Saturday, January 14, 2006


AP: Pakistanis condemn CIA attack on innocent civilians

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer - 2 hours, 12 minutes ago

DAMADOLA, Pakistan - Pakistani officials on Saturday angrily condemned a purported CIA airstrike meant to target al-Qaida's No. 2 man, saying he wasn't there and "innocent civilians" were among at least 17 men, women and children killed in a village near the Afghan border.

Pakistani tribal villager Ahmedullah shows page of Muslim holy book Quran alegedly damaged  by airstrikes in Damadola, that killed at least 17 people killed,  Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 in Pakistan along Afghanistan border. Pakistan on Saturday filed a formal protest with the U.S. Embassy over the deadly airstrike Friday  in which the CIA reportedly targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command as villagers denied the militant was ever there and thousands of Pakistanis protested the attack. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair)Pakistani tribal villager Ahmedullah, right, shows a page of the Muslim holy book Quran alegedly damaged by airstrikes in Damadola, that killed at least 17 people killed, Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 in Pakistan along Afghanistan border. Pakistan on Saturday filed a formal protest with the U.S. Embassy over the deadly airstrike Friday in which the CIA reportedly targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command as villagers denied the militant was ever there and thousands of Pakistanis protested the attack. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair)

Thousands of tribesmen staged protests and a mob set fire to the office of a U.S.-backed aid agency as Pakistan's people and government showed increasing frustration over a recent series of suspected U.S. attacks along the frontier that appear aimed at Islamic militants.

Survivors in Damadola denied militants were in their hamlet, but there were news reports quoting unidentified Pakistani officials as saying up to 11 extremists were believed among the dead.

A Pakistani intelligence officer told The Associated Press some bodies were taken away for DNA tests. He did not say who would do the tests, but a law enforcement official in Washington said the FBI expected to conduct DNA tests to determine victims' identities, although Pakistan had not yet formally requested them.

Counterterrorism officials in Washington declined to comment on U.S. media reports that CIA-operated drone aircraft fired missiles Friday at a residential compound in Damadola trying to hit Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant whose videos have made him the face and voice of al-Qaida.

In Pakistan's strongest reaction, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed called the attack "highly condemnable" and said the government wanted "to assure the people we will not allow such incidents to reoccur."

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it protested to U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker over the "loss of innocent civilian lives."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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


The Nation: Gore to scorch Bush for constitutional crisis

Al GoreAl Gore is about to deliver what could be not just one of the more significant speeches of his political career but an essential challenge to the embattled presidency of George W. Bush.
In a major address slated for delivery Monday in Washington, the former Vice President is expected to argue that the Bush administration has created a "Constitutional crisis" by acting without the authorization of the Congress and the courts to spy on Americans and otherwise abuse basic liberties.

Aides who are familiar with the preparations for the address say that Gore will frame his remarks in Constitutional language. The Democrat who beat Bush by more than 500,000 votes in the 2000 presidential election has agreed to deliver his remarks in a symbolically powerful location: the historic Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. But this will not be the sort of cautious, bureacratic speech for which Gore was frequently criticized during his years in the Senate and the White House.

Indeed, his aides and allies are framing it as a "call to arms" in defense of the Bill of Rights and the rule of law in a time of executive excess.

The vice president will, according to the groups that have arranged for his appearance -- the bipartisan Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy -- address "the threat posed by policies of the Bush Administration to the Constitution and the checks and balances it created. The speech will specifically point to domestic wiretapping and torture as examples of the administration's efforts to extend executive power beyond Congressional direction and judicial review."

Coming only a few weeks after U.S. Representative John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, introduced resolutions to censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and to explore the issue of impeachment, Gore in expected to "make the case that the country -- including the legislative and judicial branches and all Americans -- must act now to defend the systems put into place by the country's founders to curb executive power or risk permanent and irreversible damage to the Constitution."

Don't expect a direct call for impeachment from the former vice president. But do expect Gore to make reference to Richard Nixon, whose abuses of executive authority led to calls for his impeachment -- a fate the 37th president avoided by resigning in 1974.

Full article in The Nation.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:

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Friday, January 13, 2006


DH: Right-wing rag tries to tie Murtha to 1980 AbScam controversy

by Dave Haigler

Cybercast News Service is a right-wing rag that is very upset over the publicity Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha, below right, is getting over his recently-announced opposition to the Iraq war.

Cong. MurthaIn an underhanded slam reminiscent of the so-called "Vietnam Veterans for Truth" who smeared John Kerry's war commendations, this pitiful rag is saying it's so unfair that the current media story of Murtha breaking ranks with the administration and his longtime support of military policy is "overshadowing" his ethically questionable status as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the 1980 AbScam controversy.

The group's webpage offers a grainy video of two unrecognizable persons, with no audio, but subtitles with one allegedly saying he has gotten $50,000 in cash, and the other, supposedly Murtha, saying, "I'm sorry, I'm not interested...." The rag claims Murtha did not decline a bribe offer unequivocally enough.

