Fight Corporate Media Liars


June 25, 2007

The CORRUPTION UPDATES posts corruption news stories from California, the Nation and the World, and gives you the straight story.



Previous Corruption Updates: Page 82

Next Corruption Updates: Page 84

Contact Us: Committeefordemocracy.org

1) THE Full Article Printed Below WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE: Washington Post

Cheney the Torture mastermind:

Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power

By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 25, 2007



Shortly after the first accused terrorists reached the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 11, 2002, a delegation from CIA headquarters arrived in the Situation Room. The agency presented a delicate problem to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a man with next to no experience on the subject. Vice President Cheney's lawyer, who had a great deal of experience, sat nearby.

The meeting marked "the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up" among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. "The CIA guys said, 'We're going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'" if interrogators confined themselves to treatment allowed by the Geneva Conventions.

From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.

Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

A backlash beginning in 2004, after reports of abuse leaked out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, brought what appeared to be sharp reversals in courts and Congress -- for Cheney's claims of executive supremacy and for his unyielding defense of what he called "robust interrogation."

But a more careful look at the results suggests that Cheney won far more than he lost. Many of the harsh measures he championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view.

David S. Addington, Cheney's general counsel, set the new legal agenda in a blunt memorandum shortly after the CIA delegation returned to Langley. Geneva's "strict limits on questioning of enemy prisoners," he wrote on Jan. 25, 2002, hobbled efforts "to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists."

No longer was the vice president focused on procedural rights, such as access to lawyers and courts. The subject now was more elemental: How much suffering could U.S. personnel inflict on an enemy to make him talk? Cheney's lawyer feared that future prosecutors, with motives "difficult to predict," might bring criminal charges against interrogators or Bush administration officials.

Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony [Read the act]. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential directive for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.

The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2002, he adopted Addington's formula -- with all its room for maneuver -- verbatim.

In a radio interview last fall, Cheney said, "We don't torture." What he did not acknowledge, according to Alberto J. Mora, who served then as the Bush-appointed Navy general counsel, was that the new legal framework was designed specifically to avoid a ban on cruelty. In international law, Mora said, cruelty is defined as "the imposition of severe physical or mental pain or suffering." He added: "Torture is an extreme version of cruelty."

How extreme? Yoo was summoned again to the White House in the early spring of 2002. This time the question was urgent. The CIA had captured Abu Zubaida, then believed to be a top al-Qaeda operative, on March 28, 2002. Case officers wanted to know "what the legal limits of interrogation are," Yoo said.

This previously unreported meeting sheds light on the origins of one of the Bush administration's most controversial claims. The Justice Department delivered a classified opinion on Aug. 1, 2002, stating that the U.S. law against torture "prohibits only the worst forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" and therefore permits many others. [Read the opinion] Distributed under the signature of Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, the opinion also narrowed the definition of "torture" to mean only suffering "equivalent in intensity" to the pain of "organ failure ..... or even death."

(see ABC report tying highest officers of the executive branch cabinent and white house to approval and use of the torture policy.)

When news accounts unearthed that opinion nearly two years later, the White House repudiated its contents. Some officials described it as hypothetical, without disclosing that the opinion was written in response to specific questions from the CIA. Administration officials attributed authorship to Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who had come to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel.

(committee note: see how the memo was used, 170_1, alex)

But the "torture memo," as it became widely known, was not Yoo's work alone. In an interview, Yoo said that Addington, as well as Gonzales and deputy White House counsel Timothy E. Flanigan, contributed to the analysis.

The vice president's lawyer advocated what was considered the memo's most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line into torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to "commit torture," that passage stated, "do not apply" to the commander in chief, because Congress "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield."

That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA -- including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

Yoo said for the first time in an interview that he verbally warned lawyers for the president, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that it would be a risky policy to permit military interrogators to use the harshest techniques, because the armed services, vastly larger than the CIA, could overuse the tools or exceed the limits. "I always thought that only the CIA should do this, but people at the White House and at DOD felt differently," Yoo said. The migration of those techniques from the CIA to the military, and from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, aroused worldwide condemnation when abuse by U.S. troops was exposed.

Through is spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales declined a request for an interview about his time in the White House counsel's office and his interactions with Cheney. The vice president's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, declined to comment on Yoo's recollection.

Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice confer in February 2002, around the time that detainee interrogation limits were being discussed. Rice wouldn't learn about the 'torture memo' until June 2004. More Cheney photos...

On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post [Read the article]. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice "very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law," the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the head nurse of the mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

'His Client, the Vice President'

In the summer and fall of 2002, some of the Bush administration's leading lawyers began to warn that Cheney and his Pentagon allies had set the government on a path for defeat in court. As the judicial branch took up challenges to the president's assertion of wartime power, Justice Department lawyers increasingly found themselves defending what they believed to be losing positions -- directed by the vice president and his staff. One of the uneasy lawyers was Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson , a conservative stalwart whose wife, Barbara, had died on Sept. 11, 2001 when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Olson shared Cheney's robust view of executive authority, but his job was to win cases. Two that particularly worried him involved U.S. citizens -- Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi -- who had been declared enemy combatants and denied access to lawyers.

Federal courts, Olson argued, would not go along with that. But the CIA and military interrogators opposed any outside contact, fearing relief from the isolation and dependence that they relied upon to break the will of suspected terrorists.

Flanigan said that Addington's personal views leaned more toward Olson than against him, but that Addington beat back the proposal to grant detainees access to lawyers, "because that was the position of his client, the vice president."

Decision time came in a heated meeting in Gonzales's corner office on the West Wing's second floor, according to four officials with direct knowledge, none of whom agreed to be quoted by name about confidential legal deliberations. Olson was backed by associate White House counsel Bradford A. Berenson , a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Berenson told colleagues that the court's swing voter would never accept absolute presidential discretion to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy and lock him up without giving him an opportunity to be represented and heard. Another former Kennedy clerk, White House lawyer Brett Kavanaugh, had made the same argument earlier.

Addington accused Berenson of surrendering executive power on a fool's prophecy about an inscrutable court. Berenson accused Addington of "know-nothingness."

Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney's lawyer.

John D. Ashcroft, who was attorney general at the time, declined to discuss details of the dispute but said the vice president's views "carried a great deal of weight. He was the E.F. Hutton in the room. When he talked, everybody would listen." Cheney, he said, "compelled people to think carefully about whatever he mentioned."

When a U.S. District Court ruled several months later that Padilla had a right to counsel, Cheney's office insisted on sending Olson's deputy, Paul Clement, on what Justice Department lawyers called "a suicide mission": to tell Judge Michael B. Mukasey that he had erred so grossly that he should retract his decision. Mukasey derided the government's "pinched legalism" and added acidly that his order was "not a suggestion or request."

Cheney's strategy fared worse in the Supreme Court, where two cases arrived for oral argument alongside Padilla's on April 28, 2004.

For months, Olson and his Justice Department colleagues had pleaded for modest shifts that would shore up the government's position. Hamdi, the American, had languished in a Navy brig for two and a half years with out a hearing or a lawyer. Shafiq Rasul, a British citizen at Guantanamo Bay, had been held even longer. Olson could make Cheney's argument that courts had no jurisdiction, but he wanted to "show them that you at least have some system of due process in place" to ensure against wrongful detention, according to a senior Justice Department official who closely followed the debates.

