Abuses of Power

US Military Accused of Blocking the Release of French Hostages
Abuses of Power

AFP: "The Committee of the Ulema, Iraq's top Sunni religious organisation, accused the US Army on Friday of hampering efforts to secure the release of two French journalists kidnapped on August 20. 'We are under the impression that the American forces do not want the hostages to be freed because each time we get near a solution, these forces push for a military escalation,' said Mohammed Ayash al-Kubaisi, the group's representative abroad. 'We believe these forces have political aims, seeking to create a chaotic situation which does not contribute to progress,' Kubaisi told AFP." He said that the US seemed intent on impeding negotiations and actually bombarded the area AFTER learning the two French hostages were there.

Bush/Cheney Put Extremist Ideology above Health Research, Education and Disease Prevention
Abuses of Power

The NY Times reports, "For years, Advocates for Youth, a Washington-based organization devoted to adolescent sexual health, says, it received government grants without much trouble. Then last year it was subjected to three federal reviews. James Wagoner, the president of Advocates for Youth, said the reviews were prompted by concerns among some members of Congress that his group was using public funds to lobby against programs that promoted sexual abstinence before marriage. Although that was not the case, Mr. Wagoner said, the government officials made their point. 'For 20 years, it was about health and science, and now we have a political ideological approach,' he said. 'Never have we experienced a climate of intimidation and censorship as we have today.' [Health and other professionals] have started speaking out against what they say is growing interference from conservatives in and out of government with their work in research, education and disease prevention."

New Expanded Edition of Greg Palast's 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy'
Abuses of Power

Greg Palast writes, "Our President says these are dangerous times, filled with guys with exploding shoes and guys marrying other guys. The solution: have computers sniff your DNA and vote for you. I just couldn't resist adding a fat new chapter to The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Penguin released this Expanded Election Edition this week. The audio CD's out too -- read by Janeane, Amy Goodman, Al Franken, Alec Baldwin, Ed Asner, Jim Hightower." Greg presents his book at the following: 5/03 Hartford (WWUH, U of Hartford; 7:30 PM); 5/07 LA (Immanuel Presb. Church; 7 PM); 5/08 LA (Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; 11 AM); 5/09 San Diego (Meeting Hall, First Unitarian Universalist Church; 7 PM); 5/12 Wash, DC (UDC Van Ness; 7 PM). "Greg Palast is twisted and maniacal." - Katherine Harris. "Greg Palast upsets all the right people." - Noam Chomsky.

Surprise, Surprise: Bush Has Used Air Force One for Political Events 115 More Times than Clinton
Abuses of Power

"Republicans used to complain that President Bill Clinton used Air Force One as his personal campaign plane, taking many official presidential trips that had no real purpose other than to raise reelection funds or drum up votes. But President Bush has been on the go even more than his predecessor, according to an analysis by Brookings Institution visiting scholars Kathryn Dunn Tenpas and Anthony Corrado and research intern Emily Charnock. In his first three years in office, Bush took 416 trips to 46 states, compared with Clinton's 302 trips to 40 states during a similar period. Virginia was Bush's most visited state (not surprising, since presidents often take day trips across the Potomac for public events). More notable, the scholars found, was the heavy proportion of Bush travel to 'swing states' -- those where the vote margin in the 2000 election was within 6 percentage points." Will we hear a peep out of this from the mainstream media?

ACLU Complains to U.N. on Muslim Detainees in U.S.
Abuses of Power

The American Civil Liberties Union Tuesday brought a complaint to the United Nations charging that Muslim immigrants in the United States were unfairly detained and deported in the wake of Sept. 11..It charged U.S. officials "arbitrarily and indiscriminately arrested immigrants unconnected to terrorism or crime." "By asking the United Nations to shine a global spotlight on the U.S. government's indiscriminate round up of immigrants, the ACLU warns the government that it cannot escape justice through secrecy," the ACLU said. "Many of these policies remain in effect and there is a substantial danger that they will be applied again ...," it said.

