Tag Archives: Media News

This Week’s “Unearthed” News from RFK Jr.

* Here’s the latest “Unearthed” news from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle (report courtesy of the Huffington Post).

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

Supreme Court Slashes Exxon Valdez Judgment

The Supreme Court slashed a $2.5 billion punitive damages award for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to just $500 million. An Alaskan jury originally awarded $5 billion in 1994 in punitive damages for the fishermen, Native Americans and residents of Prince William Sound whose lives were devastated by the 11 million gallon oil spill which spoiled 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline. Exxon Mobil waged a protracted, 14-year legal battle to appeal that award; in 2006 a federal appeals court cut the amount in half to $2.5 billion. Exxon appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to completely reject punitive damages because the company claims it spent $3.4 billion in fines, penalties and cleanup costs related to the accident.

In the court’s 5-3 decision (Justice Samuel Alito was recused since he owns over $100,000 in Exxon stock) Justice David Souter wrote that the Exxon Valdez spill was “profitless” for the company and that the penalty should be “reasonably predictable” in its severity.

Of the 33,000 plaintiffs who were originally eligible to share in the jury award handed down in 1994, 20 percent have died over the course of Exxon’s 14-year appeal.

Surviving plaintiffs will collect an average of about $15,000 a person in punitive damages, one-tenth what they were awarded under the original $5 billion judgment.

Oil still oozes from the beaches in Prince William Sound, continuing to impact the ecosystem which was devastated by the spill that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine animals. Exxon Mobil’s first-quarter 2008 profits were $10.9 billion. The company’s 2007 profit was $40.6 billion.

 
White House Blocks EPA Draft On Global Warming Emissions

The White House is working to block the Environmental Protection Agency from publishing a document which outlines how the government could regulate global warming emissions under the Clean Air Act while benefiting the economy. The document is based on a multi-year, multimillion-dollar study by EPA and its findings could ultimately serve as a legal roadmap for regulating U.S. global warming emissions.

That is, until it faced review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Bush’s OMB is demanding that EPA delete sections of the document that outline how greenhouse gas emissions could be regulated, delete any references asserting that emissions endanger public welfare, and delete an analysis of the benefits to the economy of regulating greenhouse gases here and abroad.

The OMB instead wants the document to suggest that the Clean Air Act is ineffective and that greenhouse gases should be regulated under new legislation. The draft is effectively being held hostage until EPA makes OMB’s changes, since the White House must approve a final draft before EPA can release the document publicly.

The draft EPA document confirms that fuel efficiency could be improved to well above 35 miles per gallon by 2020; CO2 emissions could easily be regulated through the government-permit process and through a cap-and-trade system similar to existing programs for acid rain and mercury; and that overall, the regulations would be beneficial to the U.S. economy.

“The net benefit to society could be in excess of $2 trillion,” according to the draft document.
Polar Scientists Predict Possibility of Open Water at North Pole This Summer

Polar scientists predict that Arctic sea ice could break up and leave a large patch of open water at the North Pole this summer for the first time in human history. Satellite data from recent weeks indicates that the rate of melting is faster than last year, when the Arctic experienced an all-time record loss of summer sea ice.

“From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water,” said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. Dr Serreze predicts that “it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out” this summer.

Ice scientists are quick to point out the difficulty in predicting exactly how much of the ice will melt this summer, but note that the presence of large amounts of thinner ice formed over a single year is more vulnerable to melting than the normally thick ice formed over many years at the Pole. Global warming has increased average temperatures far more at the polar regions than elsewhere, and the loss of sea ice leads to more dark, open ocean which absorbs more heat and could raise polar temperatures even higher.
BLM Halts Solar Projects Citing Need for Environmental Review

The Bureau of Land Management declared a moratorium on new solar power projects on public land until it studies their potential environmental impact, a process that could take two years and cripple the booming solar industry. Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants as demand for alternative energy accelerates daily, BLM says it will spend up to two years conducting an extensive study to determine how the solar plants might affect the environment of 119 million acres of public land the bureau oversees in the West, most of which is ideally suited for solar energy.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Holly Gordon, vice president of Ausra, a California-based solar thermal energy company. “The Bureau of Land Management land has some of the best solar resources in the world. This could completely stunt the growth of the industry.”

The moratorium, combined with the uncertain future of federal solar investment tax credits set to expire at the end of the year because Congress has failed to renew them, could stifle solar industry growth and prevent or delay the creation of thousands of jobs in the process. During 2006-2007, when the tax credit was solidly in place and the BLM was calling for projects to be approved in a “timely manner,” the solar installation boom generated 6,000 new jobs and injected $2 billion into the U.S. economy.

Due to BLM’s decision to shelve new proposals until they finish the study, small solar energy businesses may be forced to turn to more expensive private land for development, adding another barrier to the rapid deployment of viable alternative energy sources.
U.S. Mayors Resolve to Avoid Burning Dirty Tar Sands Oil

The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution this week discouraging the use of high carbon fuels such as tar sands, liquid coal, and oil shale.

“We don’t want to spend taxpayer dollars on fuels that make global warming worse,” said Mayor Kitty Piercy, of Eugene, Oregon, who submitted the resolution.

The mayors’ resolution discourages participating U.S. cities from purchasing oil derived from the tar sands operations in Alberta, Canada, noting that “… the production of tar sands oil from Canada emits approximately three times the carbon dioxide pollution per barrel as does conventional oil production and significantly damages Canada’s Boreal forest ecosystem – the world’s largest carbon storehouse …”

The process of extracting oil from tar sands also uses more water and requires larger amounts of energy than conventional oil extraction.

“Not only will we give preference to clean, renewable energy sources, we are standing our ground when it comes to synthetic petroleum-based fuels that exacerbate global warming,” said Mayor Marty Blum of Santa Barbara, California.

