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ACLU to Congress- Investigate Rumsfeld Immediately
U.S. Legal News | 2006/11/10 17:31

NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded Donald Rumsfeld's resignation from his post as Defense Secretary, and called on Congress to investigate the gross abuse of power committed under his watch.

"Donald Rumsfeld's resignation is a step in the right direction," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "Rumsfeld is responsible for the torture and abuse of detainees in U. S. military custody and must be held accountable for the failures that occurred on his watch. He has placed the blame on junior military members and has been nothing but derelict in his duty. Congress must initiate an immediate and exhaustive investigation into his six-year-long record of unlawful activity, violations of the rule of law and complicity in the executive branch abuse of power."

As a result of the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. In March 2005, the ACLU and Human Rights First filed the first federal lawsuit naming Rumsfeld and other top U.S. officials in the ongoing torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan that has tarnished America's reputation. A hearing in that case, Ali v. Rumsfeld, is scheduled for December 8. In June 2006, the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruled that the Bush administration policy on detention, orchestrated by Rumsfeld, was illegal.

The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit to uncover details of Pentagon surveillance of peace groups and law-abiding Americans who have attended anti-war protests. The documents obtained by the ACLU reveal that the Pentagon shared information on activists with other government agencies through the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database, which was intended to track groups or individuals with links to terrorism.



Abortion ban fails in South Dakota
U.S. Legal News | 2006/11/08 17:36

South Dakota voters Tuesday rejected a controversial law banning most abortions  passed by the state legislature earlier this year. With 818 out of 818 precincts reporting Wednesday, the final unofficial results for Referred Law 6 were:

NO 185948 56%
YES 148666 44%

The abortion ban, seen as a direct challenge to the US Supreme Court's abortion precedents, was placed on the South Dakota ballot after an advocacy group gathered more than 37,000 signatures on a petition to force a referendum. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit had already upheld a preliminary injunction against the law's enforcement pending a lawsuit.



Google Bombs Used in US Election
U.S. Legal News | 2006/11/07 19:30

Voting began last night for the U.S. mid-term election to select 33 senators and 435 congressmen. But this time many candidates chose to campaign with their fingers, rather than on their feet.

Thanks to "Google Bombing," or "Google Washing," an attempt to influence the page ranking in search results by clicking on certain articles or Web sites purposely and repeatedly, candidates' supporters can influence the kind of exposure their opponents get in the online world.

Since the 2004 U.S. presidential election, this new campaign tactic has become another major means for election campaigning along with the "old school" television advertisements.

It's the same kind of attack method, but a bit more subtle.

The new method became so popular that the term "Google Bombing" was introduced in the New Oxford American Dictionary in May 2005.

This is how it works: Depending on how many times a link is clicked in Google, its page rank goes up, and when the same words are searched, the search engine automatically generates on top of the list the page that was visited most often.

Taking advantage of this function, "Google Bombers" purposely click away on the same negative articles on candidates their choice is competing against, so that when voters log on to find out more information on candidates, they are met with unpleasant stories.

One famous example is on the U.S. President George W. Bush. You type in "miserable failure" and you are directed to many results linking you to the president.

It is unclear where those words came from but its first public application related to the Bush administration was by Dick Gephardt, who claimed during a discussion, "This president is a miserable failure on foreign policy; and on the economy. And he's got to be replaced."

The mid-term election is not an exception for manipulating Google data.

If you google George Allen, a Republican U.S. senator from Virginia who is running to keep his seat, many negative articles such as "Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology" show up right below the link to his official Web site.

Google, one of the most powerful search engines, has responded that it will not alter the results (or other Google bombed results) because it wished to preserve the integrity of its search engine.

As for the new tactic's effectiveness, Chris Bowers, who is an author of the popular liberal blog MyDD.com and conceived of the Google Bombing project aimed at 70 Republican candidates, cast doubts.

"I think Internet users are very smart and most are aware of what a Google Bomb is," he said in an interview with the New York Times. "And they will be aware that results can be massaged a bit."



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