Friday, February 10

Brownie Blames DHS for FEMA problems with Katrina

Looks like Pass-the-buck Brownie is at it again. After sending the Bush Administration an ultimatum ("Get me a Lawyer, or I'll ... I'll - tell the truth") former FEMA head Michael Brown states during his Senate Testimony on Katrina that "I don't think the culture [would have allowed for the proper response to Hurricane Katrina]".

Sen Robert Bennet (R-UT) responded, "That is a staggering statement, it demonstrates a dysfunctional department to a degree that we have not seen".

Ok, when you've got the "R's" flatly shocked about what you're saying during one of those incredibly rare events on the hill, an oversight hearing, I think the fan and the shit have just decided to head for Inspiration point and GET BUSY.

It's not like Brownie wasn't already totally busted by emails from FEMA Official Marty Bahamonde for being asleep at the wheel during Katrina, and proving that most of his previous testimony where he placed all the blame on Louisiana Officials was a lie, it's clearly obvious that Heckuvajob has decided that he's going to be the first rat-fucker off the ship. "I didn't succeed [On Katrina], because DHS was an addidtional bureacracy that [we] didn't need".

Oh, so it's not all Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin's fault like you said last year?

Apparently not, now it's all the fault of Sec Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security which is apparently a total mess.

Someone needs to page all those "Security Mom's" from 2004 - and ask if they're still feeling even a wee bit "Secure"?

None of Brownie's claims are particularly a surprise to me. Richard Clarke in his first book "Against All Enemies", was strongly against the formation of DHS, stating that It could take up to ten years for all these organizations to come together and begin functioning effectively.

But what's really shocking to me, is seeing Republican Politicians apparently trying to Do their goddamn Job. Last time they had a hearing on Katrina, Republicans practically called the victims and survivors who testified "liars". My how things have changed. Maybe Kark Rove's attempts the other day to strongarm the Senate Judicial Committee has backfired. Just the fact that Karl had to go such extreme measures to threaten Republicans on the Committe to "stay in line" on the NSA shows that were terrified that these Senators were about to break ranks and needed a hard rap on the nose with some rolled up newspaper. (How and way a President whose recently had 36% approval thinks a threat to NOT show up and Campaign for a Congressman is supposed to be frightening - I'll never know!)

But it looks like another committe has just gone on the rug again.

We've got Rep Heather Wilson, head of a House Intelligence Sub-Commitee making a ton of noise over the NSA program.

Breaking with the White House, Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, says the time has come for a "complete review" of President Bush's eavesdropping program, her spokesman said Wednesday.

Libby has apparently flipped on the Plame case.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

We've got an Ex-CIA Official who says that the WMD intelligence was misused. (No kidding, really?)

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Sound like the Downing Street Memos much?

And just yesterday we've had yet another report that the White House was warned with days to spare that the levee was going to break.

WASHINGTON - Twenty-eight government agencies, from local Louisiana parishes to the White House, reported that New Orleans levees were breached Aug. 29, the day Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, documents released Thursday show.

A timeline of e-mails, situation updates and weather reports, pieced together by Senate Democrats, indicates the Bush administration knew as early as 8:30 a.m. EST about levee failures that would ultimately lead to massive flooding of the city and its surrounding parishes.

Senate Democrats said the documents raise questions about whether the government moved quickly enough to rescue storm victims once they realized the levees had broken.

Shortly after the disaster, Bush said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." He later said his comment was meant to suggest that there had been a false sense of relief that the levees had held when the storm passed, only to break a few hours later.

Democrats said the documents showed there was little excuse for the tardy federal response

And now we've got ole Heckuvajob - since he's a "Private Citizen" these days - telling us in no express terms how big a mess FEMA and DHS is.

Looks like Uncle Karl's attempt to take Congress out to the woodshed was a little to little, and a little too late.

Wagon - say goodbye to the wheels.


Ex-Cia Official : The Intelligence Data was Misused

Finally an honest man in a sea of cowards.
Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq
Intelligence 'Misused' to Justify War, He Says

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 10, 2006; Page A01

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between (Bush) policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.
Now to a lot of us, this aint "News". We've been saying this for years. It's nice to see that someone from a position to know is finally saying it, and it makes me wonder how John McCain feels about all those intelligence officials who "looked him in the Eye and said they didn't feel any pressure to manipulate the intelligence" to meet the goals of President Bush. Apparently it didn't matter what they thought or said, Bush was going to do what he was going to do anyway. (Again, not a surprise - because Bush has admitted this too).

No, I have just one question for Senator Roberts (head of the Senate intelligence committee that two freaking years ago was suppose to investigate what Mr. Pillar has just told the Washington Post) -- "How's Phase II of the WMD investigation come along, eh? I think we just might have a witness for you..."


Thursday, February 9

The Scott-King Funeral Controversy

Over the last two days, the Corporate Media and blogs have been getting all lathered up over comments made at the Funeral of Coretta Scott King. My own comments on the day of her death were fairly pointed, so I certainly undertand what Rev Lowrey and President Carter had to say. (Carter had already gone on record that very same day, to say that President Bushes Extra-FISA wiretap program is illegal) so it's naturall that the moment was highly charged.

And if anyone has a right to criticize the President Bush on the issue of FISA - it's the Ex-President (Carter) who signed the FISA act into law in the first place, funeral or no funeral.

For those who were hiding under a rancid rock and missed the Funeral. Crooks and Liars has a wonderful montage of clips that was put together by Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The comments by those who cared for and admired Mrs King were clearly heartfelt. They said what they believed, and were received with cheers.

And then the storm began.

Coretta Scott King was a civil rights leader. So why was it wrong to say this?

"The struggle for equal rights is not over. We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans." -- Jimmy Carter

Coretta Scott King's family was spied on by the government. So why was it wrong to say this?

"It was difficult for them personally - with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretapping, other surveillance, and as you know, harassment from the FBI." -- Jimmy Carter

What's transpired since has been both tragic and transcendant.

Dr. and Mrs. King and so many others, and who has dedicated his life to the principles of equality and liberty and peace -- to say that he had no right to speak as he did ignores the whole history of the civil rights movement.
"She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," Lowery said. "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we knew, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor."
And it just goes to show how used to hand-picked audiences and shutting out any and all criticism this Administration and its supporters have become. Cowards, hiding behind their wall of secret service agents and GOP gate-keepers.
More from FDL.

It's nice to know that whenever MSNBC needs something said that is so ugly, so fulminatingly rancid and dog-whistle racist that even Bill Bennett will not show up and do the honors that a vile, bilious hatchet-faced nag like Kate O'Beirne is always at the ready (see video at C&L).

Why didn't she just come out and say "negroes don't know how to act at funerals?" Because that's exactly what she meant.

Digby , John and Gilliard think almost as much of Kate for having the courage to come out and scold the coloreds about remembering their place on the day of Coretta Scott King's funeral as I do.

And it's not just the Right-Wing Bloviosphere that's been trying to tamp down the enthusiastic anti-Bush sentiment of the "village negroes" who don't know how to smile, genuflect and keep their dirty mouth's shut whenever Da Prez comes to town. It's CNN.

