Saturday, December 31, 2005


2006: A Critical Year in Constitutional Law

Can the President of the United States unilaterally declare people to be "enemy combatants" without having to present any justification to anyone:
Padilla Lawyers Urge Supreme Court to Block Transfer

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 - Lawyers for Jose Padilla told the Supreme Court on Friday that it should not grant the government's emergency request to have him transferred from a military brig to civilian custody to face terrorism charges in a civil court.

The lawyers acknowledged that Mr. Padilla would prefer to be in civilian custody eventually. But they said it appeared that the only reason for the government's rush to move him was to bolster the administration's efforts to discourage the Supreme Court from reviewing the crucial underlying issue of whether President Bush had the authority to detain Mr. Padilla, an American citizen, as an enemy combatant for more than three years.
(Source: New York Times)
Can the President order the Executive branch to grab people off the street without a warrant and ship them off to third countries for questioning under torture? Does the President's proclamation that "we are at war" justify
Covert CIA Program Withstands New Furor
Anti-Terror Effort Continues to Grow

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2005; Page A01

The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over its clandestine tactics, according to former and current intelligence officials and congressional and administration sources.
GST includes programs allowing the CIA to capture al Qaeda suspects with help from foreign intelligence services, to maintain secret prisons abroad, to use interrogation techniques that some lawyers say violate international treaties, and to maintain a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe. Other compartments within GST give the CIA enhanced ability to mine international financial records and eavesdrop on suspects anywhere in the world.
Will 2006 be the year that the United States affirms the principles of justice this country has always stood for, or will this be the year we begin moving from a democracy to a paramilitary dictatorship?

Friday, December 30, 2005


Ethics and the ''Justice'' Department

Pop quiz for the DC Bar's ethics committee:
You're a lawyer for the Department of Justice newly assigned to find out who told the news media about President Bush's warrantless wiretaps. However, this requires you to act in a way which supports actions by the administration that were almost certainly illegal.

Is an ethical attorney required to withdraw from the leak investigation? Are attorneys conducting an inquiry regarding who revealed illegal governmental activities subject to prosecution as accessories after the fact? Discuss.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Two Steps Back

It seems that the only Iraqi security forces ready to take over for US troops can't be trusted to do their work unless US troops:
US army aims to clean up Iraqi police
Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:52 PM ET
By Alastair Macdonald

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. army in Baghdad plans to deploy large numbers of troops with Iraqi special police units to try to curb suspected sectarian militia activity among the police, a senior U.S. military official said on Thursday.

"We're going to try to wrap ourselves around them," the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The lines are blurred now and it's not easy to determine that some operation tonight was directed ... by the MoI (Interior Ministry) or ... by some people in uniform ... who are part of somebody's posse," he said.

"We're trying to control that."
So, either from lack of training or excessive loyalty to their respective sectarian militias, Mr. Bush's assurances about Iraqi forces ready to operate without US ground support are simply not true. Same old same old...


Do Your City Police Use 500lb Bombs?

W and his Bush League minions keep telling us how Iraqis are retaking control of their country and how things are getting better. Why, then, does the US need to use 500lb bombs in law enforcement activities?
Ten killed in US air strike on Iraqi village
Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:42 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. fighter jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on a village in northern Iraq, killing 10 Iraqis they suspected of planting explosive devices on a nearby road, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

The incident occurred on Tuesday in a small village near the town of Hawija, 50 km (30 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, the military said.

The pilots were flying a routine patrol when they saw three men digging holes by the side of major road and planting bombs in them, a statement said.

When they heard the planes overhead, the men jumped in a car and fled. They were soon joined by another car as the jets tracked them. They drove the cars into the village and tried to hide by parking between two buildings, the statement said.

The pilots then dropped two 500-pound laser-guided bombs.

"They were able to destroy the vehicles while causing only minimal damage to surrounding structures," the military said.

