United States News Digest
FISA Court: Administration Must Respond to ACLU Request
Aug. 17 (EIRNS)In an unprecedented action, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court has told the Bush-Cheney Administration that it must respond to a request for the key legal opinions which provide the backdrop to the White House's demand that Congress give it expanded wiretapping power.
The court has ordered the government to respond to a motion filed ten days ago by the ACLU, asking for two of the court's rulings. The first is a Jan. 10, 2007 order which apparently permitted what the White House calls the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" to come under Court supervision, although in a more limited manner than the original program, directed by Vice President Dick Cheney, operated. EIR believes that the Cheney program involves the "data-mining" of information obtained by tapping into the major telecommunications hubs.
The second is a ruling, apparently issued around March of this year, which reportedly held that the government could not tap any communications passing through hubs inside the United States, without a court order. That ruling was used as the pretext by the White House to demand the power to monitor almost any telephone call which may involve a party overseas, not limited to terrorist suspects.
"Disclosure of these court orders and legal papers is essential to the ongoing debate about government surveillance," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "We desperately need greater transparency and public scrutiny. We're extremely encouraged by today's development, because it means that, at long last, the government will be required to defend its contention that the orders should not be released." The court ordered the government to respond by Aug. 31.
White House Apoplectic Over Clinton Campaign Video
Aug. 16 (EIRNS)Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton began running a campaign video in Iowa Aug. 14, appealing to the vast number of Americans "who feel like they are just invisible to their government," pointedly including soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Americans from all walks of life across our country may be invisible to this President, but they are not invisible to me," she said.
The same day, the White House went ape over Senator Clinton's comments. Spokeswoman Dana Perino said: "As to the merits of it, I think it's outrageous. This is a President who, first and foremost, has helped millions of seniors across the country have access to prescription drugs at a much lower cost. As to whether or not our troops are invisible to this President, I think that that is absurd and that [it] is unconscionable that a member of Congress would say such a thing."
Senator Clinton replied, "Apparently, I have struck a nerve."
Senior GOPers Are Dropping Out of Congress
Aug. 16 (EIRNS)Eight-term Republican Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) announced today in Columbus, that she will not seek re-election; she cited family considerations. Pryce was the fourth-ranking Republican when the GOP controlled the House before the 2006 elections. She is the third House Republican to make such an announcement recently, as the GOP chances in the 2008 election move closer and closer to zero. The others are former Speaker Dennis Hastert and Ray LaHood, both of Illinois.
Military Suicide Rate at Record Levels
Aug. 16 (EIRNS)The Army reports that the rate of suicides of U.S. soldiers last year reached its highest rate in 26 years101 soldiers took their own lives in 2006. According to the Associated Press, a new military report, out today, says that 24 suicides took place in Iraq. The "main indicators" leading a soldier to attempt suicide, according to the report, are combat-related stress, failed relationships, and financial troubles.
The report claims there is "limited evidence" that repeated deployments are increasing risk of suicide. But a Defense Department Mental Health Advisory Team report released last May, said that "multiple deployers reported higher stress than first-time deployers," and that it also led to "higher rates of mental-health problems and marital problems."
Senator Blocks Bush Nominee for CIA General Counsel
Aug. 16 (EIRNS)The New York Times reported today that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says he will put a hold on President Bush's nominee for CIA General Counsel "until the detention and interrogation program is on firm footing, both in terms of effectiveness and legality." Wyden says he's troubled that nominee John Rizzo, a veteran CIA attorney and, since 2004, the CIA's acting general counsel, did not object to a 2002 memo authorizing interrogation techniques that stop just short of inflicting pain equal to that accompanying organ failure or death, and that Bush's Executive Order last month did not clarify legal guidelines for detention and interrogation.
Cheney Moves Closer To Attack on Iran
Aug. 15, 2007 (EIRNS)In furtherance of Dick Cheney's buildup for an attack on Iran, the Bush Administration is planning to declare Iran's largest military branch, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, to be a foreign terrorist organization. The planned "terrorist" designation is reported by both the New York Times and the Washington Post today.
The leak came during the same week that the McClatchy Newspapers reported that Cheney has proposed to launch air strikes against training camps run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Revolutionary Guard, on the pretext that Quds is training and arming Shi'ite militia groups and insurgents in Iraq, and is also arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a "specially designated global terrorist" organization would be made under Executive Order 13224, issued shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and would enable the U.S. to block bank accounts and other assets controlled by the Guard. There are probably no such accounts or assets in the United States, but the Administration will use this to pressure Europeans and others to cut off financial ties to Iran worldwide.
The planned move runs counter to any effort to open up diplomatic communications with Iran, says nuclear proliferation expert Joseph Cirincione, as quoted in the Washington Post. "It would greatly complicate our efforts to solve the nuclear issue," Cirincione says, adding that it "will convince many in Iran's elite that there's no point in talking with us, and that the only thing that will satisfy us is regime change."
That, of course, is exactly what Cheney is demanding. The Times coverage today notes that "aides to Vice President Dick Cheney [are] said to be among those pushing for greater consideration of military options," as opposed to diplomacy.
Grassley Ignores LaRouche Warning on China
Aug. 13, 2007 (EIRNS)Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) continued the Congressional blundering on China policy last week, issuing a letter on Aug. 9 to Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong demanding that China denounce reports that "China may use its $1.3 trillion in currency reserves as a 'bargaining chip' if the U.S. enacts new legislation to address undervalued foreign currencies." But Lyndon LaRouche had warned on July 27 that Beijing would "react sharply," with actions which would shock the U.S., if the recent anti-China moves in the Congress continued, especially those aimed at encouraging Taiwan independence. The House then passed H. Con. Res. 136 on July 30, calling for the Administration to abrogate U.S. agreements with China which bar the highest-level Taiwan officials from visiting Washington, D.C.
"Contrary to Senator Grassley's nonsensical message," LaRouche responded, "China has made clear that the issue was the threat against China delivered by members of the Congress in a resolution on the issue of Taiwan representation in the U.S. That's the issue that Grassley is ignorant of, or he's just ignoring the real issue. This is what I had reported July 27. I suggest Grassley get his facts straight, and use his influence to put a lid on that extremely provocative legislation. He should come to his senses and behave responsibly, rather than ideologically.
"I warned them. Some people don't pay attention to important messages."
Bush to Karzai and Maliki: Agree with Me on Iran, or Else
Aug. 12 (EIRNS)What are Bush and Cheney going to do next? They are going for "regime change" in Afghanistan and Iraq, because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, each in the past seven days, contradicted U.S. spin-doctor reports that Iran is the source of terrorism in their countries.
These anti-Iran spins are emanating from Dick Cheney's "control room"wherever that may be these days (e.g., Abe Shulsky's "Iran Directorate" at the Pentagon; Gen. Kevin Bergner's "Stovepipe" in the Baghdad Green Zone; or Cheney's own office's Middle East desk, run by regime change guru, David Wurmser, author of the 1996 blueprint for war on Iran-Iraq-Syria called "Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm").
On Aug 5, just before meeting with Bush at Camp David, Karzai told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Iran is "helpful" and "constructive" and a friend of Afghanistan.
On Aug. 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and other leaders in Tehran, after which he expressed thanks for Iran's positive role in helping Iraq.