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Saturday, July 16, 2005

 

NYT's Tierney Gives Republican Spin on Rove Leak

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Review by William Spier, Ph.D.

John Tierney, conservative columnist for the New York Times, voiced today the Republican spin that will be the talking point from here forward on Karl Rove’s involvement in the outing of a CIA agent. [“Where’s the Newt” Saturday, July 16, 2005, arguing that Rove is being made out to be a "newt" (witch).]

Tierney wants the public to believe that no law was violated when Valerie Plame’s name was leaked, "because of several exceptions in the 1982 law (IIPA) forbidding disclosure of a covert operatives identity, no one thinks any more that he violated it,” and, “…she apparently hadn’t been posted abroad during the five previous years.” So says Mr. Tierney. But tell this to prosecutor Fitzgerald, who obviously thinks a serious crime was committed, and the CIA, which demanded an investigation. Judge Hogan jailed Judith Miller and the appeals court backed him. Why? Because these courts' opinions reflect they agree with the prosecutor that a serious crime was committed.

The White House and Tierney want the public to believe that Rove is the one now being smeared, and that the Plame revelation was already known—that this is all political (that Wilson was making a big deal of this in 2004 to sell books like Richard Clarke). The truly disgusting element of the Tierney piece is his insistence that no harm was done. That Plame was not a secret operative for the CIA because she was not stationed abroad at the time of the Novak article and the outing of her name did not put her associates in danger. That she was a mere desk clerk.

Nowhere to be heard from Republican apologists and shills are the two words that might bring Rove down: The Espionage Act. Mark Kleiman, “The Plame Game, July 13, 2005. Kleiman says, “Rove's conduct certainly meets the far less demanding elements of the Espionage Act:

Kleiman goes on: “Under the Espionage Act, the person doing the communicating need not actually believe that revelation could be damaging; he needs only 'reason to believe.' Classification is generally reason to believe, and a security-clearance holder is responsible for knowing what information is classified.

"Nor is it necessary that the discloser intend public distribution; if Rove told Cooper -- which he did -- and Cooper didn't have a security clearance -- which he didn't -- the crime would have been complete. And to be a crime the disclosure need not be intended to damage the national security; it is only the act of communication itself that must be willful. It's also a crime to 'cause' such information to be communicated, for example by asking someone else to do so."

Rove may not be the only felon indicted. Rove was not the only one in the White House upset about the Wilson editorial. Perhaps Fitzgerald will help us learn who the conspirators were—all of them.


 

Slate-Papers: Gitmo Can Handle Truth - July 16

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By David Sarno - Posted Saturday, at 6:41 AM CT

The New York Times leads with a federal appeals court decision that reversed a lower court's ban on the Guantánamo Bay war crimes tribunal set up by the Bush Administration. A panel of three Republican-appointed judges disputed the findings of the district judge, a Democratic appointee who'd found that the trials violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Geneva conventions, and the US Constitution. The appellate judges disagreed with all three of these assertions, and permitted military officials to continue the prosecutions. [DemLog blogged this story yesterday, including the fact that the Republican-appointed appeals court held the protections of the 1949 Geneva Convention do not apply to al-Qaida and its members.] Of the 500 Guantanamo Bay detainees, four so far have been charged with war crimes, twelve have been declared eligible for trial, and officials are "prepared to bring charges against dozens of others" if it should become necessary. The Washington Post fronts the tribunal news, but leads with a local story on the Bush government's proposal to cede 200 acres of federal land to Washington, D.C.--the District would redevelop the areas and benefit from tens of millions in new tax revenue. The Los Angeles Times also leads a local report: After a controversy erupted in California, Gov. Arnold announced that he would cancel his $8M consulting contract with a corporation that publishes health and bodybuilding magazines. Last year Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have imposed restrictions on the nutritional supplement industry--a primary source of advertising revenue for the magazines.

The NYT fronts an exclusive report on a 2003 State Department memo that has caught the eye of investigators in the CIA leak case. According to the NYT, the memo, which made its way to the White House around the time of the leak, contained information about the diplomat Joseph Wilson IV's trip to Nigeria. Joe WilsonSpecifically, the memo addressed "how [Wilson, left] came to be dispatched" on the mission, and "the role of his wife, a C.I.A. officer, in the trip." Investigators want to know if the memo, which mentioned Wilson's wife by name, was the original source of the leaked information. Another crucial question inquiry concerns exactly when White House officials got the info on Wilson's trip: was it before Wilson publicly lambasted the Bush Administration for distorting the truth about Iraq's WMDs, or after?

All three papers front coverage of the London bombings. The LAT focuses on the chemist authorities have arrested in Egypt. Magdy el-Nashar taught biochemistry at the University of Leeds, and is thought to have rented the apartment where the attackers assembled the bombs. El-Nashar may also have been a friend of the fourth bomber--now identified as Lindsey Germaine, a Jamaican-born convert to Islam who attended the same mosque as Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged in the 9/11 attacks.

The Post's front, meanwhile, mentions several other suspects--one of them a Pakistani who appears to have snuck into the UK despite being on a terrorist watch list, and then snuck out again the day before the bombings. Police have no direct proof that the man is connected to the attacks. Camera footage from a subway system shows yet another man conferring with the four bombers before they disperse. After talking to the men for a while, said a witness, this fifth man walked in the other direction, then boarded a train and was gone.

The NYT interviews two Islamic activists in Britain, as well as the neighborhood friends of one of the bombers, Shehzad Tanweer. The men seem to agree that the attackers were not evil men, but had been driven to rage by the great inequalities faced by Muslims in Britain and elsewhere. One man, a practicing psychiatrist, said, "[W]e don't see two classes of blood; the blood of Iraqis is just as important to us as English blood." He assured the reporter that he did not condone the bombings. "But when you understand things from that perspective," he said, "why should we condemn the bombing?'"

