March News Reports 2011

 

March 31

Wall Street Journal, Kerik’s Prison Sentence Upheld on Appeal, Aaron Rutkoff, March 31, 2011. A federal appeals court upheld the four-year prison sentence given to Bernard Kerik, the former New York Police Department commissioner who served under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The court ruling on Thursday considered the fairness of Kerik’s treatment by the judge who sentenced him to a prison term longer than the 33-month maximum established under federal sentencing guidelines. Kerik’s lawyers had argued that four-year sentence by Judge Stephen C. Robinson had been unreasonable and showed judicial bias. The three-judge appeals panel found no basis for decreasing the sentence. “In sum, we conclude that an objective observer viewing the whole record would not question the district court’s impartiality and, accordingly, we identify no ground for resentencing,” the judges wrote in the ruling.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Obama's new view of his own war powers, Glenn Greenwald, March 31, 2011. Back in January, 2006, the Bush Justice Department released a 42-page memo arguing that the President had the power to ignore Congressional restrictions on domestic eavesdropping, such as those imposed by FISA (the 30-year-old law that made it a felony to do exactly what Bush got caught doing:  eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without warrants).  That occurred roughly 3 months after I began blogging, and -- to my embarrassment now -- I was actually shocked by the brazen radicalism and extremism expressed in that Memo.  It literally argued that Congress had no power to constrain the President in any way when it came to national security matters and protecting the nation.

Washington Post, Where’s the openness, Mr. President? Charles Ornstein and Hagit Limor, March 31, 2011. The day after his inauguration, President Obama promised a new era of “openness in government.” But the reality has not matched the president’s rhetoric. We, presidents of two of the nation’s largest journalism organizations, and many of our thousands of members, have found little openness since Obama took office. If anything, the administration has gone in the opposite direction: imposing restrictions on reporters’ newsgathering that exceed even the constraints put in place by President George W. Bush.

Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Open Government Advocates Meet with POTUS: A Firsthand Account, Danielle Brian, March 29, Updated March 31, 2011. Yesterday afternoon, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian—along with OMB Watch Executive Director Gary Bass, OpenTheGovernment.org Director Patrice McDermott, National Security Archive Executive Director Tom Blanton, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy Dalglish — met with President Obama about open government issues. The meeting was originally scheduled to occur during Sunshine Week, but was postponed. Here’s Danielle’s account of the meeting.

Fed Smith, Should the Use of Advanced Imaging Machines be Restricted? Two Congressmen Think So, Ian Smith, March 31, 2011. Today, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced legislation (HR 1279) addressing Whole-Body Imaging machines, now referred to as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) joined Congressman Chaffetz in sponsoring the legislation. The legislation was introduced in response to health and privacy concerns that have been raised surrounding use of the machines. To say the least, the AIT machines have been controversial.  There have been concerns about the potential privacy issues with the images that come from the machines, and more recently questions as to the radiation levels associated with the machines have surfaced.  The TSA maintains that they are safe, and a recent study would seem to confirm that, but undoubtedly some skepticism remains.

March 30

Politico, Not a secret anymore: Shh! Obama gets anti-secrecy award, Abby Phillip, March 30, 2011. President Obama finally and quietly accepted his “transparency” award from the open government community this week — in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House on Monday. The secret presentation happened almost two weeks after the White House inexplicably postponed the ceremony, which was expected to be open to the press pool. This time, Obama met quietly in the Oval Office with Gary Bass of OMB Watch, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org, without disclosing the meeting on his public schedule or letting photographers or print reporters into the room.  “I don’t feel moved today to say ‘thank you, Mr. President,’” said Steve Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. But he said he understands the award to be “aspirational,” in recognition of Obama’s potential to do more on the transparency front. “And in that sense, one could say it resembles the award at the Nobel Peace Prize,” Aftergood said. “It’s not because Obama brought peace to anyone but because people hoped he would be a force for good in the world, and maybe that’s the way to understand this award.”

Legal Schnauzer, "Casino Jack" Hits Close to Home In A State Tarnished By Abramoff's Sleaze, Roger Shuler, March 30, 2011.  Thankfully, a new movie shines considerable light on how former Gov. Bob Riley and his GOP cronies turned Montgomery, Alabama, into a sleaze pit. Casino Jack, starring Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, was released in late December and now is playing in select cities. The film should be of special interest here in Alabama, given Riley's documented ties to Abramoff and his fellow felon, Michael Scanlon. According to early reviews, the film portrays Scanlon as perhaps even more despicable than Abramoff. The mainstream press, curiously, seems to rarely mention that Scanlon used to work for Bob Riley.

March 29

Daily Northwestern, David Protess to take leave of absence from NU in spring; Protess to launch 'autonomous Innocence Project,' says 'future plans are indefinite,' Brian Rosenthal, March 29, 2011. Two weeks after being told he will not be allowed to teach his Investigative Journalism class in the spring, 29-year Medill Prof. David Protess announced Tuesday he will leave Northwestern for the quarter. Protess, the high-profile director of the Medill Innocence Project, will use personal leave, which he is entitled to as a University professor, to "establish a nonprofit organization devoted to investigative reporting of criminal justice issues," according to a statement.

March 30

Legal Schnauzer, "Casino Jack" Hits Close to Home In A State Tarnished By Abramoff's Sleaze, Roger Shuler, March 30, 2011.  Thankfully, a new movie shines considerable light on how former Gov. Bob Riley and his GOP cronies turned Montgomery, Alabama, into a sleaze pit. Casino Jack, starring Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, was released in late December and now is playing in select cities. The film should be of special interest here in Alabama, given Riley's documented ties to Abramoff and his fellow felon, Michael Scanlon. According to early reviews, the film portrays Scanlon as perhaps even more despicable than Abramoff. The mainstream press, curiously, seems to rarely mention that Scanlon used to work for Bob Riley.

