Click for a full report.

Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007





Hillary's Campaign Is Efficient, Tough, Joyless (Al Hunt, Bloomberg)

Civility Between Leaders Threatens Partisanship In Senate


Active-duty US troops become outspoken critics of Iraq war 08/29/2007

Vets in Congress walk fine line on ending Iraq war 08/23/2007

Experts: US must win 'war of ideas' 06/16/2006

Getting Around Rules on Lobbying: Despite New Law, Firms Find Ways To Ply Politicians (By Elizabeth Williamson)

The Fix and Fix Cam Washington Post (Plus 1 Video)

The Pelosi ParadoxOpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USAElizabeth Holtzman and Cynthia L. Cooper have co-authored The Impeachment f George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens, Dave Lindorff and ...See all stories on this topic

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on ImpeachmentBy Brendan "I don't see a connection between this and impeachment," Pelosi said, asked about a newly released secret memo on US interrogation tactics. A moment later, she side-stepped a repeat of the same question by elaborating on her goal to ...Brendan Calling -

Impeachment Teach-InI attended the Teach-In on Impeachment at The Forum in Binghamton, NY last night. It was sponsored by the Broome County Peace Action group, and Broome County NY Veterans for Peace Chapter 90. It was an inspirational evening for those - Impeach... -

Radio hosts slam top Democrats for reluctance to consider impeachment... the top Democratic leaders from each of their respective chambers of Congress -- are drawing fire for a pair of recent radio appearances in which they reiterated their opposition to pursuing the impeachment of President George W. ...Digg / upcoming -

Impeachment: Is there any other Way to Restore the Rule of Law in ...By San Francisco Impeach Now!(San Francisco Impeach Now!) George Bush has repeated violated our Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process of law, as detailed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in "Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush", by: ...San Francisco Impeach Now! -

"Are You Too Well-Behaved to Get Us Out of Iraq?": My Interview with Nancy Pelosi
Posted October 15, 2007 10:27 PM (EST) Arianna Huffington interviews Pelosi
Read More: Congress Iraq, iraq, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi interview, Pelosi Iraq, video, Breaking Politics News

On Friday, I asked for your recommendations on what I should ask Nancy Pelosi during my interview with her. The response was overwhelming. And the overriding theme of the reaction was, "Ask Speaker Pelosi to please, please, stop funding the war."

I HAVE NO USE FOR THESE PEOPLEVerizon Says It Turned Over Data Without Court Orders Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005. (By Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post)

Gore's Nobel win stirs hope, speculation
By Alan Zarembo and Johanna Neuman
Environmentalists say the peace prize can elevate climate issues.
Others are keen that he may yet enter the 2008 race.


If You Want to Understand the Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the “War on Terror,” You Need to Know:

The first thing that has to be understood is that the U.S. is an imperialist power that has brought, and continues to bring, great suffering to people throughout the world. That is the context within which to understand the so-called “war on terror” and attacks that are made against “U.S. interests” around the world.

The origins of this country, and the foundations of its wealth and power, are grounded in slavery, genocide against the Native Americans and the theft of their land. And then the expansion across the continent, in the second half of the 19th century, involved further wars of aggression and theft of land (from Mexico as well as from the Native Americans), to extend the slave system (this, for example, was the essence of the fight for Texas, with its battle of the Alamo) and then, especially after the Civil War, to spread the triumphant capitalist system.

At the close of the 19th century, as part of a worldwide scramble of competing capitalist powers to establish colonial empires and subjugate and exploit the peoples living in those colonies, the U.S. grabbed more overseas territory, most notably in the Philippines—where the U.S. betrayed and then slaughtered, in the hundreds of thousands, the Philippine people fighting for independence from Spain and turned the Philippines into a U.S. colony, along with seizing Puerto Rico and turning Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America into little more than U.S. colonies, which witnessed repeated bloody invasions and occupations by U.S. military forces in the first part of the 20th century.

