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  • wingover 10:37 am on March 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Wake up America!! 

    Bush Adm. Weighed Restricting 1st Amendment | Newsweek National News | Newsweek.com.

    In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday.

    Many of the actions discussed in the Oct. 23, 2001, memo to then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s chief lawyer, William Haynes, were never actually taken.

    But the memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel—along with others made public for the first time Monday—illustrates with new details the extraordinary post-9/11 powers asserted by Bush administrationlaw yers. Those assertions ultimately led to such controversial policies as allowing the waterboarding of terror suspects and permitting warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens—steps that remain the subject of ongoing investigations by Congress and the Justice Department. The memo was co-written by John Yoo, at the time a deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel. Yoo, now a professor at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, has emerged as one of the central figures in those ongoing investigations.

    In perhaps the most surprising assertion, the Oct. 23, 2001, memo suggested the president could even suspend press freedoms if he concluded it was necessary to wage the war on terror. “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote in the memo entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States.”

    This claim was viewed as so extreme that it was essentially (and secretly) revoked—but not until October of last year, seven years after the memo was written and with barely three and a half months left in the Bush administration.

    At that time, Steven Bradbury, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel throughout Bush’s second term, concluded that Yoo’s statements about overriding First Amendment freedoms were “unnecessary” and “overbroad and general and not sufficiently grounded in the particular circumstance of a concrete scenario,” according to a memo from Bradbury also made public Monday.

    Kate Martin, the director for the Center for National Security Studies, a Washington think tank, said the newly disclosed memo by Yoo and Robert Delahunty, another OLClawyer, was part of a broader legal reasoning that gave President Bush essentially unfettered powers in the war on terrorism. “In October 2001, they were trying to construct a legal regime that would basically have allowed for the imposition of martial law,” said Martin. (Yoo, also a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, did not respond to a request for comment. Gonzales’slawyer, George Terwilliger, said he had not yet had a chance to review the newly released memo and also declined to comment.)

    On Jan. 15, 2009—with only five days left before Bush left office—Bradbury also rescinded three other legal memos written during the president’s first term that claimed broad powers to unilaterally suspend treaties, bypass restrictions on domestic surveillance and take other actions to combat terrorism without the approval of Congress. Bradbury said in a separate legal memo that the claims made in these earlier memos were based on unsound legal reasoning and should not be viewed as “authoritative.” But he offered no explanation for why he waited until the waning days of Bush’s presidency to withdraw them.

    The most controversial, and best known, of Yoo’s legal opinions was his Aug. 1, 2002, memo that effectively approved the president’s right to disregard a federal law banning torture in ordering the interrogation of terror suspects. An accompanying (and still unreleased) memo from the same day approved the CIA’s authority to use “waterboarding” (or simulated drowning) against terror suspects.

    In a related matter, the CIA acknowledged in a legal filing Monday that it has destroyed 92 interrogation tapes of two suspects who were subjected to waterboarding. While it was previously known that the agency had destroyed some tapes, the number of destroyed tapes was far more “systemic” than had previously been known, according to Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been seeking records about the destroyed evidence under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

    A U.S. government official familiar with the matter said all of the destructions took place in November 2005 and mostly involved the interrogations and detention of Abu Zubaydah, a “high-value” detainee who was captured in March 2002 and remains today at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. A small number of the destroyed tapes also involved the interrogation and detention of another suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an alleged architect of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Justice Department special counsel John Durham, who is investigating the destruction of the tapes, previously said he planned to finish his interviews by the end of February, but has given no indication of whether he plans to charge anybody involved with a crime.

    The newly disclosed Oct. 23, 2001, memo was in response to a request from Gonzales, at the time President Bush’s top lawyer, and Haynes, who was chief counsel at the Pentagon, to determine if there were any restrictions on the use of the U.S. military inside the country in targeting terror suspects. The Yoo memo essentially concluded there were none. The country, he argued, was in a “state of armed conflict.” The scale of violence, he argued, was unprecedented and “legal and constitutional rules” governing law enforcement—such as the Fourth Amendment prohibition on “unreasonable” searches and seizures—did not apply.

    At one point, the memo says, the U.S. military could be used for “targeting and destroying” a hijacked airline or “attacking civilian targets, such as apartment buildings, offices or ships where suspected terrorists were thought to be.” At another point, the memo advices: “Military action might encompass making arrests, seizing documents or other property, searching persons or places or keeping them under surveillance, intercepting electronic or wireless communications, setting up roadblocks, interviewing witnesses or searching for suspects.”

     
  • wingover 10:15 am on March 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Bush OKd for Curbing Rights After 9/11 

    Bush OKd for Curbing Rights After 9/11.

    March 03, 2009
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON – After the Sept. 11 attacks the Bush administration determined that certain constitutional rights would not apply as the U.S. stepped up its response to terrorism, according to documents released to the public for the first time.

    In nine legal opinions disclosed Monday by the Obama administration, the Justice Department under President George W. Bush claimed exceptional search-and-seizure powers. Within two weeks of the 2001 attacks, government lawyers were discussing ways to wiretap U.S. conversations without warrants.