March 29

Washington Post, Supreme Court rules against exonerated death row inmate who sued prosecutors, Robert Barnes, March 29, 2011. An ideologically divided Supreme Court on Tuesday stripped a $14 million award from a wrongfully convicted man who had spent 14 years on death row and successfully sued New Orleans prosecutors for misconduct. Conservative justices prevailed in the 5 to 4 ruling, which shielded the district attorney’s office from liability for not turning over evidence that showed John Thompson’s innocence. Justice Clarence Thomas said Thompson could not show a pattern of “deliberate indifference” on the part of former district attorney Harry Connick Sr. in training his staff to turn over evidence to the defense team.

Legal Schnauzer, The Rule of Law Seems to be on Life Support in Western Civiilization, Roger Shuler, March 29, 2011. When you start a blog about corruption in our justice system, you know you aren't getting into the "fun and games" side of the cyber world. We try to lighten the mood with the occasional post about rock music, Scrubs, or LOL Cats. But as we approach our fourth anniversary here at Legal Schnauzer, there is no escaping the serious nature of our subject matter. Based on a recent cover story in Time magazine, Western civilization, it turns out, hinges to a great extent on the kind of stuff we write about.

Legal Schnauzer, The Rule of Law Seems to be on Life Support in Western Civiilization, Roger Shuler, March 19, 2011. When you start a blog about corruption in our justice system, you know you aren't getting into the "fun and games" side of the cyber world. We try to lighten the mood with the occasional post about rock music, Scrubs, or LOL Cats. But as we approach our fourth anniversary here at Legal Schnauzer, there is no escaping the serious nature of our subject matter.

How serious is it? Based on a recent cover story in Time magazine, Western civilization, it turns out, hinges to a great extent on the kind of stuff we write about. If that's the case, our little corner of the blogosphere could be seen as a sign that western civilization isn't in such great shape. A Harvard historian lays it out in "Are America's Best Days Behind Us?" the March 14 cover story in Time. Here is how reporter Fareed Zakaria puts it:

The Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, who has just written a book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, puts things in historical context: "For 500 years the West patented six killer applications that set it apart. The first to download them was Japan. Over the last century, one Asian country after another has downloaded these killer apps — competition, modern science, the rule of law and private property rights, modern medicine, the consumer society and the work ethic. Those six things are the secret sauce of Western civilization."

We try not to take ourselves, and our blogging endeavor, too seriously. But reading that quote stopped me in my tracks. Legal Schnauzer, at its core, is about "the rule of law and private property rights," as experienced by my wife and me. In our own small way, we are showing that one of the building blocks of our society is eroding--and might be on the verge of crumbling if it isn't restored soon. Thankfully, we are not alone in our efforts to sound an alarm.

Jonathan Turley’s Law Blog, Justice Thomas’ Dangerous Conceit, March 6 2011. Louis XIV of France was infamous for his view that there was no distinction between himself and the state, allegedly proclaiming “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the State”). That notorious merging of personality with an institution was again on display in a February speech by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas before the conservative Federalist Society.  Thomas used the friendly audience to finally address a chorus of criticism over his alleged conflicts of interest and violation of federal disclosure rules concerning his wife’s income. Rather than answer these questions, however, Thomas denounced his critics as “undermining” the court and endangering the country by weakening core institutions.

New York Times, Ethical Quandary for Social Sites, Jennifer Preston, March 27, 2011. Built as a platform for amateur and professional photographers to share their work, Flickr is among the social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,that are increasingly being used by activists and pro-democracy forces especially in the Middle East and North Africa. That new role for social media has put these companies in a difficult position: how to accommodate the growing use for political purposes while appearing neutral and maintaining the practices and policies that made these services popular in the first place.

Washington Post, Chitchat with the president: Film at 11, Peter Wallsten, March 28, 2011.To reach key voters, Obama gives interviews to local TV stations.  Ever since he quit smoking, President Obama has been staving off nicotine cravings by reaching for celery sticks. He thinks Americans who help Mexican drug cartels should be “thrown in jail.” These are just a few of the exclusive news nuggets to emerge from the White House in recent days. The new details were not disclosed by the army of White House reporters employed by the country’s biggest news media organizations to track Obama’s every move and word.

 

Newark Star-Ledger / NJ.com, N.J. Gov. Christie tops list of Republicans in hypothetical race for presidential nomination, poll shows, Ginger Gibson, March 23, 2011. An online poll conducted by Zogby Interactive puts Gov. Chris Christie [portrayed in a Kiipedia photo] ahead of other Republicans in a hypothetical matchup for the 2012 presidential nomination. Christie, who has said repeatedly and emphatically that he is not running for president, received the most support, 19 percent, among Republicans asked about their preference for the nomination. Christie received 19 percent of the support, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who received 13 percent.

New York Times, Editorial: The Right to Sue Over Wiretapping, March 23, 2011. A court decision might lead to a significant, and long overdue, legal review of the government's warrantless wiretapping program.

PolitickerNJ.com, Herbert Stern sued for underwear purchase, Darryl R. Isherwood, March 23, 2011. Herbert Stern, the lawyer hired by then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to monitor UMDNJ as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, has found himself at the wrong end of a lawsuit filed by a former client.

NJ.com/ Associated Press, Ex-Qwest CEO convicted of insider trading sues his lawyers, saying they billed him for underwear, in-room movies, March 23, 2011. The former chief executive officer of Qwest Communications today sued the lawyers who represented him in his insider-trading case, claiming they "grossly overbilled" him and sought payment for staff breakfasts, underwear and in-room movies.

