Friday, March 14, 2008

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Spitzer Defense Lawyers Worked in Prosecutor's Office

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Eliot Spitzer may have made a smart move when choosing lawyers to help him avoid criminal charges for soliciting prostitutes. Two were top attorneys in the same office handling his case.

Michele Hirshman, now a defense lawyer, ran the unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan that's investigating whether the governor broke the law by allegedly paying thousands of dollars to an international call-girl operation. Mark Pomerantz headed the office's criminal division and was once the boss of Michael Garcia, now the top federal prosecutor in New York.

In private talks with the government, the two white-collar defense partners at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York may know precisely how to tailor arguments to sway prosecutors, citing past instances when law enforcement officials chose not to press charges.

``White-collar practice in New York is substantially dominated by former prosecutors for good reason,'' said Daniel Richman, an ex-prosecutor in same office and now a Columbia Law School professor. ``So much of white-collar lawyering is understanding where the government is coming from and explaining to them that what your client did may have been illegal but nonetheless ought not to be pursued by the government.''

Garcia's spokeswoman, Rebekah Carmichael, declined to comment on negotiations between the two sides, which have begun, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the matter. Paul Weiss spokeswoman Madelaine Miller declined to comment on the firm's role in the talks.

Emperors Club VIP

Spitzer, who resigned two days ago, effective March 17, is under investigation for payments he made to what prosecutors said was an international prostitution and money-laundering ring called the ``Emperors Club VIP,'' the official said.

Prosecutors are trying to determine whether any of Spitzer's campaign funds were used in connection with prostitutes, the New York Times reported today, citing three unidentified people familiar with the inquiry. The government lawyers have asked for information about hotel and travel costs, the newspaper said.

Spitzer told his aides his use of prostitutes began eight months ago and didn't involve campaign funds or public money, the Times cited some of the unidentified aides as saying.

In a criminal complaint against four people linked to the ring, prosecutors said March 6 that an unidentified person known as Client 9 paid $4,300 for sex with a New York prostitute named ``Kristen'' at a Washington hotel in February. Front companies for the club accepted payments, according to the complaint.

Mann Act

Client 9 is Spitzer, the law enforcement official said. Spitzer's lawyers are seeking to negotiate a settlement of possible charges including violations of the Mann Act, which makes it a crime to transport someone across state lines for prostitution, and improper structuring of financial transactions, the official said.

Kristen was identified by the New York Times as Ashley Dupre, 22, of Manhattan. Her original name was Ashley Youmans, the paper said. On March 10, Ashley Youmans appeared in Manhattan federal court, where her lawyer, Don Buchwald, said she was subpoenaed as a witness in a grand jury investigation, according to a recording of the proceeding. Buchwald confirmed she received a subpoena, declining to say she is Kristen or whether she testified.

Spitzer hasn't been charged nor has he said he paid any prostitutes, apologizing only for ``a private matter.''

Lawyers' Relationships

Individual relationships among the lawyers probably won't be an issue. Two of the three assistant prosecutors handling the probe, Daniel Stein and Rita Glavin, weren't in the prosecutor's office while Pomerantz and Hirshman were there. The third, Boyd Johnson, was handling minor drug cases during Hirshman's last months in the office.

Pomerantz and Hirshman do bring to Spitzer's defense team an intimate knowledge of many of the major decisions made by the U.S. Attorney in the 1990s.

A 56-year-old Brooklyn native, Pomerantz was a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart before joining the prosecutor's office. He rose to oversee the appellate unit. After working in private practice, he returned to run the criminal division.

Hirshman spent 11 years as a U.S. prosecutor, including a stint as chief of the public-corruption unit. She left in 1999 to become Spitzer's top aide when he was New York attorney general.

Also part of the team is Theodore Wells, who unsuccessfully defended former vice presidential aide Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby last year for lying about the leak of the identity of a U.S. intelligence agent.

Represented Torricelli

Pomerantz and Wells represented former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat who was the focus of a four- year investigation into his personal and campaign finances. U.S. prosecutors in New York closed a criminal investigation in January 2002 without filing charges.

Prosecutors will focus first on the facts, the strength of their evidence and the length of Spitzer's alleged involvement with the Emperors Club.

If the case against Spitzer is ambiguous or the law is murky, arguments advanced by the Paul Weiss lawyers may prevail.

``It is a clubby place,'' said Andrew McCarthy, former chief assistant U.S. attorney, who worked under Pomerantz and Hirshman and was Garcia's onetime boss. ``It always made a difference to me if it was someone who served with me in the office. It didn't mean I would necessarily cut the person a break but I was probably more inclined to listen to the person more.''

