Saturday, November 18

Abu Gonzales : Upholding the Constitution is "Grave Threat" to U.S.

Amazing how far through the looking glass we've actually come...

Expecting the executive branch to obey the law and respect civil rights is "shortsighted,"

Those Who Want to Uphold the Constitution present a "grave threat" to U.S. security.

Gonzales Blasts Surveillance Critics
Nov 18, 3:47 PM (ET)

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales contended Saturday that some critics of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program were defining freedom in a way that poses a "grave threat" to U.S. security.

Gonzales was the second administration official in two days to attack a federal judge's ruling last August that the program was unconstitutional. Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday called the ruling "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."

Gonzales told about 400 cadets from the Air Force Academy's political science and law classes that some see the program as on the verge of stifling freedom rather that protecting the country.

"But this view is shortsighted," he said. "Its definition of freedom - one utterly divorced from civic responsibility - is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people."

On August 17 a Federal Court judge in Detroit ruled that the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" which had been revealed by the New York Times in December was Unconstitution a ruled that it should be immediately terminated.

The ACLU who had filed the original suit had this statement:

Today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor agreed with the ACLU that the NSA program violates Americans’ rights to free speech and privacy under the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, and runs counter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) passed by Congress. Judge Taylor also rejected the government’s argument that the case could not proceed because of state secrets, saying that facts about NSA wiretapping have already been conceded by the government.

"By holding that even the president is not above the law, the court has done its duty under our Constitution to serve as a check on executive power," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, who argued the case before Judge Taylor. "Throwing out the Constitution will not make Americans any safer."

In her ruling, Judge Taylor dismisses the government’s argument that the president "has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself."
Obviously Gonzales wasn't paying attention based on his statement today.

At a news conference, Gonzales would not speculate how the administration would react if Congress did not authorize warrantless surveillance.

"We're optimistic because of the importance of this program, the success of the program, the stated commitment of the Democratic leadership to work with us in protection of America, and that we're going to have a good discussion and dialogue about the program," he said.

"We believe the president has the authority under the authorization of military force and inherent authority of the constitution to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority," he said.

Part of what Gonzales is claiming here involving "inherent powers" is based on an argument that failed in the Hamdi case. In that situation the DOJ argue that Hamdi, who is a U.S. Citizen could be held and detained as an "Enemy Combatant" without judicial review under the Authorization to use Military Force in Afghanistan. The Supreme's found otherwise.

JUSTICE O ’CONNOR,joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE,JUSTICE KENNEDY,and JUSTICE BREYER,concluded that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged in this case, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker.Pp.14 –15.

JUSTICE SOUTER,joined by JUSTICE GINSBURG,concluded that Hamdi ’ s detention is unauthorized,but joined with the plurality to conclude that on remand Hamdi should have a meaningful opportunity to offer evidence that he is not an enemy combatant.

In short, Hamdi should have the right to a judicial hearing - a process which is quite similar to that required by FISA - a warrant. How exactly Alberto ("Tortue Memos") Gonzales - the so-called Top Law Enforcement Official in the Country - and Vice President Dick ("Shooter") Cheney get from losing the Hamdi case to claiming that their Warrantless eavesdropping on tens of millions of phone calls and email information is somehow "Constitution" is a shocking and frankly sickening situation.

Both of these men took an solemn oath to "Uphold the Constitution", yet both seem hell-bent on violating it's very tenets.

Abu presents a false hobsons choice between the possible loss of "liberty" due to a devestating terrorist attack - which even in the worst case scenario is less likely to be as deadly and damaging as Hurricane Katrina - against the very real fact of lost liberty happening right now as a result of the Bush administrations Imperialist actions.

They claim this type of surveillance has been "highly succesful", yet the FBI considers the thousands of false leads and dead-ends they've generated so far to be "a waste" of time and resources. Resources which could and should be better spent on credible leads gained through legal means.