CNN just took one of the most important speeches in the last 6 years and grossly distorted it by seamlessly splicing out the 23-second standing ovation that interrupted it:

For many of us the high point of the funeral was the standing ovation Lowery got when he said:

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there {standing ovation}... but Coretta kew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty aounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."

You can view the clip and the (complete) standing ovation here:

Why was this part of the eulogy so important? Not just what Lowery was saying about WMDs -- many people have said that before. And not just because he was the first person who managed to say it to Bush's face -- although that was pretty satisfying too.

The reason this part of Lowery's speech was so moving was because the audience reaction showed us that we are not alone. This is the kind of proof we hardly ever get to see -- it shows that people who are pissed off about Bush's WMD lies are a strong, brave and powerful majority.

Which is exactly why CNN had to edit out that standing ovation. The neocons are weak and they're a tiny minority of this country -- but with their Mighty Wurlitzer they've been managing to keep a lid on the fact that the rest of us are strong. We are the overwhelming majority. The people who support Bush are a tiny, whiny minority.

The CSK funeral is the first time in 6 years anyone has stood up to Bush and told him the truth to his face. That's why the right wing is going crazy over this funeral, and that's why CNN is censoring it, and trying to get us to go along with their attempts to dictate what is appropriate "funeral etiquette" for a deceased political figure.
William Rivers Pitt.
The funeral for civil rights leader Coretta Scott King on Tuesday was quite a sight to see. The depth of sadness in the room could not be overcome by the happiness that came with the celebration of her life and accomplishments. It was the measure of Mrs. King's impact upon our society that four presidents - Carter, Bush, Clinton and Bush - sat before her flower-draped casket and spoke of her life.

And then, of course, the foolishness began. The nattering nabobs of network nonsense blithered into their cable news studios to deplore all the political statements which were served up before the appreciative crowd in that church. It was the Wellstone funeral all over again.

Let's be clear. The life of Coretta Scott King was one that involved politics from every angle. Any lifelong struggle against poverty, racism and war is going to be a life immersed in politics. That is simply the way it is; because so many politicians and political ideologies center around statements and legislation that directly add to the burdens of the poor and minorities, any person choosing to fight poverty and racism is going to wind up dealing in politics.

Gandhi was elected to no office in his entire lifetime, but every action he took involved politics. The same can be said for Martin Luther King, Jr., who won no elections but changed politics in America forever. Coretta Scott King held no office, but her work affected the politics of this country in every way. Ask Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan, who received a warm telephone call from Mrs. King while standing vigil outside George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford last August. If this was not a political act, then political acts do not exist.

Politics belonged in that church on Tuesday. Period.
From Dkos.

Now, in the wake of Mrs. King's funeral service, the Republicans and right-wing influenced MSM are complaining because people who came just to put in an appearance -- at a funeral, no less -- might have been offended by what they heard there! They are offended for President Bush as though Mrs. King's funeral was about President Bush! They are offended about mention of Katrina's wake as though her funeral was about Heckuva Job Brownie! They are offended about mention of the FBI's illegal spying on Dr. and Mrs. King as though mentioning the important events of the life of the deceased was, somehow, impolite! They are offended that allies of the deceased honored their alliance! They are offended that genuine affection for the deceased was given precedence over the feelings of people who showed up at the funeral of a person they didn't particularly know or didn't particularly like, which is, to put it bluntly, precisely what "making an appearance" is.

President and Mrs. Bush made an appearance at Mrs. King's funeral. Let me emphasize that again. President and Mrs. Bush made an appearance at Mrs. King's funeral. The funeral was not for the Bushes, it was not about the Bushes, and -- as hard as it is for Presidential egos to fathom -- the comments there were not directed at the Bushes. Those comments were for the family, friends, and admirers, in that order, just like at any other funeral. The 9,900 people at the funeral who actually loved, knew, or admired Mrs. King, were the ones who actually liked the so-called "offensive comments! They clapped. They laughed. They remembered. They were inspired.

And then Gilliard brought it all home.

When black people were dying in New Orleans, they called us everything but a child of God. We were animals, looters, out of control.

Not one of these people said this was a lie, a slander. Jonah Goldberg laughed at the idea of people drowning in the Superbowl. They cheered the idea of black people being shot in the streets. They said we were too stupid to leave the city when they had no cars and no money

While Bush sat on his hands.

So now, these filthy vermin want to give us lectures. They can eat their lectures.

We don't care what they think. They may have their lackies, and they best keep their mouths shut about this, but 98 percent of blacks have no use for the GOP.

What? They think we don't know they're racists? They hated Dr. King and his wife in life and now in death. They hate that blacks and latinos no longer live in peonage. Only one of their bought and paid for fools would attack how Mrs. King was buried. To the rest of it, it was a fittintg tribute and making Bush sit there for hours was wonderful. He was told the truth and he couldn't run.

They didn't help us back then, they won't help us now, not when they can spit on us, and now they want to give us lectures? Please, please send Lynn Swann, Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele out to denounce this, do us this favor. Tell us how the GOP really likes black people.

Help remind us why blacks vote Democratic.

The idea that Bush could walk into a Black Church at the Funeral of a prominent Civil Rights Leader, the widow the *THE* Civil Rights Leader - a Church filled with people whose approval rating for Bush (2%) is almost negative if you account for a 3% margin of error - the idea that the same person who just a week ago claimed that he would "Do his Part" to foster bipartisanship just before he dove face first into a series of vicious partisan attacks -- is full on Wingbat Crazy.

The idea that we in America who are supposed to be guaranteed "Free Speech" are not supposed to use that speech when the oppurtunity comes to speak TRUTH 2 FREAKING POWER, is just plain nuts. That's not the behavior of a free society, it's the behavior of serfs, chattal that cower in fear and bow in supplication to the whims of their Lords and Masters.

"I love my people, I love my people.... PULL"

Peasant screams in the back ground as he's throw skyward as a target for the king's skeet shooting. (History of the World Part I)
That is the behavior of the Republican party, but is not the behavior of Americans. There were many reasons why Marie Antoinette was eventually beheaded - this is kind of thing is just one of them.

It's exactly the kind of thing that both Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King stood stauchly against.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Goodbye Coretta, you'll be sorely missed - but not forgotten.

It's our turn now, our turn to stand up in the face of international bully's who wear badges and flag-pins. It's our turn to change the world into a place we can be proud of. A peaceful world for our children.

May the (true) Lord grant us 1/10th strength that you so gracefully displayed.


Has Libby finally flipped?

From Rorchach of No Capital (via an Eschaton comments thread) - then bank shot off of Dkos...

Cheney authorized leaks.

Libby is rolling on them (no specific word on Plame, per se):

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.
Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war.

From Murray Waas

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

According to sources with firsthand knowledge, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.

Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.


Libby testified to the grand jury that he had been authorized to share parts of the NIE with journalists in the summer of 2003 as part of an effort to rebut charges then being made by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make a public case for war.

