Homeland Security

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  It's Not OK to Deny Rights to DetaineesMarch 31, 2006 17:34 Polls say most Americans consider the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo to be fine by them.

It is natural, of course, to care more for your own security than for the legal rights of those who threaten it. But that is a false choice, and it blinds us to the disturbing little details of the Bush administration's war on terror.

If we just don't care, we just don't notice the multiple ways the administration thumbs its nose at U.S. law and principles.

It is easy to overlook all those news stories, credible though they may be, that many demonstrably innocent men have been held by the U.S. for years at Guantanamo with no real chance to show their innocence.

And if you don't care, you might not have noticed that after losing in court, lawyers representing the U.S. keep resisting judges' orders and Supreme Court rulings that they must give detainees a fair way to challenge their imprisonment.

  Nixon Aide John Dean Blasts Warrantless EavesdroppingMarch 31, 2006 17:30 Nixon White House counselor John Dean, testifying in favor of a Democratic resolution to censure President Bush, asserted Friday that Bush's conduct in connection with domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss from power.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, fired back by telling Democrats: "Quit trying to score political points."

The Senate, Dean said, should censure or officially scold Bush as proposed by Sen. Russell Feingold's resolution. But if that action carries too much political baggage, some senatorial warning is in order, Dean said.

"To me, this is not really and should not be a partisan question," Dean told the panel. "I think it's a question of institutional pride of this body, of the Congress of the United States."

  Delta Force Founder Has Fighting Words for BushMarch 29, 2006 19:21 Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force" (Delta; $14), a memoir rich with harrowing stories, though in an interview, Haney declines with a shrug to estimate the number of times he was almost killed. (Perhaps the most high-profile incident that almost claimed his life was the 1980 failed rescue of the hostages in Iran.) Today, he's doing nothing nearly as dangerous: He serves as an executive producer and technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama based on his book, developed by playwright David Mamet. Even up against "American Idol," "The Unit" shows muscle, drawing 18 million viewers in its first two airings.
Since he has devoted his life to protecting his country in some of the world's most dangerous hot spots, you might assume Haney is sympathetic to the Bush administration's current plight in Iraq (the laudatory cover blurb on his book comes from none other than Fox's News' Bill O'Reilly). But he's also someone with close ties to the Pentagon, so he's privy to information denied the rest of us.

We recently spoke to Haney, an amiable, soft-spoken Southern gentleman, on the set of "The Unit."

Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.

  FBI Anti-war Spying In DenverMarch 29, 2006 06:43 The ACLU has obtained more documents that show that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force was watching antiwar groups in Denver as part of a domestic terrorism investigation.

The files were released to the ACLU's Colorado chapter under a Freedom of Information Act request filed in December 2004.

The records show FBI agents spent hours monitoring activist organizations such as Food Not Bombs, and the now-closed bookstore, Breakdown Books in Capitol Hill, among other groups.

  Court Appears Wary Of Terror War TribunalsMarch 29, 2006 00:00 The Supreme Court gave a skeptical hearing Tuesday to the Bush administration's claim that the president has the power on his own to create and control special military tribunals to punish foreigners he deems to be war criminals.

Five of the eight justices hearing the case commented that the laws of war and the Geneva Convention set basic rules of fairness for trying alleged war criminals.

And they questioned whether the president was free to ignore those basic rules as well as the rules of American military law.

The justices' skepticism suggested a second setback might be looming for the administration's legal strategy in the fight against terrorism. Two years ago, the high court said war even a new kind of war on terrorism did not give the president a "blank check" to make new legal rules for capturing and holding prisoners.

  Bush Logs Victory as Anti-Terror Patriot Act Passes CongressMarch 08, 2006 15:37 President George W. Bush logged a victory last night when the U.S. House of Representatives renewed the USA Patriot Act, a law that gave the FBI expanded powers to investigate terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.

With the 280-138 House vote, which followed the Senate's 89- 10 approval on March 2, the legislation needs only Bush's signature to become law.

The Patriot Act "has made Americans safer, safeguarded our civil liberties, and upheld our constitutional values,'' House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a written statement. "The Justice Department and other agencies have properly utilized the Patriot Act to detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist cells," he said.

  Bush's War On Terror Is Mostly RhetoricMarch 07, 2006 18:28 The political storm over the Bush administration's contract with Dubai Ports International to manage six large American ports is a striking example of poetic justice. Bush has spent years whipping up a national mood of dread and anger against a vaguely defined enemy whose name is "terror." This enemy's lair is in Islamic countries where evil Muslims hide in the midst of good Muslims, and are ready to inflict another 9/11 if we relax our vigilance. We're lucky to have Michael Chertoff, the hero of Katrina, in charge of the Department of Homeland Security.

Having effectively terrorized the American people with the threat of Islamic terrorism, the Bush administration still saw no problem with turning over the management of major U.S. ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the U.A.E. It was one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government. It has also been involved in shipping contraband nuclear components from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

The security question is answered, the Bush team's handling of this incident is a demonstration of incredible political stupidity. Or perhaps that is too harsh. After all, early reports of this deal emerged while the White House was preoccupied with damage control over the vice president shooting a hunting companion in the face.

  Republican-appointed Top CIA Official Under InvestigationMarch 03, 2006 23:26 A stunning investigation of bribery and corruption in Congress has spread to the CIA, ABC News has learned.

The CIA Inspector General has opened an investigation into the spy agency's executive director, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, and his connections to two defense contractors accused of bribing a member of Congress and Pentagon officials.

  With Bipartisan Support, US Senate Agrees To Patriot Act RenewalMarch 02, 2006 17:23 With overwhelming bipartisan support, the USA Patriot Act is set for renewal next week. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 95-4 for a bill that will ensure the act will pass by March 10, with minor modifications of some of its most controversial and repressive measures.

The new agreement will permanently extend most of the Patriot Act s provisions that would otherwise expire, while making only insignificant changes to a law that has become symbolic worldwide of the attack on democratic rights.

When the Patriot Act was originally passed in October 2001, Congress mandated that 16 of its provisions would expire after four years. In the summer of 2005, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly (in the Senate, unanimously) approved slightly different extensions of these provisions. Both versions included the permanent enactment of 14 of the 16 temporary measures.

  Senate Oks Limiting Patriot Act PowersMarch 01, 2006 00:00 The Patriot Act is nearing permanent renewal...

The Senate on Wednesday cleared the path for renewing the USA Patriot Act, swatting aside objections while adding new protections for people targeted by government investigations.

The overwhelming votes virtually assured that Congress will renew President Bush's antiterror law before it expires March 10. The House was expected to pass the legislation Tuesday.

The law's opponents, who insisted the new protections were cosmetic, conceded defeat.