Doubts Surface if Architects of Sept. 11 Attacks Will Ever Go to Trial
"President Bush's stunning transfer of 14 top terror suspects to Guantanamo Bay boosted hopes that, at last, the architects of the Sept. 11 attacks will be brought to justice.
"But some legal experts questioned whether their trials will ever occur - and whether Bush's maneuver is merely a power play to win congressional support for special military courts similar to those already struck down by the Supreme Court. " (McClatchy)
Congress Eyes 'Pork-Barrel' Reforms
"Facing unprecedented public scrutiny and an election this fall, Congress is under the gun to tighten the rules on the time-honored lawmaker practice of slipping pet projects into legislation - and it has about 30 days left to get the job done." (CSM)
Bush Defends Interrogations Techniques, Detention Centers
"Bush prefaced the announcement of the transfer [of fourteen prisoners to Guantanamo Bay from CIA detention centers] by describing in unprecedented detail the results of CIA interrogations of Mohammed and other al-Qaeda operatives. He strongly defended the interrogations, which he described as 'tough' but fully legal, saying they had helped to head off new plots and thus had saved lives in the United States and other countries.
"In defending the CIA detention program, Bush explicitly confirmed its existence publicly for the first time since the covert prison system was revealed by The Washington Post in November 2005." (WaPo)
Admin's Torture Bill Legalizes Torture
"This is the bill the Administration has sent up to Congress. Make no mistake, the most important action has little to do with military commissions (although that stuff is certainly significant, too). Instead, focus ought to be on sections 5 through 7 (pages 77-84), which are, as I predicted here, collectively an attempt to authorize the CIA to engage in the sorts of "enhanced" interrogation techniques -- e.g., hypothermia, threats of violence to the detainee and his family, prolonged sleep deprivation, "stress positions" and waterboarding -- to which the President alluded in his speech today, and to immunize such conduct from any judicial review. " (Prof. Marty Lederman, Balkinization)
Congress Takes up Surveillance Bills
"The Bush administration gave guarded support to several terrorist surveillance bills Wednesday as Congress took up the sensitive issue of how to give legal backing to the president's warrantless wiretapping." (AP)
Senate Republicans Say 'No' to a Vote on Rumsfeld
"The Democratic-sponsored resolution called on President Bush to replace Rumsfeld as a tangible way of showing that the administration was willing to change its Iraq policies. . . .
"Two years ago, Rumsfeld was assailed for using an automated signature machine to sign condolence letters to the families of troops killed in combat. He also was criticized after telling a soldier concerned about the lack of armor for vehicles in Iraq that 'you go to war with the army you have â¦ not the army you might want.'" (LATimes)
New Army Manual Product of Post-9/11 Experience
"A new Army manual bans torture and degrading treatment of prisoners, for the first time specifically mentioning forced nakedness, hooding and other procedures that have become infamous during the five-year-old war on terror.
"Delayed more than a year amid criticism of the Defense Department's treatment of prisoners, the new Army Field Manual was being released Wednesday, revising one from 1992." (AP)
Closed Hearings Ordered in Libby CIA Leak Case
"A federal judge has ordered a series of closed hearings to determine if Vice President Cheney's former top aide, I Lewis "Scooter" Libby, can use certain classified information as a defense during his trial in the CIA/Leak case." (MSNBC)
Fight for DeLay's Seat Expected to Be Costly
"To hang onto former Rep. Tom DeLay's seat, Republicans must teach voters to write in their candidate's name. Democrats have to win over a heavily Republican district.
"For both parties, those challenges are going to take lots of money. . . .
"Texas GOP chairwoman Tina Benkiser told a group of the district's precinct chairs that the national Republican party would spend $3 million to $4 million in the race if only one Republican ran as a write-in, said Gretchen Essell, party spokeswoman.
Another Republican, Don Richardson, also filed as a write-in candidate." (Houston Chronicle)
SEC Probes over 100 Companies on Stock Options
"U.S. Senate lawmakers on Wednesday criticized lavishly paid corporate executives for stock option manipulations that have led federal investigators to probe more than 100 companies for possible fraud....
"The probes are being pursued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. prosecutors." (Reuters, AP)
Congress to Begin Exploration Of BP's Alaska Oil Problems
"Already under siege by American environmental regulators and financial-market investigators, BP PLC faces a new inquisitor today: Congress.
"In the first of as many as two Capitol Hill appearances in coming days, U.S. operations chief Bob Malone and other BP officials face a public grilling from politicians just ahead of U.S. midterm elections....
"The hearing comes amid a series of embarrassing regulatory, criminal and civil probes at BP. Those include an investigation into safety problems at the company's U.S. refineries and probes into whether BP traders manipulated energy markets." (WSJ)
Aide Fired for Allegedly Writing Peterson
"Terry said Alexander decided to fire Mares because she was 'using government resources to personally communicate with Scott Peterson.'
"'Ms. Mares' actions have been embarrassing to our office and demonstrate that her views are politically incompatible with those of the congressman,' Terry said." (AP)
Abramoff's Shady Work in the Northern Marianas
"[Lobbyist Jack] Abramoff saw a chance to restore official patronage [from the government of the Northern Marianas] after elections in November 1999 weakened the local Republican Party's hold on the legislature. Abramoff allies Edwin Buckham and Michael Scanlon traveled to Saipan the following month to meet with two Republican members of the local House of Representatives. Buckham and Scanlon promised to secure federal funding for projects in the legislators' districts if they would support former Tan employee Benigno Fitial, then a Republican, to be House Speaker. They agreed and allied with a group of Democrats in the House to install Fitial in place of the incumbent Republican Speaker.
Fitial then used his coalition in a successful drive to pressure the Tenorio administration to rehire Preston Gates. Funding for the projects in the two turncoat legislators' districts came through the following year. " (Asia Sentinel)
In Retirement, Tom DeLay Throws Weight Behind "Dancing with The Stars" Contestant
"David Chalian of the ABC News Political Unit brings to my attention the following letter from former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who asks his political supporters to watch and vote for country music singer and GOP supporter Sara Evans on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." Evans performed at the 2004 Republican National Convention, has supported GOP candidates, and DeLay writes that she 'represents good American values in the media.'" (ABC)
Lawyer: No Jail For Coingate Felon in Donation Case
"A prominent GOP fundraiser who pleaded guilty to funneling $45,000 to President Bush's re-election campaign should be sentenced to community service instead of prison time, his lawyer said Wednesday." (AP)
Exorcism of Clinton's Spirit? Rove Says No
"Rove, the Bush political shaman Democrats love to demonize, enlisted a trio of clergymen to exorcise Hillary Rodham Clinton's left-wing spirit when he moved into her West Wing office in 2001, according to an unflattering new biography. . . .
"Deal Hudson, a former Fordham University professor whom Rove enlisted to woo Catholic voters, told the authors that he witnessed the exorcism, which he described as 'an actual liturgical ceremony.'" (Newsday)