spread of the red
number 71  09.24.06
Subservient Senators Submit to Troubling Torture Tribunals
previous editions archive
Senate Republicans and the Bush
Administration have settled on
language that allows what the
president has called the “tough but
professional” interrogation of
detainees held by the US military,
often in undisclosed locations, by CIA
agents.  The agreement would also
allow the use of both coerced and
hearsay evidence in legal actions
against terror suspects and
precludes detainees from invoking
the Geneva Conventions in any suit
against the US government.

The US Supreme Court’s recent
demand that detainees be accorded
the rights granted to them under the
Geneva Conventions led Congress
to consider
codifying a system for detainee
tribunals and provisions regarding
interrogation tactics are a component
of this legislation.  

The Senate compromise prohibits
what are referred to as “grave
breaches” of the conventions
defining such breaches narrowly as
acts of torture, rape, biological
experimentation and cruel and
inhuman treatment.   The agreement
does, however, allow the president to
re-interpret “the meaning and
application” of the Geneva
Conventions that prohibits torture to
allow treatment that is generally
considered to be illegal under
international law.  The Senate
conferred upon the president the
authority to promulgate
regulations for “alternative”
interrogation techniques to be
published in the Federal Register.

A group of military defense
lawyers criticized the compromise
saying that the new rules would
prevent them from knowing if
evidence used against their clients
was coerced through torturous
interrogation techniques.  The
Director of Human Rights Watch
said that under the compromise,
victims of “abusive practices such
as waterboarding, hypothermia
and extended sleep deprivation,”
at the hands of US agents, “are
denied access to the courts.”    
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interpreting the constitution

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one nation, under surveillance

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one nation, under surveillance
Customs Officers to Take a Hard Look at Hard Drives
Exxon Distributes
A three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals recently ruled that
US Border officials can seize and
analyze the contents of a traveler’s
laptop computer without a search
warrant or probable cause.

A traveler who had previously pled
no contest to charges that he
assisted in the child sexual
exploitation had his laptop computer
confiscated and its hard drive
analyzed as he crossed the US
border coming from British Columbia,
Canada.  Images that were found on
the computer’s hard drive were used
as evidence to convict the traveler
for probation violations.

In his appeal, the traveler, Stuart
Romm, challenged the warrentless
search of his laptop by US Customs
officials arguing that the forensic
analysis of the
computer’s hard drive was unlawful.  
Border officials used specialized
software to analyze the computer’s
memory in a process that took
several hours.

The judges on the 9th Circuit panel
ruled that, “Under the border search
exemption, the government may
conduct routine searches of persons
entering the United States without
probable cause, reasonable
suspicion, or a warrant.”

The panel declined to rule on Romm’
s argument that a forensic analysis of
his computer’s hard drive constituted
more than what would reasonably be
considered to be a ‘routine’ border
search as Romm had not raised this
argument in his original court case.  

The Judges cited two US Supreme
Court cases to establish what a
routine border search is defined
to be.  In one of the cases, US v
Flores-Montano, the Supreme
Court found that it is permissible
for customs officials to
disassemble an automobile
without having probable cause.  In
the other, US v Montoya de
Hernandez, the court allowed a
border medical examination of a
traveler’s alimentary canal with no
warrant or probable cause.  In a
dissent to Montoya, Justices
Brennan and Marshall wrote the
medical examination at issue was
"the hallmark of a police state."

The ruling sets a precedent that
would allow the forensic analysis
of a traveler’s laptop computer to
be considered by border guards
as simply ‘routine’.                         
its all true
Britain’s leading scientific
association has called on US
oil company ExxonMobil to end
its practice of funding political
organizations that
mischaracterize the scientific
consensus on global warming
in an attempt to undermine
regulatory initiatives. The
Royal Society took the unusual
step of writing directly to the
company after Exxon failed to
make good on promises to
withdraw funding from the
controversial lobbying groups.
The letter, a copy of which was
obtained by the
asserts that the groups have
“misrepresented the science of
climate change by outright
denial of the evidence.”

In 2005, ExxonMobil gave
some $2.9 million to 39
organizations active in the US
and Europe that promote an
“inaccurate and misleading”
view of the international
scientific debate on the causes
of global warming and the
origins of climate change,
according to Royal Society
spokesman Bob Ward. Among
these industry front groups are
the Competitive Enterprise
Institute, the International
Policy Network, and the Center
for the Study of Carbon
Dioxide and Global Change.
Exxon officials acknowledged
the funding, but  denied that
the groups spoke for the

It is believed to be the first time
that the Royal Society, which
was founded in the 16th
century, has ever rebuked a
private company for the
attempted manipulation of
scientific data.         
its all true
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Lawmakers Certify Single Military Messiah
White Castle Restaurants
top five states
(stores per one million
0                     5                   10
A group of House Republicans has
attached an amendment to the 2007
military spending bill that seeks to
circumvent Air Force and Navy rules
allowing military chaplains to
proselytize “in Jesus’ name.”

