The commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Rear Admiral David Woods, has suggested a fundamental rule change regarding the military’s right to access and review written communication exchanged between Gitmo prisoners suspected of being co-conspirators in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the attorneys representing them. According to details of the rules published by the Associated Press, all the covered correspondence sent back and forth between any of the five detainees categorized as 9/11 co-conspirators and their legal counsel would be thoroughly reviewed by law enforcement and Department of Defense personnel. The new policy has not yet been promulgated as Woods has yet to sign it. However, he has sent a draft copy of the proposal to the appropriate lawyers and has attached thereto an order for them to sign if they agree with the changes to the currently applicable standard operating procedures. In response to the request from Admiral Woods, the attorneys for the five prisoners have written a memo opposing the new rule based on their averment that such a scheme would violate the privilege afforded communication between attorneys and clients. Furthermore, were the rule to be enforced, their clients would be deprived of the right to counsel afforded to individuals by the U.S. Constitution.
The $30 billion sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday is a continuation of a history of U.S. weapons sales that has resulted in the arming of a wide array of enemies as well as friends of America in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The deal includes the sale of 84 F-15 jets and “assorted weaponry” to the Arab kingdom, the Washington Post reported. It also provides for the modernization of 70 of the Saudi's current aircraft, as well as munitions, spare parts, training, and maintenance. The announcement comes at a time of increasing tension between the United States and the Saudis' neighbors in Iran and threats and counter-threats surrounding the strategically important Persian Gulf region. “This sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East,” Andrew Shapiro, assistant Secretary of State for political-military affairs, told reporters. But the history of arms sales in the region has shown that the allies we arm one year may turn out be our enemies the next. In the years preceding the Islamic revolution in Tehran, the United States sold tens of billions of dollars worth of military hardware and technology to the Shah of Iran. When the revolution ushered in the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini, America was confronted with a new enemy in the Middle East, one armed with American high-tech weapons.
The spate of good news about the economy, headed up by the National Association of Realtors (NAR)’s report that pending home sales increased by 7.3 percent in November from October, has resulted in improved outlooks by many observers, along with warnings from others not to get overly confident. Even Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, was cautious in his announcement, perhaps chastened by NAR’s admission last week that they had overstated sales for the past five years: “Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high.” And to avoid making the same mistake twice, Yun said that some of the increase in pending home sales may be people who couldn’t qualify before who are attempting to make another purchase now. The pending home sales index hit 100.1, the first time it has been over 100 since April of 2010 when sales were goosed by the expiration of the government’s homeowner tax credit. Actual home sales were up in November as well, hitting a seven-month high, according to the Commerce Department.
In the final run-up to the January 3rd Iowa Caucuses, a handful of Republican presidential candidates highlighted their pro-life bona fides in a nationally simulcast “teletown hall” forum sponsored by Personhood USA and several pro-life organizations. Significantly, all four of the participants in the National Presidential Pro-life Forum — Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry — have signed on to the Personhood Republican Presidential Candidate Pledge, which supposedly binds them as President to, among other promises, “work to advance state and federal laws and amendments that recognize the unalienable right to life of all human beings,” and to appoint federal judges and other officials who will work to uphold such federal measures.
