Daily Archives: July 2, 2007

Bush Gives Scooter Libby Get Out of Jail Free Card

CBS | Jul 2, 2007

get_out_of_jail_free

Bush Commutes Libby Prison Sentence

Bush Commutes 2 1/2 Year Prison Term Of Former White House Aide I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby

WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush commuted the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby on Monday, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term that Bush said was excessive. Bush’s move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case.

That meant Libby was likely to have to report to prison soon and put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby’s allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

“I respect the jury’s verdict,” Bush said in a statement. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.”

Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for Libby, and Bush said his action still “leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby.”

Libby was convicted in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative’s identity. He was the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair.

Reaction was harsh from Democrats.

“As Independence Day nears, we’re reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said through a spokesman.

Libby’s supporters celebrated.

“That’s fantastic. It’s a great relief,” said former Ambassador Richard Carlson, who helped raise millions for Libby’s defense fund. “Scooter Libby did not deserve to go to prison and I’m glad the president had the courage to do this.”

A message seeking comment from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s office was not immediately returned.

Bush said Cheney’s former aide was not getting off free.

“The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged,” Bush said. “His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting.”

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Police seek stop and search powers

BBC | Jul 2, 2007

Scots police chiefs expect to be granted further powers to stop and search the public in the wake of the Glasgow Airport terror attack.

The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), said the powers had been applied for after Saturday’s attack.

Chief Constable Colin McKerracher urged the public to be tolerant of extra security measures.

He said they would be used “sensitively” and when appropriate.

Mr McKerracher said: “We have applied for the authorisation to utilise stop-and-search and that is across every community in Scotland.

“That will be done sensitively and in situations where officers on the ground feel that is appropriate.

“Those powers were sought two days ago and that gives us an immediate 48 hours authorisation and then they will be confirmed by the Home Secretary.”

Speaking on behalf of Scotland’s eight police forces, Mr McKerracher said: “It is our intention, as people get back to work today and as community life returns to normal, to maintain our high-visibility patrols and to make sure the people of Scotland realise that we have their safety at heart.”

The police chief, head of Grampian Police, said each force would use all the resources available to combat the terror threat and reassure the public.

He confirmed that setting down by cars outside airport entrances would not be permitted for the foreseeable future.

Security will also be enhanced at large public gatherings such as this month’s T in the Park music festival in Perthshire.

Mr McKerracher said the public response since the car attack had been “terrific”.

Speaking of the period after Saturday afternoon’s incident, he said: “One or two forces, their switchboards were continually being brought to a standstill because of the number of calls coming through to us, so the public response has been terrific.”

Suicidal vets could become part of ominous national trend

Anchorage Daily News | Jun 24, 2007

You want to help the vets with their mental health? Start by demanding all the troops be withdrawn from their hellholes immediately without delay. They will need some time to process what has happened to them, but they need to be encouraged to return to normal healthy functioning as soon as possible. Then thank them for doing what they thought was right, but when they are doing well and back on their feet in civilian life, you can explain the truth to them, that 9/11 was an inside job, that the entire War on Terror is a hoax and that Iraq is a hoax within a hoax. Then, you could suggest that they switch their depression over into anger which can then be translated into constructive patriotic action.

I ‘ll tell you what really makes me mad and that is that this whole diabolical illusion has been consistently sustained by the disgusting media propaganda whores on the boob-tube who would only broadcast these lies if they hated the troops and hated America and what it truly stands for. Let it be known who their true masters are and that beyond any doubt, most of these sickening creatures are traitors to America.

The troops are over there dying, getting maimed and losing their minds over a gigantic lie and after they are used up, their government treats them like crap as they always have. They are not serving their country, God, the Iraqis or freedom despite their best intentions. They are over there serving the New World Order and paying a heavy price for it.

It’s called cannon-fodder.

We owe them everything because we allowed all this nightmare to happen to them, so respectfully support the vets when they come home and do whatever you can for them.

