interpreting the constitution
number 120    
09.16.07
interpreting the constitution

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Senior members of the Senate
Intelligence Committee have
asked the Bush administration
to withdraw the nomination of
John Rizzo for CIA general
counsel, which has been
stalled in the committee
because of Rizzo’s apparent
support for the torture of
terrorist suspects. Opposition
to the appointment has
become so widespread and
entrenched that members of
the panel requested last week
that CIA Director Michael
Hayden submit a new
nomination for the position.
Congressional Democrats and
a range of human rights
groups have charged that
Rizzo helped to administer a
policy of illegal treatment of
detainees.

Rizzo, a 30-year CIA veteran,
has been acting as interim
general counsel since August
2004; he also acted in the
same capacity in 2001 and
2002, during the period when
the White House “torture
memos” were being secretly
implemented as US policy.
During his confirmation
hearings in June, Rizzo
refused to distance himself
from practices that contravene
articles of the Geneva
Conventions, including
beatings, sensory deprivation,
and “water boarding.”  In
August, Intelligence Committee
member Senator Ron Wyden
(D-OR) announced that he
would block the nomination
indefinitely because of
concerns about Rizzo’s views
on detention and interrogation.

In a statement, the White
House said it continued to
support the nomination of
Rizzo, calling him "well-
qualified to serve in this
important position."    
it's all true
About 200 antiwar protesters were
arrested by Washington, DC police
over the weekend after thousands
marched from the White House to the
Capitol building, where they staged a
mass “die-in” in honor of Iraqis and
Americans killed during the
occupation, which is now in its fifth
year. The protests, which were timed
to coincide with the Petraeus report
on the status of the troop surge and
renewed Congressional debate on
funding for the occupation, drew an
unusually heightened level of police
scrutiny, according to veteran
activists.

Apart from the skirmishes on the
Capitol steps that led to Saturday’s
arrests, city administrators and the
DC police reportedly attempted to
restrict or disrupt activities of the
protest organizers on several
occasions in the  
weeks leading up to the march.

In August, two groups involved in
coordinating the demonstration, the
ANSWER Coalition and Iraq Veterans
Against the War, were threatened
with fines exceeding $10, 000 and
ordered by officials to remove
posters it had placed throughout the
city. DC authorities alleged that the
activists had used an illegal adhesive
in affixing the posters in public areas.
A public news conference a week
before the protest march in which
organizers claimed that their posters
did in fact conform to the municipal
code was broken up by mounted DC
police who charged the dais,
scattering activists and journalists.
The District of Columbia also
instituted a new $50 dollar “trip
permit” requirement for all chartered
buses entering the city just prior to
the expected influx of protesters.  
it's
all true
The United Nations General
Assembly has adopted an
unprecedented declaration of the
rights of indigenous peoples to self-
determination, setting global human
rights standards for native
populations that number some 370
million worldwide. The declaration,
the result of more than 20 years of
negotiation within the UN Human
Rights Council, was overwhelmingly
approved by a vote of 143 to four
with 11 abstentions. The four
countries that opposed the
declaration—the United States,
Canada, Australia, and New
Zealand—all have significant
displaced indigenous minorities.

The document asserts the equality of
indigenous populations and
recognizes their right to protect their
languages, cultural and spiritual
traditions, and their right to preserve
and maintain their own
institutions. Controversially, the
declaration states, “Indigenous
peoples have the right to the lands,
territories and resources which they
have traditionally owned, occupied or
otherwise used or acquired.” Despite
the fact that the resolution is non-
binding, observers say that the four
countries that voted against the
measure were concerned about
possible legal ramifications for land
and mineral rights disputes.
Advocates for indigenous peoples
point out that the majority of the
planet’s remaining natural resources
lie within the territories traditionally
occupied by native populations.

Human rights groups and UN officials
hailed the declaration. A spokesman
for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-
moon said that the General Assembly’
s adoption of the statement “marks a
historic   
moment when UN member states
and indigenous peoples have
reconciled their painful histories
and resolved to move forward
together on the path of human
rights, justice, and development
for all.”  

Bolivian Foreign Minister David
Choquehuanca, a member of an
indigenous population,
emphasized the recognition of
“our right to land and natural
resources, to be consulted, to
participate in decisions.”
US representatives had
specifically objected to a provision
of the declaration requiring states
to obtain the "free and informed
consent" of indigenous peoples
"prior to the approval of any
project affecting their lands or
territories," including the
"exploitation of mineral, water, or
other resources."           
it's all true
The Senate approved a
transportation-spending bill that is
reported to contain $2 billion dollars
for congressional special projects.  
Some of the projects that were
revealed in a report by the Inspector
General for the Department of
Transportation include a baseball
stadium in Montana and a Las Vegas
history museum.  When previously
approved projects are included, the
Inspector General said that
legislative earmarks will account for
over 13 percent of the total
transportation appropriation, about
$8 billion.

