Government prosecutors announced Monday that they are seeking the death penalty in the case against six men suspected of plotting the suicide-hijackings of September 11, 2001. The trial, which will be the first in the history of the Guantanamo detention system, faces a number of questions, including “whether waterboarding constitutes torture, how statements obtained by coercion are to be handled, whether detainees may be so psychologically damaged that they may not be able to assist in their defense and exactly what the rules of the trials are to be.” The case also raises the possibility that the administration’s interrogation methods will be themselves put “on trial” as defense lawyers are likely to question the reliability of evidence obtained through coercive methods. (New York Times, Boston Globe)
A federal Judge has granted Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) the right to collect a “very limited” amount of information from the White House Office of Administration regarding the 10 million e-mails that the White House failed to maintain. CREW, which sued the White House Office of Administration under the Freedom of Information Act, is attempting to prove that the Office of Administration is subject to the public records law and the judge rejected an offer by that agency to provide its own description of its functions and responsibilities. (USA Today)
The House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the CIA’s destruction of videotapes of interrogations of terrorist suspects, will be allowed to view videotapes of an interrogation that are in the CIA’s possession. Neither the suspect nor the interrogators have been identified publicly and it is not clear how the CIA obtained the tapes. (New York Times)The judge in the trial of Brent Wilkes, who has already been found guilty of bribing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, said yesterday that if it turns out that Wilkes lied when he claimed poverty – leading the court to appoint public defenders for a second Wilkes trial for fraud and conspiracy – it might affect his sentencing. Wilkes is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday* in the bribery case. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
An often praised clause in last year’s lobbying reform law bans lawmakers from participating in events at presidential conventions that “honor” members of Congress. However, the House ethics committee recently undermined the spirit of this measure when, in a public memo, it explained that lawmakers could be celebrated at presidential conventions provided that they are part of a delegation. Now, the Senate’s Select Committee on Ethics, while voicing disapproval of this loophole, has created an alternative one – a member of Congress can be a “featured speaker” at a national convention party without violating the lobbying law. (Washington Post’s “In the Loop”)
Responding to the revelation that the Army suppressed a Rand Corp. study of the planning for the war in Iraq, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee has called for the Army to release the report. (Think Progress)
Pervasive processing delays in green-card applicants will be solved by a Bush administration plan to grant permanent residency to tens of thousands U.S. immigrants before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services completes background checks by consulting FBI investigation files. The change in policy came as a result of years of criticism by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, lawmakers, and federal judges over immigration processing problems. (Washington Post)
In an effort to trim less than 1% from his proposed annual budget of $3.1 trillion for 2009, President Bush has targeted 151 federal programs for elimination or reductions. One program that Bush (who famously asked, “Is our children learning?”) hopes to trash is the Reading is Fundamental Program, which provides $25 million to distribute books to low-income children. (Reuters, USA Today)
*Update/Correction: This post originally stated that Wilkes’ sentencing hearing was scheduled to take place today. It actually is scheduled for one week from today.