Friday, May 26, 2006Capitol complex locked down after reports of gunfire
Friday, May 26, 2006; Posted: 10:58 a.m. EDT (14:58 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Capitol Police said Friday they were investigating reports of shots fired in the garage of the Rayburn Office Building, where members of the House have their offices.
The entire Capitol complex has been locked down, CNN's Dana Bash reported.
Tunnels connect all of the buildings in the complex.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, was conducting a House Intelligence Committee hearing at the time, according to an Associated Press report. Hoekstra interrupted a witness to tell those at the hearing to remain in the room and said doors must be closed.
"It's a little unsettling to get a Blackberry message put in front of you that says there's gunfire in the building," he told AP. Kiss your civil liberties goodbye.
Senate Confirms Hayden As CIA Director
By KATHERINE SHRADER
The Associated Press
Friday, May 26, 2006; 10:09 AM
WASHINGTON -- After hearing assurances he will be independent of the Pentagon, the Senate on Friday easily confirmed Gen. Michael Hayden, a career Air Force man, to head the CIA.
Hayden, a four-star general, currently is the top deputy to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.
Hayden, 61, would be the first active-duty or retired military officer to run the spy agency in 25 years. He was approved by a vote of 78-15.
President Bush, in a written statement, applauded Hayden's confirmation.
"Winning the war on terror requires that America have the best intelligence possible, and his strong leadership will ensure that we do," he said. "Gen. Hayden is a patriot and a dedicated public servant whose broad experience, dedication and expertise make him the right person to lead the CIA at this critical time."
At his confirmation hearing, Hayden sought to assure lawmakers he would be independent from his military superiors but said he would consider how his uniform affects his relationship with CIA personnel. If it were to get in the way, he said, "I'll make the right decision."
Hayden, who headed the National Security Agency for several years, became a lightning rod for the debate about the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program. Some Democrats and civil-liberties advocates argue the monitoring was illegal.
As head of the NSA from 1999 to 2005, Hayden oversaw the program. His defenders say he was relying on the advice of top government lawyers.
The White House hurried Hayden's nomination through in only 17 days, in part by heeding Congress' 5-month-old requests for more information on the classified operations.
During Thursday night's debate, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the warrentless wiretapping program raised "serious questions about whether the general is the right person to lead the CIA, serious questions about whether the general will continue to be an administration cheerleader, serious questions about his credibility."
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., countered that Hayden "is eminently qualified" to lead the agency and that "he is the right choice to lead the CIA."
Bush orders documents seized in Capitol Hill search sealed
Hastert, Pelosi demand return of document from the FBI
Thursday, May 25, 2006; Posted: 10:56 p.m. EDT (02:56 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush stepped into the Justice Department's constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman's office be sealed for 45 days.
The president directed that no one involved in the investigation have access to the documents taken last weekend from the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, and that they remain in the custody of the solicitor general.
Bush's move was described as an attempt to cool off a heated confrontation between his administration and leaders of the House and Senate. (Watch Bush intervenes in criminal probe -- 2:08)
"This period will provide both parties more time to resolve the issues in a way that ensures that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors in a manner that respects the interests of a coequal branch of government," Bush said.
In a statement, Bush said he recognized that Republican and Democratic leaders in the House had "deeply held views" that the search on Jefferson's Capitol Hill office violated the Constitution's separation of powers principles. But he stopped short of saying he agreed with them.
"Our government has not faced such a dilemma in more than two centuries," the president said. "Yet after days of discussions, it is clear these differences will require more time to be worked out."
The FBI executed a search warrant to raid Jefferson's office Saturday night as part of a bribery investigation against the congressman. Earlier, authorities said they had videotaped Jefferson last summer taking $100,000 in bribe money and that agents had found $90,000 of that cash stuffed in a freezer in his Washington apartment.
Two people have pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson to promote a high tech business venture. Jefferson has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.
Bush urged the Justice Department and the House to continue discussions and to resolve the matter quickly.
"Let me be clear: Investigating and prosecuting crime is a crucial executive responsibility that I take seriously," he said. "Those who violate the law -- including a member of Congress -- should and will be held to account. This investigation will go forward and justice will be served."
The raid, which historians said was the first such search of a congressman's Capitol quarters in the more than two centuries since the first Congress convened, set off loud complaints from both Republicans and Democrats that the executive branch was overstepping its authority.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, issued a rare joint statement demanding that the FBI return the documents and saying that Jefferson then should cooperate more fully with the investigation.
Other lawmakers warned that the constitutional confrontation could spark a voter backlash, if Congress was seen as protecting its own at all costs.
Thursday, May 25, 2006Lay and Skilling guilty
Ex-CEO and founder convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in Enron case.
