United States News Digest
Supreme Court Upholds DeLay's Texas Gerrymandering
The 2003 gerrymandering of Texas's election redistricts, orchestrated by indicted former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex), was almost entirely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote on June 28. The Court upheld the constitutionality of the Texas Legislature's redistricting, for what nearly all agreed was done solely to give the advantage to the state's Republicans; it also upheld most of the specific redistricting from Voting Rights Act claims, but the design of one district was rejected under the VRA as diluting Latino voting power.
The case stems from a redistricting plan rammed through the state legislature in 2003 after the Republicans took control of the state legislature in 2002, despite several attempts by Democrats to block a quorum by leaving the state. (Not at issue in the case, but worth remembering, is that the GOP seizure of the legislature was the object of money-laundering operations with major corporations and the Republican National Committee, for which both Tom DeLay and his political action committee stand criminally charged.)
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, ruled that, absent the challenge to the redistricting showing that voters had actually had their rights to representation impaired as a result of the effect of redistricting on elections, the redistricting was constitutional. Six other Justices agreed with Kennedy's conclusion, but for differing reasons.
The dissenting opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who argued that redistricting solely for partisan purposes is unconstitutional: "The equal protection component of the Fourteenth Amendment requires actions taken by the sovereign to be supported by some legitimate interest, and further establishes that a bare desire to harm a politically disfavored group is not a legitimate interest.... Similarly, the freedom of political belief and association guaranteed by the First Amendment prevents the State, absent a compelling interest, from penalizing citizens because of their participation in the electoral process, ... their association with a political party, or their expression of political views.'... These protections embodied in the First and Fourteenth Amendments reflect the fundamental duty of the sovereign to govern impartially." The Texas legislature had failed in that duty, he concluded.
The Washington Post June 29 noted that the decision may prompt majority parties in other states to redraw political maps to their advantage. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va), the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, was quoted saying that although mid-decade redistricting has been ruled legal, it is not a good idea, because it interferes with citizens' relationship with the officials they elected.
Hillary Clinton Confronted by LaRouche Youth on Rohatyn
Senator Hillary Clinton (R-NY) spoke at a meeting of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus on June 28, saying, "There are people in New York who think we no longer need industry; they think you can run an economy on money." Interesting. Members of the LaRouche Youth Movement in the audience wouldn't accept any half-truths, however. One LYM member stood up to say, "You say these things, but you need to start naming the names," and proceeded to develop the polemic on Felix Rohatyn and how he has been destroying U.S. manufacturing. Clinton immediately shot back: "Are you with LaRouche?" LYM: "Of course. Who else has the guts to go after Rohatyn?" The Senator then asked us to e-mail a memo on the Rohatyn material to her office.
Clinton's office had already received the Rohatyn material, prior to her endorsing Rohatyn's "infrastructure" plan. But, perhaps she's coming around.
Webb Shoots Down Allen Attack on Flag Burning
After Sen. George Allen's (R-Va) campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, accused James Webb, Allen's Democratic challenger in the November election, of being "beholden to liberal Washington Senators," because he was against the Allen-supported anti-flag-burning amendment, a Webb spokesman responded: "George Felix Allen, Jr. and his Bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag-burning." Webb is a highly decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, and was Navy Secretary under President Reagan.
Webb's spokesman continued, "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen, Jr. chose to cut and run. While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen, Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen, Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada. People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."
All Electronic Voting Machines Vulnerable to Hacking
New York University's Brennan Center for Justice has concluded that all electronic voting machines are vulnerable to hacking that could change the outcome of a statewide or national election. All three systemselectronic machines ("DREs"), with or without a voter-verified paper trail, and precinct-counted optical scan systems ("PCOS")have "significant security and reliability vulnerabilities," according to a report issued June 27 by the Center's Task Force on Voting System Security. All are "equally vulnerable" to a software attack, especially machines with wireless components. These could be attacked by "virtually any member of the public with some knowledge of software and a simple device with wireless capabilities, such as a PDA."
The study called for such countermeasures as automatic routine audits comparing voter-verified paper trails to the electronic record, and bans on wireless components in voting machines.
Specter Charges Bush Administration with Abuse of Power
Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa), the only committee chairman who is conducting any oversight at all on national security matters in the U.S. Senate, held a Judiciary Committee hearing on June 27, on the Administration's use of Presidential "signing statements," which he considers an abuse of power. "It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," he told AP before the hearing. "I'm interested to hear from the Administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick." Specter was particularly focussed on Bush's signing statements on the Patriot Act, and the Anti-Torture Amendment.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), said at the beginning of the hearing that, "We are at a pivotal moment in our nation's history, where Americans are faced with a President who makes sweeping claims for almost unchecked Executive power." Leahy called the Administration's use of signing statements "a grave threat to our constitutional system of checks and balances." Referring to "the low regard with which this Administration holds the Congress, the Senate, and, in particular, this Committee," Leahy cited Vice President Cheney's intervening "to instruct witnesses not to testify, and telling Republican Senators what oversight he will allow," and the fact that the Administration sent to the June 27 hearing, "a young deputy to parrot the Administration's line," rather than a senior Justice Department official.
Specter asked the DOJ representative, why the President couldn't come to the Congress, and say that he'd like this or that changed, rather than declaring he can ignore legislation, or interpret it any way he wants? When the DOJ representative said she couldn't answer the question, Specter told her to go back and get an answer in writing.
Everyone But LaRouche Is 'Cutting and Running'
"Everyone but LaRouche is 'cutting and running,'" LaRouche Western States spokesman Harley Schlanger told the Jack Stockwell show on KTKK in Salt Lake City on June 26, where the central topic was Lyndon LaRouche's leadership at the moment of existential crisis for civilization. When Stockwell asked about the charges from Rove and Cheney that the Democrats are prepared to "cut and run" from Iraq, Harley said that "everyone but LaRouche is 'cutting and running' from the only two issues that matter: getting rid of Cheney, and stopping the destruction of the U.S. machine-tool sector." This shaped the hour-and-a-half interview, which focussed on the role of Rohatyn and the DLC in attacking the FDR tradition in the Democratic Party.
Schlanger asked listeners what they would have thought if, during the 1950s and '60s, at the height of the Cold War, our auto factories were being sold off and blown up. Obviously, the conclusion would have been that only the worst enemies of the U.S. would do such things; it must be a Communist plot! Yet, that is what is being done today by Rohatyn and Lazard, the fifth column of fascist "globalizers" who are out to wreck the nation-state!
Stockwell kept coming back to this, and urged his listeners to call in for copies of the upcoming EIR special report on who is destroying U.S. industry (see EIR Online #26, InDepth).
New York Times Leaks Casey Plan for Troop Cuts in Iraq
General George Casey, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, outlined a draft plan for reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq in classified briefings at the Pentagon, last week, according to the New York Times June 25. The Times' account says that Casey's plan envisions a reduction in the number of U.S. combat brigades from the current 14 to five or six by the end of 2007, a reduction of about 30,000 troops.
The plan assumes "continued progress" in Iraq, including the development of the Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new government, and the assumption that the insurgency will not spread beyond Iraq's six central provinces. It also assumes growing stability and authority of the Iraqi government over the period from the present to the summer of 2009.
A White House official told the Times that the plan is not a formal plan for withdrawal, but rather a concept of how the U.S. might move forward, after consulting with the Iraqi government.
The first reductions would take place before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections with the scheduled rotating-out of two brigades. Under the plan, those brigades would not be replaced.