Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Near-Abyss

If it were not for our court system of checks and balances, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans would have trampled over our legal rights as guaranteed by principles and standards of law over and over again.

Today, one brave federal judge has ruled against spurious White House claims that to release photos of prison abuse at Abu Ghraib “would aid al-Qaida recruitment, weaken the Afghan and Iraqi governments and incite riots against U.S. troops.”

Back in October 2003, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit demanding release of pictures they said proved “systematic” abuse by U.S. soldiers. The military cried national security and hummed and hawed, and defied existing law.

In his ruling against the military, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said, “[T]errorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they ‘do not need pretexts for their barbarism’" and their request ran afoul of the Freedoms of Information Act, “which advances values important to our society, transparency and accountability in government."

In yet another administration court setback, a New York district judge held “former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other top government officials” must answer a lawsuit brought by Muslim immigrants in the wake of 9/11.

Bush officials were seeking “special have the lawsuit dismissed without testimony.”

The New York Times reports the judge's ruling and initial allegations.

The lawsuit charges that, solely because of their race, religion or national origin, the two men were physically abused and deprived of due process while being detained for more than eight months in the harsh maximum-security unit of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

[T]he judge, John Gleeson, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, rejected those arguments, allowing the case to proceed - and opening the door to depositions of Mr. Ashcroft and the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, by lawyers for the two plaintiffs: Ehab Elmaghraby, an Egyptian immigrant who ran a restaurant in Times Square, and Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani immigrant whose Long Island customers knew him as "the cable guy."

Ay, gracias DIOS mio - thank you LORD - for the ACLU and our third branch of government.

This is sort of related and you may not have heard yet:
From the Philly Inquirer:
WASHINGTON - Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter jailed since July 6 for refusing to identify a source, was released this afternoon following a telephone conversation with the alleged source - the vice president's chief of staff.
She is expected to testify before a grand jury in Washington, a source said, possibly as early as Friday.
Scum bags.

Fire them all.
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