By Shaheen Pasha and Jessica Seid, CNNMoney.com staff writers
May 25, 2006: 12:39 PM EDT
HOUSTON (CNNMoney.com) - Enron former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling and founder Kenneth Lay were found guilty Thursday of conspiracy and fraud in the granddaddy of all corporate fraud cases.
On the sixth day of deliberations, a jury of eight women and four men convicted the former executives of misleading the public about the true financial health of Enron, whose collapse in late 2001 symbolized the wave of corporate fraud that swept the United States early this decade.
Skilling was found guilty on 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, false statements and insider trading. He was found not guilty on eight counts of insider trading.
Lay was found guilty on all six counts of conspiracy and fraud. In a separate bench trial, Judge Sim Lake ruled Lay was guilty of four counts of fraud and false statements.
Both Lay and Skilling could face 20 to 30 years in prison, legal experts say.
Judge Lake set sentencing for the week of Sept 11 and ordered Lay to surrender his passport and post a cash bond. No home confinement was ordered.
Skilling stood stone-faced as he was convicted on most of the counts he faced and Ken Lay's daughter began sobbing in the front row anticipating her father's fate. Skilling's wife and children were notably absent.
Skilling's attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, had his hands on his client's shoulder, bracing him.
As Lay's verdict was read, his daughter Elizabeth Vittore, who has been one of his attorneys during the case, began to sob uncontrollably. His wife, Linda, clutching his hand, wiped tears away silently. All of his children sat in the front row with other members of the family. One of his sons put his face in his hands and wept.
Lay clutched his wife's hand and looked straight ahead.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006Stop Prisoner Rape prepared a new report for the committee to examine.
It seems to have convinced them that a major problem exists, and they've come out against it. It's good to see this problem getting some sort of attention.
Sat, May. 20, 2006
UN: Sex abuse still rife in U.S. prisons
GENEVA - U.S. prison authorities have failed to protect inmates against sexual violence, a U.N. report said yesterday.
The U.N. Committee Against Torture criticized slowness in investigating claims of sexual assault in prisons in the United States and said "appropriate measures to combat these abuses have not been implemented."
It noted that people of "differing sexual orientation" were particularly vulnerable.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2003, was designed to combat sexual violence in prisons - once treated as a minor, if not invisible problem - by requiring states to draft prevention, education and monitoring plans.
According to background information in the 2003 law, at least 13 percent of U.S. inmates have been sexually assaulted in prison.
In its last review of U.S. anti-torture policies six years ago - before 9/11 - the committee cited the United States' use of electroshock devices to restrain prisoners, "excessively harsh" conditions in prisons for the most violent offenders and police ill-treatment of civilians.
Monday, May 22, 2006Why We Published the AT&T Docs. To catch the casual reader up, the EFF is suing AT&T on the basis that they have installed a switch to allow the NSA to gather information on all the unencrypted information passing through its Internet backbone. As the case has progressed, the judge in the case has denied requests from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, and several news organizations to unseal the documents and make them public, so Wired took it into their own hands to publish the documentation. There's a link to the documentation in PDF form here; save it while you can. If the link dies, I'll provide an alternate.
To sum it up, it's thirty pages of info, diagrams, pictures, the lot, and Jesus Christ it looks like Wired has some balls. Basically, they reveal that there is a "secret room" in the AT&T headquarters that requires a government security clearance to enter and hooks into the Worldnet AT&T fiber backbone. According to this document, the room contains a glorified packet analyzer, most likely for the NSA. This is significant because, basically, all data is sent in a packet format, and this program lets you view the data the packets contain. Everything that isnt encrypted would be viewable.
So, they have the capability to view every non encrypted thing you do on the Internet that passes through this backbone. They're doing this by duplicating "all network traffic we see" at major peering points into "NSA equipment". If this is happening at enough places, you can safely assume that any and all non-local Internet traffic is being captured in this manner.
That is to say, if you're a TimeWarner customer and you're emailing/VoIPing/webcam-cybering another TimeWarner customer then the NSA would not see that through the efforts of AT&T. However, if you're sending traffic to most any other major provider, it's quite possible that they would see it, and if you're sending traffic to someone on AT&T, it's guaranteed.
So, if you've ever sent anything in any Internet format to anyone who wasn't down the street from you, you should probably assume that the NSA has seen it or could have seen if it they'd cared to. I can't imagine how this is legal, and because it seems very illegal, I think you should further assume that they are doing other, equally illegal, things with the data.
So the whole concept of journalistic oversight is dead now, huh? We've never had an Attorney General so diametrically opposed to the rule of law. This guy actually makes me think Ashcroft was a reasonable, principled man. If anyone needs to be put in stocks when this nightmare is finally over, it's him.
The government has the legal authority to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday.
"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Mr. Gonzales said on the ABC News program "This Week."
"That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation," he continued. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."
Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine "the appropriate course of action in that particular case."
