeachable offense.

Bush violates the "Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by denying citizens their rights to seek damages by restricting information and he should be impeached.

The actions of the Congress in this situation are just as disgusting. In some ungodly sick form of logic, it is public policy and law to protect those who harm others with vaccines. Now we know why republicans hate trial lawyers. Lawyers help those who have been harmed, while republicans protect those who do the harming.


top

Deflation to Depression--a must read
Orginal Title:Falling Prices Put Fed on Guard
Washington Post
Steven Pearlstein
Friday, November 29, 2002

After half a century of trying to prevent prices from rising too fast, economic policymakers have a new concern: Prices aren't rising fast enough.

Government statistics show that average prices for products have declined in the past year, including those of cars, clothing, computers, furniture, gasoline and heating oil. So, too, have the prices for services such as telephones, hotel rooms and airplane tickets, even as costs for other services such as health care, housing, education and cable television continued to rise.

The broadest measure of prices in the economy shows they rose less than 1 percent during the 12 months that ended in September, the smallest increase in 50 years.

Until now, the slowdown in overall inflation has been a boon to the American economy, giving consumers more for their money and allowing living standards to continue to rise even during a period of slow economic growth.

But economists warn that if disinflation turns into deflation -- a broad and sustained decline in prices -- it would create a dangerous dynamic that could drag the economy into a nasty recession from which it could be difficult to escape.

"If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said it was ridiculous to worry about deflation," said Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton University economist and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. "But the prospect of deflation is now sufficiently probable -- I'd say 15 to 20 percent -- that it's now worth talking about."

There has been quite a bit of talk about deflation lately.

In recent testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that while the economy is not yet "close to a deflationary cliff," he and his central bank colleagues are watching it closely and taking it very seriously. Last week his fellow Fed governor, Ben S. Bernanke, followed up with a deflation speech titled, "Making Sure It Doesn't Happen Here."

Corporate executives complain that price competition is so fierce, they are forced to cut prices even as wages and other costs continue to rise.

And on Wall Street, declining long-term interest rates in the bond market signal that investors are not much concerned about renewed inflation.

Deflation, like cholesterol, comes in good and bad varieties.

The good kind, such as many of the price declines over the past few years, happens when companies find ways to produce goods and services more cheaply, usually by making use of new technology or new ways of doing business. In varying degrees, these productivity gains are passed on to consumers as lower prices, to workers as higher wages and to shareholders as higher profits. That makes almost everyone better off.

By contrast, the bad kind of deflation occurs because there are too few customers chasing too many goods and services, resulting in repeated rounds of competitive price cutting that leads to layoffs, falling wages, and a decline in business investment and consumer spending.

During bad deflation, consumers and businesses -- knowing that prices are likely to be lower tomorrow than they are today -- hoard cash and put off buying things, making the recession worse and driving prices and wages down further.

Households and companies with lots of debt suddenly find that they have to make fixed monthly payments out of deflated wages and revenue. Some file for bankruptcy; some are forced to cut other spending to meet their debt service.

That was what happened in the early 1930s, triggering the Great Depression. Something similar has taken hold in Japan, where prices are falling about 1 percent a year.

What worries some economists is that in both of those bad episodes, the deflationary spiral occurred after a huge investment bubble burst, leaving the economy with too much debt and too much capacity across a broad range of industries.

Stephen S. Roach of Morgan Stanley argues that some of those dynamics are now at play in the U.S. economy after the worst stock market losses since 1929.

"The risk of deflation is higher than at any time in the past half century," Roach said.

Americans can already see a few early signs of bad deflation taking hold in a number of industries -- Wall Street, commercial real estate, much of the technology and telecommunications sectors. Perhaps no industry shows it more clearly than the airlines.

Take the example of United Airlines, which is cutting expenses in hopes of getting federal loan guarantees and avoiding a bankruptcy filing. As demand for air travel fell, United was forced to reduce fares by roughly 4 percent in the past year, offering more and deeper discounts to fill empty seats. More recently, a war over business-class fares threatens to slash ticket prices by as much as 40 percent.

