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Three Bad Rulings

The Supreme Court hit the trifecta yesterday: Three cases involving the First Amendment. Three dismaying decisions by Chief Justice John Roberts’s new conservative majority.

Chief Justice Roberts and the four others in his ascendant bloc used the next-to-last decision day of this term to re-open the political system to a new flood of special-interest money, to weaken protection of student expression and to make it harder for citizens to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state. In the process, the reconfigured court extended its noxious habit of casting aside precedents without acknowledging it — insincere judicial modesty scored by Justice Antonin Scalia in a concurring opinion.

A Strong Push From Back Stage

By Jo Becker and Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 26, 2007; Page A01

Air Force Two touched down at the Greenbrier Valley Airport in West Virginia on Feb. 6, 2003, carrying Vice President Cheney to the annual retreat of Republican House and Senate leaders. He had come to sell them on the economic centerpiece of President Bush’s first term: a $674 billion tax cut.

A GOP Plan To Oust Cheney

By Sally Quinn

Tuesday, June 26, 2007; 12:00 AM

The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week’s blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising.

As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration’s leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party — including the presidential nominee — in next year’s elections.⊂=AR

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson Slams His Friend Mitt Romney for “Flip-Flopping” on Abortion, Stem Cell Research, Torture in Attempt to Win GOP Presidential Nomination

Anderson and Romney became “great friends” after they closely worked together on the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. They have campaigned for each other, despite their party difference, but now Anderson says Mitt Romney’s support for the Iraq war, torture and the doubling of the size of Guantanamo is “unconscionable.” “I am very surprised that somebody like Mitt Romney, who I always felt had such great integrity and was so reasonable, would have caved in to his handlers and flip-flopped on so many issues,” Anderson said.

Suppressing the Vote

By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

Thanks to rigorous work by the Brennan Center for Justice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, it is clear that the US. Attorney scandal – as outrageous as it is on its own – is part of a much broader effort by the Bush Administration to use government institutions for partisan gain.

In their report – Using Justice to Suppress the Vote – the two pro-democracy, pro-civil rights organizations demonstrate that the Administration used federal agencies charged with protecting voters’ rights to promote voter suppression, influence voting rules, and gain advantage in battleground states. This was achieved through a four-pronged strategy: dismantling the infrastructure at the Department of Justice; fomenting a fear of rampant voter fraud (which has subsequently been disproved – it actually occurs “statistically…about as often as death by lightning strike”); politically motivated prosecutions; and restricting registration and voting.

“Vote Caging” Allegations Arise in Probe of US Attorney Firings
By Greg Gordon-

Critics say top Justice official’s ’04 letter to Ohio judge was a partisan maneuver.

Four days before the 2004 election, the Justice Department’s civil rights chief sent an unusual letter to a federal judge in Ohio who was weighing whether to let Republicans challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly African American voters.

The case was triggered by allegations that Republicans had sent a mass mailing to mostly Democratic-leaning minorities and used undeliverable letters to compile a list of voters potentially vulnerable to eligibility challenges.

New Mexico’s Nuclear Governor
The Grooming of Bill Richardson


New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson has a long way to go before he can call himself a peace candidate as he has been doing in his presidential campaign in the press and out east. He can’t do that back in his home state, not on peace nor on a range of other issues.

New Scrutiny as Immigrants Die in Custody


No government body is charged with accounting for deaths in immigration detention, a patchwork of county jails, privately run prisons and federal facilities where more than 27,500 people who are not American citizens are held on any given day while the government decides whether to deport them.

Getting details about those who die in custody is a difficult undertaking left to family members, advocacy groups and lawyers.

But as the immigration detention system balloons to meet demands for stricter enforcement of immigration laws, deaths in custody — and the secrecy and confusion around them — are drawing increased scrutiny from lawmakers and from government investigators.

Zoellick confirmed World Bank chief

Robert Zoellick, a former US secretary of state and trade representative, has been unanimously approved as the new president of the World Bank.

Zoellick, the only nominee for the job, won the unanimous approval of the World Bank’s board on Monday to become the poverty-fighting institution’s next president.

A Confederation of War-Seeking Factions

by Glenn Greenwald

This is Chapter 4 of A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, released today.

Why would the president, in the midst of substantial and growing cooperation with the Iranians, suddenly decree Iran in 2002 to be part of an axis of evil, and all but declare Iran an enemy on whom war must inevitably be waged? Numerous and disparate factions surrounding the president each desired, albeit for different reasons and with different motives, hostility and conflict with Iran. Those factions perceive that belligerence toward Iran, rather than a negotiated peace, would promote their respective agendas. And each was able to depict Iran in the Manichean terms that would ensure that the president would see Iran as an implacable foe he was duty-bound to defeat.

US to introduce 10 fingerprints system for visitors

The United States is beefing up security for foreign visitors who will have to give 10 digital fingerprints when they arrive, an official from the US Department for Homeland Security said Monday.

Higher quality 10 fingerprint scanners will be evaluated during a pilot programme at 10 airports, including the John F Kennedy Airport in New York, Chicago’s O’Hare and Washington Dulles International, to replace the current system which requires two fingerprints and a photograph.