Jersey City Independent, Pols Caught Up in ’09 Corruption Probe Will Wait as Feds Appeal Circuit Court’s Decision to Dismiss Charges, Ricardo Kaulessar,  March 22, 2011. All five defendants in a New Jersey federal corruption probe will have to wait months as prosecutors pursue an “en banc” hearing of all 14 judges in the Third Circuit of Appeals system to see if they will reverse a three-judge appellate court ruling throwing out bribery charges in the case because the defendants were candidates, not elected officials.

Other News

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Miranda is Obama's latest victim, Glenn Greenwald, March 24, 2011. One of the central pledges of Barack Obama's campaign was that -- as he put it early in his presidency -- the Bush administration had gone wildly wrong because it "established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable -- a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass." Today, the Obama DOJ unveiled the latest -- and one of the most significant -- examples of its eagerness to assault the very legal values Obama vowed to protect. The Wall Street Journal reports that "new rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for more than four decades."

Reason Magazine, Bread and Circus. And Chickens. And Tanks, Radley Balko, March 23, 2011. Sometimes, a story comes along that defies commentary. Sheriff Joe Arpaio rolled out the tanks to take down a man suspected of cockfighting. West Valley residents in the neighborhood are crying foul after armored vehicles, including a tank, rolled into their neighborhood to make the bust.

Boston Phoenix, Chuck Turner is going to jail, but it's the Feds who should be hanging their heads in shame, Kyle Smeallie and Harvey Silverglate, March 23, 2011. In the corruption case of former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, dereliction of duty abounds. Neither federal law-enforcement authorities, nor the supposedly independent federal judiciary and news media, properly played the roles assigned to them in our constitutional system, which continues to suffer mightily under the weight of stings and set-ups that too often mask, rather than reveal, the truth.

Biloxi-Gulf Port Sun-Herald, Feinberg’s law firm now earning $1.25 million a month, March 25, 2011. The law firm of attorney Ken Feinberg has received a 47.1 percent pay increase for administering individual and business claims filed over losses blamed on the BP oil catastrophe.  At the Sun Herald’s request, Ken Feinberg on Friday released an updated memorandum about BP’s compensation to his firm, Feinberg Rozen, for overseeing the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Feinberg Rozen’s fee increased from $850,000 to $1.25 million a month Jan. 15, the memorandum says. The new rate is effective through the end of the year. GCCF is scheduled to end operations in August 2013.

 

March 23

New York Times, Editorial: The Right to Sue Over Wiretapping, March 23, 2011. A court decision might lead to a significant, and long overdue, legal review of the government's warrantless wiretapping program.

PolitickerNJ.com, Herbert Stern sued for underwear purchase, Darryl R. Isherwood, March 23, 2011. Herbert Stern, the lawyer hired by then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to monitor UMDNJ as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, has found himself at the wrong end of a lawsuit filed by a former client. The lawsuit by former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio alleges that among other things, Sterns attorneys overbilled him while representing him during a six-week-long trial on insider trading charges.  Nacchio was convicted and sentenced to 70 months in prison. His fines and restitution amounted to $70 million. Now he is suing Stern and his firm Stern & Kilcullen LLC alleging negligence in the handling of his case.  But the suit also alleges that among the $25 million Stern billed for the defense, were charges for thousands of dollars of staff breakfasts, in-room movies and underwear. Nacchio also claims that Stern's firm billed for "duplicative and unnecessary work" including seven attorneys to attend a court appearance. According to the suit, Stern's firm was "negligent and careless in handling the defense of the criminal action," which resulted in the barring of a key Nacchio witness. The suit alleges that the trial judge noted Stern's "gross defect in failing to reveal the methodology of a key witness."

Legal Schnauzer, A Bush-Era Political Prosecution Is Back in the Lap of a Corrupt Judge, Roger Shuler, March 23, 2011.How perverse is the U.S. "justice" system? Consider this: When an appellate court finds an error at the trial-court level, it returns the case to the same judge who likely is responsible for the screw up in the first place. That scenario is playing out now in the case of Mississippi lawyer Paul Minor -- probably the second best-known political prosecution of the George W. Bush era, after the Don Siegelman case in Alabama.

Professors Blogg, Censorship of Assange articles in the Guardian & Swedish press, Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, March 19, 2011. A human rights activist updates his research about Swedish and United Kingdom newspapers that block readers from citing certain Justice Integrity Project and Naomi Wolf articles regarding Sweden’s investigation of a WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The blocked articles mention U.S. political strategist Karl Rove, who lists on his website that he has been advisor to the Swedish government and who called for Assange’s execution in a television news interview Aug.7. Rove’s defenders in Sweden deny suggestions that the Assange investigation has been flawed by irregularities.

March 22

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The manipulative pro-war argument in Libya, March 22, 2011. By all accounts, one of the prime administration advocates for this war was Hillary Clinton; she's the same person who, just two years ago, said this about the torture-loving Egyptian dictator: "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."

 

March 21

Wayne Madsen Report, Interview with Nick Bryant, author of The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse and Betrayal, Wayne Madsen, March 21, 2011 (Subscription-required). Madsen provides a rare interview to fellow investigative reporter Nick Bryant, who spent seven years documenting a compelling book about a Nebraska-based nationwide homosexual network in the 1980s that allegedly involved prominent figures in law enforcement, politics and the news media. Madsen began his show with a clip from an ABC-TV news broadcast in 1982 with Frank Reynolds and Carole Simpson reporting that members of Congress were being investigated on allegations of homosexual sex and drug involvement with underage pages. The clip included a broadcast denial of involvement by then-Congressman Larry Craig of Idaho, who would leave office as a senator nearly three decades later under another homosexual scandal.