Holy freaking DAMN... It's been a long time coming, but if this is true, the finger is finally pointed exactly where it belongs, at the scowling mug of Vice Sith-Lord Cheney. Now I've seen plenty false alarms before, and I still remain skepical, but on Dkos they speculate that Libby 's decision may have prompted by information recently confirming Valerie Plame's status as a NOC - which means that Libby is now vulnerable to the Intelligence Agents Identities Act if he was aware of her status at the time that he talked to Matt Cooper. Now this report doesn't specially say that Cheney asked for the outing of Plame, only the sharing of then classified information to "push-back" against Wilson, even though the CIA essentially confirmed Wilson's version of the story.

Whether it was legal for Cheney to declassify these documents or not for purely propaganda purposes is for legal experts preferably not named Victoria Toensig to debate. Given the fact that Cheney and Libby knew as of June 17, 2003 that the Niger uranium claims were bunk and Libby began this crusade with Judy Miller anyway on June 23, the service to which these documents were put remain safely outside of "ethical" territory.

And Ted Kennedy has a thing or three to say about it.

On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., issued a statement saying that any implication of Cheney as the one who authorized release of classified information would require Bush to honor his promise to "clean house" of anyone who had anything to do with the Plame leak.

Yeah, and Polka-Dot Pigs will fly out of Rove's butt before that happens. But it's nice to have someone yet again point out the rampant hypocracy of the Bush Administratin.


Decertify Debate State by State

Crossposted on Dailykos.

The November mid-term elections are still months away, but now is the time to act. State by State, County by County the use of Deibold voting machines and tabulators needs to be challenged on security grounds.

Ensuring that every vote is counted is one of our most sacred trusts, if I were highly cynical (or possibly a Republican) i would suggest that a co-ordinated effort to block Deibold and ES&S machines be mounted in each state and district where a Competative Democratic Challanger has emerged in the last few months.

But doing such a thing would be highly partisan, highly calculated -- highly --

Ah, what the heck, let's go for it,

As reported last month, there are major e-voting issues cropping up in Florida.

As the Leon County supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. But the most brazen effort lately to manipulate election results in this Florida locality was carried out by Sancho himself.

Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country.

Sancho's most recent demonstration was last month. Harri Hursti, a computer security expert from Finland, manipulated the "memory card" that records the votes of ballots run through an optical scanning machine.

New York is dragging it's feet on Voting machines.

ALBANY, Jan. 11 - The federal Justice Department has threatened to sue New York State over its failure to modernize its voting system, saying New York "is further behind" every other state in complying with new guidelines stemming from the 2000 presidential election dispute.

The state has yet to decide what kind of new voting machines it will certify, leaving many local elections boards in uncertainty as they try to modernize their voting systems in time for next fall's primary elections. And the state missed the Jan. 1 deadline for creating a statewide database of registered voters, as required by the federal Help America Vote Act.

New York is behind all other states and territories in deciding how to spend its share of $2.3 billion in federal aid to modernize voting machines and other elections technology. So far the state has received $220 million to replace its 20,000 aging voting machines, train local election officials to use the new machines, and create the voter database. The money is unspent and collecting interest, officials say.

There's also been headway made in California and about a dozen other states.

California is one of two dozen states that mandate a voter-verified paper trail for touch-screen machines. A dozen of those now use the paper printouts in a sample recount.

In various polls the desire to vote for Democrats and have them take over control of congress is running about 10-15 pts against Republicans. [ABC Poll 1/23 - Republican Candidates 38% Democratic Candidates 54%]

In addition to strong polls, Democrats running for Congress are apparently doing very well with fundraising compared to Republicans.

If this trend continues, and unless something really oddball and strange happens during the election, Democrats are likely to pick up several seats.

Yeah, right...

If we've learned anything about Republicans in the last few years, they don't just sit back and trust that things are just going to go their way. They create their own luck, so we have to do the same.

No, I'm not saying we need to cheat - I'm saying we need to make sure they can't. Now the nation is a big place, so we have to stay focused on where or efforts will do the most good, or rather prevent the greatest damage.

So, although we have 56 Fighting Dem/Band of Brothers candidates running for Congress in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota , Missouri, North Carolina and New Jersey my opinion is that we need to focus our attention on the areas where we're likely to get the biggest bang for our buck - and that means Looking at the states where we currently have multiple Candidates running simultaneously.

  • Arizona (2)
  • California (7)
  • Colorado(2)
  • Florida (4)
  • Illinois (4)
  • Kentucky (3)
  • Maryland (2)
  • New Hampshire (2)
  • New York (2)
  • Ohio (5)
  • Pennsylvania (5)
  • Texas (7)
  • Virginia (3)
  • Republicans currently have 34 vulnerable candidates (those whose won their seat with less than 60%), 24 of those candidates face Democratic challengers.

    Of those 24, we have multiple candidates in

  • Conneticut (2)
  • Indiana (3)
  • Pennsylvania (2)

    Additionally there are 8 open seats currently held by Republicans that are up for grabs, which have 5 well funded Democrats vying for them.

    Those five are in California, Colorado, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin.

    Taking all this in, it's my opinion that the following list of ten are our Battleground States to take back Congress in 06 (listed in order of greatest potential seat gain to least, with link to the Secretary of State, Legislature and Governor)

    These are the states that I think strong and vigorous efforts should be focused to protect election integrity. These states offer the greatest potential gains for viable Democratic Candidates, if we hit a complete grand slam (including the incredible accomplishment of flipping Ohio) we gain 45 Seats. Even if our 13 most vulnerable Democratic incumbents all lose we're still up 32 seats.

    In order to take back the house - Democrats need a net gain of only 15 seats, less than half my rather rosey projection. And again, that's just focusing on the ten states - things could get much better if we have a surge and all 56 Fighting Dems get swept into office, but lets not get crazy.

    I have little doubt that all these various scandals, from Abramoff and Cunningham's guilty pleas to the complete and total lack of Congressional Oversight on Katrina, WMD's, Intelligence Gathering, Medicare, the Bankruptcy Bill, Schiavo-gate and Tom Delay's ever increasing troubles, are going to have a major impact on the mid-term elections. The Republicans are losing ground fast. But I don't think we should sit back on their lack of laurels, these are the people who used the FAA and Homeland Security to track down Democrats in the Texas Legislature in order to further their gerrymandering plans - and picked up five House seats because of it.

    We absolutely have to make sure that the votes get counted - particularly where they really need to counted.

    If it takes a call to state legislators considering the issue, call. If it takes call to the Secretary of States - then call. Emails? Do it. Faxes? Go to town. LTE's? Go nuts. If lawsuits are needed, we need to sue.

    Throw everything against the wall, leave everything out on the mat. Time is running out and we need to be ready. This isssue is as large and important as the Alito Confirmation (where we managed to Flip 20 Senators) - we should put no less energy into this.


  • Wednesday, February 8

    Wingbat Debunking on NSA - Round II

    Got a response on my Wingbat Debunking post... Here's Round II

    Vyan begins by asserting- without proof- that President Bush has launched a pro-domestic spying promotional campaign. Vyan implies that this campaign has caused "wingnuts" to circulate and repeat talking points in support of this program.