More than 850 mayors are signatories to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their respective cities in the absence of federal leadership under the Bush administration.

 

Bush Signs $162B War Spending Bill for Iraq, Afghanistan
President Bush signed a $162 billion war spending bill this week, bringing the amount Congress has provided for the Iraq war since it began in 2003 to more than $650 billion and in Afghanistan to nearly $200 billion.

Those figures don’t represent the total amount spent by the military, however, since a new Congressional Research Service report shows the U.S. government has spent about $700 billion on “military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.” Roughly 75% of that money has been devoted to the war in Iraq, CRS estimates.

 
Afghanistan Civilian Death Toll Rises Sharply

The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2008 climbed by almost two-thirds compared with last year, according to the United Nations. Nearly 700 civilians have died, demonstrating the instability and violence afflicting the country, which is struggling to deliver emergency aid to civilians. Sixty percent of the casualties were caused by insurgents, while government or foreign troops killed 255 people, the UN said. The causes of 21 other deaths were unclear.

 
U.S. Officials Advised Iraqi Oil Ministry on No-Bid Contracts

The State Department led a team of American advisers who played an integral role in setting up no-bid contracts for five major Western oil companies to develop Iraq’s largest oil fields. Despite earlier claims to the contrary, the Bush Administration had direct involvement in the negotiations to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development, sending U.S. government lawyers and private-sector consultants to Iraq with contract templates and detailed suggestions on how the deals should be drafted. Sources familiar with the proceedings confirmed that representatives of the State, Commerce, Energy and Interior Departments have all aided the Iraqi Oil Ministry on how best to commercialize Iraq’s oil deposits.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed on Fox News earlier this month that “The United States government has stayed out of the matter of awarding the Iraq oil contracts. It’s a private sector matter.”

The no-bid contracts were widely anticipated to be awarded Monday to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, but the Iraqi Oil Ministry balked at the last minute. The Ministry revealed that the Western oil companies demanded to receive a share in the profits from future oil development, rather than cash payments for services rendered which the Iraqi government prefers.

The confirmation of Bush administration meddling in Iraq’s oil dealings leaves little question that the real intent of the invasion of Iraq was to earn American companies a piece of Iraq’s oil endowment.

“We pretend it is not a centerpiece of our motivation, yet we keep confirming that it is,” said Frederick D. Barton, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Despite the fact that other countries provided free advice and services in the past few years to help the Iraqi Oil Ministry prepare to ramp up production, only Western companies have received the bigger oil contracts so far.

 
Scalia Continues to Blame Al Gore for the 2000 Election Debacle

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told the Telegraph (UK) that Al Gore should have conceded the 2000 election without legal action. Scalia played an integral part in stopping the Florida recount, joining four other justices who ruled the recount method impractical and handed the presidency to George W. Bush. Scalia said, “if you don’t like it, don’t blame it on me. I didn’t bring it into the courts. Mr Gore brought it into the courts. So if you don’t like the courts getting involved talk to Mr Gore.”

“So I have no regrets about taking the case and I think our decision in the case was absolutely right. But if you ask me ‘Am I sorry it all happened?’ Of course I am sorry it happened there was no way that we were going to come out of it smelling like a rose. I mean, one side or the other was going to feel that was a politicized decision but that goes with the territory.”

 
KBR Accused of Knowingly Exposing U.S. Troops to Highly Toxic Chemical in Iraq

Defense contractor KBR is accused of knowingly exposing U.S. troops to sodium dichromate, a potentially lethal, carcinogenic chemical. KBR failed to warn 250 U.S. soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure that the chemical was present all over the site. Witnesses, including a former KBR employee responsible for health and safety at the site, testified at a Capitol Hill hearing this week that many of the exposed soldiers were “bleeding from the nose, spitting blood,” and getting sick while guarding the plant.

Scientific studies show that even short-term exposure to sodium dichromate – the same chemical that poisoned residents in Hinkley, CA made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich” – can cause cancer and harm the liver and immune system, among other impacts.

Witnesses at the hearing testified that KBR supervisors initially told the soldiers that sodium dichromate was a “mild irritant,” but finally acknowledged that the chemical was a potentially deadly substance and moved to clean up the site once soldiers starting getting ill.
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RFK Jr.’s News of the Week

Here’s the latest “Unearthed” News from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle:

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

 

Government Report Links Extreme Weather In North America To Global Warming Pollution

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program released a 162-page report overwhelmingly confirming that manmade pollution is causing “changes in weather and climate change.” The report concludes that an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events “could seriously affect” human health, agricultural production, and the availability and quality of water in North America.
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080619_climatereport.html
Led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the report represents the most extensive assessment yet of how global warming will impact North Americans in the future, synthesizing the findings of more than 100 academic papers, including the latest scientific evidence which wasn’t considered in the most recent IPCC assessment. The report confirms that manmade global warming pollution has caused an increased frequency of heat waves, droughts, severe rainfall, and fierce hurricanes, and that there is a 90 percent likelihood that the frequency and intensity of such extreme weather events will continue to accelerate unless immediate action is taken to slow global warming pollution.


Exxon, Shell and BP Among Oil Giants Set to Receive No-Bid Contracts in Iraq

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company prior to nationalization of Iraq’s oil business 36 years ago — are “in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields.” The contracts are intended to jumpstart oil production by half a million barrels a day while Iraqi leaders debate legislation on how to divide the nation’s oil revenues.

Although worth only about $500 million to each company, the no-bid contracts are expected to give the companies a significant bidding advantage over competitors in future contracts on Iraqi oil development. The New York Times confirmed that the “unusual” no-bid contracts were awarded to the oil companies because they provided free advice over the past two years to the Iraq Oil Ministry. In all cases but one, the same company that provided free advice to the ministry on a specific oil field was awarded the contract for that field.

