Thursday, September 22, 2005
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.
Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Mischievous commentary began propagating around the water coolers at 601 Fourth St. NW and its satellites, where the FBI's second-largest field office concentrates on national security, high-technology crimes and public corruption.
The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."
A few of the printable samples:
"Things I Don't Want On My Resume, Volume Four."
"I already gave at home."
"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."
Federal obscenity prosecutions, which have been out of style since Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration made pornography a signature issue in the 1980s, do "encounter many legal issues, including First Amendment claims," the FBI headquarters memo noted.
Applicants for the porn squad should therefore have a stomach for the kind of material that tends to be most offensive to local juries. Community standards -- along with a prurient purpose and absence of artistic merit -- define criminal obscenity under current Supreme Court doctrine.
"Based on a review of past successful cases in a variety of jurisdictions," the memo said, the best odds of conviction come with pornography that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." No word on the universe of other kinks that helps make porn a multibillion-dollar industry.
Popular acceptance of hard-core pornography has come a long way, with some of its stars becoming mainstream celebrities and their products -- once confined to seedy shops and theaters -- being "purveyed" by upscale hotels and most home cable and satellite television systems. Explicit sexual entertainment is a profit center for companies including General Motors Corp. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the two major owners of DirecTV), Time Warner Inc. and the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains.
But Gonzales endorses the rationale of predecessor Meese: that adult pornography is a threat to families and children. Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."
Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography. The bureau decided to create a dedicated squad only in the Washington Field Office. "All other field offices may investigate obscenity cases pursuant to this initiative if resources are available," the directive from headquarters said. "Field offices should not, however, divert resources from higher priority matters, such as public corruption."
Public corruption, officially, is fourth on the FBI's priority list, after protecting the United States from terrorist attack, foreign espionage and cyber-based attacks. Just below those priorities are civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime and "significant violent crime." The guidance from headquarters does not mention where pornography fits in.
"The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's top priority remains fighting the war on terrorism," said Justice Department press secretary Brian Roehrkasse. "However, it is not our sole priority. In fact, Congress has directed the department to focus on other priorities, such as obscenity."
At the FBI's field office, spokeswoman Debra Weierman expressed disappointment that some of her colleagues find grist for humor in the new campaign. "The adult obscenity squad . . . stems from an attorney general mandate, funded by Congress," she said. "The personnel assigned to this initiative take the responsibility of this assignment very seriously and are dedicated to the success of this program."
Awww, "Give the woman a chance"
"Oh, give me a ^*&%$# break and a half! This nomination is a monumental political and policy blunder in the wake of the Michael Brown/FEMA fiasco. And I can tell you that contrary to the Miss Mary Sunshine White House spokeswoman's comments, rank-and-file DHS employees and immigration enforcement officials are absolutely livid about Myers' nomination."-Michelle Malkin
The Roanoke Times:
The Bush administration's infatuation with nepotism and political payback has led to several unqualified agency heads, most notably the disastrous Michael Brown of FEMA.
Now comes Julie Myers, nominated to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the Department of Homeland Security without significant experience in the field. She is, however, the niece of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and bride of Michael Chertoff's chief of staff.
That might be qualification enough for the president, but the Senate shouldn't give nominees with weak resumes the benefit of the doubt.
Desperate ICE-Wives: Who is Julie Myers?
By Debbie Schlussel
Julie Myers: Not Qualified
By: streiff · Section: Other Politics
This is difficult story for me to write because I emphatically support the right of the president, any president, to appoint just about anyone he wants to any appointive office. It is his administration. He deserves to have his team. Equally, I am an implacable opponent of the idea that direct experience in a field is a prerequisite for most jobs, political or otherwise. While I might have reason to prefer that a doctor perform my heart surgery or an engineer design the aircraft I’m flying in, I see no good reason to require either the head of the hospital to be a doctor or the head of the Boeing to be an engineer.
There comes a time, however, when the ability and the right to appoint persons to an office trends perilously close to abuse of that ability and right.
Julie Myers is a case in point.
Read on. http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/9/21/13359/4429
"I realize that I'm not 80 years old," Myers testified. "I have a few gray hairs, more coming, but I will seek to work with those who are knowledgeable in this area, who know more than I do."
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Sad, But True -- Still Some Resort to Repulsive Tactics
A Note Of Thanks
In a Wall Street Journal editorial today,
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani writes “There is no more important international issue today than the need to defeat the curse of terrorism…A transformation of the Iraqi state and Iraqi society is impossible without a sustained commitment of soldiers from the U.S. and other democracies.”
