Fatal jetway shooting poses some questions
When federal air marshals shot and killed a passenger in Miami last week, authorities were quick to defend their actions as "textbook."
So were politicians.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the sky marshals appeared to have "acted consistent with their extensive training."
And the chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said the marshals' actions "should send a message to a terrorist or anyone else who is considering disrupting an aircraft with a threat."
There is no question that the passenger, Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, a Maitland, Fla., man who apparently once lived in Milwaukee, was acting erratically as American Airlines flight from Miami to Orlando was boarding.
According to various news accounts, Alpizar was muttering and then ran up and down the aisles and then tried to get off the plane. His wife reportedly was pursuing him, yelling, "My husband, my husband." According to news reports, passengers said Alpizar's wife said he was bipolar and had not taken his medication.
Authorities said that at some point he mentioned a bomb - although other passengers dispute that. As he bolted from the plane, air marshals caught up with him in the jetway where he reportedly refused orders to lie down and was then shot when he reached into a carry-on bag.
No bomb was found. Nor was there any indication that Alpizar, who has relatives in Wisconsin and was considered a "nice guy" was part of any terrorist plot of any sort.
From what we know at this point, he was simply a man with a history of mental illness who had an episode in the worst possible place.
Police and Homeland Security authorities are continuing to investigate, but, it seems quite improbable that the sky marshals will be faulted - it will likely go down as simply a tragic mistake.
But it shouldn't end there.
There should be more second-guessing than that. This was, after all, the first time the sky marshals program has had an instance in which marshals fired shots since it was beefed up in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
At the time the sky marshals numbered only 33. Today their ranks stand at about 2,000 men and women and their budget is $600 million a year.
Some will argue that the record of the past four years suggests it has been an effective deterrent to another terrorist attack. Others would argue the reverse - that there have been no episode in which marshals have blocked any plotters from seizing an aircraft and the only time they have fired their weapons was to kill an unarmed man.
Those are polar views, of course, by there remain questions in between. The Federal Air Marshal Program has been bumped from agency to agency within the Department of Homeland Security and there have been reports of morale problems within the program - a charge which Homeland Security officials deny.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, there have been clashes between sky marshals and new management which has come from retired Secret Service ranks over operating procedures, dress code and an effort to expand their ranks by moving up passenger screeners. In November, the Times said, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Homeland Security over a policy that forbids marshals from speaking publicly about their jobs or criticizing the service.
News reports have also said that the 13 weeks of air marshal training includes instruction in how to distinguish between a terrorist ruse and the bad behavior of a drunken or disturbed passenger. Perhaps that instruction could use another look since it certainly had a tragic conclusion in the Alpizar case. Still other reports have suggested arming sky marshals with tasers - and in fact United Airlines had trained its crews in their use but abandoned the plan when it filed for bankruptcy.
All of this is second-guessing, of course. But that's what should come from the Alpizar case - it's a chance to clear the air and make national security better.
Family Of Man Killed By Marshals In Miami Wants Answers
Brother Says Shooting Was Unjustifiable
POSTED: 2:16 pm EST December 10, 2005
UPDATED: 3:19 pm EST December 10, 2005
RIO CLARO DE GOLFITO, Costa Rica -- Family members of a man who was shot dead by air marshals in Miami after allegedly announcing he had a bomb demanded an explanation of the killing from U.S. authorities Friday.
"I can't understand why U.S. authorities killed my son in this way. He was not a terrorist," Carlos Alpizar, the 72-year old father of Rigoberto Alpizar told The Associated Press in the family home in Rio Claro de Golfito, near the Panama border about 190 miles south of Costa Rica's capital, San Jose.
"Rigoberto loved everything about his second country," he said "And look, they killed him like a dog."
Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, left his native Costa Rica for the United States two decades ago. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen and worked for the U.S. chain Home Depot.
Federal officials say Alpizar made a bomb threat in the jetway, after running out of the plane. They said they opened fire because Alpizar ignored their orders to stop, instead reaching into his backpack.
Alpizar's brother, named Carlos Alpizar like his father, said the shooting was unjustifiable.
"They say he was carrying a bomb, but Rigoberto and his wife had passed the security zone, they were checked thoroughly and still they killed him," he said.
Alpizar's remains will be buried next to those of his mother, Francisca Medina, in a cemetery in Cariari de Pococi, about 40 miles northeast of San Jose.
"We want them to rest together," said the elder Carlos Alpizar, explaining that the family had reached an agreement with Rigoberto Alpizar's wife, U.S. citizen Anne Buechner, to bury Rigoberto in his homeland.
Buechner told witnesses and police that Rigoberto suffered from bipolar mental disorder and was off his medication when he became agitated and began running through the aisles of a commercial airliner that was about to depart from Miami to Orlando on Wednesday.
However on Thursday, another brother Rolando Alpizar told Costa Rican Channel 7 television that family members were not aware that his brother had any mental problems and he described Rigoberto as "a very honest, very hardworking, responsible person."
The father said his son called him often and came home last July to accompany him to the doctor for a heart problem. Before he returned to the United States, he left notes throughout the house to remind his father to take his medication.
President Abel Pacheco, who is a psychiatrist, told radio station Nuestra Voz on Thursday that he would seek an investigation into the matter. He remarked that people in the United States "are living in a state of collective hysteria and if the police say, 'Get down,' you get down."
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar said the government would look into possibly helping the family with the cost of transferring Alpizar's body back to his homeland.
Questions Raised: Are Air Marshals Prepared to Handle Mentally Ill Passengers?
The Press Enterprise
The death of a bipolar airline passenger at the hands of federal air marshals has raised questions about whether the people charged with preventing violence in the skies are adequately trained to handle mentally ill passengers.
Several experts on mental illness and police training said they did not fault air marshals for fatally shooting Rigoberto Alpizar at Miami International Airport. But they suggested the Federal Air Marshal Service should re-examine how it trains marshals to deal with people who act erratically or irrationally due to mental illness or other brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.
"This guy was mentally disturbed; he wasn't a terrorist, and he didn't have a bomb and the air marshals took him down, which is what they are trained to do," said Andrew Thomas, an aviation analyst at the University of Akron in Ohio.
"As it is right now, if an air marshal sees something that he perceives to be a threat to the aircraft, be it a hijacking or a potential explosive, the response is to shoot first and ask questions later," said Thomas, author of two books on aviation security.
Alpizar and his wife had just boarded an American Airlines flight from Miami to Orlando on Wednesday when he bolted from the plane with his arms flailing. Chasing him was his screaming wife - and a federal air marshal.
Witnesses said the man's wife frantically tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.
Alpizar was shot moments later on a jetway after he apparently reached for his backpack, authorities said. Two air marshals were on the flight, and both fired at Alpizar, federal officials said.
The White House said Thursday that the air marshals appeared to have acted properly when they killed Alpizar, who claimed to have a bomb in his backpack.
Some passengers at Ontario International Airport on Thursday said they supported the air marshals' handling of the incident.
Some faulted Alpizar's wife for not calming him down. They said she should have made sure he took his medication before going into a tense situation like an airplane trip.
If a person's outbursts can't be controlled, that person should avoid mass transit, said Marilyn Rohr, 57, of Bangor, Maine. Rohr said delays caused by the Miami shooting were partly responsible for her spending two days in limbo while traveling between Boston and Ontario.
Another air passenger, Tim Whitacre, said air marshals couldn't be expected to know Alpizar was in the midst of a psychiatric crisis.
"It's not like he had `I'm bipolar and didn't take my medication' tattooed on his forehead," said Whitacre, 25, of Frankford, Mo.
Dave Adams, an air marshals spokesman, said the officers receive some training in dealing with "abnormal behavior." However, when they feel their lives are threatened, they react to forcibly take control, Adams said.
But several mental health experts said law enforcement officers can use other tactics for identifying and dealing with people who are mentally ill - but they need to be trained.
Risdon Slate, a criminology professor at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, said police officers are used to commanding respect and taking charge of a situation. Someone suffering from a mental illness might not react well to that approach.
"It may not be because someone's trying to be a jerk but maybe because the person's mentally ill," said Slate, who earned his doctorate at what is now Claremont Graduate University in Claremont.
Slate has trained police officers in how to calm someone suffering from a psychiatric crisis. Slate has an unusual perspective on the issue: Like the man killed in Miami, Slate is bipolar. He once was jailed after suffering a psychiatric crisis.
Slate said he doesn't know what kind of training air marshals received in alternatives for dealing with passengers with a mental illness or brain disorder, or whether they had any alternatives other than their handguns.
In some circumstances, a less-lethal stun-gun or bean-bag gun might be preferable to using a firearm, Slate said, although he did not know whether the marshals had access to such equipment.
Whatever their training, Slate said he hopes the federal government re-examines how it prepares air marshals to handle people with mental disorders.
"Unfortunately . . . crisis drives policy," he said.
Inland law enforcement officials say they train new officers in handling mentally ill people along with the other police-academy courses in firearms, use of force and search and seizure.
There are about 30,000 flights per day into and around the United States, Thomas said. Anywhere from 5 percent to 7 percent of the daily flights across the nation are carrying air marshals, and most of those are international flights, he said.
"If you fly from Ontario to Cleveland, it's more likely you are not going to have an air marshal on the plane, because its not a high-risk flight," Thomas said.
Most details about the Federal Air Marshal Service are closely held. The group has forbidden its members to speak publicly about their jobs and reveals only basic and generally vague information about their methods and training.
Adams said air marshals get two courses on dealing with passengers who act strangely. The first comes during a seven-week program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. That program is a basic law enforcement session. They get more specific training on unruly passengers later at a training center in Atlantic City, N.J.
Adams said the training deals with strange behavior, but when strange behavior takes a more threatening posture, lethal force quickly becomes an option.
The air marshals date back 30 years to the sky marshal program created to deter hijackings of flights to Cuba.
When terrorists hijacked four planes on 9/11, fewer than 50 marshals were available to guard flights each day.
In November 2001, the newly formed Transportation Security Administration was given 10 months to expand the air-marshal program from a few dozen to several thousand.
According to the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, the rapid ramp-up led to shortcuts on training and security clearances. Air marshal training, designed as a 14-week program, was cut to five weeks for candidates with no law enforcement experience. Others had just one week.
In recent years, the Federal Air Marshal Service has sent active officers back for training on some of the skills that were skipped initially.
POTENTIAL FOR CONFLICT
Thomas, the air security author, said that without more information about Wednesday's shooting, it was hard to say whether the Miami air marshals acted appropriately.
Thomas said he expects the number of onboard confrontations between troublesome passengers and air marshals to increase, especially after a planned Dec. 22 relaxation of rules that prohibit air travelers from bringing some types of short-bladed scissors and tools on board airliners.
"If we don't upgrade the training of flight attendants and air marshals to be prepared to be deal with these permitted items, situations like (Wednesday's) will become more frequent," he said.
Adding to the potential for conflict is the rising incidence of air rage and increasing frustration among air passengers, he said.
Data show a direct relationship between the number of onboard disturbances involving passengers and the number of complaints air travelers lodge with the federal Department of Transportation, he said. In recent months, complaints jumped 30 percent as travelers griped about overbooked flights, delays and long waits tied to security, Thomas said.
Huntington Beach firearms instructor Greg Block, whose firm trains law-enforcement agencies, said air marshals lack some of the tools and resources police on the ground can utilize.
Police officers can use their uniformed presence, verbal commands, and other tools such as batons and pepper spray to try to control a situation. They also can call for backup, an option obviously not available to marshals once they're airborne.
The other issue at play in Wednesday's shooting - the plight of the mentally ill - puts attention on what one expert called a poorly funded mental health system that increasingly leaves people untreated.
About 2 percent of the population has a severe mental illness, but about 40 percent of those people are not getting treated, said Mary Zdanowicz, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Virginia.
Many states do not allow mentally ill people to be hospitalized involuntarily unless they risk harming themselves or others, she said.
"By law, you're letting people get on planes with severe mental illness," she said.
* * *
Staff writers Lisa O'Neill Hill and Naomi Kresge, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.
* * *
Californians who may have a diagnosable mental illness: ONE IN 5
Number who may have a serious mental illness: ONE IN 15
In California, emergency calls to sheriff offices related to a mental illness crisis: 9 PERCENT
Nationally, people with mental illness are FOUR TIMES more likely than the general public to be killed by police in justifiable homicides.
Police are more likely to be killed by a person with a mental illness than by someone with a prior arrest for assaulting police or resisting arrest.
SOURCE: CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE ANALYST, TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER
* * *
COMPARING THE TRAINING REGIMENS
CALIFORNIA PEACE OFFICERS
BASIC TRAINING: A minimum of 664 hours in a police academy required, although most police academies in the state offer between 900 and 1,000 hours of instruction.
CURRICULUM: Officers learn how to use firearms, study criminal search-and-seizure laws, and learn basic police work.
SPECIALIZED TRAINING: After academy graduation, officers are partnered with field-training officers for at least 10 weeks.
BASIC TRAINING: Fourteen-week program. Candidates spend first seven weeks at a training center in Artesia, N.M.
CURRICULUM: Basic law-enforcement skills.
SPECIALIZED TRAINING: Candidates spend seven weeks at a training center in New Jersey, where they learn such skills as how to work in the confined space of a passenger cabin. Also, must pass an advanced marksmanship course and spend one week training with an airline.
7 December 2005
Thank you for writing and for your news updates. Our prison has been in lockdown since Saturday the 3rd. The guards tell us we will be locked in our cells for a month, allowed out only to shower. Supposedly an inmate tried to escape but failed returning to his cell undetected but leaving evidence of his attempt. We were strip-searched, and our cells were searched, but they still haven’t caught this person. The inmates are angry with this inmate, because his botched escape attempt caused the DOC to do this to us. I however, place all the blame on DOC where it belongs. It was they who decided to act so irrationally punishing all of us for the deed of one.
My cellmate had his television confiscated for his drug offense, but we have my radio to (can’t read this word) us. There is no library service during lockdown, so I am running out of books to read. My cellmate also keeps himself occupied with his art work.
To answer an earlier inquiry regarding the inmate known as “Riot”, who tried to compel me to enter an inmate lottery, his name is R. Mikus, and his ADC number is 140239. (from the ADOC web site – ROLLIN R MIKUS 11/16/1968 FORGERY) He is scheduled for release in February.
Have you found out anything about David Irving arrest in Austria? I read very little about it in the Arizona Republic.
I was surprised to read that my website received more than 1400 visits last month. I did not know my case had attracted so much interest.
Now to answer your inquiry about weather balloons. A weather balloon is used by meteorologists to measure conditions in the atmosphere above the ground, including tempature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and wind direction. The balloon is equipped with meteorological instruments connected to a radiosonde, which transmits the data to the ground.
A weather balloon works on the same principles as any other balloon. It is filled with helium. Helium is considerably less dense than air, and that causes the balloon to be lighter than the volume of air it displaces and thus to rise. As the air rises the pressure of the air around it decreases. Eventually, at an altitude of around 15 to 20 miles, the differential pressure causes the balloon to burst, and the instruments and radiosonde fall to the ground, where they can be recovered for reuse.
A balloon could be used as a terrorist weapon, but as its course would be at the mercy of the wind, it would not be a precision weapon. A balloon could conceivably carry a bomb, an incendiary device, radioactive materials, chemical agents, or biological agents.
During the Second World War the Japanese government actually did use balloons as a weapon against the USA. Japanese meteorologists had discovered that strong upper air winds known as the jet stream blow across the Pacific from Japan to the USA.Taking advantage of this, the Japanese launched several hundred balloons equipped with incendiary devices. Most of those balloons did not reach the USA, landing harmlessly in the Pacific, but a few reached the Pacific Northwest and started some forest fires. The damage however, was not particularly severe.
It is possible that terrorists, knowing projected wind speeds and directions might use balloons to target American cities. They would not, however have the precision to target a specific building or person.
>I however, place all the blame on DOC where it
>belongs. It was they who decided to act so
>irrationally punishing all of us for the deed
yes and it also probably teaches the inmates that its ok to do irrational things. a great way to make many of them worse then when they came in.
>Have you found out anything about David Irving
>arrest in Austria? I read very little about
>it in the Arizona Republic.
yes it will be in the next letter i send you or maybe this letter.
>I was surprised to read that my website
>received more than 1400 visits last month.
>I did not know my case had attracted so much
most of the hits probably come when people google on key words like "secret service" or "political prisoner" or "george w bush". and then google or yahoo points them to your page. i added the last letter you sent me to the site and it is now december 13 and so far this month the site has gotten 1800 hits.
the last 2 pages of your last letter delt with a question i asked me. lets talk about it more with out talking about it. :)
when i was a child we played a game of lets see if we can throw a chain on some power lines. finally when one of us actually threw the chain up into the power lines there was a big explosion and it knocked the power lines down. ie: when the chain shorted out two power lines it cause a huge flow of current and melted the lines. so a good rule is id you dont want power lines to come tumbling down dont throw chains or wires on them. got it :)
you have seen telephone poles that have a guy wire that comes down at maybe a 30 or 40 degree angle and anchors down the telephone pole. well when i was a child i also played a game lets yank on the guy wire and shake the telephone pole. when you do this it also shakes the power lines on the telephone pole.
well one day we found out if the power lines are shaken enough and if they touch each other it causes a loud explosion and also knocks down the power lines. so rule number two is if you short two power lines on a pole for even a fraction of a second thats enough for them to generate a huge amount of current which will cause the wire to heat up and melt and crash to the ground.
last im sure you have burned out a fuse or circuit breaker in your home and replaced it. same principle. when two AC wires short out it generates lots of heat and melts the fuse or triggers the circuit breaker. now turn off the power to your home and replace the fuse with a penny so it wont blow. or just run a copper wire to by pass the ciruit breaker. then cause a short in some where in you home. what happens. either it gets do hot it melts the electrical wiring in the shorted out line, or it gets hot enough to start a fire and burn you home down.
using that info think about what i talked about, and what you talked about and figure how if you attached a wire to one of them it could be used to do stuff.
marc hoy sent me a real cool christmas card. it says "Merry Yuletide and Seasons Greetings from the Heart of the Prison Industrial Complex". this is a reminder to send you guys a copy of it.
i put a copy of it on the indy site.
i should also remind my self to send you a copy of the F*CK BUSH sign i took to the protest when george w hitler came to phoenix
Law requires Italian Internet cafes to record ID
Friday, December 9, 2005; Posted: 3:53 p.m. EST (20:53 GMT)
ROME, Italy (AP) -- In a heavily immigrant neighborhood near the main railway station, Ahmed Sohel points dejectedly to the empty computer terminals at the modest storefront where he sells Internet and telephone service.
