Saturday, December 31, 2005


AP: Iraq deaths remain high for '05

A police man passes the spot where a roadside bomb exploded killing two police officers Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday Dec. 31, 2005. Two more U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq as the year wound down, putting the American military death toll at 841 so far, just five short of 2004's lost lives despite political progress and dogged efforts to quash the insurgency. Violence continued on Saturday. Gunmen raided a house near Iskandariyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of  Baghdad, killing five members of a Sunni family, according to police sources, and a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing two policemen, officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 34 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A policeman, left, passes the spot where a roadside bomb exploded killing two police officers Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday Dec. 31, 2005. Two more U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq as the year wound down, putting the American military death toll at 841 so far, just five short of 2004's lost lives despite political progress and dogged efforts to quash the insurgency. Violence continued on Saturday. Gunmen raided a house near Iskandariyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of  Baghdad, killing five members of a Sunni family, according to police sources, and a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing two policemen, officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Bombings and shootings killed at least 20 people across Iraq on the final day of the year Saturday, while U.S. troops shivered in the cold during a performance by an "American Idol" singer as part of New Year's Eve celebrations. The U.S. military also reported the death of an American soldier from wounds.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Happy New Year to all!
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Spier: Has Cheney Completed His Takeover of the Military?

By Bill Spier

You don't have to be one of those walking around in a tinfoil hat to suspect that Vice President Cheney is really directing the military. From the beginning of the Bush-Cheney administration the defense deputy spots were given to those close to Cheney and Rumsfeld: You know -- Feith, Wurmser, Wolfowitz, England and other bad guys. Figuring out why this is so does not challenge one's intellect too much. The Supreme Court appointed a commander-in-chief in 2000 who was the governor of Texas -- a shopping mall ribbon cutter job if there ever was one. George Bush was not a resident scholar in foreign affairs at UT when tapped for the job, but a failed businessman propped up by his daddy's friends. Once appointed president, he blew off all his daddy's advisors except for Powell (whom he pissed on), and ceded the military to the evil Dick Cheney.

Now comes the revelation in the NYT that "Military Service Chiefs Demoted In Line of Pentagon Succession". The NYT -- which saw nothing wrong in keeping mum about presidential felonies -- buried this article. But it seems that the career brass in the Pentagon have complained too much about its weakening by Rumsfeld, Cheney and their spawns. So what do Cheney & Rumsfeld do? They demote the military to a silent tier on the command structure and move up their civilian appointees. This is an historic precedent. The NYT says: "But this version of the doomsday plan moves up the top three under-secretaries, who are Rumsfeld loyalists and who previously worked for Vice President Dick Cheney when he was defense secretary.

As expected, the Times misses the real danger in all this: "The changes, announced last week, mirror the administration's new emphasis on intelligence gathering versus combat in 21st-century wars." This is nonsense. The military is in real trouble and they are now saying such. Its ranks are further and further demoralized and its veterans neglected by the administration. Cheney & Rumsfeld, however, will brook no dissension, so they pushed the military down the decision ladder. If this was South America, there would be a military coup.

There is more to this story and I will keep my ear to the ground. As of now, young Americans die daily in Iraq and their CEOs, the military chiefs, are not able to support their interests. The meeting room door was slammed shut in their faces.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


DH: Hammond filed for commissioner today

Abilene, Dec. 29 - Merkel native Bob Hammond, 54, shown below right handing his filing papers to County Chair Dave Haigler, announced his candidacy today for commissioner of Precinct 2 in Taylor County, at 11:30 a.m., at Democratic Party headquarters at 453 Pine Street.

He will face incumbent Corky Cox in the March Democratic primary election, and Democratic challenger Dwayne Tucker.

Cox is seeking a third term. Hammond has not previously run for public office.

''I have been attending virtually all Commissioners Court meetings and am very interested in county government,'' Hammond said. ''I am interested in using my business experience to keep tax rates from rising. I think there are ways that have not been utilized to keep tax rates down.''

Hammond is executive director of the Abilene Association of Independent Business Owners. He said he would step down from that position if elected commissioner.

He was formerly an owner of the Ben Franklin store in Merkel and the executive director of the Merkel Economic Development Corporation. During his tenure at MEDC, the corporation won the 1999 Texas Community Economic Development Award.

Hammond is a frequent participant in Abilene City Council meetings and Planning and Zoning meetings.

He and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Cox is a retired teacher, coach and administrator. Tucker is owner/operator of Dwayne's Dozers, a dirt contracting company.

