Thursday, May 29, 2008
Vote by June: No on CA Prop. 98
If you believe as I do that no one should be at the mercy of another to secure their basic needs, please learn about California Propositions 98 and 99, and vote by June.
CA Prop. 98 on the surface is apparently a bill to help "renters, homeowners and the environment", but includes dangerous legal consequences that:
1) eliminate renter protections and rent control
2) guts environmental protections, laws that combat climate change, and protect land, water, air, and our coasts.
3) hurts our students by decreasing revenue that is earmarked for schools
4) hinders long range public planning, threatening our environment and water supply by allowing uncontrolled development
5) although it purports to challenge and reduce government powers of eminent domain, these constitutional amendments will hinder many appropriate uses of eminent domain law to protect public health and safety, and reward slum lords for inappropriate behavior.
Learn more about CA Prop 98.
CA Prop. 99 is counter legislation, it correctly protects owner-occupied residence from eminent domain by government for private development.
This is to counter the US Supreme Court's infamous Kelo decision.
Prop. 99 has limitations that allow for public works and health or safety uses of eminent domain.
It doesn't give up the environment to wealthy land lords and developers, yet it protects you from loosing your home to a government influenced by big money land developers.
Don't let the Kelo decision stand, because it could be your home that is taken next. Vote Yes on CA Prop. 99.
Learn More about CA Prop. 99.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has revealed in his upcoming book that:
• Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Vice President Cheney lied about their role in revealing the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson – actions easily amounting to obstruction of Justice.
McClellan also admitted that:
• There was a coordinated effort within the Bush Administration to use propaganda to pump up the case for the Iraq war and hide the projected costs of the war from the public.
Scott McClellan must be called to testify under oath before the House Judiciary Committee to tell Congress and the American people everything he knows about this massive effort by the White House to deceive this nation into war.
Last week, a subpoena was issued for Karl Rove to testify before the Judiciary Committee. It appears he will take every legal action to block this subpoena. The truth is that Congress has the right – and obligation – to hold him accountable now - not months or years from now. It is long past time to pass Inherent Contempt and bring Rove, Libby and others before Congress.
We simply cannot ignore these recent developments, nor should we postpone serious inquiry until after the next election.
Your commitment to accountability for the Bush/Cheney Administration, and the support of 230,000 other Americans who signed up at wexlerwantshearings.com, has inspired and motivated me in my effort to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney and Inherent Contempt for Rove and others. During the past months I have been a tireless and dogged advocate of this vitally important cause.
Many of you have written me, asking for an update on where we stand with regards to impeachment hearings. I know most of you believe - as I do - that impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney – are not only justified, but that it is our constitutional obligation to look into the serious allegations of wrongdoing that have been raised. This is especially true based on the newest revelations from Scott McClellan.
I believe that it is the duty of Congress to pursue impeachment whenever there's significant evidence of wrongdoing, be it by Republicans or Democrats, regardless of the timing of elections or the current political environment.
Some of you have written me demanding that I deliver hearings or impeachment. As hard as I have been fighting for this cause, I cannot make impeachment happen by myself. What I can do, and what I have been doing at every turn, is trying to communicate two simple messages to my colleagues:
• the serious allegations of wrongdoing and the clear-cut rationale for impeachment hearings;and
• the fact that the public will support our efforts when Congress boldly acts on the side of justice and accountability.
Unfortunately, to date, these arguments have not been enough to convince even a majority of the liberal and progressive Members of Congress to support impeachment hearings. In addition, the leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress genuinely feels that pursuing impeachment will jeopardize our congressional agenda and threaten gains in the November elections. Although I genuinely disagree with this view, to date I have been unable to convince them to change this policy.
I understand the challenges that we are up against, and I recognize the odds that we face. Nevertheless, I remain unfazed and unyielding.
This new evidence from Scott McClellan could be the tipping point – but we must move quickly. I will use the McClellan admissions to help convince my colleagues that we must hold impeachment hearings.
Regardless, I will continue to fight for progressive values and our Constitution. I will do everything I can to pursue accountability for criminal actions taken by this Administration and this Vice President. I will be a furious opponent to any expansion of this misguided war, and I will fight against the use of torture by our government and to protect our civil liberties here at home.
Most of all, I will continue my efforts to convince my fellow members of Congress and voters, that we should not be a party of passivity - but that we succeed when we present the public with stark choices that are based on the guarantees in our Constitution, and not on the politics of the moment.
