United States News Digest
White House Withdraws Nomination for Pentagon IG
On Dec. 6, the White House notified the Senate that it was withdrawing the nomination of David H. Laufman to be Department of Defense Inspector General. Laufman's nomination had been submitted last June, but was blocked by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), who questioned Laufman's independence (by law, the IG is not under the authority of the head of the DOD).
According to a Nov. 8 posting on the Daily Kos website, there were three concerns raised by Laufman's nomination: 1) that he has no experience with the military; 2) he has no background in the kinds of investigations and audits the IG is expected to do; and 3) he has a reputation as a Bush family "cleaner," for turning two potentially embarrassing investigations of the George H.W. Bush Administration into whitewashes in the early 1990s, those being the October Surprise investigation, and the investigation into the leak of Bill Clinton's passport information.
Laufman's role in the present George W. Bush Administration appears to have been equally dirty. As a Department of Justice official, he was extremely cavalier about the rights of individuals swept up by Attorney General John Ashcroft's anti-terrorist sweep in the aftermath of 9/11. More recently, as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, he's been equally heavy-handed in terrorist prosecutions, demanding long sentences for defendants in dubious cases well outside the sentencing guidelines. In response to written questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Laufman wrote that he would share draft IG reports with the Secretary of Defense, which is apparently one of the reasons Levin raised questions about his independence.
Jewish Forward Welcomes Bolton's Departure
The weekly Jewish Forward welcomed the departure of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in its "Dear John" editorial Dec. 8, saying that he had been "a daily reminder of the Bush administration's arrogant, willful style of governance, of its contempt for the meaning of democracy and the separation of powers.... [H]is stubborn flaunting of American exceptionalism, has been a perfect metaphor for this administration's ideological high-handedness in coping with the problems of the nation and the world."
The bulk of the editorial goes after the leadership of the major U.S. Jewish organizations for their "noisy, tin-eared outpouring of sycophantic unanimity" in lamenting Bolton's departure, because he was such a friend of Israel. As the Forward points out, Bolton and the Administration have ensured the alienation of both Israel and the United States from the world community. The Forward notes ironically, that American Jewish advocacy organizations have been defending Bush policy, although an overwhelming majority of Jews just voted against the Bush record.
Naming such Bolton backers as the American Jewish Committee, the ADL, the World Jewish Congress, JINSA, the Orthodox Union, and B'nai Brith International, the Forward concludes, "If they [the Jewish organizations] can't understand their job, it's time that somebody else stepped forward."
Padilla Was Mentally Damaged by Psychological Torture
Jose Padilla, who was held for three and a half years as an "enemy combatant" in a U.S. military prison, is now mentally ill due to the treatment he suffered. After prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and use of "truth serum" drugs, Padilla now cannot even assist in his own defense, according to a psychiatrist's affidavit submitted by defense lawyers.
"It is my opinion that as the result of his experiences during his detention and interrogation, Mr. Padilla does not appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in reasoning as the result of a mental illness, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation," the psychiatrist wrote. "There's nothing comparable in terms of severity of confinement, in terms of how Padilla was held, especially considering that this was pretrial confinement," a former Judge Advocate General stated.
Four Letters to the Editor in the Dec. 5 New York Times express horror and disgust at the U.S. government's treatment of Padilla.
Colbert Prefers the 'New Politics' to Kissing Butt
As the grand finale of freshman orientation on Dec. 6, for the incoming Congressmen at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Institute of Politics invited guests to a conversation with political satirist Stephen Colbert. The forum was packed with students and Congressman, and one member of the LaRouche Youth Movement, to be entertained for an hour by the contrast of the old politics of butt-kissing, with the new bold politics of the LYM demonstrated in the recent election victory, in which humor played an important role! Colbert was interrogated by a stuffy political science student, who asked questions such as whether the comic regretted his performance at the Washington Corespondents dinner earlier this year, and whether it wrecked his relationship with the press. Colbert flatly responded that he does not aim to kiss butt. He was also asked whether he could appeal to a broader audience, perhaps, if his character on the "Colbert Report" cable-TV program, in which he plays a right-wing talk-show host, were not a neo-con, but a liberal. He said it is impossible to be over the top and megalomaniacal if you are a liberal, because they don't commit to anything!
Colbert, who had been intersected by a LYM organizer on the way in to the event, announced, "I just want to let everyone know that I already think that Lyndon LaRouche has a point. I believe in the hegemonic cabal and everything else!" This caught the crowd off-guard and elicited nervous laughter from the audience.
LYM Intervenes Into Texas Congressional Runoff Election
Lakesha Rogers, LaRouche Youth Movement leader and former candidate for the chairmanship of the Texas Democratic Party, issued a statement in response to Rep. Henry Bonilla's attack on the U.S. Constitution. Bonilla, a Republican incumbent, is in a run-off election for the 23rd Congressional District seat in Texas, against Democrat and former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. Bonilla charged Rodriguez with "dangerous judgment" in terror-related matters, citing documents from Lynne Cheney flunky David Horowitz's DiscoverTheNetwork.org website, to claim that Rodriguez was influenced by "known terrorists" in legislation he backed in 1999.
The legislation in question, for which Rodriguez was a cosponsor in 1999along with 128 other Congressmenwould eliminate the use of secret evidence in deportation cases. In addition, Bonilla is claiming links between Rodriguez and Abdurahman Alamoudi, a U.S. citizen who was sent to prison in 2004 for illegal business transactions with Libya. Alamoudi gave $250 to Rodriguez in 1998, the same year he also contributed to several Republican candidates, including former Bush Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, a former Republican Senator from Michigan.
Rogers, who is in San Antonio with a LYM team to mobilize college students and other youth to go to the polls on Dec. 12 to defeat Cheney/Bush puppet Bonilla, said it is obvious that Bonilla "missed the message sent by the vast majority of American voters on Nov. 7especially young voterswhich rejected the anti-Constitutional policies promoted by the Bush Administration to run their failed war. While even many Republicans are running away from the Administration, the pathetic Bonillawho repeatedly votes against health-care measures for veteransis diving headfirst into the Bushes, joining the President in 'staying the course'.'"
He has also failed to get the message of the bipartisan vote of a committee in the Pennsylvania state legislature, Rogers added, in which a unanimous vote was cast against the Goebbels-style attack on free speech initiated by the hoaxster Horowitz. Rogers concluded, "By drawing on material produced by the discredited Horowitz, Bonilla has shown he will continue to be a puppet of Lynne Cheney and her attack-dog husband, the soon-to-be-impeached Dick. No serious or honest voter in the 23rd District of Texas could possibly vote for a puppet of Dick Cheney!"
Carter Defends His New Book on Palestine
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Dec. 3, former President Jimmy Carter defended his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter said that the book is deliberately provocative, and that his intention is to rejuvenate the peace process. He said that his use of the word "apartheid," for which he has been attacked, is "accurate for what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians on Palestinian territory." As to what to do to get a true peace in the Middle East today, Carter said, "First of all, I think that the United States should stop their horrible abuse of the Palestinian people in a generic sense." They don't have enough money to pay for social services, "just because the Palestinian people voted for Hamas candidates." He said he would encourage the formation of a unity government, and that the U.S. should use a maximum effort to bring about peace talks between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.