May News Reports 2011

Listed below is the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for May 2011.
 

May 31

Mother Jones, Will Clarence Thomas Recuse Himself on Health Care Reform? Stephanie Mencimer, May 31, 2011. Following a time-honored Washington tradition of dumping required but embarrassing information on a Friday night before a major holiday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally released the details of his wife's income from her year or so working for the tea party group Liberty Central, which fought President Obama's health care reform law. His new financial disclosure form report indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central's president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started.  The disclosure was apparently prompted in part by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had been needling Thomas (including on Twitter) for months to disclose how much money his wife earned from Liberty Central.

Washington Post, Supreme Court: Ashcroft not liable in detention of American Muslim post-9/11, Robert Barnes, May 31, 2011. Former attorney general John D. Ashcroft cannot be sued personally for allegedly misusing his power to detain an American Muslim in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, crackdown on suspected terrorists, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday.  But the decision exposed sharp differences among the justices about whether the government went too far when it used a statute meant to ensure that witnesses show up for trial. Civil libertarians alleged that the government used the statute to imprison those whom it suspected, but could not prove, had committed a crime.

May 28

Academic Freedom Conference via YouTube, 9/11 Miracles, 2011: Are there Limits to Inquiry? David Ray Griffin, May 28, 2011 (57:40 min.). Why do Bill Moyers and Robert Parry Accept Miracles? Dr. David Ray Griffin, Emeritus Professor of Theology and Philosophy of Religion (retired) at Claremont School of Theology and author of 11 books on 9/11, returns to Town Hall in Seattle to explore why some of the best independent journalists in America accept without question the official conspiracy theories put forth by the 9/11 Commission and NIST (National Institute of Standard and Technology) in their investigations of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Using Bill Moyers and Robert Parry as examples of journalists who have previously demonstrated notable courage, objectivity and a willingness to examine crucial events in depth, rather than simply accepting a single-minded source, Dr. Griffin challenges their current disregard of the overwhelming scientific evidence uncovered by the growing number of professionals openly supporting the 9/11 Truth Movement and calling for a proper investigation. Dr. Griffin explains how careful examination of the "official" conspiracy theories regarding the unprecedented collapse of the three tallest World Trade Center buildings reveals contradictions and violations of the laws of physics, which he rightly points out as being impossible, and therefore would require "miracles" to achieve, unless carried out by the use of explosives, controlled demolition techniques.

CNN, Mysterious fund allows Congress to spend freely, despite earmark ban, Cole Deines, May 28, 2011. The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing.  This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks -- special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress' pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks.  Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named "Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund," Congress has been squirreling away money -- like $9 million for "future undersea capabilities development," $19 million for "Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies," and more than $30 million for a "corrosion prevention program."

May 27

Salon Unclaimed Territory, Sen. Benjamin Cardin's impressive feat, Glenn Greenwald, May 27, 2011. Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland genuinely deserves an award . . . for reaching all new heights of projection, nationalistic self-regard, and hypocrisy.  Even for D.C.'s lowly standards, what he's doing is really quite a feat. Sen. Benjamin Cardin has also introduced legislation that, if enacted, would be the most severe legislative attack on whistleblowers in the United States in the last several decades at least.  In particular, his bill, as Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists explained, "would broadly criminalize leaks of classified information" and would, in effect, turn all disclosures of classified information into a felony, regardless of how corrupt or even illegal the exposed conduct was.

Justice Integrity Project, Complaints About Justice Department Go Nowhere, Andrew Kreig, May 27, 2011. Justice Department complaint procedures are needlessly complicated, which discourages complaints.

May 26

Justice Integrity Project, May 26 Radio: Expert Analyzes US Charges Against NSA, CIA Leakers, Andrew Kreig, May 26, 2011. Former network newscaster and CIA officer John Kelly analyzed on the May 26 edition of MTL Washington Update radio the White House prosecutions of suspected leakers within national security agencies. Under President Obama, the crackdown includes spy charges against former National Security Agency John Kelly(NSA) analyst Thomas Drake. Drake faces trial June 13 on charges of spying, lying to agents and obstructing justice after leaking secrets about government waste.

May 25

Justice Integrity Project, Newsmax Columnist Describes Governor's Scandal Cover-Up, Andrew Kreig, May 25, 2011. Hollywood-based commentator and author James Hirsen appears on my radio show show, Washington Update, on May 26 to discuss his column, “How Arnold Was Able to Keep His Secret.”  Hirsen exposes one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets: How a child born outside the marriage Arnold Schwarzenegger of movie star and two-term California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was kept hidden from family, friends and the press for 10 years.

Wired / Danger Room, There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says, May 25, 2011. Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know. As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.

Bradley Manning Support Network, Recording of Press Call with Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, etc. PFC Bradley Manning is accused of being the source of revelations leaked to Wikileaks, including diplomatic cables that many experts believe helped to catalyze democratic revolts across the Middle East. His supporters assert that the information g should have been in the public domain. Supporters discuss his situation on the eve of one-year anniversary of arrest, as pretrial approaches. Speakers on the recording: Daniel Ellsberg, retired defense analyst known for releasing the Pentagon Papers; Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks; Jesselyn Raddack, attorney and staff member of the Government Accountability Project; Ann Wright, Retired Lt. Colonel of the United States Army; Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist and constitutional lawyer; Christina McKenna, activist arrested at Quantico in an action to support Bradley Manning; Kevin Zeese (moderator), attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Huffington Post, IRS To Take On Karl Rove? Tax Laws Could Take A Bite Out Of Secret Political Spending, Dan Froomkin, May 25, 2011. Top Republican political strategist Karl Rove's method of secretly funneling unlimited contributions from big donors was so hugely successful in the 2010 campaign that Democrats are now trying to copy it. But his model may yet end up backfiring spectacularly.

