Posts tagged ‘guantanamo’

Newsy things

The big news tonight is that Bush has commuted I. “Scooter” Libby’s sentence. That is to say, Bush has not pardoned him for his crimes (obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements), but he has completely removed his 30-month jail sentence, saying that it was “excessive.” It seems that Bush has tried to reward a loyal flunky who has obediently taken the fall for others in the administration without overtly raising anyone above the law itself. It’s really too bad to see this cronyism taking place.

In more heartening news, the Supreme Court has unexpectedly reversed their position and agreed to consider the constitutionality of holding enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. I hope they finally agree that all civilians have the right to be charged when arrested, and the right to a trial. We’ll see how this plays out.

Vice President Cheney has been pulling shenanigans recently, claiming that he does not need to comply with a law concerning the handling of classified information because he claims he is not in the executive branch. Outside of Bush and Cheney, I can’t find anyone who thinks this is anything but preposterous. I hope this ends soon and Cheney starts complying with the laws.

and speaking of the executive branch ignoring the law, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy has said that he may cite President Bush for contempt of Congress if he does not turn over documents relating to the firing of 9 attorneys (the ones that might have been fired for political reasons under Alberto Gonzales’ watch). I suspect nothing will come of this and the Democrats will complain a bit and then just roll over (the way they did with the war spending bill). We’ll see if they have the gumption to actually stand up for themselves.

Finally, this is so fantastic I had to post it: a high schooler takes Bill O’Reilly to task and shows how he is fabricating a story by taking quotes out of context. I’m really impressed by that guy; I wish more people had the wherewithal to expose Bill for the manipulative bastard he is.

Back to my roots

Even though my blog is (edit: formerly) titled “Civil Liberties and World News,” I haven’t posted on either of these subjects in a month and a half. It’s time to return to that theme.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has started calling for the closure of Guantanamo. I fear it won’t be closed until we have a new president (and possibly not even then), but it’s nice to see that more people are standing up and saying that everyone should have a right to a trial. Moreover, a recent court decision stated that the US cannot indefinitely hold prisoners without trial. It would be fantastic if this kept up momentum. We’ll see what happens.

Also, the Massachusetts legislature defeated a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage (if the measure had passed, it would have gone to a public vote in 2008). There’s one tricky part left, though: a law almost a century old that states that non-Massachusetts residents can’t get married there unless the marriage would be legal in their home state. This was originally intended to fight interracial marriages. Let’s hope this law gets repealed soon!

In more worrying news, minorninth writes that national labs (including JPL) are putting tighter security clearances on all employees, including janitors and secretaries. They are now required to disclose drug use (edit: apparently this is currently legal, although many people think it shouldn’t be), financial records, their armed services numbers, and other totally inappropriate things. If you actually work on a sensitive project, there’s even more: they want to know about your international vacations and medical history (edit: upon further inspection, this looks like this part might actually be an acceptable thing, too, since these people have been granted special clearance by the government). The worst part about this is that the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be picking up the story at all, which is really too bad. I hope more people find out about this before this becomes the de rigeur.

Train bombing in Mumbai, and other news

There was a terrorist strike on the Mumbai train system reminiscent of the London and Madrid bombings. Several hundred people are injured/killed. I hope Rishad and his family are alright (edit: they’re fine, though his cousin got off one of the trains 10 minutes before the bombs went off. Scary!), though it’s statistically likely that they’re alright: there are 19 million people in Mumbai, and around 500 were in the bombings. No one is certain who did this yet or what their reasons were. I suspect this is going to be really big news.

Congress has begun debating tribunal systems for Guantanamo inmates. It sounds like very little has been accomplished so far, but at least it’s starting.

Finally, the UN may be gearing up for sanctions against Iran for dragging its feet about the nuclear fuel compromise it has been offered. I suspect that sanctions will be imposed but ineffectual (when was the last time that sanctions actually brought about the intended changes to countries?), and eventually either Iran will become a nuclear power or someone will invade the country and find that, like in Iraq, no nuclear weapons program exists. My bet is on the second option, but we shall see. I liked Scott Adams’ take on this whole issue:

I’ll discuss this more soon, but I’m going to bed now.