Russell Tice, former NSA security analyst, just came on the Keith Olbermann show revealing that the NSA's domestic surveillance programs were not only far greater in scope than formerly thought, but also were specifically targeted at journalists.
Is Congress gearing up to hold a new American Truth Commission? What new horrors would they find if they did? The last time we tried this we uncovered MK/ULTRA, plots to kill Castro & Project SHAMROCK. One of the most significant outcomes was a little thing called FISA. After 30 years it may finally be time to wash out our national dirty laundry again.
Who's soft on terrorism? Surely not the Democrats, who are about to enable the National Security Agency to extend its secret domestic wiretapping program after saying otherwise for months. Surely not the Republican White House, determined to rush out a new Osama bin Laden video even if it burns an intelligence connection spying on Al Qaeda that has been carefully cultivated for years.
Since the revelation that the telecommunications companies assisted in illegal spying on domestic phone calls, a host of lawsuits have sprung up seeking damages for civil liberties violations. The Bush administration has responded by seeking the power to grant blanket immunity to criminal and civil action to the companies involved. The claim that the suits could bankrupt the companies indicates that the spying was even more widespread than previously believed; If Verizon is worth $120,000,000,000, then given the estimate of $1000 per violation, one hundred and twenty million calls were spied upon.
Comey made frantic calls to his own chief of staff and to Robert Mueller, then FBI director, while he raced to the hospital, sirens blasting. He sprinted up the stairs of the hospital to get to Ashcroft's room before Gonzales and Card did. . . . "I couldn't stay if the White House was engaging in conduct that had no legal basis." Comey testifies that there was something of a line to resign that day: Mueller; then Comey's chief of staff; and then Ashcroft's chief of staff—who asked only that Comey wait until "Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me."A
Absoluelty riveting, it reads like a tale out of paperback thriller: in a darkened hospital room, a White House consigliere barges past the sick man's wife, and demands the disoriented Attorney General official sign a paper.
"First, they tried to coerce a man in intensive care -- a man so sick he had transferred the reins of power to Mr. Comey -- to grant them legal approval. Having failed, they were willing to defy the conclusions of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and pursue the surveillance without Justice's authorization." I'm waiting for the movie, but you can watch the video now.
Top Secret: We're Wiretapping You It could be a scene from Kafka or Brazil. Imagine a government agency, in a bureaucratic foul-up, accidentally gives you a copy of a document marked "top secret." And it contains a log of some of your private phone calls. You read it and ponder it and wonder what it all means. Then, two months later, the FBI shows up at your door, demands the document back and orders you to forget you ever saw it.
"If this program is unlawful, federal law expressly makes the ordering of surveillance under the program a federal felony. That would mean that the president could be guilty of no fewer than 30 felonies in office." George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley on what's missing in the latest debate over the NSA program. [Bugmenot, Via Glenn Greenwald.]
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has ruled that warrantless wiretapping by the Bush Administration's National Security Agency is unconstitutional, saying it violates rights to free speech and privacy. Judge Taylor, a veteran of the civil rights movement and the first black female federal district judge in the U.S. 6th Circuit, was appointed to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by President Carter. Legal experts expect the decision to be overturned by the 6th Circuit sitting en banc. Background on the case by Glenn Greenwald: "The theory of the lawsuit -- [is that warrantless wiretapping's] mere existence deters citizens from freely exercising their free speech rights".
Personality, Ideology and Bush's Terror Wars [...]Just as disturbing as Al Qaeda's plans and capabilities are the descriptions of the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror and its willful determination to go to war against Iraq. That war, according to the author's sources who attended National Security Council briefings in 2002, was primarily waged "to make an example" of Saddam Hussein, to "create a demonstration model to guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States."[...]
Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.
Bush administration signals intent to invoke the obscure state secrets privilege in order to stop the EFF lawsuit against AT&T, (previously discussed here) for providing the NSA direct access all 312 terabytes of its customers' telephone and internet traffic since 2001, (including those Good Vibrations charges you racked up). In a nutshell, according to legal experts, invoking the privilege kills the judicial process dead: the courthouse doors are closed, and there's nothing but grownup stuff to see here; move along, kids.
