Friday, January 20

Wilkerson: Breaking Ranks

Democrats and Liberals are constantly complaining about the Bush Administration - what they've done, what they haven't done - and I'm certain it's gone well past the point where his supporters have turned a completely deaf-ear. But they really should listen-up when one of their own - Former State Department Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powells right hand man - begins to speak out, and use terms as strong as he has. He was there, he ought to know.

Breaking Ranks

Since 1998, Wilkerson has devoted himself to helping at-risk children at Macfarland in the name of Colin Powell, whom he refers to as "my boss" and "the general." Wilkerson works tirelessly to keep them in the club and to secure scholarships for them at private high schools.

Yet these days he and Powell are estranged: This program represents the last remnant of a long, deep friendship between them. Like ex-spouses in an uneasy detente, "we decided we'd just communicate over the kids," says Wilkerson, sounding pained by the situation.

The split came as both men left the administration -- Powell as secretary of state, Wilkerson as his chief of staff -- after working side by side for 16 years. Wilkerson, a once-loyal Republican with 31 years of Army service, has emerged in recent months as a merciless critic of President Bush and his top people, accusing them of carrying out a reckless foreign policy and imperiling the future of the U.S. military.

"My wife would probably shoot me if I headed to the ballot box with a Republican vote again," he says. "This is not a Republican administration, not in my view. This is a radical administration."

Wilkerson calls Bush an unsophisticated leader who has been easily swayed by "messianic" neoconservatives and power-hungry, secretive schemers in the administration. In a landmark speech in October, Wilkerson said: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."

He is particularly appalled by U.S. treatment of enemy detainees, counting at least 100 deaths in custody during the course of the war on terrorism -- 27 of them ruled homicides. "Murder is torture," he says. "It's not torture lite."

As for the invasion of Iraq? A blunder of historic proportions, he believes.

"This is really a very inept administration," says Wilkerson, who has credentials not only as an insider in the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II presidencies but also as a former professor at two of the nation's war colleges. "As a teacher who's studied every administration since 1945, I think this is probably the worst ineptitude in governance, decision-making and leadership I've seen in 50-plus years. You've got to go back and think about that. That includes the Bay of Pigs, that includes -- oh my God, Vietnam. That includes Iran-contra, Watergate."

Such a critique, coming from a man who was long thought to speak for Powell, is seismic in Washington power circles. Some observers used to regard Powell and Wilkerson as so close that they enjoyed a "mind meld," but now Powell distances himself from the pronouncements of his former aide.

Wilkerson, as it turned out, became the point man for making the case for preemptive war against Hussein. He put together the task force that, during a week at CIA headquarters, vetted all the intelligence reports used for Powell's famous pro-war presentation in February 2003 to the Security Council, where he brandished a vial of fake anthrax, played excerpts of intercepted Iraqi military chatter, and warned of mobile bioweapon "factories" and other doomsday machines, none of which actually existed.

How did it happen?

"Larry thought they had cleaned out the obvious garbage, but it turned out there was more," says James A. Kelly, a former assistant secretary of state who's known Wilkerson for 20 years. "Larry felt that he let down the secretary, but the job was so big in cleaning out the misinformation."

Wilkerson won't say outright that he and Powell were deliberately snowed by intelligence reports tailored to fit a political push for war, but he has edged closer to that view, noting, "I've begun to wonder." It turns out that the administration relied on fabricators' claims about Hussein's illusory WMD programs and, in one case, an al Qaeda suspect whom the CIA turned over to alleged torturers in Egypt.

"I kick myself in the ass," Wilkerson says. "How did we ever get to that place?"

The speech tarnished Powell's gold-plated reputation, but he has never publicly pointed a finger at then-CIA Director George Tenet or the White House.

"Nothing was spun to me," Powell told David Frost in a BBC television interview last month. "What really upset me more than anything else was that there were people in the intelligence community that had doubts about some of this sourcing, but those doubts never surfaced up to us."

Why didn't the doubts reach Powell? Perhaps because then he wouldn't have given the speech at all?

"That's right," Wilkerson says, shooting a hard, solemn stare across the restaurant table. "That's right."

He also says, "I am prepared to entertain the idea that they used him."

They used more than just Powell, they used the fear of the American people, the good-will of the world community and flushed them down the toilet.


And the Osama-clock keeps on ticking...

This from firedoglake -- too perfect to fuck with.

1,590 days and counting.

That's how long it has been since 9/11/2001 -- and how long it has been since the Bush Administration said they would kill capture Osama Bin Laden. And...erm...they haven't exactly done that, have they? New tape from Osama today. No capture. Not feeling any safer under this Preznit's watch, that's for sure.

Maybe Bushie should actually start doing his job, instead of just talking about it all the time. Actions speak louder than words. So do inactions.

Results matter. I'm just sayin'.

Meanwhile you've got Chris Matthews Spouting off some ridiculous bullshat comparing Osama to Michael Moore? Check what Peter Daou at Salon has to say.
"Bin Laden sounds like Clint Eastwood" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Ron Silver" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Rush Limbaugh" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Bill O'Reilly"-- "Bin Laden sounds like Mel Gibson" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Bruce Willis" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Michelle Malkin"... Imagine the outrage on the right and in the press (but I repeat myself) if a major media figure spat out those words. Well, on Hardball, Chris Matthews just blurted out that Bin Laden sounds like Michael Moore. Simple: Matthews should apologize. On the air. This has NOTHING to do with Michael Moore and everything to do with how far media figures can go slandering the left. And last I checked, Michael Moore didn't massacre thousands of innocent Americans.

