Saturday, June 21, 2008

EU Plans to Fingerprint all American Tourists

European Union (EU) leaders plan to fingerprint American and all foreign visitors. Also new steps have been proposed to keep out illegal immigrants as part of a sweeping security overhaul proposed 19 June 2008.

The measures are similar to those already in place in the United States, and have prompted concerns about privacy and the rights of those seeking refugee status in the EU. But EU leaders suggested security is paramount.

At a summit, they said crafting a common border and immigration policy for Europe by 2010 "is a key priority for citizens" and pushed efforts to reach agreement to the top of their political agenda.

In a declaration the EU leaders ordered their governments to draft legislation on tougher new border security measures to ease the way toward a more seamless immigration and asylum policy.

These would include fingerprinting and screening for all visitors who cross the bloc's borders and using a satellite system to keep out illegal immigrants.

The screening would apply to everyone: Those who need a visa to enter EU nations, such as visitors from most African nations, as well as those who do not, such as U.S. citizens.

Foreign tourists on Paris' Champs-Elysees seemed to shrug off the proposed measures as part of the new world security landscape.

"I'm all right with fingerprinting, since I suppose it will enhance safety," said Gary Gordon, an attorney from Lansing, Mich.

Florida teacher Bridget Schmidt said she had "no problem" with fingerprinting, but added, "I don't feel any safer in the United States because they fingerprint people."
If all 27 EU governments approve all the immigration and security proposals mentioned in the 19 June declaration, that would represent one of the largest security overhauls in the European Union and could cost billions of dollars.

The EU leaders brushed off heated criticism from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of a related new EU law on returning illegal immigrants. The law sets loose Europe-wide standards on how to treat illegal migrants in detention and expel them.

Chavez threatened Thursday to cut off oil and bar investment opportunities to EU nations if they applied the new rules, which were passed by the European Parliament.
He claimed the EU law would lead to mass deportations of migrants who would have to be housed in "concentration camps" until they were expelled.

The rules do not foresee that, but set out basic rights, including access to food, shelter and legal advice to illegal immigrants and bind EU nations not to detain them for more than 18 months before deportation or releasing them.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg laughed off the threat.
"As far as I know, Venezuela supplies oil mostly to the U.S. ... so it would not be that much of a deal," he said.

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who chaired the two-day summit, said Chavez' reaction was "perhaps exaggerated, perhaps they come from not understanding well enough what this means."

Jansa also insisted the broader new proposals adopted by EU leaders Friday would not curb personal freedoms.

"This directive might be a problem for some but it is a step toward a solution on this issue, so that the EU can really provide for liberties, freedoms on which it is based, without jeopardizing these freedoms," he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he would make immigration a top priority when he takes over the EU presidency from Slovenia next month.

The EU leaders said they would intensify work on approving measures that include how to attract highly skilled workers, what rights to give non-European residents and signing pacts with other countries to ensure they take back illegals caught in the EU.

"Modern technologies must be harnessed to improve the management of external borders," the leaders said. They asked their justice and interior ministers to present border proposals, including a Web-based pre-travel authorization system for foreigners by 2010.

Setting common security standards at airports, harbors and land-border checks is meant to filter out illegals and catch crime gangs and terror suspects before they enter the EU's 24-nation passport-free travel zone.
Friday's 19 June agreement is meant to revitalize efforts to draft common immigration standards, which were first launched by leaders in 1999.

Progress on crafting other common immigration rules has been bogged down by the complexity of aligning national immigration rules and strong disagreement over whether national authorities should give up control over who they let into their countries.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.

Martha Stewart has been denied an entry visa to Britain because of her 2004 U.S. conviction for lying about a stock sale.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc, the company founded by Stewart, said the 66-year-old businesswoman had been planning to travel to Britain for business meetings.

"She has engagements with English companies and business leaders and hopes this can be resolved so that she will be able to visit soon," Charles Koppelman, chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, said in a statement.

A spokesman for Britain's Home Office, which runs the UK Border Agency, said it does not comment on individual cases.

"We continue to oppose the entry to the UK of individuals where we believe their presence in the United Kingdom is not conducive to the public good or where they have been found guilty of serious criminal offenses abroad," he said.

Stewart was found guilty of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of agency proceedings -- all stemming from her sale of stock in biotech company ImClone Systems Inc. on December 27, 2001. She was sentenced to five months in prison and five months of house arrest.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Judge Says His Sex Photos Are Natural and Have Social Value.

Los Angeles obscenity trial has been suspended after a newspaper ran a story claiming the Chief Judge in the case had posted sexually explicit photographs and videos on his own web site.
Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals suspended a hearing over which he was presiding while the prosecution and defence looked into his hard disk.

Judge Alex Kozinski leads the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, one of the nation's largest and most prestigious legal assignments. For years, the judge has drawn notice for his wide-ranging, irreverent intellect and his vocal support for the First Amendment.