Source: Cybercast News Service. Thanks for contributor John Pettit for bringing this sleazy story to my attention.

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


DH: Democratic Party Executive Committee meets - Jan. 13

Abilene - The Democratic Party Taylor County Executive Committee (CEC) met this morning, and 9 of the total 14 members, including the chair, were present, the highest quorum in years.
Precinct Chair David Dillman (a former county chair) volunteered to act as temporary secretary in the absence of the CEC secretary, Sharon Norman.
The CEC assisted in drawing lots ballot positions for all contested races on the primary election March 7.  Two of the four candidates for County Commissioner, Precinct 2, were present and drew lots for themselves, those two being Luther Webb and incumbent Corky Cox.  The other two candidates are Bob Hammond and Dwayne Tucker. 
The CEC is reviewing the list of committees for the 2004 County Convention and making recommendations for 2006 members.  The committees besides the arrangements committee are: credentials, rules, permanent organization, nominations and resolutions.
The CEC voted on the theme "raising up new leaders," with the idea that prior chairs would be senior advisors and recommend younger or less experienced committee members this year.
New precinct chair Lara Carlin volunteered to chair the arrangements committee for the county convention in March, along with Carroll Chapman as the senior advisor, and David Dillman, Lois Rockefeller and Alice Spier serving with her.
Haigler & Washburn sign primary-election contractAfter the meeting, county chair Dave Haigler, left, met with his Republican counterpart, Paul Washburn, second left, and Elections Administrator Kristi Allyn, right, and notary Charlotte Keesee, second right, for the purpose of signing the contract for the March 7 joint primary election in Taylor County.  Click on picture to enlarge.
Presented by Dave Haigler
Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog:  http://demlog.blogspot.com 


AP: Iran vows end of nuke cooperation with UN - Jan. 13

By ALI  AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer - 8 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran threatened on Friday to end all voluntary cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if it is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.

Iranian foreign ministerForeign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, right, said Europeans will lose opportunities they currently have in dealing with Iran and Tehran would block snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, state-run television reported.

"In case Iran is referred to the U.N. Security Council ..., the government will be obliged to end all of its voluntary cooperation," the television quoted Mottaki as saying.

The statement reflected a law passed late last year that requires the government to block intrusive inspections of Iran's facilities if the U.N. nuclear agency refers the Iranian program to the U.N. Security Council.

Iran has been voluntarily allowing the short-notice IAEA inspections since 2003.

The law also requires the Iranian government to resume all nuclear activities that it had stopped voluntarily, foremost among them enriching uranium.

Foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and France said Thursday that nuclear talks with Iran had reached a dead-end after more than two years of acrimonious negotiations and the issue should be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

RiceU.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, also said a "strong message" had to be sent to Tehran but said she was not ready to talk about what action should be taken to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The calls to refer Iran to Security Council were made two days after Iran removed some U.N. seals in the presence of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency from its main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, central Iran, and resumed research on nuclear fuel.

Iran said it was resuming "merely research" and that "production of nuclear fuel" — which would involve enrichment — "remains suspended." But the IAEA said Tehran also planned small-scale enrichment of uranium — a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity or material for nuclear weapons.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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

Thursday, January 12, 2006


AP: Robertson sees a different light on Sharon remarks

By BRIAN MURPHY, AP Religion Writer - Thu Jan 12, 9:17 PM ET

American television personality and evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson, backed by an Israeli flag, delivers a speech to a crowd of mostly evangelical Christians from various nations on a pilgrimage to Israel, during an event of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem in this Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004 file photo. Israel won't do business with Pat Robertson after the evangelical leader suggested Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was divine punishment, a tourism official said Wednesday Jan 11 2006, putting into doubt plans to develop a large Christian tourism center in northern Israel. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley/FILE)TEL AVIV, Israel - Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, right, with Israeli flag, has sent a letter apologizing for suggesting that Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was divine punishment for pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

Robertson's comments drew widespread condemnation from other Christian leaders, President Bush and Israeli officials, who canceled plans to include the American evangelist in the construction of a Christian tourist center in northern Israel.

In a letter dated Wednesday and marked for hand delivery to Sharon's son Omri, Robertson called the Israeli prime minister a "kind, gracious and gentle man" who was "carrying an almost insurmountable burden of making decisions for his nation."

"My concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness," the letter said. "I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel," Robertson wrote.

The 77-year-old prime minister suffered a devastating stroke Jan. 4 and remained hospitalized Thursday in critical but stable condition. The day after Sharon's stroke, Robertson suggested he was being punished for pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip last summer. The pullout was seen by many evangelical groups as a retreat from biblical prophecy of Jewish sovereignty over the area.

"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine.'"

Despite the apology, it was doubtful Robertson would be brought back into the fold of the proposed Christian Heritage Center in the northern Galilee region, where tradition says Jesus lived and taught. The exclusion carries a special irony for a preacher who helped define television ministries: The planned complex is to include studios and satellite links for live broadcasts from the Holy Land.