Even John Kerry (whose been in Iraq for the last few days) has something to say about this one.

John Kerry's not too happy about it either, has this to say:
"You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America.
What part of common-freaking-sense don't these people have? Osama on the air and the figure it's time for another round of "bash the liberals"... anything to take everyones attention away from Abramoff/Delay/Illegal-Wiretaps not to mention Plame/Libby (anyone remember that one?) Kos nearly blows a gasket.

The blowhards like Chris Matthews are orgasmic in their denunciations of liberals these days in the wake of the latest Osama Bin Laden tape.

But let's remember -- it's not liberal who are in power. It's been George Bush and his neocon pals. It is THEY who have failed to capture or kill Bin Laden. It is they who have made our country less safe, and created a world in which terrorist attacks have increased. It is they who are making a mess out of the war in Iraq, failing to provide our troops with basic necessities like body and vehicle armor.

This is a point so obvious, that really, it takes idiots like Chris Matthews and the Chickenhawks to fail to see it.

Georgia10 had a great post about it earlier. Also on the case are Crooks and Liars, John Aravosis, Digby, and Jane Hamsher. Matt Stoller writes:

This is not about Michael Moore, this is about what it means to be an American. Are we a country of strongmen who thrive on bullying and accusations of treason, or can we tolerate divergent views? Is the media about raw power and shouting ability, or is it about journalism? That's the question that Matthews must answer. Calling Americans treasonous murderers because of their political views has no place in American politics or journalism. Chris Matthews needs to apologize, now.


Thursday, January 19

Justice blowing smoke on NSA

The Department of Justice has released a 40-page document outlining exactly how and why the NSA wiretaps aren't a crime against the Constitution and American people, uh... illegal.
The NSA activities are supported by the President’s well-recognized inherent
constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs to conduct warrantless surveillance of enemy forces for intelligence purposes to detect and disrupt armed attacks on the United States.

This is true, but the keyword in this sentence is "Foreign" - the President does have the authority to perform warrantless surveillance of foreign subjects and on foreign soil - but not against Americans. Not without a Warrant. Under 18 USC § 2511. (Prohibition of Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications)

(f) Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other than electronic surveillance as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and procedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.

Back to Justice.

The President has the chief responsibility under the Constitution to protect America from attack, and the Constitution gives the President the authority necessary to fulfill that solemn responsibility. The President has made clear that he will exercise all authority available to him, consistent with the Constitution, to protect the people
of the United States.

In the specific context of the current armed conflict with al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations, Congress by statute has confirmed and supplemented the President’s recognized authority under Article II of the Constitution to conduct such warrantless surveillance to prevent further catastrophic attacks on the homeland.

They have? That seems to be news the them. From the Washington Post:
The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today's Washington Post.
Justice continues:
In its first legislative response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Congress authorized the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” of September 11th in order to prevent “any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.” Authorization for Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No. 107-40, § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224, 224 (Sept. 18, 2001) (reported as a note to 50 U.S.C.A. § 1541) (“AUMF”)

Jordan Paust
of the University of Houston Law Center disagrees with this analysis.

George W. Bush and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claim that domestic spying in manifest violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was authorized by Congress in broad language in the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) regarding persons responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Similar claims have been made in a December 22 letter from Assistant Attorney General William Moschella to the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The claims are patently false.

First, there is no persuasive evidence that when passing the AUMF Congress intended to override either criminal or other provisions of the FISA requiring Executive compliance with the FISA process for foreign intelligence surveillance. Second, the AUMF contains no express or implied authorization concerning intelligence surveillance either abroad or within the United States. With respect to Executive action against certain persons, the purpose of the AUMF is clearly contained in the authorization to use merely “necessary and appropriate force” against those “nations, organizations, or persons” that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 terrorist attacks as such or that “harbored such ... persons.” The authorization of appropriate “force” is not an authorization to torture or to use cruel, inhuman, degrading, or humiliating treatment against any human being; it is not an authorization to create military commissions that are otherwise without jurisdiction under constitutional and international law and violate due process; and it is certainly not an authorization to spy on persons within the United States. Moreover, Congress has only authorized use of “appropriate” force. The word “appropriate” creates a statutory limitation that necessarily requires Executive compliance with relevant constitutional, international, and other federal laws, especially since Supreme Court opinions have long recognized that relevant international law and prior federal statutes are a necessary background more generally for interpretation of newer federal statutes.
More from Justice.
History conclusively demonstrates that warrantless communications intelligence targeted at the enemy in time of armed conflict is a traditional and fundamental incident of the use of military force authorized by the AUMF.
Only when that "enemy" doesn't include U.S. Citizens. If it does, you need a FISA Warrant. Justice again...
The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the AUMF in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004), confirms that Congress in the AUMF gave its express approval to the military conflict against al Qaeda and its allies and thereby to the President’s use of all traditional and accepted incidents of force in this current military conflict—including warrantless electronic surveillance to intercept enemy communications both at home and abroad.
Hamdi found that the President did have the authority to declare a U.S. Citizen as an "Enemy Combatant" (particularly since he was captured during combat with the Talibn in Afghanistan), but it did not grant the President the authority to bypass judicial review of the case.
JUSTICE O ’CONNOR,joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE,JUSTICE KENNEDY,and JUSTICE BREYER,concluded that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged in this case, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker.Pp.14 –15.