Dave Haigler Bob Hammond
325 677-4343 669-6823

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


DH: Hailey files for state representative

Abilene, Dec. 28 - Abilene Christian University political science professor Dr. Mel Hailey today filed for Texas District 71 State Representative, he announced today at Democratic Party headquarters in Abilene, surrounded by family and friends.
Hailey, grandchildren & friendsHailey, left center, standing behind his grandchildren Benjamin & Natalie Nichols, and flanked by Nolan County Chair Mark Hampton, left, Taylor County Chair Dave Haigler, second right, and Texas Democratic Party field director Bill Brannon, right, explained why he is running for state representative.  "We can do better," Hailey said, quoting the Texas Constitution's mandate for a free public education for all children.  "The current leadership in Austin has failed us," Hailey said, pointing out that their redistricting placed Nolan County in with Taylor County, without their realizing the consequences.  "Nolan County will carry this district for us," Hailey said.
Hailey said his filing papers had been received at state party headquarters in Austin today.  "We are doing well with fund raising so far," Hailey said.
"I am not in this race to make a respectable showing for the Democrats," Hailey said.  "I'm in this race to win.  We are going to remind people who are old-time Democrats why they used to vote Democratic.  The way surrounding counties helped out with the fires in Cross Plains is a good example of West Texas values," Hailey said.  "Government is not the enemy.  The current leadership treats government as they enemy, but they are using it to gain power over us." 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


CD: Sheehan - Chickenhawks need to go

2006 - The Year the Chickenhawks Will Go Home to Roost
by Cindy Sheehan, below right (visiting with Dave Haigler at Camp Casey this past August) 

Haigler chats SheehanSince hot, hot Camp Casey in August, some amazing grass roots actions have taken place all over the country. People are starting to speak up and Congress has begun to take action against the criminal and neo-Fascist regime that tried to take over America.

From Camp Casey to Katrina to use of chemical weaponry and extraordinary rendition to illegally spying on American citizens without due process, Bushco has miserably failed our country and the world. We as Americans said "enough is enough." We sacrificed a lot when we showed up in DC and other cities around the country in the hundreds of thousands to protest against and show that we withdraw any consent to be governed by murderous thugs. We started to peacefully, but forcefully resist the notion that this government has any right to govern us when they have betrayed their offices and their sacred trusts as "defenders" of the Constitution so horribly.

This was also the year that we also began to hold such Republicans in Democratic clothing like: Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and Diane Feinstein (list is my no means all inclusive) accountable for their support of what George is doing in Iraq. When we as Democrats elect our leaders we expect them to reject and loudly repudiate the murderous and corrupt policies of this administration: not support and defend them.

There are Camp Caseys in front of Hillary's and Chuck Schumer's offices in Long Island every Friday, as well as one in front of Diane Feinstein's Los Angeles office on Fridays, also. There has been a Camp Casey in front of Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office in Dallas since August. Several protestors have been arrested in Dallas exercising their First Amendment rights. We need to let these warmongers, as well as the Republican warmongers, know that we mean business when we say "bring them home now." Set up Camp Caseys in front of your Senator's or Congress person's office if they support George in his wars of aggression.

Gold Star Families for Peace is planning many activities for the first part of 2006. I would like to give you all a heads up on them, so you can make your plans accordingly to support us and to join us if at all possible.

Rest of this Common Dreams Newsletter article, describing the upcoming events.
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


DH: Dwayne Tucker announces for Commissioner

Tucker preparing papersAbilene, Dec. 28 - Merkel businessman Jerry Dwayne Tucker, 40 (shown at right preparing candidacy papers), announced Wednesday his candidacy for Commissioner of Precinct 2 in Taylor County, and began collecting petition signatures from voters. Tucker will challenge incumbent Nowlin "Corky" Cox in the March 2006 Democratic primary election.

Tucker is currently the owner/operator of Dwayne's Dozer Service, a successful dirt construction business since 1994. An active civic leader, Dwayne has served on the boards of commissioners for both the Blair Water Supply and Merkel Housing Authority.

Tucker and his wife Cindy have one daughter, Ashley, who is a junior at Texas Tech University.

"I've lived in Merkel since I was 15 years old," Tucker said. "My goal as County Commissioner is to continue to uphold the good job that the current employees are doing and keep a good working relationship with all those employees."

Taylor County Democratic Chair Dave Haigler said, "We're happy to attract such good candidates as Dwayne Tucker. While we're proud of the job that our incumbent Corky Cox has done, we expect a good race in our primary, and may the best man for precinct two win the primary."

Haigler said he also expects a third candidate, Bob Hammond, to file for commissioner Thursday.

Dave Haigler, 325 677-4343 Dwayne Tucker, 325 665-3460
Dave@Haigler.Clearwire.net Fax: 928-5518


RNC: Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas

Courtesy of DemOkie, the Democrats of Oklahome blog, a reminder:  "Remember the so-called 'War on Christmas'," in which Bill O'Reilly says you were a rank liberal, secular, pagan, anti-Christian Democrat if you said "Happy Holidays," instead of "Merry Christmas"?
This photo taken from the RNC website:
Eat your heart out, O'Reilly, you serial lying dog (click this link for proof)!
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


NYT: Terrorist defenders to spring them over illegal wiretaps

WASHINGTON - Defense lawyers in some of the country's biggest terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the National Security Agency used illegal wiretaps against several dozen Muslim men tied to Al Qaeda.

