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Saturday
Mar292008

Senior Pentagon Officials Orchestrating Detainees Prosecutions to Benefit GOP?

By Carol Rosenberg / Miami Herald

The Navy lawyer for Osama bin Laden's driver argues in a Guantánamo military commissions motion that senior Pentagon officials are orchestrating war crimes prosecutions for the 2008 campaign.

The Pentagon declined late Friday to address the defense lawyer's allegations, noting that the matter is under litigation.

The brief filed Thursday by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer directly challenged the integrity of President Bush's war court.

Notably, it describes a Sept. 29, 2006, meeting at the Pentagon in which Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, a veteran White House appointee, asked lawyers to consider Sept. 11, 2001, prosecutions in light of the campaign.

''We need to think about charging some of the high-value detainees because there could be strategic political value to charging some of these detainees before the election,'' England is quoted as saying.

A senior Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, declined to address the specifics, saying ``the trial process will surface the facts in this case.''

''It has always been everybody's desire to move as swiftly and deliberately as possible to conduct military commissions,'' he added. ``But I can tell you emphatically that leadership has always been extraordinarily careful to guard against any unlawful command influence.''

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Saturday
Mar292008

U.S. Has Few Options in Iraq's Volatile South

Also see: 19 Tense Hours in Sadr City Alongside the Mahdi Army

As U.S. warplanes attacked targets in Basra yesterday, Bush administration officials acknowledged that their hands-off strategy toward southern Iraq in recent years has left them with little knowledge of the conflicts among competing Shiite groups there and few ways of influencing them.

President Bush yesterday hailed the decision of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to launch a full-scale military offensive against militias in Basra as a "defining moment" for his leadership. But other officials said the administration remains unsure of Maliki's motives and warned that the ongoing battle risks sending the country spiraling back toward the cataclysmic violence levels of 2006 and early 2007.

"This is a precarious situation," a senior official familiar with U.S. intelligence in southern Iraq said, with "a lot to be gained and a lot to lose." This official and others said that even as Maliki takes needed military action in Basra, he appears to be positioning himself and his Shiite political allies for dominance in provincial elections this fall.

Competition for power and resources in the oil-rich south has been ongoing for months among the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr; the Badr Corps militia of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the largest single party in the Iraqi parliament; and the breakaway Sadrist movement known as Fadhila. The Shiite groups are opposed and allied with each other in a tangle of national and local issues, with many divisions reflected in factions of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces.

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Saturday
Mar292008

Ex-Afghanistan Detainee Alleges Torture by U.S.

A resident of Germany who was imprisoned for two months at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan has told an interviewer that his interrogators hung him from a ceiling for five days and that several doctors periodically checked him before authorizing the torture to continue.

Murat Kurnaz said that shortly after his capture in Pakistan in fall 2001, the American interrogators insisted he admit to being an al-Qaeda operative and associate of 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta. Kurnaz said when he said he did not know Atta or refused to talk, the interrogators punished him by hanging him by his arms to the rafters of a freezing aircraft hangar.

Kurnaz's allegations about his abusive treatment in a prison at the U.S. military base in Kandahar are to be publicly aired for the first time tomorrow on CBS's "60 Minutes." He was released by the U.S. military in August 2006 after spending nearly five years at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Kurnaz made similar allegations of systematic torture in 2005 when he was still a U.S. prisoner, according to newly declassified notes his attorney took during a conversation at Guantanamo. Kurnaz said then that interrogators in Kandahar dunked his head in water, administered electric shocks to the soles of his feet and hung him by his hands -- when he denied being a terrorist.

Kurnaz, who the U.S. military eventually freed without giving a reason, is publishing a book in April that describes his experiences in custody. An ethnic Turk raised in Germany, Kurnaz traveled to Pakistan to study Islam in 2001. He was seized by Pakistani police after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and was turned over to U.S. troops as a terrorism suspect for a cash bounty, military records show.