Then, after World War 2, with the weakening of other colonial powers, on both the winning and losing sides in that war, the U.S. moved to bring vast amounts of territory under its domination, in the form of “neo-colonialism,” effectively controlling and robbing countries throughout the Third World, with terrible consequences for billions of people, even while those countries were nominally “independent.” Where they stood in the way of this domination and exploitation by the U.S., governments throughout the Third World, including popularly elected (and more or less secular) governments, were overthrown through bloody coups engineered and led by the CIA—for example, in Iran in 1953, and Indonesia in 1965—and brutally oppressive regimes, subservient to the U.S., were installed and kept in power for decades.

It is impossible to understand the real reasons for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, and the deep hatred for the U.S., in the Middle East and other parts of the world, without being aware of and fully taking into account this whole bloody history of plunder and repression which the U.S. has carried out, and continues to carry out. And it is impossible to break out of the current very bad and potentially even more disastrous dynamic—where U.S. imperialism and reactionary Islamic Jihadism continue to reinforce each other even while opposing each other—without a mass movement that challenges this whole dynamic. A special responsibility in all this falls to the people of the U.S.—to mobilize active, politically meaningful and truly powerful resistance to what is being done, in their name, by the government of the U.S.


In 2008, Republicans look certain to be defending more seats in Congress with less money than Democrats.

By Janet Hook and Theo Milonopoulos, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers October 16, 2007

WASHINGTON -- This is crunchtime for members of Congress who must decide whether to seek reelection next year or leave office, and so far Republicans seem to be lunging for the exits. While 16 GOP lawmakers have decided to throw in the towel on their Capitol Hill careers, only two Democrats so far have called it quits -- and they both are seeking higher office.

The disparity underscores the sharply different moods in the two parties: Democrats, still heady from winning control of Congress last year, are enjoying the fruits of power. Republicans, their party in disarray and reduced to minority status in the House and Senate, see more allure in retirement or private life.

"I don't like being in the minority," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who was first elected in the 1994 GOP landslide and will retire after this term. "It's not that much fun, and the pros- pects for the future don't look that good."

The wave of retirements compounds the challenge facing the GOP in the 2008 congressional election, because the party is significantly trailing Democrats in fundraising. That means Republicans will apparently be defending more House and Senate seats with less money, and they will be fighting battles in places that otherwise might have been secure.

What is more, many of the Republicans choosing to retire are older, more pragmatic lawmakers, such as Rep. Ralph Regula of Ohio; moderates like Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio and Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia; and mavericks like Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

These departures reflect the generational and ideological changes that have pushed the Republican contingent in Congress steadily to the right over the last decade.

Who's retiring

Verbal fisticuffs among GOP hopefuls

Iraqis Shot By Contractors Stymied In Search For Justice

As many as 19 have died in the last month. No precedent exists to hold guards responsible.

By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer October 16, 2007

BAGHDAD -- In the days after Usama Abbass was shot dead in a Baghdad traffic circle by security guards working for Blackwater USA, his brother visited the U.S.-run National Iraqi Assistance Center seeking compensation.Like other Iraqis who have done the same, he learned a harsh truth: The center in Baghdad's Green Zone handles cases of Iraqis claiming death or damages due to military action, but not due to actions of private contractors such as Blackwater, who work in Iraq for the U.S. government, private agencies and other governments.

"There will be no compensation because the American Army did not kill your brother," an apologetic U.S. soldier told Abbass' brother, who did not want his name published.There is no civilian counterpart to the assistance center in Iraq, leaving the families of as many as 19 Iraqis killed by private security contractors in the last month searching for other means to address abuses by private security contractors.There is no precedent for holding Western security contractors accountable in court, in Iraq or the U.S., for injuries or deaths suffered by Iraqi civilians.


More coverage of the Iraq war


Despite U.S. pleas for restraint, government will ask parliament to approve the operation.

By Yesim Borg, Special to The Times October 16, 2007

ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- The Turkish government Monday said it would seek parliamentary approval this week to launch a major military operation into northern Iraq to attack Kurdish separatists based there, after days of cross-border shelling of suspected rebel positions.

