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Rendition Memo Drafted to Justify Zubaydah's Torture at Secret CIA Prison

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


Two weeks before U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agents captured Abu Zubaydah, an alleged top al-Qaeda official, in Pakistan in March 2002 and whisked him off to a secret CIA "black site" prison in Thailand where he was brutally tortured, the Department of Justice prepared a legal memorandum for George W. Bush stating he could ignore a law that prohibited the transfer of prisoners to countries that engage in torture.

The March 13, 2002 memo specifically offered up ways in which government officials could avoid legal liability if prisoners like Zubaydah were tortured.

"To fully shield our personnel from criminal liability, it is important that the United States not enter in an agreement with a foreign country, explicitly or implicitly, to transfer a detainee to that country for the purpose of having the individual tortured," the memo says. "So long as the United States does not intend for a detainee to be tortured post-transfer, however, no criminal liability will attach to a transfer. Even if the foreign country receiving the detainee does torture him."

The memo was signed by Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), and was released in April along with seven other previously secret OLC memorandums.
Just a little more than a month before, on Feb. 7, 2002, Bush had signed an executive order that that excluded "war on terror" suspects from Geneva Convention protections. But the March 13, 2002 memo went even further than Bush's action memorandum. The March 13, 2002 memo said prisoners detained outside the U.S. were not protected by U.S. laws outlawing torture or against international treaties banning torture. The treaty, the Convention Against Torture, was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 but not ratified by the Senate until a decade later.

"The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention [against Torture]," the treaty says. "It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today."...(Remainder.)

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Supreme Court Nominations

By GOOD



Since President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court, there has been much discussion of whether she would sail through the Senate confirmation process, or whether the Republican opposition would attempt to delay hearings or even mount a filibuster to prevent a vote. Despite all the gnashing of teeth, a look at the history of Supreme Court nominees finds that everything will probably proceed as normal. A vast majority of the nominees have been easily confirmed, and even those that have been rejected have been so by the slimmest of margins. Read all about in our latest original Transparency here.

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White House Climate Change Report Issues Dire Warning On Worsening Situation

By Seth Borenstein
Associated Press via The Huffington Post


WASHINGTON — Rising sea levels, sweltering temperatures, deeper droughts, and heavier downpours _ global warming's serious effects are already here and getting worse, the Obama administration warned on Tuesday in the grimmest, most urgent language on climate change ever to come out of any White House.

But amid the warnings, scientists and government officials seemed to go out of their way to soften the message. It is still not too late to prevent some of the worst consequences, they said, by acting aggressively to reduce world emissions of heat-trapping gases, primarily carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

The new report differs from a similar draft issued with little fanfare or context by George W. Bush's administration last year. It is paradoxically more dire about what's happening and more optimistic about what can be done.

The Obama administration is backing a bill in Congress that would limit heat-trapping pollution from power plants, refineries and factories. A key player on a climate bill in the Senate, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, said the report adds "urgency to the growing momentum in Congress" for passing a law.

"It's not too late to act," said Jane Lubchenco, one of several agency officials at a White House briefing. "Decisions made now will determine whether we get big changes or small ones." But what has happened already is not good, she said: "It's happening in our own backyards and it affects the kind of things people care about."

Lubchenco, a marine biologist, heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In one of its key findings, the report warned: "Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems." The survival of some species could be affected, it said....(Remainder.)

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How An Appeals Court Panel Cheated Former Gov. Don Siegelman

By Roger Shuler
The Public Record


We are starting to see the fallout from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld most of the convictions against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy.

In the wake of that ruling, federal prosecutors asked that Siegelman be given a 20-year prison sentence, almost three times his original sentence of seven years. Then the full 11th Circuit denied an en banc review, essentially putting its stamp of approval on the earlier findings by a three-judge panel.

Given the possibly drastic repercussions of the appellate ruling, we should ask this question: Did the 11th Circuit get it right, under the law?

The answer, on multiple grounds, is a resounding no. And our review indicates that the same politics that permeated the Siegelman case at the trial level also infected the appellate process.

As regular readers know, I am not a lawyer. I'm a journalist with 30 years of professional experience, and because of my personal encounter with corruption in Alabama's state courts, I've developed a better-than-average ability to research the law.

