WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced Friday that it would pay $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Steven J. Hatfill, a former Army biodefense researcher intensively investigated as a “person of interest” in the deadly anthrax letters of 2001.
The settlement, consisting of $2.825 million in cash and an annuity paying Dr. Hatfill $150,000 a year for 20 years, brings to an end a five-year legal battle that had recently threatened a reporter with large fines for declining to name sources she said she did not recall.
Dr. Hatfill, who worked at the Army’s laboratory at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., in the late 1990s, was the subject of a flood of news media coverage beginning in mid-2002, after television cameras showed Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in biohazard suits searching his apartment near the Army base. He was later named a “person of interest” in the case by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, speaking on national television.
In a news conference in August 2002, Dr. Hatfill tearfully denied that he had anything to do with the anthrax letters and said irresponsible news media coverage based on government leaks had destroyed his reputation.
Dr. Hatfill’s lawsuit, filed in 2003, accused F.B.I. agents and Justice Department officials involved in the criminal investigation of the anthrax mailings of leaking information about him to the news media in violation of the Privacy Act. In order to prove their case, his lawyers took depositions from key F.B.I. investigators, senior officials and a number of reporters who had covered the investigation.
Mark Grannis, a lawyer for Dr. Hatfill, said his client was pleased with the settlement.
“The good news is that we still live in a country where a guy who’s been horribly abused can go to a judge and say ‘I need your help,’ and maybe it takes a while, but he gets justice,” Mr. Grannis said.
The settlement, Mr. Grannis said, “means that Steven Hatfill is finally an ex-person of interest.”
In a written statement, Mr. Grannis and Dr. Hatfill’s other lawyers said, “We can only hope that the individuals and institutions involved are sufficiently chastened by this episode to deter similar destruction of private citizens in the future — and that we will all read anonymously sourced news reports with a great deal more skepticism.”
The settlement called new attention to the fact that nearly seven years after the toxic letters were mailed, killing five people and sickening at least 17 others, the case has not been solved.
A Justice Department spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, said in a statement that the government admitted no liability but decided settlement was “in the best interest of the United States.”
“The government remains resolute in its investigation into the anthrax attacks, which killed five individuals and sickened others after lethal anthrax powder was sent through the United States mail,” Mr. Roehrkasse said.
An F.B.I. spokesman, Jason Pack, said the anthrax investigation “is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever conducted by law enforcement” and is currently being pursued by a squad of more than 20 agents of the F.B.I. and the Postal Inspection Service.
“Solving this case is a top priority for the F.B.I. and for the family members of the victims who were killed,” Mr. Pack said. “Our commitment is undiminished.”
But Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat whose district was the site of a postal box believed to have been used in the attacks, said he would press Robert S. Mueller III, director of the F.B.I., for more answers about the status of the long-stalled case.
“As today’s settlement announcement confirms, this case was botched from the very beginning,” Mr. Holt said. “The F.B.I. did a poor job of collecting evidence, and then inappropriately focused on one individual as a suspect for too long, developing an erroneous theory of the case that has led to this very expensive dead end.”
Dr. Hatfill subpoenaed a number of Washington journalists to try to determine which federal officials had spoken to the news media about the case against him in possible violation of federal privacy laws.
Toni Locy, a former legal affairs reporter for USA Today who wrote several articles about the case, was held in contempt of court, facing fines of up to $5,000 a day from Judge Reggie Walton over her refusal to name her sources, and her case is pending before an appeals court. Ms. Locy said Friday that she was relieved by the developments but that it was too soon to celebrate.
“I hope this means that this ordeal is over and that I can get on with my life,” said Ms. Locy, who will begin teaching legal reporting at Washington and Lee University in the fall.
She said Dr. Hatfill’s lawyers said they no longer needed her testimony, though she had not been told whether the contempt order against her had been lifted.
The outcome differed significantly from the settlement of a similar case involving Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist once suspected of espionage. In that case, five news organizations joined the government’s settlement, agreeing to pay a total of $750,000 to prevent their reporters from having to testify about their sources.
Ms. Locy said that a federal mediator had tried to get Gannett, which owns USA Today, to negotiate some type of settlement with Dr. Hatfill’s lawyers, but that it had refused
She called the result an important affirmation of journalists’ ability to use confidential sources in gathering material on important news stories. “I protected my sources, and that’s important,” she said.
Dr. Hatfill also sued The New York Times and the columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, saying that columns Mr. Kristof wrote about the case had libeled him by suggesting that he might be the anthrax mailer. That lawsuit was dismissed last year, but Dr. Hatfill has appealed the dismissal.
