Saturday, March 11, 2006

NYT: "Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Theft Charges" (John Files and Robert Pear)

A former top White House aide was arrested on Thursday in the Maryland suburbs on charges that he stole merchandise from a number of retailers, the police in Montgomery County, Md., said Friday.
The former aide, Claude A. Allen, 45, was President Bush's top domestic policy adviser until resigning last month. Known as a rising conservative star, he previously served as deputy secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, and in 2003 the White House announced its intention to nominate him to a seat on the federal appeals court based in Richmond, Va. Democrats raised questions about the nomination, and it never came to a vote.

The above is from John Files and Robert Pear's "Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Theft Charges" in this morning's New York Times. And before you get too excited and think the paper of record is front paging the story, it's not in Saturday's paper. [*CORRECTION*: On the back page of the national edition of today's paper, A28, "Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Retail Theft Charges" appears credited to John Files, with end credit to Robert Pear. This is an early version of the story by Files and Pear, end credit to David E. Sanger, that the link takes you to. It does not include the chronology Scott McClellan offers or a statement from Allen's lawyer. Original article includes sentences such as this: "The police did not refer to Mr. Allen's previous employment at the White House in announcing the arrest. The mug shot matched pictures of Mr. Allen and the Mongomery Country real estate records show that Mr. Allen and his wife were the buyers of the house at the address listed by the police."] Lewis noted this online story in an e-mail this morning. So what's been learned since Rebecca noted it and we noted it here last night?

There's this: when he was "issued a misdemeanor citation for theft," he wasn't a "former" anything. That was on January 2, 2006 and he was still Bully Boy's "top domestic policy adviser." Here's how the scam he's accused of worked, and remember this man's tight with Focus on the Fool Jimmy Dobson, he'd go to a store, purchase a few things, take his purchases out to his car, go back into the store with the receipt and the empty sack where he would grab the same sort of items and attempt to "return" these non-purchased items for a refund.

How well did this alleged scam apparently work? He's accused of working the con to the profit of "$5,000 last year at stores like Target and Hecht's." And the White House was informed of the January 2nd incident, Andrew Card (informed on the second of January) and Harriet Miers (informed on the third of January).

David S. Cloud, meanwhile, stumbles with the help of a bad headline writing, in
"Port Deal's Collapse Stirs Fears of Repercussions in Mideast Ties." The deal's collapse isn't stirring fears, Bully Boy is. Cloud hems and haws but appears to grasp that aspect early on in the article, despite the headline and despite a refusal to state "Bully Boy stirs fears." It's really no surprise that Bully Boy is pushing fear, it's all he ever pushes.

By the way, there's another purchase issue that's causing concern for some, as noted on Democracy Now! yesterday:

FBI Opposes Israeli Firm Buying Tech Firm w/ NSA Ties
Meanwhile a similar controversy is brewing over another business merger. An Israeli-based company called Check Point is in the process of buying the hi-tech firm SourceFire whose technology is used to protect some of the government's most sensitive computer systems at the Pentagon and the National Security Agency. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States has launched an investigation into the proposed sale. The FBI reportedly opposes the sale of SourceFire to any foreign firm because the agency fears that would give away the keys to the government's most sensitive computer networks.

Turning to Iraq, the Times' "American Kidnapped in Iraq Is Found Slain" reports that Christian Peacemaker Teams' Tom Fox is dead. Fox and three others from CPT were kidnapped on November 26th. There is no word on the other three members: "James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both of Canada, and Norman Kember, 74, of Britain." Earlier this week, Al Jazeera broadcast a video featuring Loney, Sooden and Kember but not Fox.

There's no byline for this article, noted by Charlie, but there is an end credit that states Michele Kayal contributed to the report.

From "CPT Release: We Mourn the Loss of Tom Fox" (Quakerorg.):

In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion. The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain. Tom Fox's body was found in Baghdad yesterday.
Christian Peacemaker Teams extends our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have traveled so closely in these days of crisis.
We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.
We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember. Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus' prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.
In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done. In Tom's own words: "We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation."
Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war.
Through these days of crisis, Christian Peacemaker Teams has been surrounded and upheld by a great outpouring of compassion: messages of support, acts of mercy, prayers, and public actions offered by the most senior religious councils and by school children, by political leaders and by those organizing for justice and human rights, by friends in distant nations and by strangers near at hand. These words and actions sustain us. While one of our teammates is lost to us, the strength of this outpouring is not lost to God’s movement for just peace among all peoples.
At the forefront of that support are strong and courageous actions from Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world for which we are profoundly grateful. Their graciousness inspires us to continue working for the day when Christians speak up as boldly for the human rights of thousands Iraqis still detained illegally by the United States and United Kingdom.
Such an outpouring of action for justice and peace would be a fitting memorial for Tom. Let us all join our voices on behalf of those who continue to suffer under occupation, whose loved ones have been killed or are missing. In so doing, we may hasten the day when both those who are wrongly detained and those who bear arms will return safely to their homes. In such a peace we will find solace for our grief.
Despite the tragedy of this day, we remain committed to put into practice these words of Jim Loney: "With the waging of war, we will not comply. With the help of God's grace, we will struggle for justice. With God's abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies." We continue in hope for Jim, Harmeet and Norman's safe return home safe.
Contact: Dr. Doug Pritchard, CPT Co-Director 416-423-5525 (Canada) and Rev. Carol Rose, CPT Co-Director Kryss Chupp, 773-277-0253 (USA)