Since the 11th Circuit's decision was released on March 6, I've spent considerable time studying its 68-page ruling and comparing it to the 84-page appellate brief filed by Siegelman's legal team. I've also studied many of the statutory and case-law issues raised in both documents.

My conclusion? The three-judge appellate panel, made up of all Republicans, butchered the ruling in a way that almost had to be intentional. I see no way that a group of judges could accidentally get a decision so wrong, on so many counts.

That means the politicization of our justice system is still going on, even though George W. Bush, thankfully, is in Texas and not the White House. It means that politicization of our justice system goes beyond the schemes of Karl Rove and pliant prosecutors. It goes beyond corrupt trial judges, such as Mark Fuller in Alabama (Siegelman/Scrushy case) and Henry Wingate in Mississippi (Paul Minor case)....(Remainder.)

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Irandecision 2009 - Sham, Wow

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Irandecision 2009 - Sham, Wow
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Jason Jones in Iran

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N. Korean Heir Apparent Linked to Assassination Plot

Kim Jong-un, the third son and heir apparent of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (left) and the leader's first son Kim Jong-nam (file photo)
By English News
The Chosun Ilbo


Close aides of Kim Jong-un, the 26-year-old third son and heir apparent of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, last week attempted to assassinate the leader's first son Jong-nam, KBS reported Monday citing Chinese government sources.

Aides to Kim Jong-un planned to assassinate Jong-nam, who lives in Macau, after first eliminating his close aides in North Korea. The sources said, "It seems they tried to assassinate Kim Jong-nam without telling Kim Jong-il."

The plan was foiled when the Chinese government found out about it early last week. "The Chinese government warned North Korea to stop the assassination attempt, and sent intelligence and military officers to Macau and spirited Kim Jong-nam to a safe place," the sources said.

In protest against North Korea's nuclear test and the assassination plan, China reportedly shelved all collaboration projects with North Korea such as developing natural resources and building infrastructure, part of projects celebrating the "China-North Korea Friendship Year." The sources said China also delivered a message that it would halt food and fuel assistance if North Korea continues its provocations....(Remainder.)

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Holocaust Museum Memorial

By R.J. Matson
The St. Louis Post Dispatch



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Books About Gay People?! Burn Them.

By Hemant Mehta
Friendly Atheist


Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block is a book about a young boy who is gay. It was written 15 years ago, but it’s back in the news. Why?

Because conservative Christians want to move it, censor it, and burn it.

A group called West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries was offended that the local library posted a list of gay-friendly books for young people on its website.
Then they demanded that the books be moved from the youth section of the library and placed with the adult collection, “to protect children from accessing them without their parents’ knowledge and supervision.”
What a horrible idea — trying to limit a child’s curiosity by making parents a filter of everything they read. That’s a hallmark of fundamentalist-religion-based thinking.

Thankfully, the library board has decided to keep those books right where they belong — in the young adult section.

It gets worse. Apparently conservative Christian groups have contests to see who can out-crazy the other.

You want to move the book? Screw you! We want to burn the book!...(Remainder.)

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Rachel Maddow Takes on Adulterous & Hypocrite GOP Sen. Ensign

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Rep. Jared Polis's Statement on DOMA and the Obama Administration

By Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
U.S. House of Representatives


Washington, Jun 16 - U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) issued the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s decision to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a recent court filing.

“I was shocked and disappointed to learn that President Obama chose to defend DOMA in federal court, especially given his campaign promise to call for a full repeal of DOMA. My sadness turned to outrage when I read the Justice Department’s brief that not only defended this hurtful law but seemed to embrace it. Comparing my loving relationship with my partner, Marlon, to incest was unconscionable coming from a president who has called for change.

Since this filing, I have called on the President to issue a statement or give any sign that would clarify his position and am disappointed in his lack of reply.

I am a proud Democrat, as are many in the GLBT community, and I believe we must hold our leaders accountable. The Obama Administration made a HUGE mistake in the DOMA brief. If they keep making mistakes like this, they risk losing the support of the GLBT community forever, although I do not believe we are at that point yet.

President Obama needs to honor his promise to repeal this law and end its needlessly divisive and harmful impact on our nation. I again call on him to work with us in Congress to help pass legislation, ending this hateful and divisive law.

As the New York Times editorialized yesterday, “busy calendars and political expediency are no excuse for making one group of Americans wait any longer for equal rights.”