"Before, I was full of Internet clients, now I have no one left," said Sohel, a gentle, middle-aged immigrant from Bangladesh.
A new Italian law requires businesses that offer Internet access to the public, like Sohel's, to ask clients for identification and log the owner's name and the document type.
Internet cafes also must make and keep a photocopy of the ID and be registered with their local police station, dictates the law, part of an anti-terror package approved after the July terrorist bombings in London.
Many cafe owners say the law has increased their work load and decreased their profits.
"We're selling the store, and in part this is the reason," said Dolores Cabrera, who owns Kokonet, an Internet storefront across town near the Vatican. About half Cabrera's prospective clients either don't have their passport with them or aren't willing to show it, she said.
Enforcement is spotty at many cafes, however, and besides Internet cafe owners and civil libertarians, the law appears to bother only people who fear scrutiny by the authorities, such as illegal immigrants.
Angela De Angelis, a 21-year-old Italian student using an Internet cafe near the Vatican, was dubious about the new law's worth.
"I think it's all right if it serves to protect us, though sincerely, I can't see how it's useful," she said.
Italy is the only European Union country to require Internet cafes to record ID information on clients, said Richard Nash, secretary general of EuroISPA, which represents Internet providers in Europe.
Non-member Switzerland, however, does requires people who go online at Internet cafes to show IDs, according to Robin Gross, of the U.S. civil liberties group IP Justice.
Several Asian countries and cities, most prominently China and including the Indian technology hub of Bangalore, require registration at cafes.
But the leaders of some of those nations tend to be thinking at least as much about inhibiting speech as preventing terror attacks in making the requirement. In Vietnam, Internet cafes also are required to block access to Web sites deemed subversive and pornographic.
The Internet's potential as a terrorist tool was highlighted by the 2002 kidnapping and murder in Pakistan of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, whose abductors used e-mail to issue demands and send photos. However, those messages were traced to a computer in a private residence, not an Internet cafe. Pakistan does not require cafe users to register.
Daniele Capezzone, a leader of Italy's Radical Party that often campaigns on human and civil rights issues, opposes the new law and explains why he thinks it has stirred little debate.
"Two reasons: one, the political class isn't talking about it, and two, the media hasn't shined a light on it," he said.
Internet cafe owners who rely in large part on a clientele that may not be in the country legally are often opting to turn a blind eye.
"Fifty percent of the people who come for Internet don't want to show their document," Sohel said, opening his registry book and pointing to where a few clients among those who used the computers left their names but not their passport numbers. As for successfully photocopying IDs, he said customer compliance is rare.
Giuseppe Italia, whose office at Rome's central police station oversees the application of the new law in the province of Rome, acknowledges that Internet cafes that cater to immigrants might not be complying consistently.
Sabino Acquaviva, a sociologist at the University of Padua who specializes in terrorism, says compliance is indeed haphazard.
"People either won't register their documents, and others will show fake ones," he said. "I think this law is useless."
An added problem is that police cannot sanction violators -- license suspension or revocation are among the stipulated penalties -- unless they have approved a cafe owner's license, Italia said.
As of mid-November, only about 130 Internet cafe operators in the province of Rome had been approved and one rejected by police with more than 950 still pending.
Italia did not return a call seeking updated information this week, but the Internet magazine Punto Informatico reported on its Web site that seven Internet parlors in Florence were temporarily closed last month for not complying with the law and at least one was shuttered indefinitely for not recording clients' names and failing to register with police.
Some owners bemoan another requirement of the new law: They must be able, if necessary, to track the sites visited by their clients. And some bellyache about the added expense. Contents of people's e-mail is, however, supposed to remain private and can only be made available to law enforcement through a court order.
Italy also obliges telecommunications companies to keep traffic data and European ministers agreed last week to require the carriers to retain records of calls and e-mails for a maximum of two years. The European Parliament's two largest groups endorsed the data retention initiative on Wednesday despite complaints from privacy advocates and telecoms, and the full body is expected to adopt a bill next week.
Back at the cafes, there isn't much confidence among workers that such measures could help prevent a terror attack.
"These people caused the Twin Towers to collapse," said Edoardo Righi, a computer tech at a store near the tourist-rich neighborhood of Campo dei Fiori. "They're not going to stop because they can't send an e-mail."
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
some more info on power transmission lines.
Transmission-level voltages are usually considered to be 115 kV and above.
Lower voltages such as 66 kV and 33 kV are usually considered sub-transmission voltages
Voltages less than 33 kV are usually used for distribution.
there are standards for the tall metal electral transmissions towers but i couldnt find any of them. you can look at any of the tall metal towers and by how it looks you can tell the voltage that the lines carry because there are standards. the ones that run along the crosscut canal from scottsdale to tempe i think are 67K volts. i dont know how tall they are. i did see one figure that said 240K volt towers are 39 meters tall.
wood telephone or electrical poles are from 20 feet to 125 feet tall
a standard 35 foot pole can carry a 7200 volt line. Higher voltage carrier lines require greater clearance Higher voltage carrier lines require greater clearance distances.
these are clearanced distances you need to keep away from power lines. if you get any closer the power can leap thru the air and kill you. for example if your in a boom working on the lines you need to keep the person in the boom and the boom this distance away from the lines or risk getting electructed. same for a crane. if the crane gets too close the current will jump into the crane and kill the operator.
400K volt 7.0 meter clearance
275k volt 7.0
low voltage 5.2
Read carefully, the IXth Amendment deals with RIGHTS. The Xth
Amendment deals with POWERS.
The IXth merely states that just because a right is not expressed
does not mean the right does not exist and it only applies to the
individual people as a restriction on gummint. Many years ago some
people did a survey of all 50 state constitutions. Some 150 different
distinct rights were identified.
The distinguishing factor in rights specifically expressed in the
U.S. and State constitutions were supposed to have been preserved
"inviolate" as the right was understood at the time the Constitution
ratified. I have not seen any of our current crop of legal eagles
the issue from that point of view. The courts have dropped many a hint
in that direction, but the legal eagles seem to have ignored the hint.
Therefore, if you can find the existence of some "right" before the
Constitution was written, that right is "inviolate" and the mere fact
that some of these "lesser known" rights are not specifically listed is
what the IXth and the equivalent in the 50 state constitutions are all
about. The only question that hasn't been addressed is if a "new
surfaces (one that appears to have no historical reference) is that
right equally "inviolate".
The Xth Amendment deals with those powers granted in the
Constitution to the US and those powers that are ALSO prohibited to the
states. If the Power is NOT granted to the US, and is NOT prohibited
the states, the power can equally be exercised by the state authority
well as the people of the states.
If the Power is NOT granted to the US, AND it is ALSO prohibited to
the States (Article I, Section 10, Clauses 1-3), then the power is
reserved EXCLUSIVELY to the People of the States.
So division of protection of rights is not an issue. Both the
and Federal government have a duty to protect ALL OF OUR RIGHTS ALL OF
THE TIME without prejudice to any particular individual or any
particular right. That it is not being done is OUR fault.
On the other hand division of powers is delineated in both the
federal and state constitutions. The fact that the state gummints have
surrendered some of their powers to the feds (which if you read, New
York v. United States, it can't be done), for a bowl of pottage, is OUR
fault. It is OUR responsibility to force our respective state to TAKE
BACK those powers that they've surrendered, and which adversely affect
our individual rights.
john wilde wrote this. i though it was interesting
now if somebody tied a 150 foot steel cable to a weather balloon ......
next bush needs he himself cooked the books and did it so he could invade iraq.
Bush admits Iraq war was based upon flawed data
G. Robert Hillman
Dallas Morning News
Dec. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - On the eve of the first parliamentary elections in Iraq, President Bush on Wednesday accepted full responsibility for invading the country on faulty intelligence.
But, in the last of four speeches designed to underscore the stakes in Iraq nearly three years after the invasion, Bush looked back only long enough to reiterate his long-standing assertion that toppling Saddam Hussein was the "right decision."
The special commission that Bush appointed to investigate the prewar intelligence lapses concluded last March that the administration had been "dead wrong" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the president's primary justification for the invasion.
His acceptance of responsibility Wednesday was a signal point in his new campaign to answer a growing chorus of war critics and offer a skeptical public what he calls a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
"The assertion of administration infallibility just wasn't cutting it," said Thomas Donnelly, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "This puts a different framework and a different perspective on how he wants people to think about the war, which was long overdue."
Bush launched his new campaign in a stinging Veterans Day rebuke to his critics a month ago, carried it through a weeklong tour of Asia, then delivered four keynote speeches, ending on the eve of Wednesday's Iraqi elections.
Other members of his administration, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have struck back as well since Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine and congressional authority on defense, called for a quick U.S. withdrawal last month.
And Bush, who was at his low point in the public opinion polls a month ago, has risen about 5 percentage points to the low 40s. Still, the polls show a majority of Americans have serious questions about the war and Bush's ability to deliver on his own victory plan.
With that backdrop, Donnelly said it's clear that "if the president walks away from making the effort that a leader in wartime has to make, he'll find himself behind the eight-ball again."
Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said he applauded Bush's remarks, "not only the description of the situation in Iraq but the admission of errors that have been made."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada kept up the Democratic criticism, charging just before the president's speech that Bush hadn't yet "leveled with the American people."
"In order to support the mission," Reid said, "the American people need to know the remaining political, economic and military benchmarks, maybe a reachable schedule for achieving them."
Bush, however, has dismissed all talk of timetables, saying that U.S. forces will be withdrawn only when enough Iraqi troops and police are properly trained to protect their country.
The Iraq insurgency is "trying to break our will in the hopes of getting America to leave the battlefield early," Bush said, adding an unusual note for him: "And they cite Vietnam as a reason they can prevail." But the president declared, repeating his earlier assertions: "We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory."
Bush delivered his speech before several hundred scholars and diplomats assembled by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a nonpartisan Washington research institution.
The White House said Wednesday that the president intends to keep talking about Iraq and the rebounding U.S. economy, the administration's top two priorities.
Bloomberg News contributed to this article.
another innocent person executed!!!!!
Mississippi executes 77-year-old killer
Dec 15, 2005, 16:32 GMT
PARCHMAN, MS, United States (UPI) -- Mississippi executed a 77-year-old convicted killer whose last words implicated his son and another man in a 1985 contract killing.
John B. Nixon Sr. was put to death by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday.
He was convicted of accepting $1,000 to kill Virginia Tucker by her former husband. But while strapped to a gurney, he said his 20 years on death row had been a mistake.
'I did not kill Virginia Tucker. I know within my heart who did, and it hurts me in my heart to acknowledge it was a son of mine and a Spanish friend of his and another person in Jackson,' he said.
Nixon became the oldest person executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and was the seventh person executed in Mississippi since 1976, the Jackson Clarion Ledger said.
US executes 77-year-old
15/12/2005 08:43 - (SA)
Mississippi - A convicted murderer from Mississippi has become the oldest person in the United States to be executed since capital punishment was reinstated almost three decades ago.
The 77-year-old John B Nixon sen, a hitman in the 1985 execution-style murder of a Mississippi woman, was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday.
Nixon has been on death row since March 1986.
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to stay the execution. Earlier this week, Gov Haley Barbour rejected clemency for Nixon, who had told the governor in a letter that he wanted "a fair shake" and had turned his life around.
Authorities said Thomas and Virginia Tucker tried to bargain for their lives after Nixon and his companions burst into their Brandon, Mississippi, home on January 2, 1985. But Nixon dismissed their pleas, put a pistol to Virginia Tucker's head, and pulled the trigger.
Tucker's ex-husband, Elester Joseph Ponthieux of Raymond, Mississippi, is serving a life sentence for hiring Nixon.
Serving sentences for helping Nixon are his two sons and another man.
Nixon spent the final hours before his execution visiting relatives, and appeared calm, prison officials said.
After a breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast, and coffee, he declined to eat lunch, saving room for his last meal, Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps said.
Amnesty International USA, which issued a statement on Monday condemning Barbour's denial of clemency, said Nixon would be the oldest person executed in the United States in more than a century.
"While we believe that the death penalty is always unjust, John Nixon's case is a particularly cruel example of the unfairness of this broken system," Dr William F Schulz, AIUSA's executive director, said.
Watch out american!!! Air Marshals will now be killing people on trains, subways, and buses just like the London Pig murdered Jean Mendez!!!
Air marshals spreading out
Dec. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - An anti-terrorism test program is sending federal air marshals into train, subway and bus stations in six cities as part of a plan to occasionally use the armed agents on mass transit other than airplanes.
The three-day test in Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia is exploring whether the marshals and other Transportation Security Administration officers could be sent out quickly to mass transit systems if intelligence indicates there's a threat.
Amy Von Walter, agency spokeswoman, emphasized that there is no new intelligence indicating a threat.
During the staggered three-day tests, which began Wednesday and run through Saturday, marshals are working with local and transit police in subway, train and bus stations.
hmmmm..... could terrorists use this machine at the post office to mail a bomb??????
Machine still can't talk
A lot of package-bearing people converged on the Falcon Field Post Office this week to wait in long lines after passing a time-saver in the lobby.
An Automated Postal Center that can weigh packages and put postage on them around the clock was in little use on Monday while Insider was there.
The machine accepts debit or credit cards. After affixing postage to their packages customers can place them in a metal chute to postal employees.
The machine's inability to carry on a conversation might have been part of the problem. There was a lot of visiting by people waiting in lines.
this is interesting. attached to the police state patriot act is a bill that would limit the amount of cold medicine a person can buy to fight meth. i though the patriot act was to in theory to fight terrorists. but i suspect the real purpose of the patriot act is to declare war on the american people and flush the bill of rights down the toilet!!!
and the police state thugs that voted for this bill from arizona are Republican Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, J.D. Hayworth, Jim Kolbe, Rick Renzi and John Shadegg.
House OKs broad plan to help fight meth
Gannett News Service
Dec. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Consumers would be limited to the amount of cold medicine they could purchase a month under a measure the House approved Wednesday to choke the illicit use and production of methamphetamine.
The House passed a plan to restrict the sale of meth's primary ingredients pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, commonly found in popular cold medicines.
"Meth has become the drug of choice," said Majority Leader Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. who co-sponsored the bill in the House with Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind. "It started out as a rural drug but has become more urban."
Law enforcement officials said the legislation was long overdue.
"This is going to be a great help for law enforcement," said Capt. Steve Dalton of the Branson, Mo., Police Department who headed an anti-meth task force until August. "Local law enforcement has never let up on this but now we will get a boost."
But the fate of the meth measure is uncertain because it was approved as part of the USA Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism law that faces a Senate filibuster threat.
Methamphetamine was identified as the nation's top drug problem ahead of cocaine, marijuana and heroin in a July 5 survey by the National Association of Counties.
Local and federal officials seized 17,170 illegal meth labs last year, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Missouri had the highest number of seizures, with 2,799.
DEA Director Karen Tandy called the meth problem a "deadly menace" to users, law enforcement, localities, employers and the 15,000 children who have been rescued from illegal meth labs.
"We are all affected by the meth epidemic," she said.
Souder said the bill "is designed to tackle meth trafficking at every stage, from precursor chemical control to international monitoring, and from environmental regulation to child protection."
Patriot Act passes House; Senate outlook murky
Deborah Barfield Berry
Gannett News Service
Dec. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The House passed a renewed version of the Patriot Act on Wednesday, but the controversial anti-terrorism law appeared to be in trouble as Senate Democrats and some Republicans stepped up efforts to temporarily extend the expiring provisions so lawmakers can continue to negotiate.
The Republican-controlled House passed the conference report on the Patriot Act on a 251-174 vote. The compromise proposal re-authorizes key provisions of the law, including ones that gives federal officials more access to library and medical records, that are set to expire by the end of the month.
In Arizona's delegation, Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor voted against the measure. Republican Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, J.D. Hayworth, Jim Kolbe, Rick Renzi and John Shadegg voted for it.
Democrats and civil liberty groups complained that the measure fails to ensure a balance between civil liberties and national security. They particularly point to a lack of judicial review for the government's access to personal records.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., has threatened a filibuster, a tactic used to kill a bill with endless debate. The Senate was expected to decide as early as today whether to limit debate and vote perhaps as soon as Friday on the conference report.
Meanwhile, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has garnered support from Democrats and some Republicans to extend the existing provisions of the act by three months so lawmakers can work out differences in the new version.
"Nobody's asking to end the bill," Leahy said. "We're still working on it."
The House on Wednesday defeated a similar proposal by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers had said negotiations should be extended so House and Senate lawmakers can craft a bipartisan agreement.
President Bush has urged Congress to pass the measure, arguing it is an important tool in the fight against terrorism. On Tuesday, the administration dispatched Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to the Capitol to lobby for support.
"In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," Bush said in a statement after the House vote.
