Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Other Items

A senior White House budget official who resigned abruptly last week was arrested Monday on charges of lying to investigators and obstructing a federal inquiry involving Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist who has been under scrutiny by the Justice Department for more than a year.
The arrest of the official, David H. Safavian, head of procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, was the first to result from the wide-ranging corruption investigation of Mr. Abramoff, once among the most powerful and best-paid lobbyists in Washington and a close friend of Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.
According to court papers, Mr. Safavian, 38, is accused of lying about assistance that he gave Mr. Abramoff in his earlier work at the General Services Administration, where he was chief of staff from 2002 to 2004, and about an expensive golf trip he took with the lobbyist to Scotland in August 2002.

The above is from Philp Shenon and Anne E. Kornblut's "Ex-White House Aide Charged in Corruption Case" in this morning's New York Times and was sent in by Ben who says it reminds him of the moment in Dick where the mother turns to the father and comments on how Watergate ran much deeper than she ever realized.

Ned e-mails to note Shadi Rahimi's "An Antiwar Speech in Union Square Is Stopped by Police Citing Paperwork Rules:"

The crowd of New Yorkers had waited more than an hour to catch a glimpse of Ms. Sheehan, who was thrust into the national spotlight in August when she sought a meeting with President Bush by camping out for days near his ranch in Crawford, Tex. Though soft-spoken, Ms. Sheehan has not shied away from controversy, opening her New York visit on Sunday night in Brooklyn by accusing Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of failing to challenge the Bush administration's policies in Iraq.
Ms. Sheehan, who did not mention Ms. Clinton yesterday, urged her supporters in Union Square to continue pushing to end the war in Iraq. One supporter, Lien Corey, a 51-year-old Manhattan resident who was living in Vietnam during the war there, said that Ms. Sheehan had become a larger-than-life figure who represents the sentiments of many people across the country. "She's beyond herself now, she's a symbol," Ms. Corey said. "She's a catalyst, and we all unite behind her."
Ms. Sheehan, who has been credited by many activists with reinvigorating the antiwar movement in the United States, began speaking out against the war in Iraq soon after her 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Baghdad on April 2, 2004. She attributes her sudden fame to the news media's need to find a "focal point" on certain high-profile issues like the Iraq war.

Lynda e-mails to note Arianna Huffington's "Bill Clinton's Muddled Attempt to Own the Middle" (The Huffington Post):

Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has tried out a variety of positions: Elder Statesman, Prolix Memoirist, King of the Public Speakers, Hospital Bed Campaign Advisor, First Husband-in-Waiting, Disaster Fundraiser, Global Visionary.
But judging from his latest TV appearances, he seems to have landed on a brand new incarnation: Equivocator-in-Chief.Forget all the nonsense you might have heard about the former president taking on the current one (Drudge linked to a story calling it "
a withering attack" and right-wing blogs followed suit) -- in truth, he consistently played both sides of the fence.
On a variety of key issues -- especially Iraq and Katrina -- instead of offering clarity and leadership, he offered a steady stream of have-it-both-ways, “on the hand… and on the other” reasoning.Let’s start with the Katrina relief effort. After spending the early days of the catastrophe providing cover for Bush (including making the ludicrous claims that the flooding of New Orleans could not have been foreseen, and that we could not make any judgments on the response without being there), he belatedly decided to cast a discerning eye on the administration’s woeful handling of the disaster. “You can’t have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up,” he told George Stephanopoulos. True, but not exactly “withering”.
And he took a page out of the GOP playbook by spreading the blame around, pointing the finger for the lack of an effective evacuation plan squarely where it belongs: uh, everywhere. “Maybe the mayor, maybe the governor,” he said when asked who was responsible. And maybe the dog catcher too.

Zach e-mails to note (he thinks Trevor will especially want to read the article) Tom Gorman's
"Padilla and the Death of the Republic" (CounterPunch):

In the Padilla case, all Luttig considers is whether Congress granted the President the power to detain people indefinitely. Given the Resolution's broad language, it most likely does give the President that power. But, like the war making power, Congress has no business delegating such authority to the President or anyone else. It simply cannot be maintained that the Constitution would allow the President to suspend its protections for anyone he deemed an "enemy combatant." The saying goes that "rules are meant to be broken." Nonsense; rules are meant to be followed, and Constitutions are meant to be enforced. Otherwise, they are nothing but whitewash for tyranny, as, for instance, the Soviet Constitution under Stalin certainly was. Luttig would have us believe that the framers of the Constitution wasted those hot summer months in Philadelphia back in 1787 hammering out a social charter that could be abrogated on the whim of one man. The entire purpose of the Constitution was to prevent such abusive power.
Many argue that the President would not use this power to detain capriciously anyone he wished. This is irrelevant on two counts. First, under the Fourth Circuit panel ruling, President Bush cannot, by legal definition, detain anyone capriciously, for he is "unquestionably authorized" to detain anyone he designates an "enemy combatant." Second, that the President is unlikely to use this sweeping power to incarcerate people at random has nothing to do with whether or not he should have that right. The system of law is predicated on its equal enforcement, not on the mood swings of a neo-monarch.
Another contention is that the President's power to detain is limited by the duration of the hostilities, making even an unjust detention a temporary condition. In a press release the ACLU stated "it is . . . important to understand [the Fourth Circuit opinion's] limitations. It does not authorize the government to designate and detain as an enemy combatant' anyone who it claims is associated with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups." As argued above, though, since the President sees the Iraq war as part of his mandate under the AUMF "to prevent future acts of international terrorism," the decision in the Padilla case would allow indefinite detentions of anyone the President designates as an "enemy combatant" in the so-called "War on Terror." It follows then that anything the President declares to be part of his efforts "to prevent future acts of international terrorism" could be used as an umbrella authority to detain anyone that the President feels, in his sole opinion, is worthy of being declared an "enemy combatant." Furthermore, as the grant of authority under the AUMF seems to be open-ended, these detentions are, in practicality, indefinite. In other words, the ACLU is wrong. The decision in the Padilla case means that the President has the authority to detain anyone he wishes for as long as he wishes.

