.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

 

Spier: Senator Eugene McCarthy dies at 89

Gene McCarthy, left--Minnesota Senator, poet, teacher and the presidential candidate who brought down Lyndon Johnson, died today in Washington at the age of 89. Baby boomers in big numbers rallied around Gene McCarthy in 1968 and helped him win the New Hampshire Democratic primay. Lyndon Johnson soon afterwards announced that he would not run for another term.

Like Ernest Gruening of Alaska, Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, G. William Fullbright of Arkansas, and Wayne Morse of Oregon, McCarthy went sour on Viet Nam long before most Americans. Unlike the slow-witted opportunists of both parties that inhabit Capital Hill nowadays, these men stood out for their intellectual gifts, unambiguous commitments and gifts of leadership.

-Bill Spier

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TN: The Torture Administration

Anthony LewisBy Anthony Lewis, left - The Nation - December 26, 2005 issue
 
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Goethe and Beethoven. Would the people of other societies as readily accept tyranny? Sinclair Lewis, in 1935, imagined Americans turning to dictatorship under the pressures of economic distress in the Depression. He called his novel, ironically, It Can't Happen Here.

Hannah Arendt and many others have stripped us, since then, of confidence that people will resist evil in times of fear. When Serbs and Rwandan Hutus were told that they were threatened, they slaughtered their neighbors. Lately Philip Roth was plausible enough when he imagined anti-Semitism surging after an isolationist America elected Charles Lindbergh as President in 1940.

But it still comes as a shock to discover that American leaders will open the way for the torture of prisoners, that lawyers will invent justifications for it, that the President of the United States will strenuously resist legislation prohibiting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners--and that much of the American public will be indifferent to what is being done in its name.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib, first shown to the public on April 28, 2004, evoked a powerful reaction. Americans were outraged when they saw grinning US soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners. But it was seeing the mistreatment that produced the outrage, or so we must now conclude. Since then the Bush Administration and its lawyers have prevented the release of any more photographs or videotapes. And the public has not reacted similarly to the disclosure, without pictures, of worse actions, including murder.

The American Civil Liberties Union released documents on forty-four deaths of prisoners in US custody, twenty-one of them officially classified as homicides. For example, an Iraqi prisoner died while being interrogated in 2004. He had been deprived of sleep, exposed to extreme temperatures, doused with cold water and kept hooded. The official report said hypothermia may have contributed to his death.

Writing recently in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer described the killing of an Iraqi prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, in Abu Ghraib in 2003. His head was covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a position that led to his asphyxiation. The death was classified as a homicide. But so far no charges have been brought by the Justice Department against the man who had custody of the prisoner, a CIA officer named Mark Swanner.

In addition to murder and torture, humiliation and indignity have been widely used as aids to interrogation. Time quoted at length earlier this year from the official log of how one prisoner in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was interrogated. Over a period of weeks he was questioned for as long as twenty hours at a stretch, forbidden to urinate until finally he "went" on himself, made to bark like a dog. His treatment was an exercise in humiliation. Other reports have described prisoners chained hand and foot to the floor for twenty-four hours, until they urinated and defecated on themselves.

Several provisions of law forbid not only torture but humiliation of prisoners. The Geneva Conventions prohibit "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating or degrading treatment" of war captives. The UN Convention Against Torture condemns "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment"--and Congress enforced the provisions of the convention in a criminal statute. The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes cruelty, oppression or "maltreatment" of prisoners by US forces a crime.

Then how can it be that hundreds of Americans, at a modest estimate, have been involved in the tormenting of prisoners, using the "waterboard" technique to bring them to the brink of drowning, beating them or worse? The answer is that the cue for these outrages came from the top of the American government.

Source:  The Nation magazinePage 2 of 4 of this full article. 

Biographical sketch from Stanford University on Anthony Lewis.  According to Wikipedia, he is married to Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, who was formerly the General Counsel and Vice-President at Harvard University. She wrote the majority opinion of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health which legalized gay marriage in the state of Massachusetts.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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AP: Hostage deadline passes with no word - Dec. 10

By ELENA BECATOROS, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 27 minutes ago
 
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Kidnappers holding four Westerners made no contact with Iraqi authorities on Saturday, the day they had set as a deadline to kill the Christian peace activists unless U.S. and Iraqi authorities release all prisoners, the interior ministry said.

The ministry had received no information about the four Christian activists by late morning Saturday, a spokesman said. He asked that his name not be used due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Members of the Anglican Peace Fellowship hold candles during a silent vigil for British hostage Norman Kember, currently being held in Iraq,  in the centre of Peterborough, England, Thursday Dec. 8 2005.(AP Photo/Chris Radburn-pa)Meanwhile, members of the Anglican Peace Fellowship, right, hold candles during a silent vigil for British hostage Norman Kember, currently being held in Iraq, in the centre of Peterborough, England, Thursday Dec. 8 2005.  (AP Photo/Chris Radburn-pa)

The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigade set Saturday as a deadline for killing Norman Kember, 74, of London, Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

The group seized the four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams two weeks ago. It first set a Thursday deadline but then extended it until Saturday, without setting a precise hour.

