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Privacy Group Sues Justice Department Over Wiretaps "A privacy rights group sued the Justice Department on Tuesday to try to pry loose a ruling by a secret court that the Bush administration says approved its clandestine wiretapping program. The suit, if it succeeds, should answer an important question about the future of the program: whether the court will require individual warrants, with specific evidence, before allowing the government to intercept phone calls and e-mails between Americans and alleged terrorists in foreign countries." (The San Francisco Chronicle)

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Ex-Rep Bob Ney (R-OH) heads to prison today, where he'll spend the next thirty months. But before he disappears behind the gates of rustic FCI Morgantown, Ney sent an email out to friends and family, waxing philosophical on his fate. It was a touching send off from the man who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

The email:


i will not have access to e mail so this will be my last for awhile. i wanted to drop you a short e mail to give you my address:

robert ney inmate number 28882-016 fci morgantown 446 greenbag road route 857 morgantown, west virginia 26501

i also wanted to thank you for all you have done for me and my family. your kind words, thoughts, and prayers throughout the last six months have helped all of us quite a lot.

someone asked me the other day, if i wish i had never ran for office. i answered that i am glad that i did. nothing can erase the wonderful memories, thoughts, constituents, and changes that we, working together with the republicans and democrats, have been able to do. working to bring jobs to the district, helping constituents with issues, and trying to change law to help people has been the greatest memory ever.

would i change things if i could, sure. am i sorry for things that happened, absolutely, and i will pay the price. but, i am grateful for many good people in our office that helped the district and grateful for a free nation, the men and women that protect it, and a wonderful constituency in the district that i used to serve.

my family and i have lost everything on an economical basis, house, health care, possesions, but so have other people, people in the district, many, have lost all. and yes , that is painful for anyone that has gone through it, but, i am so fortunate to have my wife and children, we are so rich with family, friends like you, loved ones that are there for us, and full of hope for a good future.

the darkest days are not ahead, i have gained a higher power, the god of my understanding, is with all of us and that allows me to view tomorrow, although as a day of loss of freedom, as a day of enlightenment and of life to come.

as garth brooks said in his song the dance:

and now i'm glad i didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go our lives are better left to chance, i could have missed the pain, but i'd have had to miss, the dance

my family and my life is starting new, thanks for being part of it.

god bless,

bob ney

Note: Just for fun, compare and contrast the letter-writing styles of ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) and Bob Ney.

Update: On a more serious note, don't miss the latest from The Washington Post today on the Walter Reed scandal: "Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for more than three years."

Well, as the Senate Judiciary Committee moves towards issuing subpoenas for the ousted prosecutors, the House seems to be moving faster.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law will vote tomorrow on whether to issue subpoenas to four of the fired U.S. attorneys: California's Southern District's Carol Lam, New Mexico's David Iglesias, Arkansas' Eastern District's H.E. "Bud" Cummins, and Washington's Western District's John McKay.

If the committee did issue subpoenas, the attorneys would testify next Thursday, according to the press release from Chairwoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA).

The Senate Judiciary Committee has moved one step closer to having the ousted U.S. attorneys testify.

Following up on Sens. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) calls to subpoena the fired U.S. attorneys, a spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee told me that the committee will be sending a letter in the next couple of days to some of the fired U.S. attorneys asking them to voluntarily testify.

If the attorneys do not agree, the committee will consider issuing subpoenas for their testimony next week, the spokesperson said. Sen. Schumer said earlier that a number of the attorneys are willing to testify, but would only do so if subpoenaed.

Seconding Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) call to subpoena the ousted U.S. attorneys, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor that they would be willing to tell their side of the story to the Senate if subpoenaed.

From his remarks:

...frankly Mr. President, [Iglesias' accusation reported by McClatchy] comes as no surprise to me. And that is because David Iglesias, the US attorney, told my staff the same thing the day before, and asked in fact, that he be brought here to Washington... and was willing, rather, to be brought here under the power fo subpoena to tell his story. We have inquired of the fired US attorneys and the overwhelming majority do want to tell more, but feel honorbound not to do it except if they were brought here under the power of subpoena to Washington.

Schumer added that he'd already spoken to Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) and that they were "examining how that can be accomplished."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaking on the floor of the Senate just now, urged the committee to issue subpoenas to the ousted U.S. Attorneys to have them testify, so she could ask some "hard questions." She said that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the chairman of the relative subcommittee was "interested in doing this."

U.S. Attorney David Iglesias told McClatchy that he would only testify before the committee if subpoenaed.

Update: Responding to Sen. Feinstein's comments, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) office emailed me a statement that "the Chairman is considering all options to get to the bottom of this issue."

A spokeswoman for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the Chief Deputy Whip in the House, says he didn't call U.S. Attorney David Iglesias in mid-October to question him about an investigation of a New Mexico state senator. Cantor's flack, Rachel Bauer, told me "no."

The reaction from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to U.S. Attorney David Iglesias' allegation that he was pushed out because he failed to indict a state Democrat before the election:

“These are extremely serious and very troubling allegations coming from a man of great integrity. They call into question every other firing. We will continue to pursue this until we get to the bottom of what happened and pass legislation to prevent it from ever happening again.”

I've been putting out calls as fast as my fingers can dance, and we've already gotten a response from Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM).

"I can confirm to you that the congressman did not contact Mr. Iglesias about the courthouse investigation," Pearce spokesman David Host told me. As McClatchy reported, the case Iglesias was referring to in his interview involved a former Democratic state senator who "took money to ensure an $82 million courthouse contract would go to specific company."

I'll be providing updates as I receive more answers.

Wow, McClatchy drops a bomb today with their interview of U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias.

Iglesias, whose last day on the job is today, says that two members of Congress called shortly before the 2006 election to push him on details related to his investigation of a state Democrat. Because he refused to be pressured to indict the Dem before the election, Iglesias says, he got the axe: "I believe that because I didn't play ball, so to speak, I was asked to resign." Iglesias told McClatchy that "the two members of Congress not only contacted him directly but also proceeded to try to wrest details about the case from him."

A member of Congress directly contacting a U.S. Attorney is a no-no, especially in cases as sensitive as the one at hand. " Congressional questions about ongoing cases are supposed to go through a special office within the Justice Department to avoid the appearance of impropriety," McClatchy reports. Iglesias says that he was "appalled by the inappropriateness of those contacts."

So there's a big unanswered question here: who were the two lawmakers? McClatchy reports that a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) said that it wasn't Bingman. McClatchy couldn't get ahold of New Mexico's other lawmakers as of press time. They are Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) (who wasn't up for reelection at the time) and Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce (R-NM).

We'll be putting calls in to them right away, and also to members of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, and Republican committee leaders.