With sales that depressed and prices that low, UAL Corp., United's parent company, is likely to lose more than $2 billion this year. It has already cut 18,000 jobs and plans to trim 9,000 more in the next year, for a cumulative payroll reduction of more than 25 percent. Moreover, the employees who remain have been asked to accept wage and benefit cuts that would save the company $5.2 billion over 51/2 years, or an average of about $12,000 per worker. Pilots have agreed to pay cuts of 18 percent, with a 10 percent cut imposed on management personnel. Machinists, though, rejected pay cuts of 6 to 7 percent.

Now deflationary forces have spread to major suppliers. United has canceled or deferred delivery of 68 new airplanes, with none to be delivered until 2005. Such actions by United and others led Boeing Co. to cut its payroll by 30,000, with an additional 5,000 layoffs announced earlier this month. At the same time, Boeing is in a fierce price war with Airbus SAS to snare what few remaining orders there are.

Although other industries have experienced declining prices and shrinking payrolls, they have not led to the declines in employment and wages that most economists believe are necessary to create and sustain a broad deflationary spiral. That could change, however, if the current recovery falters and the economy dips back into recession.

"If we have a double-dip [recession] and consumption and investment both weaken again, then that is the road to deflation," said John H. Makin, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Federal Reserve was worried enough about that prospect that it lowered interest rates this month by half a percentage point. In recent speeches, Fed officials emphasized that there is plenty they can do to prevent a deflationary spiral even if they push the federal funds rate down to zero and need still more monetary ammunition.

Fed officials have been thinking about how to conduct monetary policy in a deflationary environment since the fall of 1999, when the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston hosted a conference on the subject in Woodstock, Vt. Late last year the Fed's research staff, in a paper on Japan's experience, concluded that a deflation spiral was so difficult to forecast, and so difficult to stop after it began, that the Fed should move aggressively before inflation hits zero. According to its minutes, the Fed's policymaking body took up the subject this past January and at its meeting in September.

"The Fed takes this very seriously," said Adam S. Posen, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics. "They will do what it takes. But the truth is it won't be needed because deflation is not going to happen here."

In explaining his confident view, Posen noted that the two instances in which deflationary cycles developed in the 20th century -- the Great Depression in the United States and Europe and Japan during the 1990s -- central banks were too timid about using their money-printing powers. In both cases, the bursting of a financial bubble rendered the banking systems effectively bankrupt, drying up new credit for businesses.

In contrast, U.S. banks today remain profitable and well capitalized, in spite of their significant post-bubble losses and write-offs, Posen said.

Back at Morgan Stanley, however, Roach warned of the dangers of refighting the last war and expecting things to unfold here just as they have in Japan.

Already, the rate of disinflation since the peak of the boom years is running about five times that of other recent recessions, Roach said, with no sign that the deceleration is abating.

And this time the deflationary pressures are coming not just from within the U.S. economy, but increasingly from low-cost countries that export a wider range of goods (auto parts, furniture and computers) and a growing number of services (computer programming and telemarketing).

In such a global economy, Roach said, the Fed's ability to boost prices by printing unlimited amounts of money is matched against the ability of countries such as China and India to deploy virtually unlimited numbers of workers to burgeoning export industries. That makes deflation a problem not only for Japan or the United States, but also for the rest of the world.

"The endgame of global deflation cannot be dismissed out of hand," Roach said.

Commentary:
This is perhaps the most important story on this website. Few will read it and even fewer will understand it. So, while the press runs around saying the democrat party is dead and talking about war the real story is Disinflation and Depression.


top

Zogby On Why Democrats Lost
November 13, 2002
Zogby.com

Economy and Jobs Dominates As Top Issue in Most States - Republicans Seen As Best on Economy - President Bush's Popularity Key Difference in Close Races - Burden Now On President to Produce on Economy, Social Security, and Health Care - Zogby International Post-Election Survey Reveals.

A new poll conducted in 18 states and the District of Columbia reveals that the economy trumped as the top issue in last week's election. Among the first 12 states polled, the economy was cited as the number one issue in 6 states (Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Missouri, and Minnesota) and either second or third in the other 6 states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California, Texas, and South Dakota).

