Friday, December 02, 2005


Bush Abruptly Ended Abramoff Investigation in 2002!

from DailyKos:

Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 08:31:45 AM PDT

Don't forget that Jack Abramoff's own secretary, Susan Ralston became Karl Rove's Personal Assistant, and that Abramoff said he contacted Rove personally on relieving his client Tyco from having to pay some taxes and still be able to get federal contracts. Abramoff said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" on Tyco.

Rove now says he has "no recollection" of Flippin Jack calling him about breaks for Tyco. Hmmmm...

Seems I have a recollection of hearing that somewhere before. Maybe Scotty could beam up another conversation with Karl swearing he had no recollection.

And now with investigators HOT on the trail of aides getting juicy jobs in return for favors, the prosecutors MUST be looking into the whole Abramoff-Rove-Ralston deal. My number 1 diary on the Rec list covers today's story in the NYT: Abramoff About to Flip on Delay and GOP? Dems to take Congress?

In addition, Rove's credibility from the CIA Leank case is now zero, so I believe prosecutors may be about to press him on his "no recollection" claim.


An early administration attempt to cover for Abramoff?

This from today's LA Times ...

A U.S. grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor and the inquiry ended soon after.

Aug 07, 2005 -- 12:24:03 PM EST

The article goes on to explain that the Superior Court in Guam hired Abramoff to lobby against a bill under consideration in Congress which would have placed the Superior Court under the authority of the island's Supreme Court -- which certainly sounds like a sensible approach (the bill later passed). Perhaps because of the oddity -- to say the least -- of an inferior court hiring lobbyists to secure its independence from a superior (or in this case, Supreme) court, the Superior Court arranged for a cut-out from Laguna Beach, California, an attorney named Howard Hills.

More details from the Times ...

The transactions were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued Nov. 18, 2002, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The subpoena demanded that Anthony Sanchez, administrative director of the Guam Superior Court, release records involving the lobbying contract, including bills and payments.

A day later, the chief prosecutor, U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.

Black was also apparently less than popular with the island's immigrant-labor-driven textile businesses because he had started a post September 11th investigation into whether the island's loose immigration policies represented a security risk ...

The acting U.S. attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was removed, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. The inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.

Black also arranged for a security review in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that was seen as a potential threat to loose immigration rules favored by local business leaders. In fact, the study ordered by Black eventually cited substantial security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Abramoff, who then represented the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, alerted his clients in a memo about the expected report and warned: "It will require some major action from the Hill and a press attack to get this back in the bottle."

It is of course important to remember that all of this happened before the scandals began to erupt around Abramoff. Thus it would have been before he became so radioactive that the White House began to wash its collective hands of him. Note that the article suggests Karl Rove's direct involvement in the choice of Black's replacement.

TPM Cafe

LA Times article

Tyco Exec: Abramoff Claimed Ties to Administration

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 23, 2005; Page A06

Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.

Timothy E. Flanigan, general counsel for conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that Abramoff's lobbying firm initially boasted that Abramoff could help Tyco fend off a special liability tax because he "had good relationships with members of Congress," including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

Abramoff later said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" about the issue, according to the statement by Flanigan, who oversaw Tyco's dealings with Abramoff and his firm and received reports from Abramoff about progress in the lobbying campaign. Flanigan's statement is the latest indication that Abramoff promoted himself as having ready access to senior officials in the Bush administration.

A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, said Rove "has no recollection" of being contacted by Abramoff about Tyco's concerns.


Rove's personal assistant at the time, Susan Ralston, formerly worked as Abramoff's secretary. It could not be learned yesterday whether she was among those contacted by any of the 14-person Greenberg team recorded as working on the Tyco account.

The Bush administration was never enthusiastic about the tax penalty, but both the House and Senate approved language in 2002 denying federal contracts to companies largely based in the United States but incorporated in tax havens.

Tyco was among a raft of companies, including Ingersoll-Rand and Noble Corp., that hired an army of lobbyists to stall the legislation and ultimately kill most of it. House Republican leaders argued that corporate flight was merely a symptom of a much broader problem with the U.S. tax code that should be treated in a larger tax reform package.