On Friday, Sunni Arab clerics used their main weekly religious service to plead for the hostages' lives because of their humanitarian work and condemnation of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"We ask those who have authority and power to do their best to release the four European people who work in Christian peace organization," cleric Ahmed Hassan Taha told worshippers in Baghdad's Sunni stronghold Azamiyah. "In fact those activists were the first who condemned the war on Iraq."

Residents gathered outside the mosque held aloft banners demanding their release.

"The people of Azamiyah will not forget the honest positions of the peacemakers," read one. Another said "we demand the release of the abducted peacemakers."

The Canadian Islamic Congress to Iraq also sent an envoy, Ehab Lotayef, to try to win the activists' release.

A French aid worker and a German citizen are also being held by kidnappers. There was no word early Saturday on the fate of an American hostage, Ronald Allen Schulz, after an Internet statement in the name of the Islamic Army in Iraq claimed his abductors had killed him.

Iraqi officials believe the revival of foreigner kidnappings may be part of a bid to undermine Dec. 15 elections, in which Iraqis will choose a parliament to serve for four years.

U.S. officials hope a big turnout among the Sunni Arab minority, the foundation of the insurgency, will help quell the violence so that American and other foreign troops can begin to go home next year.

In a statement Friday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called on Iraq's political parties to condemn all attempts at voter intimidation.

"The Iraqis deserve an election that is free from intimidation and violence," he said in a statement. "Iraqi citizens will stand up to those who would intimidate them and vote for those who can bring them a better future."

Source:  AP-Yahoo News.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Friday, December 09, 2005

 

AP: Plame quits CIA - Dec. 9

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 35 minutes ago

Valerie Plame pulls out of her driveway on her way to work on Friday, Dec. 9, 2005 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)WASHINGTON - Valerie Plame, left, the CIA officer whose exposure led to a criminal investigation of the Bush White House, spent her last day at the spy agency Friday.

Neither the agency nor Plame's husband would confirm her departure, but two people who have known Plame for a number of years confirmed she was leaving.

Married to Bush administration critic and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame was working at agency headquarters in Langley, Va., in 2003 when her CIA status was disclosed by conservative columnist Robert Novak. That triggered a probe that led to the recent indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.

Plame had served for many years at overseas postings for the CIA, and her employment remained classified when she took a headquarters desk job, traveling overseas periodically.

She was an employee in the CIA's Counterproliferation Division.

"Her career was arbitrarily and whimsically destroyed by a mean political trick," said Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.

Plame's CIA connection was disclosed eight days after her husband accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

In the preface to the paperback edition of his book, "The Politics of Truth," Wilson says that he and his wife were the focus of a "Republican smear machine."

Deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, remains under investigation in the Plame probe. Libby, who resigned from the government the day of his indictment, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.

Plame has been cast by Bush administration defenders as "just a desk jockey at the CIA, someone who wasn't really undercover and a manipulative Mata Hari who aspired to bring down the Bush administration. All of that is false," said former CIA officer Larry Johnson, a friend of Plame. "At the end of the day, she was betrayed by her own government and they show no signs of remorse."

Source:  AP-Yahoo News.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

DeLay's judge says to cool heels 'til after Xmas for trial

05:36 PM CST on Thursday, December 8, 2005 - Associated Press

AUSTIN - A state district judge told Rep. Tom DeLay's lawyers that he won't schedule hearings on DeLay's money laundering and conspiracy case until after Christmas, a blow to defense efforts to give the former House majority leader more time to reclaim his powerful post.

In a letter to DeLay's attorneys on Wednesday, Senior Judge Pat Priest said he'll be working on other cases and won't be available until Dec. 27 to take up pending motions in DeLay's case stemming from a 2002 campaign finance scheme.

Dick DeGuerinDeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin, right, had also asked Priest to tentatively schedule a trial for the first or second week of January. Priest wrote that a trial date depends on whether the state appeals his decision earlier this week to dismiss another conspiracy charge and would not commit to a January trial. An appeal would delay the case.

"I am fine with setting up the pending pretrial motions for the week between Christmas and New Year's, and with planning a trial setting early next year, but I cannot require the state not to appeal my ruling," Priest wrote.

The charges against DeLay could still be thrown out if Priest agrees with the defense's claims of prosecutorial misconduct by the Travis County district attorney. Those arguments will be heard at the next court hearing.

DeLay, 58, along with GOP fundraisers Colyandro and Ellis, are accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to 2002 legislative candidates in Texas. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be directly used for political campaigns, only administrative purposes.

DeLayDeLay, left, who maintains his innocence, seeks a quick resolution of the charges so that he can regain his post as House majority leader. House Republican rules prevent him from serving in the seat while the indictments are pending.

Priest also indicated DeLay will have to share a trial with Ellis and Colyandro. Defense attorneys wanted the cases separated, and Ellis and Colyandro wanted later trials so their attorneys would have more time to try and persuade an appeals courts to dismiss the charges.

Source: AP-Dallas News.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AFP: US rejects Red Cross demand for access to all terror suspects - Dec. 9

42 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States rejected a fresh call by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for full access to terror suspects, saying some of those detained were "exceptional" and posed "unique threats" to US security.