Iraq’s democratically elected head of state, government and Parliament and the fact that members of the most repressed ethnic groups now hold the highest offices of state are a result of the courage and vision of President Bush and his allies.
Talabani continues, “Without foreign intervention, the transition in Iraq would have been from Saddam's bloodstained hands to his psychopathic offspring. Instead, thanks to American leadership, Iraqis have been given an opportunity of peaceful, participatory politics…The rapidity of the democratization and reform of Iraq is staggering. There was no German state for four years after the Second World War. By contrast, Iraq has moved from a…dictatorship to a decentralized, federal republic in half that time…For all the short-term problems, the soundness of the long-term strategy of building up Iraqi forces was demonstrated in recent days when Iraqis took over sole control of security in the holy city of Najaf… Without American forces, the vision of American leadership and the quiet fortitude of the American people, Iraqis would be almost alone in the world. With its allies, the United States has provided Iraqis with an unprecedented opportunity. Iraqis have responded by enthusiastically embracing democracy and volunteering to fight for their country. By giving us the tools, your troops help us to defend Iraqi democracy and to finish the job of uprooting Baathist fascism.”
Remarks By The President In Orleans Parish, Louisiana
Tuesday, September 20, 2005Remarks By The President In Orleans Parish, Louisiana
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank the folks here at the Folgers plant for inviting us to come to say hello. The reason I've come with the Mayor and Admiral Allen is because I want the people to know that there's progress being made in this part of the world. We've got some people working here because of the ingenuity of the plant managers. Behind me you see temporary housing -- this company has provided housing for the folks who work here.
MAYOR NAGIN: FEMA helped.
THE PRESIDENT: And FEMA helped with that. And what you're beginning to see is a revitalized economy. Progress is being made toward meeting the Mayor's vision of a -- and my vision, and everybody's vision involved with this -- of a vibrant New Orleans and surrounding parishes.
The other thing, I've just come from a briefing about Hurricane Rita -- or Storm Rita, now a category two hurricane -- and we were watching very closely, of course, its track. All up and down this coastline people are now preparing for what is anticipated to be yet another significant storm. Admiral Allen is going to stay in charge of the Louisiana/Mississippi area. We've got another admiral who is now being stationed in Texas, to coordinate the relief -- the relief -- response. We've got military assets that are being taken out of the New Orleans area, out of harm's way, and will come back in behind the storm, to follow up where it's needed.
I've been in touch with the Governor of Texas. I've been briefed on the planning for what we pray is not a devastating storm -- but there's one coming. And I appreciate the Mayor recognizing that, and he made a wise decision to say to people, be cautious about returning here, because a rain of any amount could cause these levees to break again.
But progress is being made. As I said in Mississippi, I was pleased to see the progress being made on the ground. There's still a lot of work, but they're making progress. And they're making progress here in New Orleans, too. Again, we've got a lot of work to do, but people are determined to get the job done.
Anyway, I want to thank you for having me. Thanks for having me back. Thank you all.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I Love Cronyism, Love it.
This is Julie Myers, President Bush's nominee to head the the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security.
Her nomination is a joke, a bad joke .
The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts.
The push to appoint Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, comes in the midst of intense debate over the qualifications of department political appointees involved in the sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina...
...After working as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y., for two years, Myers held a variety of jobs over the past four years at the White House and at the departments of Commerce, Justice and Treasury, though none involved managing a large bureaucracy. Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary.
Myers also was an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues.
Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday.
In written answers to questions from Congress, Myers highlighted her year-long job as assistant secretary for export enforcement at Commerce, where she said she supervised 170 employees and a $25 million budget. ICE has more than 20,000 employees and a budget of approximately $4 billion. Its personnel investigate immigrant, drug and weapon smuggling, and illegal exports, among other responsibilities.
Myers was on her honeymoon and was not available to comment yesterday. Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman, cited Myers's work with customs agents on money-laundering and drug-smuggling cases. "She's well-known and respected throughout the law enforcement community," Healy said. "She has a proven track record as an effective manager."
Nice, just what we need, inept leadership for the borders. Why can't MY uncle be a general?
Monday, September 19, 2005
Bush administration is spending far more on the poor than any other administration in history
The Comeback of President Bush
Monday, September 19, 2005
By Bill O'Reilly
The comeback of President Bush: that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo".
