Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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READ: Letter to Justice Department About Alleged Proxy Detainee Yonas Fikre

| Wed Apr. 18, 2012 12:01 PM EDT
Yonas Fikre, who claims he was detained and tortured at the behest of the US government, is shown here in a still image from a video recorded by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Earlier this week, I broke the story of Yonas Fikre, a 33-year-old Muslim American from Oregon who claims that he was detained and tortured in the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the US government. Fikre is now in Sweden, where he and his lawyers were scheduled to hold a press conference on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, Portland's Willamette Week and Oregonian published stories on Fikre's ordeal. Oregon Public Broadcasting adds the detail that Fikre has applied for asylum in Sweden.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has been helping Fikre, has given me a copy of a letter the group sent to Thomas Perez, the head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, describing Fikre's ordeal, asking that Perez investigate "whether Mr. Fikre was detained and tortured at the behest of any agent of the U.S. government," and demanding that he be allowed to return to the United States without "further unconstitutional interference." You can read it here:

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The Obama Administration Wants You to Stop Worrying and Love the Bailouts

| Mon Apr. 16, 2012 6:30 AM EDT
President Barack Obama chats with Timothy Geithner, the secretary of the Treasury.

The Obama administration wants Americans to realize what a good job it and the Bush administration did saving the economy from a second Great Depression. But they'd prefer not to make this case directly. They want journalists to do it for them.

On Friday, the Treasury Department convened one of its semi-regular, invitation-only background press briefings for journalists. Senior Treasury officials spoke to us, answered our questions, and showed us a "deck," which is annoying industry jargon for a PowerPoint presentation. "I just know this is going to be a fucking waste of time—another dog-and-pony show," another journalist told me on our way into the meeting. The central message of the dog-and-pony show was that the US response to the 2008 financial collapse was pretty effective, especially when compared to how other countries reacted to different crises. The PowerPoint presentation used terms like "bank investment programs," but what the Treasury gang was talking about was the highly unpopular financial bailouts (as opposed to the auto bailouts, which the Obama team views as a political winner).

Bomb Explodes at Wisconsin Planned Parenthood (Updates)

| Mon Apr. 2, 2012 10:41 AM EDT

A small homemade bomb exploded outside of a Planned Parenthood office in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, on Sunday evening, local media reported. The explosive device, which was placed on a window sill, went off and started a small fire that triggered alarms and brought the local fire department to the scene. There were no reported injuries, and the building was closed at the time. Local police are investigating.

The office that was attacked is now "temporarily closed," according to the welcome recording on its voicemail system. I've put in a request for comment to Stephanie Wilson, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Wisconsin. I'll update this post if she responds. I've also asked the local police department for more details and will update if I hear back.

UPDATE, 12:30 p.m. EST: Talking Points Memo reports that the FBI has joined the investigation.

UPDATE 2, 1:30 p.m. EST: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has issued a short statement via Twitter:

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support and concern. Last night our Appleton center was vandalized w/ a homemade explosive device. No staff or patients were injured. The Appleton health center will reopen tomorrow. Our primary concern today—as always—is our patients, staff and volunteers.

Teri Huyck, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, issued a longer statement via the group's website.

UPDATE 3, 4:00 p.m. EST: Talking Points Memo reports that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which is charged with investigating violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, is also probing the bombing incident.

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