The threatened action comes despite pleas from Washington and Baghdad that Turkey refrain from an incursion into Iraq that could destabilize an already volatile part of the world.

Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said that although Turkey respected Iraq's sovereignty, it had to act against Kurdish separatists who have stepped up their deadly attacks on Turkish troops in recent weeks.

Several thousand rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, are believed holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq."The reality that everyone knows is that this terrorist organization, which has bases in the north of Iraq, is attacking the territorial integrity of Turkey and its citizens," Cicek told a news conference in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

He was speaking after the Cabinet approved a motion seeking yearlong permission to send troops into Iraq.

The motion is to go before parliament Wednesday, and is expected to be approved.

Analysts caution, however, that approval of the request does not mean an invasion will be launched immediately.

The motion gives Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a bargaining chip as he seeks to quell rebel attacks and placate an army chomping at the bit to attack.

Turkish governments were granted similar carte blanche twice in recent years but did not act on them.

Turkey has been shelling targets in northern Iraq in recent days, including populated villages, according to Iraqi, Kurdish and Turkish sources. Shelling continued Sunday night in the hamlet of Kani Masi in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Bush administration, fearful that Turkish military action in northern Iraq would inflame the single relatively peaceful part of that country, has dispatched a string of envoys to Ankara to urge restraint.

But Washington lost much of its power of persuasion in Turkey last week, when a U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to recognize as genocide the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago.

The resolution angered Turkish officials, who maintain that the mass slaughter of Armenians should be viewed in the context of world war and judged by historians, not politicians.Times staff writer Tracy Wilkinson in Rome contributed to this report.


October 7, 2007
By Paul Richter
Diplomats had raised concerns about guards' endangering of Iraqi civilians, but the complaints got little attention. >>

October 3, 2007
By Peter Spiegel

At a congressional hearing, the security firm and the State Department deny accusations of disciplinary problems and seek to portray highly trained contractors who shoot only when threatened. >>

October 5, 2007
By Ned Parker

Members of a U.S. Army unit in Iraq accused in murder trials say they felt pushed to notch more 'kills.' >>


From the Washington Post
October 13, 2007

WASHINGTON — Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who led U.S. forces in Iraq for a year after the March 2003 invasion, accused the Bush administration Friday of going to war with a "catastrophically flawed" plan and said the United States is "living a nightmare with no end in sight."Sanchez described the current troop increase in Iraq as "a desperate attempt by the administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war."

"The administration, Congress and the entire interagency, especially the State Department, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure, and the American people must hold them accountable," Sanchez told military reporters and editors. "There has been a glaring unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders."Sanchez lashed out specifically at the National Security Council, calling officials there negligent and incompetent, without offering details. He also blasted war policies over the last four years, which he said had stripped senior military officers of responsibility and thrust the armed services into an "intractable position" in Iraq.

"The best we can do with this flawed approach is stave off defeat," Sanchez said in a speech to the Military Reporters and Editors' annual conference in Arlington, Va. "Without bipartisan cooperation, we are destined to fail. There is nothing going on in Washington that would give us hope."

He faulted the administration for failing to "communicate effectively that reality to the American people."Sanchez offered little advice about fixing military problems in Iraq. Efforts generally need more resources and skill, he said. "From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan to the administration's latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economic and military power," Sanchez said.

Sanchez led Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq beginning on June 15, 2003. Under his command, an insurgency erupted in Iraq, and he and other top officers were slow to respond to it, in part because of the reluctance of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials to recognize its existence.

Some officials thought the anti-U.S. attacks would fade away after Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, but the insurgency intensified, with pitched battles the next spring in Najaf and Fallouja. Some analysts have argued that Sanchez had little feel for strategy and permitted commanders to use tactics that helped intensify opposition to the U.S. presence in the country.

