Bradley Ellison, a.k.a. Sugarman, is "one of coin-op's most colorful characters." Vice profiled Ellison on his vending machine empire (also on YouTube, both with NSFW language) and his most lucrative toys, Homies, which he brought to the East Coast from David Gonzales' Los Angeles-based line of miniature figures. In 2003, New York Times profiled the minifigs, which Ellison credits for the downfall of his main moneymaker. But Ellison keeps plugging on, and Homies are still around (warning: auto-playing music).
Pianist, producer, and songwriter Gonzales (real name Jason Charles Beck) is currently attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest solo concert. He's aiming for 27 hours, and at time of writing has around six hours left to go. You can follow the attempt live online. [more inside]
A high-level Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation against six former Bush administration officials, on whether they violated international law. The officials named in this present case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers. If America won’t have a Truth Commission maybe someone else will have to kick start it for them.
Worried about social-network data mining? Facebook hires Ted Ullyot, former right-hand man to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as its general counsel. Tapping Ullyot, who worked on the infamous torture memo and other illustrious projects, is a sign that the burgeoning Scrabble platform "is a little more grown-up," says Facebook public-policy VP Elliot Schrage.
Secret U. S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations. The New York Times has a 4000-word report today on secret Justice Department opinions--never previously disclosed--authorizing severe interrogation methods. Congress has outlawed cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; in response, Justice declared that the CIA's most extreme interrogation methods are not cruel, inhuman, and degrading. These secret opinions, issued in 2005, are still in effect. Most lawmakers did not know they existed. White House response: "This country does not torture."
"Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all." CBS News said, let's give Oscar the Grim Reaper Cat 349% more ink than FBI Director Mueller contradicting Attorney General Gonzales's testimony. Media Matters asks, "There are very real and very serious questions about whether the United States is currently a fully functional republic.... Isn't it time news organizations devote more resources to exploring these issues -- even if it means fewer stories about cats and cleavage?" Has Stupor Killed the Fourth Estate? Was James Fallows that the Media Undermine[s] American Democracy?
Comey made frantic calls to his own chief of staff and to Robert Mueller, then FBI director, while he raced to the hospital, sirens blasting. He sprinted up the stairs of the hospital to get to Ashcroft's room before Gonzales and Card did. . . . "I couldn't stay if the White House was engaging in conduct that had no legal basis." Comey testifies that there was something of a line to resign that day: Mueller; then Comey's chief of staff; and then Ashcroft's chief of staff—who asked only that Comey wait until "Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me."A
Absoluelty riveting, it reads like a tale out of paperback thriller: in a darkened hospital room, a White House consigliere barges past the sick man's wife, and demands the disoriented Attorney General official sign a paper.
"First, they tried to coerce a man in intensive care -- a man so sick he had transferred the reins of power to Mr. Comey -- to grant them legal approval. Having failed, they were willing to defy the conclusions of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and pursue the surveillance without Justice's authorization." I'm waiting for the movie, but you can watch the video now.
... Karl Rove, a handful of the party's most tech-savvy computer gurus and the former Republican Ohio Secretary of State, created, owned and operated the vote-counting system...
Network Hosting Attorney Scandal E-Mails Also Hosted Ohio's 2004 Election Results --...more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio's "official" Secretary of State website -- which gave the world the presidential election results -- was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors. ...
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is in the middle of his testimony before Congress on firing of eight US Attorneys. The questioning has gotten heated at times, and TPM Muckraker has many highlights from the testimony. DailyKos has been giddily blogging live, and there are many sites carrying the live video feed. Conservative blogs have been mysteriously quiet about this.
Gonzales wants Internet records saved for two years. Because any of you could be child porn perverts. "Gonzales acknowledged the concerns of some company executives who say legislation might be overly intrusive and encroach on customers' privacy rights. But he said the growing threat of child pornography over the Internet was too great.
Gonzalez seeks "protection" from War Crimes Act of 1996 Ten years ago, the Republican Congress passed the War Crimes Act, which makes violations of the Geneva Convention by Americans criminal acts. Now, the Attorney General is urging the current Republican Congress to "shield" those who participate in the War On Terror from the Act.
"Don't worry Mr. President, we have Kansas surrounded." Warrantless searches: they're not just for wiretaps anymore. U.S. News and World Report probes the Bush administration's covert drive to conduct physical searches of American homes without court approval.
Evidence of a slippery slope continued: Newsweek reports that White House counsel Steve Bradbury believes President Bush can order killings on US soil as part of the Terrorist-Surveillance ProgramTM. Meanwhile, while Attorney General Gonzales "lashes out" at the media and insists that the TSPTM is "not a dragnet that sucks in all conversation and uses computer searches to pick out calls of interest," the Washington Post reports it's precisely that -- "computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears" -- and has led to very few leads. (See also discussion of Arlen Specter and the legality of the TSPTM here.)
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
Want to watch porn for a living? The FBI might have a job for you. Yes, AG Gonzales is launching a crackdown on porn -- the "consenting adults" kind. After all, it worked so well for Ed Meese's legacy. The memo specifically mentions "sadistic and masochistic behavior" -- isn't it ironic that that DoJ could soon be bringing charges against people who take pictures of acts which the Attorney General has stated were perfectly legal when carried out in Guantanamo Bay?
ACLU seeks Sanchez perjury investigation. As a followup to yesterday's post, the ACLU has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Gonzales, requesting an investigation of Gen. Ricardo Sanchez for perjury before Congress. Sanchez is accused of lying about approving guidelines for the use of abusive interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib prison. Now, many of you might think that Gonzales might refuse this request and be done with it. However, the ACLU has the right to request a writ of mandamus, which would compel Gonzales to initiate an investigation. If Sanchez is investigated, will he be pressured to reveal the identity of those in the Pentagon / Bush administration (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, Cambone?!) who knew about and possibly ordered these policies?
Seems the media's STILL scared of looking too closely into BUSH's history... and WHO helps him cover up on the way...
DOJ coup d'etat. Ashcroft is gone. Now, six days before the confirmation hearings of Alberto Gonzales, the acting Attorney General, Daniel Levin, issues a new official memo (pdf)on torture, reversing and specifically repudiating the definitions of torture from the August 2002 memo addressed to Gonzales. The new memo states, among other things,
'we disagree with statements in the August 2002 Memorandum limiting "severe" pain under the statute to "excruciating and agonizing" pain [...] or to pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death'