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There are 3 messages in this issue.
Topics in this digest:
1. Net censorship spreads worldwide
From: "norgesen" email@example.com
2. Fw: More illusions - conservative judges
From: "norgesen" firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Cheney aide is screening legislation
From: "norgesen" email@example.com
Date: Wed May 31, 2006 2:49 pm (PDT)
From: "norgesen" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Net censorship spreads worldwide
Net censorship spreads worldwide
By Mark Ward
Technology Correspondent, BBC News website
Repressive regimes are taking full advantage of the net's ability to censor and stifle reform and debate, reveals a report.
Written by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) pressure group the report highlights the ways governments threaten the freedom of the press.
The report has a section dedicated to the internet and the growing roster of nations censoring online life.
This censorship is practised on every continent on Earth, said the report.
Although the internet is changing the way the media works as blogs, chat forums and social networking sites turn passive consumers into active critics, it is not just citizens who are taking advantage of its technological power warned the report.
Julien Pain - who heads the internet freedom desk at the RSF and was one of the report's authors, noted: "Everyone's interested in the internet - especially dictators".
Mr Pain said the world's dictators have not remained powerless in the face of the explosion of online content. By contrast, many have been "efficient and inventive" in using the net to spy on citizens and censor debate.
In many nations, the net used to be the only uncensored outlet and the place people turned to for news they would never hear about through official channels.
However, noted the report, governments have woken up to the fact that the people they regard as dissidents are active online. Many are now moving to censor blogs and the last year has seen many committed bloggers jailed for what they said in their online journal.
For instance, in Iran Mojtaba Saminejad has been in jail since February 2005 for putting online material ruled offensive to Islam.
China was the nation that came in for most criticism for its efforts to monitor and censor the net. The RSF noted that net censorship in the country had undergone a significant shift in the last two years.
Originally, said the report, China was only interested in monitoring political dissidence on the net. Now its scrutiny covers general unrest in its population - ironically something that has grown because the net makes it easier for people to communicate.
China's success at censorship means it has effectively produced a "sanitised" version of the internet for its 130 million citizens that regularly go online.
Western firms have been criticised for their helping filter the net
The wide-ranging scrutiny also means that it is the biggest jailer of so-called cyber dissidents. RSF estimates that 62 people in China have been jailed for what they said online.
Net users have also been jailed in Egypt, Iran, Libya, the Maldives, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam.
Where China has led, other nations are following and taking active steps to filter the net before it gets to their citizens. Zimbabwe is reportedly buying technology directly from China to beef up its censorship efforts.
Many other nations, including Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya, Nepal, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam censor the net. Often this filtering involves stopping access to some types of sites, such as those showing pornography, but it can also involve blocking sites critical of governments or religions.
Some nations, such as Turkmenistan, have banned home net connections and restrict people to using net cafes which, said the RSF, were much easier to control. Burma has banned web e-mail systems such as Hotmail and Yahoo mail and every five minutes screen grabs are taken of what people are looking at in net cafes.
But criticism of the obstacles put before open net access was not limited to nations known for their repressive policies. The European Union was criticised too for its policy of leaving the decision on which sites to censor up to net service firms. This, said the RSF, created a "private system of justice" in which technicians take the place of a judge.
The 153-page report also criticised Western firms for selling technology to repressive regimes to help them monitor what people do online.
The report was produced to mark World Press Freedom Day.
Full Reporters Without Borders report (1.3MB)
RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
RSF Annual Report
Full RSF report (PDF)
Web censorship: Correspondent reports
As human rights group Amnesty International launches a global campaign to try to halt censorship of the internet by governments, BBC correspondents report from some countries where web users face difficulties.
CHINA: RUPERT WINGFIELD-HAYES, BEIJING
Officially China does not censor the internet. According to the Chinese government, its internet regulation is no different from that in America, Britain, or anywhere else in the world.
In its quest to control the internet China has sought overseas help
China says it only blocks internet sites that are damaging, such as pornographic sites, or ones promoting things like terrorism.
The reality of China's internet is very different.
Just try logging on to the BBC News website from an internet cafe in China. You can't. The same goes for websites for The New York Times, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a host of others which could hardly be described as pornographic or "dangerous".