The Council on Foreign Relations recently asked the above question of some of its favorite commentators. One of the answers sent to this seat of the Eastern Liberal Establishment likely surprised whoever received it. Andrew Bacevich is a professor of International Relations at Boston University. He happens to be a fairly new member of the CFR. But he is also the father of an Iraq War victim; his U.S. Army lieutenant son perished during the fighting. In his uninvited response to the query posed by the CFR, Professor Bacevich scoffed at the customarily cited benefit — the capture and death of Saddam Hussein. Then, without mentioning the loss of his son, he added:
In a decision a plaintiffs' lawyer called an effort “to put lipstick on a pig,” a panel of the in San Francisco upheld Thursday a congressional grant of immunity from law suits to telecommunications companies that had surrendered records of their customers phone calls and electronic communications to warrantless government searches. The three-judge panel unanimously affirmed a lower court ruling holding the congressional action constitutional. The case consolidated 33 lawsuits filed against various telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp, on behalf of the companies' customers. The legal battles grew out of presidential order signed by George W. Bush in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance on Americans and others inside the United States in search of evidence of terrorist activity. The presidential directive authorized searches without either the domestic court warrants required for criminal investigations or those issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for investigation of activities of foreign persons or organizations, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
James Williams of Matagorda County, Texas said in a pro-Ron Paul campaign advertisement released December 28 that in the early 1970s he saw "Ron Paul come to my rescue. He just stepped in and went to work with my wife." Williams' wife was pregnant and extremely ill, and until Dr. Ron Paul showed up, nobody at the hospital would care for his wife. Williams suspects the bi-racial family in the deep South may have been a factor (he's black, his wife is white) in the wait to see a doctor. But Ron Paul saw his wife immediately. "He said, as far as the bill," Williams continued in the RevolutionPAC advertisement, "he would take care of everything. Which he did. I never got a bill from the hospital or anything. And he was a doctor of medicine and that's what he was doing, was practicing medicine. And it didn't matter who, and what, and why. He was doing it because he'd think of one human being just as much as another. He's just an honest man, and that's something we need now in this day and time." It's a moving advertisement, but it could be argued that any SuperPAC can create an emotional ad for the candidate they back.
The Republican Party of Virginia will require all citizens of the state voting in the Republican primary on March 6, 2012 to sign a loyalty oath before being permitted to cast their votes. Put plainly, anyone who shows up at the polling place must sign a form wherein he or she swears to support the Republican candidate who wins the nomination. Refusal to sign the pledge results in revocation of the right to vote in the Republican primary election.
A senior communist officer who helped bring an end to a standoff between local government officials and residents of the village of Wukan, located in China’s Guangdong province, warned Chinese officials to prepare for more protests and takeovers by Chinese citizens with grievances over government corruption that has included land confiscation and other abuses. Zhu Mingguo, a deputy Communist Party secretary in the Guangdong province, led a team that met with Wukan village residents who had taken over the community in protest over a lack of compensation for lands co-opted by local government leaders. They also demanded an investigation into the death of one of the protest leaders while he was in police custody. According to Reuters News Service, for over a week the residents “had fended off police with barricades and held protests over the death in police custody of activist Xue Jinbo, whose family rejects the government’s position that he died of natural causes, and against the seizure of farmland for development.” On December 21, following the meeting with Zhu and other provincial officials, leaders of the protests told residents to take down barriers and allow government officials into the village. For their part, the provincial government officials agreed to take a closer look at the dealings of local Communist Party bureaucrats in the sale of farmland to developers, as well as investigate the death of Xue Jinbo.
In a front-page editorial Thursday, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader told readers of the statewide daily that "Ron Paul is a dangerous man." While the Republican presidential candidate's libertarian views on domestic issues are attractive to some voters, the editorial conceded, "it is Paul's position on issues of our national security that are truly dangerous." "He has repeatedly said that we should allow Iran to continue to develop a nuclear weapon," is one of the charges against Paul in the editorial, written by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid "This is the same country whose leadership vows death to America, the 'Satanic power,' and who wants Israel wiped from the map." Yet the editorial page of the same newspaper two days earlier featured a column by Patrick J. Buchanan, in which the columnist cited the statement of Pentagon spokesman George Little in clarifying recently televised comments by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. "The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," Little said. While statements by President Obama and the other GOP presidential candidates have either alleged or implied that Iran is right on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb, Rep. Paul has argued against forcing a military confrontation over a weapon that might not even be in the developmental stages — one that, according to the Pentagon spokesman, the Iranian government may not have even decided to build. Paul insists that our nearly nine-year war in Iraq over alleged "weapons of mass destruction" should be instructive in that regard.