Mostly positive reviews for the president's speech last night, even from unfriendly sources. Mr. Bush delivered big money promises, hope, and some contrition. I thought the speech was well written.
About the only dissenting voice right after the speech was the always reliable Jesse Jackson.
JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH: We've simply put the focus on taxes for the wealthy and prosperity gospel in our churches, and the war in Iraq. And we've left the poor behind. And it took this disaster to make the president see to begin, to back into a war on poverty.
Well, Jackson's statement is flat out untrue. It's just false. It's like saying the St. Louis Cardinals are not in first place. Look at the standings, Reverend. It's right there in black and white.
As we demonstrated a few days ago, the Bush administration is spending far more on the poor than any other administration in history, much more than Bill Clinton did. If you want the stats, please read my column on billoreilly.com.
Jackson's propaganda, of course, rarely challenged by the press, generally let him say anything he wants to say. And he'll do anything to denigrate Mr. Bush.
For example, in a wider concern, the press, which is in it with Jackson, this is a note that a Reuters photographer shot a private note, written by President Bush to Condoleezza Rice at the U.N., the middle of the session earlier this week. The president needed a bathroom break and alerted the secretary to the situation.
Now Reuters, which leans left, released this picture, knowing full well it would be used to mock the president. And it was all over the world.
Now this is a small thing, but a big issue. It's the same thing with Jackson. They're going to bash Bush no matter what. He's never going to get a fair shake, ever.
Now the danger is that 300 million Americans are living in a country where objectivity and fair play have pretty much disappeared in the media. So how are we supposed to know the truth about events and people? The press is supposed to be our eyes and ears.
But increasingly, the media has turned into a nasty partisan group of ideologues. And if you disagree with them, you're going to get personally attacked. Reuters should be ashamed of itself.
Jackson, he's just going to say whatever he wants to say. But Reuters isn't ashamed of itself because along with fairness, shame has disappeared from the American newsroom. The breakdown of standards has arrived quickly, and I'm afraid, hate to say it, it's here to stay.
And that's “The Memo.”
Vang found guilty
Lauren Hesebeck hugged his wife, Theresa, Friday after the verdict was read in the Chai Soua Vang murder trial in Hayward, WI. A jury found the Hmong immigrant guilty Friday of murdering six deer hunters and wounding two others during a confrontation over trespassing.
Vang was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of Al Laski, Jessica Willers, Robert Crotteau, Joey Crotteau, Mark Roidt and Dennis Drew. He also was found guilty of the attempted murder of Terry Willers and Lauren Hesebeck, with two attempts on Willers. All were from the Rice Lake area
Foreman didn’t believe Vang
The Associated Press
MADISON — The foreman of a jury that found a Hmong immigrant guilty of killing six white deer hunters said Saturday the man’s testimony that he acted in self-defense was not credible.Chai Soua Vang testified last week that he feared for his life after being threatened and called racial slurs and fired only after someone else shot at him first.Jury foreman William Bremer said in a telephone interview that Vang could have walked away after the hunters angrily confronted him for trespassing on their land in some isolated northwestern Wisconsin woods.After about 32 hours of deliberations and six days of testimony, the jurors found Vang guilty Friday of six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of attempted homicide in a verdict that will send him to prison for the rest of his life.Bremer said he believed that the 36-year-old truck driver from St. Paul had changed his story in court and said there were other inconsistencies. Bremer said testimony showed Vang initially had told sheriff’s investigator Garry Gillis that one of the hunters he confronted had shot all the people.“The story he had told in court was not the first story he had told,” Bremer said. “I certainly kept in mind that he had opportunity to review other statements and other documents.”Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who prosecuted the case, argued Vang gunned down the hunters in a rampage as they either watched in disbelief, were ambushed or were trying to flee. At the end of it, six were dead and two were injured. The victims included a father and son and a daughter of one of the survivors.Jurors did not address the media after handing down the verdict Friday evening in Hayward in Sawyer County.On Saturday, they returned home 280 miles south to Dane County, where they were picked because of publicity about the case and concern of anti-Hmong sentiment.Bremer, a 58-year-old highway engineer who does not hunt, said he was ultimately unsure of the role race played in the Nov. 21 confrontation.“Whether it would have happened if that was a white hunter or some other hunter, I have no idea,” Bremer said. “There was a lot of anger in the woods that day on both sides. But what caused that anger — the issue of trespassing was certainly very important. I don’t know.”