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Former Virginia Governor McDonnell’s sentencing guidelines: 10 years at least

Source: Washington Post

By Matt Zapotosky December 12 at 10:08 AM

The federal agency that will play a pivotal role in guiding the sentence of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell has recommended that the onetime Republican rising star spend at least 10 years and a month in prison and 12 years and 7 months at most, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The guidelines recommended by the U.S. probation office are preliminary ones, and even if finalized, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer is not required to follow them. But experts said Spencer typically heeds the probation office’s advice, and judges in his district have imposed sentences within the recommended range more than 70 percent of the time in recent years.

“It’s of critical importance,” said white collar criminal defense attorney Scott Fredericksen. “The fact is, the vast majority of times, courts follow those recommendations closely.”

To be sure, the matter is far from settled. Calculating an appropriate range of sentences in the federal system is a complicated, mathematical process that takes into account a variety of factors, including the type of crime that was committed, the defendant’s role in that crime and the amount of the loss. A probation officer is tasked with analyzing each factor objectively, then using the federal sentencing guidelines to calculate an appropriate range of penalties.


Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/former-virginia-governor-mcdonnells-sentencing-guidelines-10-years-at-least/2014/12/12/6ba6db6e-816e-11e4-8882-03cf08410beb_story.html?

Bush official: CIA interrogation tactics weren’t torture, but IRS investigations are

Jerry Boykin takes torture defenses to an insane new low


Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who served as a senior Defense Department official under President George W. Bush, maintained in an interview Wednesday that the interrogation methods outlined in a new Senate Intelligence Committee report didn’t constitute torture, but that IRS investigations into political nonprofits did.

Last night, Boykin and Kamal Saleem, the co-authors of a new thriller, sat down with TheBlaze TV’s Stu Burguiere. During the interview, Burguiere brought up the committee’s report, which the three men derided.

“Maybe I’m the meanest person in the world, I don’t know,” Burguiere said. “Maybe I’m awful. But things like attention grasp — the interrogator grabs the detainee by the collar with two hands and pulls him closer in. That’s torture now?”

Somehow, Burguiere left out the more mortifying revelations contained in the report, including that Central Intelligence Agency interrogators force-fed terror suspects through their rectums, waterboarded prisoners to the point of unresponsiveness, deprived detainees of sleep for as long as a week, made detainees stand in stress positions on broken legs, and threatened the safety of prioners’ children and other family members.

Saleem, who claims to be a former terrorist but whose story has some gaping holes in it, reassured Burguiere that terrorists are barbarians, which to right-wingers is justification enough for any brutality detainees have coming their way, regardless of whether they’ve actually been tried and convicted of crimes.

Turning to Boykin, who served as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2003 t0 2007, Burgueiere mused, “This list — I mean, having people stand, they don’t get to sleep as long as they want to, nudity. Is this torture? Are these the things that we should be punishing ourselves over?”

“Stu, let me say that I think that this report came from a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites,” Boykin responded — rich words coming from a current official at the right-wing Family Research Council.


Obama effort leads to surge in Guantanamo releases


Dec. 11, 2014 3:21 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fed up with the stalled progress toward closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, President Barack Obama summoned top administration officials to the White House for an unusual meeting last month to make it clear he wanted action.

The president addressed the team at length, emphasizing why he wants to shut down the detention facility for terrorism suspects, according to administration officials familiar with the meeting, which wasn't on Obama's public schedule. The presidential lecture was the culmination of months of White House frustration with his own administration's inaction. Since then, the a dozen prisoners have been transferred overseas — more than all of last year and the most since 2010.

"We're working on it," Obama said at a bookstore over the Thanksgiving weekend when a shopper expressed hope Guantanamo will close. With the sudden surge in transfers, Guantanamo is now at a turning point. The prisoner population is at 136 — down from a high of near 700 and its lowest point since shortly after it opened in January 2002 — with 68 of the prisoners cleared for transfer. Officials have said at least five more will be moved by Dec. 31.