Rami Levi, director of marketing for Israel's tourism ministry, told The Associated Press that the government remains "outraged" by Robertson's remarks.

Israel's tourism minister, Abraham Hirchson, said Wednesday that Robertson's help was no longer welcome for the proposed center.

"But, of course, we continue full engines ahead to construct it because the Christian community around the world -- the evangelical community -- are friends," said Levi, who is responsible for coordinating tourism contacts between Israeli groups and other faiths around the world.

Christian groups, particularly evangelical congregations from the United States, have become an important source of revenue and political influence. Evangelicals funnel millions of dollars each year to Jewish settlers in the West Bank and provide aid for those evicted from Gaza. They also represent an essential component of the estimated $4 billion in tourist revenue expected this year.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

D.H.: Yes, it appears the tourism industry there is still singing, "What a friend we have in Jesus." And Robertson, who often says he hears from God on political matters, such as his Jan. 3, 2005, statement that God told him He was going to "replace liberal justices quickly," and such as P.M. Ariel Sharon being against "God's people" in dismantling the West Bank settlements, has now seen a different light -- the light of worldwide outrage over his insensitive comments. I notice, though, that he managed to apologize without admitting error. Quite a trick -- he may have been watching President Bush's verbal gymnastics on torture and snooping. Or, maybe it's just that God doesn't make mistakes in telling Pat what to say. Hard to know which -- when you're merely an fallible man like me.

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


AP: Gen. Miller cops the 5th

Gen. MillerMaj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, is seen in this file photo, left, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill about Iraqi prisoner abuse.
Miller has asserted his right not to incriminate himself in the courts-martial of two soldiers accused of mistreating detainees there, The Washington Post reported today.
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


AP: Military finally sending body armor to Iraq

By LIZ SIDOTI,  Associated Press Writer - Wed Jan 11, 11:05 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Army plans to send thousands of ceramic body armor plates to Iraq this year to better protect soldiers while the Marine Corps already is delivering such gear, military officers said Wednesday.

In a private appearance before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the officers defended the body armor available to U.S. troops. A Pentagon study done last summer, but only disclosed recently, found that improved armor may have prevented or minimized torso wounds that proved fatal to Marines in Iraq.

The committee chairman, Sen. John Warner (news, bio, voting record), said he was satisfied the military was ensuring that U.S. troops had adequate body armor. "Everything that can be done, is being done," said Warner, R-Va.

But some Democrats urged more congressional oversight on body-armor issues. "Our soldiers and their families deserve nothing less," Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said in a statement.

Sen. DoddSen. Christopher Dodd, right, (news, bio, voting record), D-Conn., said he planned to offer legislation to force the Pentagon to give troops serving in combat zones "the most complete personal body armor protection." The legislation also would create a $1,100 allowance to each service member to buy body armor from properly certified military suppliers.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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


NYT: Alito compared to O'Connor - Jan. 12

WASHINGTON - The Constitution does not say what criteria the Senate should use in deciding whether to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.

But at least one clear test has emerged over the first three days of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearings. This nominee must, it seems, continually refer to and, if at all possible, endorse the views of the woman he aims to replace, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Senators from both parties have frequently used Justice O'Connor's opinions as a basis for questioning Judge Alito. The heavy emphasis on her work is a testament to her disproportionate influence on the court in her 25 years of service, and a reminder of the important role Judge Alito will assume if he is confirmed.

As two senators noted in their opening statements, Justice O'Connor has cast the decisive vote in almost 150 cases, many of them of great moment.

Whenever the opportunity arose, Judge Alito and his supporters highlighted instances in which he had ruled as she had. He invoked her name on 9 occasions, and he had good things to say about her decisions 10 times. On Tuesday, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, ticked off areas in which the two judges had agreed.

"Justice O'Connor and Judge Sam Alito both set limits on Congress's commerce power," Mr. Cornyn said. "Sandra Day O'Connor and Sam Alito both struck down affirmative action policies that had strict numerical quotas. And both - this ought to be a shocker to some based on what we've heard here today - is that both Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Judge Sam Alito have criticized Roe v. Wade."

Democratic senators, on the other hand, worked hard to show that Judge Alito and Justice O'Connor were at odds, particularly in an important abortion case.

SchumerIn his opening statement, striking a theme that has run through the hearings, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, asked rhetorically, "Are you in Justice O'Connor's mold or, as the president has vowed, are you in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas?"

President Bush has said he would try to appoint justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the court's two most conservative members.

By Wednesday morning, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, had grown frustrated with all the O'Connor talk. "The fact that you have to fit the Sandra Day O'Connor mold is really a misapplication," he said. "There is no precedent that would say that."

Judge Alito said he would be his own person, but not before offering one more tribute. "No nominee can ever be a duplicate of someone who retires," he said, "and particularly when someone retires after such a distinguished career and such a historic career as Justice O'Connor. Nobody can be expected, as a nominee, to fit that mold."

Full NY Times article.