Police Guns Drawn at High School Drug Raid -- No Drugs Found.
Abuses of Power

KSAT.com writes "A drug sweep Wednesday morning at a South Carolina school has some parents and students questioning police tactics. Surveillance video from Stratford High School in Goose Creek shows 14 officers, some with guns drawn, ordering students to lie the ground as police searched for marijuana. Students who didn't comply with the orders quickly enough were reportedly handcuffed... Police didn't find any criminals in the armed sweep... 'I was just upset knowing they had guns put to their head and a canine was barking at them and about to bite somebody,' said Latonia Simmons, the parent of one student. 'It was awful'"

Total Recall (of Our Rights), And What is To Be Done!
Abuses of Power

Michael Rectenwald writes: "The country is under siege. With the recent accession of California into rightwing territory by means of the purchase of the governorship, we are now nearly at the completion of Project 'Total Recall'--a total recall of the rights of citizens to government of, by and for the people."

DC Cops Admit Illegally Arresting 400 IMF Protesters
Abuses of Power

Buried on Page B2, WashPost reports: "An internal police investigation into the roundup of protesters and bystanders at a Washington park last September found that all 400 people were wrongfully arrested. The internal report, released yesterday by order of a federal judge, also said that a federal police official on the scene had earlier warned D.C. police that the mass arrests would be improper. The report revealed significant contradictions between what top city officials have said publicly about the controversial Sept. 27, 2002, arrests at Pershing Park and what they knew privately about the tightly held investigative findings. In a confidential memo to Mayor Williams in March, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey acknowledged that his assistant chief ordered arrests of everyone in the police-cordoned park - without giving an order for protesters to disperse - and that police had blocked people who wished to leave."

Accenture (formerly Anderson Consulting) Wins Contract to Rig Votes of Military Personnel in Next Election
Abuses of Power

"Just a month after acquiring election.com, IT consulting firm Accenture has won a contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish trial Internet voting for overseas U.S. personnel for the 2004 elections. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Accenture will support the DoD's Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) in the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE), which Congress has mandated as way to improve voting opportunities for Americans. The SERVE program allows for absentee balloting for U.S. personnel using any Windows-based computer with an Internet connection." So now after being screwed in Iraq, our troops will be screwed at the polls, Florida-style.

Pre-Emptive Police Strikes: Seattle Police Use Pepper Stray and Rubber Bullets to 'Prevent a Riot'
Abuses of Power

"Demonstrators accused police on Tuesday of using excessive force in dispersing a crowd of up to 700 protesters with pepper spray and rubber bullets on Monday, but top officials defended the action, saying they helped prevent a riot. Seattle's police department... said its use of pepper spray and rubber bullets on Monday night was necessary because the crowd became violent during demonstrations to protest a meeting of law enforcement officials from around the country... Seattle police in riot gear and regular uniforms dispersed a crowd of 400 to 700 people who had gathered to protest the five-day meeting of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU), a group on intelligence agents from police departments across the United States. Police said they made 12 arrests while moving the crowd away from the hotel where the LEIU seminars are being held." Sounds like the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emption is being applied by the police. How soon until 'Minority Report' will be reality?

GOP 'Secret Police' Go after Byrd and Wise -- While Jeb Bush's Outrageous Abuse of Power Remains Swept under Media Rug
Abuses of Power

Cheryl Seal writes: "The attack on Bob Wise shows how the GOP 'secret police' works. First, the CIA or FBI is subverted, charged with digging up anything on a target even vaguely resembling dirt. (look what they did for the case against Iraq!). These taxpayer-paid spies report back to HQ - the White House. There 'senior officials' call contacts in the corporate media. The media, armed with inside info, swing into action. Invoking the Freedom of Information Act, they demand transcripts of Bob Wise's e-mail between certain dates. End result: today, the corporate media, including the Post and the MediaGroup-owned 'Charleston Daily Mail' have plastered Wise's story - including copies of emails - across their pages. Meanwhile, the far more outrageous case of Jeb Bush and Cynthia Henderson remains swept under the media rug."

Bush Administration Wants to Create 'SuperStore' of Deadly Pathogens at Taxpayer Expense
Abuses of Power

Despite repeated warnings by scientists, the Bush-controlled National Institutes of Health is moving ahead with plans to build three large laboratories for research on the deadliest known microbes, increasing the odds that a disease such as Ebola virus could escape or be deliberately released into the general population. Two of the facilities will be operated by private interests, with taxpayers footing the bills for construction and research. A total of 10 labs are planned. ''This is a recipe for disaster,'' Eileen Choffnes of the National Academy of Sciences Committee for International Security and Arms Control. ''These laboratories might become a pathogen-modification training academy or a biowarfare agent 'superstore.' The physical tools and technology of bioterror are relatively cheap. It's the knowledge and experience of working with pathogens that's priceless.'' Yep - like the expertise of the STILL unapprehended anthrax killer.