PW

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SUICIDE: Health officials expect surge in need for care as tours end.

By GEORGE BRYSON

As bad as the suicide rate in Alaska already is, the situation could grow even worse once thousands of new veterans return home from combat duty in Iraq.

That’s the warning local public health officials are culling from a new study that finds male veterans twice as likely to die by suicide as men with no military service — and even more so if they’re physically or mentally impaired.

Such news is particularly worrisome now, veteran advocates say, with hostilities in Iraq having left 52,000 U.S. troops either wounded or hospitalized for ailments ranging from insect-borne boils to severe depression.

According to the Department of Defense, 111 active-duty U.S. troops in Iraq have committed suicide since the beginning of the war.

With one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the U.S. — and suicide rates that often lead the nation — Alaska was already at risk for suicide, according to Portland State University public health specialist Mark Kaplan, lead author of the new study. But now Iraq adds a new factor.

“That’s the perfect storm,” Kaplan said of the convergence of Alaska and an influx of newly disabled vets. “This (study) foreshadows some ominous trends.”

Tracking the lives of more than 320,000 U.S. men — about a third of whom were veterans — the Oregon-based research team found that over a period of 12 years (from 1986 to 1997) more than 500 members of the study group committed suicide, including 197 veterans.

Those with the highest risk for suicide were veterans who were white, college-educated and living alone in a rural area, most often in a Southern or Western state, the study found. Veterans were half again more likely than non-vets to kill themselves with guns.

Notably, those whose daily activities were limited by physical or mental impairments were 4.4 times more likely to take their lives than vets who were unimpaired.

“They had problems functioning at school, at work, at home,” Kaplan said. “That really stood out in our analysis.”

PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE

A new Pentagon study raises similar concerns for vets. Released last week, it found that 38 percent of all soldiers and 49 percent of all National Guard troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home with some type of psychological ailment — from anger to depression to alcohol abuse.

Some of them are taking their own lives, as a drumbeat of vet suicide stories in other states have already shown.

“The military has definitely seen a lot more suicides from the returning members,” says Beth Williams-Case, a Veterans Administration social worker who interviews new enrollees at the VA office in Anchorage.

“I can’t give you any numbers, but I know what I see at Elmendorf (Air Force Base) — that suicide prevention has really kicked into high gear.”

Other civilian mental health workers in Anchorage say they’re already beginning to notice the difference.

“I’ve talked to several servicemen coming back, and they just tell me they want to keep my name as a referral, because, they say, ‘You’re going to have a bunch of people coming,’ ” says Mark Andrews, a counselor who specializes in trauma-related disorders at Good Samaritan Counseling Center off Tudor Road.

“It hasn’t hit big-time yet — but it’s coming.”

On DeBarr Road, at the North Star Behavioral Health System (which primarily treats children and adolescents), business director Angie Aiken says the clinic expects a rising caseload at the end of this year — when about 3,800 more troops currently deployed in Iraq return home to Fort Richardson. That’s because her staff of psychiatrists and counselors will probably have to treat some of their children.

“We’re seeing a greater increase of kids in need already, because the families have split up,” Aiken says. “Then when the parents return, it’s quite difficult for them, because often the parents who are returning are traumatized in some way.”

Compared to the past, a larger percentage of returning troops are physically or emotionally wounded, says Jerry Jenkins, executive director of Anchorage Community Mental Health Services.

That’s because vast improvements in body armor and battlefield medical care are saving the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers who would have died in previous wars. That’s good, says Jenkins, a former Army ranger. The bad part is — they’ll be coming home with the memory of it all. He’s heard that same concern voiced by other vets in local mental health circles.

“These are conversations we’re having now because we have an idea of what has happened (in Iraq). And what’s about to happen (at home),” Jenkins says.

SOCIAL WOES

If the government fails to adequately care for its returning vets, expect to see skyrocketing rates of divorce, homelessness and suicide, says Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, based in New York.

