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Posted April 21, 2010

Between The Lines
For The Week Ending April 30, 2010

surveillance lede


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This week we present Between The Lines' summary of under-reported news stories and:

ACLU Challenges
Obama's Warrantless Surveillance
of Americans

 RealAudio  MP3

Interview with Melissa Goodman,
ACLU staff attorney,
conducted by Scott Harris


In July 2008, President Bush signed into law an amended version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that granted sweeping new powers to the executive branch, allowing wholesale or dragnet collection of American's overseas phone calls and e-mail. The measure approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress, also provided retroactive immunity to telephone companies that participated in Bush's warrantless wiretap program.

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama strongly criticized the Bush administration's surveillance program that operated without judicial oversight. But once in office, he adopted many elements of his predecessor's spy program. In 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the amended FISA legislation on behalf of journalists, defense lawyers and human rights workers. The plaintiffs believed the new FISA law compromised their ability to perform work requiring confidential communications with their sources and clients.

When a lower court dismissed their case in August 2009, the ACLU appealed the ruling and argued for reinstatement of the lawsuit before a New York federal appeals court on April 16. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with ACLU staff attorney Melissa Goodman, who explains why her group is challenging President Obama's continued use of warrantless surveillance of Americans' overseas phone calls and email.

For more information on the ACLU's FISA lawsuit contact them at (202) 457-0800 or visit their website at

Related Links:

Campaign Seeks to End U.S. Dependency on Coal

 RealAudio  MP3

Interview with Mary Anne Hitt,
director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign,
conducted by Melinda Tuhus


The explosion earlier this month at the Big Branch mine owned by Massey Energy in southern West Virginia -- which claimed the lives of 29 miners, the worst mining disaster in almost 40 years -- has drawn attention to the dangers of coal production. But mining coal is just the start of a long list of dangers and destructive impacts on the land, water, air and human health both at the site of extraction and for those downwind of the coal-fired electricity plants. Burning coal produces at least 45 percent of America's electricity and 30 percent of the emissions, which cause global warming in the U.S.

The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign was motivated by the Bush/Cheney administration's advocacy for the construction of over one hundred new coal plants to provide energy, rather than moving toward renewables and energy efficiency, which Vice President Cheney famously declared a meaningless "lifestyle choice."

During the week commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. She spoke about the successes the campaign has achieved thus far and the challenges which remain.
See rush interview transcript.
Sign up for Between The Lines Q&A
interview transcripts.


For state-by-state information about the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign challenging the nation's continuing dependence on coal, visit the organization's website at

Related links:
  • Coal River Mountain Watch at or call (304) 854-2182.

Millionaires Join Effort to Roll Back
Bush Tax Cuts for Nation's Wealthiest

 RealAudio  MP3

Interview with Brian Miller,
director of United for a Fair Economy,
conducted by Scott Harris


As the American people struggle to recover from the depths of the worst recession to hit the country since the Great Depression, Congress will soon start debating what to do with President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest citizens. By the end of 2010, the tax cuts signed into law by Bush in 2001 and 2003 gave the top nation's top 5 percent wealthiest citizens a total of $980 billion in tax breaks.

Democratic leaders in Congress say the Bush tax cuts, set to expire at the end of 2010, will end for the wealthiest Americans, but will remain in place for couples earning less that $250,000 and individuals earning less than $200,000. Republicans predictably oppose ending tax cuts for the wealthy, warning that raising taxes on the rich coming out of a recession will diminish job creation and slow the recovery. The revenue expected from ending the tax cuts on the wealthy are estimated to total $679 billion through 2020.

The group United for a Fair Economy is working with 70 U.S. millionaires, who are calling for an end to the Bush tax breaks, to which they've been the prime beneficiaries. These wealthy business leaders and individuals have formed the Responsible Wealth network, which fights for tax fairness and has campaigned to stop the proposed permanent repeal of the federal estate tax. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Brian Miller, Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy who talks about his group's Tax Fairness Pledge campaign which is working to end the Bush tax cuts.

Contact United for a Fair Economy by calling (617) 423-2148 or visit their website at -- where you can use their online tax break calculator to find out how the Bush tax cuts affect you.