Addington, the vice president's counsel fought and won again. He argued that any declaration of binding rules would restrict the freedom of future presidents and open the door to further lawsuits. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in the Hamdi case that detainees must have a lawyer and an opportunity to challenge their status as enemy combatants before a "neutral decision maker." The Rasul decision, the same day, held 6 to 3 that Guantanamo Bay is not beyond the reach of federal law.

Eleven days later, Olson stepped down as solicitor general. His deputy succeeded him. What came next was a reminder that it does not pay to cross swords with the vice president.

Ashcroft, with support from Gonzales, proposed a lawyer named Patrick Philbin for deputy solicitor general. Philbin was among the authors of the post-Sept. 11 legal revolution, devising arguments to defend Cheney's military commissions and the denial of habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay. But he had tangled with the vice president's office now and then, objecting to the private legal channel between Addington and Yoo and raising questions about domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Cheney's lawyer passed word that Philbin was an unsatisfactory choice. The attorney general and White House counsel abandoned their candidate.

"OVP plays hardball," said a high-ranking former official who followed the episode, referring to the office of the vice president. "No one would defend Philbin."

'Administration Policy'

Rumsfeld, Cheney's longtime friend and mentor, gathered his senior subordinates at the Pentagon in the summer of 2005. He warned them to steer clear of Senate Republicans John McCain, John W. Warner and Lindsay O. Graham, who were drafting a bill to govern the handling of terrorism suspects.

"Rumsfeld made clear, emphatically, that the vice president had the lead on this issue," said a former Pentagon official with direct knowledge.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a longtime Cheney mentor, tours Abu Ghraib in May 2004. In 2005, he made it clear that Cheney 'has the lead on this issue,' said a Pentagon official, referring to the treatment of detainees More Cheney photos...

Though his fingerprints were not apparent, Cheney had already staked out a categorical position for the president. It came in a last-minute insert to a "statement of administration policy" by the Office of Management and Budget, where Nancy Dorn, Cheney's former chief of legislative affairs, was deputy director. Without normal staff clearance, according to two Bush administration officials, the vice president's lawyer added a paragraph -- just before publication on July 21, 2005 -- to the OMB's authoritative guidance on the 2006 defense spending bill [Read the document].

"The Administration strongly opposes" any amendment to "regulate the detention, treatment or trial of terrorists captured in the war on terror," the statement said. Before most Bush administration officials even became aware that the subject was under White House review, Addington wrote that "the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto" any such bill.

Among those taken unawares was Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England. More than a year had passed since Bush expressed "deep disgust" over the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib, and England told aides it was past time to issue clear rules for U.S. troops.

In late August 2005, England called a meeting of nearly three dozen Pentagon officials, including the vice chief and top uniformed lawyer for each military branch. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, set the agenda.

Waxman said that the president's broadly stated order of Feb. 7, 2002 -- which called for humane treatment, "subject to military necessity" -- had left U.S. forces unsure about how to behave. The Defense Department, he said, should clarify its bedrock legal requirements with a directive incorporating the language of Geneva's Common Article 3 [Read Common Article 3]. That was exactly the language -- prohibiting cruel, violent, humiliating and degrading treatment -- that Cheney had spent three years expunging from U.S. policy.

"Every vice chief came out strongly in favor, as did every JAG," or judge advocate general, recalled Mora, who was Navy general counsel at the time.

William J. Haynes II, a close friend of Addington's who served as Rumsfeld's general counsel, was one of two holdouts in the room. The other was Stephen A. Cambone, Rumsfeld's undersecretary for intelligence.

Waxman, believing his opponents isolated, circulated a draft of DOD Directive 2310. Within a few days, Addington and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, invited Waxman for a visit.

According to Mora, Waxman returned from the meeting with the message that his draft was "unacceptable to the vice president's office." Another defense official, who made notes of Waxman's report, said Cheney's lawyer ridiculed the vagueness of the Geneva ban on "outrages upon personal dignity," saying it would leave U.S. troops timid in the face of unpredictable legal risk. When Waxman replied that the official White House policy was far more opaque, according to the report, Addington accused him of trying to replace the president's decision with his own.

"The impact of that meeting is that Directive 2310 died," Mora said.

'Total Indifference to Public Opinion'

Over the next 12 months, Congress and the Supreme Court imposed many of the restrictions that Cheney had squelched.

"The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims," said Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan.

Flanigan, a founding member of that crowd, said he still believes that Addington and Yoo were right in their "application of generally accepted constitutional principles." But he acknowledged that many battles ended badly. "The Supreme Court," Flanigan said, "decided to change the rules."

Even so, Cheney's losses were not always as they appeared.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the Senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which included the Geneva language [Read the bill]. It was, by any measure, a rebuke to Cheney. Bush signed the bill into law. "Well, I don't win all the arguments," Cheney told the Wall Street Journal.

Yet he and Addington found a roundabout path to the exceptions they sought for the CIA, as allies in Congress made little-noticed adjustments to the bill.

The final measure confined only the Defense Department to the list of interrogation techniques specified in a new Army field manual. No techniques were specified for CIA officers, who were forbidden only in general terms to employ "cruel" or "inhuman" methods. Crucially, the new law said those words would be interpreted in light of U.S. constitutional law. That made a big difference to Cheney.

The Supreme Court has defined cruelty as an act that "shocks the conscience" under the circumstances. Addington suggested, according to another government lawyer, that harsh methods would be far less shocking under circumstances involving a mass-casualty terrorist threat. Cheney may have alluded to that advice in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Dec. 18, 2005, saying that "what shocks the conscience" is to some extent "in the eye of the beholder."

Eager to put detainee scandals behind them, Bush's advisers spent days composing a statement in which the president would declare support for the veto-proof bill on detainee treatment. Hours before Bush signed it into law on Dec. 30, 2005, Cheney's lawyer intercepted the accompanying statement "and just literally takes his red pen all the way through it," according to an official with firsthand knowledge.

Addington substituted a single sentence. Bush, he wrote, would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief."

Cheney's office had used that technique often. Like his boss, Addington disdained what he called "interagency treaties," one official said. He had no qualms about discarding language "agreed between Cabinet secretaries," the official said.

Top officials from the CIA, and the Justice, State and Defense departments unanimously opposed the substitution, according to two officials. John B. Bellinger III, the ranking national security lawyer at the White House, warned that Congress would view Addington's statement as a "stick in the eye" after weeks of consensus-building by national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

None of that mattered. With Cheney's weight behind it, White House counsel Harriet E. Miers sent Addington's version to Bush for his signature.

'Almost Everything' Cheney Wanted

On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court struck its sharpest blow to the house that Cheney built, ruling 5 to 3 that the president had no lawful power to try alleged terrorists in military commissions [Read the opinion]. The tribunal order that Cheney brought to Bush's private dining room, and the game plan Cheney's lawyer wrote to defend it, fetched condemnation on disparate legal grounds. The majority relied, as Addington's critics foresaw, on Justice Kennedy's vote.

Not only did the court leave the president beholden to Congress for the authority to charge and punish terrorists, but it rejected a claim of implicit legislative consent that Bush was using elsewhere to justify electronic surveillance without a warrant. And not only did it find that Geneva's Common Article 3 protects "unlawful enemy combatants," but it also said that those protections -- including humane treatment and the right to a trial by "a regularly constituted court" -- were enforceable by federal judges in the United States.

The court's decision, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, was widely seen as a calamity for Cheney's war plan against al-Qaeda. As the Bush administration formed its response, the vice president's position appeared to decline further still.