“Veterans will show the psychological scars of these wars for years to come.”

Hoping to prevent that, the VA has conducted an extensive survey of Vietnam-era vets who committed suicide. It hasn’t yet released its findings.

But Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Boston, estimates that more Vietnam vets have died by suicide than all of the 58,000-plus troop casualties listed on the Vietnam memorial wall — if you define suicide broadly as death by deliberately reckless behavior. Like the previously rational soldier who decides to walk across a minefield at night.

“The multitude of (vet suicide) deaths are ambiguous,” Shay said in a telephone interview. “They’re single-vehicle accidents. Single motorcycle accidents. They have shoot outs with police. They’re bar fights, where somebody goes in, unknown, and picks a fight with the biggest, meanest looking person in the room.”

One deeply depressed vet he knew didn’t do drugs, Shay says — until one night he killed himself with a heroin overdose.

Says Shay: “I am morally certain that was a suicide.”

VETS TOUGH TO TRACK

Across the U.S., more than 30,000 people kill themselves each year — almost double the number of homicides — and approximately one-fifth of those cases involve veterans, according to Kaplan. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all U.S. men.

With its small population, Alaska contributes relatively few suicide cases (about 140 a year) to the national total. But the suicide rate (20.8 per 100,000 people from 2003 to 2005) is almost twice the U.S. average.

According to the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, Native populations in Western Alaska continue to suffer the brunt of Alaska’s suicides in per capita comparisons. While Natives make up less than one-fifth the state’s population, they account for more than a third of the state’s suicides.

In sheer numbers, however, more non-Native Alaskans commit suicide than Natives. According to the recently completed Alaska Suicide Follow-Back Study — which examined 426 suicide cases in Alaska over the past three years — a majority of the cases involved non-Native, urban males born in some other state who took their lives with a gun.

Alaska’s death statistics don’t record the veteran or military status of people who commit suicide, says Ron Perkins, executive director of the Alaska Injury Prevention Center, which conducted the follow-back study.

But according to Kaplan, lead-author of the Oregon research, the number of vets who commit suicide nationwide is much larger than reported in previous studies, since most were based on data provided by the VA.

“One thing we found is that three-quarters of veterans are not served by the VA,” Kaplan said. So a huge portion of the vet population was previously ignored.

Co-authored by Nathalie Huguet, Bentson H. McFarland and Jason T. Newsom, the veteran suicide report is due to be published in the July issue of “Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.”

Bush is unpopular abroad, but other leaders catching up

McClatchy | Jun 27, 2007

top_dictators

Three of the worst globalist dictators among an army of globalist dictators vying for power

By Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON — At last, President Bush can take some solace in being dissed by much of the planet: At least he’s not alone.

Support for the United States and Bush’s foreign policies remains low, according to a poll in 47 nations and territories released Wednesday. But skepticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and wariness of China’s rising power are growing.

Two would-be challengers to the global order, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, aren’t very popular, either.

Even Osama bin Laden’s favorables are down, particularly among Muslims.

The poll of 45,200 people by the Pew Global Attitudes Project paints humankind as increasingly worried about the environment, unsettled by Iran’s apparent quest for nuclear weapons and distrustful of the world’s major powers.

“Clearly, people are troubled by a whole range of problems in the world, and there’s no one they look to and say, ‘Oh, there’s a solution,’ ” said Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center.

The poll is particularly bad news for Bush and Putin, who are due to meet Sunday and Monday in Maine to try to stem the slide in U.S.-Russian relations.

In 37 of the countries surveyed, overwhelming majorities had little or no trust in Bush “to do the right thing in foreign affairs.” Suspicion of U.S. efforts to promote democracy abroad is nearly universal. Even in Eastern Europe, post-Cold War affection for the U.S. is dissipating.

Putin — who’s squelched dissent at home and played hardball with Russia’s energy resources — got a “no confidence” vote from a majority of the public in 22 countries.