Leila Benali, an authority on Middle East oil at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, told the Times that “The bigger prize everybody is waiting for is development of the giant new fields,” and that these initial contracts give the winning companies a “foothold” to vie for longer-term deals in Iraq.

While State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that the U.S. had “no involvement” in encouraging the no-bid deals with U.S. oil companies, the Times points out that “there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.”

The Bush administration indicated that it sees no need to “get involved” with the negotiations, despite concerns that the presence of U.S. companies, particularly ExxonMobil, could escalate tensions in Iraq and lead to further violence against U.S. troops.
U.S. Government Testing Drugs with Severe Side Effects on War Veterans

The government is employing hundreds of military veterans as lab rats in drug tests, distributing medications known to have potentially severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior. A media investigation uncovered how the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying cash to distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to take part in medical experiments. The practice raised serious ethical concerns in the wake of a near-lethal confrontation between police and an Iraq war veteran who suffered a psychotic episode while taking the controversial anti-smoking drug Chantix.

The VA knew for weeks that the drug had potentially severe mental side effects, yet failed to inform study participants of the dangers prior to the near-fatal incident involving James Elliott, a decorated Iraqi veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who was Tasered by police responding to a 911 call at his Maryland home. Elliot claims he was suffering from Chantix-induced psychotic hallucinations when he reached for a gun as officers approached him. Elliott was part of a Chantix trial targeted toward veterans with PTSD, and said the drug led him to suffer frequent hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.

The FDA alerted the VA weeks before Elliott’s incident that Chantix was responsible for a large number of reported hallucinations, suicide attempts and psychotic behavior, but the VA did not alert Elliott or his fellow study participants of the risks prior to his confrontation with police. “You’re a lab rat for $30 a month,” Elliott said, arguing that the VA treated him like a “disposable hero.”
New Research Links Traffic Pollution to Childhood Allergies

A study by German epidemiologists reveals the strongest evidence yet that the risk of developing a range of allergies and respiratory illnesses increases the closer children live to congested roads. The study suggests the risk of developing asthma, hay fever, eczema or other allergies is roughly 50 percent higher for children living 50 yards from a busy road than for those living 1,000 yards away.

“We consistently found strong associations between the distance to the nearest main road and the allergic disease outcomes,” the study’s lead author, Joachim Heinrich, wrote in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


Oil Tycoon Pickens Tells Congress World Oil Production Has Peaked

Billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens told Congress he believes that oil production has peaked at 85 million barrels per day. Pickens said during testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the United States’ continued heavy reliance on foreign oil could drain the U.S. economy unless lawmakers act quickly to jumpstart a clean technology revolution. “The price of oil will go up further,” Pickens predicts. “In 10 years, we will have exported close to $10 trillion out of the country if we continue on the same basis we’re going now. It is the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind,” he said. Pickens, who made his fortune investing in oil, announced plans for a $2 billion wind energy project earlier this year.
Blackwater Asks Judge to Apply Afghan Islamic Law Instead of U.S. Law In U.S. Soldier Fatalities Lawsuit

Private military contractor Blackwater is asking a federal court to rely on Sharia, the Islamic law of Afghanistan, rather than U.S. law, in an effort to avoid potentially stiff penalties in a lawsuit brought by the widows of three American soldiers who died when the Blackwater-run plane they were on crashed in the Afghan mountains.

Blackwater founder and owner Erik Prince told editors and reporters at North Carolina’s News & Observer newspaper that, because the crash occurred in Afghanistan, the company believes the case should be decided by Afghan law. Sharia does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees during the course of their work.
The lawsuit would be dismissed if the judge agrees that Sharia law applies in Blackwater’s case.
Denver Police Stockpiling Pepper Weapons Ahead of Democratic Convention

Denver police are buying dozens of guns that fire a pepper spray-like substance instead of bullets, designed to aid police efforts to disperse crowds. The guns fire plastic balls filled with a powder that’s “like a combination of cayenne pepper and baby powder,” according to the manufacturer, which confirmed to reporters that the police requested the order be delivered in time for the Democratic National Convention in late August.

Denver received a $50 million federal grant for security during the convention, but refuses to disclose exactly how it is spending that money, prompting a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union last month.


Cheney Wins Battle, Records Will Remain Hidden From the Public

Vice President Dick Cheney won the battle to withhold his office’s records from the public, leaving members of Congress frustrated and convinced that there may not be any further avenues to gain access to the secretive Vice President’s records before he leaves office. “I’m not sure there’s anything we can do,” said Representative Henry Waxman, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “He has managed to stonewall everyone.”

Cheney argues that he doesn’t belong to either the executive or the legislative branch of government exclusively, and therefore isn’t subject to public information laws, even though previous administrations complied with information requests. Government personnel officials also confirmed that they have no information on Cheney’s staff available for public review either.

The Justice Department rebuffed repeated requests by members of Congress to investigate Cheney’s claims to secrecy, agreeing with the Bush administration’s assertion that Cheney and his staff are not part of the executive branch.
Rumsfeld Solicited Torture Advice From Army Psychologists, Ignored Lawyers’ Objections

A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation revealed that former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and senior aides in the Pentagon asked military psychologists as early as July 2002 to provide a list of harsh methods interrogators might employ against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The psychologists, who train Army troops how to survive enemy interrogations, responded with a list of techniques including sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding and slapping. Despite immediate objections from military lawyers who questioned the legality of using the proposed techniques without further review, Rumsfeld ordered interrogators to use the methods on detainees at Gauntanamo anyway.

The Committee’s investigation also revealed that the Defense Department strategically hid prisoners who were subjected to the harsher techniques from Red Cross personnel monitoring detention centers to ensure compliance with the Geneva Convention rules for treatment of prisoners of war. According to secret memos from 2002 when the harsh methods were first employed at Guantanamo, Pentagon attorney Lt. Col. Diane Beaver advised interrogators to “curb the harsher operations” while the Red Cross monitors were around, and said in a private meeting that interrogators’ use of the techniques “is not being reported officially. The [Red Cross] is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.”