John EdwardsWashington Post, Edwards lawyers ready for charges, Jerry Markon, May 25, 2011. John Edwards’s legal team braces for a criminal indictment Lawyers for former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards are bracing for the possibility that he will soon face federal campaign finance charges and indicated Wednesday that they would vigorously fight any indictment.  Charges against the former North Carolina senator and two-time presidential candidate, right, appear increasingly likely. A federal grand jury in North Carolina has been examining Edwards’s role in funneling money from political donors to a former campaign aide, Rielle Hunter, in a possible attempt to cover up an extramarital affair, sources familiar with the investigation have said.

May 24

ABC News, John Edwards: U.S. Green-Lights Prosecution for Alleged Campaign Law Violations Tied to Affair Cover-Up, James Hill, May 24, 2011.  The United States Department of Justice has green-lighted the prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards for alleged violations of campaign laws while he tried to cover up an extra-marital affair, ABC News has learned.

Washington Post /Associated Press, Feds subpoena Times reporter in CIA leak case; say journalists enjoy no privilege, May 24, 2011. Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for a New York Times reporter demanding his testimony in the prosecution of a former CIA operations officer charged with illegally leaking classified information. In a court filing late Monday, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said the reporter, James Risen, can provide crucial testimony implicating the defendant, ex-CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, of O’Fallon, Mo. But Risen has steadfastly refused to cooperate in the Sterling prosecution.

FireDogLake, Government Subpoenas James Risen for the Third Time, Emptywheel, May 24, 2011. The government appears to hope three time’s a charm. There’s a lot we can conclude from this filing – not least that the government seems to be abandoning the intent of the Attorney General guidelines on subpoenaing journalists (the guidelines are not mentioned once in the filing). But most of all, it seems we can conclude that the government doesn’t care so much that Sterling allegedly leaked this information –because they’re not charging the other CIA officers they appear to know leaked to Risen – but that Sterling was critical of the operation while he leaked the information.

Harper’s / No Comment, No Blood, No Foul, Scott Horton, May 24, 2011. In the period immediately following the publication in 2004 of photographs from Abu Ghraib, the Department of Defense pledged to fully investigate every allegation of prisoner mistreatment. By 2006, the department was asserting that it had opened some 842 inquiries or investigations. Joshua E.S. Phillips’s recent report for The Nation and PBS’s Need to Know suggests that the Rumsfeld Pentagon was keen to open a large number of investigative files on Abu Ghraib primarily to create the impression of diligence. President Obama furthered this illusion in 2009. The bulk of incidents were never actually investigated or acted on.

White House Chronicles, What Ails the Press? Llewellyn King, May 24, 2011. The crisis in the media, as some of us believe, is not in the decline of newspapers, the shrinking of viewership for traditional television news, or the growth of partisan cable news, but rather in two other unrelated but dangerously coincidental trends. The first of these is that the establishment in Washington now believes it doesn't need the media in the way that the media was believed to be needed traditionally. The second downward trend is a pervasive pusillanimity that has gripped the media in the last several years. We allow ourselves to be segregated, corralled and de facto licensed.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), 60 Minutes on NSA corruption and incompetence. Report follows WMR report by six years, May 24, 2011. (Subscription-only service here.) CBS "60 Minutes" reported on May 22 on former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas Drake's charges of high-level corruption and incompetence within the eavesdropping agency. WMR is re-publishing our report on NSA, which includes a reference to "Thinthread," the first-ever report in the media on this system.

WMR, NSA and selling the nation's prized secrets to contractors, Wayne Madsen, June 1, 2005.

In August 1, 2001, just five and a half weeks before the 911 attacks, NSA awarded Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) a more than $2 billion, ten-year contract known as GROUNDBREAKER. The contract was never popular with NSA's career professionals. CSC had originally gained access to NSA through a "buy in" project called BREAKTHROUGH, a mere $20 million contract awarded in 1998 that permitted CSC to operate and maintain NSA computer systems. When General Michael V. Hayden took over as NSA Director in 1999, the floodgates for outside contractors were opened and a resulting deluge saw most of NSA's support personnel being converted to contractors working for GROUNDBREAKER's Eagle Alliance (nicknamed the "Evil Alliance" by NSA government personnel), a consortium led by CSC....

Thanks to some very patriotic and loyal Americans inside NSA, this author is now in possession of an internal NSA contract document from November 2002 that shows how GROUNDBREAKER and TRAILBLAZER have allowed the Eagle Alliance and other contractors to gain access to and even virtual control over some of the most sensitive systems within the U.S. intelligence community.

May 23

FireDogLake, Did Thomas Drake Include Privacy Concerns in His Complaints to DOD’s Inspector General? Emptywheel, May 23, 2011. The government argued that Drake couldn’t claim to be a whistleblower because, by 2007, the issues at hand were resolved. They’re arguing both that any whistleblower claims would be mooted because Turbulence, Trailblazer’s successor, integrated “significant portions” of ThinThread, and that the debate was “over” by 2007, when Drake was (according to the indictment) serving as a source for Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman.