“Over the past four years, confidence in Vladimir Putin’s leadership has plummeted in Western Europe and other advanced democracies,” with the sharpest declines in Germany, where it fell from 75 percent confidence in 2003 to 32 percent, the poll’s authors said.

Views of China were mixed. People in many countries in Africa and Latin America view China’s growing influence in their regions as positive; more positive than U.S. influence, in fact.

But people in advanced economies see China’s economic challenge differently. Fifty-five percent in Germany, 64 percent in France and 45 percent in the United States consider China’s economic impact a “bad thing.” In South Korea, Japan, India and elsewhere, there’s worry about Beijing’s expanding military.

Majorities in 30 countries have little confidence in Iran’s Ahmadinejad, while majorities in 14 countries distrust Venezuela’s Chavez.

The poll, based on interviews by telephone and in person, was conducted in April and May. The margin of error is 2 to 4 percentage points, varying by country.

No polling was conducted in Iraq, Iran, Cuba, North Korea or Syria.

While previous surveys have found a tailspin in support for the United States since the invasion of Iraq, the Pew poll contains disturbing new findings:

_ The least favorable views of the United States were in Turkey, a longtime NATO ally, where they stood at 9 percent.

_ There’s widespread support worldwide for pulling U.S. and NATO troops out of Afghanistan, with Islamic countries overwhelmingly in favor and people in NATO countries divided. That could indicate that anger with the Iraq war has tainted the effort in Afghanistan, which had widespread legitimacy after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

_ Majorities in 43 of the countries surveyed — including in the United States — say Washington promotes democracy mostly where it serves its own interests.

As McClatchy Newspapers first reported, Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes issued a national public-diplomacy strategy last month intended to reverse the decline in America’s global image, particularly in the Muslim world.

But Kohut said that to change Muslims’ attitudes, “you have to change American policies, not do a better job of explaining them.”

The poll’s most surprising finding might be this: In Israel, a plurality of 42 percent said the United States was too supportive of their country.

Terrorism fight is our Cold War, says Brown

Telegraph | Jul 2, 2007

By George Jones, Political Editor

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Police officers inspect vehicles for bombs in a residential area of Liverpool

Tough anti-terror measures, including detaining suspects without charge beyond 28 days and the use of phone-tap evidence in court, are being considered by Gordon Brown following the London and Glasgow attacks.

The Prime Minister yesterday compared the lengthy struggle against terrorism to the 40 years of the Cold War, saying it would involve a battle for the hearts and minds of young Muslims as well as new security measures.

The Conservatives promised to co-operate with Mr Brown and indicated that they may be willing to drop their opposition to the extension of the 28-day detention period, provided it was shown that the police need the extra time.

William Hague, the Tory foreign affairs spokesman, stressed that the Government would have to provide “compelling” evidence that an extension to as much as 90 days was needed, and warned that MPs would not give Mr Brown a “blank cheque” to bring in tougher security powers.

Extended detention without charge is expected to be brought forward by Mr Brown in a terrorism Bill in the autumn to tighten security.

It was doubled to 28 days two years ago, but Tony Blair’s attempt to push through 90 days in the face of strong opposition from the Tories, Liberal Democrats and many Labour MPs was defeated.

Mr Brown has already indicated his support for 90 days, but said yesterday that he would seek “consensus”.

He has cited the need for the police and security services to trawl through computer records, emails and the use of multiple identities and addresses by terrorists as reasons why a longer detention period may be necessary.

Interviewed on BBC television’s Sunday AM programme, Mr Brown stressed that any new detention measures would include safeguards to protect civil liberties, including enhanced judicial and parliamentary oversight.

The terrorists were making a long term and sustained attack on Western values and it would have to be countered by not just military and security means, Mr Brown said.

“It’s also about hearts and minds. If in the long term we cannot separate the moderates from the extremists and the extremists prey on young lives both in this country and in other parts of the world, then we will see culturally a distancing of people with extreme views from the rest of the community.