(Original.)

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Rachel Maddow on Obama's Extending of Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Fed. Employees

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Another "Family Values" Hypocritical RepubliCON Admits to Affair

By Manu Raju and John Bresnahan
POLITICO


Sen. John Ensign acknowledged Tuesday that he had an affair with a campaign staffer — an admission that stunned his colleagues, hurt his chances for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and called into question his future as a leader of the Senate GOP.

The Nevada Republican admitted in Las Vegas Tuesday that he had “violated the vows” of marriage by having an affair with a staffer. He did not identify the woman except to say that she and her husband were both “close friends” who worked for him, and that “the closeness” of their relationship had “put me in situations which led to my inappropriate behavior.”

But current and former aides to the Nevada Republican say the woman was 46-year-old Cynthia Hampton, a campaign staffer whose husband was a top aide in Ensign’s Senate office.

“It was known in [Ensign’s] inner circle that they were involved,” a former aide told POLITICO.

Hampton served as the treasurer for Ensign’s reelection campaign and for his leadership fund, Battle Born PAC. According to people familiar with the matter, Ensign’s affair with Hampton took place between December 2007 and August 2008. FEC records show that she ended her affiliation with the two committees in early 2008.

Hampton is married to Douglas Hampton, who, according to Senate records, served as Ensign’s administrative assistant in his personal office from November 2006 to May 2008 — around the same time Cynthia Hampton left Ensign’s committees....(Remainder.)

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Bad Day for Sanford: S.C. Lawmakers Overturn 10 Vetos, Go Home for Year

By John O'Connor and Roddie Burris
The State


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina General Assembly overrode Gov. Mark Sanford's vetoes Tuesday and approved a bill to study and recommend changes to the state tax structure.

Lawmakers overturned all 10 Sanford vetoes, creating laws that would limit the number of payday loans, allow lawmakers to choose those who oversee state ports, and limit where sex offenders can live.

The one-day session wrapped up work for the year, with lawmakers not scheduled to return until January.

Among the most contentious issues was a bill giving lawmakers more authority over State Ports Authority board members. Currently the governor can hire and fire commissioners at will.

Supporters of Sanford's veto said lawmakers were trying, once again, to chip away at the governor’s authority granted by a state court decision during former Gov. David Beasley's administration.

"It's important for the guy in charge to make appointments, to assemble his team," said Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston. "The buck needs to stop with the governor."

Though the payday lending legislation endorsed by the House and Senate two weeks ago remained somewhat in question until Tuesday, in the end, the vote to override the governor’s veto was not close....(Remainder.)

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October Gay March on Washington a Go

By Kilian Melloy
Edge New England


There were rumors to the contrary, but GLBT equality activist Cleve Jones says that the National Equality March on Washington slated for Columbus Day weekend is a go.

JoeMyGod.com reported on June 12 that Jones personally assured the site’s author that the October 10-11 event was cleared and would take place.

The site quoted Jones as saying, "We put in a request for the West Lawn of the Capitol, where the Obama inauguration took place, and we got it. Nobody else had applied for it."

Jones went on to say, "We’ve been getting nothing but complete cooperation from all the authorities--the DC police, the mayor, the Parks Service.

"They told us, ’Go ahead, you’ve got it. Put the word out.’

"They are happy to work with us and are expecting a lot of people," added Jones.

Jones spoke to the practical aspects of the event, which is geared toward pressuring the Obama administration to put federal protections in place for gay and lesbian Americans and their families.

Reckoning that for most people could attend even from across the country for $700 or less, Jones noted of the Columbus Day scheduling that, "It’s a three day weekend, it’s easier to travel, and the weather is usually very good. That’s why previous marches have taken place on that weekend."...(Remainder.)

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Obama To Offer Same-Sex Benefits, Sans Health Care, to Federal Employees

If they're not going to offer health care benefits as well what the hell is the point? I'm going to say that this is nothing more than an attempt to pacify the LGBT community over the Obama Administrations less than lackluster showing on gay/lesbian issues. This is nothing more than an attempted distraction from what is really happening, "Look over here! Pay no attention to our support of DOMA in federal court." BULLSHIT!

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press via Yahoo! News


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Obama plans to announce his decision on Wednesday in the Oval Office, a White House official said Tuesday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president hadn't yet signed the presidential memorandum.

