SAN BERNARDINO - A San Bernardino police sergeant has accused a narcotics team supervisor of illegally arresting two men without citing their crime, a

The former director of Operation Phoenix has been placed on administrative leave, City Manager Fred Wilson confirmed Monday.

Wilson declined to comment further.

James Curtis IV, an attorney representing former program director Glenn Baude, called Wilson's action an attempt at scapegoating.

Prosecutors have brought two dozen felony charges against Michael Steven Miller, 48, a supervisor at one of the city's Operation Phoenix community centers, accusing him of molesting two young girls in recent months and another more than a decade ago.

Miller could face life in prison if convicted on all counts.

After Miller's arrest, the San Bernardino County district attorney's office investigated whether Baude, parks Director Kevin Hawkins or parks department employees Glenda Robinson and Curtis Brown had prior knowledge of Miller's possible sexual involvement with a minor or had violated state child abuse reporting laws. The district attorney's office announced Friday that there was not enough evidence to prove that they had violated any laws.

Curtis said Wilson placed Baude on administrative leave the next day.

"Mr. Baude has acted not only within the legal parameters that his job requires, but has acted ethically and above board through this entire sequence of events," Curtis said. "It seems that the city may very well be looking for a scapegoat."

Reach Chris Richard at 909-806-3076 or crichard@PE.com


Employee at Fort Irwin suspected of embezzling funds

BARSTOW — The Barstow sheriff’s station is looking into a case of possible embezzlement by an employee of a Fort Irwin contractor.
Ryan Kosiba, 27, a former employee of iAP World Services, Inc., disappeared with a total of $2,800 from the post, according to Deputy Sarah Levan, with the Barstow sheriff’s station.

Kosiba, who worked in iAP’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division, had access to two separate petty cash funds and was also entrusted with money to make preparations for special events, Levan said. Before the last day he was seen at work, which was July 15, Kosiba had been given a check for $1,500 to be used to prepare for a function, according to the Barstow sheriff’s station incident log.

That money, along with $1,300 in petty cash, was discovered to be missing after he failed to show up to work on July 16, according to the sheriff’s station incident log. Kosiba had the combination to the petty cash safes, and the check had been written out in his name to be cashed and used for event preparations, Levan said.

Initially, the post’s Criminal Investigation Command was handling the investigation, but when it became evident that the main suspect was a civilian, the CID handed the case over to the sheriff’s station, she said. The sheriff’s station received the report Thursday.

Barstow Police Department checked Kosiba’s last known address in Barstow but found it vacant, according to the sheriff’s station incident log.
If caught, he faces felony embezzlement charges, Levan said.

Hobie Hicks, human resources manager with iAP, said Kosiba is no longer employed there but could give no further information on an ongoing investigation. The company employs about 550 people at Fort Irwin and provides services ranging from servicing buildings to running the Fort Irwin Fire Department.

To report information relating to the case, call the Barstow sheriff’s station at 760-256-4838. To remain anonymous, call WE-TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME or leave information on the WeTip Web site at www.wetip.com.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or abby_sewell@link.freedom.com


Two Marines Charged in Secrets Theft

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - Two Marine Corps reservists have been charged in connection with an alleged information theft ring that involved the compromise of classified files.

Gunnery Sgt. Eric L. Froboese and Master Sgt. Reinaldo Pagan were recalled to duty in June and charged a short time later as part of an investigation into the unauthorized sharing of secret Camp Pendleton files, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jason A. Johnston said Friday.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the men are accused of sharing the files with an anti-terrorism group of law-enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County.

Pagan was charged with dereliction of duty and orders violations. Froboese was charged with dereliction of duty, orders violations, conspiracy and wrongful transmission of classified information.

Johnston said the charges were made public Thursday. The two have been assigned to duty at Camp Pendleton pending adjudication of the case.

The Marine Corps said neither man would be made available for comment. Johnston said the two men have been assigned military defense attorneys but did not know their names.