Without the measure, the country would be more at risk, said James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He said a three-month extension is not "feasible" and complained that there had been plenty of discussions with Leahy.
"I wish he were willing to compromise as well," Sensenbrenner said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
another man framed for murder freed after 7 years in jail do to DNA testing
Dec 15, 2:31 PM EST
DNA clears man in mother-in-law's murder
By JOHN McCARTHY
Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- DNA evidence from a cigarette butt cleared a man imprisoned for seven years in the rape and murder of his mother-in-law, and the charges against him were dropped Thursday.
Clarence Elkins, 42, should be released from prison later in the day, prisons system spokeswoman Andrea Dean said.
Elkins, who was serving a life sentence and would not have been eligible for parole until 2054, was convicted in the 1998 rape and murder of Judith Johnson, 58, as well as the rape of her then-6-year-old granddaughter.
DNA evidence showed he could not have committed the crimes, said Bill Canterbury, spokesman for the Summit County prosecutor's office, which tried the case in 1998.
Elkins learned of his impending release from his wife, Melinda Elkins: "I said, 'Pack your bags, you're coming home baby.'"
He said he "was just overwhelmed with joy and tears of joy. I was amazed it was so soon. I thought it was going to drag out," Elkins said by phone from Mansfield Correctional Institution.
Elkins helped secure the DNA sample of the investigation's current focus - fellow inmate Earl Gene Mann - by retrieving a cigarette butt Mann had used.
Mann, 32, is serving a seven-year sentence for raping three girls. He has not been officially linked to the crimes for which Elkins was convicted but Canterbury said he recently failed five polygraph tests about his role in the crimes.
Mann had a relationship with a woman who lived near one of the victims, Canterbury said.
why do i put the postage on upside down?
because an upside down flag is a symbol of distress. thats why. and they have fucked you guys along with a lot of other people and amerika is in distress.
but if it wasnt a symbol of distress i would put them on upside down anyway because i do everything different. for years if i dont have a stamp i will tape the postage to the letter as coins. all of those letters got thru. in at least one case the coins were still attached. that was a letter i sent to the IBM pc users group. the guy called me when he got the letter and told me the quarter was taped on it insead of the postage was still there. the question is why should i be normal and do everything the same way everybody else on the planet does? i will do things my way.
as far as the lockdown. is it only at the rincon unit in tucson, or is it all the other units at the tucson prison? or dont they tell you anything?
what they dont even let you take showers??? and if they dont let you take a show they will punish you for not taking a shower? the beard? if you grow a beard that is something they will punish you for? but i take it they dont let you have a razor in your cell so it will be impossible for you to shave if you in a lockdown. and they will punish you if you dont shave?
the dogerty at the new times seemed like they might be interested in doing a story about you. he told me to send him all the documentation i had on you. i emailed him all the police reports and all the letters you have sent me. you may want to write him and tell him what the secret service did to you.
Phoenix New Times
1201 E. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85034
i have emailed him a number of your letters and maybe one or two of laros. every once in a while when i email him something he will email me back and tell me to keep sending him the stuff.
and marc hoy sent me a hand made post card from the tucson prison. he was pretty cool. it had a santa claus with a ball and chain enslaving the elfs. and said something happy holidays from the prison industrial complex. i gave a copy of it to my evil twin brother skippy and he put a copy of it on indymedia.
and since your all atheist i dont have to tell you merry christmas. and in laros case he probably wont get this letter until a couple weeks after christmas. i dont like christmas or turkey day either. they are both the most worthless holidays we have. all the stores shut down on both of the holidays. turkey day while it techinally isnt a religious holiday it really is. it celebrates worshiping god and worshiping the government. i hate it. the lies about turkey day are mostly myths. but its used to worship god and government.
it takes the city of phoenix 16 months to admit that stupid decisions by two trigger happy cops caused their own deaths. yep we can alway rely on the police to quickly admit their mistakes.
Report: Hasty decisions factor in 2 officers' deaths
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
Hasty decision-making and a breakdown in communications were primary factors in the deaths of two Phoenix police officers who were gunned down in an apartment-complex shootout 16 months ago, according to an internal report released late Thursday.
And a review committee is raising questions about the Phoenix Police Department's long-standing take-charge-now culture, suggesting that greater "emphasis must be placed on slowing down the decision-making process" in high-pressure situations.
Officers Jason Wolfe and Eric White were shot to death on Aug. 28, 2004, after they kicked in the apartment door of a delusional shooting suspect.
Less than two minutes before, a Phoenix police dispatcher broadcast that the suspect, Douglas M. Tatar, was on the phone, alone in Apartment F267.
"Says he has a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun with him," the dispatcher said.
Whether they heard the transmission is not clear. But the report issued by the review committee shows none of the five officers gathered on the landing outside Tatar's door responded to the dispatcher before they forced their way into the apartment.
"We've always been aggressive," Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris said in an interview. "The key in tactical situations is that line between being aggressive and wanting to get the job done and catch the bad guy and going to the point where you're too aggressive and it's dangerous.
"I don't think these officers were intentionally reckless or dangerous. The officers decided to make an entry that they probably shouldn't have at that point in time."
The deaths of Wolfe and White were one of the worst tragedies for Phoenix police and sparked a communitywide outpouring of grief.
The long-awaited "Las Palmaritas Report," named for the apartment complex where the shootout occurred, is a comprehensive examination of the fatal shooting. It was undertaken to pinpoint changes that could be made to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. All officers have received copies of the report.
Wolfe, 27, and White, 30, had been called to the northwest Phoenix apartment complex after Tatar shot another man over a $100 debt. But within 17 minutes, both officers were mortally wounded, and Officer Chris Parese was injured, hit by another officer's ricocheting bullet. Tatar committed suicide.
The scene was chaotic, the crowd hostile. Radio traffic from the shooting and a nearby officer-involved accident initially mixed on the same frequency. There was confusion, at first, about whether Tatar was alone, and there were reports that a shot had been fired inside Tatar's apartment.
Still, officers quickly and effectively moved witnesses and innocent bystanders out of harm's way, evacuated nearby apartments and isolated the suspect in an apartment, according to the report. A communications operator tried to persuade Tatar to surrender. Amid the shooting, officers were able to pull Wolfe and White off the landing in under three minutes.
But the just-completed review raises questions about whether important information was heard, understood and followed up on by officers before they stormed the apartment.
In police reports released earlier this year, one of the officers said they all heard dispatchers say Tatar reported he was alone and had a gun.
The new report says officers briefly discussed the need for an emergency entry, with Wolfe wanting to wait. Interviews with the surviving officers indicate not everyone believed they were going to make entry.
None of the five broadcast an intent to enter the apartment or clearly communicated that to supervisors, according to the review.
The department's specially trained tactical unit was not called until after the shooting. Jake Jacobsen, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said the report is not intended to point fingers but to spur "self-reflection."
"What we need to reiterate in training is slow down. Make sure you've got all your information and evaluate it and then determine the need for speed," Jacobsen said.
"It's difficult at that point to think, 'I don't have the information.' You're thinking, 'I've got all I need. Let's go.' "
The issue, Jacobsen said, is "how do we make sure that take-charge attitude doesn't take us to a bad situation too quickly?"
The Phoenix Police Department, like many others across the country, has fostered a culture that supports taking decisive action in difficult situations. In many instances on a daily basis, officials say that is appropriate. Yet as the average experience level declines because of a surge in retirements and the number of new hires, "it is incumbent on the department to be more vigilant than ever in providing proper oversight, especially in difficult, dynamic situations," the report says.
"People who are experienced understand that the pressures to move quickly are pretty extreme," Assistant Phoenix Police Chief John Buchanan said. "It takes some experience and some training to know when to slow down. We hope to make that a higher priority.
"If the decision-making process had slowed, I think, the outcome very easily could have been different."
Harris said issues of training, communication and culture will be addressed over the next six months.
The report suggests police look more critically at tactical decisions to identify officers "who may show a tendency to proceed on a hazardous course of action without due consideration" and provide them with additional training. It also recommends that supervisors avoid giving commendations that encourage poor tactics.
Through training and practice, officers can learn "that being too aggressive can hurt you in particular situations," Harris said. By slowing down, officers have time to get a chaotic scene under control, objectively evaluate what they're dealing with, and weigh a variety of options. It also gives suspects time to calm down.
"The bad guy is inside. You want to get them outside safely. You've got a variety of choices to do that. If you get in a hurry, you negate most of the options," Harris said.
"Slowing down isn't always the appropriate response. But on average, you usually will make better decisions."
after getting drunk and totaling his car Mayor Herb Bergson says he will never drink again. I bet he also said he will never raise taxes either. but he won't resign. he asked a witness not to call the cops.
Bergson: Won't resign, won't drink either
Meets the press for the first time since his OWI
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson is back at work after his accident and OWI arrest last Friday north of Spooner.
With a gash on his forehead, a dozen stitches, and a concussion Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson answered questions about his drunk driving arrest last week. Bergson says he was driving to a conference in Chicago. He planned on spending the night in Eau Claire to take a day off. “I could have made a widow of my wife I guess. I could have made orphans of my children. Worse yet I could have made orphans of other children. I am grateful that I was the only one hurt.” Bergson says he had 4 and a half drinks at a private residence before leaving. He says he doesn’t remember being uncooperative, riding in the ambulance or the accident itself. He says he doesn’t have a drinking problem and will never drink again. He says he has no thoughts on resigning. “We have some good things going on in Duluth. Unemployment is down, construction is booming. We have a council that is willing to attack the problem of retiree health care. We have many new businesses starting and many businesses expanding. My supporters encourage me to continue and I am going to continue to do my job.” Bergson says he mailed a signed plea agreement and a $784 fine. He has to attend an alcohol assessment class and go to a victim’s discussion panel. His drivers license will be suspended for six months.
Bergson asked passersby not to call cops
BY CHUCK FREDERICK AND JOHN MYERSNEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson asked passersby not to call police Friday evening following a one-vehicle accident near Spooner that resulted in his citation for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the Washburn County Sheriff's Office.
The mayor asked motorists instead to help him push his crashed car off a guard rail along U.S. Highway 53 less than half a mile from Washburn County Highway H. The mayor also refused immediate medical attention, according to Spooner Police Officer DeWayne Olson, who responded to the scene under a mutual aid request.
Olson's information was included in an incident report filed by the Washburn County Sheriff's Office and acquired this morning by the News Tribune. The report was written by Sgt. David G. Dennis of the Washburn County Sheriff's Office.
``My opinion was that Mr. Bergson was possibly intoxicated due to my observation of his eyes, the nature of the accident scene and Mr. Bergson's request to motorists not to call the police,'' Dennis wrote.
Bergson was the driver and lone occupant of the four-door 2002 Mercury registered in his name, the report indicated. The vehicle was a ``total loss,'' Dennis wrote.
Bergson said Monday he won't challenge the charges against him.
``I intend to plead no contest,'' Bergson said in an e-mailed message to the News Tribune. He declined to comment further.
Bergson was southbound on U.S. Highway 53 on his way to a Great Lakes environmental conference in Chicago when his vehicle struck a bridge abutment, left the road and hit a guard rail in the median.
The incident was reported at 6:25 p.m. just north of Washburn County Highway H, Karen Snearly, police communications operator for the Wisconsin State Patrol, said Saturday.
The accident remains under investigation. Bergson's blood alcohol level won't be available for at least two weeks, Trooper Anthony DeSteffano said.
Bergson told the News Tribune via e-mail Saturday that he had hoped to make it as far as Eau Claire, Wis., for the night.
On Monday, Duluth City Council President Donny Ness issued the following statement: ``Of course, I am disappointed and saddened by this development, we cannot excuse the behavior, nor minimize its serious nature. The Mayor has humbled himself before our community, acknowledged his grave mistake, and has asked for forgiveness - I will give him mine and I will do so with a full heart for him and his family.
``I forgive the Mayor so that he knows there are people in this community ready to help him through a difficult time,'' Ness wrote in his statement. ``I also do it for our city, because the issues we face today deserve and require our full attention and focus.
Finally, and most importantly, we all fall short of the Glory of God and as a sinner myself, I cannot turn my back on someone who is asking forgiveness of me when I have asked for, and received, forgiveness from God throughout my life.''
Bergson, a former Superior police officer, was taken to Spooner Health Center by ambulance, where he was treated and then arrested and booked into the Washburn County Jail.
Bergson received a ticket for $784 and must appear in court on Jan. 9, DeSteffano said. If convicted, the mayor would not face jail time but would face mandatory alcohol evaluation and a mandatory loss of license for a period to be determined by the judge.
DeSteffano said the citation is not considered a formal crime under Wisconsin law, such as a misdemeanor or felony, but is considered a ``forfeiture violation.''
Bergson said he wasn't badly hurt.
``I received some facial lacerations and a black eye,'' Bergson told the News Tribune in an e-mail, adding that the incident was handled professionally by the trooper.
Initial reports to the public about the accident came from Bergson. He issued a statement to the media via e-mail early Saturday morning: ``Friday evening, I was involved in a single vehicle accident near Spooner, Wis.,'' he wrote. ``Following the accident, I was charged with operating while intoxicated. I made a terrible error in judgment when I got behind the wheel last night and I regret it deeply. I hope my family, friends, supporters and the citizens of Duluth can find it in their hearts to forgive me.''
Later, in another e-mailed statement released through city communications director Jeff Pappas, Bergson wrote: ``To the citizens of Duluth: I truly regret my actions of Friday, December 9. I recognize that what I did was wrong, I used poor judgment, and brought shame and embarrassment upon many people I love. Jacqui and our two sons have forgiven me and are standing behind me. For that I will be eternally grateful. I am human. Thus I have made, and will make, mistakes. I will take the appropriate steps to address this situation and humbly ask for your compassion, your understanding and your forgiveness.''
Bergson told the News Tribune via e-mail that the incident was an isolated occurrence and that alcohol has not been an issue in his ability to serve as mayor. He said it was his first drunken driving offense and the first major citation other than speeding tickets.
``I have never had problems with alcohol and it has never impaired any decisions as mayor,'' Bergson wrote.
Bergson declined to answer how much he had to drink before the crash and where he had been drinking.
A more detailed version of this story will be published in Tuesday's News Tribune.
Mayor swears off alcohol after arrest
Associated Press, The Forum
Published Friday, December 16, 2005
DULUTH, Minn. – A battered Mayor Herb Bergson said Thursday his auto accident and drunken driving arrest last week were among the greatest mistakes of his life, and he pledged never to drink alcohol again.
Bergson returned to City Hall for the first time since his one-car accident last weekend along U.S. Highway 53 near Spooner, Wis., and candidly answered questions. One eye was bruised, there were stitches in his eyebrow.
“This was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I will live with it forever,” Bergson said with his wife, Jacqui, at his side. “God has seen fit to give me a second chance. I intend to use it wisely.”
Bergson said doctors told him he suffered a concussion during the accident in which he totaled his car when it struck a guard rail. He said he had four-and-a-half drinks at a private residence before driving. He wouldn’t identify the owner of the house. “We have decided it’s my mess, and we’re not going to drag anyone else into it,” he said.
Bergson said he had pleaded no contest to the drunken driving charge against him and had already sent a $784 check to cover his fine. However, he disputed claims in police reports that he did not cooperate with officers.
Bergson said he would undergo a required alcohol-use assessment and abide by any recommendations that resulted, although he said that he didn’t think he had a drinking problem.
“I could have made a widow of my wife. I could have made an orphan of my children,” the mayor said. “Worse yet, I could have made orphans of other children.”
He pledged to never drink alcohol again. “It never did anything for me. I don’t know that it did anything for anybody,” he said. “I never saw it do anybody any good.”
Bergson said he would work to regain the trust of Duluth residents and would strive to encourage people not to drink and drive.
Posted on Tue, Dec. 13, 2005
Our View: Bergson must come clean on details of DUI arrestMayor's personal tragedy shows perils of alcohol/driving mix, especially in holidaysMayor Herb Bergson was supposed to have been big news Sunday, and far beyond Duluth. For its national story on the problem of health-care benefits for retired public workers, the New York Times sought him out to feature, complete with photo, prominently in its Sunday business section.
Bergson made the spread, but he also made the front page of this paper, as well as the top story on every local TV news show, with the report of his drunken driving arrest. Where the Times displayed his beaming, proud smile, the local media have made famous the worst mug shot since Glenn Campbell posed for the police in Phoenix. If ever there was an illustration of just how far, and how quickly, needlessly foolish and irresponsible behavior can sink someone from the heights of achievement to the gutter of embarrassment, this was it.
What, for Pete's sake, was he thinking - not just by the time he'd raised his blood-alcohol level to twice the legal limit, i.e., stumbling drunk, and got behind the wheel of what used to be his four-door Mercury -- but even earlier Saturday when he decided it'd be OK to pop a few, knowing he was driving solo nearly 500 miles to Chicago or, all right, Eau Claire? That no one was seriously injured or killed is pure luck, and while no drunk driving episode is acceptable, this one was hardly a candidate for pleading "c'mon, officer give me a break. I'm only going home around the corner."
That's especially true because as a former police officer and detective Bergson knows that line all too well. How could he have forgotten the consequences for those who utter those words?
His action also has done wonders to torpedo progress he had been making politically after his unceremonious firing of chief aide Mark Winson, with the New York Times story beginning to give the impression that maybe the mayor from Duluth knew what he was doing after all. Along with recent driving-under-the-influence inductees Minnesota state Rep. Tom Rukavina of Virginia, Wisconsin state Rep. Frank Boyle of Superior and Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, Bergson has helped round out a rogues' gallery of local politicians who have done damage to the reputation of the entire region, to say nothing of the Democratic Party to which they all swear allegiance.