Born in Romania as the son of two Holocaust survivors, Kozinski emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12. His career was very successful. The Romanian immigrant was named to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, when he was 35 years old. Since then, Kozinski has made appearances on short lists of candidates for the Supreme Court, as well as a legal blog contest seeking "the #1 male super hottie" of the federal judiciary. Kozinski nominated himself for the latter post, and he won.

One picture in question was of nude women on all fours painted to look like cows. Another video on the site showed a semi-naked man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal.
To be fair to Kozinski, it is clear he didn’t think that the pictures could be seen by the public,. He also did not believe any of the images on the site qualified as obscene.
However the matter is a little important when it comes to a trial Kozinski is sitting on.
This is the case of Ira Isaacs, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker accused of selling criminally obscene sexual fetish videos depicting bestiality and defecation.
Even Isaccs admits his videos are a bit extreme, but claims he is a "shock artist" who claim the flicks would have artistic merits.

Kozinski defended himself, saying that, even though some of the material was inappropriate, he considered most of the videos funny, rather than obscene. He also declared he thought the content on his website was private and had no idea it could be seen by the public.
"Is it prurient? I don't know what to tell you," he told the Times. "I think it's odd and interesting. It's part of life."
One video on Kozinski’s website showed a half-naked man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal, while a photo was of nude women on all fours painted to look like cows. The judge characterized the latter as "degrading ... and just gross" and said he would delete some of the material from his site.

The son of Alex Kozinski, says he maintained the website with sexually explicit pictures that was shared by his father.
Among the content on the site was a photo of a naked woman on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Kozinski told the Los Angeles Times that he hadn’t realized the website could be accessed by the public. He said some material was inappropriate but some was funny, according to a summary of news reports posted yesterday on
Other images on the site reportedly included masturbation, public sex and a step-by-step pictorial of a woman shaving her pubic hair.

Kozinski’s son, Yale, said that he maintained the site, which also included family photos and some of his father’s articles. “This server is my private Web server,” Yale Kozinski said. “It’s owned by me. The domain is registered to me. The people who have access to put files up there are friends and family.”

Judge Kozinski said he had posted some of the explicit materials and he might have uploaded other items by mistake. He sent and e-mail to Above the Law that said his son apparently uploaded some of the items.
Everyone in the family stores stuff there, and I had no idea what some of the stuff is or was -- I was surprised that it was there,” Judge Kozinski told Above the Law. “I assumed I must have put it there by accident, but when the story broke, Yale called and said he's pretty sure he uploaded a bunch of it. I had no idea, but that sounds right, because I sure don't remember putting some of that stuff there. I consider the server a private storage device, not meant for public access. I'd have been more careful about its contents if I had known that others could access it.”

“I guess I should be more careful about access and all,” he said. “I didn’t put anything on there I think would be embarrassing."

Kozinski told lawyers he would be willing to stand down but noted the trial had already begun and jurors had already seen two of the graphic movies. And he had loads more they could see.

Cathy Catterson, the executive who manages the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, said the computer server at issue is private property, maintained by one of Kozinski's sons, who downloaded "some but not all" of the images in question.
"The bottom line is: The server and contents are a private matter, and it was not meant to be accessed by others," Catterson said. "Had he known, he would have been more careful of its contents."

Legal ethics experts predicted that the disclosure of Kozinski's Web site would draw formal complaints from members of the public. But the code of conduct on Internet postings by federal judges is far from clear.

Due to his lifetime tenure, Judge Kozinski could only be removed from the office for an impeachable offense.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sailor Sentenced to 4 yr 6 mo for Child Porn.

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va.(11 Jun '08) — Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremiah James was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in the brig Monday, 10 June, for possessing child pornography while at sea, and for later breaking into female berthing on base while under investigation in the child porn case.
In lieu of trial, Gas Turbine System Technician 3rd Class James, 24, pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful entry into a building with intent to rape and one specification of a charge of possessing a computer “that contained images of child pornography” during his general court-martial. As part of the plea deal, the prosecution dropped a second specification of the child porn charge that involved transporting the images across borders.
He was sentenced by Capt. David Bailey to 4½ years’ confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, reduction to E-1 and dishonorable discharge.
The pornography was found on Petty Officer James’ shipboard computer while he was deployed aboard the destroyer Winston S. Churchill.
Government lawyer Lt. Sean Thompson said that after the images were discovered, James was sent back to Norfolk in January while the ship was in Bahrain.
While that matter was being investigated, James was housed at the transient personnel unit at Naval Station Norfolk. On March 8, he climbed up a ventilation system at the TPU and through an open second-story window in female berthing, he admitted in court. When asked his intent upon entering the room at 0200, he said, using vulgar terms, that he planned to rape a woman he knew to be sleeping there, after silencing her by stuffing a sock in her mouth.
He said he was “not drinking” at the time.
Petty Officer James also admitted downloading at least 24 sexually explicit images of children from the Internet. He pleaded guilty to a specification that his possession of child pornography was “prejudicial to the good order and discipline.” When asked what he thought that meant, he said his actions could make the Navy look bad to the public and could have upset his shipmates.
“If anybody saw the pictures, they could be mentally damaged,” he said. “I think it would make the crew angry, and there’s a possibility of violence.”
Thompson said seven of the children depicted in the photos were identified in a database maintained by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Though he could not comment on the specifics of this case, John Shehan, director of exploited child services at the center said, “We do provide identification services for law enforcement.”
Shehan said a child who has been identified has met with law enforcement and is no longer experiencing “active abuse.”
In an unsworn statement read in court, Petty Officer James apologized for his behavior and said, “I hold myself accountable.”
James has been undergoing voluntary drug therapy in recent weeks, according to a Navy doctor who testified.
During the Extenuation and Mitigation phase (E&M) of the Court-martial, Petty Officer James was described as an “exceptional sailor” according to personnel evaluations entered into the court record. He was entitled to wear the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and other decorations.
James faced a maximum of 25 years’ confinement.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Impeach Bush says Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) - Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich defied his party leadership on Monday 9 June by calling for the impeachment of U.S. President George W. Bush for launching the Iraq war -- but his move was not expected to go anywhere.