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


Reuters: Dems frustrated over Alito's evasiveness

by Thomas Ferraro and Joanne Kenen

WASHINGTON - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito faced more aggressive questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday from Democrats who accused him of evasive answers and challenged his commitment to keep an "open mind" on abortion.

While President George W. Bush's conservative nominee appeared headed for confirmation by the full Republican-led Senate later this month, several Democrats made it clear that after a relatively gentle start of proceedings, they planned to put up an election-year fight.

"Judge Alito has responded, but he has not answered," Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said during a break in the third day of the hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Schumer criticized Alito's repeated promise to keep an "open mind" on abortion, saying, "Has a judge ever said he would be closed-minded?"

Bush has nominated Alito, 55, a federal appeals judge the past 15 years, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has often been the swing vote on abortion and other social issues on the nine-member court.

Democrats continued to raise the abortion issue with Alito, having gotten no clear statement on whether he would vote to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. After effectively parrying the question the preceding day, Alito clung to earlier responses, generating increased frustration for Democrats who fear he will push the high court to the right if confirmed.

Alito, who opposed abortion in a recently disclosed memo he wrote as a Reagan administration attorney two decades ago, has not said how he would rule if abortion came before him on the high court. But the nominee reaffirmed his vow to respect legal precedent and noted the 1973 decision had been upheld repeatedly.

"The more often a decision is reaffirmed, the more people tend to rely on it," Alito said, adding the legal terrain had changed since he wrote the 1985 memo opposing abortion.


Senators Leahy, left, and KennedySen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, left, the committee's top Democrat, said Democrats were troubled by what they saw as inconsistencies in many of Alito's answers, from abortion rights to presidential powers.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, to Leahy's right, a Massachusetts Democrat, got into a dispute with Chairman Arlen Specter over his request the committee vote to subpoena records of the disbanded group called Concerned Alumni of Princeton, or CAP.

Alito listed membership in the group in a 1985 application for a job in the Reagan administration. He told the committee he had no recollection of any involvement with the conservative group, which opposed efforts to admit more women and minorities.

Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, first took issue with Kennedy's request, saying the Democrat had never asked for access to the records. "I'm not going to have you run this committee," Specter said.

Later, the chairman said the committee would get the records.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "As a Princeton alumnus, I had concerns about CAP, but I have no concerns about Judge Alito's credibility, integrity and his commitment to protecting the equal rights of all Americans."

"Judge Alito has condemned discrimination, and his record of more than 15 years demonstrates his commitment to equal rights for women and minorities," Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said in a statement.

Democrats were also troubled that Alito refused to disavow a 1985 memo in which he wrote, "The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

"I'm concerned that many people will leave this hearing with a question as to whether or not you could be the deciding vote that would eliminate the legality of abortion," said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, a member of the committee and assistant Senate Democratic leader.

Durbin's statement led to a minor confrontation with Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who used part of his questioning to raise questions about Durbin's commitment to abortion rights.

Additional reporting by Richard Cowan.  Source:  Reuters & Common Dreams Newsletter.

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


CNN: House Ethics Committee silent amidst lapses

By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent - Wednesday, January 11, 2006; Posted: 11:22 p.m. EST

US CapitolWASHINGTON (CNN) -- Indictments, investigations, a resignation -- and now a top lobbyist has struck a deal to tell his presumably sordid tale to prosecutors. It's enough to rattle the handcuffs of even a convicted official.

The past year was a tough one for ethics in Congress, right, and the coming year may be worse. So why is the House ethics committee so steadfastly silent?

Blame it on a deal made in the mid-1990s. That's when, by many accounts, House Democrats and Republicans were each convinced that the opposing party was using ethics charges for unfair political attacks. So both parties agreed to a truce.

"Everybody knew about it," says former Democratic Congressman Chris Bell, now a candidate for Governor of Texas. "There was never any formal agreement between the two parties, but it just came to be known that you don't file a complaint against anyone on our side and we won't file a complaint against anyone on your side."

Unlike the Senate, the House forbids ethics complaints from outsiders, so hardly a whisper has been heard from the committee as ethical, even criminal, complaints have rained down on House members.

Five Democrats and five Republicans sit on the committee, and both parties say they want to restore ethical standards in the Capitol, but the committee has had nothing to say about the spate of recent ethical troubles. That has political activists on both the left and the right saying the ethics truce itself is unethical.

They are making rare alliances with each other to lobby Congress on the matter. Conservative Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch. "We're in a coalition of many groups," he says, "some from the far left, all concerned about congressional ethics reform. It's not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats, or liberals versus conservatives. It's a matter of crooks versus the rest of us!"

Melanie Sloan, a liberal, disagrees with Fitton about almost everything, except this. "It's a total disaster," she says. As head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, she is used to fighting hopeless causes, but she is digging in with her conservative allies to force reform of the ethics committee.

"It needs to be repaired quickly so that the American people can have some confidence in the institution of the House of Representatives," she says.

CNN contacted the ethics committee and was told congressional rules forbid them from discussing much of what they do publicly, and some of the corrective measures they take against members are properly private.