White House strategists agreed that they had to submit legislation to undo the damage of the Hamdan case. Cheney and Addington, according to a former official with firsthand knowledge, favored a one-page bill. Their proposal would simply have stated that the Geneva Conventions confer no right of access to U.S. courts, stripped U.S. courts of jurisdiction over foreign nationals declared to be enemy combatants and affirmed the president's authority to create military commissions exactly as he had already done. Bush chose to spend the fall of 2006 negotiating a much more complex bill that became the Military Commissions Act.

The White House proposal, said Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, "did not come out exactly as the vice president would have wanted."

In another reversal for Cheney, Bush acknowledged publicly on Sept. 6 that the CIA maintained secret prisons overseas for senior al-Qaeda detainees, a subject on which he had held his silence since The Post disclosed them late in 2005. The president announced that he had emptied the "black sites" and transferred their prisoners to Guantanamo Bay to be tried.

The same week, almost exactly a year after the vice president's office shelved Waxman's Pentagon plan, Waxman's successor dusted it off. DOD Directive 2310.01E, the Department of Defense Detainee Program, included the verbatim text of Geneva's Common Article 3 and described it, as Waxman had, as "a minimum standard for the care and treatment of all detainees." [Read the directive] The new Army field manual, published with the directive, said that interrogators were forbidden to employ a long list of techniques that had been used against suspected terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001 -- including stripping, hooding, inflicting pain and forcing the performance of sex acts.

For all the apparent setbacks, close observers said, Cheney has preserved his top-priority tools in the "war on terror." After a private meeting with Cheney, one of them said, Bush decided not to promise that there would be no more black sites -- and seven months later, the White House acknowledged that secret detention had resumed.

The Military Commissions Act, passed by strong majorities of the Senate and House on Sept. 28 and 29, 2006, gave "the office of the vice president almost everything it waMilitary Commissions Act, passed by strong majorities of the Senate and House on Sept. 28 and 29, 2006, gave "the office of the vice president almost everything it wanted," said Yoo, who maintained his contact with Addington after returning to a tenured position at Berkeley.

The new law withstood its first Supreme Court challenge on April 2. It exempts CIA case officers and other government employees from prosecution for past war crimes or torture. Once again, an apparently technical provision held great importance to Cheney and his allies.

Without repealing the War Crimes Act, which imposes criminal penalties for grave breaches of Geneva's humane-treatment standards, Congress said the president, not the Supreme Court, has final authority to decide what the standards mean -- and whether they even apply.

'I'd Like to Close Guantanamo'

Air Force Two touched down in Sydney this past Feb. 24. Cheney had come to discuss Iraq. Prime Minister John Howard brought the conversation around to an Australian citizen who had unexpectedly become a political threat.

Under pressure at home, Howard said he told Cheney that there must be a trial "with no further delay" for David Hicks, 31, who was beginning his sixth year at the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay. Five days later, Hicks was indicted as a war criminal. On March 26, he pleaded guilty to providing "material support" for terrorism.

At every stage since his capture, as he changed taxis at the Afghan-Pakistan border, Hicks had crossed a legal landscape that Cheney did more than anyone to reshape. He was Detainee 002 at Guantanamo Bay, arriving on opening day at an asserted no man's land beyond the reach of sovereign law. Interrogators questioned him under guidelines that gave legal cover to the infliction of pain and fear -- and, according to an affidavit filed by British lawyer Steven Grosz, Hicks was subjected to beatings, sodomy with a foreign object, sensory deprivation, disorienting drugs and prolonged shackling in painful positions.

(Picture omitted) Ankle cuffs are seen locked to the floor of an interrogation room at Guantanamo Bay. The new legal framework for interrogations was designed to leave room for cruelty. More Cheney photos...)

The U.S. government denied those claims, and before accepting Hicks's guilty plea it required him to affirm that he had "never been illegally treated." But the tribunal's rules, written under principles Cheney advanced, would have allowed the Australian's conviction with evidence obtained entirely by "cruel, inhuman or degrading" techniques.

Shortly after Cheney returned from Australia, the Hicks case died with a whimper. The U.S. government abruptly shifted its stance in plea negotiations, dropping the sentence it offered from 20 years in prison to nine months if Hicks would say that he was guilty.

Only the dramatic shift to lenience, said Joshua Dratel, one of three defense lawyers, resolved the case in time to return Hicks to Australia before Howard faces reelection late this year. The deal, negotiated without the knowledge of the chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, was supervised by Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority over military commissions. Crawford received her three previous government jobs from then-Defense Secretary Cheney -- she was appointed as his special adviser, Pentagon inspector general and then judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Yet the tactical retreat on Hicks, according to Bush administration officials, diverted attention from the continuity of U.S. policy on detainees.

A year after Bush announced at a news conference that "I'd like to close Guantanamo," the camp remains open and has been expanded. Senior officials said Cheney, with few allies left, has turned back strong efforts -- by Rice, England, new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and former Bush speechwriter Mike Gerson, among others -- to give the president what he said he wants.

Cheney and his aides "didn't circumvent the process," one participant said. "They were just very effective in using it."

'This is a Dangerous World'

More than a year after Congress passed McCain-sponsored restrictions on the questioning of suspected terrorists, the Bush administration is still debating how far the CIA's interrogators may go in their effort to break down resistant detainees. Two officials said the vice president has deadlocked the debate.

Bush said last September that he would "work with" Congress to review "an alternative set of procedures" for "tough" -- but, he said, lawful -- interrogation. He did not promise to submit legislation or to report particulars to any oversight committee, and he has not done so.

Two questions remain, officials said. One involves techniques to be authorized now. The other is whether any technique should be explicitly forbidden.

According to participants in the debate, the vice president stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions. His lawyer, they said, has recently restated Cheney's argument that when courts and Congress "purport to" limit the commander in chief's warmaking authority, he has the constitutional prerogative to disregard them.

If Cheney advocates a return to waterboarding, they said, they have not heard him say so. But his office has fought fiercely against an executive order or CIA directive that would make the technique illegal.

"That's just the vice president," said Gerson, the former speechwriter, referring to Cheney's October remark that "a dunk in the water" for terrorists -- a radio interviewer's term -- is "a no-brainer for me."

Gerson added: "It's principled. He's deeply conscious that this is a dangerous world, and he wants this president and future presidents to be able to deal with that. He feels very strongly about these things, and it's his great virtue and his weakness."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


Cheney Guilty of Authorizing Torture

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007

Impeachment must be pursued. All the crimes of this Administration from 911 to the present moment must be thoroughly investigated.

The Crimes of this Administration must be investigated. Starting with their lies to Congress concerning manipulated WMD intelligence, their suppressing professional military advice from the Pentagon on the forces needed to occupy Iraq, to the CIA use of torture in a system of secret prisons stocked with kidnap victims.

This Administration's domestic crimes are too numerous to recount here, but the politicization of the US Attorney position, and the NSA/FBI illegal searching programs require investigation and prosecution.

We are faced with an open Coup by the President and his men, and Congress does nothing. Bush and his adherents have effectively done away with Constitutional restraints on the presidency, and Congress does nothing.

It is time to begin a new democratic political revolution. It is past time to restrain the power of the government, and force it back behind its Constitutional limitations.

The first step is here in California, where our initiative will put control of our democracy back into the hands of the votes.