An NYT dispatch from the Ukraine looks at the problem of unsecured conventional explosives--loose TNT, basically--of which there is an estimated 2.5 million tons just sitting around in military bases there, waiting to be stolen. The same is true of weapons in many former Soviet countries. NATO is planning to start a 12-year program this fall to destroy 133,000 tons of ammo, 1.5 million guns, and 1,000 antiaircraft missiles--the largest ever effort to dispose of munitions.

Hogwarsh: The LAT review of the sixth installment of Harry Potter, which debuted in stores at midnight, deserves special attention for its marked failure to actually review the book. Instead of discussion, criticism, or even a bit of plot summary, the writer is content to whine about how "thick" the Potter books are, to grouse over how her copy "arrived a mere 24 hours before deadline," and to make snide jokes about the ending ("I haven't cried so hard since Charlotte the Spider died"). The irony is, she probably would've liked it.

David Sarno is a writer in Iowa City. Source: Slate Magazine article.


 

NYT: State Dept memo on Plame outed

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This article was reported by Douglas Jehl, David Johnston and Richard W. Stevenson and was written by Mr. Stevenson.

WASHINGTON, July 16 - Prosecutors in the C.I.A. leak case have shown intense interest in a 2003 State Department memorandum that explained how a former diplomat came to be dispatched on an intelligence-gathering mission and the role of his wife, a C.I.A. officer, in the trip, people who have been officially briefed on the case said.

Investigators in the case have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the C.I.A. officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memo, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because, Patrick Fitzgerald, below right, the special prosecutor heading the investigation, had requested that no one discuss the case.

FitzgeraldThe memorandum was sent to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003, when the White House was scrambling to defend itself from a blast of criticism a few days earlier from the former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, current and former government officials said.

Mr. Powell was seen walking around Air Force One during the trip with the memorandum in hand, said a person involved in the case who also requested anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about talking about the investigation.

Investigators are also trying to determine whether the gist of the information in the document, including the name of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, Mr. Wilson's wife, had been provided to the White House even earlier, said another person who has been involved in the case. Investigators have been looking at whether the State Department provided the information to the White House before July 6, 2003, when Mr. Wilson publicly criticized the way the administration used intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, the person said.

The prosecutors have shown the memorandum to witnesses at the grand jury investigating how the C.I.A. officer's name was disclosed to journalists, blowing her cover as a covert operative and possibly violating federal law, people briefed on the case said. The prosecutors appear to be investigating how widely the document circulated within the administration, and whether it might have been the original source of information for whoever provided the identity of Ms. Wilson to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist who first disclosed it in print.

Full NY Times story, "State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer."


 

WashPost: Health is private to Chief Justice - July 16

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RehnquistChief Justice William H. Rehnquist, left, has had multiple health problems since joining the Supreme Court in 1972 -- from hospitalization for a strained back in 1977 to his current battle with thyroid cancer.

Yet through it all, Rehnquist, 80, has followed a consistent approach in talking about his physical condition through the news media: Less is more.

During his 1986 Senate confirmation hearings for chief justice, Rehnquist, who had been hospitalized in 1982 for withdrawal symptoms related to a reduction in the dosage of his prescription pain medications, said that "so long as I am able to perform my duties, I do not think I have any obligation to give the press a health briefing."

Later in 1986, when a reporter asked him if the court could give out more health data, Rehnquist replied, "You people behave like a bunch of vultures."

Thus, the public has been left to track his current illness through a series of terse news releases -- and the visible signs of cancer's ravages, such as Rehnquist's evident weight loss and his use of a cane.

The question for some court-watchers, however, is whether Rehnquist's long-standing attitude is sustainable, or appropriate, when the court is so deeply involved in key public issues and the future of each of its life-tenured members is a matter of intense public interest.

If Rehnquist retires or dies during the middle of a court term, his votes on rulings not yet announced would be void, creating the risk of 4 to 4 ties. An extended incapacitation could leave the court in limbo, because there is no mechanism for removing a justice short of impeachment.

Noting that Rehnquist recently sent a private letter of thanks to a group of thyroid researchers, Emory University law professor David J. Garrow asked: "If he is willing to write about his medical situation to a small group of elite professionals, why is he not willing to say anything to the real constituents of the Supreme Court of the United States?"

Rehnquist's friends and former aides, however, say that the chief justice is merely defending a legitimate zone of personal privacy -- a zone that was unfairly and, for the chief justice, memorably breached when news of his painkiller withdrawal leaked in 1982.

"There is nothing whatsoever that follows from knowing the particulars beyond slaking our tabloid curiosity," Thomas E. Baker, a law professor at Florida International University who worked for Rehnquist at the court wrote in March in the National Law Journal.

Full Washington Post story, "Privacy Paramount For Chief Justice - Rehnquist Has Kept a Tight Lid On Health News."


Friday, July 15, 2005

 

Reuters: Rehnquist still in wheelchair - July 15

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Rehnquist
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist leaves his home on a wheelchair in the Washington suburb of Arlington on his way to an unknown location July 15, 2005.

(Shaun Heasley/Reuters) D.H.: He later showed up at work at the Court.

 

DC Circuit Court: Military Panels to Try Detainees

Associated Press Writer

A federal appeals court put the Bush administration's military commissions for terrorist suspects back on track Friday, saying a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison who once was Osama bin-Laden's driver can stand trial.

A three-judge panel ruled 3-0 against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose case was halted by a federal judge on grounds that commission procedures were unlawful.

"Congress authorized the military commission that will try Hamdan," said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The protections of the 1949 Geneva Convention do not apply to al-Qaida and its members, so Hamdan does not have a right to enforce its provisions in court, the appeals judges said.

Gen. CraddockArmy Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, left, commander of U.S. Southern Command, appears before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on possible abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled last year that Hamdan could not be tried by a military commission until a competent tribunal determined that he was not a prisoner of war.

"We believe the military commission is such a tribunal," said the appeals court.