Ralston previously worked as a personal secretary to Jack Abramoff, the Republican power lobbyist being investigated for allegations of defrauding Indian tribes who was recently indicted on conspiracy and wire fraud charges. While working with Abramoff, Ralston arranged fundraisers and events at Washington MCI Center skyboxes for members of Congress. Ralston communicated with Rove on Abramoff's behalf on tribal affairs, though she is not accused of wrongdoing.

On December 05, 2001, Abramoff is concerned with the possible appointment of Angie Williams to head the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs. The office, and who runs it, is important to Abramoff, because it oversees relations with one of his most important clients, the Northern Mariana Islands. (He has arranged many junkets there for members of Congress and their staffs. On one of them, in 1997, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had publicly declared Abramoff to be "one of my closest and dearest friends.") Angie Williams, who has applied for the job and been interviewed by the Office of Presidential Personnel, worries Abramoff, because she is the wife of Orson Swindle, a close friend of Senator John McCain, who has tangled with Abramoff in the past. He finds sympathy in Reed, who has also been at odds with McCain. The two even refer to Williams--incorrectly, but tellingly--as "McCain's wife:"

Subject: RE: were you able to whack McCain's wife yet?

From Abramoff to Reed, Tuesday, December 4, 2001, 6:26 p.m.:

Angie Williams is her name.

From Reed to Abramoff, Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 11:53 a.m.:

weighed in heavily. [But the White House] OPP [Office of Presidential Personnel] did not commit to final decision.

From Abramoff to Reed, Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 1:24 p.m.:

Any ideas on how we can make sure she does not get it? Can you ping Karl on this? I can't believe they just don't get this done.

From Reed to Abramoff, Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 2:25 p.m.:

i am seeing him tomorrow at the WH and plan to discuss it with him as well.

On February 06, 2003, Abramoff is frustrated. He has tried to get Rove's attention through Susan Ralston, Abramoff's former assistant, who now works in the same doorkeeping capacity for Rove. The issue at hand is a move by the Interior Department to allow a casino to be built by a tribe that is a rival of Abramoff's client, the Louisiana Coushattas. Ralston rebuffs him, so he turns to Reed:

Subject: Louisiana

From Abramoff to Ralston, Thursday, February 06, 2003, 4:24 p.m:

I don't want to bother you guys with a meeting request, so I was hoping you could pass on to Karl that Interior is about to approve a gaming compact and land in trust for a tribe which is an anathema to all our supporters down there. It's called the Jena tribe, and the politicos (!) at Interior (low-mid level) are agreeing to this. It will cause a major backlash from our coalition and is something which they should not do on the merits. I believe that [Deputy Secretary of the Interior] Steve Griles over there would be opposed, but it's important, if possible, to get some quiet message from the WH that this is absurd. Thanks Susan.

From Ralston to Abramoff, Tuesday, February 11, 2003, 3:04 p.m.:

Karl and others are aware, but the WH is not going to get involved.

(Abramoff then encloses this exchange in an e-mail to Reed.)

From Abramoff to Reed, February 11, 2003, 4:48 p.m.:

Don't pass on, but thought you would be interested in this. Don't share with anyone. Thanks.

From Reed to Abramoff, February 11, 2003, 4:52 p.m.:

this is nuts. want any help on this one?

From Abramoff to Reed:

Yes, if possible. I think Haley [Barbour, the Mississippi Governor] got to them. they are making a huge mistake to just let this pass, when a quiet phone call can end this idiocy. If you can weigh in, it would help. Thanks Ralph.

Late that year, the Department of the Interior came down against the interests of Abramoff's client, but Abramoff and his allies still managed to block the rival tribe at the state level.

In another exchange, Ralph Reed was in Austin, Texas listening to Karl Rove deliver a speech to the Republican National Committee. Rove set forth GOP themes for the upcoming mid-term elections, and first suggested deploying President Bush's war on terrorism for electoral advantage. As Rove put it: "We can go to the country on this issue, because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America." As Reed listened, he reached for his Blackberry and e-mailed Abramoff:

From Reed to Amramoff, January 18, 2002 2:15 p.m.:

Am at a lunch with Rove at the RNC meeting and just talked to the AG [then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, now a U.S. senator]. Will report the substance shortly."

