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EX-GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR TAKES ON GOVERNMENT Bill Lann Lee says his latest suit isn’t too different from the work he did for years as a government prosecutor under President Clinton. “We prosecuted, civilly and criminally, police officers, prison authorities and border guards,” said the partner with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. The main difference between that work and the suit Lee filed March 1 is that instead of an alleged rogue jailer or racist cop, the defendant is Donald Rumsfeld, and the plaintiffs are eight former prisoners — four from Iraq and four from Afghanistan — who say they were tortured in U.S.-run prisons. Lee said he decided to sue after speaking with two former military JAGs, James Cullen and John Hutson, about overseas prison abuses. “The three of us felt that something had gone terribly wrong. Torture had become widespread,” Lee said. The trio felt that Rumsfeld was the logical target as the military official responsible for prisoner policy. “All three of us knew about the doctrine of command responsibility,” Lee said, referring to the principle that a military commander is obligated, under international and U.S. law, to take appropriate measures within his power to control the troops under his command and prevent them from committing torture and extrajudicial killing. Lee and two Lieff Cabraser associates teamed up with the ACLU, Human Rights First, an academic and lawyers from two other private firms to work the case up and file it in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where Rumsfeld claims residency. The Department of Defense responded to the suit with a prepared statement. “We vigorously dispute any assertion or implication that the Department of Defense approved of, sanctioned or condoned as a matter of policy detainee abuse,” it said. A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that Rumsfeld had no further response. Chimene Keitner, a Lieff Cabraser associate working with Lee on the case, said she wasn’t phased by the high-profile defendant or the sordid allegations, which stretch from deprivation of food and water to nude interrogations and “isolation while naked and hooded in a wooden coffin-like box.” “At this stage, the most important thing is that the complaint is now on file, and the government and Secretary Rumsfeld will have to respond as would any other defendant,” she said. – Justin Scheck DOUBLE SHOT George W. Bush had Pioneers. San Francisco DA Kamala Harris, in a smaller way, has “co-chairs.” More than 15 months after her election, the district attorney is still working to pay off her campaign debt, which stood at about $112,000 at the end of December. A single Bush Pioneer, who was responsible for raising $100,000 for the president’s campaign, could nearly cover Harris’ campaign debt. But the DA is setting more modest goals, seeking “co-chairs,” or guests who can bundle up $2,500 worth of contributions for a fund-raiser on Sunday. A Democratic darling should add to the event’s appeal. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, who was an Illinois state senator last year when he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, will be a “special guest” at the Pacific Heights reception, according to Harris’ campaign Web site. Perhaps the senator’s returning the favor. When the then-state legislator was trying to make the leap to national politics last year, Harris helped organize a fund-raiser for him in San Francisco. – Pam Smith TRACKS AND BACKTRACKS Napster has a new nemesis. This time around, the online music service is battling a single inventor rather than the entire recording industry. SightSound Technologies Inc., whose founder holds a series of patents for transmitting digital video and audio signals, has sued Napster for infringement. Napster says the patents are invalid based on prior art and has requested that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office re-examine them. Last month a federal judge in Pennsylvania denied SightSound’s request for a preliminary injunction and stayed its lawsuit pending action by the PTO. SightSound is appealing the ruling. Napster attorney Charles Verhoeven said the case has implications for other online subscription services, including Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft’s MSN Music and RealNetworks’s RealRhapsody. “We’re the second target in a larger plan by them to try to obtain licenses from the entire industry,” said Verhoeven, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges. “They contend the patents are broad enough to cover any downloading of a musical track for money.” SightSound attorney William Wells, a partner at Kenyon & Kenyon’s New York office, said he couldn’t discuss the breadth of the patent claims or whether other companies might be infringing the technology. “If others are infringing, once SightSound makes that determination, it will decide what to do,” Wells said. Based in Mount Lebanon, Pa., SightSound previously sued N2K Inc. and Bertelsmann AG subsidiary CDNow Inc. for infringement. Last year N2K and CDNow settled the case for $3.3 million, acknowledging in the settlement that the patents are valid and enforceable. The current suit is targeting the “Napster To Go” service, which allows consumers to download an unlimited number of music tracks onto an MP3 player for $14.95 a month. Napster originally allowed consumers to freely swap music files over the Internet. The Recording Industry Association of America won its copyright infringement suit against the company and shut down its service. Roxio Inc. subsequently bought Napster’s name and technology assets out of bankruptcy. — Brenda Sandburg

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