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Saturday
Mar292008

Residents of Maine & South Carolina in Jeopardy With Federal ID Law

Starting in May, driver’s licenses issued in Maine and South Carolina may not be accepted as identification at airports and federal buildings unless the states work out a last-minute agreement with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

The states are refusing to ask the agency to extend the deadline for applying new layers of security in their identification systems as required under the federal Real ID Act. Congress passed the legislation in 2005 with the intention of making it harder for terrorists to obtain driver’s licenses.

The final Real ID regulations were released Jan. 11, and states have until Monday to request an extension of the compliance date. Without an extension, driver’s licenses from Maine and South Carolina will no longer be deemed valid as identification at airports and federal buildings starting May 11, the original date of compliance. As an alternative, travelers could use passports.

“If an individual shows up at an airport on May 11 or later and their licenses are from any state not in compliance, it’s effectively showing up without federal identification of any kind,” said Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. “Individuals in those scenarios will have to have added security and screening.”

Maine and South Carolina are among a number of states that have passed laws barring participation in the Real ID program. The others have all won extensions, and Maine and South Carolina hope to be granted extensions as well, without formally requesting them.

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Saturday
Mar292008

Unconstitutional Federal Reserve to be Given Major New Powers!!!

Editor's Note: This is an admission that the Bear bail out was illegal and that the Fed had no authority to bail out a security broker! The Emergency Banking Act of 1933 restricted government assistance to commercial banks. Bear Stearns is primarily engaged in business as a securities broker and dealer. Now, the government wants to give the Federal Reserve the power to do what they've already done...illegally!

The Bush administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of the way the government regulates the nation's financial services industry from banks to mortgage brokers and insurance companies.

The plan would give major new powers to the Federal Reserve, according to a 22-page executive summary obtained by The Associated Press.

The Fed would be given broad authority to oversee financial market stability. That would include new powers to examine the books of any institution deemed to represent a potential threat to the proper functioning of the overall financial system.

The proposal, which will be outlined Monday in a speech by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is certain to set off heated debates within different sectors of the financial services industry and in Congress, where some Democrats are likely to complain that the proposal does not go far enough to crack down on abuses.

The administration divided its recommendations into short-term goals that could be adopted quickly, intermediate recommendations and an "optimal" regulatory framework, which contains a radical restructuring of how the government supervises banks and other financial institutions.

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Saturday
Mar292008

Database of DNA Nears Passage

Despite last-minute objections from Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, legislation to expand collection of DNA samples from suspects charged with violent crimes moved a step closer to final passage yesterday, as a House committee made only minor changes to the version of the bill that passed the Senate last week.

The Judiciary Committee voted 18-3 to approve the DNA bill, a top crime-fighting priority of Gov. Martin O'Malley, after defeating a series of amendments that would have delayed or limited the initiative. Proponents say an expanded DNA database would help solve crimes.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus, who had protested the bill loudly when a version of it first reached the House floor, appeared satisfied with the measure, as changes they had negotiated to increase protections for defendants remained largely untouched.

Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, was the only caucus member on the committee to vote against it, joining two Republican lawmakers.

The panel's chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., brushed aside concerns raised about the bill by Jessamy's office, which sent one of its veteran prosecutors to Annapolis yesterday to meet with committee members before they voted on the legislation.

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Saturday
Mar292008

2001 Anthrax Attack Linked To Army Bioweapons Lab in Maryland

The FBI has narrowed its focus to "about four" suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned.

Among the pool of suspects are three scientists — a former deputy commander, a leading anthrax scientist and a microbiologist — linked to the research facility, known as USAMRIID.

The FBI has collected writing samples from the three scientists in an effort to match them to the writer of anthrax-laced letters that were mailed to two U.S. senators and at least two news outlets in the fall of 2001, a law enforcement source confirmed.

