Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In the News - Feb. 28

Saddam Lawyers End Trial Boycott - 28 Feb 2006 at 12:52pm - Amidst a bloody Tuesday in Iraq, in which at least 56 were killed, Saddam Hussein's trial has resumed. Prosecutors showed a document they said Saddam signed, approving the execution of over 140 Shiites in the 1980s.

Bush: Bin Laden helped me beat Kerry - 28 Feb 2006 at 12:42pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Bush said his 2004 re-election victory over Sen. John Kerry was inadvertently aided by Osama bin Laden, The Washington Examiner newspaper reported Tuesday.

Spy chief calls threat from port deal low - 28 Feb 2006 at 12:34pm - The intelligence community assessed the threat posed by the takeover of some U.S. shipping terminals by a United Arab Emirates company as low, the top U.S. intelligence official told a Senate panel Tuesday.

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low - 28 Feb 2006 at 12:04pm - President Bush's approval rating fell to a new low in the latest CBS News poll, while pessimism about the Iraq war rose to a new high. The poll also finds overwhelming opposition to the deal allowing a Dubai-based firm to run six U.S. ports.

Sen. Byrd Regrets Voting for Patriot Act - 28 Feb 2006 at 11:37am - AP - Sen. Robert Byrd, the dean of the Senate and its resident constitutional expert, counts only a few regrets in his 48-year Senate career: filibustering the 1964 Civil Rights Act, voting to expand the Vietnam War, deregulating airlines.

Indians Burn Effigies of Bush Before Visit - 28 Feb 2006 at 12:36pm - Demonstrators in India shouted "Death to America!" and burned effigies of President Bush on Tuesday, demanding that he be barred from visiting the country this week.

Monday, February 27, 2006

In the News - Feb. 27

US rejects new UN human rights council proposal - 27 Feb 2006 at 12:34pm - UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Monday called a compromise proposal for a new U.N. Human Rights Council unacceptable and said it would vote against it unless negotiations were reopened.

Govs. press Bush on Nat'l Guard strength - 27 Feb 2006 at 12:32pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush thanked the nation's governors Monday for their support of National Guard troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as state leaders are warning Bush's budget plans will cut Guard strength and leave states less able to respond to homegrown emergencies.

Justices Won't Expand Death Penalty Review (AP) - 27 Feb 2006 at 10:59am - AP - The Supreme Court refused Monday to directly consider whether the drug combination used in executions across the country amounts to unconstitutional cruel punishment.

White House Rejects Special Counsel - 27 Feb 2006 at 8:58pm - AP - The White House on Monday rejected the call by more than a dozen House Democrats for a special counsel to investigate the Bush administration's eavesdropping program.

Paper sues gov't over surveillance records - 27 Feb 2006 at 10:39pm - NEW YORK -- The New York Times sued the Department of Defense on Monday, saying the government has refused to turn over records related to its domestic warrantless surveillance program.

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low - 27 Feb 2006 at 10:05pm - President Bush's approval rating fell to a new low in the latest CBS News poll, while pessimism about the Iraq war rose to a new high. The poll also finds overwhelming opposition to the deal allowing a Dubai-based firm to run six U.S. ports.

GOP Governors Say Bush Missteps Hurt Them - 27 Feb 2006 at 10:02pm - Republican Governors Say Bush Administration's Missteps Hurting GOP in Election Year

Postwar Iraq chaos blamed on poor planning - 27 Feb 2006 at 9:55pm - WASHINGTON -- Poor prewar planning left the United States without enough skilled workers to efficiently rebuild Iraq's economy and public works, according to a report issued Monday.

High Court to Rule on DeLay Redistricting - 27 Feb 2006 at 8:06pm - AP - In less than three years, a Republican-imposed redistricting of Texas' congressional districts strengthened the GOP grip on Congress, hastened former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's fall from power and triggered a partisan clash over the voting rights of blacks and Hispanics.

Judge OKs subpoenas in Libby case - 27 Feb 2006 at 3:41pm - The judge in the CIA leak case said Monday that lawyers on both sides in the perjury trial of former White House aide I. Lewis ?Scooter? Libby will be allowed to subpoena journalists and news organizations.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

In the News - Feb. 26

U.S. military defends detentions in Afghan - 26 Feb 2006 at 3:33pm - KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. military on Sunday defended its detention of about 500 inmates at its main base in Afghanistan, saying they are treated humanely and provided the "best possible living conditions."

Ohio Muslims say they don't fear backlash - 26 Feb 2006 at 3:17pm - TOLEDO, Ohio -- The business owners, doctors, lawyers and others who make up this industrial city's thriving Muslim community say they're not worried about any backlash against them following the terror charges leveled against three residents who share their religion.

Supreme Court justice champions hunting - 26 Feb 2006 at 4:29pm - NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia fondly remembers carrying a rifle around New York City as a boy and says outdoorsmen should attack the idea that guns are only used for crimes.

US says training Iraqi police key to ending violence - 26 Feb 2006 at 3:02pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley said on Sunday that training an Iraqi police force loyal to the government and not to militias is the key to stemming sectarian violence.

Guantanamo tribunals ready as court ruling looms - 26 Feb 2006 at 1:31pm - MIAMI (Reuters) - Two alleged al Qaeda bomb makers make their first appearances before a U.S. military tribunal at the Guantanamo navy base this week, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to decide whether the tribunals are legitimate.

Bush appeal wanes for some Republican faithful - 26 Feb 2006 at 10:52am - ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (Reuters) - Robert Dukes, a Baptist preacher who calls New Orleans "sin city" and believes gay rights are the biggest threat to America, is questioning his faith in President George W. Bush.

Specter Proposes NSA Surveillance Rules - 26 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - The federal government would have to obtain permission from a secret court to continue a controversial form of surveillance, which the National Security Agency now conducts without warrants, under a bill being proposed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

Justice Dept. Rejects Google's Privacy Issues - 25 Feb 2006 at 11:00pm - The Justice Department argued that examining the Internet search requests of Google's users would not violate privacy rights.

Friday, February 24, 2006

In the News - Feb. 24

Germany admits its spies helped US in Iraq war - 24 Feb 2006 at 12:31pm - BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government released a report that said two German spies in Iraq provided the United States with intelligence but rejected allegations it aided the U.S. bombing campaign during the 2003 invasion.

IRS: Charities overstepping into politics - 24 Feb 2006 at 12:27pm - WASHINGTON -- IRS exams found nearly three out of four churches, charities and other civic groups suspected of having violated restraints on political activity in the 2004 election actually did so, the agency said Friday.

