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Archive for the ‘DOJ’ Category

Crooks & Liars- By Heather Wednesday Jul 14, 2010 9:00am

Rachel Maddow reviews the case against six New Orleans police officers who are now finally facing federal charges for shooting unarmed citizens on the Danziger Brige in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It’s really sad that it has taken this long for the Justice Department to finally be doing something with this case. It’s long overdue. TPM has more.

DOJ Charges Six NOPD Officers Involved In Danziger Bridge Shooting:

The Justice Department has charged four New Orleans police officers with opening fire on unarmed civilians in the days after Hurricane Katrina, killing two and wounding four. The DOJ has also charged them, and two other officers, with conspiracy relating to the resulting cover-up.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges in an afternoon press conference today, five years after the shootings on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans.

Four police officers — Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso — are being charged with civil rights violations in connection with the shootings. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The two others, Archie Kaufman and Gerard Dugue, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kaufman and Dugue were the investigators in the original case, and are accused of falsifying reports and false prosecution.

Five other police officers and one civilian have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the cover-up. The four accused of the shooting had been charged with murder in connection with the incident, but the case was thrown out in 2008.

On Sept. 4, 2005, seven NOPD officers, including the four charged today in the shootings, rode to the Danziger Bridge after getting reports of officers under fire. There, they encountered a family on their way to the supermarket for supplies. For unknown reasons, the officers allegedly opened fire, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding others.

The officers then allegedly drove to the other side of the bridge, where they found another group of people and again opened fire. Ronald Madison, 40, who was mentally disabled, was shot in the back and killed.

Faulcon is the one who allegedly shot Madison, according to the indictment. Bowen is accused of kicking Madison as he lay on the ground dying.

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DOJ, Arizona officials meet over immigration law

Huff Post- PAUL DAVENPORT and PETE YOST | May 29, 2010 02:08 AM EST | AP

PHOENIX — Justice Department officials told Arizona’s attorney general and aides to the governor Friday that the federal government has serious reservations about the state’s new immigration law. They responded that a lawsuit against the state isn’t the answer.

“I told them we need solutions from Washington, not more lawsuits,” said Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat.

The Justice Department initiated separate meetings by phone and face-to-face in Phoenix with Goddard and aides to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to reach out to Arizona’s leaders and elicit information from state officials regarding the Obama administration’s concerns about the new law.

The strong message that the Justice Department representatives delivered at the private meetings – first with Goddard, then with Brewer’s staff – left little doubt that the Obama administration is prepared to go to court if necessary in a bid to block the new law, which takes effect July 29.

Goddard said he noted that five privately filed lawsuits already are pending in federal court to challenge the law.

“Every possible argument is being briefed,” said Goddard, who is running unopposed for his party’s nomination for the governor’s race.

Brewer, who is seeking re-election, later said in a statement that her legal team told the Justice Department officials that the law would be “vigorously defended all the way to the United States Supreme Court if necessary.”

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DoJ reveals names of lawyers smeared as ‘Al-Qaeda 7′

Raw Story- By Andrew McLemore
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 — 7:13 pm

Yesterday, a conservative group run by Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney released a political ad accusing seven lawyers within the Department of Justice of being un-American because they advocated for detainees held in Guantanamo.

Today, the names of those lawyers were revealed by a spokesman for the Justice Department who said politics had “overtaken reality” in questioning the virtue of military lawyers for defending the rights of prisoners of war.

“Department of Justice attorneys work around the clock to keep this country safe, and it is offensive that their patriotism is being questioned,” said Justice Department Spokesman Matt Miller.

And who is questioning the lawyers’ patriotism? To start with, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has been demanding for months that the names of DoJ lawyers who defended terror suspects be revealed.

“The administration has made many highly questionable decisions when it comes to national security, ” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a recent statement, arguing that the public has “a right to know who advises the Attorney General and the President on these critical matters.”

According to a Fox News report, most of the lawyers had relatively “minor roles” in defending detainees before being appointed to the Department of Justice. Those “minor roles” included filing briefs that advocated for protection of detainees’ rights. Specifically, that they should be allowed a trial at all.

One of the lawyers, Tony West (shown above), represented “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh for several years as part of a San Francisco law firm. West is now the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

He and the six other lawyers were dubbed the “Al-Qaeda 7” in a video released this week by Keep America Safe, a conservative organization headed by Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth and pundit Bill Kristol.

