Karl Rove Discusses His Second Subpoena From House Judiciary Committee

Terror Suspect’s Case Drags on 5 years After Arrest in Minneapolis

“Some harm to civil liberties seems to be endemic to war situations and you know, at the end of the day, if we win this war against terrorism, we and the whole world will be more free and our rights will be more secure, but along the way, there may be some situations and some individuals who will have the opposite,” said Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.

StarTribune.com

December 15, 2008

On a cold December morning five years ago, FBI agents knocked on the door of a basement apartment in northeast Minneapolis, and Mohamed Abdullah Warsame answered.

He let the agents in to talk, and later they took him to another location to talk more. He hasn’t been home since.

For five years, Warsame, now 35, has been awaiting trial on charges that he provided material support to Al-Qaida. A Canadian citizen of Somali descent, he has done most of the waiting alone in a jail cell, under special restrictions that limit his contact with the outside world.

His pretrial detention is one of the longest for a terrorism- related case since Sept. 11, with the delays stemming from a variety of sources.

Authorities have needed extra time for security clearances. Attorneys have argued over Warsame’s detention conditions and debated access to facts and witnesses. Some information is classified by the federal government, and defense attorneys have no legal access to it. An appeals court is also considering whether some of Warsame’s statements to authorities, thrown out by the district judge, should be allowed to be used against him.

Warsame was one of 46 still awaiting trial as of mid-2007, among the 108 charged since Sept. 11 with providing material support to a terrorist organization, according to one analyst who tracks such cases.

The length of Warsame’s case raises questions about how the courts handle terrorism cases.

The federal courts are “being used the same way that the prosecutions in Guantanamo are being used … based on the accusation of terrorism, the normal rules don’t seem to apply,” said Peter Erlinder, a professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul and who has been involved in Warsame’s defense and at least one other terrorism-related case. Some Guantanamo detainees are being released in less time than Warsame has been held, Erlinder said.

Others point out that Warsame and other defendants in terrorism cases present unusual circumstances.

“Some harm to civil liberties seems to be endemic to war situations and you know, at the end of the day, if we win this war against terrorism, we and the whole world will be more free and our rights will be more secure, but along the way, there may be some situations and some individuals who will have the opposite,” said Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. “And it’s a shame, but nonetheless, if there’s a strong reason to believe that this man was involved with terrorists, I wouldn’t want him out on the streets.”

Warsame’s case may be cited as the debate rages about what to do with detainees if Guantanamo closes, said Robert Chesney, a Wake Forest University professor who compiled the data on 108 defendants. Warsame’s is the longest pretrial detention of the post-9/11 terrorism prosecutions that Chesney has found.

Some question whether federal courts are equipped to handle such cases or special courts should be set up.

Those against setting up special courts argue that defendants would be deprived of due process and a fair trial.

John Radsan, a former CIA attorney who is now a professor at William Mitchell, said the public will see more drawn-out court procedures if terrorism cases continue in federal courts. Rules have long been in place to handle classified information in federal court, he said, but few cases needed them.

Though Radsan said he favors prosecuting high-level terrorism cases in a separate arena, Warsame doesn’t necessarily fall into that category, he said.

Nevertheless, Warsame’s case highlights the difficulty of using regular courts. “If we’re having this much trouble on Warsame, imagine what’s in store if we try to handle higher-level terrorists in the regular courts,” he said.

A dragged-out case

Warsame, who was a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College at the time of his arrest, is charged with lying to federal agents about traveling to Afghanistan in 2000 and later sending $2,000 to an associate he met at a training camp there. Authorities contend Warsame once dined next to Osama bin Laden and fought on the front lines with the Taliban.

The U.S. attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

A defense attorney said early in the case that Warsame was searching for a Muslim utopia and went to training camps because he was out of money and needed shelter. The attorney said someone had lent Warsame money to get back to North America and the money he sent was repayment.

The latest delay in the case comes as the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals considers a district judge’s ruling that statements Warsame made to authorities on his second day of interviews with FBI agents in 2003 cannot be used against him. U.S. District Judge John Tunheim found that Warsame was in custody that day when agents spoke to him without a Miranda warning at Camp Ripley, a National Guard base near Little Falls.

Prosecutors appealed that decision to the higher court.

Defense attorney David Thomas said he’s been frustrated by the lack of access to information. “Most of the evidence is classified, so I can’t see that,” Thomas said. “I sit there and I watch. The government will make a submission to Judge Tunheim and then Tunheim will lob something back to the government and, you know, I don’t see any of it. It’s like sitting at a tennis match, watching the ball go back and forth.”

‘Give Warsame a chance’

Thomas said his client is “full of vim and vigor” and wants to keep fighting the charges.

Warsame’s family in the Twin Cities declined to comment.