They acknowledge that the committee has not been a hotbed of activity for quite awhile. However, they point out that the committee is being given more funds for investigations, a bigger staff, and a promise of improvement is in the air.

Bell lost his congressional seat after redistricting in Texas, and then he broke the ethics truce: He filed a complaint against Republican Tom DeLay. The ethics committee admonished Delay, who is now under indictment. But then the committee went after Bell, too, suggesting his complaint about DeLay smacked of politics, and it might damage the ethical reputation of Congress.

CNN's Jim Spellman contributed to this report.  Full CNN story.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


DH: Martinez posts CEC meeting notice

Erasmo posts meeting noticeAbilene, Jan. 11 - Erasmo Martinez, the newly elected vice chair of the Taylor County Democratic Party, left (click on picture to enlarge), is seen here posting the meeting notice for the party County Executive Committee meeting to be held Friday, Jan. 13, at 8:15 a.m., in Kristi Allyn's elections administrator office in the County Courthouse annex in the 400 block of Oak Street.
The purpose of the meeting is to draw lots for ballot positions for contested races in the March 7, 2006, primary election.  All candidates are invited to attend.  Those not in attendance will have an executive committee member draw their position.
This is one of the "mandatory meetings," meaning the business goes forward whether there is a quorum or not.
Dave Haigler, Taylor County Democratic Chair
Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


WaPo: Alito code-words the abortion issue - Jan. 11

Nominee Avoids Detailing Views on Controversial Issues

By Charles Babington and Jo Becker, Washington Post Staff Writers - Wednesday, Page A01

Alito Introduces His WifeSupreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., seen at right introducing his wife to the Senate Judiciary Committeesaid yesterday that his 1985 assertion that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion was a "true expression of my views at the time," but he told senators he would "approach the question with an open mind" if confirmed to the high court.

Repeatedly asked about abortion rulings that date to the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, Alito said long-standing decisions deserve great respect. He stopped short of saying Roe could not be overturned, however, saying that the doctrine of following precedent is not "an exorable command" -- the same language the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once used in arguing to overturn Roe.

Full Washington Post story.

D.H.: This has been very carefully choreographed.  He says enough about Roe v. Wade being established precedent to keep pro-choicers asleep.  But he says enough about precedent being reversible -- while smiling when Republican senators rail against Roe not being Constitutionally sound -- to keep the religious-right faithful standing in the Republican line waiting forever.  A magnificent con-job by a con-stitutional scholar, par excellance.  When this type thing is done in business, it is considered a deceptive trade practice. 

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


AP: Bush, Dems trade jabs over Iraq - Jan. 10

President Bush delivers a speech about the war on terror on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006 in Washington.  Bush highlighted progress in fashioning a democracy in Iraq, rebuilding the economy and training Iraqi forces to take over responsibility for the country's security from American military personnel.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON - President Bush, left, warned Democratic critics of his Iraq policy on Tuesday to watch what they say or risk giving "comfort to our adversaries" and suffering at the ballot box in November. Democrats said Bush should take his own advice.

In his first speech of 2006 on the road, last week in Chicago, he aggressively challenged Democrats on the economy.

Tuesday's equally sharp message represented an attempt by the president to neutralize Democrats' ability to use Iraq — where violence is surging in the wake of December parliamentary elections and messy negotiations to form a new coalition government — as an election-year cudgel against Republicans.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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


Barhorst: Democrats Serve Not Just The Most Affluent

The Republican party has run out of ideas on taxes. It wasn’t very difficult for them to do so as they cater only to the very affluent and not to the American people as a whole. When elected in 2006, the Democrats will easily go beyond the Republicans and shift the burden of taxes back to a point of balance.

The simplest way for the newly elected House members to begin this process would be to return to the majority of Americans the credit-card interest deduction. A deduction that would stir the economy across the whole spectrum of tax payers. At the same time the House members could rescind the Republicans’ gifts to the rich and corporate to balance the national government's tax funds.

Next the Democratically controlled House should create a national usury law. This would, again, place more money into the hands of the broadest spectrum of Americans. Money spent to line the pockets of lenders would instead go into personal savings or buying power--two objectives that would quickly drive the country into a vibrant economy.

Spend-able money and savings money does not dribble downward from the top. These two building blocks of prosperity are directly connected to the discretionary spending and saving of the majority of Americans.

Finally, the Republican submission to the credit-card companies in passing a bankruptcy law that destroys rather than rebuilding a person’s financial abilities should be struck down with the disdain it deserves. There is already enough problems in getting health care and service in other areas of disastrous situations without financial destruction and punishment judged and controlled by financial community more interested in money than human pain.

Lobby money will flow into Washington to stop such laws from growing to fruition like a rampaging river of corruption. The new Democratic House should, and will, dam this money away from the Halls of Congress with the concrete of honesty and steel of belief in the American people.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

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

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


UKG: Swiss claim proof that CIA ran Europe jails

by Jan Sliva in Brussels - Tuesday January 10, 2006 - The UK Guardian

European investigators looking into allegations of secret CIA-run prisons in Europe said yesterday that an Egyptian government message naming countries where such prisons existed could amount to indirect proof of the claims.