To contact the reporters on this story: David Glovin in New York federal court at ; Patricia Hurtado in New York state Supreme Court at .

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Ohio Supreme Court late Thursday denied two requests from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner

for an order to shield from disclosure her videotape deposition in a legal battle with the Summit County Republican Party. (Gongwer News Service)

Brunner teamed up with publicly-funded lawyers from Attorney General Marc Dann's office
to first argue against making her testimony public, then against videotaping the deposition, and finally against allowing the tape to be accessed by the public.
The court ruled against Dann's lawyers in all three arguments.

The Akron Beacon Journal joined the case as a "friend of the court," arguing

Brunner's claim that the tape could be used against her politically is not enough to keep it private:

"That records may be filed which are embarrassing to one party or another is not

determinative of whether they should be sealed," Ms. Lefton said. "Rather, it is whether having open access would in some significant, measurable way impair the administration of justice. In this case, no such result was even alleged."

So we're back to the political hypocrisy of Marc Dann and Jennifer Brunner
campaigning for office on open government but arguing just the opposite when it impacts them.
House Closes Its Doors for Spying Bill

WASHINGTON - The House held a closed session Thursday for the first time in 25 years to discuss a hotly contested surveillance bill.

Republicans requested privacy for what they termed "an honest debate" on the new Democratic eavesdropping measure that is opposed by the White House and most Republicans in Congress.

Lawmakers were forbidden to disclose what was said during the hour-long session. The extent to which minds were changed, if at all, should be more clear Friday, when the House was expected to openly debate and then vote on the bill.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas said she didn't believe anyone changed positions but that the session was useful because no one would be able to complain on Friday that their views had not been heard.

House going to secret session for FISA

UPDATE - 8:36 p.m. - With the help of Minority Whip Blunt's office, I got hold of a Congressional Research Service report that gives you all the detail you ever wanted about secret sessions.

The House chamber is sealed and undergoing its security sweep. The secret session will begin at some point in the next hour or two.

This is from a May 25, 2007 CRS report by Mildred Amer:

The Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention met in secret. The Senate met in secret until 1794, its first rules reflecting a belief that the body's various special roles, including providing advice and consent to the executive branch, compelled it to conduct its business behind closed doors. The Senate's executive sessions (to consider nominations and treaties) were not opened until 1929.

Since 1929, the Senate has held 54 secret sessions, generally for reasons of national security. On November 1, 2005, the Senate met behind closed doors to discuss Iraq war intelligence. Six of the seven most recent secret sessions, however, were held during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. In 1997, the Senate met in secret to consider the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty and in 1992, to debate the "most favored nation" status of China. The Senate also closed its doors during the impeachment trial of federal judges in 1933 and 1936 and on six occasions in the 1980s.

The House met frequently in secret session through the end of the War of 1812, and then only in 1825 and in 1830. Since 1830, the House has met behind closed doors only three times: in 1979 to discuss the Panama Canal, in 1980 to discuss Central American assistance, and in 1983 to discuss U.S. support for paramilitary operations in Nicaragua.

Members and staff of both houses are prohibited from divulging information from secret sessions, and all staff are sworn to secrecy. Violations of secrecy are punishable by the disciplinary rules of a chamber. A Member may be subject to a variety of punishments, including loss of seniority, fine, reprimand, censure, or expulsion. An officer or employee may be fired or subject to other internal disciplinary actions.


UPDATE - 7:25 p.m. - Some House Democrats are raising objections to the secret session, but Majority Leader Hoyer is trying to persuade them to agree to one, in an interesting floor debate.

It appears he has just succeeded, after Rep. David Scott, Georgia Democrat, withdrew his objection.

"We walk a very delicate balance this evening. Let us hope that we walk it right," Mr. Scott said, just before agreeing to drop his reservation.

The vote will now occur tomorrow, regardless.

Nick Simpson, spokesman for House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, says the House has gone into secret session five times since 1825.

Here are the five occasions:

December 27, 1825 — To receive a confidential message from the President regarding relations with Indian tribes.

May 27, 1830 — To receive a confidential message from the President
on a bill regulating trade between the U.S. and Great Britain.

June 20, 1979 — Panama Canal Act of 1979; implementing legislation.

February 25, 1980 — Cuban and other Communist-bloc countries
involvement in Nicaragua.

July 19, 1983 — U.S. support for paramilitary operations in Nicaragua.


