Wednesday, May 25, 2005

NYT: "Seal Officer Hears Charges in Court-Martial in Iraqi's Death," Patriot Act, John Bolton, Port security faulted . . .

Military prosecutors alleged at the court-martial of a Navy Seal lieutenant on Tuesday that he joined his men in striking an Iraqi detainee in 2003 and later sought to mislead investigators looking into the detainee's death.
Lt. Andrew K. Ledford, a member of the elite Seal commando force, led the platoon that captured Manadel al-Jamadi in a raid near Baghdad in November 2003. Mr. Jamadi later died at Abu Ghraib prison after the Central Intelligence Agency took custody of him. A photograph of his body, wrapped in plastic and packed in ice, became one of the most infamous images to emerge from the Iraq prisoner abuse case last year.
[. . .]
Navy prosecutors contend that he had punched the prisoner once at the urging of his subordinates and that he had failed to restrain his men from repeatedly kicking and hitting him after his capture. The lieutenant's lawyer, Frank Skinner, challenged that version of events in his opening remarks to the six-member jury on Tuesday.
[. . .]
An undercurrent to the court-martial proceedings is the involvement of C.I.A. personnel in Mr. Jamadi's capture and questions about whether the agency's interrogation tactics played a role in his death several hours later. The case is one of several that the C.I.A. has referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

The above is from this morning's New York Times' "Seal Officer Hears Charges in Court-Martial in Iraqi's Death." (The byline credits the article not to an individual but to "The New York Times.")

Eli e-mails to note Eric Lichtblau's "After Talk of Compromise, Panel Is Again Split on Patriot Act:"

Just a few weeks ago, critics and supporters of the sweeping antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act had reduced their differences to only a handful of substantive issues, and the two sides were talking openly about finding room for compromise in renewing the law.
But now, a new proposal in the Senate Intelligence Committee - backed by the Bush administration - has sent the two sides scurrying back to their war camps. The central question is no longer whether the government's antiterrorism powers should be scaled back in the face of criticism from civil rights advocates, but whether those powers should be significantly expanded to give the F.B.I. new authority to demand records and monitor mailings without approval from a judge.
The divergent views were on full display Tuesday as the committee began its debate in earnest over the future of the Patriot Act and 16 provisions in the law that will expire at the end of the year. On Thursday, the committee will hold a closed-door hearing on a proposal to renew and expand major provisions, but critics are attacking the committee's decision to hold the debate in secret.

(Refer to the ACLU web site for more information.)

Lynda e-mails to highlight Douglas Jehl's "G.O.P. Senator Issues Letter Urging Vote Against Bolton:"

The Ohio Republican whose opposition to John R. Bolton nearly stalled his nomination in committee circulated a letter on Tuesday urging colleagues to vote against Mr. Bolton when his name reaches the Senate floor, possibly this week.
The renewed opposition from the senator, George V. Voinovich, was addressed to all his colleagues, but it was aimed particularly at fellow Republicans in a chamber in which the party holds a 55-to-44 majority. At least five Republicans would have to join Mr. Voinovich in opposing Mr. Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador in order to defeat it.
In the letter, Mr. Voinovich said that while he had been "hesitant to push my views on my colleagues" during his six years in the Senate, he felt "compelled to share my deep concerns" about the nomination.

Rob e-mails to note Eric Lipton's "U.S. Effort to Secure Foreign Ports Is Faulted:"

The Department of Homeland Security's effort to extend its antiterrorism campaign overseas by enlisting help from importers and foreign ports has been so flawed that the program may have made it easier at times to smuggle unconventional weapons into the United States, Congressional officials say.
Homeland Security has reduced inspections in the United States of cargo coming from 36 foreign ports and 5,000 importers that were certified under its antiterrorism initiatives. But the department has failed to confirm whether most of those importers have tightened security or whether thousands of high-risk containers headed to the United States were inspected at ports overseas, agency records show.

Cedric e-mails to note Gretchen Ruethling's "Police Chief in Milwaukee Fires Eight Over Beating:"

The dismissals stem from an October incident in which Frank Jude Jr., 26, of Appleton, Wis., said he had been beaten by a group of off-duty police officers at the party after they accused him of taking a wallet and a police badge. In all, 13 officers have been disciplined for a total of 79 department violations. In addition, one was dismissed earlier this month for refusing to answer questions about the case.
Chief Hegerty said she expected the dismissals to be appealed to the civilian commission that oversees the department.
Three of the fired officers - Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler and Daniel Masarik - also face criminal charges of battery, reckless endangerment or perjury. They have pleaded not guilty. The criminal complaint contends that the three men choked, punched and kicked Mr. Jude, put a knife to his neck and a gun to his head and stuck a sharp object in his ears while he was handcuffed.

From the "National Briefing" in this morning's paper, Billie steers us towards:

A former Pentagon analyst accused of leaking top-secret information to a pro-Israel lobbying group was charged with illegally taking classified government documents out of the Washington area to his West Virginia home. The former analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, was not authorized to take such documents to his home in Kearneysville, according to the federal charge that was issued with an arrest warrant by the United States attorney Thomas E. Johnston. Mr. Franklin surrendered to F.B.I. agents and appeared before a federal magistrate in Martinsburg. He was released on $50,000 bond and faces a hearing on June 9. (AP)

Zach e-mails to note Rick Lyman's "Sex Charges Follow a Church's Collapse:"

But by two years ago, when the church finally closed after a ferocious falling-out between the pastor's son and successor, Louis Lamonica Jr., and his family, the congregation that once neared 1,000 had dwindled to 10 or 15 troubled souls from a handful of families.
And now, many of them, including Louis Lamonica Jr. and a deputy sheriff who once lived on the church grounds, are behind bars, accused by the police of a litany of ungodly offenses, including sexual abuse of perhaps two dozen children and the mutilations of cats for satanic rituals.
Eddie Robinson, assistant pastor at the 5,000-member Harvest World Outreach Ministries in nearby Hammond - to which many Hosanna members migrated - says what happened is clear. He told congregants on Sunday that a prophecy of "witchcraft" problems had been revealed in recent weeks.
"When the leadership of that church kept the enemy out, everything was fine," Mr. Robinson said. "But when the leadership of that church let the enemy in, things began to change."
The authorities - who got the first whiff of trouble six weeks ago when a woman, Nicole Bernard, 36, called the Sheriff's Office from Ohio to say she had fled the town to save her child from sexual abuse - are still trying to piece together what happened.
Nine people have been arrested in the past week. A dozen computers have been seized, at least some of which the police believe contain child pornography, as well as dozens of videotapes, hundreds of computer disks and eight large boxes of documents and photographs. Inside the shuttered church compound, in a "youth hall" behind the sanctuary, the police found the faint imprint of pentagrams on the floor that someone had apparently tried to scrub away. Some of those arrested, the police said, described rituals within those pentagrams involving cats' blood and people dressed in black robes.
The abuse victims ranged in age from 1 to 16, the police said. Several are in protective custody, and a search is under way for others, who may have moved or are known to the police only by first name or nickname. On Tuesday, the police were at the church grounds with dogs, though they would not say what they sought.

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