Posted tagged ‘President Bush’

Dick Cheney Linked to Concealment of Terror Program

July 11, 2009

According to reports today, the CIA withheld information about a secret counter terrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney.

From the New York Times:

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

Efforts to reach Mr. Cheney through relatives and associates were unsuccessful.

The question of how completely the C.I.A. informed Congress about sensitive programs has been hotly disputed by Democrats and Republicans since May, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the agency of failing to reveal in 2002 that it was waterboarding a terrorism suspect, a claim Mr. Panetta rejected.

The law requires the president to make sure the intelligence committees “are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.” But the language of the statute, the amended National Security Act of 1947, leaves some leeway for judgment, saying such briefings should be done “to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters.”

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“Flawed” Wiretaps Began Immediately Following 9/11

July 10, 2009

According to a report compiled by the inspectors general of the nation’s top intelligence agencies, the highly controversial no-warrant surveillance program initiated immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States relied on a “factually flawed” legal analysis.

From CNN:

The report, mandated by Congress, provides fresh context to information previously leaked in press accounts and buttressed by both congressional testimony and books written by former officials involved in the surveillance effort.

The 38-page unclassified version of the document reaches a cautious conclusion, stating that any use of the information collected under the surveillance program “should be carefully monitored.”

The program, launched by President Bush in the weeks after the September 11 attacks, allowed for — without court approval — the interception of communications into and out of the United States if there was a “reasonable basis” that one of the parties was a terrorist.

The report, though not critical of the program’s objectives, sharply criticizes the legal advice provided to the White House by the Justice Department.

Barack Obama Selects Sonia Sotomayor as Supreme Court Choice

May 26, 2009

President Barack Obama has nominated federal judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York for the Supreme Court, making the longtime federal jurist the first Latino member of the nation’s highest court.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Sotomayor, first appointed to the federal district court for the Southern District of New York by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1991, sits on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. She was elevated to the circuit court, one of the nation’s most prestigious, by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Obama, who has said that he wants a new justice with “a common touch” and a measure of “empathy,” also is offering a measure of ethnic diversity to a court dominated by white men in his replacement of the retiring Justice David Souter. The nine-member court includes just one female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and one black justice, Clarence Thomas.

“I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman, who I believe will make a great justice,” said Obama, standing with Sotomayor by his side in the East Room of the White House.

Who OK’d the New York City Flyby?

April 28, 2009

CNN is reporting that a former Homeland Security adviser blasted the White House Military Office’s photo shoot that sent a low-flying Boeing 747 over Manhattan, accusing the office’s director of “felony stupidity.”

What was he thinking? Did he not realize that this would cause panic in the streets of New York?

From CNN:

Fran Townsend, who advised President George W. Bush for more than three years, spoke the day after a YouTube video showed panicked New Yorkers scrambling as the plane, tailed by its F-16 escort, screamed overhead.

“It was crass insensitivity,” Townsend said of the Monday flyby. “I’d call this felony stupidity. This is probably not the right job for Mr. Caldera to be in if he didn’t understand the likely reaction of New Yorkers, of the mayor.”

Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, quickly apologized for the incident after the planes prompted workers and residents to evacuate buildings in New York and New Jersey.

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision,” Caldera said. “While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption.”

Al Qaeda Leaders Waterboarded 266 Times

April 20, 2009

According to newly released documents, CIA interrogators used waterboarding at least 266 times on two top al Qaeda suspects.

From CNN:

The controversial technique that simulates drowning — and which President Obama calls torture — was used at least 83 times in August 2002 on suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, according to the memo.

Interrogators also waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in March 2003. Mohammed is believed to be the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Obama released the memo Thursday, saying that “exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release.”

The memo, dated May 30, 2005, was from then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury to John Rizzo, who was acting general counsel for the CIA.

It paints a different picture from the one described by former CIA officer John Kiriakou. In a December 2007 interview with CNN, Kiriakou said Zubaydah had been waterboarded for “about 30 seconds, 35 seconds” and agreed to cooperate with interrogators the following day.

AIG Executive Offers Public Resignation

March 25, 2009

Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, has written a resignation letter to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G., which has been published in the New York Times.

From the New York Times:

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

To read the rest of the letter, please click on the link above to access the article in the New York Times.

Actor Ron Silver Dies of Cancer

March 16, 2009

Award-winning actor and activist Ron Silver, who was Emmy-nominated for his role on the hit U.S. television drama “The West Wing,” died on yesterday of cancer at the age of 62.

skin-ron-silver

From Reuters:

“Ron Silver died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him early Sunday morning,” said Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, which Silver helped found.

Bronk said Silver was with his family in New York City and he had been fighting esophageal cancer for two years.

Bronk called Silver not only a very talented actor, but a champion of free speech and artists’ rights.

New York-based Creative Coalition is an art-oriented political group founded in 1989 by Silver, Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon, among others.

Silver, who won Broadway’s 1988 Tony Award for his work in David Mamet’s drama “Speed the Plow,” had been a longtime liberal activist, but after the September 11 attacks became an outspoken supporter of Republican President George W. Bush.

He was a featured speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention, sometimes called himself a “9/11 Republican” and switched his party affiliation from Democrat to independent.

Silver said his shift in politics cost him jobs in liberal Hollywood, yet he remained sought out for his skills as a character actor.

His portrayal of White House strategist Bruno Gianelli on “The West Wing” was perhaps his best known part in recent years, but he earned another Emmy nomination for the murder thriller “Billionaire Boys Club.”

He had roles on the TV hospital drama “Chicago Hope” and the comedy “Veronica’s Closet,” and he won acclaim for playing lawyer Alan Dershowitz in the film “Reversal of Fortune.”

Born and raised in New York City, his father worked in the garment industry and his mother was a teacher. He earned a master’s degree in Chinese history from St. John’s University in New York and studied drama at the Actors Studio. Silver and ex-wife Lynne Miller had a son and a daughter.