number 37   01.22.06
interpreting the constitution
Political Surveillance Predates Terrorist
Attacks
Since the news of the President's
warrantless wiretapping of American
citizens was reported in December, a
stream of news stories have revealed
the administration’s numerous
attempts to frustrate judicial oversight
of its domestic surveillance stretching
back to even before the terror attack
on 9-11-2001.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
court reported recently that the Bush
administration has made nearly three
times as many requests than any
president in the court’s 22-year
history.  While the court has
historically received an average of
596 warrant requests each year, the
Bush Administration has made over
5600 warrant applications so far.  
That is an
average of 1400 applications per
year.  The court has also reported
that 179 warrant applications were
modified by the court.  Of these
modified applications, 173 were
made in the years 2003 and 2004.

While the FISA court’s proceedings
are top secret, analysts familiar with
the court’s application procedures
speculate that the Bush
administration was consistently
casting an unnecessarily broad net in
its request to spy on Americans,
possibly threatening constitutionally
protected privacy.

Recently, NSA sources, who have
requested anonymity, have revealed
that
Vice President Cheney and other
administration officials secretly
gathered information on US
citizens prior to 9-11 without court
orders including people who
worked at the White House and
the State Department. Experts on
FISA court proceedings have
suggested that the likelihood that
such surveillance had anything to
do with terrorist attacks is
infinitesimal. A more likely
explanation is that the Bush
administration was monitoring
critics of its policies and others
deemed to be political enemies.  
The Senate Judiciary Committee
has set hearings to investigate
the legality of the
surveillance.                   
its all true
interpreting the constitution

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one nation, under surveillance

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one nation, under surveillance
Soldier Avoids
Jail, Detainee
Receives Harsher
Sentence
Justice Department Googles Your Googles
The Justice Department has
requested the operators of major
internet search engines to hand over
the confidential records of millions of
search requests. Three of the largest
– Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN and
America On Line – already have
complied with the demand, but
Google, which operates the largest
search engine on the web, has
refused to make the records
available.. Now Attorney General
Alberto Gonzalez has gone to
Federal Court in San Jose, California
to try to force Google to provide the
information.

Justice Department officials say that
the data will be analyzed to
determine broad search trends and
not to monitor
individual internet use. The program
is ostensibly part of an effort by the
Bush administration to revive  online
pornography statutes which have  
been struck down by the US
Supreme Court. But civil libertarians
and privacy rights advocates are
alarmed by the government’s
request, particularly in light of recent
revelations about warrantless
wiretapping of Americans by the
National Security Agency.

The government contends that
because its request is for search
terms and web addresses, and not
for individual account information,
that the data cannot be used for
intelligence gathering purposes and
that individual privacy is safeguarded.
But Google legal counsel Nicole
Wong told reporters “Their
demand for information
overreaches. We had lengthy
discussions with them to try to
resolve  this, but were not able to
and we  intend to resist their
motion vigorously."

The other search engine
operators were quick to claim
claim that they had attempted to
protect their users' privacy.
Yahoo, Microsoft and America
Online handed over the
information last August, but their
compliance only became public
when the Justice Department
sought a court order against
Google last week.
                        
its all true
It was revealed in testimony in
a criminal trial that there were
no written guidelines for
interrogation techniques in Iraq
detention centers. The
revelation came during the trial
of Army Chief Warrant Officer
Lewis Welshofer who was
charged with murdering an
Iraqi detainee during an
extended interrogation in an
abandoned train station in
Qaim, Iraq.  

Captain Jesse Falk who
supervised
Welshofer said under oath that
there was no training and
there were no written rules
regarding interrogation except
for an e-mail that came from
the unit commander that said
that officers were “tired of
taking casualties and that the
gloves were coming off” in
interrogation sessions with
Iraqi captives.  This led to a
situation where rules and
regulations regarding
interrogations were in a state
of flux, changing “weekly” said
Welshofer.

