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President Bush Accepts Bolton's U.N. Resignation
Law & Politics | 2006/12/05 21:20

Washington -- President Bush has accepted “with deep regret” the resignation of U.S. Representative to the United Nations John Bolton.

In a statement released by the White House December 4, the president credited Bolton with leading negotiations in the U.N. Security Council that resulted in unanimous resolutions on North Korean military and nuclear activities, a resolution calling on Iran to suspend the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium, and a U.N. peacekeeping commitment to Sudan.

Bolton was appointed to the post in August 2005 during a period when the U.S. Senate, which normally would vote on the nomination, was in recess.  Under the U.S. Constitution, a president may make temporary recess appointments without Senate confirmation.

The president re-nominated Bolton on November 9, but administration officials believed that his nomination did not have enough support in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to come to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Bush said some senators were practicing “stubborn obstructionism” by “obstruct[ing] his confirmation” despite Bolton having the support of the majority of the Senate.  “[T]heir tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time,” Bush said.

White House press secretary Tony Snow blamed Bolton’s difficulties in the Senate on “partisanship and not performance,” adding, “for whatever reason the confirmation process seems to be broken.”

The press secretary called on both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to cooperate on “a confirmation process that allows competent people who share the president’s goals and policies to become confirmed for key positions.”



Maryland high court considers same-sex marriage ban
Headline News | 2006/12/05 20:43

The Maryland Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Monday in a case challenging a 1973 state law banning same-sex marriage. Plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argued that marriage is a fundamental right which should not be denied according to the parties' genders. In response, Maryland Attorney General Robert Zarnoch argued that no court in the country has identified same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, and he urged the court to defer to the legislature. The state is appealing a January ruling by the Baltimore City Circuit Court in which the law was held to be discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Currently, Massachusetts is the only state to allow same-sex marriage, which was legalized when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled in 2003 that a ban on such marriages was unconstitutional. Several cases similar to the Maryland case have been decided or are pending in other states including California, New Jersey, Washington, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Connecticut.



Fight Against Child Sexual Exploitation
Legal Career News | 2006/12/05 20:40

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today delivered remarks at the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood conference on Department efforts to prosecute sex predators and protect children from sexual exploitation through Project Safe Childhood. He called upon Americans to report suspicious behavior and signs of abuse, and upon federal and state prosecutors to aggressively pursue sex predators. Project Safe Childhood, announced by the Attorney General in February 2006, creates a coordinated national response to the growing threat posed to America’s youth by online sexual exploitation. It brings federal, state and local law enforcement communities together in order to maximize resources and obtain the strictest penalties available against sex predators under federal and state law.

As technology advances and as the Internet becomes more accessible, the number of computer-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes committed against children — including child pornography offenses and “traveler” or enticement crimes — continues to grow.

“The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most disturbing crimes known to humankind,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “Much has been done to protect and defend them, but more must be done. Through Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners are able to work together to pursue and prosecute sex predators with greater coordination and determination than ever before.”

In addition to its emphasis on increasing the prosecutions of sex predators, Project Safe Childhood works to increase public awareness about the presence of pedophiles on the Internet. Project Safe Childhood has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and The Ad Council on a public education campaign targeted to children and their parents. The campaign, including print, broadcast and web content, will debut in early 2007. Project Safe Childhood includes five key components:

*INTEGRATED FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL EFFORTS TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE CHILD EXPLOITATION CASES:

The U.S. Attorneys have partnered with ICAC Task Forces that exist within their districts and other federal, state and local law enforcement partners working in their districts to implement Project Safe Childhood. Working with these partners, the U.S. Attorneys have developed district-specific strategic plans to coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child exploitation crimes; to identify and rescue victims; and to coordinate local training, educational and awareness programs.

*MAJOR CASE COORDINATION BY THE CRIMINAL DIVISION:

The Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), in conjunction with the FBI’s Innocent Images Unit, has integrated the Project Safe Childhood Task Forces into pursuing local leads generated from CEOS major national operations.

*INCREASED FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT IN CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND ENTICEMENT CASES: Given the beneficial investigative tools and stiffer punishments available under federal law, U.S. Attorneys and the federal investigative agencies have increased the number of sexual exploitation investigations and prosecutions. The goal is to ensure the worst offenders get the maximum amount of jail time possible.

*TRAINING OF FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT:

Members of the Project Safe Childhood Task Forces have attended training programs facilitated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the ICAC program and other ongoing programs, in order to be taught to investigate and prosecute computer-facilitated crimes against children, as well as to pursue leads from national operations and from NCMEC’s CyberTipline and Child Victim-Identification programs.