But the investigators from the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights body, said they were trying to confirm that the Egyptian document was genuine. The document's existence was reported on Sunday by the Swiss weekly SonnstagsBlick.

The newspaper reported that the document said Egypt had confirmed through its own sources that the US intelligence agency had held 23 terror suspects at a military base in Romania.

The message also said there were similar US detention centres in Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria, according to the newspaper.

The message, a fax sent by satellite transmission from Egypt's foreign ministry to its embassy in London, was intercepted on November 15 by Swiss intelligence, the newspaper reported. The Swiss defence ministry said it was investigating the leak of the document.

Two of the European investigators said that, if authenticated, they would consider the faxed message to be indirect proof that the facilities existed and an additional indication that some governments in Europe may not have revealed everything they know.

Dick MartyThe two officials said the lead investigator, Dick Marty, right, had received a copy of the document from the Swiss secret service and was trying to confirm independently that it was genuine.

The Strasbourg-based council began its investigation after allegations surfaced in November that US agents had interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at clandestine prisons in eastern Europe and transported some suspects to other countries via Europe.

Mr Marty is to present his findings to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe later this month.

Source:  UK Guardian.

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


DH: Hacker, Hailey speak to TDW of growing up Democratic

Abilene, Jan. 10 - Judge Aleta Hacker and State Rep. candidate Dr. Mel Hailey spoke to the monthly Texas Democratic Women meeting at Abilene Civic Plaza Hotel last night, sharing vignettes of their growing up in homes with Democratic parents and values.

Judge Hacker speakingJudge Hacker, left, the lead speaker, spoke of growing up in New Jersey with her immigrant grandparents, and of making extra money as a child ironing shirts for her relatives. She spoke of inklings that drew her into the political process, the critical one being during the Vietnam conflict when a postal clerk in Georgia would not permit her to mail an absentee ballot. She shared the importance of tempering one's views out of consideration for the feelings of others, such as not speaking of "Mr. Bush's war" around her son, a newly commissioned West Point graduate who will likely be heading soon to a war zone. And she spoke poignantly of being a Democrat in neighborhoods where she was outnumbered, sometimes the only one.

Dr. Mel Hailey speakingDr. Mel Hailey, right, speaking extemporaneously, shared his thrill of meeting Billy Graham at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, and calling his mother to brag. She responded that this was alright, but asked whether he had met Rosa Parks there as well. In fact he had, but he learned only then that his mother had been a beauty operator in Alabama when Mrs. Parks made her heroic stand on the bus there, and Mrs. Hailey had spoken up in Parks' defense, only to be threatened with the loss of her job.

Dave recognizing Anna & JewelCounty Chair Dave Haigler, left center, made a special presentation to TDW officers Anna Vedro, left, Jewell Halford, right, and Barbara Backus, not pictured. Haigler said we have had a core group of 30-40 dedicated Democrats who have kept the party alive these past two years, but Anna, Jewell & Barbara have been the most diligent in things like volunteering to keep the party headquarters at 453 Pine Street open and staffed. Haigler presented them with a chocolate rose, a t-shirt of their choice featuring 2006 Democratic candidates, and a package of bumber stickers featuring the DemLog and candidates.

TDW president Vedro announced that next month's meeting will feature the Southern Poverty Law Center and presentations starting at 6:30, Feb. 6, by candidates.

Alice Spier at club meetingAlice Spier, right, said that the clubs and party will host U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky at events on Jan. 29 and 30 in Abilene. Alice and Dr. Virginia Connally are on the steering committee for these events.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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Reuters: Byrd calls for mine disaster hearing - Jan. 10

Sen. ByrdSen. Robert Byrd, left, seen in this 2003 file photo, announced yesterday that a Senate Appropriations subcommittee will hold a hearing next week on the West Virginia coal mine accident that killed 12 miners.

Sen. Byrd is a West Virginia Democrat.

(William Philpott/Reuters)

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


AP: Sunni coalition leader blames U.S. occupation for attacks - Jan. 10

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer - 20 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A Sunni Arab politician denounced a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque that killed at least 60 people but blamed the violence in Iraq on the country's occupation by U.S. troops.

Sunni men and women walk past security as they arrive at the Um al-Qura mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006, in central Baghdad, Iraq. Muslims around the world started the celebrations of Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, a three day Muslim feast of sacrifice to commemorate the prophet Abraham's offering of his son to God.(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)Sunni men and women walk past security, right, as they arrive at the Um al-Qura mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006, in central Baghdad, Iraq. Muslims around the world started the celebrations of Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, a three day Muslim feast of sacrifice to commemorate the prophet Abraham's offering of his son to God.  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Harith al-Ubaidi of the Iraqi Accordance Front said Sunnis were "hand in hand" with Shiites against last week's attack in Karbala, south of Baghdad. His remarks were significant because the Iraqi Accordance Front is the main Sunni coalition that is negotiating with Shiites and Kurds over a coalition government.