In none of the above states polled was the war in Iraq or the war on terrorism among the top six issues.

The Zogby International poll, conducted by telephone Thursday through Sunday, is the first look at which demographic groups voted, how they made their decision, and why they voted as they did. The poll sampled 600 likely voters in the 12 states noted above. Results from samples in Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia will be released next week.

Defying the pre-election conventional wisdom, the economy actually hurt the Democrats.In six states, Republicans out-scored the Democrats by double-digit margins in handling the of the economy (Georgia, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, and Colorado). All were seen as close races going into election day, Republicans won four of the five.

In all six of those too-close-to-call states, President George W. Bush's job performance rating topped 60%.

Pollster John Zogby and Catholic University of America Professor John K. White: "The collapse of the Democrats on the economy is clear from our new data. They had no message, provided no alternative plan, offered no wedge issue, and had no clearly visible or credible national spokesman. President Bush spent his political capital in states where he was needed and ultimately provided the margin of victory for the Republicans in those key states."

In the 12 states results released today, a range of 4% to 11% indicated that they made up their minds who to vote for in the election booth on November 5. In most of the key states, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to make up their minds for whom to vote on the actual day of the election.

Commentary:
This poll is very good news for the democrats. First off, the so-called war on terrorism isn't selling anymore and as Bill Clinton said; "It's the economy stupid."

The media knew the war on terrorism is a dead issue already yet, they push it almost daily. Needless to say such reporting gets republicans to the polls and keeps democrats home. The win goes to the WH for getting the media to stay off of issues the American people are interested in. Had the media done its job, republicans would be toast today. As we all know deficits are soaring and Americans hate the idea we got a tax cut in exchange for tax cuts. 62% of Americans know the tax cut is going to the rich. The media had to keep our minds distracted with war. They were on a mission.

One other note: Most Americans think we're losing the war on terrorism. Had the press pushed that Bush would be toast too. As long as you remember these silly wars (terror and Iraq) are commercials for the republican party you'll get it.


top

Bin Laden tape 'not genuine'
BBC News
Friday 29 November, 2002

Researchers in Switzerland have questioned the authenticity of the recent audio recording attributed to Osama Bin Laden.

A team from the Lausanne-based Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence, Idiap, said it was 95% certain the tape does not feature the voice of the al-Qaeda leader.

It could be an impostor

Samy Bengio, voice recognition expert

US intelligence officials have said they believe the recording - broadcast on the Arabic al-Jazeera television channel earlier this month - was almost certainly that of Osama Bin Laden.

If verified, it would provide the first evidence in a year that Bin Laden survived the American-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan.

Prudence

The review of the tape was commissioned by France-2 television and its findings were presented by the institute's director, Professor Herve Bourlard.

Mr Bourlard said the institute had compared the voice on the tape with some 20 earlier recordings allegedly made by Bin Laden.

"It could be an impostor," said one of Mr Bourlard's colleagues at Idiap, Samy Bengio, quoted by the French news agency AFP.

He said the system they had used was difficult to tamper with - the al-Jazeera tape was sufficiently different from other Bin Laden recordings as to raise doubts.

Recent

The speaker on the recording - broadcast on 12 November - praised anti-Western attacks as recent as last month, including the Bali bombing; the killing of a US marine in Kuwait; the bombing of a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen; and the siege of a Moscow theatre by Chechen rebels.

You will be killed just as you kill

Voice on tape

It spoke of "the raids on New York and Washington" - an apparent reference to the 11 September attacks, widely blamed on Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

The speaker warned that America's allies - specifically Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia - would also be targeted if they continued to support Washington.

"You will be killed just as you kill," he said.

It was the clearest indication for nearly a year that Osama Bin Laden is alive.

Bin Laden was last reported alive in Tora Bora

Bin Laden was last reported alive in mid-December 2001, when US intelligence detected his voice in radio messages from Afghanistan's Tora Bora cave complex.