The official said Obama would release more details on Wednesday.

The decision is a political nod to a reliably Democratic voting bloc that in recent weeks has grown frustrated with the White House's slow movement on their priorities.

Several powerful gay fundraisers withdrew their support from a June 25 Democratic National Committee event where Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak. Their exit came in response to a June 12 Justice Department brief that defended the Defense of Marriage Act, a prime target for gay and lesbian criticism. Justice lawyers argued that the law allowed states to reject marriages performed in other states or countries that defy their own standards.

The legal arguments — including citing incest and sex with minors — sparked rebellion among gay and lesbian activists who had been largely biting their tongues since Obama won election. They had objected to the Rev. Rick Warren's invitation to participate in the inauguration despite his support for repealing gay marriage in California....(Remainder.)

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Falafel O'Reilly Selectively Edits Him Getting His Ass Handed to Him by Joan Walsh

By Nicole Belle

Crooks and Liars




How do you know that you've made Bill O'Reilly feel like a chump? When he decides that he's going to re-run his interview with you, without you there to defend yourself, and then selectively edit the footage and ignore large swaths of actual fact-based information (as opposed to the largely non-fact-based "reporting" so prevalent to Fox News). Such is the case with Salon.com's Joan Walsh, who so thoroughly humiliated Billo on Friday that I'm sure he stewed over it all weekend and decided that he had to reassert his lost manhood by bringing on sycophantic Mary Katherine Ham and Juan Williams to reassure him that Billo was still da man.

Note Bill's disingenuous framing of the whole interview: it's all about how the crazed liberals have no regard for the rights of the unborn from being murdered for callous reasons. Never mind that his producers sandbagged Walsh by telling her that she was on to talk about right wing violence. Never mind that the procedure that Dr. Tiller performed was not only legal, but highly regulated, and exceptionally rare. The 60,000 casual late term abortions that Billo cites is pulled from his rather constipated posterior region and doesn't pass even the most basic math logic test (That would mean that Tiller performed 16 late term, casual, abortions every day, 7 days a week, for TEN YEARS). Never mind that Dr. Tiller was acquitted by a Kansas grand jury for not violating the law (after only deliberating for an hour) and that the principal expert cited by O'Reilly, Dr. Paul R. McHugh, has his own controversies that call his agenda to question (McHugh, a former member of Bush43's Council on Bioethics, is a Vatican witness called to dismiss claims of DID in victims of priest molestation and has publicly scorned transsexuals and called for the end of gender reassignment surgery)....(Remainder.)

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Wolff Blitzer's Inteview With Bill Maher on CNN's Situation Room

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CNBC's Corporate Whores, Cramer and Burnett, Tie Iranian Election to Employee Free Choice Act

By scarce
Crooks and Liars





Via Media Matters, via right-wing site Newsbusters.org.
The above video exchange was first highlighted by NewsBusters.org, who approvingly cited Burnett's observations as noting "a teachable moment," which "reflects how secret ballots could end up in an election as to whether or not unionize a company."
Oil is not going up because...
"North Korea, Syria - I mean these are places when they always have elections, there's always a couple of people who don't vote for the right guy," Cramer said. "But I think the price of oil is going to tell you exactly how everything is going to play out in Iran, which is it's much ado about nothing."
and for Newsbusters, "a teachable moment", as Media Matters points out.
However, as Jim Cramer's colleague, "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett pointed out - this is a teachable moment. It reflects how secret ballots could end up in an election as to whether or not unionize a company:

CRAMER: I mean obviously, you were able to vote against this guy, but the idea you thought there was going to be a fair count.

BURNETT: And it wasn't a secret ballot. I think that's important. They're going to know - they know everybody and how they voted.

CRAMER: Absolutely.

BURNETT: It makes a strong point for this whole union conversation we're having in this country.

CRAMER: The card check, the card check.

BURNETT: But, we'll leave that debate ...
(Original.)

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The Lying Sack of Dog Mess Tries to Roll Back His Treasonous Secession Talk

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars





Glenn Beck [aka Lying Sack of Dog Mess or LSDM] wants everyone to rest assured he's not a complete nutcase. He's not a fan of state secession, after all!

