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Monday, Jun 27th

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President Bush pardons Brooklyn home scammer

President Bush pardoned a Brooklyn real estate developer accused of scamming hundreds of poor, minority homebuyers - and whose father donated $28,500 to the Republican Party this year.

Bush pardoned Isaac Toussie, 36, two days before Christmas in a gesture of mercy that outraged ex-customers who said they were duped into buying overpriced, defective homes.

"We're in the middle of a mortgage crisis [and] this is somebody who was alleged to have participated in predatory lending practices," said Peter Seidman, a lawyer who represents 460 people who say they were fleeced.

"To pardon Isaac Toussie is a kick in the teeth to homeowners struggling with mortgages they can't afford."

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Washington lobbying booms as economy tanks

“Usually, December is a very slow month on all fronts, but this year it has been incredibly busy,” said Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist and one-time senior adviser to former House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt (Mo.).

“Anytime government gets more active and more involved in your business, you’ll look for more help in Washington,” he said. “When Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House, there’s no question that government will be more active.”

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Bush E-Mails May Be Secret a Bit Longer

The required transfer in four weeks of all of the Bush White House's electronic mail messages and documents to the National Archives has been imperiled by a combination of technical glitches, lawsuits and lagging computer forensic work, according to government officials, historians and lawyers.

Federal law requires outgoing White House officials to provide the Archives copies of their records, a cache estimated at more than 300 million messages and 25,000 boxes of documents depicting some of the most sensitive policymaking of the past eight years.

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Bush says he shares blame for negative tone

"The tone hasn't been good in Washington, and I've been disappointed in that, and I bear some of the blame for that," Bush said in a television interview.

As a candidate running for the White House in 2000, Bush promised to be a "uniter, not a divider." He also said he believed he could "change the tone in Washington" and "move beyond the bitterness and the partisanship."

But what many saw as his my-way-or-the-highway approach to diplomacy and policy won him criticism for contributing to a more divisive public debate over issues.

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Cheney has publicly confessed to ordering war crimes.

Dick Cheney has publicly confessed to ordering war crimes. Asked about waterboarding in an ABC News interview, Cheney replied, “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared.” He also said he still believes waterboarding was an appropriate method to use on terrorism suspects. CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the agency waterboarded three Al  Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.

U.S. courts have long held that waterboarding, where water is poured into someone’s nose and mouth until he nearly drowns, constitutes torture. Our federal War Crimes Act defines torture as a war crime punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

Under the doctrine of command responsibility, enshrined in U.S. law, commanders all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief can be held liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

Why is Cheney so sanguine about admitting he is a war criminal? Because he’s confident that either President Bush will preemptively pardon him or President-elect Obama won’t prosecute him.

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Should Dick Cheney Be Hanged?

We hanged people for waterboarding as a war crime, in Dick Cheney's lifetime. With that is as the historical context, the vice president cavalierly told ABC News that he specifically approved that same technique being used against the prisoner named Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

In his latest legacy-polishing exit interview, Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledged for the first time, without trepidation or apparent fear of prosecution that he authorized torture techniques to be used against prisoners. He was asked and answered specifically about waterboarding.

Waterboarding, you may recall, from the Tokyo trials after World War II, when an international coalition, including us, convened to prosecute the Japanese officials and military personnel accused of war crimes including waterboarding. A number of those found guilty of waterboarding, American troops and allied troops and civilians. People found guilty of waterboarding those folks were sentenced to death and hanged. We hanged people for waterboarding as a war crime, in Dick Cheney's lifetime. With that is as the historical context, the vice president cavalierly told ABC News that he specifically approved that same technique being used against the prisoner named Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

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John Dean: 'Serious consequences' if Obama doesn't prosecute torture

Vice President Dick Cheney's admission that he authorized waterboarding has focused attention on possible Bush administration war crimes, and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean believes there will be "serious consequences" if the Obama administration tries to avoid singling out those involved for prosecution.

Olbermann asked what Dean saw as the best and most realistic outcome, and Dean replied that it "would be if Mr. Obama, indeed, does exactly what he said during the campaign -- that he will, indeed, when his attorney general is seated, have him instructed to immediately look and see if these offenses have been committed, if they are prosecutable ... and then report to him and the nation to make it very clear that this is not the policy of the Obama administration or the United States."

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