Monday, May 16, 2005

NYT: "Senators Say Bush Lags on Creating Terror Panel," Uzbekistan, Priscilla Owens . . .

We'll start off this morning's New York Times post by noting Eric Lichtblau's "Senators Say Bush Lags on Creating Terror Panel:"

The White House has been slow to establish an oversight board charged with ensuring that the government's campaign against terrorism does not erode privacy and civil rights, a bipartisan group of senators said in a letter released Friday.
Five months after the board was created, President Bush has yet to name any members or an executive director, and the $750,000 budget for the board proposed by the White House is far less than the budgets of other federal panels, the senators said.
[. . .]
The Sept. 11 commission, in its final report last summer, noted the absence of any centralized federal office to protect civil liberties in the campaign against terrorism, and it urged the creation of such an office. Congress moved on the idea last December as part of a broader restructuring of federal intelligence operations, creating the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

On a related topic, there was an e-mail noting that Chip Pitts gave an interview on C-Span this weekend, the topic was Real I.D., and that it can be viewed online. (Pitts Bill of Rights Defense Committee Board Member and Amnesty International USA Board Chair.) (Disclosure, I've met Pitts several times. We both enjoy Lewis Lapham's Theater of War. So Pitts also has good taste in books.) The e-mailer didn't give permission to be quoted or named so I'll just say that he was very pleased with Pitts' remarks. (And here's a link to the Bill of Rights Defense Committe.)

Stephanie e-mails to note Larry Rohter's "Guru of Sadism, Safely in Jail, Leaves Cult to Fend for Itself:"

A winding dirt road leads to the compound where Chilean authorities say that Paul Schafer, a former Nazi Luftwaffe medic turned lay preacher, sexually molested scores of young boys. A few yards away is a hospital where, according to former cult members, those who drew Mr. Schafer's ire were drugged and tortured. And somewhere beneath the ground, human rights groups say, are the clandestine dungeons where Colonia Dignidad held the political prisoners who were entrusted to it in the 1970's by Gen. Augusto Pinochet's secret police.
Until he was arrested in March after years on the run, Mr. Schafer, now 84, dominated the life of this bizarre and isolated place, which Chilean officials have likened to Jonestown in Guyana or the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex. But with their notorious leader, known as the Permanent Uncle, now in custody, some 300 followers of his apocalyptic, anti-Communist and anti-Semitic creed have been left suddenly adrift.

Zach e-mails to highlight Shaila Dewan's "Political Split Leaves a Church Sadder and Grayer:"

From the pulpit of East Waynesville Baptist Church, the temporary pastor offered an unusual message for his adopted flock: "I don't mind telling you before I start off this morning, this is not where I want to be."
No one blames him. Over the past two weeks, the modest brick church with baskets of artificial lilies on the doors has found itself at the center of a national debate, a crash test site in the mixing of politics and religion. The Rev. Chan Chandler, the young minister who led the congregation of about 100 people for the last three years, is gone, having resigned under fire last week and taken his mostly younger followers with him. And nine longtime church members who said he ousted them because they did not support his increasingly political sermons are back.
When Mr. Chandler, 33, resigned on May 10, some said the battle had been won. But the congregation that regrouped on Sunday was smaller and grayer, teary-eyed and leaderless.

Tony e-mails to note Neil A. Lewis' "Rove Guided Career of Judicial Nominee in Filibuster Fight:"

Justice Priscilla R. Owen of the Texas Supreme Court declined a chance to be the court's first female chief justice last year so she could remain one of President Bush's nominees to a federal appeals court, Texas lawyers and political figures said in recent interviews.
The decision was one of three crucial moments in her judicial career in which she seemed to have been guided by the hand of Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political strategist.
Justice Owen, along with Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court, is now at the center of the partisan battle in the Senate over changing the filibuster rules. Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, said Friday that the two state justices, whose confirmations have been blocked by Democrats, would be brought to the Senate floor as part of the fight over changing the rules.

Tony asked that we note "the earlier thing" on Priscilla Owens. I'm assuing he means the May 3rd post "Editorial: Justice Denied or Justice Delayed? Priscilla Owens wants on the federal bench." (If that's not it, let me know, Tony.)

Maria e-mails to highlight C.J. Chivers' "Uzbekistan Shaken by Unrest, Violence and Uncertainty:"

Skirmishing between armed Uzbeks and troops along Uzbekistan's border with Kyrgyzstan persisted Sunday, news agencies reported, as uncertainty grew about the circumstances and extent of bloodshed on Friday when the government suppressed a mass demonstration by force.
Reports of the number of deaths since the violence began varied widely, from dozens to hundreds of civilians.
The Associated Press reported that residents of the village of Tefektosh had said the latest clashes left several soldiers dead. Uzbekistan's president, Islam A. Karimov, said Saturday that 10 government soldiers and "many more rebels" had been killed.
None of the reports could be verified, and it was difficult to determine who was fighting, and with what ambitions, although in addition to elements of a general uprising against a repressive government, armed and newly freed inmates were in the area of strife. Telephone service has been intermittent, and the Uzbek government has forced many journalists to leave.

On that last note, we'll note this from Reporters Without Borders, "Reporters Without Borders 'extremely worried' as journalists expelled from Andijan:"

Uzbek security services enforced the expulsions. Reuters news agency reported that its correspondent in Andijan was ordered to leave the city in half an hour, failing which police would be unable to guarantee his safety.
The agency said that seven journalists had been made to leave, mostly working for foreign newspapers, but a reporter with local agency Ferghana and another working for an opposition website were also forced to leave.

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