United States News Digest
DOJ Clears Torture Memo Authors, in Whitewash of War Crimes
Feb. 20 (EIRNS)The most senior member of the Justice Department's top permanent bureaucracy has overruled the DOJ's own ethics office, which had found former DOJ officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee guilty of professional misconduct for their authorship of key opinions authorizing conduct that is universally regarded as constituting torture and war crimes.
This decision is also consistent with President Obama's repeated avowals that he has no interest in pursuing the crimes of the Bush-Cheney Administration.
The DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), in a 269-page report, had determined that Yoo and Bybee had committed professional misconduct (deemed "intentional" on Yoo's part), and that they should be referred to their respective state bar associations for disciplinary proceedings. Among other things, OPR found that Yoo and Bybee had ignored legal precedents (on waterboarding, for example), and had given slipshod legal advice to the White House in possible violation of U.S. and international laws on torture.
The decision to overrule OPR, and to clear Yoo and Bybee, was made by David Margolis, who has been at the DOJ since 1965, and who is now the last of the old "permanent bureaucracy" gang that Lyndon LaRouche and his associates targetted during the 1980s and 1990s around the LaRouche frameup and other DOJ atrocities. In the Yoo-Bybee case, Margolis said that OPR had applied too high a standard (!), when it contended that the two had "a duty to exercise independent legal judgment and to render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice."
Both Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, say they will hold hearings on the DOJ decision.
Obama Still Pushing Nazi Health Plan
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)Lyndon LaRouche's associates have been told that many Congressional Democrats are becoming increasingly angered by President Obama's obsessive pushing of his Nazi health-care plan despite widespread public opposition, but that Obama won't, or can't, let it go.
Indicative of the chaotic state of affairs, are reports that the White House may, or may not, have a bill ready to be posted on the Internet by Feb. 22, some 72 hours before the summit; and that Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may, or may not, have agreed to try to ram a bill through Congress using "reconciliation" procedures which would require on 51 votes, rather than 60, in the Senate.
The White House has put out the word to Politico and others that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are preparing to begin the reconciliation process the Feb. 25 "bipartisan" White House health-care summit. House minority whip Eric Cantor indicated yesterday that Republicans will attend the summit, but they are warning the White House against trying to jam through a back-room dealwhich is exactly what the White House seems to be doing.
The White House is said to be pushing a pared-down $200 billion bill that would have to be attached to the budget bill to allow the use of reconciliation procedures.
But, says Politico, Democratic sources stress that neither Pelosi nor Reid knows if they have the votes to pass such a reconciliation bill.
"There has not been a collaborative process," said a Congressional Democrat with decades of health-care experience, quoted in the New York Times. "We have not been consulted. This is very much a White House proposal."
As Revenues Plunge, States Cut Medicaid
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)Almost all U.S. states are making major cuts in Medicaid services and payments, or are planning to do so in the near future, the New York Times and other news outlets report.
Barred from reducing eligibility, states instead are cutting "optional benefits," such as dental and vision care, and are reducing payments to doctors and other health-care providers. Medicaid already pays doctors and hospitals at levels well below those of Medicare and private insurance, and often below costs. As a result, many doctors do not accept Medicaid patients, and additional cuts will further curtail participation in the program, which primarily serves low-income children, disabled adults, and nursing home residents.
Enrollment in Medicaid is at record levels, due to the economic collapse. More than 3 million people joined Medicaid in the year that ended in June 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, bringing enrollment to a record 46.8 million.
Further compounding the situation is the plunge in state revenues, since states pay from 25% to 50% of Medicaid costs. The Rockefeller Institute of Government reports that tax collections nationwide declined by almost 11% in the 3rd Quarter compared to a year ago, the third consecutive quarter in which tax revenues fell by double-digit percentages. In the quarter, personal income tax revenues fell by 11.8%, sales taxes by 8.9%, and corporate income taxes by 22.6%.
Obama Lies in Creating Fascist Commission
Feb. 18 (Eirns)President Obama lied in the process of establishing a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform by Executive order, after the U.S. Senate had rejected a proposal by Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) to create such a commission, with the authority to make binding recommendations, as in violation of the responsibilities of the Senate. After meeting with Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of the commission, Obama claimed that Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and veterans benefits would not be affected by his spending freeze, while not mentioning that the entire mission of the commission he is setting up is to cut these very programs.
The Executive order creating the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform states that its mission is to "propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015." How this is to be accomplished is left largely to the Commission, except that "the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government."
In other words, the entire purpose of the Commission, like the IMAC provision of Obama's death-care policy, is precisely to cut the very entitlement programs he claimed would not be affected by his three-year freeze.
As reported by the Miami Herald, Bowles said, later in the day, that "everything is on the table," including raising taxes and cutting Medicare and Social Security.
Issa asks Bernanke for Fed's AIG Documents
Feb. 18 (EIRNS)Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, in a letter dated yesterday, to deliver documents related to the AIG case by March 2. "In light of your professed commitments and your apparent desire to cooperate with this committee's investigation, I am writing to request that you voluntarily produce to this committee all records and communications in the possession of the Federal Reserve," regarding the AIG bailout.
The Fed is reviewing the letter, said David Skidmore, a Fed spokesman.