US officials believe that if he is alive, the al-Qaeda chief is probably in hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The US has offered a $25m reward for information leading to Bin Laden's whereabouts.

The tape was analyzed by the CIA and the US National Security Agency, which listens to communications around the world.

Commentary:
I don't know if bin Laden is dead, but if this tape is really bin Laden, he lied. If in fact, this isn't a tape by bin Laden Bush and his cronies are lying now. No matter, nothing new here. The problem with Bush is he lies so many times in a day that it's almost impossible to keep track. If you want bin Laden dead, Bush has said it; if you want him alive; Bush has said that too. Truth isn't what it used to be is it?

I remember a time when Americans required proof before they believed something and I recall a time when we detested presidents when they lied to us.


top

A Military at War Needs Its Gay Soldiers
New York Times
Editorial/Op Ed
By ALASTAIR GAMBLE

WASHINGTON — It was only two months after I started learning Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., the military's primary language training center, that a group of Arabic-speaking terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. For many of my classmates, the attack was enough of a motivation to learn. For others, it was the taped interview with Osama bin Laden that strengthened our resolve. Either way, the events of Sept. 11 caused all of us to work even harder at mastering Arabic.

I've always had a knack for learning languages, and I found myself picking up Arabic easily; I quickly became a confident speaker. As the course went on, my vocabulary grew from the simple to the relevant. I was able to converse not only about daily activities but also about military operations, economics and politics. The Middle East news broadcasts that my class watched between lessons became clearer each day. So did the tapes of Osama bin Laden.

By the end of the semester, eight of the 40 or so students who had started the class with me had failed out, and my eight-person section had fallen to six. I sometimes thought about what my future would hold. I imagined that in due time I would be able to use the language and my interrogation skills to question operatives of Al Qaeda.

Often our commander spoke to our group about the real-life application of Arabic that was in our future. And given the shortage of Arabic translators and interpreters in the military and intelligence communities — about half of the Army's Arabic language expert positions are vacant — our role in the war on terror would be vital.

Unfortunately, my service was cut short. There was something about me that, despite my skills and aptitude for the work, made me incompatible with military culture: I'm gay. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy makes no exceptions, even for personnel it needs desperately.

From the beginning of my time in the Army, I tried hard to hide my sexual orientation. I wanted to serve. It wasn't always easy to keep my secret. One day a good friend from my language class approached me after noticing that I'd been spending a lot of time with a male soldier from another unit. She asked me if we could talk about what was going on. Leery of the military's policy on gays, I was nervous about answering in English, so I said, in Arabic, "I prefer men." She laughed and teased me for not telling her sooner.

But not everyone was so understanding. One night my boyfriend was caught in my room after visiting hours. Though we were not found in any embrace, inspectors found romantic notes we'd shared. Typical punishment for breaking visitation rules is 10 days of restriction and 10 days of extra duty, which I completed. But four months later I was dismissed from the Army. My boyfriend, who was studying Korean, was dismissed eight weeks later.

Instead of fighting in the war against terrorism, I am now an observer, left to wonder how our country can afford to lose the talents and dedication of gays who are denied the right to serve. In 2000, the military dismissed more than 1,200 service members because of their sexual orientation. Over the last few months, eight other Army linguists have been dismissed for being gay.

The military invested thousands of dollars in my two years of training. In addition to the cost of intensive language courses, interrogation school and weapons training, it paid for a background check for my security clearance. Considering how many years the military has been throwing gays out, just imagine how much money, training and skills have been wasted already.

Alastair Gamble is a former specialist in the Army.

Commentary:
During times of REAL WAR gays are not only allowed to serve but required. The fact that gays are still being kicked out is further evidence that this is not a real war.