The lawyers said in interviews that they wanted to learn whether the men were monitored by the agency and, if so, whether the government withheld critical information or misled judges and defense lawyers about how and why the men were singled out.

The expected legal challenges, in cases from Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia, add another dimension to the growing controversy over the agency's domestic surveillance program and could jeopardize some of the Bush administration's most important courtroom victories in terror cases, legal analysts say.

The question of whether the N.S.A. program was used in criminal prosecutions and whether it improperly influenced them raises "fascinating and difficult questions," said Carl W. Tobias, below left, a law professor at the University of Richmond who has studied terrorism prosecutions.

Professor Tobias"It seems to me that it would be relevant to a person's case," Professor Tobias said. "I would expect the government to say that it is highly sensitive material, but we have legal mechanisms to balance the national security needs with the rights of defendants. I think judges are very conscientious about trying to sort out these issues and balance civil liberties and national security."

While some civil rights advocates, legal experts and members of Congress have said President Bush did not have authority to order eavesdropping by the security agency without warrants, the White House and the Justice Department continued on Tuesday to defend the legality and propriety of the program.

Full New York Times article.  D.H.: You know the drill.  Under well-established "exclusionary rules," courts disallow tainted evidence, such as that gained by illegal wiretaps.  Without such tainted evidence, prosecutors often cannot make their cases and terrorists go free.  So the bottom line is, criminal activity by our president, excused in the name of protecting us, allows terrorists to go free and makes us more vulnerable.  Just like his ill-advised invasion of Iraq led to a terrorist haven there and made us more vulnerable.  The best method of homeland security would be to retire this hothead to Crawford early.

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


SPI: FISA court denials led to illegal wiretaps


WASHINGTON -- Government records show that the Bush administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret Bushfederal surveillance court when President Bush, right, decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

Full story, Seattle Post Intelligencer.

D.H.: President Bush flat-out lied about this. For the past two years, before these illegal wiretaps were exposed, Bush assured Americans that court orders were needed to tap telephones. He made remarks in one instance on April 19, 2004, in Hershey, Pennsylvania saying, "If you got a wiretap by court order -- and by the way, everything you hear about requires court order, requires there to be permission from a FISA court, for example." (AFP/File/Luke Frazza)

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


AP: Grassfires evacuate Cross Plains

By SHEILA FLYNN, Associated Press Writer - 10 minutes ago

CROSS PLAINS, Texas - Rancher Dean Dillard was able to save his 72-year-old mother's home from grass fires by soaking the land around it. But many of his neighbors weren't as lucky.

Wildfires that raced through Texas and Oklahoma Tuesday devoured scores of homes, including at least 25 in rural Cross Plains. The fires, fueled by gusty winds and a drought, were blamed for at least one death and a handful of injuries.

"It looked like we had been bombed in a big war, the whole city was on fire everywhere," said Dillard.

Early Wednesday, thick smoke still hung over the town, located about 150 miles southwest of Dallas. Roads remained blocked after the fires forced the town's 1,000 residents to evacuate.

Drought and windy conditions help set the stage for the fires, which authorities believe were mainly set by people ignoring fire bans and burning trash, shooting fireworks or tossing cigarettes on the crunchy, brown grass.

Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Traci Weaver called the wildfires the state's worst since February 1996, when 141 structures and 16,000 acres were destroyed around Poolville, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

Governor Rick PerryTexas Gov. Rick Perry, left, deployed state firefighters and issued a disaster declaration after at least 73 fires were reported burning in the northern and central parts of the state. Firefighters from at least three other states were called in to help.

In Cooke County, near the Texas-Oklahoma border, an elderly woman was killed, Traci Weaver said. No details were available.

The flames were so bad in Cross Plains that firefighters couldn't fight all the blazes at once. Dillard, a former city councilman, spent the day fighting fires with neighbors.

"Houses are just burned down that nobody could ever get to," Dillard said. "Instantly, there were 15 or 20 houses on fire at same time and no way to get around to all of them."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.  Second source: Houston Chronicle.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


AP: Bush questions control of Iraqi prisons

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer - 37 minutes ago

BushWASHINGTON, Dec. 27 - The administration of President Bush, right, suggested Tuesday that prisons in Iraq where hundreds of detainees apparently were abused were only "nominally" under the control of the central government in Baghdad.

While the central government, with U.S. help, is trying to take charge of these prisons, the Interior ministry which runs them may have its own way of doing things, suggested State Department spokesman Adam Ereli.

"The problem has clearly not been solved and the problem is widespread," Ereli said.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

D.H.: Meanwhile, the CIA is investigating itself over irregularities in its "rendition" of suspects in secret prisons worldwide. AP-Yahoo News story, "CIA Probes Renditions of Terror Suspects." Sounds to me like the pot calling the kettle black.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog:


Spier: Corporate America Getting Ready to Jettison Bush?

