United States News Digest
Campus Gestapo Bid Nixed by Virginia Legislature
Feb. 1 (EIRNS)A Virginia House of Delegates education subcommittee voted 5-3 on Jan. 29, to table HB 1643, which would have required public colleges to file reports on how their policies worked to "ensure academic freedom in support of academic diversity"code-speak for campus witchhunts against teachers who fail to toe the line of Lynne Cheney's campus gestapo. The tabling of the bill "all but kills" the measure, according to the Roanoke Times.
The bill is reportedly based on model legislation furnished by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), founded by Lynne Cheney and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). ACTA president Anne Neal, Mrs. Cheney's longtime gofer, testified on the bill before the legislature.
Promoting legislative attacks on academic freedom, in the name of academic freedom, is the now widely discredited tactic of the political apparatus of ACTA, in conjunction with debased Hollywood right-winger David Horowitz, an apparatus exposed by the LaRouche Political Action Committee's mass-circulation 2006 pamphlet, "Is Joseph Goebbels On Your Campus?"
HB 1643 was introduced by Del. Steve Landes (R-Augusta County). According to the Roanoke Times, Landers claimed he had not read Horowitz's writings, but that Horowitz and he had the same intent.
What's Behind the Demand for Wiretapping Immunity?
Feb. 1 (EIRNS)In the current Congressional battle over new amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the Bush Administration has demanded that the new bill be passed or else Americans will be endangered; but the President has threatened to veto the bill if it is passed without a provision retroactively immunizing telecommunications companies. That provision would immunize those companies from Federal prosecution, for having cooperated with the Administration's massive, secret surveillance program in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Why is the Administration threatening to veto this bill?
An interesting insight was provided on MSNBC's Countdown on the evening of Jan. 24. Host Keith Olberman, discussing the matter with Newsweek's Howard Fineman, noted a remark by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) the previous month. Dodd said, "When one company gave the NSA a secret eavesdropping room at its own corporate headquarters, it was simply doing its patriotic duty. The President asked, the telecoms answered. Shouldn't that be an easy case to prove, Mr. President? The corporations only need to show a judge the authority and the assurances they were given and they will be in and out of court in five minutes. If the telecoms are as defensible as the President says, why doesn't the President let them defend themselves? If the case is so easy to make, why doesn't he let them make it? Why is he standing in the way?"
Fineman's response to Dodd's question: "There are things that the White House and the Administration is doing that will probably raise the hair of any judge in America if he sees them. And you can't necessarily do all of that in camera, meaning in private. And the Administration doesn't want that laid out on the record. Chris Dodd is absolutely right on the law, but this Administration is not going to allow them to do if it they can possibly get away with it and intimidate the Senate on that point."
U.S. Army Suicide Rate Continues To Rise
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)Despite all of the attention that has been focussed on suicides and mental-health problems in the U.S. military, the suicide rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans continues to climb. The Army reported today that 121 soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a 20% increase over 2006. Of these, 89 are confirmed suicides, and 32 more are suspected, and still under investigation. Suicide attempts numbered 2,100 in 2007, compared to about 1,500 in 2006.
The Army report came on the heels of a front-page story in today's Washington Post reporting on the attempted suicide, on Jan. 28, of Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, a psychiatric outpatient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who was facing a possible court martial for attempted suicide, and endangering another soldier while on duty in Iraq in 2007. According to Army investigations, Whiteside had a mental breakdown after helping to quell riots in the aftermath of the execution of Saddam Hussein; pointed a gun at a superior officer; fired two shots into the ceiling, and then shot herself, piercing several organs. Her commanding officer filed charges against her, but the Army had yet to decide whether to court martial her. The Army finally dropped the charges after her suicide attempt Jan. 28, but a source familiar with her case told EIR that that happened only after Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) intervened directly with the Secretary of the Army.
While the Army has the highest rate of suicide among all the services, the problem isn't confined to the Army. A veterans' advocate in San Diego told EIR yesterday that two Marinesone at Camp Pendleton, and the other at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps basehave committed suicide in the last two weeks. In the Pendleton case, the Marines tried to explain it away as an accidental weapons discharge, but, as the source explained, the Marine involved was combat trained, had served a tour in Iraq, and knew how to handle guns.
Why Mukasey Won't Admit that Waterboarding Is Torture
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (EIRNS)At yesterday's hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, many Senators and observers found it astonishing that Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to acknowledge what everyone knows, including all military lawyers: that not only is waterboarding torture, and a crime under current U.S. law, but that waterboarding has been prosecuted as a war crime by the United States government for over 100 years.
Mukasey instead told the committee repeatedly, that whether or not waterboarding is lawful, depends on the "facts and circumstances," such as how it is being used, what information is being sought, how was it authorized, etc. Since it is not now being used, Mukasey contended, there is no reason for him to pass judgment on its legality.
Reminding Mukasey that he is the nation's top law enforcement officer, and not just an advisor to the Executive Branch, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D)a freshman from Rhode Island and a former Federal prosecutorpressed Mukasey as to whether the Justice Department has conducted any inquiry as to violations of the Federal anti-torture statute, which carries a 20-year prison sentence, and the death penalty if the victim has died.
Mukasay said he had not, but he said that such an inquiry would depend upon what sort of prior authorization to use such techniques existed. Whitehouse angrily told Mukasay: "There is no exemption under [the anti-torture statute] depending on whether the conduct was authorized by a supervisory official or not. There is no Nuremberg defense ["I was only following orders"] built into this criminal statute."
Whitehouse also told Mukasey "the facts and circumstances justification evaporates" under the anti-torture lawi.e., there is no circumstance under U.S. law which permits torture because of some alleged necessity.
Whitehouse's questioning of Mukasey illuminates the real reason why Mukasey won't admit that waterboarding is torture: because the minute he does, he is obligated to open a criminal investigation into violations of the anti-torture law. This would not only have to cover those who conducted torture, but also those who made the policy and issued authorizations and orders to carry out such heinous acts. That would lead very directly to Vice President Dick Cheney, the author and chief promoter of the torture policy within the Bush Administration, and it would necessarily result in the prosecution of Cheney for war crimes.