Full AP-Austin American Statesman story. D.H.: I find the ruling about the Geneva Convention disturbing.


 

Slate-Papers: Rehnquist stays - July 15

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By Eric Umansky
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005, at 1:25 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with Chief Justice Rehnquist saying he's sticking around. "I am not about to announce my retirement," he said in a statement. "I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits." According to one of his former clerks, "He wanted to get the trucks off his front lawn." Citing "someone who has been officially briefed on the matter"--whatever that means--the New York Times' lead says Karl Rove did indeed chat with columnist Robert Novak about CIA agent Valerie Plame before Novak published a story outing her. But according to this single-sourced account, Novak was the one who rang Rove and brought up Plame. USA Today leads with, and the NYT fronts, a federal study showing that elementary-school students are making big strides in both math and reading while older kids are stagnating. While the White House quickly credited the No Child Left Behind Act for the improvements, researchers behind the study said that's unlikely since their tests were given just a year after the NCLB was enacted. USAT sees another, partial explanation: "The typical 9-year-old in the USA now reads more each day than a 17-year-old."

Novak's original column outing Plame cited two administration officials. Reportedly it's the first official who told him about Plame and her until-then secret employer. Novak, seen below right, then supposedly mentioned it to Rove, who simply responded, "I heard that, too."

NovakThe NYT's background on the single source for all this:

The person who provided the information about Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak declined to be identified, citing requests by Mr. Fitzgerald that no one discuss the case. The person discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying he did not disclose Ms. Wilson's identity.

The WP files a late-night catch-up fronter on Rove and Novak, getting the same details from a (the?) source, whom it IDs, more helpfully, as "a lawyer involved in the case." Now, who might that be?

Both papers cite their source saying Rove originally learned about Plame from--get this--a journalist. The Post gets curious and asks Lusk ..."the lawyer" whether Karl would like to share who he originally talked to. According to the lawyer, surprise surprise, Rove can't remember.

A bit of context to keep in mind: Two years ago the Post reported, "A senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."

The Post alone fronts a Pew poll showing that support for Osama Bin Laden has taken a dive in many Muslim countries, particularly in those that have faced major terrorist attacks: Indonesia, Morocco, and Turkey. It's not all good news: Pakistan and Jordan both showed increased confidence in Bin Laden (seen below left)--a bit over half those polled in the former said they admire OBL.

bin LadenThe Journal mentions that most Senate Republicans blocked an effort to add $800 million to the budget for mass-transit security. As the NYT flags, homeland security chief Michael Chertoff defended the feds' focus on aviation. "The truth of the matter is, a fully loaded airplane with jet fuel, a commercial airliner, has the capacity to kill 3,000 people," said Chertoff. "A bomb in a subway car may kill 30 people. When you start to think about your priorities, you're going to think about making sure you don't have a catastrophic thing first."

USAT and LAT front word that British investigators are now looking for an Egyptian chemist who studied for a semester in the U.S. The LAT says he rented an apartment where "the explosives were assembled." The WP isn't so sure, saying he helped another friend rent the place, and investigators don't know whether he was involved.

Four months after a Marine officer called Fallujah the "the safest city in the country," the NYT's Ed Wong visits and says insurgents are making a comeback--this, despite tight security measures, including badges for residents. Among the other issues: The Iraqi government has stopped doling out reconstruction money. Then there are tensions with the largely Shiite Iraqi Army. They are "not trained," complained one local leader. "They're killing people. They're shooting people in the head."

The papers notice the U.S.'s announcement that it has captured (yet another) top lieutenant of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. A Web statement from Zarqawi's group tried to play down the capture but actually acknowledged he was in the group. It called him "no more than a responsible man of one of the brigades in Baghdad." Iraqi police also foiled three suicide bomb attempts near the Green Zone. Cops shot up one would-be suicide bomber's car and two men wearing explosives vests. About a half dozen police were killed in other attacks.

On Wednesday, a partially released military investigation detailed "abusive" and "degrading"--but somehow not "inhumane"--treatment of a detainee at Gitmo. The abusive techniques authorized and closely resembled what was later was photographed at Abu Ghraib. TP invited the NY Times to explain its take: "REPORT DISCREDITS F.B.I. CLAIMS OF ABUSE AT GUANTÁNAMO BAY."

Still happy to hear about it.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at mailto:todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine's Today's Papers column.


 

NYT: Rove not Novak's first source on Plame - July 15

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WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as Novak was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, a White House informant who has been officially briefed on the matter said.

MoveOn protestersAt a demonstration outside the White House sponsored by MoveOn.org, the Democratic-leaning advocacy group, right, protesters called for the firing of Karl Rove, the presidential adviser.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the informant said.

After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the informant said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."

The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the informant.

Six days later, Mr. Novak's syndicated column reported that two senior administration officials had told him that Mr. Wilson's "wife had suggested sending him" to Africa. That column was the first instance in which Ms. Wilson was publicly identified as a C.I.A. operative.

The column provoked angry demands for an investigation into who disclosed Ms. Wilson's name to Mr. Novak. The Justice Department appointed Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a top federal prosecutor in Chicago, to lead the inquiry. Mr. Rove said in an interview with CNN last year that he did not know the C.I.A. officer's name and did not leak it.

The informant who provided the information about Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak declined to be identified, citing requests by Mr. Fitzgerald that no one discuss the case. The informant discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying that he had not disclosed Ms. Wilson's identity.

On Oct. 1, 2003, Mr. Novak wrote another column in which he described calling two officials who were his sources for the earlier column. The first source, whose identity has not been revealed, provided the outlines of the story and was described by Mr. Novak as "no partisan gunslinger." Mr. Novak wrote that when he called a second official for confirmation, the source said, "Oh, you know about it."

That second source was Mr. Rove, the informant briefed on the matter said. Mr. Rove's account to investigators about what he told Mr. Novak was similar in its message although the White House adviser's recollection of the exact words was slightly different. Asked by investigators how he knew enough to leave Mr. Novak with the impression that his information was accurate, Mr. Rove said he had heard parts of the story from other journalists but had not heard Ms. Wilson's name.

