Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Other Items

A federal appeals court panel in Manhattan questioned a lawyer for the federal government yesterday as to whether the Central Intelligence Agency had a legitimate national security interest in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of documents authorizing it to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects overseas.
The tough questioning came in oral arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers for the C.I.A. before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The civil liberties group is trying to force the C.I.A. to disclose how much authority it has been given to interrogate detainees since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, the A.C.L.U. is seeking documents, including a directive said to have been signed by President Bush, giving the agency the authority to set up detention sites outside the United States and to interrogate prisoners. In its lawsuit, the group says the existence of these documents has been hinted at in news reports.

The above, noted by Rachel, is from Anemona Hartocollis' "Judges Press C.I.A. Lawyer Over Withheld Documents" in this morning's New York Times. There is some news in this morning's paper, it's just far, far from the Green Zone. We'll also note Adam Liptak's "Arguments on Spy Program Are Heard by Federal Judge:"

A National Security Agency program that listens in on international communications involving people in the United States is both vital to national security and permitted by the Constitution, a government lawyer told a judge here on Monday in the first major court argument on the program.
But, the lawyer went on, "the evidence we need to demonstrate to you that it is lawful cannot be disclosed without that process itself causing grave harm to United States national security."
The only solution to this impasse, the lawyer, Anthony J. Coppolino, said, was for the judge to dismiss the suit before her, an American Civil Liberties Union challenge to the eavesdropping program, under the state secrets privilege. The privilege can short-circuit cases that would reveal national security information, and it is fast becoming one of the Justice Department's favorite tools in defending court challenges to its efforts to combat terrorism.

Then again, reading the adminstration's argument, we all may be living in the bizarro world of the Green Zone. We have a few highlights. First up, Billie notes "CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BLASTS BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR SUICIDES AT GUANTÁNAMO" from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights said: "The Bush Administration has systematically and deliberately denied these men their most basic rights through a policy of choking off all contact, communication, information and hope. For this administration to now claim that these suicides were acts of war by men who have no regard for human life is powerful evidence that the Bush Administration itself has no conception of the desperation they have caused.
"This government has consistently fought to keep these men from lawyers, doctors and others who were willing to help them. Now in attempting to deny the truth this administration will not only cause more pain and misery amongst the detainees at Guantánamo, it will ultimately undermine fundamental democratic institutions of the United States."
"We are greatly saddened by the news of the passing of Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, Mana Shaman Allabardi Al Otaibi, and Ahmed Abdullah., and we send our deepest sympathies to the families of these men," said Barbara Olshansky, Deputy Legal Director and Director Counsel of the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at CCR, "the men imprisoned at Guantánamo have been held for years without ever seeing the inside of a court room. The vast majority of them have never been charged with a crime. Their despair and hopelessness has increased as the years have gone by without justice, it should not surprise anyone that some of the men were pushed to such desperate measures."

The release contains additional links (two are PDF) to resources, FYI. Brandon notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Peter Beinart and the Beltway Crusaders" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

As Robert Borosage, co-Director of the Campaign for America's Future, argues in The Nation's current issue, "the current rage in center-right Democratic circles is to resuscitate Harry Truman, substitute bin Laden for Stalin and jihadism for Communism, and summon America to a new global struggle."
Peter Beinart, for example, who was a supporter of the Iraq disaster (and has joined New Dems like Al From in urging Democrats to prove their resolve by purging the left from the Democratic party) is a leading proponent of the misleading and wrong analogy between Soviet totalitarianism and Islamic fundamentalism. For this stance, Beinart has been celebrated by leading members of the commentariat axis --Tom Friedman, Joe Klein and David Brooks among others. More are sure to follow.
But Beinart and his inside-the-beltway crusaders are out of touch with an America that seeks a principled foreign policy that will make them secure--not a messianic crusade that will deplete the nation's blood and treasure. His fighting faith pledge to "rally the American people" to sustain an "extended and robust" occupation in Iraq, his calls for America to intervene aggressively in the Middle East with a "sweeping program of economic, political and social reform" are more likely to create chaos and, perhaps, breed more terrorism than advance the cause of democracy. It is important to remember that this kind of "fighting faith" has more in common with the least successful periods of US foreign policy--the crusade that led us into Vietnam, our support for the Afghan Muhajedin and Bush's disastrous war in Iraq. It would be difficult to find a security consensus that is more wrongheaded for the challenges the United States now faces, or more at odds with the best traditions of the Democratic Party.

Also asking some needed questions is Norman Solomon's "Why Pretend That Hillary Clinton Is Progressive?" (Common Dreams), highlighted by Keesha:

The scheduled speech by Sen. Hillary Clinton at the "Take Back America 2006" conference in Washington on June 13 is likely to intensify discussion about her relationship with the progressive grassroots of the Democratic Party.
Many weeks ago the conference sponsor, the Campaign for America's Future, sent out an email telling prospective attendees: "As in years past, we expect America's most prominent progressive leaders to attend and address the conference. Invited speakers include..." On the list was Hillary Clinton.
In response, I wrote to Campaign for America's Future co-director Roger Hickey and asked what Clinton's name was doing on a list of "progressive leaders." He responded by saying that "I don't think of ALL of our speakers as 'America's most prominent progressive leaders.' In fact, I have been quoted saying very critical things about Hillary -- in the Washington Post and elsewhere. We do, however, want to ask possible presidential candidates to attempt publicly to justify their candidacy to the progressive activists."
Hickey also commented that "some people do consider Hillary progressive."
But the people who "do consider Hillary progressive" could mostly be divided into two categories -- those who are Fox-News-attuned enough to believe any non-Republican is a far leftist, and those who are left-leaning but don't realize how viciously opportunistic Sen. Clinton has been. Today, in keeping with her political character, she welcomes the fund-raising support of reactionary media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Today's scheduled topic for Democracy Now!:

We go to Gaza to speak with a Palestinian physician who was at the hospital that received many of the victims from Friday's attack on a beach that left eight Palestinian civilians dead.

And Amy Goodman has an event today as well as two others this week:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Tues, June 13 *
The New Class War in America. With Paul Krugman, Greg Palast, Randi Rhodes
and Amy Goodman
New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St. at Central Park West,
New York City (subways 1, A, B, C, or D to Columbus Circle)
Admission: $10 Donation
For more information: To purchase tickets in advance please visit

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Thur, June 22 *
A Reading from Voices of a People's History of the United States
New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St. at Central Park West,
New York City (subways 1, A, B, C, or D to Columbus Circle)

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:

Fri, June 23 *
TIME: 7:30 PM
Amy Goodman Speaks With Italian Journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was
kidnapped in Iraq in February of 2005
Columbia University, Lerner Hall
For more information:

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