Beaver’s comments were recorded in the minutes of an October 2002 meeting between CIA and military lawyers and intelligence officials who discussed how to hide “ghost detainees” from the Red Cross at military detention centers.

Another attendee at the meeting, senior CIA lawyer John Fredman, explained that whether harsh interrogation amount to torture “is a matter of perception.” Fredman said, “If the detainees dies you’re doing it wrong.”

Armed Services Committee chair Sen. Carl Levin commented, “Were these actions the result of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that’s not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”

 

This column originally appeared in Huffington Post.

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More “Unearthed” News from RFK Jr.

Here’s this week’s “Unearthed” news column from RFK Jr. (you can also listen to this report at the Ring of Fire radio website or watch it at GoLeft.tv):

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

Huffington Post

 

Bush Regrets Legacy as “Guy Really Anxious for War”

President Bush told the UK newspaper The Times in an exclusive interview that he regrets his reputation as a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. Recognizing the bitter divisions both at home and abroad caused by the war, Bush suggested, “in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.” Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive,” Bush said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”

 
McClatchy Investigation Confirms Routine Torture At U.S. bases in Afghanistan

 

An eight-month investigation by McClatchy Newspapers confirmed the mistreatment and systematic torture of detainees in Afghanistan, starting in 2001 and lasting at least 20 months. Sixty-eight percent of former detainees interviewed by McClatchy say they were assaulted in Afghanistan, far surpassing the number of detainees with similar stories from Guantanamo Bay. Prison guards interviewed by McClatchy say they were deployed to run Afghan detention centers with inadequate training, a poor understanding of the rules of conduct, and an absence of supervision. “Everybody hit their boiling point,” according to one interviewee who described how he and fellow guards routinely beat detainees. Asked why they would abuse prisoners, one guard said “retribution for September 11, 2001,” indicating that many guards believed the detainees were terrorists, even though the vast majority of the detainees had little or no connection to al Qaeda.

“Whether they got in trouble or not, everybody struck a detainee at some point,” said Brian Cammack, an Army Reservist sentenced to three months in military confinement and a dishonorable discharge for hitting a detainee. Spc. Jeremy Callaway, another Army Reservist who admitted to striking numerous detainees in Afghanistan, told military investigators that he was ordered to “mentally and physically break the detainees.” He testified that, “I guess you can call it torture.”

 
Bush Administration Enables Oil Companies to Harass Already Threatened Polar Bears

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently issued rules allowing seven big oil companies to harass and potentially harm polar bears in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. The new regulations shield the seven companies, which include Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips, from any liability for harming polar bears while exploring for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea. The FWS argues that exploration in the midst of polar bear habitat would have a “negligible effect on the bears’ population,” a claim at odds with the Interior Department’s decision less than a month ago to list polar bears as a threatened species because of habitat loss due to global warming. Industrial activity is known to disrupt polar bears’ search for food and their efforts to raise cubs in dens protected from human disturbance.

 
Right Wing Talk Host Michael Reagan Calls for Murder of Anti War Activists

On June 13, talk radio host Michael Reagan, the adopted son of former president Ronald Reagan and occasional guest anchor on Fox News, called for the murder of anti-war activists who, according to Reagan, are sending letters to U.S. soldiers arguing that the U.S. government had a role in 9/11.

Reagan told his nationally-syndicated radio audience:

“Take em out and shoot em. . . . You take em out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. . . . Anybody who would do that doesn’t deserve to live. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that’s what they are. And you shoot em dead. I’ll pay for the bullets.”

 
Newt Gingrich Claims Supreme Court Decision Will ‘cost us a city’

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich echoed the extreme right wing rhetoric of Justice Antonin Scalia on Face the Nation June 15th, claiming that the Supreme Court’s recent decision restoring the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo detainees would “cost us a city.” Justice Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion that the Court’s decision “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Gingrich told the Face the Nation audience that “the debate ought to be about whether you’re prepared to lose an American city on behalf of five lawyers — it was a five to four decision… [and debate] whether or not you’re prepared to allow any random, nutcake district judge who has no knowledge of national security to set the rules for terrorists.”

 
Bush Impeachment Articles Presented to Congress by Dennis Kucinich

Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich presented thirty-five articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to Congress last week.
Many of the articles deal with the Iraq war, including the first: “Article 1 – Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq.”

Other articles delve into GOP election fraud, such as Article 28, charging President Bush with “tampering with free and fair elections,” along with “corruption of the administration of justice.” Article 29 charges the Bush administration and the GOP with “conspiracy to violate the Civil Rights Act of 1965.”

Kucinich presented impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney in April. Kucinich said at the time that “impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.”

 
Federal Judge Rules White House Can Keep Millions of Missing Emails Secret

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the White House can keep secret its paper trail regarding millions of missing emails which could shed further light on the administration’s internal communications leading up to the war in Iraq. The judge ruled that the Office of Administration is shielded from Freedom of Information Act requests because it lacks “substantial independent authority” and its functions “are strictly administrative.” The office previously responded to FOIA requests ever since it was established in 1978, but the Bush White House reversed that policy last year when the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the White House over its records concerning the missing emails. The ruling closes another door on public attempts to learn why the White House is so closely guarding information about the missing emails.

 
Supreme Court Rejects ExxonMobil Efforts to Avoid Human Rights Lawsuit

ExxonMobil’s efforts to appeal a 2001 human rights lawsuit fell on deaf ears at the Supreme Court, which rejected the company’s arguments for dismissing the case. Human rights advocates brought the suit against Exxon on behalf of 11 Indonesian villagers who allege that Exxon hired Indonesian military members to harass and abuse them near one of the company’s natural gas facilities.

