Incredibly, the Bush-appointed prosecutors in the Siegelman case (who are, inexplicably, still on the job!) have now requested an even longer sentence for the former Democratic Gov. of Alabama who was railroaded as part of a Rove-led political prosecution.
RAW STORY offers the amazing details on the twenty-year sentence now being sought by the federal prosecutors to replace the seven years he was originally screwed with. The entire prosecution needs to be entirely thrown out, just as the case against Republican Sen. Ted Stevens was.
And where is AG Eric Holder in all of this? I'd sure as hell love to know, as I asked in my April 13th letter to him on behalf of VR's Restore Justice at Justice campaign requesting an investigation of all illegal, Bush-era political prosecutions. (If you haven't yet, please sign on to that letter, to add your voice!)
My brief interview with Siegelman at last Summer's Democratic National Convention in Denver (originally posted here), is re-posted at left, wherein he warned, if action wasn't taken "Karl Rove is simply going to get in his get-away car and thumb his nose at the Constitution, the Congress and the American People."
Concerns about military and overseas voters headline the national voting news. Senator Schumer held a hearing to discuss a report showing that, in 2008, nearly one-fourth of the absentee ballots requested by these voters (1) were undeliverable, (2) weren’t returned to the local elections office, or (3) were rejected due to a missing signature or failure to notarize. The report says these voters were disenfranchised but fails to mention that high percentages of absentee ballots sent to ordinary citizens go uncounted for the same reasons. Senators Inhofe and Cornyn are re-introducing a bill they hope will help military and overseas voters return their ballots to their local officials in a timely manner, while ensuring the privacy and secrecy of the ballots.
On a more local note: A voter registration database error assigned 12 voters in a Mississippi Democratic primary to the wrong Wards. With only a 2-vote margin between the two candidates in one of the Wards, the result of valid votes couldn’t be determined, and the party decided to hold a re-vote, which flipped the outcome....
Even if I say so myself, the 'Clean Coal' industry helped us to make Tuesday's 'Green News Report', one of our most amusing (and, of course, informative) to date. As tomorrow's (Thursday's) episode, will quickly push the May 12th version into the background, I wanted to recommend it here, if you've yet to give it a listen.
I also wanted to mention that we've added a new feature allowing folks to directly, and easily, embed any 'GNR' episode onto their own blog/website in order to help spread the word. We'd appreciate if you did so, where inclined, and, if possible, touched base with your favorite local progressive radio station to ask them to carry the 'Green News Report'! It's free to them, and we'd be delighted to add their station to our growing list of affiliate/partners. Contact GreenNews@BradBlog.com for more info.
Here's what the embedded version of GNR --- in this case, the Tuesday episode I mentioned --- will look like on your website...
Andy Worthington, who largely broke the story of the reported 'suicide' of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in a Libyan prison, into the English-language press on Sunday (as we helped that night), picked up last night on our followup to the original story, decrying the paucity of coverage of the disturbing report in the U.S. corporate mainstream media.
Al-Libi was, after all, the 'ghost detainee' who had offered a false link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, used loudly by the Bush Administration before the war as a key justification for it, after being tortured by the CIA and Egypt, where he'd been secretly renditioned from U.S. custody at Guantanamo. He would later recant his false 'confession,' explaining that it had come about only after 17 hours of 'mock burial,' and a session of brutal beatings by his captors which followed it.
Newsweek describes the al-Libi affair today as "one of the biggest intelligence fiascos of the run up to the Iraq War" and "a major embarrassment for the Bush administration."
Worthington asked why the initial "media silence," before noting that while U.S. outlets have finally begun to cover the story, one of the better initial reports, from Peter Finn at Washington Post fails to follow up on the paper's own previous coverage of 'ghost detainees,' which included al-Libi, who had disappeared, at some point, from the Bush Administration's long list of suspected 'terrorists' captured following 9/11.