 

Newsmax,Schwarzenegger Escapes the Media With Affair, James Hirsen, May 23, 2011. Amid all of the mainstream media coverage of Arnold Schwarzenegger, one question has repeatedly popped up: How did the Hollywood superstar and California governor manage to keep an illicit affair (and child from that affair) secret from his journalist wife and the news and entertainment media? The media outlet that has broken most of the stories that have involved high profile philandering is none other than the mother of all tabloids, The National Enquirer. The scandals of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, and golf legend Tiger Woods were first reported on in detail by The National Enquirer.

Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger fathered a child with longtime member of household staff, Mark Z. Barabak and Victoria Kim, May 17, 2011.  Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, moved out of their Brentwood mansion earlier this year after the former governor acknowledged the child was his. The staff member worked for the family for 20 years, retiring in January. May 22

CBS 60 Minutes, The Espionage Act: Why Tom Drake was indicted: Former NSA whistleblower charged under Espionage Act talks to "60 Minutes" just weeks before his trial begins, Scott Pelley, May 22, 2011. Nearly two years before 9/11, America's largest intelligence agency had recordings of three of the al Qaeda hijackers plotting an attack. But the information, obtained by the National Security Agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that could uncover the plot. Inside the super-secret NSA, several analysts and managers believed the agency had a powerful tool that might have had a chance to head off 9/11. But it wasn't used. One of those agency insiders was Thomas Drake, who thought taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored.

May 23

New Yorker, The Secret Sharer: Is Thomas Drake an Enemy of the State? Jane Mayer, May 23, 2011. Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, faces some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen. The aim of this scheme, the indictment says, was to leak government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who is identifiable as Siobhan Gorman, of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote a prize-winning series of articles for the Sun about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction, and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs. Drake is also charged with obstructing justice and lying to federal law-enforcement agents. If he is convicted on all counts, he could receive a prison term of thirty-five years. Mark Klein, the former A.T. & T. employee who exposed the telecom-company wiretaps, is also dismayed by the Drake case. “I think it’s outrageous,” he says. “The Bush people have been let off. The telecom companies got immunity. The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers.”

May 22

CBS 60 Minutes, The Espionage Act: Why Tom Drake was indicted: Former NSA whistleblower charged under Espionage Act talks to "60 Minutes" just weeks before his trial begins, Scott Pelley, May 22, 2011. Nearly two years before 9/11, America's largest intelligence agency had recordings of three of the al Qaeda hijackers plotting an attack. But the information, obtained by the National Security Agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that could uncover the plot. Inside the super-secret NSA, several analysts and managers believed the agency had a powerful tool that might have had a chance to head off 9/11. But it wasn't used. One of those agency insiders was Thomas Drake, who thought taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored.

May 21

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The always-expanding bipartisan Surveillance State, Glenn Greenwald, May 20, 2011. When I wrote earlier this week about Jane Mayer's New Yorker article on the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers, the passage I hailed as "the single paragraph that best conveys the prime, enduring impact of the Obama presidency" included this observation from Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin: "We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state."  There are three events -- all incredibly from the last 24 hours -- which not only prove how true that is, but vividly highlight how it functions and why it is so odious.

Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Justice's Case Against Tom Drake: Flawed Arguments and Broader Systemic Issues, Nick Swellenbach, May 21, 2011.  When the subject of national security whistleblowers came up at a White House meeting in March, "the President shifted in his seat and leaned forward," my boss Danielle Brian told The New Yorker's Jane Mayer. "He said this may be where we have some differences. He said he doesn't want to protect the people who leak to the media war plans that could impact the troops." Why did Obama appear misinformed? Thomas Drake did not leak information that could give our enemies any sort of advantage. Instead he blew the whistle on a failed multi-billion dollar intelligence program called Trailblazer that came at the expense of a cheaper, more effective intelligence program known as ThinThread that had civil liberties-protecting technology built-in, according to Drake.

FireDogLake, A New Normal: The President Can Bomb Anyone Anywhere for as Long as He Wants, Jon Walker, May 21, 2011.  We are now engaged in an illegal war against Libya. Yesterday, the official 60-day window for the War Powers Act expired, and there was no action to approve military use by Congress, yet we continue to be involved in direct military action in Libya. With this, a new precedent has been firmly established. The President of the United States can now unilaterally and freely wage war on any country or attempt to kill anyone anywhere on earth, for as long as the President wants. It is truly frightening god-like power solely vested in a single individual.

May 20

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The always-expanding bipartisan Surveillance State, Glenn Greenwald, May 20, 2011. When I wrote earlier this week about Jane Mayer's New Yorker article on the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers, the passage I hailed as "the single paragraph that best conveys the prime, enduring impact of the Obama presidency" included this observation from Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin: "We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state." There are three events -- all incredibly from the last 24 hours -- which not only prove how true that is, but vividly highlight how it functions and why it is so odious.

Prison Planet.com, Government Orders You Tube To Censor Protest Videos, Paul Joseph Watson, Friday, May 20, 2011. In a frightening example of how the state is tightening its grip around the free Internet, it has emerged that YouTube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate. The latest example is You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court. You can also search by country to discover that Google, the owner of YouTube, has complied with the majority of requests from governments, particularly in the United States and the UK, not only to remove YouTube videos, but also specific web search terms and thousands of “data requests,” meaning demands for information that would reveal the true identity of a YouTube user. Google claims that the information sent to governments is “needed for legitimate criminal investigations,” but whether these “data requests” have been backed up by warrants is not divulged by the company.