    I'm sorry, I didn't think I needed proof of the genuinely obvious. Since the NSA program was revealed by The New York Times, President Bush has stumped on the issue in Kentucy, released a not one, but two White Papers on the Program, and staged a Press Conference at the NSA. Not to mention the Press Conference by General Hayden and Alberto Gonzales. I'm calling that a Campaign, if you wish to call it puppet show - be my guest.

    That the comment made by the President, Attorney General Gonzeles, General Hayden and the White Papers are being repeated in support of the program by pundits and "wingnuts" is also obvious.

    Vyan, son, the issue at hand is this: does the Constitution allow the President to conduct intelligence operations against enemy agents, wherever they are located?

    Here's the relevance, bubula. The Constitution does not enumerate the powers of the President in regards to his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. The duties of this position, under our Constitution, are determined by what duties the C-in-C was believed to rightly hold at the time the Constitution was written.

    Is that really so complicated?

    No, it's perfectly simple - and wrong. What the Constitution does or does not allow currently is completely irrelevant in relation to General George Washington who wasn't President during the Revolutionary War, when there was no such thing as the U.S. Constitution.

    What General George Washington did then has no bearing, legally or Constitutionally on what any President has ever done since that time.

    Secondly there's a problem with your theory that the President's C-in-C powers are uninumerated and prescribed by the Constitution. Yes, the President under Article II it's states that "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States" - However, under Article I Section 8 Paragraph 14 it's gives the Congress the power "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;."

    In short, bubula, the President's powers are effectively limited by the rules and regulations of the armed forces as written by Congress. This Constitutional principle is how Bob Dole was able to stop President Clinton from removing the ban on gays in the military, Congress controls the rules. It's also the reason that FISA is perfectly Constitutional.

    Congress establishes the rules of engagement and the President is expected to work within those rules.
    Just because something happened before the Constitution existed, doesn't make that event meaningless. After all, the Convention to draft the Constitution happened before the Constitution existed. Is the creation of the Constitution utterly unrelated to the Constitution?

    To be fair, I follow what you're saying. The problem I have is that the Constitution did not follow directly from the Revolutionary War. Prior to the adoption of the Constitution, there were the "Articles of Confederation", which ultimately failed. The Constitution is a compromise, reached during the convention -- there was give and take. Yes, there was "Common Law" - however, the Constitution itself is not Common Law, it is different. Yes, there was the "Law of the Colonies", but the Constitution itself is not a mirror of those laws - it is different. If want to say there is grounding for your view of executive power within the Federalist Papers - where I think you'll find something quite different - be my guest. What you've done instead is simply parrot claims made by AG Gonzales.

    Did you see what just happened? I listed a number of actions the President took. Vyan added a completely different one- one I didn't mention- said this newly introduced action was Unconstitutional and on the strength of that claimed that all of Lincoln's actions were Unconstitutional.

    This is a dishonest debate tactic, known as the straw man argument. Vyan should be ashamed for stooping so low.

    I picked an example of broad executive powers used by Lincoln which a) I could find data on and b) had been challenged in court. I tried to find information on the other claims, particular those that had face court challanges and either won or lost -- but this is what I found. Most referrences for "Lincoln wiretaps" led right back to comments made by AG Gonzales, or to the habeas corpus issue that I did bring up.

    Just because a President, any President, exerts or uses a power and gets away with it without being challenged in court, doesn't mean that he actually has that power. Only that he used it, or tried to use it. Your defense of Lincoln's (alleged) actions has you in support of widespread violations of the first amendment (closing newspapers), violating due process and habeas corpus (arrests without trial) and summary execution. You truly believe this is what the framers intended? Those are that actions of a dictator, not a President.

    Where exactly in the Constitution is it stated that the President has the power to summarily suspend the Bill of Rights during a War simply because he is Commander-in-Chief? He's always Command-in-Chief. The Constitution in fact, says nothing about granting the President any "special powers" during War time. The only special power it does grant regarding War, are powers granted to Congress to a) declare war and to b) temporarily suspend habeas corpus in an emergency.

    But again, in fairness, if you have any legal opinions on any of the other actions you mentioned, I'm listening. I didn't find any, but I don't assume there aren't any.

    And this Southern partisan racist who hated Lincoln personally is your sole and only reason you declare his actions invalid? Since when did you Leftists begin honoring Justice Taney?

    Character assasination is not the way to win an argument.

    Also - being black myself - I'm not exacly partial to the Dred Scot decision to put it mildly, but that doesn't mean each and every decision Taney made was equally biased. In this case, a simple reading of the Constitution shows that he was correct - the power to remove Habeas Corpus is contained within Article I (Congresional Powers) rather than Article II (Presidential Powers). I didn't just regurgitate Taney, I went and re-read the Constitution. You should try it some time. Nice read.

    So Vyan is now claiming that Roosevelt (a Democrat) spying on his political opponents (Republicans), is exactly the same as President Bush (an American) spying on the insane murderers who want to kill Americans (Al Qaeda). His claim is now this: "Using the office of the President to spy on political opponents is bad, therefore it is Unconstitutional to spy on foreign enemies and their agents in wartime."

    As an argument, this lacks both plausibility and coherence. As a policy principle, this is disastrous and insane.

    Well, yes it is - especially since I didn't make that particular "staw man" arguement at all. You did.

    I don't really care what Roosevelt's political stripe was, whether he has (D) or (R) behind his name isn't the issue - the issue is whether his actions were legal (and Constitutional) or not.
    Roosevelt died during the War, so any possible legal challenges to these actions were clearly truncated.

    My point isn't that it's wrong to spy on foreign enemies - of course we should do that [I've held a Security Clear on a Special Access (SAR) Program at a Security level similar to the NSA project, and been regularly briefed on Counter-espianage by the FBI in order to retain that clearance], I strongly support National Security efforts - the question is whether or not due process, probable cause, habeas corpus and the bill of rights can be summarily suspended or ignored by a President during a War, or for that matter ever. The Constitution is limited by the jurisdiction of the United States. Outside the U.S., the Constitution does not apply and the President has fairly unfettered power to conduct Foreign relations and to Command the army -- but inside the U.S., the rules change because, well, we have LAWS against it.

    Conducting warrentless surveillance against your political enemies isn't "bad" because I say so -- it's a crime, and decidedly Unconstitutional.

    What was it I said? Oh yeah: "[C]ompared to the actions of Presidents in past wars, [the NSA program] is quite mild."

    Thanks, Vyan, for proving me right.

    You're welcome. Because I didn't have any contention with the point that other President's have done worse, they have. Particularly Nixon. Staying on Message: The issue is whether those actions are Constitutional and legal.

    Remember, folks, he is talking about the extensive list of Roosevelt's abuses of power, none of which include spying on the enemy during wartime.

    Hold on sec, you said "In WWII, FDR spied on every single bit of electronic communications from the U.S. to other countries. Every one."

