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Legal news from Thursday, June 22, 2006
by Tom Henry

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Thursday filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding that the US Department of Defense publicly release its files about the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians last November in Haditha, Iraq. ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said in a press release that the …

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by Tom Henry

The US House of Representatives voted 247-172 Thursday to pass the Legislative Line-Item Veto Act of 2006. The bill, which President Bush proposed in March, allows the President to strip special spending and earmarks out of a bill, and then send those provisions back to Congress for …

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by Tom Henry

Led by Republicans willing to delay a push to abolish the estate tax completely, the US House of Representatives voted Thursday to end taxation for single estates up to $5 million and married couples' estates up to $10 million, beginning in 2011. The bill would reduce tax rates on even larger estates as well, …

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by Joshua Pantesco

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour Thursday announced the entry into force of an Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on detention visitations. The Optional Protocol, adopted in December 2002 by the UN General Assembly, was signed in …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Thailand's Election Commission (EC) has determined that the ruling Thai Rak Thai political party broke two election laws by paying groups to run candidates in the annulled April parliamentary elections in order to meet election requirements after the main opposition parties boycotted the vote, an Attorney General spokesperson told AFP Thursday. …

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by Joshua Pantesco

If allowed to proceed, a lawsuit filed by an Oregon nonprofit organization challenging the NSA domestic surveillance program would impermissibly reveal state secrets, lawyers for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) argued at a Wednesday hearing in federal court. The DOJ filed a notice Monday with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) [official …

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by Jaime Jansen

The US Senate Indian Affairs Committee led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released its final report Thursday, saying that the connections between former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Tom Delay aide Michael Scanlon in a scandal collecting millions of dollars from Indian tribes were "astonishing." The …

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by Joshua Pantesco

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told an Austrian radio station Thursday that European countries could help bring about the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center by accepting some detainees into their judicial and penitentiary systems. Nowak has previously called on the US to close Guantanamo Bay due to documented …

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by Joshua Pantesco

No evidence has surfaced to disprove the extraordinary rendition allegations of the German man who sued the US Central Intelligence Agency, a German prosecutor familiar with the evidence collected by the German government in the case said Thursday. Khalid El-Masri has said he was kidnapped in Macedonia in 2003 in an instance …

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by Jaime Jansen

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the "fair report" privilege, a legal protection that allows journalists to report on legal allegations made during official proceedings, even if the allegations are false. Solaia Technology sued Specialty Publishing for defamation after Specialty's subsidiary Start Magazine (now Start-it Magazine) ran an …

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by Jaime Jansen

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Uzbekistan is cracking down on dissent under the pretext of law, alleging Wednesday that two human rights defenders sentenced to nine years in prison on extortion charges were arrested in a pattern of criminal arrests designed to stifle dissent. Eleven human rights defenders have been convicted so …

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by Jaime Jansen

US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli has said that the trial of Saddam Hussein is fair and legitimate, despite the murder of a third defense lawyer Wednesday morning. In a press briefing Wednesday, Ereli stated:The trial of Saddam Hussein...an Iraqi-led process and something that the Iraqi Government and Iraqi people …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Iran has received nearly universal condemnation for selecting Tehran Prosecutor-General Saeed Mortazavi to attend the inaugural meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as an observer. Mortazavi is widely suspected of being present in July 2003 when Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died from a blow to her head while in Mortazai's …

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by Jaime Jansen

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday that insurgents in Iraq have committed serious violations of international humanitarian law and pointed to the kidnapping of two US soldiers last week as another example of the war crimes that are committed in Iraq. The two soldiers were kidnapped south of Baghdad last week and after their bodies were found …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Supreme Court handed down four decisions Thursday, including Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales, where the Court held that a federal immigration law authorizing deportation can be applied to illegal immigrants who entered the country before its enactment. Mexican immigrant Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, who entered the US in the 1970s …

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by Jaime Jansen

A federal watchdog charged with overseeing California prison reform has released a report saying that an abrupt reversal in policy by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) prompted two secretaries of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to resign earlier this year. The report by John Hagar, a federal court-appointed special master, blamed in particular …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Canadian legal observers expressed concern Thursday that a new ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada will open courts to a flood of divorce litigation revolving around allegations of spousal misconduct, despite the terms of the 1985 "no fault" Divorce Act which eliminated misconduct as a relevant consideration when determining spousal support. In Leskun …

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by Joe Shaulis

Members of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations promised to crack down on data brokers who gather private information after hearing testimony Wednesday from a former data broker who told the subcommittee how easily he obtained other people's information. James Rapp, who was forced out of business after he was …

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by Jaime Jansen

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday demanded that Afghanistan revoke recent National Security Directorate rules that restrict the freedom of the press and effectively ban journalists from writing about Afghanistan's failing security situation. Afghan journalists have said that the rules are a form of intimidation after major media organizations received a list of restrictions [text, …

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by Jaime Jansen

An investigation into the death of 24 Iraqi civilians last November in Haditha focusing on whether senior military personnel covered up the deaths reportedly found several failures to follow up by Marine commanders, but no deliberate cover up of the deaths. The report by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell, charged with leading the investigation, states …

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