Thursday, January 19, 2006

Other Items

Human Rights Watch asserted Wednesday that the Bush administration had undertaken a deliberate strategy of abusing terror suspects during interrogations, in ways, the group said, that undercut broader American interests. The criticism drew an unusually direct rebuff from the White House.
"In the course of 2005, it became indisputable that U.S. mistreatment of detainees reflected not a failure of training, discipline or oversight, but a deliberate policy choice," the rights group said in a sweeping critique in its annual report. "The problem could not be reduced to a few bad apples at the bottom of the barrel."
The group said the United States' detainee practices, along with the accusations that torture has possibly taken place at secret camps, had, together with what it said was a tendency of some Europeans to put business ahead of rights concerns, produced a "global leadership void" in defending human rights.

Melinda notes the above, from Brian Knowlton's "Rights Group Assails the U.S. Over Abuse of Terror Suspects" in this morning's New York Times. This will probably come up today on Democracy Now! (see final note of this entry)

Erika notes David D. Kirkpatrick's "Democrats Urge Strategic 'No' Votes on Alito" paints Alito's confirmation as a done deal. Note the correction at the bottom of the article:

An article on Jan. 8 about Democratic opposition to Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s nomination to the Supreme Court referred incorrectly to the results of several national polls on Americans' attitudes toward his confirmation. Only one major poll - not all - showed a majority supporting his confirmation.

Is Kirkpatrick aware of the paper's correction? If he isn't that may explain why he sees Alito as a done deal. While focusing on Ben Nelson rush to break ranks (and support Alito), Kirkpatrick seems either unaware or unconcerned by the pressures being brought upon Republicans to oppose Alito. Maybe he's unaware of the topic he's writing about? Maybe he thinks Republicans aren't the focus of this article? (Surprising considering the Times bends over backwards to make them the focus of every other article.) But if you're going to paint Alito as a done deal, you might need to be aware of the pressure coming to bear on moderate (or "moderate") Republicans. In fact, one might argue that's more newsworthy than yet another article about Ben Nelson breaking ranks to support Alito?

On the topic of Alito, Third Party e-mailed to note "Greens Urge Americans to Speak Out Against 'Ideologue' Alito's Confirmation" (Green Party):

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders today called on all Americans who value freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to contact members of Congress and demand that they vote against Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.
"Judge Alito, if confirmed, will be the fourth member of a group of Supreme Court justices dedicated to unchecked presidential power and the repeal of equal protection and numerous individual rights," said Marakay Rogers, Green candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania and former candidate for the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
Greens noted that Judge Alito throughout his career has sought to "increase the power of the executive to shape the law" (his words), having advised the Reagan Administration on strategies for evading Congress's oversight and ignoring laws it doesn't agree with, and favoring a license for the Justice Department to install wiretaps without obtaining a warrant.
"In the current Bush administration, Sam Alito's theory of 'unitary executive' power translates into exploitation of the wartime situation and public fears about terrorism," said Carl Romanelli, who is seeking the nomination of the Green Party of Pennsylvania for the U.S. Senate. "Democrats and moderate Republicans who were outraged at the revelation of President Bush's order for the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants should be as concerned about Judge Alito as the rest of us."
Consistent with his support for enlarged executive power, Judge Alito has claimed that a presidential 'signing statement' (language added to a bill passed by Congress, added by the President upon signing it into law, such as President Bush's signing statement giving the White House the option to override the McCain amendment outlawing torture) has legal validity equal to the law itself.
"Signing statements are a violation of the constitutional separation of powers which, if upheld by the Court, would set the stage for unprecedented abuse of executive power, some of which we're already witnessing," said Mr. Romanelli.
Greens asserted that all Americans who value justice should be alarmed at Judge Alito's apparent hostility towards African Americans and favoritism for corporations, as evidenced by his judicial record.
"In the context of the rest of his career, we cannot consider Judge Alito's membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton an isolated and forgotten youthful mistake, committed in ignorance of the group's animosity towards women, people of color, and people with AIDS," said Jody Grage Haug, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "As Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee [D-Tex.] noted, Judge Alito has repeatedly ruled against African Americans seeking the right to a fair jury and protection from job discrimination. Since Judge Alito has refused to call Roe v. Wade 'settled law', reproductive rights would be under greater threat if he were on the bench. His appointment would strengthen the bloc of ideologues who are gunning for Roe and for civil rights protections, and who seek to enshrine unrestrained presidential power."
Greens listed other dangerous and antidemocratic positions taken by Samuel Alito:
Judge Alito's narrow interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause threatens numerous environmental laws, especially those protecting wetlands and waterways that affect the ecology of several states. ("Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and the environment", National Environmental Trust <>)
Citing the need for a "stable and efficient election process," Judge Alito favors restrictive ballot access laws hostile to ndependents and parties outside of the Democratic-Republican mainstream. ("Judge Alito's ballot access record is disappointing", Ballot Access News, December 5, 2005, Vol 21 No 8 <>)
"In the next few days, the survival of democracy depends on Americans willing to speak out and let Congress -- Republicans as well as Democrats -- know that another Federalist Society radical on the Supreme Court is unacceptable," Jody Grage Haug added.
Green Party of the United States
1700 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 404
Washington, DC 20009.
Fax 202-319-7193

Alito's opposed to by many groups and thanks to Third Party for noting the opposition from the Greens.

In "official"dom, the Times runs Neil A. Lewis and David Johnston's "Inquiry on Clinton Official Ends With Accusations of Cover-Up" which is a whispered (very whispered -- careless whispered?) account of the conclusion of the long running investigation into Henry G. Cisneros. Twenty-one million spent and nothing to show for it. "Mr. Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999 to a misdemeanor charge of lying to investigators," the article notes. Of course Tuesday, Cisneros was just the person, excuse me, the official, to weigh in on the MLK controversy in San Antonio.
Tuesday there wasn't time to tell readers about the plea (or to hear from those opposed to a military flyover at a MLK peace march) but there was time to hear from KB Homes-ter who took a plea bargain and to present him as one of the many "last official words" on the topic of something he clearly had no business in commenting on. Now if there's reason for a group of plea bargainers to protest an event, Cisneros may be just the official you want. But on Tuesday he was just another "official" voice weighing in on something he and the paper mistakenly thought he was a) informed on and b) readers were waiting to hear from. He and a former colleague who pled to much stronger charges than Cisneros might want to stop peaking out from beneath the rock they crawled to see if the coast is clear (and memories are fogged) yet and instead keep their disgraced selves out of the limelight. And when the Times wants to play "Silly peacenicks" in a slanted story, they might remember that in times past they played out such stories without having to go begging for questionable "officials."

Rod passes on the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now!:

Former British diplomat Craig Murray joins us in our firehouse studio to discuss his removal from his post as ambassador to Uzbekistan after speaking out against human rights abuse and the British and US policy of accepting information extracted through torture by the Uzbek government.

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