By Bill Spier, right

I thought I would take a week off from forcing Demlogers and other blog bloggers and blogettes from reading my rants on the way to reading real substance from great folks like Dave Haigler. But alas, I spent part of my Christmas Eve pondering an editorial by Thomas Donlin in this past weeks Barrons. I cannot link to the editorial for I don't subscribe to the weekly published by the Wall Street Journal. I steal my neighbor's paper.

And what did this editorial say? It suggested that the House Judiciary Committee investigate the President's abuse of power by using the NSA to spy on Americans. It said that "the willful disregard for the law is an impeachable offense." The corporatist weekly went on to obliquely suggest the possibility of impeachment.

Hold on a sec! Is the Wall Street Journal (Barrons owner), staunch defender of the President day in and day out, now suggesting that it is time to eat corporate America's White House flunkie? It seems this might be so, and this is big news.

It is not Focus on the Family and loons of the right who call the shots in the U.S. It is big corporations, and the WSJ is their house organ. Bush must be scaring the heck out them if the WSJ suggests that Congress pursue an inquiry into violations of the NSA. Actually, most of corporate America could care less if Americans are spied on by the government. However, they do care about capital accumulation and international reactions to U.S political policy and military adventures. Now it looks like the dunces making decisions in Washington might have gone a little too far for this amoral crowd.

I had a talk with a retired doc from West Texas* today. (Somehow he got my NY telephone number and calls me when he goes to feed his horses or shoot off his Brownings.) I think he wears one of those tinfoil hats with antennas. He thinks that Bush and his gang will get a pass like the Gipper and his spawns.

I will try to send radio signals to the Doc's tinfoil hat tonight. At 9:00 P.M. EST they will beam off the Brooklyn Bridge and head straight for West Texas. The message is: Read Barrons.

D.H.: Rumor has it the retired doc Bill refers to is his brother, the one and only Roger Spier, president of the Taylor County Democratic Club. Wonderful that siblings like these still talk to each other after all these years!

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


Slate-Papers: Iraqi election legit, despite protests

The New York Times leads with an analysis of initial Iraqi voting results, seeming to confirm what's long been obvious: There are darn few Sunnis in the army or police. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, and alone goes high with, the deadliest day in Iraq since the elections: About two dozen civilians were killed in bombings and other attacks. Also, eight members of an Iraqi SWAT team were reportedly wiped out in an hour-long battle with insurgents. And a GI was killed in Baghdad. As usual, the most comprehensive round-up of the attacks comes not from the newspapers but from blogger Juan Cole. 

The vote tally from Iraqi security forces showed just seven percent support for Sunni parties. Meanwhile, the main Kurdish party got 45 percent. Kurds are thought to make up only about 20 percent of the country, but they also have the largest militia, plenty of whom have been rebadged as army forces. Anyway the stats ring true, but don't read too much into them: The count was "preliminary" and "far from exact."

With mass protests in Iraq alleging fraud, the NYT buries what seems like a key bit of news: There doesn't seem to have been much hanky-panky. "We do think there might have been fraud in a few isolated places, but we don't see this widespread fraud people are talking about," said the U.N. top election monitor in Iraq.  The Times sticks that right up where readers are sure to spot it: the 20-th paragraph.

ChalabiA piece inside the Post emphasizes that former U.S.-favorite Ahmed Chalabi, left, doesn't appear to have gotten enough votes to earn a spot in parliament.

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


AP: 10K protest against Iraqi religious Shiite majority - Dec. 27

By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer - 40 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - More than 10,000 people backing Sunni Arab and secular Shiite politicians marched through Baghdad on Tuesday in support of a national unity government. Attacks on security forces continued, with five Iraqi police and two bystanders killed.

Officials said insurgents were trying to deepen the political turmoil surrounding the contested vote. Preliminary figures have given a big lead to the religious Shiite bloc that controls the current interim government.

The fresh violence came as three opposition groups threatened a wave of protests and civil disobedience if fraud charges are not properly investigated. The warning came from the secular Iraqi National List, headed by former Shiite Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, below left, and two Sunni Arab groups.

Former PM AllawiMore than 10,000 people, some carrying photos of Allawi, demonstrated in Baghdad in favor of a government that would give more power to Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites. Marches chanted "No Sunnis, no Shiites, yes for national unity."  Iraq's Electoral Commission said Monday that final results for the 275-seat parliament could be released in about a week.

Sunni Arab and secular Shiite factions are demanding that an international body review more than 1,500 complaints, warning they may boycott the new legislature. They also want new elections in some provinces, including Baghdad. The United Nations has rejected an outside review.

"We will resort to peaceful options, including protests, civil disobedience and a boycott of the political process until our demands are met," said Hassan Zaidan al-Lahaibi of the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Front for National Dialogue. He spoke in neighboring Jordan, where representatives of the groups have met in recent days.

The election commission considers 35 of the complaints serious enough to change some local results. But Farid Ayar, a commission official, said there was no reason to cancel the entire election.

