July 3rd, 2007

Chris Keeley

"It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals,"

"It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals," he said. "That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing." 

Fitzgerald, a Bush appointee who is the U.S. attorney in Chicago, issued a statement disputing the president's assertion that the sentence was "excessive," saying "an experienced federal judge" had followed the "applicable laws" in imposing punishment.

"It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals," he said. "That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing."

Libby's plight posed an acute political dilemma for Bush, who has shown reluctance to issue pardons but felt strong pressure to pardon Libby.

Bush has granted far fewer pardons than most presidents in the last 100 years, said Margaret Colgate Love, a former Justice Department attorney who oversaw pardons for eight years. Bush has issued only a third as many as pardons as President Reagan, for example, over the same duration in office.

Bush's public approval has sagged badly in the last two years. Many of his strongest supporters are conservatives who believe Libby should not have been prosecuted in the first place. They argue that Plame was not a true covert agent and that no crime was committed when her identity became public. And they note that others admitted to having revealed Plame's identity, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, whose conversation with columnist Robert Novak led to the first public mention of her.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said he planned to hold hearings on the administration's handling of the leak in the Plame case.

"Now that the White House can no longer argue that there is a pending criminal investigation, I expect them to be fully forthcoming," he said.

Wilson, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, condemned the commutation and suggested that Bush was acting to ensure that full details of his or Cheney's involvement in the leak affair would never come to light. With Libby off the hook for any jail time, Wilson said, the former White House aide will have no incentive to cooperate with investigators in the future about involvement of his superiors.

"The president has clearly short-circuited the rule of law and the system of justice in this country, and I think there is a legitimate reason to ask why," Wilson said.

John J. Pitney Jr., a former Republican staffer who is a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College, questioned whether Bush's decision would have much political effect. "Anybody who would disapprove of the commutation has turned against Bush already," he said. 


Pardons and commutations

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is the fourth person to have a sentence commuted by President Bush. A commutation lessens the severity of the punishment for a crime but does not change the underlying conviction. A pardon forgives the offense itself. Here's a look at pardons and commutations of past presidents:

 PetitionsPardonsCommutations
 receivedgrantedgranted
Harry S. Truman, 1945-535,0301,913118
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-19614,1001,11047
John F. Kennedy, 1961-641,749472100
Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964-19694,537960226
Richard M. Nixon, 1969-19752,59186360
Gerald E. Ford, 1975-771,52738222
Jimmy Carter, 1977-19812,62753429
Ronald Reagan, 1981-893,40439313
George H.W. Bush, 1989-931,466743
William J. Clinton, 1993-20017,48939661
George W. Bush, 2001-20079,0001134


Notable pardons and commutations

Nixon

Jimmy Hoffa: Teamster boss' 13-year sentence for jury tampering and mail fraud was commuted in 1972.

Ford

Nixon: Pardoned former president in 1974.

Tokyo Rose: American Iva Toguri, imprisoned for making treasonous radio broadcasts during World War II, was pardoned in one of Ford's final acts in office in January 1977.

Carter

G. Gordon Liddy: After refusing to testify in 1973 about the Watergate break-ins, Liddy served 4-1/2 years in prison; his sentence was commuted in 1977.

Patty Hearst: Heiress' sentence was commuted in 1979, after she served almost two years of a seven-year sentence on a federal bank robbery conviction. She was pardoned by Clinton in 2001.

Reagan

Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel: Sentence of former governor was commuted in 1981, after he was jailed on mail fraud and racketeering charges.

George H.W. Bush

Caspar Weinberger: Reagan Defense secretary was pardoned in 1992 along with five other Reagan officials before the Iran-Contra trial.

Clinton

Roger Clinton: President's younger half-brother was pardoned for a 1985 drug-related offense.

Marc Rich: Billionaire fugitive financier was pardoned in the 11th hour in 2001.

Dan Rostenkowski: Illinois congressman convicted of mail fraud in 1996, was pardoned in 2000.