The provision was written by
evangelical Christians who want to
legislate around rules recently
established by the Air Force and
Navy that ensure inclusiveness in the
prayers, convocations and blessings
given by military chaplains.  The
rules limit references to any single
religious figure or deity at non-
denominational military events.  

The provision would allow military
chaplains to “have the prerogative to
pray according to the dictates of their
own conscience, except as limited by
military necessity."  The proposal is
opposed by the Defense Department
and the National Conference on
Ministry to the Armed Services, an
organization that represents 70
percent of all military chaplains.

An proposed amendment that would
have added language to the
provision requiring military chaplains
to act with “sensitivity, respect and
tolerance” but would still allow
invoking the name of the Christian
Messiah was voted down in
conference sessions.  

Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC), who
fears that banning military chaplains
from praying 'in Jesus’ name' would
lead to “secularization in the  
military,” said, “You don’t have to tell
people of faith to be sensitive.”    
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source: White Castle






previous editions

Links of the Week

IAEA Report:  Implementation
of the NPT Safeguards
Agreement in the Islamic
Republic of Iran

University of Chicago : Photo
Gallery of the Prehistoric
Mound Of Tall-i-Bakun, Iran

Pennsylvania Autumn Foliage

New Orleans After the Flood:
Photographs by Robert Polidori

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Interior Problems Increasingly Visible to Outsiders
Report Documents
Rise in Gun Violence
Ethical violations and improprieties
are commonplace at the United
States Department of the Interior, a
top agency official told members of a
Congressional committee last week.
In testimony before the House
Government Reform subcommittee
on energy, Earl Devaney, the
department’s Chief Inspector
General, described an agency-wide
culture of corruption with little or no
accountability among senior
personnel. “Simply stated, short of a
crime, anything goes at the highest
levels of the Department of the
Interior,” Devaney told the members
of the subcommittee. He also
charged that officials at the agency
routinely tolerate or downplay ethical
failures, even after they are exposed.

The Inspector General testified that
the political appointees who head the
Department of the Interior regularly
discount his investigations and
recommendations. “I have observed
one instance after another when the
good work of my office has been
disregarded by the department,”
Devaney told the panel. “Ethics
failures on the part of senior
department officials-- taking the form
of appearances of impropriety,
favoritism, and bias-- have been
dismissed with a promise not to do it
again.” Although Devaney outlined
numerous individual cases, he
stressed that each case was typical
of a broad “culture of managerial
irresponsibility and lack of
accountability” at the department.

Devaney’s appearance before the
panel came as the Project on
Government Oversight, a private
watchdog group, released the results
of an investigation of the department’
s Minerals and Management Service.
The report found that enforcement of
contract obligations by MMS has
become lax and inefficient over the
past four years, following deep staff
cuts among auditors and significant
restructuring by the Bush
administration in 2002. Collections on
unpaid leases over the four-year
period totaled less than half of the
annual average collected over the
previous 20 years. The watchdog
group charges that MMS now reviews
its leases using industry-provided

Newly appointed Secretary of the
Interior Dirk Kempthorne insists that
he is taking the allegations of
wrongdoing seriously. On his first day
in the job, he sent a letter to all
Interior staff entitled "Our Ethical
its all true
A Justice Department report on
the incidence of violent crime
shows that three categories of
offenses- homicide, robbery, and
aggravated assault- increased
sharply in 2005.
The National Crime Victimization
Survey found that homicides
increased by 4.8 percent
nationally, to 16,910 in 2005 from
16,140 the previous year. The
findings appear to support
statistics released by the FBI in
June that also noted increases in
murders and firearm violence.

Law enforcement and municipal
officials said the report confirms
their local experience that serious
violent crime is increasing, even
as overall crime statistics show
continued reductions. Justice
Department spokesmen said that
it was too early to tell if the figures
represented real national trends.

In a statement commenting on the
report, Deputy Atty. Gen. Paul J.
McNulty said, “We recognize that
some jurisdictions are
experiencing a recent increase in
certain types of violent
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back to top of
May Day  
March in
verbatim                                                                                                                                                                                                        number 14.1
"This debate is occurring
because of...the Supreme
Court's ruling that said that...we
must conduct ourselves under
the Common Article III of the
Geneva Convention. And that
Common Article III says that
there, you know, will be no
outrages upon human dignity.
It's...it's a, like, it's very vague...
...What does that mean?
Outrages upon human
dignity. That...that's a
statement that is, uh, wide
open to interpretation.."
Washington  DC   09.15.06