Saturday, February 18

2006 Battleground States

Last week I wrote a diary which identified the ten most likely states for Democrats to gain back Congressional seats.

* California (8)
* Texas (7)
* Pennsylvania (7)
* Ohio (6)
* Florida (4)
* Illinois (4)
* Colorado (3)
* Indiana (3)
* Kentucky (3)
* Virginia (3)

This week we have good news and bad news.

Bad First: the number one state, California, has (Temporarily) Certifed Diebold. The good news is that the latest poll numbers from SurveyUSA are out and his numbers are sinking just where we need them too.

According to SurveyUSA our top ten Battleground States have the following approval ratings for George W. Bush. (Approv/Disappov%)

* California (30/68)
* Texas (49/46)
* Pennsylvania (36/60)
* Ohio (37/60)
* Florida (42/55)
* Illinois (33/64)
* Colorado (39/58)
* Indiana (46/51)
* Kentucky (47/49)
* Virginia (45/42)

We absolutely can not afford to lose California to Deibold, it's far too valuable. Texas though valuable for the number of potential seats we could gain is still marginal with nearly 50% approval of Bush and his policies, not to mention the Tom Delay redistricting which has weakened the impact of minority and Democratic. Pennsylvania remains strong in the anti-Bush column, as does former Red-State Ohio and Illinois.

It still remains to be seen if the DNC and DCCC can help mount effective campaigns for these candidates which can transform Bush's negatives into negatives for Republicans in Congress who repeatedly rubberstamp his policies and refuse to investigate his many scandals.

People all we need is 15 seats in Congress. 15 Seats and Rep. John Conyers becomes head of the Judiciary Committee - the Impeachment Committee. In order to convict we also need at least 5, hopefully 6 seats in the Senate, but that's an issue for another diary.

We should be able to win this just by playing clips from The Daily Show. No, not the one where they compare Democrats to the EWOKS, the the one where they began listing all the Bush Administration Scandals before the commercial break, and didn't finish until after they'd returned.

There's...

  • Jack Abramoff
  • "Duke" Cunningham
  • Tom DeLay
  • The Katrina Response
  • The Plame/CIA Controversy
  • NSA Spying
  • "Free Speach" Zones
  • Terry Schiavo
  • Abu Ghraib Torture
  • Guantanemo Torture
  • Secret Torture Prisons around the World
  • The Rising Insurgency
  • The Flu Vaccine Shortage
  • Medicare Part-D
  • Social Security "Reform"
  • The Bankruptcy Bill
  • The Exploding Defecit
  • Arresting Cindy Sheehan over her T-shirt.
  • Downing Street Memos I and II
  • Who Shot Harry and why didn't he take a breathalizer or talk to the Sherriff for 14 hours?
When your agenda is a punchline, you're in deep, deep trouble.

Besides, even the EWOKS won... eventually.

Vyan

Thursday, February 16

Drunk with Power!


This entire Dick Cheney shooting situation is just plain beyond belief.


Ok, first they say that Harry Whittington was just "Peppered" by some birdshot, the next thing we know he's having a near heart-attack from some pellets that just managed to "work it's way" to his heart muscle?

Katherine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the shooting takes places states that:

MSNBC, 2/14/06:

“If someone wants to help themselves to a beer,” she said, “they may, but I did not see anyone do that,” Armstrong says. She says she was not sure if there were beers in the coolers but wasn’t ready to rule it out: “There may be a beer or two in there, but remember not everyone in the party was shooting,” she told NBC News.

And then MSNBC scrubs this from their site. And just look at some of her other statments:

Scripps Howard News Service, 2/13/06:

None in the hunting party was drinking alcohol, said the owner, Katharine Armstrong. “No, zero, zippo and I don’t drink at all,” she said. “No one was drinking.”