    Also revealed by the Obama administration in court documents Monday: The CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes – far more than previously known – of interrogations and other treatment of terror suspects. Congressional Democrats and other critics have charged that some of the harsh interrogation techniques amounted to torture, a contention that Bush and other officials rejected.

     
  • wingover 9:58 am on March 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    AP: CIA destroyed 92 interrogation tapes 

    AP Newsbreak: CIA destroyed 92 interrogation tapes.

    WASHINGTON (AP) – New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of terror interrogations.

    The figure is far higher than the handful of recordings the agency has previously admitted destroying, and the revelation comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation in the matter.

    The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.

    The tapes became a contentious issue in the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, after prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then acknowledged two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.

     
  • wingover 12:13 pm on February 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Beijing luxury hotel burns for 3 hours and doesn’t collapse 

    Fire rages at Beijing luxury hotel after fireworks – Yahoo! News.

    The Rem Koolhaas-designed Mandarin Oriental hotel, still under construction, caught fire sometime before 9 p.m. (1300 GMT) as the skies above the Chinese capital were filled with fireworks — part of celebrations of the lantern festival that follows the Lunar New Year.

    Crews had largely exinguished the larger flames about three hours after the fire began, although hotspots continued to flicker.

     
  • wingover 8:47 pm on February 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Senators Want CIA to Release 9/11 Report 

    Senators Want CIA to Release 9/11 Report.

    A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation that would force the CIA to release an inspector general’s report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    The CIA has spent more than 20 months weighing requests under the Freedom of Information Act for its internal investigation of the attacks but has yet to release any portion of it.

    The agency is the only federal office involved in counterterrorism operations that has not made at least a version of its internal 9/11 investigation public.

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and two other intelligence committee leaders — chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and senior Republican Kit Bond of Missouri — are pushing legislation that would require the agency to declassify the executive summary of the review within one month and submit a report to Congress explaining why any material was withheld.

    The provision has been approved by the Senate twice, but never made into law.

    In an interview, Wyden said he is also considering whether to link the report’s release to his acceptance of President Bush’s nominations for national security positions.

    “It’s amazing the efforts the administration is going to stonewall this,” Wyden said. “The American people have a right to know what the Central Intelligence Agency was doing in those critical months before 9/11…. I am going to bulldog this until the public gets it.”

     
  • wingover 8:37 pm on February 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    CBS News: ‘Shadow Government’ News To Congress 

    CBS News | ‘Shadow Government’ News To Congress | March 2, 2002 11:02:53.

    (CBS) Key congressional leaders say they didn’t know President Bush had established a “shadow government,” moving dozens of senior civilian managers to secret underground locations outside Washington to ensure that the federal government could survive a devastating terrorist attack on the nation’s capital, The Washington Post says in its Saturday editions.

    Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) told the Post he had not been informed by the White House about the role, location or even the existence of the shadow government that the administration began to deploy the morning of the Sept. 11 hijackings.

    An aide to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said he was also unaware of the administration’s move.

    Among Congress’s GOP leadership, aides to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.), second in line to succeed the president if he became incapacitated, and to Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.) said they were not sure whether they knew.

    Aides to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said he had not been told. As Senate president pro tempore, he is in line to become president after the House speaker.

     
  • wingover 10:54 am on January 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Carter Tells Paper Bush Exploited 9/11 – MSNBC 

    Carter Tells Paper Bush Exploited 9/11 – MSNBC Wire Services- msnbc.com.

    LONDON – President Bush has exploited the Sept. 11 attacks, and a timorous American press has not held him to account, former President Jimmy Carter said in an interview published Monday.

     
  • wingover 8:41 am on January 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    NOVA Investigates the NSA 

    In The Spy Factory, an eye-opening documentary on the National Security Agency (NSA) by best-selling author James Bamford and Emmy Award-winning producer Scott Willis, NOVA exposes the ultra-secret intelligence agency’s role in the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent eavesdropping program that listens in without warrant on millions of American citizens. The Spy Factory premieres Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 8 pm ET/PT on PBS (check local listings)

    Please check us out online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/spyfactory/

     
  • wingover 3:22 pm on January 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Building burns for 4 hours; Doesn’t collapse 

    CANOE — CNEWS: Photo of the Day.

    People look at a half-constructed building caught on fire in Foshan, south China’s Guangdong province, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. The fire on the 26-story office building lasted for four hours. Cause of the fire accident is under investigation. (AP Photo/Color China Photo)

    China Fire

     
  • wingover 4:48 pm on January 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Release of 9/11 SECRET documents sought by kin 

    Release of 9/11 secret documents sought by kin — Newsday.com.

    NEW YORK – Lawyers for the families of three people who were killed in the Sept. 11 hijackings have asked a federal judge to release confidential documents obtained from airlines, security firms and other defendants sued in the attacks.

    The lawyers wrote to Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan, “The public ought to know about the breakdowns in aviation security that allowed four commercial planes to become weapons of mass destruction.”

    The documents could number in the millions of pages, and are being kept secret by court order.

    The plaintiffs include the families of two passengers and a flight attendant who were killed in the attacks. An effort in 2007 to seek the release of the documents failed.

     
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