Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Bin Laden Was Unarmed; Brown’s Redevelopment Plan Called Illegal

By Robert Gammon
Wed, May 4, 2011 at 7:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Osama bin Laden was unarmed when US Navy Seals shot him to death on Sunday in Pakistan, the White House revealed yesterday as it corrected an earlier version of the al Qaeda leader’s death, AP reports. CIA Director Leon Panetta said US forces shot Bin Laden in the face and chest after he “made some threatening moves” that “represented a clear threat to our guys.” The administration also corrected an earlier version of events, saying that Bin Laden did not use one of his wives as a human shield. The White House attributed the earlier mistakes in the narrative to the “fog of war.”

2. US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, shot down claims by right-wing pundits that torturing prisoners had led to bin Laden’s whereabouts, the Chron reports. Feinstein said finding the architect of the 9/11 attacks was primarily the result of “red teaming,” a concerted effort by the US intelligence community to verify information — something that was not done in the lead up to the Iraq War. She also said that torturing prisoners was unwarranted and unnecessary. "I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view, nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used," Feinstein said.

3. Lawyers for the state Legislature declared yesterday that Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies is unconstitutional, the SacBee reports. The Legislative Counsel Bureau said that Brown’s plan is illegal because it would use $1.7 billion in local property tax receipts to help pay down the state’s $26 billion deficit next year. The Legislative Counsel said that the state can’t force local governments to give it money. Legislators have also requested a legal analysis of whether Brown’s plan violates Prop 22. Brown’s lawyers contend that his plan will withstand legal scrutiny.

4. California will not execute anyone this year because the warden at San Quentin is revamping the facility’s death penalty team, the LA Times reports. The state has not executed anyone for five years because of various problems with its capital punishment procedures and now has 713 people on Death Row. Other states have curtailed their death penalty cases as the backlog of condemned inmates skyrockets nationwide.

5. Two more Oakland police misconduct cases are forcing the city pay out $900,000, the Chron reports. The city will pay $550,000 to a teen who was shot in the back by police, and $350,000 in attorneys’ fees in case in which cops illegally searched a home.

6. East Bay private investigator Christopher Butler admitted to his role in so-called “dirty DUI” cases, an illegal scheme hatched with cops in which he hired attractive women to get men drunk so that they would lose divorce cases, the Chron reports.

7. The prosecution rested its case in the murder trial of Yusuf Bey IV, who is accused of ordering the assassination of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, the CoCo Times reports. Defense attorneys say that Bey IV will not take the stand in his own defense and that they only plan to call a handful of witnesses. The case could go to the jury next week.

8. And a remodeled playground park opened in West Oakland thanks to the combined efforts of volunteers and the Oakland schools police department, the Trib reports. Wade Johnson Park now features a colorful new play structure, a rock-climbing wall, a basketball court, and a kickball field.

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