China probably has the most sophisticated internet monitoring and censorship system in the world. In the last few years it has spent tens of millions of dollars building what has come to be known as the "Great Firewall of China". In the past, whole websites were blocked. Today the system can block out individual parts of websites.
In its quest to control the internet China has sought help from overseas. Some large, US-based computer software companies are believed to have sold Beijing the sophisticated software needed to run its filtering system. Companies like Google and Yahoo! have also been accused of co-operating in China's internet censorship.
Google, for example, has modified its Chinese language search engine so that it does not show results for sites the Chinese government deems "harmful".
Inside China there is an even larger effort to control the country's own internet.
Internet service providers (ISPs) are required by law to monitor their own websites and chat-rooms for "dangerous content". Every ISP in China has its own staff of "web police". On top of that government employs thousands more who constantly scan the Chinese web, closing down any site or blog that is considered subversive.
For those Chinese who persist in using the internet to criticize Communist party rule, the end result can be a prison cell. Three young men were recently sentenced to prison terms of eight to ten years for using the internet to send "sensitive" information to foreign based websites.
CUBA: STEPHEN GIBBS, HAVANA
Cuba has vowed to be a force to be reckoned with in the digital era.
Thousands of Cubans are being trained in a new school for computer technology on the outskirts of Havana. Free computer clubs have been set up across the country. Even the smallest rural schools are being provided with their own terminals.
Cuba's licensed internet terminals are meant only for tourists
But at the same time the government is working hard to prevent its citizens from surfing the net without restraint. Shops in Havana might appear to sell high-quality computers, but actually making a purchase is impossible for Cubans without special approval, which is rarely granted.
Similar restrictions are in place for anyone who might want to open up an account with the state internet service provider. Exceptions include senior government officials, academic researchers, and foreigners.
The authorities say these regulations are in place in order to ensure the internet in Cuba is used for "social and collective use."
Although all Cuban media is rigorously state controlled, the government rejects accusations that it is censoring the net.
It concedes that some sites are blocked, but say these are "terrorist, xenophobic, or pornographic". Websites based in the US which publish articles by dissidents from within Cuba are generally inaccessible.
The government says that what it is doing is "prioritising" the internet, for use by sectors such as education and health. Essential, it says, given Cuba's limited resources, and limited bandwidth.
The bandwidth problem is blamed on the United States. As a result of the US trade embargo, Cuba cannot link up to the web via a direct fibre optic line. Instead it has to use more expensive satellite links.
Thousands of Cubans get around their governments restrictions and access the internet via the black market. User IDs and passwords are sold by state employees whose jobs give them legal access. Some log on via home made computers built from smuggled parts.
A legal alternative is to go to one of the cyber cafes that are being set up across the country. But these have another barrier - cost. Half an hour surfing the web costs around $3. That might be comparable to the price in other parts of the world, but in Cuba, where the average salary is $15 a month, it is substantial.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: JULIA WHEELER, DUBAI
In the United Arab Emirates, internet censorship centres on two distinct areas; pornography and the criticism of Gulf governments. While the majority of the multi-national population welcomes the blocking of pornography sites, the same cannot be said for the more politically motivated cases.
The UAE is one of the fastest developing countries in the world
From the UAE, attempting to access sites like www.uaeprison.com or www.arabtimes.com (published in the United States) brings up an apology for the site being blocked and an explanation; it is "due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates."
It is not clear how the monopoly internet provider, Etisilat, determines what contravenes the country's values. There is a right of reply on any blocked site message though, allowing surfers to suggest it be made accessible.
For many, the censorship of sites which question, discuss or oppose the ruling families of the Gulf states and their absolute power, is anachronistic. The UAE is one of the fastest developing countries in the world, but this development is far more economic than political.
Satirical blogs, parodying the city and its residents, such as secretdubai.blogspot.com, www.dubaienquirer.com and onebigconstructionsite.blogspot.com can be found.
Internet users in Dubai's commercial free zones - like Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Knowledge Village - are able to sidestep the strict state censorship by using a different proxy. The more technically savvy users in other parts of the country are also finding ways to access the banned sites they want to view.
In March, there were reports internet cafe users could have their personal details recorded and kept on file. The explanation from the authorities was that this was to curb "cyber crime" including hacking and sending spam emails, but it has brought into focus questions of personal privacy.