    First off, I'm not even sure that's true and I'm giving you quite a bit of deference to presume for the sake of discussion that it was - but even if it is, it is clear that it's "spying on an enemy during wartime". The problem is that it's also a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment for those persons within the U.S. There's nothing in the Constitution that support this kind of Presidential power to summarily ignore the 4th, or any standing amendment which protects U.S. citizens and residents.

    We can spy on anyone we want overseas, even allies - but on U.S. soil, you need a warrant.

    (BTW I will agree that it's well documented that Roosevelt was eavesdropping on Japanese communications and that the communique to the Japanese embassy which announced the attack on Pearl Harbor was intercepted and decoded, but that was a message from Japan to the Japanese embassy, which is Not considered part of the U.S. - also, I know for a fact that while my clearance was active the FBI regularly monitored communications with the Russian Embassy in San Francisco - and since the call came from L.A. I'm now thinking that the wiretap may not have actually been legal.)

    Can anyone imagine if any Conservative ever quoted Taney to support anything? My God, the Left would brand that Conservative as a pro-slavery racist and hang the man from a lamppost (or maybe burn him at the stake). Yet this arrogant Leftist feels free to honor Justice Taney, so long as it helps him attack President Bush.

    I don't care to speculate on what other people might or might not do.
    But you did quote him in order to help make your own arguement, and managed to obscure the fact that on the Lincoln case, he was right - Lincoln was wrong. You spent all this time and energy who you think Taney is, not what the decision said and whether it accurately reflects the constitution. Me thinks thou does protest to much.

    Here's a test, was there ever an example of a President using these broad powers you claim they have - where they actually won in court?

    He asserts that, since Hoover did something wrong, completely different actions authorized by President Bush are also wrong.

    No, they were not completely different actions, Political surveillance by Roosevelt (against Wendel Wilkie) - and Political surveillance by Hoover were both wrong - because they were both violate the 4th Amendment.

    Once again, Vyan tries the Jedi Mind Trick. He introduces a totally extraneous example- the President [Wilson] seizing steel mills in wartime- and on the basis of this claims that every previous Presidential action I cited is Unconstitutional.

    Actually, I brought up Youngstown because the DOJ and AG Gonzales brought it up in their defense of the extra-FISA program. And since he's clearly the source of all these Washington/Lincoln/Roosevelt arguments I figured it was relevant.

    Suffice it to say that seizing the property of Americans in wartime is not the exact same thing as spying on enemies in wartime.

    No, it's not -- it just happens to address the exact same Constitutional amendment - the 4th.
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    So my point, which obviously you missed - was that if the President can't perform an illegal seizure during wartime - he can't perform an illegal search either. Is that clear enough for you?

    This is subtle nuance? "It is just as bad to take American's property as it is to spy on enemies who want to kill Americans!"

    I never said the situations were "equally bad" only that they stem from the same principle - the right of a person to be secure in thier personal effects. Yes, there is a difference, but as to whether any court has found that violating the 4th by eavesdropping during War is "ok" remains to be seen (as far as I can tell) - but violating the 4th via seizures clearly isn't "ok".

    Let's analyze this. I said the NSA Program was Constitutional. I point out that Clinton committed similar acts. Vyan says that Clinton's actions are okay, because there was no law against them.
    A minute ago you were making a big deal about how seizures are greatly different from searches - not your saying that physically searching your house is basically the same thing as listening to your phone call or email? Ok, whatever.
    Since you claim that Clinton's actions were perfectly acceptable- and legal- this must mean they were Constitutional. And since Clinton's actions were Constitutional, so were Bush's.
    I didn't say his actions were perfectly acceptable - I have a problem with the warrantless search of Aldridge Ames home, they should have gotten a warrant if it took place within the U.S. (and I'm not sure that it did, but logically it should have been - I just haven't seen details on that) - the point I was addressing was whether it was legal. In this case, it was. FISA had a loophole at that time which allowed didn't address physical searches so it wasn't technically "illegal" - but it may not have been Constitutional for exactly the reasons I mention.

    Clinton IMO did do the correct thing by closing the loophole and fixing the law after the fact.

    Like I said, I don't automatically give anyone with "D" after their name a pass. I tend to be centrist, not neccesarily "leftist". I trust the truth, not ideology.
    Congress cannot make an action of the President Unconstitutional merely by passing laws. In fact, in such cases it is the law itself that is Unconstitutional, because the law forbids him to act in a way that the Constitution allows.
    I have no arguement with any of that. Segregation and Jim Crow were clearly Unconstitional (14th Amendment), but not illegal for nearly 100 years until the Civil Rights Act was passed.
    The president has the Constitutional power to monitor enemy communications during war, no matter where the enemy agents are.
    I agree with the first half of that statement, but not the second. The President does not have the right to violate or ignore the 4th Amendment on U.S. soil. Youngstown supports this.

    If Congress passed a law banning this- which you have not established at all- then it is the law that is Unconstitutional, not the President's actions. Capische?

    FISA bans it - well, to be specific, FISA requires that the President abide by the 4th Amendment on domestic surveillance. He can still do it, he just needs to establish probable cause and go to the FISA court within 72 hours. Foreign surveillance on foreign soil is pretty much wide open.

    FISA has survived all court challenges for the last 27 years. I think we call all be pretty confident in it's constitutionality.

    Finally, in 2002, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review decided Sealed Case No. 02-001. The court wrote:

    Ah yes, the Sealed Case - is a FISA case before the Secret FISA Court. Which means that the details of it are not available to public viewing unless the Administration chooses to share it. Not being to see the entire unredacted case make it rather difficult to comment on it -- but what I do wonder is this. If the FISA court determined that the President has inherent powers to conduct warrantless foreign surveillance - why do we still even HAVE a FISA Court? It sounds like they just invalidated themselves, so why not simply report that decision to Congress and have the court disbanded?

    I suspect there's more to it, most likely, that there was an issue regarding the jurisidiction of the surveillance, and the court was settling that issue by establishing that the President had inherent powers to conduct foreign surveillance outside of the U.S. only. I admit, that's just a guess - but not much else makes sense.

    Yet, the self-same court who would grant those warrants said that in cases like this, he doesn't have to. The FISC says the President is granted that power under the Constitution and hence the FISA law doesn't apply.

    Let me ask you again, if the FISA Court established that FISA Law doesn't apply - why is there still a FISA court? Again I suspect they were saying that it didn't apply in that specific instance - but in order to fully understand the ramifications of that claim, we need more information about the circumstances.

    Sorry, no sale on that one. Good try though - but you didn't show me anything I hadn't already noticed before. I'd even read the Powerline post previously. I didn't comment on it because there's not really enough there to comment on.

    I feel the overwhelming need to quote Ace Ventura right now: "Yes. Yes. Oh, yeah. Can ya feel that, buddy? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

    Damn, I'm good.

    Self congratulate much?

    Ok, all this History stuff is just fun and games, the real meat and potatoes is ahead - FISA and Bush. The current law of the land.

    "Lastly in the most recent test of Article II powers, President Bush was defeated on the issue of whether those powers could be executed without Judicial Review in Hamdi v Rumsfeld."