Testimony in the trial suggests
an anarchic  atmosphere
where soldiers, under pressure
to discover intelligence that
would protect the US troops,
devised interrogation
techniques that can only be
described as sadistic,
including the “sleeping bag
technique” developed by
Welshofer which resulted in
the death of 57 year old Abed
Hamed Mowhoush.

Welshofer was convicted of
negligent homicide and
dereliction of duty relating to
the death of Mr. Mowhoush on
January 21 and received no
jail time.     
its all true
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redstat
Born Again Principal Claims
'God Was Never Mentioned'
The principal of a public school in
Chicago, IL, is under investigation by
the local school board for requiring
his students to participate in a  
“character education” assembly
where the students were invited to
attend an after school prayer
meeting sponsored by the
Assemblies of God Church.

The high school students were
instructed to attend one of two fifty
minute school-wide assemblies where
representatives of the Seven Project
presented to students what they
referred to as a “message of hope”.

Although lawyers for the school
district had warned administrators at
Lane Tech to advise the student
body that the assembly was optional
and that a lecture that expresses
evangelical Christian messages can
not be allowed, students claim that
the assembly was described
to them as mandatory and nearly all
of the school’s 4500 students
attended one of the two assemblies.

Keith Foley, Principal of Lane
Technical High School, said that the
lecture was not overtly religious and
that God “was never mentioned”
during the presentation.  Foley is a
self-described evangelical Christian
who previously worked for the school
as a physical education instructor
and keeps a bible on his school
office desk.

Students and teachers at Lane Tech
have criticized Foley for his inclusion
of Christian messages and programs
at the public high school, one of the
largest in Illinois, which include an
abstinence only sex education
curriculum. Foley maintains that
educating teens about safe and
healthy sexual relationships is
confusing for his students.        
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true
source: US State
Department
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previous editions


Links of the Week

The Government Is Spying On
Us: ACLU database of FBI
documents regarding
surveillance of peaceful
organizations

Flathead National Forest
Wilderness Areas

The James Joyce Text
Machine: Rutgers University
Department of English

Nagasaki University online
archive of early Japanese
photography (1860-1899)

contact us
spread of the red
Frog Fungus  
Foments Fears
Condi Taps White House Crony
to Hold Foreign Aid Purse Strings
A fungal epidemic that is
threatening amphibian life in
Central and South America has
been linked to global warming,
according to new research
published in the journal
Nature.
More than 70 species of harlequin
frog have become extinct in the
past two decades, and the study
reveals a strong correlation
between rising sea surface and
air temperatures and the
extinctions. Scientists have been
puzzled by the persistence of the
fungal epidemic, but the
researchers show how subtle
climate changes have enabled the
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
fungus to thrive.

Amphibian populations have been
in decline worldwide for some
time, as climate change and
increasing loss of habitat have led
to hundreds of extinctions. The
authors of the new study argue
that unforeseen consequences of
global warming, such as the
amphibian fungal epidemic in
South America, constitute an
alarming new threat to biodiversity.

Scientists have estimated that as
many as 25 percent of all plants
and land animals could face
climate related extinction by 2050.
                     
its all true
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
has announced an overhaul of the
various foreign aid agencies under
her jurisdiction, including a
controversial proposal to exert State
Department control over USAID,
which has been independent since its
foundation by  the Kennedy
administration in 1961.  Rice also
appointed a close political associate
of President Bush to head the newly
reorganized USAID.

Former pharmaceutical executive
Randall L. Tobias will become
director of all foreign assistance.,
working out of State and reporting to
Rice. In his former administration job
as coordinator of global AIDS
outreach, Tobias was accused of
focusing on abstinence education for
political reasons. Critics feel that the
appointment of Tobias signals an
effort by Rice  to politicize foreign aid.

The proposal to bring USAID into
State Department oversight has
caused concern at the agency that
its traditional independent status
might be compromised.
Representatives of charitable
organizations stressed that long term
development goals must not be
subordinated to short term political
considerations. Some aid workers
expressed fears that because of
politics, funding for poverty reduction
and development programs might
actually be reduced in Rice’s State
Department.