FireDogLake, FBI Ignored, Hid Data Potentially Excluding Bruce Ivins as Anthrax Killer, Jim White, May 20, 2011. A report from McClatchy provides important new evidence and analysis in the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. The report shows that the FBI ignored as potentially erroneous a measurement of silicon in one anthrax sample and then hid this information from Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Significantly, it is virtually impossible that Bruce Ivins, whom the FBI has concluded acted on his own to carry out the attacks, would have been able to perform the necessary chemical manipulations involved in this treatment of the spores.

Justice Integrity Project, June Trial Looms As Obama DOJ Crusades Against Critics, Andrew Kreig, May 20, 2011. The Obama administration’s shocking crackdown on government whistleblowers became more prominent this week with the New Yorker Magazine’s publication of a hard-hitting article about the plight and June trial of former National Security Agency officer Thomas Drake

May 19

Thomas DrakeChange.org, Why Thomas Drake is Not an Enemy of the State, Jesselyn Radack, May 19, 2011.  Former National Security Agency (NSA) senior official Thomas Drake, left, is a whistleblower. Through legal and proper channels Drake disclosed massive corruption, gross waste and mismanagement to tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, and, worse, widespread illegal domestic surveillance at the NSA. When president Obama first took office, he applauded whistleblowers as "often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.”  He said that "such acts of courage and patriotism . . . should be encouraged rather than stifled."

McClatchy Newspapers, FBI lab reports on anthrax attacks suggest another miscue, Greg Gordon, May 19, 2011. Buried in FBI laboratory reports about the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people in 2001 is data suggesting that a chemical may have been added to try to heighten the powder's potency, a move that some experts say exceeded the expertise of the presumed killer

Washington Post, Libya deadline poses a dilemma for Obama, Editorial Board, May 19, 2011.  Friday marks the 60th day in which the United States has been involved in the U.N.-sanctioned military operation in Libya. The two-month anniversary confronts the Obama administration with a difficult question: Will it obey the law — specifically the War Powers Resolution?  The administration seems not even to have tried to secure Congress’s buy-in before the Friday deadline. Rather than dodge compliance, the president should seek congressional authorization next week, once both chambers are back in session.

Washington Post, Panetta warns CIA employees against bin Laden leaks, Greg Miller, May 19, 2011. CIA Director Leon E. Panetta warned agency employees not to reveal secrets about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound earlier this month, saying in a memo sent to employees Wednesday that disclosures could jeopardize future operations.

Legal Schnauzer, Did a GOP Conspiracy Target Both Don Siegelman and Gray Davis? Roger Shuler, May 19, 2011.   The same Republican plot that sparked the Don Siegelman prosecution might also have led to the downfall of former California Governor Gray Davis. Why would Republicans target both Siegelman and Davis in 2002-03? Siegelman told Peter B. Collins that it all had to do with presidential politics. "Al Gore had decided he was not going to seek the nomination in 2004, and Gray Davis was the leading Democratic candidate for president at that time," Siegelman said. "I was a friend of Gray Davis, and I was thinking about entering presidential primaries in the South, to challenge George W. Bush.

Harper’s / No Comment, Congress and the War Powers,  Scott Horton, May 19, 2011. Today, we can see just how serious the new Congress is about its constitutional duties. In a breathtaking abdication of constitutional responsibility, they are allowing the 60-day period under the War Powers Act to expire without taking any action, either affirmative or negative, with respect to U.S. military operations in Libya.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The Illegal War in Libya, Glenn Greenwald (right), May 19, 2011. Even for those who chose to cling to the fiction that the presidential war in Libya was authorized by the WPR, that fiction is now coming to a crashing end. Friday will mark the 60th day of the war without Congress, and there are no plans for authorization to be provided. By all appearances, the White House isn't even bothering to pretend to seek one. A handful of GOP Senators -- ones who of course showed no interest whatsoever during the Bush years in demanding presidential adherence to the law -- are now demanding a vote on Libya, but it's highly likely that the Democrats who control the Senate won't allow one. Instead, the law will simply be ignored by the President who declared, when bashing George Bush on the campaign trail to throngs of cheering progressives: "No more ignoring the law when it's inconvenient. That is not who we are."

Foreign Policy, Obama’s Unconstitutional War, Bruce Ackerman, March 24, 2011. By unilaterally going to war against Libya, Obama is bringing America closer to the imperial presidency than Bush ever did.

May 18

Ridenhour Prizes, Acceptance Speech by Thomas Drake, National Security Agency whistleblower and 2011 Ridenhour Awardee, National Press Club, April 13, 2001. YouTube video released May 18, 2011. Thomas Drake was the 2011 recipient of the annual "Truth-telling Prize," in a process organized by the Nation Institute and named for the Vietnam War whistleblower who disclosed the My Lai Massacre. At left, Drake receives the prize presented by a previous winner, Jesselyn Radack. She is a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice who was fired after rendering a legal opinion that the FBI committed an ethics violation in its interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban" captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan) without an attorney present. Drake was a senior official at the National Security Agency (NSA) who blew the whistle through the channels and exposed massive waste, fraud and abuse as well as illegal and unconstitutional behavior at the hands of NSA management post-9/11. Drake was indicted under the Espionage Act in April 2010. He is due to begin trial on June 13, 2011 on spying, and obstruction of justice charges. In accepting the award, he said:

The government made my cooperation with official investigations a criminal act. It is now apparently a federal crime to report illegalities, malfeasance, fraud, waste and abuse perpetrated by our own government. The government is making whistleblowing a crime. They are making dissent a crime, especially when it embarrasses the government and calls the government to account. What is the difference between my situation and that of the Chinese artist who was detained when trying to leave his country because Chinese authorities deemed him a threat to national security?