Bush Compares Iraqi Conflict to Nascent US Republic - 9:08 AM PST,February 24 2006 - WASHINGTON -- After two days of sectarian violence raged across Iraq, President Bush today warned that Iraq was facing "a moment of choosing," and he acknowledged that the comings days would be "intense."

Bush: U.S. Setting a "Forward Strategy for Freedom" - 24 Feb 2006 at 12:48pm - Saying that U.S. national security "depends on the advance of liberty in other nations," President Bush today offered a broad defense of his goal of spreading democracy worldwide and rejected the notion that his policies are "backfiring" in the Middle East.

US gives visa to top India scientist, apologizes - 24 Feb 2006 at 9:22am - Professor Goverdhan Mehta, 62, an internationally recognized organic chemist, is president of the Paris-based International Council for Science (ICSU) and had been invited to a conference by the University of Florida.

Pentagon cites Iraqi army gains, losses - 24 Feb 2006 at 10:06pm - WASHINGTON -- The number of Iraqi army battalions judged by their American trainers to be capable of fighting the insurgency without U.S. help has slipped from one to none since September, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Marines join special operations community - 24 Feb 2006 at 10:06pm - CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The Marine Corps formally entered the world of military special operations Friday by establishing a separate command devoted to small-unit tactics and stealthy reconnaissance.

Bush admin. won't reconsider ports deal - 24 Feb 2006 at 10:04pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration said Friday it won't reconsider its approval for a United Arab Emirates company to take over significant operations at six U.S. ports. The former head of the Sept. 11 commission said the deal "never should have happened."

Identity of official to be kept from Libby - 24 Feb 2006 at 10:03pm - WASHINGTON -- Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak case, cannot be told the identity of another government official who is said to have divulged a CIA operative's identity to reporters, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Chertoff worried Gulf not ready for storms - 24 Feb 2006 at 9:43pm - WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday he is worried the Gulf Coast may not be ready to withstand another major storm as it struggles to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Now he worries?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

In the News - Feb. 23

Sept. 11 report ties bin Laden to UAE - 23 Feb 2006 at 12:44pm - WASHINGTON -- The United States raised concerns with the United Arab Emirates seven years ago about possible ties between officials in that country and Osama bin Laden, according to a section of the Sept. 11 commission's report that details a possible missed opportunity to kill the al-Qaida leader.
Scott McClellan, from yesterday's press briefing, when asked about the wisdom of allowing a UAE-state-run company to operate U.S. ports: "We also have to take into account the broader foreign policy implications something like this could have. The United Arab Emirates is a strong ally and partner in the global war on terrorism. General Pace, just yesterday, talked about how the UAE is providing superb military-to-military cooperation, and how they are a very solid partner in the global war on terrorism. They provide access to their ports for our aircraft carrier, they provide access to our Air Force planes over their airspace and at their airports. The UAE is someone we have worked very closely with to crack down on terrorist financing. They work very closely with us in sharing important intelligence. And so I think you have to also look at it in that context."

So does the Bush administration consider this deal a quid-pro-quo for past military cooperation? Or for future military cooperation? If this deal isn't allowed to go through, will the UAE stop cooperating in counterterrorism activities? How important to the US is access to UAE airports? And why was GWB so quick to issue a threat to veto any legislation which would block the deal? One can see the proximity of UAE airports to Iran in this map. I imagine access to them would be of great interest to the US in the event of a US-Iran war. Just sayin'.

Revenge attacks rage in Iraq; 7 U.S. soldiers killed - 23 Feb 2006 at 12:23pm - More than 100 people have been killed in Iraq in violence that boiled over after Wednesday's attack on a revered Shiite mosque in Samarra. No one seems safe from the attacks. According to police, casualties include senior members of the Iraqi army, soldiers, journalists, civilians and children. Fifty Sunni mosques have been attacked in Baghdad since the strike on the Shiite mosque.

Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Fla. Vote - 23 Feb 2006 at 3:54pm - An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday. Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said...

Iraqi president warns of civil war - 23 Feb 2006 at 3:50pm - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has warned that widespread rebellion could engulf his war-torn country as sectarian bloodshed over the past two days claimed the lives of more than 130 people.

Libby's lawyers seek dismissal of charges - 23 Feb 2006 at 4:10pm - WASHINGTON -- Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide asked a federal judge Thursday to dismiss his indictment on grounds that the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case lacked authority.

Military rebuffed FBI Guantanamo worries: files - 23 Feb 2006 at 2:17pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI agents accused military personnel at the Guantanamo prison of using illegal "aggressive interrogation tactics" on detainees but senior military officials rejected FBI concerns, documents made public on Thursday showed.

Court 'should probe war decision' - 23 Feb 2006 at 11:37am - The legality of the Iraq war should be able to be questioned in court and not given the immunity of being an "act of state", the Law Lords have heard.

World science body slams tougher U.S. visa rules - 23 Feb 2006 at 11:23am - PARIS (Reuters) - A leading world science body denounced tougher U.S. visa policies on Thursday after its Indian-born president said he failed to get permission to enter the country on charges he was hiding information that could be used for chemical weapons.

Guantanamo 'damages terror fight' - 23 Feb 2006 at 11:18am - The war against terror is being damaged by America's Guantanamo Bay centre, says an influential MPs' committee.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In the News - Feb. 22

Bush was in the dark on port deal - 22 Feb 2006 at 12:39pm - President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

Libby's Lawyers Fire Back - 22 Feb 2006 at 10:43am - Lawyers for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, denied they were trying to scuttle his prosecution in the CIA leak case by demanding access to sensitive government material - a practice known as "greymail."

Privacy group: U.S. laws needed to reign in surveillance - 21 Feb 2006 at 1:59pm - U.S. laws haven't kept up with the government's ability to use technology to spy on people, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). As U.S. government agencies conduct domestic surveillance and attempt to gain access to Internet search records, privacy laws do not adequately deal with technologies that allow the government access to all kinds of digital records, said CDT, a privacy and civil liberties advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

White House to Issue Own Katrina Report (AP) - 22 Feb 2006 at 1:53pm - AP - The White House will make 125 recommendations for how the government could have reacted better to Hurricane Katrina in a report to be released Thursday on the catastrophe and the Bush administration's response to it.

Terror fears, stoked by Bush, now bite him - 22 Feb 2006 at 1:29pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For almost five years President George W. Bush has warned Americans to fear terrorism, but now those words may come back to bite him.

Anarchy warning on protest claim - 22 Feb 2006 at 12:14pm - "Anarchy" could prevail if protesters are allowed to argue that they were right to take action to prevent the Iraq war, Law Lords hear.

