United States News Digest
Will 'War Czar' Be Scapegoat for Cheney Iraq Crimes?
June 7 (EIRNS)Did the Bush Administration, perhaps Dick Cheney himself, create the so-called "war czar" position, officially known as Assistant to the President for Iraq and Afghanistan, so that blame for the failures there could be shifted to that person, and away from the war party led by Cheney? Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said as much during confirmation hearings, held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, for Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, who has been nominated for that position. Reed called Lute's appointment "a devastating critique of the national security apparatus of this White House," adding, "I'm afraid that your position will be as somebody who's there to take the blame, but not really have the access to the President and the resources that you need." Under questioning from Reed, Lute confirmed that he would be reporting to President Bush, and "coordinating" with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and that Hadley will not be involved in Iraq and Afghanistan policy. "Then he should be fired," Reed said. "I think you're being put in an impossible situation."
As for the role of Cheney, two members of the committee did note Cheney's role in the war policy. Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) noted in his opening remarks that a number of retired four star officers turned down the position when they were offered it, and that at least one, Marine Gen. Jack Sheehan (ret.), "reportedly expressed concern that the hawks within the Administration, including Cheney, remain more powerful than the pragmatists looking for an exit in Iraq. This does not bode well for General Lute." Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) later expressed the view that Cheney "runs a parallel operation," and asked Lute what his relationship to the Vice President would be. Lute would only say that he will be working for the President, but that Cheney is on the principals committee: "I will be working with the Vice President and his staff," he said. Clinton responded: "That has turned out to be a difficult position for many."
Two Guantanamo Detainee Cases Dismissed
June 4 (EIRNS)Military judges dismissed all charges against two prisoners at Guantanamo today, in a major defeat for the Cheney-promoted scheme of military tribunals which was created to bypass traditional U.S. military and civilian law.
In the first case, charges were dismissed against a young Canadian, Omar Khadr, who was accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002. Army Col. Peter Brownback, the military judge presiding over the Khadr trial, ruled that the military commission does not have jurisdiction to try Khadr, in a ruling seen as having broad implications for all of the other 380 prisoners at Guantanamo. Although a military review board had designated Khadr as an "enemy combatant," under the 2006 Military Commission Act, the newly created military commission is only empowered to try "unlawful enemy combatants."
One military law specialist told EIR that the Khadr ruling was "certainly a shocker."
In the second case, charges were dismissed against Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen, who is described as having been a driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. The military judge in his case, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, likewise ruled that Hamdam is "not subject to this commission" under the 2006 Military Commissions Act.
"It is not just a technicality," AP quoted Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, the chief military defense attorney at Guantanamo, as saying after the Khadr ruling. "It's the latest demonstration that this newest system just does not work. It is a system of justice that does not comport with American values." Sullivan said that this could mark the end of the military commissions scheme which was created last year, when the Military Commissions Act was jammed through Congress after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled, in a case brought by Hamdam, that the previous system of military tribunals, created under a 2001 Bush military order, was unconstitutional.
It is well-known that Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief lawyer David Addington were the primary promoters of the unworkable and unconstitutional military tribunal and detention system, twice struck down in different aspects by the U.S. Supreme Court, and then modified by the 2006 law.
The charges were dismissed "without prejudice," meaning that they could be refiled, if the government could find a way to legally remedy the defect in the proceedings, such as holding new hearings to reclassify all prisoners as "unlawful enemy combatants." Prosecutors also said they intend to appealeven though the military appeals court envisioned in the 2006 law hasn't yet been established.
Impeachment Gets Biggest Applause at N.H. Dem Convention
June 3 (EIRNS)The Manchester Union Leader reports that the candidate who received the "biggest applause of the day" at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), when he called for the impeachment of Dick Cheney. Kucinich, who has introduced a resolution in Congress to impeach Cheney (H.R. 333), later told reporters that he gets a similar reaction around the country, whenever he calls for Cheney's impeachment. "I'm just waiting to be discovered by you," he said of the press.
Senate Panel Slams Cheney's Torture Program
June 3 (EIRNS)The Senate Intelligence Committee, in a report released last week, says that the purported value of the Cheney's secret program to detain and interrogate terrorist suspects (they call it a "CIA" program), "should be weighed against both the complications it causes to any ultimate prosecution of these terrorists, and the damage the program does to the image of the United States abroad." Though the word "torture" is never mentioned, the report is clearly a rejection of the use of tortureeuphemistically referred to as "extraordinary procedures"that the Cheney-Bush Administration has argued is necessary in the so-called war on terror. The comments were included in a report to accompany the committee's passage of the annual intelligence authorization bill and, according to Salon.com, were added to the report by a bipartisan voice vote. "While the language in the provision is a bit stronger than I would have preferred," said Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the ranking Republican on the committee, in a statement to Salon, "I am in agreement with the broad concerns it lays out."
The report also complains that the administration's decision to keep the program a secret for five years from all members of the committee except the chairman and vice chairman, "was unfortunate in that it unnecessarily hindered Congressional oversight of the program." The report adds, that more than five years after the start of the program, "the Committee believes that consideration should be given as to whether it is the best means to obtain a full and reliable intelligence debriefing of a detainee. Both Congress and the Administration must continue to evaluate whether having a separate CIA detention program that operates under different interrogation rules than those applicable to military and law enforcement officers is necessary, lawful, and in the best interests of the United States."
U.S. Intelligence 70% Privatized
June 3 (EIRNS)Like the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence is also being taken over by private contractors. The Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed on May 14 that 70% of the intelligence community budget is spent on private contracts. While there has always been a heavy dependence on contractors to provide technology, the difference now, is that contractors are also being hired to perform functions that were previously reserved for government employees. These include analysis of intelligence data and the writing of reports that are passed up the line to high-ranking government officials, according to a report on Salon.com. This privatization of intelligence is part of the project to privatize military functions run jointly by George Shultz and Felix Rohatyn, and their stooge, Dick Cheney, and exposed by EIR in 2006. The Senate Intelligence Committee estimates that the cost of a government intelligence officer is about $126,500 per year, but the government pays $250,000 for the same individual under private contract.
Private Funds Pour Millions Into Violent Video Games
June 5 (EIRNS)The private equity firms ABRY Partners, Capital Partners III, and PPM America Private Equity Fund II, along with New York Life and Northwestern Mutual Life, are putting $400 million into the launch of a new violent video game company, to be called Brash Entertainment, Reuters reported yesterday.
The company will base its games on Hollywood horror flicks.