"We also demand that the occupier get out, because he is the reason behind every crime," al-Ubaidi said. "If the occupier would leave, Iraqis would live as brothers."

He spoke at the Um al-Qura mosque, Baghdad headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical group that is believed to have ties to some insurgent groups.

The sermon was followed by a demonstration against a U.S. raid on the mosque over the weekend. Hundreds of worshippers took part in the protest.

The mosque is in the al-Adel neighborhood, one of Baghdad's roughest and the same area where American journalist Jill Carroll, a 28-year-old freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped on Saturday.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the raid was a necessary immediate response to the kidnapping based on a tip provided by an Iraqi citizen. The military said Sunday that six people were detained. No other details were released.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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


NYT: Alito hearing opening statements focus on presidential limits

By ADAM LIPTAK - Published: January 10, 2006

WASHINGTON - The opinion is more than 50 years old, and it is not even binding precedent. But just minutes into the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., it took center stage and seemed to lay the groundwork for the questions he will face concerning his views on the limits of presidential power.

The 1952 opinion, a concurrence by Justice Robert H. Jackson, rejected President Harry S. Truman's assertion that he had the constitutional power to seize the nation's steel mills to aid the war effort in Korea. Whether and how Justice Jackson's analysis should apply to broadly similar recent assertions by the Bush administration, notably concerning its domestic surveillance program, will plainly be a central theme when questioning of Judge Alito begins Tuesday morning.

Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick J. Leahy of the Judiciary Committee were a welcoming committee on Monday for Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. Senators Arlen Specter, left, and Patrick J. Leahy, right, of the Judiciary Committee were a welcoming committee on Monday for Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., center yesterday.

Senator Specter, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, discussed only three decisions by name in his opening statement: Justice Jackson's concurrence in the 1952 case, Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer, and two abortion cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Quoting from the Jackson concurrence and referring to the surveillance program, Mr. Specter said, "What is at stake is the equilibrium established by our constitutional system."

Senator Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, made a similar assertion in noting that Judge Alito would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor if he was confirmed. "She upheld," Mr. Leahy said, "the fundamental principle of judicial review over the exercise of government power."

That was a reference to Justice O'Connor's decisive opinion turning back another broad assertion of executive power in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, a 2004 case in which the court allowed a man held without charges as an enemy combatant to challenge his detention, over the objections of the Bush administration.

"We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens," Justice O'Connor wrote for herself and three other justices in 2004. She cited one case as precedent for that proposition: Youngstown.

Judge Alito, in his brief, mostly biographical opening statement, did not address Youngstown or any other case. But he did seem to nod in the direction of the current controversy. "No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law," he said, "and no person in this country is beneath the law."

Full N.Y. Times story.

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

Monday, January 09, 2006


AP: Republican congressman defends Abramoff

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 43 minutes ago

Rohrabacher presides over a meeting of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science Committee.WASHINGTON - Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, right, (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., came to the defense of disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff on Monday, saying he's a good person who's been unjustly criticized.

"They're portraying Jack as a monster. I see him more as a good person who's done bad things and has to be punished for doing bad things," Rohrabacher, a longtime friend of Abramoff, said in a phone interview.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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


WaPo: Alito in 1988 interview defends Bork, Meese

In this 1988 video excerpt, Samuel A. Alito Jr. (seen at left being sworn in today at his Senate confirmation hearing) comments on the defeat of Robert H. Bork as President Reagan's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito made the comments in a 1988 interview on Front Page New Jersey, a public affairs television program of NJN News, New Jersey's public television network.

Alito, who at the time was U.S. attorney for New Jersey, was interviewed by NJN News senior political correspondent Michael Aron.

In the interview, Alito says Robert Bork was one of the most competent Supreme Court nominees of the century, with an "unequaled intellect" and understanding of constitutional history. He says Bork was "unjustifiably rejected." Alito also says his boss at the time, Attorney General Edwin Meese was "extremely capable" and a "nice human being."

Source: Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive.


AAS: Tx Criminal Appeals Court denies DeLay appeal

Trial schedule up in the air


The state's highest criminal court refused Monday to intervene in the prosecution of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, below left, on money-laundering charges.

DeLayThe Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied DeLay's motions without comment. Without DeLay trying to reclaim the leadership post before Congress convenes Jan. 31, DeLay's trial is likely to be postponed for weeks, if not months.

However, defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said his client, facing re-election opponents in the March primary and the November general election, would prefer to be tried before the spring GOP primary. "We'd like to have it resolved by then," he said.

DeLay and his co-defendants, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington, still have appeals pending at the Texas Third Court of Appeals.

Barring outright dismissal of the charges by that court, however, a trial could be postponed until later this year because of the lawyers' schedules and several outstanding pretrial fights, including whether the defendants would be tried in Travis County or some other Texas community.

Prosecutor Ronnie Earle, in the appellate briefs, said DeLay was asking for special treatment when he demanded a trial in January.