The former Army scientist also sued Vanity Fair and the author of an article about the case in the magazine, Donald Foster, as well as Reader’s Digest, which published a condensed version. That case was settled last year on confidential terms.
Dr. Hatfill, 54, grew up in Illinois but studied medicine in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. After returning to the United States in the early 1990s, he worked at the National Institutes of Health and the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. In applying for those jobs, he claimed to have had a Ph.D. from a South African university that his lawyers later admitted he had not earned. .
After Dr. Hatfill came under suspicion in the anthrax case in 2002, an F.B.I. surveillance team began following him everywhere, and a small motorcade sometimes trailed his car around Washington.
In May 2003, an F.B.I. surveillance car ran over Dr. Hatfill’s foot in Georgetown as he approached the car to take the driver’s picture. He was given a ticket for “walking to create a hazard” and was fined $5.
David Stout contributed reporting from Washington.
Look into the sewers - "Wow, I never knew so much about my community" Mood:
not sure Now Playing: Does Your City Toke or Do Blow well your sewer pipes no the answer Topic: ENVIRONMENTAL Z3 Readers here is a Mother Jones article that is interesting if not a (pun) "shitty report" on drugs and poisons that are filling up our sewer systems. The link to the MJ article is here:
In the quest to discover your neighbors' vices, the only data more valuable than Google search records might be the records you leave in your toilet. In cities around the world, scientists have begun to measure concentrations of illegal drugs at sewage treatment plants, hoping to get a sense of what people are sending down the pipes. Results so far indicate that Vegas-goers do more meth than some of their midwestern counterparts, Angelenos outdo the Old World in cocaine use, Londoners fancy heroin more than Italians, and everybody smokes a whole lotta pot.
Clearly, the most obvious place for this information is an online quiz site: "If your city were an illegal drug, which one would it be?" Beyond that, the real-life applications aren't yet clear. Environmentalists are interested in the potential consequences of so many chemicals in the pipes—who wants to find out that, in addition to being filled with prescription drugs, their drinking water is also laced with coke? And no city wants to broadcast that its citizenry is, uh, high (San Diego has already refused researchers access to its sewage). The scientists who conducted the European study (.pdf) think it will be most useful as a real-time data collection tool, not to mention a vast improvement over just asking people how many drugs they do—the study notes that the concentration of cocaine in Milan's sewage suggests that actual use is more than double the reported rate.
Such information could certainly help law enforcement and public health officials improve their approach to combating drug use, but it's easy to see how things could get out of hand. What happens when the DEA shows up at your door with a warrant and a urine sample you didn't know you were giving? You laugh, but the scientist who pioneered this idea believes it would be possible to analyze sewge at the level of "a community, a street, even a house." In that way, studying poop is like studying Google searches— you'll probably find out more about your neighbors than you wanted, or needed, to know.
The US military was rocked today by the "suspicious" death of a 23-year-old pregnant US soldier, the second female service member this year to die before carrying her child to term.
Megan Lynn Touma, a US army dental specialist, was found dead in a hotel room in North Carolina, not far from where the body of 20-year-old US marine corporal Maria Lauterbach was discovered in January.
Authorities released a statement calling Touma's death "suspicious" and told local media they are opening an investigation. Seven months pregnant and a five-time medal winner, Touma was found when hotel guests reported a strange odour coming from her room.
"The loss of Specialist Touma is very tragic and our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to the loved ones she leaves behind," the 18th Airbourne Corps at Fort Bragg, where Touma arrived for duty earlier this month, said in a statement.
Lauterbach disappeared while eight months pregnant and planning to testify to her alleged rape by a fellow soldier, US marine corporal Cesar Armando Lauren. Lauterbach's body was later found on Lauren's property, and he is facing charges in her murder.
The US military has struggled for years with a growing epidemic of sexual assaults on female soldiers. Sex crime reports by service members increased by 40% in 2005 and again by 24% in 2006 before declining slightly in 2007, according to the Pentagon.
Of the 2,688
sex crimes reported
last year, 60% were rapes and
72% involved military victims.
An accompanying survey found that 34% of female soldiers and 6% of male soldiers had experienced unwanted sexual harassment while on active duty.
I found this article at this link here on Wednesday morning
Gag Order Lifted on Internet Archive, Allowing Founder to Speak Out for First Time
San Francisco - The FBI has withdrawn an unconstitutional national security letter (NSL) issued to the Internet Archive after a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). As the result of a settlement agreement, the FBI withdrew the NSL and agreed to the unsealing of the case, finally allowing the Archive's founder to speak out for the first time about his battle against the record demand.