I will continue - at every pass - to call for impeachment and accountability. While I wish more of my colleagues supported our movement, we must not let our discouragement lead to apathy and distraction in this important election year when we must break free from eight long years of illegalities, corporate handouts, and a tragic and devastating war.
We should not end the calls for impeachment. I will push against the crimes of the Bush Administration whenever I am provided the opportunity. I will use my role on the Judiciary Committee to take on Administration officials – like I have done with Condoleezza Rice, Attorney Generals Gonzalez and Mukasey, and FBI Director Mueller.
I have not given up our fight to hold this Administration accountable and neither can you. I am grateful for your patriotism and your support. I'll continue to keep you informed and part of the conversation.
Congressman Robert Wexler
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp
Primer: Guantanamo Detainees' Rights
June 29, 2007 · The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday reversed course, deciding to review whether Guantanamo Bay detainees may go to federal court to challenge their indefinite confinements.
The unusual move is a setback for the Bush administration, which has argued that a new law strips courts of their jurisdiction to hear detainee cases.
In April, the court turned down an identical request, although several justices indicated they could be persuaded otherwise.
The justices did not indicate what changed their minds about considering the issue. But last week, lawyers for the detainees filed a statement from a military lawyer in which he described the inadequacy of the process the administration has put forward as an alternative to a full-blown review by civilian courts.
"This is a stunning victory for the detainees," said Eric M. Freedman, professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, who has been advising the detainees. "It goes well beyond what we asked for and clearly indicates the unease up there" at the Supreme Court.
June 29, 2007 · In a highly unusual reversal, the Supreme Court has agreed to review whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can challenge their confinement in federal court by filing what is known as a writ of habeas corpus. The announcement represents a rare change of course for the nation's high court, which earlier decided not to take on the case.
Here, a guide to some of the legal issues involved:
What is habeas corpus?
"Habeas corpus" is a Latin phrase meaning "you have the body." It's an ancient concept. In old English law, it was used to refer to a judge's order (or "writ") to bring a prisoner before a court to determine whether his imprisonment was unlawful.
The Guantanamo military tribunals, called military commissions, were created by executive order in November 2001, but in June 2006, the Supreme Court struck down the system. In October 2006, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, establishing a new system of military tribunals to hear cases involving Guantanamo detainees. Those cases include allegations of war crimes, and determinations of whether a detainee is an enemy combatant.
Without habeas corpus, there are currently two routes to the federal courts. (See accompanying chart.) The Combatant Status Review Tribunal determines whether a detainee is an enemy combatant. The Court of Military Commissions decides whether a detainee committed war crimes. Both of those decisions are ultimately reviewable by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States.
To be released from Guantanamo, a detainee must either be deemed not an enemy combatant, or successfully challenge his detention on some other grounds through habeas review. If acquitted on war crimes charges, a detainee remains at Guantanamo as an enemy combatant. If convicted of war crimes, a detainee stays at Guantanamo until the end of his criminal sentence, even if the remaining detainees are released.
In 2006, in the final days of a Republican-led Congress, lawmakers made what some consider a serious mistake.
In a law establishing military commissions, Congress did away with habeas corpus protections for all foreigners detained by the United States as suspected terrorists. That means that, unlike U.S. citizens, these people do not have access to federal courts to challenge their detention.
July 30, 2007 · The Pentagon has been trying to gradually reduce the number of prisoners being held at the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Scores of terror suspects — held for years without charge — are being repatriated to their home countries, or to other nations willing to take them.
Rumsfeld said Guantanamo contained prisoners "perfectly willing to kill themselves and kill other people."
Critics, however, say that the release of hundreds of detainees undermines the administration's assertion that all Guantanamo prisoners are extremely dangerous. They say it is likely there was not enough evidence to hold them in the first place.
August 7, 2007 · Some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, do not want to go home. The Bush administration wants to lower the number of prisoners there and is set to release some 80 detainees, but neither their home countries nor a third country will take them. About 420 detainees have been released. While many prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have fought for years to gain their freedom, at least some are now petitioning U.S. courts to remain in custody for fear they would be tortured or killed when they return home.
The ironic twist has complicated the Bush administration's plan to shut down the politically embarrassing U.S. military prison that since Sept. 11, 2001 has housed nearly 800 prisoners, many of them languishing without charge.
Currently, about 80 of the 360 detainees still at Guantanamo are cleared for release. But some fear they will be tortured if they return to their home countries – and there are problems getting third nations to take them.
"The paradox of all this is that he didn't want to be in Algeria in the first place, and now they're going to send him back to a place where he desperately doesn't want to go; worse, even, than being in Guantanamo," Detainee Lawyer, Smith said.