Bergson can begin to undo, or at least put into some perspective, his troubles by immediately coming clean on the details of the debacle before rumors and innuendo finish the job of burying him that he himself started on the road. Where and how much did he drink before setting out? With whom? Why did he think he could make the trip?
If there is any good that can come out of this it will be with the complete disclosure of what goes on in the mind of one who would take so deadly a chance - knowledge that the public desperately needs to understand to end this very real danger.
Bergson can thank his stars that he is around to share this woeful story, and to vow that it never happen again.
Rep. Chuck Gray of Mesa is a bible bashing creep who wants to jail hookers for up to a year. But the jerk lies and says "I want to try and help these folks, not just put them in jail and throw away the key"
Tougher prostitution law backed
By Dennis Welch, Tribune
December 13, 2005
A state lawmaker wanting to drive prostitution off the streets and out of Arizona is pushing for tougher penalties against prostitutes and their patrons.
A bill prepared for the upcoming legislative session sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, calls for mandatory jail time and offenders to attend a court-ordered rehabilitation program.
Currently, there are no state laws governing the sentencing of those convicted of prostitute-related crimes.
"I want to try and help these folks, not just put them in jail and throw away the key," Gray said Monday afternoon.
Gray, a former police officer, said the tougher penalties would chase prostitutes out of the state and save cities police enforcement costs.
The bill calls for a mandatory 30-day jail term for first offenders.
Second offenders would face 180 days in jail and be ordered to complete a courtmandated rehabilitation program.
A third arrest could be charged as a felony with punishment up to one year in prison. The law would apply to prostitutes and their customers.
Gray said he worked to get a similar bill through the Legislature last year after Mesa police conducted a large prostitution sting. That bill never left the House because another state lawmaker didn’t think cities had the money to enforce the stricter law.
Gray said there would be initial higher costs to cities, but those would decline as prostitutes began leaving the state.
He modeled his bill after an already existing program in Phoenix that has had mixed results.
Jimmy Hays, an assistant city attorney, said it’s unclear how successful the Phoenix program works and whether it saves taxpayer money. He said nearly 75 percent of the prostitutes who complete the program are rehabilitated. However, many prostitutes never finish it, he said. For customers of prostitutes, however, the program is nearly 100 percent effective.
Kathleen Mitchell, who serves as program services coordinator for the Dignity program run by Catholic Social Services, said felony convictions make it harder for prostitutes to begin new lives.
Mitchell, a former prostitute, said tougher penalties won’t drive women from the streets. To do that, she said the state needs to spend more on prevention and other types of social programs that help reform prostitutes’ lifestyles.
"This would be a horrible step backwards," she said of the proposal.
Contact Dennis Welch by email, or phone (480) 898-6573
hey kevin and laro:
are there any mexican mafia gangs in your prisons???
now the mexican mafia is getting some press coverage but i have never hear either of you two guys say a word about them.
i think they are also called "MM" and "la eme" which means "the m" in spanish. i think there is also another slang involving the number 13 because m is the 13th letter of the alphabet
Bush Won't Discuss Report of NSA Spying By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - President Bush refused to say whether the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States but leaders of Congress condemned the practice on Friday and promised to look into what the administration has done.
"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said there would be hearings early next year and that they would have "a very, very high priority." He wasn't alone in reacting harshly to the report. Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., said the story, first reported in Friday's New York Times, was troubling.
Bush said in an interview that "we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country. And the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them.
"I will make this point," Bush said. "That whatever I do to protect the American people — and I have an obligation to do so — that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."
The president spoke in an interview to be aired Friday evening on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer."
Bush played down the importance of the eavesdropping story. "It's not the main story of the day," Bush told Lehrer. "The main story of the day is the Iraqi elections" for parliament which took place on Thursday.
Neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor White House press secretary Scott McClellan would confirm or deny the report which said the super-secret NSA had spied on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.
That year, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people inside the United States, the Times reported.
McClellan said the White House has received no requests for information from lawmakers because of the report. "Congress does have an important oversight role," he said.
Before the program began, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations. Overseas, 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time.
"This is Big Brother run amok," declared Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American."
Administration officials reacted to the report by asserting that the president has respected the Constitution while striving to protect the American people.
Rice said Bush has "acted lawfully in every step that he has taken." And McClellan said Bush "is going to remain fully committed to upholding our Constitution and protect the civil liberties of the American people. And he has done both."
The report surfaced as the administration and its GOP allies on Capitol Hill were fighting to save provisions of the expiring USA Patriot Act that they believe are key tools in the fight against terrorism. An attempt to rescue the approach favored by the White House and Republicans failed on a procedural vote Friday morning.
The Times said reporters interviewed nearly a dozen current and former administration officials about the program and granted them anonymity because of the classified nature of the program.
Government officials credited the new program with uncovering several terrorist plots, including one by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting al-Qaida by planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, the report said.
Some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said. Questions about the legality of the program led the administration to temporarily suspend it last year and impose new restrictions.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to confirm that the NSA eavesdrops on Americans or whether he played any role, in his previous job as White House counsel, in providing legal justification for the program.
Gonzales said Bush is waging an aggressive fight against terrorism, but one that is "consistent with the Constitution."
But he said generally that the government has an intense need for information in the struggle. "Winning the war on terrorism requires winning the war of information We are dealing with a patient, diabolical enemy who wants to harm America," Gonzales said at a news conference at the Justice Department on child prostitution arrests.
Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the group was shocked by the disclosure.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it was reviewing its use of a classified database of information about suspicious people and activity inside the United States after a report by NBC News said the database listed activities of anti-war groups that were not a security threat to Pentagon property or personnel.
The administration had briefed congressional leaders about the NSA program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that handles national security issues.
The Times said it delayed publication of the report for a year because the White House said it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. The Times said it omitted information from the story that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists.
Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts
By JAMES RISEN and ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: December 16, 2005
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
In 2002, President Bush toured the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md., with Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was then the agency's director and is now a full general and the principal deputy director of national intelligence.
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.
The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.
"This is really a sea change," said a former senior official who specializes in national security law. "It's almost a mainstay of this country that the N.S.A. only does foreign searches."
Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.
According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters. Some of the questions about the agency's new powers led the administration to temporarily suspend the operation last year and impose more restrictions, the officials said.
The Bush administration views the operation as necessary so that the agency can move quickly to monitor communications that may disclose threats to the United States, the officials said. Defenders of the program say it has been a critical tool in helping disrupt terrorist plots and prevent attacks inside the United States.
Administration officials are confident that existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, the officials say. In some cases, they said, the Justice Department eventually seeks warrants if it wants to expand the eavesdropping to include communications confined within the United States. The officials said the administration had briefed Congressional leaders about the program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that deals with national security issues.
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.
Dealing With a New Threat
While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it say the N.S.A. eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands since the program began, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials.
Several officials said the eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program, the officials said. But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden.
The eavesdropping program grew out of concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks that the nation's intelligence agencies were not poised to deal effectively with the new threat of Al Qaeda and that they were handcuffed by legal and bureaucratic restrictions better suited to peacetime than war, according to officials. In response, President Bush significantly eased limits on American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the military.
But some of the administration's antiterrorism initiatives have provoked an outcry from members of Congress, watchdog groups, immigrants and others who argue that the measures erode protections for civil liberties and intrude on Americans' privacy.
Opponents have challenged provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the focus of contentious debate on Capitol Hill this week, that expand domestic surveillance by giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation more power to collect information like library lending lists or Internet use. Military and F.B.I. officials have drawn criticism for monitoring what were largely peaceful antiwar protests. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security were forced to retreat on plans to use public and private databases to hunt for possible terrorists. And last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's claim that those labeled "enemy combatants" were not entitled to judicial review of their open-ended detention.
Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States - including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners - is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation.
The National Security Agency, which is based at Fort Meade, Md., is the nation's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, so intent on remaining out of public view that it has long been nicknamed "No Such Agency." It breaks codes and maintains listening posts around the world to eavesdrop on foreign governments, diplomats and trade negotiators as well as drug lords and terrorists. But the agency ordinarily operates under tight restrictions on any spying on Americans, even if they are overseas, or disseminating information about them.
What the agency calls a "special collection program" began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, as it looked for new tools to attack terrorism. The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, they said.
In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.
Under the agency's longstanding rules, the N.S.A. can target for interception phone calls or e-mail messages on foreign soil, even if the recipients of those communications are in the United States. Usually, though, the government can only target phones and e-mail messages in the United States by first obtaining a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which holds its closed sessions at the Justice Department.
Traditionally, the F.B.I., not the N.S.A., seeks such warrants and conducts most domestic eavesdropping. Until the new program began, the N.S.A. typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions in Washington, New York and other cities, and obtained court orders to do so.
Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses, according to several officials who know of the operation. Under the special program, the agency monitors their international communications, the officials said. The agency, for example, can target phone calls from someone in New York to someone in Afghanistan.
Warrants are still required for eavesdropping on entirely domestic-to-domestic communications, those officials say, meaning that calls from that New Yorker to someone in California could not be monitored without first going to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court.
A White House Briefing
After the special program started, Congressional leaders from both political parties were brought to Vice President Dick Cheney's office in the White House. The leaders, who included the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, learned of the N.S.A. operation from Mr. Cheney, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force, who was then the agency's director and is now a full general and the principal deputy director of national intelligence, and George J. Tenet, then the director of the C.I.A., officials said.
It is not clear how much the members of Congress were told about the presidential order and the eavesdropping program. Some of them declined to comment about the matter, while others did not return phone calls.
Later briefings were held for members of Congress as they assumed leadership roles on the intelligence committees, officials familiar with the program said. After a 2003 briefing, Senator Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who became vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that year, wrote a letter to Mr. Cheney expressing concerns about the program, officials knowledgeable about the letter said. It could not be determined if he received a reply. Mr. Rockefeller declined to comment. Aside from the Congressional leaders, only a small group of people, including several cabinet members and officials at the N.S.A., the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, know of the program.
Some officials familiar with it say they consider warrantless eavesdropping inside the United States to be unlawful and possibly unconstitutional, amounting to an improper search. One government official involved in the operation said he privately complained to a Congressional official about his doubts about the program's legality. But nothing came of his inquiry. "People just looked the other way because they didn't want to know what was going on," he said.
A senior government official recalled that he was taken aback when he first learned of the operation. "My first reaction was, 'We're doing what?' " he said. While he said he eventually felt that adequate safeguards were put in place, he added that questions about the program's legitimacy were understandable.
Some of those who object to the operation argue that is unnecessary. By getting warrants through the foreign intelligence court, the N.S.A. and F.B.I. could eavesdrop on people inside the United States who might be tied to terrorist groups without skirting longstanding rules, they say.
The standard of proof required to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is generally considered lower than that required for a criminal warrant - intelligence officials only have to show probable cause that someone may be "an agent of a foreign power," which includes international terrorist groups - and the secret court has turned down only a small number of requests over the years. In 2004, according to the Justice Department, 1,754 warrants were approved. And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can grant emergency approval for wiretaps within hours, officials say.
Administration officials counter that they sometimes need to move more urgently, the officials said. Those involved in the program also said that the N.S.A.'s eavesdroppers might need to start monitoring large batches of numbers all at once, and that it would be impractical to seek permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first, according to the officials.
The N.S.A. domestic spying operation has stirred such controversy among some national security officials in part because of the agency's cautious culture and longstanding rules.
Widespread abuses - including eavesdropping on Vietnam War protesters and civil rights activists - by American intelligence agencies became public in the 1970's and led to passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which imposed strict limits on intelligence gathering on American soil. Among other things, the law required search warrants, approved by the secret F.I.S.A. court, for wiretaps in national security cases. The agency, deeply scarred by the scandals, adopted additional rules that all but ended domestic spying on its part.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, though, the United States intelligence community was criticized for being too risk-averse. The National Security Agency was even cited by the independent 9/11 Commission for adhering to self-imposed rules that were stricter than those set by federal law.
Several senior government officials say that when the special operation began, there were few controls on it and little formal oversight outside the N.S.A. The agency can choose its eavesdropping targets and does not have to seek approval from Justice Department or other Bush administration officials. Some agency officials wanted nothing to do with the program, apparently fearful of participating in an illegal operation, a former senior Bush administration official said. Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.
In mid-2004, concerns about the program expressed by national security officials, government lawyers and a judge prompted the Bush administration to suspend elements of the program and revamp it.
For the first time, the Justice Department audited the N.S.A. program, several officials said. And to provide more guidance, the Justice Department and the agency expanded and refined a checklist to follow in deciding whether probable cause existed to start monitoring someone's communications, several officials said.
A complaint from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge who oversees the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, helped spur the suspension, officials said. The judge questioned whether information obtained under the N.S.A. program was being improperly used as the basis for F.I.S.A. wiretap warrant requests from the Justice Department, according to senior government officials. While not knowing all the details of the exchange, several government lawyers said there appeared to be concerns that the Justice Department, by trying to shield the existence of the N.S.A. program, was in danger of misleading the court about the origins of the information cited to justify the warrants.
One official familiar with the episode said the judge insisted to Justice Department lawyers at one point that any material gathered under the special N.S.A. program not be used in seeking wiretap warrants from her court. Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not return calls for comment.
A related issue arose in a case in which the F.B.I. was monitoring the communications of a terrorist suspect under a F.I.S.A.-approved warrant, even though the National Security Agency was already conducting warrantless eavesdropping.
According to officials, F.B.I. surveillance of Mr. Faris, the Brooklyn Bridge plotter, was dropped for a short time because of technical problems. At the time, senior Justice Department officials worried what would happen if the N.S.A. picked up information that needed to be presented in court. The government would then either have to disclose the N.S.A. program or mislead a criminal court about how it had gotten the information.
Several national security officials say the powers granted the N.S.A. by President Bush go far beyond the expanded counterterrorism powers granted by Congress under the USA Patriot Act, which is up for renewal. The House on Wednesday approved a plan to reauthorize crucial parts of the law. But final passage has been delayed under the threat of a Senate filibuster because of concerns from both parties over possible intrusions on Americans' civil liberties and privacy.
Under the act, law enforcement and intelligence officials are still required to seek a F.I.S.A. warrant every time they want to eavesdrop within the United States. A recent agreement reached by Republican leaders and the Bush administration would modify the standard for F.B.I. wiretap warrants, requiring, for instance, a description of a specific target. Critics say the bar would remain too low to prevent abuses.
Bush administration officials argue that the civil liberties concerns are unfounded, and they say pointedly that the Patriot Act has not freed the N.S.A. to target Americans. "Nothing could be further from the truth," wrote John Yoo, a former official in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, and his co-author in a Wall Street Journal opinion article in December 2003. Mr. Yoo worked on a classified legal opinion on the N.S.A.'s domestic eavesdropping program.
At an April hearing on the Patriot Act renewal, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., "Can the National Security Agency, the great electronic snooper, spy on the American people?"
"Generally," Mr. Mueller said, "I would say generally, they are not allowed to spy or to gather information on American citizens."
President Bush did not ask Congress to include provisions for the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program as part of the Patriot Act and has not sought any other laws to authorize the operation. Bush administration lawyers argued that such new laws were unnecessary, because they believed that the Congressional resolution on the campaign against terrorism provided ample authorization, officials said.
The Legal Line Shifts
Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds. The administration also feared that by publicly disclosing the existence of the operation, its usefulness in tracking terrorists would end, officials said.
The legal opinions that support the N.S.A. operation remain classified, but they appear to have followed private discussions among senior administration lawyers and other officials about the need to pursue aggressive strategies that once may have been seen as crossing a legal line, according to senior officials who participated in the discussions.
For example, just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Mr. Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer, wrote an internal memorandum that argued that the government might use "electronic surveillance techniques and equipment that are more powerful and sophisticated than those available to law enforcement agencies in order to intercept telephonic communications and observe the movement of persons but without obtaining warrants for such uses."
Mr. Yoo noted that while such actions could raise constitutional issues, in the face of devastating terrorist attacks "the government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."
The next year, Justice Department lawyers disclosed their thinking on the issue of warrantless wiretaps in national security cases in a little-noticed brief in an unrelated court case. In that 2002 brief, the government said that "the Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."
Administration officials were also encouraged by a November 2002 appeals court decision in an unrelated matter. The decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which sided with the administration in dismantling a bureaucratic "wall" limiting cooperation between prosecutors and intelligence officers, cited "the president's inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance."
But the same court suggested that national security interests should not be grounds "to jettison the Fourth Amendment requirements" protecting the rights of Americans against undue searches. The dividing line, the court acknowledged, "is a very difficult one to administer."
Barclay Walsh contributed research for this article.
feds to require you to register fertilizer
December 15, 2005
Panel approves bill creating fertilizer registry at DHS
By Alyson Klein, CongressDaily
A Homeland Security Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks Subcommittee Wednesday approved a bill that would regulate production and sale of ammonium nitrate, which is typically used by farmers as a fertilizer, but could be used to create a bomb.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., and Homeland Security ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., cleared the panel on a 9-0 roll call vote.
Ammonium nitrate was used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
The measure calls for any individual who produces, sells or buys ammonium nitrate to register with the Homeland Security Department.
Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks Subcommittee Chairman John Linder, R-Ga., introduced a substitute amendment, accepted on voice vote, that added record-keeping requirements, including requiring sellers to record the purchaser's drivers' license number or other photo-identification and the amount of ammonium nitrate purchased. Sellers would have to keep these records for at least three years.
The legislation calls for the Homeland Security Secretary to monitor and audit the records periodically. Purchasers, producers or sellers found to be in violation would be fined up to $50,000 per violation.
Although the legislation does not authorize new appropriations, it would allow DHS to give states as much money as necessary to enforce the law, a subcommittee aide said.
