Friday, February 24, 2006

Sedition Returning to Its Former Glory; Detention Centers for Fifth Columnists: how much longer does Freedom of Speech have?

I...I don't even know what to say. This is scary, reprehensible, and downright disgusting.

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'
By Nat Parry
Consortium News

Tuesday 21 February 2006

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration's domestic operations - Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

"I stand by this President's ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the President already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas."

In less paranoid times, Graham's comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways - ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.

Top US officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush's actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers" in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Detention Centers

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]

Later, the New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." [Feb. 4, 2006]

Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for bilking US taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services.

"It's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California.

Less attention centered on the phrase "rapid development of new programs" and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these "new programs" might be.

Only a few independent journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration might actually be thinking.

Scott speculated that the "detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law." He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 "readiness exercise," which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 "refugees," in the event of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States.

Farrell pointed out that because "another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge" of immigrants flooding across the border.

Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, "Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They've already done this on a smaller scale, with the 'special registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

Labor Camps

There also was another little-noticed item posted at the US Army Web site, about the Pentagon's Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program "provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations."

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a "rapid action revision" on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a "template for developing agreements" between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army's labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to "establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him" and "make available ... the services of United States prisoners" to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Though the timing of the document's posting - within the past few weeks - may just be a coincidence, the reference to a "rapid action revision" and the KBR contract's contemplation of "rapid development of new programs" have raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency.

These developments also are drawing more attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve the Pentagon in "counter-terrorism" operations inside the United States.

Pentagon Surveillance

Despite the Posse Comitatus Act's prohibitions against US military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as its role in domestic surveillance activities.

The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States. [Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2005]

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.

The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about US citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don't seem to think that new laws are even necessary.

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2006, the US Army's top intelligence officer wrote, "Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting US person information."

Drawing a distinction between "collecting" information and "receiving" information on US citizens, the memo argued that "MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime." [See, Jan. 31, 2005]

This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of US citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.

There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn't discuss the details without breaking classification laws.

Tice added that the "special access" surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. [UPI, Feb. 14, 2006]

With this expanded surveillance, the government's list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center's central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a four-fold increase since the fall of 2003.

Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA's domestic surveillance program, an NCTC official told the Post, "Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA."

Homeland Defense

As the administration scoops up more and more names, members of Congress also have questioned the elasticity of Bush's definitions for words like terrorist "affiliates," used to justify wiretapping Americans allegedly in contact with such people or entities.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the wiretap program, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, complained that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees "have not been briefed on the scope and nature of the program."

Feinstein added that, therefore, the committees "have not been able to explore what is a link or an affiliate to al-Qaeda or what minimization procedures (for purging the names of innocent people) are in place."

The combination of the Bush administration's expansive reading of its own power and its insistence on extraordinary secrecy has raised the alarm of civil libertarians when contemplating how far the Pentagon might go in involving itself in domestic matters.

A Defense Department document, entitled the "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support," has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an "active, layered defense" both inside and outside US territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the ... US homeland."

The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." The plan "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."

But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges "threats" and who falls under the category "those who would harm us." A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity's TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.

In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 "suspicious incidents" over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a "threat."

The Defense Department also might be moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part of its overall war strategy.

A secret Pentagon "Information Operations Roadmap," approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "full spectrum" information operations and notes that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa."

"PSYOPS messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [US government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."

It calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.

Similar to the distinction the Pentagon draws between "collecting" and "receiving" intelligence on US citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long as the American public is not intentionally "targeted," any PSYOP propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.

The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy for taking over the Internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing the Web as a potential military adversary. The "roadmap" speaks of "fighting the net," and implies that the Internet is the equivalent of "an enemy weapons system."

In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration's perception that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.

"Let there be no doubt, the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place," Rumsfeld said.

The Department of Homeland Security also has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with domestic crises.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the department dispatched "heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, (and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans," reported journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.

Noting the reputation of the Blackwater mercenaries as "some of the most feared professional killers in the world," Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater's presence in New Orleans "raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here."

US Battlefield

In the view of some civil libertarians, a form of martial law already exists in the United States and has been in place since shortly after the 9/11 attacks when Bush issued Military Order No. 1 which empowered him to detain any non-citizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.

"The President decided that he was no longer running the country as a civilian President," wrote civil rights attorney Michael Ratner in the book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know. "He issued a military order giving himself the power to run the country as a general."

For any American citizen suspected of collaborating with terrorists, Bush also revealed what's in store. In May 2002, the FBI arrested US citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago on suspicion that he might be an al-Qaeda operative planning an attack.