JUSTICE SOUTER,joined by JUSTICE GINSBURG,concluded that Hamdi ’ s detention is unauthorized,but joined with the plurality to conclude that on remand Hamdi should have a meaningful opportunity to offer evidence that he is not an enemy combatant.
This understanding of the AUMF demonstrates Congress’s support for the President’s authority to protect the Nation and, at the same time, adheres to Justice O’Connor’s admonition that “a state of war is not a blank check for the President,” Hamdi, 542 U.S. at 536 (plurality opinion), particularly in view of the narrow scope of the NSA activities.
"This understanding of the AUMF"? Can you say - "Load of Crap", ladies and gentlemen? When Justice O'Connor said "a state of war is not a blank check" she also said...
We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation ’s citizens. Youngstown Sheet &Tube ,343 U.S.,at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.
Cutting to the chase - The President can not cut the courts out of the mix on decisions such as these, even during a time of war. Sorry Bushie - can't do it.

In Youngstown, the Supreme Court overruled the action of President Truman in seizing control of American Steel Mills to prevent a strike during the Korean War.
(a) There is no statute which expressly or impliedly authorizes the President to take possession of this property as he did here. Pp. 585-586.

(b) In its consideration of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, Congress refused to authorize governmental seizures of property as a method of preventing work stoppages and settling labor disputes. P. 586.

(c) Authority of the President to issue such an order in the circumstances of this case cannot be implied from the aggregate of his powers under Article II of the Constitution. Pp. 587-589.

(d) The Order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President's military power as commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. P. 587.
Back to Justice...
The AUMF places the President at the zenith of his powers in authorizing the NSA activities. Under the tripartite framework set forth by Justice Jackson in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 635-38 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring), Presidential authority is analyzed to determine whether the President is acting in accordance with congressional authorization (category I), whether he acts in the absence of a grant or denial of authority by Congress (category II), or whether he uses his own authority under the Constitution to take actions incompatible with congressional measures (category III). Because of the broad authorization provided in the AUMF, the President’s action here falls within category I of Justice Jackson’s framework. Accordingly, the President’s power in authorizing the NSA activities is at its height because he acted “pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress,” and his power “includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate.” Id. at 635.
This entire house of cards constructed by Justice falls completely apart when you pull out the AUMF lynch-pin. Neither Hamdi nor Youngstown support their arguements. Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe takes out that lynch-pin with a sledgehammer.

If Hamdi treated the AUMF as an "explicit congressional authorization," 124 S.Ct. at 2640-41, for imprisoning an enemy combatant despite AUMF's failure to mention "detention" or "imprisonment" in so many words, the argument goes, the AUMF must be read to impliedly authorize the far less severe intrusion of merely eavesdropping on our terrorist enemies, and on members of organizations that indirectly support them. After all, the collection of "signals intelligence" about our enemies abroad is no less an accepted incident of war than detaining the captured enemy -- just as signals intelligence of foreign agents (including some going to and from the United States) has been accepted as an inherent power of the President even in the absence of war. Surely, then, now that Al Qaeda has launched a war against us, and now that Congress has responded with the functional equivalent of a declaration of war in the AUMF, even the entirely innocent American citizen in Chicago or Cleveland whose phone conversation with a member of an Al Qaeda-supportive organization happens to be ensnared by the eavesdropping being undertaken by the NSA cannot be heard to complain that no statute specifically authorized the Executive to capture her telephone communications and e-mails as such. Invasion of that citizen's privacy was, alas, but one of war's sad side effects -- a species of collateral damage.

The technical legal term for that, I believe, is poppycock.
That's putting it mildly Larry, very mildly indeed.


Wednesday, January 18

Operation Firstfruits : NSA Spied on Whistleblowers, Journalists and Congress?

While doing research on a post discussing the recent speech by Vice-President Al Gore, I discovered a webpage/blog called which described a secret NSA program called FirstFruits whose aim is even more dark and heinous than anything previously discussed concerning the current scandal of performing warrantless surveillance of al-Qaeda communications which have one end within the U.S.

The allegation was that the NSA has been spying for some time on their own employees. People who resisted going along with the "party-line" of the administration.

Let that sink in for a second.

Just wait, it gets worse.

Apparently, they've also been spying on other members of the government who may have been potential whistleblowers, journalists and even members of Congress.
NSA spied on its own employees, other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist and congressional contacts. WMR has learned that the National Security Agency (NSA), on the orders of the Bush administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations and e-mail of its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies -- including the CIA and DIA -- and their contacts in the media, Congress, and oversight agencies and offices.

The journalist surveillance program, code named "Firstfruits," was part of a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) program that was maintained at least until October 2004 and was authorized by then-DCI Porter Goss. Firstfruits was authorized as part of a DCI "Countering Denial and Deception" program responsible to an entity known as the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC). Since the intelligence community's reorganization, the DCI has been replaced by the Director of National Intelligence headed by John Negroponte and his deputy, former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.