Nepotism Nominees
Abuses of Power

"Bush designated Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to be acting solicitor for the Labor Department. Scalia had been Labor's solicitor since January, when he was installed as a recess appointment while the Democratic-controlled Senate was on break. Scalia can serve in the acting capacity for 210 days, leaving plenty of time for Bush to renominate him and for the Senate, soon to be under Republican control, to confirm him. In a similar action, the State Department said Otto J. Reich, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, would become Bush's 'special envoy to the Western Hemisphere.' Though Reich's principal deputy will become the acting secretary, Reich will continue in 'the same function,' said State spokesman Philip Reeker. Reich was installed as a recess appointee at the same time as Scalia. His new post does not require Senate confirmation, although it is possible Reich will later be renominated to his old job."

Family Values
Abuses of Power

Paul Krugman writes: "America, we know, is the land of opportunity. Your success in life depends on your ability and drive, not on who your father was....It has always been good to have a rich or powerful father....But the past is only prologue. According to one study...the heritability of status has been increasing in recent decades. And that's just the beginning. Underlying economic, social and political trends will give the children of today's wealthy huge advantage over those who chose the wrong parents....the spectacular increase in American inequality has made the gap between the rich and the middle class wider, and hence more difficult to cross, than it was in the past. Meanwhile, one key doorway to upward mobility -- a good education system, available to all --has been closing....For years, opinion leaders have told us that it's all about family values. And it is -- but it will take a while before most people realize that they meant the value of coming from the right family."

Homeland Security Bill Makes 'Big Brother' A Reality
Abuses of Power

Even an extreme rightwinger as William Safire sees that the Homeland "Security" bill is intended to destroy our civil liberties. He warns that every time we make a financial transaction, use the Internet, or do anything that creates a record anywhere, the information will be added to a government database. He also reminds us that the government official in charge of this database, John Poindexter, was convicted of crimes in the Iran/Contra scandals. At the same time that this criminal is grabbing for unlimited authority to know what Americans are doing, the *White* House is gutting the Freedom of Information Act, eliminating Americans' ability to find out what the government is doing.

More Public Revelations Of The Lies Created By The U.S. Government's Chief Propaganda Advisers
Abuses of Power

Asia Times Online reports that much of the work done by the now-infamous Rendon Group, the U.S. military's primary vendor of misinformation, has turned out to be temporarily useful but later repudiated as untrue. But this happened long after the action military planners wished to receive from their Congressional "overseers" had been taken. Chilling.

Bush Uses HHS Funds For Campaigning
Abuses of Power

It isn't enough that Bush always contrives some "public" appearance during his endless campaign trips, so part of the expense can be billed to the White House travel budget -- that is, to the taxpayers. Now we find out he's been tapping the budgets of government agencies for the travel, so he doesn't exceed his own travel budget. For example, he's used $210,000 allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services. As David Sirota, Democratic spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said of this raid on the agency budget: "This money is clearly meant to feed poor children and families, not to feed the [W's] fundraising addiction."

Predators, Snipers and the Posse Comitatus Act
Abuses of Power

Writes Kurt Nimmo for Counterpunch: "If you live in Falls Church, Virginia, and you see a funny looking aircraft circling over your neighborhood don't be alarmed. It's just the Pentagon looking for the sniper. CNN says Rummy wants to help out, so he has approved 'military reconnaissance' of undetermined origin to snoop around the Washington area. CNN says the Pentagon has not disclosed what kind of equipment will be used. Yet earlier in the day I saw a report indicating the military will use General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator UAV drones. They even showed video footage of the damn things. Rummy just shot another big hole in the Posse Comitatus Act. It's looked like Swiss cheese for years, ever since the military was 'enlisted' to combat evil drug dealers. You know, drug dealers who sell CIA certified heroin and cocaine on the streets of American cities."