New pressure over terror flights - 22 Feb 2006 at 10:50am - A watchdog could be asked to force the ministers to give more details of what they know about US "terror flights".

Former Bush advisor defends White House spying powers - 22 Feb 2006 at 8:23pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - A controversial constitutional expert defended the White House's powers to authorize warrantless spying on Americans.

Controversy may end Calif. executions - 22 Feb 2006 at 8:18pm - SAN FRANCISCO -- The state's postponement of an execution because no medical professional would take part amounts to a moratorium on capital punishment in California, home to the nation's largest death row, and could have implications for other states that use lethal injection.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In the News - Feb. 21

U.S. still planting stories in Iraq media - 21 Feb 2006 at 12:04pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was mistaken when he said last week that the U.S. military had stopped the controversial practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.

New anti-war march planned - 21 Feb 2006 at 10:57am - An anti-war march is planned for London to mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion and urge UK troops to return home.

US removing documents from public access: report - 21 Feb 2006 at 9:29am - The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the CIA and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton, the Times said on its Web site.

Iraq angrily rejects US sectarian warning - 21 Feb 2006 at 11:54am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A car bomb killed at least 21 people in Baghdad on Tuesday hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari angrily dismissed U.S. warnings to shun sectarianism in the country's new government.

Rumsfeld: planting stories under review - 21 Feb 2006 at 1:59pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the Pentagon is reviewing the U.S. military's practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media.

Rumsfeld says 'misstated' facts on planted Iraq news - 21 Feb 2006 at 2:27pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday he was mistaken when he stated last week that the U.S. military had stopped paying Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-American articles.

Guantanamo 7/7 link 'nonsense' - Wed 22 Feb 2006 - BRITISH officials investigating July's London suicide bombings have received no useful intelligence from detainees held at the United States military camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Monday, February 20, 2006

In the News - Feb. 20

U.S. ambassador warns Iraqi lawmakers - 20 Feb 2006 at 8:26am - The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned Iraqi politicians Monday they risk a loss of American support if they do not establish a genuine national unity government.

Carter: Don't punish Palestinians - BBC News - 20 Feb 2006 at 8:15am - Former US President Jimmy Carter has urged Israel and the US not to punish the Palestinians for giving Hamas a victory in parliamentary elections. The two allies have already taken steps to withhold funds…

Ridge: White House should explain port deal - 20 Feb 2006 at 9:55am - The Bush administration needs to show Congress why national security won't be hurt by a deal that gives a company based in the United Arab Emirates management of six major U.S. ports, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday.

War protesters in Law Lord appeal - 20 Feb 2006 at 12:32pm - Anti-war protesters are at the centre of a landmark case at the House of Lords that could test the legality of the Iraq war.

Egypt to tell Rice to give Hamas time -- agency - 20 Feb 2006 at 10:56am - Rice arrives in Egypt on Tuesday on a mission to enlist support in the Arab world to isolate Hamas, which won Palestinian parliamentary elections last month, and Iran, which Washington believes is planning to develop nuclear weapons.

Frist: No New Spy Legislation Needed (AP) - 20 Feb 2006 at 3:10am - AP - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, standing firmly with the White House on the administration's eavesdropping program, said Sunday he doesn't think new or updated legislation is needed to govern domestic surveillance to foil terrorists.

White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe - 20 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - At two key moments in recent days, White House officials contacted congressional leaders just ahead of intelligence committee meetings that could have stirred demands for a deeper review of the administration's warrantless-surveillance program, according to House and Senate sources.

Facing Pressure, White House Seeks Approval for Spying - 19 Feb 2006 at 11:00pm - The Bush administration is resisting judicial review of a wiretapping program while seeking retroactive Congressional approval.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

In the News - Feb. 19

Report: Pentagon warned on torture, abuse - 19 Feb 2006 at 2:18pm - WASHINGTON -- The Navy's former general counsel warned Pentagon officials two years before the Abu Ghraib prison scandal that circumventing international agreements on torture and detainees' treatment would invite abuse, according to a published report.

Hussein tapes: U.S. will be hit by terrorists - 19 Feb 2006 at 12:42pm - Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein told his Cabinet in the mid-1990s that the U.S. would fall victim to terrorists possessing weapons of mass destruction but that Iraq would not be involved, tapes released at an intelligence summit reveal. U.S. officials who have reviewed the tapes said Hussein was "fixated" on acquiring weapons of mass destruction and preventing U.N. inspectors from finding out.

Lawmakers call for revamp of disaster agency - 19 Feb 2006 at 12:17pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The woeful federal response to Hurricane Katrina shows a need to overhaul the U.S. emergency relief agency to ensure a more effective reaction to future disasters, two lawmakers said on Sunday.

Clinton: Secrecy Sparked Shooting Reaction (AP) - 19 Feb 2006 at 11:55am - AP - Former President Clinton said Sunday the Bush administration's "enormous penchant for secrecy" sparked the strong reaction to Vice President Dick Cheney's shooting mishap.

At a Scientific Gathering, U.S. Policies Are Lamented - 18 Feb 2006 at 11:00pm - Speakers at a session during an annual meeting of scientists in St. Louis denounced Bush administration policies they said threatened sound science.

French envoy says Guantanamo an 'embarrassment' - 19 Feb 2006 at 3:13pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - The British, French and German ambassadors to Washington said that the United States must close its Guantanamo "war on terror" detention camp which the French envoy called "an embarrassment."

Friday, February 17, 2006

In the News - Feb. 17

FEMA needs independence, former chief says - 17 Feb 2006 at 8:14am - CONWAY, Ark. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has become a disgrace since it was merged into the Department of Homeland Security following the 2001 terrorist attacks, former FEMA chief James Lee Witt says.

Wis. Referendums Call for Troop Withdrawal (AP) - 17 Feb 2006 at 7:13am - AP - Peace activist Jill Bussiere wants the United States to bring its troops home from Iraq immediately, so she went door-to-door in this community in the hopes of getting others to join her cause.

Bush: Cheney's explanation 'powerful' - 17 Feb 2006 at 3:19am - President Bush says he is "satisfied" with the explanation Vice President Dick Cheney gave of a hunting accident over the weekend in which he wounded his friend, describing the explanation as "powerful."
Powerful? Maybe, but is it movie-of-the-week material? Anyway, since Karl Rove told Cheney how to explain the shooting, should anyone be surprised by (or otherwise impressed with) the fact that Rove told Bush to find the explanation satisfactory?