In addition, beginning in 2001 but before the 9-11 attacks, NSA began to target anyone in the U.S. intelligence community who was deemed a "disgruntled employee." According to NSA sources, this surveillance was a violation of United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The surveillance of U.S. intelligence personnel by other intelligence personnel in the United States and abroad was conducted without any warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The targeted U.S. intelligence agency personnel included those who made contact with members of the media, including the journalists targeted by Firstfruits, as well as members of Congress, Inspectors General, and other oversight agencies. Those discovered to have spoken to journalists and oversight personnel were subjected to sudden clearance revocation and termination as "security risks."

At first I didn't want to believe it, and tried to do a little more research. Every version of this report I could find seemed to come from one single source - Wayne Madsen of the self-titled Wayne Madsen Report. The site itself struck me as a left-wing Drudge Report, bad graphics with super-partisan slant, so I remained skeptical. I couldn't find any major newspaper or blogs which might have done any additional background or detail on this story, although I find a mention on After that, I pretty much wrote the entire thing off as being paranoid tin-foil-hattery.

But something about it wouldn't let me go - so I took another crack and found a mention on from Dec 28 - two days before the Mediachannel post.

This just in from Wayne Madsen, who is formerly an NSA employee and apparently still maintains close ties with current employees. If this information is correct, and I am betting that it is, how can any NSA employee come forward to corroborate this story and not be tried for treason? How are whistleblowers going to come forward and not be arrested and shut up?

Firstfruits was a database that contained both the articles and the transcripts of telephone and other communications of particular Washington journalists known to report on sensitive U.S. intelligence activities, particularly those involving NSA. According to NSA sources, the targeted journalists included author James Bamford, the New York Times' James Risen, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the Washington Times' Bill Gertz, UPI's John C. K. Daly, and this editor [Wayne Madsen], who has written about NSA for The Village Voice, CAQ, Intelligence Online, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
Ok, so thisMadsen guy is NSA. Hmmm...

It was at this point that began to compare statements made by NSA Whistleblower Russell Tice on Jan 3rd, with claims made by Warren Madsen last Month.

AMY GOODMAN: When you come on board at these intelligence agencies, as at the National Security Agency, what are you told? I mean, were you aware of the Church hearings in the 1970s that went into the illegal spying on monitoring, of surveilling, of wiretapping of American citizens?

RUSSELL TICE: Well, that’s something that’s really not drummed in your head. That’s more of a history lesson, I think. And the reasoning, ultimately, for the FISA laws and for what's called USSID 18, which is sort of the SIGINTer’s bible of how they conduct their business, but the law itself is drilled into your head, as well as the tenets of USSID 18, of which the number one commandment is ‘Thou shalt not spy on Americans.’

The fact that both Tice and Madsen synchronize on USSID 18 as the "bible" for the NSA is helpful in identifying that he does have some legitimate NSA bona-fides and/or sources - (even if I find his site design rather unappealing - sue me). still some of the allegations made by Madsen couldn't be confirmed by Tice.

AMY GOODMAN: Russell Tice, did you know anyone within the N.S.A. who refused to spy on Americans, who refused to follow orders?

RUSSELL TICE: No. No, I do not. As far as -- of course, I'm not witting of anyone that was told they will spy on an American. So, ultimately, when this was going on, I have a feeling it was closely held at some of the upper echelon levels. And you’ve got to understand, I was a worker bee. I was a guy that wrote the reports and did the analysis work and -- you know, the detail guy. At some point, your reports have to get sent up up the line and then, you know, the management takes action at some point or another, but at my level, no, I was not involved in this.

So apparently Tice wasn't specfically aware of what individuals were being targeted for survellance and why, but that doesn't mean that Madsen doesn't have access to some persons still within NSA who do have access to this information. Overall, it's not that far-fetched.

In fact, it had already been speculated in this post from Americablog which discusses the likelyhood that journalist were targeted by the NSA.
I had an interesting discussion this morning with DC political consultant Marc Laitin. We both came to the conclusion that it sounds like Bush's super-secret illegal domestic spying program may be targeting US journalists and that may be why Bush never got it cleared by the court and is worried about it coming forward now.

Think about it.

1. Bush had the authority to go the court AFTER THE SURVEILLANCE and RETROACTIVELY get the warrant to do surveillance he'd already done. He didn't. The only reason I can come up with for why Bush would NOT go to the court after the fact is because he thought the court would slap him down. The court's greatest concern would likely be spying on US citizens, and an even greater concern would be spying on either members or Congress or the American media. If Bush were spying on American media, he might just lose this retroactive warrant.

2. Bush says that these were only Americans making phone calls to people with known Al Qaeda ties. That probably knocks out members of Congress, but it very much sounds like US journalists. Who else, other than terror cells, would be talking on a regular basis with people who might have ties to terrorism? American journalists working on stories.

It could even include US journalists talking to their bureaus abroad. Read again who Bush said the program is targeting (if you believe him):
"intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al-Qaida and related terrorist organizations."
What's a "known link"? Does a journalist who has contacts inside Al Qaeda have a "known link" to Al Qaeda? Well sure he does, he absolutely has links/contacts with Al Qaeda.
That was on Dec 19th, since then we've learned a great deal.

Look at the record now: We've already had a report of NSA targeting journalist from NBC as a result of an interview between Andrea Mitchell and New York Times Reporter Joe Risen when interviewing him about his book "State of War".
From Americablog

Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

Mitchell: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

Risen: No, no I hadn't heard that.