Intelligence Officials Denounce Bushfeld's Iraq-Al Qaeda Lies and Say They are Being Pressured to 'Cook the Intelligence Books'
Abuses of Power

Top US "officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses - including distorting his links to the al Qaeda terrorist network - have overstated the amount of international support for attacking Iraq and have downplayed the potential repercussions of a new war in the Middle East. They charge that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the US that pre-emptive military action is necessary. 'Analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books,' said one official, on condition of anonymity. A dozen other officials echoed his views in interviews. No one who was interviewed disagreed." This is criminal abuse of power - we demand a Congressional investigation!

Hiding the Losses - The Bush/Enron Way
Abuses of Power

"Close a bigger deal. Hide the loss before the 1Q." -- Thomas White, now Secretary of the Army (in a February 2001 e-mail, while Vice President to Enron Energy Services). Bridget Gibson writes, "Since November 7, 2000, the losses have been piling up" - from the Stolen Election, to the Bush Administration's failures before and after 9-11, to the massive increase in our national debt. "I'm sure that Kenny Boy and Dick and George and Tom could arrange with some of the creative accountants from Arthur Anderson that have been laid off to find a way to hide some of their nefarious dealings, but there will be no way to hide losses like these."

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Demands Answers from the FBI about Illegal Activities
Abuses of Power

"U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, citing a [SF] Chronicle report that detailed wide-ranging and unlawful FBI activities at the University of California, has asked FBI Director Robert Mueller whether the bureau is currently involved in similar intelligence operations. In a pointed letter expressing her 'deep concern' about The Chronicle's disclosures, Feinstein also asked Mueller to outline steps taken to prevent the FBI from again misusing its power for political purposes... For years the FBI denied engaging in misconduct at the University of California. But The Chronicle reported on June 9 that thousands of pages of FBI records obtained as a result of a 17-year legal battle showed that the bureau had conducted unlawful intelligence activities at the nation's largest public university in the 1950s and 1960s... 'Who ordered the original investigation of Clark Kerr?' Feinstein asked Mueller. 'Who ordered that the investigation of Kerr continue even when no evidence was found against him?'"

The Bush Reich Power Grab Is Watergate, Part II -- Attack Of The Rum-Cheney Retreads
Abuses of Power

Salon's Bruce Shapiro writes, "It is really only in the light of Watergate that the Bush administration's actions since Sept. 11 make sense. Just as the Reagan administration saw its job as undoing New Deal-descended corporate regulation, so has Bush & Co. systematically exploited the terror attacks to undo Watergate-era reforms reining in the executive branch. Each day's tit-for-tat, blame-the-other-guy leaks from the FBI and CIA make it more and more clear that prior to Sept. 11 neither agency suffered from an inability to spy, wiretap or otherwise collect information. Instead, the administration has shrewdly manipulated public opinion to accomplish something sought by Watergate-era Republicans like Cheney and Rumsfeld ever since: a restoration of the imperial presidency."

NRDC Seeks Evidence that Bush Bullied Costa Rica to Help Oil Cronies
Abuses of Power

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a request to investigate White House pressure on the Costa Rican government to allow oil drilling off its coast. Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco is considered pro-environment, a stance that didn't sit too well with Bush's buddies at Harken energy (his old company) when Pacheco turned down their bid to ruin their coast. Sources in Costa Rica tell the NRDC that ever since Pacheco snubbed Harken, the U.S. State Department has put pressure on him to let drilling go forward. Once again, Bu$h appears to be using his office to try to subvert the policies of other countries to his cronies' benefit!

'The Dick'tator Cheney Obstructs Multiple Inquiries: 911, Ridge, GAO and Enron
Abuses of Power

"Add to your Cheney scorecard his decree that there will be no broad congressional access to the complete Aug. 6 memorandum suggesting that agents with ties to Osama bin Laden might be planning to hijack... aircraft, and no independent investigation. That's on top of the Cheney decree that Tom Ridge needn't testify before Congress on the specific work of the Office of Homeland Security. Which is on top of the Cheney decree that the [GAO], the investigating arm of Congress, will not get information it requested on the particulars of Cheney's energy task force... On top of the Cheney decree that the Senate will not be made privy to particulars about administration information about Enron... Congress, in the name of the American people, should insist on an independent investigation of intelligence failures in this administration... And yet there is more at stake. We might have a dictator in America, Dicktator Cheney, but we don't have a Dictatorship. Yet." Impeach Cheney and Bush!