Full NY Times story.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

 

AP: Rehnquist squelches retirement rumors - July 14

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Squelching rumors of his retirement, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said Thursday, "I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement," said Rehnquist, 80, and ailing with thyroid cancer. "I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits."

RehnquistRehnquist, left, shown in a July 12 file photo, released the statement hours after being released from an Arlington, Va., hospital after being treated for two days with a fever.

President Bush had not been informed in advance about Rehnquist's statement but the White House welcomed the chief justice's announcement.

Full AP story.


 

Reuters: CIA agent's spouse says Rove must go

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By Sue Pleming Thu Jul 14, 3:52 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The husband of a CIA agent whose identity was exposed during the fierce debate over the Iraq war accused the White House on Thursday of being involved in a giant "cover-up" involving top aide Karl Rove.

WilsonAmbassador Joe Wilson, right, husband of CIA agent Valerie Plame whose identity was leaked to reporters two years ago in a newspaper column, speaks to the media in front of a portrait of President George Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington DC July 14, 2005. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Federal investigators are looking into who leaked the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose name appeared in a newspaper column exactly two years ago, on July 14, 2003. Rove, who orchestrated Bush's presidential campaigns, has emerged as a source for at least one other media report on the case.

"What this thing has been for the past two years has been a cover-up, a cover-up of the ... web of lies that underpin the justification for going to war in Iraq," said Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, a career foreign service officer who served in the Clinton White House.

"And to a certain extent, this cover-up is becoming unraveled. That's why you see the White House stonewalling," Wilson told NBC's "Today" show. 

Full Reuters story.


 

CBS: Aruban appeal holds one, releases two

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(CBS) ORANJESTAD, Aruba - A 17-year-old Aruban, Joran van der Sloot, below, center, must remain in custody as authorities investigate the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an appeals court announced Thursday.

SuspectsThe court also found that there is not enough evidence to detain two brothers from Surinam, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe (shown to the left and right of van der Sloot), in Holloway's disappearance.
Full CBS News story.

 

AP: Rehnquist dodges media leaving hospital

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Rehnquist in wheelchairWASHINGTON (AP) - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, seen here in a hospital wheelchair, went home from the hospital Thursday, dodging most media.  It was impossible for journalists to call out questions to Rehnquist when he left Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., after lunch on Thursday. He had been taken there by ambulance Tuesday night.

Officers escorted him out through a parking garage, while most news crews were kept away on a sidewalk. At his home, Arlington police stood guard in front, while Rehnquist was brought in through a back entrance. The dozens of waiting reporters never got a glimpse of the chief justice.

Full AP Breaking News story.


 

WashPost: Abu Ghraib Tactics Used at Guantanamo

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By Josh White - Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, Page A01

Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forced a stubborn detainee to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The techniques, approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- were used at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee.

Military investigators who briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday on the three-month probe, called the tactics "creative" and "aggressive" but said they did not cross the line into torture.

The report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used on Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq.

The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees.

A central figure in the investigation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib, was accused of failing to properly supervise Qahtani's interrogation plan and was recommended for reprimand by investigators. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, below left, declined to follow the recommendation.

CraddockMiller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in "Tiger Teams" of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift.

Full Washington Post article.


 

Slate-Papers: Number Five Alive? - July 14

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By Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday, at 4:08 AM CT

Relying on an "American official," the New York Times says police have ID'd a possible "ringleader" in the London bombings. The reportedly non-Anglo, non-Pakistani British citizen was caught on video with the four attackers as they boarded a commuter train to London. Newsday has a similar report: "They know who No. 5 is," a "U.S. official" told the paper. But Newsday cautions, "British authorities do not believe he was the mastermind of the plot." The Times (of London) has perhaps the most details, saying the man is in fact a Pakistani-Brit. Los Angeles Times leads with SEC filings showing that two Schwarzeneggerdays before Gov. Schwarzenegger (right) was sworn in, he signed onto a nebulous $8 million consulting gig with a publisher of bodybuilding magazines, the kind that carry copious ads for nutritional supplements. Last year, Schwarzenegger--or "Mr. S" as the contract refers to him--vetoed legislation that would have regulated such supplements.

USA Today leads with the government about to start testing an anti-missile defense for civilian airliners. The laser system--which would divert the missiles not shoot them down--is only being tried on three out-of-service planes. It would take years before most airliners could be equipped and some experts aren't convinced it'd be worth the multi-billion cost. The Washington Post leads with the White House's already sneak-peeked announcement that this fiscal year's budget deficit is nearly $100 billion less than projected. "Don't be deceived," said the U.S.'s comptroller. "We face large and growing structural deficits in the long term that are getting worse every day."

The WSJ goes high with an in-house poll showing President Bush's approval rating down to 46 percent. And for the first time a plurality gave the president a thumbs down on "being honest and straightforward"--and that was before the Rove uproar. (See question 13.) A solid majority--57 percent--said the U.S. should stick around in Iraq until things there get better.

The LAT seems to have the most morsels on the London investigation. The paper says a few of the bombers traveled widely, from Saudi Arabia (on a Hajj) to Pakistan and perhaps Afghanistan. The Times also says investigators believe one of the bombers had "links" to some al Qaeda-connected British-Pakistani jihadists who were reportedly caught last year building a big bomb meant for London. (A source told the British Independent that the connection between the 7/7 bomber and the thwarted jihadists was "very detached.")

Citing "several American law enforcement officials," NYT names the suspected fourth bomber: a Jamaican-born British resident named Lindsey Germaine.

The NYT and WSJ profile the attackers, who grew up in a poor part of Leeds but weren't exactly pictures of the oppressed. One of them was particularly popular; his father had recently bought him a used Mercedes.

