Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Democracy Now: Jonathan Turley, John Stauber, Hannah Sassaman

European secret services colluded in the detention and secret transfer of terrorist suspects in or across the continent, the author of a key report on the CIA rendition flights has said.
Dick Marty, a Swiss parliamentarian who compiled the report for the Council of Europe rights watchdog, said there was no doubt of collaboration.
"It has been proved that agents from national intelligence services colluded in the handing over and the transportation of persons suspected of terrorism," he told members of the pan-European body's parliamentary assembly.
Questioned at a news conference afterward, Mr Marty singled out Bosnia, whose government admitted during the inquiry that it had delivered six suspects of Algerian origin into US hands on January 18, 2002.
He also pointed to Italian complicity in the February 17, 2003 abduction of the former imam of a mosque in Milan, Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, who was flown to Egypt where he alleged he was tortured.
That case is now the subject of a legal inquiry, with Italian prosecutors hoping to put 22 alleged CIA operatives on trial in their absence before the end of the year.

The above is from Australia's ABC, "Secret services 'colluded in CIA rendition'" and Skip e-mailed to note it. We'll open with it.

Pentagon Admits To New Spying of Student Groups
The list of activist groups monitored under a secret Pentagon program is growing. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network says the Defense Department has admitted to spying on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and anti-war protests at several universities: the State University of New York at Albany, William Paterson University in New Jersey, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California at Berkeley. De-classified documents show the government intercepted the students' e-mails and planted undercover agents at at least one protest. The government also refused to confirm or deny whether it had spied on activists in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. The disclosure marks the latest case of known government spying under a secret domestic intelligence program, which has also targeted the Quaker movement and other anti-war groups.

25 Arrested At Anti-Gitmo Protest
And here in New York, dozens of people gathered outside the UN Monday to call for the closure of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. The rally was held to mark the United Nations Day for Victims of Torture. The protesters dressed in orange jumpsuits and marched behind a cage on wheels. Twenty-five people were arrested, including the peace activist Father Daniel Berrigan. Three of the arrested protesters gave their names as those of the Guantanamo prisoners who committed suicide earlier this month.

Report: Military Equipment Costs To Triple
Meanwhile the Associated Press is reporting the annual cost of maintaining military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to triple next year to more than seventeen billion dollars. Some estimates now put war costs over the last five years at almost half a trillion dollars.

US Expels 50 Iraqis From Ramadi Homes
In other Iraq news, the New York Times is reporting US forces expelled fifty Iraqis from their homes this weekend to set up a military outpost in Ramadi. The Iraqis were sent into the streets carrying their food and clothing. The US is currently in the midst of a major operation in Ramadi that has already led to the expulsion of thousands of people.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were noted by Amber, Micah, Liang and Keesha. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 27, 2006

- Supreme Court Rejects Vermont Campaign Finance Law
- Attacks Kill Dozens in 3 Iraq Cities
- US Expels 50 Iraqis From Ramadi Homes
- Report: Military Equipment Cost To Triple
- Israel Prepares For Gaza Incursion
- Supreme Court To Rule On Bush C02 Stance
- Bush: US Should "Get Beyond" Global Warming "Debate"
- University of Colorado To Fire Professor Ward Churchill
- Pentagon Admits To New Spying of Student Groups
- Ex-CIA Officer: Bush Admin Ignored "Curveball" Warnings
- Military: Latin American Nationalism Threatens Oil Supplies
- 25 Arrested At Anti-Gitmo Protest

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Supreme Court Overturns Vermont Campaign Finance Law

We take a look to the Supreme Court's decision overturning Vermont's campaign finance law. The 1997 law placed the nation's tightest restrictions on much candidates running for state office in Vermont could spend on elections and on how much individuals could bankroll candidates. [includes rush transcript]

Is Bush Administration's Bank Spy Program One Part of a Resurgent Total Information Awareness?

The Bush administration is lashing out at media outlets for their reports on the government's secret monitoring of international bank transactions without court-approval. We speak with Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley about Total Information Awareness -- he says the program was never really killed.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University, in his flooded basement in Washington, D.C., where the water runs deep. Professor Turley, there is a serious crackdown now, or at least tremendous anger expressed by the Bush administration, the new White House press spokesperson, who comes from FOX, Tony Snow, about the New York Times, about the media outlets that have exposed once again one of these monitoring programs, saying they're simply there in the service of terrorists.
JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, you know, I actually testified at the hearing on this issue, about possibly prosecuting journalists under national security laws, and this was in front of the House Intelligence Committee a couple of weeks ago. There was not a lot of support that I could see broadly on that committee for this type of action, although, as you know, Peter King from New York recently said that he wants to see possible prosecution of the New York Times. It's extremely dangerous.
And the reason is quite simple: Congress has entirely vanished from any role in government. That is, in the last -- I think the 109th Congress will go down as the congress that never existed. There will be no evidence that it ever played a role in governing. So we have no oversight being done by Congress. And what's fascinating is that at that House hearing, I said, you know -- when the chairman asked me, you know, "Why don't we have all these whistleblowers?" And I said, "Because they think that you're a joke. They think this committee is a joke. You're not doing any oversight. You haven't done oversight in over ten years." And what's amazing is that three of the committee members immediately agreed and said on the record, "It's true. We haven't done oversight in over ten years."
So, the only check-and-balance we have left is the media. That is, we didn't find out about the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program, which is a federal crime, we didn't find that out from members of Congress, we found it out from the media, just as we have found out various other important stories that have led to reforms, like the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. All of those came from the media. And if you want to point to one single institution that has guaranteed good government in our history, it's the media. Now, that doesn't mean that the media doesn't make mistakes. It does. But pound for pound, the media has done more to improving government than any other institution. But more importantly, they're all we've got right now.
There's a reason why the administration has been threatening prosecution of journalists. Because they're the only ones left. They've got Congress totally in a comatose state. They have -- most of the judges today are so conservative that they won't even consider challenges to national security arguments. And it leaves basically the media and the public.

