CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS UP IN ARMS OVER A NEW POLL WHICH FINDS 1/2 OF AMERICA'S REGISTERED VOTERS DISAPPROVE OF HIS JOB PERFORMANCE.
"WHAT DO THEY WANT FROM ME!" SCREAMED BARRY O STOMPING HIS FEET. "I ONLY AVERAGE ABOUT ONE VACATION A MONTH! I'M FUND RAISING ALL THE TIME! ISN'T THIS WHAT I WAS ELECTED TO DO! TRUST ME, THE ECONOMY WILL WORK ITSELF OUT WITHOUT ME WASTING ANY TIME ON IT!"
MORE BAD NEWS, BULLY BOY BUSH TIES BARRY O IN POPULARITY.
IN THE FACE OF THESE REALITIES, BARRY O'S ONE TIME BOY TOY DAVID PLOUFFE EMERGES TO INSIST THAT UNLESS THE G.O.P. 'MAKES A FULL SWEEP,' THEY WILL BE A "DISGRACE." BABY PLOUFFE -- HAVING ALREADY WAXED HIS GROIN - STEPS BACK INTO THE PUBLIC LIFE AND TRIES TO GET THE PRESS TO WHORE FORM BARRY O THE WAY THEY USED TO, TRIES TO PLAY LIKE HE DEFINES VICTORY.
NO, DAVID PLOUFFEY, A VICTORY FOR THE G.O.P. WILL BE WINNING SOME SEATS. THAT IS HOW AMERICA DEFINES VICTORY. NOW GO BACK TO TONGUE BATHING BARRY O, HE FORGOT TO WIPE TODAY AND HE NEEDS YOUR ASSISTANCE.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Turning to safety. For this paragraph, dropping back to yesterday's snapshot: A con artist offers you what sounds like a really good deal but there's a qualifier to it, usually something along the lines of, "there's a limited window of time" as they attempt to hurry you into making a risky move. Remember that as you read Leila Fadel's report (Washington Post) about US officials such as the Commerce Dept's Francisco Sanchez leading an Iraq tour and telling business execs, "If you want to really play a role here, you have to be here now." As Fadel points out, "Iraq is ranked fifth from the bottom on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index - tied with Sudan and ahead of only Burma, Afghanistan and Somalia. Iraq's ranking has dropped drastically since 2003." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes Sanchez insisting, "I'm not trying to sugar-coat this but what I am trying to say is, the Iraqi government is sorting through some of these challenges as the physical security increasingly improves. You can't wait for everything to be perfect." Serena Chaudhry (Reuters) notes, "Companies on the mission included Boeing, Bell Helicopter Textron, ICON Global Architectural Engineering and Wamar International." One wonders Sanchez will promise to attend any and all funerals? Probably not. He'll pitch to get American business into Iraq but he'll be busy if and when the funerals roll around. Like most con artists, he'll have moved on to his next mark.
There's our context. There's the US government insisting that US companies need to get started in Iraq because it's good business and safe, and it's safe, and it's safe. (Nod to Bob Hope in My Favorite Brunette.) Today Yasmine Mousa (New York Times' At War) reports on a new Baghdad super market (multi-story supermarket) which is doing big business. There are a few . . . what Sanchez might call 'bugs' to be worked out:
Food and loading trucks are nowhere to be seen, yet the aisles are stocked with kitchen utensils, brands of shower gels and clothing.
"Because of the security situation we have to work like thieves; right before dusk or soon after dawn we hastily carry our merchandise into the store in batches, in saloon cars," said Fareed Sadoun Salih, an employee.
Mr. Rifai added: "We cannot rely on remote suppliers. We purchase from nearby vendors."
Business is good, but the staff members maintain a low profile because their biggest fear is "getting kidnapped." Such is life for anyone with money in Iraq.
And that's the environment that the US Commerce Dept is attempting to send business into. Meanwhile Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad (one shot dead, the other "with signs of torture"). Reuters adds 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad "by a sniper" and there was an attack on a river in Basra in which seven security guards were left wounded. The boats were by a prison and, inside the prison, a riot reportedly broke out.
Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi co-hosts WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio (9:00 a.m. EST Mondays -- also plays on other stations around the country throughout the week) with fellow attorneys Michael Ratner and Michael Smith and Monday the program explores the raids with guest Jim Fennerty. You can stream the broadcast at Law and Disorder Radio online and, for the next 85 or so days only, at the WBAI archives. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan interviewed activist Jess Sundan for Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox last Sunday.