LSDM: Did you catch the New York Times this weekend? [Giggles weirdly.] They published the third -- count it, three -- the third op-ed in the New York Times blaming Bill O'Reilly and me, or Fox News in general, of spreading hate and inspiring people like the killer of Dr. Killer, uh, Tiller, in Kansas. Also, we were the inspiration apparently for the guy at the Holocaust Museum last week.

You know, there are groups out there that preach hate and violence and racial violence. There are groups out there so fed up they want to secede from the union. But we ain't one of them!
Hmmmm. An interesting denial. There's only one problem with it: Beck was downright enthusiastic about Texas secession two months ago when he interviewed Chuck Norris:
LSDM: Chuck, you live in Texas.

NORRIS: Yes, I do.

LSDM: Somebody asked me this morning, they said, you really believe that there's going to be trouble in the future. And I said, if this country starts to spiral out of control and, you know, and Mexico melts down or whatever, if it really starts to spiral out of control, before America allows a country to become a totalitarian country, which it would have under I think the Republicans as well in this situation; they were taking us to the same place, just slower.

NORRIS: It was slower, yeah....
(Remainder.)

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Michael Goldfarb, HYPOCRITE

By Jamison Foser
Media Matters


Oh, this is great. Michael Goldfarb is outraged:
David Shuster Is A Liar

MSNBC's journalistic standards are, shall we say, somewhat flexible. Even by its weak standards, however, David Shuster today issued a report that was breathtaking for its mendacity. Simply put, Shuster lied--brazenly, knowingly, on the air. ...

Shuster made these things up, apparently out of whole cloth. ...

We don't expect the likes of David Shuster to let little things like facts to get in the way of his opinions. But we do expect that the producers and executives at MSNBC might care a bit more about the consequences of spreading easily verifiable falsehoods on the air.

I'll let Shuster defend himself, if he cares what Goldfarb says. But I wonder how Goldfarb squares all of that outrage with his sleazy and dishonest lies that Sonia Sotomayor was allowed to teach her own class and grade herself?

To borrow Shuster's shtick: Michael Goldfarb, when you spread easily-debunked lies about someone and refuse to correct them when caught, then call someone else a "liar" and question their "journalistic standards" ... that's hypocrisy!...(Original.)

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NY Times, Jake Tapper Misrepresent Scope of CBO's Analysis of Draft Heath Reform Bill

By Media Matters

In reports on the Congressional Budget Office's June 15 preliminary analysis of the Senate health committee's draft health care reform bill, neither The New York Times nor ABC's Jake Tapper noted that the CBO itself said that the assessment was incomplete. While both the Times -- in an article written by Robert Pear and Jackie Calmes -- and Tapper reported that CBO estimated that the bill would cost an estimated $1 trillion over 10 years and asserted that it would leave, in both the Times and Tapper's words, "tens of millions" of people uninsured, they did not cite or quote CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf, who stated in a letter accompanying the CBO report: "It is important to note, however, that those figures do not represent a formal or complete cost estimate for the draft legislation" [emphasis in original].

Elmendorf wrote that "[t]he draft legislation released by the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] Committee ... indicates that certain features may be added at a later date. Because they are not reflected in the current draft, however, CBO and the JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] staff did not take them into account." In particular, Elmendorf wrote: "The draft legislation ... indicates that the committee is considering whether to incorporate other features, including a 'public health insurance option' and requirements for 'shared responsibility' by employers. Depending on their details, such provisions could ... have substantial effects on our analysis."

Indeed, "requirements for 'shared responsibility' by employers" -- also known as an employer mandate -- are specifically intended to expand insurance coverage to the currently uninsured.

According to the summary of the HELP Committee's draft bill, the "Shared Responsibility of Employer" provisions would require employers to either subsidize at least a certain amount of employees' health benefits or make payments to the Department of Health and Human Services for those employees. As Ezra Klein wrote in a June 16 post on his Washington Post blog, "The employer and individual mandates ... are particularly key to increasing the number of Americans with insurance." The CBO, Klein noted, "ran its estimates with no employer mandate and an individual mandate with a laughably small penalty," while "HELP is writing a bill with a strong employer and individual mandate."...(Remainder.)

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Falafal Boy and Lying Sack of Dog Mess Joke and Mock About Uighurs' & Guantanamo

By Media Matters


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