Abramoff asks Reed to raise an "urgent" matter with Rove--getting $16 million released by the Justice Department to fund a Mississippi Choctaw jail. In a return e-mail, Reed agrees to do that, saying "ok". Congress had earmarked some $16.3 million for a jail long sought by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, a key Abramoff client. But the Justice Department resisted turning over the big grant to the already wealthy Mississippi Choctaws, noting that other Indian jails needed it more.

From Abramoff to Reed, January 18, 2002 2:28 p.m.:

I have an urgent matter for him. The Choctaws [the Mississippi Choctaws were an Abramoff client] -- who have given literally hundreds of thousands to our candidates and groups - are getting screwed at DoJ [The Department of Justice] on a jail funding . . . We really need some serious swat from Karl. I have asked Susan [Ralston] to get me in to see him on this, but if you could mention it, perhaps I could get him the materials and save the need to meet? Thanks Ralph.

Reed to Ambramoff, January 20, 2002 10:57 p.m.:


In addition to broaching the matter with the White House, Abramoff also lobbied Republicans and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, who wrote letters to Attorney General John Ashcroft supporting the jail's funding. Later in 2002, the Department of Justice released the money to the Mississippi Choctaws--another victory for Abramoff and Reed.

My hunch is that Rove got approval from Bush for all of Abramoff's and Reed's qui pro quo requests. And here Rove let Ralston be White House gatekeeper, Flippin Jack's lobbyist mole and inside facilitator! On top of the favors for jobs investigation story in the NY Times today, this Ralston-Rove-Abramoff connection really deserves a deeper look by the blogosphere.

This Choctaw jail funding is CLEARLY a confessed quid pro quo and Rove, Ralston and the White House are all involved:

The Choctaws [the Mississippi Choctaws were an Abramoff client] -- who have given literally hundreds of thousands to our candidates and groups - are getting screwed at DoJ [The Department of Justice] on a jail funding . . . We really need some serious swat from Karl. I have asked Susan [Ralston] to get me in to see him on this, but if you could mention it, perhaps I could get him the materials and save the need to meet?

The e-mails really illustrate The Culture of Corruption quite nicely. The e-mail replaces the tape recordings of the Watergate Scandal!

Because of the approvals for so many of Abramoff's schemes, Bush is involved. Keeping Karl on now is a double whammy.


Rationale for Vietnam faked in 1964, NSA historian wrote

From Wire Reports
Originally published December 2, 2005

A National Security Agency analysis released yesterday contends that an alleged 1964 attack on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, which the Johnson administration cited as justification for greater U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, never happened, casting further doubt on the rationale for escalation of the conflict.

The material posted on the Internet at midnight Wednesday included one of the largest collections of secret intercepted communications ever made available for study.

The most provocative document is a 2001 article in which an NSA historian argued that the agency's intelligence officers "deliberately skewed" the evidence passed on to policymakers on the crucial question of whether North Vietnamese ships attacked U.S. destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964.

Based on the mistaken belief that such an attack had occurred, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered airstrikes on North Vietnam, and Congress passed a broad resolution authorizing military action.

The historian, Robert J. Hanyok, wrote the article in an internal publication, and it was classified as top secret despite the fact that it dealt with events in 1964. Word of Hanyok's findings leaked to historians outside the agency, who requested the article under the Freedom of Information Act in 2003.

Some intelligence officials said they believe the article's release was delayed because the agency was wary of comparisons between the role of flawed intelligence during the Vietnam War and that preceding the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Hanyok declined to comment Wednesday. But Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, denied that any political consideration was involved.

"There was never a decision not to release the history" written by Hanyok, Weber said. On the contrary, he said, the release was delayed because the NSA wanted to make public the raw material that Hanyok used for his research.

"The goal here is to allow people to wade through all that information and draw their own conclusions," Weber said.

Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, called the release of the document "terrific," noting that the eavesdropping material known as signals intelligence, or SIGINT, is the most secret information the government has.

"NSA may be the most close-mouthed of all U.S. government agencies," said Blanton, whose organization has published on the Web many collections of previously secret documents. "The release of such a large amount of SIGINT is unprecedented."

In his 2001 article, an elaborate piece of detective work, Hanyok wrote that 90 percent of the intercepts of North Vietnamese communications relevant to the supposed Aug. 4, 1964, attack were omitted from the major agency documents going to policymakers.