To address the concerns of some agricultural organizations, Linder's substitute added a provision clarifying that DHS should work with state officials as much as possible when enforcing the law and that state regulators could conduct the audits during the course of other inspections of fertilizer facilities.
In a hearing on the legislation prior to the markup, Gary Black, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, said that while he supported the bill, he "would prefer that the states maintain the inspection authority since state inspectors already perform duties designed to ensure the integrity and quality of fertilizer products."
Linder said before the markup that the clarifying language had been added in the substitute to assuage concerns raised by Black and others that the bill would impose more burdens on farmers.
Linder said is not sure when the full committee or the House will vote on the bill, but he expects it to be "soon." He said it is possible the full committee would approve the measure by voice vote as soon as Thursday.
A similar measure has been introduced in the Senate by Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss. It was referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May but has not been marked up.
laro remember when i told you that 99% of the people in federal prisons dont belong there. this is a good example. just what part of the constitution give the feds the power to regualte child prostitution or any other prostition for that matter.
19 arrests made in crackdown on child prostitution in U.S.
Dec. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Prostitution rings from New York to Hawaii forced more than 30 children as young as 12 to have sex at truck stops, hotels and brothels, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Friday, announcing a government crackdown.
Nineteen people have been arrested among 31 who have been indicted involving sexual trafficking in children, taking minors across state lines for prostitution and other crimes, Gonzales said.
The indictments, in Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, target the purported operators of four child-prostitution rings. Some of the children had been reported missing or had run away because they had been abused at home, FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker said. advertisement
"The abhorrent acts alleged in these charges include children being herded around the country as sex slaves, forced to work as prostitutes in brothels and at truck stops, and beaten at the hands of pimps and peddlers," Gonzales said at a Justice Department news conference.
The heightened federal interest in stopping child prostitution is critical because pimps frequently take children from one state to another, making it harder for local police to stop them, said John Rabun, vice president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"If you're bright as a pimp, and thank God a lot of them aren't, you move them every two to three weeks," Rabun said.
A grand jury in Camden, N.J., indicted eight people Wednesday on charges that they conspired to recruit girls to be prostitutes in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and New York, according to court documents. The defendants managed a prostitution ring that also extended to Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, the indictment said.
Matthew Thompkins and five others arrested Sunday are in custody in New Jersey. Thompkins had a central role in the conspiracy, the indictment said.
Domestic child-prostitution cases have been a federal law enforcement priority since 2003 with the advent of the Justice Department's Innocence Lost Initiative. When he became attorney general in February, Gonzales said he would focus on reducing all forms of human trafficking.
Several federal laws ban sexual trafficking in children, including one that specifically applies to taking minors across state lines to engage in prostitution.
There have been more than 500 arrests, 70 indictments and 67 convictions in such cases since 2003, Gonzales said.
a little overreacting by the idiots that run the school????
E-mail divides Marcos parents
Fight warning spread fear
Colleen Sparks firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
Suspending or expelling a student for sending a text message that warned a gunfight might break out at Marcos de Niza High School on Friday is not the appropriate punishment some parents say.
"I think it's wrong to treat it as a threat," parent Marci Beaudoin said. "He was not threatening. I think that the district is reacting to the e-mail instead of the danger that exists on campus."
Nearly one out of every four Marcos de Niza High School students skipped classes Friday after rumors that a gunfight would break out, although no violence occurred.
The text message the student sent this week came after two fights broke out at the high school Monday. The student apparently heard that the fights were going to escalate into gunfights on Friday, parents and students said.
He was trying to warn his friends so they didn't get hurt, Tempe police Sgt. Dan Masters said. But his friends sent the messages on to other students and the text messages spread like wildfire, building fear among the campus teens and their parents.
The message the student wrote was: "If you have friends at Marcos, tell them to be safe Friday . . . A gunfight may break out, and some people may die."
Linda Littell, Tempe Union High School District director of communications, said the student who sent the text message faces 10 days of suspension to expulsion. His name was not released.
Retired Marcos administrator and former Marcos parent Bill Vanney said it is hard to say what an appropriate punishment is without knowing the student's whole story. But Vanney said schools should take a tough stance on threats.
"You have to take a strong position that this is not acceptable," Vanney said. "You may want to remove that person from the situation until you are able to collect more information."Marcos student Atraio Navarro, 16, said students often send each other text messages at school.
Navarro said a 10-day suspension is appropriate for the student because "a lot of people got worked up" over the text message. But he said he does not think the student "was threatening anyone at all."
Tempe parent Susie Aragon sent her two children to Marcos on Friday, but doesn't agree with suspending the student. Aragon said she is glad that word spread quickly about the potential danger, however.
"They should have other punishments besides having them (students) suspended because they are losing time at school with their work," Aragon said, adding that students who miss school could get into more trouble.
Despite fears, Friday was calm at the high school, Littell said.
Eight extra Tempe police officers patrolled the school as a precaution.
About 450 students called in absent Friday out of the nearly 2,000 students at the Tempe high school.
Police could decide Monday whether to file any criminal charges against the student, although it's unlikely.
Reporter Katie Nelson contributed to this report.
this piggy is looking for a sugar daddy hockey player to give him money!!!!
Hockey player must pay sheriff's sergeant $26,570
Civil trial's jury imposes fine in scuffle
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
Former Phoenix Coyotes left wing Brad May must pay a Maricopa County sheriff's sergeant $26,570 because of a late-night incident at a Scottsdale lounge three years ago, a civil trial jury has ruled.
Rich Burden, 40, of Phoenix, was seeking compensatory and punitive damages in Superior Court because he "basically got tired of the drunk professional athlete running amok," his attorney said Friday.
May, 34, played in Phoenix from 2000 to '03, earning a reputation for mixing it up on the ice. After spending just more than a season in Vancouver, he signed with the Colorado Avalanche last August.
Defense attorney John O'Neal said Friday that May just acted in self-defense and is reviewing appeal options.
"If Mr. May wanted to hit this man, he would've been hurt much worse," O'Neal said.
On April 15, 2002, May and some teammates were at the Cat Eye Lounge, then at 7164 W. Stetson Drive.
Burden's attorney, Daniel Treon, gave this account:
May wanted to get some of his friends into the club, but a bouncer wouldn't allow it because the establishment was at capacity. May persisted, saying, "Don't you know who I am? We're the Coyotes. We spend a lot of money here," Treon said.
The bouncer told May he could wait in line or leave. May then grabbed the manager's arm and yanked. The bouncer shoved the hockey player away.
Treon said Burden watched this from a distance. Burden was there with Sgt. Brian Whitney working security, wearing their Sheriff's Office uniforms. When Burden saw the scuffle, he intervened and said, "Take it easy, I'm a deputy with the sheriff's department. Relax. Let me handle it," Treon said.
Burden put his hands on May's arm to try to calm him, Treon said; the next thing he knew, May punched Burden in the left lower part of his jaw. It took Burden and Whitney several minutes and several attempts to restrain May, who eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct.
Treon said Burden made it clear to May that he was a law officer. May's attorney, however, said that is not true. He described the altercation as May raising "his arms and (coming) in contact with Mr. Burden's face."
"It was a nightclub," O'Neal said. "It was dark. It was out in the parking lot. Mr. May didn't see the uniform because (Burden) came from the side. . . . My client did nothing wrong."
Burden's injuries were minor. He needed chiropractic care for his neck and upper back but nothing else. O'Neal said Burden asked for $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Treon said his client "just wanted a jury to award what they found was reasonable to condemn this type of drunken activity."
"I'm very happy with the decision," Burden said Friday.
May was unavailable for comment.
dont these government idiots have anything useful to do - or real criminals to chase????
'Daughter' bear runs afoul of Oregon law
Dec. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
COOS BAY, Ore. - For nine days, Rocky Perkett and son Jonathan heard a black bear cub wail from its hiding spot in a Coos County logging site.
They could drop a tree on it or rescue it. They chose the latter, and for two years the bear was like family. When the authorities got wind of it, trouble was a-bruin.
The father and son named her Windfall and shared pizza and soda with the bear and gave her free rein of their home in the woods outside Coos Bay. The bear slept in Jonathan's bed, took showers and even had her hair blow-dried, Rocky said.
"We're not lying about it," said Rocky, 54. "We lived with her. We loved her. We treated her like a daughter."
That's illegal in Oregon, and last month police took Windfall. The duo face possible charges for holding the bear without permits and in an unlicensed facility.
"The law says you can't hold wild animals in any way," said Wildlife Administrator Ron Anglin of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Perketts maintain Windfall never was "held" or locked in a cage. They simply opened their house to her, Rocky said. She could come and go at will, and even learned to work the doorknobs, he said.
"Is there a law against a bear running around in your yard?" Perkett said.
The Perketts plan to hire an attorney and hope a glitch in the Oregon State Police's search warrant will get the case tossed out - and, in the best of cases, get Windfall returned to them.
"Everything they done here was unlegal," Rocky said. "Since it's all unlegal, I hope they will bring her back."
No citations have been issued but holding a bear without a permit is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,350 fine.
Meanwhile, the bear has been shipped to a California Department of Fish and Game holding facility, where it will remain until the case is concluded. The bear's likely future is at a zoo or a permanent holding facility. The bear likes people too much to be released into the wild, he said.
Kyl is a police state thug who needs to be removed from office!!!
Kyl criticizes peers on Patriot Act vote
Ariz. senator fears dire consequences
Republic Washington Bureau
Dec. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Warning of potential dire consequences, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., criticized fellow senators who earlier Friday helped block renewal of the post-9/11 anti-terrorism legislation known as the USA Patriot Act.
"For our colleagues to allow it to expire is to play with fire," Kyl said, appearing with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and others at a Capitol news conference. He said the security of the country may be at stake.
"It is to take the chance that terrorists will not act in that . . . period where the act fails and we're regulated to using the authorities we had before September 11, (2001)," Kyl said.
At issue are concerns by opponents that the measure places too few needed restraints on law enforcement agencies seeking terrorists.
Kyl was a member of the committee that helped put together the agreement with the House. He said he believed it "totally unrealistic to expect the House to concede even more than they have." And he said the president wouldn't sign it into law, anyhow. He also said he is among those who would object to any short-term extension of the act.
"Frankly, my position in many respects was more along the lines of the House position," Kyl said. "I find it pretty difficult to imagine any other changes that could be made that would not deeply cut into the ability of law enforcement and intelligence to do their jobs."
But rather than approving what had been a tentative House-Senate agreement to renew the legislation before it expires at the end of the year, the Senate on a 52-47 vote could not get the 60 votes necessary to end debate on the measure.
Arizona's other Republican senator, John McCain, joined Kyl in supporting the measure.
In a later news release from his office, Kyl said, "God forbid that there be a terrorist attack that could have been prevented by the Patriot Act after it has expired.
"If that happens, those who have supported this filibuster will have to answer for it, and the American people will have a very hard time understanding what their objections were."
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 1-(202) 906-8136.
hmmmm....... does this mean all the religion is being removed from christmas. and perhaps christmas is now a secular holiday????
More churches skipping Christmas Day service
Worship shifts to days before to let staff, parishioners enjoy holiday with families
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
Valley churches are joining a national trend to close on Christmas Day, holding religious services instead on the days and nights before one of Christianity's two major holidays.
The trend to Christmas Eve-only services is to accommodate worshipers' needs and to give staff and volunteers a day to be with their families, pastors say.
Jason Hamrock of Central Christian Church in Mesa says the church will hand out devotional guides at its five Christmas Eve services and urge people to utilize them sometime on Christmas Day.
"We don't fall into tradition around here," he says, explaining why the church will not be open on Dec. 25. "That's not what Christ would have us do. He doesn't want us to go through the motions and carry on the routine."
Hamrock said the church will conduct seven services starting Thursday so people can worship at church as well as spend time with their families.
At East Valley Bible Church in Gilbert, a Christmas service never has been held in the church's 14-year history.
Neil Pitchel, pastor of administration, said the idea was floated this year and rejected.
"We wouldn't have even had the discussion if Christmas was not on a Sunday," he said.
If fact, because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, fewer churches have gone to Christmas Eve-only services. Several Valley megachurches are offering a single Christmas service. This is the first time the holiday has fallen on a Sunday, the traditional Christian Sabbath, since 1984. Pitchel said the church offers five Christmas Eve services that attract up to 6,000 people, almost double the normal attendance.
"We feel comfortable about the decision, and our people feel comfortable," he said.
Other churches declining to conduct Christmas services are Living Word Bible Church in Mesa and Highlands Church in Scottsdale.
The move away from Christmas Day services is a relatively recent trend, one that is taking place nationwide at evangelical Protestant megachurches. But even mainline Protestants and Catholics have shifted many of their holiday services to Christmas Eve, and many churches will reduce their standard Sunday schedule this Christmas.
The Rev. Kieran Kleczewski, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale, said the Catholic Church generally has moved toward the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath beginning at sunset on the day before, but it will never give up services on Christmas Day. He said the earliest Christmas Eve Mass that "counts" against the Catholic obligation of attending Mass on Sundays and certain religious holidays will start at 4 p.m.
Social forces, including a tendency to do things earlier in the western United States than in the East, have contributed to the number of Christmas Eve Masses, he said. His parish is moving from one service on Saturday and four on Sunday to four on Saturday, Christmas Eve, and two on Sunday, Christmas Day.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, normal Sunday worship will take place on Christmas Day, but church time will be reduced from three hours to one to give people more time with their families, said Don Evans, church spokesman in the Valley.
"To me, Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birthday," he said. "What better day to do it?"
Penne Restad, historian at the University of Texas and author of Christmas in America: A History, said religion historically has not been a major part of the holiday. Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (better known as The Night Before Christmas) was conceived in reaction to the rowdiness of the holiday, she said.
Religion did not take a central place in the Christmas celebration until the late 19th century, she said, when Congress declared Christmas a national holiday.
She said she is more surprised by churches' focus on the commercial aspects of Christmas, demanding that stores recognize the holiday overtly, than she is by a move to spend Christmas with family.
Mark Chaves, a sociologist who focuses on religion at the University of Arizona, said the churches that are canceling Christmas services appear to be churches that are growing.
"This just shows that churches that are growing are less demanding of people and more accommodating of them," he said.
"It's a consumer-oriented society," acknowledged Pitchel, of East Valley Bible Church, which normally would have seven services on a Sunday. "We are just trying to do both this Christmas. On Saturday, we worship and serve and give praise, and on Sunday we focus on our families."
kevin and laro:
how do you get tax forms in prison?
do they have them in the prison?
do they make you waste a stamp and write a letter to the IRS?
how big is your library kevin? is it a decent liberary? how about you laro. i thought you may have said you have access to a libary? do you? and if so how big is it.
Bush acknowledges approving eavesdropping
December 17, 2005
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the U.S., lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks.
"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.
"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.
Angry members of Congress have demanded an explanation of the program, first revealed in Friday's New York Times and whether the monitoring by the National Security Agency without obtaining warrants from a court violates civil liberties.
Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.
The program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice Department, White House counsel and others, and information from previous activities under the program, the president said.
Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said congressional leaders have been briefed more than a dozen times on the program's activities.
The president also said the intelligence officials involved in the monitoring receive extensive training to make sure civil liberties are not violated.
Appearing angry at points during his eight-minute address, Bush said he had reauthorized the program more than 30 times since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and plans to continue doing so.
"I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al-Qaida and related groups," he said.
The president contended the program has helped "detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad," but did not provide specific examples.
He said it is designed in part to fix problems raised by the Sept. 11 commission, which found that two of the suicide hijackers were communicating from San Diego with al-Qaida operatives overseas.
"The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9-11 hijackers will be identified and located in time," he said.
Bush's remarks echoed - in many cases word-for-word - those issued Friday night by a senior intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. His highly unusual discussion of classified activities showed the sensitive nature of the program, whose existence was revealed as Congress was trying to renew the terrorism-fighting Patriot Act and complicated that effort, a top priority of Bush's.
Senate Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans on Friday to stall the bill. Those opposing the renewal of key provisions of the act that are expiring say they threaten constitutional liberties.
The president had harsh words for those who talked about the program to the media, saying their actions were illegal and improper.
"As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have," he said. "The unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."
finalizing the police state in amerika!!!
Get-tough immigration measure passes House
By Le Templar, Tribune
December 17, 2005
The U.S. House adopted landmark legislation Friday night that would classify illegal immigrants as felons, pay local police to arrest them, and crack down on businesses that employ them.
Representing the most significant attempt at immigration reform in two decades, the bill passed on the strength of a Republican majority seeking to show average voters that lawmakers are serious about closing the nation’s borders to drug smugglers, terrorists and violent criminals. The final vote was 239-182, mostly along party lines.
Key elements of the bill include mandating that employers use a federal database of Social Security numbers to verify workers are here legally and a $2.2 billion expansion of fencing along nearly all of Arizona’s border and other key points in the Southwest. For the first time, the federal government would provide grants to local police and sheriff’s offices who help to catch illegal immigrants.
"Securing our borders is imperative, and this bill does it," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and leading sponsor of the bill. "We also have to turn off the magnet of employment."
But many lawmakers and observers said the bill is incomplete and never will become law without the addition of some type of guest worker program favored by President Bush and much of the Senate.
"Rather than doing what we know has to be done regarding immigration reform, we’re simply punting the ball to the Senate, hoping they will have the courage to act in ways we cannot," said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
House Republican leaders said they also favor a guest worker plan, but Congress and the public are too divided on that subject.
"You have to convince the American people we are going to do something about border security before they are going to be willing to engage in a debate about what we do about the 11 million (illegal immigrants) who are here already," said Rep. Daniel E. Lungren, R-Calif.