The ICRC on Friday sought access to all detainees held by the United States in the campaign against terror groups, including those allegedly held in "secret prisons" abroad.

The group is at present allowed to visit detainees held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shown below right, under an internationally recognized legal mandate to oversee the fair treatment of detainees captured in conflicts.

A soldier walks through a gate at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Naval Base, in Guantanamo, Cuba. The United States rejected a fresh call by the International Committee of the Red Cross for full access to terror suspects, saying some of those detained were 'exceptional' and posed 'unique threats' to US security.(AFP/Pool/File/Mark Wilson)But recent reports by human rights groups have alleged that the United States is holding more detainees in "secret prisons" abroad.

The Geneva-based ICRC made the request for full access one day after comments by a senior US State Department official indicating that the humanitarian agency could not have access to the full range of detainees.

"The Geneva Conventions covers prisoners of war. The people that were being held and that we're talking about are not prisoners of war, so they are not covered by the Geneva Conventions," Adam Ereli, deputy State Department spokesman, told reporters.

"They are Al-Qaeda, they are terrorists," he said. "For a variety of legal reasons and by a variety of legal definitions they do not qualify as prisoners of war."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Broder's View: Unfortunately, the House is beyond embarrassment

by David Broder of the Washington Post, photo at right

If the House of Representatives were a person, it would be blushing these days. Unfortunately, the House is beyond embarrassment.

Its once (and maybe future) majority leader, Tom DeLay, is under indictment on money-laundering charges in Texas. One of its more colorful members, Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, resigned last week after pleading guilty to shaking down lobbyists for $2.4 million in cash and gifts.

DeLay's former press secretary, lobbyist Michael Scanlon, has copped a plea and is busy explaining to federal prosecutors how he funneled money to perhaps half a dozen other compliant members of the House. Scanlon's former partner, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is at the center of separate investigations that could implicate still other legislators of both parties.

And in the midst of all these shenanigans, the House staged a mock debate about the legitimate issue of American troops in Iraq that was as uncouth as it was unproductive.

Alumni of the House - men and women of both parties - will tell you that they are appalled or nauseated by what has happened there. I ran into a former member of the GOP leadership in a downtown restaurant last week who said, "I'm so thankful I got out when I did."

The place needs a good scrubbing, and that is what it would get if the leadership were somehow to embrace a set of rule changes put forward this week by several longtime members. But because the authors are Democrats - and, in some cases, liberal as well - the receptivity of the Republicans managing the House is not likely to be great.

The four congressmen involved - Reps. David Obey of Wisconsin, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, David Price of North Carolina and Tom Allen of Maine - held a news conference on Monday at the Center for American Progress to introduce their 14-point plan. It is strong medicine - a stiff enough dose of salts that even a watered-down version would mark a major change in the ethical environment of Capitol Hill.

On the lobbying front, for example, it would bar any reimbursed travel by a member of the House or its staff unless that person could certify in writing that no lobbyists were invited on the trip, no lobbyists attended the meetings, and whoever sponsored the gathering does not lobby or pay for lobbying.

It would also require former members who exercise their prerogative of visiting the floor of the House while it is in session to guarantee that the House is not debating a subject on which they have a financial interest, and the alumni will not advocate for or against any matter during the visit.

It cracks down on some of the favorite devices that Republicans have used to stifle genuine debate and deliberation in the House. To end the practice of lengthy roll calls - some as long as three hours - during which Republican arms are twisted to produce party-line victories, the rule would limit voting on any bill or amendment to 20 minutes, unless the leaders of both parties agreed to extend the time.

It would halt the spread of "earmarks," the spending targeted to individual projects in members' districts, which are used to punish dissenters or reward reluctant supporters, thereby enforcing party discipline on bigger bills. And it would strike a further blow for budgetary sanity by requiring that reconciliation bills - the end-of-the-line spending measures - must be tailored to reduce the budget deficit, not increase it, except by two-thirds vote of the House.

Finally, it would put teeth into two rules now often ignored by the majority party: It would require that printed copies of all bills be available at least 24 hours before they are called up for a vote, and it would insist that conference committees of the House and Senate actually meet and vote in open session, rather than having brief pro forma gatherings and then turning everything over to staff members or leadership aides to be negotiated in secret.

As I said, this is strong medicine. At the briefing, Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution, a scholar of Congress, asked the right question when he wondered if the Democrats would actually adhere to such requirements if they became the House majority in a future election. Price said the requirements would be endorsed by the Democratic caucus and become part of the permanent rules. Frank added that the press would not allow the Democrats to backslide.

The Democrats' record during their 40-year reign in the House gives reason for skepticism. But something must be done to cleanse the House - and this points the way.

David Broder is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.

Terry's Comment: I never thought I would ever be submitting a post of something David Broder wrote. When Conservative Pundits like Broder get down on the Republicans, it should be obvious to the world that the "party of Lincoln" is on the way to the other side of the Delaware River.