The Ohio representative outlined his intention to propose more than two dozen charges against Bush on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kucinich, a former presidential candidate, accused Bush executing a "calculated and wide-ranging strategy" to deceive citizens and Congress into believing that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said she opposes trying to remove the Republican president who leaves office next January because such an attempt would be divisive and most likely unsuccessful.

Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, just finished reading on the House floor a 35-count impeachment resolution against President George W. Bush. Kucinich's lengthy and detailed indictment of this wayward president is the most thorough and powerful case made to date. He outlined a litany of high crimes and misdemeanors and showed without a shadow of a doubt that George W. Bush deserves to be impeached and removed from office. Kucinich made clear that Bush has violated his oath of office and his Constitutional duty that the laws be "faithfully executed."

Kucinich's impeachment resolution comes after the shocking revelations contained in the 107-page Senate Intelligence Committee's report that confirmed, once and for all, (and with the vote of two Republican Senators), that President Bush lied the American people into war. There can be no more dire and serious offense than a president lying to his fellow Americans on issues of war and peace. Bush should be impeached forthwith. The House Judiciary Committee should vote on the Kucinich resolution and split it up into Articles of Impeachment. All the committee needs is one Article to impeach Bush, Kucinich has provided dozens of potential Articles.

I've agreed all along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups on the need to impeach Bush. It is not a "political" issue; it is a Constitutional issue. He must be impeached and removed from office even if the proceedings don't start until January. The Democrats chickened out on impeachment when they took the Congress in January 2007. That was the most disillusioning decision of the 110th Congress -- taking impeachment "off the table." It was also giving the Congress's consent to Bush's behavior.

People will scream about how impeachment might backfire on the election of 2008. But that was never the issue. The president is guilty of grave crimes against the republic and should be held accountable. He does not have to be found guilty in a court of law; impeachment has a different standard. Bush has committed crimes against the nation. There are 4,100 dead Americans and 500,000 to 1 million dead Iraqis as a result of his lies and deceit. The Scott McClellan book just drives home everything the Intelligence Committee uncovered. It is time for the truth! If Bush can keep the prospect of attacking Iran "on the table," then the Congress should keep impeachment on the table too.

Kucinich, an outspoken Iraq war critic who has consistently voted against funding the war and led anti-war efforts in Congress, offered a resolution to impeach Vice president Dick Cheney in April 2007. That also failed to move forward.

Many Democrats and civil liberties groups have accused the Bush administration of providing misleading information before the 2003 Iraq invasion as well as violating the rights of U.S. citizens with its warrantless surveillance program. The White House denies the charges.

To impeach the President of the United States, a majority of the United States House of Representatives must agree to pass a resolution that alleges the President committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." This impeachment resolution is also commonly called an "Article of Impeachment" and spells out in detail the charges against the President. The House of Representatives then exhibits these Articles of Impeachment to the United States Senate since the latter body has the "sole Power" to "try all impeachments."

If the U.S. Senate, by two-thirds vote, finds the President "guilty" on any Article of Impeachment, then the President is removed from office and the Senate next votes on whether or not to disqualify the ex-President from holding further office under the United States. Although already tried by the Senate, the ex-President is still liable to indictment and trial under regular criminal statutes for any federal crimes he may have committed. If the U.S. Senate fails to reach a two-thirds majority for conviction, the President is acquitted and the trial is over.

In the House, the Judiciary Committee is the typical committee to where impeachment resolutions are referred. The Judiciary Committee has formally reported to the full House of Representatives impeachment resolutions against four Presidents: President John Tyler, President Andrew Johnson, President Richard Nixon, and President Bill Clinton. Of those four Presidents, only Johnson and Clinton were impeached by the House. Both were acquitted by the Senate. Nixon resigned after the Judiciary Committee recommended impeachment but before the full House considered the report. (Nixon resigned apparently after being told that his impeachment and conviction were near certainties by Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, a conservative Senator who ran for President in 1964.)

The President's pardon power does not extend to "Cases of Impeachment", as explicitly stated in Article Two of the United States Constitution. Thus a President may not intervene in either the House impeachment or the Senate trial. Dispute exists about whether the Impeachment exception to the pardon power extends to cases brought in the regular court system after Senate conviction.

