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Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community’s top legislative priority.
Participants on the October 17 call — including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG — were urged to persuade their clients to send “large contributions” to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.
Geithner’s first act at Treasury, announced this morning, was issuing new rules that take aim at limiting the influence of lobbyists seeking rescue funds from the department’s $700 billion financial rescue program. The rules, which are modeled on restrictions already in use that limit lobbying on tax matters, would restrict employees’ contact with lobbyists in connection with applications for bailout funds or disbursement of those funds. They also require certification to Congress that decisions for using the bailout money are based only on investment criteria and the facts of the case.
Obama’s promise for a transparent government is about to expand and making many in the GOP nervous
Jason Leopold-Evidence about the Bush administration’s possible illegal actions actions is expected to become available in the coming weeks as the Obama administration loosens the secrecy that has surrounded Bush’s “war on terror,” a phrase that Obama and his team have effectively dropped from Washington’s lexicon.
Obama’s aides have indicated that there soon may be a “public airing” of secret Justice Department legal opinions and other documents that provided the underpinning for the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation policies.
Levin also indicated that he expects to release the full Armed Services Committee report – covering an 18-month investigation – in about two or three weeks. Levin added that he would ask the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct its own investigation of torture as implemented by the CIA.
As President Barack Obama reverses some of ex-President George W. Bush’s most controversial “war on terror” policies, a consensus seems to be building among Democratic congressional leaders that further investigations are needed into Bush’s use of torture and other potential crimes.
On Wednesday – the first working day of the Obama administration – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would support funding and staff for additional fact-finding by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which last month released a report tracing abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib to Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002, decision to exclude terror suspects from Geneva Convention protections.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who issued that report, echoed Reid’s comments, saying “there needs to be an accounting of torture in this country.” Levin, D-Michigan, also said he intends to encourage the Justice Department and incoming Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate torture practices that took place while Bush was in office.
Two other key Democrats joined in this growing chorus of lawmakers saying that serious investigations should be conducted.
Huff Post-On Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) issued a subpoena to Karl Rove, requiring him to testify regarding his role in the Bush Administration’s politicization of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The subpoena calls for Rove to appear at deposition on Monday, February 2, 2009.
Rove has previously refused to appear in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena, claiming that even former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress. That “absolute immunity” position was supported by then-President Bush, but it has been rejected by U.S. District Judge John Bates. President Obama has previously dismissed the claim as “completely misguided.”
“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” said Rep. Conyers. Noting that the change in administration may impact the legal arguments available to Mr. Rove in this long-running dispute, Mr. Conyers added, “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”
J. Edgar Hoover…Sen. McCarthy, anyone?
On Jan. 21, former U.S. intelligence official Russell Tice appeared on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermannn” and broke a sobering bit of news that, sandwiched between Obama’s inauguration and sweeping executive orders, went largely ignored by the media: Under the Bush administration’s notorious warrantless spying program, not only did the NSA eavesdrop on millions of Americans, it turns out it specifically targeted “U.S. news organizations, reporters and journalists.”
As Olbermannn put it, “non-terrorist Americans, if you will.”
President Obama’s plans to expeditiously determine the fate of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials — barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees — discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner. They said the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and the Bush administration’s focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority.
God forbid should we actually plan to prosecute these people..
In golf, they call it a mulligan. A do-over.
After flubbing his one role on Inauguration Day — administering the oath of office to Obama — Roberts traveled to the White House to re-administer the oath.
Just to make sure.
“We decided it was so much fun . . .,” Obama joked while sitting on a couch in the Map Room. Obama stood and walked over to make small talk with pool reporters as Roberts donned his black robe.
“Are you ready to take the oath?” Roberts asked.
“I am, and we’re going to do it very slowly,” Obama replied.
After a flawless recitation that included no Bible and took 25 seconds, Roberts smiled and said, “Congratulations, again.”
Obama said, “Thank you, sir,” and then added: “All right. The bad news for the [reporters] is there’s 12 more balls.”
A president is required by the Constitution to say, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
At the inauguration, Roberts instead said: “that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.”
In a statement, White House counsel Greg Craig said the oath was re-administered “out of an abundance of caution.”
