Archive for December, 2006

Numbers from 2006

31 December 2006

Election
Number of 2006 problems in the VotersUnite.org log: 246
Number of Gateway, Arkansas residents: 122
Number of votes in the Gateway, Arkansas mayoral election: 199
Number of Pea Ridge, Arkansas residents: 3,344
Number of votes in the Pea Ridge, Arkansas mayoral election: 3,997
Number of poll workers who were charged with assault after with choking a voter: 1

Gay Rights
Number of states to allow gay marriage: 1

NSA Wiretapping
Number of phone wiretapped: Unknown
Amount of information available to Congress regarding wiretaps: Unknown

Prisons
Number of CIA black sites: Unknown
Number of detainees at CIA black sites: Unknown
Number of detainees tortured: Unknown
Number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay: 395-435
Number of detainees who will face trial: Unknown

Risk Assessment Scores
“Risk Assessment” scores: Unknown
Time scores are kept: 40 years
Accuracy of scores: Unknown

Government transparency: 0

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Draft Registration

30 December 2006

The Future of Freedom Foundation recently published an article by Sheldon Richman against draft registration. George Bush has said that he has no intention of starting a draft, but that hasn’t convinced anyone in Washington to end draft registration.

From the FFF:

What possible reason is there today for imposing on 18-year-old males the requirement to register for a nonexistent draft and to compel them to inform the government whenever they change their address? If we don’t need a draft, we certainly don’t need registration for a draft. Even government officials ought to be able to follow that logic.

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Courts Accept Secrecy

29 December 2006

Many judges are ruling against requests from defendants asking that the government say whether the NSA eavesdropped on them without a warrant, according to the New York Sun. In at least 17 cases, federal district judges have ruled against having the government inform defendants if they were eavesdropped. Many defense lawyers have noted that if it were done without a warrant, it might be inadmissible evidence.

The Justice Department’s policy is to refuse to say publicly whether the NSA program was involved in a given case, saying that denying its role in one case while refusing to deny its role in another case could disclose classified information, according to public government court filings. Instead, in response to defense motions, the Justice Department has filed secret documents with the court, which are not supplied to defense lawyers.

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Polish Black Site

28 December 2006

BBC News published an article, which looks something like the script of someone in the X-Files, about a possible CIA black site in Poland. Narration of the person who wrote the article aside, the article notes that a European committee found that “In the light of… serious circumstantial evidence, a temporary secret detention facility may have been located at the intelligence training centre at Stare Kiejkuty.”

In September Bush announced that the CIA had been running a program to interrogate suspected terrorists without the public’s knowledge, and human rights groups are concerned that the suspects may be tortured. Poland and Romania have been noted as possible locations of such sites. A military analyst with human rights watch said that “It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Poland hosted a CIA Black Site.”

The article also said that the Democratic congress may have an investigation into the CIA program.

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What They Wanted to Say About Iran

27 December 2006

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann recently tried to publish an article in the New York Times, according to a new article they have written regarding the issue of their first. It was not published as they wanted it, not because of NYT editors, but because of White House demands that CIA censors deleted a substantial amount of material.

The CIA had already cleared it for publication, saying it did not contain any classified material. However, the agency later gave in to demands from the White House that some of the material be taken out.

What was in the article had already in fact been covered extensively by other sources, but was removed from Leverett’s and Mann’s article. There are therefore numerous citations to explain the article, due to the blacked-out portions.

From their second article:

National security must be above politics. In a democracy, transparency in government has to be honored and protected. To classify information for reasons other than the safety and security of the United States and its interests is a violation of these principles. It is for this reason that we will continue to press for the release of the article without the material deleted.

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(Edited to fix link)

Justice in Iraq

26 December 2006

Human Rights Watch estimates that 2,500 people are being held by Kurdish security forces, many of them lost in the legal system, according to the New York Times. Many inmates are held without enough water or medicine, and not allowed a copy of the Koran. They are also sometimes beaten by the Kurdish guards.

Many have not had trials or have been in prison longer than their sentence. Others have disappeared.

The New York Times also reported that hundreds of Iraqi and British soldiers attacked a police station in Basra yesterday, rescuing 127 prisoners. A British military spokesman described the jail’s conditions as “appalling,” and more than 100 men were in a single 30 by 40 feet cell, many showing signs of torture such as cigarette burns, crushed hands and feet, and gunshot wounds.

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DoD Considering Breaking Strike

25 December 2006

The Department of Defense is currently considering whether it has the power to break a strike at tire plants, according to The Nation. The tire plant, Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas, is part of a strike involving 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers union which has crippled 16 Goodyear plants in both the US and Canada since October 5. Because they supply the military, the US Army is considering forcing workers to return to work.

In 1952, when a similar situation arose, Harry Truman was asked by a reporter: “Mr. President, if you can seize the steel mills under your inherent powers, can you, in your opinion, also seize the newspapers and, or, the radio stations?” Truman replied that “Under similar circumstances, the President of the United States has to act for whatever is for the best of the country. That’s the answer to your question.”

In reality, the Constitution gives the Executive Branch no such power, so we can be absolutely sure that it won’t happen.

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Men Have to Pay Extra to Take Wife’s Name

24 December 2006

When Diana Bijon’s husband, Michael Buday, wanted to take her last name after marrying her, California law said that it would require a court order, $300, and an advertisement in a newspaper, according to the ACLU of Southern California. Women who take their husband’s name only have to pay a $50 to $80 fee for a marriage license.

Currently only six states recognize a statutory right for men to take their wives’ last name (Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, and North Dakota).

The ACLU-SC is asking a federal court to make the rules equal for name changes going both ways.

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More Quakers

23 December 2006

Not only are they pacifists, but they might be communists as well, according to old FBI files. Apparently in 1960 a Quaker group sent out letters informing young men that they could register as conscientious objectors, so that, if they didn’t want to kill, they wouldn’t have to if drafted. Quite frightening indeed. Well worth the 314 pages of information material that the FBI has released.

The Quakers sent 22,000 of these letters.

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Congressman Warns Constituents of Elected Muslims

22 December 2006

In one of the odder arguments against immigration, Virgil Goode told his constituents that, without stricter immigration policy, more Muslims will be elected to office, according to the Los Angeles Times. Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-VA) sent a letter to hundreds of the people he represents, telling them that “The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district, and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration, there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.” It was in response to letters from people regarding Representative-elect Keith Ellison, a Muslim Democrat in Minnesota who became the first Muslim elected to congress.

At his swearing in ceremony, Mr. Hoode probably demanded to use the Bible.

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