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interpreting the constitution
crowd control
spread of the red
red state rebate
spread of the red
number 179    
Brown Tribute
Since early November, the
Justice Department has
announced that it has agreed
to settlements in more than
twenty business-related cases,
many of which have been
pending for years. The
Washington Post recently
reported details of several
high-profile corporate
settlements finalized over the
Christmas holidays. Public
interest groups have charged
that the spate of settlement
activity is being driven by a
perception that the outgoing
Bush administration is likely to
offer more favorable deals
than the Obama team led by
Attorney General designee
Eric Holder.

Among the influential
corporations agreeing to
settlements since the
presidential election are AT&T,
Siemens, Exxon Mobil, the
Aibel Group, and Spartan
Motors. The Justice
Department announced three
separate settlements totaling
more than $15 million on
December 23. Taxpayers
Against Fraud spokesman
Patrick Burns told the
“This is traditionally the time to
ram a settlement through
because no one notices.
Putting it out between
Christmas and New
Year’s is brilliant.”

Law professor Ellen S. Podgor,
who blogs on corporate fraud
and white-collar crime, cited
the Siemens settlement with
the outgoing administration by
giving it a "best timing in 2008"
award. The DoJ has continued
to announce new settlements
this month, as a number of
senior government attorneys
prepare to leave their
it's all true
The San Diego Police Department
has announced the purchase of a 25-
foot armored mobile observation
tower, to be used in crowd control
and emergency relief situations. The
mobile device, manufactured by
Arlington, Virginia-based Icx
Technologies, has been customized
to the Department’s specifications
and will be delivered in February.
The $120,000 tower was procured
with assistance from the federal
Department of Homeland Security
after San Diego police tested a
prototype for several months.

According to a report in the
Diego Union-Tribune
, police have
deployed the test version of the
mobile observation tower over Labor
Day weekend at a local beach, at
shopping malls over the holidays,
and at a regular season NFL game
between the Chargers
and the Oakland Raiders. Police
Captain Shelley Zimmerman, who
was involved
in testing the device, told the paper,
“It has assisted us in making arrests
and has certainly been a huge

Local and state law enforcement
agencies across the country are
taking advantage of DHS grants to
equip themselves with the latest
paramilitary and surveillance
technology, and the ICx Skywatch
observation unit has become a part
of public events in major cities such
as Chicago, Seattle, and New York,
which owns several of the mobile
watchtowers, using them at sporting
events and, recently, New Year’s Eve
celebrations in Times Square.
Protesters at immigration rights
rallies have become familiar with the
towers, which feature cameras, public
address systems, bullet
proof glass, and gun turrets.    
it's all
Militarization of Police Departments a Tall
A senior Pentagon official has
admitted that CIA and US military
interrogators tortured a detainee
being held at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, saying that the abusive
treatment of Saudi national
Mohammed al-Qahtani precluded his
prosecution as the alleged “20th
hijacker” in the terror attacks of
September 2001. Susan J. Crawford,
who oversees the military
commissions convened to try
detainees being held as “enemy
combatants”, confirmed that the
reason she had declined to refer the
case for prosecution last May was
that the treatment of Qahtani
amounted to torture. The
acknowledgement is the latest in a
series of legal setbacks for
controversial US detention and
interrogation policies in the final days
of the Bush administration.

“We tortured Qahtani. His treatment
met the legal definition of torture.
And that’s why I did not refer his
case,” Crawford said in an interview
with the
Washington Post. She
maintained that the individual
techniques used on the detainee
were lawful, but that, cumulatively,
they amounted to torture under US
and international law. Qahtani was
subjected to sleep and sensory
deprivation, temperature extremes,
stress positions, sexual abuse, and
waterboarding. After six years in US
custody, he remains in detention
without charge.

In a separate case last week, federal
judge Richard J. Leon ordered the
release of detainee Mohammed El
Gharani from Guantanamo Bay,
ruling that the evidence presented by
the Justice Department was
insufficient to justify his continued
detention. Gharani,
21, was captured by US forces in
Afghanistan in 2001, at age 14.
The government’s case against
him included the allegation that
Gharani was a member of a
terrorist sleeper cell in London in
1998, when the detainee would
have been 11.

In early January, federal judge
Emmet Sullivan angrily accused
the Bush administration of
withholding evidence in the case
of another Guantanamo detainee,
38-year-old Yemeni doctor Aymen
Saeed Batarfi, after at least 10
documents were withheld from
defense attorneys and the court.
In a hearing, Sullivan said of
prosecutors’ behavior, “I think
it’s unfair, I think it’s
disingenuous. This government,
especially, hides the ball when it
suits this
government’s purpose.”    
it's all
Uncertainty Over Questionable Interrogations, Dubious
VERBATIM                                                               number 34.6
"There have been
disappointments. Abu Ghraib
obviously was a huge
disappointment during the
presidency. Not having
weapons of mass destruction
was a significant
I don't know if you want to
call those mistakes or not,
but they were - things
didn't go according to plan.
   Washington  DC  01.12.09
The foreign secretary of the UK,
David Miliband, recently said that
he has long considered that the
concept of a “war on terror” is
flawed and using the term over
the past years has perhaps
caused “more harm than good.”

