Presidential Public Financing, Jose Padilla, the Infamous Air Force Firings, Special Interest Dollars, FISA and Much More


Today's Transparency Recap starts out with Democracy 21's mention of a Washington Post editorial piece released this week entitled, "Stop Raising Cash." According to Democracy 21, the article makes the case for why Obama and McCain should utilize the presidential public financing system for the 2008 presidential campaign; it also argues that the two candidates should reform the current system following its use in the general campaign.

"…both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain could and should improve the way their campaigns report the identities of their bundlers. Mr. Obama distinguishes among those who have raised . . . $200,000-and-up . . . There are 78 in this last, elite category and sure to be more as Hillary Rodham Clinton's fundraising machine gears up for the Obama campaign. The McCain campaign lists bundlers of . . . $250,000 and up (of whom there are 33). This disclosure is commendable for going beyond what is legally required: zilch. But . . . voters deserve more than these sketchy figures in understanding to whom, and for how much, their next president may be indebted."

In other news, remember Jose Padilla? He is the U.S. citizen who was accused of providing assistance to the Al-Qaeda back in 2002. Following his arrest, President Bush labeled him an "illegal enemy combatant." Yesterday, Secrecy News reported the disappearance of Padilla's interrogation tape:

"In a report to the National Archives (pdf) released last week, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said it could not locate a recording of the final interrogation of Jose Padilla . . . "

Over at Intel Dump, Phillip Carter of The Washington Post suggests that Robert Gates may have had more in mind than nuclear security when he replaced the Air Force's top leadership last week, while the POGO blog wonders what the future holds for the Air Force:

"Will the installation of the first non-fighter or bomber pilot in the Air Force's top military command slot since it was created after World War II mean a shift in its mission emphasis?  Will the Air Force prioritize the support of ground forces with cargo and refueling planes and tactical aerial intelligence and close air support over aerial combat?"

And over on the Sunlight blogs, among other things, Ellen Miller covers special interest dollars and their infusion into the bank accounts of both political parties. The donated monies will assist in funding the party conventions. Miller properly reacts to this absurdity with the following:

"The presidential convention loophole, however, allows unlimited giving, and for the corporation, it is all tax deductible. The parties are offering access to lawmakers, party bosses and potential members of the next administration in exchange for corporate dollars. Absolutely outrageous."

Also on Sunlight, Connor Kenny discusses the many issues surrounding copyright. While companies seek to protect their content from infringement, most public interest groups welcome vast distribution of their work. While this is the case, the absence of a Creative Commons license or other similar rights usage agreement often hampers the dissemination of public interest research, thus squelching distribution dreams. According to Kenny:

"The advent of the Web has infinitely expanded that potential as reports no longer have to be mail-ordered or press releases picked up by reporters to get your message out. That is, unless you copyright your materials, preventing them from finding their way into Wikipedia, blogs or the classroom."

And last but not least, The American Constitution Society reports today on the renewed attempt to amend FISA. According to ACS, Senator Christipher Bond maintains that America will lose intelligence capabilities if the amendments are not made. With this said, a coalition of civil liberties groups believe that amending FISA would, "unreasonably and unnecessarily authorize broad surveillance of Americans’ international communications without meaningful Fourth Amendment protections. ACS provides additional corroboratory information on this debate.