"Don't worry Mr. President, we have Kansas surrounded." Warrantless searches: they're not just for wiretaps anymore. U.S. News and World Report probes the Bush administration's covert drive to conduct physical searches of American homes without court approval.
"Resolved that the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans." Invoking "high crimes and misdemeanors," Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold introduces a motion to censure [PDF link] President Bush for his controversial, legally dubious NSA wiretapping program. Feingold declares: "The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law." Republican leader Frist retorts: "It's a crazy political move" that sends a "terrible" signal to Iran. Democratic bloggers say: Call your senator. [More legal fallout from the NSA program recently discussed here.]
Newsfilter: Secret arrests, secret renditions, secret interrogations in secret jails, and now, secret rulings from US federal judges. More fallout from the Bush administration's NSA domestic-spying program [recently discussed here].
'The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House," said Jay Rockefeller, vice-president of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after the committee quashed a broad inquiry into the legality of the NSA spying on Americans -- despite an increasing number of legal scholars coming forward and declaring that the program is "blatantly illegal," in the words of Yale Law School dean Harold Koh. Meanwhile, the GOP proposes giving spying on Americans the "force of law" while subjecting it to "rigorous oversight."
Evidence of a slippery slope continued: Newsweek reports that White House counsel Steve Bradbury believes President Bush can order killings on US soil as part of the Terrorist-Surveillance ProgramTM. Meanwhile, while Attorney General Gonzales "lashes out" at the media and insists that the TSPTM is "not a dragnet that sucks in all conversation and uses computer searches to pick out calls of interest," the Washington Post reports it's precisely that -- "computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears" -- and has led to very few leads. (See also discussion of Arlen Specter and the legality of the TSPTM here.)
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says President George W. Bush's warrantless surveillance program appears to be illegal. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Specter called the administration's legal reasoning "strained and unrealistic" and said the program appears to be "in flat violation" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
Spies, Lies and Wiretaps Instead of the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the warrantless spying on Americans, we've received only the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation and a couple of big, dangerous lies...
this is an editorial pointing out the lies given the American public about spying. In addtion some 15 legal scholars here conclude that the Bush "initiative" is clearly illegal and violates the American constitution. Declaring "war powers" simply will not do!
The (Broken) Triangle: Progressive Bloggers in the Wilderness. The Huffington Post's Peter Daou, whose dour forecast of how Bush and lazy media would spin away the NSA scandal proved prescient, on why "netroots activists" can't get traction: "It's slow-motion-car-wreck painful, and most certainly NOT where the left's triangle should be a half decade into the new millennium, as the Bush-propping machine hums and whirrs, poll numbers rise and fall, Iraq bleeds, scandal dissolves into scandal, terror speech blends into terror speech. The landscape is there for everyone to see, to analyze. Enough time has elapsed to make the system transparent. It is dismaying for netroots activists to see the same mistakes repeated..."
The New York Times (reg required) is reporting that the National Security Agency has eavesdropped on far more domestic telecommunications at the directive of President Bush than has been previously admitted. "The N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications... N.S.A. technicians, besides actually eavesdropping on specific conversations, have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might point to terrorism suspects. Some officials describe the program as a large data-mining operation."
"I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story..." President Bush really did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here.] And in yesterday's rare press conference, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
D.H.S. - The Series. "... a multimillion-dollar episodic series, will explore the inner workings of the Department of Homeland Security, teaming the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and National Security Administration (NSA) together with "first responders" such as local police, fire and safety administrators." The series is being pitched to prospective networks today and has the full support of President Bush and Tom Ridge. "They love it. They think it is fantastic," say the series' producers at Steeple Productions, located in the Seventh-Day Adventist Community of Zillah, Washington. Not familiar with Steeple Productions? Well, perhaps you might find their four-episode "Creation Vs Evolution" series enlightening.