Representative Kucinich,
I am sure you will find the following information inspiring:
McClellan To Testify In
Congress Under Oath

From: Congressman Robert Wexler
Date: June 9, 2008
Breaking Impeachment News: McClellan To Testify

Our campaign for accountability for the Bush administration is making legitimate progress.

I am pleased to announce to you that the House Judiciary Committee has met my public call for Scott McClellan's immediate testimony with action:

Today, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers officially invited Mr. McClellan to testify under oath on Friday, June 20th at 10AM.

After all of our hard work pushing for impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney the McClellan hearing provides our cause with a legitimate opportunity to showcase the crimes and violations of this Administration for the American people, the mainstream media, reluctant members of the Democratic party, and sensible Republicans. This hearing provides us our first genuine opportunity to enter the public consciousness and change the dynamics that have prevented true accountability for Bush and Cheney.

Mr. McClellan was a major figure in the Valerie Plame/CIA scandal, as well as a leading propagandist for the Bush White House's deliberate attempts to hide the true costs of this war from the American public. As such, Mr. McClellan will testify under oath (and be subject to perjury charges should he lie) and be asked about the following matters:

1. What role did President Bush, Vice President Cheney , and key administration officials take in the effort to reveal the identity of covert CIA agent Valeria Plame Wilson thus destroying her network and putting lives in jeopardy?
2. What role did President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and key administration officials take regarding the firing of U.S. Attorneys or political reasons?
3. What role did President Bush, Vice President Cheney, key administration officials take in conspiring to blatantly break U.S. and International laws prohibiting the use of torture?

I call on Mr. McClellen to immediately accept this invitation and testify under oath as he previously agreed to while being interviewed on national television.

During the hearing I will have roughly five short minutes to question Mr. McClellan and undercover the illegalities committed by this Administration ¬ which is why it is critically important that every representative on the Judiciary Committee hears your voice. Please let them know that you demand answers to these questions.

Nor should it stop there: Karl Rove has thumbed his nose to the Judiciary Committee's subpoena joining Harriet Miers, Joshua Bolten and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff David Addington as the only Administration officials in history to claim Congress has no power to even bring them before a committee to be questioned.

I have called for Karl Rove to be held in inherent contempt and for the other renegade officials to appear as required by their subpoenas, or be forced to do so by the House Sergeant of Arms.

What the Judiciary's request of McClellan proves is that if we stay vigilant ¬ if we call loudly and repeatedly for accountability - that we become very difficult to ignore.

Please stay tuned. I hope for more developments soon.

With great respect,

Congressman Robert Wexler


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Friday, June 6, 2008

Silencing A Lamb. Female CG Petty Officer Slain.

Corpus Christi, Texas Police say they now know who killed AMT3 Amy Ignatowski, a petty officer 3rd class assigned as an Aviation Maintanence Technitian working with Coast Guard Helicopters at Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi. Amy attended Grand Valley State University in Michigan and joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 2005 and had been stationed in southern Texas as a helicopter mechanic since the summer of 2007.

Amy Ignatowski, a 27 year old Coast Guard petty officer was found dead on Saturday, 31 May 2008 inside her apartment.

Capt. Todd Green of the Corpus Christi Police Department confirmed Micah Lee Spanutius, 21, was arrested by U.S. Marshals on a murder warrant stemming from a police investigation into the death of Amy Ignatowski

Police arrested and filed murder charges against 21 year old Micah Spanutius. He was booked into the Nueces County Jail early Wednesday morning 4 June. His bond was set at $100,000.00.

On Saturday, 31 May 2008 the body of Amy Ignatowski, was found on the floor of her apartment by a friend who takes care of Amy's dog. Police believe she was followed home from a nearby bar to her apartment where she was accosted by Spanutius. An autopsy revealed she had been strangled.

Captain Tim Wilson says they have determined that she left a nearby bar at Airline and Holly shortly after closing. She had been out with friends from the Coast Guard the night before, toasting a colleague's departure.

"Amy (the blond in picture on the left) was talking to someone in that club, We believe that person followed her home. She walked home and that person accosted her at her residence." said Captain Wilson.
He says there was no forced entry into her apartment. Investigators are still looking into whether she let her killer in to her apartment, if he forced his way in when she was opening the door, or if he took the keys away from her.

According to a police affidavit Micah Spanutius admitted to someone on Tuesday, 3 June, that he had killed a girl by putting a hand over her mouth and squeezing her tight.

Court documents say that he admitted he met Amy at a bar, that they got into an argument, and he put his hand over her mouth. He had listened to news reports concerning Amy's death.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008 he was arrested at a home on the 3600 block of Marion just off of Carroll Lane. Police report that Micah has an attorney and that he has invoked his right to remain silent. He isn't speaking to investigators.

Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) were back at Amy's apartment, the scene of her death, Wednesday night.

Authorities have been unable to determine Spanutius' motive for the murder, said Capt. Green: “He has refused to talk to investigators.”

