Thursday, January 24, 2008
As I understand it, John Edwards came out publicly to oppose either warrantless surveillance, or immunity, or both, last fall sometime [his current stump speech includes a line about ending "illegal" spying on Americans]. I don't remember the details, and it's hard to tell how much the campaign has been following the intricate ins and outs of the FISA debate.
So to try to help counteract the latest White House PR push for immunity for their well-heeled secret corporate surveillance partners, here're a few reminders and links about the core provisions of the amendments to FISA (beyond the brazen immunity provisions) that will be on the floor of the Senate this Thursday, in spite of Chris Dodd's hold on the Intelligence Committee bill, courtesy of "Majority Leader" Harry Reid:
These two bills (the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committee FISA bills) are about (in addition to immunity in the Intelligence bill's Title II) "Link Analysis" and the "largest database ever assembled in the world" - as indirectly confirmed by the House Judiciary Committee's report on its FISA bill "RESTORE," which cited the following two news articles as describing activity that the RESTORE Act (and thus obviously the two Senate bills) would permit:
...The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
The usefulness of the NSA's domestic phone-call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear. Also unclear is whether the database has been used for other purposes.
For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events. - Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY, May 11, 2006
...Matt Blaze, a professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania and a former researcher for AT&T, said the telecommunications companies could have easily provided the F.B.I. with the type of network analysis data it was seeking because they themselves had developed it over many years, often using sophisticated software like a program called Analyst's Notebook.
"This sort of analysis of calling patterns and who the communities of interests are is the sort of things telephone companies are doing anyway because it's central to their businesses for marketing or optimizing the network or detecting fraud," said Professor Blaze, who has worked with the F.B.I. on technology issues.
Such "analysis is extremely powerful and very revealing because you get these linkages between people that wouldn't be otherwise clear, sometimes even more important than the content itself" of phone calls and e-mail messages, he said. "But it's also very invasive. There's always going to be a certain amount of noise," with data collected on people who have no real links to suspicious activity, he said.
But critics assert that the further the links are taken, the less valuable the information proves to be. - Eric Lichtblau, the New York Times, September 9, 2007
Both articles were cited in Footnote #27 of the House Judiciary Committee report on RESTORE, released October 12, 2007:
This is not about the 'foreign to foreign on a U.S. wire' problem that has been used as justification for these revisions/eviscerations of FISA - that issue is separately addressed and resolved in these bills. This is a brand new world of spying being authorized by Congress against innocent Americans (under Title I of the Senate bills) without any meaningful Judicial Branch check. New corporate and government spying authority which is being accompanied by a simultaneous effort to hold immune from lawsuits the cooperating corporations, that would block off Judicial Branch review to prevent the Supreme Court from having an opportunity to rule that these spying authorities openly violate the Fourth Amendment.
This is collusion between the Executive and Legislative Branches of government to end-run the Constitution, and to try to avoid any check from the Judicial Branch which would stop and reverse this deliberate invasion of our privacy and knowing violation of our Constitution. If Members of Congress could be impeached, on this issue the American people would easily convict those complicit in this collusion, and would throw them out of office with the contempt they have so thoroughly earned.
Both Chris Dodd's Congressional Record floor comments in December and Russ Feingold's website contain excellent summaries, arguments, and details about this issue - they have all the information Edwards would need to get up to speed on this matter.
The course our nation is on will not self-correct if left to its own devices.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Dick Cheney's Office Outed Valerie Plame. Then Covered it Up. These guys should be in Jail.
01/21/2008 @ 8:56 am
Filed by Nick Juliano
New report shows archives gone on several key days in Plame investigation
Among the sixteen days for which email are missing from Vice President Cheney's office is Sept. 30, 2003, the same day the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they were investigating who outed former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson.
That morning, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales ordered the president and the vice president's staff to "preserve all materials that might be relevant" to an inchoate Justice Department probe.
"We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee," Gonzales wrote in a terse Sep. 30, 2003 email. "The Department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you. In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the Department's investigation."
The analysis was released over the weekend by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), a D.C.-based ethics watchdog.
The White House said in a court filing last week that backup tapes, which contained archived copies of the e-mails, were recycled as part of a policy the White House had in place until October 2003.
Special Prosecutor and Chicago US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald convicted Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of obstructing justice and lying to investigators last year. Fitzgerald noted in a January 2006 letter that some of the White House's emails had not been archived.
Emails gone on day Bush said he'd 'take care of' leaker
Ironically, Cheney's office is missing emails from the very day President Bush told reporters he'd "take care of" whatever staff member had actually leaked the CIA agent's name.
"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush said Sept. 30, 2003. "And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of."
The day before, then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan had said there was "nothing, absolutely nothing" to suggest any White House involvement.
"And that includes the vice president's office, as well," McClellan added.
Much remains to be learned about what happened to White House e-mails on 473 days for which they seem to have disappeared. A lawsuit brought by CREW and the National Security Archive and planned hearings from the House Oversight Committee are trying to find out just how much of the historical record of the Bush administration ended up in the White House recycling bin.
Cheney's office also is missing e-mails from Oct. 4, 2003, when the Justice Department demanded that the White House turn over "all documents that relate in any way" to the leak of Plame's identity. E-mails are also missing for the following day, during which the probe intensified and CIA director George Tenet found himself at the center of it, "caught between his loyalty to the president and defending an agency enraged" at Plame's exposure, according to the New York Times.
As Fitzgerald's probe continued over the next few years, emails continued to disappear, CREW says. More e-mails were missing from Cheney's office on Feb. 16, 2005, when a court ordered reporters who had discussed Plame's identity with administration officials to testify about those conversations.
All in all, some 473 days of emails are missing from various Administration departments, according to a House Democrat who saw a White House presentation on the files.
War Criminals: BushCo Lied 935 Times to Convince America to Go to War. 935 Times. I wish I could ask them under oath if they ever got a blowjob.
WASHINGTON - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.
"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.
"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."
Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.
Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.
The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.
"The cumulative effect of these false statements -- amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts -- was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.
"Some journalists -- indeed, even some entire news organizations -- have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.
Read the full report.