Thursday, November 17, 2005

NYT: Patriot Act and war profiteering

Congressional negotiators neared a final agreement Wednesday night on legislation that will extend and keep largely intact the sweeping antiterrorism powers granted to the federal government after the Sept. 11 attacks under the law known as the USA Patriot Act.
After months of vitriolic debate, the tentative agreement represents a significant and somewhat surprising victory for the Bush administration in maintaining the government's expanded powers to investigate, monitor and track terror suspects.

The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "Congress Nears Deal to Renew Antiterror Law" in this morning's New York Times. E-mails Carl: "The whole thing was a done deal and the public was ignored. After using the 'we didn't have to read it it!' defense last time, there's no excuse now. Congress has declared the public and democracy superfluous."

From the article:

The deal reached by negotiators does include some new restrictions on the government's powers, including greater public reporting and oversight of how often the government is demanding records and using various investigative tools.
Critics at the American Civil Liberties Union and elsewhere called the changes "window dressing" and said that the legislation left out what they considered more meaningful reform in preventing civil rights abuses in terror investigations.

War profiteering results in two stories in this morning's Times. Julia notes Diana B. Henriques' "Curbs on Insurance for Military Are Urged:"

In a report to be released today, the Government Accountability Office strongly urges Congress to act to protect military personnel from the deceptive sales practices and unsuitable investments and insurance policies that the report says have been a disturbing fact of military life.

The second story, noted by Zach, is James Glanz's "American Faces Charge of Graft for Work in Iraq:"

In what is expected to be the first of a series of criminal charges against officials and contractors overseeing the rebuilding of Iraq, an American has been charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to American occupation authorities and their spouses to obtain construction contracts, according to a complaint unsealed late yesterday.
The man, Philip H. Bloom, who controlled three companies that did work in Iraq in the multibillion-dollar reconstruction effort, was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and interstate transportation of stolen property, all in connection with obtaining up to $3.5 million in reportedly fraudulent contracts.

Democracy Now! features a discussion on detainees -- with Michal Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and another guest, as well as a discussion on white phosphorous.
Be sure to watch, listen or read today. (I'm listening right now.)

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