The Union-Tribune first reported that a group of reservists was being investigated for breaching national security at Camp Pendleton.

In May, the newspaper reported that the alleged theft ring was particularly interested in FBI surveillance files on Muslim religious sites in Los Angeles, and that the Islamic Center of San Diego was monitored.

The charges against the two reservists follows testimony by Gunnery Sgt. Gary Maziarz, who said during a court-martial that he passed classified documents to several people, including a Los Angeles Police Department officer and a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective, according to published newspaper reports.

Maziarz, 37, said he acted out of patriotism. His testimony came in July 2007 during his court-martial on charges of theft and mishandling classified documents while he was a Marine intelligence analyst. He later pleaded guilty to mishandling more than 100 classified documents and passing them to at least four people.

Maziarz was sentenced to 26 months in exchange for information detailing the theft and hand-off of the top secret documents, and agreeing to testify against his alleged accomplices if they are charged. The plea deal bars Maziarz from talking with the media, the Union-Tribune reported.

Pagan and Froboese were not named in Maziarz's testimony.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Man shot by S.B. County sheriff's deputies says he was not subject of search warrant

Rudy Silvain was at an elderly friend's home when San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies arrived Thursday afternoon to serve a search warrant.

Silvain, 20, who lives down the street from the home in the 17500 block of Pine Avenue, said he had been there only five minutes when the sheriff's helicopter began flying overhead about 4 p.m.

Silvain and the woman's granddaughter, Ramie Shaw, were talking near the garage when Fontana sheriff's deputies ordered them on the ground. They were complying when a pit bull reportedly ran out from between two homes and charged a deputy.

Silvain said he couldn't see the dog because he had both hands and one knee on the concrete.

"The dog -- I don't know where exactly the dog came from but I know it didn't come from behind me," Silvain said by phone Friday.

A sheriff's deputy fired at the dog but missed, hitting Silvain once in the upper leg, said Fontana police spokesman Jeff Decker.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said Silvain's injuries were not life-threatening and that he and the dog were in very close proximity during the shooting.

Silvain said he was shot seven times, but Decker said that information is incorrect, according to the Fontana Police Department investigation.

"There was only one shot that was fired and they recovered the casing at the scene," Decker said.

After he was shot, Silvain said sheriff's deputies handcuffed him until the paramedics began treating him for his wounded leg.

He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center but discharged himself from the hospital late Thursday night.

Silvain said the only reason he was at the house was to check on the grandmother of his late friend, Rachel, on the two-year anniversary of Rachel's death.

Silvain still isn't sure why he was shot because he wasn't the target of the narcotics search warrant. He did admit to smoking marijuana earlier in the day and took a drug test at the hospital.

The pit bull was quarantined and taken away by Animal Control, said Decker.

Ramie Michelle Shaw, 22, was arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics and booked at West Valley Detention Center.

Reach Julie Farren at 909-806-3066 or jfarren@PE.com

S.B. County DA, police investigate reporting in Operation Phoenix molestation case

SAN BERNARDINO - San Bernardino police and the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office are conducting a joint investigation into whether several city employees violated California's mandatory reporting act by hesitating or neglecting to contact police regarding an Operation Phoenix community center director's alleged child molestations.

San Bernardino Police Chief Mike Billdt met with San Bernardino County investigators Friday to discuss e-mails sent by several city employees several days before police were called in to investigate.

Jim Morris, the mayor's chief of staff said the matter is best handled by the district attorney and police because there is a reasonable suspicion standard.

"If a reasonable person would have a suspicion that actual abuse or molestation of a child occurred, they have a mandatory duty to report that to law enforcement agencies," Morris said.

In the e-mails sent July 27 and obtained by The Press-Enterprise, employees discussed possible sexual molestations that eventually resulted in two dozen felony charges against Michael Steven Miller. The 48-year-old Highland resident and former director of Operation Phoenix's community center at 16th Street and Sierra Way is accused of molesting two young girls in recent months and another more than a decade ago.