"The overwhelming body of reports, if used, would have told the story that no attack had happened," he wrote. "So a conscious effort ensued to demonstrate that an attack occurred."

Claims that North Vietnamese boats attacked two U.S. warships on Aug. 4 -- two days after an initial assault on one of the ships -- rallied Congress behind Johnson's buildup of the war. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed three days later empowered him to take "all necessary steps" in the region and opened the way for large-scale commitment of U.S. forces.

The Hanyok study does not necessarily reflect the agency's position.

"In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on 2 August," Hanyok wrote.

He said that "the handful of SIGINT reports which suggested that an attack had occurred contained severe analytical errors, unexplained translation changes, and the conjunction of two unrelated messages into one translation. This latter product would become the Johnson administration's main proof of the Aug. 4 attack."

Hanyok wrote that he did not find "manufactured evidence and collusion at all levels"; rather, it appeared that intelligence-gatherers had made a series of mistakes and that their superiors did not set the record straight.

Conflicting and confused reports from the scene have long cast doubt on whether the events had unfolded as claimed.

Hanyok's analysis of previously top secret intelligence adds insight on North Vietnam's communications from that time, showing, he said, that the supposed attackers did not even know the location of the destroyers, the USS Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy, as the two ships patrolled off the North Vietnamese coast.

A shorter agency study done years earlier and also released yesterday indicated that the U.S. ships did not know what, if anything, was coming at them as they zigzagged to evade what the crews feared were torpedoes and as they fired on targets identified by radar.

That study concluded with a wry note saying that the destroyers resumed their patrols after a heavy round of U.S. airstrikes on North Vietnamese ports, "and the rest is just painful history."

A detailed chronology assembled days after the episode for the Joint Chiefs of Staff by J.J. Merrick, commander of Destroyer Division 192, reflected the uncertainty of that night.

It said that sonar in many cases picked up sounds that were believed to be torpedoes but turned out to be "self noise," the beating of the ships' own propellers, or noise from patrol boats or supporting planes that were strafing the dark sea in cloudy skies, unable to see any prey.

In another instance, however, the report contended that a "torpedo wake was seen by four people."

The Maddox had been fired on by North Vietnamese patrol boats Aug. 2, 1964, suffering superficial damage.




"President (George W.) Bush speaks about bringing terrorists to justice, yet not one of these suspects has actually been brought to justice,"

Rights groups lists 'ghost detainees' held by US overseas

NEW YORK (AFP) - A leading human rights monitor published the names of 26 "ghost detainees" that it accused the United States of holding and possibly torturing in secret overseas locations.

The prisoners, suspected of involvement in such acts as the September 11, 2001, attacks, the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia, are being held indefinitely and incommunicado, with no access to counsel, Human Rights Watch alleged.

According to the New York-based monitor, US government officials, speaking anonymously to journalists, have suggested that some of the detainees have been tortured or otherwise seriously mistreated in CIA custody.

"President (George W.) Bush speaks about bringing terrorists to justice, yet not one of these suspects has actually been brought to justice," said John Sifton, the watchdog's terrorism and counter-terrorism researcher.

"The Bush administration has severely compromised the chances of prosecuting terrorist suspects by holding them illegally, and reportedly subjecting some of them to torture and other mistreatment," Sifton said.

Human Rights Watch said the list of 26 names was incomplete and that there were likely many other detainees being held without legal rights, and without being reported to or seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Among those on the list were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks and the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a suspected al-Qaeda conspirator and former roommate of one of the September 11 hijackers.

None of the 26 people on the list have been arraigned or criminally charged, Human Rights watch said.

Reports of clandestine CIA interrogation centers in Europe and transport flights for terrorist suspects emerged last month, along with suggestions of on-board torture sessions.

The US State Department said Wednesday it would provide a timely and forthright answer to a European Union letter expressing concern over the reports.

US officials have refused to confirm or deny the existence of such secret facilities but defended in general terms the use of tough tactics in the war on terror.


Justice Staff Saw Texas Districting As Illegal

Voting Rights Finding On Map Pushed by DeLay Was Overruled

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 2, 2005; A01

Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.

"The State of Texas has not met its burden in showing that the proposed congressional redistricting plan does not have a discriminatory effect," the memo concluded.

The memo also found that Republican lawmakers and state officials who helped craft the proposal were aware it posed a high risk of being ruled discriminatory compared with other options.