Then there is the third option: "Then without any warning at all we received a phone call in November 2006, and we were told that Dr. Mohammed had been released from Guantanamo and was then en route to Tirana, Albania," she said.
Castle says Mohammed now lives in a single room, without any central heating, at a refugee camp in Albania. It's not Guantanamo, it's not Algeria, but it's not home.
August 25, 2007 · The new U.S. Court of Military Commission Appeals has heard arguments in its first case. Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 for allegedly killing a U.S. soldier. A semantic dispute over the term "unlawful" is at the heart of the debate.
"This is about the credibility of the U.S. and the perception at home and abroad of our commitment to the rule of law," Lt. Commander William Kuebler told reporters outside the courthouse. Keubler is leading Khadr's defense and, as he sees it, the Bush administration is creating a legal system for the Guantanamo prisoners on the fly.
"We are designing a process after the fact to convict people we have already basically determined are guilty," he said. "And that is an absolute affront to the rule of law."
Civil liberties advocates say the trials are a sham. The head of the government's office of prosecution, Mo Davis, said detainees were getting the same due process as soldiers facing court martial.
"If these rules and judges are good enough for members of the U.S. armed forces, then it is good enough for these trials," he said. "We have nothing to be ashamed of in this process. This isn't a kangaroo court."
August 27, 2007 - Israel has a system that affords far more rights to detainees than we do at Guantanamo. The eight safeguards are: prompt review by independent courts; access to a lawyer for the detainee within a month of capture; a bar to coerced testimony, including, in Israel, a ban on stress positions and sleep deprivation; judicial review of classified evidence to determine if secrecy is justified; and periodic review of the detainee's status.
September 19, 2007 · The Senate on Wednesday voted against legislation that would have given Guantanamo detainees and other terrorism suspects the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.
The defeat was a blow to human rights groups that say a current ban on habeas corpus petitions could lead to the indefinite detention of individuals wrongfully suspected of terrorism.
President Bush and conservative Republicans have said the ban, which was enacted last year, was necessary to stem the tide of legal challenges that were flooding civilian courts.
"The truth is that casting aside the time-honored protection of habeas corpus makes us more vulnerable as a nation because it leads us away from our core American values," Leahy said. "It calls into question our historic role as a defender of human rights around the world."
In 2006, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act, which established a military-run tribunal system for prosecuting enemy combatants. The provision bars habeas corpus petitions, which means that only detainees selected for trial are able to confront charges against them. That leaves most military detainees in custody without a chance to plead their case.
October 1, 2007 · The detainees claim that they have the right to challenge their imprisonment in the U.S. courts, using the constitutionally guaranteed procedure called a writ of habeas corpus. Historically, the writ has been an important mechanism in safeguarding individuals from arbitrary state action. It guarantees a complete review by a neutral fact finder to ascertain whether the government has justifiably jailed someone. The Guantanamo prisoners contend there is no neutral fact finder at Guantanamo hearings, no way for the prisoners to rebut secret evidence, no lawyer to help them to secure evidence of their innocence, and that the legal standard presumes them guilty.
Congress, they contend, violated the Constitution, when it stripped them of the right to challenge their detentions in court after an earlier Supreme Court ruling that permitted them to do so. The Constitution, they note, provides for suspension of the writ of habeas corpus only in cases of invasion and rebellion, and even then requires an alternative system of basic due process rights.
The Bush administration, backed by a federal appeals court, counters that since the men are being held outside the United States, they have no constitutional rights.
October 10, 2007 · The Pentagon has been stopped from transferring a Guantanamo Bay detainee to Tunisia, where he allegedly faces torture, according to a federal court ruling that marks a milestone in the treatment of detainees.
"This is the first time since Congress tried to strip court jurisdiction over detainees that a court stepped in and said to the administration, 'Hey wait. You can't do what you say you want to do,"' said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch.
"It's the first time the judiciary has given a detainee any substantive right — in this case it is the right not to be tortured by the Tunisian government," Denbeaux told AP by phone.
The State Department, citing human rights groups, said sleep deprivation, electric shock, submersion of the head in water, beatings and cigarette burns were among Tunisian security forces' torture methods.
February 13, 2008 · Six detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including suspected Sept. 11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, have been formally charged with murder and conspiracy. The Pentagon is seeking the death penalty if convicted.
Why haven't the trials of the accused September 11th bombers ever been broadcast in the mass media?