Mayor Pat Morris said officials are also looking into allegations that Miller and another recreation supervisor not affiliated with Operation Phoenix engaged in a fight with BB guns.

San Bernardino police learned of the alleged molestations late in the day on July 1, said Lt. Scott Paterson. Police served search warrants late July 2 and arrested Miller on the afternoon of July 3.

But Miller's supervisor, Glenda Robinson, sent a June 27 e-mail to San Bernardino Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Hawkins and another city employee discussing the matter.

"I was just told that some former and current employees are planning on going to the city attorney's office to report Mike Miller's involvement in the BB gun incident and a possible sexual involvement with a minor during work hours," Robinson wrote in an e-mail to Hawkins.

Glenn Baude, director of Operation Phoenix, also sent a June 27 e-mail in which he told Hawkins he believed "there should be some level of discipline for the BB incident, possible sexual involvement I have heard nothing about but it should be investigated. Let's meet."

The e-mails may indicate Baude, Hawkins and two other city employees knew of Miller's alleged child molestations but allowed him to continue his work at the community center.

Baude referred questions to San Bernardino City Attorney James Penman. Hawkins and Robinson could not be reached Friday for comment.

"Certainly, our initial impression is that they do come within the mandated reporting statutes in the penal code," said Jim Hackleman, an assistant district attorney for San Bernardino County, said of the San Bernardino city employees who sent the e-mails.

Penman said new findings are made as the city continues to ask questions, interview people and study documents.

"The Mayor and Council are concerned that we get to the bottom of this entire situation," Penman said. "As we become aware of things that we were not aware of previously, we respond to them. We're looking into a number of things, and there could be a good deal more to be looked into yet. It's a work in progress."

On July 8, Miller pleaded not guilty to numerous counts of lewd acts upon a child. He is being held on $1 million bail at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.

Mayor Pat Morris, who called Operation Phoenix a crime-fighting plan for the city, said Miller's arrest "was a shock in the extreme."

Reach Michael Perrault at 909-806-3053 or mperrault@PE.com


Illegal arrests alleged

SAN BERNARDINO - A San Bernardino police sergeant has accused a narcotics team supervisor of illegally arresting two men without citing their crime, a violation of state and constitutional law.

Patrol Sgt. Mike Desrochers' accusation against narcotics Sgt. Bradley Lawrence arose from the events before a July 2 raid on an Eastside apartment complex.

Seven men were arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine base for sale, possession of marijuana for sales, street-gang participation and conspiracy to distribute narcotics, court records show.

In a recorded conversation before a drug raid at the apartment complex, Lawrence asked Desrochers to jail two men, whom he had just detained after a traffic stop and keep them from making phone calls so they couldn't warn other suspects.

Minutes after the raid concluded, Desrochers e-mailed San Bernardino Police Department Assistant Chief Walt Goggin, claiming Lawrence detained the two men improperly by neglecting to arrest them for investigation of a specific crime before ordering them into the back of a police car and taking them to the city jail.

In the memo -- a copy of which was obtained by The Press-Enterprise -- Desrochers says the action "constitutes an illegal arrest." Desrochers accused the sergeant of similar, repeated violations in the past.

In an interview, he called the alleged detention without charge a violation of state laws on arrest procedure and "a rights violation at the very least."

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Peter Bibring said by phone that the actions described in the memo "violate the basic protections in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution against baseless arrest." The ACLU is investigating, he said.

Lawrence declined to comment Tuesday. Goggin said he couldn't discuss Desrochers' complaint because it's part of a confidential personnel investigation. The department does not tolerate the sort of actions Desrochers describes, he said.

Police union president Rich Lawhead said Tuesday that Lawrence is entitled to legal representation at the union's expense but had not requested it.

In an interview, Desrochers said he wrote to Goggin because Lawrence ignored legal limits on arrest powers.

