Congressional Democrats are acknowledging President Bush’s broad new spying powers approved this month could be even more extensive than initially claimed. Ambiguous language defining “electronic surveillance” means the so-called Protect America Act of 2007 could go well beyond wiretapping to permit physical searches and financial record gathering — all without court approval. The admission comes amidst news the Bush administration has privately said it won’t be held to those limits the legislation does set on surveillance activities. The New York Times reports Justice Department officials refused repeated entreaties to commit to following congressional rules at a private meeting last week. Participants in the meeting say Assistant Attorney General for National Security Ken Wainstein told former Justice Department lawyer Bruce Fein the administration does not consider itself bound by congressional restrictions.
Newly released documents show outgoing White House adviser Karl Rove set up an extensive network to steer federal resources toward electing Republican candidates. The Washington Post reports Rove established a so-called “asset deployment team” to help manage public appearances, policy announcements and grant-money allocation that would benefit the GOP’s elections chances. In October 2003, Rove told a gathering of political appointees their public affairs would be coordinated with the Oval Office to promote President Bush’s re-election agenda. The new documents show Rove held at least 100 such meetings in government offices since President Bush’s election. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the House Oversight Committee are investigating whether any of the meetings violated the Hatch Act, which bars government employees from using federal resources for political acts.
In Iraq, the governor of the province of Muthanna has been killed in a roadside bombing. The assassination of Mohammed Ali al-Hassani is the second of a provincial governor in Iraq in the last two weeks.
In other Iraq news, new images have been released showing hundreds of Iraqi prisoners packed into cramped wire cages. The video was released after Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi visited the Rusafa prison camp in Baghdad. The prisoners are held by the dozens in wire mesh covered with plastic sheeting. On the tape, al-Hashemi is seen addressing the prisoners about their conditions.
Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: “Those who are outside are no better than you. At least you have security. It is true that you do not have freedom , but you are better than many outside.”
In the Caribbean, the death toll from Hurricane Dean has reached at least eight people. The Category 4 storm tore through Jamaica Sunday, but no casualties were reported. Dean is now headed toward the Cayman Islands, where coastal residents are being evacuated.
In South Africa, five apartheid-era police officials, including a former police minister, have received suspended sentences for the attempted murder of a leading black activist in 1989. The former police minister, Adriaan Vlok, was sentenced to serve five of a 10-year sentence for plotting to kill the Reverend Frank Chikane. Chikane was made violently ill by poison hidden in his underwear but survived the attempt on his life. Outside the courtroom, Chikane said he hoped the ruling would heal old wounds.
Rev. Frank Chikane: “We have passed the world of speculation now and theories about what happened during the apartheid days. There were lots of debates, the people who didn’t believe what happened. But today I think we have gone past that stage. Having listened to the story, I must say even if I had an idea of what the story is all about, when it is presented in court, it’s a real chilling story. But I have listened to the story, and I can confirm that I consider myself to be a miracle.”
In Britain, more than 1,000 people gathered near the offices of Heathrow Airport Sunday to highlight the role of aviation in global warming. The activists are calling on Heathrow to cancel plans for a major expansion.
Protest organizer Leila Harris: “We have had enough of the prioritization of economic growth over the future of our planet. The people are taking action themselves, in the knowledge that we are the only people that can put the brakes on climate chaos.”
In Peru, the death toll from last week’s earthquake has now topped some 500 people. Hundreds remain without shelter as the recovery effort continues in the devastated city of Pisco.
Unidentified refugee: “We want them to send us coats, blankets. Look at the people; they don’t have anything here. Every night, they cry, they cry, they cry.”
In Afghanistan, a German aid worker has been freed after two days in captivity. Christina Meier had been seen in a ransom video released by her captors. She was apparently rescued in a police raid.
Texas is preparing to execute a 30-year-old African American for a crime he’s openly known not to have committed. Kenneth Foster was sitting in a car 27 yards away when a friend murdered an unarmed man in his home. Foster was convicted under a controversial Texas law that faults an accused suspect for failing to anticipate a crime. A federal appeals court has declared Foster’s sentence marks a constitutional defect. But a state court can’t overturn his conviction because no new evidence has been introduced. Supporters are calling for Texas Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency before Foster’s August 30th execution date.
In media news, a new study shows corporate news coverage of the Iraq War has dropped sharply in the last four months. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Iraq War accounted for just 15 percent of news coverage, down from 22 percent earlier this year. Network evening news coverage of the war went from 40 percent to 19 percent. The Democratic and Republican presidential campaign emerged as the most-covered issue over the same period.
Immigration agents have arrested and deported a Mexican woman who took refuge inside a Chicago church to defy a government deportation order. Elvira Arellano was detained outside a church Sunday in Los Angeles. She had been living in Chicago’s Adalberto United Methodist Church for one year. Arellano is president of United Latino Family, a group that lobbies for families that could be split by deportation. She was born in Mexico and came to the country as an undocumented immigrant. Her seven-year-old son, Saul, was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen. One day before her deportation, Arellano said she was not afraid of arrest. According to her pastor, she is now in Tijuana and in good spirits.
The civil rights activist Carolyn Goodman has died at the age of 91. Carolyn Goodman rose to national prominence following the murder of her son Andrew and two other civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964. Goodman was politically active past her 90th birthday. Two years ago she testified at the trial of former Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen for her son’s murder.
And the pioneering jazz drummer, composer and activist Max Roach has died at the age of 83. He helped reinvent the role of the drummer in jazz and played alongside such greats as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Cecil Taylor. Max Roach was also a prominent supporter of the civil rights movement. In 1960 he released the record “We Insist: Freedom Now Suite” featuring the vocals of his future wife Abbey Lincoln. The cover of the record showed a photograph of SNCC students participating in a sit-in at a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. At the time, Roach said: “I will never again play anything that does not have social significance. We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we are master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we’ve been through.” Roach later became a leading jazz educator and was the first jazz musician to win a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.