Constitution Project, Letter to President Obama, May 18, 2011. We, the undersigned members of The Constitution Project’s bipartisan War Powers Committee, are writing to express our grave concerns over your decision to conduct military action in Libya without prior congressional approval and to urge you to seek such approval in the event you plan to continue military operations there.

Jersey Journal, Former Hudson County employee not rehired after corruption charges are dropped gets$293K settlement, Terrence T. McDonald, May 18, 2011.  A former Hudson County employee who was not rehired by the county even after federal corruption charges against him were dropped will receive $293,000 from the county in a settlement reached this week. Richard Greene, one of 46 defendants charged in the massive 2009 Operation Bid Rig III sweep, was suspended without pay after his arrest, but not rehired when the feds dropped the extortion charges a year later.

Jersey Journal, Former Hudson County employee not rehired after corruption charges are dropped gets$293K settlement, Terrence T. McDonald, May 18, 2011. A former Hudson County employee who was not rehired by the county even after federal corruption charges against him were dropped will receive $293,000 from the county in a settlement reached this week. Richard Greene, one of 46 defendants charged in the massive 2009 Operation Bid Rig III sweep, was suspended without pay after his arrest, but not rehired when the feds dropped the extortion charges a year later.

OpEd News, Judges Who Refuse to Recuse Taint Our Justice System, Andrew Kreig, May 18, 2011.  Three recent state, federal and Supreme Court controversies show how judges thwart the public's right to due process when judges with apparent conflicts refuse to recuse themselves.

Rolling Stone, A New Wall Street Investigation: Is the Hammer Finally Coming Down? Matt Taibbi, May 18, 2011. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman looks like he might be undertaking the first for-real attempt at a prosecution of the systemic corruption that led to the financial crisis.

OpEd News, Judges Who Refuse to Recuse Taint Our Justice System, Andrew Kreig, May 18, 2011. Three recent state, federal and Supreme Court controversies show how judges thwart the public's right to due process when judges with apparent conflicts refuse to recuse themselves.

May 17

New York Times, New York Investigates Banks’ Role in Financial Crisis, Gretchen Morgenson, May 17, 2011. The New York attorney general has requested information and documents in recent weeks from three major Wall Street banks about their mortgage securities operations during the credit boom, indicating the existence of a new investigation into practices that contributed to billions in mortgage losses.

Birmingham News, Until and unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules differently, Siegelman and Scrushy remain guilty as charged of bribery, Editorial board, May 17, 2011. For those who believe in justice, last week's appeals court ruling regarding charges against former Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy had to be satisfying.

Washington Post, House Intelligence chief calls on attorney general to stop investigating CIA interrogators, Associated Press, May 17, 2011. House Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers says the Justice Department should stop investigating CIA interrogators for alleged abuse of detainees under the Bush administration. Rogers says the interrogators’ work helped lead to the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, obtained by The Associated Press, the Michigan Republican says the interrogation program was a “vital part of the chain” that led to the successful raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan two weeks ago. The Justice Department on Tuesday said “no comment.”

New York Times, New York Investigates Banks’ Role in Financial Crisis, Gretchen Morgenson, May 17, 2011. The New York attorney general has requested information and documents in recent weeks from three major Wall Street banks about their mortgage securities operations during the credit boom, indicating the existence of a new investigation into practices that contributed to billions in mortgage losses.

May 16

National Law Journal, Federal habeas corpus & actual innocence: As shown in the Jeffrey MacDonald case, a shake-up of the federal post-conviction system is long overdue, Philip G. Cormier, Andrew Good, Barry C. Scheck and Harvey A. Silverglate, May 16, 2011. Two murders in North Carolina, separated by 21 years and 50 miles, have recently been united by the ability of scientific testing to cast doubt on the convicted. In one case, handled by state authorities, a special commission helped exonerate the wrongfully convicted. The other, under federal jurisdiction, has seen courts view piecemeal claims of innocence and reject, until late last month, pleas to consider the evidence as a whole. Taken together, the two cases highlight the procedural hurdles of the federal system that serve to unacceptably hinder claims of innocence.

American Prospect, SCOTUS Rejects Extraordinary Rendition Case, Adam Serwer, May 16, 2011. On the surface, Mohamed et al v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. was about whether or not the government could invoke the states-secrets doctrine in order to dismiss an entire case on the grounds that it would expose government secrets and harm national security. The Jeppesen case was really about accountability for torture. The five plaintiffs in the case said they had been rendered to third countries where they were tortured as part of the Bush administration's extraordinary rendition program. They were suing the private companies that the government had contracted to help facilitate transportation. By refusing to take this case, the Supreme Court let stand a previous 9th Circuit ruling in favor of the government. Decisions to hear a case only require four votes -- which means at least one of the four Democratic nominees to the court joined their conservative colleagues to prevent this case from being heard.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Jane Mayer on the Obama war on whistle-blowers, Glenn Greenwald, May 16, 2011. In a just released, lengthy New Yorker article, Jane Mayer -- with the diligence and thoroughness she used to expose the Bush torture regime -- examines a topic I've written about many times here: the Obama administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers generally, and its persecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake in particular (Drake exposed massive waste, excess and perhaps illegality in numerous NSA programs). Mayer's article is what I'd describe as the must-read magazine article of the month, and I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety, but I just want to highlight a few passages.