As noted on KPFA's Evening News yesterday, "More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, 55 foreign hostages are known to have been killed by their captors."

Hassan M. Fattah's "Symbol of Abu Ghraib Seeks to Spare Others His Nightmare" in this morning's New York Times offers a look at Ali Shalal Qaissi -- it's a look that's needed; however, is Fattah willfully unaware of Donovan Webster's "The Man In The Hood: And New Accounts of Prisoner Abuse in Iraq" (Vanity Fair)? (Article was never available online, we noted it here on January 17, 2005.) From Fattah's article:

Mr. Qaissi, 43, was prisoner 151716 of Cellblock 1A. The picture of him standing hooded atop a cardboard box, attached to electrical wires with his arms stretched wide in an eerily prophetic pose, became the indelible symbol of the torture at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. [The American military said Thursday that it would abandon the prison and turn it over to the Iraqi government.]
"I never wanted to be famous, especially not in this way," he said, as he sat in a squalid office rented by his friends here in Amman. That said, he is now a prisoner advocate who clearly understands the power of the image: it appears on his business card.
At first glance, there is little to connect Mr. Qaissi with the infamous picture of a hooded man except his left hand, which he says was disfigured when an antique rifle exploded in his hands at a wedding several years ago. A disfigured hand also seems visible in the infamous picture, and features prominently in Mr. Qaissi's outlook on life. In Abu Ghraib, the hand, with two swollen fingers, one of them partly blown off, and a deep gash in the palm, earned him the nickname Clawman, he said.
A spokesman for the American military in Iraq declined to comment, saying it would violate the Geneva Conventions to disclose the identity of prisoners in any of the Abu Ghraib photographs, just as it would to discuss the reasons behind Mr. Qaissi's detention.

Bill notes Cynthia Bennett's "The War on Abortion and Women's Health in Tennessee" (Tennessee Indymedia):

Eleven States, Including Tennessee, Follow South Dakota's Attack on Women and Families
Nashville, TN: On Thursday, March 9th Planned Parenthood supporters in Tennessee joined the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Nashville Women's Political Caucus, National Council of Jewish Women - Nashville Section, Tennessee National Organization for Women (NOW), Nashville NOW, ACLU-Tennessee, Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood, Tennessee Democratic Women's Political Action Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State - Tennessee, and other organizations to protest legislative attacks on abortion and reproductive health care and call for increased efforts in Tennessee to help women and families prevent unintended pregnancy. All 11 states with pending outright abortion bans held simultaneous visibility events on March 9th designed to remind legislators that the majority of Americans support protecting a woman's right to choose.
In a packed room in Legislative Plaza dozens of women were joined by Cathy England Walsh, Executive Director, TN Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Hedy Weinberg, President, American Civil Liberties Union - Tennessee; Holly Spann, President, Nashville Women's Political Caucus; Also speaking was Mark Huffman, VP, Education and Training, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East TN for a press conference after the recently voted on third hearing regarding SJR127, which passed the Senate 22-9. The bill now goes on to the House where it will enter a subcommittee. Organizers say their next chance is to kill it in subcommittee before it makes its way to the floor.

What else is coming up today? Maria has her (and her students) picks for important headlines from Democracy Now! (in Spanish and English), Ruth's latest public radio report, and Kat's doing the heads up to this weekends' RadioNation with Laura Flanders.

Brad's already noted that we've gone by to weekly archives. Why? Too many complaints from members. I understand and find it easier to track down a past entry by week. I can usually pinpoint something by a week and then find it by going through a week's worth of entries. Scrolling through a month's worth of entries is difficult. So the compromise? Returning to the weekly archives means reducing the main page entries to two days. When we started, we had seven days. Then we had five. Then we had to move to three. To get the site to publish, we either go to monthly archives or two days of entries. So that's what we've got now.

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