The Post notices on Page One that abuses meted out to one Gitmo prisoner, and detailed by a newly released investigation, bear a certain resemblance to what was recorded by the Abu Ghraib photos. Remember the women's underwear and the leash? He faced both treatments, among others. SecDef Rumsfeld approved the techniques for that one detainee, who was alleged to be the "20th hijacker." The then commander of Gitmo, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, later oversaw operations at Abu Ghraib. Rumsfeld, below left, is shown with Gen. Miller in a Baghdad file photo of May 13, 2004.

Rumsfeld with MillerThe other papers cover the above investigation but nobody else makes the connection. The NYT's bizarro take: "REPORT DISCREDITS F.B.I. CLAIMS OF ABUSE AT GUANTÁNAMO BAY." (TP would be happy to hear from a Times editor explaining how the report outright discredits the F.B.I. claims.)

The LAT and NYT front yesterday's suicide car bombing in Baghdad that killed 27, mostly children. One GI was also killed and 50 people were wounded. GIs had been handing out candy to kids--in a largely Shiite neighborhood--when the bomber plowed into the crowd. "I swear to God," said one mother, "if my son dies, I will drink from Zarqawi's blood."

Meanwhile, the papers mention that another dozen Sunni Muslim men were found dead after being arrested by Iraqi police over the weekend. The NYT mentions the usual signs of torture. "Now, when anyone is arrested, his family expects him dead within a few days," one moderate Sunni leader told the Post.

The NYT fronts Iraq's Interior Ministry telling the paper that 8,175 civilians have been killed in insurgent attacks between August and May. As the story acknowledges, the number is less-than rock-solid. It's not broken down by month nor would the ministry give any other details behind it. As the Times notes, last month the interior minister guesstimated that insurgents have killed 12,000 civilians in total. The NYT takes two figures, does some GIGO-style math, and headlines: "DATA SHOWS FASTER-RISING DEATH TOLL AMONG IRAQI CIVILIANS." The "data" don't "show" that--the paper is making an educated guess. It may the right one but that doesn't make the headline accurate.

Everybody at least teases on Page One NASA scrubbing yesterday's launch of the Shuttle Discovery due to a malfunctioning fuel sensor. Officials said they won't try again until Saturday, at the earliest.

EbbersThe papers all front WorldCom founder Bernie Ebbers (right, with wife Kristie) being sentenced to 25 years for being what the judge described as "the instigator" in the $11 billion fraud that brought down the company. Ebbers is appealing the verdict and hoping to stay free in the meantime. He is 63 and currently scheduled to head downriver in October.

Good Point; why didn't it hit the news pages? ... A NYT editorial begins:

This was a sad week for the war on terror. The Senate voted, disgracefully, to shift homeland security money from high-risk areas to low-risk ones--a step that is likely to mean less money to defend New York and California against terrorism and more for states like Wyoming. Before the vote, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made a powerful appeal to the senators to distribute the money based on risk.

Collins

But the Senate, led by Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, left, and other small-state representatives, put political pork ahead of national security. It now falls to the House to fight for a financing formula that will keep the nation safe.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.

Source: Slate magazine's Today's Papers column.


 

NYT: Gang of 14 meeting for breakfast - July 14

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Published: July 14, 2005

Gang of 14WASHINGTON - When seven Democrats and seven Republicans, right, joined in the Senate in May to avert a showdown on President Bush's judicial nominees, they urged the president to remember the word "advice" in the Constitution's advice and consent clause. Now that Mr. Bush is consulting with leading senators on a Supreme Court vacancy, the so-called Gang of 14 is patting itself on the back.

"The word 'advice' was buried in history," declared Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, a chief architect of the deal, referring to the Constitutional mandate that the Senate advise and consent on presidential nominees. "Now we've resurrected it. I'm extremely satisfied."

That may have been the easy part. With the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - and renewed speculation that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who has thyroid cancer and was in the hospital Wednesday with a fever, could retire - the members of the Gang of 14 are trying to chart a course that would keep them unified in the event of a divisive Supreme Court confirmation fight.

This morning, they are meeting for breakfast to do just that. If the gang sticks together, it could become a powerful force - so powerful that some of its members, including Mr. Warner, have insisted that the group steer clear of issues beyond the judiciary, for fear of becoming a kind of shadow leadership.

But the gang, which Ross K. Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University, likens to "emergency standby equipment in the Senate," faces pitfalls that could cause it to splinter. Its members are under intense scrutiny both in the Capitol and at home, where some, particularly Republicans like Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike DeWine of Ohio, are suffering political repercussions for crossing conservatives to join.

There is little consensus among the 14 on the meaning of "extraordinary circumstances," the language they used in their agreement to describe conditions that would warrant a filibuster, the parliamentary tactic that Democrats had used to block some of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees.

"I'll know it when I see it," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said of the phrase's definition. His sentiment was echoed by Mr. DeWine.

Full NY Times story, "Senators Who Averted Showdown Face New Test in Court Fight."


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

CNN: Chief Justice Rehnquist hospitalized

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Rehnquist clothingA Supreme Court Police officer, left, retrieves shoes and other clothing belonging to Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist from his house in Arlington, Va. Wednesday, July 13, 2005. Rehnquist, 80 years old and fighting cancer, was hospitalized Tuesday night with a fever. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

From Bill Mears
CNN Washington Bureau

Wednesday, Posted: 2:42 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chief Justice Rehnquist was taken to a hospital for observation and tests overnight after complaining of a fever, a U.S. Supreme Court spokeswoman said Wednesday.

An ambulance took Rehnquist to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington on Tuesday night, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. Arberg gave no indication when the 80-year-old justice, who has been battling thyroid cancer, would be released. Source: CNN.


 

AP: Judge Lefkow returns

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Judge Lefkow(AP) CHICAGO - U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, right, made a low-key return to the bench, just months after the murders of her husband and mother focused attention on security for judges.