But the Texas legislature proceeded with the new map anyway because it would maximize the number of Republican federal lawmakers in the state, the memo said. The redistricting was approved in 2003, and Texas Republicans gained five seats in the U.S. House in the 2004 elections, solidifying GOP control of Congress.

J. Gerald "Gerry" Hebert, one of the lawyers representing Texas Democrats who are challenging the redistricting in court, said of the Justice Department's action: "We always felt that the process . . . wouldn't be corrupt, but it was. . . . The staff didn't see this as a close call or a mixed bag or anything like that. This should have been a very clear-cut case."

But Justice Department spokesman Eric W. Holland said the decision to approve the Texas plan was vindicated by a three-judge panel that rejected the Democratic challenge. The case is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The court ruled that, in fact, the new congressional plan created a sufficient number of safe minority districts given the demographics of the state and the requirements of the law," Holland said. He added that Texas now has three African Americans serving in Congress, up from two before the redistricting.

Texas Republicans also have maintained that the plan did not dilute minority votes and that the number of congressional districts with a majority of racial minorities remained unchanged at 11. The total number of congressional districts, however, grew from 30 to 32.

The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years. Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule. The memo was provided to The Post by a person connected to the case who is critical of the adopted redistricting map. Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department.

Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas and other states with a history of discriminatory elections are required to submit changes in their voting systems or election maps for approval by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The Texas case provides another example of conflict between political appointees and many of the division's career employees. In a separate case, The Post reported last month that a team was overruled when it recommended rejecting a controversial Georgia voter-identification program that was later struck down as unconstitutional by a court.

Mark Posner, a longtime Justice Department lawyer who now teaches law at American University, said it was "highly unusual" for political appointees to overrule a unanimous finding such as the one in the Texas case.

"In this kind of situation, where everybody agrees at least on the staff level . . . that is a very, very strong case," Posner said. "The fact that everybody agreed that there were reductions in minority voting strength, and that they were significant, raises a lot of questions as to why it was" approved, he said.

The Texas memo also provides new insight into the highly politicized environment surrounding that state's redistricting fight, which prompted Democratic state lawmakers to flee the state in hopes of derailing the plan. DeLay and his allies participated intensively as they pushed to redraw Texas's congressional boundaries and strengthen GOP control of the U.S. House.

DeLay, the former House majority leader, is fighting state felony counts of money laundering and conspiracy -- crimes he is charged with committing by unlawfully injecting corporate money into state elections. His campaign efforts were made in preparation for the new congressional map that was the focus of the Justice Department memo.

One of two DeLay aides also under indictment in the case, James W. Ellis, is cited in the Justice Department memo as pushing for the plan despite the risk that it would not receive "pre-clearance," or approval, from the department. Ellis and other DeLay aides successfully forced the adoption of their plan over two other versions passed by Texas legislators that would not have raised as many concerns about voting rights discrimination, the memo said.

"We need our map, which has been researched and vetted for months," Ellis wrote in an October 2003 document, according to the Justice Department memo. "The pre-clearance and political risks are the delegation's and we are willing to assume those risks, but only with our map."

Hebert said the Justice Department's approval of the redistricting plan, signed by Sheldon T. Bradshaw, principal deputy assistant attorney general, was valuable to Texas officials when they defended it in court. He called the internal Justice Department memo, which did not come out during the court case, "yet another indictment of Tom DeLay, because this memo shows conclusively that the map he produced violated the law."

DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden called Hebert's characterization "nonsensical political babble" and echoed the Justice Department in pointing to court rulings that have found no discriminatory impact on minority voters.

"Fair and reasonable arguments can be made in favor of the map's merits that also refute any notion that the plan is unfair or doesn't meet legal standards," Madden said. "Ultimately the court will decide whether the criticisms have any weight or validity."

Testimony in the civil lawsuit demonstrated that DeLay and Ellis insisted on last-minute changes during the Texas legislature's final deliberations. Ellis said DeLay traveled to Texas to attend many of the meetings that produced the final map, and Ellis himself worked through the state's lieutenant governor and a state senator to shape the outcome.

In their analysis, the Justice Department lawyers emphasized that the last-minute changes -- made in a legislative conference committee, out of public view -- fundamentally altered legally acceptable redistricting proposals approved separately by the Texas House and Senate.