Bush Administration's War Spending Nears Half-Trillion Dollars - 17 Feb 2006 at 8:31am - In a single year, it is difficult to measure overall progress in the war on terror. But ABC News has learned today that President Bush will ask Congress for an additional $65.3 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It brings the total funds requested this year to more than $110 billion for those operations.

Prosecutor resists Libby's request - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:25am - WASHINGTON -- A former White House aide charged in the investigation of the leaking of a CIA operative's identity is seeking access to information that would threaten national security, grand jury secrecy and presidential executive privilege, a prosecutor said in court papers.

McPherson gives conditional OK to Diebold voting machines - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:54pm - California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson gave conditional approval Friday for counties to use two voting machines produced by Diebold Election Systems that he had previously questioned. McPherson's office said in December that the Diebold machines...

Prosecutor: Libby has evidence he needs - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:43pm - WASHINGTON -- Granting a former White House aide's demands for classified documents to aid his defense in the CIA leak investigation would torpedo the case, the prosecutor is arguing.

White House aims to protect new Texas map - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:43pm - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Bush administration's request to join Texas in defending a Republican-friendly congressional map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay.

Senators push probe of claims against FBI - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:40pm - WASHINGTON -- Three senators want the Justice Department to investigate claims that the FBI retaliated against an Arab-American agent by passing him over for top counterterrorism jobs despite his expertise.

Senior Anglican links US to Orwell over Guantanamo - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:37pm - LONDON (AFP) - The second most senior cleric in the Church of England has lashed out at the United States, saying its Guantanamo Bay detention centre reflected "a society that is heading towards George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'."

Rockefeller questions NSA's authority - 17 Feb 2006 at 9:37pm - WASHINGTON -- The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee wants the panel to look into whether the National Security Agency was eavesdropping without proper authority in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

In the News - Feb. 16

Vice president says he has power to declassify information - 16 Feb 2006 at 6:21am - Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that an executive order gives him the authority to declassify secret documents, but he would not say whether he authorized an indicted former aide to release classified information.

Abu Ghraib abuse against international law: ICRC - 16 Feb 2006 at 6:20am - GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday the latest images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison showed clear violations of international humanitarian law.

US must shut Guantanamo prison, UN report says - 16 Feb 2006 at 6:20am - The United States must shut down its detention centre at Guantanamo Bay "without further delay", a UN human rights report has said, urging Washington to try or release more than 500 terrorism suspects held at its naval base on Cuba.

Justice Dept. Role in Eavesdropping Decision Under Review - 16 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has opened an internal investigation into the department's role in approving the Bush administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, officials said yesterday.

Iraqis say Saddam could exploit Abu Ghraib images - 16 Feb 2006 at 7:58am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein could seize on new images of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison to attack his U.S.-sponsored trial, which is intended to show that the days of such excesses are over, Iraqis said on Thursday.

The Secret Tapes -- Inside Saddam's Palace - 16 Feb 2006 at 7:25am - ABC News Obtains 12 Hours of Recordings of Saddam Hussein Meeting With Top Aides

New Abu Ghraib images disgust Iraq - 16 Feb 2006 at 7:17am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqis have expressed outrage after new revelations of prisoner abuse at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, warning the images would further inflame already intense anti-Western sentiment.

31 Democrats ask Gonzales to step aside - 16 Feb 2006 at 10:06am - WASHINGTON -- Thirty-one Senate Democrats on Thursday asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to remove himself from the investigation into the Jack Abramoff scandal, saying the lobbyist's dealings with President Bush and others in the administration should compel Gonzales to step aside.

Chertoff acknowledges lapses in response - 16 Feb 2006 at 9:20am - WASHINGTON -- Calling Hurricane Katrina "one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of my life," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he is fixing failures in his department before next storm season.

Iraq probes police 'death squad' - 16 Feb 2006 at 8:59am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's interior ministry said it has set up a commission of enquiry to probe reports of a "death squad" within the police force which targeted the Sunni minority.

Iraq seethes after new prisoner abuse footage - 16 Feb 2006 at 10:59am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - New images of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison prompted Iraq's president to condemn his close ally the United States on Thursday, demanding harsh punishment for "savage crimes" as Iraqis seethed over more humiliation.

Judge orders release of spying documents - 16 Feb 2006 at 12:36pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge dealt a setback to the Bush administration on its warrantless surveillance, ordering the Justice Department on Thursday to release documents about the program within 20 days or to compile a list of what it is withholding.

US slams UN over Guantanamo report - 16 Feb 2006 at 2:33pm - The White House blasted a United Nations (UN) report alleging abuse at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and calling for closing the facility as "a discredit to the UN."

Sen.: White House agrees to spy law change - 16 Feb 2006 at 3:23pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts said he has worked out an agreement with the White House to change U.S. law regarding the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program and provide more information about it to Congress.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In the News - Feb. 15

Cheney Breaks His Silence - 15 Feb 2006 at 3:01pm - Vice President Dick Cheney has broken his silence on last weekend's accidental shooting of a hunting companion, saying, "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

Bush wants extra $75 mln to spur Iran democracy - 15 Feb 2006 at 10:50am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush wants $75 million to try to spur democracy in its adversary Iran, expanding a program that skeptics say can have little effect in the Islamic republic.

Ohio Backs Evolution In Lesson Plans - 15 Feb 2006 at 10:34am - In a setback for the intelligent design movement, the Ohio Board of Education voted 11-4 to delete a science standard and lesson plan encouraging students to get evidence for and against evolution. Supporters of the rule vow to force another vote.

New Abu Ghraib abuse photos shown in Australia - Financial Times - 15 Feb 2006 at 2:41pm - An Australian television station on Wednesday broadcast previously unpublished graphic images of physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Senators criticise Rice on Middle East - Aljazeera.net - 15 Feb 2006 at 2:40pm - Republican senators have criticised the Bush administration over its policies in Iraq , Iran and the Palestinian territories.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

In the News - Feb. 14

Cheney cited for breaking law - 14 Feb 2006 at 7:28am - Vice President Dick Cheney has been given a warning citation for breaking Texas hunting law by failing to buy a stamp allowing him to shoot upland game birds. The warning came after Cheney accidentally shot a fellow quail hunter.

Report: Iraq vet drops out of Senate race - 14 Feb 2006 at 12:54am - Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, who gained popularity for his  criticism of President Bush, has dropped out of the Democratic race for U.S. Senate in Ohio, according to a report in The New York Times.

Harvard study blasts Bush education policy - 14 Feb 2006 at 12:35am - BOSTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's signature education policy has in some cases benefited white middle-class children over blacks and other minorities in poorer regions, a Harvard University study showed on Tuesday.