Washington Times Reports the Obvious: The White House Issues Threats of Future Terrorist Attacks not to Prepare the American People but to Quiet its Critics
Abuses of Power

Ari Fleischer admitted yesterday that the Bush administration's coordinated message this week was a deliberate attempt to stiffle criticism of the administration's misandling of the advanced warnings of a terrorist attack last year. Vice President Cheney called future terrorist strikes "almost certain," FBI director Robert Mueller called suicide bombings "inevitable," and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used the same word to describe the likelihood of attacks on Americans here at home with weapons of mass destruction. No specific threats underlie these observations, said Fleischer, other than the threat that Congressional hearings into the matter would expose the Bush Administration's complacency and mishandling of national security.

Bush Shreds International Treaties Like Toilet Paper
Abuses of Power

The UK Guardian writes, "George Bush's rejection of numerous international treaties has led to accusations of rampant US unilateralism, although his administration has supported some organisations and agreements. Sarah Left takes a look at the winners and losers." Is the world a better place under Bush? And does Congress have any constitutional say in treaty dissolution, or is it just a unilateral royal function? Where is the outrage???

Remembering Iran-Contra: 'Those Who Forget the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It'
Abuses of Power

"The accepted rules of covert operations were made to order for North's purposes. Compartmentation, deniability, secrecy were the watchwords of these operations...Those not in the compartment made it their business not to know. Alan Fiers, chief of the CIA's Central American task force, candidly admitted, 'we remained in the status of willful ignorance'... Poindexter was encouraged in this mania for compartmentation by President Reagan. 'It was a very small narrow circle of people who needed to know,'...Thousands of relevant documents survived mainly because they were unexpectedly rescued from the machines that sent and received messages...Above all, covert operations prized 'deniability' or...termed, 'plausible deniability.' Since such operations were inherently dangerous, politically or otherwise, it was not enough to carry them out; ideally, they were set up in such way that they could be disavowed if they miscarried."

No Shame: Iran-Contra Accomplice Otto Reich Named to School of Americas' Board
Abuses of Power

"Otto Reich has been named to the Board of Visitors at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA)…Reich has a history of aiding coups and known terrorists…The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in documented human rights abuses and atrocities. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution… as US ambassador to Venezuela, Reich used his office to help Orlando Bosch, a known terrorist, get into the US…[as Bush's new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs] Reich admittedly advised Pedro Carmona, the businessman who seized the presidency during the failed coup in Venezuela last month. Also he met with generals who planned the coup in the months leading up to the coup (some of whom were trained at the SOA)." (CounterPunch Newswire)

Head of KPMG Says SEC's Pitt Discussed Potential Fraud Investigation with Him
Abuses of Power

"Harvey L. Pitt, chairman of the SEC, denied he had discussed a fraud investigation with the head of KPMG, which had once been a client, despite a memorandum to the contrary from the firm's new chief executive. In a memo sent...the firm's new chairman and chief executive, Eugene D. O'Kelly, said that in his 'first official act' he met privately with Mr. Pitt...and urged him to drop the agency's investigation into the firm for its auditing of Xerox...Xerox settled a lawsuit last month with the SEC by paying a $10 million fine, and federal officials are now considering whether to bring a case against KPMG and several partners for aiding in a scheme that overstated Xerox profits by $3 billion over four years...Experts said today that Mr. O'Kelly's memo, if accurate, illustrated a new climate at the agency that encouraged senior executives and former clients of Mr. Pitt to attempt to influence commission decisions through him."

Bush Administration Forces EPA Ombudsman Robert Martin Out
Abuses of Power

The long battle between EPA watchdog Robert Martin and Bush appointee Christie Whitman came to an end with Martin's angry resignation. Whitman has been trying to transfer Martin for months and made his work of overseeing the EPA so difficult that he couldn't do his job properly, obviously because she didn't like the questions Martin raised about her financial ties to the owner of a Denver Superfund site. Martin had also questioned whether Whitman's ties to a New York insurance firm influenced the EPA's premature proclamation that air around the disaster site was safe. The last straw came when Whitman had the gall to change the locks to keep Martin out of his own office. This is a clear abuse of Whitman's power, and we demand an investigation!