Police records obtained by The Press-Enterprise show Lawrence detained the men about 90 minutes before the raid, in a traffic stop at East Temple Street and North Waterman Avenue. That location is about five miles from the targeted apartment complex in the 3200 block of East 21st Street.

Lawrence could have legally detained the men at the scene of the stop, Desrochers said. He said if the two men agreed to accompany Lawrence to another location, he would have been under no legal obligation to arrest them.

But the moment he invoked his police authority to take them to jail, the standard changed, Desrochers said. At that point, he said, Lawrence should have placed the suspects under formal arrest for investigation of specific charges before moving them against their will. Instead, Desrochers alleged, the narcotics investigator used a tactic that he has used before.

He put the suspects "on ice," a term Desrochers remembers from a jailer's booking form from another investigation Lawrence oversaw last September.

Desrochers said the memory of the booking sheet documenting that incident helped prompt his July 2 memo.

Desrochers first objected to Lawrence's actions in a pair of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Press Enterprise and verified by Desrochers. Police departments routinely tape calls.

In the first recording, Lawrence tells Desrochers -- who as watch commander that day had authority over patrol operations -- that he and his officers have just detained two men whose homes they are preparing to search.

Lawrence says he's sending the men to the city jail with one of the patrol officers assigned to Desrochers, to be held without charges or phone calls "until we can get out to their house and go say good mor ... afternoon to the rest of their people."

Desrochers initially approves the detention, ending the conversation. Then he calls back.

"Tell me that story again. Is this guy in custody for something?" Desrochers asks.

"He ... he will be as soon as we get to his house to execute the warrant," Lawrence answers.

"What if you don't find dope?" Desrochers asks.

"I'll cross that bridge when I get there," the narcotics supervisor replies.

"I want you to know, that's going to be an issue with this guy being in custody with no charges," the watch commander says.

Desrochers presses Lawrence to get approval from the captain overseeing narcotics operations.

"Yeah, I'll tell him. I'll figure something else out then," Lawrence answers. He hangs up.

In an interview, Desrochers said the conversation alarmed him and doesn't represent "the way the department does business."

"The ends do not justify the means," Desrochers said. "We can't arrest somebody with no charges in the hope that we'll find something later at their house. It's wrong. It needs to be addressed."A log obtained by The Press-Enterprise and verified by three police sources shows the patrol car holding the two men next moved to the parking lot outside the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office at 3rd Street and Mountain View Avenue.

At that point, Lawrence hadn't completed paperwork for a search warrant or obtained a judge's signature on the search warrant required for the police raid. sources said.

The next record of the patrol car's movements comes shortly after 5 p.m., when it arrived at the address being searched. Police department records show the seven suspects, including the two detained from the car, were arrested minutes later

Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, agreed with Desrochers' explanation of arrest laws as they apply to the July 2 case.

"Transporting (suspects) when you have no charges for several hours may expose you and your department to a liability," he said in a July 10 telephone interview. .

Cottingham, a 30-year veteran of the San Diego County Sheriff's department, said instead of holding a person while gathering evidence, officers can cite Penal Code section 849, which lets police detain and release a suspect, then arrest him again. "In this process, there is a record kept, so you have a paper trail on it," he said. "You just can't put somebody in jail and then come back and say, 'Never mind. Go home.'"

In addition to his reservations about the July 2 detention, Cottingham questioned a San Bernardino jail record obtained by The Press-Enterprise from Sept. 19, 2007.

The record shows that then-Rialto resident Greg Parker was in custody. But the spaces on the form for recording when, where and why the person was arrested are marked either "unknown" or "pending." The final space, intended for the case number, reads "Unknown. Subject is on ice."

A police report shows Lawrence's squad had arrested Parker in connection with a narcotics-trafficking investigation. Parker said authorities didn't tell him that at first.

When police delivered him to the city jail before 4 a.m., jailers said an arrest warrant against him alleged a driving violation. Parker said he pays all traffic citations and knew he had no such warrants, a fact his attorney, Gary Wenkle Smith, later confirmed through a court records check.