She had vowed she would continue working as a judge despite the Feb. 28 shootings at her North Side Chicago home, committed by a man upset with her decision to dismiss his medical malpractice lawsuit. Bart Ross, an unemployed Chicago electrician, confessed to the murders in a suicide note.
Tuesday, a notice posted on the door of Lefkow's courtroom at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse thanked people for their sympathy and asked them to refrain from mentioning the deaths during court proceedings.

Full AP-CBS story.

 

SFC: Specter criticizes impractical federal courts

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SpecterUS Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., left, a moderate Republican, urged President Bush to consider a Supreme Court nominee from outside the appellate courts, citing the pragmatic O'Connor, a former Arizona legislator, as an example of a jurist with experience outside of what Leahy called the "monastery" of the judiciary.

The Supreme Court "is deciding all of the cutting-edge questions," Specter said, "with impunity overruling acts of Congress because Congress hasn't thought it through, but somehow the court has thought it through. And who are they to say that they can think it through and we can't? But if they had a little more practical experience and didn't work so much within the footnotes and the semicolons, you might have a little different perspective."

Full San Francisco Chronicle article.


 

The Hill: Tarnished lobbyist aides skip

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Reuters: Dem senators enhance terrorism funding

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Democratic senators
Senators (L to R) John Kerry (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Joe Biden (D-DE), Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
 
These senators address a joint news conference on protecting the U.S. from terrorism on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 12, 2005. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas.

 

WashPost: Laura surprises George with female-justice advice

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Laura BushFirst lady Laura Bush, right, said yesterday that she would "really like" her husband to choose a woman to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The first lady -- speaking at a classroom in Cape Town, South Africa -- was on NBC's "Today" show, answering a question about a replacement for O'Connor.

"Sure, I would really like for him to name another woman," she said.

Giving her husband an out, the first lady added: "I know that my husband will pick somebody who has a lot of integrity and strength. And whether it's a woman or a man, of course, I have no idea."

Bush, asked about his wife's comments, said he is looking forward to hearing them in person. "I talked to her yesterday," he said. "And listen, I get her advice all the time. I didn't realize she put this advice in the press. She did? Well, good. We're definitely considering people from all walks of life."

Source:  Washington Post story, "First Lady Wants New Female Justice."


 

KPRC: Groups Giving Up Holloway Search

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A Texas group that's been searching Aruba for an Alabama teen said it's ending its efforts after more than three weeks.
 
Natalee Holloway Natalee Holloway, left, vanished May 30, just before she was supposed to catch a flight home from a five-day graduation trip.
 
The director of Texas EquuSearch said his members want to feel in their "hearts" that they "did everything."

They plan to return home Sunday. Underwater crime scene investigators from Florida State University have also ended their search and left the island Tuesday. (Source:  KPRC-TV Houston)

van der Sloot, 17

Joran van der Sloot, right, with police officer, a 17-year-old Dutch teen detained in connection with the disappearance of Alabama high school graduate Natalee Holloway on May 30, leaves the court back to the prison after a hearing in the capital city of Oranjestad, Tuesday, July 12, 2005. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

 

Slate-Papers: Crucial Leeds - July 13

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By Eric Umansky - Posted Wednesday, at 3:20 AM CT

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with yesterday's big breaks on the London bombings. Police believe they've ID'd the four attackers--young British men--at least one and probably most of whom killed themselves in the bombings. The police--backed up with Army soldiers--also searched six houses in hardscrabble neighborhoods of Leeds. They found explosives at one of the homes as well as in a car the suspects used. They also arrested one man, the Post says a relative of one of the suspects. USA Today fronts the investigation but leads with, and the Post fronts, a preview of the Department Homeland Security's coming realignment, which is set to be announced today.

The suspected bombers were mostly in their teens or early twenties--though as the Post notes, British papers report one was "about 35." Minutes after the attacks, the parents of one of the apparent bombers reported him missing. That prompted police to find his likeness along with that of his likely co-attackers recorded by one of the thousands of closed circuit cameras in the Underground. The British Guardian has a detailed account of the raids and how they came about.

Given that investigators are also now confident that the explosives were top-notch, there's a new question: How did young men from Leeds get ahold of them and the expertise to put it all together? The LAT might have a hint. It flags a British TV interview with one neighbor who said one of the suspects spent six months in Afghanistan and Pakistan last year. And as everybody notes, if indeed these were suicide bombers, they'd be the first to hit Europe.

Leeds police officerA policeman, left, walks past a bomb disposal robot outside a house in Leeds, July 12, 2005. REUTERS/Ian Hodgson.

A somewhat conflicting picture emerges of Leeds, which the Journal says is home to a quarter of all asylum seekers in the U.K. The WSJ says it was "the scene of race riots" in 2001. But the NYT says the city has actually been pretty peaceful and the riots didn't hit there. Everybody agrees that the neighborhoods where the suspects lived are down-and-out.

Reportedly, the changes at Homeland Security include a focus on preventing mass casualty attacks. It's not clear what that means in the concrete. USAT was actually Chertoffbriefed by DHS chief Michael Chertoff, right. But as the paper notes he "did not specify the kind of terror threat he would de-emphasize or how he proposes to shift resources." The Post meanwhile, attributes details of the changes to unnamed "congressional and department officials." TP tends to think readers are not well-served by such usually spin-heavy previews. But it's worth noting that both USAT and the Post contacted outside analysts who praised the coming changes. DHS's former inspector general told USAT he "could not agree more with [the newly proposed] threat-based, risk-based, consequence-based approach."

Rove with Bush Jr.The LAT, WP, and NYT go Page One with l'affaire Rove, seen here with President Bush, left. As the Journal emphasizes, the White House's continued to stand by Rove, gingerly. "Any individual who works here at the White House has the president's confidence," said spokesman Scott McClellan. Slate's Tim Noah read that and started a Rove Death Watch. President Bush had said he would fire anybody involved in the leak ("of classified information"). Asked yesterday what he plans to do with Rove, the president stayed mum.