UPDATE - 4:41 P.M. - Democratic leaders are already saying they don't think the secret session will be persuasive. Here's House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, who has already been briefed by the White House on the classified details of the FISA program.

My colleagues who joined me in the hearings and reviewed the Administration's documents have walked away with an inescapable conclusion: the Administration has not made the case for unprecedented spying powers and blanket retroactive immunity for phone companies.

Whether this is a worthwhile exercise or mere grandstanding depends on whether Republicans have groundbreaking new information that would affect the legislative process. There must be a very high bar to urge the House into a secret session for the first time in 25 years. I eagerly await their presentation to see if it clears this threshold. As someone who has seen and heard an enormous amount of information already, I have my doubts.

It should be noted that Majority Leader Hoyer complained today that "the President is asking Congress to immunize companies for their conduct, despite the fact that Congress is not sure what conduct it would be immunizing."

But the White House says they've briefed lawmakers such as Mr. Hoyer, along with the rest of the House leadership and members of the intelligence and judiciary committees. Mr. Conyer's point that he has been briefed but not persuaded seems to contradict Mr. Hoyer's point that Congress doesn't know what they're being asked to do.

I've asked Mr. Hoyer's office for a clarification but have not received an answer so far today.


UPDATE - 4:30 P.M. - Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, has indeed agreed to go into secret session, his office announced. Here is his statement:

"The Majority received a request from the Minority Whip, Mr. Blunt, for the House to go into secret session. Mr. Blunt stated that Members in the Minority believe they have information relevant to the debate on FISA that cannot be publicly discussed. The Majority agreed to Mr. Blunt’s request so that the Members may hear this information in a secret session that will proceed for one hour, equally divided, and controlled by the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader. At the conclusion of the debate, the secret session shall be dissolved.”

A House staffer says that the secret session will convene around 8 p.m.

This is interesting: the House will recess after they finish voting this afternoon, and then security officers will do a sweep of the House chamber prior to the secret session. This is required before every secret session, the staffer said, to make sure there are no listening devices in the chamber.

No word yet on whether the House will actually vote tonight on FISA.


UPDATE - 2:45 P.M. - Apparently, the earliest that the House will vote on the FISA bill is probably around 6:30 this evening, and there is still a possibility that the House will come back tomorrow morning for the vote.

After the House recesses, either tonight or tomorrow, they are out until Monday, March 31.


This just came in from Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican:

Folks - I wanted to make sure all of heard that it is our understanding that Majority Leader Hoyer has agreed to our request that the House go into a secret session today. We will discuss the importance of permanently extending the Protect America Act, the flaws in the Democrats' new FISA legislation, and why immediate passage of the bipartisan, Senate-passed FISA bill is the best solution to protect the American people and our Armed Forces around the world. I believe this will be the first secret session in the House since 1983.

Mr. Boehner said in his press conference today that the session is needed "to have a candid discussion about the urgent need to give our intelligence officials all the tools they need to protect the American people."

"Sometimes we have these conversations in public settings, other times we have them in more classified briefings," Mr. Boehner said.

A Hill source says that this closed session will allow Republicans to talk more openly with members about classified information, such as what exactly the telecom companies will be getting immunity for if the White House gets what it wants.

There are, however, four members who will not be allowed to attend the secret session, having refused to sign the oath of confidentiality. They are all Democrats: Rep. George Miller of California, Rep. Jim McDermott, of Washington Rep. Peter Stark of California, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, of Ohio.

— Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

Comic relief from

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The Ringworm Children:

How the Israeli Government Irradiated 100,000 Israeli Kids

Rep. Ron Paul Stands Alone (defying AIPAC)

Mr. Speaker I rise in opposition to H. Res. 951, a resolution to condemn Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. As one who is consistently against war and violence, I obviously do not support the firing of rockets indiscriminately into civilian populations. I believe it is appalling that Palestinians are firing rockets that harm innocent Israelis, just as I believe it is appalling that Israel fires missiles into Palestinian areas where children and other non-combatants are killed and injured.

Unfortunately, legislation such as this is more likely to perpetuate violence in the Middle East than contribute to its abatement. It is our continued involvement and intervention - particularly when it appears to be one-sided - that reduces the incentive for opposing sides to reach a lasting peace agreement.

Additionally, this bill will continue the march toward war with Iran and Syria, as it contains provocative language targeting these countries. The legislation oversimplifies the Israel/Palestine conflict and the larger unrest in the Middle East by simply pointing the finger at Iran and Syria. This is another piece in a steady series of legislation passed in the House that intensifies enmity between the United States and Iran and Syria. My colleagues will recall that we saw a similar steady stream of provocative legislation against Iraq in the years before the US attack on that country.