--

Sources: U.S. Justice Department, Jurist Legal Intelligence, Times reporting.
Chris Keeley

Bionic fingers

Bionic fingers

This prosthetic finger is completely mechanical, no batteries or electronics whatsoever. Inventor Dan Didrick previously made horror masks before inventing the X-Finger. According to a Wired News article, one in 150 people have lost a digit. From Wired News:
 Images Article Full 2007 07 Xfinger Full...Each digit incorporates a simple mechanism which, when pushed by the surviving part of the wearer's finger, curls a set of artificial phalanges...

The X-Finger, which currently costs thousands of dollars per digit, might seem expensive to prospective buyers...

"We only receive a fraction of the overall costs ourselves," Didrick said. "Also, many people would be surprised to learn that a cosmetic silicone artificial finger, offering only passive function, with no mechanical structure, can cost $5,500 from an anaplastologist."

The finger, however, is only the beginning. Didrick is already working on an entire hand articulated in similar fashion using the wrist, and has been approached to craft toes using the same principle.
Link
Chris Keeley

Do the crime, do the time

You do the crime, you do the time.

But in nixing the prison term, Bush sent a terrible message to citizens and to government officials who are expected to serve the public with integrity. The way for a president to discourage the breaking of federal laws is by letting fairly rendered consequences play out, however uncomfortably for everyone involved. The message to a Scooter Libby ought to be the same as it is for other convicts: You do the crime, you do the time.
Chris Keeley

Barbara Traub - The Burning Man

Barbara Traub - The Burning Man

 

 

© Barbara Traub

 

Burning Man 2007 will be held from August 27 through September 3rd

 

 

Out There: Burning Man
Imagine a completely abstract space, a world without context, a place that is no place at all apart from what you bring to it.
by Larry Harvey
Burning Man
When I came to "Burning Man" armed with bricks of film and trusty camera, I wasn't sure what I was going to shoot.
by Barbara Traub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Keeley

Sajani Shakya, the Kumari of Bhaktapur, has actually been fired for visiting the United States.

Sajani Shakya, the Kumari of Bhaktapur, has actually been fired for visiting the United States.

http://www.andycarvin.com/archives/2007/07/living_goddess_fired_for_traveling_to_us.html

Gadget-loving Nepali "living goddess" fired for traveling to US


Andy Carvin says,

Shocking news out of Nepal today - Sajani Shakya, the Kumari of Bhaktapur, has actually been fired for visiting the United States.

As you may recall, I blogged about Sajani's visit a couple of weeks ago when she was in Silver Spring, Maryland for the Silverdocs festival. Kumaris are young Buddhist girls from Nepal who are selected at a young age to serve as "living goddesses" until they reach puberty. They participate in Hindu rituals - there's a lot of overlap between the two religions in Nepal - and are revered by the local population. Some Kumaris live very cloistered lives, but Sajani was allowed to live with her parents and go to school. So when she had the chance to visit the United States, she took it. And now she's actually lost her job because of it.

"We have already begun looking for a new girl to replace the current Kumari," said Jaya Prasad Regmi, head of the committee that selects the Bhaktapur Kumari. "Our tradition does not allow the living goddess to travel to other countries.... Her father has said that it was a mistake as they did not get permission from concerned authorities to take her abroad."

Link.
Chris Keeley

it seems logical and probable that Dick Cheney in fact ordered Scooter Libby to leak Valerie Plame's

it seems logical and probable that Dick Cheney in fact ordered Scooter Libby to leak Valerie Plame's identity, but by lying, Scooter Libby has protected the Vice President from any kind of criminal implication from his actions. 