UPDATE: PREPACKAGED NEWS - 14 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - How much is good press worth? To the Bush administration, about $1.6 billion.

U.N. Draft Decries U.S. On Detainee Treatment - 14 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 13 -- The Bush administration's treatment of prisoners at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, violates international law and in some cases constitutes a form of torture, according to a draft report by a group of U.N. human rights investigators.

U.S. Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies - 13 Feb 2006 at 11:00pm - The government is on the verge of one of the biggest oil and gas giveaways in U.S. history, some $7 billion over five years.

Scalia says opponents are 'idiots' - 14 Feb 2006 at 10:03am - PONCE, Puerto Rico -- People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.

'The White House Was Clearly in a Fog' - ABC News - 14 Feb 2006 at 9:05am - A group of Republican Congress members will release a report Wednesday that sharply criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the hurricanes that hit the nation's Gulf Coast last year.

TV joke writers take shots at Cheney - 14 Feb 2006 at 8:53am - LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Television talk shows took aim Monday at Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental weekend shooting in Texas of a hunting companion. Here are a few of the jokes.

Cheney victim blamed

Cheney not licensed to shoot birds (or friends)

Gay couples seek Conn. marriage licenses - 14 Feb 2006 at 12:14pm - HARTFORD, Conn. -- As part of a national marriage equality campaign, George Chien and Julio Flores headed to Hartford City Hall to apply for a marriage license. And for the third consecutive Valentine's Day, they were turned away.

Cheney victim suffers heart attack - 14 Feb 2006 at 3:07pm - HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Texas lawyer accidentally shot by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney during a weekend quail hunt suffered a minor heart attack on Tuesday when some of the birdshot still in his body lodged near his heart, a hospital spokesman said.

White House Finds Humor in Hunting Mishap - 14 Feb 2006 at 4:18pm - The White House has decided that the best way to deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's shooting accident is to joke about it. President Bush's spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn't be confused for hunter's safety wear.

Monday, February 13, 2006

In the News - Feb. 13

Thousands would die if US attacked Iran: study - 13 Feb 2006 at 8:29am - The report by the Oxford Research Group said any bombing of Iran by U.S. forces, or by their Israeli allies, would have to be part of a surprise attack that would inevitably catch many Iranians unprotected and could eventually lead to a lengthy confrontation involving many other countries in the region.
Apparently yet to be released is the study commissioned by Dick Cheney concluding that such an attack would be welcomed by Iranians and that they would thank the U.S. for it.

Chertoff to overhaul FEMA - 13 Feb 2006 at 9:57am - Homeland Security on Monday will announce major changes to the nation?s disaster-response agency on the heels of a House report blaming government-wide ineptitude for mishandling Hurricane Katrina relief.

Chertoff defends DHS's dual role - 13 Feb 2006 at 12:47pm - WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Monday rejected criticism that his agency is preoccupied with terror threats, at the expense of preparing for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

More Questions Raised About Delay in Reporting Cheney Misfire - February 12, 2006 10:20 PM ET updated Monday - NEW YORK - The more than 18-hour delay in news emerging that the Vice President of the United States had shot a man, sending him to an intensive care unit with his wounds, grew even more curious late Sunday. E&P has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occurred and called Vice President Cheney's office for confirmation.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In the News - Feb. 12

Cheney Shoots Man While Hunting - 12 Feb 2006 at 4:00pm - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas. Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and fine" after Cheney sprayed him with shotgun pellets on Saturday.
Doesn't this pretty well symbolize the entire Bush presidency?

This will undoubtedly generate a brazillion really funny jokes; to the funny ones, allow me to add my own:

"Cheney disavowed any responsibility for the apparant case of mistaken identity, in which Mr. Whittington was taken for the actual target, claiming Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss told him it was a 'slam duck'."

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to assure Senators that 'no innocent Americans were targeted' in the attack which sent Mr. Whittington to the hospital with non-life-threatening wounds. Rumsfeld also revealed that the Pentagon believes four high-ranking Al Qaida operatives may have been killed as a result of the operation; results of DNA tests are pending."

"White House staffers distributed this photo of Mr. Whittington:"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

In the News - Feb. 11

Laura to Hillary: Show some empathy - 11 Feb 2006 at 4:40pm - TURIN, Italy (AP) -- Laura Bush said Saturday that Hillary Rodham Clinton's criticism of her husband's administration was "out of bounds," arguing that the former first lady should show some empathy for the current White House occupants.

Friday, February 10, 2006

In the News - Feb. 10

Cheney Says NSA Spying Should Be an Election Issue - 10 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - Vice President Cheney suggested last night that the debate over spying on overseas communications to or from terrorism suspects should be a political issue in this year's congressional elections.

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq - 10 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into...

Ex-FEMA Chief Blames Homeland Security (AP) - 10 Feb 2006 at 10:22am - AP - Decisions and policies by the parent Department of Homeland Security doomed FEMA to "a path to failure" that led to the government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, former disaster chief Michael Brown said Friday.

Anger Management - 10 Feb 2006 at 7:06am - Anger can be a useful instrument in public life. Think of Truman giving 'em hell, JFK calling steel executives SOBs, Reagan demanding that Gorby tear down this wall, Bush using a bullhorn to denounce the people who knocked down those buildings.

Dad Slams Attack On Bush At King Rite - 10 Feb 2006 at 10:21am - President George H.W. Bush expressed dismay and anger at attacks on his son, President Bush, at the funeral for Coretta Scott King. He called the criticism "ugly" in a radio interview with CBS News.

Libby: White House 'Superiors' OK'd Leaks - 10 Feb 2006 at 9:37am - WASHINGTON Feb 10, 2006 (AP)— A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.
"Superiors", plural. I guess that a list of the Vice President's Chief of Staff's "superiors" would include the Vice President, and the President, maybe the President's Chief of Staff. Whom else?

From the article: "Portions of NIEs are sometimes declassified and made public. It is unclear whether that happened in this instance." One might hope that it's clear to Fitzgerald, at least.

Bush Reveals Rationale Behind Surveillance (AP) - 10 Feb 2006 at 2:30pm - AP - President Bush defended his warrantless eavesdropping program Friday, saying during what he thought were private remarks that he concluded that spying on Americans was necessary to fill a gap in the United States' security.

LA skyscraper plot never got beyond talk: analysts - Friday February 10, 4:01 PM - An alleged Al-Qaeda plot to crash an airplane into a Los Angeles skyscraper but foiled with the help of Asian nations never got beyond the discussion stage, security analysts said..