Of course this had to be done for the benefit of those desperate idiots who still claim that Obama is not a US citizen…please…
On January 21, in one of his first official acts, President Barack Obama revoked the Bush administration’s Executive Order 13233 that severely limited access by the public to presidential records. Click here to see a copy of President Obama’s new executive order.
President Obama firmly committed his administration to a new policy of transparency by symbolically issuing the executive order on his first full day in office. The issuance of the Obama presidential records executive order ends a nearly eight year effort by historians, archivists, political scientists and other stakeholders in federal courts and on Capitol Hill to have the Bush EO revoked on legal grounds or by statute.
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama plans to open his White House doors to the public on his first full day of his presidency, Jan. 21.
Obama aides on Friday announced plans to have an open house at his new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The idea is to keep Obama’s administration the “most open and accessible” in history by inviting hundreds of supporters inside and encouraging them to stay involved.
Tickets are limited and interested residents can sign up on Obama’s inauguration Web site.
This week, I released “Reining in the Imperial Presidency,” a 486-page report detailing the abuses and excesses of the Bush administration and recommending steps to address them. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. popularized the term “imperial presidency” in the 1970s to describe an executive who had assumed more power than the Constitution allows and circumvented the checks and balances fundamental to our three-branch system of government. Until recently, the Nixon administration seemed to represent a singular embodiment of the idea. Unfortunately, it is clear that the threat of the imperial presidency lives on and, indeed, reached new heights under George W. Bush.
As this report documents, there was the administration’s contrived drive to a needless war of aggression with Iraq, based on manipulated intelligence and facts that were “fixed around the policy.” There was its politicization of the Justice Department; unconscionable and possibly illegal policies on detention, interrogation and extraordinary rendition; warrantless wiretaps of American citizens; the ravaging of our regulatory system and the use of signing statements to override the laws of the land; and the intimidation and silencing of critics and whistle-blowers who dared to tell fellow citizens what was being done in their name. And all of this was hidden behind an unprecedented veil of secrecy and outlandish claims of privilege.
We cannot rebuild the appropriate balance between the branches of government without fully understanding how that relationship has been distorted. Likewise, we cannot set an appropriate baseline for future presidential conduct without documenting and correcting the presidential excesses that have just occurred. After the Nixon imperial presidency, critical reviews such as the Church and Pike committees led to fundamental reforms that have served our nation well. Comparable steps are needed to begin the process of reining in the legacy of the Bush imperial presidency. I consider these three points crucial:
First, Congress should continue to pursue its document requests and subpoenas that were stonewalled under President Bush. Doing so will make clear that no executive can forever hide its misdeeds from the public.
Second, Congress should create an independent blue-ribbon panel or similar body to investigate a host of previously unreviewable activities of the Bush administration, including its detention, interrogation and surveillance programs. Only by chronicling and confronting the past in a comprehensive, bipartisan fashion can we reclaim our moral authority and establish a credible path forward to meet the complex challenges of a post-Sept. 11 world.
Third, the new administration should conduct an independent criminal probe into whether any laws were broken in connection with these activities. Just this week, in the pages of this newspaper, a Guantanamo Bay official acknowledged that a suspect there had been “tortured” — her exact word — in apparent violation of the law. The law is the law, and, if criminal conduct occurred, those responsible — particularly those who ordered and approved the violations — must be held accountable.
Some day, there is bound to be another national security crisis in America. A future president will face the same fear and uncertainty that we did after Sept. 11, 2001, and will feel the same temptation to believe that the ends justify the means — temptation that drew our nation over to the “dark side” under the leadership of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. If those temptations are to be resisted — if we are to face new threats in a manner that keeps faith with our values and strengthens rather than diminishes our authority around the world — we must fully learn the lessons of our recent past. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)
In a big brotheresque move by the credit industry, credit card applications, mortgages and credit lines may soon take into consideration where you live, work and shop. If you live in an area of the country, or a particular city, with high foreclosures, you’ll be more likely to be turned down. If you work in what the credit industry call “volatile” professions like real estate or the automobile industry, you will be more likely to be turned down. And yes, if you shop at discount stores like Wal-Mart….you will increase your risk of credit rejection.
These are just a few things being discussed as the credit industry tries to spin the financial debacle from being about their greed, to passing the buck to consumers.
Progressives have been fighting for the right of privacy and against corporate data mining for years, this is one of the reasons why.