Miliband called into question the
construct advanced by the Bush
administration as a rational for
tactics such as extraordinary
rendition, warrantless wire-tapping
and torture in a speech in Mumbai
India, the site of a recent terror
attack where more than 170
people were killed.  

Miliband said the more western
powers “draw the battle lines as a
simple binary struggle between
moderates and extremists or good
and evil, the more we play into the
hands of those seeking to unify
groups with little in common.”  
Miliband defined terrorism as a
“deadly tactic, not an institution or
an ideology.”  Democracies,
Miliband told his audience, must
to terrorism by “championing”
instead of subordinating the
rule of law."                    
it's all true
As the Bush years close and the
executive branch tries to project its
vision of what its legacy will become
in various ways, including the release
of an official White House document
titled “The Bush Record”, the
president and vice-president
continue to remind Americans of the
administration’s flamboyant disdain
for the public’s perceptions about the
hundreds of thousands of deaths
caused by on-going military
occupations and the reliance on
brutal tactics such as torture.

In an interview conducted by Larry
King on
CNN, the president said that
when one has to make “big decisions
and tough calls…you’re going to get  
criticized.”  Responding to a question
regarding his low public approval
ratings, which have hovered between
25 and 30 percent for some time,
Bush stated, “I don’t give a darn.”  In
his last press conference, Bush said
that he had not made mistakes, but
rather, had experienced

Vice-president Dick Cheney, in an
appearance on public television,
expanded on the administration’s
relationship with adverse public
opinion regarding issues ranging
from the entry of the country into the
unprovoked occupation of Iraq to the
brutal treatment of uncharged
suspects at the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba and in Iraq.  Cheney said
that, given the circumstances,
“You cannot…start worrying
about the polls in terms of
whether or not
you’re going to make these tough

Cheney said that he was
“absolutely” comfortable with the
Bush administration’s use of
“enhanced interrogation
techniques” on detainees, and
said that he believes that the
several hundred thousand deaths
caused by the US occupation of
Iraq have been “worth it.” Cheney
said he felt that, in the end,
“history will judge this
administration in a fairly favorable
it's all true
The Pentagon has reported that a
record number of soldiers and
veterans have committed suicide as
the US military is stretched thin with
troops occupying two countries.

Although the final number for 2008
has not been tallied, the US Army
has reported that through October
2008, 117 of its soldiers have
committed suicide.  That figure
outpaces last year’s record number
of suicides by army personnel of 115
suicides.  Last year's figure
represented the highest rate of
soldier suicide since the army began
to track this statistic in 1980.  

The Department of Veterans affairs
reports that suicide rates among
veterans who served in the Iraqi
occupation and who fought in
Afghanistan doubled between 2004
and 2006.  In 2004 52
Iraq/Afghanistan veterans killed
themselves, while in 2006 that
number had risen to 110 soldiers.  
The number of suicides of veterans
of Iraq/Afghanistan operations is
currently out pacing the rate of
suicides in the civilian population.

The US Marines Corps is also
reporting a spike in suicides in its
ranks.  The Marine Corps reported
41 actual or suspected
suicides in 2008, which is a 20
percent increase over the 33
reported in 2007.  Almost all of the
Marines who committed suicide in
2008 were 24 years old or younger.  

Army psychologists believe that the
lengthy and repeated tours of duty in
Iraq and Afghanistan that are
mandated by the US military to carry
out the occupation of these countries
are a proximate cause of the rise in
suicides among military personnel.  It
has not been uncommon over the
term of US engagement in Iraq and
Afghanistan for soldiers to be
ordered to fulfill multiple consecutive
12 to 15 month tours of duty with
minimal allowance for rest between
deployments. More than 60 percent
of the soldiers who killed themselves
in 2008 were deployed or had been
recently deployed in the Iraq or

The Army has sought the assistance
of the National Institute of Mental
Health to attempt to make sense of
the sharp increase in the suicides of
its troops.  Last October, the Army
and the NIMH submitted a proposal
seeking $50 million to track soldiers
in an attempt to understand what
influences lead soldiers to consider
it's all true
Unemployment rate per
year 16 and over
National debt increases per
year in billions of dollars
2002                                   2008
Military Troubled by Rising Casualty Rates
UK Minister Sees
Error of Terror War
Bush, Cheney Unapologetic Over Unpardonable
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