This author still wonders why real men are bothered by whom others have sex with. A real man is too busy getting some action to care about what someone else is doing in bed.


top

Bush's Campaign to end the Constitution *
Original Title: White House Counsel's Methods Outrage Military Legal Experts
An Impeachable Offense
WSJ Online
November 26, 2002
By JEANNE CUMMINGS

Washington -- Most people assume Attorney General John Ashcroft is the Bush appointee responsible for legal decisions that critics say place national security above civil liberties. But the real architect of many of those moves is someone most Americans have never heard of: White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the former commercial-real-estate attorney from Texas has been rewriting the laws of war. From his corner office in the White House, he developed the legal underpinnings for presidential orders creating military commissions, defining enemy combatants and dictating the status and rights of prisoners held from Afghanistan battles. And he may well hold the most sway in President Bush's coming decision on whether to begin appointing military commissions to prosecute Afghanistan war prisoners.

He believes he is striking the right balance between American security and personal liberties. But his methods have evoked outrage from the State Department and even the Pentagon, which say they resent being cut out of the process.

Career Pentagon lawyers in the Judge Advocate General's Office were furious that they read first in news reports that Mr. Gonzales had devised the legal framework for military commissions. National Security Council legal advisers unsuccessfully tried in January to stall his controversial decision asserting that the Geneva Convention didn't apply to Afghanistan detainees. And Secretary of State Colin Powell launched an intense internal campaign to undo that decision.

Essentially, a bunch of strangers are deciding the issues and you're outside the door not being heard," complains retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, who served as the Navy's judge advocate general until 2000 and who remains close to his former colleagues at the Pentagon.

The 47-year-old Harvard Law School graduate remains secure in his post mainly for one reason: President Bush. "I love him dearly" was how Mr. Bush introduced his former Texas chief counsel last year. Because of that bond, Mr. Gonzales is considered a likely candidate for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What makes the San Antonio native's role remarkable is his willingness to go toe-to-toe against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's department lawyers and Mr. Powell himself -- to try to bend powerful insiders to the will of his client, Mr. Bush. Mr. Gonzales is the president's final sounding board on issues that in previous administrations were largely handled by experts in the National Security Council or the departments of State and Defense. "There is a reason you have trusted aides in key positions. It's to get their judgment after hearing everyone else's judgment," says Dan Bartlett, the president's communications director.

The way Mr. Gonzales sees it, the war on terrorism requires a re-examination of the conventional rules, and it is his job to push Congress, the courts, and the international community to do that. "Some of these principles have never been addressed in a court of law," says Mr. Gonzales. "People think it is obvious that an American citizen, for example, would have a right to counsel if detained as an enemy combatant. But that's not so obvious."

Before Sept. 11, Mr. Gonzales's only brush with the Geneva Conventions was in death-penalty appeals, such as the 1997 case of Mexican native Tristan Montoya. Under the Geneva agreement, Mr. Montoya had a right to contact his consulate office, but Texas authorities failed to inform him of that right. Mr. Gonzales argued that omission wasn't significant enough to overturn Mr. Montoya's murder-robbery conviction. He asserted Texas was under no obligation to enforce the agreement anyway since the state wasn't a party in ratifying it. Mr. Montoya was executed and the U.S. State Department sent a letter of apology to Mexico for the agreement's violation.

After the terrorist attacks, Mr. Gonzales took a new look at those agreements. The reference book "The Laws of War" is the newest addition to his research shelf. It was given to him by John Yoo, a former University of California, Berkeley professor now serving in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council. Mr. Yoo built a formidable reputation in elite international law academic circles -- the "academy" as they call themselves -- for his provocative writings asserting profound presidential powers during time of war. He quickly became the White House counsel office's "go to guy," says Mr. Gonzales.

But the Gonzales team's first venture into the international-law arena was a rocky one. On Nov. 13, 2001, Mr. Bush announced his intention to revive World War II-style military commissions. He released a framework that excluded explicit assurances of unanimous verdicts, rights to appeal, public trials, and a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The legal community -- particularly military experts -- exploded.

Over the next four months, Pentagon attorneys, who had complained about being kept out of the loop, wrote regulations for the commissions that guaranteed most of those rights. Still lacking, critics say, is the right to appeal to an outside court. "Our political leaders just can't have the ultimate say on guilt and innocence," says Tom Malinowski, a Washington advocate and director of Human Rights Watch.