What is also quite interesting is that Democratic Underground reports that the CNN Transcript of this interview was altered to remove the Amanpour question. When originally posted it was mere speculation, but apparently the salient details have been confirmed by NBC (regarding the question, investigation and it's subsequent scrubbing...)
NBC confirms it's investigating whether Bush spied on CNN's Christiane Amanpour
by John in DC - 1/04/2006 10:27:00 PM

That is the only way to read NBC's just-issued statement on why they deleted key portions of Andrea Mitchell's interview after we reported on it here earlier today. (snip)
Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.
This is quite big. Note exactly what NBC said.

- NBC did not say it pulled the references to Bush spying on Amanpour because it was inappropriate conjecture about something which Andrea Mitchell had no evidence.

- No, NBC said it pulled the references because it was still investigating the accusation and didn't want to scoop itself before it was finished investigating. And make no mistake, NBC is "continuing their inquiry."

So NBC isn't ready to go public yet on this story...but if their investigation shows that reporters such as Christine Amanpour were caught up in the NSA Wiretap... Woooboy!

It's only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Chritiane Amanpour to spying on Risen and Hersh. Heck, spying Risen and Hersh makes sense as a way to "close up leaks". Add that to the fact the ACLU already has FOIA documents indicating the the FBI and DIA have been performing surveillance on Greenpeace and PETA.

We already know that they've spied on the UN Security Council, during the run-up to the Iraq war (which is technically legal under FISA - but still pretty slimy) from
President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show.
We already know that John Bolton somehow gained access to the names of State Department Employees who had been captured on NSA intercepts, and that the Bush was willing to let his nomination rot-on-the-vine until Congress recessed rather than let them find out who they and Bolton were spying on and why

And lastly we know that a great deal of the NSA leads that the FBI have been following over the last four years have led to dead-ends with no terrorist connection at all - but then again, having an nice fat set of FBI files on your prominant and outspoken opponents that you could mine whenever you like would be an incredible political advantage. We all remember the allegations made against Clinton with Filegate, yes?

Madsen allegations that they've been using the NSA spying to stifle political opposition, not just fight the war on terror - just might have some legs afterall.

COINTELPRO 2006 - Here we are.


Conservatives come out against illegal spying

Several Conservatives have begun to crawl out of the woodwork and timidly denounce domestic spying by the Bush Administration. Whodathunkit?

From Kos.

Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB) today called upon Congress to hold open, substantive oversight hearings examining the President's authorization of the National Security Agency (NSA) to violate domestic surveillance requirements outlined in the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, chairman of PRCB, was joined by fellow conservatives Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, in urging lawmakers to use NSA hearings to establish a solid foundation for restoring much needed constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law.

"When the Patriot Act was passed shortly after 9-11, the federal government was granted expanded access to Americans' private information," said Barr. "However, federal law still clearly states that intelligence agents must have a court order to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans on these shores. Yet the federal government overstepped the protections of the Constitution and the plain language of FISA to eavesdrop on Americans' private communication without any judicial checks and without proof that they are involved in terrorism."

The following can be attributed to PRCB members:

"I believe that our executive branch cannot continue to operate without the checks of the other branches. However, I stand behind the President in encouraging Congress to operate cautiously during the hearings so that sensitive government intelligence is not given to our enemies." -- Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO, Free Congress Foundation

"Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping." -- Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform

"The need to reform surveillance laws and practices adopted since 9/11 is more apparent now than ever. No one would deny the government the power it needs to protect us all, but when that power poses a threat to the basic rights that make our nation unique, its exercise must be carefully monitored by Congress and the courts. This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of all Americans so that future administrations do not interpret our laws in ways that pose constitutional concerns." -- David Keene, chairman, American Conservative Union

Much of the wingnutosphere has rallied behind Bush because, well, that's what their Pavlovian instincts tell them to do. The rest of the conservative media has done the same.

Yet here are some of the key figures of the conservative movement essentially calling foul on the administration's egregious overreach. Norquist is literally the central figure of the VRWC. Weyrich, another key figure in the VRWC, was the founding president of the Heritage Foundation and founded the American Legislative Exchange Council. Keene's credentials are self-explanatory. Barr is no surprise. He's an old-school libertarian who has been consulting with the once-hated ACLU.

This should never have been a partisan issue, despite the knee-jerk defense of the indefensible by those who think Bush can't do any wrong.

Kos is exactly correct on this point - this isn't an issue of partisanship, it's an issue of law and disorder. This President is running roughshod over the Constitution, claiming powers that clearly violate the law and attempting to override the clear and concise will of Congress not just once, but over and over again with over 500 "signing statements" to date.

This has to stop. If neccesary - the Presidency needs to be brought down.

Impeach, Remove and Convict King George.


The Impending Medicare Drug Crisis

A couple years ago, the Republicans passed their Medicare Deform Reform Bill. Like theives in the night, they held the vote open from 3 - 6am, twisting arms and bribing members (like Congresman Nick Smith) until they had what they wanted, rejecting all attempts by the Democrats to include an option to allow for the Medicare system to negotiate for the best price with drug manufacturers. Well, it appears those chickens are starting to come home to roost...

From Thinkprogress.