He also said preliminary results from early votes by soldiers, hospital patients, prisoners and overseas Iraqis showed a coalition of Kurdish parties and the main Shiite religious bloc each taking about a third. Those nearly 500,000 votes were not expected to alter overall results significantly.

Preliminary results previously released gave the United Iraqi Alliance, the religious Shiite coalition dominating the current government, a big lead — but one unlikely to allow it to govern without forming a coalition with other groups.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 26, 2005


AP: Saddam's brother rejects US plea deal

By JAMAL HALABY, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 36 minutes ago

Saddam's brother, Barazan IbrahimAMMAN, Jordan, Dec. 26 - Two lawyers for Saddam Hussein said Monday that the former Iraqi president's half brother, Barazan Ibrahim, right, claims U.S. officials offered him a ranking government position in Iraq if he testified against Saddam but he rejected a deal.

Barazan Ibrahim purportedly made the claim Thursday during a closed-door hearing by the Higher Iraqi Tribunal, which is hearing war crimes charges against Saddam, Ibrahim and six other former officials.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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


WaPo: Kurtz on Bush pressuring media - Dec. 26

Washington Post Staff Writer - Monday, Page C01

President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security.

The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, would not confirm the meeting with Bush before publishing reporter Dana Priest's Nov. 2 article disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe used to interrogate terror suspects. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, would not confirm that he, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman had an Oval Office sit-down with the president on Dec. 5, 11 days before reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed that Bush had authorized eavesdropping on Americans and others within the United States without court orders.

But the meetings were confirmed by sources who have been briefed on them but are not authorized to comment because both sides had agreed to keep the sessions off the record. The White House had no comment.

"When senior administration officials raised national security questions about details in Dana's story during her reporting, at their request we met with them on more than one occasion," Downie says. "The meetings were off the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her story." At least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss, the sources said.

"This was a matter of concern for intelligence officials, and they sought to address their concerns," an intelligence official said. Some liberals criticized The Post for withholding the location of the prisons at the administration's request.

After Bush's meeting with the Times executives, first reported by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, the president assailed the paper's piece on domestic spying, calling the leak of classified information "shameful." Some liberals, meanwhile, attacked the paper for holding the story for more than a year after earlier meetings with administration officials.

"The decision to hold the story last year was mine," Keller says. "The decision to run the story last week was mine. I'm comfortable with both decisions. Beyond that, there's just no way to have a full discussion of the internal procedural twists that media writers find so fascinating without talking about what we knew, when, and how -- and that I can't do."

Some Times staffers say the story was revived in part because of concerns that Mr. Risen is publishing a book on the CIA next month that will include the disclosures. But Keller told the Los Angeles Times: "The publication was not timed to the Iraqi election, the Patriot Act debate, Jim's forthcoming book or any other event."

Rest of this Washington Post article.

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


WaPo: Powell clueless on illegal wiretaps

PowellWASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (AP) -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday supported government eavesdropping to prevent terrorism.

But Powell said a major controversy over presidential powers could have been avoided by obtaining court warrants.

Powell said that when he was in the Cabinet, he was not told that President Bush authorized a warrantless National Security Agency surveillance operation after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Full Washington Post story.

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


AP: US raids upscale Iraqi city on Christmas

By RYAN LENZ and ANTONIO CASTANEDA, Associated Press Writers - Dec 26

U.S. Air Force Ltc. Jim BarlowBEIJI, Iraq - U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jim Barlow, right, of Counce, Tennessee, wears a Santa Claus hat while piloting a C-130 cargo plane in Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005. Approximately 160,000 American troops spent Christmas in Iraq this year. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg)

U.S. Army soldiers carried out raids in dusty Iraqi towns. Military doctors treated soldiers wounded by roadside bombs. Christmas in Iraq was just another day on the front lines for the U.S. military.

Troops woke long before sunrise on a cold, rainy Christmas morning to raid an upscale neighborhood a few miles from their base. In honor of the day, they dubbed the target "Whoville," after the town in the Dr. Seuss book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Commanders said they ordered the operation because they did not know the identities of the neighborhood's residents and several roadside bombs had recently been planted near the district, which isn't far from Forward Operating Base Summerall in Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad,

U.S. patrols had never before ventured into the neighborhood, where the streets are lined with spacious homes.

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade knew they weren't going to be welcome when they arrived in the dead of night. It just made sense to nickname the target after the village raided by Seuss' Grinch on Christmas morning, they said.

"It was appropriate. I did feel like the Grinch," said Pfc. John Parkes, 31, of Cortland, N.Y., a medic in one of several groups called "quick reaction teams" that respond to roadside explosions.

The raiders broke down doors, confiscated illegal machine guns, plastic bags of ammunition and gun clips. Iraqi law allows households to own AK-47s, but with limitations.

For many soldiers in the 101st, it was their second Christmas in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The brigade, known as "Rakkasans," also raided a village on Thanksgiving morning this year.

Rest of the AP-Yahoo News story.