Sanchez might be remembered most as the top general in Iraq during the period when the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses occurred and were later revealed. Photographs of Iraqi detainees being humiliated shocked many, and provoked a reevaluation of the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Some enlisted troops and Army Reserve officers were charged in the scandal, but in legal proceedings and official reviews no top commanders were deemed responsible.Sanchez retired after officials decided not to give him a fourth star; they feared a public confirmation hearing would go badly in light of Abu Ghraib. He is now a senior mentor at the military's Joint Warfighting Center.

By Robin Abcarian

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh's 'phony soldiers' comment on antiwar vets sets off another partisan feud over an ad. >>

This week, it was the Democrats' turn to wage all-out noisefare after Limbaugh made his "phony soldiers" remark during an exchange with a caller Sept. 26.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) composed a letter to Limbaugh's boss, Clear Channel Communications' Chief Executive Mark Mays, urging him to "publicly repudiate" Limbaugh's comments and to ask the talk show host to apologize.

Though Reid said he was confident that Senate Republicans would join Senate Democrats "in overwhelming numbers," none signed the letter. Of 41 signatures, all were Democrats, including four presidential contenders -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Christopher J. Dodd.

In a written response to Reid, Mays said that he would not intercede because Limbaugh was exercising his right to express an opinion. He added that "if Mr. Limbaugh's intention was to classify any soldier opposed to the war in Iraq as a 'phony soldier,' which he denies, then I, along with most Americans, would be deeply offended by such a statement."On Wednesday, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called the issue "a manufactured controversy."

The brouhaha over Limbaugh's remarks, he said, was an attempt by and others "to change the subject away from the slanderous advertisement" about Petraeus.

Some observers simply shook their heads."This is why people hate politics in America and why they are so desperate for a change," said former GOP pollster Frank Luntz, a consultant for Fox News Network. "Everyone is looking for the political advantage. Everyone is looking for a story they can use to beat the other guy over the head."


As the House passes a measure requiring more reports on Iraq, three Democrats unveil a plan to spread the 'sacrifice.'

By Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer October 3, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Unable to force President Bush to speed up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, House Democrats settled Tuesday for a less controversial measure to require more reports on plans to pull forces out.But in an indication of the debate within Democratic ranks about how to challenge Bush's wartime leadership, three senior House members also threatened to hold up funding for the war and proposed a tax to pay for it.

Democratic Reps. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts -- who have helped lead the drive to end the war this year -- accused Bush of unfairly burdening military service members and their families with all the sacrifices for the war.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) quickly announced her opposition to Obey's plan, as Democratic leaders tried to focus on the legislation approved Tuesday.

The measure requiring reports on plans to remove troops from Iraq -- sponsored by Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Phil English (R-Pa.) -- passed overwhelmingly, 377-46.

In an unusual moment of bipartisan consensus on Iraq-related legislation, 181 Republicans voted for the proposal, which House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) called "the rarest of creatures."The measure appears unlikely to win much support among Democratic leaders in the Senate, who blasted a similar proposal by GOP senators during the summer.


October 15, 2007
Does Peace Bring War?A commentary by Paul Barrow (

The most attractive thing on local television news, it goes without saying, is a four-car accident at the corner of 5th and Main with a fire hydrant spewing Old Faithful, an SUV upside down on the sidewalk and people lying in the street. We love our accidents. We prefer to see on the local evening news what the worst idiots in our community have been up to today. I’ve never understood why someone hasn’t just appointed a local police captain to a news position at the local television station, so that we not only get to see the crime scenes but we get reality crime tv.

We see the bookings, we chat with the prisoner in the morning as we give him his tray. We see children sobbing because their mother just died in an apartment fire, and we get to look at the scorched naked corpse. We get the mug shots of middle-aged men hitting the wanted list at the local precinct for raping little boys, and then we get to ask one of them after an arrest, “Why’d you do it?”

That’s the local news, right? And this is the interactive age. We know what we like because those stories invariably have the highest viewer ratings.