Justice Integrity Project, Judges Who Refuse to Recuse Taint Our Justice System, Andrew Kreig, May 16, 2011. Three recent state, federal and Supreme Court controversies show how the public is nearly powerless to obtain due process when conflicted judges refuse to recuse themselves. The latest example is Texas judge Tracy A. Gilbert, right, in a child custody case examined below.

Cato Institute, Leashing the Surveillance State: How to Reform Patriot Act Surveillance Authorities, Julian Sanchez, May 16, 2011. Congress recently approved a temporary extension of three controversial surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act and successor legislation, which had previously been set to expire at the end of February. In the coming weeks, lawmakers have an opportunity to review the sweeping expansion of domestic counter-terror powers since 9/11 and, with the benefit of a decade's perspective, strengthen crucial civil-liberties safeguards without unduly burdening legitimate intelligence gathering. Two of the provisions slated for sunset — roving wiretap authority and the socalled "Section 215" orders for the production of records — should be narrowed to mitigate the risk of overcollection of sensitive information about innocent Americans. A third — authority to employ the broad investigative powers of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act against "lone wolf" suspects who lack ties to any foreign terror group — does not appear to be necessary at all.

May 13

Justice Integrity Project, Obama DOJ Continues War Against Bush Prosecution Victims, Andrew Kreig, May 13, 2011. The Obama/Holder Justice Department’s win-at-all-costs campaign against political prosecution victims of the Bush administration continued this week. In unrelated prosecutions of Democrats in New Jersey and Alabama, the Department illustrated once again the unfairness of its procedures and its self-serving ethic of silencing critics.

Harper’s / No Comment, The DOJ and the Ensign-Hampton Affair, Scott Horton, May 13, 2011. Yesterday, the Senate Ethics Committee released the fruits of its long-anticipated investigation into senator John Ensign (R., Nev.), who resigned last month in order to avoid being deposed by the committee’s counsel. Alarmingly, the Justice Department not only failed to act against Ensign, it actually indicted Doug Hampton, Ensign’s former senior staffer, who was clearly a victim of Ensign’s predatory conduct and who had blown the whistle on him. The Justice Department’s decision—to prosecute the victim who spoke with candor and against his own interests, and let the malefactor who lied about his conduct go free—is perverse. It is also completely in line with recent Justice Department public integrity prosecutions.

Houston Chronicle, No excuse for not recusing, Lisa Falkenberg, May 13, 2011. In late March, Art Suarez Eden stood in a Texas courtroom and listened as a judge sentenced him to the death penalty of fatherhood. Eden's ex-wife had prevailed in her effort to terminate his parental rights to their 5-year-old daughter. There's no doubt that the ruling by state District Judge Tracy A. Gilbert was tainted by error — an ethical one. On the last day of the three-day trial, Eden said he learned that the lawyer representing his ex-wife also was the judge's personal attorney. And that attorney, Steve Jackson, was then representing Gilbert in a paternity lawsuit in which the judge himself was being sued by a former lover for an estimated $300,000 in back child support for a child the judge allegedly fathered 17 years ago.

Washington Post, Activist who supports soldier in WikiLeaks case sues U.S. over seizure of laptop, Ellen Nakashima, May 13, 2011. The co-founder of a group advocating for an Army private accused of leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks is suing the U.S. government for unlawfully seizing his computer and copying its contents to aid a criminal investigation of the site. Computer scientist David House’s laptop was taken in November at an international airport by two Department of Homeland Security agents without a hint that it contained evidence of wrongdoing, but rather because House was a vocal supporter of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused leaker, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a complaint to be filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Boston.

FireDogLake, Chat with David House About New ACLU Lawsuit, Jane Hamsher, May 13, 2011. The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of FDL blogger David House, the friend of Bradley Manning who had his laptop seized by Homeland Security agents last November. The harassment of House and others is part of a pattern of government abuse of power, designed to threaten and intimidate its critics. Everyone who values their right to free speech should be concerned about the government actions that the suit addresses. David joins us in the comments to talk about the suit.

May 12

Newark Star-Ledger, Insurance broker Manzo pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion, faces jail time, MaryAnn Spoto, May 12, 2011. Ronald Manzo, an insurance broker by trade, was also in the business of arranging the election of politicians for a price, federal prosecutors say. Today he paid the price. Facing back-to-back criminal trials and probation violation charges, Ronald Manzo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion with Elwell. Prosecutors say they agreed to dismiss the allegations related to his brother’s case.

Associated Press / KRMG-AM/FM, NJ political consultant pleads to corruption, David Porter, May 12, 2011. A political consultant charged in New Jersey's largest corruption sting pleaded guilty Thursday as the government notified his brother, a former state Assemblyman, that he could face additional charges despite a court ruling that dismissed the most serious charge against him. Ronald Manzo admitted in federal court in Newark that he acted as a middleman between a government informant posing as a corrupt developer and a northern New Jersey mayor. Manzo was to have gone to trial in June with former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell.