*COMMUNITY AWARENESS AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS:

Project Safe Childhood has partnered with NCMEC and the ICAC Task Force program to raise awareness about the threat of online sexual predators and to provide the tools and information parents and youngsters need in order to report suspicious activity on the Internet. The public education campaign, featuring print, broadcast and web content, will debut in the spring of 2007



Controversial U.N. ambassador to step down
Law & Politics | 2006/12/04 18:45

Unable to win Senate confirmation, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks, the White House said Monday. President Bush named Bolton to the position on an interim basis last year through a recess appointment that will expire when the new congressional session begins in January. A September vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on whether to confirm Bolton's nomination as the permanent US ambassador to the UN was delayed  in what the Bush administration called a "political" block due to old grievances, not his performance as ambassador. Bolton's nomination to the position in 2005 was stalled on the Senate floor after the Foreign Relations Committee declined to endorse the nomination. Senate Democrats at the time said Bolton "lacked credibility" due to accusations that he took advantage of intelligence analysts through his role as the head US diplomat for arms control and Bolton's inaccurate statements on a confirmation process questionnaire.

President Bush, in a statement, said he was "deeply disappointed that a handful of United States senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved in the Senate."

"They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time," Bush said. "This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country, and discourages men and women of talent from serving their nation."

Bush gave Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess. Under that process, the appointment expires when Congress formally adjourns, no later than early January.

The White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination last month. But with Democrats capturing control of the next Congress, his chances of winning confirmation appeared slight. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, said he saw "no point in considering Mr. Bolton's nomination again."



Sailor faces life for selling laptop secrets
Court Feed News | 2006/12/04 18:43

A sailor accused of stealing a Navy laptop computer and peddling its classified contents to an undisclosed foreign government pleaded guilty Monday to espionage, desertion and other charges.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann, 22, of Salem, Oregon, faces a sentence of life in prison without parole, a dishonorable discharge from the Navy and forfeiture of all pay.

Under a plea agreement, Weinmann pleaded guilty to one count each of espionage, desertion, failing to properly safeguard and store classified information, copying classified information, communicating classified information to a person not entitled to receive it, and stealing and destroying a government computer.

Weinmann pleaded guilty to trying to transmit classified information related to national defense to a representative of a foreign government on October 19, 2005 while he was in or near Vienna, Austria.

He pleaded not guilty to two additional espionage counts, one accusing him of giving classified information to an agent of a foreign government in March of 2005 in Bahrain and another accusing him of trying to deliver confidential information on March 19, 2006 in Mexico City.

Weinmann told the judge, who had yet to accept the plea, that he deserted the Navy in July 2005 because the service did not meet his expectations.

"I had a very idealized view, basically what amounted to a World War II Navy," Weinmann told the judge.

Weinmann, a fire control technician, had been stationed on the Connecticut-based submarine USS Albuquerque.

He said he did not report for duty aboard his submarine on July 3, 2005. He moved to Austria and never planned to come back to the United States, but changed his mind and was arrested in March at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Weinmann told the judge he believed his actions could hurt morale and security.

"I believe if it fell into the wrong hand, sir, the information could be detrimental to the United States," Weinmann said.

He said he made copies of classified material on a laptop computer, which he brought with him to Austria. He said he printed one document and copied other information onto CDs and said he had unclassified, classified and secret information sitting on a table in his apartment in Austria.

The military has not said what it believes Weinmann might have sought in exchange for the information.



Serbs Concerned Over Serbian Nationalist
Legal Career News | 2006/12/04 14:02

Some 30,000 Serbs gathered in front of the US embassy in Belgrade on Saturday insisting that the United States and the United Nations are trying to kill ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader and war crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj. Seselj is currently on the twenty-second day of his hunger strike; he had been refusing medical attention but on Friday agreed to a medical exam by an "independent" team of doctors. The SRS, which denied the protest is a pre-election stunt, accused the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of acting on American instructions and "jeopardizing Seselj's life". SRS Deputy Leader Tomislav Nikolic described the hunger strike as a "fight against injustice and humiliation."

Seselj was transferred to a Dutch prison hospital adjoining the tribunal's detention center at Scheveningen near The Hague Wednesday so that his medical condition could be more closely monitored. When Seselj went on hunger strike in early November, he demanded that the ICTY dismiss his court-appointed lawyers, who he calls "actors" and "spies," and allow him to conduct his defense to nine war crimes charges. The court later stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself after he failed to appear in court. Seselj is accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the SRS, which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Seselj has pleaded not guilty to the charges.



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