Submitted by Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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DK: Bush clueless about Iraq factions before invasion

From Daily Kos blog last night:
 
Bush did NOT know there was difference between Sunni & Shiite Muslims until Jan '03

In case you missed it like me, here's more proof our president is in over Ambassador Peter Galbraithhis head, a national security risk. According to Peter Galbraith, left, former U.S. diplomat, on a Channel 4 special aired Nov 21, Bush didn't know there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims as late as January 2003. The report (link to video at the Dossier below) has a lot more ...here's the part where Bush shows again how in over his head he really is.

Oborne: I traveled to Boston to meet a former U.S. diplomat who had been a leading authority on Iraq for over a decade. A chance remark made just two months before the war, hinted at how the complexities of Iraq had bewildered Americans at the highest levels.

Ambassador Peter Galbraith - former U.S. diplomat: January 2003 the President invited three members of the Iraqi opposition to join him to watch the Super Bowl. In the course of the conversation the Iraqis realized that the President was not aware that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. He looked at them and said, "You mean...they're not, you know, there, there's this difference. What is it about?"

Continuing with Galbraith:

For the United States to launch a war where the president is not aware of this very fundamental difference between Sunni and Shiite Arabs is really stunning. It's a bit like the U.S. president intervening in Ireland and being unaware that there are two schools of Christianity - Catholics and Protestants. -snip-

Oborne: It's perfectly clear that neither Tony Blair here in London or George Bush in Washington had the faintest idea what to do after the invasion of Iraq.

Video of the report from the Dossier

From Channel 4 Dispatches: Iraq: the Reckoning Peter Oborne, political editor of the Spectator, reports on the West's exit strategy for Iraq. He believes the invasion of Iraq is proving to be the greatest foreign policy failure since Munich. Oborne argues that the plan to transform Iraq into a unified liberal democracy, a beacon of hope in the Middle East, is pure fantasy. Reporting on location with US troops in Sadr City, and through interviews with leading figures in Britain and the US, Oborne argues that the coalition and its forces on the ground are increasingly irrelevant in determining the future of Iraq - a future that's unlikely to be either unified, liberal or democratic.

Source:  Daily Kos blog.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Barhorst: Friday Morning Musings.

A few days ago AP, LA times, Washington Post, etc. were all stating the “Conspiracy charge against Tom Delay has been thrown out” They then would say, “the money laundering charge still stands.”

I was hollering my head off that this was misleading. That two charges, conspiracy and money laundering , were still in place.

Yesterday, DeLay’s Lawyers asked that the two remaining charges be split.

Suddenly, the media has caught on that it was the “conspiracy to break Texas election laws” that was thrown out and not the “conspiracy to launder money” charge that stands with the “money laundering“ charge.

* * *
Last night, Karen Hughes and Charlie Rose played soft ball and compliments. You would have to believe that Bush walked on water to accept all the praise they heaped on him. I guess Charlie is afraid he will get the same treatment as Moyers and some producers if the rightwing nuts see him as too liberal to be supported by “their tax money.”

* * *
On the local news programs the TXDOT representatives sounded like employees of FEMA when explaining why the “ready to go” sand trucks were so late in starting they got stuck in traffic caused by the ice on Interstate 35 . 800 ice related traffic accidents later they were still trying to explain—shades of Katrina!

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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Slate-Papers: Ad-Libi - Dec. 9

By Eric Umansky - Posted Friday at 5:43 AM ET

The New York Times leads with a piece detailing how in 2002 an al-Qaida suspect "fabricated" claims of connections between Iraq and AQ after he had been sent by the U.S. to Egypt and was at least afraid he would be tortured. [DemLog blogged this story this morning here.]  Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi's comments, which he later recanted, were the main "evidence" for the White House's assertion of AQ-Saddam links. His bogus confession—which a U.S. intel agency flagged as likely B.S. back in 2002—and its connection to possible torture has been written about before. But until now it hadn't been known that he offered his false-nothings in Egypt. The Los Angeles Times leads with GOP House and Senate negotiators agreeing to renew the Patriot Act. [DemLog blogged this story yesterday here.]  Most of the law will be made permanent while its two most controversial provisions—one for poking around libraries and the other for expanded wiretap powers—will get a four year lease. The deal appears to be nearly the same one heralded a few weeks ago. Presumably that's why the other papers don't give it frontpage play. Also, the deal is projected to go to a vote next week, but there's a solid chance of a filibuster led by Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, below left.

Sen. FeingoldUSA Today leads with what it portrays as a new angle in the military's habit of paying Iraqi journalists for play: Some reporters were paid via the "Baghdad Press Club," which was created and funded by the U.S. USAT, though, isn't clear: Was the club's U.S. funding publicly acknowledged? If so, the funding wasn't the problem, it's what it was used to buy: fluffy stories.  For what it's worth, a Pentagon press release described the club last year not as a U.S. creation exactly but rather as "a group of prominent print, television and radio media from Baghdad." Finally, Knight Ridder looked at the press club a few weeks ago. (And no, its coverage wasn't clear on that point either.) The Washington Post top non-local story goes to New Orleans' Tulane University announcing it will lay off 230 faculty members and cut its budget by $100 million. Doing a heckuva (spin) job, the school's president described the cutbacks as "a win-win," explaining, "What we are offering is a first-rate education and the opportunity to be a part of the biggest recovery in the last 100 years."

