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Archive for March 4th, 2007

Have A Happy Sunday

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PROBING GONZALES


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has indicated he is too busy to answer letters from Democratic congressional leaders about his firing seven U.S. attorneys involved in probes of public corruption, though a lower-level Justice Department official rejected their proposals.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, House Democratic Caucus chairman, had written Gonzales two letters suggesting that he name Carol Lam, fired as U.S. attorney in San Diego, as an outside counsel to continue her pursuit of the Duke Cunningham case. Asked by Melissa Charbonneau of the Christian Broadcasting Network about this column’s report that Gonzales did not respond, Gonzales said: “I think that the American people lose if I spend all my time worrying about congressional requests for information, if I spend all my time responding to subpoenas.”

Richard A. Hertling, the acting Justice Department lobbyist, responded Wednesday, 22 days after Emanuel’s letter. He contended “the Justice Department would not ever seek the resignation of a U.S. attorney if doing so would jeopardize a public corruption case” and rejected naming Lam as a special prosecutor.

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US court throws out CIA torture case

A US federal appeals court on Friday upheld a refusal to hear the case of a Lebanese-born German man who says he was tortured by the CIA, citing national security reasons.

Khaled el-Masri claims was detained by the CIA for several months in 2004 on suspicion of links to terrorism.

Masri, 43, filed suit in December 2005 saying he had been snatched while on a trip in Macedonia, taken to Afghanistan, jailed, beaten and harassed before being set free without charge after five months.

He demanded an explanation and an apology from the United States for his detention, as well as 75,000 dollars in damages.

The US government had urged the court to reject the appeal saying that for national security reasons it could not confirm or deny any of the allegations because they were related to the activities of the CIA.

The court said that to make his case, el-Masri “would be obliged to produce admissible evidence not only that he was detained and interrogated, but that the defendants were involved in his detention and interrogation in a manner that renders them personally liable to him.

“Such a showing could be made only with evidence that exposes how the CIA organizes, staffs and supervises its most sensitive intelligence operations.

“The defendants could not properly defend themselves without using privileged evidence,” the decision said.

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The Bush Administration’s drive for privatization may be responsible for the “deplorable” outpatient care for soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to a top Democratic Congressman investigating the scandal, which has already led to the resignation of the Secretary of the US Army.

A five-year, $120 million contract awarded to a firm run by a former executive from Halliburton – a multi-national corporation where Vice President Dick Cheney once served as CEO – will be probed at a Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hearing scheduled for Monday.

A letter sent by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to Major General George W. Weightman, the former commander at Walter Reed, asks him to “address the implications of a memorandum from Garrison Commander Peter Garibaldi sent through you to Colonel Daryl Spencer, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Resource Management with the U.S. Army Medical Command” in order to better prepare himself for his testimony at the hearing.

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