Parker said in the first four hours after the cell door closed he pushed an intercom button repeatedly, asking to call his family. Jailers didn't allow him to call until 6 p.m., Parker said, minutes before transferring him to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Arrestees are entitled to a call within three hours, Cottingham said.

Goggin, the assistant police chief, said he hadn't seen the booking record and could not comment. He said civilian jailers fill out the forms.

Reach Chris Richard at 909-806-3076 or crichard@PE.com


FISA compromise completes transformation of US into full police state

On Wednesday, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation permitting government spying, including giving immunity to telecommunications companies involved in secret domestic surveillance programs. With the stroke of George W. Bush�s pen, the US is now a police state by definition.

The extent of the spying program, and its larger implications, have been revealed by Mark Klein, who blew the whistle on secret domestic spying program of Bush/Cheney�s National Security Agency (NSA) and AT&T: AT&T whistleblower: spy bill creates infrastructure for police state

The update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, called the "FISA compromise," or more appropriately, the "spy bill," largely completes the triumph of the Bush/Cheney administration and a bipartisan criminal consensus. By convenient design, the FISA revision derails pending lawsuits filed against the Bush administration�s corporate spying partners (AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon), silences (the largely empty-to-begin-with) congressional investigations into the Bush administration�s illegal domestic spying program.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and the Democrats have now moved to silence all discussion about the issue.

Fear itself, a.k.a. spying itself

Between the false flag mass murder of 9/11 and the creation of the "war on terrorism," the USAPATRIOT Act and this new FISA revision, the Bush-Cheney administration and its enthusiastically complicit congressional partners have achieved total victory -- world war, open criminality, and the end of law itself.

It gives the US government unprecedented new spying powers and sweeping new legal cover for spying that goes well beyond even the original FISA law -- which itself was an abomination that already permitted the US president broad surveillance powers.

Given the fact that the US government is a wholly corrupted criminal organization by definition, the political spin over "oversight," warrants, the involvement of the inspector general, etc., is all the more transparently ridiculous: the operatives of such apparatuses do not investigate or punish their own. Nor do they voluntarily stop the lucrative and intoxicating criminal activity that is their lifeblood.

In fact, the debate over the spy bill is a red herring, clouding the larger central (purposely unaddressed) issue: the "war on terrorism" lie itself.

The mass murder of 9/11 was a false flag operation, orchestrated and executed by the Bush administration. The "war on terrorism" is a perpetual covert operation, an endless pretext for war and murder, supported by a bipartisan consensus. (See Who is Osama bin Laden? and Al-Qaeda:the database.) No 9/11, no "war on terrorism," no war in the Middle East. No "war on terrorism" lie, no dictatorial powers for the White House, and no beefed-up FISA.

Given that the "war on terrorism" is a lie, the need for unprecedented spying is also a lie. Just as 9/11 remains the endless pretext for endless war and terrorism, it also remains, in its countless propaganda manifestations, the justification for open totalitarian rule of force and intimidation within US borders.

The totalitarian criminal agenda is fully endorsed by neoliberal Democrats, including Barack Obama. According to the Obama campaign, "Senator Obama has said before that the compromise bill is not perfect. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, Senator Obama chose to support the FISA compromise."

The pro-surveillance Democrats, led by Senator Jay Rockefeller and Obama (whose lame hemming-hawing justifications can be read here) are repeating asinine lies, and groundless excuses.

In calling criminal spying and covert operations "important surveillance tools," Obama is showing his truest colors. Obama, whose politics and rhetoric have been consistently in line with the Bush/Cheney agenda on all of the most telling issues (war in Afghanistan, war on Iran, "terrorism," "homeland security," globalization, and most recently, other right-wing positions), is a smooth-talking and appealing front for the Bush-Cheney status quo. Obama and McCain, like Bush-Cheney, will continue to push the endless "war on terrorism" lie, and embrace every single criminal act conducted in the name of this propaganda construct.

