Moyers steps up on Cheney and Spying


Bill Moyers: Cheney Has Been Fighting

to Spy On You For Over 30 Years


By Nicole Belle
Posted on October 29, 2007, Printed on October 30, 2007

This post, written by Nicole Belle, originally appeared on Crooks and Liars

BILL MOYERS: Remember “The Lives of Others” – the movie that won this year’s Academy Award for best foreign language film….a story of life under East Germany’s secret police. The critic Roger Ebert said: “The movie is relevant today, as our government ignores habeas corpus, practices secret torture, and asks for the right to wiretap and eavesdrop on its citizens. Such tactics, he said, did not save East Germany; they destroyed it, by making it a country its most loyal citizens could no longer believe in.” You want to say it couldn’t happen here but we’ve been close before. During the cold war with the Soviet Union and then the hot war in Vietnam, a secret government mushroomed in this country. …(transcript)

In 1975 the Select Senate Committee headed by Sen Frank Church (D-ID) began looking into allegations first reported by Seymour Hersh in the NYT and found that the CIA, NSA, FBI and other federal agencies had been involved in everything from plots to assassinate foreign leaders, illegal storage of poisons and biological warfare agents including anthrax, warrantless opening of mail and wiretapping and other intel-gathering on US citizens, and misuse of the IRS , just to name a few of the abuses by the Executive Branch they discovered.

One of the ways Congress responded to try and restore checks and balances was by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which established a secret court to oversee all domestic wiretapping activity. Bill Moyers looks at the undoing of Congress’ checks and balances put in place following the Church Committee hearings and the unprecedented expansion of Executive authority in the wake of 9/11. You can watch the entire episode online here.

Nicole Belle is a regular blogger for Crooks and Liars.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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GO DODD GO !!! He says NO to MuKasey (finally some spine)


Dodd Declares He Won’t Support

Mukasey, Fellow Democrats Follow His



By Marc Cooper
Posted on October 30, 2007, Printed on October 30, 2007

This post, written by Marc Cooper, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Kudos to Chris Dodd whose third-tier-nothing-to-lose presidential campaign has sprouted him a robust pair of cojones. Dodd became the most prominent Democrat, and the first among the presidential candidates, to declare he will vote against Bush nominee Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as Attorney General.

Angered by Mukasey’s Senate testimony last week in which the former federal judge and prosecutor floated a legal “theory” that the President of the United States could, indeed, stand above constitutional statutes, Dodd declared on Monday:

“That is about as basic as it gets,” Dodd said. “You must obey the law. Everyone must.”

Dodd, along with a slew of other legal and political observers were also dismayed when Mukasey dodged Senators’ questions last week about whether or not so-called waterboarding was, in fact, a form of torture. After eluding any straight answer, Mukasey wound up making the incredulous statement that he wasn’t quite sure what was meant by the term.

Over the weekend, some leading Senate Democrats ranging from Dianne Feinstein of California to Carl Levin of Michigan engaged in their own form of equivocation, warning they might vote against Mukasey if he doesn’t properly clarify his views when he responds to written questions from the Senate later this week.

But Dodd’s bold stepping-out on this issue, rejecting any mulligan for a nominee who refuses to call torture by its proper name, seems like it might force the hand of fellow Democrats who might start looking rather silly if they don’t turn thumbs down on the newly proposed AG. Within hours of Dodd’s statement, fellow candidate and Delaware Senator Joe Biden also said he had made up his mind to vote nay. Campaign spokesmen for John Edwards and Bill Richardson also joined the chorus. And by late Monday night, the campaign of Barack Obama piled on, telling The New York Sun:

“Judge Mukasey has failed to send a clear signal that he understands the legal and moral issues that are at stake for our country, and so I cannot support him.” Mr. Obama said even a clarification from Judge Mukasey would be insufficient. “No nominee for attorney general should need a second chance to oppose torture and the unnecessary violation of civil liberties,” he said.

After this barrage, Mukasey’s nomination might be dead in the water — if you’ll excuse the pun.

UPDATE Hillary Clinton announces intention to oppose Mukasey. Read about it here.

Marc Cooper has covered international and domestic politics for the last three decades. His articles and essays have appeared in dozens of publications ranging from The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Playboy to Rolling Stone, the L.A. Times and the Village Voice.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Blackwater gets immunity (quietly)


US State Dept Granted Blackwater

Immunity in Killing of 17 Civilians

By Siun
Posted on October 30, 2007, Printed on October 30, 2007

This post, written by Siun, originally appeared on FireDogLake

Remember that Blackwater killing of 17 Iraqi civilians – and the oh so independent investigation that was supposed to dig out the truth (yeah, right).

Well, it seems the investigation is stalled because:*

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

H/T to Marcy who wonders:

Gosh, I couldn’t imagine why the State Department would immediately immunize all the guards in this investigation, can you?

Anyway don’t you think that’s something Condi should have told Waxman’s committee the other day … that these guys had already been given immunity from prosecution and that, therefore, the FBI investigation is likely to end up-like all other investigations of Blackwater-holding no one responsible?

Given the apparent lack of investigatory muscle we’ve seen on Blackwater, it’s encouraging to see that “the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions is planning an official visit to the US to investigate allegations of unlawful killings by US military and non-military actors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Incidents like the killings of Iraqi civilians in Haditha prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and civilian deaths caused by airstrikes in Afghanistan have all raised issues that Alston would like to investigate.”

The Rapporteur, Philip Alston, noted:

“I am very interested in questions relating to military justice, … in other words, the response to alleged extrajudicial executions by members of the U.S. military, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. … During his U.S. visit, Alston said actions by “non-state actors and military contractors” are also “clearly an issue I would want to look at insofar as executions are involved, and obviously in the Blackwater case recently they are.”

Along wth supporting robust investigations, citizen action can help to block Blackwater. Crooks and Liars noted the audacity of the company’s latest PR attempt to use the wildfires as another justification to build in California – in fact right near the location where the fires started – Blackwater attempted to claim they would have been able to fight the fires. The Courage Campaign is asking for signatures on their petition to Senators Boxer and Feinstein asking them to help stop Blackwater in California. You can sign it here.

* Interesting (but not surprising) to note that the Washington Post’s report on the immunity deal uses a photo from the 2004 killings of Blackwater personnel in Fallujah instead of the photos circulating from the killing of the Iraqi civilians on September 16th of this year.

Video: trailer for the film Shadow Company.

Siun is a regular blogger for FireDogLake. She leads a consulting team working on corporate responsibility communications.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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