Jersey Journal, Feds expected to indict former assemblyman Louis Manzo of Jersey City for third time in two years, Agustin C. Torres, May 12, 2011. Former assemblyman Louis Manzo (left) of Jersey City said it's like being in a tag-team wrestling match without getting the opportunity to get in the ring. Now he'll have to wait a bit longer while the federal government prepares to re-indict him on presumedly corruption charges.  "They are no longer seeking justice," said Manzo who charged the U.S. attorney's Office of ethics violations in his indictment. He claimed that the 2009 Bid Rig III mass corruption sting was used to advance the gubernatorial campaign of Chris Christie. Lynch said federal prosecutors indicted Manzo "for a headline."  Government prosecutors in court today ignored Journal questions.

Justice Integrity Project, JIP hits the road, fighting for women’s civil rights, Andrew Kreig, May 12, 2011. On May 10, I addressed a Virginia women’s group on how we can fight more effectively for women’s rights as part of a larger struggle for due process and other civil rights. My invitation from the McLean Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) came more than a year ago. But the occasion coincides also with our Justice Integrity Project (JIP) effort to meet with groups across the country and across the political spectrum to share ideas on more effective strategies for preserving and enhancing civil rights.

Justice Integrity Project, Reform Needed After Court Drops Two Siegelman Charges, May 12, 2011. A federal appeals court in Atlanta May 10 reversed two bribery convictions of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy but upheld the rest of their 2006 corruption convictions in what our Project has long denounced as the nation’s most notorious political frame-up. The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sending the case back to the district court for resentencing is yet another reason for the public to demand a thorough investigation of the case.Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman Convictions Hang on the Definition of One Word, Roger Shuler, May 12, 2011. After more than 10 years of investigations, prosecutions, and appeals, the convictions in the Don Siegelman case essentially stand on the definition of one word. The meaning of the word "explicit." Was the jury made up of enlightened citizens or a bunch of dimwits? The Eleventh Circuit can't seem to make up its mind. Did the three-judge panel bother to review its own work before writing its most recent ruling? The work of the Eleventh Circuit on the Siegelman case can only be described as a "fiasco." And there is no doubt about what that word means.

Washington Post, Ensign broke law, panel finds, Paul Kane and Carol D. Leonnig, May 12, 2011. The Senate ethics committee on Thursday took the rare step of asking federal agencies to investigate a former colleague, saying it found “substantial and credible evidence” that Nevada Republican John Ensign broke federal laws while trying to cover up an extramarital affair with a political aide.

TPM Muckraker, The Ensign-Hampton Affair: Text Messages, Prayer Breakfast And Yahoo Addresses, Ryan J. Reilly, May 13, 2011. The affair between former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and his campaign staffer Cynthia Hampton began after the Hampton household was robbed in November 2007. It's well chronicled in a report by the special counsel hired by the Senate Ethics Committee and released Thursday which found the former Senator had violated multiple ethics rules and laws and referred the case to federal prosecutors and the Federal Elections Commission.

May 11

Mother Jones, Green is the new red, James Ridgeway, March 11, 2011. One morning back in 2002, Will Potter, a young newspaper reporter on the metro desk at the Chicago Tribune, heard three heavy knocks on his apartment door. When he opened it, two FBI agents flashed their badges. They told Potter he could either come outside and talk with them, or they would visit him at work. Potter was stunned. "I felt as if I was staring blankly ahead," he said, "but my eyes must have shown fear. 'Now I have your attention, huh?,'" Chris said. The agent went on to tell him, "'after 9/11, we have a lot more authority now to get things done and get down to business. We can make your life very difficult for you. You work at newspapers? I can make it so you never work at a newspaper again.'" For Will Potter, the FBI's visit marked the beginning of what would become a career as an independent journalist, tracking the government's prosecutions—and persecutions—of environmental and animal rights activists, which one FBI deputy director, at the height of the war on terror in 2004, identified as "our highest domestic terrorism investigation priority." Potter's book, published last month and also titled Green Is the New Red, documents the scare tactics used by the government, often in concert with large corporations, against even patently non-violent activist groups.

Legal Schnauzer, Federal Judges on Siegelman Appeal Prove To Be Both Corrupt And Lazy, Roger Shuler, March 11, 2011. A federal appeals court might have unwittingly provided insight yesterday about its muddled handling of appeals in the Don Siegelman case. Yesterday's ruling from a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit accomplished almost nothing. The judges provided no insight on Skilling or its impact on bribery convictions. And they provided zero relief for Siegelman. The only relief came for codefendant Richard Scrushy, who had two of his convictions on honest-services fraud reversed.

May 10

Justice Integrity Project, Deferential New Bio of Obama’s Mother Fills Gaps, Andrew Kreig, May 10, 2011. Janny Scott, left, an award-winning New York Times reporter, took a leave of absence in 2008 to research and write A Singular Woman, the recently published biography of President Obama’s late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. Based on the author’s nearly 200 interviews and unique access to many personal records held by Dunham-Obama friends and family, the book fills in many gaps of what is popularly known. Dunham died at age 52 after marriage to Barack Obama, Sr., of Kenya and Lolo Soetoro of Indonesia, each of whom she met as fellow students at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center.