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


AP: US commander admits Iraqis want us out

explosion siteUS soldiers of the 1st battalion 327th infantry regiment check the spot where an Improvised Explosive Device blew up as they where driving along a country road on the outskirts of the northern city of Hawijah.

The top US military commander admitted that Iraqis wanted US and other foreign troops to leave the country "as soon as possible."

(AFP/Filippo Monteforte)

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


Slate-Papers: Wave of reiteration - Dec. 26

By Andrew Rice - Posted Monday at 5:53 AM ET

The New York Times leads (at least online) with "a disturbing pattern" of problems in the federal government's system of immigration courts, particularly in cases regarding political asylum. The Washington Post goes with a news feature on the long-running effort to eradicate polio, a fight that has made some recent progress in the Arnolddeveloping world. The Los Angeles Times leads with an analysis of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (right)'s ongoing political woes. USA Today and the Wall Street Journal take Boxing Day off.

The immigration courts, which hear over 300,000 cases a year, have lately been coming in for "very sharp" criticism from federal judges, who are hearing an increasing number of asylum-related appeals, the NYT reports. Some of the nation's 215 immigration judges aren't up to snuff, the story strongly implies, and John Ashcroft (below left)-era moves to streamline the appellate process haven't helped matters. In one recent decision, a federal court in Philadelphia warned of "misconduct in immigration rulings that sent people back to countries where they had said they would face persecution."

AshcroftIn other immigration news, the LAT has an intriguingly nuanced feature from the depressed border towns of Arizona, where love is apparently in the air. According to the piece, it's an "open secret" that many border patrol agents carry on romances with female illegal immigrants. Predictably, some of the relationships have gotten messy, resulting in firings and deportations.

A recent public health campaign has succeeded in eliminating polio in several countries where it was once rife, including Egypt. Nationwide, India has recorded 52 cases of the disease this year, down from 75,000 a decade ago. "One former hotbed," Bombay, now seems to be entirely polio-free. But the disease has been tough to entirely wipe out, the WP story says, for reasons both epidemiological and political. Only one in 200 infections causes paralysis, which means that the virus "can be carried 'silently' into a polio-free population and spread before it is recognized." After several northern Nigerian states banned immunization programs in 2003, amid rumors that they were really part of a Western plot to sterilize Muslims, a new outbreak of the disease spread across formerly polio-free countries in Africa, and on into Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

After losing on four referendums he pushed onto California's ballot this year, Schwarzenegger faces pressures from both the left and the right, the LAT says. Unions and Democrats in the state legislature are emboldened, while conservatives worry that the onetime GOP darling is cozying up to the enemy. No one's talking about amending Article 2 of the Constitution anymore.

The tsunami retrospectives continue. The WP marks the first anniversary of the natural disaster with a pair of dispatches, one from Sri Lanka and the other from the Indonesian province of Aceh. The LAT files its own piece on the lurching relief effort. None of the pieces say anything surprising; all are constructed with similar anecdotal leads and contain nearly interchangeable tales of death, disaster and halting recovery. Here's the upshot: A lot of people still lack houses and everyone is afraid of the sea. Ironically, the mood is slightly more optimistic in harder-hit Aceh, where the tsunami helped pave the way for a peace agreement between the government and separatist rebels. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, is slipping back into civil war. If you're looking for narrative power, though, sign up for Times Select and read Barry Bearak's recent 18,000-word piece in the NYT's Sunday magazine.

In stateside disaster news, the NYT takes a look at the hurricane recovery effort on the Gulf Coast, and concludes that towns that have hired private companies to clean up debris are much further along than those that have chosen to rely on the bureaucracy-laden Army Corps of Engineers. The Army, for instance, requires "satellite-based measurements on the location of each house" before it will pick up a shovel.

Amid Christmastime talk of troop withdrawals, the WP has an interesting story on the efforts to stabilize the restive Iraqi city of Samarra. Twice, the United States military has tried to hand the city over to homegrown security forces, and both times violence has flared out of control. After a series of attacks on patrols over the summer, the military resorted to draconian tactics, such as having Army engineers build a giant earthen wall around the city to prevent insurgents from infiltrating. (No word on whether they took satellite-based measurements first.) The wall killed the local economy and Samarra's population dropped by a quarter, but "attacks have fallen sharply, and voter turnout was high for the Dec. 15 national elections." Now the Iraqis are getting a third chance to keep the peace.

But the LAT says the post-election era of good feeling is over. In a story headlined "Violence Flares Up Across Iraq," it details several attacks that killed at least 21 people, "ending a relatively placid stretch."

John Yoo of the University of California at Berkeley worked from 2001 to 2003 at the Justice Department, where many of his writings helped shape the White House's post-9/11 policy.The WP reefers a profile of John Yoo, right, who is not exactly doing his part to uphold the image of Berkeley law professors. The author of the now-infamous memos justifying torture of alleged terrorists and eavesdropping on American citizens says that he's not concerned that one newspaper editorial board says his way of thinking "threatens the very idea of America." He tells the paper: "It would be inappropriate for a lawyer to say, 'The law means A, but I'm going to say B because to interpret it as A would violate American values." Perhaps he ought to check on that with the American Bar Association.