Friday’s outcome had been predicted for months because dozens of rank-and-file House Republicans are following the lead of strict immigration control advocates such as Reps. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
But one member of that group, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, RAriz., said earlier Friday he would vote against the bill because it’s still missing key provisions, such as hiring thousands of additional interior enforcement agents and ending automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants born here.
"I am concerned that the haphazard rush to push this patchwork bill through the House will set us on a path back to 1986 and a policy of amnesty first, enforcement never, and unending illegal immigration," Hayworth said.
Emotions were tense over two days of public debate and private meetings as congressional leaders pushed to wrap up work and leave for a threeweek holiday break.
Democrats, almost uniformly opposed to the bill, accused Republicans of making a "xenophobic attack" on immigrants with provisions to make illegal immigration a felony and to jail everyone arrested until their immigration status is resolved or the migrant is deported.
"They are extreme ideas catering to the lowest common denominator of their political base," said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.
One last-minute amendment added Friday would offer $250 million a year to police departments who sign up for training on immigration enforcement, and $1 billion to reimburse local jails and state prisons that are housing criminals in the country illegally.
Divisions among Republicans prompted Sensenbrenner to also try to reduce the criminal penalty for illegally crossing a border from a felony to a maximum of six months in jail. That amendment was defeated Friday, which Sensenbrenner said was part of a Democratic strategy to make the bill more unappealing to the Senate.
All efforts to include a guest worker plan were blocked by Republican leaders, even a proposal from Flake for a nonbinding promise to include the issue in any final legislation. An outside coalition of business lobbyists, religious leaders and immigrant rights advocates criticized the exclusion as well, saying the stakes are too high to wait.
"We are going to get only one bite at this apple in our generation," said Tamar Jacoby, a researcher with the Manhattan Institute, a New York think tank. "If this doesn’t work, we’re going to see a backlash against immigrants we’ve never seen before."
Contact Le Templar by email, or phone (602) 542-5813
Peroia cop shot
Peoria cop fights for life after shooting
Murder suspect killed by police after short chase
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
A Peoria police officer remained in critical but stable condition Saturday night, hours after an early-morning shootout in which a murder suspect was killed, authorities said.
Officer Bill Weigt, 31, an 18-month member of the Peoria force, was rushed to a Phoenix hospital for treatment of a wound to the upper chest.
At nightfall, more than 100 hundred police officers, relatives and other well-wishers gathered at John C. Lincoln Hospital-North Mountain for a candlelight vigil in support of the wounded officer.
Investigators said that a 27-year-old man who fired at Weigt and other Peoria officers was pronounced dead at another Phoenix hospital.
Police did not immediately release the man's name.
Officers also are looking for a second suspect who figures in an apparent home-invasion attempt that led to the shooting, officers said.
Officer Brad Knights, a Peoria colleague, described Weigt, who is married with four children, as a very upbeat person.
"He always has positive words for everybody," Knights said. "I don't think there is anybody in this department who doesn't get along with Bill."
Earlier in the day, Karen Ashley, a deputy Peoria police chief, spoke outside the hospital and described the shooting as "a tragic day for the Peoria Police Department."
"We're here for the officer," Ashley said. "We're here for the family of the officer. And we're here for the rest of the Peoria Police Department family."
Peoria Mayor John Keegan, when reached in Hawaii, said he and other city officials are "extremely worried."
"Our prayers go out to him and his family," Keegan said. "The city will do all it can to make our city safe and to support this officer and his family."
Mike Tellef, a Peoria police spokesman, said the ordeal began about 4:30 a.m. when police were called to a home in the 6900 block of West Cinnabar Avenue to investigate reports about shots being fired at the residence.
As police arrived, a gray car was pulling away, Tellef said. A short pursuit ensued after the driver refused to stop, he said.
The driver struck a curb, blowing out a tire, and the car came to a stop in the middle of the road in the 8800 block of West Olive Avenue.
"And the suspect got out of the car and opened fire on our officers," Tellef said.
At least five Peoria officers returned the fire, striking the gunman several times, Tellef said. Weigt, who was wearing a protective vest, was wounded during the exchange.
There was no immediate indication how the vest figures in Weigt's wound, Tellef said.
Police returned to the Cinnabar neighborhood and found a 21-year-old man dead in a back bedroom, Tellef said. The victim's name was withheld pending further investigation.
Police believe the victim was shot dead by the man killed by police, Tellef said. The reason for the shooting remains a mystery, he said.
Witnesses related that a second suspect fled on foot from the house, Tellef said. Police scoured the neighborhood, assisted by a helicopter and K-9 units, but didn't find anybody.
Peoria police worked two crime scenes: the Cinnabar house and the stretch on Olive Avenue where Weigt was shot.
Ashley described the shooting as the worst officer-involved incident since Peoria was incorporated in 1954.
No Peoria police officer has a lost a life in the line of duty, according to Officer Down Memorial Page Inc., a Web site that tracks fallen officers throughout the nation.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-6937.
if you ask me its already illegal for the USA to torture POW's since we signed the geneva convention. but that didnt prevent the USA from breaking the treaty and using torture in vietnam and iraq. so i guess this new law will be another law that we break like we break the geneva convention.
Thanks to McCain, we pledge (wink) never to use torture
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
In a clear and convincing victory for Arizona's very own presidential contender, a deal was struck last week between Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush in which our nation reaffirmed its promise to never (wink) ever (nod) under any circumstances (fingers crossed behind our backs) torture a prisoner in our custody.
It is a policy that McCain fought for and obtained with complete sincerity. Sort of the same way that many Americans enter into marriage, promising to love, honor and support "until death us do part," knowing full well that things don't work out about half the time.
That doesn't mean that couples who get married plan to break that vow. Unexpected things just sort of happen. Same with the larger world. Terrorism happens. And war. That kind of stuff.
Still, our senator, who is better situated than any other politician to become the next president, said that by promising not to torture prisoners we have "sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists."
Which is true . . . most of the time.
As McCain said, ours is a nation that "upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are."
Unless, of course, we have no other choice. In which case, one of our interrogators can make an honest (wink) mistake, perhaps believing (nod) that his behavior had been legally authorized. Or perhaps he will claim that he didn't realize ("My dog ate the memo") that what he was doing was against the new rules. The government might even pay for the defense.
And even if one of our people seems to knowingly break the law, can you imagine an American jury convicting a defendant who says that he thought he might be preventing a terrorist attack by using nasty tactics to get a suspect to admit where he hid the bomb?
No law is perfect. But given the wiggle room in the McCain ban on torture, did anything significant change?
The answer is: Yes. McCain's chances of becoming president improved.
Perhaps the senator's next crusade will involve getting Congress and the president to agree on a new policy in which the U.S. government promises that it will never spy on its own citizens without first obtaining a legal search warrant.
News reports say that the president authorized the National Security Agency to do such a thing after 9/11 and, near as I can tell, Congress hasn't yet begun impeachment proceedings. Which means that illegally eavesdropping on its own citizens is also something that the United States never does . . . most of the time.
I forwarded questions about all this to McCain's office and his helpful staff sent along copies of the new torture rules as well as a list of "talking points," which are quotes from McCain that news organizations can use in their articles.
Things like: "The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don't deserve our sympathy. But this isn't about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies, and we will never, never allow our enemies to take those values away."
That is so true. Those same values are reflected each time an elected politician is sworn into office. Many of them take oaths that mimic the president's sworn pledge to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." It means that in this country, unlike almost any other, the law is the law. Period.
Reach Montini at email@example.com or (602) 444-8978.
some test!!! if you can't recreat the alleged miracles you say they must have been done by god! well they probably were never done period, because jesus probably never existed!
Illusionist puts miracles of Jesus to the test
Dec. 16, 2005 01:00 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Illusionist Brock Gill never figured Jesus for a master magician.
As an evangelical Christian, Gill always accepted the biblical accounts of Jesus' miracles as just that - miracles.
But when the BBC asked him to investigate whether Jesus could have used magic, hypnotism or some other trick to create the illusion of miracles, Gill couldn't refuse.
"I've always been fascinated by miracles, ever since I was a kid reading the Bible stories," says Gill, host of the three-hour "Miracles of Jesus," which will be shown 1 p.m. Dec. 24 on the Discovery Channel.
At the outset, the show makes clear he's a Christian. But Gill says he set aside his personal beliefs to approach the stories with an open mind.
"Before I got into really doing the investigation, I did research on some of the skeptics' views and there were some quite convincing ideas. It rattled me a little bit," says Gill, a 30-year-old with a religion degree from East Texas Baptist University. "I thought, 'I really want to find the truth here.' "
Producer Jean-Claude Bragard says Gill was a natural choice for host. Gill's act includes levitation, escaping from a sealed coffin filled with water and making coins multiply.
"We realized we didn't need an academic to lead the program, but we needed somebody who was interested and knowledgeable about Scripture and particularly interested in the miracles," Bragard says.
Even if an atheist had been chosen as host, Bragard says, the conclusions wouldn't have changed.
The show uses interviews with scholars and dramatizations of Bible stories to investigate seven miracles, including the multiplication of bread and fish, the conversion of water into wine, the raising of the dead and walking on water.
One segment questions whether Jesus could have hypnotized a large crowd to convince them he had multiplied bread and fish to feed everyone. In another, Gill sloshes across sandbars in the Sea of Galilee to see if Jesus could have appeared to walk on water by staying in the shallows.
In each case, the conclusion is that Jesus probably couldn't have tricked people into believing they had witnessed a miracle.
"Is it possible? Yes, it's possible that there was some type of trick because I was able to do it," says Gill, who turned water into wine during the show. "But most of those things used technology that he wouldn't have had. We re-created walking on water, but it took three 18-wheelers full of equipment to pull it off."
For Gill, who mostly performs for churches and other religious groups, delving into Jesus' miracles only strengthened his faith.
"Before this year my beliefs were based just on the Bible and what my parents and pastors had told me. Now, I'm really convinced that what I'm believing is the truth."
On the Net:
Mission in Iraq needs to end soon
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction.
Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course with our military entrenched in open-ended nation building. Continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region.
Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said in a September hearing, "The perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency."
Gen. John Abizaid said on the same date, "Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy."
For 2 1/2 years, I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited.
"Mission creep" is one thing that most leaders try to avoid, but the war in Iraq and the president's new explanation go beyond even mission creep. It is mission leap!
This is a big problem. If the resolution to go to war, simply stated, was to spread democracy and get rid of a brutal dictator, that would be one thing. But it presented many other reasons that were absolutely crucial to the vote and to the continued support of the American people. These turned out not to be true.
A 'misled' parent
I recently received a letter from the parent of a military member who is being deployed to Iraq. He said this:
When the Bush administration "was selling this war to our nation on TV with talk of a 'mushroom cloud' over an American city, I fully supported doing whatever it took, and no sacrifice would have been too great. But now that it's apparent that we were all 'misled,' I can no longer justify nor rationalize the sacrifice of one more of our 'country's finest' while this administration attempts to figure out how to save face!"
The framework for invading Iraq appeared in a 21-page document titled "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America," which presents a justification for unilateral intervention by the United States. Simply stated, the argument was, "Get them before they get us."
In the case of Afghanistan, America's decision to invade was absolutely justified. Osama bin Laden was funding terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and it was his followers who staged the deadly attack on American soil. This was terrorism. This was a justified retaliatory attack.
The threat posed by terrorism is real, but the administration has mischaracterized the war in Iraq as the "center for the war on terrorism." Iraq is an insurgency. Less than 7 percent of the insurgents are foreign fighters, and a smaller percentage are al-Qaida. Over 90 percent of the insurgency in Iraq is made up of Iraqis, predominantly Sunnis, who are opposed to the presence of coalition forces. As proved by the Dec. 15 election, they are not opposed to democracy.
I believe that a strategic drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq is necessary for a stable Iraq and for their continued progress toward self-governing. The Iraqis respond and are motivated by dated milestones. As the president explained in his speech Dec. 12 to the World Affairs Council:
"The first milestone was the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government by the end of June 2004.
"The second was for Iraqis to hold free elections to choose a transitional government by January of 2005.
"The third was for Iraqis to adopt a democratic constitution, which would be drafted no later than August 2005 and put before the Iraqi people in a nationwide referendum no later than October.
"The fourth was for Iraqis to choose a government under that democratic constitution, with election held December of 2005.
"At every stage, there was enormous pressure to let the deadlines slide, with skeptics and pessimists declaring that Iraqis were not ready for self-government. At every stage, Iraqis proved the skeptics and pessimists wrong. By meeting their milestones, Iraqis are defeating a brutal enemy, rejecting a murderous ideology and choosing freedom over terror."
Providing for common defense and security is an integral part of self-governing. As the Iraqis have responded to "dated milestones" in the past, I believe they will also respond favorably to an articulated dated milestone for providing for their own defense.
The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the United States.
Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement.
We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control.
This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The military and their families are shouldering the burden of an inarticulate war mission.
I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the war. What demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their third or fourth deployment.
Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for nearly three years.
Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. They captured Saddam Hussein, defeated his army and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify.
Deaths and injuries are growing, with more than 2,152 confirmed American deaths. More than 15,500 have been wounded. These wounds are severe and include those who have lost limbs or their eyesight, those with traumatic brain injuries and those whose bodies are disfigured and embedded with shrapnel. It is estimated that more than 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue.
I said over a year ago, and now the military and the administration agree, Iraq cannot be won "militarily."
I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that our military presence in Iraq is impeding this progress.
It is time for U.S. forces to redeploy from Iraq in an orderly and rapid fashion and for our military footprint to be converted from a pervasive presence inside Iraq to a powerful quick reaction force outside Iraq.
John Murtha, a Democrat and combat veteran, is a congressman from Pennsylvania.
Hundreds protest charges vs. 2 humanitarian workers
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
People angered by the indictment of two aid workers accused of illegally transporting undocumented immigrants across the Arizona desert gathered in Phoenix on Saturday to demand that criminal charges in federal court be dropped.
A few hundred people marched through downtown along Jefferson Street to Cesar Chavez Commemorative Plaza, where a 24-hour vigil began at 6:30 p.m. to show support for Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss.
"We're all here to declare it's never wrong to help someone in need," Sellz told the crowd before the march. advertisement
Border Patrol agents arrested Sellz and Strauss on July 9 as they were transporting three undocumented immigrants in a car to Tucson from a desert aid camp well to the south near Arivaca.
Sellz and Strauss were 23-year-old volunteers working for No More Deaths, a non-profit group that tries to prevent immigrant deaths by providing medical care, food and water to those crossing southern Arizona from Mexico.
Sellz, Strauss and others who worked with them say the three undocumented immigrants were found dangerously dehydrated in the desert and needed immediate medical attention. So Sellz and Strauss were heading to a church in Tucson to get them treatment.
When agents pulled them over, they determined the immigrants did not need emergency medical care and detained everyone in the car, according to the Border Patrol.
The two are charged with conspiracy to transport an illegal alien and transporting an illegal alien.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona offered Sellz and Strauss a plea agreement that would spare them prison time in exchange for admitting they broke the law.
They refused and could face up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine each if they are found guilty by a jury.
Sellz said Saturday that she's willing to take that risk because to plead guilty to avoid prison "would be us denouncing our own work."
As she spoke, marchers ahead of her carried sings reading "Humanitarian Aid Is Never A Crime" and "Free The Tucson 2!"
Strauss, who lives in Wyoming, was not in Phoenix on Saturday.
Sellz said that it is crucial that they be found innocent. Otherwise, people will fear being arrested if they render aid to undocumented immigrants, prompting more deaths in the desert, she said.
"People die literally right in front of our faces, and we don't do a thing to help," she said.
Last week, Sellz and Strauss testified in a U.S. District Court hearing in Tucson. Their attorneys argued for the case to be dismissed before it goes to trial. The hearing is scheduled to continue Jan. 5.
"If we don't win our motion to dismiss, then we'll go to trial," Sellz said.
Paul Charlton, U.S. a Attorney for Arizona, has refused to drop the charges against Sellz and Strauss.
On Saturday, Sandy Raynor, spokeswoman for Charlton's office, said there has been no change of plans.
"The grand jury of citizens returned an indictment against them, and a jury will hear the evidence at trial for both sides and make a determination whether they're innocent or guilty," Raynor said.
Among those who came out Saturday to support Strauss and Sellz was Elias Estrada, manager of a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix who said he identifies with the three undocumented immigrants whom Strauss and Sellz aided.
Vigil supports 2 who aided migrants
By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
December 14, 2005
Groups that aid migrants are planning a march and vigil in hope of convincing federal prosecutors to drop charges against two people who transported illegal entrants.
The Rev. David Ragan of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix said it is wrong to charge Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss with felonies.
The pair said they were taking three men found in the desert in July to a Tucson church for medical care.
"When we see people dying in our deserts, how can we help but not hand out that water, that food?" he asked.
But the two volunteers are not in trouble over food or water but for transporting them. And Ragan, also a member of No More Deaths, conceded neither called the Border Patrol or for an ambulance.
"One of the things about anybody who encounters anybody who is dying or who is close to death is you have to react in a way that you believe is the most human," he said. Ragan said both had great courage "to act themselves rather than go through bureaucracy."
But Gustavo Soto, a spokesman for the Border Patrol, said the area where the migrants was found is normally patrolled.
Soto said agents have the ability to provide emergency treatment and transportation.
And if nothing else, Soto said, Sellz and Strauss should have called 911.
No More Deaths is hoping for thousands of Marchers this Saturday from Eastlake Park to downtown Phoenix.
Then there will be a 24-hour vigil until 6 p.m. Sunday.
The Rev. Gene Lefebvre, also from Shadow Rock, said there always has been an understanding with Border Patrol officials that volunteers could provide transportation if necessary.
We’ve been operating this way for four years,’’ he said.