All "homeland security"/Big Brother measures such as FISA, in any form, provides political cover for the US government to engage in criminal activity. Any politician, be it Bush/Cheney or Obama, who approves of any sort of "surveillance" is guilty of committing a criminal act, and of raping the Constitution along the way.

Cynical posturing and election-year flatulence from Obama�s legion of defenders and fans cannot hide what has happened, or who is responsible. The rape of the US Constitution is so overt and so egregious that it has set off a wave of outrage and backlash, spawning unusual new grassroots coalitions.

Clearly, however, the powers that be, including the Obama camp, have casually dismissed this relatively small portion of the US public out of its election-year calculations, regardless of how stridently they organize, blog, blow whistles or file lawsuits.

Senator Russ Feingold (whose own record on opposing the Bush administration is less than stellar) warned that the FISA revision "could mean millions upon millions of communications between innocent Americans and their friends, families or business associates overseas could now be legally collected."

It means much more than Feingold states, and it has for many years -- perhaps decades.

Spying: the pre- and post-9/11 norm

Returning again to the expos� by whistleblower Mark Klein, his detailed and stomach-turning expos�, which includes materials from the key court cases, exposes the fact that the NSA began breaking into local telephone circuits in 2001. As pointed out by Robert Parry, the current program may have been in place before 2001.

In other words, the spying program never had anything to do with international "terrorists," and everything to do with a larger police state agenda, including the power to identify, designate and destroy individuals whose opinions run counter to those of whichever Big Brother is "in charge." This is a long-planned program that 9/11 allowed to push to full fruition.

It is a well-documented fact that the US government�s spying capabilities are overwhelming, and that continuous illegal surveillance has always trumped congressional oversight, and the law itself. Obviously, the light reigning-in of criminal covert operations in the post-Watergate 1970s has been completely undone in the decades since.

Investigators such as former NSA operative James Bamford (author of the expos� of the NSA, Body of Secrets) and Mike Ruppert�s Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil have thoroughly detailed the pervasiveness and effectiveness of a wide range of spying and intelligence programs used by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. These include Echelon and PROMIS, which are used by operatives in criminal fashion, as ordered by high-level officials, specifically to get around all oversight.

Completely unaddressed throughout the years of noise over spying and FISA, the Total Information Awareness Program (formerly known as DARPA, and spearheaded by Iran-Contra participant John Poindexter) has found new life as the IARPA program.

Nobody is talking about IARPA. Nobody will.

Welcome to hell, again

The George W. Bush administration seized the White House in 2000 by way of an openly stolen election, then cemented its criminal power into place with the unprecedented 9/11 mass murder, and its two resulting abominations: the fabricated "war on terrorism" (the pretext for endless global war), and the USAPATRIOT Act (the full-scale destruction of the Constitution, and the militarization of the US homeland).

These continuing atrocities were the works of a bipartisan "war on terrorism" consensus, a full partnership at the top echelons, whose overriding agenda is the survival of the criminal racket known as the Anglo-American empire.

The deepening of the war and security state has continued unabated. Under a US Congress with a Democratic Party majority, nothing been done to stop, reverse or undo the world war, boundless US government criminality, open corruption, or the absolute and systematic rape of law itself. Now, particularly with a looming US presidential election, leading members of both political parties have shown their true colors: as flagrant proponents of military-intelligence/"homeland security," and enthusiastic destroyers of the Constitution.

In The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Victor Marchetti and John Marks wrote in 1974, "The clandestine mentality is a mind-set that thrives on secrecy and deception. It encourages professional amorality---the belief that righteous goals can be achieved through the use of unprincipled and normally unacceptable means. . . .

"Today, exemplified by actions of the bipartisan US consensus, assisted by an acquiescent and dumbed-down populace, the clandestine mentality is not clandestine. "Professional amorality" is the norm---celebrated openly, and opposed by few."