Also See:

How the torture memo was used: Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation', ABC 4-9-08

Corruption Updates 21, 7th article on the page, "Ex-judges: Detainee law unconstitutional"

Corruption Updates 25, 7th article on the page, "ITALY CHIEF OF INTELLIGENCE, 25 CIA OPERATIVES INDICTED FOR KIDNAPPING"

Corruption Updates 31, 2 nd article on the page, "BUSH APPOINTEE ATTACKS AMERICAN RIGHT TO TRIAL, AND COUNSEL"


Corruption Updates 34, 8th article on the page, "SHAME OF CONGRESS:HABIUS AND JUDICIAL REVIEW CURBED"

Corruption Updates 36, 4th article on the page, "IRAQI GOV FOLLOWS AMERICAN EXAMPLE: KIDNAPPING-TORTURE"

Corruption Updates 71, 1st article on the page, "CIA rejects secret jails report"


Torture Links

Search the Corruption Database under

Torture (32 Abstracts)


New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


High court ends ban on corporate-funded campaign ads

By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
9:44 AM PDT, June 25, 2007


WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court gave President Bush and Republican leaders two important victories today by clearing the way for corporate-funded broadcast ads before next year's election and by shielding the White House's "faith-based initiative" from challenge in the courts.

Both came in 5-4 rulings led by new Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

But the high court essentially changed course today and said these issue-oriented ads are legal if they name a candidate running for office, so long as they stop short of urging the public to vote for or against the candidate.

The chief justice said these ads involve "core political speech", which is protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
"We give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship," Roberts said. He was joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Anthony M. Kennedy. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed, although they would have gone further and struck down entirely the broadcast ban set in the McCain-Feingold Act.

The act was strongly opposed by the Republican National Committee, but President Bush reluctantly signed it into law. He too questioned whether it was constitutional. McCain-Feingold also banned "soft money" given to political parties; that restriction was unaffected by today's decision.

The ruling concerns the provision in the law that prohibited broadcast message ads 60 days before an election that mentioned the name of a candidate and were paid for by corporate or union money.
Reading the dissent in open court, Justice David H. Souter said the broadcast ban was "a dead letter" because it could be easily evaded. He noted that 100 years ago, Congress prohibited corporations from funding candidates and that the broadcast ban was a means of preventing corporate money from influencing elections.

In the second ruling
, the court said taxpayers did not have legal standing to challenge Bush's "faith-based initiative." The decision throws out a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin group that said Bush was promoting religion in violation of the 1st Amendment.

Alito, speaking for the majority, said Bush's program did not involve a congressional appropriation that was targeted to further religion. Instead, it involved federal officials urging church groups and others to participate in charitable work that was funded by the government.

In these circumstances, taxpayers do not have standing to object, Alito said. Roberts and Kennedy joined him. Scalia and Thomas said they would go further and forbid taxpayers from challenging religious spending in all circumstances.

In a third ruling, the court gave school principals the authority to discipline students who advocate the use of illegal drugs at schools. Roberts said the court was not rejecting the notion that high school students had free-speech rights, but rather making clear that these rights were limited, especially when students advocated in favor of illegal drugs.

The decision reversed a free-speech ruling in favor of a high school student from Juneau, Alaska, who had been suspended for holding up a banner that read "Bong hits for Jesus."


Supreme Court Strips Country of Democracy, Separation of Church and State, and Free Speech, in one day

Arpen Shah , Berkeley, Ca., July 2, 2007

This Supreme Court decision ruled that corporations may directly, and secretly, manipulate elections behind the cover of non-profit organizations.  This ruling drains democracy out of our elections in favor of unimpeded corporate control of politics.

 This year’s presidential candidates are again breaking fundraising records, and this Corporate Supreme Court ruling makes candidates even more dependent on corporate money and its influences.

The Supreme Court continues to disrespect democracy, replacing our franchise rights with secret corporate donations under the cover of “non-profit” front groups. This ruling illuminates our desperate need to thoroughly reform our democracy, starting with ending corporate sponsorship of politicians.

 Our Political Reform Initiative breaks the link between corporations and politics.  We need to build on the rising awareness that our democracy has been made a prisoner of  corporate wealth.

Since the politicians, their parties, and the Supreme Court are determined to protect and reward the bribers and corruptors of our democracy, we are required to stop them ourselves.

Stand up with us against the greed, bribery, and unchecked power that is perverting our democracy.

Justice Roberts said that, “We give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship.” Well the committee says, “We put the right of the voters to select and elect their own candidates before the supposed right of the corporations to select them for us.”

It is not censorship to silence the voices of wealth and power that have short-circuted our democracy and purchased our Congress. It is time to restore democracy, and return the elections, and our government, to the people.

In other Supreme Court news, the Court also managed to bring Jesus back into political power.  The Court decided that it’s ok for our tax dollars to fund religious “charitable work.”


Don’t get me wrong, churches are a great place for social welfare, when they do it on their own dime. But it is wrong, and unconstitutional, to have the power of the state fund the message of any church.


Funding religious charity is like telling the lamb to ask the lion for charity. Many church groups condemn the very people that need charity the most. Churches discriminate against gays, independent women, and other people and minority groups. Many churches are participating in elections to criminalize minorities they don’t like.  Giving churches tax dollars reinforces both the power of their bigotry, and their ability to impose their values through politics.


Allowing churches to receive tax dollars empowers a church’s beliefs with the approval and power of the government.


Recipients of government funded charity will be pressured to join their congregation, or hide their differing religious and political beliefs, to receive aid from the hand of god.


And last, but certainly not least, is the “Bongs for Jesus” ruling. Although today’s rulings put Jesus back into politics for the churches, Jesus will be funded to persecute gays and feminists, but he will not be allowed to speak about, let alone be funded, to do Bong Hits.


This ruling strips students of their freedom of speech, if what the students say is funny, unpopular, or illegal.

This law would have prevented youth from participating in the fight against slavery, for women’s rights, and every other expansion of civil rights that overturned standing law.


Now, if it’s illegal, it stays illegal.


 As far as I’m concerned, holding a sign saying “Vote for Bush” does a lot more damage to this nation than a sign that says “Bong Hits for Jesus.” Hell, maybe if our government took a few bong hits, we wouldn’t be involved in so many wars and violent persecutions around the world. Chill out, dudes.


Overall, the Supreme Court managed to push elections away from the citizens, bring the Christian church back into the US government, and take away student’ rights to free speech, if the speech speaks to, or ridicules church and state, as “Bongs for Jesus” did.


All in a day’s work, for our august Supreme Court.


Alex contributed to this article



Also See:

Corruption Updates 3, 1st article on the page, "FCC Quiets Big Money Voices for Now: Problematic limits on Free Speech Upheld"

Corruption Updates 32, 4th article on the page, "SPECIAL INTERST DEMOCRACY, OR DEMOCRACY? Supreme Court to Decide Speech"

Search the Corruption Database under

Free Speech


Killing Safety Regulations

New Feature: Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


Schools call roll at a border crossing

Students routinely walk from homes in Mexico to attend public institutions in the U.S. In Arizona, one district has chosen not to ignore the violation.

By Nicholas Riccardi
Times Staff Writer

June 25, 2007


From the Los Angeles Times

Children who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants but live in Mexico cross every morning to get a better education for free in Arizona, breaking the law that requires them to live within the boundaries of the district. To many of their parents, who have ties in both countries, not living in the district is the educational equivalent of jaywalking.

"I pay taxes. I work over here," said a 31-year-old corrections officer who would not give his name as he walked his son from
Mexico to elementary school in San Luis. "What's the difference?"

There are no hard statistics on the number of children who break the residency requirement, but some people opposed to
U.S. immigration policy have seized on the issue as another example of how they say migrants exploit the U.S. They contend that most school districts do not enforce the law because they risk losing state funding, which is based on the number of enrolled students.