Jess Sundan: On Friday, September 24th, I awoke to the sound of pounding at my door around seven in the morning. By the time I got downstairs, there were six or seven federal agents already in my house.
Cindy Sheehan: How many?
Jess Sundan: Six or seven.
Jess Sundan: Six or seven.
Cindy Sheehan: [Laughing] Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you said 57. Six or seven, that's bad enough.
Jess Sundan: [Laughing] No, I don't think they would have fit if it was that many. But my daughter and my partner were already awake and they showed us the search warrant which allowed them to take - to search and seize my house -- seize things in my house -- including -- I don't know how many boxes they carried out filled with papers and books, CDs, checkbooks, computers, cell phones, my passport, photographs. They spent about four hours here going through everything in our house. And when they left, they not only left a bit of a mess but they left a subpoena for myself and my partner for a grand jury in Chicago.
Cindy Sheehan: And what makes you so dangerous or subversive to national security that they would do that to you?
Jess Sundan: Well I'm an anti-war activist and myself and all the other people who received subpoenas or had their homes raided that day are people that I've worked with for several years on different anti-war campaigns. We also have in common, all of us have a real perspective of international solidarity. Many of us have traveled to other countries and in our anti-war work tried to give voice to those most affected by US policies abroad. So in their search warrant they were specifically looking for evidence that we had given material support to foreign terrorist organizations -- including naming someone from Palestine and someone from Columbia. Most of our subpoenas and search warrants were roughly the same. And they named the Antiwar Committee and we also had our offices searched --
Cindy Sheehan: Of Minneapolis, right?
Jess Sundan: Yeah, that's right. So I think, their real concern is that we've been very effective . And secondly, that we've -- in the anti-war movement -- done good work to break the information blockade, making sure that real stories and pictures come back home to the United States from places where the US is militarily involved.
And we'll note this from the show when Cindy's asked about the legal issues in terms of the grand jury and appearing before it.
Jess Sundan: Well the main things is the grand jury which all of us are very concerned about. A grand jury meets in secret. If you appear before a grand jury, you can't have an attorney with you. There's no one to object if you're mistreated. And if you don't testify, there's a risk of jail time and so we're very concerned. It's a very undemocratic court., you know. Except it's not really a court. None of us have been charged with any crime. A purpose of the grand jury is to investigate possible crimes and see if they can generate enough evidence to make a case against someone. We haven't been told who is the target of the grand jury -- like who they think may have committed a crime or what crimes may have been committed but obviously there whole search warrant was around this material support to foreign terrorist organizations. Any of us that were served on any of these subpoenas, and also some people were named on a search warrant at the Antiwar Committee office in addition to those of us that got subpoenas -- any of us realize that at any time there could be indictments brought against us. We don't know, we don't really know what our legal standing is. So we're working with our attorneys. I know that I myself intend to plead the Fifth [Amendment] which means that I will not testify.
Stephanie Weiner and Joe Ioskaber's home was among the ones raided. Wednesday, Andy Grim (Chicago Tribune) reported that they say "they will refuse to answer questions before a grand jury". Democracy Now! featured the news in headlines and showed Stephanie Weiner stating:
We believe we have been targeted because of what we believe, what we say, who we know. The grand jury process is an intent to violate the inalienable rights under the Constitution and international law to freedom of political speech, association and the right to advocate for change. Those with grand jury dates for October 5th and those whose subpoenas are pending have declared that we intend to exercise our right not to participate in this fishing expedition.
The statement was from a press conference Tuesday. Fight Back! News reports Pastor Dan Dale spoke at the conference noting an interfaith statement people were signing on to: "We are people of faigh and conscience who condemn the recent FBI raids in Chicago as a violation of the constitional rights of the people organizations raided. They are a dangerous step to further criminalize dissent. The FBI raids chisel away and byprass fundamental constitutional rights by hauling activists before grand juries under the guise of national security."
Grand juries were discussed on Law and Disorder Radio this week:
Michael Ratner: Yeah. Jim Fennerty, what people in Chicago are you personally representing and what's their political story? Why do you think they're targets?
