Nation

This was all carried out as a political activity in support of Nixon. In today's crusade, this butchering of civil rights to serve ideologues' agendas and save a leader's neck could easily happen again.


One Grand Inquisitor
The Star Chamber (Continued)

If the recent meanderings within the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, are any indication of what's to come, there's little point in seeking a defense of civil rights in the federal courts. During a hearing on whether a U.S. citizen imprisoned as a member of the Taliban should be allowed to see a lawyer, Chief Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wondered if that might be a bad idea, since it might stop him from talking to government interrogators.

The story goes like this: Yasser Esam Hamdi is a U.S. citizen, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while his parents were on a brief study-abroad program. He has lived in Saudi Arabia virtually his whole life.

According to Hamdi's parents, their son fell into this mess when, following the example of many of his Saudi peers, he took a summer trip to Pakistan and went from there to Afghanistan. This rite of passage began in the 1980s when Gulf Arabs allied themselves with the U.S. against the Soviet forces invading Afghanistan.

Hamdi was captured by the Northern Alliance in the battle for Mazar-i-Sharif. His legal adviser claims the U.S.-backed fighters were eager to cash in on rewards for the capture of Al Qaeda members, and thus traded him to the Americans for money.

Hamdi has been held incommunicado in solitary confinement at the Norfolk navy brig since April 5. Frank W. Dunham Jr., a Virginia public defender appointed to represent Hamdi, asked the navy to let him interview Hamdi in order to see whether he was too poor to provide for his own defense. The Pentagon ignored Dunham. So he sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. A federal magistrate initially approved Dunham's right to visit the prisoner, but before the meeting could take place, the government jumped in and warned the Fourth Circuit that Hamdi might try to send messages to other terrorists through his unsuspecting counsel.

Of more immediate concern, though, according to an attorney from the Solicitor General's office, was that a visit might interrupt the government's interrogation of the prisoner. Chief Judge Wilkinson "asked me if I thought that was true," Dunham said, expressing shock in a Voice interview. "He said, 'If he's given a lawyer, don't you think he'd stop talking to the federal agents?' "


How Power Plants Make You Sick
Dying for Light

Soot from power plants and sources such as farm machinery is responsible for 64,000 deaths per year, causing bacterial and viral respiratory infections like pneumonia, as well as asthma and other chronic lung diseases, according to a recent article from the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group. It's possible to reduce the level of asthma and other diseases by modernizing power plants, something the Bush administration halfheartedly moved toward last week. In a decision blasted by environmentalists and Democrats on Capitol Hill, the White House announced it would ask the Office of Budget Management to work with the Environmental Protection Agency on a draft of regulations due next year.

You have to question the administration's true aim. Is it to save lives—or money?

Utilities have certainly spent plenty to protect the status quo. The chief lobbyist for a group of them is former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour. Southern Co., a principal member, contributed $540,000 to GOP organizations during the 2000 election. Thomas R. Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade association, was a college classmate of Bush and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign.

Environmentalists, for their part, have largely battled with facts instead of bucks. The Wisconsin report is not the first to connect coal-fired power plants with disease. More recently, Eric Schaeffer, the former civilian director of the EPA's regulatory-enforcement division, found that eight power plants play a part in about 5900 premature deaths and respiratory illnesses in tens of thousands of people annually.



Club Med

"Other than the fact that the detainees are in detention, their material living conditions are substantially better than they were before they were captured." —from "Treatment and Status of Detainees at Guantánamo," on www.usembassy.ie


Additional reporting: Joshua Hersh, Caroline Ragon, Cassandra Lewis, and Gabrielle Jackson

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