Rather than bring criminal charges, Bush designated Padilla an "enemy combatant" and had him imprisoned indefinitely without benefit of due process. After three years, the administration finally brought charges against Padilla, in order to avoid a Supreme Court showdown the White House might have lost.

But since the Court was not able to rule on the Padilla case, the administration's arguments have not been formally repudiated. Indeed, despite filing charges against Padilla, the White House still asserts the right to detain US citizens without charges as enemy combatants.

This claimed authority is based on the assertion that the United States is at war and the American homeland is part of the battlefield.

"In the war against terrorists of global reach, as the Nation learned all too well on Sept. 11, 2001, the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield," Bush's lawyers argued in briefs to the federal courts. [Washington Post, July 19, 2005]

Given Bush's now open assertions that he is using his "plenary" - or unlimited - powers as Commander in Chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from government actions.

As former Vice President Al Gore asked after recounting a litany of sweeping powers that Bush has asserted to fight the War on Terror, "Can it be true that any President really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is 'yes,' then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited?"

In such extraordinary circumstances, the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration means by the "rapid development of new programs," which might require the construction of a new network of detention camps.

Posted by crimnos @ 12:15 PM :: (1) comments

The Downward Spiral Continues: Milita Groups Take to the Streets of Baghdad

God, it just keeps getting worse.

Violence spreads in Iraq as militia groups take to the streets

By Nancy A. Youssef and Tom Lasseter
Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sectarian killings spread through Iraq on Thursday, leaving more than 120 dead as gunmen patrolled neighborhoods across the country and fears rose that the nation was careening toward open civil war.

Police reported that at least 129 Iraqis had been killed in the 36 hours since a group of men in Samarra - widely presumed to be from Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim population - detonated two bombs that destroyed the golden dome of one of Shiite Islam's most important shrines. Most of the 129 dead were Sunni, police said.

The U.S. military said seven American soldiers had been killed in two roadside bombings Wednesday, both north of Baghdad.

Late Thursday night, state television announced a curfew banning foot and vehicle traffic until 4 p.m. Friday in four central provinces, including predominantly Sunni areas. The extraordinary measure is intended to control crowds at Friday prayers at mosques, a potential flash point for violence, especially at Sunni mosques damaged by the violence of the past two days.

As Iraqi politicians took to the airwaves to calm the populace, many in the nation said they'd lost confidence that the government and its security forces could protect them. Residents from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra said it was now up to private citizens to take up arms.

A resurgence of private armies would be troublesome for U.S. officials, who've hung hopes of withdrawing American troops on establishing a democratically elected government and self-sufficient security forces. Instead, the government struggled

Thursday to assert its authority over a tense situation in a country in which private militias controlled by religious or ethnic groups already have effective control of many cities.

Iraqi government leaders had been in the midst of tortured negotiations over the shape of the new government, more than two months after the elections. The violence promised to delay - or derail - the process, even as Sunni and Shiite religious leaders called for peace. Sunni leaders said Thursday that they'd boycott the discussions to protest the destroyed Sunni mosques.

The top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, assured Thursday that the Iraqi security forces could control the situation.

"We're not seeing civil war igniting in Iraq. We're not seeing 77, 80, 100 mosques damaged. We're not seeing death in the streets," Lynch said at a news briefing in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. "We're seeing a competent, capable Iraqi government using their capable Iraqi security force to calm the storm that was inflamed by a horrendous, horrific terrorist attack yesterday."

The next few days could prove to be a crucial test of those forces' capabilities.
Lynch said the U.S. military wasn't stepping up its operational tempo because of the violence: "We don't see a need, based on our read of the battlefield."
While some residents hid in their homes Thursday, fearing mob violence, others grabbed AK-47s and set off to protect their mosques and streets.

In one case, 47 mostly Sunni workers traveling on a bus were stopped at a checkpoint, dragged out of the vehicle and killed northeast of Baghdad, police said. Their bullet-ridden bodies were found on the side of the road.

Residents in predominantly Sunni Samarra blocked police from approaching the damaged shrine as residents cleaned up the site, saying they could protect it better than the security forces.

In the Shiite eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, members of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia - some of whom had boasted the day before of attacking Sunni mosques - surrounded Sunni mosques Thursday, saying they were there to protect them.

In Amariyah, a majority Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad, loudspeakers at Sunni mosques were broadcasting "Allah Akbar" - "God is great" - which some took as a call to arms. The neighborhood was wracked by gunfights that moved from block to block by evening.

