interpreting the constitution
number 69   09.10.06
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White House Wants to Use Secret Evidence Against Secret
Prisoners
The top lawyers for each branch of
the military have criticized the Bush
Administration’s proposed tribunals
for the trial of terrorism suspects,
calling certain provisions legally
unacceptable in testimony last week
before the House Armed Services
Committee. The White House plan,
which would allow convictions based
on evidence that the defendants
were barred from reviewing, as well
as the introduction of evidence
obtained by coercion, has also met
with resistance from several Senate
Republicans.

Administration officials drafted the
proposals after the Supreme Court
ruled that a previous system of
military
tribunals violated defendants' rights
under the US Constitution and under
international treaties that have the
force of US law.

Leading Republican Senators John
Warner (VA), John McCain (AZ), and
Lindsey Graham (SC) are working to
negotiate changes to the plan, which
would address some of the concerns
raised by the military Judge
Advocates General in their testimony
before the Armed Services
Committee. The central issue is
White House insistence on retaining
the right to withhold certain evidence
from the accused during the trials.
Graham, himself a former military
lawyer, has called the provision
“unnecessary.” Other Republican
leaders, both in the House and in
the Senate, are pressing for quick
approval of the administration
proposals in their current form.

Brig. Gen. James C. Walker, US
Marine Corps Staff Judge
Advocate, told the House
committee, “I’m not aware of any
situation in the world where there
is a system of jurisprudence that
is recognized by civilized people,
where an individual can be tried
and convicted without seeing the
evidence against him. And I don’t
think that the United States needs
to become the first in that
scenario.”                          
its all
true
interpreting the constitution

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one nation, under surveillance

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Senate Approves
Leftover Bomblets
For Civilian Hamlets
Arrests Common, Convictions Rare in Bush's War on Terror
An in-depth analysis of Justice
Department statistics shows that,
although there has been a sharp
increase in the prosecution of
terrorism cases since the attacks of 9-
11, only a small fraction of the people
implicated have been found guilty
and sentenced to long prison terms.

In fact, only 14, or less than one
percent, of defendants have received
a substantial prison sentence-20
years or more- and the median or
typical prison sentence for all
persons convicted was zero.  The
study found that the majority
received no prison term whatsoever.

The Transactional Records Access
Clearinghouse of Syracuse University
performed the analysis of data from
the Justice Department’s Executive
Office of US Attorneys.  The
organization
obtained records of prosecutions
under the Freedom of Information Act
pertaining to more than 6000
individuals the government had
categorized as “terrorists”.

The goal of the study was to find out
“how effective are the government’s
expanding surveillance and
intelligence efforts in identifying
serious terrorists" and how effective
government investigators are at
“obtaining evidence that will result in”
court actions.

The study revealed that over the five
year period studied, prosecutors
found that 64 percent of the
investigations were not worth
pursuing and an additional 9 percent
of prosecutions that were filed were
dismissed or the defendants proven
to be innocent of all charges.  The
study found that in the last
eight months of reporting, Justice
Department Attorneys declined to
prosecute more than 9 in 10
terror cases referred to them for
prosecution.

In 39 percent of the cases that
prosecutors declined, US
Attorneys said that the
investigators have found little or
no evidence to convict the
defendants.  Many of the cases
that prosecutors declined were
found to be based upon weak or
insufficient evidence.  In other
cases it was determined that there
was no criminal intent or that no
law had been violated.  

An additional 24 percent of the
referrals declined because of
what was referred in memos as  
"official policy".                    
its all
true
The US Senate voted to
continue to allow the military to
use cluster bombs in areas
where civilians live and work as
the US continues its military
operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan.

In a 70-30 vote the senate
killed an amendment attached
to a defense appropriations bill
that would have required the
Pentagon to establish clear
rules for the use of cluster
bombs for the first time,
prohibiting the use of the
weapons in civilian populated
areas such as cities, towns,
camps and villages.

The amendment that was
voted down would also have
forbidden countries that
purchase cluster bombs from
US military contractors to
deploy the weapons in civilian
populated areas.  The vote
came shortly after the State
Department announced that it
would investigate Israel’s use
of cluster bombs in its recent
attacks in Lebanon. Tthe UN
has characterized Israel’s use
of cluster bombs as “immoral”.  

Cluster bombs disburse
hundreds of ‘bomblets’ as they
approach their target and were
designed to kill and maim as
many people as possible.  40
percent of the bomblets remain
unexploded.  In the first Gulf
War, bombs containing more
than 20 million bomblets were
dropped.  Since the end of that
war more than 4000 civilians
have been killed or maimed by
leftover unexploded
bomblets.            
its all true
one nation, under surveillance
redstat
Americans Embrace Totalitarianism to Prevent
Terrorism
Highest divorce rate by
state
8
6
4
2
%
ID
WY
AL
AR
NV
A poll recently conducted by Zogby
International reveals that many
Americans have been convinced that
they must relinquish important civil
liberties to protect themselves from
danger in the so-called ‘war on
terror’.

