interpreting the constitution
number 123    
10.07.07
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Significant Recent Events,
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FIELDS, FACTORIES AND
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Shortly after becoming Attorney
General in early 2005, Alberto
Gonzales signed a  secret Justice
Department document approving a
range of extreme tactics for use by
CIA interrogators on terrorist
suspects, overriding a previous legal
finding that had called torture
"abhorrent" and placed restrictions
on the Bush administration's
treatment of detainees. The
Departmental memorandum explicitly
authorized the physical and
psychological abuse of so-called
"enemy combatants," including
simulated drowning, also known as
"waterboarding," at a time when the
White House was publicly softening
its stance on detainees' rights.
Details of the secret memo were
revealed last week
in a report by the New York Times.

The disclosure of the memo, and of
another Justice Department finding
secretly issued later in 2005 which
declared that none of the CIA
practices were illegal under US law or
international treaties, outraged
Democratic Congressional leaders
who demanded information about the
way the administration obtained legal
approval for its policies. In a
statement, Senate Intelligence
Committee Chairman John D.
Rockefeller (D-WV)
said, "The administration can't have it
both ways. I'm tired of these games.  
They can't say that Congress has
been
fully briefed while refusing to turn
over key documents used to
justify the legality of the program."

President Bush defended the
administration's treatment of
detainees in an unusual press
briefing last Friday, reiterating his
past assurances that the US
"doesn't torture," and saying, "We
stick to US law and international
obligations." Bush took no
questions from reporters at the
Oval Office appearance, but told
them, "And by the way, we have
gotten information from these
high-value detainees that have
helped protect you."  The
Times
reported that the 2005 memos
remain in effect    
it's all true
verbatim                                       number 24.2
"And one of the
reasons it is hard
work is because on
our TV screens are
these violent killings...
...and that ought to
be a lesson for the
American people."
Washington  DC  07.12.07
...perpetuated by
people who have
done us harm in the
past...
The Bush administration has
moved to rewrite
environmental regulations to
allow the mining technique
known as mountaintop
removal.  The technique is
used widely in the Appalachian
Mountains but has been
challenged in federal court by
environmental advocacy
groups.  

The Department of the Interior
has proposed new language
that would amend a provision
of federal mining law that
prohibits mining activities within
100 feet of a stream.  The
department said that its
revision is intended to
eliminate “confusion regarding
the requirements pertinent to
mining in and around
streams.”  Environmental
groups say that the
clarification would enshrine the
technique of mountaintop
removal by modifying rules that
protect streams.

Advances in industrial mining
over the past ten years have
led to wide use of mountaintop
removal techniques by coal
mining companies.  Companies
that use the technique
dynamite hundreds of feet off
the tops of mountains to
expose coal seams.  Tons of
rock and soil are processed
through huge machines, some
twenty stories tall, called
draglines.  The mining
companies dispose of the tons
of rock and soil that is left as
waste in mountain valleys,
filling them in and burying
streams.  Mountain top
removal mining has buried
over 1200 streams throughout
Appalachia and more than
387,000 acres of land has
been deforested by companies
that
use the technique.   
it's all true
The House has passed a law that
would allow private contractors that
are employed by the US State
Department who break the law in war
zones to be prosecuted in US
Courts.  The bill has yet to be
debated by the Senate, but the White
House and intelligence officials have
expressed their fears that bringing
private contractors under US law
would constrain US intelligence
agencies and undermine intelligence
operations.

The Military Extraterritorial
Jurisdiction Act Expansion and
Enforcement Act authorizes the
Justice Department to prosecute
crimes committed by US employed
contractors in war zones, requires
the FBI to set up investigation units in
war zones where contractors are
operating and inform Congress about
on-going inquiries.  The House
passed the proposal in the same
week that
Congress held hearings investigating
crimes committed by the private
mercenary army Blackwater USA in
occupied Iraq.  Private contractors
who are employed by the State
Department in Iraq are immune from
Iraqi law because of a provision
enacted by the now defunct Coalition
Provisional Authority that the US
established after invading the
country, and as civilians, private
contractors cannot be prosecuted in
military courts.

The Bush administration sent
Congress an official Statement of
Policy regarding the proposed law
that expresses “grave concerns”
about the “jurisdictional scope” of the
bill.  Of greatest concern to the
administration is that the new law
would create federal jurisdiction in
“situations where it would be
impossible or unwise to extend it,” as
in cases
where private contractors are
employed supporting a covert
or clandestine operation being
performed by US government
agents.  The policy statement said
that the “bill would have
unintended and intolerable
consequences for crucial and
necessary national security
activities.”  