Mr. Gonzales was "surprised" by the sharp reaction to the commission ruling, but acknowledged it may have been written and released too hastily. He says he conducts wide-ranging consultations, but that there are times when others within the administration just don't agree with his final recommendation for action.

Two months after the commission order, Mr. Gonzales was readying another critical wartime recommendation -- that the president deny Geneva Convention coverage to detainees housed in a makeshift prison in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. National Security Council lawyers tried to slow the order, but, on Jan. 18, Mr. Bush adopted that stand. "They are not going to become POWs," Mr. Gonzales said.

The move immediately drew objections from the State Department. Mr. Powell, fearing captured U.S. servicemen or spies could face reprisals, demanded the president reconsider the ruling. The secretary's discomfort was compounded by a Jan. 25 memo written by Mr. Gonzales that misstated Mr. Powell's position and concluded that the secretary's arguments for "reconsideration and reversal are unpersuasive."

Mr. Powell argued that while the detainees didn't deserve prisoner-of-war status, the administration must use the Geneva Conventions to reach that conclusion. After two intense NSC meetings, Mr. Bush opted to reverse course -- but, for Mr. Gonzales, it was only a technical loss.

Today, federal judges are grappling with Mr. Gonzales's interpretation of the rights of U.S. citizens, the "enemy combatants," who have been held for months without charges or access to attorneys. That is an issue that is unlikely to be resolved until it reaches the Supreme Court.

Mr. Gonzales readily admits the White House might lose some ground in those court cases. While being "respectful" of constitutional rights, the administration's job "at the end of the day" is "to protect the country," he says. "Ultimately, it is the job of the courts to tell us whether or not we've drawn the lines in the right places."

Commentary:
In other words folks, the Constitution is meaningless. In times of so-called war the president can do anything he wants. Needless to say, there is no constitutional basis for anything other than commanding the military during times of war, but no fear, these guys just make it up.


top

GOP pressure publisher to remove Gore picture from textbook
Abilene Reporter-News
Saturday, November 4, 2000

Editor's Note: From time to time I come across something that's too stupid to believe. This is one of those stories. While this story is old, it's news to me and I'm guessing it's news to most Americans. Schools in Texas are learning how to be Bush friendly--and that means nothing pro-Gore is allowed in school text books. Censorship, Texas style.

AUSTIN (AP) — The publisher of a textbook to be used by Texas fifth-graders removed a photo of Vice President Al Gore after Republican lawmakers complained about the image and accompanying article.

The book, approved Thursday by the Texas Board of Education, was revised by Harcourt School Publishers after two GOP legislators objected to a brief article in the book in which Gore warned about the dangers of the Internet to children.

Gore, a Democrat, is running against Republican Gov. George W. Bush for president.

Harcourt officials, who declined to comment, sent a letter to the board saying the would delete the references to Gore.

Samantha Smoot, director of the political watchdog group Texas Freedom Network, said that deleting the reference was censorship that hurts the quality of textbooks used in Texas and other states.

"It is ridiculous that the educational quality of textbooks is not the priority, but petty political agendas are," Smoot said.

Texas House Republicans Frank Corte Jr. and John Shields, both of San Antonio, argued that Gore's comments in the article "politicized" the book, Collections: Pathways to Adventure.

The 1997 article summarized Gore's comments at the Internet Online Summit for Kids in Washington where he laid out proposals to help parents monitor use of the Internet by their children and filter objectionable Web sites.

"These steps promote a family-friendly Internet by giving parents the tools they need to provide their children with a safe, educational and entertaining experience online," Gore was quoted as saying.

"I don't think it's accurate, and it smacks with the fact that he is building a legacy to the Internet," Corte said. Shields said the article "reveals a particular bias" that is "inappropriate for a textbook."

Ann Smisko, associate commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, said it was Harcourt's decision to delete the Gore material.

"Harcourt asked to replace certain pages of their fifth-grade reading book, including one that had a picture of Al Gore," she said. "We did not ask them to make any changes. They did it on their own."


top

Convicted Felon Hired by Bush--Poindexter
San Fran. Chronicle/Washington Post
November 12, 2002
Robert O'Harrow Jr

A new Pentagon research office has started designing a global computer surveillance system to give U.S. counter-terrorism officials access to government and commercial databases around the world.