The reporters discussed the increased reluctance of both mainstream and alternative news organizations to discuss similar situations involving high-level figures, some of whom were allegedly involved in systematic blackmail of prominent public figures. "Had the Franklin Scandal blown up," Bryant said, "it would have been the end of politics as we know it in America." His reason? It would have shown the involvement of extremely high-level figures who attended parties that were "honey-traps" for the "after-party." Bryant's book portrays three federal grand juries as covering up the crimes by finding no such pedophilia network existed using underage boys and girls. Alicia Owen was a witness aged 21 who refused to recant her testimony that she had been a victim years earlier. But she was indicted for perjury, railroaded to conviction through a remarkable process that Bryant documents, and was sentenced to a sentence of 9 to 15 years in prison, with two years of the sentence in solitary confinement. Madsen described how he understood as a naval investigator probing pedophilia that those who investigate such topics are "dead-ended in their careers."

March 21

 

FireDogLake, Dan Ellsberg Handcuffed at White House for Protesting Obama’s Torture of Bradley Manning, Jane Hamsher, March 21, 2011. Eighty year-old Daniel Ellsberg was arrested on Saturday in front of the White House when he refused to leave at the request of police. He was one of 113 people who were arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police station on March 19, 2011 for protesting President Obama’s continued torture of Bradley Manning.

Legal Schnauzer, Key Figure in Abramoff Case Gives New Meaning to the Term "Dirt Bag," Roger Shuler, March 11, 2011. Reviewers have noted that Michael Scanlon is portrayed as being even more corrupt than Jack Abramoff in the new film Casino Jack, which stars Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey. For those of us in Alabama, that has special meaning. After all, Scanlon was the one-time press secretary for our former Republican Governor, Bob Riley.

Hudson Reporter, Lunch hour for ‘Buddy,’ Mar 20, 2011. Federal surveillance tapes this week gave new meaning to the term “out to lunch” when the video showed Harold “Buddy” Demellier meeting with FBI informant Solomon Dwek during the period that led up to the eventual arrest of 44 people in New Jersey and New York on corruption and other charges in July 2009. Dwek was pretending to be a prospective real estate developer in Hudson County, and Demellier was hired by him as a consultant.

 

March 19

Professors Blogg, Censorship of Assange articles in the Guardian & Swedish press, Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, March 19, 2011. A human rights activist updates his research about Swedish and United Kingdom newspapers that block readers from citing certain Justice Integrity Project and Naomi Wolf articles regarding Sweden’s investigation of a WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The blocked articles mention U.S. political strategist Karl Rove, who lists on his website that he has been advisor to the Swedish government and who called for Assange’s execution in a television news interview Aug.7. Rove’s defenders in Sweden deny suggestions that the Assange investigation has been flawed by irregularities.

March 18

Harper’s No Comment, The Justice Department’s Prison Rape Problem, March 18, 2011. In an engaging review-essay in the New York Review of Books, David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow address the issue of sexual abuse in prisons and the shocking failure of the U.S. government to discipline prison guards who mistreat inmates. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics(BJS), a branch of the Department of Justice, there were only 7,444 official allegations of sexual abuse in detention in 2008, and of those, only 931 were substantiated. These are absurdly low figures. But perhaps more shocking is that even when authorities confirmed that corrections staff had sexually abused inmates in their care, only 42 percent of those officers had their cases referred to prosecution; only 23 percent were arrested, and only 3 percent charged, indicted, or convicted. Fifteen percent were actually allowed to keep their jobs. The total number of incidents of sexual abuse involving prisoners in the United States is more in the order of 216,000 per year: that’s the number that the BJS estimated for 2008.

 

Washington Post, Sulaimon Brown’s allegations prompt House oversight committee probe into Vincent Gray campaign, Nikita Stewart, March 17, 2011. A congressional committee has launched an official probe into allegations by Sulaimon Brown, the fired D.C. government employee and former mayoral candidate who says that Mayor Vincent C. Gray promised him a job and that he received payments from two members of Gray’s campaign for attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty last year. The probe is being led by the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California's 49th District just north of San Diego.

Washington Post, Lobbyists flock to Capitol Hill jobs, R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen, March 17, 2011. A surge of lobbyists has left K Street this year to fill jobs as high-ranking staffers on Capitol Hill, focusing new attention on the dearth of rules governing what paid advocates can do after moving into the legislative world. Ethics rules sharply limit the activities of former lobbyists who join the executive branch and former lawmakers who move to lobbying firms.

Legal Schnauzer, Anthony Weiner Joins the Effort to Disbar Clarence Thomas, Roger Shuler, March 17, 2011. We recently reported on a watchdog group's call for the disbarment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and a group of Congressional Democrats are said to be drafting demands that Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas be disbarred in Missouri for perjury, and investigated by the Department of Justice for bribery, according to House Judiciary Committee aides.

WikiLeaks and National Security Materials

Salon Unclaimed Territory, Obama on presidential war-making powers, Glenn Greenwald, March 18, 2011. I will simply never understand the view that the Constitution allows the President unilaterally to commit the nation to prolonged military conflict in another country -- especially in non-emergency matters having little to do with self-defense -- but just consider what candidate Barack Obama said about this matter when -- during the campaign -- he responded in writing to a series of questions regarding executive power from Charlie Savage, then of The Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Leaksource, Assange Confronts Gillard on ABC’s Q&A, March 16, 2011 (video). Appearing via Internet on ABC’s Q&A program, Julian Assange surprised Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, asking her about allegations of inquiries by the ASIO into himself and other WikiLeaks staff, and that information being provided to the U.S. in response to requests through intelligence liaison channels.