The opening-up of the telecoms sector which is due to allow another state-run company, Du, to operate from later this year is unlikely to change the position on blocked sites.
Perhaps one of the biggest annoyances for the mostly expatriate population in the Emirates is the inaccessibility of internet telephony sites like www.skype.com. This is widely seen as economic censorship; the state wanting to ensure continuing large profits through migrant workers making international telephone calls.
RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
Internet Governance Forum
Date: Wed May 31, 2006 2:51 pm (PDT)
From: "norgesen" email@example.com
Subject: Fw: More illusions - conservative judges
----- Original Message -----
From: Vicky Davis
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 2:05 AM
Subject: More illusions - conservative judges
A couple of weeks ago I sent out the email below titled Hidden Rivers. One of the responses that I got back on it was from a Conservative who pointed out Union Pacific seemed to have 'family values' and that's why they were giving money to the Tradition Values Coalition and to Tom DeLay's PAC.
I sent her back an email highlighting the real agenda behind the phony pro-family, anti-abortion image. The real agenda is to put judges in place that will not honor our laws and our constitution - rather they will uphold the treasonous 'free trade' agreements under the WTO.
Today I got a link to a story that is case in point. Christian Conservatives lobbied for John Roberts on the basis that he was pro-life. The whole Terry Schiavo circus was to rally the Christian soldiers to ensure that only a 'pro-life' judge would be appointed.
Terri Schiavo - dies March 31, 2005
July 19, 2005 - Bush announces John Roberts for Supreme Court Justice
Look at the decision that the Supreme Court just made - and Roberts wrote the opinion.
Supreme Court Officially Emasculates Taxpayers
"In a unanimous decision Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a lower court ruling that would have invalidated massive taxpayer giveaways to Corporate America. The Supreme Court has long been the victim of a hostile takeover by Big Money interests. It is a court now headed by a corporate lawyer that has repeatedly gone out of its way to protect Corporate America's ability to bleed the middle class dry. Today's ruling, though, is particularly egregious. Not only did the court strike down an important ruling, but it essentially emasculated taxpayers' ability to bring any such lawsuits against their own government in the future."
"In striking down the lower court ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court not only ruled against Ohio taxpayers, but against all taxpayers. Chief Justice John Roberts, formerly a corporate lawyer, said in the official opinion that "State taxpayers have no standing ... to challenge state tax or spending decisions simply by virtue of their status as taxpayers." In other words, not only will the Ohio law remain, but state taxpayers throughout the country now have no legal right to challenge the decisions of their bought-and-paid-for elected officials who are selling off our government to the highest bidder."
Why would the Supreme Court make such a decision? Because of the "Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)"
Succinctly, investors have the right to challenge any of our laws if it prevents them from making a profit. This is why we need to be able to impeach judges and why we need to GET OUT OF THE WTO and these trojan horse 'free trade' agreements.
Here is an article from Australia which describes how these agreements were implemented - both here and in Australia - and other countries as well.
Email on Union Pacific's 'family values'
I cut and pasted a couple bullet points about UP that shows them supporting the same values as most of us have---anti abortion, anti gay rights, pro homeschooling, less regulations, etc. I can't see those as evil goals.
· Union Pacific's political contributions helped fund the Traditional Values
Coalition (TVC). The TVC is led by the Rev. Louis Sheldon and bills itself
as the largest church-lobby in the United States. It opposes gay rights, a
woman's right to choose, and the teaching of evolution in public schools. It
also lobbies for conservative judicial nominations.10
· Union Pacific's political contributions also helped fund Texans for a
Republican Majority (TRM). TRM was a major contributor to Texas House
of Representatives contests in 2002, giving $558,000 to 24 candidates
who supported "right to work" laws, home schooling and keeping state
health and safety standards to a "minimum," and opposed gay rights and
abortion. Fifteen of the state representatives who received TRM money
are listed as "current and active members" of the Texas Conservative
Coalition. Formed in 1985, TCC is an influential caucus in the Texas
House of Representatives.11
Vicky Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 20:53:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: Vicky Davis <email@example.com>
Subject: Hidden Rivers
I found this website (with the article below ) when I was doing a search on 'Americans for a Republican Majority' (ARM). ARM is a PAC that was started by Tom Delay to provide money for republican candidates running for state legislatures. TRMPAC is another Tom Delay PAC that was modeled after his ARM PAC. Tom Delay is under indictment for the activities of TRMPAC.