Ignatowski, a 1998 graduate of Sault High, had clearly touched many lives. Her MySpace page has become a focal point for grieving friends to share via the Internet.

“My heart hurts in a way I never thought it could,” wrote Michelle.

“Rest in peace beautiful Amy,” added Stephanie.

“I plan to wear a little pink everyday in honor of our sunshine girl,” added Leigh, making reference to Amy's favorite color.

There were many more tributes from former college roommates, fellow members of the U.S. Coast Guard and others she had met along the way in her 27 years.

The daughter of Paul and Robin Ignatowski, Amy will be brought back to Sault Ste. Marie for burial. Visitation is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at the C.S. Mulder Funeral Home. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral.

Spanutius remained lodged in the Nueces County Jail on suspicion of murder, unable to post the $100,000 bond.

By all accounts, Amy Ignatowski, originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan was a beautiful vibrant woman. Coast Guard LT(jg) Ben Sparacin said that the Coast Guard has brought in Peer Assistance Counseling for those who worked with Amy Ignatowski and are grieving over her daeth. Amy was a petty officer 3rd class assigned as an Aviation Maintanence Technitian repairing helicopters at Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi.

Her friends, family and those who knew her described her as a ball of energy, hence the smiling.

"There wasn't a day she wasn't smiling, happy and thinking of the next adventure in her life to undertake," said Lindsay Weber, a friend and former roommate. "Even when things weren't great in her life or she was having a bad day, she didn't let on."

Her favorite color was pink, and even as an adult she loved "The Powerpuff Girls" cartoon program. Snowboarding was a passion, she loved going to the beach and her dog Subaru.

"She was a force of nature," said friend and roommate Katie Kopelman, who met Ignatowski when both attended Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. "There are just so many people whose lives will never be the same now. ... She touched everybody that she met. If she met somebody one time they instantly fell in love with her."

She was as gentle as a lamb. She is silent now. If he killed her, he silenced a lamb.

Amy left college without graduating, eventually moving to Chicago in 2004. She joined the Coast Guard a year later, perhaps in a search for direction, Kopelman said.

She was stationed in Seattle and the Outer Banks in North Carolina before being transferred to Texas about a year ago. She became an aviation mechanic technician and loved it, her friends said, gushing to them how much fun she was having in the Coast Guard.

"She was just absolutely the brightest star I could think of," said her mother, Robin Ignatowski.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

High Crimes of an Asexual Nature.

Not all crimes commited by senior military officers and Senior Executive Service members are of a sexual nature. Some are more serious. "There is nothing more important than the security of nuclear weapons" said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne were forced to resign Thursday 5 June 2008because of problems stemming from the Air Force’s mishandling nuclear weapons. A report, by Navy ADM Kirkland Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, revealed widespread problems in the mishandling of nuclear weapons and convinced Defense Secretary Robert Gates that General Moseley and Secretary Wynne must be held accountable. Both men have tendered their resignations.

Defense Secretary Gates started his career as an Air Force missile officer in the 1960s. He said that a “substantial” number of Air Force general officers and colonels more immediately responsible for recent lapses could still be reprimanded or fired in the wake of the report.

It is not clear how quickly Secretary Wynne and General Moseley will leave their positions. General Moseley has requested retirement effective August 1 and will take terminal leave before that.

“I think the honorable thing to do is to step aside,” General Moseley said in a statement released to the press. “After consulting with my family, I intend to submit my request for retirement to Secretary Gates.

These stunning developments follow a series of high-profile scandals and disagreements between Air Force leadership and Secretary Gates in the past year. Both the Pentagon and congressional leadership have increasingly expressed frustration about the Air Force’s top brass.
A senior defense official said the nuclear report was the most significant factor. “Everything that preceded that is insignificant by comparison,” the official said.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement praising Gates’ decision.
“Secretary Gates’ focus on accountability is essential and had been absent from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for too long,” the statement says. “The safety and security of America’s nuclear weapons must receive the highest priority, just as it must in other countries. The Secretary took appropriate action following the reports of the Defense Science Board, the Air Force’s own internal review, and now most recently, the report of Admiral Donald.”

Secretary Wynne became Air Force secretary in November 2005, and General Moseley took office in September 2005. General Moseley’s term was due to expire in September 2009. Secretary Wynne served at the pleasure of the president.

General Moseley, a former fighter pilot, has been in the Air Force since 1972. Before becoming chief, he served as commander of U.S. Central Command Air Forces and then as vice chief of staff from August 2003 until September 2005.

Secretary Wynne served as an Air Force officer from 1966 until 1973 and then began a nearly 30-year career in the aerospace industry. He rose to become president of General Dynamics’ space division and general manager of space launch systems at Lockheed Martin. He re-entered government service in 2001 and served four years as Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics before becoming Air Force Secretary.

While the simultaneous removal of a service’s top civilian and uniformed leaders is unprecedented, there has been speculation for months among defense insiders that General Moseley, Secretary Wynne or both could be removed.

