Friday, May 13, 2005

NYT: J-Ass's half baked cases continue to bubble up long after Ashcroft is gone

Last December, after a high-profile federal terrorism prosecution in Detroit collapsed amid accusations of government misconduct, the Justice Department resorted to a backup plan. Prosecutors brought much less serious charges of insurance fraud against a pair of one-time terror suspects from Morocco, accusing the men of falsely reporting injuries in a minor car accident.
Prosecutors said at the time that they viewed the insurance scam as a serious offense. But internal Justice Department memorandums show that senior prosecutors had serious doubts about the strength of the case and recommended against bringing it, only to have the department go ahead with the lesser charges.
Bringing the fraud case "would appear to be vindictive," a senior federal prosecutor in Detroit wrote in an e-mail memorandum to senior Justice Department officials in 2003. The same prosecutor wrote that the F.B.I. believed that the move would harm counterterrorism efforts among Muslims and "may actually encourage extremists."

The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "U.S. Had Doubts About Lesser Case Against Terror Suspects" buried deep inside the paper. It's an important story. (And readers of The New Yorker will be aware the actions aren't a first for the Justice Dept. under J-Ass. For one example, see Jane Mayer's "Lost in the Jihad.") Buried inside the paper, I have to wonder how much attention it will garner.

Rob e-mails wondering what a "photo-op is doing on the front page?" Rob's referring to Raymond Hernandez's "Newt and Hillary Agree, Oddly Enough, to Agree."

Rob: Is the article mind reading, it is "news analysis?" Can anyone make heads or tails of it?
If a photo-op makes it onto the front page in text, shouldn't the actual photo as well?

Anne e-mails to note Douglas Jehl's "Nominee for U.N. Moves to Senate; No Endorsement:"

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the nomination of John R. Bolton to the full Senate without a recommendation for its approval, after Republicans fell short of the solid support among their members necessary to endorse him as ambassador to the United Nations.
The highly unusual move was only the third time in 22 years that the committee has sent a nomination to the Senate without a favorable recommendation. But it moved one of the most contested of the White House's foreign policy appointments a step closer to approval, given the Republicans' majority in the Senate.
[. . .]
Later Thursday, however, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, placed a hold on the nomination, according to her spokesman, David Sandretti. He said she wanted to get State Department documents that Democrats have been seeking involving Mr. Bolton's dealings with American intelligence agencies over Syria. In rejecting the request several days ago, Ms. Rice said disclosure of the documents could have a chilling effect on debates within the administration.
By placing the hold on the nomination, which is a privilege that any senator can invoke, Ms. Boxer can prevent it from going to the Senate floor for a vote. Under Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to overturn a "hold."

Lynda e-mails to note Folding Star's commentary on the Bolton proceedings:

The Committee's basic job on Nominees is to sound them out fully on behalf of the rest of the Senate, and then move them forward if the Committee finds them suitable for the position. The fact that they moved Bolton's nomination forward without a recommendation to Confirm is a minor victory, to be sure. The lack of recommendation by the Committee could very well give some Republican members of the Senate a legitimate reason to vote against Bolton on the Senate floor.
But, we probably shouldn't hold our breath there. The Republicans control 55 seats, after all. The Democrats would not only all have to stick together on this (hopefully they would do so), they'd have to have at least six Republicans join them in their opposition.
I don't know how likely that is. There are a handful of moderates, it's true, but the pressure on them from Bush and the party leaders to vote in favor will be intense.
Senator Voinovich of Ohio is very likely to vote against Bolton on the floor. He is the only reason, in fact, that the Committee moved the nomination forward without the traditional recommendation. It became clear during the vote today that, though Voinovich would vote to move the nomination forward to the next step, he did not think Bolton right for the job.
In fact, Voinovich couldn't have been more clear about his feelings:
"This is not behavior that should be endorsed as the face of the United States to the world community at the United Nations. It is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be."
In my view, a Senator feeling this way should not have voted to move the nomination forward, especially when he knows that doing so increases the chance of Confirmation greatly. Voinovich, like Senator Chafee, seemed willing to overlook his own serious doubts and reluctance and be a 'team player', putting their political party before the people they represent.

Troy e-mails to note Carlotta Gall's "Protests Against U.S. Spread Across Afghanistan:"

Anti-American violence spread to 10 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and into Pakistan on Thursday as four more protesters died in a third day of demonstrations and clashes with the police.
Hundreds of students took part in three separate demonstrations here in the capital, where they burned an American flag, and a provincial office of CARE International was ransacked in a continuation of the most widespread protests against the American presence since the fall of the Taliban government more than three years ago.

I'm going to post this to get something up quickly. There are other entries coming up this morning and we'll do another entry on the Times. But between a stream of nonstop phone calls and also my feeling under the weather this morning (with repeated trips to the bathroom to hurl), I'm running way behind. (My apologies for that.)

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