News 03 012 08

Iraq Veterans Against the War
From March 13-16th, U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will testify to what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground in these occupations. To provide a preview, we've created this short film. The film features three members who will be testifying at Winter Soldier and includes videos and photographs of Iraq from their deployments. This video contains graphic content. We need your support to help make Winter Soldier a success.

Not about Elliot Spitzer
Disturbing revelations, not about Elliot Spitzer but about the scope of domestic surveillance and law in America.

Israeli at center of Spitzer scandal

How soon we forget the blockbuster ABC News scoop that was - and then wasn't - much bigger and more explosive then Governor Spitzer's, because it alleged Dick Cheney was a client.

The brutal attack on a Jewish religious seminary in Jerusalem shocked the world. Such attacks on students in their schools are more familiar in the United States than in Israel. Scenes of the tragedy, accompanied by scenes of some Palestinians condoning the crime, filled the media, causing a natural reaction against Palestine and more sympathy for Israel, in spite of the brutal siege of Gaza. One can only wonder why such a crime occurred - and at this time.

"The current issue of Esquire Magazine portrays Fallon as the one person in the military or Pentagon standing between the White House and war with Iran. The article credits Fallon with "brazenly challenging his commander in chief" over a possible war with Iran, which Fallon called an "ill-advised action," and implies Fallon would resign rather than go to war against Iran."

In putting together my new book, So Wrong for So Long, on Iraq and the media, I revisited the good, the bad, and the ugly in war coverage from the run-up to the invasion through the five years of controversy that followed. Even though I monitored the coverage closely all along, I was continually surprised to come across once-prominent names, quotes, and incidents that had faded to obscurity. Here is a list of 18 of those nearly forgotten episodes, in roughly chronological order.

BBC's killer documentary called "The Power of Nightmares". Top CIA officials openly admit, Al-qaeda is a total and complete fabrication, never having existed at any time. The Bush administration needed a reason that complied with the Laws so they could go after "the bad guy of their choice" namely laws that had been set in place to protect us from mobs and "criminal organizations" such as the Mafia. They paid Jamal al Fadl, hundreds of thousands of dollars to back the U.S. Government's story of Al-qaeda, a "group" or criminal organization they could "legally" go after.

UK top cop who led CIA probe found dead

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Michael Todd, left,
with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is seen outside
Greenheys Police station in Manchester, England,
in this Nov. 16, 2007 file photo.


MANCHESTER, England - A city police chief who led an investigation into charges
that Britain cooperated with secret CIA flights to transport terrorism suspects without
formal proceedings has been found dead, his deputy said Tuesday.

Manchester Chief Constable Michael Todd, 50, was found dead in Snowdonia,
about 240 miles northwest of London, Deputy Chief Constable Dave Whatton said.
He had been missing since going out for a walk Monday during his day off.

Todd was elected vice president of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and

Wales in 2006, according to a biography on his Web site.

The association gave him the task of looking into accusations that Britain allowed the CIA

to use the country's airports to fly terrorism suspects to other countries without any extradition

hearings, a clandestine procedure known as "extraordinary rendition."

Todd's investigation concluded last June that there was no evidence to back the claim. Last month,

however, Britain admitted one of its remote outposts in the Indian Ocean had twice been used by

the United States as a refueling stop for the secret transfer of two terrorism suspects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

N.Y. Gov. Spitzer in sex scandal; pimp said to hold Israel passport

N.Y. Governor Eliot Spitzer at the press conference held on Monday where he apologized to the public, as his wife looks on. (Reuters)

Last update - 17:12 11/03/2008
N.Y. Gov. Spitzer in sex scandal; pimp said to hold Israel passport
By The Associated Press
Tags: Eliot Spitzer

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, touted in the past as the first potential Jewish U.S. president, found his political career on the brink of collapse Monday after he was accused of paying for a romp with a high-priced call girl, in a prostitution ring allegedly led by a man found with an Israeli passport at his home.


Spitzer's Nemesis had TWO israeli passports

New York Post

March 7, 2008 -- The feds busted a diamond-studded international call-girl ring that offered well-heeled johns "fashion models, pageant winners and exquisite students" for up to $5,500 an hour - after one of the prostitutes turned on her pimp, authorities said yesterday.

The johns paid as much as $50,000 for a weekend with a prostitute and had the option of purchasing a "buy out" of their favorite girls, which allowed them to book trysts directly with the hookers, Manhattan federal prosecutors said.