The Air Force has been rocked by a series of missteps during the past year, and General Moseley and Secretary Wynne’s relationships with Defense Secretary Gates, and members of congressional defense committees have steadily eroded.
Both men are well-liked personally, but that apparently was not enough to make up for a perceived lack of leadership.

Loren Thompson, an analyst with the Lexington Institute in Fairfax, Va., said the handwriting has been on the wall for several months, and that General Moseley’s demeanor has changed noticeably during that time.
“It was clear the relationship between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force was deteriorating,” Thompson said. “But it wasn’t clear what that would mean for Air Force leadership. … “This [is] the final chapter in a long list of grievances between OSD and the Air Force.”

Those grievances include criticism of the Air Force’s nuclear weapons handling, two major acquisitions programs that have been stalled by protests, the service’s inability to rush more surveillance drones to the war zones, apparent conflicts of interest of current and retired senior officials related to a $50 million contract to produce a multimedia show for the Thunderbirds, and repeated clashes with Pentagon leaders over the number of F-22s the Air Force will buy and other budget issues.

The most serious blow to the credibility of the Air Force and its leadership has been a scandal spawned by the service’s accidental transfer in August of six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

A B-52 from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot was supposed to transfer unarmed air-launched cruise missiles to Barksdale to be decommissioned, but munitions loaders accidentally attached nuclear-armed missiles to the pylons. The missiles were flown to Barksdale and sat unguarded on the tarmac for several hours before anyone realized what happened, some 30 hours after the mistake was made.
The 5th Bomb Wing commander, two group commanders and the 5th Munitions Squadron commander were relieved of their commands.

General Moseley ordered a service-wide review of the nuclear enterprise two months after the incident, resulting in 36 recommendations for improvements. The review report was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee, members of which were highly critical of the Air Force’s nuclear weapons handling.

The 5th Bomb Wing in late May failed its defense nuclear surety inspection, despite having months to prepare and being under close scrutiny since the incident. Inspectors found glaring deficiencies in the wing’s ability to protect its nuclear stockpile.

Then, in March, it was discovered that the Air Force had mislabeled nuclear warhead fuses, which led to the classified components accidentally being shipped to Taiwan in 2006. Gates said the incident made him realize that problems with the Air Force’s nuclear weapons handling procedures were systemic rather than isolated.

The Taiwan incident was clearly the trigger,” he said.
In response, Secretary Gates ordered a military-wide inventory of nuclear weapons and components. That report was recently submitted to Secretary Gates.

Without naming Secretary Wynne and General Moseley, Secretary of Defense Gates said “individuals in command and leadership positions not only fell short in terms of specific actions, they failed to recognize systemic problems, to address those problems, or – where beyond their authority to act – to call the attention of superiors to those problems.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, will be nominated to become the 19th Air Force chief of staff, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Monday 9 June.

And Mike Donley, a career civil servant who is presently the Pentagon’s Director of Administration and Management, will be the next Air Force secretary, Gates announced.

The announcements come just days after Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Michael W. Wynne were forced to resign as the result of problems with the Air Force’s nuclear weapons program.

If confirmed by the Senate, Schwartz will be the first nonfighter pilot to lead the service since 1982, marking the end of an era during which the so-called fighter mafia has dominated the Air Force.

Gates also announced that Gen. Duncan McNabb, Moseley’s vice chief of staff, will be nominated to replace Schwartz at the helm of TransCom. And Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, currently serving as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be nominated to take over as vice chief of staff.

Gates recommended that Donley take over as acting secretary on June 21. No timeline has been announced for when Moseley will step aside, or when the president will formally nominate the new Air Force leaders. The Senate must then confirm the nominees before they can take office.

Schwartz was set to retire at year’s end as boss of TransCom. He came up the ranks as a conventional and special operations C-130 pilot. Previous posts include director of operations for the Joint Chiefs and deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. He will be the first special operations pilot to lead the Air Force.

Donley was acting secretary of the Air Force for seven months in 1993 and served as the service’s top financial officer from 1989 to 1993.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Retaliation for Filing a Discrimination Complaint is a No-no.

American workers who complain about race or age discrimination on the job can sue their bosses for any subsequent retaliation.

In two Supreme Court decisions on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 the Supreme Court embraced an expansive view of civil rights laws that do not explicitly outlaw acts of retaliation.

The majority justices said the overall purpose of the laws suggests an intent by Congress to prevent discrimination – including retaliation aimed at punishing those who file age- or race-discrimination complaints.

At issue in both cases was whether Congress had created a cause of action in the law to permit retaliation lawsuits.

Some laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ban retaliation in response to any discrimination complaint, other important civil rights laws make no mention of retaliation.

The majority justices ruled that employees can claim legal protections against retaliation even if the law does not specifically bar acts of retaliation.

Both decisions are important because they affirm a trend at the high court embracing an expansive reading of civil rights laws.

In both cases, employees sued their supervisors for alleged acts of retaliation in the workplace after the workers had made initial complaints about discriminatory conduct by managers. One suit was filed under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The other was filed under the public employee section of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Neither law mentions retaliation.