The group released the video after the Department of Justice refused to release the names because it “will not participate in an attempt to drag people’s names through the mud for political purposes. “

The ad, shown below, was widely lambasted by many critics and publications as repugnant, indecent and outrageous.

If nothing else, the ad achieved its intended effect of galvanizing many Americans to fear lawyers trying to defend human rights. After it was aired, the Department of Justice was flooded with calls complaining about their political appointments.

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Baghdad's Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis died in a shooting involving Blackwater Worldwide.

U.S. Examines Whether Blackwater Tried Bribery

The New York Times
Published: January 31, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating whether officials of Blackwater Worldwide tried to bribe Iraqi government officials in hopes of retaining the firm’s security work in Iraq after a deadly shooting episode in 2007, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said that the Justice Department’s fraud section opened the inquiry late last year to determine whether Blackwater employees violated a federal law banning American corporations from paying bribes to foreign officials.

The inquiry is the latest fallout from the shooting in Nisour Square in Baghdad, which left 17 Iraqis dead and stoked bitter resentment against the United States.

A federal judge in December dismissed criminal charges against five former Blackwater guards implicated in the episode, but Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently announced that the Obama administration would appeal that decision.

The investigation, which was confirmed by three current and former officials speaking on condition of anonymity, follows a report in The New York Times in November that top executives at Blackwater had authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials to buy their support after the shooting. The newspaper account said it could not determine whether any bribes were actually paid or identify Iraqi officials who might have received the money.

The Justice Department has obtained two documents from the State Department, which had security contracts with the company, that have raised questions about Blackwater’s efforts to influence Iraqi government officials after the Nisour Square shootings, according to two American officials familiar with the inquiry.

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John Yoo

ACLU Sues Justice Department On Torture Report

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | January 25, 2010, 9:08AM

The ACLU filed suit Friday in a bid to force the Justice Department to release its internal report on torture.

The long-awaited report from the department’s Office of Professional Ethics considers whether DOJ lawyers like John Yoo broke ethics rules in writing the memos that approved torture.

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that it would likely be out by the end of the month. At that time, the department said it was going through the normal review process.

In December, the ACLU had filed a FOIA request for the report.

ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said in a press release:

Under the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a series of memos intended to permit interrogators to use methods that the United States had previously described as war crimes. As a result of those memos, hundreds of prisoners were abused and tortured, and some were even killed during the course of interrogations. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether the authors of the memos violated ethical rules as well as the criminal laws, and in ensuring that those who wrote the memos, as well as those who authorized torture, are held accountable. The release of the ethics report is long overdue.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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‘These People Fear Prosecution’: Why Bush’s CIA Team Should Worry About Its Dark Embrace of Torture

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted April 11, 2009.

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer discusses the fallout from the Red Cross’ shocking report on CIA torture and its serious legal implications.

On the night of April 6, a long-secret document was published — in its entirety for the first time — that provided a clear, stark look at the CIA torture program carried out by the Bush administration.

Dated Feb. 14, 2007, the 41-page report describes in harrowing detail the “ill treatment” of 14 “high-value” detainees in U.S. custody, as recounted by the prisoners in interviews with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Besides listing the various kinds of harsh interrogation tactics undertaken by the CIA — among them “suffocation by water,” “prolonged stress standing,” “beatings by use of a collar,” “confinement in a box,” “prolonged nudity,” “threats,” “forced shaving” and other methods — the report reveals the disturbing role of medical professionals in the torture of suspects, which included using doctors’ equipment to monitor their health, even as torture was carried out.

Just as Americans have known about Bush-era torture for years, lawyers and human rights activists have long known about the ICRC report and its contents. Both are due in large part to the work of journalists and the sources who have brought to light the many post-9/11 abuses committed in the name of counterterrorism.

In February 2005, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker magazine published a story called “Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ Program,” which reported in intricate detail the sordid mechanisms of the Bush administration’s kidnap-and-torture program — a practice so violent and dramatic that it inspired a major Hollywood film a few years later.

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Rove agrees to be deposed under oath after three subpoenas

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Wednesday March 4, 2009

The House Judiciary Committee announced late Wednesday afternoon that they had secured the agreement of former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to testify in transcribed depositions under threat of perjury.

The Committee did not immediately announce what terms, if any, had been reached with Rove, but said the agreement had been made with representatives of the former Bush Administration.

They did say that they would get access to Administration documents, and that Rove and Miers had agreed to testify publicly if called. But the announcement left open the possibility that Rove and Miers could testify in private.

“The Committee has also reserved the right to have public testimony from Rove and Miers,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said in a statement.

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