FROM Lee Casey
Has the Bush Administration Taken Presidential Power Too Far? If Bill Clinton's impeachment was a curb on the excesses of the executive branch, it didn't last long. Even some Republicans concede that George W. Bush claimed unprecedented presidential authority, which may have led to violations of law. Now some constitutional lawyers advocate high-level prosecutions for torturing prisoners, spying without warrants, and denying American citizens basic rights. Are such trials needed to re-establish the rule of law or is it better to move on?
The Legal and Political Implications of the Hamdan Verdict In America's first war crimes trial since World War II, a military court delivered a split verdict today. Salim Hamdan, once the driver for Osama bin Laden, was convicted of supporting terrorism but acquitted of the more serious charge of conspiracy. The same jury is about to begin the sentencing phase of the trial. Hamdan's case, regarded as an important test for the Bush Administration's latest version of military tribunals, will likely be appealed as debate continues over US standards of fairness and justice. We hear about the sentencing process at Guantánamo Bay and the prospects for some 80 other detainees.
The Magna Carta Goes on Sale As the White House, Congress and US Supreme Court debate the rights of prisoners during the so-called "war on terror," an original copy of the document that established such rights is going on sale in New York City. The Magna Carta , signed in the 13th Century by the King of England, established the right to a speedy trial by a jury of one's peers, no taxation without representation and habeas corpus—which protects against unlawful imprisonment. Seventeen original copies have survived for 700 years, and all the others are publicly owned. How important is it? How rare is it? What's the asking price? What's the relevance of a 700 year-old sheet of animal-skin vellum to the rule of law in the modern world?
The Next Attorney General and Waterboarding Michael Mukasey is now considered certain to be confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States after today's vote by the Judiciary Committee to send his name to the full Senate. The former judge has refused to say whether he thinks waterboarding is torture, but told New York Senator Chuck Schumer he would enforce a law against waterboarding if Congress passed one. That was good enough for Diane Feinstein of California, who joined fellow Democrat Schumer in providing the two deciding votes. Eight other Democrats voted no, insisting that waterboarding is torture and that Mukasey should declare it already illegal. Should a Medieval practice be classified as torture? Would that incriminate US officials all the way up to the White House? We talk to a Navy veteran who's been through it and taught it. Does it provide reliable information that could save innocent lives?
Conflict Between Congress and the Administration Escalates On Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales underwent four hours of battering before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Even Republican Arlen Specter called Gonzales' credibility "breached to the point of being actionable." Today, Senate Democrats today called for a special counsel to investigate whether the Attorney General lied under oath. Gonzales is accused of deliberately misleading Congress about Justice Department opposition to the President's plan for domestic spying without warrants. Also today, a Democratic committee subpoenaed Karl Rove to talk about his role in firing US Attorneys. We update the ongoing political warfare between Congress and the White House.
Cover-up or witch hunt?: The latest on the WH ties to Russia Less than two months into his Presidency, Donald Trump is struggling to get his agenda under way, making it harder himself with tweets that dominate public attention. Meanwhile, important questions are going unanswered: why have staff members and the Attorney General lied about contacts with Russian officials?
America's top diplomat faces challenges in Asia Whatever happened to America's "pivot to Asia?" That's just one of the questions left hanging since Rex Tillerson's first trip there as Secretary of State. Is the Trump Administration hoping to change Foreign Policy or maintain the status quo?
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."