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Archive for the ‘Justice Department’ Category

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.”

MORE HERE

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Oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig

Report: Criminal Charges Likely Over Oil Spill

TPM MUCKRAKER

Justin Elliott | May 13, 2010, 8:59AM

Environmental law experts tell McClatchy it’s likely the Justice Department will ultimately bring criminal charges against the companies involved in the oil spill, potentially under the Clean Water and Air Acts.

McClatchy reports:

While Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed that Justice Department lawyers are helping the agencies involved in the oil spill inquiry with legal questions, department officials have refused to detail what their role entails.But [Former DOJ environmental crimes section chief David] Uhlmann and other experts said it’s likely prosecutors are already poring over evidence from the spill because under the Clean Water and Air Acts and other federal laws aimed at protecting migratory birds, an accidental oil spill of this magnitude could at least result in misdemeanor negligence charges.

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The Berkeley Daily Planet

Cornell, TP and Yoo

From Matt Cornell
Tuesday April 20, 2010

According to a press release from Los Angeles artist Matt Cornell, students at UC Berkeley were surprised to discover a new brand of toilet paper in the stalls of the law school building this morning.

Cornell made a private donation of ” Yoo Toilet Paper ” protesting the tenure of controversial Bush lawyer, and author of the “torture memos,” Professor John Yoo.

Each roll of toilet paper contains text from the United Nations Convention Against Torture, just one of the many laws that critics say Yoo violated when authorizing the use of torture against detainees.

Cornell says that the irreverent prank is intended to remind Berkeley’s law students that Professor Yoo helped turned human rights laws into toilet paper. At the bottom of each roll is a reminder that “this toilet paper was made by possible by John Yoo, Professor of Law.”

Cornell also notes that his brand of toilet paper is softer and of higher quality than that provided by cash-strapped UC Berkeley and contains “valuable reading material” for law students.

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Yoo: ‘Sure,’ The President Could Order A Village Of Civilians Massacred

TPM Muckraker

Justin Elliott | February 22, 2010, 10:10AM

In John Yoo’s vision of executive power, the president can legally order a village of civilians “massacred,” according to the internal Justice Department report released Friday.

But in a letter (.pdf) sent to the DOJ last October, Yoo’s lawyer, Miguel Estrada, accused the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility of ripping “out of context” Yoo’s statement on the massacre question.

Estrada argues that OPR included the exchange “in an effort to shock the reader and to make clear to all right-thinking people that Professor Yoo is a bad man, indeed.” (See page 5 of the letter.)

The massacre exchange comes during the OPR report’s discussion of Yoo’s August 2002 memo (.pdf) that is widely seen as one of the key opinions authorizing torture.

The document — which is known as the Bybee Memo because it was signed by Yoo’s boss at the Office of Legal Counsel, Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee — argues that the U.S. law banning torture would be unconstitutional if it “impermissibly encroached” on the president’s commander-in-chief power.

An OPR investigator asked Yoo “to explain how the torture statute would interfere with the President’s war making abilities.” Here’s the back-and-forth that followed, which is quoted in the OPR report and was first caught by Michael Isikoff at Newsweek:

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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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New York Times

By PETER BAKER, DAVID JOHNSTON and MARK MAZZETTI
Published: August 27, 2009

Leon E. Panetta, left, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, tried to persuade Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., right, to drop plans to investigate the treatment of C.I.A. detainees.

Leon E. Panetta, left, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, tried to persuade Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., right, to drop plans to investigate the treatment of C.I.A. detainees.

WASHINGTON — With the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate detainee abuses, long-simmering conflicts between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department burst into plain view this week, threatening relations between two critical players on President Obama’s national security team.

The tension between the agencies complicates how the administration handles delicate national security issues, particularly the tracking and capturing of suspected terrorists overseas. It also may distract Mr. Obama, who is trying to move beyond the battles of the Bush years to focus on an ambitious domestic agenda, most notably health care legislation.

The strains became evident inside the administration in the past several weeks. In July, Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, tried to head off the investigation, administration officials said. He sent the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston, to Justice to persuade aides to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to abandon any plans for an inquiry.

More.

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Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Monday, August 24, 2009 — 12:02 AM ET
—–

Justice Dept. Report Advises Pursuing C.I.A. Abuse Cases

The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended
reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a
dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central
Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution
for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a
person officially briefed on the matter.

The recommendation centers mainly on allegations of detainee
abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. It now seems all but certain
that the appointment of a prosecutor or other concrete steps
will follow.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/us/politics/24detain.html?emc=na

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