We'll note Robert Parry's "Powell's Widening Credibility Gap" (Consortum News):

As the recent CNN documentary, "Dead Wrong," also made clear, many senior intelligence officials, especially inside Powell's State Department, were aware of the shoddy intelligence behind the Iraqi WMD claims.
Greg Thielmann, who monitored WMD issues for the State Department's bureau of intelligence, said his unease dated back to August 2002, when Vice President Dick Cheney declared that "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction" and that "we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons."
Cheney was drawing from alarmist intelligence being collected by a special Pentagon office established by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and staffed by neoconservative policymakers set on war with Iraq.
"That speech it seemed to me was basically a declaration of war speech," Thielmann said. "That's when I, for the first time, became really alarmed about where we were going on this."
As recently as this summer, Bush has continued to deny that in that time period, "we had made up our mind to go – to use military force to deal with Saddam," adding "there is nothing farther from the truth."
Resigned to War
But the evidence is clear that the die was cast for war by summer 2002. As the Downing Street Memo shows, all that was left was lining up public support.
The CNN documentary, which aired on Aug. 21, 2005, reported that by September 2002, "the Pentagon has quietly positioned forces in countries around the Persian Gulf. The United States will be ready to move against Saddam in as little as 60 days."

Note on the above. We aren't self-referential. I learned of this article early Sunday morning when working with The Third Estate Sunday Review on the news review feature. Ty mentioned it and after the news review was done, I asked him about. First I heard of Ava's mention in it which (combined with it being by Parry) was enough to justify noting it immediately. Then I heard that we were mentioned in it. (I still haven't read the piece in full, just excerpts that were noted in e-mails from members.) We're not self-referential. (It was kind of Parry to mention Ava. And though she's agreed to take over if I have to stop doing entries here, that hasn't had to happen so we would note her mention the way we've noted Dallas or Ruth's.) I've ignored e-mails to link to it (I'm sure the entire article is worth reading) to avoid in type of self-referential appearance. Shirley made the case for noting the above and linking to it. Shirley built her case on the fact that it goes to the effects of the CNN special on Powell which is an issue that's been little commented on (from an entry here):

The CNN special, which I didn't see, has been a serious blow for him among many people I know who defended him -- I never have defended him for the record. Among those people, African-Americans have been particularly vocal in their outrage over the actions they learned of in the CNN special. This statement may be an attempt to get ahead of the growing outrage that may have been strong news were it not for Hurricane Katrina silencing most other stories.

Shirley made the case strongly and we'll note it. But we're not quoting the section a number want quoted (it would be self-referential) and if you click on the link and see it, you've been warned. We've noted Robert Parry here repeatedly (including one time when I wrongly noted Nat Parry as Robert Parry). We're not noting the article for any reason other than the case that Shirley made (and members who e-mailed on Sunday know that their requests were ignored).
He's a favorite of Rebecca's and he's a favorite of the community. (Who should tell the tale of when she met him -- he's a long term favorite of her's -- or sort-of met him. I won't spoil it in case she wants to tell the story.) The plan was to avoid the article to avodi being self-referential but Shirley argued the case very strongly in her e-mail so we'll note it today. (I'm sure the entire article is worth reading, so don't get bogged down in wherever we're mentioned.)

Rod e-mails to note the scheduled topics for today's Democracy Now!:

Hugo Chavez: We broadcast the rest of our exclusive interview with the Venezuelan president. An in-studio on the state of African with 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winning Wangari Maathai, of Kenya; and human rights activist and journalist KenWiwa, of Nigeria.

Also we'll note the upcoming appearences for the Un-Embed the Media Tour:

* Amy Goodman in Santa Fe, NM:
Wed, Sept 21
Lannan Readings & Conversations
Robert Fisk with Amy Goodman
Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 W. San Francisco St
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Tickets: $6 general public, $3 with student ID
Tickets for each event go on sale the first SATURDAY in the month prior to the event.
By phone:
505.988.1234 (Lensic Box Office), Mon-Sat, 10-5
In person:
Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St, Santa Fe,NM 87501,
Mon-Sat, 10-5
Order tickets online at the Lensic website, www.lensic.com

* Amy Goodman in Washington, DC:
Fri, Sept 23 *TIME: 5:30 PM
First Annual Unvarnished Truth Awards
Amy Goodman will be a recipient.
Busboys & Poets Restaurant
14th and V St. NW Washington, DC
5:30 Jazz Reception6:30 Dinner and Awards Ceremony
Attire: Semi-formal
Reservations for the dinner and awards ceremony are $150 per person
(fundraiser for Pacifica Radio's Washington Bureau)
Reservations (no ticket sales) for this event will be taken at (202)588-0999 x 348 beginning Sept. 1

* Amy Goodman in Washington, DC:
Sun, Sept 25
Green Festival
MainstageWashington D.C. Convention Center
801 Mount Vernon Place NW
Day of Ticket Prices:
Adults--$15 each day
Students/Seniors--$5Kids 12 & Under--Free
Ride Your Bike--$5
For more information, visit http://greenfestivals.com

* Amy Goodman in Norfolk, VA:
Fri, Sept 30
Independent Media: A PrimerKeynote Speech
Naro Expanded Cinema
1507 Colley Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510
Minimum donation $10
Tickets available at Naro Cinema
For more information, visit www.narocinema.com

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.