    What powers? The electronic surveillance of enemies during wartime? No, something totally different. Once again, Vyan tries to throw out a red herring by claiming that two completely different things are exactly the same.

    Well, gee the "electronic surveilance of enemies during wartime" isn't in the Constitution - so no, it's not that. It's a broad Article II question - one with AG Gonzales has repeatedly brought up himself. It's Hamdi

    And it's interesting that the rest of post is more self-congragulations without even going into Hamdi, which you claim is an irrelant issue but AG Gonzales claims is central to the Administration argument that the NSA program is legal, meanwhile oddly enough FISA is also Constitutional according to the DOJ. Hmmm...

    If you want to see where all your arguements that I'm pulilng a Jedi Mind Trick on you -- by daring to discuss the intersection between Presidential Powers under Article II and the 4th Amendment as all one single issue - completely fall apart, you need to read the statement from the Master Jedi himself - Alberto Gonzales.

    Let me take you back to a case that the Supreme Court reviewed this past -- in 2004, the Hamdi decision. As you remember, in that case, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen who was contesting his detention by the United States government. What he said was that there is a statute, he said, that specifically prohibits the detention of American citizens without permission, an act by Congress -- and he's right, 18 USC 4001a requires that the United States government cannot detain an American citizen except by an act of Congress.

    We took the position -- the United States government took the position that Congress had authorized that detention in the authorization to use force, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word "detention." And the Supreme Court, a plurality written by Justice O'Connor agreed. She said, it was clear and unmistakable that the Congress had authorized the detention of an American citizen captured on the battlefield as an enemy combatant for the remainder -- the duration of the hostilities. So even though the authorization to use force did not mention the word, "detention," she felt that detention of enemy soldiers captured on the battlefield was a fundamental incident of waging war, and therefore, had been authorized by Congress when they used the words, "authorize the President to use all necessary and appropriate force."

    For the same reason, we believe signals intelligence is even more a fundamental incident of war, and we believe has been authorized by the Congress. And even though signals intelligence is not mentioned in the authorization to use force, we believe that the Court would apply the same reasoning to recognize the authorization by Congress to engage in this kind of electronic surveillance

    So to review, you say that it's inappropriate to compare various Presidents excersizing Command-in-Chief powers while denying the 1st, 4th and 5th (due process) Amendment rights to U.S. citizens and pointing out that they were all wrong - including warrantless domestic surveillance - yet Attorney General Gonales has used the case of a physical detention of an American Citizen (Hamdi) on Foreign Soil (Afghanistan) to justify warrantless domestic surveillance.

    See how he switched arguments there? You think what I was doing was an accident? An intellectual dishonesty? Nope, it's called irony.

    Damn, I'm good.

    But the kicker is this -- Gonzales mistated Hamdi. In that decision the Supreme Court did allow the detention and designation of Hamdi as a "Enemy Combatant" -- but when they said 'War is not a blank check" THEY REQUIRED JUDICIAL REVIEW of the case to verify the designation.

    If under Hamdi (which is the most recent decision on the matter and currently controlling) you need judicial review to permanently detain a U.S. Citizen on foreign soil as an "Enemy Combatant" -- you certainly need Judicial Review to perform surveillance of U.S. Citizens and residents on international calls.

    Damn, I'm good.


    Tuesday, February 7

    News Round Up

    News round up.

    Jack Carter, son of the former President is running for the Senate in Nevada against John Ensign (R)

    President Carter, who signed the FISA Act into Law has stated that President Bush has violated that Law.

    "Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision — we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Carter told reporters. "And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act."

    Karl Rove tells Republicans - Support the President or else.

    President Bush releases his latest budget - and the news isn't good. Not at all.

    Because, you know, the new Medicare Prescription Plan is going so well already. Not. And poor children who already have trouble getting insurance and child support money from deadbeat dads? Screw them. Pensions that American workers have broken their backs for a lifetime to earn? Not important to this President.

    And that's not even the half of it.

    GOP Senators? Not happy with this budget. Sucks when your own side thinks your budget stinks.

    And what does Bush say to seniors, the disabled, the poor, and children of families on the margins? Screw you, again.
    "[T]he budget relies on cutting Medicare and Medicaid, rather than focusing on skyrocketing costs [in] the health care system." He said, "Arbitrary caps on Medicare will mean that providers or beneficiaries will have to make up the difference through lower payment rates or higher cost-sharing. Over time, this will create a crisis in quality and access to health care for older Americans."
    How do Republicans support the troops and veterans? Not very well -- they deliberately underfunded veterans benefits again this year. (Yep, they've done it before.) As Bob Geiger says, wonder how many of these folks have ribbon magnets on their cars -- nice of them to support the troops by cutting their benefits yet another year.

    Lest you think that it's only veterans, the poor, the elderly and children -- oh, no. There's more.

    Bush Administration to farmers? Screw you.

    Bush Administration to working families? Screw you.

    Bush Administration to first responders on the Homeland Security front lines? Screw you.

    Oh, and just in case you missed this one -- the city of New Orleans has had to appeal for foreign aid because the Bush Administration has failed to live up to its promises. So much for that whole backlit speech in the Big Easy when the President's poll numbers needed a big photo-op.

    Move on, folks, nothing to see here but a bunch of empty promises and false bravado. If you aren't an oil man sitting on a pile of big ole profits or a big party donor waiting in line for that next Ambassadorship to open up, well too bad for you.
    Meanwhile former Time Magazine reporter John Dickerson has a two part story on Slate that blows the Plame/Libby smear plan wide open.


    On Randi: It (FISA) is the Law, Stupid!

    On my second time calling in and speaking with Air America host Randi Rhodes, I had a chance to discuss a critical flaw in the Gonzales arguments defending the NSA program. Through all the various legal jousting, ducking and dodging - there is one issue on which Gonzales is completely, flatly wrong. It's an issue that sits like a lynchpin in their arguments, and once pulled causes the NSA program to collapse on itself like a house of cards.

    That lynchpin is called Hamdi v Rumsfeld.

    On Randi's show - I yanked on that lynchpin like lawnmower chain. All you need is two steps - two facts - and Gonzales goes down like a sack of potatoes.

    Step One - Hamdi!

    At his recent Press Conferrences as well as during yesterdays testimony, Gonzales has repeatedly asserted that the Domestic Wiretap Program is legal and constitutional because of the Supreme Court decision made in Hamdi.
    Let me take you back to a case that the Supreme Court reviewed this past -- in 2004, the Hamdi decision. As you remember, in that case, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen who was contesting his detention by the United States government. What he said was that there is a statute, he said, that specifically prohibits the detention of American citizens without permission, an act by Congress -- and he's right, 18 USC 4001a requires that the United States government cannot detain an American citizen except by an act of Congress.

    We took the position -- the United States government took the position that Congress had authorized that detention in the authorization to use force, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word "detention." And the Supreme Court, a plurality written by Justice O'Connor agreed. She said, it was clear and unmistakable that the Congress had authorized the detention of an American citizen captured on the battlefield as an enemy combatant for the remainder -- the duration of the hostilities. So even though the authorization to use force did not mention the word, "detention," she felt that detention of enemy soldiers captured on the battlefield was a fundamental incident of waging war, and therefore, had been authorized by Congress when they used the words, "authorize the President to use all necessary and appropriate force."