Andrew Rice is writing a book about Uganda.  Source:  Slate Magazine.
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 25, 2005


AFP: Soldiers secure carbombed area in Kirkuk

Kirkuk, Iraq, Dec. 25 - US soldiers, below right, secure the scene of a car bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk, 225 kms from Kirkuk carbombingBaghdad.

Two people were killed when a vehicle exploded as a convoy of an Iraqi official drove by.

(AFP/Marwan Ibrahim)

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


Slate-Papers: Jailhouse Iraq - Dec. 25

By Keelin McDonell - Posted Sunday at 11:00 AM ET

The New York Times leads with word that American-run prisons in Iraq will remain under U.S. control until Iraqis can meet American standards for detainee care. Major Geoffrey D. MillerGeneral Geoffrey Miller, left, the U.S. military commander in charge of those prisons told the paper that Iraqi jailers will take over when they "meet the standards we define and that we are using today." No timetable's been set, but tentative estimates predict the detention facilities will be in Iraqi hands by 2006 or 2007. The Washington Post leads with post-election negotiations in Iraq among American officials and the country's three major factions. Leaders are hoping to form a government that represents Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds while stymieing any factional clashes among them. An unofficial preliminary tally indicates that Shiite Muslim parties garnered the most votes in the Dec. 15 vote, giving them a probable 120 of the 275 seats in parliament. Sunnis, many of whom have denounced the elections as rigged, are said to have won fewer votes than expected. The Los Angeles Times leads with an exhaustive account of the 20-year quarrel between the Army Corps of Engineers and New Orleans officials over how to reinforce the city's levees. Turf wars over the usual suspects -- money, authority -- caused bottlenecks in planning and construction. One former Orleans district president told the paper that he was so convinced the levees wouldn't be ready for an emergency that he "bought an inflatable rubber boat and stored it in the attic of his house."

Severe overcrowding in Iraqi jails has made the turnover date a hot-button issue of late, says the Times. The number of violent detainees in custody has ballooned from 8,000 last January to the current total of 14,000. This influx has caused the jails to top off at 119 percent of their ideal capacity. Backups in the inchoate Iraqi court system are said to be making things worse.

The NYT fronts an in-depth look at how the tsunami-ravaged parts of East Asia are faring one year after the devastating wave killed 181,000 people. (That's the Times' figure: An AP report in the LAT puts the toll between 216,000 and 223,000.) The progress report so far is mixed. Promises of peace in Sri Lanka have given way to clashes between government troops and separatist rebels. And while international aid has been flowing in, officials are having trouble resettling the homeless and displaced.

Also in pressing need of new homes are the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina, reports the Post below the fold. FEMA has been paying for thousands of these evacuees to live in hotels, but has set a Feb. 7 deadline for finding permanent housing. Others at risk of becoming homeless include those 105,000 evacuees who have moved into subsidized Houston apartments as part of a city-sponsored voucher program; on March 1, FEMA will cease to reimburse the city. (A whopping 250,000 displaced Gulf Coast residents relocated to Houston, at least temporarily, last fall.)

The LAT fronts experts speculating that the National Security Administration's domestic spying program may be far greater than the few hundred wiretaps without warrants President Bush has acknowledged. Although federal law prohibits it, current and former intelligence officials think that the government may be using wholesale surveillance methods like satellites to monitor the United States.

The NYT continues its investigation into how South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk falsified reports on his cloning research. Seoul National University has set up a panel to look into his fabrications, but the scandal has been a major blow to the prestige of South Korea and the scientific journals that published Hwang's work. The WP weighs in on Hwang as well, noting the case's place in the history of scientific hoaxes.

Hal RogersAbove the fold the Post profiles longtime Kentucky Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, right, who became the first chair of the House Appropriations homeland security subcommittee two years ago. Chronicling the congressman's ties to a company that eventually received a fat contract from the Transportation Security Administration, the piece notes that Rogers' experience "illuminate[s] the intersection of politics, money and homeland security in the rush to make the nation safer since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." And how has Rogers been so successful earmarking cash for his projects? A companion piece notes his "white hair and smooth-as-bourbon mountain accent."

A committee in Pennsylvania is investigating complaints that the state's public university system has a political climate hostile to conservatives, the NYT reports inside. Lawmakers will consider whether a law is necessary to curb political bias in the 18 state-run schools, but skepticism exists about the endeavor. And, as the Times delicately puts it, "the campaign has produced more debate than action."

O Christmas Tree ... Dan Barry provides your annual dose of ironically winsome Christmas nostalgia in the NYT. As a child in the 1960s, Barry recalls, nothing said holiday spirit like assembling the old fake evergreen, spraying it with faux snow, and trimming it "with silvery garlands that by the third year of use looked like the castoff wraps of a waterfront gun moll."