My search turned up this pdf regarding Union Pacific's contributions to PACs. What's most interesting about this report is that it gives the name of the PAC and in parentheses it gives the parent PAC. The following are listed as being PAC's of Americans for a Republican Majority:
http://www.politicalaccountability.net/tareports/CPA%20-%20TA%20Profile%20-%20Union%20Pacific.pdf ( in case that link gets broken, here is the tinyurl:
Americans for Tax Reform (ARM)
Texans for a Republican Majority (ARM)
Traditional Values Coalition (ARM)
Club for Growth (ARM)
Coalition for America's Familites (ARM)
Note also that Union Pacific is a member of the Business Roundtable. Tom Donohue, chairman and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sits on Union Pacific's board and chairs its compensation committee. Footnote 5 says the following:
"Union Pacific, 2005 Proxy Statement, www.sec.gov, Glass Lewis & Co., an independent research firm, recommended that shareholders withhold their votes from Donohue when he stood for re-election to Union Pacific's board in 2004 due to his sanctioning of excessive executive compensation. (" Tom Donohue: U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Oversees Renegade Corporations While Pushing for Limits to Corporate Accountability," Public Citizen, Congress Watch February 2005.
Tom Donohue has been on the radar screen for some time because of his use of the U.S. Commerce - and apparently the powerful corporations behind them to buy votes in Congress to slit the economic throats of middle class Americans and small to medium sized domestic businesses via participation in WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA. He supports open borders and the invasion of our country by illegal aliens. He was behind the export of our high tech knowledge jobs to India and the flooding of our high tech labor market with imported indentured servants on visas etc.. Tom Donohue has done just about everything humanly possible to put nails in the coffin of America as a first world country.
I recorded his speech on the Chamber's agenda for 2006.
If you have your speakers on you can hear him say it - otherwise you can read it:
Essentially, what we have is a corporate mafia engaged in racketeering. They spin off PACs that spin off PAC's that spin off PAC's. They use the money to manipulate perception. They masquerade as public interest groups. And they buy puppet politicians who will vote their agenda without regard for the consequences to our country and future generations of Americans.
No wonder Congress is selling out the American people - they can't hear over the torrential sound of all that money flowing to them via PACs.
Hidden Rivers: How Trade Associations Conceal Corporate Political Spending, Its Threat to Companies, and What Shareholders Can Do
In a new report entitled Hidden Rivers, the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) calls trade associations "the Swiss bank accounts of American politics" for their role in helping companies conceal and spend over $100 million in corporate funds. This spending, the report notes, poses serious risks to company economic interests and reputations and to shareholder value. The report is the first in-depth examination of how the nation's trade associations have become conduits for unlimited corporate political spending. Trade associations are subject to even less disclosure than the much criticized spending of independent political committees ("527s"). Hidden Rivers looks at judicial races in seven states in 2004 to develop a picture of the secret flow of corporate money through trade associations and related groups.
It identifies 18 public companies whose trade association payments and political contributions underwrote, directly or indirectly, political activity in 2004 on behalf of a group of judicial candidates with strong stands on controversial social issues that companies traditionally have avoided. In one case, $300,000 from a trade association funded ads on behalf of a Mississippi supreme court candidate accused of running a racist campaign. Click here for the report.
In case you missed it - here is the research I did on Grover Norquist and 'Movement Politics'.
I'd already done some research on Americans for Tax Reform quite by accident I found that CREA - the Council of Republicans for Environmental Adovacy - the group made infamous by Italia Federici and her connections to Jack Abramoff during the McCain hearings on Abramoff cheating the Indian tribes, was actually co-founded by Gail Norton and Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform (ARM).
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. ~ George Orwell
Date: Thu Jun 1, 2006 6:02 am (PDT)
From: "norgesen" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Cheney aide is screening legislation
Cheney aide is screening legislation
Adviser seeks to protect Bush power
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | May 28, 2006
WASHINGTON -- The office of Vice President Dick Cheney routinely reviews pieces of legislation before they reach the president's desk, searching for provisions that Cheney believes would infringe on presidential power, according to former White House and Justice Department officials.
