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Bush: 'US Must Not Let Down Its Guard'
Topics | 2008/03/07 09:00
President Bush said Thursday that while it's been more than six years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States must not become complacent about terrorism.

In a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, Bush said U.S. officials have helped foil numerous planned attacks, including a plot to fly an airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast and another to blow up trans-Atlantic passenger jets.

"The enemy remains active — deadly in its intent — and in the face of this danger, the United States must never let down its guard," Bush said.

Bush continued to pressure the House to act on Senate-passed legislation needed to renew an intelligence law that governs how the government can eavesdrop on suspected terrorists. The law expired Feb. 16 and the House and Senate have yet to reconcile different versions of a new intelligence bill.



US lawmaker fears open-ended US military pact in Iraq
Law Firm News | 2008/03/06 20:48

A top lawmaker voiced fears Tuesday that US President George Bush's administration was negotiating deals with Iraq that would amount to an open-ended commitment to stage US combat missions there.

Administration officials say formal US-Iraqi negotiations will begin later this month on a legal framework aimed at keeping security policy options open for both countries beyond 2008, when the UN mandate for US forces ends.

David Satterfield, the State Department's coordinator for Iraq, told a joint meeting of two congressional subcommittees Tuesday that "the agreements will not tie the hands of the next president or indeed this president.

"They will ensure that every policy option remains on the table," Satterfield told the lawmaking panels. "The size of the US presence in Iraq, the missions to be performed by such forces if forces are present, are decisions for the president and the next president to make," he added.

The so-called Strategic Framework and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), he insisted, "will not include a binding commitment to defend Iraq or any other security commitments that would warrant Senate advice and consent.



Court of Appeals weighs scope of extortion law
Court Watch | 2008/03/06 19:26

A lawyer for the state came under sharp attack from several Court of Appeals judges when he urged them to reinstate the extortion conviction of a man who sent expletive-laden letters to a former boss and his attorney, threatening to sue them unless they paid him $100,000.

Assistant Attorney General Brian S. Kleinbord said Scott L. Rendelman’s letters constituted extortion because the grounds for his threatened lawsuit were “baseless” and the written messages were a “threat to obtain something of value to which [he] is not otherwise entitled.”

A Montgomery County jury had convicted Rendelman of trying to extort money from William Elmhirst and attorney Kevin P. Fay, but the Court of Special Appeals threw out the conviction, saying that a threat to sue, unlike a threat of bodily harm, is not evidence of extortion.

Three of the seven judges hearing the matter on Thursday — retired Judges Alan M. Wilner, Lawrence F. Rodowsky and Dale R. Cathell — echoed that reasoning.

Click to download the Webcast of the State of Maryland v. Scott L. Rendelman

Extending the crime of extortion to include threats of litigation might discourage individuals and their lawyers from validly informing an opponent that they might file suit, lest they find themselves in criminal court, the judges said.

By contrast, all seven were largely silent as Rendelman’s lawyer, Karen C. Daly of Washington, said prosecutors go too far when they charge with extortion a person proclaiming his or her legal right to sue – even if vulgarly expressed.



Judge Wants to Resolve Indian Lands Case
Topics | 2008/03/06 17:59
A federal judge says he wants to resolve a 12-year lawsuit over government mismanagement of Indian lands this June.

In a decision last month, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said government accounting for billions of dollars owed to Indian landholders has been "unreasonably delayed" and is ultimately impossible.

At the same time, Robertson said the task is not hopeless, and he asked lawyers for both sides to lay out their cases again at a status hearing on Wednesday.

The June trial "is meant to bring this matter to a conclusion," Robertson said.

The suit, first filed in 1996 by Blackfeet Indian Elouise Cobell, claims the government has mismanaged more than $100 billion in royalties held in trust from Indian lands dating back to 1887.



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