LA Times, 2/14/06:

The party of 11 hunters set out in two trucks Saturday morning, driving around the mesquite-dotted property and shooting quail until about 12:30 p.m., said Anne Armstrong, co-owner of the ranch. Then they broke for a lunch of antelope, jicama salad and camp bread, washed down with Dr. Pepper.

Editor and Publisher, 2/15/06:

CNN today reports that Armstrong had told CNN she never saw Cheney or Whittington “drink at all on the day of the shooting until after the accident occurred, when the vice president fixed himself a cocktail back at the house.”

Several days later The Big Dick, Cheney goes onto the F-Word Network and admits that he did "have a beer at lunch", but that it was four or five hours befor the shooting took place - but of course we can't possibly determine if this is true or merely a minimization of the truth because the Secret Service turned back the Sheriff's Deputies when they arrived at the ranch. Cheney wasn't interviewed until almost 14 hours later - and any sobriety test, breathalizer or blood tests (which could have either cleared or incriminated him as being intoxicated) would have been useless.


Whittington was supposed to have been shot from 30 yards, but the spray pattern from head to chest is just about 2-feet - which suggests that he was shot from a much closer distance. (Let's see the CSI Freaks in the word try and explain that one) Note: Cheney stated to Brit Hume that it was only "30 Feet" not yards - so much for the accuracy of Ms. Armstrong who was supposed 100 yards (300 feet) at the time and still couldn't tell the difference between 30 yards and 30 Feet.


This is just flat out ridiculous. What are we supposed to believe that Cheney had a beer, but he just didn't swallow? How many times have we all seen someone on Cops say "I just had one beer with dinner." just before they slapped the cuffs on? And just how would the consumption of alcohol - even just a single beer - effect the medications that a man with multiple heart attacks like Cheney would undoubtably still have to be taking.


Unlike many who've criticized Cheney's Office for not informing the Press, that particular part of the story doesn't bother me as much as his avoidance of the police. Cheney attempting to ride in the ambulance with Whittington would have been a nightmare. It would have meant that a Secret Service detail, and a veritable motorcode would have had to travel with the ambulance. It would have been a madhouse. Cheney staying away, and letting the doctors and paramedics do their job was appropriate -- making it immediately public with an instant press conference before all the facts were known would have turned Whittington's hospital stay into a media circus and destroyed any desire for privacy by his friends and loved ones. But Cheney's ducking the cops isn't so easily ignored.


It almost makes one wonder if he had $10,000 a gun and disguise tucked away in a White Bronco for a fast dash to Mexico, just in case the Secret Service didn't back him up with the local Barney Fife Corp.


Think what an exciting episode of Police Chase caught on Film that would have made.


This is Cheney's Chappaquiddick. He's never gonna live this down. I don't care what happens, it's never going away. That 14-hour gap is going hang over him like dark fart cloud. He'll never be able to have a Press Conference, without pre-screening the crowd and the questions again. Ever. People forget that there was an investigation of Ted Kennedy's accident back in the 60's, that he plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to probation. Cheney was convicted of drunk driving twice after he dropped out of Yale in 1961 - for excessive drinking!.

And now he's Drunk with Power. Talk about failing your way upwards.

This is the same Dick Cheney who lobbied the Congress agressively to justify torture, and is currently lobbying them over the NSA Spying program. He thinks it's justified to ignore U.S Federal Laws against torture, the Uniform Code of Military Justice regulations against "Maltreatment", not to mention the 4th Amendment and allow the creation of a terrorist watchlist that currently includes an estimated 325,000 names, but he can't be bothered with answering questions from the Sherriff after he shoots someone in the frigging face?

"I love my people. I love my people. Pull!" BLAM!

Incredible. Just freaking incredible.

Vyan

Cheney/Libby : Timeline to Treason

Crossposted on Dailykos.

Scotter Libby's recent anouncement that he was given authority by the Vice-President to release classified information has created an avalanche of information in the last few days.

During his interview yesterday Vice-President Cheney has essentially confirmed that he was granted the authority to declassify information via Executive Order. What truly interesting is the timing of all this.