"It was not necessary" for these plans to be altered, except to advance partisan political goals, the department lawyers concluded.

Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, said he did not have any immediate comment.

The Justice Department memo recommending rejection of the Texas plan was written by two analysts and five lawyers. In addition, the head of the voting section at the time, Joseph Rich, wrote a concurring opinion. Rich has since left the department and declined to comment on the memo yesterday.

The complexity of the arguments surrounding the Voting Rights Act is evident in the Justice Department memo, which focused particular attention on seats held in 2003 by a white Democrat, Martin Frost, and a Hispanic Republican, Henry Bonilla.

Voting data showed that Frost commanded great support from minority constituents, while Bonilla had relatively little support from Hispanics. The question to be considered by Justice Department lawyers was whether the new map was "retrogressive," because it diluted the power of minority voters to elect their candidate of choice. Under the adopted Texas plan, Frost's congressional district was dismantled, while the proportion of Hispanics in Bonilla's district dropped significantly. Those losses to black and Hispanic voters were not offset by other gains, the memo said.

"This result quite plainly indicates a reduction in minority voting strength," Rich wrote in his concurring opinion. "The state's argument that it has increased minority voting strength . . . simply does not stand up under careful analysis."

Staff writer R. Jeffrey Smith and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Secular Progressive Movement

The next meeting of the Tri-State Regional Secular Progressive Movement to discuss our Very Secret Plan against Christianity in America will be held at "The Hungry Bear" restaurant, instead of the usual Waffle House, due to recent concerns about health code violations.

We hope to return to our regular meeting place after the fumigation process.

Thank You,

Regional Vice-President
Tri-State Regional Secular Progressive Movement
Very Secret Plans Division
Louisville, KY 40204


Coffee, Tea, or Torture?

US on defensive as reports of 'secret torture flights' pile up

The United States was facing mounting embarrassment as allegations continued to emerge of a shadowy network of both secret prison camps and CIA "torture flights" carrying undeclared detainees through European and other countries.
In the latest such report the British newspaper The Guardian said Thursday it had seen navigation logs showing that more than 300 flights operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency had passed through European airports, as part of a network that could be involved in the clandestine detention and possible torture of terrorism suspects.
The claims have emerged since November 2, when the Washington Post newspaper reported that "black site" prisons were, or had been, located in eight countries including Thailand, Afghanistan and "several democracies in Eastern Europe" since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The paper also said that the CIA had used planes to send more than 100 suspects to the hidden global internment network, not including prisoners picked up from Iraq.
Its report did not name the European countries involved, but Poland, a European Union member, has denied being one of them, as has Romania.
There have been widespread reports that the alleged network could involve both the transport and torture of undeclared detainees.
The EU has meanwhile threatened sanctions against any of its member states found to have been operating such prisons, or allowing their territory to be used for the transport of the phantom detainees.
The United States on Wednesday promised a timely and forthright reply to the EU concerns.
In Thursday's report the Guardian said flight logs its reporters had seen showed that CIA planes visited Germany 96 times and Britain 80 times, though when charter flights were added this figure rose to more than 200. France was only visited twice and Austria not at all, the newspaper said.
The logs also showed regular trips to eastern Europe, including 15 stops in the Czech capital Prague.
"Only one visit is recorded to the Szymany airbase in north-east Poland, which has been identified as the alleged site of a secret CIA jail," The paper added.
Among other reports relating to alleged secret flights through European countries:
- The Danish transport ministry said in September that it had recorded at least 20 illegal overflights by CIA planes since 2001.
- The Hungarian government said last month that two CIA craft had landed at Budapest airport in the past two years.
- Iceland said it was not satisfied with Washington's response to allegations that CIA planes had landed on its territory at least 67 times since 2001.
- Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral said he would report to parliament on December 13 on reports of illicit CIA flights passing through the country, including three incidents last March.
- Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said his government would be looking into reports that US planes had both flown over and landed in his country on secret missions that could be linked to transports of undeclared terrorism suspects.
Planes allegedly operated by the CIA have also been spotted at airports in Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and Sweden as well as Morocco. — AFP


Glimmer of Hope for Kansas' Reputation Killed by Conservative Lawmakers

KU Cancels Intelligent Design Class
David Klepper
The Kansas City Star

The University of Kansas withdrew its controversial religious studies course on intelligent design today.