The officials said Cheney's legal adviser and chief of staff, David Addington , is the Bush administration's leading architect of the ``signing statements" the president has appended to more than 750 laws. The statements assert the president's right to ignore the laws because they conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution.
The Bush-Cheney administration has used such statements to claim for itself the option of bypassing a ban on torture, oversight provisions in the USA Patriot Act, and numerous requirements that they provide certain information to Congress, among other laws.
Previous vice presidents have had neither the authority nor the interest in reviewing legislation. But Cheney has used his power over the administration's legal team to promote an expansive theory of presidential authority. Using signing statements, the administration has challenged more laws than all previous administrations combined.
``Addington could look at whatever he wanted," said one former White House lawyer who helped prepare signing statements and who asked not to be named because he was describing internal deliberations. ``He had a roving commission to get involved in whatever interested him."
Knowing that Addington was likely to review the bills, other White House and Justice Department lawyers began vetting legislation with Addington's and Cheney's views in mind, according to another former lawyer in the Bush White House.
All these lawyers, he said, were extremely careful to flag any provision that placed limits on presidential power.
``You didn't want to miss something," said the second former White House lawyer, who also asked not to be named.
Cheney and Addington have a long history. Addington was a Republican staff member on the congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, while Cheney was the ranking GOP House member. When Cheney became defense secretary under President George H. W. Bush , he hired Addington as Pentagon counsel.
After Cheney became vice president in 2001, he again hired Addington as counsel. Addington played a major role in shaping the administration's legal policies in the war on terrorism, including a 2002 memo arguing that Bush could authorize interrogators to bypass anti torture laws. In October, when Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis ``Scooter" Libby , was indicted for perjury and resigned, Cheney replaced Libby with Addington.
A spokeswoman for Cheney's office, asked to comment on Addington's role in reviewing legislation, said, ``We do not comment on internal deliberations."
Addington, through the spokeswoman, declined to be interviewed.
But Martin Lederman , who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush , said that Addington is simply doing the day-to-day legwork for Cheney and that he is influential within the administration because of the vice president's desire to enhance executive power and Bush's willingness to endorse Cheney's views.
``In every administration, Democratic and Republican, there are officials with strongly held constitutional views, including somewhat idiosyncratic views," said Lederman, now a law professor at Georgetown University. ``What is new is that the extremely idiosyncratic and aggressive constitutional views are being adopted by the vice president and, therefore, by the administration."
Previous administrations left the reviewing of legislation to the White House counsel's office and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.
``What's happening now is unprecedented on almost every level," said Ron Klain , who was chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore from 1995 to 1999. ``Gore was a very active policy maker in the Clinton administration, but that didn't include picking through bills of Congress to find things to disagree with."
The administration insists that Bush's use of signing statements is not unprecedented. Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, ``President Bush's signing statements are lawful and indistinguishable from those issued on hundreds of occasions by past presidents."
The use of signing statements was rare until the 1980s, when President Ronald W. Reagan began issuing them more frequently. His successors continued the practice. George H. W. Bush used signing statements to challenge 232 laws over four years, and Bill Clinton challenged 140 over eight years, according to Christopher Kelley , a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio.
But in frequency and aggression, the current President Bush has gone far beyond his predecessors.
All previous presidents combined challenged fewer than 600 laws, Kelley's data show, compared with the more than 750 Bush has challenged in five years. Bush is also the first president since the 1800s who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments.
Douglas Kmiec , who as head of the Office of Legal Counsel helped develop the Reagan administration's strategy of issuing signing statements more frequently, said he disapproves of the ``provocative" and sometimes ``disingenuous" manner in which the Bush administration is using them.
Kmiec said the Reagan team's goal was to leave a record of the president's understanding of new laws only in cases where an important statute was ambiguous. Kmiec rejected the idea of using signing statements to contradict the clear intent of Congress, as Bush has done. Presidents should either tolerate provisions of bills they don't like, or they should veto the bill, he said.
``Following a model of restraint, [the Reagan-era Office of Legal Counsel] took it seriously that we were to construe statutes to avoid constitutional problems, not to invent them," said Kmiec, who is now a Pepperdine University law professor.