"The free flow of information is at the heart of every library's work. That's why Congress passed a law limiting the FBI's power to issue NSLs to America's libraries," said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. "While it's never easy standing up to the government -- particularly when I was barred from discussing it with anyone -- I knew I had to challenge something that was clearly wrong. I'm grateful that I am able now to talk about what happened to me, so that other libraries can learn how they can fight back from these overreaching demands."
The NSL was served on the Archive -- a digital library recognized by the state of California -- and its attorneys in November of 2007. The letter asked for personal information about one of the Archive's users, including the individual's name, address, and any electronic communication transactional records pertaining to the user. Kahle, who is also a member of EFF's Board of Directors, decided to fight the NSL because it exceeded the FBI's limited authority to issue such demands to libraries.
The Archive responded to the letter by handing over only publicly available documents and simultaneously filing a lawsuit challenging the letter. This lawsuit is the first known challenge to an NSL served on a library since Congress amended the national security letter provision in 2006 to limit the FBI's power to demand records from libraries.
The NSL included a gag order, prohibiting Kahle from discussing the letter and the legal issues it presented with the rest of the Archive's Board of Directors or anyone else except his attorneys, who were also gagged. The gag also prevented the ACLU and EFF from discussing the NSL with members of Congress, even though an ACLU lawyer who represents the Archive recently testified at a congressional hearing about the FBI's misuse of NSLs.
"This is a great victory for the Archive and also the Constitution," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU. "It appears that every time a national security letter recipient has challenged an NSL in court and forced the government to justify it, the government has ultimately withdrawn its demand for records. In the absence of much needed judicial oversight – and with recipients silenced and the public in the dark – there is nothing to stop the FBI from abusing its NSL power."
"A miscarriage of justice was prevented here because the Archive decided to fight the unlawful demand for information and unconstitutional gag," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The big question is, how many other improper NSLs have been issued by the FBI and never challenged?"
NSLs are secretly issued by the government to obtain access to personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions, and credit reporting agencies. In almost all cases, recipients of the NSLs are forbidden, or "gagged," from disclosing that they have received the letters. The ACLU has challenged this Patriot Act statute in federal court in two other cases where the judges found the gags unconstitutional: one involving an Internet Service Provider (ISP); the second a group of librarians. In the ISP case, the district court invalidated the entire NSL statute. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is expected to hear oral arguments in the government's appeal of that case next month.
Since the Patriot Act was passed in 2001, relaxing restrictions on the FBI's use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase, to nearly 200,000 between 2003 and 2006. EFF's investigations have uncovered multiple NSL misuses, including an improper NSL issued to North Carolina State University.
Last year Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3189, the "National Security Letters Reform Act of 2007." Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) introduced a Senate bill of the same name (S. 2088). Both bills are aimed at narrowing the statute by enacting limits on when and how NSLs can be used and bringing the gag order provision in line with the Constitution.
In addition to Goodman and Hofmann, attorneys on the case are Jameel Jaffer and Danielle Tully of the ACLU National Security Project, Ann Brick of the ACLU of Northern California, and Kurt Opsahl of EFF.
It was about the the recent ballot measures #19 & #112 …its not good!
That said, I was reflecting on this video from the event they organized at PCC campus in Nov 2007 here in Portland Oregon and it was at this forum where we were listening to these very issue of these bad laws being discussed …. Here is my video from that event
#19: Prohibits Teaching Public School Student In Language Other Than English For More Than Two Years
Filed By: Alan Grosso, Bill Sizemore, and Russell Walker
Summary of Initiative
Non-English speaking students who enter the public school system will be limited to not more than two years of English Immersion classes.
The amount of time for ESL classes depends on the grade of non-English speaking student enter the public school system.
“Yes” statement: “Yes” vote prohibits teaching public school student in language other than English for more than two years (exception for teaching foreign language to English speakers).
“No” statement: “No” vote retains requiring English courses for students unable to profit from classes taught in English, permitting Multilanguage instruction to assist transition to English.
This initiative does not consider individual learning levels or students with special needs.
What are the consequences for non-English speaking students who are prematurely forced into English only classes?
How will this affect refugee children who have come directly from refugee camps with little formal education?
How will this affect ESL funding, school funding, and curriculum?
#112: Allows state cooperation with Immigration Enforcement; Requires “Legal Presence”/Citizenship for Specified States Rights/Privileges
Filed By: Mehran Smith and Shahriyar Smith
Summary of Initiative
No Statute, regulation, or agency/instrumentality of the state can prohibit public employees from cooperating with federal agencies in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
First time Oregon voters must provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
Proof of legal residence is required for driver license applicants.