In other words, your life and all of your communications -- from your emails, your web searches, medical records, and financial information, to your reading this article and clicking this web site -- has been "hoovered up" by the US government�s spying machine, to be used against you at some future time, if the powers that be so choose.
If 9/11, the USAPATRIOT Act, and the relentless destruction of law since 2000 have not already made it abundantly clear, a "Homeland Security" police state within US borders, courtesy of the spy bill, is now complete. Not even the trappings of a democracy remain.


Obama Votes to Silence Debate and Pass FISA

by John Nichols

Arizona Senator John McCain did not bother to show up for Wednesday's Senate votes on whether to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to absolve George Bush of responsibility for initiating an illegal warrantless wiretapping program and to provide retroactive immunity to the telecommunications corporations that violated the privacy of their customers in order to collaborate with a lawless president.

But that's O.K., Illinois Senator Barack Obama cast the votes that McCain would have.

In addition to joining the majority in a 69-28 Senate vote to approve legislation that the American Civil Liberties Union describes as "a Constitutional nightmare," Obama backed a key move to silence debate on the FISA bill.

During a day of decisions on amendments, cloture and formal approval of the FISA rewrite, Obama cast several votes in favor of failed amendments to limit certain forms of retroactive immunity for the telecommunications corporations. But, in the essential votes on whether to advance and pass the unamended bill, the senator from Illinois broke the majority of his Democratic colleagues -- including New York Senator Hillary Clinton -- as they worked to keep the debate open and block final passage.

In the case of the cloture vote, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president sided with Republicans who argued that the essential Constitutional questions raised by the White House-backed FISA legislation did not merit extended or thoughtful debate.

Seventy-two senators backed the move to end the debate, while 26 sought to keep it going. Two senators - McCain and ailing Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy - missed Wednesday's votes.

Those 26 "no" votes on cloture were cast by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and 25 Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, Obama's Democratic colleague from Illinois, and Clinton, Obama's primary competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Leading the fight to keep the debate about the FISA rewrite open were Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, the two senators Obama promised earlier their year to work with in an effort to block this assault on the Constitution and corporate responsibility.

Said Feingold, "I sit on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and I am one of the few members of this body who has been fully briefed on the warrantless wiretapping program. And, based on what I know, I can promise that if more information is declassified about the program in the future, as is likely to happen either due to the Inspector General report, the election of a new President, or simply the passage of time, members of this body will regret that we passed this legislation. I am also familiar with the collection activities that have been conducted under the Protect America Act and will continue under this bill. I invite any of my colleagues who wish to know more about those activities to come speak to me in a classified setting. Publicly, all I can say is that I have serious concerns about how those activities may have impacted the civil liberties of Americans. If we grant these new powers to the government and the effects become known to the American people, we will realize what a mistake it was, of that I am sure."

Unfortunately, while Obama once promised to work with Feingold, he wasn't listening on Wednesday when the Wisconsin senator explained to his colleagues that granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications corporations would effectively block the ability of Congress and the courts to address not just massive corporate wrongdoing but attacks on the privacy rights of Americans.

"If Congress short-circuits these lawsuits, we will have lost a prime opportunity to finally achieve accountability for these years of law-breaking," said Feingold, who flatly rejected Obama's argument that, while unappealing in some aspects, the FISA rewrite was somehow acceptable as a whole. "That's why the administration has been fighting so hard for this immunity. It knows that the cases that have been brought directly against the government face much more difficult procedural barriers, and are unlikely to result in rulings on the merits."

Russ Feingold was speaking the truth about a moment in which the ACLU said the Senate was on the verge of passing "an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance."

But Barack Obama did not want to hear it.

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written The Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
Copyright © 2008 The Nation

Heath Class Action (re: Schlarmann



Rudy Silvain was at an elderly friend's home when San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies arrived Thursday afternoon to serve a search warrant. Silv

SAN BERNARDINO - A supervisor at the city's inaugural Operation Phoenix community center was arrested Thursday on suspicion of molesting a child there, jolting leaders who hail the facility as a crucial component to their holistic crime-fighting plan.

