Comey Testimony May Spell Trouble For White HouseMay 20, 2007 10:13 A former Justice Department official's riveting congressional testimony about his agency's showdown with the White House over a secret eavesdropping program in 2004 could spell trouble for the government's attempts to fend off dozens of pending lawsuits challenging the surveillance effort.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005, James Comey, described how he refused to certify the legality of the program, prompting White House officials to try to reverse the department's stance through an in-person, late night appeal to the attorney general, John Ashcroft, who was suffering from pancreatitis at a Washington hospital's intensive care unit.
Lawyers on both sides of the ongoing civil cases said the fact that, at least for a time, top lawyers at the Justice Department doubted the legality of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program had no formal relevance to the courts' ultimate conclusions on the legality of the program. However, several attorneys said the attention to the deep rifts within the government about the program's lawfulness could make judges reluctant to toss out the legal challenges without a trial or formal discovery, as the Bush administration has urged.
"Anything that implies that there was a tremendous amount of internal dissension about whether or not the president was breaking the law by doing this is very helpful," an attorney with the Center of Constitutional Rights in Manhattan, Shayana Kadidal, said. "Stories like this make it much more likely that judges looking at this stuff will put an end to it."
Guantanamo Torture AllegedMay 15, 2007 23:13
A Pakistani citizen who grew up in suburban Baltimore told a U.S. military hearing last month that he was tortured at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
According to a transcript released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, Majid Khan, who denied that he had ever been a member of al-Qaida, said he was so upset by his treatment at Guantanamo that he twice tried to commit suicide.
Kansas Disaster Renews National Guard DebateMay 08, 2007 15:56 Critics of the Iraq war said on Tuesday the Bush administration's failure to replenish vital National Guard equipment sent to Iraq caused Kansas to fall short in responding to last week's tornado disaster, and other states were equally vulnerable.
The White House and the Pentagon rebuffed the criticism, saying Kansas and other states had adequate resources that they could share in event of disasters like the Kansas tornado that leveled one small town on Friday and killed 10 in the area.
The debate was ignited by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, who said on Monday the federal government had failed to replace state National Guard equipment deployed to Iraq and the lack of equipment was hindering rescue and recovery efforts after a weekend of violent weather in the Midwestern state.
Tornadoes on Friday and Saturday were followed by widespread flooding, exacerbating the need for National Guard resources, according to the governor.
Groups opposed to the Iraq war added their voices to the debate in a news conference on Tuesday, saying diminished domestic capabilities of the National Guard, whose 460,000 citizen-soldiers have a dual mandate to protect the nation at home and abroad, is hurting states like Kansas.
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