Talk of the case has been fading in the local Somali community recently, said Sharmarke Jama, a member of the United Somali Movement. Nevertheless, the length of the case helped feed skepticism, fear and mistrust of the justice system, he added.

The Somali Justice Advocacy Center’s Omar Jamal said he plans to write a letter and “plead to the court to give [Warsame] a chance for his day in court and get over with this. He’s been there suffering, not knowing his fate.”

Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102

Sneaky George W. Bush Pushing Through Dozens of Last-Minute Legislative Scams

THE OBSERVER

PAUL HARRIS

DEC 14 2008

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After spending eight years at the helm of one of the most ideologically driven administrations in American history, George W. Bush is ending his presidency in characteristically aggressive fashion, with a swath of controversial measures designed to reward supporters and enrage opponents.

By the time he vacates the White House, he will have issued a record number of so-called ‘midnight regulations’ – so called because of the stealthy way they appear on the rule books – to undermine the administration of Barack Obama, many of which could take years to undo.

Dozens of new rules have already been introduced which critics say will diminish worker safety, pollute the environment, promote gun use and curtail abortion rights. Many rules promote the interests of large industries, such as coal mining or energy, which have energetically supported Bush during his two terms as president. More are expected this week.

America’s attention is focused on the fate of the beleaguered car industry, still seeking backing in Washington for a multi-billion-dollar bail-out. But behind the scenes, the ‘midnight’ rules are being rushed through with little fanfare and minimal media attention. None of them would be likely to appeal to the incoming Obama team.

The regulations cover a vast policy area, ranging from healthcare to car safety to civil liberties. Many are focused on the environment and seek to ease regulations that limit pollution or restrict harmful industrial practices, such as dumping strip-mining waste.

The Bush moves have outraged many watchdog groups. ‘The regulations we have seen so far have been pretty bad,’ said Matt Madia, a regulatory policy analyst at OMB Watch. ‘The effects of all this are going to be severe.’

Bush can pass the rules because of a loophole in US law allowing him to put last-minute regulations into the Code of Federal Regulations, rules that have the same force as law. He can carry out many of his political aims without needing to force new laws through Congress. Outgoing presidents often use the loophole in their last weeks in office, but Bush has done this far more than Bill Clinton or his father, George Bush sr. He is on track to issue more ‘midnight regulations’ than any other previous president.

Many of these are radical and appear to pay off big business allies of the Republican party. One rule will make it easier for coal companies to dump debris from strip mining into valleys and streams. The process is part of an environmentally damaging technique known as ‘mountain-top removal mining’. It involves literally removing the top of a mountain to excavate a coal seam and pouring the debris into a valley, which is then filled up with rock. The new rule will make that dumping easier.

Another midnight regulation will allow power companies to build coal-fired power stations nearer to national parks. Yet another regulation will allow coal-fired stations to increase their emissions without installing new anti-pollution equipment.

The Environmental Defence Fund has called the moves a ‘fire sale of epic size for coal’. Other environmental groups agree. ‘The only motivation for some of these rules is to benefit the business interests that the Bush administration has served,’ said Ed Hopkins, a director of environmental quality at the Sierra Club. A case in point would seem to be a rule that opens up millions of acres of land to oil shale extraction, which environmental groups say is highly pollutant.

There is a long list of other new regulations that have gone onto the books. One lengthens the number of hours that truck drivers can drive without rest. Another surrenders government control of rerouting the rail transport of hazardous materials around densely populated areas and gives it to the rail companies.

One more chips away at the protection of endangered species. Gun control is also weakened by allowing loaded and concealed guns to be carried in national parks. Abortion rights are hit by allowing healthcare workers to cite religious or moral grounds for opting out of carrying out certain medical procedures.

A common theme is shifting regulation of industry from government to the industries themselves, essentially promoting self-regulation. One rule transfers assessment of the impact of ocean-fishing away from federal inspectors to advisory groups linked to the fishing industry. Another allows factory farms to self-regulate disposal of pollutant run-off.

The White House denies it is sabotaging the new administration. It says many of the moves have been openly flagged for months. The spate of rules is going to be hard for Obama to quickly overcome. By issuing them early in the ‘lame duck’ period of office, the Bush administration has mostly dodged 30- or 60-day time limits that would have made undoing them relatively straightforward.

Obama’s team will have to go through a more lengthy process of reversing them, as it is forced to open them to a period of public consulting. That means that undoing the damage could take months or even years, especially if corporations go to the courts to prevent changes.

At the same time, the Obama team will have a huge agenda on its plate as it inherits the economic crisis. Nevertheless, anti-midnight regulation groups are lobbying Obama’s transition team to make sure Bush’s new rules are changed as soon as possible. ‘They are aware of this. The transition team has a list of things they want to undo,’ said Madia.

General Barry McCaffrey Exposed For The Ultimate Spineless Shill That He Is

THE NEW YORK TIMES

November 30, 2008

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

[Read more…]

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