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With people calling for his head, Deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs Charles Stimson wants everybody to know "I'm sorry!"

His letter today in The Washington Post:

During a radio interview last week, I brought up the topic of pro bono work and habeas corpus representation of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Regrettably, my comments left the impression that I question the integrity of those engaged in the zealous defense of detainees in Guantanamo. I do not....

I apologize for what I said and to those lawyers and law firms who are representing clients at Guantanamo. I hope that my record of public service makes clear that those comments do not reflect my core beliefs.


And just as a reminder, here's what he said last week:
I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking....

I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.

Now that's a witness list. From Reuters:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could join Vice President Dick Cheney as a potential witness in the perjury trial of Cheney's former top aide, as jury selection began on Tuesday in the case which has cast a spotlight on how the White House justified war in Iraq.

The names of Cheney, Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, appeared on a long list of government officials and news reporters who may be called as witnesses or whose names may come up in the trial of Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby....

Others on the list include White House political advisor Karl Rove, former CIA director George Tenet and former Pentagon secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Remember "Operation Wagon Train," the six-state operation to bust up an "identity theft" ring? The Department of Justice just posted a final tally of prosecutions.

Of the nearly 1,300 workers arrested and detained, 148 have been prosecuted on criminal charges, all for identity theft.

Good enough for government work?

The press release is after the jump.

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The administration is replacing U.S. Attorneys throughout the country. How'd they get that power?

It was an obscure provision in the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act, and it didn't take them very long to use it. The president signed it into law in March of last year -- by June, they were already moving to replace unwanted prosecutors.

Former Arkansas USA Bud Cummins told the Wall Street Journal that "a top Justice official asked for his resignation in June, saying the White House wanted to give another person the opportunity to serve." Cummins was finally forced out in December, replaced with Timothy Griffin, formerly the research director of the Republican National Committee.

Section 502 of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization, which was first drafted in July of 2005 and finally signed in March of 2006, changed the law regarding the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. Whereas before the relevant federal district court would have appointed a replacement within 120 days after the Attorney General picked one, now that pick stood without challenge.

How did this (brief, legalistically worded, but powerful) section get in to the bill? It's not clear. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has consistently referred to the provision as "little noticed." What is clear is that Feinstein and her colleagues did not expect the provision to be used in this way. We'll have more on this as we learn more.

As Justin mentioned in his previous post, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) hit the administration hard on the floor of the Senate this morning for its unexplained "forced resignations" of federal prosecutors around the country.

Here's the video:



We hope to have a transcript of her remarks soon.

Update: We've pasted Sen. Feinstein's remarks below.

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During a floor speech on the topic moments ago, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said the White House has told her it was replacing from five to 10 Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys with its own interim appointees.

We know of seven who have left during the last couple of months, many under unusual circumstances. Here is our list:

San Francisco - 1/16/07 - Kevin V. Ryan - unclear

Nevada - 1/15/07 - Daniel Bogden - pushed out

San Diego - 1/12/07 - Carole Lam - pushed out

New Mexico - 12/19/06 - David Igleslias - pushed out

Arizona - 12/19/06 - Paul K. Charlton - unclear

Seattle - 12/15/06 - John McKay - unclear; likely pushed out

Little Rock (Ark.) - 12/15/06 - Bud Cummins - pushed out

Feinstein said she also knew of seven, and listed those above. Curiously, she mentioned an eigthth -- from Texas. We haven't been able to identify that one.

There is an eighth recently-departed U.S. attorney we know of, which some readers have noted: Debra Wong Yang, the former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, Calif. Yang was overseeing the investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). She announced her resignation in October 2006, but to date there hasn't been evidence that her departure was forced.

From the AP today, here's a selection of questions that Libby's lawyers want to put to prospective jurors:

What is your political party preference? Democrat, Republican, Independent or other?

Please describe any feelings you have about Vice President Cheney.

Based on what you know at this time, do you believe that the administration misled the American people to justify going to war?

Have you been following any of the recent political scandals involving Jack Abramoff, William Jefferson, Tom DeLay, Cynthia McKinney, or Mark Foley?

Do you have particularly strong feelings about the war in Iraq?

Based on what you know at this time, do you believe that the administration misled the American people to justify going to war?


Update: More questions here.

More fishiness with the U.S. Attorneys Office? U.S. Attorney for San Francisco Kevin V. Ryan is out, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). His office is handling the investigation into back-dating of stock options, among other high-profile cases.

Potential Libby Jurors to Get Politically Charged Questions Jury selection is set to begin today in the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former Cheney chief of staff accused of perjury and obstruction in the Valerie Plame case. "[A]ttorneys for both sides want to ask potential jurors about their opinions of the Bush administration, political scandals and the Iraq war." Given that the trial's venue is DC, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 9-to-1, Libby and his attorneys will be hard-pressed to find sympathetic ears. (AP)

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Yesterday, the Iraqi government hanged two of Saddam Hussein's top henchmen, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the former head of Hussein’s secret police, and Awad Hamad al-Bandar, the former chief judge of his revolutionary court.

But this time, there was to be no chanting, no yelling, no loyalists of Moktada al-Sadr. Half as many people were allowed into the chamber. And those that were allowed in were forced to sign documents "saying they would behave with dignity and restraint." This time, it would be different.

Alas. From The New York Times:

After executioners in full-face balaclavas pulled black hoods over the two men’s heads, tightened nooses around their necks and pulled the lever opening the trapdoors, both fell like weights. But the hangmen’s calculations of weight, gravity and the momentum needed to snap their necks — a grim science that has produced detailed “drop charts” used for decades in hangings around the world — appeared, in Mr. Ibrahim’s case, to have gone seriously awry....

Iraqi officials who attended the hanging said the calculation in the case of Mr. Ibrahim, a 55-year-old of medium height and build, had allowed for a “drop” of eight feet — too much, according to at least one United States Army manual — and about that amount of thick yellow rope could be seen coiled at Mr. Ibrahim’s feet before the hanging.

The video showed his head being snapped off as the rope went taut, and ending up, still inside the hood, lying in the pit of the gallows about five feet from his headless body.


But... at least this time there was, as an aide to Prime Minister Maliki claimed, "No ethnics, no chanting, everything a very smooth transaction, everyone very well behaved?”

Maybe. As John Burns of the Times notes, reporters were only allowed to see the three-minute video of the hanging once -- and it was soundless.

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