United States News Digest
Judge: No Special Treatment for Cheney's 'Scooter'
WASHINGTON, June 14 (EIRNS)Federal Judge Reggie Walton today forcefully rejected any suggestion that Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby deserves special consideration because he was a high-ranking government official, or because he had a dozen law professors from prestigious law schools file a legal brief on his behalf.
Judge Walton also disclosed that he has received a number of threatening and "mean-spirited" letters since he imposed a tough sentence on Libby, from people "wishing bad things on me and my family." Walton made it clear that these harassing letters will have no impact on how he handles the Libby case.
Walton was scathing in his dismissal of a suggestion made in Libby's latest legal brief, that since such high-profile defendants as Martha Stewart, Bernie Ebbers, or David Safavian were allowed to remain free on bond while their appeals are being considered, that he should treat Libby the same way. "I hope it is not being suggested that in a white-collar case, a judge should overlook the law and release someone just because he's a white-collar defendant," Walton stated. "Blue-collar defendants are entitled to the same treatment as white-collar defendants."
Walton denied Libby's motion to remain out of prison during his appeal, and also reaffirmed his order that Libby must report to federal prison as soon as the Bureau of Prisons designates a facility for Libbywhich normally takes six to eight weeks. Libby's motion asking Walton to put his order on hold while his lawyers file an emergency motion with the Court of Appeals, was also denied.
Illinois Democrats Demand Cheney Impeachment
June 14 (EIRNS)DuPage County, Illinois Democrats passed a resolution May 30, calling for a full investigation into abuses of power by President Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney, ending in impeachment, if warranted by the findings.
The resolution was modelled on the text proposed by the LaRouche Youth Movement, and passed by the California State Democratic Party convention on April 29. It lists six "abuses of power" by Cheney-Bush, including "1) using information they knew to be false as a justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq; 2) condoning and authorizing the torture of prisoners of war; 3) authorizing wiretaps on U.S. citizens without obtaining a warrant."
The resolution calls for a "vigorous investigation of these charges by the Congress," including subpoenas, and urges Congress "to take necessary action to call the Administration to account with appropriate remedies and punishment, including impeachment."
Appeals Court Rejects Military Detentions on U.S. Soil
June 11 (EIRNS)In what the New York Times calls "a stinging rejection" of one of the Bush Administration's central tenets in its war on terrorism, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals today granted a habeas corpus petition for an "enemy combatant" held on U.S. soil by the military since 2003. The court's ruling, which has been obtained by EIR, declares that were the court to allow the President to order the U.S. military to seize and detain civilians, it "would have disastrous consequences for the Constitutionand the country."
The case involves a Qatari student, Ali Al-Marri, who was pursuing a master's degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois; Al-Marri was arrested after 9/11 and charged with credit card fraud. When he refused to cooperate with prosecutors, additional civilian charges were brought, and then, when the government was about to have to makes its case in court, Bush designated Al-Marri an "enemy combatant," and he was taken to a military prison, where he has remained to this day, without any charges being brought against him (see EIR, March 26, 2004).
The court, which usually solidly backs the government in such matters, demolished the claim, championed first and foremost by Vice President Cheney, that the President as commander-in-chief has "inherent" powers to seize and imprison anyone he wants by calling that person an "enemy combatant."
In this case, the court stated, "the President claims power that far exceeds that granted to him by the Constitution," adding that, unless Congress has suspended the writ of habeas corpus, or the President has declared martial law, "the Constitution simply does not provide the President with the power to exercise military authority over civilians in the United States."
The sole dissenting judge on the three-judge panel was Henry Hudson, a federal district judge sitting by designation on the appellate panel. As the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the late 1980s, Hudson ran the judicial frameup of Lyndon LaRouche in that district, and oversaw an unprecedented bankruptcy shutdown of publishing companies associated with LaRouche, which was later ruled to be "a constructive fraud on the court" by a federal bankruptcy judge.
Wall Street Frets Over New Generals Revolt
June 11 (EIRNS)The lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal voices a growing fear that the Bush White House is coming unglued. Citing the recent decision to replace both the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), ostensibly in response to Senate Democrats' threats of a contentious reconfirmation hearing on Gen. Peter Pace as JCS chief, over the Iraq debacle, the Journal's editors accused the President of losing his nerve and betraying his friends: "General Pace's fate is one more example of Mr. Bush's recent habit of abandoning those most closely identified with his Iraq policy. Paul Wolfowitz received only tepid support from Treasury while he was besieged at the World Bank, while I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby may soon go to jail because the President has refused to pardon him."
The editors offer the convoluted argument that the Bush White House has caved in to pressure from Senate Democrats, led by Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.). "There's a rumor going around," they write with disdainful sarcasm, "that Robert Gates is the Secretary of Defense. We'd like to request official confirmation, because based on recent evidence the man running the Pentagon is Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. For that matter, is George W. Bush still President?"
What the neoconservatives on the Journal editorial board don't wish to admit, is that General Pace and outgoing vice chair Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, have been so tainted by the fiasco in Iraq, and their failure to adequately stand up to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, that the uniformed military leadership, along with many sane members of the Congress on both sides of aisle, fear that they will cave in again, if Cheney gets his way, and orders are issued to bomb Iran. According to sources close to senior active duty U.S. military commanders, there is greater confidence that the chairman-nominee, Adm. Michael Mullen, will stand up against White House pressures and resist another, even more disastrous military misadventure in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere.
CIA Contractors May Get a Trimming
June 11 (EIRNS)The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported last week that since 9/11, the number of full-time employees in the intelligence community has increased by 20%. Since the various governmental intelligence agencies were not adequately funded to allow them to add personnel, the agencies used contractors to avoid personnel caps, effectively increasing the proportion and influence of private sector operatives in the intelligence community.
For example, the newest Pentagon intelligence agency, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, which was set up in February 2002 to coordinate Defense Department counterterrorism and counterintelligence, was staffed 70% last year by the private sector.
After the CIA was downsized in the 1990s, contract workers now make up about a third of the agency's workforce. The Washington Post reports today that the agency has announced plans to trim about 10% of its contract workers by October 2008.
More to the point of challenging the Rohatyn-Shultz privatizing drive is a House Select Committee on Intelligence report which states that there is "no clear definition of what functions are 'inherently governmental' and as a result where ... contractors [are] performing inherently governmental functions." It ordered a review of "the effect of contractors on the intelligence community workforce" and a report on contractors "found to have committed fraud or failure to perform on a contract."