Crikey, Grey areas reshape the Assange debate, Guy Rundle, March 17, 2011. A popular new social movement in Sweden, dedicated to exploring the “grey areas” of sexual life, has been accused of being a campaign directed at Julian Assange, with tweets between the organizers talking of naming the movement after one of his accusers, and coaching each other to “keep the story close to the Assange situation.” The tweets seem to contradict claims by the organizers that the movement was only inspired by the Assange situation, and had no focus on it, and the leading figures are all well-connected friends of Assange case complainant Anna Ardin.

Daddys Blogg, Was it a CIA honeytrap after all? March 17, 2011. New information released by Australian newspaper The Age raises questions about CIA and ASIO (Australian spy organization), and whether the sex charges against Julian Assange was in fact a so called "honeytrap" to smear his name and possibly deliver him into the hands of the US government.

Prime PR Seminar, 15 Minutes Summary: Post-Election Seminar, Oct. 8, 2010 (video). This is a quarter-long summary of Prime PR’s post-election seminar following Sweden's re-election of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate Party. Former White House strategist Karl Rove's website lists the Moderate Party as a client. Aside from Rove, participants in the seminar include several executives friendly with Rove at Prime, Sweden's leading public relations company, and the prominent conservative think tank Timbro Media Institute, among others. Among those appearing in the video, aside from Rove, are: Fredrik Andersson, Niklas Nordström, Åsa Linderborg, Thomas Mattsson, David Mark, Carl Melin, Billy McCormac, Andrew Ward, Nisha Beshara, Roland Poirier Martinsson, Jenny Madestam, Markus Uvell and Matti Kataja.

 

March 16

New York Times, The Court’s Recusal Problem, Editorial, March 16, 2011. The Supreme Court's refusal to address its recusal policy damages the justices' credibility and authority.

 

TPMMuckraker, Abramoff's Partner Doesn't Want to Cough Up Ill-Gotten Millions, Susan Crabtree, March 16, 2011. Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff's partner in crime, doesn't want to pony up the ill-gotten millions he owes to Abramoff's former lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, and he doesn't think he has to, his attorneys said Tuesday in a court filing. Scanlon, who worked hand-in-glove with Abramoff, pleaded guilty to defrauding a group of Native American tribes out of tens of millions of dollars and last month was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay Greenberg for its losses. Greenberg has settled a series of actual and threatened lawsuits from the tribes that Scanlon and Abramoff defrauded, and now the K Street giant is demanding that Scanlon make good on the court-ordered compensation payments and pay the firm more than $17 million.

Jersey Journal, Federal hearing for non-officials charged with corruption is canceled as U.S. Attorney's Office mulls further appeal, Michaelangelo Conte, March 16, 2011.This morning's highly anticipated federal court hearing on corruption charges against several Jersey City people caught up in the massive 2009 sting has been canceled. A court clerk told defense attorneys waiting in Judge Jose Linares' Newark courtroom that the hearing was put off because the U.S. Attorney's office is still deciding whether to further appeal a  decision throwing out the most serious charges against two of the defendants. The reasoning behind the ruling -- that the defendants weren't city officials -- was expected to have an effect on the cases of three other people accused in the case, including two who have already pleaded guilty. The government has until April 4 to apply for an en banc appeal, asking the full Third District Court of Appeals, as opposed to a three-member panel, to hear the case.

March 15

Der Spiegel, Protests Grow of Bradley Manning's Treatment in Detention, March 15, 2011. The conditions under which presumed WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning are being held have been tightened again. Even US politicians believe they're illegal. In the latest development, a key State Department official has resigned over critical remarks he made about Manning's detainment. Before he was inaugurated, Obama talked about the importance of whistleblowers, or sources who expose abuses within their organizations. Such "acts of courage and patriotism" ought to be "encouraged, rather than stifled," his website read at the time. Once in office, Obama underwent a radical shift. His government is currently taking legal action against a number of whistleblowers. The government apparently wants to use the Manning case as a deterrent.

March 15, 2011

Justice Integrity Project, Conyers Calls for Progressive Agenda, Skirts Justice Issues, Andrew Kreig, March 15, 2011. Longtime Michigan congressman John Conyers, Jr. held a press conference March 14 in the nation's capital seeking a more progressive congressional agenda. But he opened himself to criticism that he didn’t do enough to fight injustice during his just-ended four-year term as House Judiciary Committee chairman.(Press Club Photo by Rodrigo Valdemmara.)

National Press Club Wire, Conyers urges legislation to prevent gun violence in wake of Giffords shooting, Lisa Gillespie and Bob Weiner, March 15, 2011. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, is calling on Congress to take action on gun control in the wake of the January shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Boston Globe, Tipping  the Scales of Justice, Harvey A. Silverglate, March 14, 2011. Endowed with enormous powers, federal prosecutors are inducing more and more defendants to plead guilty. At last report, a mere 10 percent of those accused of federal felonies asked for a trial. Are more defendants owning up to their guilt, or are there other forces producing this cascade of mea culpas? Enter Joseph P. Lally Jr., who announced Monday that he was making a deal with the US attorney’s office to plead guilty and become a witness against former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and co-defendant Richard Vitale. In connection with a federal inquiry into an alleged kickback scheme, Lally, who had steadfastly asserted his innocence, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, extortion, and mail and wire fraud. In turn, prosecutors promised to recommend that Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf impose a sentence of between two and three years, instead of the nine years he faced under prevailing sentencing guidelines. How did the system come to this, where the government can trade freedom and money for testimony?

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The clarifying Manning/Crowley controversy, Glenn Greenwald, March 15, 2011. It's long been obvious that the Obama administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers "comes from the President himself," notwithstanding his campaign decree -- under the inspiring title "Protect Whistleblowers" -- that "such acts of courage and patriotism should be encouraged rather than stifled."  The inhumane treatment of Manning plainly has two principal effects: it intimidates future would-be whistleblowers into knowing that they, too, will be abused without recourse, and it will break him psychologically (as prolonged solitary confinement and degrading treatment inevitably do) to render him incapable of a defense and to ensure he provides whatever statements they want about WikiLeaks.