The state is appealing the dismissal of a related indictment against DeLay. Earle said the state has a right to have its appeal heard before prosecutors decide which charge to try the Sugar Land Republican on.

lcopelin@statesman.com; 445-3617. Full story.

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


AP: Cheney hospitalized, released - Jan. 9

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago

Vice President Dick Cheney leaves George Washington University Hospital, Monday Jan. 9, 2006, in Washington.  Cheney was taken to the hospital early Monday experiencing shortness of breath, a spokeswoman said. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney (seen at right leaving the hospital) was taken to George Washington Hospital early Monday experiencing shortness of breath, a spokeswoman said. He was released four and a half hours later and was expected at the White House for afternoon meetings.

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said Cheney was taken to the hospital at 3 a.m. He was released about 7:30 a.m. Doctors found his EKG, or electrocardiogram, unchanged and determined he was retaining fluid because of medication he was taking for a foot problem.

Cheney, who has a long history of heart problems and has a pacemaker, was placed on a diuretic at the hospital.

The foot ailment forced Cheney to use a cane on Friday.  President Bush's doctor notified him of Cheney's hospitalization early Monday morning before Bush reported to the Oval office, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said. Bush called Cheney after the vice president was released from the hospital and returned to his residence, McClellan said.

"The vice president indicated to the president that he was doing fine, and the president was glad to hear that," McClellan said. He said Cheney planned to come into work and attend meetings Monday afternoon.

McClellan bluntly dismissed any question of Cheney's future in the administration, saying the president was "absolutely" not considering replacing the vice president.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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

Sunday, January 08, 2006


NYT: Specter calls AG to testify on spying

Sen. SpecterFiled at 6:32 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., left, said Sunday he has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to testify publicly on the legality of warrantless eavesdropping on telephone conversations between suspected terrorists and people in the United States.

President Bush has pointed to the congressional resolution that authorized him to use force against Iraq as allowing him to order the program.

A prominent conservative on the committee said he is troubled by the legal arguments the Bush administration has presented for establishing the National Security Agency program. GOP Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas said, ''There was no discussion in anything that I was around that gave the president a broad surveillance authority with that resolution.''

The committee chairman, Sen. Specter, said senators will examine that issue and other legal questions in hearings scheduled for early February. Gonzales' testimony is being sought because he is the principal spokesman for the administration's position, Specter said.

The attorney general was White House counsel when Bush initiated the program, a role that could raise issues of attorney-client privilege in seeking his testimony. A message left with the Justice Department on Sunday was not immediately returned.

Asked on CBS's ''Face the Nation'' if Gonzales had agreed to appear, Specter said, ''Well, I didn't ask him if he had agreed. I told him we were holding the hearings and he didn't object. I don't think he has a whole lot of choice on testifying.''

SchumerSen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, called for former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey to testify at the hearings. ''It would render these hearings useless and prevent the American people from getting to the bottom of this if the administration invoked executive privilege,'' Schumer, a committee member, said in a statement.

Ashcroft and Comey headed the Justice Department when the surveillance program was started and were asked by the White House to sign off on it.

Academics and others will be asked to appear, part of a list of witnesses ''who think the president was right and people who think the president was wrong,'' Specter said.

Slightly more than half of Americans, 56 percent, want the administration to obtain court approval before tapping into conversations inside the United States even if suspected terrorists are involved, according to an AP-Ipsos poll conducted last week. About four out of 10 agreed with the White House that court approval isn't necessary.

Brownback, on ABC's ''This Week,'' said the Senate Intelligence Committee also will hold hearings -- closed to the public -- on the NSA program.

''I think this is something that bears looking into and us to be able to establish a policy within constitutional frameworks of what a president can or cannot do,'' said Brownback, considered a presidential hopeful for 2008.

He said he was ''troubled by what the basis for the grounds that the administration says that they did these on, the legal basis, and I think we need to look at that far more broadly and understand it a great deal.''

The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee said the hearings would provide the type of oversight that has been lacking. ''No matter who is in power, there should be real oversight,'' said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, below left.

LeahyLeahy also dismissed Bush's argument that the prewar resolution allowed him to institute the secret program.

''We made it very clear what the president could do ... also made it very clear what the president could not do. And he cannot do illegal spying on Americans,'' Leahy said.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., another Judiciary Committee member, said he agreed with those who believe wartime ''is not a blank check to a president to override the rights and liberties that are in the Constitution of the United States.''

Kennedy added, ''I don't believe that this president understands that.''

After a story reporting the existence of the program appeared in The New York Times in December, Bush acknowledged that he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on conversations involving suspected terrorists in the months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He contended that his constitutional powers and the prewar resolution gave him that legal authority.

The NSA program bypassed the special court that Congress established in 1978 to approve or reject secret surveillance or searches of foreigners and U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage.

The administration informed top members of Congress of the NSA program and, according to the president, administration officials regularly review its authorization.

Still, many members of Congress -- Republicans as well as Democrats -- have questioned whether the NSA program is outside the law.

Source: New York Times.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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