Along with a web of other conspirators who have not yet been named, Mr. [Robert J.] Stein and his wife received "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities amounting to at least $200,000 per month" to steer lucrative construction contracts to companies run by another American, Philip H. Bloom, an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint says.
How soon do these two get their Medals of Freedom?
Hooray for Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha. The Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Colonel who once supported the war has called for the troops in Iraq to be pulled out in six months. From NYT's Eric Schmitt:
"Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. It is time to bring them home," Mr. Murtha said, at times choking back tears. Mr. Murtha's proposal, which goes well beyond the phased withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq that other moderate Democrats have proposed, stunned many Republicans who quickly held their own news conference to criticize the plan.
Among those Republican critics was House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who said Murtha had adopted a policy of "cut and run." Hastert, if you hadn't guessed, is one of many pro-war Republicans who never served in the military.
Murtha made his views on the "chicken hawks" abundantly clear when asked his opinion of Vice President Dick Cheney's recent incendiary remarks about critics of the war.
"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
Keep it coming, Congressman Murtha. It's people like you who will give the rest of the legislature the spine to stand up and take its constitutional authority back from the White House.
Speaking of Congress growing a spine, NYT's Eric Lichtblau tells us…
A tentative deal to extend the government's antiterrorism powers under the law known as the USA Patriot Act appeared in some jeopardy Thursday, as Senate Democrats threatened to mount a filibuster in an effort to block the legislation.
"This is worth the fight," Senator Russell D. Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.
"I've cleared my schedule right up to Thanksgiving," Mr. Feingold said, adding that he was making plans to read aloud from the Bill of Rights as part of a filibuster if necessary.
As we've discussed here before, the Patriot Act violates key provisions of the Constitution's fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments, and illegally gives the president the power to suspend the write of habeas corpus privilege, and empowers him to exercise bills of attainer which are specifically prohibited by the Constitution.
So while I'm glad to see Senate Democrats opposing the extension of the Patriot Act, I'm somewhat dismayed that they have to. The Patriot Act should never have been passed. It not only gives Mister Bush unconstitutional powers, it was unconstitutional for Congress to have given them to him.
Andrew Young has a good account of the debate over Abraham Lincoln's war powers over at LewRockwell.com. Roger Taney, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, thoroughly refuted Lincoln's authority to suspend habeas corpus.
Near the end of his opinion [in the Ex parte Merryman case, Taney] says that, if the executive branch can, in any situation, overstep other branches, then “the people of the United States are no longer living under a government of laws.” In Taney’s view, the Constitution is not a mere suggestion of how government should operate under ideal circumstances. Instead, it is a concrete document to which the executive must adhere at all times, including times of emergency. If presidents can abandon the Constitution “upon any pretext or under any circumstances,” the Constitution means nothing.
Keep that in mind the next time you hear Mister Bush talk about "rule of law."
And have a great weekend!