"The whole thing's outrageous. We're not the school district for northern
Mexico," said state Rep. Russell K. Pearce.

Two years ago, the state superintendent, fed up with the practice, hired a private investigator to videotape schoolchildren coming from
Mexico. At an Arizona border town with a population of 65, a school bus regularly picked up 85 students at the crossing.

In nearby Calexico, Calif., taxpayers' complaints about building schools within walking distance of Mexico led the local district last year to hire someone to watch border crossings and check student addresses.

But in
Arizona, no district appears to have taken as aggressive a stance as Yuma Union High School District, which serves San Luis. In the early 1990s, it hired a full-time attendance officer to verify residency for students at its six schools.

Part truant officer, part detective, Villarreal spends his mornings noting names of high school students arriving from Mexico and listening to explanations for why they crossed...

"They want the American services," he said, "but they don't want to be part of the American system."

The Yuma Union High School District was forced to confront the residency issue after a bond measure to build a high school in San Luis was rejected in 1992. Voters believed the school would serve mostly students who lived in Mexico. The district decided it needed to prove to voters that its students were attending legally, and created the position of attendance officer.

...about 100 younger children were seen one recent day coming from Mexico to attend elementary and middle schools. Villarreal does not check on these students.

He typically finds about 150 students each year who should be withdrawn, out of a district of 10,000. He and his boss, Assistant Supt. Gerrick Monroe, advise those students' parents to either move across the border or make a U.S. resident the legal guardian for the child. Most make the adjustment.

Villarreal said it was also important to follow the law. The people who pay U.S. rents and taxes, he said, are the ones who deserve the benefits of the school system.


Illegals drain Public Services while Enriching Private Interests

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007

Also See:

Corruption Updates 36, 7th article on page, "CORPORATE-DEMOCRAT IMMIGRATION POLICY SUCCESSFUL:Poverty"

Corruption Updates 36, 8th article on page, "LIAR PRESENTS LOSS OF WORKER DIGNITY AND PAY AS “PROMOTION”"


Search the Corruption Database under




New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


State GOP's finance chief resigns

Top Republicans shocked by Aussie's immigration troubles

Monday, June 25, 2007


Michael Kamburowski, an Australian immigrant who served as the California Republican Party's chief operating officer, abruptly resigned Sunday -- less than 24 hours after The Chronicle reported he had been ordered deported in 2001, jailed in connection with the order, and now has a $5 million wrongful arrest lawsuit pending against U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials.

The news came as GOP officials and leaders expressed shock and fury at the troubled -- and apparently unknown -- immigration history of the person who handled the multimillion-dollar budget of the nation's largest state Republican Party.

Former White House adviser Steve Schmidt, who ran the re-election campaign for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, angrily described the appointment of Kamburowski as "almost a parody of incompetence and malfeasance.''

The harsh words from Schmidt -- who ran the Bush 2004 presidential campaign war room, advised Vice President Dick Cheney and was a member of White House adviser Karl Rove's inner circle -- underscored the concern in the California GOP following The Chronicle's story on Sunday that detailed Kamburowski's immigration history and multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the government.

The 35-year-old Australian citizen was handpicked for the post by Nehring, who became party chief in February.

Kamburowski is a former registered lobbyist for Americans for Tax Reform and a top operative for the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, both founded by conservative activist Grover Norquist. Nehring -- also a former senior adviser and consultant to Norquist's Washington, D.C., operation -- worked with Kamburowski at Americans for Tax Reform in the 1990s.

The Chronicle reported Sunday that court records indicate Kamburowski, who arrived in the United States in 1995, was ordered deported by U.S. immigration officials in 2001. He was jailed three years later for about one month at the Wachenhut prison in Jamaica, N.Y., in connection with the immigration matter, according to federal court documents.

Jon Fleischman, the Southern California vice chair of the GOP...in his popular GOP Web site, the FlashReport, bannered The Chronicle story with the alarmed comment: "Are you kidding me?"

And his Sunday blog asked fellow Republicans: "Is our COO suing America?"

News of Kamburowski's immigration past comes on the heels of revelations in The Chronicle earlier this month that the state GOP used a highly sought-after H1B visa to hire another immigrant as a top consultant. Christopher Matthews, a Canadian citizen with no experience in statewide politics, was hired recently after the California Republican Party applied for, and received, an H1B visa specifically to fill the role of political director, according to U.S. Department of Labor data.


Republicans use Illegal labor in the fields, and in their own office:

GOP words and Deeds mismatched

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007
It's funny, but the big Republican Party Supporters in California, the business and agriculture sectors, are the biggest abusers of crimigrants, both on the job and in the Assembly.

The Democrats, on the other hand, do everything they can to stuff the state full of cheap labor for the Republicans to abuse, while further subsidizing Republican profits by making the public pay for the health, education, and incarceration costs of their crimigrant labor force.

In the meantime, the wages for working Americans has been drawn down to standards only acceptable to crimigrants. California's schools, prisons, and medical "system" have collapsed as middle class American workers are forced to pay the costs of subsidizing the crimigrant labor force that has replaced them.

California's politicians work for the bribes of the special interests, and have sacrificed the welfare of the citizens of our state to their profits.

And irony upon irony, the Republicans had a convicted crimigrant running their whole show. The Republicans had the gall to use an H1B visa to fill the position of the state director of political affairs.

Both the Democrats and Republicans are hypocrites when it comes to immigration reform. Both craft policy that defends and subsidizes the abusers of crimigrant labor, at the expense of the general welfare of our citizens.

It is time to end the irresponsible growth that has gutted California's social and natural infrastructures, and make the people who have profited from the crimigration pay the full social costs to restore our schools, prisons, roads and infrastructure to the condition they were in prior to the mass movement of crimigrants into California.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 16, 5th article on the page, "CALIFORNIA PRISONS INHUMANE"

Corruption Updates 41, 1st article on the page, "Study: Schools need billions, CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS IN A DEATH SPRIAL"


Corruption Updates 65, 4th article on the page, "U.S. Data Show Rapid Minority Growth in School Rolls"

Corruption Updates 65, 5th article on the page, "Our diploma-less students: Editorial"

Search the Corruption Database under




New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


Trove of F.B.I. Files on Lawyers Guild Shows Scope of Secret Surveillance


June 25, 2007



One entry, dated April 14, 1954, was about I. F. Stone, who was described as being a writer from New York. Mr. Stone, it was noted, condemned Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s “persecution of innocent citizens” and likewise the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate’s corresponding committee.

Another on Oct. 24, 1966, noted that as a result of a F.B.I.-approved counterintelligence operation, Richard Lawrence Davis, who was running for a seat on the state committee of the Michigan District Communist Party, was cast under a cloud of suspicion as part of an effort to sow division in the group.

And an entry on Feb. 20, 1974, described how a source had penetrated the Revolutionary Union in Baltimore and had been able to participate in forming a new chapter of the party in Washington, D.C. The source, it said, also had a close personal relationship with Dana Beal, a leader of the Yippies, and provided information on their activities.

From 1940 to 1975, thousands of reports like these were part of extensive files compiled by the F.B.I. while it carried out a clandestine surveillance campaign on the National Lawyers Guild, an organization founded in New York in 1937 and associated with the labor movement and liberal causes.

They are among a trove of documents that archivists are poring over for the first time. The files provide a detailed history of the lawyers guild and include memos to and from the office of J. Edgar Hoover, internal F.B.I. analysis of the organization, typed and handwritten reports from covert informants and papers identifying people used by the agency to spy on the guild and other groups.