By contrast, Bush has used the signing statements to waive his obligation to follow the new laws. In addition to the torture ban and oversight provisions of the Patriot Act, the laws Bush has claimed the authority to disobey include restrictions against US troops engaging in combat in Colombia, whistle-blower protections for government employees, and safeguards against political interference in taxpayer-funded research.
Cheney's office has taken the lead in challenging many of these laws, officials said, because they run counter to an expansive view of executive power that Cheney has cultivated for the past 30 years. Under the theory, Congress cannot pass laws that place restrictions or requirements on how the president runs the military and spy agencies. Nor can it pass laws giving government officials the power or responsibility to act independently of the president.
Mainstream legal scholars across the political spectrum reject Cheney's expansive view of presidential authority, saying the Constitution gives Congress the power to make all rules and regulations for the military and the executive branch and the Supreme Court has consistently upheld laws giving bureaucrats and certain prosecutors the power to act independently of the president.
One prominent conservative, Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, said it is ``scandalous" for the administration to argue that the commander in chief can bypass statutes in national security matters.
``It's just wrong," Epstein said. ``It is just crazy as a matter of constitutional interpretation. There are some pretty clear issues, and this is one of them."
Laurence Tribe , a prominent liberal at Harvard Law School, said: ``Nothing in the text and structure of the Constitution, or Supreme Court precedents, supports the Bush-Cheney assertion that Congress cannot limit or direct what government officials may or must do."
Nonetheless, Bush has demonstrated that he is willing to put his legal team's claims about his authority into action. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush authorized the military to eavesdrop on Americans' international phone calls without a warrant, bypassing a surveillance law that requires warrants.
Passed in 1978, the warrant law is one of a series of policies enacted after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. The laws sought to prevent future abuses by regulating how the president can use his national security powers.
In December 2005, shortly after the warrantless wiretapping program was exposed, Cheney gave a rare press conference to explain why he believed the program was legal. Offering an early view of the administration's argument that the warrant law is unconstitutional, Cheney recalled the period in which it was enacted as a time of congressional overreach.
``A lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both, in the '70s served to erode the authority, I think, the president needs to be effective, especially in a national security area," said Cheney, who served as White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford .
Cheney also offered a roadmap to his thinking about presidential power. He told reporters to read a 1987 report whose production he oversaw when he was a leading Republican in the House of Representatives. The report offered a dissenting view about the Iran-Contra scandal.
``If you want reference to an obscure text, go look at the minority views that were filed with the Iran-Contra Committee," Cheney said. ``Nobody has ever read them, but . . . I think [they] are very good in laying out a robust view of the president's prerogatives with respect to the conduct of especially foreign policy and national security matters."
The Iran-Contra scandal involved efforts by Reagan administration officials to bypass a law cutting off funds to anti-Marxist rebels in Nicaragua. The officials secretly sold arms to Iran, sent the proceeds to the rebels, and lied to Congress to cover it up.
A congressional committee issued a 427-page report concluding that a ``cabal of zealots" in the administration who had ``disdain for the law" had violated the statute.
But some of the Republicans on the committee, led by Cheney, refused to endorse that finding. They issued their own 155-page report asserting the real problem was Congress passing laws that intruded into a president's authority to run foreign policy and national security.
``Judgments about the Iran-Contra affair ultimately must rest upon one's views about the proper roles of Congress and the president in foreign policy," Cheney's report said. ``The fundamental law of the land is the Constitution. Unconstitutional statutes violate the rule of law every bit as much as do willful violations of constitutional statutes."
Cheney's report includes a lengthy argument that the Constitution puts the president beyond the reach of Congress when it comes to national security. Some 18 years later, the Justice Department would repeat these same arguments in a 42-page memo arguing that Bush's warrantless wiretapping program is a lawful exercise of presidential power.
Despite legal scholars' skepticism about the expansive theory of presidential power Cheney has long promoted, Bush's legal team has used the theory to target every law that regulates the military or the executive branch.
Kmiec, one of the only scholars who has testified that Bush might have the authority to set aside the warrant law, said he thinks the administration's use of signing statements has gone too far, needlessly antagonizing Congress. Arlen Specter , Republican of Pennsylvania and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, recently announced hearings into the matter.
``The president is not well served by the lawyers who have been advising him," said Kmiec.
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