Monday, October 16, 2006

Eye on the DOJ/Civil Rights Watch for 10/16: All Hands on the Internet, the Porn Squad, the Abu Ghraib Sex Ring, and another Gitmo Investigation

Eye on the DOJ/Civil Rights Watch for 10/16: All Hands on the Internet, the Porn Squad, the Abu Ghraib Sex Ring, and another Gitmo Investigation

Full plate today for EotD/CRW; the guys in the Administration have their hands full with the issues that are important to the American people, like regulating the Internet, checking whether people possess pornography, and torture. Okay, that last one, that might be an important one, but for all the reasons that the Administration doesn’t care about.

America has become a very strange place; in the five years since 9/11, it seems as though any terrible act, any shock to the body politic, has become an excuse to remove more civil liberties. See the Patriot act, or the recent screwing over of habeus corpus. I don’t really understand how stealing our freedoms makes us any safer, but hey, I’m not paid the big bucks to run the country. Now comes the inevitable freedom-limiter for the Foley scandal: a movement to store every user’s browsing history. This certainly couldn’t be used against a political foe, could it? Oh, Alberto, you always make me smile!
Washington, D.C. - Scripps Howard Foundation Wire - infoZine - "Already we can see the rumblings of legislation in Congress," said Tim Lordan, executive director of the advisory committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus. "It's definitely going to color the debate."

But parents of Web-browsing children should not view Foley as the classic example of an Internet predator, Lordan said.

"His interactions with these teenagers were begun with notes in the hallway, walks for ice cream down the street. I mean, he attended the pages' graduation," he said.

Yet parental fear fueled by recent events could encourage legislators to push for more stringent Internet laws, Lordan said.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., are among public officials who support legislation that would require data retention, which would force Internet service providers to document and store all users' online activities.

"One thing we've continuously heard from state and local investigators and prosecutors is that many Internet Service Providers don't retain records for a sufficient period of time," Gonzales told a Senate committee Sept. 19.

He said a department task force is working on the issue.
Now here’s something I bet you didn’t even know: registered sex offenders, even if they have served their time, are “free” for the rest of their lives to be convenient targets of local and federal sweeps. So, say, a District Attorney up for re-election decides he or shee needs to look tough on crime. Who would be the obvious target? Why, sex offenders, the easiest group to demonize. Who gives a damn about them? Not many people, apparently. Please note, I am not defending the sex offenders’ actions, but time served is time served, and also that “child porn” is cited as the “all the way up to” in this story. That means that these guys could easily have been nabbed for petty violations. Convenient, no?
Federal and local law enforcement officers swept through Calaveras and Tuolumne counties this week, checking on registered child sex offenders and whether there were any signs of child pornography in their homes.

Calaveras County Sheriff's investigators and a Modesto-area FBI agent, went to the homes of 21 registered sex offenders yesterday and Wednesday. The officers were checking that the felons were living at their registered addresses and to see if there was any salacious material at their house.

Two men were arrested — Jimmy Ray Arnold, 47, of the 5500 block of Hallas Drive, Mokelumne Hill, was arrested on a parole violation and Richard Darrell Cadle Jr., 40, of the 400 block of Main Street, West Point was arrested on a probation violation. Sheriff's officials refused to disclose why they suspect these two men were not following parole or probation rules.

"It could have been something as simple as possessing alcohol all the way to having child pornography," said Calaveras County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Seawell. "The investigators are not releasing the circumstances on the arrests yet."

Of 14 men targeted in Tuolumne County, none were out of compliance, said Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Zelinsky. Investigators did arrest two men, on unrelated misdemeanor warrants, he said.
Speaking of porn, hot off the heels of his comment about Teddy Kennedy, Christopher Shays (R-Conn) continues to prove that he’s losing his damned mind. Apparently, in that weird, twisted mind, Abu Ghraib was about torture and sex and pornography, but absolutely not torture. But yet it was torture? Just what the hell is he saying here?

HARTFORD, Conn. --Republican Rep. Christopher Shays, who is in a tough re-election fight, said Friday the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were more about pornography than torture.

The veteran Connecticut congressman said a National Guard unit was primarily responsible for the abuses although it was actually the 372nd Military Police Company from Cresaptown, Md., an Army Reserve unit.

"It was a National Guard unit run amok," Shays said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It was torture because sex abuse is torture. It was gross and despicable ... This is more about pornography than torture."

Shays sought to defuse controversy over his previous comments suggesting the Abu Ghraib abuses weren't torture but instead involved a sex ring of troops.

"Now I've seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture," Shays said at a debate Wednesday.

"It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from (Maryland) who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked," added Shays. "And they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture."

The lawmaker's comments were in a transcript of the debate provided by his opponent, Diane Farrell. Shays' campaign, contacted Friday, did not dispute the comments.
Finally, well, well, looks like the military is continuing to defend its own, or something like that. After all the instances of torture perpetrators getting off with no sentences or not investigated at all (check those links, I dare ya), the military is now proving that it’s not afraid to get tough on whistleblowers:
MIAMI — The U.S. Marine Corps has threatened to punish two members of the military legal team representing a terrorism suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay if they continue to speak publicly about reported prisoner abuse, a civilian lawyer from the defense team said Saturday.

The action directed at Lt. Col. Colby Vokey and Sgt. Heather Cerveny follows their report last week that Guantanamo guards bragged about beating detainees, said Muneer Ahmad, an American University law professor who assists in the defense of Canadian suspect Omar Khadr.

The order has heightened fears among the military defense lawyers for Guantanamo prisoners that their careers will suffer for exposing flaws and injustices in the system, Ahmad said.

"In one fell swoop, the government is gagging a defense lawyer and threatening retaliation against a whistle-blower," Ahmad said. "It really points out what is wrong with the detainee legislation that Bush is scheduled to sign on Tuesday: It permits the abuse of detainees to continue, immunizes the wrongdoers and precludes the detainees from ever challenging it in court."

The Marine Corps said the gag order had been issued to ensure the legal team's actions were in compliance with professional standards. "The Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps, as Lt. Col. Vokey's direct supervisor, has directed him not to communicate with the media on this case pending her review of the facts," said 1st Lt. Blanca E. Binstock of the Marine public affairs office.

Defense lawyers for Guantanamo prisoners say the personal stakes are high and point to the Navy's failure to promote Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift after he successfully challenged the legitimacy of the Pentagon's war-crimes commissions. Two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled the commissions unconstitutional and lacking in due process, Swift was passed over for advancement and will be forced by the Navy's up-or-out policy to retire by summer.

At least three other military defense lawyers for the 10 charged terrorism suspects have also been passed over for promotion in what some consider a subtle reprimand of their vigorous defense of their clients.

"We've all known that representing folks in these kind of circumstances would have consequences, but to actually see Charlie passed over after he takes his case to the Supreme Court and wins — that certainly put it in the forefront for me," said Army Maj. Tom Fleener, who represents Ali Hamza Bahlul of Yemen.

What a week.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:45 AM