February 22, 2008 · Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan faces life in prison if an upcoming military tribunal convicts him of conspiracy and supporting terrorism. Now Col. Morris Davis, the former chief military prosecutor at Gitmo, says he will testify on Hamdan's behalf if permitted to do so.
A photo perspective, by Louie Palu's, from the Atlantic Monthly.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Last year Black water made $1.3 Billion, for killing a bunch of kids in Iraq. Now they are looking for new work to take on after the war is over, and the border patrol and enforcement is looking like a money maker. With billions already being allocated for fences and "surveillance", Blackwater would love to become the private version of our National Guard, Coast Guard and Border Patrol, and make your security a profit center.
How do you beat such a destructive force. Citizen's Oversight Project (COP) is one way to keep tabs on what these bastards are doing. If we can track their actions, then we can stop them. If you know something about what Blackwater is doing to our country, inform the COP in your area. End Blackwater.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
To those who would choose to attack ...
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Mike Copass - A Progressive Democrat for U.S. Congress, 53rd District (Running against Susan Davis)
Copass, a molecular biologist, said some interesting things about education and opportunity, and the "systematic destruction of American potential".
Raymond Lutz - Democratic Candidate for California's 77th Assembly District and founder of the Citizens' Oversight Projects. Ray had some very interesting ideas about how to provide accountability and transparency in our democratic voting processes. Namely: NO electronic Voting Machines, Paper Ballots, and Visual Scanners to Digitally Copy Every Ballot and make them available online for independent verification by all!
Ray Lutz, also answered questions about the SDG&E "Sunrise Powerlink", a $2-BILLION scam to import liquified natural gas from Indonesia, turn it into electricity in Mexicali, then bring the energy across the border by way of this new taxpayer funded transmission link. We must stop the Powerlink!
Next, Floyd Morrow - Running for San Diego Mayor, Democrat. He blew me out of the water with his candid comments about the nature of politics and his understanding that the systems of power are created to put our natural resources in under the control of a very few.
Cheryl Ede - Democrat for US Congress, 50th District, running against Brian Bilbray. She was very composed and professional, gave her speech with aplomb, then stepped out before questions were asked.
Rudy Reyes - Running for San Diego County Supervisor. Reyes was a burn surviver from the 2003 San Diego County Cedar Fire, and after watching the county burn again in fall 2007 he has stepped up to fix the problems with our fire fighting policies. His tragic story may give us a progressive, proactive approach to county supervision.
Next Sunday: come witness a historic debate between incumbent Democratic Congresswoman, Susan Davis, and up and coming Progressive, Mike Copass.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It's about your hopes, It's about your dreams!
It's about what's possible when a new generation of Americans sand up and say:
"We are not going to settle for what is, we are going to imagine what might be."
You know, there is a moment like that that happens in the life of every generation. Where we shed our fear, and we shed our doubt, and we shed our cynicism. When we roll up our sleeves and arm in arm start rebuilding this country.
This is our moment, this is our time.
We are a self reliant people, we are an independent people, but we are not a people that turns our back on one another. We are a people that depends upon each other, that believes that all of us must all rise together, or all of us will fall together!
That is the American story!
YOU and I together we will change this country and we will change the world!
God bless America!
- Barak Obama, May 19, 2008
Labels: Barak hope and dreams
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I'm sure some of you have already gotten this information, but it is worth spreading. The threat is that mercenary training is becoming the foundation of our economy, boarder security will be sold-out to private military forces, and our acceptance of these gunmen as an economic backbone on our growing empire will allow war profiteers a legitimate form influence in government. We must not allow the American Dream to become the Blackwater Nightmare.
I thought you might be interested in this letter to San Diego Mayor Sanders that I just signed at the Courage Campaign. The letter thanks Mayor Sanders for launching an investigation into the false pretenses Blackwater used to obtain a permit to build a base of operations in San Diego and asks the Mayor to take further leadership -- on behalf of Californians -- to block Blackwater before it's too late.
The danger from Blackwater does not end at the San Diego city limits. And it certainly will not end with the conclusion of this investigation. When it comes to the threat to Californians that is Blackwater, we are ALL citizens of San Diego.
As a fellow Californian, please join me today in signing the letter to Mayor Sanders, which will also be delivered to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Bob Filner:
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Body of War is Tomas' coming home story as he evolves into a new person, coming to terms with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, and features two original songs by Eddie Vedder. Body of War is a naked and honest portrayal of what it's like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man.
In theaters Now!
With so many EVIL DOERS out there in the world, it is hard to keep track of those accountable.
I just wish I would have thought of this. Download the WAR PROFITEERS DECK in .pdf
Order your Deck today!