U.S. soldiers later raided the village and found assault rifles, a machine gun and bomb-making equipment in houses near the site of the air strike. They said they also found a bomb by the side of the road where the men were first spotted.
If the US press release is accurate, it's nice that insurgents planting roadside bombs were stopped. However, where were the Iraqi police? Where were the US troops? What does it say about law enforcement in Iraq generally when suspects must be bombed from the air because no ground forces are close enough to catch them?

Then there's the civilian population's inevitable reaction. How would YOU feel if suspected drive-by shooters in your home town were taken out with a tactical airstrike with "only minimal damage to surrounding structures?" Would you feel happy about the cops getting "tough on crime" or frightened at the thought of 500lb bombs hitting nearby?


Bush League Says Targeting Mosques Doesn't Target Muslims

Just how stupid and hypocritical can W and his Bush League minions get?
U.S. Says It Didn't Target Muslims
Mosques Among Sites Monitored For Radiation

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2005; Page B01

Faced with angry complaints, U.S. officials yesterday defended an anti-terrorism program that secretly tested radiation levels around the country -- including at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington area -- and insisted that no one was targeted because of his or her faith.

One official knowledgeable about the program explained that Muslim sites were included because al Qaeda terrorists were considered likely to gravitate to Muslim neighborhoods or mosques while in the United States.
Then there's this gem. The "Justice" Department claims it is unconstitutional for the judiciary to rule against him:
U.S. Defends Conduct in Padilla Case
Supreme Court Asked To Overrule 4th Circuit

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2005; Page A04

A federal appeals court infringed on President Bush's authority to run the war on terror when it refused to let prosecutors take custody of "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, the Justice Department said yesterday, as it urged the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
The Justice Department brief said the 4th Circuit had mischaracterized the events of Padilla's incarceration and engaged in "an unwarranted attack on the exercise of Executive discretion." Prosecutors accused the court of going so far as to "usurp" Bush's authority as the nation's commander-in-chief and his government's "prosecutorial discretion."
Apparently the Bush League argues it is unconstitutional to place any limits on the President's authority.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Tax Cuts Trump Supporting the Troops

W and his Bush League minions mouth talking points about "supporting the troops" when they're talking about sending them into harm's way. However, Republicans really don't want to put their money where Bush's mouth is:
A Political Debate On Stress Disorder
As Claims Rise, VA Takes Stock

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 27, 2005; Page A01

The spiraling cost of post-traumatic stress disorder among war veterans has triggered a politically charged debate and ignited fears that the government is trying to limit expensive benefits for emotionally scarred troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the past five years, the number of veterans receiving compensation for the disorder commonly called PTSD has grown nearly seven times as fast as the number receiving benefits for disabilities in general, according to a report this year by the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs. A total of 215,871 veterans received PTSD benefit payments last year at a cost of $4.3 billion, up from $1.7 billion in 1999 -- a jump of more than 150 percent.
Cutting veterans' benefits so that Paris Hilton can get another tax cut - how very Republican.


Last Throes of the Neocon's Iraq Dreams

Well, things look grim for the Bush League's minion and manipulator Ahmed Chalabi:
Chalabi Lacks Votes Needed to Win Spot in Iraqi Assembly

By Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 27, 2005; Page A18

BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 -- Unexpectedly low support from overseas voters has left Ahmed Chalabi -- the returned Iraqi exile once backed by the United States to lead Iraq -- facing a shutout from power in this month's vote for the country's first full-term parliament since the 2003 invasion.

Rebounding violence, which included bombings, assassination attempts and other attacks, claimed at least 19 lives in Iraq on Monday, including that of an American soldier. Eight members of a single Iraqi SWAT team were wiped out in what Iraqi authorities described as an hour-long shootout with better-armed insurgents.
Insurgent attacks up, Chalabi out, Sunni minority claiming electoral fraud by Shi'ites - I blame the media for failing to parrot whatever "good news" from Iraq gets broadcast to the receiver between Bush's shoulder blades for regurgitation.

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