As part of a lawsuit filed in 1977 by lawyers in the New York City chapter of the guild, the F.B.I. turned over copies of roughly 400,000 pages of its files on the group.

The F.B.I. reports, some of which were reviewed recently by this reporter, include information about future members of Congress, law professors and journalists.

The surveillance operation used wiretaps and counterintelligence strategies to peer into the internal affairs of the guild and the lives of its members, whose clients included Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the so-called Hollywood Ten, a group of directors, producers and screenwriters who refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

“It is an extremely significant archive,” said Dr. Michael Nash, who heads the Tamiment Library and Wagner Archive. “In many respects, the F.B.I. has done a very good job in documenting the National Lawyers Guild relationships with the movements that shaped progressive politics in the United States from the 1930s through the 1970s.”

The F.B.I.’s surveillance of the guild was part of a

broad monitoring operation mounted by the agency under Mr. Hoover against groups and individuals it deemed seditious, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The surveillance spanned the administrations of seven presidents even though the Justice Department determined in 1958 and 1972 that the guild was not subversive or criminal.

The files include mentions of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the N.A.A.C.P., Students for a Democratic Society and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

There was an F.B.I. report in 1954 on a meeting of the Chicago Committee for Academic and Professional Freedom describing the event as a “hit McCarthy rally,” attended by Earl B. Dickerson of the National Lawyers Guild and Mr. Stone.

Another government document from 1964, stamped “confidential,” cites John Conyers Jr., now a congressman from Michigan and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The report says that Mr. Conyers had discussed a campaign for public office and a recent visit to Mississippi where he was said to have participated in civil rights activities.

Some reports detail how F.B.I. agents used ruses and deception to attack political opponents. In 1966, a memo from Mr. Hoover’s office instructed agents to derail the electoral efforts of George W. Crockett Jr., the guild vice president, who was running for a judgeship in Detroit.

Soon after, the agency sought to discredit him by linking him to the Communist Party. Agents wrote a letter under a false name assailing Mr. Crockett and mailed it to a right-leaning organization. Unaware of the true source of the letter, the group disseminated fliers emblazoned with a hammer and sickle and calling Mr. Crockett an “enemy collaborator.” F.B.I. agents then sent the fliers to political committees, the state bar association, unions and newspapers.

Still, Mr. Crockett won the election and later served 11 years as a congressman.

The files also identify several secret informants who were assigned code numbers by the F.B.I. One of the more well-known informants was a man named John Rees, who was paid by the F.B.I. and used an alias to masquerade as a member of left-leaning groups in the 1960s and 1970s while compiling secret intelligence newsletters about the groups that he circulated to law enforcement agencies.

His wife, Louise Rees, who also used a bogus identity, got a secretarial job with the guild. She reported to the F.B.I. about legal strategies developed by guild lawyers and was recommended for a raise in one F.B.I. document that described her as a valuable source.

Heidi Boghosian, the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, said the guild was still sometimes the subject of investigations.

In 2004, the F.B.I. issued a subpoena to Drake University in Iowa seeking records about an antiwar conference held by a guild chapter there. And surveillance documents by the New York Police relating to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, which were recently unsealed by a federal judge, included references to the guild.

“We work with the assumption that everything we do is being monitored by the government,” Ms. Boghosian said. “Unfortunately, we’ve become used to surveillance.”


Proof of Criminal Government Spans Seven Presidencies:

Why did they Stop Counting?

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007

Also See:




Corruption Updates 31, 1st article on page, "Documents Offer Unflattering View of CIA: CIA Crimes in '70s Pale in Comparison to Today's CIA Crimes"

Search the Corruption Database under

Illegal Searches

Unconstitutional Presidential Power

New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


Elizabeth Edwards declares support for gay marriage

Monday, June 25, 2007


Elizabeth Edwards, starring at the kickoff event of San Francisco's Gay Pride Parade, came out in support of legalized same-sex marriage Sunday -- taking a position that she acknowledged is at odds with her husband, presidential candidate John Edwards.

"I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me," she said. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."

Edwards' comments came after her keynote address before a standing-room-only breakfast attended by 300 people at the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, a key organization in the powerful gay political base in San Francisco.

Edwards' embrace of same-sex marriage puts her in a position that differs markedly from her husband, the former North Carolina senator. Edwards said her husband, though having a "deeply held belief against any form of discrimination," supports gay civil unions, but does not support gay marriage.

"It's frustrating, I know," she added, "but it's a long distance from where we are now to the pews of a Southern Baptist church. So, John's been as honest as he can about that."

All Democratic candidates support the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay people in the military, while none of the Republican candidates said they would support such a change.

All Democrats also support a measure recently passed in New Hampshire that allows civil unions. But the leading candidates -- Edwards, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama -- remain opposed to same sex marriage.

Only Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio, and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska support same-sex marriage, but they are considered to have virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination.


Finally: A Major Political Figure Asks Why Government Imposes Moral Beliefs on Our Citizens:

Is America under Christian Taliban or Constitution?

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June,25, 2007
the most fundamental corruption of our Constitutionally protected freedom of religion possible.

One of the most repugnant uses of our government is when religion is able to craft religious laws which impose their religion's values on the rest of us. Besides taking away each citizen's moral identity, religious laws destroy the separation of church from state.

Removing these wise provisions, consisting of freedom of religion for every citizen, and breaching the separation of church from state authority. makes each citizen's personal practices, beliefs, and philosophies subject to criminalization whenever a hostile faction or party gains control of the State.

The certainty of religious and philosophical self-determination under settled Constitutional protection, is being replaced by the uncertainty of the outcome of factional strife.

If you have forgotten, as our politicians have forgotten, the Constitutional duty of our government is to protect the right of each individual to have, hold and practice their own religion free of interference, and without interference from competing religions.

In recent decades we have had the spectacle of religious groups using politics, and law, to impose their beliefs on American Society.

The whole effort is fundamentally unconstitutional, and presents a clear and present danger to the liberties of every citizen.

To defend every citizen's rights, every American should be prepared to fight and die to preserve one citizen's right to believe, and practice their particular beliefs.

To defend exactly the same right, every American should also be prepared to fight and die to prevent any religion from imposing their beliefs on the rest of us, especially through law.

The way to stop these battles is to clarify our identity. The question is, "who are we?" Only each citizen can answer that question, protected by their freedom of religion.

This means that the first identity of every citizen and resident must be as an American, defending the right of each and all to self-definition.

That's why The Constitution requires a democracy where every citizen's religious (or "moral," or philosophical) identity is protected by fundamental rights, so they may have standing to be themselves, and not what others say they must be.

We must be clear that when any group of citizens try to impose its religious values on any other citizens through law, they have put their private beliefs before their duty to our country and Constitution.

We must remember that the majority has no power to vote away the rights of minorities, no matter how unpopular, or what any particular religion says to the contrary.

The individual's right to freedoms of religion, freedom from arbitrary search and arrest, and our democracy are designed to protect unpopular minorities from tyranny, be it a tyranny of one, or a tyranny of the majority.

Being an American isn't just obeying the boss, consuming, and paying taxes, as we are constantly told by the press, the corporate politicians, and the crimigrants.

Being an American today requires exactly the opposite. Being an American demands that we put our democracy and our right before our jobs, our consumption, and especially before our taxes. Being an American requires we translate the principals of our Constitution into contemporary terms, and square away our political rights and freedoms before we can throw ourselves an orgy of consumption.