There is also the problem that evidence gathered against real terrorists who are actually captured using extra-legal means - is inadmissable under the fruits of the poison tree doctrine. (Of course this may be exactly why Bush has pushed so hard for the use of Military Commisions, which may use coerced and classifed evidence -"to protect sources and methods" - while simultaneously abandoning Habeas Corpus)

Newly empowered Congressional Democrats have already found that the Bush Administration has been regularly violating at least 26 Federal Laws - including FISA.

But it has to be said that this type of nonsensical counter-factual politicing by appointed Civil Servants is dangerous to the foundations of our Democracy itself. It is a far greater danger in the estimatation of many legal and constitutional scholars - than anything Al Qaeda has done, or will ever do.

The deepest cuts to liberty are those which are often self-inflicted.


Friday, November 17

Gitmo's Combatant Kangaroo Court

Under both the Geneva Conventions and the newly passed Military Commissions Act, hearings are required for each detainee to determine if they are in fact an "Enemy Combatant" or not. With the virtual revokation of Habaes Corpus under the MCA these Status Tribunals are currently the only measure of justice that these detainee's are likely to see. But a university review of 390 of such hearings has found that they are little more than a "Sham".

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The U.S. military called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at Guantanamo Bay were "enemy combatants," according to a new report.

Their report, based on an analysis of records of military hearings of 393 detainees, comes as the U.S. government seeks to severely restrict detainee access to civilian courts, arguing that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals should be their main legal recourse.

We've already found that the U.S. Government is far from infallable when it comes to identifying who may be an "Enemy" and who may not especially in regards not just those held in Gitmo, but to the estimated 14,000 detainees currently being held in Bush's Secret Prisons (or rendered) all around the globe.

We have the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian national who was detained at Kennedy Airport when his name was mistaken on a watchlist, before the mistake was corrected he had been transported to Syria and tortured.

There is Abu Omar, an innocent man who was mistakenly kidnapped by CIA agents in Italy, transported to Egypt and also tortured.

Even being a member of the media is no protection, as Pulitzer Prize winning AP Photographer Bilal Hussein has discovered during the seven months that he's been held by the U.S. Military on suspicion of aiding insurgents in Iraq - and has not yet been granted his Status Review hearing. (Disturbingly the original AP Story on Hussein has also disappeared, not that the story can't still be found as various Newspaper editorial boards have begun to speak out).

The ban on Habeas is quite far reaching and includes even immigrants living legally in the U.S.

WASHINGTON - Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday, opening a new legal front in the fight over the rights of detainees.

In court documents filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., the Justice Department said a new anti-terrorism law being used to hold detainees in Guantanamo Bay also applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States.

Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, was arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States. He has been labeled an "enemy combatant," a designation that, under a law signed last month, strips foreigners of the right to challenge their detention in federal courts.

That law is being used to argue the Guantanamo Bay cases, but Al-Marri represents the first detainee inside the United States to come under the new law. Aliens normally have the right to contest their imprisonment, such as when they are arrested on immigration violations or for other crimes.

Now the only method for persons such as Al-Marri to question his detainment is before the Combat Status Review - and that process is basically rigged.

The one peice of good news is that although Habeas for Non-U.S. Citizens is now none existent under the MCA and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 the findings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal can be appealed to the DC Circuit. However one must temper this encouraging news for the wrongly accused by considering the reality that before he was even allowed access to his attorney Hamdan had to frist plead guilty, and that even after winning his case before the Supreme Court Lt. Cmd. Swift was passed up for promition and effectively drummed out of the military. So Hamdan's isn't exactly a course we can expect to be readily followed by other defendants or attorney's which is troubling since there may indeed be fertile grounds for the reversal of many of the findings of this court.

The military held Combatant Status Review Tribunals for 558 detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in southeast Cuba between July 2004 and January 2005 and found all but 38 were enemy combatants. Handcuffed detainees appeared before a panel of three officers with no defense attorney, only a military "personal representative."

According to the report, the representatives said nothing in the hearings 14 percent of the time and made no "substantive" comments in 30 percent. In some cases, the representative even appeared to advocate the government's position, the report said.

The report is based on transcripts of tribunals that the government first released earlier this year in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press as well additional records provided by lawyers for 102 Guantanamo detainees.