Congress to Bush: Your Executive Order Violates the Law on Presidential Records
Abuses of Power

Rep. Steve Horn (R-CA) introduced legislation this week that would annul Bush's Executive Order #13233 - W's effort to protect his father, Bush 41, from public scrutiny of his official records. Rep. Horn wrote that EO #13233 "violates the letter and the spirit" of existing law on presidential records. Twenty Democrats and two Republicans, including the conservative chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), joined in co-sponsoring the bill. Bush has defended his executive order, saying that it allows the government to "protect state secrets." Right! And family secrets, too! What is Bush trying to hide???

Cuba Calls Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich a 'Terrorist'
Abuses of Power

"We are faced with an accomplice of drug-trafficking, terrorism and genocide in Central America," state commentator Randy Alfonso, who is a mouthpiece for the Castro government's opinions......In a list of derogatory epithets, Granma called Otto Reich a "spokesman" for the Cuban American "mafia"; "godfather" of anti-Castro extremists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch accused of masterminding the bombing of a Cuban jet in 1976 that killed 73 people; a "professional liar" during the Iran-Contra scandal; and a "mediocre and plodding" man. Otto Reich = Terrorist. George W. Bush appointed Otto Reich. Does this mean George W. Bush is harboring and supporting a worldwide terrorist? Yes it does. Impeach him NOW!

America Dragged Back to the Dark Ages by Bush: Torture Not Just Condoned, but Arranged by US
Abuses of Power

The Washington Post reports, "Since Sept. 11, the U.S. government has secretly transported dozens of people suspected of links to terrorists to countries other than the United States, bypassing extradition procedures and legal formalities, according to Western diplomats and intelligence sources. The suspects have been taken to countries, including Egypt and Jordan, whose intelligence services have close ties to the CIA and where they can be subjected to interrogation tactics -- including torture and threats to families -- that are illegal in the United States, the sources said. In some cases, U.S. intelligence agents remain closely involved in the interrogation, the sources said." Congratulations, Tim Russert, you got your wish! Where is the outrage???

The Bush Secret Bunker Government is What Bush REALLY wants
Abuses of Power

"In a banner headline on Friday, The Washington Post blared: 'Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret...' This is news? The president [sic] did that on Jan. 20, 2001. But it turns out that after Sept. 11... he did it again. He formed a secret government within a secret government... It suits this administration to a T- ball, reflecting its twin obsessions with secrecy and self-perpetuation... Now Mr. Cheney is Lord of the Rings, ruling over his very own Moria, an underground kingdom of bureaucratic hobbits and orcs... In the bunker, the Bush-Cheney dream of ruling without justifying their actions is beautifully realized... Sixty feet under, the vice president will never be sued by the General Accounting Office. Executive privilege is safe when the only branch is executive... The Bush bunker does not bother with bipartisanship or even the pretense of it. It is all about blank checks and carte blanche." So writes NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Senate Democrats Angered over Bush's Recess Appointments of Otto Reich and Eugene Scalia
Abuses of Power

During the Senate recess, "Bush appointed Otto Reich as the new assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and Eugene Scalia to the post of solicitor of the U.S. Labor Department...Angry at the appointments, Senate Democrats threaten to further slow the confirmation process and delay consideration of presidential legislative priorities." Of course, Lott "'believes that these [other] important nominees that are vital to our national security and fighting the war on terrorism were held up by Senate Democrats on the very last day of the session,' said Ron Bonjean, Lott's spokesman. 'It's very disconcerting and we hope they are confirmed as soon as possible.'" Are we to expect more nominees like Iran-Contra figures Reich, John Negroponte and Elliot Abrams? How does appointing these accomplices in Reagan/Bush-sponsored terrorism help with the 'War on Terrorism'? That makes about as much sense as claiming that the appointment of the election-stealing Scalia's son shows that Bush believes in Democracy!

Another Bush Scandal Emerging? Did EPA Chief Christine Todd Whitman Abuse Her Office in a Conflict of Interest?
Abuses of Power

"The ombudsman for the Environmental Protection Agency says he was punished by administrator Christine Todd Whitman after he opposed an agreement to sharply limit the amount of money financial titan Citigroup – a principal investor in Whitman's husband's venture capital firm -- would have to pay in a controversial Superfund cleanup case. EPA ombudsman Robert J. Martin, who functions as the agency's public interest advocate, alleges that Whitman ordered his office reassigned within the EPA bureaucracy and stripped of its independence after he opposed a nuclear-waste cleanup settlement with Citigroup that would limit its liability to a fraction of the cleanup cost. Martin made the conflict of interest charge against Whitman in a lawsuit filed Jan. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia... Through a spokesperson, Whitman denied Martin's charges." So writes Mark Hertsgaard for Salon.

