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Murat Kurnaz, a German resident, was captured in Pakistan in 2001 as a suspected terrorist and imprisoned for two months at a U.S. base in Afghanistan. Kurnaz insists that he was hung from a ceiling for five days and was checked periodically by doctors who determined that the torture could continue. Kurnaz, who was eventually freed (the U.S. military gave no reason why) also alleges that he was systematically tortured again in 2005. (Washington Post)

Within hours of its launch, the Bush administration's eavesdropping plan that the NSA implemented in October 2001, generated protests and sharp legal debate. Eric Lichtblau's new book, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice, also reveals that within 12 hours of the program's launch, FBI technicians "stumbled" upon it, creating a "firestorm of anxiety." (New York Times)

In 2003, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) co-sponsored a law that would limit the role of money in politics by expanding the federal matching system for presidential candidates. But in 2006 and 2007, he refused to add his name to similar laws. (Boston Globe)

A report by Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares reveals that Darren Dopp, Spitzer's former communications director, has provided strong evidence that former Governor Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) directly ordered him ("in a profanity-laced exchange" ) to give reporters records on Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno's use of state aircraft. Soares believes that had Spitzer not resigned, he could have been indicted. (AP)

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So it looks like HUD chief Alphonso "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president" Jackson is looking to bow out early, with his announcement expected within minutes.

As both The Wall Street Journal and AP report, it's unclear why Jackson is resigning. Or, rather, it's unclear what reason he'll give for resigning. We hotly anticipate his statement this morning, but chances are you won't hear any mention of the grand jury investigation that's probing the depths of his cronyism. Both pieces make mention of the fact that with the country facing a mortgage crisis, Jackson might not be the best man for the job. He's certainly not the best man to be working with Congress, since he's stonewalled Congress' questions about the investigation and allegations that he retaliated against Philadelphia's public housing director when he didn't agree to dish a property to one of Jackson's buddies. Oh, and the senators who chair the two oversight committees think Bush ought to fire him.

So has he been struck by a sudden desire for more QT with the family? We'll see.

It was supposed to be, as President Bush called it, "a defining moment in the history of Iraq." And it might just be. But certainly not in the way that Bush meant it. Instead, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's offensive in Basra and Baghdad against Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's forces has confirmed his government's essential weakness.

Consider: with Maliki's campaign stalled, a parliamentary delegation from Maliki's own coalition went off to Iran to broker a deal with Sadr. And the terms of that deal, which involves the release of hundreds of detained Sadr followers and the return of his followers displaced by raids and violence, will surely strengthen Sadr's political position. That's assuming, of course, that the deal holds and the fighting actually stops. All of the papers report that fighting has not stopped in Baghdad and Basra. And while it's unclear whether the deal will actually last, it's crystal clear what the deal means for Maliki. The New York Times sees no upside:

The negotiations with Mr. Sadr were seen as a serious blow for... Maliki, who had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory and who has been harshly criticized even within his own coalition for the stalled assault.

Last week, Iraq’s defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi, conceded that the government’s military efforts in Basra have met with far more resistance than was expected. Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the Basra campaign and that he is in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival, for a way out.

And it was a chance for Mr. Sadr to flaunt his power, commanding both armed force and political strength that can forcefully challenge the other dominant Shiite parties, including Mr. Maliki’s Dawa movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq....

After [Sadr's] statement was released Sunday, a spokesman for Mr. Maliki, Ali al-Dabbagh, appearing on the television station Iraqiya, said that the government welcomed the action and that Mr. Sadr’s gesture demonstrated his “concern for Iraq and Iraqis.” And he insisted that the government offensive in Basra was not aimed specifically at Mr. Sadr’s militiamen but rather against rogue Shiite factions there, seemingly trying to leave room to maneuver with Mr. Sadr’s political organization.


A fighter from Sadr's Mahdi Army in Baghdad, speaking to The Washington Post, sees things similarly: "The fighting has proved they have learned a lesson. The government is dead from our point of view."

"Damn that. Never busted. Busted is what you see!"

Most people would have thrown up their hands by now. But not Kwame Kilpatrick, who's never busted and seems determined to remain mayor of Detroit until that final gavel falls. He insists, despite the evidence that keeps mounting against him, that he’s still the person best suited to be mayor, because he believes with absolute certainty that he’s on a mission from God.

Handsomely dressed in dark suits and accompanied by a team of lawyers, the mayor and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, were booked and fingerprinted and posed for their mug shots last Monday, the day before their arraignment. For the apparent contradictions between their sworn testimony and the messages they texted each other on their cell phones and the unwarranted dismissal of three cops who they feared were about to disclose their illicit love affair, Kilpatrick was charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice, two counts of misconduct in office and four counts of perjury.

Beatty’s seven counts were similar. She resigned in January after the incriminating text messages were published by the Detroit Free Press.

But Kilpatrick remained positive after being arraigned on Tuesday. “I look forward to complete exoneration,” he said.

He appears to face an uphill battle. In her news conference announcing the charges against the mayor, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy accused him of ruining the lives of three former police officers and then buying their silence with $8.4 million of the taxpayers’ money in a secret legal agreement.

“[T]he justice system was severely mocked, and the public trust trampled on,” she said. Worthy scolded Kilpatrick, 37, as one would a wayward child:

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Don Siegelman's first interview out of prison:

Former Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama, released from prison today on bond in a bribery case, said he was as convinced as ever that politics played a leading role in his prosecution.

In a telephone interview shortly after he walked out of a federal prison in Oakdale, La., Mr. Siegelman said there had been “abuse of power” in his case, and repeatedly cited the influence of Karl Rove, the former White House political director.

