United States News Digest
CIA Tape-Destruction Case Could Lead to Cheney
Jan. 4 (EIRNS)Dick Cheney's office could not have been a very happy place on Jan. 2, when Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that the Department of Justice had opened a criminal investigation of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes in 2005. Serious pursuit of the case could blow open the secret warfare that has existed between the CIA and the Cheney faction in the White House over the past seven years.
It is well known in Washington that Dick Cheney was the chief proponent of using torture in the so-called "war on terror" and carrying out other actions also regarded as war crimes by all civilized nations. Less well known, is that most experienced professionals in the CIA, as well as in the military, opposed the torture and "enhanced" interrogation techniques which were imposed on the CIA by the Cheney-directed White House.
The tapes in question reportedly recorded the CIA's interrogation and torture of two al-Qaeda operatives in 2002. One of those, Abu Zubaydah, allegedly "broke" after less than a minute of the application of the centuries-old torture technique known as "waterboarding," in which the victim is subjected to actual (not simulated) drowning, until involuntary panic takes hold and the victim agrees to whatever his tormentors are demanding. In Zubaydah's case (as also is being said about Khalid Sheikh Muhammad), he began divulging information after the water torture was used. However, many intelligence professionals doubt the value of the information, and some say it was totally worthless.
The CIA official who says that he authorized the destruction of the tapes, Jose Rodriguez, seems anxious to tell his story and requested that he be subpoenaed to testify to Congress. Former CIA officer Larry Johnson says that Rodriguez "is probably the least culpable person in the process," explaining, "He didn't wake up one day and decide, 'I'm going to destroy these tapes.' He checked with a lot of people and eventually he is going to get his say."
Before the tapes were destroyed, there were a number of discussions that took place between CIA officials and top White House lawyers, according to the New York Times. Included in those discussions was Cheney's legal counsel David Addington, who was the dominating force among White House lawyers, including President Bush's own legal counsel, according to a number of insider accounts.
Just as Addington was the leading legal voice promoting the Administration's program of torture and secret prisons, there can be little doubt that Addingtonnow Cheney's chief of staffwas also one of those reportedly recommending destruction of the incriminating torture tapes. Addington and Cheney must be more than a little nervous to know that the Justice Department is now pursuing a criminal investigation of the destruction of the tapes.
Law Mandating Statewide Voter Lists Disenfranchises Voters
Jan. 2 (EIRNS)A Federal law that required states to compile statewide voter lists by 2006 has resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of qualified voters in several states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. With U.S. voting systems already riddled with fraud and questionable accuracy, this mandate could be used to make things worse.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required all states to produce statewide voter lists, first by a 2004 deadline, which was then postponed to 2006. The HAVA did not specify the methods by which the states should compile the list, and purge illegal voters. Two states have been sued for disenfranchising qualified voters, Justin Levitt, an attorney with the Brennan Center, told EIR today.
In Florida, the Brennan Center brought a lawsuit against the state for purging 16,000 qualified voters from the lists, because of exclusive reliance on driver's license or Social Security numbers. If a number is a digit is off, the voter is declared illegal, despite any amount of on-the-spot proof. California and Washington have also been sued for requiring strict matches between voter registration forms and driver's license or Social Security number.
The state of Louisiana was sued by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, for purging 21,000 voters whose names and birthdays matched those of people in neighboring states. This ignores the well-known result that in any substantial sampling, there will be more than one individual with the same name and birthday.
In most states, a challenged voter can cast a provisional ballot. But the number of provisional ballots which are accepted as valid varies widely from state to state. The Election Assistance Commission reports that 90% of provisional ballots cast in New Jersey, Oregon, Maine, Montana, and Alaska, were counted in 2006, while fewer than 25% were upheld in Michigan, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Delaware, and Hawaii.
Six states have not compiled the required statewide list yet, and fourNew York, New Jersey, Alabama, and Maineare being sued.
A large number of disqualifications result from the fact that a voter loses registration by failing to vote in two consecutive Federal elections.
Every concerned voter has an interest in finding out how their states have compiled, or are compiling, the Federally-mandated statewide lists, Levitt said.
Bloomberg Fest: 'These People are Moral Failures!'
Jan. 1 (EIRNS)New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's featured participation on Jan. 7 at a University of Oklahoma meeting of active and retired politicians "against partisanship" and "for national unity," has given a big boost to his rumored forthcoming third-party Presidential campaign. That meeting will be hosted by former Oklahoma Democratic Senator Dave Boren, and will also feature former Democratic Senators Alan Dixon (Ill.), Bob Graham (Fla.), Gary Hart (Colo.), Sam Nunn (Ga.), and Chuck Robb (Va.), and as well as former Republican Senators Bill Brock (Tenn.), William Cohen (Maine), and John Danforth (Mo.), and current Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Also attending will be former Iowa GOP Congressman Jim Leach, Susan Eisenhower (the late President's granddaughter), David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and others.
Already, the prospective Oklahoma meeting has called forth an endorsement of a Bloomberg candidacy by Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, and a New York Times web page with a collection of its Bloomberg coverage going back to 1995.
Boren's letter calling the meeting says, "Today, we are a house divided. We believe that the next President must be able to call for a unity of effort by choosing the best talent availablewithout regard for political partyto help lead our nation.... Electing a president based solely on the platform or promises of one party is not adequate for this time. Until you end the polarization and have bipartisanship, nothing else matters, because one party will simply block the other from acting." He said the nation needs a "government of national unity."
Lyndon LaRouche commented, "These people are just absolute moral failures! This is idiocy! But idiots get into this; they get into one of these smarmy-marmy kinds of things. They're all going to rub bellies together, all good and happy; we're all good people; we're all coming to the help of our country; we're just trying to get out from under all this crazy dissent here, come to a movement of national reconciliation, like the Nazi Party. It's disgusting! It's like Hermann Göring holding a reconciliation party."
Saudi Arms Deal May Be Blocked in House
Dec. 31 (EIRNS)A Bush Administration plan to sell satellite guidance kits (known as JDAMs) for 2,000-pound bombs to Saudi Arabia, appears to be about to run into a buzzsaw in the Congress. According to the Dec. 27 London Guardian, 253 of the 435 members in the House of Representatives have signed a letter warning the Bush Administration that the deal will be blocked when the State Department formally notifies Congress of the sale on Jan. 15. The leader of this effort, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), has 35 co-sponsors, from both parties, on a resolution of disapproval to be introduced as soon as the notification arrives. The proposed deal is a component of a larger $20 billion package of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, other Arab Persian Gulf states, proposed last Fall by the Bush Administration.
Unfortunately, neither Weiner nor any of his supporters in this effort ever bring up Saudi Arabia's intimate involvement in corrupt deals with the British defense company BAE Systems. Instead, the move to block the sale comes from the pro-Israel lobby's claims that the weapons will be a threat to Israel, and complaints that Saudi Arabia is not a reliable partner in the war on terror.
It was a similar mobilization of the Zionist lobby in 1985, blocking the sale of F-16 fighter jets to the Saudi kingdom, that allowed Prince Bandar to seal a deal with London, known as "Al-Yamamah." Will the Saudis turn once again to BAE and other British arms cartels, if Congress shoots down the satellite guidance deal?