Obama is trying to work his way toward the pledge he made on his first day in office to close the detention center at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. But actually closing it would still either require approval from Congress, which has prohibited transferring any prisoners to the U.S., or a bold unilateral action that his opponents are warning him against but administration officials say hasn't been ruled out.


Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/91383d1d804a4d7b89c096f469119df0/obama-effort-leads-surge-guantanamo-releases

Texas Christian Fundamentalist Arrested in Israel for Allegedly Planning to Blow Up Islamic Sites

AlterNet / By Zaid Jilani

Further evidence that most terrorism in the United States is conducted by non-Muslims.

Although the news media typically focuses on Muslim terrorists, the truth is that most terrorism in the United States is conducted by non-Muslims. Out of Israel this week comes a case that involves our country actually exporting this terror, as American Adam Livix was arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites.

Livix is a 30-year-old evangelical from Texas who left the United States last year when he was sought for drug-related charges. He has lived in Israel since March 2013, apparently overstaying his tourist visa (his charges include being an undocumented resident).

Livix first lived in Hebron and Bethlehem, among West Bank Palestinians, claiming to be a Navy SEAL. Interestingly, Livix lived in the section of Hebron where Jewish extremists who likely killed Palestinian-American Alex Odeh once fled to. The Israeli security agency Shin Bet claimed he was asked by Palestinian activists to be part of a plot to assassinate President Obama, but that he declined that offer (it isn't clear who exactly who approached him about this earlier alleged plot, or if it even existed beyond conjecture).

Livix later moved to Israel, and began planning terror attacks on Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. He was assisted in this endeavor by an Israeli soldier with whom he lived. His roommate slowly obtained explosives and other armaments stolen from the Israeli army and “expressed ... his negative opinion of the Arab population of Israel and his wish to harm sites in Israel holy to Islam,” according to Israel's Justice Ministry.

Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, correspondent Ben Wedeman said Livix was “fairly close” to pulling off the plot, having successfully staked out sites for attacks and receiving the explosives from his roommate.


Senate report on CIA program details brutality, dishonesty

Source: Washington Post

By Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate December 9 at 11:11 AM

An exhaustive, five-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects renders a strikingly bleak verdict of a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish.

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee delivers new allegations of cruelty in a program whose severe tactics have been abundantly documented, revealing that agency medical personnel voiced alarm that waterboarding methods had deteriorated to “a series of near drownings” and that agency employees subjected detainees to “rectal rehydration” and other painful procedures that were never approved.

The 528-page document catalogues dozens of cases in which CIA officials allegedly deceived their superiors at the White House, members of Congress and even sometimes their own peers about how the interrogation program was being run and what it had achieved. In one case, an internal CIA memo relays instructions from the White House to keep the program secret from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell out of concern that he would “blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s going on.”

A declassified summary of the committee’s work discloses for the first time a complete roster of all 119 prisoners held in CIA custody and indicates that at least 26 were held because of mistaken identities or bad intelligence. The publicly released summary is drawn from a longer, classified study that exceeds 6,000 pages.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/senate-report-on-cia-program-details-brutality-dishonesty/2014/12/09/1075c726-7f0e-11e4-9f38-95a187e4c1f7_story.html?

'Morning Joe' Panelist: 'Asinine' To Think Torture Made America 'Less Great'


The panel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" got into a tense debate Tuesday over the release of a long-awaited Senate report examining the CIA's treatment of detainees during the Bush administration.

Nicolle Wallace, a frequent "Morning Joe" guest and former George W. Bush spokeswoman, gave an impassioned defense of the agency's waterboarding of three al-Qaeda suspects.

"In the history of this country, I think months after 9/11 there were three people who we thought knew about imminent attacks and we did whatever we had to do," Wallace said. "And I pray to god that until the end of time, we do whatever we have to do to find out what's happening."

"The notion that somehow this makes America less great is asinine and dangerous," she added.

Wallace then expressed frustration that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest wouldn't say whether President Barack Obama found information gleaned from those harsh interrogation techniques helpful in tracking down Osama Bin Laden.


read more

KKK crucial to building the South’s enduring Republican majority, study finds

08 DEC 2014 AT 12:41 ET

The Ku Klux Klan played an active and enduring role in steering southern white voters away from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, according to a new study.