Among their findings:

* The government did not produce any witnesses in any hearing.
* The military denied all detainee requests to inspect the classified evidence against them.
* The military refused all requests for defense witnesses who were not detained at Guantanamo.
* In 74 percent of the cases, the government denied requests to call witnesses who were detained at the prison.
* In 91 percent of the hearings, the detainees did not present any evidence.
* In three cases, the panel found that the detainee was "no longer an enemy combatant," but the military convened new tribunals that later found them to be enemy combatants.

"No American would ever consider this to be hearing," Denbeaux said. "This is a show trial."

Showing that the light at the end of this long dark tunnel really isn't an oncoming train. Yesterday Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced legislation "that would amend the existing law governing military tribunals of detainees. Among other things, the bill "seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees" and narrow the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States."

Dodd's bill, which currently has no co-sponsors, seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees; bar information that was gained through coercion from being used in trials and empower military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable.

Dodd's bill also narrows the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants. The legislation would also authorize the U.S. Court of Appeals for the armed forces to review decisions made by the military commissions.

Moreover, Dodd seeks to have an expedited judicial review of the new law to determine the constitutionality of its provisions.

Make no mistake, this move by Dodd is a risky one. He will be swiftboated, accused of "coddling our enemies" and being "Soft on terrorism" for simply requiring that Justice be Served.

We seem to have forgotten that this nation is built on a foundation that the innocent be protected, that those who are accused of crimes by the government be given the benefit of the doubt and considered innocent until proven guilty. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a travesty that has violated our core principles, but regaining what was lost will most certainly be an uphill battle. Dodd is simply attempted to correct our mistake.

Yes or course, we all want to fight terrorism - we just want to make sure it's against the right terrorists. We wouldn't want to go off half-cocked and invade the wrong country based on false confessions we gained through use of torture now would we?

Ooops. Never mind.


Wednesday, November 15

Fox News: Look for some insurgents who are Thrilled by the Dem Takover

As reported by Huffington Post, an internal Fox News Memo provides the marching orders for Fox Correspondants to "find insurgents who are thrilled at the prospect of a Dem Controlled Congress".

(Click to view full size)

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But wait it gets worse...

Besides insulting the Patriotism and competence of Democrats with the suggestion that the insurgents "must be thrilled" - the memo also includes other cheap shots.

In the House, the newly empowered Dems will shed some blood before settling in. Murtha will challenge Hoyer for the leadership. A former hawk v. a political hack. Garret will observe.

But from watching last night Hannity and colmes they've already gone far beyond name calling in their new attempts to Swiftboat Murtha. They've dredged up allegations dating back 26 years that Murtha was involved in Abscam.

Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) was not indicted or prosecuted [for involvement in Abscam]. The FBI videotaped Murtha as saying, "I'm not this point. [If] we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't." to $50,000 cash right after Murtha had offered to provide names of businesses and banks in his district where money could be legally invested. See the Video (Warning:NSFW)

Lets just get this straight, they were discussing where money could be LEGALLY invested - not a bribe - and Murtha said "No". This is their big scandal?

No wonder their expecting to see insurgent jumping up and down in joy now that the Republicans have had their ass handed to them. Nearly all of their so-called "Democrat [sic] scandals" are fever-dream fantasies.

Where are their news reports about Right-Wing Blogger/Freeper who has been the source of the Anthrax Hoaxes used against Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer? Not to mention Sumner Redstone, John Stewart and Keith Olberman?

They don't have to go to Bahgdad or Sadr City to find an insurgent committing acts of terrorism against American citizens -- all they have to do is go to the San Fernando Valley (Or check some of the posts on Free Republic).

Call me silly if you will, but that's some fairly unbalanced coverage I'd say.

No wonder these guys have been losing the War on Terror and in Iraq - they're much to busy waging the War on Democrats (and losing that too).

The revelation of these types of top-down marching orders is not new, it was first revealed by Director Robert Greenwald in his movie Outfoxed, which he readily discussed with Keith Olbermann.