    For the same reason, we believe signals intelligence is even more a fundamental incident of war, and we believe has been authorized by the Congress. And even though signals intelligence is not mentioned in the authorization to use force, we believe that the Court would apply the same reasoning to recognize the authorization by Congress to engage in this kind of electronic surveillance

    Now he sort of runs around the barn a couple times here, but basically he's claiming that since the Supreme Court allowed the AUMF to override an existing law which previously prohibited American citizens from being designated as "Enemy Combatants" [18 USC 4001], it simply follows logically that the same AUMF would also override FISA concerning domestic surveillance.

    This arguement seems reasonable, it seem logical, makes sense - but unfortunately is completely and totally wrong because Gonzales is in fact mistating Hamdi with a half-truth.

    It's true that Supreme Court override 18 USC 4001, but it is not true that their decisions would allow for the FISA Court to be bypassed. In fact, we all may have even heard Gonzales and various Senators during the hearings quote Justice O'Connors "No Blank Check" statement on the Hamdi decision - but almost none of them have continued to the next portion of the decision which is where Gonzales argument falls apart.
    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. Mistretta v.United States, 488 U.S.361,380 (1989)(it was “the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that,within our political scheme,the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty ”);Home Building &Loan Assn.v.Blaisdell,290 U.S.398,426 (1934)(The war power “is a power to wage war successfully,and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation.But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties ”).Likewise,we have made clear that,unless Congress acts to suspend it,the Great Writ of habeas corpus allows the Judicial Branch to play a necessary role in maintaining this delicate balance of governance,serving as an important judicial check on the Executive ’s discretion in the realm of detentions.
    Under Hamd the Supremes established that judicial review would be neccesary before the executive branch could override 18 USC 4001, and declare a U.S. Citizen as an enemy combatant.

    Folks, this is simple - since you still need judicial review under Hamdi and the post 9-11 Authorization to Use Military Force, you still need judicial review for domestic signal intelligence and FISA is still applicable.

    That one fact knocks out two legs from Gonzales chair and he only has one left, the arguement that "President has long assumed this authority". It's true that many of them have, but nearly all of that - George Washington reading telegrams, Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt listening in to wire communications - were prior to establishment of FISA in 1978.

    FISA is the law, Stupid.

    In this statement Gonzales is clearly admitting that the President violated the law, and is using a flawed understanding and mis-statement of Hamdi as an excuse. Also there's the fact that the Hamdi decision didn't even occur until the program had already been in operation for a full year - so exactly what made the it legal prior to Hamdi?

    Gonzales gave us nothing that would allow the President to violate FISA. Nada. Zip.

    Step Two - Congress has the Power!

    There are some members of the extreme far right-wing like Professor Robert Turner, an NSA expert from the Reagan Administration who appeared with Glenn Greenwald on C-Span's Washington Journal the morning of the hearings, who claim that FISA is itself unconstitutional.
    [Although Gonzales himself hasn't made such a claim, his arguements come quite close to it when stating that "President's have always had this power"] From Turner's Op-Ed in The Wall St. Journal
    For nearly 200 years it was understood by all three branches that intelligence collection--especially in wartime--was an exclusive presidential prerogative vested in the president by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, John Marshall and many others recognized that the grant of "executive power" to the president included control over intelligence gathering. It was not by chance that there was no provision for congressional oversight of intelligence matters in the National Security Act of 1947.

    Space does not permit a discussion here of the congressional lawbreaking that took place in the wake of the Vietnam War. It is enough to observe that the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and when Congress attempts to usurp powers granted to the president, its members betray their oath of office. In certain cases, such as the War Powers Resolution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it might well have crossed that line. . . .
    Well, I have plenty of space to debunk Turner's claims and it requires is once sentence from Article I Section 8 Paragraph 14 of the Constitution, which grants to the Congress the power...
    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
    It may be true that foreign matters of state are the exclusive province of the executive, but this clause makes it clear that the Rules and Regulations regarding the armed forces - which would include FISA since the NSA are a part of the DoD - are under the province of Congress. For that matter so are the War Powers. Congress declares War, not the President. Congress establishes the rules of engagement for the armed forces, not the President. Congress has the option - during War - to suspend Habeas Corpus, not the President. Congress makes the laws and the President abides by them.

    Urm...not this President.

    Before talking to Randi, I called the Senate during the hearings to try and make this point clear, hoping to slip it under the door. "Gonzales is misstating Hamdi, it required judicial review! Somebody needs to catch him on that." All we need is one Senator - even one Op-Ed to point this fact out, and the President if busted - big time.

    The Toll Free Line to Congress: (888) 355-3588.

    The Congressional operator will re-route your call to any Senator. [Once forwarded it appears they can't get your area code via "Caller ID" so they usually don't ask you to confirm that you're a constituant - they just take the call] So far, I've brought this up with Leahy, Kennedy, Feinstein and Feingold. I've even brought it up with Lindsey Graham.

    We need to hammer this home people.


    Monday, February 6

    Dems go into attack mode on National Security

    Via Glenn Greenwald, Kennedy reveals his strategy (Emphasis and commentary via Georgia10 at Dkos):

    So as I suggested on Friday - Kennedy is going to take an interesting, unexpected approach in Monday's wiretapping hearings.

    First of all, again as we discussed - all Dems on the panel are going to emphasize that they take a back seat to no one when it comes to national security, and they arent going to fall into Karl Rove's trap that asking questions about a questionably illegal program is similar to handing the terrorists our playbook.

    But Kennedy will take that further by questioning Gonzales about the effectiveness of the program from the national security standpoint, (YES! This is exactly what I've been stressing!) believing that this rogue program is harmful because by ignoring around FISA it 1) our national security is actually weakened when the country is divided - and we aren't protecting those intelligence officials who are working to protect us (if the President's legal analysis is wrong - these people could go to jail for breaking the law) and 2) raises the risk that terrorist go free - given that the evidence is tainted because it isnt sanctioned by law. (exactly!!!)

    In addition, Kennedy will underscore how willing Congress was/is to give the President the tools he needed, and question Gonzales why they parted with history in deciding to circumvent the time honored (and Constitutionally required) system of checks and balances. He will strongly contend that Congress is willing to work with this administration.

    There are documents from the Ford Library detailing Kennedy's unique role, as the principle author of FISA - including 1) Kennedy's statement how well the Administration was working with them, including Antonin Scalia who was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1974-1973 2) how Attorney General Levi supported the law and 3) how important it was for the Adminstration to have Kennedy's backing. In contrast to this Administration's lack of trust in Congress - the Republican Administration under Ford actually came to Kennedy and asked him to take the lead on introducing FISA.

    Also, as you saw today on MTP, Specter said that nothing in the AUMF mentions electronic surveillance - exactly what resolution offered by Kennedy and Leahy says, S. Res. 350....