The white supremacist group resurged to prominence in the 1960s as a reaction to the civil rights movement, and its violent extremism inflamed racial division and polarized communities for generations, according to the study published by the American Sociological Review.

“It encouraged white voters to prioritize the defense of white supremacy when making voting decisions, upending long-standing Democratic Party allegiances,” wrote the study’s authors.

The researchers — David Cunningham, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Brandeis University, Rory McVeigh of the University of Notre Dame and Justin Farrell of Yale University — studied county voting records in 10 southern states where the KKK actively recruited members in the 1960s.


Dems, It’s Time to Dump Dixie

Michael Tomasky

With Mary Landrieu’s ignominious exit, the Democrats will have lost their last senator in the Deep South. And that’s a good thing. They should write it off—because they don’t need it.

I don’t remember a much sadder sight in domestic politics in my lifetime than that of Mary Landrieu schlumpfing around these last few weeks trying to save a Senate seat that was obviously lost. It was like witnessing the last two weeks of the life of a blind and toothless dog you knew the vet was just itching to destroy. I know that sounds mean about her, but I don’t intend it that way. She did what she could and had, as far as I know, an honorable career. I do, however, intend it to sound mean about the reactionary, prejudice-infested place she comes from. A toothless dog is a figure of sympathy. A vet who takes pleasure in gassing it is not.

And that is what Louisiana, and almost the entire South, has become. The victims of the particular form of euthanasia it enforces with such glee are tolerance, compassion, civic decency, trans-racial community, the crucial secular values on which this country was founded… I could keep this list going. But I think you get the idea. Practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment. A fact made even sadder because on the whole they’re such nice people! (I truly mean that.)

With Landrieu’s departure, the Democrats will have no more senators from the Deep South, and I say good. Forget about it. Forget about the whole fetid place. Write it off. Let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise. The Democrats don’t need it anyway.

Actually, that’s not quite true. They need Florida, arguably, at least in Electoral College terms. Although they don’t even really quite need it—what happened in 2012 was representative: Barack Obama didn’t need Florida, but its 29 electoral votes provided a nice layer of icing on the cake, bumping him up to a gaudy 332 EVs, and besides, it’s nice to be able to say you won such a big state. But Florida is kind of an outlier, because culturally, only the northern half of Florida is Dixie. Ditto Virginia, but in reverse; culturally, northern Virginia is Yankee land (but with gun shops).


George W. Bush: Garner decision 'hard to understand'

By Eric Bradner, CNN
updated 12:54 PM EST, Fri December 5, 2014

Washington (CNN) -- Former President George W. Bush says a New York grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner was "hard to understand."

In an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, Bush said his reaction to watching video of the incident that led to Garner's death was "how sad."

"You know, the verdict was hard to understand," he said. "But I hadn't seen all the details -- but it's sad that race continues to play such an emotional, divisive part of life."

Bush said the United States has improved since the 1970s, when he was young, and said he remembers "race riots with cities being burned." Bush discussed the recent racial unrest that followed a Missouri grand jury's failure to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, who was black, over dinner with his former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


Kerry to Feinstein: Consider timing of CIA report


WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday to “consider” the timing of the expected release of a report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques.

The official said Kerry called Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to talk about the implications of publicly releasing her committee’s report given the current tense situation in numerous world hotspots. The official, however, said the administration’s support for its release remained unchanged. The official was not authorized to discuss the private call by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.


According to many U.S. officials who have read it, the document includes new details about the CIA’s use of such techniques as sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces, humiliation and the simulated drowning process known as waterboarding. President Barack Obama has acknowledged, “We tortured some folks.”

But the report goes much further than to simply condemn the brutal methods, which Obama banned in 2009 and were repudiated by the three most recent CIA directors. It alleges that the harsh interrogations failed to produce unique and life-saving intelligence. And it asserts that the CIA systematically lied about the covert program to officials at the White House, the Justice Department and congressional oversight committees.


Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/12/05/kerry_to_feinstein_consider_timing_of_cia_report/
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