Top Shiite religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemned the mosque attacks and said those who participated "were not followers of the family of the prophet." Another Shiite ayatollah, Sheik Mohammed Ali al-Yaqoubi, said followers shouldn't travel to Samarra because the government could control angry worshippers.

After the destruction of the Askariya shrine Wednesday - home to the remains of two of Shiite Islam's 12 imams - more than 50 Sunni mosques were attacked in retaliation, Iraqi police said. One Sunni religious group said that more than 150 were damaged, which couldn't be verified.

The bombing occurred "because of the negligence of the government, and the ministries of defense and interior. They bear full responsibility," said Hassan

Ali Muhi, 24, a businessman from the southern city of Najaf. "We do not trust the officials in this weak government."

In Samarra, three Iraqi journalists who were last seen reporting after the bombing were found dead Thursday. The journalists - including one of Iraq's most prominent female reporters - had been shot multiple times.

Some members of the interim government said they hoped the new government would form soon to help stem the violence.

"I think we will resume talks in a few days," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of a Kurdish political bloc. "We will also try to calm things down and get the (Arab) Sunnis again to sit at the table with everyone."

Othman said the government hadn't done enough to protect the shrine.
Two top government officials, including Alaa al-Safi, the minister of civil society, said Thursday that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Cabinet had received an intelligence report saying the shrine was being targeted but didn't respond.

Mohammed Askari, a Defense Ministry adviser, said the report indicated only that Shiite shrines in general could be targeted.

Lynch said U.S. forces in charge of securing Samarra didn't hear of any threat.

"If we'd had an indication that something bad was fixing to happen, you can take it to the bank that we would have done something about it," he said.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:30 AM :: (0) comments

Thursday, February 23, 2006

South Dakota bans abortion

I really have nothing to say. Either this is a dangerous precedent or a ridiculous stunt. Either way, it's completely irresponsible (it makes no exceptions for health or cases of rape) and dangerous.

S.D. Abortion Bill Takes Aim at 'Roe'
Senate Ban Does Not Except Rape, Incest

By Evelyn Nieves
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 23, 2006; Page A01

South Dakota lawmakers yesterday approved the nation's most far-reaching ban on abortion, setting the stage for new legal challenges that its supporters say they hope lead to an overturning of Roe v. Wade .

The measure, which passed the state Senate 23 to 12, makes it a felony for doctors to perform any abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. The proposal still must be signed by Gov. Mike Rounds (R), who opposes abortion.

The bill was designed to challenge the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe , which in 1973 recognized a right of women to terminate pregnancies. Its sponsors want to force a reexamination of the ruling by the court, which now includes two justices appointed by President Bush.

"The momentum for a change in the national policy on abortion is going to come in the not-too-distant future," said Rep. Roger W. Hunt, a Republican who sponsored the bill. To his delight, abortion opponents succeeded in defeating all amendments designed to mitigate the ban, including exceptions in the case of rape or incest or the health of the woman. Hunt said that such "special circumstances" would have diluted the bill and its impact on the national scene.

Kate Looby, director of Planned Parenthood of South Dakota, which plans to immediately challenge the ban, said that while she was not surprised, she was still a "little shocked" by the vote. "Clearly, this is a devastating day for the women of South Dakota," she said. "We fully expected this, yet it's still distressing to know that this legislative body cares so little about women, about families, about women who are victims of rape or incest."

National abortion rights organizations said the South Dakota vote has set the stage for a new fight to keep abortion legal at the federal level and in the states. "When you see them have a ban that does not include exceptions for rape or incest or the health of the mother, you understand that elections do matter," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "We will be very active in '06 and in '08 in electing candidates that represent the views of most Americans."

The antiabortion movement has focused primarily in recent years on a state-by-state effort to enact restrictions on access to abortion, including pushes for parental-notification laws and waiting periods before the procedure may be performed. A 1992 Supreme Court decision again affirmed a right to abortion in a Pennsylvania case, known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey , that said states cannot put an "undue burden" on women getting access to abortions.

Not all antiabortion groups agreed with the South Dakota supporters' effort to directly challenge Roe .

"If you're just reading the law as it stands now, South Dakota's law doesn't really stand any chance under Roe or Casey . I have to agree with those who think it's remote," said Chuck Donovan, executive vice president of the Family Research Council and a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee.

He said there is not a consensus for a national approach to finding a way to overturn Roe . "There are lots of voices out there and nobody has a single strategy, so South Dakota has stepped in to fill that void," Donovan said.