The justices are also expected to rule before the end of the month on whether ExxonMobil has to pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. Exxon has waged a 14-year fight over its liabilities for the disaster since a jury in Alaska originally awarded $5 billion to Valdez fishermen and residents whose lives and businesses were devastated by the spill. An appeals court halved the award in 2006, and Exxon is asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the award entirely, claiming the company owes nothing beyond what it already spent cleaning up the spill. Justice Samuel Alito is recused from hearing both cases because he owns at least $100,0000 in ExxonMobil stock.

 
BBC Uncovers $23 Billion in Lost, Stolen and Unaccounted Iraq Funds

BBC journalists estimate the loss, theft or shoddy accounting of as much as $23 billion in U.S. spending in Iraq. Private contractors have collected massive profits throughout the Iraq war and rebuilding process, often winning no-bid contracts like the initial $7 billion give-away to Halliburton in the run-up to the invasion. Not a single U.S. contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanaged funds yet, primarily due to a gag order restricting discussion of the allegations that will likely remain in place until President Bush leaves office. Representative Henry Waxman, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, predicts that the enrichment of contractors “may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.” Waxman told the BBC that the “waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, it’s egregious.”

 
White House Hinders EPA Scientists’ Assessments of Toxic Chemicals

In a move that could threaten the health of millions of Americans, the White House instituted policy changes to delay EPA’s scientific assessments of toxic chemicals, making it harder for the public to comment and limiting independent scientific review. The changes affect the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which tracks the health risks of hundreds of toxic chemicals and is used by EPA offices to set protective health standards for drinking water, air pollution and toxic waste cleanups.

Dr. Linda Greer, director of NRDC’s public health program, testified last week before a House Science subcommittee that the new White House policy “invites the injection of non-scientific considerations into the IRIS assessments, and further, it shields from public scrutiny the input from other parts of the government with a potential financial or political interest in the outcome of a particular assessment.”

The changes introduce three new opportunities for OMB and other non-health agencies to intervene in EPA’s health assessments – all three shielded from public view. Previously the IRIS process provided draft assessments to the public, OMB and non-health agencies at the same time. The new process injects polluting agencies such as DOD and DOE into the assessment process at an earlier stage, and with no public disclosure, and forces EPA staff to address the interests of the non-health focused agencies whether they are consistent with public health policies or not. Then the draft is finally made available to the public for comment, but a final intervention point before the assessment can be finalized requires EPA staff to resolve any outstanding concerns OMB and polluting agencies might raise. Dr. Greer told the House science subcommittee that “this new process is designed precisely to give the polluting agencies more access and more influence to what has historically been an objective scientific evaluation process — and to add at least two or more years to the review of mission critical chemicals.”

 

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RFK Jr’s Weekly News The Corporate Media Forgot to Report

* We now bring you Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s latest Huffington Post article:

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

Bush Admits U.S. ‘learning as we go’ in Iraq, Afghanistan


President Bush admitted during his commencement address at the Air Force Academy last week that “we’re learning as we go” in the Afghanistan and Iraq rebuilding efforts. Bush also drew what many historians say is an oversimplified parallel between the current Iraq quagmire and World War II, saying that “In Germany and Japan, the work of rebuilding took place in relative quiet.” Sam Brannen, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Associated Press that Bush’s analogy between World War II and today is “patently false,” because the stateless enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq “are not accountable to the same command-and-control structures that existed in Japan and Germany.” Bush also claimed “the only way that America can lose the war on terror is if we defeat ourselves.”
General Electric Claims CO2 “A Possible” Factor in Global Warming


Despite all its green advertising claims, behind the scenes General Electric remains skeptical about the role of carbon dioxide in driving climate change. A May 28th GE press release announcing a new “clean coal” initiative states only that “CO2 is a possible contributing factor to climate change.”

GE’s multi-million dollar “Ecomagination” ad campaign paints the company as a concerned environmental steward and GE belongs to a growing coalition of companies calling for federal action on climate change. Kevin Grandia, the managing editor of a new collaborative web effort by several environmental groups to debunk the myth of “clean coal,” noticed the GE press release and pointed to the inconsistency between the skeptical line in the release and GE’s widely-publicized ads and public statements on climate change. Grandia notes that “considering the major marketing effort GE has undertaken to paint itself as a leader on reducing greenhouse gas emissions…[w]hy so much investment by GE in something they only see as a possibility?”

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt admitted to Forbes magazine in 2005 that the company’s lofty “Ecomagination” campaign is little more than a sales pitch. “It’s primarily that,” Immelt said. “In its essence it’s a way to sell more products and services.”

In order to confront similar greenwashing by the coal industry, environmental groups including The DeSmog Project, Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace USA launched a new website http://www.coal-is-clean.com/ to shatter the coal industry’s “clean coal” myth by mocking the lengths the coal industry will go to portray coal as clean. A companion site http://www.coal-is-dirty.com/ explains the actual impacts of coal mining and burning.
NASA Inspector General Report Confirms Political Censorship of Climate Data


A new investigation by NASA’s inspector general confirms that Bush administration appointees deliberately skewed and deleted scientific findings about the serious threat of global warming from agency press releases for purely political reasons. The report also confirms that NASA public affairs appointees denied media access to NASA climate scientists and thereby “reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public.” The investigation details how the political appointees in the press office rewrote the findings of NASA scientists and put out press releases which instead “suffered from inaccuracy, factual inefficiency and scientific dilution,” according to the Inspector General report. This tampering with science constitutes a major breach of the long-standing trust between NASA scientists and the agency’s public affairs department.
Forced by Court Order, Bush administration finally releases long-overdue climate assessment