The Supreme Court also affirmed the Seventh Circuit decision in the Humphries case by a vote of 7 to 2. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented in the Gomez-Perez case but joined the majority in the Humphries case.

The decision in the Humphries case involves a former assistant manager at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Bradley, Ill., who was allegedly fired in retaliation for his repeated complaints about racial prejudice by his supervisor.

Hedrick Humphries, who is African-American, had worked for three years at the Cracker Barrel. In 2001, he complained to a district manager that the general manager at the Bradley restaurant made racially offensive remarks and that the general manager's termination of a Black employee had been racially motivated.

The district manager took no action against the general manager. Instead, he fired Mr. Humphries based on a report that Humphries had left the store safe open overnight. Humphries denies the allegation.

Humphries filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under both Title VII and Section 1981. The EEOC verified his complaint and issued a letter authorizing him to file suit in federal court.

By the time Humphries filed his lawsuit, the Title VII complaint was dismissed because he missed a deadline to pay his filing fee. No such deadline exists for Section 1981 suits, so that portion of the suit survived the first challenge. But the Section 1981 complaint was later thrown out because the judge found there was insufficient evidence to support a suit.

Section 1981 is one of the oldest civil rights statutes in the nation, passed after the Civil War to force southern employers to honor employment and other contracts with newly freed slaves. Humphries argued that such a broad prohibition of discrimination would surely also outlaw acts of retaliation related to discrimination.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago agreed, reversing the previous ruling and finding that Humphries was entitled to file a retaliation suit.


The second case involves a US Postal Service employee in Puerto Rico, Myrna Gomez-Perez, who says her supervisor retaliated against her after she filed an age-discrimination complaint against him.

Ms. Gomez-Perez says that after filing her complaint she was harassed and mocked and accused of sexual harassment. She claims her work hours were substantially reduced.

She filed suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), claiming her supervisors had engaged in retaliation and discrimination. Both a federal judge and the Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeals threw the suit out. The appeals court ruled that the ADEA does not cover acts of retaliation since the word "retaliation" does not appear in the statute.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision by a vote of 6 to 3.

In upholding the Seventh Circuit, the majority justices said there was no need for Congress to include explicit language about retaliation. Congress's intent to facilitate expansive civil rights enforcement was clear from subsequent congressional amendments to the laws, Justice Breyer writes.

In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the majority for retreating behind "the fig leaf of ersatz stare decisis." He accused the majority of misreading prior legal precedents.

Thomas says the high court's decision "creates an entirely new cause of action" unrelated to race discrimination.

"By crafting its own additional enforcement mechanism, the majority returns this Court to the days in which it created remedies out of whole cloth to effectuate its vision of congressional purpose," writes Thomas. "That the court does so under the guise of stare decisis does not make its decision any more justifiable."

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority in the Gomez-Perez case, presents the same core legal analysis as Justice Breyer does in the Humphries case. Both decisions cite the 1969 opinion Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park and the 2005 decision Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education.

Alito says Congress meant the ADEA to be a broad, general ban on age discrimination. "Congress was presumably familiar with Sullivan and had reason to expect that this ban would be interpreted in conformity with that precedent," Alito writes.

These decisions add momentum to an important trend at the high court toward embracing an expansive approach to the interpretation of civil rights statutes.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in the Jackson case that a girl's high school basketball coach could sue the school board for alleged retaliation against him after he complained that his female players were not receiving equal access to sports equipment and facilities.

He sued under Title IX, which bars gender discrimination in education. Like Section 1981, Title IX does not specifically mention a cause of action for retaliation. Nonetheless, the majority justices found that retaliation was a form of discrimination outlawed under the statute.

The decision was written by then Justice O'Connor. Now, with O'Connor no longer on the court, the justices affirmed the same principle, but this time instead of 5 to 4, the votes were 6 to 3 and 7 to 2

Former USCG Law Specialist Is Upset Over New Rule.

Civilian and military legal experts are alarmed over a recently approved Pentagon directive that infringes upon the right of protected communications between military defense attorneys and their clients in uniform.

“The bar is very serious about keeping peoples’ secrets, and communications to and from clients,” said Eugene Fidell, a former Coast Guard Law Specialist and a Washington attorney and president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

“And in this day and age, a lot of that is done by e-mail — particularly in the military environment. And if you don’t have the kind of assurance that nobody’s peeking, that’s very disturbing," said Fidell.

According to the May 9 directive, use of a government computer grants the government permission to “inspect and seize data,” and states that “communications using, or data stored on, this [government information system] are not private, are subject to routine monitoring, interception, and search, and may be disclosed or used for any” government-authorized purpose.

The directive goes on to say that attorney, doctor and clergy communications and work product “are private and confidential,” and that use of a government computer does not constitute consent to investigative searching or monitoring of those communications for the purpose of personnel misconduct, law enforcement or counterintelligence investigations.

But the directive does allow all communications and data to be monitored “for purposes of network administration, operation, protection, or defense, or for communications security.”