Related links:
  •  MP3: Full-length Counterpoint interview with Brian Miller, conducted by Scott Harris, April 19, 2010 (21:57)

This week's summary
of under-reported news

 RealAudio  MP3

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • The Los Angeles Times reports the Obama administration is in talks with the Indonesian military to renew training for the elite Kopassus special forces unit, which has been implicated in human rights abuses since its creation in the 1950s. ("US Plan To Train Indonesian Elite Army Unit Raises Alarm," Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2010)
  • In early April, the World Bank approved a $3 billion loan to build a massive 4,800-kilowatt coal power plant in northern South Africa. If constructed, the controversial coal plant would be the first power plant built in South Africa in 15 years. ("South Africa: Coal Plant Won't Promote Development, Say Groups," Inter Press Service, April 10, 2010; "U.S. to Abstain from South African Coal Plant," New York Times, April 8, 2010)
  • As corporate funding of large American environmental groups has taken off since it started with the National Wildlife Federation in the early 1980s, lobbyists have lost ground on Capitol Hill working to get climate legislation passed. Republicans have bottled up the bill and there is little prospect that a meaningful carbon cap will pass anytime soon. ("The Wrong Kind of Green," The Nation, March 22, 2010 print issue, p.11-19)

Executive producer: Scott Harris
Segment producers: Scott Harris, Melinda Tuhus
Senior news editor: Bob Nixon
Program narration: Denise Manzari
News reader: Elaine Osowski
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Web producers: Jeffrey P. Yates and Gil Gilmore
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Between The Lines Week Ending 4/23/10

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"The Populism of the Privileged," by E.J. Dionne, TruthDig, Apr. 19, 2010

"Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This,'" by Chris Hedges, TruthDig, Apr. 19, 2010

"The Tea Partiers' racial paranoia," by Joan Walsh, Salon, Apr. 15, 2010

"As potential pick for court, Kagan gets fire from left," Boston Globe, Apr. 15, 2010

"Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated," The New York Times, Apr. 14, 2010

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"Senate to ask Moody's chief why bad bonds got good ratings," McClatchy Newspapers, Apr. 20, 2010

"Break Up The Banks," by Simon Johnson, Baseline Scenario, Apr. 20, 2010

"Goldman Hires Obama's Ex-White House Counsel to Defend Bank Against Fraud Charges," by Jason Leopold, Truthout, Apr. 19, 2010

"The Financial Terrorists Who Destroyed Our Economy Will Pay Zero in Taxes -- and Get $33 Billion in Refunds," by David DeGraw, AlterNet, Apr. 19, 2010

"Financial Reform Is Good; Firing Bernanke Would Be Better," by Dean Baker, Truthout, Apr. 19, 2010

"Veterans Impacted by Another Crisis: Unemployment," by Mary Susan Littlepage, Truthout, Apr. 19, 2010

"Goldman Sachs' Bloody Nose," by Mike Whitney, Counterpunch, Apr. 19, 2010

"Goldman Case Is Likely Tip of the Legal Iceberg," Associated Press, Apr. 18, 2010

"The firm not charged in Goldman case made billions on collapse," McClatchy Newspapers, Apr. 16, 2010

"How Bubble Barons Protected Their Influence While the Economy Tanked," by Kevin Connor, AlterNet, Apr. 16, 2010

"S.E.C. Accuses Goldman of Fraud in Housing Deal," The New York Times, Apr. 16, 2010

"Wall Street: It's About Power, Not 'Reform,'" by Robert Weissman, Common Dreams, Apr. 15, 2010

"The Whistle-Blower They Ignored," by Robert Scheer, TruthDig, Apr. 14, 2010

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Bush Accountability

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International Affairs

"Left & Right: Prospects for Peace," The American Conservative, May, 1, 2010

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"Postwar" Occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan

"Iraq election: Can Maliki win with a Baghdad recount?," Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 19, 2010

"Kandahar Campaign Doomed Before It Begins? 94 Percent of Kandaharis Support Negotiations With the Taliban," by Gareth Porter, Counterpunch, Apr. 19, 2010

"Feingold, McGovern, Jones Introduce Bill to End the War in Afghanistan," by Robert Naiman, Common Dreams, Apr. 15, 2010

"Terror suspects held 'illegally' in Afghanistan prison named by charity," Guardian/UK, Apr. 15, 2010

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Civil Liberties/ Human Rights

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"Are 'tea party' rallies given preferential treatment by police?," Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 19, 2010

"Obama's 'Remainees': Will Not One But Two Guantanamos Define the American Future?," by Tom Engelhardt & Karen J. Greenberg, TomDispatch, Apr. 18, 2010

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"Kucinich: White House Assassination Policy Is Extrajudicial," by Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, Apr. 15, 2010

"Ghost of 'Total Information Awareness,'" by Coleen Rowley, Consortium News, Apr. 15, 2010

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