“His fingerprints are smeared all over the case,” Mr. Siegelman said, a day after a federal appeals court ordered him released on bond and said there were legitimate questions about his case.


Update: Here's video of Siegelman's very brief statement just after leaving prison.

From the AP:

The White House says an aide to President Bush has resigned because of the alleged misuse of grant money from U.S. Agency for International Development.

Presidential spokesman Scott Stanzel says the former aide, Felipe Sixto, had been a special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs. Stanzel said Sixto was promoted to that position on March 1 and that he came forward on March 20 to tell his superiors about the alleged wrongdoing.

Stanzel said it involved improprieties involving the use of grant money and Sixto's former employer, the Center for a Free Cuba. Stanzel says the matter has been turned over to the Justice Department.


Update: Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for A Free Cuba, told me that the center "became aware of the allegations weeks ago, and we informed USAID immediately." He said that the USAID inspector general had been investigating Sixto's possible misuse of the funds. He said he had "no idea" how much money was missing, but that "we're anxious to cooperate in any way shape or form to get to the very bottom of it. We expect that all funds in question will be returned to the American taxpayer."

Sixto has worked at the Center for approximately three years, he said. Sixto joined the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House in July of last year.

The Center for a Free Cuba describes itself as "an independent, non-partisan institution dedicated to promoting human rights and a transition to democracy and the rule of law on the island."

Update: Here's how Stanzel puts the allegations, according to the AP:

"Mr. Sixto allegedly had a conflict of interest with the use of U.S. AID funds by his former employer," Stanzel said. He said he did not know how much money was involved or the particulars of the allegations.

In the wake of yesterday's ruling, Siegelman's out and about. From the AP:

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was released on bond from a federal prison Friday, saying he remains upbeat despite serving nine months for corruption.

Leaving the prison in a black sport utility vehicle, he stopped on a road outside the lockup to comment. He wore a ragged shirt that appeared to be prison clothing.

"I may have lost my freedom for awhile, but I never lost faith," Siegelman, 62, told reporters.

From The New York Times:

When officers from the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting harsh interrogations in 2005, they may have believed they were freeing the government and themselves from potentially serious legal trouble.

But nearly four months after the disclosure that the tapes were destroyed, the list of legal entanglements for the C.I.A., the Defense Department and other agencies is only growing longer. In addition to criminal and Congressional investigations of the tapes’ destruction, the government is fighting off challenges in several major terrorism cases and a raft of prisoners’ legal claims that it may have destroyed evidence.

“They thought they were saving themselves from legal scrutiny, as well as possible danger from Al Qaeda if the tapes became public,” said Frederick P. Hitz, a former C.I.A. officer and the agency’s inspector general from 1990 to 1998, speaking of agency officials who favored eliminating the tapes. “Unknowingly, perhaps, they may have created even more problems for themselves.”...

Despite all the legal complications, those in the C.I.A. who got rid of the videotapes may have achieved one of their presumed goals: preventing a torture prosecution, said Deborah Colson, a senior associate at Human Rights First.

“It may be impossible to reconstruct any criminal conduct that was caught on the tapes,” Ms. Colson said.


You win some, you lose some.

Oh, man. Not cool. Not only has the Army suspended any further contracts for AEY (the shady contractor run by 22 year-old Efraim Diveroli), but the U.S. attorney in Miami along with Department of Justice prosecutors in Washington have picked up the case, The Miami Herald reports.

The probe launched as a result of an audit by the Army's Procurement Fraud Branch (it's unclear whether the probe launched as a result of The New York Times' inquiries), where officials determined that Diveroli appeared to have lied when he claimed that the ammunition he was providing came from Hungary when it in fact was made in China -- which he would have done because the Army prohibits using Chinese ammo.

If Diveroli did lie to the government, that would be a crime. You can read the Army's audit letter, in addition to the letter to Diveroli suspending his ability to win any further contracts, here.

The Herald also uncovered a second arrest for Diveroli: one for drunk driving earlier this month. That's the mugshot above. The earlier one, as the Times reported in the initial story, was for beating up a parking valet and getting busted with a fake ID (ironically just after his 21st birthday). The mugshot for that one is to the right. I guess sometimes the pressures of being a big time defense contractor are just too much.

Update: A number of stories have featured Diveroli's sadly out of date MySpace page. How a multi-million dollar contractor only has one friend I cannot understand.

For the curious, Radar was also able to get in touch with AEY's 25 year-old masseur VP (or someone claiming to be him, at least) through his MySpace page.

A federal judge has ruled that the Department of Justice is allowed to exempt 68 pages of e-mails sent between White House and Department of Justice officials from a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Democratic National Committee - despite the fact that the e-mails were sent using accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee - because the RNC accounts were used for both official and political business. The DNC had argued that because the accounts were controlled by the RNC, the e-mails could not be exempted from a Freedom of Information request. (The Politico)

As Americans in the Green Zone were told to remain in fortified structures and the Iraqi government prepared for an emergency session, President Bush announced that "normalcy is returning back to Iraq" despite the fact that "some ... seem unwilling to acknowledge that progress is taking place." (Reuters, McClatchy)

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, the lawyer for Osama bin Laden's former driver, alleges that the Bush administration is attempting to turn his client's trial into a political show trial by orchestrating war-crimes convictions. Mizer has accused Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who serves as the legal advisor to the White House official overseeing the military tribunals -- of exercising "unlawful command influence" and being "so closely aligned" "with the prosecutorial function that he cannot continue to provide the requisite impartial advice to the convening authority." (LA Times)

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