Allowing any access to such communications concerns legal experts.
A retired Marine Corps judge also complained that the directive does not specifically bar the use of such information by prosecutors.

“What this is saying is that you can search and seize data on what should be a confidential defense lawyer’s computer and then use it for strategic purposes ... maybe to help the prosecution prepare for a particular witness, or a particular legal issue,” said retired Marine Corps Reserve Col. Jack Zimmerman, who practices law in Houston.

“If you’re my co-counsel, and you’re in California and I’m in Houston, and we’re discussing what our opening statement’s going to be, and the other side gets a copy of it ahead of time, what does ‘use’ mean?” he said.

In addition, Zimmerman said, all users of government computers — including military defense lawyers — must agree to a “Notice and Consent” banner upon signing on that lays out the new policy.

“You can’t check your e-mail without checking ‘OK,’” he said.
Any state bar surely would discipline a lawyer for signing a form that waives the attorney-client privilege — something only the client can do, he said.

Military lawyers, although allowed to practice in any military courtroom, must be licensed to practice law in at least one state.
“All of these lawyers who have to sign this forced consent form are putting their licenses in jeopardy,” Zimmerman said. “If a civilian lawyer agreed to this, and the client filed a grievance, that grievance would be upheld. It’s putting military lawyers between a rock and a hard place.”

The Executive Committee of the National Association of Criminal Justice Lawyers, which represents thousands of civilian and military attorneys, called upon Defense Secretary Robert Gates on May 30 to rescind the policy.
The government has no right to intrude on confidential communications or work product without a search warrant from a neutral judicial officer, based on probable cause to believe that evidence of ongoing or future criminal conduct will be found,” said Zimmermann, one of the group’s members. “That’s the only exception to the privilege rule.”

No Need To Acquit. Her Story Did Not Fit.

Midshipman Mark Calvanico, a junior, faced charges of rape, unauthorized absence, unlawful breaking and entering into a dwelling with intent to commit rape, and conduct unbecoming an officer. The alleged incidents happened Oct. 14, 2007 according to an Annapolis Academy statement.

He will not face court-martial, the Naval Academy has announced.

Now a Midshipman 1st Class, Cadet Mark Calvanico, had been charged with rape, indecent assault, indecent acts and conduct unbecoming an officer for alleged actions in the early hours of October 14.

Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler decided not to send Calvanico to trial after reviewing the report of the Article 32’s investigating officer, the Naval Academy announced Tuesday June 3rd.

LT John Clady wrote in his recommendation that there was “almost complete lack of physical evidence” for the most serious charges.

“Despite there being sufficient evidence to go forward with a court-martial for the less-serious offenses, in my opinion the seriousness of the offenses does not rise to the level for adjudication at that forum,” Clady wrote.

Calvanico, 21, had been accused by a female midshipman of rape in Bancroft Hall after he had been out drinking in Annapolis. The woman testified at Calvanico’s April 22 Article 32 hearing that he pinned her down and raped her in her bed during a visit to her dorm room after 3 a.m., while a roommate slept about 12 feet away.

The woman said Calvanico, whom she described as an acquaintance, forced himself on her in October 2007 after making a third visit to her dorm room after midnight. She testified that she told Calvanico to leave her alone, but he wouldn’t listen.

“He was drunk, and he was very forceful,” she said.

The woman testified that Calvanico pinned down her arms during the assault. She paused and wept several times during her testimony and struggled to describe details of the incident.

He raped me,” she said under questioning. “I mean, what do you want me to say?”

Calvanico’s lawyer, Michael Waddington, argued there was no evidence of “forcible rape” and that his client simply wanted to “schmooze his way into a make-out session” with someone who had expressed romantic interest in him.

“It’s our position there was no intercourse — no intercourse, no rape,” Waddington told Lt. John Clady, the investigating officer in the case who is assigned to issue an opinion on whether the case should proceed to a court-martial.

The accuser’s roommate testified that Calvanico visited their room five times that night, but that her roommate had left the room after his third visit, when the attack is alleged to have occurred.

She said Calvanico and her roommate had a burgeoning romance that they were concerned violated the school’s fraternization policy.

The roommate said she was half asleep with her back to Calvanico and her roommate at the time the attack is alleged to have happened. She said she didn’t hear yelling, but that she heard her roommate tell Calvanico to “get out of my room.”

She said she didn’t hear signs of a struggle but that she did hear a rustling coming from her roommate’s bed.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service Agent Michelle Robinson testified that DNA from both midshipmen was found on the inside and outside of a pair of boxer shorts Calvanico had been wearing that night.

Under questioning by the defense, Robinson said Calvanico’s DNA was not found on a vaginal swab of the accuser or on any of the blankets, sheets or clothes. Robinson also said no bruises or cuts were found on the accuser’s genitals.

Calvanico, who is in his last year at the academy, could still face administrative proceedings for “collateral offenses,” such as violating the regulations governing midshipmen, academy spokeswoman Jenny Erickson said. Results of an administrative proceeding can include no punishment; restriction, loss of privileges or demerits; or forwarding the case to the superintendent for possible administrative separation.