The papers all go inside with a suicide bomber killing about two dozen Iraqis on a bus in Baghdad bound for the mostly Shiite city of Nasiriya. Also, an insurgent Web site claimed to have executed an American contractor; though it didn't name him, the group earlier showed footage of abducted contractor Ronald Schulz.

In a piece TP missed yesterday, the WP saw signs that Iraqis are far more engaged and savvy about the coming vote than they were around January's elections. "It is like night and day from 10 months ago in terms of level of participation and political awareness," said a Canadian election specialist.

The NYT looks at the possibility that the Shiite super-coalition in Iraq might break apart: "There has been a palpable drop in support among moderate voters and the leading ayatollahs, who are disenchanted with the performance of the current Shiite government." If there's a break-up, U.S.-favored secular parties could gain.

The WP fronts word that the military is investigating a video posted on the Web that appears to show security contractors in Iraq shooting civilian cars. The Post quotes Iraqis complaining about trigger-happy contractors. What the Post doesn't explain is the larger context. As Slate has detailed, contractors operate in a legal grey zone, exempt from Iraqi law as well as military codes.  

The WP goes inside with FEMA's second-ranking official in Louisiana going off-the-reservation and complaining about the government's plan spend a few billion dollars building trailer homes. He agreed with experts on all sides who have been arguing that the money would be better spent on vouchers or simply cash to evacuees. "Temporary housing is not cost effective or customer-oriented," said the official. 

Everybody mentions that Britain's top court ruled that evidence gained through torture is verboten in U.K. courts.

The NYT and WP go inside European ministers having din-din with Secretary of State Rice, after which many, as the Post puts it, said they "were satisfied with Rice's explanations" of U.S. detainee policy. As the NYT emphasizes and the WP continues, oddly, to deny, Rice has not announced new policies nor has she categorically denied that the U.S. uses cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. But if Condi didn't change policy, why were some Europeans expressing "satisfaction"? The papers don't really answer that. This TPer's theory: It's Kabuki theatre tush-covering.

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

NYT: Prewar torture led to lies justifying Iraq war - Dec. 9

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced.

A government official said that some intelligence provided by Mr. Libi about Al Qaeda had been accurate, and that Mr. Libi's claims that he had been treated harshly in Egyptian custody had not been corroborated.

A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report issued in February 2002 that expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility on questions related to Iraq and Al Qaeda was based in part on the knowledge that he was no longer in American custody when he made the detailed statements, and that he might have been subjected to harsh treatment, the officials said. They said the C.I.A.'s decision to withdraw the intelligence based on Mr. Libi's claims had been made because of his later assertions, beginning in January 2004, that he had fabricated them to obtain better treatment from his captors.

At the time of his capture in Pakistan in late 2001, Mr. Libi, a Libyan, was the highest-ranking Qaeda leader in American custody. A Nov. 6 report in The New York Times, citing the Defense Intelligence Agency document, said he had made the assertions about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons while in American custody.

Mr. Libi was indeed initially held by the United States military in Afghanistan, and was debriefed there by C.I.A. officers, according to the new account provided by the current and former government officials. But despite his high rank, he was transferred to Egypt for further interrogation in January 2002 because the White House had not yet provided detailed authorization for the C.I.A. to hold him.

While he made some statements about Iraq and Al Qaeda when in American custody, the officials said, it was not until after he was handed over to Egypt that he made the most specific assertions, which were later used by the Bush administration as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons.

Beginning in March 2002, with the capture of a Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah, the C.I.A. adopted a practice of maintaining custody itself of the highest-ranking captives, a practice that became the main focus of recent controversy related to detention of suspected terrorists.

The agency currently holds between two and three dozen high-ranking terrorist suspects in secret prisons around the world. Reports that the prisons have included locations in Eastern Europe have stirred intense discomfort on the continent and have dogged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, below right, during her visit there this week.

RiceMr. Libi was returned to American custody in February 2003, when he was transferred to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to the current and former government officials. He withdrew his claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda in January 2004, and his current location is not known. A C.I.A. spokesman refused Thursday to comment on Mr. Libi's case. The current and former government officials who agreed to discuss the case were granted anonymity because most details surrounding Mr. Libi's case remain classified.

Rest of this NY Times story.

Editor & Publisher Magazine disclosed this story on Nov. 5, 2005.

The Washington Post ran a story on it Aug. 1, 2004.  Apparently what's new now is that the U.S. is finally admitting that torture during the rendition in Egypt led to the lies.

The NYT ran a story on it July 31, 2004, with this same writer.  They charge for this archive, but TruthOut has this NYT reprint here.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
 

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

 

AP: Rumsfeld predicts troop drawdown, torture ban - Dec. 8

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer -- 52 minutes ago

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talks to reporters following a meeting with members of Congress on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, on the war in Iraq. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, said Thursday he expects some 20,000 U.S. troops to return home from Iraq after next week's elections, and he suggested that some of the remaining 137,000 forces could pull out next year.

"If conditions permit, we could go below that," he said in the latest administration hint of at least a modest reduction next year.

The Pentagon chief also said he believed the White House and Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., would "end up working something out" during negotiations over legislation standardizing interrogation techniques and banning mistreatment of foreign terrorism suspects in U.S. custody.