Woman Carrying Human Head Arrested in Fla. - 10 Feb 2006 at 3:30pm - Airport baggage screeners found a human head with teeth, hair and skin in the luggage of a woman who said she intended to ward off evil spirits with it, authorities said Friday. Myrlene Severe, 30, a Haitian-born permanent U.S. resident, was charged Friday with smuggling a human head into the U.S. without proper documentation.
I hope they checked to find out whether the head belonged to Zarqawi or Bin Laden.

Private groups seek domestic spying papers - 10 Feb 2006 at 9:30pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge said Friday he was considering setting a deadline for the Justice Department to produce records on the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program or to explain in court why it was refusing to do so.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In the News - Feb. 09

Ex-FEMA chief: I may tell all about Katrina - 9 Feb 2006 at 8:29am - WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former disaster agency chief Michael Brown is indicating he is ready to reveal his correspondence with President Bush and other officials during Hurricane Katrina unless the White House forbids it and offers legal support.

U.S. straps down hunger strikers? - 9 Feb 2006 at 7:25am - U.S. military officials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, strapped hunger-striking prisoners into restraint chairs for hours to feed them through tubes and isolated them in cold cells, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Bush: US, allies thwarted terrorist plot to attack Los Angeles - 9 Feb 2006 at 12:43pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush unveiled new details about a thwarted September 11th-style Al-Qaeda plot to crash a hijacked airliner into the tallest building in Los Angeles in 2002.
From the article: "White House spokesman Scott McClellan denied any linkage between the new details and Bush's aggressive campaign to defend his secret domestic spying program, which some lawmakers have called illegal."

That's good. I really do hope GWB isn't trying to suggest that the FISA court would turn down a request to monitor the communications of the evildoers named as the would-be attackers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Hambali, a "leader of the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah", although the current Rovian strategy seems to be for Republicans to suggest that the choice faced in the present circumstance is between: 1) continuing the warrantless wiretapping exactly as it has been carried out thus far; or 2) scrapping the program altogether—as in "See how productive this program has already been! How can we NOT continue it?"—deliberately neglecting to mention an obvious third choice: continue the program, but with legally-prescribed safeguards of FISA and congressional oversight in place to ensure that it targets only those who are legitimately suspected of something which would... ummm.. warrant a warrant for the eavesdropping.

Poll: Surveillance wins some more backers - 9 Feb 2006 at 1:11pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush's monthlong campaign to convince the public that the government's eavesdropping program is an essential anti-terrorism tool appears to have made an impact, a new AP-Ipsos poll suggests.

Senate Republicans reach Patriot Act deal - 9 Feb 2006 at 2:54pm - WASHINGTON -- Several Senate Republicans who are key to extension of the terror-fighting Patriot Act have reached a tentative agreement with the White House on a compromise version, congressional officials said Thursday.

Passenger security check program scrapped - 9 Feb 2006 at 2:38pm - WASHINGTON -- An ambitious program to check every domestic airline passenger's name against government terrorist watch lists may not be immune from hackers, a congressional investigator said Thursday.

L.A. Mayor Blindsided by Bush Announcement (AP) - 9 Feb 2006 at 3:02pm - AP - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he was blindsided by President Bush's announcement of new details on a purported 2002 hijacking plot aimed at a downtown skyscraper, and described communication with the White House as "nonexistent."

Libby: White House 'superiors' OK'd leaks - 9 Feb 2006 at 9:13pm - WASHINGTON -- A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.

Bush told to "shut up" over cartoons - 9 Feb 2006 at 9:04pm - Hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims transformed a religious ceremony in Lebanon on Thursday into an emotional but peaceful protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Paper: White House knew about levees early - 9 Feb 2006 at 8:27pm - WASHINGTON -- Twenty-eight government agencies, from local Louisiana parishes to the White House, reported that New Orleans levees were breached Aug. 29, the day Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, documents released Thursday show.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

In The News - Feb. 08

Bush calls for end to violence over cartoons - 8 Feb 2006 at 10:11am - President Bush called Wednesday for an end to violence triggered by drawings of the Prophet Muhammad but also said press freedom should be exercised with sensitivity.
OK, again… is it me? Or is the idea of Bush calling for an "end to violence" just extremely bizarre?

House Republican calls for FISA changes - 8 Feb 2006 at 12:13pm - WASHINGTON -- Breaking with the White House, the House Republican who chairs a panel that oversees the National Security Agency wants Congress to change a 1978 foreign intelligence law following the disclosure of President Bush's eavesdropping program.

Bush defends spending cuts - 8 Feb 2006 at 2:35pm - MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Wednesday defended domestic spending-cut proposals that have been greeted warily in the U.S. Congress, saying the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina had forced tough decisions.
As the Iraq war is an elective (as well as illegal) war, I think it's a stretch to claim it has "forced" tough decisions.

Many in Congress say Bush out of line - Wednesday, February 8, 2006 - Washington -- Just what Congress meant on Sept. 14, 2001, when it authorized President Bush "to use all necessary and appropriate force'' to fight "those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks'' of three days earlier is at the center of the roiling dispute over the administration's domestic spying.

W.H. Tells Congress NSA Spy Secrets - 8 Feb 2006 at 8:34pm - After weeks of insisting it would not reveal details of its domestic eavesdropping, the White House reversed course and provided a House committee with highly classified information about the program.

House Committee Squashes Torture Queries (AP) - 8 Feb 2006 at 7:56pm - AP - Republicans easily defeated three resolutions seeking information about the Bush administration's policies on torture after a heated committee hearing.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In The News - Feb. 07

Four U.S. Marines Killed in Iraq Bombings - 7 Feb 2006 at 3:51am - Four U.S. Marines Killed in Pair of Roadside Bombings; Two Bombings in Central Baghdad Kill Seven

War costs, defense budget rising - 7 Feb 2006 at 3:36am - WASHINGTON -- The country's two overseas wars and its homeland defense could cost as much as $10 billion a month this year - nearly 50 percent more than last year, the White House estimates.

Terror risk from WMD exaggerated, experts say - 7 Feb 2006 at 3:36am - Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at London's Kings College, and the Australian National University's (ANU) Robert Ayson, both played down the likelihood that militants could use weapons of mass destruction in an attack.

Ex-President Carter: Eavesdropping Illegal (AP) - 7 Feb 2006 at 1:12am - AP - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program Monday and said he believes the president has broken the law.