We like violence in many forms. In the context of the Michael Vic brouhaha, a story in the News Observer in Raleigh , NC , reports that “the Humane Society estimates there are at least 40,000 people nationally involved in dog fighting. And in a recent interview, a state representative of the group said about 1,000 people are involved with the practice in North Carolina alone.’Psychologists tell us that there is a need, a thirst for violence that can be excited through the battling of animals,’ said Bob Reder, the HSUS representative for North Carolina.”

The assertion Dennis Kucinich has about the inevitability of peace rings somehow hollow in context. If war brings a craving for peace, then perhaps peace brings a craving for war.

Peace certainly sustains, at least, a vibrant preoccupation with war toys, war video games, and a steady diet of violence on tv. That’s what appeals to us the most. We are most entertained by the very worst examples of civilized life local reporters can uncover.

Is it nothing more than a need for excitement to drive away the boredom of being middle class or do we actually have a deep-seated need to re-live something ancient and primitive in us? If we are willing to accept violence in our daily lives to satisfy a need for excitement or for any reason, it is difficult to believe that life is going to get better.

The inevitability of war or peace is also a question about the nature of man’s spirit and whether or not it is possible to grow emotionally, to grow morally and to grow spiritually. Are we as a race, as a species, growing through our attempts to be civilized?

Are we learning through the process how to do it better, how to live equitably with others, to give our fair share, and to take responsibility for what kind of mark our lives leave in this universe? At risk of sounding like Anthropology 101, do we, in the 21st century, know how to use history and its lessons to greater advantage than our ancestors?

Who is leading us toward these goals? Who is not?

To propose the inevitability of war is certainly cause to ask: What kind of war is inevitable? Can we predict that? For example, is a revolution possible in the United States today?

The answer to that is that we’ll fight tyranny as long as we can get a babysitter and don’t have to work overtime this week. To want justice so badly that you’ll drop everything you’re doing to fight for it represents a special state of mind not particularly familiar to most Americans today.

On the take-our-country back side of things, we have a country full of vegan environmentalist knock-kneed save-the-spotted owl armchair anti-war activists who like to rally just so long as we can get a crowd of, say, a hundred thou. They’re big on the internet because sitting at a computer and just sitting are really good old country kinfolk who know each other very well.

So let’s face it: War doesn’t come out of your circumstances or mine.

I know already from organizing many liberal Kucinich meetup groups, we just aren’t mad enough.

War is therefore possible right now, right this minute, through your cooperation, through your complacence, your indifference to what your government is doing.

It can also come, as it did with the Iraq war, through a great deception.

It comes out of the detachment you have from the lives and sufferings of other people, out of the detachment of government from its own people, and out of the willful ambitions of influential men of great wealth and power who have used their talent and skills to dupe you, to organize you into little automatons each doing some simple little thing, all the while ripping you off.

And you, willfully being cogs in the great wheel of someone else’s fortune, all thinking that you deserve less because you’re not as advantaged, you believe you deserve less because what you do is little compared with whom you are doing it for, who thereby, through your compliance, exercise the machinations of governmental intrigue in the desire to pilfer the coffers and resources of other nations and all who have not the power to resist. (that should be re-written, I think.)

As we all know, it’s the strong preying upon the weak.

It happens to nations like Iraq worn down from a decade of sanctions till nothing was left but mere rags of people walking about with children diseased and dieing at astronomical rates, all under the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton, a president who was every bit as anxious to go to war with Iraq as George Bush.

It’s what the sanctions were for. We wanted a weak nation so that we could go in and overthrow it with no resistance. The history of how the U.S. was using the U.N. to find targets in Iraq during the weapons inspection program is fairly well documented.

It’s war not on our own soil. It’s just on television. It’s out there somewhere.

It’s like entertainment to us. We turn it on. We turn it off.

War today. Peace tomorrow.

Want to watch CNN or America ’s Funniest Home Videos?

That’s pre-emptive war. It’s a consumer’s war, a war between competing interests for your dollar; that’s what it means to you. It’s really a question of affordability. We look at it less from an ethical sense than from an economic one. How many billions will it cost?