Still, some abortion opponents are more confident than they have ever been that Roe could be overturned with two new conservative members of the high court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Roberts has not publicly expressed his view on abortion rights. Alito opposed Roe as a young Reagan administration lawyer and had a mixed record on abortion rights while a federal appeals court judge.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a federal law banning a procedure that opponents call "partial birth" abortion is constitutional. The law passed Congress in 2003 but has been struck down by three federal appeals courts and has yet to take effect.

South Dakota is the first but not the only state to consider new abortion restrictions this year. Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky have introduced similar measures.

Rounds has indicated that he would sign the South Dakota measure if it does not jeopardize existing abortion restrictions while the legislation is challenged. In 2004, he vetoed a similar bill because of concerns that abortion restrictions would be eliminated during legal wrangling. Hunt said his bill has addressed the governor's concerns.

Hunt has also said that when the inevitable challenge to the ban is filed in court, the ban's supporters will be prepared for a costly court fight with $1 million already pledged by "an anonymous donor."

Even without this latest ban, South Dakota was already one of the most difficult states in the country in which to get an abortion, those on both sides of the issue say. It is one of three states with only one abortion provider (Mississippi and North Dakota are the others), and its one clinic, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, offers the procedure only once a week. Four doctors who fly in from Minnesota on a rotating basis perform the abortions, since no doctor in South Dakota will do so because of the heavy stigma attached.

About 800 abortions are performed each year in South Dakota, which has a population of 770,000 spread out over 77,000 square miles. Last year, South Dakota passed five laws to restrict abortions, including one that would compel doctors to tell women that they would be ending the life of a "whole, separate, unique human being." That law has been blocked by a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.

Posted by crimnos @ 11:32 AM :: (1) comments

Civil Unrest Increasing in Iraq

I'm afraid yesterday's attack is really going to be the beginning of the end for a "unified" Iraq. Three imams have been killed and 27 Sunni mosques have now been attacked...I don't know how this can be quelled, and I don't expect it to end well.

Gunmen strike 27 Baghdad mosques, kill imams

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen targeted 27 Baghdad mosques and killed three Sunni imams Wednesday in the wake of a bomb attack at one of the holiest Shiite sites.

The wave of attacks followed an early morning bombing at the Al-Askariya "Golden Mosque" in Samarra. The strikes, involving small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds, all happened between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., police said.

A CNN crew was also caught up in the violence, and in Basra, southern Iraq, a local official said jail inmates were abducted.

Twelve inmates were snatched from the main prison in Basra by gunmen carrying Iraqi government identification cards, a member of the Basra provisional council said.

Around midnight, 10 bodies were found and taken to a hospital where officials were trying to determine if they were among the prisoners, who were of Egyptian, Tunisians, Libyan, Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Iraqi descent.

Posted by crimnos @ 7:57 AM :: (0) comments

A Bill O'Reilly Flip-flop!

Well I never! Bill O'Reilly says we should leave Iraq ASAP, all based on the terrible mosque bombing yesterday...

There are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them.

But WAIT! Back in November 2005, when people who wanted to leave Iraq are like Hitler appeasers:

These pinheads running around going, "Get out of Iraq now," don't know what they're talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in World War II that were saying, "Ah, he's not such a bad guy." They don't get it.

Posted by crimnos @ 7:49 AM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why I Want to Leave Virginia

I simply cannot believe that a proposal to ban same-sex marriage is not only going to the ballot but received unanimous approval from the state legislature. Vile (and yes, I realize this vote reflects an intention to show the entire text of the amendment, not the intention itself, but I've only heard the vote numbers on WAMU):

Measure's full text may go on ballot Both sides say plan, now before Kaine, needs more than summary


A bill that would place on the Nov. 7 ballot the entire wording of a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is on its way to the governor's office.

The House of Delegates yesterday unanimously approved the measure -- which the Senate backed 40-0 last week -- that would put the full text, and not just a summary, before voters this fall.

Putting the amendment's full language on the ballot "has never been done before," said Del. John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, the bill's sponsor. "However, there were those going around saying, 'Oh, we're trying to hide something' or 'We're trying to pull the wool over somebody's eyes.' And that's just not the case."

Opponents of the amendment have contended that voters require more than a summary because they need to realize they are also deciding whether to ban civil unions and possibly outlaw legal contracts between all unmarried couples.

"The first step of our campaign is to make sure Virginians know exactly what the amendment will mean," said Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, the state's largest gay-rights organization.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine prefers that the full text appear on the ballot, said spokesman Kevin Hall, but he still holds concern about the amendment's "unintended consequences."

Eighteen states have approved measures declaring marriage as between one man and one woman.

"As long as the ballot question reflects the actual amendment, I think the people of Virginia will approve it," said Chris Freund of the Family Foundation of Virginia.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:51 AM :: (1) comments