“And that’s why the cultural effort, almost similar to what happened during the Cold War in the 1940s, 50s and 60s when we had to mount a propaganda effort to explain to people that our values represented the best of commitments to individual dignity, to liberty and to human life being taken seriously. And that’s what we are going to have to talk about in the next few years.”

Mr Brown said he wanted wide debate among MPs and the public before introducing any new security powers. He confirmed that the Government was looking at allowing phone tap or other intercept evidence to be used in court, despite security and intelligence service concerns that it could alert criminals to the scope and extent of electronic surveillance.

Ministers were also reviewing the possibility of allowing the police to continue questioning terror suspects after they have been charged.

Mr Hague said that the Conservatives were ready to support the Government in their response to the current terrorist threat and he indicated the party may be ready to reconsider its position on 90-day detention.

There have already been confidential discussions between Mr Brown and David Cameron, though these have largely concentrated on the immediate response to the latest attacks.

Asked about 90 days, Mr Hague told BBC1’s The Politics Show: “If there is compelling new evidence, we will look at that again, of course… but they can’t just expect Parliament to sign a blank cheque on these things.

“To give Government the power to detain people for months without charge does require specific evidence that that is necessary.”

Liberal Democrats said that Mr Brown’s response to the terror incidents was in marked contrast to the approach of his predecessor Tony Blair.

Nick Clegg, the party’s home affairs spokesman, told Sky News: “I detect a measured tone which I think is a good thing and certainly is a significant departure from the somewhat breathless way in which Tony Blair always used to rush to try to make, frankly, political points on the back of these events.”

Israeli Scientists Develop ‘Fantastic Voyage’-like Robot Sub

Jerusalem Post | Jun 26, 2007

By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH

Israeli scientists have actually created the imaginary technology depicted by the 1966 science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, in which a submarine is reduced to microscopic size, injected into the bloodstream and able to travel through the body to provide medical treatment.

A tiny “submarine” robot has been designed by Dr. Nir Schwalb of the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel and Oded Solomon of the mechanical engineering department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They say it has the unique ability to “crawl” through tubes with the width of human veins and arteries, even going against the flow of blood at the speed in which it passes through blood vessels.

It is too early to know what medical uses the robot will have, but they suggest the possibility of being involved in brachytherapy, in which cancer patients are exposed to short-distance adiotherapy from a source placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment. Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat localized prostate cancer and cancers of the head and neck. In addition, numerous robots could be used simultaneously to deal with a large number of metastases (malignant tumors spread through the body).

The researchers stress that the project is an “interesting development, but it has a long way to go before it is used in medicine.” Solomon says that the tiny robot could be controlled for an unlimited amount of time to carry out any necessary medical procedure. The power source is an external magnetic field created near the patient that does not cause any harm to humans but supplies an endless supply of power for it to function. The robot’s special structure enables it to move while being controlled by the operator using the magnetic field.

The researchers noted that scientists at Kyoto University in Japan are developing a robot to travel independently in the human body. However, they said that its size of one centimeter in diameter would not allow it to pass into human veins. The Israeli robot, however, was only one millimeter in diameter, they said.

“Medicine is going to be much more focused, and the need to reach an exact target will only increase,” say the Israeli researchers.

“The academic world is trying to create a robot that will be tiny enough to pass through the body and at the same time have navigational abilities for performing complex medical tasks,” added Prof. Moshe Shaham of the Technion, who is a participant in the research.

Shaham has already developed a robot for the Mazor company that today is used in many hospitals around the world for performing spinal surgery.

The Haifa/Ariel robot is built as a central structure with tiny arms that allow it to grab onto the insides of tubes. Any movement makes it possible to advance a bit, and its unique hair-like structure allows travel through many sizes of tubes. Blood vessels in the body are not uniform in their diameter size, so it is important that the robot can “hold on” inside various sized tubes, they said.

In Fantastic Voyage, a secret agent is recruited by a top-secret organization to join the crew of a submarine called Proteus. The crew and submarine are reduced to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of scientist Jan Benes, who defects to the West and goes into a coma after suffering a surgically inaccessible blood clot. They must reach the brain with a laser to melt the clot within an hour or the miniaturization effect will wear off. However, the voyage is undermined by one of the crew who is a saboteur and is prepared to risk everything to stop the mission.

Romney, Torture, and Teens

Reason | June 27, 2007

by Maia Szalavitz

The former governor’s connections to abusive “tough love” camps

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he’d support doubling the size of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, he was trying to show voters that he’d be tough on terror. Two of his top fundraisers, however, have long supported using tactics that have been likened to torture for troubled teenagers.

As The Hill noted last week, 133 plaintiffs filed a civil suit against Romney’s Utah finance co-chair, Robert Lichfield, and his various business entities involved in residential treatment programs for adolescents. The umbrella group for his organization is the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS, sometimes known as WWASP) and Lichfield is its founder and is on its board of directors.

The suit alleges that teens were locked in outdoor dog cages, exercised to exhaustion, deprived of food and sleep, exposed to extreme temperatures without adequate clothing or water, severely beaten, emotionally brutalized, and sexually abused and humiliated. Some were even made to eat their own vomit.

But the link to teen abuse goes far higher up in the Romney campaign. Romney’s national finance co-chair is a man named Mel Sembler. A long time friend of the Bushes, Sembler was campaign finance chair for the Republican party during the first election of George W. Bush, and a major fundraiser for his father.

Like Lichfield, Sembler also founded a nationwide network of treatment programs for troubled youth. Known as Straight Inc., from 1976 to 1993, it variously operated nine programs in seven states. At all of Straight’s facilities, state investigators and/or civil lawsuits documented scores of abuses including teens being beaten, deprived of food and sleep for days, restrained by fellow youth for hours, bound, sexually humiliated, abused and spat upon.

According to the L.A. Times, California investigators said that at Straight teens were “subjected to unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse… and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting.”

Through a spokesperson, Lichfield has dismissed the similar charges against WWASPS to The Hill as “ludicrous,” claiming that the teens who sued “have a long history of lying, fabricating and twisting the story around to their own benefit.”

Straight would use virtually identical language in its denials: In the 1990 L.A. Times article cited above, a Straight counselor downplayed the California investigators’ report by saying, “Some kids get very upset and lie and some parents believe them.” Both Straight and WWASPS have repeatedly called their teen participants “liars” and “manipulators” who oppose the programs because they want to continue taking drugs or engage in other bad behavior.

Curiously, however, both programs regularly admitted teens who did not actually have serious problems. In 1982, 18-year-old Fred Collins, a Virginia Tech student with excellent grades, went to visit his brother, who was in treatment for a drug problem at Straight in Orlando, Florida.

A counselor determined that he was high on marijuana because his eyes were red (this would later turn out to have been due to swimming in a pool with contacts on). He did admit to occasional marijuana use, but insisted he was not high at the time, nor was he an addict. Nonetheless, he was barraged with hours of humiliating questions, strip-searched, and held against his will for months until he managed to escape.

He won $220,000 in a lawsuit he filed against the program for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery. Ultimately, Straight would pay out millions in settlements before it finally closed. However, to this day, there are at least eight programs operating that use Straight’s methods, often in former Straight buildings operated by former Straight staff. They include: Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (Canada), Pathway Family Center (Michigan, Indiana, Ohio), Growing Together (Florida), Possibilities Unlimited (Kentucky), SAFE (Florida), and Phoenix Institute for Adolescents (Georgia).

Sembler has never admitted to the problems with Straight’s methods. In fact, when he recently served as Ambassador to Italy, he listed it among his accomplishments on his official State Department profile. Although all of the programs with the Straight name are closed, the nonprofit Straight Foundation that funded them still exists, though under a different name. It’s now called the Drug Free America Foundation, and it lobbies for drug testing and in support of tougher policies in the war on drugs.

One of the plaintiffs in the current case against WWASPS, 21-year-old Chelsea Filer, spoke to me when I was researching a TV segment on the industry. She told me that she was forced to walk for miles on a track in scorching desert heat with a 35-pound sandbag on her back. “You were not allowed to scratch your face, move your fingers, lick your lips, move your eyes from the ground,” she said. When she asked for a chapstick, “They put a piece of wood in my mouth and I had to hold it there for two weeks. I was bleeding on my tongue.”

Why was Filer subject to such punishment? “I had less interest in school and more interest in boys and my mom was worried about me,” she says, explaining that her mother believed that the program was nothing more than a strict boarding school.

Because she has attention deficit disorder, Filer was unable to consistently follow the exacting rules, and repeated small violations were seen as ongoing defiance. “It broke my heart that my mom had no belief in me,” she says, describing how, because WWASPS had told her mother to dismiss complaints as “manipulation,” her mother ignored her pleas to come home.

“I’m not a bad kid,” she continued, “I never used drugs, I was never in trouble, I have no criminal record. I know my mom was worried about me—but so many times I told her that this is too much. I would gladly have gone to prison instead.”

WWASPS is linked with facilities Academy at Ivy Ridge (New York), Carolina Springs Academy (South Carolina), Cross Creek Programs (Utah), Darrington Academy (Georgia), Horizon Academy (Nevada), Majestic Ranch Academy (Utah), MidWest Academy (Iowa), Respect Camp (Mississippi), Royal Gorge Academy (Colorado), Spring Creek Lodge (Montana), and Tranquility Bay (Jamaica).

Although it has settled several lawsuits out of court, the organization has never publicly admitted wrong-doing. However, the U.S. State Department spurred Samoa to investigate its Paradise Cove program in 1998 after receiving “credible allegations of physical abuse,” including “beatings, isolation, food and water deprivation, choke-holds, kicking, punching, bondage, spraying with chemical agents, forced medication, verbal abuse and threats of further physical abuse.” Paradise Cove closed shortly thereafter. That same year, the Czech Republic forced the closure of WWASP-linked Morava Academy following employees’ allegations that teens were being abused.

The former director of the Dundee Ranch Academy Program in Costa Rica went to local authorities after seeing medical neglect and other severe abuse, although human rights abuse charges were ultimately dropped against the owner, Robert Lichfield’s brother Narvin. That program closed in 2003.

Police in Mexico have shut down three WWASP-linked facilities: Sunrise Beach (1996), Casa By The Sea (2004) and High Impact (where police videotaped the teens chained in dog cages).

In 2005, New York’s Eliot Spitzer forced WWASP to return over $1 million to the parents of Academy at Ivy Ridge students, because the school had fraudulently claimed to provide legitimate New York high school diplomas. He fined Ivy Ridge $250,000, plus $2000 in court costs. A civil suit has been filed for educational fraud in New York as well, by a different law firm.

Straight’s Sembler currently heads the Scooter Libby Defense Fund, in addition to his work for Romney, and has worked tirelessly to keep the Vice President’s former Chief of Staff out of prison, even after his conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. After all, if running programs that impose these kinds of “treatments” on American teenagers is not a prison-worthy offense, why should lying to a court be?

The Romney campaign is aware of the WWASP suits, and should be familiar with the Straight suits. If not, it’s worth asking: Does Romney support these types of tactics for at-risk youth? Or does he take the line the organizations founded by his fundraisers take—that these dozens of lawsuits are merely from bad kids who make up lies?

Coming from the man who wants to double the size of Guantanamo, these aren’t insignificant questions. If Romney doesn’t believe the aggressive tactics he supports for use against enemy combatants ought to be used against troubled teens and youth drug users, he should say so, and show he means it by removing these men from his campaign.