The Information Awareness Office, run by former national security adviser John Poindexter, aims to develop new technologies to sift through "ultra- large" data warehouses and networked computers in search of threatening patterns among everyday transactions, such as credit card purchases and travel reservations, according to interviews and documents.

Authorities already have access to a wealth of information about individual terrorists, but they typically have to obtain court approval in the United States or make laborious diplomatic and intelligence efforts overseas.

The system proposed by Poindexter and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at about $200 million a year, would be able to sweep up and analyze data in a much more systematic way. It would provide a more detailed look at data than the super-secret National Security Agency now has, the former Navy admiral said.

"How are we going to find terrorists and pre-empt them, except by following their trail?" asked Poindexter, who brought the idea to the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 attacks and now is beginning to award contracts to high-technology vendors.

"The problem is much more complex, I believe, than we've faced before," he said. "It's how do we harness with technology the street smarts of people on the ground, on a global scale."

Though formidable foreign policy and privacy hurdles remain before any prototype becomes operational, the initiative shows how far the government has come in its willingness to use information technology and expanded surveillance authorities in the war on terrorism.

Poindexter said it would take years to realize his vision, but the office has already begun providing some technology to government agencies. For example, Poindexter recently agreed to help the FBI build its data warehousing system. He's also spoken to the Transportation Security Administration about aiding its development of a large-scale passenger profiling system.

In his first interview since he started the "information awareness" program.

Poindexter, who figured prominently in the Iran-Contra scandal more than a decade ago, said the systems under development would, among other things, help analysts search randomly for indications of travel to risky areas, suspicious e-mails, odd fund transfers and improbable medical activity, such as the treatments of anthrax sores. Much of the data would be collected through computer "appliances" -- some mixture of hardware and software -- that would, with permission of governments and businesses, enable intelligence agencies to routinely extract information.

Some specialists question whether the technology Poindexter envisions is even feasible, given the immense amount of data it would handle. Others question whether it is diplomatically possible, given the sensitivities about privacy around the world. But many agree, if implemented as planned, it probably would be the largest data surveillance system ever built.

EXPERT VOICES DOUBTS

Paul Werbos, a computing and artificial-intelligence specialist at the National Science Foundation, doubted whether such "appliances" could be calibrated to adequately filter out details about innocent people that should not be in the hands of the government. "By definition, they're going to send highly sensitive, private personal data," he said. "How many innocent people are going to get falsely pinged? How many terrorists are going to slip through?"

Former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, a member of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, said there was no question about the need to use data more effectively. But he criticized the scope of Poindexter's program, calling it "total overkill of intelligence" and a potentially "huge waste of money."

'ORWELLIAN CONCEPT'

"There's an Orwellian concept if I've ever heard one," Hart said when told about the program.

Poindexter said any operational system would include safeguards to govern the collection of information. He said rules built into the software would identify users, create an audit trail and govern the information that is available. But he added that his mission was to develop the technology, not the policy. It would be up to Congress and policymakers to debate the issue and establish the limits that would make the system politically acceptable.

"We can develop the best technology in the world, and unless there is public acceptance and understanding of the necessity, it will never be implemented," he said. "We're just as concerned as the next person with protecting privacy."

POINDEXTER'S COMEBACK

Getting the Defense Department job is something of a comeback for Poindexter. A former national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan, he was convicted in 1990 of five felony counts of lying to Congress, destroying official documents and obstructing congressional inquiries into the Iran-contra affair, which involved the secret sale of arms to Iran in the mid- 1980s and diversion of profits to help the contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Commentary:
Do you remember how the press and the republican party got into a tizzy over Bill Clinton pardoning criminals (you can't pardon a non-criminal). Bush does him better. He hires a convicted Felon to run a government agency. Where is the outrage? If I hear the "rule of law" uttered by another republican I think I'll puke.


top