- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SENATE

Schumer leaving Senate election role

Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Monday that he is giving up his job running the Senate Democrats’ national campaign efforts after two successful elections.

“We’ve had a great run,” said Mr. Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since the 2006 campaign, when he helped engineer a six-seat gain that gave his party a slim one-vote majority margin.

This year, the party won seven more seats, with two additional races in Minnesota and Georgia still undecided.

As head of the campaign effort, Mr. Schumer preached that candidates must be active in every part of their states, and focus on local concerns and middle-class economic issues - all of which are hallmarks of the New York senator’s approach to his job.

Mr. Schumer’s decision to leave the DSCC was expected.

He said he felt it was time to devote more of his energy to legislation in what he hopes will be a historic Congress. When lawmakers come to the nation’s capital in January they will have strengthened their grip on both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and be working with a Democratic president in Barack Obama.

They will also face immediate decisions on how to deal with the cascading financial crisis, two wars and ballooning budget deficits.

COURTS

Official: Bin Laden’s driver goes to Yemen

A senior defense official says former Osama bin Laden driver Salim Hamdan is being transferred from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to his home country of Yemen.

Hamdan was convicted of aiding al Qaeda in August and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. He would be eligible for release in January with credit for time served.

The official, who said Hamdan will serve out the remainder of his sentence in Yemen, spoke late Monday on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.

COURTS

Uighurs’ release being considered

A federal appeals court seemed reluctant Monday to release 17 Turkic Muslims being held without charges at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, questioning whether judges rather than a president can order their freedom into the U.S.

In a showdown over presidential power, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said a judge might have gone too far last month in ordering the U.S. entry of the 17 men, known as Uighurs. The three judges suggested that the detainees might need to apply formally via the Homeland Security Department, which administers U.S. immigration laws.

Such a move would effectively push the issue of the detainees’ release over to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, who has indicated that he wants to shut down the military prison and release prisoners who have not been charged.

At issue in Monday’s arguments is whether a federal judge has the authority to order the release of prisoners at Guantanamo who were unlawfully detained by the U.S. and cannot be sent back to their homeland. The Muslims were cleared for release from Guantanamo as early as 2003 but fear they will be tortured if they are returned to China.

The judges did not indicate when they would rule on the case.

POLITICS

PAC wants follow-up on ‘Troopergate’

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | A new political action committee wants the Legislature to censure Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and bring contempt charges against her husband over the so-called “Troopergate” investigation.

Alaskans for Truth asked on Monday that the Legislature respond to an investigative report that found Mrs. Palin had abused her office in firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. At issue was whether Mrs. Palin and others pressured Mr. Monegan to fire a state trooper who was involved in a contentious divorce from Mrs. Palin’s sister, and then fired Mr. Monegan when he wouldn’t dismiss the trooper.

Two probes were conducted. The first, a Legislative Council investigation led by special counsel Stephen Branchflower, found that Mrs. Palin had abused her office but that the firing was legal since Mr. Monegan was an at-will employee.

A subsequent investigation by the Alaska State Personnel Board found there was no probable cause to think Mrs. Palin nor any other state official violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act.

Mrs. Palin maintains that Mr. Monegan was ousted over budget disagreements.

SAMHSA

Millions attend drug self-help groups

About 5 million Americans attend meetings of self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous for alcohol and drug abusers, and nearly half of them reported remaining clean, a federal study released Monday showed.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration examined the popularity of meetings like those run in many communities by AA and Narcotics Anonymous.

In these kinds of meetings, people speak to others who also are grappling with drug and alcohol abuse about their experiences and offer emotional support to one another as they try to beat their addiction.

The findings were based on a survey given to 135,672 people age 12 and older in 2006 and 2007, the agency said.

SAMHSA said 5 million people age 12 and older - 2 percent of the U.S. population in that age group - reported attending such a self-help group in the prior year because of alcohol or drugs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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