Unfortunately, we have put the cart before the horse, and political winners impose their beliefs on the rest of us through law.

Search the Corruption Database under

Civil Rights

Gay Rights (1st Abstract)

New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


High staph infection rates in hospitals stun public health officials

New study reports lethal drug-resistant bacteria widespread

Monday, June 25, 2007


Drug resistant breeds of staph bacteria are far more prevalent among hospitalized patients in the United States than previously thought, according to a new survey by an organization of nurses and technicians who specialize in infection control.

The study, released Sunday evening in advance of a San Jose health care convention, screened patients in hospitals and long-term care homes to detect MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is not only resistant to common antibiotics, but kills patients at 2 1/2 times the rate of more drug-susceptible staph germs.

Unseen until the late 1970s, MRSA now accounts for between 50 and 70 percent of all staph infections acquired in U.S. hospitals, and new strains of the bug have taken hold outside the health care setting, afflicting otherwise healthy individuals with "spider bite" boils that are difficult to treat, often recur, and can become life-threatening blood infections.

The latest study was conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology, or APIC, an organization whose 11,000 members include nurses charged with keeping infections out of the health care setting.

It is estimated that each year 2 million Americans become infected during hospital stays, and at least 90,000 of them die. MRSA is a leading cause of hospital-borne infections.

One of the more surprising findings was that 67 percent of MRSA cases were associated with patients who were hospitalized for non-surgical medical conditions. Most infection control efforts focus on the intensive care units, where patients with trauma or surgical wounds are deemed particularly vulnerable.

Lisa McGiffert, manager of Consumers Union's Stop Hospital Infections project, in Austin, Texas, said the survey results are strong evidence that the problem is severe and widespread. "These are dangerous infections, and there is not enough being done to protect patients from getting them,'' she said. "Hospitals are going to have to do more. They have to be more aggressive, and it's just not happening.''

McGiffert has been advocating for state laws that would require hospitals to report their infection rates. Seventeen states have done so, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill in 2005 that would have added California to that list.


Human Overpopulation breeding Legions of Superbugs

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007

Our effect on disease has been superficially successful, prolonging life and suppressing disease. But our imposition of pharmaceutical technology on the micro world has a dark side.

Every weapon we have employed against disease has had a slow, but strengthening effect on the disease it was meant to suppress. Each generation that fails to interact with disease loses an evolutionary step in the arms race between immunity and disease.

The present strategic situation is not advantageous for humans. Numerous diseases have evolved partial or full resistance to drug treatments, while human populations have been sheltered from exposure, creating extreme vulnerability to pandemic.

Cites and urban population centers around the world have become vast concentrations of humanity, numbering in the tens of millions. Once introduced into our mega-cities, a virgin epidemic will be unstoppable.

International transportation and mass migration assure that once started, a new disease will be impossible to stop until it has run its global course.

In America, the lack of a system of public health assures that the infected will not be treated until an epidemic has already established itself, and once established, our health "system" will not have the health assets in place to deal with it. Expect a public health crisis to occur that will be equal to a national-scale Katrina disaster.

When the disaster hits, expect the government to pay private health insurance companies handsomely to do almost nothing, while thousands die.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 55, 7th article on the page, "China Tells Little About Illness That Kills Pigs, Officials Say"

Search the Corruption Database under

Public Health (2 Abstracts)

Health (27 Abstracts)

New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words, or write really well. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


Report on Amaranth Collapse Is to Be Made Public


June 25, 2007



After a nine-month investigation, a bipartisan Senate subcommittee is expected to issue a report today detailing how a single hedge fund, Amaranth Advisors, dominated the North American natural gas market last year, causing high prices and extreme volatility that ultimately led to its stunning collapse.

. The fund’s activities are still under investigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The report found that Amaranth held as many as 100,000 natural gas contracts in a single month, accounting for 5 percent of the total amount of natural gas consumed in the United States last year. The position was so large that it allowed the company to dominate trading in natural gas futures and push up prices.

By the end of February 2006, for example, the fund held nearly 70 percent of the open interest in the November future contracts on Nymex and nearly 60 percent in the futures for January.

It was that size that led to its collapse: Amaranth made a huge bet that natural gas spreads — or the difference between two monthly future contracts — would rise, and it kept pumping more money into that bet. When prices fell, Amaranth found itself on the wrong side of the market and could not make up for its losses.

By the end of August, Amaranth was pumping in more money to hold its position, but the market had taken a different direction. After starting 2006 with $7.5 billion, the fund soared to $9.2 billion and eventually collapsed to less than $3 billion.

The investigation also faults Nymex for failing to restrain Amaranth in time. Nymex officials had known since May 2006 that Amaranth had accumulated sizable holdings in several future contracts. When Nymex finally asked Amaranth to reduce its holdings, in August, the fund simply moved its assets from Nymex to ICE, an exchange that is exempt from federal regulation.

Among the report’s recommendations, the report urges Congress to “reinvigorate” prohibitions against excessive speculation, provide more funds to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and close the “Enron loophole,” a provision in the Commodity Exchange Act, requested by Enron in 2000, that exempts crucial energy commodities from government oversight.

“Current commodity laws are riddled with exemptions, exclusions and limitations that make it virtually impossible for regulators to police U.S. energy markets,” Mr. Levin said.


Out of Control Unregulated Markets Threatens Every American's Security.

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007
The problem is not just unregulated markets, it's why they're unregulated.

The problem is that we are allowing markets to lead, rather than follow, the will of the people. Supply-Side economics says if you give the rich all the money, they will rain down a golden shower upon all us lesser folk.

Instead of using law to concentrate wealth in the hands of the rich, god bless them, we should require the rich to earn their wealth, their concentration of capital, by drawing consumer spending to their endeavor.

The hedge funds represent just the opposite. Rather than earning wealth responsibly, and being restrained by the requirements of responsibility, the hedge funds appeared, and grew, as regulation and taxation on wealth receded.

Once you allow Supply side economics to run out its first stage, concentrating wealth at the top of society, the second stage begins. Vast pools of concentrated capital are guided to create, and profit from, the market effects of their own movements.

In the case of  Amaranth, they fell into a hole of their own creation, similar to the Silver hole the Hunts created, and fell into, in the early '80s. You must understand that when a big market player makes a monopolistic move on a position, be it a stock or commodity, at a certain point their purchases create a shortage of that position in the market, driving up the price.

By theory, in a "perfect" market, the price drop when they unload the position will equal out with the price rise when they bought in. But we do not live in a perfect world, and perfect markets do not exist.

The big move of the Big Market Player creates not just a shortage of the position, but has the potential to create a psychological momentum in the market that drives up the price enough to cover the dumping, the offloading of a big chunk of their position, at a vast profit, before the price tanks completely.

Amaranth, like the Hunts, failed to pull the trigger at the proper moment, and got caught in their own trap.

To avoid this bullshit, we must revert to citizen-side economics, maintaining the majority of the wealth of this country in the middle-class.

Concentrations of wealth and capital must emanate from, and be responsible to, the middle class for the highest degree of economic security.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 59, 6th article on page, "Greenspan Remarks Deflate Market Mood"
Corruption Updates 81, 8th article on page, "Bear Stearns Staves Off Collapse of 2 Hedge Funds"

Search the Corruption Database under

Hedge Funds


New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


For Lobbyists, This Campaign Is Personal


June 25, 2007


These are hard times for lobbyists, at least when it comes to public perception. The City Council is moving to limit their campaign contributions. Some top aides to Gov. Eliot Spitzer are letting it be known that hiring a lobbyist might not help one’s case in Albany.