Soto, however, said no one from his agency ever authorized volunteers to break the law.
The two volunteers rejected an offer of a plea deal, saying that would amount
to an admission of guilt.
Trial is scheduled for next month in federal court in Tucson.
Lefebvre said since the arrests, the policy of No More Deaths is not to provide transportation — at least not until the legal issues are resolved.
One of those issues is justification.
Dawn Wyland, interim director of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it is unconstitutional to prosecute someone acting in good faith to protect or save the life of another.
Contact Howard Fischer by telephone at () -.
imagine that government ruler bob stump would prefer that less people vote!!! probably for the wrong reasons. as a libertarian i am against both initiatives though.
2 ballot-initiative proposals would corrode process
Mail-in changes, paying voters aren't good ideas
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
On their ballots this political season, Arizonans may find two bad proposals that aim to improve democratic participation in Arizona but which actually would corrode it.
The first proposal would tarnish the franchise by making a gambler of anyone who chose to vote.
"This law will establish a voter-reward random drawing every two years with a first prize of one million dollars or more," says the filing statement for Arizonans for Voter Rewards, spearheaded by Tucson doctor and perennial political candidate Mark Osterloh.
Uncollected Arizona lottery winnings would fund the million-dollar prize.
The second proposal, launched by Bullhead City radio station owner Rick L. Murphy, would require the state to send ballots to all registered voters in Arizona, forcing most voters to vote by mail.
Should both pass in tandem, the outcome would be clear: Registered voters would receive unsolicited ballots in the mail which could double as gambling chips. Why buy Arizona Lottery tickets when one can play for free, in the privacy of one's home?
Murphy and Osterloh have a noble goal in mind: encouraging more citizens to participate in our democracy. Murphy believes that "the more people voting, the better it is for Arizona."
But their desire for greater voter participation degrades into the wish that we vote simply for voting's sake.
"You can even cast your ballot and not put anything on it," Osterloh has said. "We just want you to vote."
Osterloh's comment is astonishing and astounding. What quality of voter participation can we expect by encouraging a voter to return blank an unsolicited ballot, motivated by the whiff of cold cash?
Should this sort of "participation" - rendering voting more rote, more casual and less serious - serve as a barometer of our democracy's health?
Moreover, it is hardly clear why Murphy's initiative is even needed.
As it now stands, any voter can vote by mail. Conversely, any citizen can vote at a polling station.
Voter participation, measured as a percentage of Arizona's registered voters who actually vote, would likely increase should Murphy's proposal become law, but at the cost of another sort of participation: a community-enhancing throng of free citizens gathering together on Election Day.
Murphy's measure would allow only "a limited number" of polling stations to remain open in Arizona, forcing most voters to forgo a time-honored civic ritual at the polls and thereby whittling away at voter choice, not strengthening it.
In shutting down all but a few polling places, this initiative would further shrink the public square, snipping yet another thread in the fabric of our civic life and reducing our stock of social capital.
Each citizen who treks to the polls helps mend the holes in our tattered collection of democratic rituals. He makes public his display of civic virtue, resisting the urge to withdraw into faceless, online virtual communities.
The physical act of going to the polls is obviously no proof of voter expertise regarding candidates and issues. But it is immensely valuable as a public display of the sort of republican virtue required by a self-governing people.
Civic rituals matter. Arizonans should stand fast against the temptation to close their blinds and retreat into their private cocoons.
But that is beside this crucial point: Arizonans' ballots should not be treated as gambling chips, and they should retain the choice of inhaling the bracing air of freedom on Election Day by exercising their sacred franchise in public spaces.
Bob Stump, a Republican, represents District 9 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bush defends spying program
Says top lawmakers were informed
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Facing angry criticism and challenges to his authority in Congress, President Bush on Saturday unapologetically defended his administration's right to conduct post-Sept. 11 spying in the United States as "critical to saving American lives."
One Democrat said Bush was acting more like a king than a democratically elected leader.
But Bush said congressional leaders had been briefed on the operation more than a dozen times. That included Democrats as well as Republicans in the House and Senate, a GOP lawmaker said.
Often appearing angry in an eight-minute address, the president made clear he has no intention of halting his authorizations of the monitoring activities and said public disclosure of the program by the news media has endangered Americans.
Bush's willingness to publicly acknowledge a highly classified spying program was a stunning development for a president known to dislike disclosure of even the most mundane inner workings of his White House. Just a day earlier he had refused to talk about it.
Since October 2001, the super-secret National Security Agency has eavesdropped on the international phone calls and e-mails of people inside the United States without court-approved warrants. Bush said steps like these would help fight terrorists like those who involved in the Sept. 11 plot.
"The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time," Bush said. "And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad."
News of the program came at a particularly damaging and delicate time.
Already, the administration was under fire for allegedly operating secret prisons in Eastern Europe and shipping suspected terrorists to other countries for harsh interrogations.
The NSA program's existence surfaced as Bush was fighting to save the expiring provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the domestic anti-terrorism law enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Democrats and a few Republicans who say the law gives so much latitude to law enforcement officials that it threatens Americans' constitutional liberties succeeded Friday in stalling its renewal.
So Bush scrapped the version of his weekly radio address that he had already taped - on the recent elections in Iraq - and delivered a live speech from the Roosevelt Room in which he lashed out at the senators blocking the Patriot Act as irresponsible and confirmed the NSA program.
Bush said his authority to approve what he called a "vital tool in our war against the terrorists" came from his constitutional powers as commander in chief.
He said that he has personally signed off on reauthorizations more than 30 times.
"The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties," Bush said. "And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the president of the United States."
James Bamford, author of two books on the NSA, said the program could be problematic because it bypasses a special court set up by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to authorize eavesdropping on suspected terrorists.
"I didn't hear him specify any legal right, except his right as president, which in a democracy doesn't make much sense," Bamford said in an interview.
"Today, what Bush said is he went around the law, which is a violation of the law, which is illegal."
Retired Adm. Bobby Inman, who led the NSA from 1977 to 1981, said Bush's authorization of the eavesdropping would have been justified in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks "because at that point you couldn't get a court warrant unless you could show probable cause."
"Once the Patriot Act was in place, I am puzzled what was the need to continue outside the court," Inman added.
But he said, "If the fact is valid that Congress was notified, there will be no consequences."
Susan Low Bloch, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center, said Bush was "taking a hugely expansive interpretation" of the Constitution and the president's powers under the Constitution.
That view was echoed by congressional Democrats.
"I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for," Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., told the Associated Press.
Added Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.: "The Bush administration seems to believe it is above the law."
Bush defended the program as narrowly designed and used "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." He said it is employed only to intercept the international communications of people inside the U.S. who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.
Government officials have refused to provide details, including defining the standards used to establish such a link or saying how many people are being monitored.
The program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews, and information from previous activities under the program, the president said. Intelligence officials involved in the monitoring receive extensive training in civil liberties, he said.
Bush said leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., told House Republicans that those informed were the top Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and of each chamber's intelligence committees.
"They've been through the whole thing," Hoekstra said.
The president had harsh words for those who revealed the program to the media, saying they acted improperly and illegally.
The surveillance was first disclosed in Friday's New York Times.
Saudi author breaks taboos in new novel
Tales of women's love lives stir nation
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - It's hardly Sex and the City, but by Saudi standards The Girls of Riyadh is a bombshell.
The fictional tale of the loves, dreams and disappointments of four young women in the capital has, not surprisingly, drawn criticism in a country where women are not supposed to date or have a love life until married. More striking, however, is the degree of support being voiced for 24-year-old author Rajaa al-Sanie and her first novel.
In the novel, Sadeem's husband divorces her because she's too sexually bold for his liking. Qamra discovers soon after her wedding that her husband is in love with a Japanese woman. Mashael's boyfriend cannot marry her because her mother is American. Only Lamis finds true and lasting love.
The Girls of Riyadh was published in September in Lebanon, the most liberal of Arab countries, and is going into its third printing. In Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are strictly segregated, authorities haven't decided whether to approve its sale, but pirated editions are circulating in photocopy form.
Sanie, fresh out of dental school, is a petite brunette who wears an Islamic headscarf, like virtually all Saudi women. She says a few friends have cut her off because "they don't want to hurt their marriage prospects by associating with a bold friend."
The book, which isn't available in English, is told in the form of weekly e-mails from a female narrator to Internet subscribers in Saudi Arabia and portrays four women whose stories are based on true-life ones that Sanie says she has heard at weddings, in school and at women's gatherings. Many in the Arab world are comparing it to Sex and the City, the HBO TV series about four young women in New York City, though there is no sex in The Girls of Riyadh, only emotions.
The novel opens with Qamra marrying Rashed in a lavish ceremony, having already been advised by her ultraconservative mother not to consummate her marriage on her wedding night lest she be judged "easy."
The couple moves to the United States, only for Qamra to discover that Rashed married her to appease his parents, who wouldn't let him marry his real love, a Japanese woman.
Rashed soon divorces Qamra and sends her home pregnant. To protect its reputation, her family bans her from returning to college or going out much with her girlfriends.
Meanwhile, Sadeem sleeps with Walid after their marriage contract is signed but before she moves in with him. Shocked at her "boldness" and interest in sex, Walid divorces her. She develops a phone relationship with a Saudi man and would like him for a husband, but being a divorcee makes that impossible and she ends up marrying a cousin.
Mashael is the half-American who once broke the ban against women driving by dressing as a man, renting a car and driving her girlfriends around the city. She and her boyfriend, Faisal, meet at a mall and fall in love but don't marry because his mother doesn't want a half-American for a daughter-in-law.
And finally there's Lamis, who marries Nizar and finds happiness because unlike the other three women, she has let her head govern her heart and made sure he is right for her.
Sanie says she wrote the book to highlight issues that society denies.
"I didn't distort the country's reputation. I wrote about humanity here," she said. "I wanted to show that both men and women are victims of society."
Nation's 'other war' is mistreating citizens
Dec. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
Welcome to the war, cold sufferers.
Welcome to a reality where politicians, not you or your doctor, make medical decisions for you and your family.
Welcome to an America where everybody's a suspect, presumed guilty until proven innocent, and the many are routinely penalized for the misdeeds of the few.
Welcome to the most powerful country in the world, whose leaders have nothing better to do than dictate the lifestyles of private citizens.
Welcome to a country whose leaders refuse to learn from history or to admit their own mistakes.
Welcome to a nation whose government spends more than $18 billion every year waging war against its own citizens, despite overwhelming evidence that the war is a dismal failure.
Welcome to the American drug war.
Chino Valley, Arizona
Bush vows to continue domestic surveillance
Dec. 19, 2005 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON - President Bush, brushing aside bipartisan criticism in Congress, said Monday he approved spying on suspected terrorists without court orders because it was "a necessary part of my job to protect" Americans from attack.
The president said he would continue the program "for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens," and added it included safeguards to protect civil liberties.
Bush bristled at a year-end news conference when asked whether there are any limits on presidential power in wartime.
"I just described limits on this particular program, and that's what's important for the American people to understand," Bush said.
Raising his voice, Bush challenged Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - without naming them - to allow a final vote on legislation renewing the anti-terror Patriot Act. "I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to go home and explain why these cities are safer" without the extension, he said.
Reid represents Nevada; Clinton is a New York senator, and both helped block passage of the legislation in the Senate last week.
"In a war on terror we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," Bush said.
The legislation has cleared the House but Senate Democrats have blocked final passage and its prospects are uncertain in the final days of the congressional session.
On another issue, Bush acknowledged that a pre-war failure of American intelligence - claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction - has complicated the United States' ability to confront other potential emerging threats such as Iran.
"Where it is going to be most difficult to make the case is in the public arena," Bush said. "People will say, if we're trying to make the case on Iran, 'Well, if the intelligence failed in Iraq, therefore, how can we trust the intelligence on Iran?' "
The news conference ran just shy of an hour. It was the latest in a series of events - appearances outside Washington, meetings with members of Congress and an Oval Office address on Sunday night - in which the president has sought to quell criticism of the war in Iraq and reverse his months-long slide in the polls.
In opening news conference remarks, Bush said the warrantless spying, conducted by the National Security Agency, was an essential element in the war on terror.
"It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy," he said.
The existence of the program was disclosed last week, triggering an outpouring of criticism in Congress, but an unflinching defense from Bush and senior officials of his administration.
The president spoke not long after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Congress had given Bush authority to spy on suspected terrorists in this country in legislation passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Bush and other officials have said the program involved monitoring phone calls and e-mails of individuals in this country believed to be plotting with terrorists overseas.
Normally, no wiretapping is permitted in the United States without a court warrant. But Bush said he approved the action without such orders "because it enables us to move faster and quicker. We've got to be fast on our feet.
"It is legal to do so. I swore to uphold the laws. Legal authority is derived from the Constitution," he added.
Domestic issues were scarcely mentioned during the news conference.
But at one point, Bush responded to criticism of his record on racial issues, exacerbated by the images of thousands of blacks stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
"One of the most hurtful things I can hear is, you know, Bush doesn't care about African-Americans," he said. "First of all, it's not true. And secondly, I am - I believe that - obviously, I've got to do a better job of communicating, I guess, to certain folks." He urged Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and promised to sign it.
Despite the weighty issues Bush addressed, the president bantered with reporters at times during the news conference.
"So many questions, so little time," said one, and the president had a ready quip. "Ask a short question," he said.
But the session was dominated by national security issues - principally the newly disclosed spying program by the NSA.
Bush emphasized that only international calls were monitored without court order - those placed from within the United States and going overseas, or those placed from other countries to individuals living in this country.
He stressed that calls placed and received within the United States would be monitored as has long been the case, after an order is granted by a secret court under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
One of the principal provisions of the Patriot Act permitted the government to gain warrants in cases involving investigations into suspected terrorists in the United States - an expansion of powers previously limited to intelligence cases.
Lawmakers want inquiry of domestic spy program
Dec. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Democrats and Republicans called separately Sunday for congressional investigations into President Bush's decision after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to allow domestic eavesdropping without court approval.
"The president has, I think, made up a law that we never passed," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he intends to hold hearings.
"They talk about constitutional authority," Specter said. "There are limits as to what the president can do."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also called for an investigation, and House Democratic leaders asked Speaker Dennis Hastert to create a bipartisan panel to do the same.
Bush acknowledged Saturday that since October 2001 he has authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails of people within the United States without seeking warrants from courts.
The New York Times disclosed the existence of the program last week. Bush and other administration officials initially refused to discuss the surveillance or their legal authority, citing security concerns.
"It's been briefed to the Congress over a dozen times, and, in fact, it is a program that is, by every effort we've been able to make, consistent with the statutes and with the law," Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday in an interview with ABC News Nightline to be broadcast tonight.
"It's the kind of capability if we'd had before 9/11 might have led us to be able to prevent 9/11."
Bush and other administration officials also have said congressional leaders had been briefed regularly on the program. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said there were no objections raised by lawmakers who were told about it.
"That's a legitimate part of the equation," McCain said on ABC's This Week. But he said Bush still needs to explain why he chose to ignore the law that requires approval of a special court for domestic wiretaps.
New Bush: Iraq errors made
President says more bad news is coming
Dec. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - No more rosy scenarios.
After watching his credibility and approval ratings crumble over the course of 2005, President Bush completed a rhetorical shift Sunday night by abandoning his everything-is-OK pitch to Americans and coming clean: He was wrong about the rationale for going to war in Iraq, he underestimated the dangers, the country has suffered "terrible loss" and the bad news isn't over.
Even with his high-profile display of candor, a step anxious Republican leaders had been demanding for weeks, Bush remained unyielding.
"To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I will not allow it," he said in a prime-time address, capping five speeches designed to reverse a stunning political free-fall.
There is some evidence that the rhetorical shift has worked. Recent polls suggest that while a majority of Americans disapprove of Bush's performance, his job rating has increased a bit. Nearly six of every 10 Americans said the U.S. military should stay until Iraq is stabilized, which is Bush's position.
A year ago, more than 70 percent held that view, and Bush insisted the Iraq war was on a steady path to victory. "Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their own security," Bush said during his re-election campaign.
Vice President Dick Cheney went so far as to say in May that Iraqi insurgents were in the "last throes."
The happy talk didn't ring true to many Americans, who watched in horror as the U.S. death toll climbed above 2,000 and wondered why Bush refused to take time off from his summer vacation to meet with the mother of a slain soldier. Cindy Sheehan became the grim face of a budding anti-war movement.
Bush seemed out of touch, unable to grasp the concerns of people opposed to the war or even those who were starting to wonder about it.
While standing firm on his main principle - that the war in Iraq is key to American security - Bush reached out Sunday to those who disagree.
"I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt," Bush said. "I do not expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom."
At his political best in 2004, Bush acknowledged that people would disagree with him and used that tension to burnish his credibility. "Even when we don't agree," he said at his nominating convention in New York, "you know what I believe and where I stand."
His credibility now in tatters, Bush injected a dose of reality into his rhetoric. He used some form of the word "sacrifice" four times, spoke three times of the "loss" caused by war and braced Americans for more to come.
He said Iraq has been more difficult than expected, a rare admission of error. This is what many senior Republicans had urged Bush to do: Speak bluntly about war as Franklin Roosevelt did during World War II and eloquently about the cause and sacrifice as Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War.
Even with a softening of his rhetoric Bush is still giving doubters little leeway. People are either with him or for defeat.
"Defeatism may have its partisan uses," he said, "but it is not justified by the facts."
Text of President Bush's Sunday address
December 18, 2005
Good evening. Three days ago, in large numbers, Iraqis went to the polls to choose their own leaders - a landmark day in the history of liberty. In coming weeks, the ballots will be counted, a new government formed, and a people who suffered in tyranny for so long will become full members of the free world.
This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote - 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world - means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror.