These concerns were echoed by
members of the house who
amended the proposal to exempt
private contractors who are
performing “intelligence activities
that are otherwise permissible.”  
The author of the bill, Rep. David
Price (D-NC) said, “If there are
private, for-profit contractors
tasked with duties that require
them to commit felony offenses,
Congress needs to know about
it.”                  
it's all true
2000
source: World Resources
Institute
Forest and wildlife protected
areas
selected countries
Russia  Germany  Ukraine  
Canada
10000
6000
The sheriff’s department in suburban
Los Angeles was discovered to have
employed arrest contests to boost
the numbers of persons detained
and automobiles impounded and as
a way to “motivate” department
officers.

The tally of the arrests made by local
officers was posted on the wall of a
police station in Lakewood, CA, which
is the base for a force of more than
200 sheriff’s deputies.  The contests
were referred to by code words
developed by a lieutenant who
devised the arrest sweepstakes
including, “Operation Vehicle
Impound” and “Operation Any
Booking”.  The Lakewood sheriff’s
department patrols several suburban
communities south of Los Angeles.

The county’s sheriff said that he first
became aware of the contests when
the
Los Angeles Times reported the
arrest sweepstakes last week.  
Sheriff Lee Baca told the
Times that
the contests were “not what I
consider a management tactic in line
with best practices.”

Baca said that he discontinued the
contests which were, he commented,
devised of by a “well intentioned
lieutenant,” and that arrests and
automobile impoundments did not
significantly increase during the time
that sheriff’s deputies were involved
in the arrest sweepstakes.  

Records from the department,
however, show that deputies seized
18 vehicles on a single day during
the "Operation Any Booking"
contest.  That daily total is more than
half the amount of vehicles  that the
department would seize during a
typical month.            
it's all true
The United States was once again
the largest supplier of weapons to
the developing world in 2006, with
total sales of over $10 billion,
representing 35.8 percent of
global arms transfers to
developing nations. The US was
also the leader in overall arms
sales, accounting for  42 percent
of the world market, followed by
Russia and the UK. The statistics
were published last week in a
report by the Congressional
Research Service.

Arms transfers to developing
countries constitute more than 80
percent of the global market,
according to the report, which
notes that high energy costs
impacted the international arms
market in 2006, with total
revenues dipping o $40 billion
from $46 billion the previous year.
The biggest buyers among these
nations were Pakistan, India, and
Saudi Arabia.

China occupies a unique position
in the global weapons
marketplace because it is both an
importer of sophisticated
weaponry and a substantial
supplier of conventional arms to
the world's developing
countries.     
it's all true
Officials of the Federal
Communications Commission
regularly leaked sensitive information
about confidential deliberations and
voting schedules to selected media
corporations, industry trade groups
and their lobbyists between 2002 and
2006, according to a scathingly
critical review of FCC procedures
released last week by the
Government Accountability Office.
The investigation found that the
access afforded by the agency to
communications industry
representatives was not extended to
consumer organizations or public
broadcasting advocates, in a clear
violation of FCC rules. The report
also noted the increasing tendency
for the commission to rely on
privately conducted research studies,
which generally reflect
well-positioned industry interests,
rather than undertaking independent
research.

"Situations where some, but not all,
stakeholders know what FCC is
considering for an upcoming vote
undermine the fairness and
transparency of the process and
constitute a violation of FCC's rules,"
according to the GAO report, which
was compiled at the request of Rep.
Edward J. Markey (D-MA). Markey,
who chairs the House Subcommittee
on Telecommunications and the
Internet, said that the practices
detailed in the report create a
situation in which "the public and
consumers are at an inherent
disadvantage," and called on the
FCC to "take immediate steps to
protect the integrity of its rulemaking
process."

The commission declined to comment
on a draft of the report that was
made available to senior FCC
officials, and is not taking any public
position on the GAO's
recommendations that protocols be
established for the prevention and
investigation of leaks. The period
covered by the GAO study includes
the tenures of former FCC chairman
Michael Powell and current chair
Kevin J. Martin. Markey called the
FCC's refusal to respond to the
reports major recommendations
"ironic," saying, "They talk to large
industry and lobbying groups but
won't talk about the GAO report. We
know they are capable of talking."

FCC chairman Martin formerly
worked for a Washington law firm
that  specializes in representing
telecom  interests.  According to the
Center for Responsive Politics, the
FCC trails only the White House and
the US House of Representatives in
the number of employees who move
from the
public sector into private lobbying
positions.                       
it's all true
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Torture Memos Secretly Confined Within Justice Department
FCC Gave Industry Reps Sneak
Previews
United States
Up in Arms
EPA Makes
Mountains Into  
Mole Hills
President Recognizes the Difference Between the Legal and the
Permissible
Morale Boosting Contests Net Arrest Bonanza