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  Damaged Nasa Computer From Texas CompanyJuly 28, 2007 23:40 A Houston-area company supplied NASA with a computer that had been deliberately damaged, a company official said Friday.

The computer is slated to fly to the international space station next month aboard space shuttle Endeavour. The space agency announced Thursday that wires inside the computer had been cut.

The manufacturer, Invocon Inc., an electronics research and development firm based in Conroe, Texas, has not yet identified any suspects or motives, said Invocon program director Kevin Champaigne.

"We don't know if it was just one person or if it was more than one," he said.

Invocon made the unit for Boeing Co., NASA's main contractor for the space station, he said.

Asked about the sabotage at a news conference in Washington on Friday, NASA's Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said she couldn't provide any more details because the agency's inspector general was investigating the incident.

 
  Fbi Chief Seems To Contradict GonzalesJuly 28, 2007 23:32 The director of the FBI told a congressional committee Thursday that he had had reservations about the Bush administration's terrorism surveillance program — a statement that appears to contradict sworn testimony last year by Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales that the warrantless eavesdropping had generated no serious disagreement among high-level officials.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Robert S. Mueller III also undercut statements Gonzales offered this week to lawmakers about a controversial hospital visit to the bedside of then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft in March 2004.

Mueller's disclosures come amid what until now has been a highly partisan debate on Capitol Hill over Gonzales' tenure at the Justice Department and his reputation for honesty.

The testimony by the career Justice Department official — who has headed the FBI for six years — came just hours after Senate Democrats called on the department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Gonzales had perjured himself before congressional committees. Mueller's testimony, some observers said, would make it difficult for the department not to take some action on that request.

Democrats also raised the stakes in their investigation of the politically charged dismissals last year of eight U.S. attorneys. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) issued subpoenas to Bush political strategist Karl Rove and White House deputy political affairs director J. Scott Jennings. The two are expected to resist the order to testify Aug. 2, which probably would touch off an effort to hold them in contempt of Congress.

The White House continued to defend Gonzales on Thursday, and denied Mueller had contradicted the attorney general's testimony. Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said lawmakers were manipulating the testimony of Gonzales and Mueller, who he said were limited in what they could say publicly about classified intelligence-gathering programs.

"This is the latest in a long line of artful distortions by people who have spent the last six months hurling allegations at the attorney general. The FBI director didn't contradict the testimony," Snow said. "There are attempts in Congress to create a public discussion of classified programs. That's inappropriate. The president … maintains full confidence in the attorney general."

In December 2005 — after a description of the wiretapping program appeared in the media — Bush acknowledged that shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began conducting electronic surveillance of communications between people in the United States and terrorism suspects overseas without seeking the approval of a special intelligence court. The program was controversial because such surveillance historically has been monitored by that court.

Two months later, after reports that some administration officials were concerned about the legality of the program, Gonzales began to publicly draw a distinction between what Bush called the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP, and other "operational" activities that remained classified. He asserted that there was no internal administration dispute "about the program that the president has confirmed."

But his statements came into question. Former Deputy Atty. Gen. James B. Comey, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, disclosed in dramatic fashion how he and other Justice Department officials — including Mueller — had a disagreement with the White House over intelligence-gathering in March 2004. That dispute culminated in an unusual meeting of senior administration officials by Ashcroft's bed in a Washington intensive care unit, where the attorney general was recovering from gallbladder surgery the day before.

 
  Executive Order: Blocking Property Of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts In IraqJuly 20, 2007 13:41 By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;

(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

July 17, 2007.
  Prison Terms For U.S. Agents ExcessiveJuly 17, 2007 14:19 Tackling a case that has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate, senators today denounced as excessive the prison sentences for two Border Patrol agents from Texas who shot and wounded a fleeing, unarmed Mexican drug smuggler.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized the 12- and 11-year prison sentences given to ex-agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, respectively. And they strongly questioned federal prosecutors' decision to charge the pair with using a weapon during the commission of a crime — a 10-year penalty that most often is used against drug dealers and other criminals, not law enforcement officers obliged to carry guns as part of their jobs.

"This really is a case of prosecutorial ... overreaction in charging," said Feinstein. She chaired the hearing, which was attended by the wives of the ex-agents and other relatives.

The senators bored in on some of the case's most nagging questions: Why the drug smuggler, who had been driving a van with a million-dollar payload of marijuana, was given immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean; why the trafficker was given unfettered permission to cross into the United States after the agents were charged; and whether he used that border-crossing privilege to bring in another million-dollar marijuana haul just months after the February 2005 incident near El Paso.

"The public sees two Border Patrol agents serving long prison sentences while an admitted drug smuggler goes free," Cornyn said, adding that he has "serious concerns about the judgment calls made during the prosecution of this case."

 
  White House Says No Credible Threat Against Us, In Response To Chertoff RemarkJuly 11, 2007 11:27 The White House says there is no credible, specific intelligence about any imminent terrorist threat against the United States.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto made the comment Wednesday in response to remarks Tuesday by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that the U.S. is at greater risk for attacks over the next months of summer.

Chertoff said he based the remark on a "gut" feeling after taking into consideration the pattern of summertime terrorist activity.

He made the comments to the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

He also warned Americans against complacency, saying they should be on heightened alert after recent terrorism episodes in Britain. Late last month, two unexploded car bombs were discovered in London and a flaming vehicle was rammed into an airport terminal in Glasgow, Scotland.
  Congress Could Pursue Contempt Charges For BushJuly 01, 2007 14:02 The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled today that he would seek to hold White House officials in contempt of Congress if they do not comply with congressional subpoenas.

"If they don't cooperate, yes, I'll go that far," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), when asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he would ask Congress to hold President Bush in contempt if he refuses to respond to subpoenas.

"They've chosen confrontation rather than compromise or cooperation," Leahy said.

Democrats and the White House are locked in battle over two areas in which Congress has asked for access to information.

Last week, White House counsel Fred Fielding said Bush has claimed executive privilege in deciding not to turn over documents relating to the administration's warrantless surveillance program. Bush also has relied on executive privilege to refuse to allow former White House officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor to testify in the continuing investigation over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

"The president and vice president are not above the law anymore than you and I are," Leahy said.

Leahy said he is not trying to shut down the surveillance program.

"We're asking what was the legal justification they tried to follow when for years they were wiretapping Americans and everybody else without a warrant," Leahy said.
  Us Supreme Court Reverses Decision, Agrees To Hear Guantanamo Detainee AppealJuly 01, 2007 09:09 On the last day of its current session, the Supreme Court changed its mind about two cases involving detainees in government custody. After denying earlier appeals by the Guantanamo detainees in April, the court said it will hear arguments in its next term about whether inmates whom the government deems to be enemy combatants have the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court.

There is some difference among legal scholars about exactly when the last time such a reversal occurred in the Supreme Court, but there is general agreement that it was about 40 years ago.

Eric Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University and a legal advisor for the detainees, says the turnabout is a major victory for the Guantanamo inmates.

"It's a huge step forward for the detainees, and a serious, serious setback for the government's efforts to do anything except allow the independent judicial review which is at the bedrock of the separation of powers," said Freedman.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the Bush administration does not believe any legal review of its detainee procedures is necessary, but added that it is confident about its legal position.

But even conservative legal scholars say the court decision to take the cases does not bode well for the administration's detainee policies.