Rest of this AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

DH: Ricketts & Doan file in Demo primary - Dec. 8

Abilene - Two more candidates announced their candidacy in the Democratic primary for Taylor County today, Dr. Robert Ricketts and Judge Ronny Doan, Taylor County Chair Dave Haigler said.
 
Ricketts announcing in AbileneDr. Ricketts, left, is running against Congressman Neugebauer for U.S. Congress District 19.  He is chair of the Department of Accounting and holds an endowed chair as Professor of Taxation at Texas Tech University.  He appeared with his wife and daughter at the Abilene Democratic headquarters to an overflow crowd, and made a later announcement in Lubbock.
 
Judge Doan with gavelJudge Doan, right, is filing for re-election as Justice of the Peace in Merkel Precinct 2.  Judge Doan filed his candidate papers at Haigler's office based on voter petitions.
 
"The rejuvenation of the Democratic Party in West Texas is based on quality candidates like these," Haigler said.
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com
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Reuters: Dean says new strategy needed to win in Iraq

Dec. 8 - 21 minutes ago

DNC Chairman Howard Dean during an interview on ABC's 'This Week,' October 23, 2005. Dean said on Thursday his comment that the United States could not win the war in Iraq was reported 'a little out of context,' but a new strategy would be needed to triumph there. (Linda Spillers/ABC News/Handout/Reuters)WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Party chief Howard Dean, left, said on Thursday his comment that the United States could not win the war in Iraq was reported "a little out of context," but a new strategy would be needed to triumph there.

Dean was attacked by President George W. Bush and Republicans earlier this week for telling a Texas radio station that "the idea we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is plain wrong."

"It was a little out of context. They kind of cherry-picked that one the same way the president cherry-picked the intelligence going into Iraq," Dean told CNN.

"We can only win the war, which we have to win, if we change our strategy dramatically," he said. "We can and we have to win the war on terror. We can't do it with this approach, with this leadership the president is showing."

Democrats have offered a range of ideas on Iraq, from quick withdrawal of troops to a gradual drawdown to Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman (news, bio, voting record)'s backing of Bush.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Dean's remarks reflected the Democratic Party's problem developing an approach to Iraq.

"You have a lot of disarray and disagreement within the Democratic Party," he said. While Bush emphasized a plan for victory, he said, Democrats emphasized "immediate withdrawal of troops or artificial timetables. That's a plan for defeat."

Dean said Democrats were beginning to rally around a concept of strategic redeployment in Iraq. That plan would gradually phase out most U.S. troops over the next two years, withdraw them from urban areas and bring home National Guard forces within six months.

The idea that Democrats do not have a coherent plan for the future of Iraq was "mostly press gobbledygook," Dean said.

"The press wants to focus on the differences. The differences are pretty small, perhaps Senator Lieberman excepted," he said. "We may have some small disagreements on timing. We know the direction we're going on is a very different direction than the president."

Source: Reuters-Yahoo News.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog:
http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Congressional conference committee approves Patriot Act extension - Dec. 8

By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer -- 36 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Thursday to extend the USA Patriot Act, the government's premier anti-terrorism law, before it expires at the end of the month. But a Democratic senator threatened a filibuster to block the compromise.

Feingold"I will do everything I can, including a filibuster, to stop this Patriot Act conference report, which does not include adequate safeguards to protect our constitutional freedoms," said Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., right, who was the only senator to vote against the original version of the Patriot Act.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., below left, announced that the negotiating committee had reached an agreement that would extend for four years two of the Patriot Act's most controversial provisions — authorizing roving wiretaps and permitting secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries. Those provisions would expire in four years unless Congress acted on them again.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., discusses conference committee action on the Patriot Act during a news conference on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada intends to vote against the measure as currently drafted, according to an aide.

Feingold and five other senators from both parties issued a statement that said, "We believe this conference report will not be able to get through the Senate." They said they wouldn't support it in any form.

The other senators are Republicans Larry Craig of Idaho, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Ken Salazar of Colorado.

Feingold issued a separate statement threatening a filibuster, a stalling technique designed to block the measure from coming to a final vote.

It takes 60 senators to overcome a filibuster in the 100-member Senate.

"I don't think there will be a filibuster," Specter said. "I don't think it will succeed if there is one."

Sen. John Cornyn (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, said the deal should satisfy everyone. "This agreement both preserves the provisions that have made America safer since 9/11 and increases congressional and judicial oversight, which should alleviate the concerns of those who believe the law enforcement tools endanger civil liberties," he said.

But the American Civil Liberties Union immediately denounced the deal, calling on lawmakers to reject the legislation because it intrudes too far into the privacy of innocent Americans.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Slate-Papers: Messy Condi-meant - Dec. 8

Secretary of State RiceBy Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday at 4:20 AM ET

The Washington Post fronts the air-marshal shooting mentioned below but deems Secretary of State Rice's latest, and deeply ambiguous, comments on the U.S.'s treatment of detainees lead-worthy. Said Rice, left: "The United States' obligations under the CAT (Convention Against Torture), which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States."