“Yes” Statement: “Yes” vote allow state/local cooperation and resources for immigration enforcement; requires certain documentation of citizenship for voter registration, “legal presence” for driver/identification documents.
“No” Statement: “No” vote retains current state/local limits on cooperation and resources to enforce immigration laws, current requirements for voter registration, and grant of driver/identification documents.
Would state and local police have the ability to arrest undocumented immigrants on a regular basis? Would state and local police receive proper training, funding and support to carry out federal immigration enforcement?
Would this initiative require all government workers (hospitals, schools, etc.) to report undocumented immigrants? Would this initiative promote racial profiling?
Would this eliminate the ability to hold street-side voter registration drives?
How long will it take to verify a voter’s status under the new system?
Why are taser being used on civilians that need assistance?
Good question because its happening "way too much" especially in the Portland Oregon area
As I interviewed Clifton Brooks on 6-14 on week after he was shocked with a taser (in his back) when he called 911 for HELP...I wondered how much longer will this kind of "torture for attention" be used on innocent people and then dropped on the trial day and the courts never see the abuse the police are using? In this case volts of electricity when the man was a victim.
Come on! This is out of hand!
Folks this is Portland Oregon ...and people are dying from this "kind of help" from the police
And in the last week in this neighborhood .... It looks like 2 tasers in a 10 block radius all for .... "NO REASON"
Well it is all too plain and simple ... Police using pain and force to do the same work that brains and common sense use to be used for. That was before they started using their new cattle shocking style toys
“It is now imperative that the Judiciary Committee begin a review of the 35 articles,” said Kucinich. “I will be providing supporting documentation to the committee so that it can proceed in an orderly manner.
“The weight of evidence contained in the articles makes it clear that President Bush violated the Constitution and the U.S. Code as well as international law,” said the Ohio lawmaker, whose efforts to impeach Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been largely ignored by the mainstream media.
The House of Representatives approved Kucinich’s motion today to refer the articles of impeachment to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Kucinich said on Wednesday that he would meet with Conyers this week.
Conyers has yet to release a public statement on the motion, but has in the past not been supportive of impeachment efforts. The resolution to impeach Cheney, which Kucinich presented in April 2007, remains stalled in the committee he chairs.
“It is the House’s responsibility as a co-equal branch of government to provide an effective check and balance to executive abuse of power,” Kucinich continued in the statement. “President Bush was principally responsible for directing the United States Armed Forces to attack Iraq.
“I believe that there is sufficient evidence in the articles to support the charge that President Bush allowed, authorized and sanctioned the manipulation of intelligence by those acting under his direction and control, misleading Congress to approve a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.
“As a result over 4,000 United States soldiers have died in combat in Iraq, with tens of thousands injured, many of them permanently impaired,” explained Kucinich. “Over a million innocent Iraqis have perished in a war which was based on lies, a war which will cost the American taxpayers as much as three trillion dollars.
The Ohio lawmaker said that it is now “incumbent” for the Judiciary Committee to review evidence he presented. He promised that if the committee failed to hold any hearings on the resolution within thirty days, he would repeat his efforts. He told one reporter Wednesday, “Leadership wants to bury it, but this is one resolution that will be coming back from the dead. … I will be bringing the resolution up again, and I won’t be the only one reading it.”
Kucinich closed in his statement, “We must not only create an historical record of the misconduct of the Bush administration, but we must make sure that any future administration is forewarned about the constitutionally proscribed limits of executive authority and exercise of power contravening the Constitution.”
June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Guantanamo inmates have constitutional rights and may seek release in federal court, the Supreme Court ruled in a rebuke to the Bush administration and Congress on their handling of accused terrorists. The ruling bolsters the legal rights of the 270 inmates at Camp Delta, set up in 2002 to detain accused al-Qaida fighters captured after Sept. 11.
June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Guantanamo Bay inmates have constitutional rights and may seek release in federal court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a rebuke to the Bush administration and Congress on their handling of accused terrorists.
The justices, voting 5-4, said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped Guantanamo prisoners of the right to file so-called habeas corpus petitions. The majority rejected arguments that a system of limited judicial review set up by Congress was adequate to protect inmate rights.
``The costs of delay can no longer be borne by those who are held in custody,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. ``The detainees in these cases are entitled to a prompt habeas corpus hearing.''
The ruling bolsters the legal rights of the 270 inmates at Guantanamo's Camp Delta, set up in 2002 to detain accused al- Qaeda fighters captured after the Sept. 11 attacks. More broadly, the decision may mean a more powerful wartime role for the judiciary.
Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter joined Kennedy's opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Scalia took the unusual step of reading a summary of his dissent from the bench.
``The nation will live to regret what the court has done today,'' Scalia said in his written opinion.
The Bush administration contended that the Constitution and its guarantee of habeas rights don't cover enemy prisoners held outside the country, in this case on Cuban territory that the U.S. occupies under a 1903 lease. Habeas corpus is a legal device that dates back to 14th-century England and lets inmates claim they are being wrongfully held.
Kennedy wrote that Guantanamo ``while technically not part of the United States, is under the complete and total control of our government.'' He said the constitutional habeas guarantee ``has full effect at Guantanamo Bay.''
The justices were reviewing appeals by 37 inmates being held as ``enemy combatants.'' The group includes six Algerian natives seized in Bosnia in 2002 and a larger group of men who were taken into custody in Afghanistan or the bordering areas of Pakistan.
None of those inmates have been criminally charged, although today's ruling may affect those who have been. The military plans on prosecuting about 80 inmates, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Prosecution efforts have stalled in recent months, and at most a handful of trials are likely to go forward this year.
Combat Status Review
All Guantanamo inmates appear before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, or CSRT, a military panel that decides whether the men are ``enemy combatants'' who should remain in detention. A 2005 law gives inmates only a limited right to appeal that conclusion to a federal court in Washington.
Lawyers for the prisoners say those procedures are a poor substitute for habeas rights. During CSRT hearings, shackled inmates appear before a panel of three officers.
The inmates can't have a lawyer present, are barred from seeing much of the evidence against them and in most circumstances can't call witnesses in their defense. In a number of cases, a second CSRT was convened after the first panel concluded an inmate wasn't an enemy combatant.
Officials at Guantanamo say the CSRTs have led to the release of more than three dozen prisoners.
The cases are Boumediene v. Bush, 06-1195, and Al Odah v. United States, 06-1196.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hall of Justice, Second Floor 600 Administration Drive, Room 212-J Santa Rosa, California 95403 Telephone: (707) 565-2311 FAX: (707) 565-2762
Hello. I’m writing you to insist that you drop all charges against Benjamin Saari from his arrest of May 1st, 2008. I believe Mr. Saari is an upstanding member of our community and that his arrest for publicly observing police activities in a legal manner is an attack on individuals and thus the community’s right to safely and critically observe public servants on the job.
On May 1st, as thousands were entering Santa Rosa’s Juliard Park from the east side, Santa Rosa police officers began trying to corral youth, mostly young Latinos, on the west side of the park. SRPD had extended metal batons at ready and a very agitated police dog. Different squads of police were yelling conflicting orders at the nebulous group of youth they’d defined as a gang. I believe that at this point Ben Saari exercised his ability to observe the police in a manner in keeping with the First Ammendment right to peaceably assemble. As police advanced on the crowd, which Mr. Saari was pushed into, Mr. Saari made a point of communicating with the advancing officers and keeping a safe distance between himself and the officers.
At one point an officer being most directly observed stepped up his pace and shoulder-checked Mr. Saari, claiming the contact as Mr. Saari’s interference with police activities and arresting him for such. The arresting officer did not immediately announce the charges as Mr. Saari was arrested, nor was Mr. Saari read his Miranda rights. Mr. Saari repeatedly asked the officer if he was being arrested and just before Mr. Saari’s arrest the arresting officer informed Mr. Saari that he was in fact no being arrested. Mr. Saari was never told by the police or the police department what he was being arrested for. He was only informed of his charges when released on bail by the person who posted the bail.
Elements of Sonoma County Law Enforcement, particularly among the Santa Rosa Police and Sonoma County Sheriff, have been resistant to public observation of their activities from a safe distance, in some cases not identifying themselves, obscuring the visibility of interactions or even threatening the observers with arrest. Many believe this is because the police fear being observed overstepping their bounds and trampling people’s rights and because of a law enforcement culture that fears public oversight.
I believe that community members checking authorities and pushing institutions towards more transparency deters abuse of power and makes a community healthier. Local activists should not be allowed to be punished for legitimately checking authority and attempting to deescalate potentially explosive situations through their public observation and nor should they be dissuaded from active participation in matters of public affair.
The foundations of a free and open society rest upon the active participation of those living within it’s bounds in the decisions and running of that society. That is the foundation of democracy. Allowing a branch of the executive to suppress the legitimate oversight of that institution by the people affected by its activities leads us further down the road away from that free and open society and hastens toward rule by a government with unchecked power.
Again, I strongly encourage you to do the right thing and drop the charges against Benjamin Saari. Thank you for your time.