African states oppose US presence

Simon Tisdall in Washington -Monday June 25, 2007-Guardian Unlimited

The Pentagon’s plans to create a new US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves publicly with the US “global war on terror”.

A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, the principal deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show from separate consultations with senior defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and with the African Union (AU).,,2111259,00.html

GOP Senator Says Iraq Plan Not Working

Tuesday June 26, 2007 By ANNE FLAHERTY -Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior Republican and a reliable vote for President Bush on the war, said Monday that Bush’s Iraq strategy was not working and that the U.S. should downsize the military’s role.

The unusually blunt assessment deals a political blow to Bush, who has relied heavily on GOP support to stave off anti-war legislation.

It also comes as a surprise. Most Republicans have said they were willing to wait until September to see if Bush’s recently ordered troop buildup in Iraq was working.

“In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” Lugar, R-Ind., said in a Senate floor speech. “Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.”,,-6736347,00.html

‘Anbar model’ under fire
Four Iraqi Sheikhs tied to the US’s anti-Al Qaeda plan were killed Monday in Baghdad.

The Iraq-gate Cover-up Continues

The U.S. news media is hailing the death sentences meted out to three of Saddam Hussein’s top aides for their roles in chemical attacks against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s. But the American press corps again is silent about long-standing evidence that the Reagan administration aided and abetted the Hussein regime as these crimes were committed. Hussein’s hasty execution six months ago and the truncated Iraqi legal process also guaranteed that no new evidence emerged implicating George W. Bush’s former and current defense secretaries or his father.

Juan Cole: Informed Comment
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

16 Bodies found in Baghdad
Anbar Tribal Model Questioned

Keeping on a steady course to Apartheid

by Jeff Halper

“Not only are the Palestinians irrelevant, in Israel’s view, but the Hamas’ “takeover” is actually a positive development, since it furthers the apartheid process. A key reason why Palestinians voted for Hamas was the perception that it would resist pressures to accept a Bantustan better than the weak, vacillating Fatah movement, which was seen as little more than Israel’s policeman in the Territories.”

US firms ‘reject’ Venezuela deal

By James Ingham
BBC News, Caracas

Two of the world’s largest oil companies have reportedly rejected a deal that would keep them working in Venezuela’s most important reserve.


On June 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, the most conservative in the country, issued a decision striking at the heart of Bush’s conception of the presidency. In al-Marri v. Wright, the court ruled that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a resident of Qatar, arrested as a student at Bradley University in the United States, accused of aiding al-Qaida, could not be held in indefinite detention as an “enemy combatant” and must be remanded to the civilian criminal court system. (Al-Marri, in an affidavit, claimed to have been tortured.) The decision acknowledged that al-Marri might have committed serious crimes. But the government’s assertion that the president has “inherent constitutional authority,” rooted in his “war-making powers,” is a “breathtaking claim” contrary to U.S. constitutional law and history.

“The President,” the court said, “claims power that far exceeds that granted him by the Constitution.” This extraordinary decision, citing the Framers, declared Bush’s actions — and his imperial presidency — null and void. It is worth quoting at some length

Put simply, the Constitution does not allow the President to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so even if he calls them “enemy combatants” … Of course, this does not mean that the President lacks power to protect our national interests and defend our people, only that in doing so he must abide by the Constitution. We understand and do not in any way minimize the grave threat international terrorism poses to our country and our national security … The Court has specifically cautioned against “break[ing] faith with this Nation’s tradition” — “firmly embodied in the Constitution” — “of keeping military power subservient to civilian authority.” Reid, 354 U.S. at 40. When the Court wrote these words in 1957, it explained that “[t]he country ha[d] remained true to that faith for almost one hundred seventy years.” Id. Another half century has passed but the necessity of “remain[ing] true to that faith” remains as important today as it was at our founding.


Then, the court delivered the coup de grâce to Bush’s “war paradigm.” Having cited the Framers, it now cited the example of Abraham Lincoln.

In an address to Congress at the outset of the Civil War, President Lincoln defended his emergency suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to protect Union troops moving to defend the Capital. Lincoln famously asked: “[A]re all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself to go to pieces, lest that one be violated?” Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress in Special Session (July 4, 1861), in Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1859-1865 at 246, 254 (Don E. Fehrenbacher ed., 1989). The authority the President seeks here turns Lincoln’s formulation on its head. For the President does not acknowledge that the extraordinary power he seeks would result in the suspension of even one law and he does not contend that this power should be limited to dire emergencies that threaten the nation. Rather, he maintains that the authority to order the military to seize and detain certain civilians is an inherent power of the Presidency, which he and his successors may exercise as they please. To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the President calls them “enemy combatants,” would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country. For a court to uphold a claim to such extraordinary power would do more than render lifeless the Suspension Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the rights to criminal process in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments; it would effectively undermine all of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. It is that power — were a court to recognize it — that could lead all our laws “to go unexecuted, and the government itself to go to pieces.” We refuse to recognize a claim to power that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.

~U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Published in: on June 26, 2007 at 8:49 am  Leave a Comment  

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