Former Bush Spokesman Urges Newspapers to Run Pro-War Stories by Former Vets With GOP Ties

The Buffalo News has revealed that a former spokesman for President Bush has been encouraging U.S. newspapers to run news stories from Iraq written by two combat veterans who are now embedded reporters in Iraq. The veterans are from a pro-war group called Vets for Freedom that has ties to the Republican Party. We speak with John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Lawmakers, Regulators Face Key Decisions on Future of Media Ownership, Internet, Public Access, Low Power Radio

Lawmakers and regulators in Washington are in the midst of making a number of decisions that could affect the nation's media ownership laws, the future of the Internet, public access television and the expansion of low power FM radio stations. We speak with Hannah Sassaman of the Prometheus Radio Project which successfully sued the FCC three years ago in an effort to block the new media ownership rule changes.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Happy talk continues.

In the land of reality, Medea Benjamin and Raed Jarrar examine the neutered "peace plan" put foward by occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the United States. Benjamin and Jarrar remind that a World Public Opinion poll this year "showed 87% of the general population [of Iraq] favoring a set timeline for U.S. withdrawal." This as USA Today reports on the USA Today/Gallup Poll which found that "[a] majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq" and that "[h]alf of those surveyed would like all U.S. forces out withing 12 months."

In other reality news, Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, over 5% of Iraq's population is displaced with over 150,000 having fled their home (a figure that does not include those who have been taken in by extended family members). In addition, Reuters notes that the figures for children only: 40,000 displaced children since February 22nd of this year. UNICEF, in its 1996 study (the most recent) looking at the effects of war on children found, for the 1980s: "2 million killed; 4-5 million disabled; 12 million left homeless; more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents; [and] some 10 million psychologically traumatized." Using figures up through the 80s, UNICEF found that civilian victims of war "has been rising steadily".


Reuters notes that in Baghdad, one car bomb took the lives of three peopl at a market and wounded at least ten while a second bomb took the lives of three police officers with another three wounded.

Al Jazeera notes that a car bomb in Kirkuk which took the lives of three and wounded at least seventeen. The Irish Examiner notes that the car bomb attack "came three days after a roadside bomb killed the chief of intelligence in Kirkuk" (Associated Press). Also in Kirkuk, Reuters notes "an off duty soldier" was killed by assailants "while driving his car."


Updates on two items. First, we noted yesterday the 10 kidnapped males. Steven Hurst and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (Canadian Press) report that the ten were all Sunni and students who were kidnapped "from their dormitory rooms" at Iraqi Technology University. The AFP reports that the kidnappings took place in "broad daylight" and that the kidnappers used "five sports utility vehicles with tinted windows".

Emma Griffiths (Australia's ABC) reports that the four Russian diplomats -- Fyodor Zaytsev, Rinat Aglyulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedosseyev -- have been confirmed dead by the Foreign Ministry of Russia. The four were kidnapped on June 3rd in Baghdad when their car was attacked by unknown assailants. During the attack a fifth diplomat,Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov , was killed. On Sunday, a videotape was released which showed what appear to be some of the four being killed. While the press reports were circulating, the Russian government noted repeatedly that the murders had not been confirmed. The Mujahedeen Shura Council has asserted since last weekend that they had killed the four diplomats.

Meanwhile, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now! today, "former CIA officer Tyler Drumheller said he repeatedly warned administration over the discredited Iraqi source known as 'Curveball'." Ignoring the warnings and advise, Colin Powell used the information for his now infamous UN speech that Powell has described as a "blot" on his career/record. Yesterday in Washington, DC, Democrats in the Senate held a hearing on the intelligence issue where, among others, Larry Wilkerson and Paul Pillar testified. Speaking of the administration and the intelligence community, Pillar stated, "I would describe the relationship as broken."

Joshua Belile will not be punished for "an obscenity-laced song" performed "to a laughing and cheering crowd." The US military has found no reason to charge him and one unnamed Marine Corps. official tells Reuters that "poor taste, poor judgment and poor timing, not to mention offensive lyrics, do not necessarily amount to criminal conduct." Margaret Neighbor (Scotsman) described the song thusly: "In a four-minute video called Hadji Girl, a singer who appears to be a marine tells a cheering audience about gunning down members of an Iarqi woman's family after they confront him with authomatic weapons." As Sandra Lupien reported June 14th on KPFA's The Morning Show, the song included lyrics such as: "the blood sprayed from between her eyes." As Lupien noted June 15th on KPFA's The Morning Show, the apologetic Belile stated that "People need to laugh at it and let it go." Reuters notes that he has said it was "supposed to be funny" and that he based it on Team America: World Police. (The film that underwhelmed at the box office in 2004 and was put out by the South Park twins.)

Finally, in peace news. NPR actually covered the case of Suzanne Swift. The audio clips can be heard online and lasts 3:58 minutes. The reporting? The segment's over (except for some really bad bumper music) at 3:26 minutes in a report filed by Martin Kaste. The report starts at 0:16 and Swift's case is over by 1:30 minutes. A minute and fourteen seconds may not seem like much but it's more than they've given Ehren Watada.

Today is a day of action for those wanting to stand with war resister Ehren Watada. To sign a petition in support of Watada by clicking here. More information on today's national day of action can be found at ThankYouLt.org and Courage to Resist.

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