But this view was rejected by a State
Department spokesman who said
“The goal of our program is to
empower those people who live in
poverty and are most subject to
disease and are more subject to  
governments that do not adhere to
democratic principles.”

The moves are part of an initiative by
Rice to promote what the Bush
administration had called
“transformational diplomacy.” Rice’s
plan, as announced last week, will
involve significant redeployment of
the State Department’s personnel
from Europe  and Washington to
countries such as China, India and
Saudi Arabia.

Rice held a seminar with USAID
employees following the
announcement of her controversial
changes, to
allay fears of sweeping  changes in
the agency. A published report said
that Rice pressed for subsuming
USAID into the State Department
because such a move would require
legislation.      
its all true
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redstateupdate.net
verbatim                                                                                     7.3
"Our debate at home must
also be fair-minded…
While it's perfectly
legitimate to criticize my
decision or the conduct of
the war..."
…these baseless attacks send
the wrong signal to our troops
and to an enemy that is
questioning America's will."
              Tobyhanna   PA    11.11.05
Number of terror attacks
internationally by year
2002           2003          2004          
2005
2000
1000
3000
previous editions archive
www.redstateupdate.net
cost containment:
healthcare
redstat
Senator Frist Prescribes Profit
Protection
Senator Bill Frist has proposed
legislation that includes tax breaks
to help the uninsured buy health
insurance and put caps on
awards to patients harmed by
doctors or hospitals. The “Health
America” plan would create a tax
incentive for uninsured patients
purchase private health insurance.
The plan also calls for ending  
what Frist believes are
“excessive” awards to litigants
who prevail in malpractice
cases. Senator Frist’s brother
and father are the co-founders of
the Hospital Corporation of
America and Frist owns stock in
the family run business. While the
“Healthy America” plan would
help uninsured patients buy
private life insurance, the plan’s
tax breaks would also help
hospitals to get paid for their
services by otherwise uninsured
clients. HCA set aside $2.7 billion
in 2004 to protect it from such bad
debts. HCA also owns an
insurance company that would
benefit from the plan’s
malpractice award cap.

Senator Frist has denied that
his plan was designed to
protect his family’s business.
Frist spokes person Bob
Stevenson said recently that
the senator is “careful to
meticulously comply with
Senate Ethics rules.”
its all true
source: US Census
Bureau
Legislators Manufacture Liabilty
Vaccine
Emergency Cuts Crowd Emergency
Rooms
An amendment was attached
to the senate defense
appropriations bill which was
approved late last month that
grants immunity to
pharmaceutical companies for
harm caused to patients by
any vaccine or product that the
Bush administration classifies
as necessary to respond to a
public health threat. The
amendment was added to the
defense funding bill by senate
leaders at the last minute, after
senators had singed off on
what they were told was a final
piece of legislation.  The
provision has been criticized by
consumer groups due to the fact that
many senators, including nine
members of the Senate conference
committee have substantial
investments in health care and
pharmaceutical corporations. The
no-lawsuit provision is seen to
protect drug companies at the
expense of American health
consumers and patients.

Giving pharmaceutical corporations
broad based immunity from lawsuits
was first considered but rejected
when the administration was
exploring how the government would
respond to a small pox terrorist
attack.       
its all true
visits by uninsured patients. The
study reported further that if the
reduction in Medicare benefits is
targeted at vulnerable
communities, such as children
and the poor, emergency room
visits by uninsured patients would
increase by 6 to 9 percentage
points.

The cuts in Medicare that are
being considered include
restrictions on eligibility,
increasing premiums, reductions
in doctor reimbursement and cuts
in overall benefits.  
its all true
A study by the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation of the
reduction of Medicare benefits
that are being considered by
congressional leaders reveals
that tightening eligibility to receive
Medicare benefits would result in
more uninsured patients seeking
medical care from emergency
rooms and immediate care
facilities.

The study found that a 25 percent
reduction in Medicare enrollment
would result in a five percent
increase in emergency room
Uninsured children in America
by ethnicity : percent to total
year 2004 statistics
7.6%
13%
9.4%
21.1%
white        black         asian        
hispanic
%