Al-Libi was one of those captives previously reported on by WaPo. His re-emergence in Libya --- where he was spotted by Human Rights Watch at the Abu Salim prison in late April, in apparent good health, but refused to be interviewed, reportedly saying only "Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?" --- was punctuated, just two weeks later, by the surprising news of his reported 'suicide.'
But where WaPo covered some of the points mentioned in a press release on al-Libi's death from HRW, they failed to mention any of the other 'ghost detainees' mentioned in the very same press release, whose whereabouts had been a mystery up until now. That, even though WaPo had previously reported the 'missing' status of those same detainees!
Given the disturbing fate of al-Libi --- who, HRW's Tom Malinowski charges, "was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration. He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war" --- it's disappointing that the paper has so far failed to connect dots that could, in this case, help shine a spotlight on growing concerns about some of those other detainees: A spotlight which may help keep them alive, at this point.
There is certainly good reason to question both the timing, and reported means, of al-Libi's death, not the least of which is the point made in several media reports, including AP's, where some have "expressed doubts that al-Libi killed himself, saying al-Libi was a 'true Muslim and Islam prohibits committing suicides.'"
Yet, as Worthington notes, the Post failed to even mention the current status of the other detainees HRW discovered in the Libyan prison, even as they had similarly been sent there by the CIA following claims of abuse and torture at the hands of the U.S....
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire
I don’t want to give the wrong impression. All nations possess a legitimate need to gather intelligence. There have been large numbers of extraordinarily dedicated CIA employees, like Ray McGovern and Valerie Plame Wilson, who have sought to protect this nation from harm. But there is the dark side of the agency, a covert branch which has engaged in deception, intrigue, torture and assassinations, all designed to destabilize democratic governments in order to advance and consolidate the power and influence of a US-based, multi-national corporate empire.
In Part I of this five-part series, I described how the George W. Bush administration did not wait for legal "permission" from its Department of Justice before embarking on its plan to use torture as means of forcing confessions and other information from detainees. In "Prosecute or Perish" I stressed that the current torture scandal is the product of a half-century of CIA torture; that by failing to prosecute those who tortured in our name in the same manner that we prosecuted the Japanese officers who waterboarded my father during World War II, we not only will expose our nation to the charge of hypocrisy but will endanger the very survival of our constitutional democracy and the rule of law.
As I noted in Part I, we cannot move forward unless we honestly examine our past --- which, in this instance, mandates a careful look at the origins of the CIA...
In a sense, it may be said that the CIA was a stepchild of Nazi Germany. As noted by Joseph Trento in Prelude to Terror (2006), its founder, Allen Dulles, had done business with the Nazis before World War II. Dulles served in the O.S.S. in Bern, Switzerland. From 1945 to 1947, preceding the creation of the CIA, Dulles ran his own private and entirely illegal intelligence service in which he “began a massive ex-Nazi recruitment* campaign, using a State Department refugee office as a front.” The recruitment campaign, Prof. Alfred McCoy observed, in A Question of Torture (2006), entailed more than the use of war criminals as spies. It included German scientists “who had directed Nazi experiments into human physiology and psychology” and whose early research would lay the ground work for CIA torture techniques…
The voter ID debate continues in Texas. Tennessee lawmakers are attempting to resurrect an old bill that would require a photo ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register, and would allow deployed troops to fax or e-mail their absentee ballots. ...
During a news conference yesterday (video here courtesy of TheUptake.org) Marc Elias, representing Sen.-elect Al Franken in the election contest brought by former Sen. Norm Coleman, announced the filing of Franken's brief [PDF] responding to Coleman's appeal [PDF] of the decision by the tri-partisan, three-judge election contest panel's ruling which found: "Franken received the highest number of lawfully cast ballots in the November 4, 2008 general election for United States Senator and is entitled to receive the certificate of election."
Noting that, because of its ability to make credibility determinations, a trial court's factual findings are entitled to "great deference" in an appeal, Elias observed that Coleman had a "heavy burden" in showing that the three-judge panel erred on the facts and the law. He says it's a burden the Coleman team has not met in their appellate arguments. Elias noted that the legal contentions made in Coleman's opening brief were "virtually identical" to those that were made and rejected by the three-judge panel.