The Bush administration’s implementation of its new Medicare prescription drug benefit wasn’t quite a “seamless transition” as Medicare administrator Mark McClellan promised. The Miami Herald has called the implementation of the new program an “unmitigated disaster.”

But instead of mitigating the disaster, the Bush administration has launched a PR campaign:

President Bush’s top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.

Several hundred thousand” people enrolled in the new plans were unable to fill essential prescriptions and many states declared public health emergencies. Twenty states have stepped up to the plate to “help low-income people by paying drug claims that should have been paid by the federal Medicare program.”

McClellan, who has found plenty of cash for his propaganda campaigns, now refuses to reimburse these 20 states that picked up the administration’s slack:

People are in Medicare drug plans, and it’s the Medicare plans that are supposed to pay for the medications.

Additional reports from Dailykos.

First off, here's a story from Tom Raum of the AP:

The Medicare drug program that was supposed to win political points for Republicans has exploded in their faces as this election year has begun. It's a particularly vexing problem for the GOP, since older Americans are such active voters and no one seeking office wants to see them angry.

Since the Bush administration's prescription medicine program began on Jan. 1, tens of thousands of elderly people have been unable to get medicines promised by the government. Some 20 states have had to jump in to help them.


'The political fallout is potentially enormous,'' said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University. ''This is a program that touches tens of millions of people. And anytime that a government program is working poorly, and is affecting adversely so many people, it's bound to have huge consequences.''

Yeah. I'll say. Newspapers around the country have leads like this one in the Seattle Times:

After five years of getting her prescriptions filled for no charge at her local pharmacy in Maple Valley, Estella Easterly, 84, says she recently was told she had to pay full price -- or go without.

She couldn't prove that she had enrolled in one of Medicare's new Part D drug plans. Her insurance company hadn't sent her a membership card yet, and it set up her eligibility information improperly in the computer system. So Easterly -- who lives on about $600 a month -- paid what she could: $24 for a half-month's worth of one of her medications.

"I'm not one that cries very easily," said Easterly, a widow who used to get her drugs paid for by the government because of her low income. "If I can't get it straightened out, I'll just have to do without my medicines. I just can't afford that every month."

And this story crosses lines out of news into many other areas of the news landscape. Cable news network's "health reporters" cover the story, as do columns based on family issues. Here's Newsday's Family & Relationships column:

Welcome to 2006, when millions of older Americans will be falling down the doughnut hole, searching for new adventures in Medicareland, where things are "curiouser and curiouser."


But Gottlich doubts this Congress or President George W. Bush will deal with the fundamental reason for these problems. As correspondent Margaret Warner said recently on PBS' "NewsHour," "There's no standard government-designed plan" administered by Medicare. "Instead, enrollees have to choose from dozens of plans offered by private insurance, with different deductibles, co-pays and lists of authorized drugs."

Some Democrats want to modify the privatization aspects of the law by having at least one standard plan run by Medicare. But that would mean competition for private companies from the more efficient Medicare system, which could use its purchasing power to drive prices down. The Republicans and the drug companies who bought them won't hear of it.

Oooo, ouch.

At least 20 states have had to step up to help out seniors. And the list is growing.

This is a screwup on such a massive scale it's hard to grasp it. But after the highly publicized but geographically limited screwing of the Gulf Coast, millions of Americans all over the country are learning some basic facts.

The current GOP can't be trusted to run the government. The mix of cronyism, corporatism, and corruption is undermining any effectiveness the federal government had. Even massive amounts of money can't help, as the Medicare bill's huge cost is going to be wasted in corporate giveaways. Just as soldiers can't get body armor as the government spends so much money to outsource logistics to Halliburton, seniors can't get the drugs they need because this legislation was designed to take of Big Pharma. I'll leave you with one final little story:

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced yesterday that retiring Rep. W.J."Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce until he stepped down from that post earlier this year after complaints about his job hunting, will be the trade group's new chief.

PhRMA, the trade association for the drug industry, had approached Tauzin in January while he was in negotiations for the top lobbying job at the Motion Picture Association of America. More importantly, the House committee oversees the drug industry as well as the telecommunications, media and entertainment industries, and Tauzin, whose committee shared jurisdiction over Medicare, had shortly before helped write and promote a controversial Medicare prescription drug benefit for the elderly.

Rumor has it this is one of the biggest money deals given by any trade association.

The GOP insiders cash in while Americans suffer.

I absolutely could not have said it better. This is a perfect example of what the Republican party has come to stand for - maximized profits at the expense of those who are most vulnerable.

"Let 'em eat cake"... yeah, or dogfood. Whatever - as long as our stock prices (the Dow just passed 11,000 yesterday) stay up.


Pentagon to Troops: Buy Armor - Lose Insurance

As reported by Soldiers for Truth
news photo

AP/US Army

Two deploying soldiers and a concerned mother reported Friday afternoon that the U.S. Army appears to be singling out soldiers who have purchased Pinnacle's Dragon Skin Body Armor for special treatment. The soldiers, who are currently staging for combat operations from a secret location, reported that their commander told them if they were wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin and were killed their beneficiaries might not receive the death benefits from their $400,000 SGLI life insurance policies. The soldiers were ordered to leave their privately purchased body armor at home or face the possibility of both losing their life insurance benefit and facing disciplinary action.