All who had a part in this achievement - Iraqis, Americans, and Coalition partners - can be proud. Yet our work is not done. There is more testing and sacrifice before us. I know many Americans have questions about the cost and direction of this war. So tonight I want to talk to you about how far we have come in Iraq, and the path that lies ahead.
From this office, nearly three years ago, I announced the start of military operations in Iraq. Our Coalition confronted a regime that defied United Nations Security Council Resolutions, violated a cease-fire agreement, sponsored terrorism, and possessed, we believed, weapons of mass destruction. After the swift fall of Baghdad, we found mass graves filled by a dictator, we found some capacity to restart programs to produce weapons of mass destruction, but we did not find those weapons.
It is true that Saddam Hussein had a history of pursuing and using weapons of mass destruction. It is true that he systematically concealed those programs, and blocked the work of UN weapons inspectors. It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. And as your President, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.
Yet it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He was given an ultimatum - and he made his choice for war. And the result of that war was to rid the world of a murderous dictator who menaced his people, invaded his neighbors, and declared America to be his enemy. Saddam Hussein, captured and jailed, is still the same raging tyrant - only now without a throne. His power to harm a single man, woman, or child is gone forever. And the world is better for it.
Since the removal of Saddam, this war - like other wars in our history - has been difficult. The mission of American troops in urban raids and desert patrols - fighting Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists - has brought danger and suffering and loss. This loss has caused sorrow for our whole Nation - and it has led some to ask if we are creating more problems than we are solving.
That is an important question, and the answer depends on your view of the war on terror. If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone.
This is not the threat I see. I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims - a vision in which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is crushed. Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set of declared and specific goals - to de-moralize free nations, to drive us out of the Middle East, to spread an empire of fear across that region, and to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends. These terrorists view the world as a giant battlefield - and they seek to attack us wherever they can. This has attracted al Qaida to Iraq, where they are attempting to frighten and intimidate America into a policy of retreat.
The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere - they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq ... in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia, and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens - they would be on the offense, and headed our way.
September 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq, we were not in Afghanistan, but the terrorists attacked us anyway - and killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children in our own country. My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.
This work has been especially difficult in Iraq - more difficult than we expected. Reconstruction efforts and the training of Iraqi Security Forces started more slowly than we hoped. We continue to see violence and suffering, caused by an enemy that is determined and brutal - unconstrained by conscience or the rules of war.
Some look at the challenges in Iraq, and conclude that the war is lost, and not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that. Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their own communications that they feel a tightening noose - and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq.
The terrorists will continue to have the coward's power to plant roadside bombs and recruit suicide bombers. And you will continue to see the grim results on the evening news. This proves that the war is difficult - it does not mean that we are losing. Behind the images of chaos that terrorists create for the cameras, we are making steady gains with a clear objective in view.
America, our Coalition, and Iraqi leaders are working toward the same goal - a democratic Iraq that can defend itself, that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists and that will serve as a model of freedom for the Middle East.
We have put in place a strategy to achieve this goal - a strategy I have been discussing in detail over the last few weeks. This plan has three critical elements.
First, our Coalition will remain on the offense - finding and clearing out the enemy ... transferring control of more territory to Iraqi units ... and building up the Iraqi Security Forces so they can increasingly lead the fight. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi army and police battalions ready for combat. Now, there are more than 125 Iraqi combat battalions fighting the enemy ... more than 50 are taking the lead ... and we have transferred more than a dozen military bases to Iraqi control.
Second, we are helping the Iraqi government establish the institutions of a unified and lasting democracy, in which all of Iraq's peoples are included and represented. Here also, the news is encouraging. Three days ago, more than 10 million Iraqis went to the polls - including many Sunni Iraqis who had boycotted national elections last January. Iraqis of every background are recognizing that democracy is the future of the country they love - and they want their voices heard. One Iraqi, after dipping his finger in the purple ink as he cast his ballot, stuck his finger in the air and said: "This is a thorn in the eyes of the terrorists." Another voter was asked, "Are you Sunni or Shia?" He responded, "I am Iraqi."
Third, after a number of setbacks, our Coalition is moving forward with a reconstruction plan to revive Iraq's economy and infrastructure - and to give Iraqis confidence that a free life will be a better life. Today in Iraq, seven in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going well - and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve even more in the year ahead. Despite the violence, Iraqis are optimistic - and that optimism is justified.
In all three aspects of our strategy - security, democracy, and reconstruction - we have learned from our experiences, and fixed what has not worked. We will continue to listen to honest criticism, and make every change that will help us complete the mission. Yet there is a difference between honest critics who recognize what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.
Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified by the facts. For every scene of destruction in Iraq, there are more scenes of rebuilding and hope. For every life lost, there are countless more lives reclaimed. And for every terrorist working to stop freedom in Iraq, there are many more Iraqis and Americans working to defeat them. My fellow citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war in Iraq.
It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi friends - and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We would undermine the morale of our troops - by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed. We would cause tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip. We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us - and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before. To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor, and I will not allow it.
We are approaching a New Year, and there are certain things all Americans can expect to see. We will see more sacrifice - from our military, their families, and the Iraqi people. We will see a concerted effort to improve Iraqi police forces and fight corruption. We will see the Iraqi military gaining strength and confidence, and the democratic process moving forward. As these achievements come, it should require fewer American troops to accomplish our mission. I will make decisions on troop levels based on the progress we see on the ground and the advice of our military leaders - not based on artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington. Our forces in Iraq are on the road to victory - and that is the road that will take them home.
In the months ahead, all Americans will have a part in the success of this war. Members of Congress will need to provide resources for our military. Our men and women in uniform, who have done so much already, will continue their brave and urgent work. And tonight, I ask all of you listening to carefully consider the stakes of this war, to realize how far we have come and the good we are doing ... and to have patience in this difficult, noble, and necessary cause.
I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country - victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I do not expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.
Americans can expect some things of me as well. My most solemn responsibility is to protect our Nation, and that requires me to make some tough decisions. I see the consequences of those decisions when I meet wounded servicemen and women who cannot leave their hospital beds, but summon the strength to look me in the eye and say they would do it all over again. I see the consequences when I talk to parents who miss a child so much - but tell me he loved being a soldier, he believed in his mission ... and Mr. President, finish the job.
I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss - and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly. I know this war is controversial - yet being your President requires doing what I believe is right and accepting the consequences. And I have never been more certain that America's actions in Iraq are essential to the security of our citizens, and will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.
Next week, Americans will gather to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. Many families will be praying for loved ones spending this season far from home - in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other dangerous places. Our Nation joins in those prayers. We pray for the safety and strength of our troops. We trust, with them, in a love that conquers all fear, and a light that reaches the darkest corners of the Earth. And we remember the words of the Christmas carol, written during the Civil War: "God is not dead, nor [does] He sleep; the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on Earth, good-will to men."
Thank you, and good night.
hmmmm.... no one has been cited in arizona in 4 years for failing to fill out an I-9 form. those are the forms you fill out when you get a new job and which require you to provide several ID's to prove your an american
I-9 form back in spotlight
CofC seeks training, tax credit
Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
It won't stop illegal immigration, but a proposal from business leaders aims to help employers avoid federal hiring penalties and get a $250 tax credit for the effort.
The idea is to give Arizona employers training in how to fill out Form I-9, a document that has been a federal requirement since the last major immigration overhaul in 1986.
"The main form is one page, which no one can seem to get right," said Julie Pace, co-chair of Arizona Chamber of Commerce's immigration task force.
Those who don't get it right face financial penalties that range from $100 to $1,000. No penalties have been issued to employers in the state for more than four years, but chamber officials said they fear employer audits will return, given the debate raging about illegal immigration.
Chamber officials say employers need help to fill out the form accurately the first time, instead of facing penalties after the fact. They think training sessions similar to continuing legal education, coupled with a $250 tax credit, will do the trick.
Others think the idea is a non-starter.
"That's a big 'No,' " said state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. Pearce is chairman of one of the two House appropriations committees and is one of the Legislature's most outspoken critics of illegal immigration.
"They're looking to make an issue out of a law that they should have been following anyway," he said.
The training program is the chamber's attempt to answer critics who say employers should be subject to tougher penalties for hiring undocumented immigrants.
Deterrent didn't work
Form I-9 was created through the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act as a way to deter illegal applicants. By requiring all new hires to show documents that establish their identity and their eligibility for employment, it was hoped that illegal workers wouldn't bother to apply.
It hasn't worked out that way, given that fake Social Security numbers and other forms of identification can be obtained easily.
Employers are not required to check the validity of their hires' paperwork, but they must vouch that the documents appear to be "genuine" and to attest that "to the best of my knowledge the employee is eligible to work in the United States."
Employers are in trouble if they fill out the one-page form incorrectly.
Kevin Rogers, a Valley farmer and president of the Arizona Farm Bureau, said that he's filled out I-9s for years and hasn't found them particularly troubling.
Still, he said any business would benefit from tips about how to navigate the forms. However, he hesitated when asked about the idea of a tax credit for going to a training session.
"If the state wants to give me a $250 tax credit to fill out a form I have to do anyway, I'd probably take it," Rogers said.
Pace, an employment-law attorney who has dealt with the forms for years, said that they are fraught with problems, from the lack of updated guidance from the federal government, to how to obtain a translator if one is needed.
Roxanne Bacon, another local employment-law attorney, called the form "deceptively simple."
"The I-9 form is dreadful," Bacon said. "You do need training."
Extent is unclear
For example, employers can be sanctioned for "overdocumenting," or providing multiple documents when only one is requested. Likewise, questions remain about what an employer should do when an employee provides updated information, or when an employee's legal status changes, such as from a lawful permanent resident to a U.S. citizen.
The extent of the problem is unclear. In 1997-98, the federal government did audits in the Phoenix area and cited 68 employers for not getting the I-9 paperwork exactly right, Pace said.
Since 9/11, there has been no enforcement, as immigration officials have focused on other issues, such as smuggling and border protection.
Pace said the training idea should head off some employment problems, but acknowledged it's not a panacea for illegal immigration.
"It won't fix the whole problem, no," she said, noting that the solution has to come from Congress, not the state Legislature.
Bacon, while a fan of training, said that it would do little to stop illegal immigration. That will happen only when policymakers address the economic realities that make people come to the United States from Mexico and that make the U.S. labor market welcome cheap labor.
"What would be really beneficial is to train Congress to get a brain," Bacon said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8963.
phoenix firemen maim and kill almost as many people as the phoenix cops do.
Phoenix firefighters have been involved in more than 500 accidents, two-thirds of which could have been prevented
and the stupid firemen don't accept the responsibility for the damages but falsely shove the blame on civilians.
Phoenix police Sgt. Randy Force blames civilians instead of firefighers - "Citizens on the roadway are not doing the appropriate things when approached by an emergency vehicle"
Firetruck wrecks costly for Phoenix
Most accidents are preventable, investigators say
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 20, 2005 12:00 AM
Engine 725 screamed down 67th Avenue, headed toward a fire.
The traffic was rush-hour heavy, and Phoenix Fire Engineer Tom Arnold steered the 35,000-pound truck into an oncoming traffic lane.
According to Phoenix Fire Department policy, Arnold should have been driving no more than 20 mph. Police estimate his speed at nearly three times that. When an impaired driver turned his two-door Nissan in front of the firetruck, Arnold couldn't stop. He slammed into the driver's door at 57 mph. Samuel Marrufo-Gonzalez, 25, was killed. The October accident was Arnold's seventh in a fire vehicle.
Since 2002, Phoenix firefighters have been involved in more than 500 accidents, two-thirds of which could have been prevented, according to an Arizona Republic analysis of Fire Department records. And in recent years, the toll has gotten far worse than bent poles, broken firehouse doors and dented cars. Two civilians have been killed. A third was nearly killed, and a million-dollar ladder truck was totaled.
Yet, firetruck drivers rarely are disciplined, even if they cause an accident, because state law says motorists have to yield to emergency vehicles.
Even as the accidents pile up, the Phoenix Fire Department has failed to implement a comprehensive training program for its drivers. Phoenix firefighters attend 40 hours of additional training when they are promoted to drivers, but after that there is no hands-on refresher course and no remedial training even if they are involved in an accident.
Driving policies have changed three times since 1993, but it's unclear how, or if, those changes were communicated to those behind the wheel. The department's last classroom refresher course was in 2003, but even then there was no hands-on component.
As a result, the city is shelling out millions of dollars to fix damaged trucks, replace those that have been totaled and settle liability claims brought by other drivers. Since 2002, the city has paid almost $4 million to civilians in auto liability claims stemming from Fire Department accidents, plus an additional $730,000 to fix fire vehicles. That cost doesn't include $863,500 to replace a ladder truck destroyed when it was rolled by a speeding firefighter in 2003. "There's more accidents than there needs to be," Phoenix Fire Capt. Mike Gibson said. "Not only are our firefighters at risk, it's the public out there."
Two years ago, Gibson said, the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association began pushing for more driver training. In February 2004, Fire Chief Alan Brunacini requested permission to increase the size of his fleet so extra trucks would be available for driver training. Yet when budget cuts came around, "it was all just cut and dropped," Gibson said.
And although the city earmarked $112,000 for driver training this year, the money has been largely unspent. A driver-training track, approved in the 2001 bond election, is still a year away from being built, and driving simulators approved in the same election are just now being bought.
Fire officials say they recognize the shortcomings in their driver training, but they also have been limited by funding and a lack of resources.
Pushing for change
Phoenix lags behind other Valley fire departments when it comes to driver training. In Chandler and Glendale, fire engineers must pass an annual driving test to stay behind the wheel. In Mesa, engineers recertify every three years; if they are involved in an accident, they attend an eight-hour defensive-driving course and a four-hour refresher course at the training academy.
The Phoenix firefighters union is pushing for similar initiatives. They want annual, hands-on refresher courses, much like paramedics must undergo to keep their certifications. They want remedial training when there is an accident. And they want a push to change the department's drive-fast culture.
Just this month, the union and the Fire Department created a driver-training subcommittee as a first step to remedying the problems. And a professional standards committee was formed to evaluate future driving accidents.
In January, two Phoenix intersections will get the city's first traffic pre-emption devices, allowing firefighters to change the color of the traffic lights. The goal is to get more firetrucks through intersections on green lights. But it will take years to equip all the city's intersections.
"The nature of our job is we're going to drive really big, heavy trucks in the streets. The nature of our people is they are aggressive. They want to get there fast," said Capt. Billy Shields, president of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association. "We don't want them to stop doing what they're doing. But we need to restrain it, so we're safe."
In the October accident, police reports list Arnold as at fault. Arnold told police he didn't know how fast he was going, that he doesn't look at his speedometer, instead relying on the flow of traffic.
After the firetruck hit Marrufo-Gonzalez, it rolled another 360 feet, taking out a power pole and two trees before it stopped. The $400,000 truck was totaled. Police reports say Arnold's speed was a factor.
It's unclear exactly when Arnold steered into the oncoming traffic lanes, but if he had been driving slower, "it's possible the collision could have been avoided altogether," Phoenix police Sgt. Randy Force said.
"This crash typifies what we see in a lot of wrecks involving emergency vehicles: Citizens on the roadway are not doing the appropriate things when approached by an emergency vehicle," Force said. "When that doesn't happen, everybody's life is at risk."
In slightly more than half of the accidents analyzed by The Republic, firefighters were driving on a road, as opposed to operating at a scene, pulling out of a station or backing up. The Republic analyzed 463 accidents - 243 of those were driving - where fire officials made a determination if they were preventable. Nearly 64 percent of the driving accidents were deemed preventable, as were 66.5 percent of all accidents.
A fatal accident in June 2002 and a serious injury accident in January 2004 occurred when firefighters entered intersections on red lights. In September 2003, an engineer who was driving too fast rolled a ladder truck in central Phoenix.
Three of the four firefighters, who were at fault in these accidents, are still driving trucks. Only the engineer who rolled the ladder truck was given a ticket and had to attend a defensive-driving class. Arnold is on light duty, pending an internal investigation, but wants to drive again.
"In today's world that is probably, on a daily basis, the most dangerous thing we do, driving to and from calls. This isn't 1960 or 1975 when there weren't quite as many people on the road," Gibson said.
"I'm not naïve to say there will never be another accident, fatal or not, involving a firetruck. But we need to minimize that to the best of our ability."
Assistant Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan said it's important to remember that the city's firetrucks and ambulances log more than 1.8 million miles on the road every year. And, he said, in just about every accident where the firetruck driver was deemed to be at fault, there was shared responsibility with motorists who failed to yield to the emergency vehicles.
Within 4 minutes
Firefighters try to respond to all emergencies within four minutes, but with a sprawling city that covers more than 500 square miles, that often means drivers have a tendency to "make up that time on the road," Khan said.
"Our culture can be permissive, absolutely. We're expecting them to respond to fires where people are dying," Khan said.
"You want them to be aggressive, but there has to be a balance. They can't be endangering people on the road."
Assistant Chief Kara Kalkbrenner said the department has logged 3,200 hours in driver training this year, without budgeted training positions or a driving track. That includes collision avoidance for new volunteers, eight hours of hands-on ambulance driving for new firefighters and training for new engineers.
Currently, driver training is done by a captain and his engineers on overtime. But that should change in June when the training positions are permanently staffed.
The city's new driver-training track should be built next fall, and simulators are being bought.
The simulators can mimic real driving scenarios, show firefighters what can happen when they drive too fast and point out bad habits that need to be corrected to make sure drivers are "at the top of their game," Kalkbrenner said.
"Clearly the safety of the customers we respond to is a high priority," Kalkbrenner said.
"People call 911 so we can go help them. The last thing we need to do is get into an accident on the way there."