We discussed Coleman's arguments, and the three-judge panel's rejection of them, last month in 'For Coleman, the End is Near...'. As our legal analysis detailed, we agree with Elias' May 11, 2009 assertion that the Coleman legal challenge is "without merit."
For example, per Elias, Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg continues to tell the media that 4,400 uncounted absentee ballots were improperly rejected, but as we observed...
IN TODAY'S AUDIO REPORT: Obama abandons polar bears, but exposes hidden Bush EPA study detailing cancer risks from coal ash; The highest ski run in the world, melted; PLUS: The awesome new 'Clean Coal' ringtones you've been waiting for! .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (links below): San Francisco bets on solar; 'Ghost Nets' threaten the world's oceans; Cheap, innovative solar-powered lantern could light poor villages; Chocolate-powered biodegradable race car; Hard times for climate plans in Canada and Australia; Plus: Who could've foreseen a Boom-and-Bust cycle in the Natural Gas Industry?!?...See below for more!
Info/links on stuff we talked about on today's episode, plus MORE green news, all follows below...
Government-issued photo ID requirements for voters have passed in some states and are being debated in several others (SC, TX, and WI in today’s articles). The debate centers on ensuring that only eligible voters can vote (pro), vs. concerns about disenfranchising eligible voters (con). But today’s two featured articles, when taken together, suggest that other important questions need to be asked. The first article tells of the breach of the UC Berkley computers and the possible loss of identity information for 16,000 students and alumni. The second tells of a proposal in the Philippine legislature to require fingerprint data (AFIX biometric information) for every voter to be stored in the voter registration database.
Is it far-fetched to speculate whether voter biometrics is the logical outcome of a drive for "strict voter ID"?
Other unasked questions in the U.S. Voter-ID debate are: What kind of identity information is or will be collected and stored as part of the election process? For how long? Under what safe guards? With the move to create centralized, computerized government-issued identities for people and require that identity be presented in order to vote, access to that identity and impersonating that identity are only going to grow problematic over time....
[Ed Note: See bottom of article for several late updates.]
So, it's been about 16 hours since we covered indie journalist/historian/blogger Andy Worthington's detailed report on the the reported suicide of the man who falsely "confessed," during torture, to a false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The forced confession was subsequently used by the Bush Administration (Bush himself, as well as Powell and others) as justification for the war on Iraq. That, despite the fact that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi recanted his story not long thereafter, as long and widely reported.
As of this moment, not a single mainstream U.S. newspaper or broadcast outlet has reported on the story. Is it not notable? Or are our newspapers just dead set on ensuring their irrelevance by continuing to not report on news that actually matters, no matter how widely it's being reported in other parts of the world?
Recently, TPM asked their readers for casting suggestions for the upcoming biopic on Jack Abramoff, where Kevin Spacey is reportedly already booked to play the disgraced GOP uber-lobbyist:
They sought casting suggestions for 11 of the key players in the Abramoff scandals, sure to show up in the film. The resultant "Dream Team" of excellent choices for each were revealed last week.
But, amazingly, the TPM casting call overlooked one of the key players in the Abramoff scandal, our old friend, the disgraced now-former Republican Congressman from Florida, Tom Feeney, aka "Representative #3" in one of the key filings in the Abramoff affair. In 2003, Feeney accompanied Jack on the third lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland following trips with the disgraced now-former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) in 2000 and the disgraced now-former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) in 2002.
The TPM oversight must be corrected immediately. And, of course, I can think of just one person who'd be perfect --- for so many reasons --- to play the role of Feeney in the upcoming Abramoff film...
British journalist and historian Andy Worthington, an expert and author on Guantanamo, reports that the man who had supplied a key false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- after being tortured in Egypt, where he had been rendered by the U.S. --- has died in a Libyan prison. "Dead of suicide in his cell," according to a Libyan newspaper.