Four years past its mandated deadline and ultimately compelled by court order, the Bush Administration finally released a climate change assessment detailing how global warming will affect the United States. A 1990 law, the Global Change Research Act, requires the government to assess the potential for domestic impacts from global warming every four years. But seven-plus years into Bush’s presidency, this Administration hadn’t released an update to the last report issued in 2000 by the Clinton administration. The long-overdue assessment details how global warming will likely lead to devastating droughts and stronger hurricanes in the United States, among other negative impacts.
Top Scientists Say United States Has Lost Its Stature As Science Leader
Following the seven-year assault on science carried out by the Bush Administration, the nation’s top scientists say the United States has lost its edge as a leader in science education and research. An expert panel of scientists, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s top science adviser, detailed at last week’s World Science Festival how the disdain for science among high-level political appointees has crippled the United States’ once proud international standing as a leader in scientific research. The scientists cited specific examples of how U.S. officials downplayed and suppressed scientific evidence of climate change, derailed federal funding for stem cell research, and promoted creationism while casting doubt on the science of evolution.
Bush Administration submits Yucca Mountain nuclear waste application without required radiation exposure
The Bush administration submitted its formal application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to build a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada but failed to include a critical public safety standard for radiation exposure. The application lacks a plan to safeguard the public from certain dangerous isotopes in the radioactive waste that remain dangerous for 1 million years. The EPA has yet to produce this critical standard, yet the Bush administration proceeded with its application anyway. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters the government’s license application will “stand up to any challenge anywhere,” despite the fact that a federal court has already ruled the EPA’s public radiation exposure standard invalid until it can establish a standard that would be protective of the public for 1 million years. So far, EPA has only been able to establish a standard protective for 10,000 years, nowhere near long enough to safeguard public health and the environment from the deadly radioactive isotopes that would be stored at Yucca. Nevada officials and tribes who live closest to the proposed storage dump vow to continue their fight against the troubled facility.
Proselytizing Marine Suspended In Iraq But Others Continue Attempt to Convert Muslims to Christianity
The military suspended a single Marine in Iraq for forcibly handing out coins quoting the Gospel to Sunni Muslims passing through a checkpoint at the western entrance to Fallujah. In possible violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, U.S. Marines are acting as Christian missionaries while on patrol in Iraq, handing out bibles translated into Arabic, coins quoting the Gospel and other fundamentalist Christian literature to Sunni Muslims in Fallujah and elsewhere. Coalition forces spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said that “the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices.”

The Christian fundamentalist group Bible Pathway Ministries admits it has provided thousands of copies of a special military edition of its Daily Devotional Bible study book to members of the 101st Airborne Division. The book’s cover includes the logos of the five branches of the armed forces, implying that the Pentagon approved its publication.

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the nonprofit group Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and a former Reagan administration White House counsel and former Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) asserts that “such fundamentalist Christian proselytizing DIRECTLY violates General Order 1A, Part 2, Section J issued by General Tommy Franks on behalf of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) back in December of 2000 which strictly prohibits “proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice.”

Chief Warrant Officer Rene Llanos of the 101st Airborne told Mission Network News, “the soldiers who are patrolling and walking the streets are taking along this copy, and they’re using it to minister to the local residents.”

“Our division is also getting ready to head toward Afghanistan, so there will be copies heading out with the soldiers,” Llanos said. “We need to pray for protection for our soldiers as they patrol and pray that God would continue to open doors. The soldiers are being placed in strategic places with a purpose. They’re continuing to spread the Word.”
Veteran’s Affairs Secretary says concerns about PTSD ‘overblown’
In response to a question posed by Vietnam veteran John Guinn about the growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans, Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake suggested that some concerns about PTSD are “overblown,” adding that many of the brain injuries were “akin to what anyone who played football in their youth might have suffered.” During his visit to Alaska with Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, Peake also said that many vets with PTSD may just need “a little counseling” and shouldn’t “need the PTSD label their whole lives.”

Yet new Pentagon figures show that the number of new PTSD cases “jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007.” Brandon Friedman from VetVoice notes that Peake’s interpretation contradicts VA psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who maintains “Combat PTSD is a war injury. Veterans with combat PTSD are war wounded, carrying the burdens of sacrifice for the rest of us as surely as the amputees, the burned, the blind, and the paralyzed carry them.”

The Washington Post reported on the front page June 3rd that soldiers at Fort Benning suffering from PTSD and other mental wounds are housed in “warrior transition” barracks roughly 200 yards away from the fort’s main infantry firing ranges. The traumatized soldiers are subjected to the sounds of rifle and machine gun fire day and night several days a week. One soldier was recently sent to the emergency room suffering from an anxiety attack due to the proximity of the firing range.

Nearly 40,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD, in addition to an estimated 150,000 combat veterans with PTSD symptoms.
Right Wing Skeptic Group Plans ‘Carbon Belch Day’
Right wing global warming skeptics are planning a day of carbon belching to coincide with the Congressional debate on a carbon tax rebate program. The “grassroots” group Grassfire.org wants people to waste as much energy as possible on June 12 to break free from “carbon footprint guilt.”

Grassfire’s president Steve Elliott has a solid right wing resume, according to his bio, which says that Elliott “has rallied citizens on a host of grassroots issues, including border security, tax reform, abortion, traditional marriage, supporting our troops, exposing media bias and defending the Pledge of Allegiance.” Although Grassfire was once linked to the right-wing Washington P.R. firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, the group refuses to divulge its current funding sources.
International Energy Agency prepares to study peak oil for the first time

The International Energy Agency – considered to be the most reliable independent monitor of global oil supplies – is worried that demand for oil among a growing world population will not be met by a dwindling supply of the fossil fuel resource. “We are entering a new world energy order, ” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told the Associated Press. The IEA plans to study the depletion rates of 400 oil fields in order to gauge whether or not the world is at or near peak oil, the point at which oil production peaks globally and the remaining oil becomes much more difficult and expensive to get to market, causing demand to far outstrip supply. The IEA’s task will be hindered by secretive regimes such as Saudi Arabia that refuse to divulge information on their remaining oil reserves, but the agency’s findings will serve as the most definitive assessment to date on the outlook of global oil supply.