Detectives jailed Michael Miller, a former San Bernardino police volunteer, only hours after the city put him on administrative leave.

The 48-year-old Highland resident turned in his keys to the youth center at 16th Street and Sierra Way before being arrested in Redlands.
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Although doors stayed open Thursday -- with children listening to music and sifting through crayons -- some activities were postponed as officials dealt with the arrest.

"This is a shock in the extreme," said Mayor Pat Morris, who created Operation Phoenix around tenets of crime suppression, intervention and prevention, the last of which involves opening community centers for underprivileged youth.

Morris and his staff put Miller in charge of recreation programs at the center after it opened in its permanent location last year.

Children as young as 5 years old could learn crafts, take literacy classes and play sports.

"I think we have to keep this in perspective; this is an incident involving an individual," Morris said. "As far as we knew, he was a healthy, qualified and well-trained professional with all the right motivations and instincts."

Police learned of the possible molestation Monday, said San Bernardino police Lt. Scott Paterson. The child's age and sex were not released.

Wednesday night, detectives obtained search warrants for the Operation Phoenix center and Miller's home near the Highland/San Bernardino line.

Paterson would not say what evidence was recovered.

Investigation continued through Thursday, and Paterson said there no was indication whether the allegation was isolated or part of a larger pattern.

The case will be submitted to the district attorney's office for review early next week.

No one would comment Thursday at the suspect's home, a light blue stucco house with dark trim and an American flag flying on an outside pole.

A sign hanging outside read, "The Millers - Mike and Debbie."

A sport utility vehicle pulled up, a man asked a reporter to leave and "The Millers" sign was taken down from the front of the home.

Nine Years With City

Miller has been with the city for nine years, serving as a Police Department volunteer as well as a community service supervisor.

Jim Morris, the mayor's chief of staff, said he had a hands-on role with a small staff of aides.

In an interview for the opening of the second Operation Phoenix center earlier this year, Miller trumpeted the projects as "safe havens," and said he gives his cell phone number out to children and takes an active role in their lives.

"The community develops a trust in you," Miller said in May.

The Rev. David Rhone, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, which donated a former sanctuary building for the Operation Phoenix Center, said no neighborhood parents had asked Thursday about the allegations against Miller.

"I have deep sympathy ... and I hope that the allegations are not true," Rhone said.

Miller was expected to be booked late Friday into the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino. Bail and arraignment information were not immediately available.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call detectives at 909-384-5717.

Staff writers Chris Richard and Dan Lee contributed to this report.

Reach Paul LaRocco at 909-806-3064 or plarocco@PE.com


Key figures in San Bernardino County's 1990s corruption cases

Current officials in San Bernardino County have long tried to improve the county's image after a high-profile public corruption scandal in the late 1990s. Here are the central figures from that scandal, which included top public officials accepting bribes.


Sentenced to three years' probation and fined. San Bernardino County's administrative officer from 1994 to 1998, he pleaded guilty in 1999 to accepting bribes in exchange for helping Norcal Waste Systems Inc. and businessmen Ronald Canham and Richard Tisdale get millions of dollars in county contracts.
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Sentenced to two years in prison and fined. A former county administrative officer and later a consultant to Norcal, Mays was convicted of bribing Hlawek to get the company landfill contracts worth $200 million.
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McCook was accused of paying bribes to Hlawek. In exchange, Hlawek helped McCook gain county approvals for billboards on county land. McCook was acquitted in federal court in August 2004 of the charges; a California court later ruled it would be double jeopardy to try him on similar state charges.


Former county supervisor pleaded guilty in 2004 to conspiring to violate California's Political Reform Act by failing to disclose gifts -- free hotel stays in Las Vegas provided by McCook. Eaves was fined $10,000 and ordered to serve three years of unsupervised probation.