The soldiers asked for anonymity because they are concerned they will face retaliation for going public with the Army's apparently new directive. At the sources' requests DefenseWatch has also agreed not to reveal the unit at which the incident occured for operational security reasons.

On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that "all" commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.

"We have to be able to move. It (Dragon Skin) is heavy, but it is made so we have mobility and the best ballistic protection out there. This is crazy. And they are threatening us with our benefits if we don't comply." he said.

Excuse me, but what on God's green earth are they thinking by threatening soldiers into using inferior protection? Where does this mindset come from? I'm sorry but this just completely blows my mind - are they really doing this because it threatens the profits of current defense contractors or what? It makes no sense. Talk about one big FU to the troops - jeezus jumping jehosaphat!.

I don't know what to say.


New Evidence that Kerry won Ohio?

From a recent Dailykos diary - which indicates that a precinct level analysis of the deviation between the exit poll data and recorded vote counts was so far out-of-wack that the result was statistically impossible to have been reached accidentally.

Researchers at NEDA (The National Election Data Archive), promote their analyses as...

...based on the most accurate statistical method yet devised for determining whether exit poll error, random variations, or vote count manipulation cause the discrepancies between exit polls and official vote tallies. This analysis method was made public recently by NEDA in "Vote Miscounts or Exit Poll Error? New Mathematical Function for Analyzing Exit Poll Discrepancy" available at

The numbers (Highlights):

Exit Polls were conducted in 49 of Ohio's 11,360 precincts. At least 40% of Ohio's polled precincts show statistically significant differences between Kerry's exit poll percent and official vote count percent. 35% of these discrepancies underestimated the Kerry official vote share. This is five times the number expected. Three of the most glaring examples are:

  1. In E/M precinct 27, with an estimated 100 respondents, Kerry's official vote count was 29% less than his exit poll share, creating a 58% difference between Kerry and Bush exit poll and official vote margins. There is less than a one in 867,205,500 chance of this occurring due to chance.

  2. In E/M precinct 25, with an estimated 62 respondents, Kerry's official vote count was 28% less than his exit poll share, creating a 56% difference between Kerry and Bush exit poll and official vote margins. There is less than a one in 234,800 chance of this occurring due to chance.

  3. In E/M precinct 48, with an estimated 100 respondents, Kerry's official vote was 16% less than his exit poll share, creating a 32% difference between Kerry and Bush exit poll and official vote margins. There is less than a one in 17,800 chance of this occurring due to chance.

NEDA's Conclusion:

Ohio's exit poll discrepancy pattern is consistent with a hypothesis of outcome-altering vote miscounts primarily favoring Bush. In other words, Ohio's exit poll discrepancies are consistent with the hypothesis that Kerry would have won Ohio's electoral votes if Ohio's official vote counts had accurately reflected voter intent. The patterns of Ohio's exit poll discrepancies are similar to the patterns in the national exit poll sample shown in the January 19, 2005 Edison/Mitofsky (E/M) report and discussed in earlier USCV reports.

Ohio's exit poll discrepancies vary with official precinct vote share in ways that cannot be fully explained by any "reluctant Bush responder" or exit poll error hypothesis offered to date.


The Gun is Smoking - 2004 Ohio Precinct-Level Exit Poll Data Show Virtually Irrefutable Evidence of Vote Miscount

The Research Paper (PDF)

U.S. Vote Counts site

Now this result doesn't particularly surprise me, but what it does unfortunately show is that shameless election jury-rigging by the right-wing has become quite brazen - their sheer audacity defies belief, and it's that very disbelief that protects them from any major scrutiny, making anyone who seriuosly suggests that yet again - this election may have been stolen sound like members of the tin-foil hat club.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly remain doubtful that such a thing is truly possible - but then again, what other reasonable explaination can there be for such gross discrepancies? Obviously this issue needs to be looked at and address with better auditing capabilties and features.

Problem is, that's the last thing that's forthcoming between now and Nov '06.


Tuesday, January 17

Reflections on MLK, Freedom, Gore & Gonzales

Yesterday was the 20th Anniversay the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. A holiday that wouldn't have even come into existence if our current Vice-President Darth Dick Cheney had his way.

On that day Bill O'Reilly spent time debating whether any of our current black leaders have been able to live up to the legacy of Dr. King. He claimed that "Farrakan is a hater...Jessie Jackson is a scammer...and Al Sharpton.... is Al Sharpton". But I think a better question is -- "Is anyone living up to the example set by Dr. King"? And I think the answer to that question is "No" - with on possible exception. Al Gore.

Al delivered a blistering speach yesterday on the subject of Freedom, which was introduced by former Rep. Bob Barr - one of the most rabid partisan Republicans during the Clinton administration - who has since become a member of the ACLU and is fighting heavily against the encrouchments on Civil Liberties he sees coming from the Bush Administration.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses. [Ed. Specifically 18. USC § 2511. Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited]

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.

Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program "without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection."

A more recent New York Times report indicates that far from being a "limited" program - the NSA domestic spying has led to a massive influxing of information being fed to the FBI - enough to overwhelm and drown them into stagnation on their anti-terrorism efforts.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.

As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about "whether the program had a proper legal foundation," but deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.

President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a "vital tool" against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved "thousands of lives."