Want to go to war today, son? No? How about tomorrow? Saddam is an evil man.

The loss of 3500 young kids doesn’t make a huge dent in the overall sense of strength or moral duty 300 million people have as a group. We may want to get out of Iraq today, but just let some crazy Iranian fly a plane into the Sears Tower .

All hell will break loose. We’ve been primed and don't let the conspiracy theorists get a hold of that one.

Fundamentally, the questions is: How do we, as a nation, introduce into our Constitution or into some other legal framework, the kind of law that outlaws war? How do we stop ourselves from entertaining and approving of acts of war by our government? How do we stop being blindsided by the intrigues of certain administrations?

Wise men have struggled with this same question for centuries, and the most modern attempt at a solution is something we call the United Nations. What has become a prototype for unity and cooperation among nations is still the most viable answer, I believe.

What we as a nation must do is to relinquish substantial decision-making authority about war to the United Nations and to quit acting unilaterally despite the will of other nations affected.

Unilateral action should be considered criminal and a court of international law should be able to try those who commit such crimes.

People like George Bush and Dick Cheney should be locked up forever.

We must be willing to lay this authority to press the button or pull the trigger at the door of a world community.

Differences, cause for issue, should be placed in the hands of an arbitrator and ultimately in the control of the entire body of international representatives. It’s the only real path we must take if we want world peace.

I believe peace is inevitable. It’s inevitable because it is a law of physics. Entropy is a smoothing out of all differences, and social intercourse and global thinking are direct consequences of how that law works among human beings. It is inevitable also because it is necessary if we are to survive. And we will survive.


Dear ED,

Kevin Martin , the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has indicated that he wants to vote to loosen media ownership limits by early December. But he's not saying exactly what the new rules would be. He wants his agency to make this crucial decision behind closed doors, without public input.

It's eerily similar to what happened in 2003, when the FCC voted in secret to allow one company to control up to eight radio stations, three television stations, the local newspaper and the cable system in a single city. Tell Congress to rein in Kevin Martin! In 2003, the courts threw out the FCC's flawed media ownership rules, in large part because the public wasn't part of the process. But Kevin Martin hasn't learned his lesson. He wants to lock the public out. That's not acceptable.

Common Cause members and other activists across the nation have sent hundreds of thousands of comments to the FCC opposing media consolidation. Those messages ought to mean something. But if Kevin Martin gets his way, he'll disregard the public's voice and approve new rules without giving us any opportunity to weigh in on the specifics.

Contact your Representative today. Ask him or her to tell the FCC to keep the public in the loop!

If the FCC won't listen to the public, Congress can and should exercise its oversight power. The media ownership rules govern how we get news and information -- and that's especially important in an election year. Without diverse sources of information, we can't have a healthy debate about our nation's future, or a healthy democracy.

For the past three years, activists like you have held off a vote on rules that would allow Big Media to get even bigger. Let's keep the pressure on. Tell Congress to stand up for us.
Thanks for all you do for Common Cause.

Bob EdgarPresident, Common Cause


-- U.S. Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), quoted in an 11/07/01 CNSN article on the 2001 Virginia state elections

Dear Ed.,

Virginia's state elections are right around the corner and you have a chance to make a long-term impact on how well Virginians are represented in Congress. The state legislators who are elected in the "class of '07" will have a say in the state's redistricting process following the 2010 census.

Right now, Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, and if nothing changes, they'll control the next round of redistricting. Redistricting can determine how well Virginia's voters are represented for the following 10 years, and unfortunately, state Republicans have a troubling history of gerrymandering.

Do you want your vote to matter? If so, then you don't want the voting results of your congressional district being predetermined by unfairly drawn boundaries. In order to achieve some balance and protect competitiveness, it's imperative that we shift party control where we can -- in the state Senate.

You have the chance to really effect change this year by supporting the challengers in four key state Senate races. If all four of the Republican incumbents are defeated, party-control of the Senate changes!