The WP's Rove-ing dispatch focuses on the GOP circling the wagons. RNC chief Ken Melham described Democratic criticism of Rove as a "partisan smear campaign." That's one item in a list of talking points Republicans sent out defending Rove. Brainstorm: If the papers have the talking points, why not publish them, probably on the Web, with fact-based annotations?

The WP and NYT reefer South Korea offering big carrots to North Korea--in the form of electricity--for Pyongyang to give up its nukes program. The U.S. seems to be on board.

AbbasEverybody mentions the Palestinian suicide bomber who hit the costal town of Netanya, killing three people at a mall and wounding 30. (The NYT says just two people were killed.) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, offered a particularly strong condemnation, calling those behind the attack "traitors."

The NYT off-leads what seems to be an administration-delivered preview of the latest budget numbers, which show the estimated deficit shrinking by nearly $100 billion from projections earlier this year, thanks largely to a jump in corporate income. Though the Times goes big with the shrinkage, it also notes up high that analysts think the decline will be short-lived, particularly if the White House's tax cuts are made permanent as Bush has called for. On Monday, the Times' Paul Krugman offered a "pre-emptive debunking" of the coming spin.

The Journal adds inside that the Senate is pushing past some White House-backed domestic spending caps.

The NYT reefers the death of 10 Sunnis--suspected insurgents--who suffocated after being locked inside a sweltering van by Iraqi commandos. Doctors said the men, who had been taken from a hospital, also showed signs of torture. As the NYT notes, Iraqi police and particularly commandos have a habit of abuse.

Ring any bells? ... From the LAT:

It was in George H.W. Bush's second presidential campaign that Rove got into hot water with his employer. Rove was fired from the 1992 reelection team because of suspicions that he had leaked information [...] to columnist Robert Novak.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine's Today's Papers column, "Crucial Leeds."


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

AAS: DeLay henchman to face money-laundering charge

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DeLay henchmen Ellis & ColyandroJim Ellis, left, and John Colyandro leave State District Judge Bob Perkins' courtroom Tuesday after the judge ruled that the pair should stand trial on felony charges of money laundering.
 
By Laylan Copelin

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

(Austin) State District Judge Bob Perkins today said he believes two officials with Texans for a Republican Majority should stand trial on felony charges of money laundering.

The judge ruled that the state election code is constitutional and said he disagreed with arguments that the money-laundering charges had to refer to "cash" instead of a $190,000 check that the pair is accused laundering during the 2002 legislative elections.

Perkins, a Democrat who must run for office, referred to his own fundraisers: "All the funds I ever received were checks. In my opinion, funds would include checks."

Although Perkins was clear on what he thought the law was, the results of the hearing were muddled because he ruled in the case against John Colyandro, the executive director of TRMPAC, but withheld a ruling in the case against political consultant Jim Ellis, at the request of Ellis' lawyers.

Colyandro will get another pre-trial hearing July 27 but his lawyer, Joe Turner, said they would immediately be appealing this morning's ruling.

Meanwhile, Ellis will return to court Aug. 9 for another hearing before the judge rules in his case.

The follow-up hearings are required because a Travis County grand jury last week re-indicted the pair on the money laundering charges after the defense objected that the original indictment referred to a check instead of cash. The defense lawyers contend the state's money-laundering statute refers only to cash transactions.

It is the second time in as many months that a judge has found the state law constitutional, but the first time a defendant has been ordered to face trial on criminal charges arising from the use of corporate contributions during the 2002 legislative elections.

Colyandro, the political action committee's executive director, also faces trial on 13 counts of unlawfully accepting corporate donations.

During the 2002 elections, Texans for a Republican Majority, a political committee created by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, spent about $600,000 in corporate money on fundraisers and to pay for pollsters and phone banks.

State law generally prohibits spending corporate money on campaign activity, but the defendants' lawyers argue that the corporate money was not used to advocate the election or defeat of any candidates.

Full Austin American-Statesman story, "GOP operative should stand trial for money-laundering - Judge makes first ruling in corporate cash case."


 

CT: Conservatives in bind over Gonzales

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Christianity Today online says conservatives are inconsistent on their opposition to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a candidate for US Supreme Court:

As a judge, Gonzales has one big strike against him: allowing a Texas minor to receive an abortion without parental notification.

The irony for many pro-life conservatives is that Gonzales's concurring opinion in that case is largely devoted to defending the originalism [actually "strict constructionism"] that they say they want in a Supreme Court justice.

Gonzales begins his opinion by denying that it reflects his views on abortion. "It has been suggested that the Court's decisions are motivated by personal ideology," he complains.

To the contrary, every member of this Court agrees that the duty of a judge is to follow the law as written by the Legislature. This case is no different. The Court's decision is based on the language of the Parental Notification Act as written by the Legislature and on established rules of construction. Any suggestion that something else is going on is simply wrong.
Legislative intent is the polestar of statutory construction. Our role as judges requires that we put aside our own personal views of what we might like to see enacted, and instead do our best to discern what the Legislature actually intended. We take the words of the statute as the surest guide to legislative intent. Once we discern the Legislature's intent we must put it into effect, even if we ourselves might have made different policy choices.

The Texas parental notification law, Gonzales wrote, contained significant exceptions. All a girl has to do to avoid telling her parents of her abortion is to show that she's "mature and sufficiently well informed to make the decision," that telling her parents "would not be in [her] best interest, or that such notification might lead to abuse of some kind."

If minors take advantage of those exceptions, it's the legislature's job to close the loopholes, not the court's, Gonzales wrote. "To construe the Parental Notification Act so narrowly as to eliminate bypasses, or to create hurdles that simply are not to be found in the words of the statute, would be an unconscionable act of judicial activism. As a judge, I hold the rights of parents to protect and guide the education, safety, health, and development of their children as one of the most important rights in our society. But I cannot rewrite the statute to make parental rights absolute, or virtually absolute, particularly when, as here, the Legislature has elected not to do so."