Keelin McDonell is a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. Source: Slate Magazine.

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


AP: Rummie serves grub & hype in Iraq

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer - Sun Dec 25, 6:02 AM ET

Rumsfeld, left, in white chef capMOSUL, Iraq - In a festively bedecked dining hall, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, in white chef cap, served Christmas Eve dinner to dozens of U.S. soldiers, then fed them his view -- with a mix of optimism, caution and emotion -- of why the war that has cost more than 2,150 U.S. lives must be won.

"We will win this war. It's a test of wills, and let there be no doubt that is what it is," he said. Rumsfeld told the troops that "generations before you have persevered and prevailed, and they too were engaged in a test of wills."

"In this fight, the vast majority of Iraqis stand on the side of freedom," he said over the roar of helicopters flying over a regional U.S. military headquarters that once was a palace of Saddam Hussein.

Full AP-Yahoo story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:

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Barhorst: Message to Chairman Dean

By Terry Barhorst, left

We can achieve a “victory” in Iraq. It may be on a par with the “victory” in Vietnam or the “Mission Accomplished” PR stunt on the aircraft carrier, but it will be a declared “victory” with every spin that can buttress it in evidence.

Whatever the Bush administration declares, a descriptive word or two will easily clarify the situation, just as it would have made your words on no “victory” beyond criticism. It’s very simple. When the Iraq war ends and our military come home, it can be declared a kind of victory. However, whatever is done in Iraq, it cannot be a victory that is even the beginning of the end of international terrorism. Therefore, you could call it a hollow victory or a parochial victory. There is even evidence that it could be called a "victory" with more loss than gain in the war or terrorism.

Victory is such a pointless word, unless it has a set of descriptive words to qualify its accomplishment of the tasking that lead to its use.

Terry D. Barhorst

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


AP: US attacks voter fraud in Egypt

By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, Associated Press Writer - Sun Dec 25, 3:32 AM ET

CAIRO, Egypt - A court convicted leading government opponent Ayman Nour of forging petition signatures Saturday, drawing a sharp rebuke from the United States, which called the verdict a blow to the rule of law in Egypt.

Nour's wife speaking to supporters after verdictGamila Ismail, right, the wife of leading government opponent Ayman Nour, speaks to supporters after her husband was sentenced for forgery at the end of a year-long judicial process that has drawn international criticism and provoked uproar from the hundreds of Nour's supporters, outside the courtroom in Cairo, Egypt Saturday.

Nour was sentenced to five years in prison, capping a monthslong legal process that strained Egypt's relations with Washington, an ally that is pressing for democratic reforms here and elsewhere in the Middle East.

"The conviction of Mr. Nour, the runner-up in Egypt's 2005 presidential elections, calls into question Egypt's commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law," the White House said in a statement.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

D.H.: What about voter fraud in Ohio?

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


Barhorst: Big Money and Bush Republicans Wanting It Both Ways

By Terry Barhorst, right

Corporate America, the brokerage houses and especially the Republican majority and the President of our country present a constant paradox of conflicting statements. On the one hand the corporate and brokerage people are saying:


In the Dow's favor, analysts point out that corporations are sitting on excess cash and are likely to spend some of it next year replacing old equipment. This forecast, if it comes true, may help nudge the Dow average of 30 large-capitalization industrial shares climb into positive territory for the year. In addition to watching to see whether the Dow finishes 2005 in the black, investors will stay tuned to see if the blue-chip average can cross the 11,000 milestone.

"There's all this money sitting out there, with individuals and corporations, plus from countries," Birkelbach said, referring to foreign governments looking for places to invest their piles of cash. "They're sitting there ready to buy into the market."

The President has consistently stated that money from tax cuts that, for the most part, benefit corporations and rich individuals, will trickle down. The brokers speak of "There's all this money sitting out there."

Private Pension plans for the workers are going down the tubes while corporate executives and boards are receiving record salaries and bonuses.

Bush is telling us that the economy is healthy while Ford and GM are stating they are laying off 60,000 workers between them.

The world market for the barrel oil cost has risen to new heights. We are told this is because of the “demand for the product in the world market.” Yet, national oil companies, themselves consumers of foreign oil, have seen their profits reach record heights.

Nevertheless, the Republican majority and the President of our country have managed to spend billions on the Iraq war and make the huge tax cuts for the most affluent while pushing the deficit to heights never seen even when adjusted for inflation.

And, all the time telling us what a wonderful job they’re doing.

It is a paradox we will never solve--except at the ballot box.

Terry D. Barhorst

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


AP: US insists on Iraqi jail standards - Dec. 25

By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 21 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military will not hand over jails or individual detainees to Iraqi authorities until they demonstrate higher standards of care, an American official said Sunday, two weeks after the discovery of 120 abused Iraqi prisoners.

Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said detention facilities in Iraq will be transferred over time to Iraqi officials but they must first show that the rights of detainees are safeguarded and that international law on the treatment of prisoners is being followed.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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

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