Go to our connected 527 organization People For the American Way Action Fund's "Map Changers" ActBlue page now, and support one or more of the Democratic candidates in these crucial races with a much-needed donation in these final weeks before Election Day.

A little about the races:

· In District 6, Dr. Ralph Northam -- a candidate with strong progressive credentials -- is running against right-wing incumbent Senator Nick Rerras, who has reportedly attributed mental illness to demonic possession

· In District 34 -- a district that voted for the Democratic candidate in the last two gubernatorial elections and Jim Webb for U.S. Senate -- Democrat Chap Peterson is taking on anti-choice, Republican incumbent Jeannemarie Devolites Davis.

· In District 37, Fairfax County School Board Member -- and solid progressive -- Janet Oleszek is trying to unseat Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, a rabid right-winger.

· In District 39, progressive George Barker is working to advance his vision of political change for Virginia by unseating Republican Senator Jay O'Brien.

Opportunity is knocking -- answer the door! The election on November 6 is a great chance to undo the Republican gerrymandering from 2001 and make sure they don't get away with it again in 2011.

Gerrymandering is a term that describes the deliberate drawing of congressional districts, during redistricting, to influence the outcome of elections. Too often, it is used to dilute minority voting strength and ensure the long-term domination of one party or another in a certain district or in a state's congressional delegation.

In 2006, the GOP looked at the "good gerrymanders" in Virginia and other states as a firewall against the loss of power. The firewall was not strong enough to hold back Democratic and progressive gains that year, but now they hope to refortify that wall with state legislative wins, starting in 2007.

Control of the state Senate hinges on four races. You can make the difference by supporting one or more of the Democratic challengers in these races. Will you?

Change the Map at, and ask your friends to do the same.

-- Your Allies at People For the American Way

P.S. On the ActBlue page, you can also make a general contribution to People For the American Way Action Fund to support its important work through the 2008 elections.

Globe EditorialS
DANIEL BYMAN: Renditions and the rule of law
Legal limits for wiretaps
October 15, 2007

JUST AS CONGRESS was about to break for its August recess, President Bush pressured it into passing a bill allowing widespread wiretapping of Americans' phone calls and e-mails without judicial warrants. The only saving grace in this odious legislation is that it expires in February. Now, two committees in the House of Representatives have drawn up a new bill that establishes some degree of judicial oversight on this surveillance. If the House and Senate cannot come up with an even stronger bill, it would be better to let the current law die an unmourned death in February.

Last summer's law legalized the warrantless wiretapping that the administration began on the president's order - in secret - after Sept. 11. In fact, the bill passed by Congress in a rush that justifies its low approval ratings gave the administration even broader powers than it had taken on its own. Under the president's secret program, warrantless eavesdropping was permitted only when one of those involved in a communication was a suspected terrorist. There is no such requirement in the August legislation.

Also, under the president's order, telecommunications companies participating in the wiretapping did so at their own legal risk. The bill Congress passed granted them immunity from lawsuits by individuals who believe their privacy has been violated.

No one is proposing to block all wiretapping of terrorism-linked communications. But a 1978 law sets out a flexible process for judicial oversight of taps in which investigators can start a tap and then wait as long as 72 hours before getting a warrant if time is of the essence. By railroading Congress into approving the bill last summer without hearings, the administration has never had to explain to the American public why the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not a workable framework for electronic surveillance.

To its credit, the House drops the immunity provisions for the telecommunications companies in the new bill and carries its own expiration date, two years from passage. It also requires warrants from a special court set up under the 1978 law for surveillance of individual calls or e-mails to persons in the United States. But the bill would permit "basket" or "bundle" warrants for interceptions of communications by groups of people for a year, subject only to some scrutiny by the special court. This provision could be a loophole for overzealous eavesdroppers.

The pending expiration of the existing law in February shifts leverage to Congress. It should make sure that any surveillance legislation it approves does not detract significantly from the privacy protection afforded by the 1978 law - not to mention the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of "unreasonable searches and seizures."

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.


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