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Archive for September 21st, 2006

Republicans set to announce terrorism trial deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House and Senate Republicans on Thursday were reviewing a tentative deal on legislation setting out rules for interrogating and trying foreign terrorism suspects, and an announcement was expected shortly.

The White House has proposed legislation for treatment of such suspects but has faced a revolt over the past week from an group of Senate Republicans who put forward an alternative measure they said would provide greater rights to suspects.

“We are close. But there is no deal yet,” an aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said.

Frist of Tennessee was meeting with Republican Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as well as administration officials to review the tentative deal. An announcement was likely within the hour, said Amy Call, Frist’s spokeswoman.

“I’m a happy man,” Graham said as he entered Frist’s office.

Congress is trying to pass a bill to establish trial procedures for foreign terrorism suspects picked up since the September 11 attacks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Bush’s original program.

Warner, McCain and Graham challenged President George W. Bush’s plan for trying suspected terrorists, saying it would undermine the Geneva Conventions’ protections for war prisoners, and allow abusive interrogations and unfair trials.

They pushed a rival bill that gained greater Senate support and forced the administration to negotiate a compromise.

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The Pentagon’s top brass has moved into second-stage contingency planning for a potential military strike on Iran, one senior intelligence official familiar with the plans tells RAW STORY.

The official, who is close to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officials of each branch of the US military, says the Chiefs have started what is called “branches and sequels” contingency planning.

“The JCS has accepted the inevitable,” the intelligence official said, “and is engaged in serious contingency planning to deal with the worst case scenarios that the intelligence community has been painting.”

A second military official, although unfamiliar with these latest scenarios, said there is a difference between contingency planning — which he described as “what if, then what” planning — and “branches and sequels,” which takes place after an initial plan has been decided upon.

Adding to the concern of both military and intelligence officials alike is the nuclear option, the possibility of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons targeting alleged WMD facilities in Iran.

An April New Yorker report by Sy Hersh alleged that the nuclear option was on the table, and that some officers of the Joint Chiefs had threatened resignation.

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In the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., along with award-winning writer Dick Russell, deepens his investigation into America’s electoral process, according to a press release received by RAW STORY.

“Following the debacle of the 2000 presidential election, touch-screen voting machines promised to make voting as easy and reliable as withdrawing cash from an ATM,” the press release states. “In 2002, privately owned Diebold, the world’s third-largest seller of ATMs, was awarded a contract to install 19,000 voting machines across the state of Georgia even though its bid was the highest among nine competing vendors, and it had only recently completed its acquisition of Global Election Systems (a voting-machine firm that owned the technology Diebold was promising to sell Georgia).”

“But as November’s high-stakes midterm elections approach, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better,” according to the press release. “Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election – and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries.”

In the article, Kennedy interviews former Diebold consultant, Chris Hood, who “reveals to what extent our right to vote is at risk.”

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According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an “October surprise” before the midterm elections.

“In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an ‘October surprise’ to help win the November congressional elections,” reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax.

“President Bush’s political strategist is also saying that the final two weeks before the elections will see a blitz of advertising, and the Republican National Committee is deploying an army of volunteers to key locations to help the grass-roots effort and monitor the election,” the article continues. “The RNC is offering to fly in volunteers and cover their expenses.”

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Voting rights groups filed a lawsuit against Ohio officials, including Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell for allegedly violating a federal voter registration law.

“A federal lawsuit filed in Cleveland today charges that Ohio’s Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, and the Director of its Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS), Barbara Riley, have violated the rights of thousands of low-income Ohioans by failing to provide voter registration opportunities in public assistance offices as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA),” according to a press release received by RAW STORY. “The NVRA is a federal law enacted 13 years ago to encourage voter registration and turnout in elections.”

“The lawsuit, brought by Carrie Harkless, Tameca Mardis and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), alleges that offices of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services failed to provide Harkless, Mardis and thousands of other low-income Ohioans with the opportunity to register to vote or change their voter registration address during visits to DJFS offices to apply for or recertify their eligibility for public assistance benefits,” the press release continues.

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