The anthrax attacks began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, further alarming a nation already reeling from the deaths of 3,000 Americans. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others were infected by the deadly spores in the fall of 2001.

A leading theory is that the anthrax was stolen from Fort Detrick and then sealed inside the letters. A law enforcement source said the FBI is essentially engaged in a process of elimination.

Much of the early public focus fell on a Fort Detrick scientist named Steven Hatfill, who is suing federal authorities for identifying him as a person of interest. Now the FBI is focusing on other scientists at the facility.

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Friday
Mar282008

Politicians Race to Avoid All-Out War Between Feuding Shiite Factions

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki backed off its ultimatum to the Mahdi Army militia of fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday, giving the group's members 10 more days to lay down their weapons in return for amnesty and financial rewards.

The move comes as US forces began launching airstrikes in both Baghdad and the southern oil port of Basra, joining Iraqi forces in their recent effort to cripple Mr. Sadr's militia, which the Pentagon accuses of links to Iran.

The softening of Mr. Maliki's position comes after what started on Tuesday as an operation limited to Basra but quickly escalated into a confrontation with Mr. Sadr's powerful and well-armed militia in Baghdad and most of the predominantly Shiite southern cities. Iraq's Parliament held an emergency session Friday and set up a committee to mediate an end to the deadly clashes that now risk drawing US forces to the government's side in an all-out war that would shatter some of the security gains achieved in recent months.

Maliki's concession also follows a late night meeting on Thursday in Baghdad by Shiite politicians trying to broker a solution to the crisis. Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi and former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met members of Parliament from Sadr's political wing, who have labeled Maliki the "new dictator" and call for his resignation. Notably absent from this meeting were senior politicians from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) party and its affiliates, which are strongly backing the Maliki-led offensive against its archrival Sadr's armed wing.

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Friday
Mar282008

Pulitzer Prize Winner Hersh: 'U.S. In Real Trouble in Iraq'

When the American government says the US is winning in Iraq and is not torturing prisoners, they are just words, Hersh told his audience of journalism students in Regina, Canada. "We are in real trouble [in Iraq]."

Pointing to the changes reporting has undergone since the Vietnam War, the award-winning journalist explained that reporters are now imbedded with troops who cloud their judgment and therefore do not touch the same kind of issues.

"It has led to a lot of lousy reporting," continued Hersh. "I don't think it is bad for a journalist to come back (from covering a war) and say it s***s."

Hersh said media outlets spread 'fake' news and suggested his audience resort to translations of local media sources when learning about issues concerning the Middle East.

Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Myron Hersh first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War.

 

Friday
Mar282008

Call For New 9/11 Investigation Reaches Crescendo

By Paul J. Watson / Prison Planet

Calls for a new 9/11 inquiry are reaching a crescendo, with well-respected authorities and celebrities alike adding their voices to the cause, as the official 9/11 story crumbles under the weight of revelations of White House ties to the 9/11 Commission, and other cover-ups on behalf of authorities staffed with investigating the attacks.

The corporate media's insistence on ignoring hundreds of professional experts who are calling for a new 9/11 investigation has spurred many celebrities to use their public platforms to speak out, knowing that the press will at least have to address the issue.

The latest to do so is top comedian Margaret Cho, who told the Alex Jones Show yesterday that the public were going to become very angry when it was fully disclosed that the attacks were a conspiracy, concurring with fellow comedian George Carlin who also questioned the official story last year.

The path was trailblazed by Charlie Sheen in March 2006 when he spoke of his doubts about the official story and questioned the collapse of WTC Building 7. Sheen was endlessly smeared for weeks after but he prompted a national debate about 9/11 and the 9/11 Truth Movement enjoyed what many consider to be its most productive year.

In September 2006, former Governor, actor and wrestling star Jesse Ventura questioned 9/11 during an on-camera interview with Alex Jones and also cited Operation Northwoods and the Gulf of Tonkin as examples of how the government has planned and carried out staged war provocations in the past.

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