"This news resolves, in the grimmest way possible," Worthington writes, "questions that have long been asked about the whereabouts of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, perhaps the most famous of 'America's Disappeared' - prisoners seized in the 'War on Terror,' who were rendered not to Guantánamo but to secret prisons run by the CIA or to the custody of governments in third countries - often their own - where, it was presumed, they would never be seen or heard from again."
The "emir" of a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, al-Libi "was one of hundreds of prisoners seized by Pakistani forces in December 2001, crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Most of these men ended up in Guantánamo after being handed over (or sold) to US forces by their Pakistani allies, but al-Libi was, notoriously, rendered to Egypt by the CIA to be tortured on behalf of the US government."
In Egypt, he came up with the false allegation about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that was used by President Bush in a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, just days before Congress voted on a resolution authorizing the President to go to war against Iraq, in which, referring to the supposed threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime, Bush said, "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases."
Four months later, on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell made the same claim in his notorious speech to the UN Security Council, in an attempt to drum up support for the invasion. "I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al-Qaeda," Powell said, adding, "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story." As a Newsweek report in 2007 explained, Powell did not identify al-Libi by name, but CIA officials - and a Senate Intelligence Committee report - later confirmed that he was referring to al-Libi.
Al-Libi recanted his story in February 2004, when he was returned to the CIA's custody, and explained, as Newsweek described it, that he told his debriefers that "he initially told his interrogators that he 'knew nothing' about ties between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden and he 'had difficulty even coming up with a story' about a relationship between the two." The Newsweek report explained that "his answers displeased his interrogators - who then apparently subjected him to the mock burial. As al-Libi recounted, he was stuffed into a box less than 20 inches high. When the box was opened 17 hours later, al-Libi said he was given one final opportunity to 'tell the truth.' He was knocked to the floor and 'punched for 15 minutes.' It was only then that, al-Libi said, he made up the story about Iraqi weapons training."
Worthington concludes: "The most important question that needs asking just now, of course, is whether it was possible for al-Libi to commit suicide in a Libyan jail, or whether he was murdered. I doubt that we will ever find out the truth...Whatever al-Libi’s actual crimes, his use as a tool in a program of 'extraordinary rendition' and torture, exploited shamelessly not to foil future terrorist plots but to yield false information about al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, remains a low point in a 'War on Terror' that has few redeeming features."
UPDATE: 16 hours later, and virtually zero coverage of this story in the U.S. corporate mainstream MSM. Amazing. Details now here... [That report has now also been updated to include a few U.S. outlets finally jumping in to the story, 24 hours later.]
Can't tell you how sick I am of the GOP's ACORN nonsense, having long ago exhausted myself in debunking the entire GOP scam to try and use the group as a stalking horse to support their own insidious efforts at imposing polling place Photo ID restrictions in hopes of doing nothing more than keeping 20 to 30 million legal, largely Democratic-leaning voters from being able to cast their legal votes, because they don't own the type of ID that would be required to vote under these draconian, unnecessary, Jim Crow disenfranchisement laws.
But, as a quick perusal of recent 'Daily Voting News' articles will show, efforts are still being doubled, and redoubled, by the GOP in state legislatures across the country in hopes of passing such restrictions into law. It seems these laws, meant to combat non-existent "voter fraud," are the Republicans' last, best hope to be able to actually "win" elections at all these days.
If you find yourself skimming through DVN and skipping articles that don’t sound relevant or interesting, you’re doing exactly what I did. But now that I’m reading almost every one while reviewing their suitability for inclusion, it’s become clear that headlines can be deceiving.
And not necessarily deceiving in the normal sense of being misleading or wrong. Specifically, in the context of DVN, some headlines have little probative value to assist readers in predicting their interest in the full story. We are therefore exploring different ways to better communicate the content, some of which you may have noticed (i.e., supplementary parenthetical key words or description). Alternatively we’re trying to draw attention to significant content in this introductory paragraph, such as e-voting being eliminated in Ireland.
But neither of those seems appropriate for the first story below on e-voting, so we now have option three: suggesting you open the link and take a look....