The Post is alone in asserting that Rice's comments herald a significant change. Here's how the WP's coverage begins:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the United States prohibits all its personnel from using cruel or inhuman techniques in prisoner interrogations, whether inside or outside U.S. borders. Previous public statements by the Bush administration have asserted that the ban did not apply abroad.

That is obviously what Rice wanted people to hear--that U.S. personnel are prohibited from engaging in "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" anywhere. But it is not what she said. Here's the out: While Rice asserted that the U.S. abides by the "obligations" of the anti-torture treaty across the globe, the administration's legal position is that those "obligations" don't extend to the treatment of foreigners being held overseas. In other words, according to the administration's long-standing legal position, CIA interrogators in say, secret prisons in North Africa aren't bound to treat foreign prisoners humanely.

The Post wasn't the only one to have a tough time getting a read of Rice's circumlocutions. Her underlings did too. "State Department officials" in the NYT talked up her comments as "an important policy statement," with one adding that it was "a change" in policy. One of those "officials" might want to poke their head out of the door and chat with the State Department spokesman who, according to the LAT, insisted that Rice's comments simply reiterated what has already "been the U.S. policy."

The NYT and WP include suggestions that Rice's ambiguous construction was meant in part to actually push for more humane detainee policies. A "former senior American government official"--(Hello, Colin or Richard!)--told the Times that apart from trying to placate Europeans, Rice was aiming "to tie more firmly the hands" of the Justice Department, CIA, and Pentagon. Of course, that doesn't amount to a policy change, just a potential attempt at one. Unlike the Post's news section, the WP's editorial page gets it: "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not break any new ground yesterday." As even the Post's news article acknowledges, previous administration officials have (quietly) used the same line Rice did. For a second day, the NYT's Rice coverage is also worth reading; it's particularly sharp on the confusion.

One final glimpse--The WP: "RICE ACTS TO CLARIFY U.S. POLICY ON PRISONERS." The LAT's slightly different take: "RICE FAILS TO CLARIFY U.S. VIEW ON TORTURE."

The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal newsbox, and New York Times all lead with air marshals shooting and killing a passenger on a plane at Miami's airport after, officials said, the man claimed he had a bomb, ran from marshals, and then tried to reach into his bag. He was shot on the jetway. It is the first time an air marshal has fired on or near a plane in U.S. history. No bomb was found. A local TV station interviewed another passenger who heard the man's wife say he was manic depressive and hadn't taken his meds. For what it's worth, USAT reported three years ago that air marshals are "too often overworked and poorly trained to be effective."

The WP alone fronts the latest on democracy in Egypt, where there were continuing elections yesterday and

cops beat voters in some precincts. The Post describes one neighborhood where the Islamic opposition is strong and the police "prevented anyone from voting throughout the day." For what it's worth, it's actually been the freest (or least rigged) Egyptian election in memory.

The NYT unveils a poll on Page One showing President Bush's approval rating jumping five points to 40 percent. The uptick seems to be driven by the economy and perhaps gas prices. Fifty-six percent of respondents described the economy as good, up nine points from a month ago. The numbers on Iraq are still dismal, which the Times points out right at the top. But Bushthere was a small bright spot there for the president (right)--buried: "Approval of his handling of Iraq rose to 36 percent, from 32 percent in October." That's in the 21st paragraph.

The WP alone fronts three tax cuts passed by the House yesterday and another coming today that will cut about $95 billion in revenues, roughly twice the amount the GOP-led House pared from domestic programs last month in purported belt-tightening.

Good question ... One letter-writer in the NYT:

If, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claims, "we are respecting U.S. law and U.S. treaty obligations," why are the secret United States prisons secret ... and hidden from inspection by the International Red Cross? Why are they not on American soil? [And] why are suspects transferred by secret "renditions" to secret prisons in countries where torture is common?

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

 

AP: DeLay Seeks to Split Remaining Charges

By APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 32 minutes ago

AUSTIN, Texas - Rep. Tom DeLay (photo below right with wife and daughter) asked a judge Wednesday to separate the two remaining charges against him and let him to go to trial quickly on one count.

The Texas Republican is seeking a quick resolution of the charges so he can regain his post as House majority leader when Congress reconvenes in late January. House GOP rules prevent him from serving in the post as long he remains under indictment.

On Monday, Texas Judge Pat Priest on Monday dismissed one conspiracy charge against DeLay but let stand charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money. Because Priest stripped some language in the remaining conspiracy charge, that count could be tied up in the courts if prosecutors appeal.

DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin asked Judge Priest to sever the two charges and move ahead with a trial on the money laundering charge. If DeLay were to be acquitted of that charge, the conspiracy count would be moot.

DeGuerin asked that a trial be tentatively scheduled for the first or second week in January.

District Attorney Ronnie Earle has until Dec. 20 to appeal Priest's ruling.

DeLay, 58, and two GOP fundraisers are accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to 2002 candidates for the state Legislature. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be directly used for political campaigns, only administrative purposes.

The charges against DeLay could still be thrown out before a trial if Judge Priest agrees with the defense's allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Terry's comment: There you go, finally, a media outlet states that DeLay is still up on Conspiracy charges and Money Laundering charges. I just hope he doesn't grease his way out of these charges. Remember, in one way or another, you and I are paying for his defense and standard of living.

