United States News Digest
Federal Judge Rules NSA Spy Program Unconstitutional
A veteran Federal judge in Detroit issued a permanent injunction Aug. 17 against the Bush-Cheney Administration's domestic wiretap program, declaring it to be in violation of the Constitution's Separation of Powers doctrine, and its First and Fourth Amendments, as well as the FISA statute and other laws. The Justice Department immediately filed an appeal with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and is asking to have the injunction stayed, pending the outcome of the appeal.
The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Islamic organizations, and a group of American journalists, scholars, and lawyers, who say that their ability to communicate with persons overseas has been impaired by the surveillance program, and that in many cases, their sources or clients have refused to talk to them by telephone, since the disclosure of the spying program.
In a thorough 44-page opinion, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who has been on the Federal bench for 27 years, rejected the government's argument that the state-secrets privilege bars litigation of the case, since, she noted, the President and other officials have officially acknowledged the existence of the surveillance program; therefore, litigation of the case does not depend upon any classified information. (She did dismiss a claim involving the government's data-mining program, since that would require the use of secret information.)
In her discussion of the Fourth Amendment violation, Judge Taylor emphasized that the Framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights specifically banned the use of general warrants as had been common under King George IIIthat is, warrants that were not specific as to places to be searched, or persons and things to be seized. Taylor cited the ruling of an English judge who denounced this practice under George III as "worse than the Spanish Inquisition."
In each section of her ruling, one after another, Judge Taylor pointed out that the Presidency was created by the same Constitution which established the Separation of Powers and the First and Fourth Amendments. And in castigating the Administration for asserting that the President has been granted the "inherent power" to violate the laws of Congress and the First and Fourth Amendment, Taylor wrote:
"We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no heredity Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution."
Seventeen other lawsuits against AT&T and other telecommunications companies cooperating in the NSA spy program, have been consolidated under a Federal judge in San Francisco, who has also rejected the administration's effort to dismiss the AT&T case on the basis of the state-secrets privilege.
Clinton Counters Lieberman's Ploy To Use Him as Cover
Interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Aug. 15, former President Bill Clinton was asked about Sen. Joe Lieberman's claim that moderates were being purged by Democratic Party liberals for taking a stance on the war, which is similar to Clinton's. Clinton responded: "Well, if I were Joe and I were running as an independent, that's what I'd say too. But that's not quite right. That is, there were almost no Democrats who agreed with his position, which was: 'I want to attack Iraq whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction.' His position was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position."
Clinton also ridiculed the political use of terror threats by the Republicans. He said that "Republicans should be very careful in trying to play politics with this London airport thing, because they are going to have a hard time with the facts." He said the effort to tie this to al-Qaeda raises the question: "How come we've got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan?"
Several commentators, echoing Clinton, also warned against those "crying wolf" with threats of terrorism. Molly Ivins' column in truthout.com is titled: "The Pols Who Cried Wolf," noting that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself, especially since fear is now being fomented and manipulated for political purposes."
Keith Olbermann of MSNBC listed the top ten cases in which the administration claimed there were terrorist threatsall of which turned out to be dudsjust when they are needed politically. Olbermann also claims that "we now know" that the arrests in Britain "were carried out on a timeline requested not by the British, nor necessitated by the evidence, but requested by this [U.S.] government." Although there has been no confirmation of this charge, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in a press conference in Pittsburgh, defensively offered that, "It wasn't because of pressure placed by the U.S.I'm not aware of any pressure placed by the U.S."
Hedge Funds Finance Democrats for Congress
An informal survey released Aug. 14 by Bloomberg wire service, of FEC records of Congressional contributions 2005-2006 by hedge funds and their employees, found the majority of those contributions from the "Rohatyn set" going to Democrats. Bloomberg's survey found $7.4 million in total hedge-fund contributions, and of that, $5 million, or nearly 70%, went to Democratic Congressmen and Senators. The three top recipients of hedge-fund money, according to this survey, are Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer of New York, and Rep. Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois, each with well over $100,000 during the 109th Congress.
Ahmadinejad Interviewed for U.S. Television
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was interviewed by CBS's Mike Wallace, his first interview with any U.S. news media for six months. CBS "60 Minutes" ran about 30 minutes of the interview on Aug. 13, Sunday night, and the full 90-minute interview is scheduled to be run Aug. 21 on C-SPAN.
The raving lunatic in the interview was Wallace, who, perhaps out of fear of the Israeli lobby, felt compelled to interrupt Ahmadinejad frequently, yelling at him to answer the questions as if Wallace were a police interrogator. Ahmadinejad wore a steady smile, and was basically unflappable.
Much of what the Iranian President said, in the edited CBS portion, was familiar to anyone who has followed the Iran situation. Toward the end of the segment, Wallace quoted from the President's 18-page letter to President Bush, in which Ahmadinejad asked Bush how he could be a follower of Jesus Christ and still attack and occupy other countries, and spend billions on wars. Asked what he expected to hear back from Bush, Ahmadinejad said he was expecting Bush "to change his behavior," adding, "I was hoping to open a new window for the gentleman."
When asked if he wanted Iran to resume relations with the United States, Ahmadinejad said that "conducive conditions" for this would need to be present. Asked what these might be, he responded, with more than a little touch of irony: "Well, please look at ... the behavior of the American administration. See how they talk down to my nation. They want to build an empire, and they don't want to live side by side in peace with other nations.... It is very clear to me they have to change their behavior, and everything will be resolved."
Israeli General Denied Room on Capitol Hill
General Moshe Ya'alon (ret.), the chief of the Israeli Defense Forces, came to Capitol Hill, on Aug. 14, under the sponsorship of the newly created Endowment for Middle East Truth, to bring right-wing anti-Arab propaganda to Capitol Hill, in an event that was supposed to be held in a meeting room in the Russell Senate Office Building. However, in a strange turn of events, the room was locked, apparently deliberately, and the group went upstairs to the office of Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo), whose office was apparently the sponsor.
Ya'alon was prepared to speak in the corridor, but the Capitol Police would not allow that. The meeting ended up outside in the park across the street, where Ya'alon was flanked by about a dozen radical anti-war protesters, a couple dozen Congressional staffers and press, four members of the LaRouche Youth Movement, and half a dozen Capitol Police officers, who escorted him away when the event concluded, in order to save him from the protesters, who repeatedly accused him of being a war criminal. The rumor explaining why the room was locked was that the Senate Rules Committee decided that the event couldn't take place there because the press was invited. This doesn't make a lot of sense, since such events take place in Congressional office buildings all the time with press there.
Ya'alon is a Fellow at the AIPAC-linked Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and this is the first time in the LaRouche movement's recollection that this gang has been denied a chance to spew lies on Capitol Hill. Usually they do it in hearings.
Congressional GOP Incumbents Facing Tough Races
Since 1992, throughout the Southern states, House Republicans have gained seats over Democrats. But in the Northeast, Democrats are ready to consolidate and expand gains acquired over that time, the Washington Post reported Aug. 14. Republicans are attempting to put plenty of distance between themselves and the unpopular President Bush. For example, State Senator Raymond Meier, running for an open House seat in Upstate New York speaking about his constituents, said, "As a Republican candidate, the challenge is to show you have even a clue about what their lives are like."
Democrats need to pick up six seats to take control of the Senate, and 15 seats to take control of the House.