War is a Crime, Is Obama Even Worse Than Bush? David Swanson, March 15, 2011. Obama has publicly instructed the Justice Department not to prosecute torturers at the CIA, and his Justice Department has worked night and day to protect the architects of countless war crimes, including through the establishing of privileges of secrecy and immunity that Bush never even sought. This Justice Department and our courts are establishing the right of powerful officials to immunity from criminal or civil suits that might expose what they have done while employed by our government. Obama has set records for rejecting Freedom of Information Act requests and for prosecutions of whistleblowers -- not to mention the lawless imprisonment and torture of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning, a policy Obama has defended by reference to unnamed secret standards set by the military.

KPFK 90.7 FM (Los Angeles), Rep. Dennis Kucinich discusses the run-around he’s been getting from the Department of Defense after requesting a visit with Bradley Manning, Interview with Scott Horton, March 12, 2011. Kucinich: No one held prisoner anywhere in America should be tortured. And the fact that he’s awaiting trial and they’re doing this to him raises serious questions about our criminal justice process. And I’m going to continue my efforts to address the plight of Private Manning and to try to stop this outrageous treatment of him.

Legal Schnauzer, The Assange Case: Police Official and Accuser Are Friends, Roger Shuler, March 14, 2011. The police interrogator and one of the accusers in the Julian Assange case are friends, according to a new report out of Sweden. The interrogator and one of the two accusers had known each other for at least 16 months when rape allegations were raised against Assange, according to the newspaper Expressen. Neither the interrogator nor the accuser is named in the Expressen report. But the Web site rixstep.com identifies the Stockholm interrogator as Irmeli Krans. Meanwhile, the hacker group Anonymous has launched a civil-disobedience campaign against the U.S. Federal Reserve and major financial institutions, which it says have damaged the global economy and mocked the rule of law.

Washington Post, An ethics code for the high court, Nan Aron, March 14, 2011. The Supreme Court, whose members are shielded with lifetime appointments, is the only entity in our government that is not subject to mandatory ethics requirements. That is why reformers are calling for the Code of Conduct that governs all other federal judges to apply to the justices. Surely it makes no sense to have lesser standards for the highest court than those in place for lower courts.

March 12

Professors blogg, Opinion censorship in Swedish media: Link-search engine NOT the cause, Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, March 12, 2011. Swedes should start by protesting and demand a fair media report on this and all issues affecting the Nation. The public should own the truth. Those in power should own the shame. Twingly unequivocally admits that a Swedish newspaper would exercise censure against the publications which content are estimated as inappropriate. The question is still who had authored the request for censuring BOTH Naomi Wolf’s and Andrew Kreig’s articles on the theme Karl Rove, Assange and Sweden, published in the Swedish based Professors blog?

Washington Post, WikiLeaks suspect's treatment 'stupid,' U.S. official says, Ellen Nakashima, March 12, 2011. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has called the treatment of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley E. Manning, an Army private whom military jailers forced to sleep naked for several days last week, "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."  President Obama, asked Friday about Crowley's statement, said he had made inquiries about the conditions of Manning's incarceration. "I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are," Obama said.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Amnesty calls for protests over Bradley Manning's treatment, Glenn Greenwald, March 11, 2011 (Update). Oh, that's very reassuring -- and such a very thorough and diligent effort by the President to ensure that detainees under his command aren't being abused. He asked the Pentagon and they said everything was great -- what more is there to know?

Washington Post, Government can get records from Twitter for WikiLeaks probe, judge rules, Dana Hedgpeth, March 11, 2011.  A federal judge ruled Friday that the government can obtain records from the online social networking site Twitter in its criminal investigation of WikiLeaks. Three key players in the probe had argued that handing over their Twitter account information violated their constitutional rights.

Jersey Journal, Will judge let Manzo go after feds? Agustin C. Torres, March 12, 2011. Solomon Dwek, the government informant at the center of the massive New Jersey corruption sting, likes money -- also likes to hide it. Hudson's political felons and those trying to avoid the scurrilous fraternity or sorority are the subject of the mostly Democratic Party's society pages, a favorite read of county residents.  A Wednesday court hearing should be a page-turner for corruption trial watchers. Former assemblyman and frequent Jersey City mayoral candidate Louis Manzo will show up in Newark before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares. Manzo and his brother Ron face two remaining charges, bribery and mail fraud, after most of the complaints against them were tossed out. The judge is apparently eager to learn where the federal government is going with the Manzo case. Louis Manzo's attorney, John Lynch of Union City, will attempt to go on the offense against the U.S. Attorney's Office. Lynch will be seeking an evidentiary hearing if he's allowed to make prosecutorial misconduct charges against the government. The argument focuses on Manzo's long-standing assertions that the U.S. attorney's attempt to prosecute him was an attempt to boost the election chances of Chris Christie in the gubernatorial campaign. He argues that Executive Assistant to the U.S. Attorney Michele Brown should have recused herself from directing the investigation. Brown had been the recipient of a $46,000 Christie loan.

March 11

Legal Schnauzer, Key Figure in Abramoff Case Gives New Meaning to the Term "Dirt Bag," Roger Shuler, March 11, 2011. Reviewers have noted that Michael Scanlon is portrayed as being even more corrupt than Jack Abramoff in the new film Casino Jack, which stars Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey. For those of us in Alabama, that has special meaning. After all, Scanlon was the one-time press secretary for our former Republican Governor, Bob Riley.