The Zogby poll suggests that most
Americans are willing to cede their
personal privacy in public places if
doing so would provide greater
security.  The poll also showed that
respondents who identified
themselves as Republican are far
more likely to be willing to relinquish
their personal liberties.

Respondents were asked if they
would favor or oppose giving up their
personal liberties “if it meant
increased protection from terrorist
acts.”  Overall, 80 percent
of those questioned supported
allowing
video surveillance of public places.  A
majority also would acquiesce to
random searches of handbags,
briefcases, backpacks and other
belongings.

The poll revealed that nearly half (48
percent) of the American public
would also support “allowing regular
road blocks” and 45 percent of all
respondents would not feel
threatened by police searches of
their vehicles with no probable
cause.  

The poll also found that more than a
third of all Americans would allow
their mail and phone calls to be
monitored for national security
reasons.

The Zogby poll was conducted over
the Labor Day weekend and
surveyed 1,014 likely
voters.                 
its all true
source: Viroqua
Institute
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    Links of the Week

Council of Economic Advisors:
Economic Indicators Report,
July 2006

Geneva Convention  
Relative to the Treatment  
of Prisoners of War

Haleakala National Park

Mark Rothko:  
Untitled, 1969


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interpreting the constitution
spread of the red
Administration Quietly Acts to Quiet Critics
Economic Growth
Yields Wage
Reductions
The Bush administration has quietly
moved to revoke legal whistleblower
protections for federal employees
under the Clean Water Act. In ruling
that federal workers would no longer
be allowed to pursue such claims, the
Department of Labor’s Administrative
Review Board referred to an
“unpublished opinion of the Attorney
General’s Office of Legal Counsel.”  
The decision is apparently based on
the arcane legal principle of
“sovereign immunity,” which asserts
that policies and actions of the
executive are not subject to judicial
review. According to the public
interest watchdog group Public
Employees for Environmental
Responsibility, which obtained a copy
of the opinion, senior EPA officials
intend to invoke the same argument
to expand immunity from
whistleblower lawsuits to all
environmental statutes.

The concept of sovereign immunity is
rooted in English common law; it
essentially makes legal action
against the state dependent upon
the state’s consent to be sued. Not
explicitly contemplated under the US
constitution, the principle was the
basis for the dismissal of a recent
claim against the EPA by an
employee who had alleged
agency wrongdoing. After an
administrative law judge had ruled in
the plaintiff’s favor and awarded
$225,000 in punitive damages
against the EPA, calling the agency’s
conduct “reprehensible,” Secretary
of Labor Elaine Chao intervened to
reverse the decision.

The opinion, which seeks to reverse
two decades of legal precedent, is
signed by Acting Assistant Attorney
General Steven Bradbury. The policy
will affect approximately 170,000
federal employees working within
environmental agencies. PEER
General Counsel Richard Condit said
in a statement, “The Bush
administration is engineering the
stealth repeal of whistleblower
protections. The use of an
unpublished opinion to change
official interpretations is a giant step
backward to the days of the secret
Star Chamber.”

The loss of legal protections applies
to employees who report water
pollution enforcement issues,
problems with cleanup programs, or
federal agency manipulation of
scientific research data.  The new
policy removes safeguards from
government or agency retaliation
against employees who come forward
with such information.                           
its all true
Despite consistent growth in
productivity in the US economy
over the last decade, family
incomes and real wages have
fallen every year since 2000,
according to a recently published
report by the Economic Policy
Institute.

The report,
The State of Working
America 2006/2007
, reveals that
the economy achieved an
increase in productivity of 33.5
percent between 1995 and 2005,
but that median household
income is down 5.4 percent since
2000. Accordingly, the report
concludes that the benefits of this
productivity growth are being
consolidated among the top one
percent of households.

Recent US Census Bureau data
show that the average family
works about 500 more hours each
year than the average family of 30
years ago. Despite the unusual  
combination of economic growth,
increased productivity, and  extra
hours worked, median family
incomes have decreased in real
terms in each of the last six
years.                     
its all true
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verbatim                                                                                  number 13.4
"Imagine the mentality of
somebody willing to kill for
an ideology, that just
doesn't-is not helpful...
...and yet I believe a lot of
it has to do with the fact
that parts of the world
breed resentment."
    Lancaster  PA   08.16.06