Birmingham News, Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman may ask Supreme Court to review case, attorney says, Kim Chandler, May 10, 2011. A lawyer for former Gov. Don Siegelman said the governor will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed following the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision today upholding most of his conviction in a government corruption case. The 11th Circuit after reviewing the case for a second time upheld five of the counts against Siegelman and four against former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. "I'm disappointed in the ruling, but we will continue to fight until we have complete exoneration and a correct understanding of the law," Siegelman lawyer Sam Heldman said. Heldman said the governor's first step will be to seek a rehearing before the 11th Circuit. "If that is not successful we will go to the Supreme Court," Heldman said. Scrushy lawyer Bruce S. Rogow said he was pleased the court dismissed two of the charges against Scrushy. "It's a step in the right direction. Now we just need to take a larger step," Rogow said.

Legal Schnauzer, Breaking: Federal Court Is Pulling a Charade in the Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, May 10, 2011. It appears federal appeals courts are issuing "split decisions" on Bush-era political prosecutions. By upholding at least one segment of the convictions, the appeals courts are giving the prosecutions some legitimacy and making it more difficult for victims to sue for monetary damages. Victims might have their prison sentences greatly reduced, or eliminated, but justice still will not be served. In the Siegelman/Scrushy case, we still have motions to recuse trial judge Mark Fuller.

Los Angeles Times, No-ride list proposed for Amtrak trains after Bin Laden 'aspiration' discovered, Andrew Malcolm, May 10, 2011. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, right, proposes no-ride lists for U.S. domestic trains, similar to the no-fly lists used in aviation, in the wake of intelligence discovered at Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan. "Circumstances demand we make adjustments by increasing funding to enhance rail safety and monitoring on commuter rail transit and screening who gets on Amtrak passenger trains, so that we can provide a greater level of security to the public," the New York Democrat explained at a news conference.

May 9

Justice Integrity Project, Virginia Bar Continues Whitewash of DOJ Misconduct, Andrew Kreig, May 9, 2011. In a typical whitewash of misconduct by top officials, Virginia Bar Association issued merely a reprimand to a former Bush Department of Justice executive who lied about whether she used improper political criteria to hire the Department's attorneys.

Legal Schnauzer, Monica Goodling Ruling Shows That Legal Watchdogs Have No Teeth, Roger Shuler, May 9, 2011. Former U.S. Justice Department official Monica Goodling has received a public reprimand from the Virginia State Bar for her role in unlawfully mixing political considerations and hiring decisions in the George W. Bush administration. Because of Goodling, numerous unqualified lawyers now serve in the DOJ. Because of Goodling, numerous qualified lawyers do not serve in the DOJ. Because of Goodling, and many others, our justice department was used as a political too


Law Professors Blog, Crime Results In Imprisonment, Disbarment, Mike Frisch, May 4, 2011. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney for conviction of child sexual exploitation.  The former Army Major was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for a horrific crime: raping a baby. Federal authorities found 30,000 images and 100 videos of child pornography on the computer of 35-year-old Daniel Woolverton, a 1997 West Point graduate with a career as an Army trial lawyer that appeared to be on the fast track. (Shown at left in graphic by WUSA-TV.) Now, he’s behind bars after raping a boy as young as three months old, an act he videotaped.

Newark Star-Ledger, U.S. attorney won't appeal dropped charges against ex-Assemblyman Lou Manzo, brother, MaryAnn Spoto, May 5, 2011. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman will not challenge a federal court ruling tossing out charges against some defendants in the state’s largest public corruption sting. The decision not to seek an appeal lets stand a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jose Linares and a finding by a three-member panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals that dismisses extortion charges against brothers Ron and Lou Manzo.

Oregon Salem-News, The so-called 'war on terror' has redefined the concept of a battlefield, Janet C. Phelan, May 2, 2011. With this assassination of Osama bin Laden under his belt, President Obama has fulfilled yet another of his campaign promises. It was during the Presidential debates when then Presidential-hopeful Obama solemnly declared: "We will track down Osama bin Laden and kill him." And it was at that precise moment that my decision was made--I would not be casting my vote for Barrack Obama.

iWatch News/Northwestern University, Billionaires’ Dollars Fail to Fix Schools, Rita Beamish, May 4, 2011. iWatch news, Billionaires’ Dollars Fail to Fix Schools, May 4, 2011. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, computer magnate Michael Dell, investor Eli Broad, and the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame have collectively poured some $4.4 billion into school reform in the last decade through their private foundations. None of the dollars has proven to be a silver bullet. In a first-of-its-kind computer analysis, iWatch News investigated the graduation rates and test scores in 10 major urban districts — from New York City to Oakland — which collectively took in almost one-fourth of the total money poured in by these top education philanthropists. For all the millions spent on reforms, nine of the 10 school districts studied substantially trailed their state's proficiency and graduation rates — often by 10 points or more.

Wired / Danger Room, Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft, Spencer Ackerman, May 4, 2011. The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater. Ashcroft will head Xe’s new “subcommittee on governance,” its backers announced early Wednesday in a statement, an entity designed to “maximize governance, compliance and accountability” and “promote the highest degrees of ethics and professionalism within the private security industry.” 

Nieman Watchdog, What about drones now? What about Afghanistan? Barry Sussman, May 2, 2011. Here are a few questions from the Nieman Watchdog assignment desk for second-day stories on the departure of Osama bin Laden. With bin Laden gone, isn’t it time for serious discussion of an Afghanistan war pullout? And how much of a new honeymoon period does President Obama earn, if any, for the military’s incredibly precise 40-minute maneuver?