Rightwing Dan Burton Caught in Truth-Telling Episode On The Hill!
Abuses of Power

When you have an ultra-right member of the House calling Resident Bush "dictator" and "king," in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, this can't be good. Conservative Indiana Republican, Dan Burton, lashed out at Carl Thorsen, a deputy assistant attorney general who was attempting to introduce a superior who was testifying on Thursday: "We've got a dictatorial president [sic] and a Justice Department that does not want Congress involved. ...Your guy's acting like he's king." Burton was referring to Bu$h's claims made Wednesday of "executive privilege," a moot point since nary a business leader or politician would ever bestow the title of "executive" on GWBu$h. Democrats are poised to resist the oncoming Constitutional crises.

What A Coincidence?
Abuses of Power

From a Buzzflash editorial: "After a several day public relations buildup, the Bush administration released an incriminating videotape of Osama bin Laden today. Why did they go through a clearly strategic delay in letting the public see the tape? BuzzFlash believes that the timing of the release was calculated to minimize coverage of two other announcements on Thursday: Bush formally stated that he will pull out of the ABM treaty, and he also claimed executive privilege on information sought Congress. By creating a heightened curiosity about the video, the Karl Rove PR machine followed the classic Hollywood publicity technique of building up excitement for a movie to draw record crowds to the opening night."

Internecine Power Struggle Brewing Between the Bush Gang and the Far Right Faction of Congress; Dan Burton To Hold Hearings into Misuse of Executive Privilege By Bush
Abuses of Power

"Bush invoked executive privilege for the first time Thursday to keep Congress from seeing documents of prosecutors' decision-making in cases...prior to a congressional hearing on the Boston case involving the FBI's handling of informants...Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, the Republican House chairman whose committee sought the documents, decried the decision and said it wrongly handicapped Congress for overseeing the government. 'This is not a monarchy,' Burton said at the start of Thursday's hearing. 'The legislative branch has oversight responsibility to make sure there is no corruption in the executive branch.' Burton said for the time being he would hold additional investigative hearings into whether Bush was misusing executive privilege. Another option would be for Burton to take the president to court for contempt of Congress...but that would require the cooperation of the full Congress."

Talkin' About the F-Word
Abuses of Power

In short, we appear to be at one of those moments in American history where the executive branch, using the genuine need to respond to a terrorist attack of massive proportions, is badly over-reaching in both domestic and foreign areas. (The first draft of Ashcroft's anti-terrorism law even recommended suspension of the rule of habeas corpus, which would have allowed for indefinite incarceration without charges or trials.) The Administration figures it can get away with its current actions, and assume even more power, because the Congress and the American people are frightened and willing to bend over backwards to make sure the President has the power he needs during "wartime."

Former President Carter Criticizes Bush Military Tribunals
Abuses of Power

"President [sic] Bush's order authorizing military tribunals for suspected terrorists threatens to undermine the United State's reputation for justice and its ability to promote peace, former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday. At the start of a symposium on peace and justice, Carter added his voice to those criticizing last month's executive order for a special military tribunal that could put accused terrorists on trial faster and in greater secrecy than an ordinary criminal court. Carter said he was 'deeply concerned' the United States could weaken its international reputation and its ability to work for peace following the Afghanistian conflict."

Spanish Prime Minister Aznar Avoids Confrontation Over Bush-Ashcroft Inquisitions
Abuses of Power

"Spain and the United States avoided a potential clash on Wednesday over the possible extradition of eight suspected al Qaeda members to face an American trial for alleged links to the Sept. 11 attacks. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar told President Bush he was willing to study their extradition for trial in the United States if needed, while the White House gave no indication such a request would be coming soon...Spain has said its laws would block the extradition of suspects who could face the death penalty or trial outside of the regular U.S. court system -- including trials in military tribunals. But Aznar appeared to soften that position on Wednesday, saying 'if and when the United States requests that extradition, we will study the issue'...The plan, not yet put into practice, has come under heavy criticism at home and abroad for going around America's traditional court system. Aznar did not complain about the tribunals."