    I hope you can get people to see that working outside of the system in fact harms our national security. Let me know what you think. And again, thanks for coming over on Friday.

    This approach is essentially the same thing that I've been saying, like Georgia, for quite some time. The primary problem with bypassing the law and doing a "black bag" operation in the way the President has, is that you can never bring it out into the daylight without the entire house of cards falling about. Any potential foreign or domestic terrorist captured via these techniques can not be tried in a U.S. Court of law because none of the evidence used against them would be admissable under the fruits of the poison tree rule.

    The only way that Administration can "protect" us from these terrorists using this strategy is not to arrest them and bring them to trial, they would have to enter the nation they're located in, secretly kidnap them, fly them in a private plane to one of several secret detention centers, hold them indefinately without judicial review and possibly torture them.

    Or they could skip the entire rigamarole and just assasinate them outright.

    Even if they happen to already be within the U.S. Even if they happen to be U.S. Citizens.

    Feeling safer yet?


    Newsweek:Valerie Plame was Covert Agent

    If you've ever seen the Tom Cruise version of Mission:Impossible (the 1996 film, not the TV Series or Sequels). Or the film The Recruit with Colin Farrell, then you just might know what a NOC (Non Official Cover) Officer is. They're the Spies. The entire plot of M:I revolved around the theft of the NOC-list. (The identities and covers of all current NOC's around the world) They're the people who when they get caught overseas doing what they're supposed to do - "The State Department will disavow all knowledge" of their actions. They're our 007's. Mata Hari. All that stuff.

    According to Newsweek, that's what Valerie Plame was - a NOC.
    Feb. 13, 2006 issue - Newly released court papers could put holes in the defense of Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, in the Valerie Plame leak case. Lawyers for Libby, and White House allies, have repeatedly questioned whether Plame, the wife of White House critic Joe Wilson, really had covert status when she was outed to the media in July 2003. But special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done "covert work overseas" on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA "was making specific efforts to conceal" her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge's opinion.
    Apparently the only reason Libby wasn't charged with violating the Intellence Agents Identities Act in the Fitzgerald Indicment is because he couldn't determine whether Libby knew she was a NOC. The truth is he might have, infact he should have since he was informed by Vice President Dick Cheney that Mrs. Wilson worked on WMD's for the CIA's Directorate of Operations, which is where the Spies are employed, not they Analyst (who work for the Directorate of Intelligence).

    Valerie Plame, the NOC, was disavowed by the Bush Administration, and all she did was mention to her bosses that her husband knew the Prime Minister of Niger. Everything that happened after that point was result of their decisions and the actions of All the President's Punks not Plame or Wilson's.


    Can Bush order Assasination on U.S. Soil?

    Would President Bush contemplate assasinating Americans on U.S. Soil? Apparently he already has, and would - if he thought they were connected with Al Qaeda. From Newsweek.

    Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.
    Reddhedd at Firedoglake has a bit a problem with this revelation (as do I).

    Interesting. Does that include assassinating US citizens -- without a trial, without properly ascertaining whether or not they are innocent or guilty, without anything other than the say of the Preznit? Do you trust this Administration to make these sorts of choices without messing up?

    Would you bet your life on it?

    Sure, there are options for dealing with suspects who pose an immediate physical threat -- say holding controls for an explosive device or an AK-47 in a crowded shopping mall. But a Presidential ordered assassination without any particular showing of exigent circumstances and immediate need? That's a Constitution of a different color altogether.

    Given what has happened with Jose Padilla, is anything truly beyond imagination from this Administration in terms of trampling on liberty without any adequate oversight or notification? Who would stop them if they were about to kill an innocent citizen -- and who would call them on it, even if they did?


    Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said on today's Face the Nation that "[w]hen you authorize our military to use force, they can kill the enemy without a Miranda warning." Well, that may be true on the battlefield -- but what about on the streets of the United States?
    Apparently the answer to that is "Yes". Now to be fair, I can somewhat understand this as being reasonable under the "ticking time bomb" scenario, just as people can and often are shot, wounded and killed by police in the normal course of their duties - particularly if they're holding hostages or have the finger on the trigger. Police on U.S. streets don't usually put a HIT out on someone, sneak up on them in the middle of the night and take them out with a filet knife.

    Oh, and did I mention that Assasinations are illegal [although President Clinton had a standing order to haveing Osama Bin Laden killed in Afghanistan, and made several attempts to do so].

    Here's another one for Diane Feinsteins list of "If the President can do this, what else can he do?"


    Sunday, February 5

    Glenn Greenwald on C-Span Monday to debate NSA

    lenn Greenwald on C-SPan mondy to debate blogger hero and Constitutional attorney Glenn Greenwald, who travelled last week to Capital Hill to help advise Senate Staffers on how to question Alberto Gonzales in the upcoming NSA hearings, will be appearing on C-Spans Washington Journal (starting at 7:45 am EST). Joining the discussion will be Professor Robert Turner of the University of Virginia.
    In December, Professor Turner wrote a widely celebrated (among Bush followers) Op-Ed in The Wall St. Journal praising the Administration's decision to eavesdrop in violation of FISA on the ground that Congress has no right to limit the President's eavesdropping activities.
    I've taken a quick look at Prof. Turners Op-ed and I have to ask, "Do these people actually read the Constitution?" Professor Turner asserts that...

    For nearly 200 years it was understood by all three branches that intelligence collection--especially in wartime--was an exclusive presidential prerogative vested in the president by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, John Marshall and many others recognized that the grant of "executive power" to the president included control over intelligence gathering. It was not by chance that there was no provision for congressional oversight of intelligence matters in the National Security Act of 1947.

    Problem is, Article II Section 1 of The Constitution describes how the President is elected, that's all.

    He obviously meant to reference Article II Section 2. which states...

    The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

    So an easy way to knock these guys off their game is to simply point out that they can't count to 2.

    The second fact is that the Constitution doens't mention anything about the President and Intelligence. Nothing. All it says, as noted above, is that the President is "Commander in Chief". But the argument that all powers contained in that title (which would include espionage and counter-espionage during war) are not subject to oversight or control by Congress become clearly specious when you take into consideration Article I Section 8 Paragraph 14 which grants to the Congress the power...

    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

    So in simple laymens terms the Congress makes the rules as well as all those pesky laws. The President is charged with Executing those laws, rules and regulations, not re-writing them on the fly.

    Turner Continues..

    Our Constitution is the supreme law, and it cannot be amended by a simple statute like the FISA law. Every modern president and every court of appeals that has considered this issue has upheld the independent power of the president to collect foreign intelligence without a warrant.

    NSA as a part of the DOD, would be considered part of our "Land and naval forces" - therefore under Article II Section 8, FISA should be entirely legal, in my laymans opinion.

    The arguement that Presidential Powers in a time of war are unlimited has been disproven by the courts numerous times. And if "Enemies List" arguments are so far off base, why is the FBI Swamped with bogus NSA leads and the DIA targeting Greenpeace and PETA?

    Anything wrong with my reasoning?