NDN Blog

Glenn Greenwald dissects the FBI's mishandling of the National Security Letters

In Salon, the always insightful Glenn Greenwald goes deep into the newly uncovered abuse by the FBI of their already generous ability to issue National Security Letters, and of course, its connection to the about-to-be former Attorney General.

New issue of Democracy Journal online now

Our friends over at Democracy Journal have their new issue up.  Check it out.

Mr. President time to do more than talk about immigration reform

Throughout his tour of Latin America President Bush said, again and again, it was time to move forward on immigration reform here in the U.S.  It is long past time for the President to do more than say the words.  He has to get to work and bring his unwilling Party along.  As our recent event with Senators Reid, Kennedy, Menendez and Salazar, and House Members Zofgren, Gutierrez and Becerra showed, Democrats are ready to go.   The question is will the Republicans and the President show. 

As the Washington Post opines this morning, we are long past time for action:

THE HYPOCRISY of U.S. immigration law was on lurid display last week in a raid on a defense contractor in New England. Accompanied by dogs and a helicopter swooping overhead, hundreds of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents charged into Michael Bianco Inc., a leather-goods factory in New Bedford, Mass., that makes backpacks, ammunition pouches and other gear for GIs.

When the dust settled, the agents had arrested some 360 illegal immigrant employees at the plant, many of them women from Guatemala and other Central American nations. The workers had toiled in sweatshop conditions that allegedly included draconian restrictions on bathroom breaks, toilet paper supply, and snacking and talking at their workstations. They were seized, handcuffed, questioned and, in about 200 cases, whisked away to detention centers in New Mexico and Texas without regard to their roots in the community, their spouses or their children, including American-born children who are U.S. citizens.

Amid the pandemonium, families and communities were split, and children were left with babysitters, relatives, siblings or other families. Immigration and Customs Enforcement insisted it had released about 60 of the immigrants -- including nursing mothers and sole or primary caregivers for young children -- for "humanitarian" reasons. But reports of confusion and mistakes were common, and state officials said scores of children were separated from their parents. In one case, doctors treated an 8-month-old baby, Keylyn Zusana Lopez Ayala, for pneumonia and possible dehydration after her mother was detained and unable to breast-feed her. Keylyn is an American citizen. Three days after the raid, a federal judge was sufficiently concerned that he barred immigration officials from transporting any more detainees out of state. The raid, said Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), "reflects, for me, not what this country is about."

Post has good piece on web video

Very much worth a read.

Drilling into political bedrock

Two weeks ago a CNN poll put the President's approval rating at 29%, the lowest of his Presidency, and one of the lowest in recorded Presidential history.  29% for a two term President means 40% of those who voted for him twice believe he is not doing a good job.  A remarkable feat by any measure. 

That 29% came before a two week period of truly terrible developments for the Administration - the mistreatment of our veterans at Walter Reed, the overzealous and perhaps illegal use of National Security Letters by the FBI, the conviction of Scooter Libby, the new Plame testimony, continued violence in Iraq, the scandal of the Rovian-led firing of 8 US Attorneys and the resignation of senior Army officials and the Chief of Staff at Justice.  Who and what is next? Rove, Gonzales, Nicholson? Is there a Bush Administration without these guys?

Wherever these next steps take us they will take us further into the inner of the inner core of the architects and enablers of the Bush era. The political chief, the chief counsel, the former RNC Chair.  Just as the President's support has drilled into his bedrock of support, these new scandals are drilling into personnel bedrock, a place where no one ever thought we could go.  But here we are, and the ending of Bushism and its leaders seems to much closer than ever before.

Story Creep

If the White House thinks that throwing Attorney General Albert Gonzalez under the proverbial bus will be enough to end the US Attorney's scandal, they had better thing again, because it is clear that this scandal goes beyond the constituion-hating Bush consigliore all the way to Karl Rove and maybe the President himself.  The NYT reported today, and the email below proves (thanks TPM Muckraker) that Karl Rove was deeply involved in the discussion over firing US Attorneys, a long time before Tony Snow or anyone else in the White House had previously admitted.  (Note: 'Judge' is a nickname of Alberto Gonzalez who served as a State Court Judge in Texas)

What does all this mean?  It means the White House was full of it when they said this was all Harriet Mier's idea, in the hopes that Mier's, who resigned in January, could be the White House fall-guy.  Clearly this goes to the highest levels and was being batted around between Rove, then White House Counsel Gonzalez and who knows who else.  And everyone involved lied about it to Congress and the press.  The forecast is for Tony Snow's memory to remain hazy and for the White House's story to keep "evolving."

And for your moment of zen, here's the unflattering Rove pic the Times ran with the story...

Rep. Harman Calls For Better Light Bulbs

Beginning with an opening line that our own Peter Leyden would love - "As California-and Australia and Europe-goes, so (should) go the nation. That's why it's time for the country to phase out inefficient energy-consuming light-bulbs" - California Congresswoman Jane Harman announced a new bill today that would require light bulbs made or used in the US to meet a higher energy efficiency standard, dramatically reducing energy demands from that most-used of appliances, the lamp. 

Her post in the Huffington Post nicely sums up arguements that should be familiar to all of us.  Standard incandescent lights waste energy and don't last as long as compact flourescents.  And thanks to Rep. Harman, now Congress will have a chance to encourage American producers and consumers to make the switch-over.  As Rep. Harman herself says:

The old joke revolves around how many people it takes to change a light bulb. The answer is: 218 members of Congress, 51 Senators and one President. 

Amateur Hour at the White House

At NDN our tech team works hard to try and keep our email free of spam, and they do a damn decent job - thanks, Gillian and Ben.  The one drawback to our spam filter is that it blocks outgoing emails that contain offensive words.  So when I accidentally slip the kind of word that gets you detention in high school into an email, that email will be deleted.  That's ok, that's why I use my personal email account outside of work, and quote "Midnight Run" to my hearts content. 

Our friends at CREW have found a much more nefarious use of personal email accounts though.  It turns out that Karl Rove's Deputy Scott Jennings has been using a personal email -linked to a domain owned by the RNC no less - to send emails about the purged US Attorneys.  It isn't the first time Rove's office has pulled this kind of thing either.  Susan Ralston, another Rove Deputy, used to use a personal email account to get in touch with her old boss, Jack Abramoff.  The problem with all this personal email is that it may well amount to a purposful and illegal evasion of the Presidential Records Act, if Congress, a Special Prosecutor (fingers crossed), etc don't know about your personal email account, they can't read the damaging contents, right? 

The deceptive and maybe illegal practices of the Bush/Rove team are a a disgrace to the institution of the Presidency, and yet another sign of the moral degradation of the conservative movement. 

Pew: 59% of US Latinos use Text Messaging, More Than Go Online Via PC

Here is the latest Pew Study - that just went public today - on Latino’s online…. A key quote:

“Mexicans, the largest national origin group in the U.S. Latino population, are among the least likely to go online: 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent uses the internet. Even when age, income, language, generation, or nativity is held constant, being Mexican is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.

Some Latinos who do not use the internet are connecting to the communications revolution in a different way – via cell phone. Fully 59% of Latino adults have a cell phone and 49% of Latino cell phone users send and receive text messages on their phone.

Way to go, Joe

Sounds like Joe Biden has had enough...

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