Commuting Sentence, Bush Spares Libby from 30-Month Jail Term

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/03/1433207

President Bush has commuted the sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, sparing him from a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in the CIA leak case. Bush’s move came just five hours after a federal appeals panel ruled that Libby could not put off serving his sentence while he appealed his conviction. That meant jail time for Libby was imminent -- the US Bureau of Prisons had already assigned him a federal prisoner number. We get reaction from analyst and author Marcy Wheeler. [includes rush transcript]

 


President Bush has commuted the sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, sparing him from a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in the CIA leak case. Bush’s move came just five hours after a federal appeals panel ruled that Libby could not put off serving his sentence while he appealed his conviction. That meant jail time for Libbby was imminent -- the US Bureau of Prisons had already assigned him a federal prisoner number.

Libby was convicted in March, the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra scandal. He was found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements in the investigation into who blew the cover of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had criticized the Iraq war.

In a statement on Monday, Bush said: “I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.” Bush didn’t give Libby a full pardon. The felony conviction will remain, and Libby will still have to pay a $250,000 fine and serve two years of probation, but he won’t see a day of jail time.

The President’s announcement came at the start of the Independence Day holiday week with Congress in recess. Democrats swiftly condemned Bush’s decision. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called it “disgraceful,” and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont said it was “emblematic of a White House that sees itself as being above the law.”

The Washington Post reports Bush has granted far fewer pardons and commutations than any of his predecessors, dating back to John F. Kennedy. He commuted three previous prison terms during his six-and-a-half years in office.

Marcy Wheeler has been closely following this story. She joins us from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

  • Marcy Wheeler. Author of “Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy.” She writes on the political blog The
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Chris Keeley

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/

emptywheel

I will return to the Libby commutation, I promise. But like Josh, I think this IG report is very very important--perhaps as bad as Nixon on steroids.

To review what I presented yesterday just as the Libby thing was exploding, DOD's IG has released its report on the CIFA and TALON domestic spying program. By far the most disturbing thing is that USNCO, which had a database full of incident reports on the activities of American citizens, seems to have disappeared the entries in that database on November 30, 2005, then disappeared the whole thing in June 2006. The dates are significant because the first date was just two days after Duke Cunningham signed his plea agreement. And the second date was just a month after DOD and HPSCI started investigations into the CIFA/TALON program. Since there is no explanation of how or why the database was destroyed, it sure seems like it may have been hiding data they didn't want discovered in any investigation.

Today, I'd like to highlight how DOD's IG justifies the database and avoid claims that the program illegally spied on American citizens. The report states:

Our detailed review of 1,131 TALON reports removed from the CIFA database showed that 263 reports pertained to protests and demonstrations. Of the 263 reports, 157 reports discussed actual actions or events that occurred. Further, 75 of the 157 reports on actual actions or events resulted in reported arrests, required court appearances, violence, destruction, and police intervention. The 75 TALON reports demonstrate that they are necessary to inform local commanders of protests and demonstrations planned for their vicinity for law enforcement and force protection purposes, and not as intelligence information.

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/

Chris Keeley

While destroying a field of opium poppies in Uruzgan Province, members of the Afghan Eradication For

While destroying a field of opium poppies in Uruzgan Province, members of the Afghan Eradication Force came under fire in an ambush apparently orchestrated by the Taliban. Photograph by Aaron Huey.

While destroying a field of opium poppies in Uruzgan Province, members of the Afghan Eradication Force came under fire in an ambush apparently orchestrated by the Taliban. Photograph by Aaron Huey.

n the main square in Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan Province, in central Afghanistan, a large billboard shows a human skeleton being hanged. The rope is not a normal gallows rope but the stem of an opium poppy. Aside from this jarring image, Tirin Kot is a bucolic-seeming place, a market town of flat-topped adobe houses and little shops on a low bluff on the eastern shore of the Tirinrud River, in a long valley bounded by open desert and jagged, treeless mountains. About ten thousand people live in the town. The men are bearded and wear traditional robes and tunics and cover their heads with turbans or sequinned skullcaps. There are virtually no women in sight, and when they do appear they wear all-concealing burkas. A few paved streets join at a traffic circle in the center of town, but within a few blocks they peter out to dirt tracks.Collapse )