Former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan remembers being at the American embassy in Yemen on September 11, 2001 when, a few hours after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, a CIA official finally produced material, including photographs of two of the hijackers, that the FBI had requested months before.
Two federal officials have been reassigned and a third has resigned in the wake of controversy over "Operation Fast and Furious," the controversial sting that is also known as the "Gunwalking Scandal." Kenneth Melson (pictured at left), acting director for the past 28 months of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will become senior advisor on forensic science in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Programs, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday. U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, who approved the flawed operation that allowed weapons to be delivered to drug gangs, submitted his resignation to President Obama effective immediately. Emory Hurley, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix who worked on the Fast and Furious investigation, has been reassigned from criminal cases to civil casework.
Police in Midway, Georgia shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to make money for a trip to a water park in Savannah because the youngsters didn't have the license and permits required for their fledgling enterprise. City ordinances require a business license, a peddler's permit, and a food permit for the vending of food or beverages, even on residential property in the small city (pop. approximately 1,100) just south of Savannah. The license and permits cost $50 a day or $180 a year, according to Coastal Source, a website of Savannah TV stations WJCL and WTGS.
The theories abound. Osama bin laden is not really dead. Or he has been dead for years, in which case the headlines should read, "Osama Still Dead!" At least one blog proclaims the al-Qaeda leader and alleged mastermind of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was actually dead before 9/11. In other words, our government for all these ensuing years has been chasing the wrong terrorist — and the wrong corpse, even.
A pre-born infant may not be a legal person under current law, but some New Hampshire legislators want pre-borns who are killed by someone other than their mothers and their mothers' physicians classified as homicide victims. A bill in the New Hampshire House would allow criminal prosecution of persons whose actions result in the death of an "unborn child." It would make the death of the unborn an additional crime in cases where a pregnant woman is assaulted, for example, or is hit by a drunk driver. The bill exempts actions taken by the pregnant woman or her physician, however, so abortions would not be affected. Still, testimony at a public hearing in Concord on February 17 showed the usual division on the abortion issue, with abortion opponents supporting the measure and "pro-choice" advocates fearful of the implications of a bill that describes an "unborn child" as someone between conception and birth.
The recent shooting rampage in Tucson that killed six and wounded 14, including a member of Congress, has inspired some predictable calls for new gun legislation. But it has also focused attention on state laws for dealing with the mentally ill and the call from some quarters for involuntary commitment or at least treatment of people with mental disorders — whether or not they have committed a crime.
The good news is that in the near future governments, including our own, may no longer be planting bugs or tapping phones to spy on people. The bad news is they won't have to. New surveillance technology has been developed that will enable the CIA and other agencies to keep its eyes and ears on what people are watching and listening to by a series of connected gadgets activated when a movie is downloaded or a Web radio station is turned on. Even basic home appliances, from refrigerators to clock radios, may soon come equipped with apparatus that enables those outside the home to keep tabs on where the occupant is and what he is doing. The new technology will transform the world of electronic surveillance, predicts CIA Director David Petraeus (left).
By a veto-proof majority of 251 to 108 the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal the state's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a compact among 10 Northeastern states to limit greenhouse emissions and allow utility companies to buy and trade offsetting credits, similar to the federal "cap and trade" program proposed in Congress.
Ron Paul: Father of the Tea Party, by Jason Rink, Variant Press, 2011, 255 pages, paperback.
Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010, 547 pages, hardcover.
On April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area, sending shockwaves from southern Oregon to points south of Los Angeles. Exactly one week later, on the other side of the continent, William Joseph Brennan, Jr. was born. Judicial conservatives might well consider Brennan the greater disaster.