 
U.S. Among Countries Who Oppose Ban on Cluster Bombs
The Bush administration refused to sign a recent treaty banning cluster bombs, and worked behind the scenes to strongly oppose its adoption by lobbying other nations to resist the treaty’s call to eliminate stockpiles of the deadly cluster weapons. The United States is the leading producer of the munitions, has the largest stockpile of them, and has used them more frequently than any other nation, including in the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars. More than 100 countries gathered in Dublin last week to sign the treaty which calls for the destruction of existing stockpiles of cluster munitions over the next eight years and an immediate end to their use in battle. Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and the United States – all major producers or users of the weapons – refused to participate in the talks or to sign the treaty. Cluster bombs are designed to detonate upon impact with the ground, spraying small “bomblets” over an area of several hundred yards. But many fail to detonate, leaving behind a minefield of munitions easily triggered by unsuspecting civilians.

 

 

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Weekly Roundup: The News According to RFK Jr.

And here’s this week’s edition of “Unearthed – News the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report” by Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle. We noticed that some nice Huff Po commentator gave this blog a plug as well – thanks, ya’ll.

UNEARTHED: NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

The Huffington Post

Tobacco Scientist Steve Milloy reveals front group agenda designed to scare Americans into never-ending fossil fuel addiction

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, former tobacco lobbyist and current global warming denier Steven Milloy defends fossil fuels as the only energy sources that aren’t “foolish.”

Milloy’s science-deprived corporate front groups assert that “the most important junk science issue right now is global warming because it’s going to affect our freedoms and it’s going to affect our economy. It’s all based on the unproven notion that human emissions of carbon dioxide are affecting global climate.”

Milloy posits that Alcoa and other companies who express concern over climate change and call for federal action are “lobbying for laws that will make everybody be foolish.” He claims that any “global-warming regulation” will “drive the U.S. economy into a ditch.”

ExxonMobil has given at least $90,000 to Milloy’s fossil-friendly front groups over the years, joining other corporate contributors including Dow Chemical, General Motors, Chevron, Proctor & Gamble and asbestos/pesticide manufacturer W.R. Grace. Despite his documented tobacco and oil industry funding, Milloy remains a columnist for Fox News, whose executives cast a blind eye toward his role as a corporate shill.


CO2 Levels Reach Record High In The Atmosphere, Highest CO2 Levels in 800,000 Years

NOAA scientists report that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rising faster than expected, and now stand at 387 parts per million, up almost 40% since the Industrial Revolution and the highest level in recorded history.

Another new study published in the journal Nature by a team of Swiss, French and German scientists adds 150,000 years of data to climate records assembled from previous ice drilling, confirming that CO2 levels are the highest in at least the past 800,000 years. “We can firmly say that today’s concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane are 28 and 124% higher respectively than at any time during the last 800,000 years,” said Thomas Stocker, an author of the report.

These new findings all but guarantee that even the most ambitious proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions may fall short at stopping dangerous climate disruptions.

Martin Parry, co-chair of the IPCC working group on climate impacts, said: “Despite all the talk, the situation is getting worse. Levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise in the atmosphere and the rate of that rise is accelerating. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change and the scale of those impacts will also accelerate, until we decide to do something about it.”
Vaccine Court To Hear New Round Of Thimerosal/Autism Test Cases
Hearings resume this week in the federal vaccine court, which will consider the test cases of two autistic boys from Portland, OR whose families claim their autism resulted directly from exposure to the mercury preservative thimerosal in childhood vaccines.
Overall, nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. Thimerosal, which is approximately 50% mercury by weight, is still present at significant concentrations in the flu vaccine and certain booster shots including tetanus and diphtheria.
USDA Blocks Voluntary Mad Cow Testing
The Bush administration has employed an antiquated law in order to stop Creekstone Farms, a natural beef company, from testing its herd for mad cow disease. Creekstone had hoped to voluntarily test its entire herd to reassure customers around the world that its natural beef is safe from the disease, which is more common at industrial factory farms. But the Bush USDA has blocked Creekstone’s access to test kits that can identify the disease markers in processed beef products.

At least three cases of mad cow disease have been confirmed in the U.S. since 2003. The Bush administration claims that voluntary testing by proactive beef companies would create confusion and possibly result in a false positive that could scare consumers away from U.S. beef.

The USDA tests less than 1 percent of the nation’s beef cattle for mad cow disease, while many other countries test a far greater percentage of their herds. Creekstone formerly sold its products in Japan but has been blocked from doing so because Japan requires 100 percent testing of its beef for mad cow disease. Creekstone is suing USDA to gain access to the test kits, alleging interference by the Bush administration.


Wounded Veterans Denied Help in Registering to Vote

Wounded veterans will have a much more difficult time attempting to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election. The Department of Veterans Affairs has retreated on a recently announced policy to allow voter registration drives at veterans’ hospitals, claiming that any assistance provided to hospitalized veterans would violate the Hatch Act, which restricts political activities by federal employees. Members of Congress and voting rights advocates argue that the interference amounts to voter suppression, and that it will greatly hinder wounded, ill, and disabled veterans’ ability to cast ballots in the fall election.
Fallen U.S. Soldiers Cremated At Pet Facility
Defense Secretary Robert Gates learned from an appalled Army officer that Dover Air Force base – where the remains of fallen soldiers first arrive back into the United States – contracted out the cremation of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to a local pet crematorium. The Pentagon has discontinued the practice due to outrage among military families. More than 4,600 soldiers’ remains have passed through Dover Air Force base since 9/11. About 10 percent of fallen soldiers have requested cremation. The Washington Post reported this story on the front page Saturday, the slowest news day of the week.