Associated Press / Washington Examiner, Resentencing delayed for Minor, 2 former judges, Holbrook Mohr, March 11, 2011. The resentencing hearing for imprisoned former attorney Paul Minor and two former Mississippi judges has been delayed until Tuesday so the presiding judge can consider requests to vacate the convictions.  U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate heard arguments Friday on defense motions to throw out the convictions and said he will rule on the matter Tuesday. If he refuses to vacate the convictions, Wingate said he will re-sentence the men that afternoon.

March 10

Expressen, Interrogator in the Assange Case Friend with Woman Accusing WikiLeaks Founder, March 10, 2011. The police interrogator in the Julian Assange-investigation is a friend of one of the two women who is accusing the Wikileaks founder of sexual assault, Expressen can now reveal. Personal remarks on the internet reveal that the interrogator and the woman who reported Julian Assange had contact in April 2009. This was sixteen months before Assange was reported to the police for, amongst other things, rape allegations. On her own Facebook page, the police interrogator two weeks ago praised the lawyer of the two women and described Assange as the "overrated bubble ready to burst". The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his lawyers have on several occasions criticized the Swedish judicial system and claimed that all possibilities of a fair trial have been eradicated.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Swedish police under scrutiny in Assange case, March 10, 2011. Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer says a newspaper report casts doubt on whether the sex abuse investigation against the WikiLeaks founder was carried out in an impartial manner. Swedish tabloid Expressen reported Thursday that a police officer involved in the initial phase of the probe had personal and political links to one of the two women accusing Assange of sexual misconduct. Expressen also said the officer, Irmeli Krans, described Assange as a "bubble ready to burst" on her personal Facebook page. "If this information is correct, then one should carefully consider whether the nature of the investigation is such that he can be assured a fair trial," Assange's lawyer Bjoern Hurtig told The Associated Press.

March 8

Wired, Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles, Noah Shachtman, March 8, 2011. This spring, the United Arab Emirates is expected to close a deal for $7 billion dollars’ worth of American arms. Nearly half of the cash will be spent on Patriot missiles, which cost as much as $5.9 million apiece. But what makes those eye-popping sums even more shocking is that some of the workers manufacturing parts for those Patriot missiles are prisoners, earning as little as 23 cents an hour.

Reuters, WikiLeaks: EADS execs briefed U.S. on internal feud, Tim Hepher, March 8, 2011. A litany of back-stabbing at Europe's top aerospace group is exposed in leaked U.S. cables, which show American diplomats avidly collecting details on the cracks in U.S. plane maker Boeing's main rival.
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Huffington Post, A Reagan Republican Makes A Case Against The War -- And His Own Party, Dan Froomkin, March 8, 2011. When Paul Craig Roberts watches the U.S. reaction to what's been happening in the Middle East, he is haunted by America's own recent history in the region.  "Here we are, we're all concerned about humanitarian concerns in Libya, after we've wrecked two countries ourselves?" Roberts asked in a telephone interview. Roberts, 70, is one of the original Reagan Republicans.

Daily Censored / Daily Bell, Bestselling Chief Economist goes public: US a criminal oligarchy, Carl Herman, March 8, 2011. Seventy weeks on the NY Times bestselling-list was the outcome of Chief Economist John Perkins book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Obama’s New Executive Order on Gitmo, Glenn Greenwald, March 8, 2011. Indefinite detention and military commissions are continuing because Obama worked from the start for that goal -- not because Congress forced him to do so. As has happened over and over, while progressives and civil libertarians are furious about the new Order, former Bush officials and right-wing Warriors are ecstatic.

OpEd News, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck Respond To Report That Parent Company Hires Actors for Call-ins, Gustav Wynn and Rob Kall, March 8, 2011. On Sunday, the article, Limbaugh/Hannity Parent Company Admits Hiring Actors to Call Radio Shows, generated an explosive response on Twitter, in the blogosphere and subsequently from Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck on their radio shows. Hannity attacked the messenger, Limbaugh attacked his bosses, Beck attacked "currency manipulator" George Soros and the blogosphere went abuzz as the public considered whether Limbaugh, Hannity or Beck might have used their parent company's dial-a-fraud radio call-in service.

Asbury Park Press / NJ.com, Lawyers unable to interview Dwek, Carol Gorga Williams, March 8, 2011. The fourth time was not the charm for lawyers seeking to interview disgraced real estate developer and Ponzi schemer Solomon Dwek in connection with his contention that Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider had once accepted a $10,000 bribe. Dwek most recently was scheduled to give his deposition March 1 in the Schneider case but canceled, without saying why. Another factor in getting Dwek's testimony in the Long Branch case is Dwek's looming prison term. Dwek, now 38, pleaded guilty in October 2009 to money laundering and bank fraud. He could go to prison for up to 11 years when he is sentenced on May 2, although the U.S. Attorney's Office can recommend a lesser sentence based on his cooperation. Uliano has indicated Unger may rely on truth as a possible defense, if the defamation case goes to trial. But Unger would need for Dwek to provide additional information in such a case.

March 7

Counterpunch, How the Swedes Set Up Julian Assange, Israel Shamir, March 7, 2011.

Harper’s No Comment, Inhumanity at Quantico, Scott Horton, March 7, 2011. Bradley Manning, an American soldier under suspicion of having leaked classified and sensitive information to WikiLeaks, has been in prison since May, 2010. His conditions of confinement are increasingly strange and defy comparison with standards applied to the incarceration even of violent and self-destructive service personnel—and by all accounts Manning is neither; he is a model prisoner. Manning’s special regime raises concerns that abusive techniques adopted by the Bush Administration for use on alleged terrorists are being applied to a U.S. citizen and soldier.

