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An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials. H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department’s ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos “was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.” According to two knowledgeable sources who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. It sharply criticized the legal work of two former top officials—Jay Bybee and John Yoo—as well as that of Steven Bradbury, who was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted, the sources said. (Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
But then–Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his deputy, Mark Filip, strongly objected to the draft, according to the sources. Filip wanted the report to include responses from all three principals, said one of the sources, a former top Bush administration lawyer. (Mukasey could not be reached; his former chief of staff did not respond to requests for comment. Filip also did not return a phone message.) OPR is now seeking to include the responses before a final version is presented to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. “The matter is under review,” said Justice spokesman Matthew Miller.
Federal authorities examining the early, chaotic days of the $125 billion American-led effort to rebuild Iraq have significantly broadened their inquiry to include senior American military officers who oversaw the program, according to interviews with senior government officials and court documents.
Court records show that last month investigators subpoenaed the personal bank records of Col. Anthony B. Bell, who is now retired from the Army but who was in charge of reconstruction contracting in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 when the small operation grew into a frenzied attempt to remake the country’s broken infrastructure. In addition, investigators are examining the activities of Lt. Col. Ronald W. Hirtle of the Air Force, who was a senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004, according to two federal officials involved in the inquiry.
It is not clear what specific evidence exists against the two men, and both said they had nothing to hide from investigators. Yet officials say that several criminal cases over the past few years point to widespread corruption in the operation the men helped to run. As part of the inquiry, the authorities are taking a fresh look at information given to them by Dale C. Stoffel, an American arms dealer and contractor who was killed in Iraq in late 2004.
Typical republican greed, Cheney must be envious
Now we have a new president – and we have a new boogeyman – the economic meltdown. .
Now don’t get me wrong. Anyone who’s read this column over the past few years knows I’ve been Chicken Littling about the financial house of cards for a long time. And, now that it’s finally collapsed, it’s even worse than I predicted, and getting worse by the day.
Which is why Obama and his team are on the tube night and day talking about nothing else — as if Americans are concerned about nothing, which isn’t true.
71% of Americans are in favor of an investigation into the possible misuse of the Department of Justice by the Bush administration according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.
One reason for this surprisingly robust groundswell for investigations may be that each day, formerly secret Bush-era documents surface that truly shock the conscience.
Just yesterday the ACLU got it’s hands on a truly smoking gun memo written for then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. This document informed Rumsfeld that those he’d tasked with beating information out of suspected terrorists had not just tortured them, but tortured some of them, to death. In other words, they murdered them.
No, I’m not kidding. Here read the original document yourself.
WASHINGTON – Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.
Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.
The claim about the payment, one of several allegations by Alan B. Fabian, is outlined in a confidential court document. Fabian offered the information last March as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges. It is unclear how extensively his claims have been pursued. Prosecutors gave him no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October.
A FLURRY of letters between the British Foreign Office and the US State Department has revealed that Washington did threaten to withdraw intelligence-sharing with Britain if documents related to the alleged torture of a British terrorism detainee in Guantanamo Bay were made public.
The High Court in London said on Wednesday the Foreign Office had refused to allow the torture documents to be revealed because of a “threat” from Washington to stop sharing intelligence with Britain.
The US warning, related to the case of British detainee Binyam Mohamed, was promptly denied by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who insisted that there had been no threat from the US to “break off intelligence co-operation”.
But on Thursday night British broadcaster Channel 4 revealed that a letter dated August 21, 2008, from the US State Department, stated the consequences if a British court published American documents on the capture and interrogation of Mohamed.
Ronald Reagan’s 98th birthday is being celebrated today at a time that should be a cause for soul searching among his admirers. The conservative revolution that Reagan unleashed upon the nation and much of the world lay in ashes, and Washington is embarking on a new epoch of government intervention to eradicate the excesses of free-market purism. One would expect liberals to be out in the streets looking for statues of the Gipper to topple from their pedestals.
But nothing of the kind is happening. While George W. Bush is now the bane even of many conservatives, a Marine Corps contingent will lay a wreath at Reagan’s gravesite safe in the knowledge that much of the nation holds his memory in a warm embrace.
Historians may one day view this as an odd historical conundrum, since Reagan’s legacy is so clearly imprinted on the myriad of forces that have vitiated the American dream for millions of working people and brought wreckage to the world economy.
The continuing fallout from Reagan’s policies – the meltdown of the financial sector, widening income inequality, the emergence of lockdown America, the obscene inflation of CEO compensation, the end of locally owned media, market crashes, blackouts, drug-company scandals, rampant greed and materialism — is all around us. As D.H. Lawrence once wrote in another context, “The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins.”
As President Obama makes his final push for approval of the $825 billion and growing job stimulus plan, he’s winning support from groups like Americans United for Change that are targeting opposing Republicans. We heard from Americans United boss Brad Woodhouse today, and he revealed plans to expand his ad campaign against Republican foes. The hook of the ads: Are Republicans going to walk in lock-step with popular conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh? “The time to act boldly to turn this economy around is now, and we are leaving no stone unturned, ratcheting up the pressure on key senators to do the right thing,” he says. “House Republicans decided to listen to Rush Limbaugh and put partisan politics ahead of getting people back to work as the Obama plan would do. We are putting senators on notice not to follow Limbaugh off the cliff into the political abyss but to support the Obama jobs plan instead.”
So, starting this week, he’s expanding TV and radio ads targeting Republicans. Included in the new wave are Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez. Woodhouse called the radio ads “Limbaugh themed.” Right now, the group is running ads against 13 of the 41 senators, or an entire third of the GOP caucus.
Just four days before he left office, President Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration. On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter (.pdf) to Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin. The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove “should not appear before Congress” or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House. The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove—even after he leaves office. A nearly identical letter (.pdf) was also sent by Fielding the day before to a lawyer for former White House counsel Harriet Miers, instructing her not to appear for a scheduled deposition with the House Judiciary Committee. That letter reasserted the White House position that Miers has “absolute immunity” from testifying before Congress about anything she did while she worked at the White House—a far-reaching claim that is being vigorously disputed by lawyers for the House of Representatives in court.