Jim Fennerty: Well this is the thing. I was just at the US Attorneys office. I had another case in federal court this morning and the US attorney afterwards -- turns out it's the same attorney on these cases -- and he wanted to talk to me. Basically, so far he has not told me anybody who is actually a target, so we're concerned what that means. Now I've been lied to before when I went down to Florida in the Sami al-Arian case with somebody else who was involved with that. And they said, they couldn't tell me, they couldn't tell me. I get down there, we take the Fifth Amendment and they say, "We're not offering your guy immunity, go home." And then I, you know, a month or two later, he gets an indictment. Under their manual, tecnically, they're not supposed to send out a subpeona in a grand jury for a target unless they get higher authority to do that.
Michael Ratner: Heidi and I were talking about that.
Heidi Boghosian: So let's just explain for our listeners about grand juries a bit. When you talk about a target, you mean an individual who is under suspicion for violating the law.
Jim Fennerty: That is correct.
Heidi Boghosian: But what's happening now is that individuals are being given subpeonas in what we call a fishing expedition to try to get information about other people?
Jim Fennerty: That's what it sounds like now but I -- like I said, that's what they told me but it's happened before where somebody told me something and it didn't actually work out true but that's what I've been told today. Basically, a grand jury in its inception historically, you know, hundreds of years ago, was supposed to be citiznes coming together and determining if charges should be filed criminally against somebody. But what it's become, it's become almost, to me, almost like a rubber stamp for the government because basically what happens is the government, US attorneys, can be inside the grand jury. There's usually around 23 people who are called, citizens, to be at the grand jury and what happens is that the US attorney can be inside, they can ask you questions, you can refuse to answer those questions, but your side never gets told to these 23 people. In other words, your lawyer can't come in there and argue for you and give your side of it. That's why it's, like I said, it's pretty much a rubber stamp for what the prosecutors want and people should be very, very concerned about going there because what you say could be twisted around and you've just got to be very vigilant about what you do. You know, most cases, people can say they don't want to testify at the grand jury, they're going to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights against incrimination. What they could do at a grand jury, they could offer you immunity which is use immunity, it's not total immunity, but what that means is they offer you immunity and then you refuse to testify, you can be taken to a judge, they'll read the question to the judge and then they'll ask you the answer to that question. If you continue to refuse to answer that question, then a judge can hold you in civil contempt and you could be incarcerated for the remaining time of the grand jury.
Heidi Boghosian: And that can be a long time.
Jim Fennerty: Well that can be depending how long the grand jury is sits. But your lawyer can go back periodically and say, "Look it, Judge, this person's been there for three months or whatever and they're not going to testify. They're still not going to testify. So it makes no sense to keep continuing to lock them up." And hopefully you'll get a sympathetic judge for that.
Heidi Boghosian: Because it is -- it is lawful to hold someone in civil contempt, to incarcerate them as a method of coercion --
Jim Fennerty: Correct.
Heidi Boghosian: -- but not as punishment --
Jim Fennerty: Correct.
Heidi Boghosian: -- and that's why we try to argue that it's not doing any good.
And we'll again note this section from the broadcast because activists are being targeted.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, when the FBI knocks, what do you do?
Heidi Boghosian: It is crucial that if anyone listening to this show is contacted by the FBI or if your friends or family members are, that you do not talk to them. You just say, "I would like to consult with my lawyer. May I have your business card? My lawyer will get back to you." Never say anything because anything you say, no matter how seemingly mundane -- answering a question: Do you live here?, Is your name such and such? -- can be used against you in further grand jury proceedings.
Michael S. Smith: Well they can go after you saying that you lied to them. Don't talk to them. Call your lawyer. Call our hotline. Get out a pencil. Heidi, give them the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: If you're visited by the FBI, you can call the NLG's Hotline. It's 888-NLG-ECOL. Or 888-654-3265.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, please repeat the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: The hotline is 888-NLG-ECOL. And how you can remember that is that originally we started this as a hotline for environmental and animal rights activists so it was for ecology. It was Eco Law but we shortened it.
And on Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US," two people e-mailed about getting it in book form. It is available online for free. Some people don't want to read a screen. Some people have problems with PDF files. Some people use public computers -- such as at a library -- where they have limited time to be on them. For those reasons and more (including maybe you want a book to give as a gift), please note that the report is available in booklet form. For all NLG publications, click here. Click on the title you want and they will give you info -- usually it's an e-mail address. It's below five dollars a copy but I don't know the exact price, sorry -- and the cost is strictly for postage and handling.
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