Legal Schnauzer, Are U.S. Appellate Courts Trying To Cover Up Bush-era Crimes? Roger Shuler, March 7, 2011. The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta released its ruling in the case of Sue Schmitz, a former Democratic state legislator in Alabama. We have studied the Siegelman and Minor cases extensively and shown that the appellate courts, by law, had to overturn the convictions entirely. They didn't, and got away with it, because no one in this country holds federal appeals courts accountable--except the U.S. Supreme Court, and it hears only a tiny fraction of the cases that come before it.

March 3

Professors blogg, WikiLeaks, Revolution, and the Lost Cojones of American Journalism, Dr. Marcello Ferrad de Noli, March 3, 2011.   Professors blogg proudly presents to the Swedish public a new contribution by the notable journalist, writer and human-rights advocate Noami Wolf. Sweden used to enjoy a selective, well cultivated journalist body. The creepy and accomplice silence of the media is devouring the soul of a country  otherwise dignified by its beauty, its ethics, and its peace.

Justice Integrity Project, March 3 'DC Update': Feldstein Probes Nixon-Anderson Battles, Andrew Kreig, March 3, 2011. Washington Update this week probed the decades-long battle between Richard Nixon and Jack Anderson that helped shape the nation’s history during the Nixon Presidency. Update hosts Andrew Kreig and Scott Draughon examined new revelations about those battles with Dr. Mark Feldstein, a professor and renowned investigative reporter who authored Poisoning The Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture.

March 2

Washington Post /Associated Press, Army charges WikiLeaks suspect with 'aiding enemy', Robert Burns, March 2, 2011. An Army private suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive and classified documents to the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group was charged Wednesday with aiding the enemy, a crime that can bring the death penalty or life in prison.  The Army filed 22 new charges against Pvt. 1st Class Bradley E. Manning, including causing intelligence information to be published on the Internet. The charges don't specify which documents, but the charges involve the suspected distribution by the military analyst of more than 250,000 confidential State Department cables as well as a raft of Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.

Forbes.com, A Pawn in Their Game: How the Justice Department Uses the Media, Harvey Silverglate, March 2, 2011. Much has been made of "journalistic obedience" in the reporting of national security issues. At Forbes.com, Harvey Silverglate explores how the phenomenon plays out in the context of the criminal justice system, where deference to government too often allows authorities to use the media, rather than face its scrutiny.

Legal Schnauzer, Clarence Thomas Faces Call for Disbarment, Roger Shuler, March 2, 2011. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should be disbarred for his failure to truthfully complete financial-disclosure forms over a 20-year period, according to a complaint filed by the watchdog group Protect Our Elections.

March1

Salon Unclaimed Territory, Shifting Editorial Standards, Glenn Greenwald, March 1, 2011. Journalists and editors love to endlessly tout their own objectivity, yet their editorial conduct is so often driven by their sentiments and allegiances toward the parties involved in the story. Nobody -- not even the Guardians of the National Security State -- loathes Assange the way that journalists do; recall that they led the way in condemning him and calling for his prosecution for doing what they're supposed to do.  These Beacons of Objectivity thus use entirely different editorial standards -- far more unfavorable ones -- when reporting on him.

Jersey Journal, Jersey City political figure and MUA board member pleads guilty to taking bribe, has no present plans to resign, Terrence T. McDonald, March 2, 2011. A Jersey City political operative and Municipal Utilities Authority board member admitted yesterday to accepting a $10,000 bribe from a government informant, becoming Hudson County's 13th defendant in the massive 2009 corruption sweep to plead guilty. Joseph Cardwell, 69, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to one charge of bribery in connection with Operation Bid Rig III, which resulted in 46 arrests of public officials in Hudson County and beyond. "He did today what was right for him and his family," said Anna G. Cominsky, one of Cardwell's attorneys. "Joe accepted responsibility for his actions, but this guilty plea does not define him." Click for Indictment.

Justice Integrity Project, Libel Suit Hearing In DC Explores Political Free Press Issues, Andrew Kreig, March 1, 2011. Attorneys for three major book distributors asked a federal judge Feb. 28 to remove them from a libel lawsuit that they described as threatening public affairs book publishing in the United States if allowed to proceed. Despite those threatened stakes, there’s been virtually no news coverage of the case. This is doubtless because the book at issue ─ Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, and Lies & Murder? ─ is self-published by author Larry Sinclair and highly controversial. Just three writers at most, all for web-based media, were among the seven spectators including this editor for the hearing in Washington, DC’s federal courthouse.

Jackson Clarion-Ledger / Associated Press, Paul Minor back in court before resentencing, March 1, 2011.  Imprisoned former attorney Paul Minor was back in federal court Tuesday, where he asked a judge to approve subpoenas he hopes will help his case during a re-sentencing hearing next week. Minor, a 64-year-old decorated Vietnam veteran, was considered one of the best tort lawyers in Mississippi before being convicted in a high-profile judicial bribery case in 2007. He had made a fortune by suing tobacco, asbestos and other companies.

Nieman Journalism Lab, A hive of long-form journalists: Gerry Marzorati and Mark Danner on a new model for long form, Lois Beckett, March 1, 2011. Yesterday at the Berkeley School of Journalism, former New York Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzorati and author and former New Yorker writer Mark Danner sat down to talk about the “the fate of long-form journalism in a new media age.”

FireDogLake / Emptywheel, Progressives Demand House GOP Committee Chairs Investigate Hunton & Williams, Marcy Wheeler, March 1, 2011. When I first posted on Hank Johnson’s letter demanding an investigation into Hunton & Williams’ appropriation of counterterrorist techniques to attack citizen speech, I was a bit skeptical. The focus is not just on how such a campaign violates the law, but also how it represents the application of DOD-developed programs to private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

 

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