But the results of the program look very different to some officials charged with tracking terrorism in the United States. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

In response to the F.B.I. complaints, the N.S.A. eventually began ranking its tips on a three-point scale, with 3 being the highest priority and 1 the lowest, the officials said. Some tips were considered so hot that they were carried by hand to top F.B.I. officials. But in bureau field offices, the N.S.A. material continued to be viewed as unproductive, prompting agents to joke that a new bunch of tips meant more "calls to Pizza Hut," one official, who supervised field agents, said.

So not only are we not just looking at people with "al-Qaeda" links, it appears that the NSA information is being used to spark the tapping of completely domestic calls of completely innocent people. Following Gore's speech, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on both Hannity & colmes as well as Larry King to perform a bit of CPR on the Administrations legitamacy.

ALBERT GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I didn't see the speech of the former vice president. What I can say is that this program from its inception has been carefully reviewed by lawyers throughout the administration, people who are experienced in this area of the law, experienced regarding this technology and we believe the president does have legal authorities to authorize this program.

I would say that with respect to comments by the former vice president it's my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding the physical searches without warrants, Aldrich Ames as an example.

Here Gonzales admits he doesn't even know what Gore said - but continues to claim what the President is doing is legal, while at the same time attempting to undermine Gore's credibility by claiming "they did it too". But that is false. Clinton did not violate FISA, as phyisical searches were not included under the FISA law at the time, but they are now as a result of President Clinton's urging 1995 - and even they weren't, Bush isn't accused of doing warrantless phyisical searches in the first place. This is apples and pomagranites.

On the issue of the legality of the NSA program, Gonzales may not have listened to Gore - but it appears that Gore has been listening to Gonzales.

The President's men have minced words about America's laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.
This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the Authorization was being debated, the Administration did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that would have authorized them to use military force domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among others, made statements during the Authorization debate clearly restating that that Authorization did not operate domestically.

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."

This is precisely the "disrespect" for the law that the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure [Youngstown Co. V Sawyer] case.

In Youngstown, President Truman argued that his Article II Commander-in-Chief powers allowed him to seize control of the steel mills during the Korean War to avoid a worker strike -- the Supreme Court found otherwise, yet Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department have ignored this fact in order to give justification to President Bush's bypass of the FISA court. The court found in Youngstown that...

2. The Executive Order [to seize the mills] was not authorized by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and it cannot stand. Pp. 585-589.

(a) There is no statute which expressly or impliedly authorizes the President to take possession of this property as he did here. Pp. 585-586.

(b) In its consideration of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, Congress refused to authorize governmental seizures of property as a method of preventing work stoppages and settling labor disputes. P. 586.

(c) Authority of the President to issue such an order in the circumstances of this case cannot be implied from the aggregate of his powers under Article II of the Constitution. Pp. 587-589.

(d) The Order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President's military power as commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. P. 587.

The order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President's military power as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The Government attempts to do so by citing a number of cases upholding broad powers in military commanders engaged in day-to-day fighting in a theater of war. Such cases need not concern us here. Even though "theater of war" be an expanding concept, we cannot with faithfulness to our constitutional system hold that the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has the ultimate power as such to take possession of private property in order to keep labor disputes from stopping production. This is a job for the Nation's lawmakers, not for its military authorities.

Nor can the seizure order be sustained because of the several constitutional provisions that grant executive power to the President. In the framework of our Constitution, the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker. The Constitution limits his functions in the lawmaking process to the recommending of laws he thinks wise and the vetoing of laws he thinks bad. And the Constitution is neither silent nor equivocal about who shall make laws which the President is to execute. The [343 U.S. 579, 588] first section of the first article says that "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States . . . ." After granting many powers to the Congress, Article I goes on to provide that Congress may "make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

Gore continues...

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch's claims of these previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it.

Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme Court disagreed [Hamdi v. Rumsfeld], but the President engaged in legal maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.

In the end Gore called for an immediate Special Counsel to look into violations of law by President Bush, yet Gonzales argued that "many attorney's" with the Justice looked over the FISA issue, but it appears that not all of them agreed.
With Mr. Ashcroft recuperating from gall bladder surgery in March 2004, his deputy, James B. Comey, who was then acting as attorney general, was unwilling to give his certification to crucial aspects of the classified program, as required under the procedures set up by the White House. . .
With Gonzales as AG, it is quite unlikely that a true investigation of the NSA wiretaping will take place, but that doesn't mean the story is over.

Rep. John Conyers (a black leader who has followed very much in the path of Dr. King) has called for a Congressional investigation [one which is unlikely with the Congress remains corrupt under Republican Control], but there is hope that the issue will be addressed - eventually - by the Padilla case. In the meanwhile, we need to focus on the TRUTH of what Gore has stated, and continue to pound home these issues - we must continue to speak out, and demand that our elected representatives - both Republican and Democrat - speak the truth, or else face being unelected. Dr. King spoke of having a dream, I believe that dream is still alive - we can not afford to let it die.

But Dr. King did not accomplish his goals alone - his primary role was in awakening the simple common decency of those who were witnesses to him. He was not perfect, he was not without flaw -- but he did inspire us to at least try to do better, and to be more than we were at the time. We can still be more, we can still do better - and we don't need to sit around and wait for Dr. King Mark II to arrive -- we need to stand up and do it own our own, just as he did.

Now, if we can just get past Diebold...