(Note, by the way, that the phrase "unconscionable act of judicial activism" does not refer to fellow Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, recently confirmed to the 5th District US Court of Appeals, or to her dissent, as some have claimed.)

This case, No. 00-0224 In Re Jane Doe, was messy. And certainly Owen's dissent--which did not challenge Roe v. Wade--was principled and focused on "strictly a legal issue," rather than personal biases. [This is highly debatable. -D.H.]

But what can be said about Gonzales? That he's a judicial activist akin to O'Connor or David Souter? That he's soft on abortion? That he, as one right-wing online publisher wrote, "would be a disaster. Might as well let the American Civil Liberties Union name the next justice"?

No: What can be said is that he's really into the separation of powers and eager to interpret the law as it was written, not as the latest fads of legal theorists dictate. [Unless the president wants to stretch the law on something like the Geneva Convention, of course. -D.H.]

"There are no litmus tests for judicial candidates," Gonzales told the Los Angeles Times in 2001. "My own personal feelings about [abortion] don't matter. ... The question is, what is the law, what is the precedent, what is binding in rendering your decision. Sometimes, interpreting a statute, you may have to uphold a statute that you may find personally offensive. But as a judge, that's your job."

Now, there are many pro-life activists who say he's wrong. Among them is American Life League president Judie Brown, who says life takes precedence over the rule of law. "Gonzales's position is clear: The personhood of the pre-born human being is secondary to technical points of law, and that is a deadly perspective for anyone to take," she wrote to supporters. By supporting Gonzales, Brown said, Bush is "betraying the babies."

But Dobson and others have taken a very different tack than Brown. They have not made abortion the issue. They have made originalism [again, actually "strict constructionism". I've not seen any indication that Dr. Dobson is aware of "originalism." -D.H.] vs. judicial activism the issue. Which puts them in a bind.

'Judgments in conformity with the laws'
The Jane Doe case isn't the only item making pro-lifers nervous about Gonzales. There's also this reported
2004 exchange with anti-abortion activist C.J. Willkie:

Q: Judge Gonzales, we're hearing conflicting reports about your position on abortion. Can you tell us where you stand?
A: As a judge, I have to make judgments in conformity with the laws of our nation.
Q: Would you say that, regarding Roe v. Wade, stare decisis would be governing here?
A: Yes. As a judge, I have to make judgments in conformity with the laws of our nation. ...
Q: Judge Gonzales, it's well known that the Clinton administration had a very clear and consistent litmus test in regard to judicial nominations. If that person was not pro-abortion, they were not nominated. In light of this, do you ask your nominees what their position is on abortion?
A: No, we do not. We judge them on a very broad basis of conservatism and constitutional construction.
Q: Many of us feel that the Constitution does not speak to permissive abortion. Would you comment?
A: The Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is.

Now, some claim that that final sentence (if Gonzales said it and said it as bluntly as that) is evidence that he is a judicial activist. [This is an absurd conclusion. The notion that the constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is goes back to Marbury v. Madison (1803), which a broad spectrum of liberal and conservative lawyers and judges agree with. It certainly does not make one a "judicial activist." -D.H.] That's utterly irreconcilable with his judicial writings, such as the Jane Doe case. In any case, the comments are open to interpretation and do not mean that Gonzales would vote to uphold Roe v. Wade.

In fact, Gonzales says, he stands on this point precisely where his predecessor, John Ashcroft, did--as current Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution, Roe v. Wade should be enforced as law.

"You need to be careful about disregarding precedent," he told The Washington Post in Saturday's edition. "There are dangers in doing that. There are subtle expectations that arise, as a result of years of precedent, that I think should only be ignored under exceptional circumstances. And I am willing to concede that there are exceptional circumstances. ... But I think we have to be very careful."

A way out
Religious conservatives have to be very careful, too. Opposing Gonzales merely because his views on abortion are unknown could seem capricious or hypocritical, especially if you've been critical of "judicial activists" making decisions on personal bias. (The
judicial campaign of Family Research Council, which opposes a Gonzales nomination, is so far centered on making sure a Supreme Court nominee doesn't have to declare his or her views on abortion.)

Full Christianity Today article, "Is Gonzales Pro-Life? Does it Matter?"

D.H.: I've been saying for some time that right-wing Christian activists are meeting themselves coming back on this business of "strict constructionism." If a judge "strictly follows the law," then he/she is stuck with Roe v. Wade. If a judge is an "originalist," like Justice Scalia, then who knows what he/she would "go back" to, and this "originalist" position puts in doubt the federal courts' power to interpret the constitution and declare acts of Congress unconstitutional, as has been the law since 1803. See my piece, "Conservative Strict Constructionism Will Backfire."

-Dave Haigler, Abilene, Tx - Taylor County Democratic Chair - http://demlog.blogspot.com.


 

Reuters: Bush consults with senators on court prospects

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush heard the views of Senate leaders on Tuesday on who he should pick for a Supreme Court nominee and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he believed Bush would seek a "consensus candidate."

Frist, Specter, Leahy & ReidBush met at the White House Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, (pictured at right, left to right) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the committee's top Democrat, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, and Reid of Nevada.

Bush has been reviewing background material and the legal opinions of more than half a dozen potential candidates to the Supreme Court and appears unlikely to make an announcement on who he wants to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor until toward the end of the month.

"I feel comfortable and good that we're going to be able to have someone that is a consensus candidate," Reid told reporters after the meeting, while noting that, "We have a long way to go."

Reid said names were discussed but declined to name any. He said Bush promised more consultations, and that he hoped Bush would make an announcement in the next couple of weeks.

Democrats want Bush to appoint a moderate like O'Connor, who was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan and was often a swing vote between the court's conservative and liberal wings.

Conservatives want Bush to use the opportunity to shift the court's majority firmly to the right.

Full Reuters story, "Bush, senators discuss names for Supreme Court job."


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