The Bush administration is rebuffing requests from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for its classified legal opinions on President Bush's domestic spying program, setting up a confrontation in advance of a hearing scheduled for next week, administration and Congressional officials said Wednesday.
The Justice Department is balking at the request so far, administration officials said, arguing that the legal opinions would add little to the public debate because the administration has already laid out its legal defense at length in several public settings.
But the legality of the program is known to have produced serious concerns within the Justice Department in 2004, at a time when one of the legal opinions was drafted. Democrats say they want to review the internal opinions to assess how legal thinking on the program evolved and whether lawyers in the department saw any concrete limits to the president's powers in fighting terrorism.
The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "Senate Panel Rebuffed on Documents on U.S. Spying" in this morning's New York Times. Does Lichtblau fancy himself a comedian when he dubs the Why We Spy p.r. push as a "legal defense"? Is he clowning when he brings up John Yoo?
Eddie steers us to Joan Mellen's "HOW THE FAILURE TO IDENTIFY, PROSECUTE AND CONVICT PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S ASSASSINS HAS LED TO TODAY’S CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY" (transcript of speech to the Ethical Cultural Society, available at the Law & Disorder website):
For a flagrant example of what we have come to, we might revisit the scantily reported exchange on December 1st (2005) between Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft, a participant in the writing of the Patriot Act, and now a Berkeley law professor.
The subject of the debate was the illegal expansion of presidential powers. Professor Cassel asks, "If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo answers, "No treaty." Cassel follows up: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." And Yoo replies, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."
Sick to your stomach? You should be.
Let's note two highlights on the passing of Coretta Scott King. First, Maria notes Eleanor Smeal's "Personal Reflections on Coretta Scott King" (The Smeal Report From Inside Washington, Ms. Magazine):
I had the honor of working with Coretta Scott King on the International Women's Year conference as a fellow commissioner (1978) on the National Commission on the Observation of International Women's Year, which was chaired by Bella Abzug. President Carter had appointed me and Coretta, together with 44 other women, to the commission.
Coretta was a strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and women's rights in general. She was always there lending her great stature to the causes of women.
Second excerpt, noted by Mia, Cynthia McKinney's "The Legacy of Coretta Scott King" (CounterPunch):
When I first heard the news about the death of Coretta Scott King I was at once both shocked and saddened. Although Mrs. King belonged to her children and cousins and nieces and nephews, she also belonged to us--the American people and the family of black people all over the world.
When she was alive, there was a sense of comfort. Mother King guarded us, protected us; she helped set this country free when she picked up Martin's cross.
I was given the privilege of speaking at this year's Martin Luther King ceremony at Ebenezer Church. Due to illness, she watched the proceedings on the television, not able to be there with us. Our love went out to her then and it does so now. I love the King Family as do we all. Her vision and Martin's vision moved our country forward.
In the Democracy Now! entry later today (remember Amy Goodman's in Qatar), we'll probably be focusing some on Alito because there are a number of e-mails coming in on that. However, if you see something on King that you want highlighted please e-mail it and put "King" or "CSK" or "Coretta" in the title of the e-mail to make sure it's not overlooked.
For those wondering about an entry on the Church Committee, one's completed. (As of two and a half hours ago.) I'm getting some friends to read over it because I want to be sure we can follow it. I don't mean typos (I could care less about typos), but this is an area that has so little attention (especiallly when one considers its historical significance) that I don't want to risk assuming "Well we all know about this . . ." when that may not be the case. So I've farmed it out to five friends and asked that, if they get lost, they note where. I've got a feeling the suggestions will be to cut back on the scope, which is fine.
The Bush Commission will be at least a three part entry (and remember the commission releases their findings today from the second set of hearings) but Carl suggests everyone check out Harry Belafonte's speech "Harry Belafonte at Riverside Church in the 'Final Hour'" (at Robert Scheer's Truth Dig) which you can listen to or you can read the text of. (First entry on the Bush Commission at this site is here, in case you missed it yesterday.)
Today, Democracy Now! "its special broadcast from Doha, Qatar" (Rod passed that along) and, like Mike, I'm thinking that I heard, on yesterday's program, talk of Al Jazeera being one of the focuses for today.
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