Monthly Archives: July 2005

Read Judge John Coughenour on His Ressam Sentancing

“The message I would hope to convey in today’s sentencing is twofold:

“First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

“Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

“I would suggest that the message to the world from today’s sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

“Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

“Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

“The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

“Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

“It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I’ll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess.”

Juxtapose the Judge’s wise counsel, that the rule of Constitutional law must prevail in the adjudication of criminal charges, even for those who are not American citizens; with the government’s treatment of Jose Padilla, an American citizen.

Mr. Padilla was arrested in Chicago by federal agents in May, 2002 and has been held as a “enemy combatant” since the Bush administration legal advisors cooked up the notion of “enemy combatants” in order to avoid judicial scrutiny of the charges against those accused. Mr. Padilla, upon his designation as an “enemy combatant” by President Bush two days before his release would have been legally required, has been held in the “brig” of a South Carolina naval facility since June 2002. Padilla has never been charged with a crime and has been denied contact with legal counsel.

Padilla has been accused by the government of conspiring to detonate a “dirty bomb” and of conspiring with, and acting as a scout for, al Queda.

The 5th Amendment to U.S. Constitution provides:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The fact that Mr. Padilla has not been afforded “due process of the law” should be of concern to all of us (not to mention what is going on at Gitmo and the various prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.) It is entirely possible that Jose Padilla is guilty of all manner of heinous crimes. More likely Podilla is nothing more than a malcontent of mediocre intellect with a lengthy rap sheet. None-the-less, so that our Constitutional protections aren’t further eroded, he must be afforded an opportunity to defend himself in court.

Note: Coughenour was appointed to the Federal bench by President Reagan in 1981 and became Chief District Court judge in 1988.

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U. S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC)

The OFAC, an agency within the U. S. Treasury Department charged with investigating and blocking terrorist financing networks, has assigned five times as many agents to investigate those traveling to Cuba than to tracking bin Laden’s financing networks. As of the end of 2003 the OFAC had 21 agents harassing those traveling to Cuba and only 5 agents looking for bin Laden’s money.

Between 1990 and 2003 the OFAC opened 93 enforcement investigations related to terrorism and since 1994 has collected $9,425 in fines for terrorism financing violations.

During the same period the OFAC opened 10,683 enforcement actions against folks who have traveled to Cuba and collected more than $8 million in fines since 1994.

Again, the U. S. policy toward Cuba is driven by the 27 electoral college votes in Florida and the inordinate influence Cuban expatriates exercise over Florida politics.

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Telesur

Sunday was the first day on the air for Telesur, a satellite TV network that broadcasts throughout Latin America. The network is a creation of the governments of Venezuela, the largest shareholder; Cuba; Uruguay; and Brazil and is intended to provide an alternative to the U. S. and European owned satellite networks that now broadcast to Latin America. Brazil created TV Brasil Internacional for similar purposes.

It seems to me that the more sources of information available to any given population, the better. The U. S. government doesn’t agree.

Representative Connie Mack (R-FL) introduced legislation, adopted by Congress, which would establish a TV network to be broadcast to Venezuela, a la the broadcasts that for years have been aimed at Cuba. So U. S. taxpayer money will be used to broadcast a signal that Venezuela may easily jamb, just as has Cuba.

As sovereign nations, the developers of Telesur have an absolute right to establish a broadcasting network; but a nation’s sovereign status is inconsequential to the U. S. power elite. After all, since promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine the U. S. government has treated all Latin American nations as possessions of the U. S.; and, in fact, has either militarily invaded or unleashed covert destabilization efforts in almost every country in Latin American and the Caribbean, some multiple times.

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U. S. Health Care is Most Expensive, But is Not the Best

Why, of the developed nations of the world, does the U. S. spend the most per capita for health care and yet lag other nations in basic health indicators, such as life expectancy and child mortality?

I think it’s because the U. S. health care system is based upon the profit motive rather than upon the interests of a healthy population.

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London Bombings and Police Shooting

The London police shooting of an innocent “suspect” in the head at point blank range, after wrestling him to the ground, it seems to me, has provided a greater victory for the transit bombers than was provided by the bombings themselves. After all Britons now face summary execution at the hands of plain clothed police authorized to shoot to kill “suspected” suicide bombers; and the British government has announced proposed measures that will erode British civil liberties, some with their roots in the Magna Carta.

A couple of years ago, the London police have confirmed, the police agency changed its policy to authorize police officers pursuing suspected suicide bombers to use their discretion to shoot the suspect in the head (they don’t want to shoot a suspected suicide bomber in the body for he or she may be laden with explosives.)

So the effects of the terror unleashed by the bombers has been multiplied by the British police and government.

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Is John Bolton the Source Judith Miller is Protecting

Read the Article Here
My two readers will recall that in the “Judith Miller” post below I wrote:
“There have been reports in recent days about a 2003 State Department memo, prepared weeks before Wilson’s NYT op-ed appeared, which, reportedly, discusses Wilson’s Niger mission and the identity of his wife. So weeks before Plame’s identity was first published, by administration water carrier Robert Novak, any number of State Department officials would have access to the memo identifying Plame. John Bolton and his posse work in the State Department and the outing of Plame as retribution certainly is consistent with Bolton’s style. Of course there are any number of other true believers in the State Department who, like all true believers, can justify their venal means because their end is so right.

Steve Clemmons reports today that:
“TWN
has just learned from a highly placed source — and in the right place to know — that John Bolton was a regular source for Judith Miller’s New York Times WMD and national security reports.

“The source did not have any knowledge on whether Bolton was one of Miller’s sources on the Valerie Plame story she was preparing, but argues that he was a regular source otherwise.”

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Arnold Schwarzenegger – Pig

In announcing that he was canceling a $5 million consultant crontract he had with two body building magazines Schwarzenegger said

“‘I have no problem about the money — but my wife has a problem with that,”’ he said, referring to first lady Maria Shriver. “‘She was worried that means less diamonds every year or something like that.”’

Ok, let’s see a show of hands. Who doesn’t think that Schwarzenegger is an absolute pig?

Read the story here in the Mercury News

Californians – you voted for the jerk. Maria – you said “I do.” He’s your man.

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