FRIDAY: Sunshine and Stimulus Spending -- A How-to Guide

The $787 billion stimulus could be the greatest investment in low-income communities in generations. But with huge chunks of the money heading to opaque state and local governments, we may miss this golden opportunity.

So, this Friday, April 24, hundreds of the nation's leading policy and transparency advocates will join a "recovery briefing" conference call to lay out ways to force local governments to be more fair, more accountable and more transparent in their stimulus spending.

In "Achieving a Fair, Transparent, and Accountable Recovery" -- the second installment of the Demand Equity Now recovery briefing call-in series -- experts from the national and local levels will look at how advocates can ensure stimulus spending is open, honest, and equitable.

The one-hour call begins at 1 pm Eastern (10 am Pacific), Friday, April 24.

RSVP here

The call will feature

   * Gary Bass of OMB Watch and the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery
    * Sarah Mullins of ISAIAH
    * Dante Desiderio of the National Congress of American Indians

The call will be moderated by Judith Bell, president of PolicyLink.

Space is limited. Please RSVP by Thursday afternoon. Respondents will receive the call-in information via email later this week.

Got questions? You can email me directly at dan_at_policylink_dot_org.

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Reviewing Dick Cheney's Security Clearance

So I was reading this account of a Seymour Hersh interview on Fresh Air in which he says that Cheney loyalists have been "burrowed" into sensitive government positions, and continue to feed him information:

"I'll make it worse. I think he's put people left. He's put people back. They call it a stay-behind. It's sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you've been driven out the, you know, you've lost the war. You leave people behind. It's a stay-behind that you can continue to have contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney's left a stay-behind. He's got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what's going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there's still people that talk to him. He still knows what's going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he's still there. He's still a presence."
(Audio link at bottom)

And the first thing that went through my head was, "People from the NSA are talking to a guy who orchestrated the outing of a covert CIA agent?"

Then I realized that the real question was, "Why does Richard Bruce Cheney still have a security clearance?"

Based on my reading of the entire Lewis "Scooter" Libby case, it's clear that Patrick Fitzgerald had concerns that Cheney was aware of the leaks on some level, though he lacked any hard evidence (missing emails anyone?) to go any further.

That being said, a security clearance is not a legal procedure, it's an administrative procedure, and to a significant degree, it is necessary for the holder of this clearance to show that they not a security risk, either intentionally or through negligence.

There is also an additional duty to report any credible potential security violations to the appropriate authorities.

This is a lower standard of proof than, for example, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, or obstruction of justice statutes.

There is therefore a significant concern that Dick Cheney violated the terms of his clearance, and pending an investigation, his clearance should be suspended pending an investigation.

Unlike a government employee whose livelihood is dependent on having a clearance, this should not provide an undue burden, and a hearing, with witnesses, including Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Mr. Cheney, testifying under oath, would be an appropriate venue to decide whether or not he was either deliberately or negligently cavalier with sensitive intelligence data.

Of course, if Mssrs Cheney or Libby were to make untrue statements in the process of giving their testimony, that would be a matter for the federal prosecutors.

Youtube link

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Wikileaks Is Down After Publishing Secret Australian List To Censor Internet.

Wikileaks servers are overloaded and cannot operate.  They recently posted a secret list of a proposed banned sites.  

According to Forbes, the scope of Australia's internet censorship has developed far beyond its initial aim to block child pornography and web pages associated with terrorism. Free speech advocates fear it could be used to block legitimate activity.

(Cross-posted at The National Gadfly)

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Ruth Madoff Declared Homestead in Florida to Protect Herself From Creditors Before Scandal Broke

She's officially changed her primary residence to Florida, and as such she can declare an <span style="font-weight: bold;">unlimited</span> homestead on her $9.4 million home in Palm Beach.

This would protect this home against civil litigants, though I'm not sure what it would do against the Federal prosecutors who have already filed their intent to seize this home, though it clearly is now more difficult than their New York penthouse.

This is not surprising.  What is surprising is that the Feds haven't filed some sort of conspiracy charges over this, because if this were a drug case, they would have already done so.

on edit]I should have read the fine print more carefully, she, "applied for the tax exemption Sept. 18 and received it Jan. 12, according to the appraiser's office."

The scandal broke on December 10, which implies that someone behind the change in residence knew that the house of cards was collapsing, and made the move to save the house.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Wikileaks Needs Our Help!

... could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act.
- Time Magazine

Wikileaks is the world's #1 resource for publishing secret documents that are in the interest of public good.  This site is a colossal pain in the ass for corporate criminals, corrupt governments, tax cheats and anyone out to abuse the general public.  The site allows anyone in the world to submit secret documents anonymously so that the whole world can know what the criminals don't want you to know.  Whistleblowers and people of conscience who come across powerful secret information are able to make it public through Wikileaks.  It is the only site of its kind.

(Cross-posted at The National Gadfly)

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