Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In Case You Missed It

News from The Progress Report
a publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund

President Bush's tenure has been a dark time for journalists. The administration has accused the media of aiding terrorists, declared that it has the power to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, and consistently granted preferential treatment to right-wing outlets. The war in Iraq has made journalism more dangerous for reporters all over the world. Additionally, this administration "has restricted access to information about our government and its policies at unprecedented levels," classifying a record number of documents and withholding records that the public has a right to view under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is approaching its 41st year in existence. In an age of blogging and citizen journalism, the American public's ability to access the federal government is more important than ever. Yet 69 percent of Americans believe that the government is too secretive. This week, Congress is debating several critical pieces of legislation that will increase government transparency. Take action and tell your Members of Congress to open the government.

TORTURE -- EVANGELICALS CONDEMN BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S USE OF TORTURE: The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), representing 45,00 churches and 30 million churchgoers, has released an anti-torture statement saying the United States has crossed "boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible in its treatment of detainees and war prisoners in the fight against terror." The statement said that "the United States has historically been a leader in supporting international human rights efforts, but our moral vision has blurred since 9/11." The NAE rejected the Military Commissions Act, which guts habeas corpus and allows testimony obtained from torture. The group condemned the use of torture tactics at "Abu Ghraib prison, Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, in CIA black sites, and at the hands of other nations." Rev. Richard Cizik, the NAE's Washington policy director, said the motivation for the statement was to send a message worldwide that U.S. citizens and evangelicals do not support torture. "We are conservatives who wholeheartedly support the war against terror, but that does not mean by any means necessary," he stated. The board of the NAE also recently stood by its support for action to curb global warming.

“The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers,” the New York Times reports. “Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans” about several U.S. Attorneys. Weeks later, they were forced out.

In related news, Attorney General Gonzales’ chief of staff Kyle Sampson resigned yesterday in the wake of the U.S. Attorney scandal. Sampson was involved in generating the list of prosecutors to fire.

More questions about Halliburton’s move to Dubai. Senate Commerce Committee member Byron Dorgan (D-ND) asked yesterday, “I want to know, is Halliburton trying to run away from bad publicity on their contracts? Are they trying to run away from the obligation to pay U.S. taxes? Or are they trying to set up a corporate presence in Dubai so that they can avoid the restrictions that currently exist on doing business with prohibited countries like Iran?”

News of Scooter Libby’s guilty verdict has brought in $70,000 in Internet contributions in a week. Wealthy supporters like publisher Steve Forbes and lobbyist Wayne Berman plan to raise much more; actor Fred Thompson plans a Washington fundraiser that may bring in more than $100,000.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced a resolution yesterday to allow Al Gore to stage a global-warming concert on the Capitol grounds. Gore’s Live Earth event will feature seven major concerts on seven continents to help bring attention to global climate change.

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