Cheney resistant to change in spy program - 7 Feb 2006 at 2:15pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday resisted bipartisan appeals for changes in a hotly disputed warrantless eavesdropping program, saying he believed "we have all the legal authority we need."

Iraq war draws veterans into politics - 7 Feb 2006 at 2:09pm - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- After 20 years in the Air Force and Bronze Star service during the 1991 Gulf War, Democrat Jay Fawcett decided to come home and run for Congress, largely out of disgust with the way American troops were being used in Iraq.

General: Fewer Reserves In Iraq Soon - 7 Feb 2006 at 2:29pm - Right now, reserves make up 30 percent of the U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace says that will fall to less than 20 percent over the next year.

King eulogists jab Bush at funeral - 7 Feb 2006 at 3:54pm - LITHONIA, Georgia (Reuters) - Speakers took a rare opportunity to criticize U.S. President George W. Bush's policies to his face at the funeral on Tuesday of Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

CIA counter-terrorism chief steps down - 7 Feb 2006 at 6:20pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the CIA's counter-terrorism center has been forced to step down as part of efforts by the spy agency to bolster its pursuit of al Qaeda, current and former intelligence officials said on Tuesday.

Lawyers: Many Gitmo detainees not accused - 7 Feb 2006 at 7:47pm - WASHINGTON -- More than half of the terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay have not been accused of committing hostile acts against the United States or its allies, two of the detainees' lawyers said in a report released Tuesday.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

In The News - Feb. 05

Eavesdropping targets only al Qaeda: US official (Reuters) - 5 Feb 2006 at 1:49pm - Reuters - A U.S. domestic eavesdropping program targets only people suspected of ties to al Qaeda and there is no broad net cast over Americans' communications overseas, the architect of the effort said on Sunday.
So there should be no problem getting a FISA approval, since apparantly there is such good reason to suspect these people of having ties to al Qaida? In my view, it will be crucial to have those testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee explain in detail the criteria for establishing "suspicion of ties to al Qaida" for purposes of inclusion in the formerly-secret program. It will be a good thing if the process is more rigorous than that used to decide to which WMD intelligence to give credence.

Specter Believes Spy Program Violates Law (AP) - 5 Feb 2006 at 12:39pm - AP - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' explanations so far for the Bush administration's failure to obtain warrants for its domestic surveillance program are "strained" and "unrealistic," the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday.

~ ~ ~

Michelle Malkin, on the U.S.S.-Cole-attackers jailbreak in Yemen: "I'm just wondering, in advance of the Senate hearings tomorrow on the NSA terrorist surveillance program: If Badawi has access to a cell phone, and calls an al Qaeda operative here in the U.S. to give the go-ahead on a mass terrorist plot, and that plot is executed killing thousands of innocent people on American soil, who will the NYTimes editors and Democrat leaders blame? Hmmm?"

Hmmm, indeed. Well, I expect they would blame Badawi and the al Qaida operative. Maybe Michelle thinks they would blame someone else. Bush? I have no idea. Is she suggesting that NY Times editors and Democrat leaders would object to having such a call monitored? Presumably the FISA court would approve of eavesdropping on phone conversations between Jamal Ahmed Badawi, convicted mastermind of the 2000 attack on the American destroyer Cole, and anyone inside the United States, whether or not war has been declared on the perpetrators of the Sep-2001 attacks in the United States. I don't know the FISA court would approve; that's why it's advisable to actually go to the court and seek approval.

Friday, February 03, 2006

In The News - Feb. 03

Judge sets trial for Libby in CIA leak - 3 Feb 2006 at 9:55am - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge on Friday set former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial date for January 2007, two months after the midterm congressional elections.

Blair 'made secret US Iraq pact' - 3 Feb 2006 at 7:43am - Tony Blair and George Bush had already decided to invade Iraq in January 2003, a human rights lawyer claims.

Lawmakers Urge More Executive Branch Oversight - 3 Feb 2006 at 12:00am - The Bush administration's reluctance to provide lawmakers with documents related to domestic surveillance, the response to Hurricane Katrina and other matters prompted stern complaints from Congress yesterday, as Democrats in particular vowed to push for more aggressive oversight of the executive...

CIA Head Slams Wiretapping Disclosure - 2 Feb 2006 at 11:35pm - CIA Director Porter Goss said Thursday that the disclosure of President Bush's eavesdropping-without-warrants program and other once-secret projects has undermined U.S. intelligence-gathering abilities.
Did the disclosure of the program undermine it more than did Bush's insistence on conducting it illegally? And exactly in what way has it been undermined, since Bush has said he intends to continue the program?

U.S. Intel Chief Has No Fix on Bin Laden - 3 Feb 2006 at 10:59am - The U.S. spy agencies have not known where Osama bin Laden is hiding for some time, the nation's top intelligence official said Friday in an Associated Press interview. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said the general view is that the...

Convict challenges NSA warrantless spying - 3 Feb 2006 at 11:45am - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A lawyer for an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty to plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge has prepared a motion asking a federal judge to throw out the case on the grounds that the government illegally spied on him.

Sen. Roberts backs domestic spying - 3 Feb 2006 at 11:52am - WASHINGTON -- Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts on Friday strongly endorsed the Bush administration's argument that the president has the authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance in the U.S. in pursuit of terrorists.

Pentagon announces sweeping defense review - 3 Feb 2006 at 12:44pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon Friday announced plans to significantly increase special operations forces, expand psychological warfare and develop a program to counter biological terrorism as part of a new broadbased military strategy for the 21st century.
Call me old-fashioned for thinking this way, but... if you want foreign peoples to believe that what you're doing is somehow going to be beneficial to them, wouldn't it be easier simply to do something beneficial for them, as opposed to tricking them into believing it through "expanding psychological warfare"? Or maybe the plan is to trick U.S. citizens. Who knows?

Kan. court blocks abortion records' access - 3 Feb 2006 at 12:41pm - TOPEKA, Kan. -- The state's highest court on Friday temporarily stopped the state attorney general from looking at records from two abortion clinics, saying such a review could violate patient privacy.

Judge orders Padilla's shackles removed - 3 Feb 2006 at 12:27pm - MIAMI -- U.S. officials who want terror suspect Jose Padilla to wear handcuffs and ankle chains during open court appearances must first show he poses a direct safety threat, a federal judge said Friday.

Docs: Similar wiretap debate 30 years ago - 3 Feb 2006 at 7:16pm - WASHINGTON -- An intense debate erupted during the Ford administration over the president's powers to eavesdrop without warrants to gather foreign intelligence, according to newly disclosed government documents. George H.W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are cited in the documents.