The Emperors Club, an upscale escort service, ranked its hookers on a seven-diamond scale on its Web site and then charged its wealthy clientele accordingly for "dates," court papers said.

Four people were charged with prostitution and tax crimes for allegedly raking in more than $1 million with a stable of 50 girls that serviced clients in New York, Washington, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, London, Paris and Vienna.

Mark Brener, the 62-year-old alleged ring leader from Monmouth Junction, NJ, along with his girlfriend and alleged top madam, 23-year-old Cecil "Katie" Suwal, , from Cliffside Park, NJ, both face up to five years in prison on prostitution charges and 20 years behind bars for money laundering.

Authorities raided Brener's home early yesterday and found $600,000 in cash and 19,000 in Euros in various safes, prosecutors said.

Brener, they said, had two Israeli passports in addition to his US passport.

youtube video


Ex-DEA Head Admits CIA Imported Cocaine


Sunday, March 9, 2008

911 was an Inside Job; say it till they hear It!

Joe Scarborough calls for members of the 9/11 Truth movement to be thrown into secret prisons; possibly the greatest and most soulless whore to appear on television, ever; Geraldo Rivera, states that the New York bombing is likely the work of the 9/11 Truth movement. We’ve seen Netanyahu soul mate, Bill Maher, screaming like a hemorrhoidal finger puppet at his audience. We’ve seen sneers and grins and a denial that should be lining the outside of our space vehicles. We’ve seen and we have believed our lying eyes. Everyone else’s spouse is sleeping with the help.

Pharmaceuticals found in drinking water of 24 major metro areas

3/9/2008, 12:32 p.m. EDT The Associated Press

Columbus, Ohio: 5

(azithromycin, roxithromycin, tylosin, virginiamycin and caffeine)

(AP) — At least one pharmaceutical was detected in tests of treated drinking water supplies for 24 major metropolitan areas, according to an Associated Press survey of 62 major water providers and data obtained from independent researchers.

Only 28 tested drinking water. Three of those said results were negative; Dallas says tests were conducted but results are not yet available. Thirty-four locations said no testing was conducted.

Test protocols varied widely. Some researchers looked only for one pharmaceutical or two; others looked for many.

Live from Gaza. Mohammed Omer describes the awful scenes in the streets of Gaza where human bodies and limbs scattered in the streets after ... the Israeli bombing of Civilian homes. Babies and infants as young as two weeks old with fatal bullet wounds in the mouth and skull.

The United States plotted the armed overthrow of the Hamas government elected by the Palestinian people in January 2006, according to "The Gaza Bombshell", an article based on leaked documents and interviews with key players in the Bush administration that was published in the latest edition of the US magazine Vanity Fair.

9Wants to Know has learned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit is investigating Chief U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham for the third time in the past year.

He is being investigated for improper judicial conduct after his full name and personal cell phone number appeared on a list of clients from a Denver prostitution business.


The price of unleaded super gasoline is $4.019 at a Valero gas station in Los Angeles March 7, 2008. Gas prices extended their advance toward record levels on Thursday. The national average price of a gallon of gas rose 0.7 cent overnight to $3.185, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Gas prices are following oil higher, and are expected to peak this spring well above last May's record of $3.227 a gallon. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Related News

Full coverage »

Caucus chair uncovers discrepancies - Top Stories

Caucus chair uncovers discrepancies - Top Stories

Volunteers who worked the Jester Center caucus on Tuesday are suspicious of at least one of the caucus lists, the precinct chairman said late Thursday night. At least three students who signed the list verified that the candidates attached to their names were not the candidates they voted for.

Government senior Ray Skidmore, precinct chair for the voting precinct that includes all UT dorms, said one of the caucus volunteers on Thursday noticed almost identical handwriting on one of the caucus sheets. Volunteers were recounting the caucus numbers Wednesday and Thursday, Skidmore said, just to double-check before turning them in today. Information from all caucuses - forms and the official delegate counts - are due to the Travis County clerk's office today by 6 p.m.

When recounting, the volunteer noticed a whole list had Sen. Hillary Clinton written in similar handwriting in the presidential preference column for each of the six voters on that list. Skidmore started calling each of the voters on the list when he reached finance senior Ronesha Holmes, who told him she did not write Clinton as her preference; Holmes said she was instructed to leave that line blank.

Even one discrepancy threw up a flag of suspicion, Skidmore said.

As he continued calling people on the list Thursday, he found that two other students, history and pre-med sophomore Abigail Cheney and government sophomore Adam Aldrete, said they did not fill in a presidential preference and that Clinton was not who they would have listed.