(Some Lobbysist)...have suggested banding together to change their image, to spread the word that they are not bad people. Perhaps even ... hire a lobbyist.

“I think the problem is the public image,” said Sid Davidoff, one of the elders among the lobbying elite. “If you don’t address it, then you’ll never change it.”

City Hall and Albany have put the squeeze on lobbyists in the last few years. The gifts, dinners and endless bar tabs that made lobbyists popular with lawmakers have been curtailed, and Mr. Spitzer has created a panel to look at further changes.


Don't Stop Lobbying:

Just Stop Lobbyists from Bribing Politicians

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, 25, 2007

This is a no-brainer. Lobbyists' rights to consult with our representatives are protected free speech rights.

But when a lobbyist gives a penny of money or any services to any politician or candidate, they are not just engaging in bribery, but they are cutting the tie between citizen and representative, seriously damaging our democracy.

We have confused free speech rights with the franchise rights of the voter. The result is a system where both free speech and the franchise have been trumped by bribery. And lobbyists are the handmaidens of the system of bribery.

The solution is simple: Preserve the free speech rights of lobbyists, but put every lobbyist who gives even a penny to a politician or candidate in prison. They may talk, but when they give any money, it is bribery, and bribers must be severely punished.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 1, 1st article on page, "HOW TO GET RICH BUYING POLITICIANS: A BRIBER OF POLS DESCRIBES HOW TO MAKE A FORTUNE" (Brent Wilkes)

Corruption Updates 30,  5th article on the page, "BRENT WILKES BRIBES BIG AND LITTLE POLITICIANS"

Critical Note and Reference:

Wilkes is the guy who's indictment by San Diego US Attorney Lam, triggered her quick dismissal. What's up with that?

The hound dogs got too close to the fox, and when the Bitch wouldn't back off, they shot her in the head.

All to protect the foxes.

Corruption Updates 40  5th article on the page, "SMOKING GUN EMAILS DETAIL POLITICAL FIRING OF LAM:Duke gets Revenge from Prison"

Corruption Updates 54, 8th article on the page, "Lam defends her performance as a U.S. attorney: Justice Threatened Fired Attorneys"

Corruption Updates 44,  5th article on the page, "Lobbying Is Lucrative. Sometimes Very, Very Lucrative"

Search the Corruption Database under

Lobbyists (94 Abstracts)





(Use your imagination on this one. The reach of lobbyists have touched every corner of government and politics. Search the databse!)

New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Home All Archives

Top of Page


Top Official of Hamas Is Rebuffed Over Talks


June 24, 2007



JERUSALEM, June 23 — A top leader of Hamas, which last week routed its rival, Fatah, from Gaza, called for talks on Saturday to re-form a power-sharing Palestinian government. But Fatah leaders, looking forward to a meeting of regional leaders on Monday that excludes Hamas, rebuffed the offer.

The Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, who will play host to the meeting, condemned Hamas in strong terms for staging a “coup” that left it in control of Gaza and Fatah contained to the West Bank, in fighting that has effectively split Palestinians into two geographic entities.

“We are following closely the fallout from the coup against Palestinian legitimacy,” Mr. Mubarak said in a statement to members of his party.

“I reiterate Egypt’s support for the Palestinian National Authority, and its president, Mahmoud Abbas,” he said.

The rebuff and Mr. Mubarak’s statements seemed yet more evidence of a united strategy, among Arab and Western governments, along with Israel, to alienate Hamas, the Islamic militant group that won Palestinian elections last year, and to bolster Mr. Abbas and Fatah, which is secular but also often accused of deep corruption.

But Fatah, weakened by its defeat despite almost unanimous international backing, not only rejected the overture, but also said it will seek new elections that will exclude Hamas. Hamas officials say such elections would be illegitimate.

The meeting on Monday, at Sharm el Sheik on the Red Sea in Egypt, will be attended by Mr. Mubarak, Mr. Abbas, Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and King Abdullah of Jordan.

Mr. Olmert is expected to announce concrete measures to help Mr. Abbas, including releasing at least some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenue Israel has withheld since Hamas won the election last year.


Egyptian Dictator Condemns Democratically elected Hamas

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, , 2007

Irony of Ironies. The freely elected Hamas government has been condemned by the American Backed Dictator, Mubarak, of Egypt.

Fatah refused to recognize Hamas' victory, encouraged by Israel and the US to keep what amounted to an illegal militia in opposition to the elected government. This was only one of many of our acts of bad faith.

The real loss we sustained by charting this course was the opportunity to have a real negotiation with a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Arafat was neither. He believed in independence when he faced his people, and he believed in dependence when he faced the west. This suited neither side, and deteriorated into a regime of corruption. Abbas is a bitch, incapable of retaining legitimacy in the eyes of his own people.

I laughed when The Jews danced in the streets at Arafat's demise, knowing he was the best friend they had with the Palestinians. If Arafat lived forever, he would have continued to balance his two faces, one against the other.

Abbas can suck western cock, but he cannot satisfy his own people. This lack of duplicity, of being able to balance contradictory realities, has doomed Abbas, and made Hamas a shining example of the Islamic Independence movement across the whole middle east. The dancing Jews are wishing they had Arafat back.

The Jews, with our help, and fully backed by our stable of middle eastern dictators who depend on us for their survival, were able to bulldoze Abbas, and the post-Arafat Fatah, into subservience to their claims of Israeli legitimacy they could only legitimize through negotiations with Hamas.

This was political suicide for Fatah, and destructive to the western position across the whole middle east. We had the opportunity to open negotiations with a legitimate representative of the Palestinians, Hamas, for the first time in decades.

Our response is to undermine their international legitimacy, while funding and arming attacks against them. We are trying to bludgeon and starve them into submission. This will fail. The only legitimacy being undermined is our own, and that of our allies across the middle east.

Thus we are confronted with the spectacle and hypocrisy of our Egyptian dictator Mubarak, who seized power through a military coup and never let go since, criticizing Hamas' legitimacy.

The situation is more desperate than we know, when Mubarak is forced to use the word "legitimacy" to criticize Hamas. How dare he use that word in any context other than a bad joke.

Mubarak speaks wisely and well against an elected government seizing legitimacy in Palestine, for he is an unelected tyrant, and represents American Power in the middle east.

If there was a real election in Egypt tomorrow, Mubarak would be hanging from a lamppost the next day, or living in a penthouse in Manhattan.

Also See:



Corruption Updates 32, 1st article on the page, "RICE THANKS EGYPTIAN DICTATOR FOR REGIONAL SUPPORT"

Corruption Updates 40, 6th article on the page, "MUBARAK ABOUT TO IMPOSE BUSH RULES ON EGYPT"

Corruption Updates 78, 10th article on the page, "Egypt: After Shura Council Elections"

Search the Corruption Database under

Egypt (26 Abstracts)

Middle East

Supporting Dictators

International Corporate Bribery

New Feature:

Let's Talk! Send your Comments about the Topic Above for posting here!

Submit Comments Here

Please limit comments to 400 words. Remember to include the Corruption Updates page number, and the article number on the page. Example: (82_1.)

Previous Corruption Updates: Page 82

Next Corruption Updates: Page 84

Contact Us: Committeefordemocracy.org

Home All Archives

Top of Page




Corruption Database



Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
vPage 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Page 28
Page 29


Page 30
Page 31
Page 32
Page 33
Page 34
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 38
Page 39
Page 40
Page 41
Page 42
Page 43
Page 44
Page 45
Page 46