The practice only came to light when a fellow soldier attended the cremation of a fallen friend and emailed Defense Secretary Gates to explain that when his friend’s coffin was taken to the crematory it was not flag draped and when it arrived the only sign outside the crematory said ‘Friends Forever, Kent County Pet Cremation Service.’
Blackwater Contract Renewed, Company Unlikely to Face Criminal Charges for Iraqi Civilian Deaths
Private military contractor Blackwater is unlikely to face criminal charges for the shooting deaths of seventeen civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. An ongoing Justice Department investigation is narrowly focused on as few as three or four Blackwater guards who could be indicted in the civilian shootings. This would exonerate Blackwater’s executives and pave the way for further abuses by essentially guaranteeing the continued outsourcing of security duties to private contractors who face few repercussions for such atrocities.

The light-handed investigation highlights the fact that the Bush administration is relying heavily on private contractors in the Iraq war. State Department spokesman Patrick F. Kennedy admits that “We cannot operate without private security firms in Iraq,” and adds that “If the contractors were removed, we would have to leave Iraq.” The Bush administration recently renewed Blackwater’s contract to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq for another year. Blackwater continues to provide around 1,000 personnel in Iraq under its State Department contract.
State Department Whistleblowers Allege Iraq Corruption Cover-up
Two former State Department employees detailed to members of Congress last week how the Bush administration repeatedly ignored high-level corruption within the Iraqi government and hid potentially embarrassing information in order to maintain bilateral relations with Baghdad. The whistleblowers explained that their post, the Office of Accountability and Transparency, was chronically understaffed and its warnings and recommendations ignored. The State Department’s policies “not only contradicted the anti-corruption mission but indirectly contributed to and has allowed corruption to fester at the highest levels of the Iraqi government,” according to Arthur Brennan, who headed the now-defunct office ostensibly charged with training anti-corruption officers in Iraqi agencies. Brennan said the office was “window dressing” and that the report his staff produced detailing the corruption was initially ignored and later retroactively classified in order to hide the truth about the depth of corruption.
McCain Aides Resign Over Myanmar Junta Connections
John McCain lost two key aides this week as the brutality of the Myanmar junta has been exposed in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. Doug Goodyear, whom McCain picked to run the 2008 Republican National Convention, resigned after it was disclosed that his lobbying firm, DCI Group, represented the military regime. Doug Davenport, who also resigned as McCain’s regional campaign manager for the mid-Atlantic states, founded the DCI Group’s lobbying practice and oversaw the contract with Myanmar. DCI collected $348,000 in 2002 and 2003 to lobby on behalf of the junta. Other DCI Group clients include ExxonMobil and General Motors. The group is also a major player in GOP circles.
Hundreds of thousands of lives remain in danger because of the totalitarian regime’s efforts to thwart international assistance. The United Nations now reports that up to 2.5 million people have been “severely affected” by the cyclone and the junta’s subsequent interference in the international effort to provide aid to survivors.
McCain Earns A Zero From LCV For Missing Every Major Environmental Vote This Congress
Sen. John McCain has missed every major environmental vote this Congress and ranks last among current members of Congress according to the League of Conservation Voters, which tracks how each member votes on environmental issues. McCain’s lifetime LCV score is just 24 percent.

While McCain is known for sponsoring legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and for talking about the threat of global warming in speeches, he has yet to vote for proposed efforts to tackle the problem. McCain was the only member of Congress to skip every environmental vote scored by LCV this session, earning a score lower than members who missed much of the session due to serious illnesses or death. The 15 missed votes included a key vote on repealing tax giveaways to big oil – a measure that failed by only one vote.

McCain cast votes against tightening fuel efficiency standards, failed to require public utilities to provide a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources, and removed Endangered Species Act protections that conflicted with the priorities of Arizona businesses.
Congress Seeks to Limit Use of Secretive National Security Letters
Committees in both houses of Congress are working to limit the FBI’s ability to collect private data on virtually anybody using a secretive tool called a National Security Letter (NSL). The FBI’s use of NSLs exploded since passage of the PATRIOT Act which paved the way for rampant abuse by removing legal impediments that protected the right to privacy and other civil liberties. NSLs can be used to obtain an individual’s phone use data, financial statements, insurance and business information. An individual who is served with an NSL must comply with its request for information and is gagged in most circumstances from discussing the request. Unlike subpoenas, NSLs aren’t subject to the approval of any court or judge, and can be issued under extremely broad circumstances.

A 2007 FBI audit discovered hundreds of instances in which the bureau collected information despite lacking the authority to do so. The FBI deleted only four of these inappropriately obtained files, according to the audit. Hundreds of other examples of NSL abuse were reported in an inspector general review in 2007, and a follow-up report released this March concluded that the FBI still has not implemented safeguards to limit such abuse.

Current Congressional efforts aim to drastically limit the circumstances under which NSLs are issued and to strictly regulate how the FBI handles information obtained through their use.
The White House Likely Purged Critical Pre-Iraq War Email Archives
Lawyers for the Bush administration claim that a “primitive” email preservation system is to blame for wide gaps in its email archives covering critical pre-war periods in 2003. The White House admitted in court this week that it has no back-up archives for the missing emails, a claim information technology experts say is hard to fathom. The White House predicts it may never be able to recover the archives, which include 12 work days with no e-mails at all for President Bush’s immediate office and 16 days for Vice President Dick Cheney.

The missing emails are thought to include conversations about the bad intelligence used to launch the Iraq war, the identity leak of former C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame Wilson, and various unspecified activities involving Karl Rove.

By law, the missing communications belong to the taxpayers, according to the ongoing federal lawsuit filed against the White House by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, and the Washington, D.C. watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

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