Submitted by Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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Barhorst: Victory?

If Bush’s meaning of “Victory” is to turn Iraq into a clone of the USA, it just isn’t going to happen. There is no way a country ruled overtly or covertly by an aggressive religion can become a true democracy. Eventually the religion may be suppressed by a coup d'état or an occupying army from another nation, but in those circumstances only the trappings of victory will exist.

Iraq is a “worst case” scenario of two competing and aggressive religions vying for their own goals of control with an occupying country forcing the destruction of traditional means of governing. Iraqi hearts and minds belong to Allah and no matter what propaganda is accepted from the current American administration by the citizens here in the United States, the Iraqi on the street does not accept the words of an “infidel” who presents a posture of armed force and represents an outside religion whether purposely or by accident.

In Vietnam, by accident or illegal intent, we supplied weapons to both sides of the conflict. In Iraq we supply weapons, training, and a religious reason for an insurgency against the occupier and the governmental structure that the occupying forces prop up with armed incursion into any area of the country they wish. Amongst these other problems caused by the administration, they allow missionaries to add further insult to the injuries to the Iraqi people, caused purposely or by accidental and collateral damage.

The Bush administration decries the methods the former dictator used to suppress resistance or insurgence. The Bush administration then turns a blind eye or openly supports the same kind of activities.

Nevertheless, no matter how or when our President or his acolytes speak, in their hearts both the Iraqi and the American people know from the reasoning used to start the war, that the “facts” they ask us to believe and build trust upon may have the same footing of sand. We and the Iraqi people will go on paying in blood and money. The Bush administration must begin to reason logically, rather than politically, that there is no victory in a war fought, not to liberate, but to transform a people into a psychological, religious, and governmental molding of the Bush administration’s choosing.

This whole statement is based on our own history. When the Europeans arrived on the shores of this continent they gave many reasons for war that are echoed in the words of the Bush administration. They were liberating, bringing into the modern world, and fighting the terrorism rampant amongst the indigenous peoples. Those wars went on for centuries and there never was a true and final victory only a lasting shame in many of the actions of our forefathers.

Submitted by Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats


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UKG: US defence of "rendition" makes no sense, says legal expert

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington, Tuesday December 6, 2005, The Guardian

RiceThe robust defence of rendition offered yesterday by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, right, marks the export to a European audience of a position on torture that is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for the Bush administration.

Ms Rice's arguments yesterday hinge on her insistence that rendition was a legitimate and necessary tool for the changed circumstances brought by the war on terror. "The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice," she said.

Rest of this article.  Source:  UK Guardian.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

WaPo: Dems quibble over winability in Iraq - Dec. 7

Congressional Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Dean-Polosi Antiwar Remarks


By Jim VandeHei and Shalaigh Murray - Washington Post Staff Writers - Wednesday; Page A01

Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, below left, have opened anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.

Howard DeanSeveral Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean's declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

The critics said that comment could reinforce popular perceptions that the party is weak on military matters and divert attention from the president's growing political problems on the war and other issues. "Dean's take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and unhelpful," said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean's famous election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democratic leader, have told colleagues that Pelosi's recent endorsement of a speedy withdrawal, combined with her claim that more than half of House Democrats support her position, could backfire on the party, congressional sources said.

PelosiThese sources said the two leaders have expressed worry that Pelosi, right, is playing into Bush's hands by suggesting Democrats are the party of a quick pullout -- an unpopular position in many of the most competitive House races.

"What I want Democrats to be discussing is what the president's policies have led to," Emanuel said. He added that once discussion turns to a formal timeline for troop withdrawals, "the how and when gets buried" and many voters take away only an impression that Democrats favor retreat.

MurthaPelosi last week endorsed a plan by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), left, to withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq within six months, putting her at odds with most other Democratic leaders and leading foreign policy experts in her party.

Democrats, who have not controlled the White House since 2000 and the House in more than a decade, have tried over the past year to put aside deep philosophical differences and rally behind a two-pronged strategy to return to power: Highlight the growing number of GOP scandals and score Bush's unpopular war management.

While the party is divided over the specifics of Iraq policy, most Democratic legislators are slowly coalescing around a political plan, according to lawmakers and party operatives. This would involve setting a broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops, starting with National Guard and reserve units, internationalizing the reconstruction effort, and blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan.

The aim is to provide the party enough maneuvering room to allow Democrats to adjust their position as conditions in Iraq change -- and fix public attention mostly on Bush's policies rather the details of a Democratic alternative. A new Time magazine poll found 60 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) embodies this cautious approach. He has resisted adopting a concrete Iraq policy and persuaded most Democratic senators to vote for a recent Senate resolution calling 2006 "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" and to compel the administration "to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq." While Republicans introduced the resolution, it was prompted by a Democratic plan.

Democratic Reps. Jane Harman and Ellen Tauscher, both of California, plan to push House Democrats to adopt a similar position during a closed-door meeting today that is to include debate on the Pelosi position.

Rest of this Washington Post story.

See NewsMax story saying Michael Reagan suggests Dean be "hung for treason" for his statements on Iraq.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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