The Inspector General reported that
earmarks in DOT budget
appropriations bills have increased
1,150 percent over the past ten
years and that the cost of the special
projects has increased by 314
percent during that same time
period.  Earmarks are legislative
provisions that require funds be
spent on specific projects, often pet
projects in individual legislative
districts.

The investigation also found that the
growth of expensive earmarks in
DOT budgets has impacted the
agency’s ability to complete long-
term projects and plan for future
construction and rebuilding.  The
inspectors found that 99 percent of
the earmarks were not subject to
DOT contract review rules and
concluded “earmarks provide funds
for projects that would otherwise be
ineligible.”  The report also said that
“many low priority, earmarked
projects are being funded over
higher priority, non-earmarked
projects.” The Inspector General
concluded that earmarks can
“reduce funding for the states’ core
transportation programs” and “do not
always coincide with DOT strategic
research.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who
requested the investigation, said that
the vote “represented a resounding
victory for business-as-usual pork-
barrel spending.”   

In the aftermath of the I-30 bridge
collapse in Minnesota, it was
revealed that 27 percent of the
nation’s bridges were in need of
repair and 78,000 were reported to
be “structurally deficient.”  Coburn
submitted an amendment to the DOT
funding bill that would have imposed
a moratorium on legislative earmarks
until America’s unsafe bridges have
been repaired.  Coburn's amendment
was defeated by a vote of 82 to 14.

President Bush has threatened to
veto the spending bill that has yet to
be debated by the House.       
it's all
true
A recent survey of working
Americans found that the cost of
health care insurance rose more
than twice as fast as the cost of
living in the first six months of
2007.   The survey found that the
cost of employee based health
insurance coverage rose 6.1
percent in the first half of this year
while the cost of living rose by 2.6
percent.  The survey, performed
by the Kaiser Family Foundation
in cooperation with the Health
Research and Educational Trust,
found that the rise in insurance
costs also outpaced wage
increases, which rose about 3.7
percent during the same period.

The researchers reported that
since 2001, health insurance
premium costs have risen 78
percent, while inflation has risen
12 percent and wages have risen
an average of 19 percent.  The
survey also found that 45 percent
of employers were likely to
increase their employee’s share
of health insurance costs over the
next year.  A separate poll,
conducted by Consumer Reports,
revealed that 29 percent of
respondents who had employee
based health care were “under
insured”.           
it's all true
The nation’s highest-ranking
intelligence officials have filed
statements in federal court in an
attempt to overturn a judicial order
that impacts the court cases of more
than one hundred detainees held in
the military detention camp at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The
directors of the CIA, FBI and National
Security Agency made their
statements in support of a Justice
Department appeal to overturn a
ruling that would allow the judges
who are hearing cases that challenge
the legality of detainee tribunals to
review all of the evidence that US
military lawyers used against
detainees to obtain convictions.  The
intelligence officials said that allowing
judges to see the evidence that the
US has against the detainees would
cause “exceptionally grave damage
to the national security.”

The Bush administration has argued
that revealing all of the evidence that
was used to convict the detainees
would harm national security and
gave the Pentagon the authority to
withhold evidence from judicial
review.  Government attorneys also
do not allow the attorneys for the
detainees to see the evidence that
was used to convict their clients citing
national security concerns.  The
order came from a unanimous three-
judge panel in federal
district court in July.  The chief
judge on the panel, Douglas
Ginsburg, said in his ruling that
“the court cannot…consider
whether a preponderance of the
evidence supports the Tribunal’s
status determination without
seeing all the evidence.”  

Attorneys for the Justice
Department said that some
portions of the statements of the
directors of the CIA and NSA are
so secret that
they must be stored in a safe in
the courthouse and shielded from
court employees including the
judge’s law clerks.       
it's all true
verbatim                                       number 23.4
...And that's the kind of
society I know will grow
up in Iraq."
Washington  DC     05.20.04
"I respect people. I
respect their
religion...
...I respect
human rights. I
respect human
dignity...
Empires Wane, Retain Their Claim to Eminent
Domain
Confirmation Faces
Indefinite Detention
Price of Free Assembly Rising in DC Green Zone
Infrastructure Funding Process Structurally
Deficient
Insurers Claim
Healthy Benefits
Secrecy Chiefs Support Secret Evidence in Secret
Statements
Health spending as a
percentage of gross state
product, selected states
%            2             4             6
va
pa
tx
in
ms
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