Democrats want intelligence on N Korea published (Reuters) - 3 Feb 2006 at 7:22pm - Reuters - Senate Democrats asked President George W. Bush on Friday to publish U.S. intelligence on the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and questioned the president's commitment to dealing with the issue.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

In The News - Feb. 02

Senate Panel Rebuffed on Documents on U.S. Spying - 1 Feb 2006 at 11:00pm - The Justice Department's stance could provoke another clash between Congress and the executive branch.

U.S. Copter Fires Rockets Into Sadr City - 2 Feb 2006 at 8:16am - A U.S. helicopter fired rockets into a crowded Shiite neighborhood of eastern Baghdad on Thursday, killing a young woman, after the aircraft was fired on, the U.S. command said. The military also said four U.S. soldiers died in separate attacks. Three...

US must stop gas guzzling to beat Gulf oil addiction - Reuters - 2 Feb 2006 at 7:44am - LONDON (Reuters) - The United States must put more energy efficient cars on the highway and raise taxes on gasoline if it wants to kick its addiction to oil from the volatile Middle East, analysts said on Thursday.

Shell profits gush to record $22.9 billion in 2005 - 2 Feb 2006 at 7:40am - LONDON (AFP) - Royal Dutch Shell has posted net profit of 22.94 billion dollars (19.03 billion euros) for 2005, the highest full-year profit figure in British corporate history, as the Anglo-Dutch energy group benefited from record oil prices.

Women sue Wal-Mart over morning-after pill - 2 Feb 2006 at 7:15am - BOSTON -- Backed by abortion rights groups, three Massachusetts women sued Wal-Mart on Wednesday, accusing the retail giant of violating a state regulation by failing to stock emergency contraception pills in its pharmacies.

Bush to request $70B more for war funding - 2 Feb 2006 at 12:34pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House has told Congress to expect requests for about $70 billion in additional funding for the ongoing budget year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $18 billion more for hurricane relief, a Senate GOP aide says.

Bono Pushes U.S. to Increase Aid to Poor - 2 Feb 2006 at 12:31pm - Quoting from Islamic, Jewish and Christian texts, rock star Bono called Thursday for the U.S. government to give an additional 1 percent of the federal budget to the world's poor. Speaking to President Bush and members of Congress at the National...

Intel chief defends surveillance program - 2 Feb 2006 at 12:57pm - WASHINGTON -- National Intelligence Director John Negroponte strongly defended President Bush's eavesdropping without warrants Thursday, calling it a crucial program for protecting the nation against its most menacing threat.
I wish someone would ask Negroponte and the rest of the Bush administration spinmeisters whether the program would be any less crucial were it carried out in accordance with applicable laws.

CIA Head Bashes Wiretapping Disclosure - 2 Feb 2006 at 2:51pm - CIA Director Porter Goss said Thursday that the disclosure of President Bush's eavesdropping-without-warrants program and other once-secret projects had undermined U.S. intelligence-gathering abilities.
I hope someone reminded Porter Goss that had the eavesdropping been undertaken in a legal manner, there wouldn't have been anything for disclosing whistleblowers to blow the whistle on.

Audit finds accounting flaws at VA - 2 Feb 2006 at 2:18pm - WASHINGTON -- Eager to reduce spending, the Bush administration falsely claimed savings of more than $1.3 billion in the Department of Veterans Affairs to justify cuts to health care services, congressional investigators say.

Sources: Bush seeks $120 billion for wars - 2 Feb 2006 at 3:26pm - President Bush will ask Congress for another $120 billion for the wars in Iraq  and Afghanistan,  congressional sources said Thursday.
Oops. A few minutes ago, it was only US$70 billion. Greenspan is only gone for a day and already inflation is spiraling outta control. Seriously, haven't we already allocated enough money (to say nothing of lives) to the task of taking WMDs (that it turns out we had a pretty good idea didn't exist in the first place)out of Saddam's hands?

E-mail related to CIA leak may be missing - 2 Feb 2006 at 12:08pm - Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is raising the possibility that records sought in the CIA leak investigation could be missing because of an e-mail archiving problem at the White House.

Intelligence leaders seeking leak probes - 2 Feb 2006 at 8:00pm - WASHINGTON -- The leaders of the government's intelligence agencies said Thursday they will push for investigations into leaks of classified information and seek to subpoena journalists if necessary to protect national security.
I hope the leaders of the government's intelligence agencies will be as zealous in their pursuit of accountability for breaking the law in the process of intelligence-gathering as they are in their pursuit of identifying those who blew the whistle on the law-breakers.

Bush to request $439.3B defense budget - 2 Feb 2006 at 7:56pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush next week will request a $439.3 billion Defense Department budget for 2007, a nearly 5 percent increase over this year, according to senior Pentagon officials and documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

~ ~ ~

Don Rumsfeld, speaking before the National Press Club, on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who expelled a U.S. Embassy military attaché on Thursday after authorities accused him of espionage for trying to persuade Venezuelan officers to hand over state secrets: "He's a person who was elected legally, just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power, and now is of course working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others. It concerns me."

But presumably attempts by GWB (who was also elected, at least semi-legally) to consolidate power don't concern him.
~ ~ ~

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, testifying today before the Senate Intelligence Committee: "We have eliminated much of the leadership that presided over al-Qaida in 2001", but "core elements still plot and make preparations for terrorist strikes against the (U.S.) homeland and other targets from bases in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area."

So, HOOAH, much of the "leadership" has been eliminated; yet "core elements" remain active, so, be on the lookout for DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. I guess you can have your cake and eat it, too, after all.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

In The News - Feb. 01

Police Apologize, Drop Charge Vs. Sheehan - 1 Feb 2006 at 7:11pm - Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday and apologized for ejecting her and a congressman's wife from President Bush's State of the Union address for wearing T-shirts with war messages. "...

From the article: Sheehan's T-shirt alluded to the number of soldiers killed in Iraq: "2245 Dead. How many more?" .... Young's shirt had just the opposite message: "Support the Troops — Defending Our Freedom." Just the opposite"? Are the troops better able to defend our freedom by virtue of our insistence that they remain involved in an unnecessary war?

White House, Chertoff faulted over Katrina - 1 Feb 2006 at 7:09pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House and Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff failed to provide decisive action when Hurricane Katrina struck, congressional investigators said Wednesday in a stinging assessment of slow federal relief efforts.

House Democrat: Bush must follow intel law - 1 Feb 2006 at 7:04pm - WASHINGTON -- An intelligence law already gives the Bush administration the authority needed to monitor calls involving people with suspected terrorist links, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday.