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August 25th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Special prosecutor to investigate torture?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Attorney General Eric Holder has named a federal prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture by the CIA. This coincides with the release of the 2004 Inspector General's report of CIA interrogation tactics including waterboarding, staging mock executions, and threatening suspects with guns, power drills, and the safety of their family members.

Attorney General Eric Holder

It also mentions moving detainees to prisons in countries where torture is practiced. A redacted version of the report was first released after the ACLU sued last year but clearly the details were in the redacted sections.

This is all happening as the President announced a change in intelligence gathering - shifting the responsibility for terrorism interrogations to the FBI and away from the CIA.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has said all along the Inspector General's report would prove that interrogation tactics were successful in obtaining useful information from detainees that prevented additional attacks on the U.S. He says we should be praising the people responsible for conducting these interrogations. Cheney is also raising questions about the Obama Administration's ability to protect Americans.

Nine Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to the Attorney General urging him not to launch a criminal investigation because it would jeopardize "security for all Americans, chill future intelligence activities," and could "leave us more vulnerable to attack."

The point of the investigation is to determine if laws were broken. For most people, when a law is broken there are consequences. The question remains whether the people who authorized all this stuff will ever be held accountable.

Here’s my question to you: Is naming a special prosecutor to investigate torture a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Law Enforcement
August 19th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Best way to put the brakes on bad driving?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Bad drivers, beware... USA Today reports that several states are trying to cut down on bad drivers by going after so-called super speeders, lane hogs and drivers with multiple moving violations.

Turns out aggressive drivers may kill more people than drunk drivers... With a recent AAA study finding that things like speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. were a factor in 56-percent of all crashes.

So states are cracking down...

In Florida, the worst drivers will have to go back to driving school. A driver who is found at fault in three-crashes over three-years will have to pass a driver's ed course and a road test - just like a beginning driver.

In Georgia, super speeders will be fined an extra $200. This applies to all drivers going faster than 75 mph on two-lane roads - or faster than 85 mph on any road. The new fine is expected to generate $23 million a year - sounds like an idea a lot of states could use to raise some much-needed cash.

In Kansas, the new Right Lane Law makes it illegal to drive in the far left lane, unless you're passing or turning left.

Also - Other states have launched campaigns against aggressive driving trying to reduce road rage; and officers have been targeting drunken drivers, speeders and those not wearing seat belts.

Here’s my question to you: What's the best way to put the brakes on bad driving?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Law Enforcement
July 31st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should beer summit have yielded apologies?

ALT TEXT

Pres. Obama (R), Sgt. Crowley (2nd R), Prof. Gates (2nd L), and VP Biden (L) drank beers on the White House South last night. The so-called Beer Summit was held after Crowley arrested Gates at his home, sparking tensions and racial furor. (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

After beers at the White House - Sgt. James Crowley and Prof. Henry Gates say their talks were productive and that they plan to meet again.

The two men - at the center of what grew into a national conversation on race - met with President Obama and Vice President Biden at a patio table outside the White House.

Crowley says it was a frank discussion - that they agreed to move forward rather than dwell on the past. He didn't give more specifics except to say that no one apologized. Gates says he hopes the experience will "prove an occasion for education, not recrimination."

President Obama said he was thankful to both men for joining him for a "friendly, thoughtful conversation." The White House is probably glad to have this meeting done with, hoping the president can get the nation to focus on his priority of health care.

It probably wasn't the president's finest moment - a new Pew poll shows 41-percent of those surveyed disapproved of the president's handling of the Gates arrest - only 29 percent approved.

Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct - after making charges of racism against Crowley. President Obama inserted himself into the debate by saying the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" while admitting he didn't know all of the facts. Later, the president walked back his comments a bit - but stopped short of apologizing.

Here’s my question to you: Sgt. Crowley says no one apologized at the White House meeting. Were apologies in order?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Law Enforcement • Race Relations • Washington
July 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should Obama apologize for saying cops acted "stupidly" in Gates arrest?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Cambridge cops want an apology from the President of the United States for saying the police "acted stupidly" in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

They didn't get one today – but they got something:

The president made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room today... saying he spoke with the arresting officer and that he didn't mean to malign the police department. But he stopped short of apologizing.

This was a local story that likely would have gone away in a day or two... until President Obama got involved.

Mr. Obama criticized the arrest of Gates even though he admitted he didn't know all the facts. The first black president also talked about how blacks and Hispanics are still unfairly singled out for arrest.

Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct - when police responded to a possible break-in at his home. They say Gates at first refused to display ID... and then accused the officer of racism.

Turns out the arresting officer Sgt. James Crowley - who stands by his actions - taught a racial profiling course for five-years. The commissioner of the Cambridge police department says Crowley's actions were not racially motivated.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police says it's "critically important" to have all the facts on any police matter before making a public statement. And Republicans say Mr. Obama wasn't acting "presidential" by rushing to judgment.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama apologize for saying Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in the Gates arrest?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

May 21st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should concealed and loaded guns be allowed in national parks?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It looks like gun rights advocates are about to score a win with a Democrat in the White House. The House and Senate have now both approved bills that would allow concealed and loaded guns into national parks and wildlife refuges - unless a state law doesn't allow them.

Yosemite National Park in California.

The measure has been attached to the credit card bill, which is a top priority for President Obama, and could become law this week. The bill passed with the help of moderate Democrats, many of them from the South and Midwest. One of the bill's supporters, Republican Senator Tom Coburn, says the move isn't a "gotcha amendment," but a real step to protect the Second Amendment.

Gun rights groups say the bill will give gun owners the same rights on national park land that they have everywhere else; but they say they don't want to declare victory until it becomes law.

Meanwhile groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and the Association of National Park Rangers say the bill would increase the risk of poaching and vandalism of park treasures, as well as threats to visitors and staff.

Some Democrats are disappointed in what they see as the success of the gun lobby under a Democratic president and Congress. But aides admit that many Democrats feel pressure to back gun legislation or face political heat from the National Rifle Association. Can you tell there's a mid-term election around the corner?

Here’s my question to you: Should concealed and loaded guns be allowed in national parks?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Law Enforcement
May 7th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Legalizing marijuana answer to government's $ problems?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's time to debate legalizing marijuana in California - so says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the state faces mounting deficits, the governor says he's open to talking about different ways to create revenue. Although Schwarzenegger doesn't think the state should rush to judgment and start taxing and legalizing pot right now, he says he's interested in looking at other countries that have legalized it to see what effect it's had.

A cannabis plant is pictured. Cannabis is known as marijuana in its herbal form.

Schwarzenegger's comments come as support grows nationwide for legalizing pot. In California, a recent poll found for the first time a majority of voters back legalization.

One California lawmaker says regulating and taxing marijuana would bring the state as much as $1.3 billion a year in extra revenue. Proponents say it's about more than just money; it's about the failure of the war on drugs and implementing "a more enlightened policy."

One advocate tells The San Francisco Chronicle that Schwarzenegger's comments represent "a tectonic shift" in attitudes on the issue, saying: "The public is going to drag the politicians into doing what is right."

But not everyone is so sure this would be the right move. Some lawmakers say the potential revenue would hardly make a dent in California's deficit - which could soon reach $20 billion. They say this is just a sign of the governor's "growing desperation" over the budget.

Here’s my question to you: Is legalizing marijuana the answer to the government's money problems?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Law Enforcement
May 6th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Would disbarring Bush lawyers end torture debate?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

No criminal charges for the authors of the Bush administration's so-called torture memos; that's according to a preliminary report by the Justice Department. The draft report instead suggests the government might call on state bar associations to take sanctions against two of the three lawyers who wrote the memos. The most severe punishment they could get would be disbarment.

This report now goes to Attorney General Eric Holder for approval or revisions, and is expected to be finalized soon. The torture memos were written after the 9/11 attacks, and authorized harsh interrogation techniques including waterboarding, throwing detainees against walls, and forced nudity.

And needless to say, these lawyers didn't decide to write this stuff on their own - someone told them to do it.

The issue has become a political hot potato for the Obama administration, although the president opened the door to criminal prosecution for those who authorized these acts, he also talks a lot about looking forward instead of dwelling on the past.

Meanwhile a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows most Americans don't want to see an investigation of Bush officials... 57 percent of those surveyed say Congress should not conduct an investigation; and 55 percent don't want to see an independent panel created to look into this stuff. The poll also found 50 percent support President Bush's decision to authorize these harsh techniques; even though 60% believe it was torture.

Here’s my question to you: Would disbarring the Bush lawyers who wrote the interrogation memos be enough to put an end to the torture debate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

March 26th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Time for U.S. to legalize drugs?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As drugs and related violence from Mexico continue to infect 230 cities in the United States, some politicians, economists, and even drug law enforcement leaders say legalizing drugs may be the answer.

One Texas city councilman tells CNN "it's the least worst option to ending cartel violence." He says decriminalizing drugs would take away a lot of the financial incentive for the cartels to kill. Arizona's Attorney General says 60 percent of the battle is marijuana - and he's called for "at least a rational discussion" on ways to take the profit out of weed.

Some insist legalizing drugs like pot would help our economy. One California congresswoman says it would pump $1 billion into her state's budget alone every year. A senior economics lecturer at Harvard says federal, state and local governments spend $44 billion a year to enforce drug prohibition. If drugs were legal, they could be making about $33 billion per year in tax revenue.

Jeffrey Miron describes how prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. He says the same was true with alcohol; and is also the case for illegal gambling or prostitution. He says prohibition of drugs also corrupts politicians and law enforcement, which is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for industries that are prohibited; but rare in other cases.

But critics say the consequences of legalizing drugs would far outweigh the benefits. Some focus on the moral and health related concerns about drug use. One former special agent for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration told CNN "No way. We would lose a generation." Some wonder if drug use itself can cause violent behavior; and others aren't sure if decriminalization would make much of a difference in the Mexican drug war. However, the country has managed to survive the repeal of Prohibition almost 80 years ago.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for the U.S. to legalize drugs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Law Enforcement • United States
February 5th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Good idea to collect DNA from shoplifting suspects?

ALT TEXT

Washington State is considering a bill that would require DNA samples from shoplifting suspects. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Suspects in Washington State arrested for crimes like shoplifting or driving with a suspended license might soon be forced to give a DNA sample.

The state is considering a bill that would require these samples before the suspect is even charged with a crime. More than a dozen states already allow this - and two others are considering similar proposals.

Under Washington's bill, anyone arrested for a gross misdemeanor or felony would be forced to give a DNA sample. It would be stored at the state crime lab and destroyed if no charges were filed or the person was found not guilty.

Supporters say collecting DNA helps solve crimes – that it would make it easier for law enforcement to close cases and also to free those who have been falsely accused. One murder victim's mother praised the bill, saying DNA "helps us protect the innocent and catch the bad guys."

But Critics say the proposal enables unwarranted searches and would elevate those arrested for less serious crimes into the same category as violent convicts. Criminal defense groups and the ACLU are calling the bill unconstitutional – violating the right against unreasonable search and seizure.

It's estimated the program would cost $1 million over two years. And one lawmaker says although he likes the bill, he doesn't think now is the right time to pass it because of the state's money problems.

Here’s my question to you: Should states be allowed to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested for shoplifting?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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