"I'm not going to talk about it specifically," he said. "We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity."
Though he did not name the statutes that might allow such prosecutions, Mr. Gonzales was apparently referring to espionage laws that in some circumstances forbid the possession and publication of information concerning the national defense, government codes and "communications intelligence activities."
Those laws are the basis of a pending case against two lobbyists, but they have never been used to prosecute journalists.
Some legal scholars say that even if the plain language of the laws could be read to reach journalists, the laws were never intended to apply to the press. In any event, these scholars say, prosecuting reporters under the laws might violate the First Amendment.
Mr. Gonzales said that the administration promoted and respected the right of the press that is protected under the First Amendment.
"But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said. "And so those two principles have to be accommodated."
Mr. Gonzales sidestepped a question concerning whether the administration had been reviewing reporters' telephone records in an effort to identify their confidential sources.
"To the extent that we engage in electronic surveillance or surveillance of content, as the president says, we don't engage in domestic-to-domestic surveillance without a court order," he said. "And obviously if, in fact, there is a basis under the Constitution to go to a federal judge and satisfy the constitutional standards of probable cause and we get a court order, that will be pursued." How great is this? The monster that the Republicans created to keep Kerry out of office is now turning on them and showing its true face all at the same time. This is the jackass:
Just keep his image in mind as you read.
President Bush is pursuing a globalist agenda to create a North American Union, effectively erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada. This was the hidden agenda behind the Bush administration's true open borders policy.
Secretly, the Bush administration is pursuing a policy to expand NAFTA to include Canada, setting the stage for North American Union designed to encompass the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. What the Bush administration truly wants is the free, unimpeded movement of people across open borders with Mexico and Canada.
President Bush intends to abrogate U.S. sovereignty to the North American Union, a new economic and political entity which the President is quietly forming, much as the European Union has formed.
The blueprint President Bush is following was laid out in a 2005 report entitled "Building a North American Community" published by the left-of-center Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR report connects the dots between the Bush administration's actual policy on illegal immigration and the drive to create the North American Union:
At their meeting in Waco, Texas, at the end of March 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin committed their governments to a path of cooperation and joint action. We welcome this important development and offer this report to add urgency and specific recommendations to strengthen their efforts.
What is the plan? Simple, erase the borders. The plan is contained in a "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" little noticed when President Bush and President Fox created it in March 2005:
In March 2005, the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States adopted a Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), establishing ministerial-level working groups to address key security and economic issues facing North America and setting a short deadline for reporting progress back to their governments. President Bush described the significance of the SPP as putting forward a common commitment "to markets and democracy, freedom and trade, and mutual prosperity and security." The policy framework articulated by the three leaders is a significant commitment that will benefit from broad discussion and advice. The Task Force is pleased to provide specific advice on how the partnership can be pursued and realized.
To that end, the Task Force proposes the creation by 2010 of a North American community to enhance security, prosperity, and opportunity. We propose a community based on the principle affirmed in the March 2005 Joint Statement of the three leaders that "our security and prosperity are mutually dependent and complementary." Its boundaries will be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter within which the movement of people, products, and capital will be legal, orderly and safe. Its goal will be to guarantee a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America.
The perspective of the CFR report allows us to see President Bush's speech to the nation as nothing more than public relations posturing and window dressing. No wonder President Vincente Fox called President Bush in a panic after the speech. How could the President go back on his word to Mexico by actually securing our border? Not to worry, President Bush reassured President Fox. The National Guard on the border were only temporary, meant to last only as long until the public forgets about the issue, as has always been the case in the past.
The North American Union plan, which Vincente Fox has every reason to presume President Bush is still following, calls for the only border to be around the North American Union -- not between any of these countries. Or, as the CFR report stated:
The three governments should commit themselves to the long-term goal of dramatically diminishing the need for the current intensity of the governments’ physical control of cross-border traffic, travel, and trade within North America. A long-term goal for a North American border action plan should be joint screening of travelers from third countries at their first point of entry into North America and the elimination of most controls over the temporary movement of these travelers within North America.
Discovering connections like this between the CFR recommendations and Bush administration policy gives credence to the argument that President Bush favors amnesty and open borders, as he originally said. Moreover, President Bush most likely continues to consider groups such as the Minuteman Project to be "vigilantes," as he has also said in response to a reporter's question during the March 2005 meeting with President Fox.
Why doesn’t President Bush just tell the truth? His secret agenda is to dissolve the United States of America into the North American Union. The administration has no intent to secure the border, or to enforce rigorously existing immigration laws. Securing our border with Mexico is evidently one of the jobs President Bush just won't do. If a fence is going to be built on our border with Mexico, evidently the Minuteman Project is going to have to build the fence themselves. Will President Bush protect America's sovereignty, or is this too a job the Minuteman Project will have to do for him?