University officials pulled the course from next spring’s offerings at the request of Paul Mirecki, head of the university’s Religious Studies Department. Morecki, who proposed the course and was to teach it, came under fire when e-mails he had sent came under public review. In one e-mail, he said the course would irritate conservative Christians.

“The fundies (fundamentalist Christians) want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category ‘mythology,’” Mirecki wrote.

Intelligent design is the belief that nature shows evidence of a creator. Proponents were a driving force behind the Kansas Board of Education’s recent decision to insert significant criticism of evolution into the state’s science curriculum standards.

Over the objections of conservatives, KU officials said it was appropriate that intelligent design and creationism be analyzed in a religious studies class.

The course, entitled “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism,” sparked criticism as soon as it was announced last week. The class was to be taught as an elective to upper level undergraduates and graduate students next spring. Already, 25 students had signed up for the course.

Conservative lawmakers demanded hearings into how the course was created and how it would be taught, and reacted with outrage after Mirecki’s e-mails came to light. In e-mails posted to the KU Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, Mirecki, who was the group’s faculty adviser, criticized fundamentalists and made sarcastic comments about conservative Jews and Catholics.

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway strongly condemned the e-mails, calling Mirecki’s words “repugnant and vile.”

In a written statement released by the university, Mirecki cited the controversy as reason to cancel the class. He also apologized for the e-mails.

“Students with a serious interest in this important subject matter would not be well served by the learning environment my e-mails and the public distribution of them have created. It would not be fair to the students,” Mirecki wrote. “It was not my intent when I wrote the e-mails, but I understand now that these words have offended many on this campus and beyond, and for that I take full responsibility. I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner.”

Hemenway said the course still has a place, but there’s no word when it will be taught or by whom.

“This unfortunate episode does not in any way diminish our belief that the course should be taught,” Hemenway said. “It is the role of the university to take on such topics and to provide the civil, academic environment in which they can be honestly examined and discussed.”


Republicans - How Can You Support A Party That Hates Democracy?

Judge: Tobin faces trial on charge of denying voting rights November 30, 2005

CONCORD, N.H. --A federal judge has ordered a former high-ranking Republican official to stand trial on a charge of conspiring to injure the voting rights of New Hampshire citizens.

U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe denied James Tobin's request to dismiss the charge Wednesday. Tobin also faces three other counts of taking part in a Republican plot to jam get-out-the-vote phone lines sponsored by the Democratic Party and the nonpartisan Manchester firefighters union on Election Day 2002. Both groups offered voters rides to the polls.

At the time, Tobin headed the national committee working to get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate. Last year, he was the New England director of President Bush's re-election campaign, but he resigned a month before the election when the phone jamming accusations surfaced.

Three weeks ago, McAuliffe refused to dismiss the other three counts, but said he would consider the voting rights charge separately. Tobin's trial is scheduled to begin next week.

Tobin maintains he is innocent. Two other Republican officials have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Tobin argued the voting rights charge should be dismissed because voters do not have a right to a "free ride to the polls," so he could not be expected to know his actions would violate a law designed to protect their constitutional right to vote.

McAuliffe disagreed, saying Tobin should have known that any scheme to prevent voters from freely exercising their right to vote would be illegal.

"Defendant allegedly sought to disrupt the telephone lines to impede or prevent voters who needed transportation from getting to the polls, by making it difficult or impossible for them to obtain transportation from the party or firefighters (the overarching goal being to prevent voters from casting votes for Democratic candidates in the federal election)," he wrote.

Former New Hampshire Republican chairman Chuck McGee and consultant Allen Raymond have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. Both were fined and sentenced to several months in prison.

Tobin is accused of putting McGee in touch with Raymond, then president of Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC, to set up the phone jamming operation.

Tobin, McGee, Raymond and another former GOP official face a related civil suit in Hillsborough County Superior Court filed by Democrats wanting more information about the phone jamming plan.

Hundreds of computer-generated hang-up calls paralyzed the phone lines for more than an hour on Nov. 5, 2002, the day of a closely watched Senate race between Republican John Sununu and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu defeated Shaheen 51 percent to 46 percent.

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