On March 2,2003 Joseph Wilson was interviewed by CNN. and criticized the Bush Administration.

WILSON: The problem is, it seems to me, is this is not a disarmament exercise any longer. The president made it very clear in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute and his comments at the White House that this is a regime-change activity. This is a war to go in, invade, conquer and occupy Iraq, and it doesn't make any difference what Saddam Hussein does.

...

WILSON: Well, the underlying objective, as I see it, the more I look at this, is less and less disarmament, and it really has little to do with terrorism, because everybody knows that a war to invade and conquer and occupy Iraq is going to spawn a new generation of terrorists.

So you look at what's underpinning this, and you go back and you take a look at who's been influencing the process. And it's been those who really believe that our objective must be far grander, and that is to redraw the political map of the Middle East...

...

The question is, can you really bring democracy at the point of a bayonet or at the point of a gun? And is it really America's military's responsibility to go in and occupy a country for 10 years, in the hopes that you're going to create a democracy, which probably will not be any more pro-American than what you've got in the region?

This interview apparently also featured David Albright who argument that the inspectors needed more time angered the Vice-President so much that the very next day he visited the CIA with NSA director Stephen Hadley to "dig up information on Albright".

Wilson went on CNN a second time on March 8, where he discussed assertions made by Dr. El Baradea of the IAEA that claims made by Colin Powell about Iraq's WMD and Nuclear capability were faked.


WILSON: Well, you know what it's like when you go into court. A prosecutor comes up with some evidence that is obviously false, it casts doubt on every other bit of evidence that he produces. And I think it's safe to say that the U.S. government should have or did know that this report was a fake before Dr. ElBaradei mentioned it in his report at the U.N. yesterday.

According to Jason Leopold these comments brought a strong reaction from Cheney.
The CIA and State Department officials said that a day after Wilson's March 8, 2003, CNN appearance, they attended a meeting at the Vice President's office chaired by Cheney, and it was there that a decision was made to discredit Wilson. Those who attended the meeting included I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff who was indicted in October for lying to investigators, perjury and obstruction of justice related to his role in the Plame Wilson leak, Hadley, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and John Hannah, Cheney's deputy national security adviser, the officials said.

"The way I remember it," the CIA official said about that first meeting he attended in Cheney's office, "is that the vice president was obsessed with Wilson. He called him an 'asshole,' a son-of-a-bitch. He took his comments very personally. He wanted us to do everything in our power to destroy his reputation and he wanted to be kept up to date about the progress."

It's at this point that the digging operations begins into Wilson's background and in all likelyhood the employment of his wife was discovered.

Cheney knew the State Department had prepared a report saying the Niger claims were false, but he thought the report had no merit, the two State Department officials said. Meanwhile, the CIA was preparing information for the vice president and his senior aides on Wilson should the former ambassador decide to speak out against the administration again.

On March 19th, the Iraq War Began.

On March 25th, the executive order granting the Vice-President nearly co-equal powers to the President to classify and declassify information was signed. This document would allow the Vice-President legal cover to release any information which he may have discovered regarding Wilson or others who opposed their view of Iraq and the War.

Wilson began attempting to contact members of Congress behind the scenes concerning the lack of Iraq Nuclear intentions, meanwhile the weapons of mass destruction remained elusive. In May, Wilson went to the Press and began talking to Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times about his trip to Niger, which resulted in a scathing column criticizing the Vice-President.


What in the previous months had been a request to gather information that could be used to discredit Wilson now turned into a full-scale effort involving the Office of the Vice President, the National Security Council, and the State Department to find out how Wilson came to be chosen to investigate the Niger uranium allegations.

"Cheney and Libby made it clear that Wilson had to be shut down," the CIA official said. "This wasn't just about protecting the credibility of the White House. For the vice president, going after Wilson was purely personal, in my opinion."

Cheney was personally involved in this aspect of the information gathering process as well, visiting CIA headquarters to inquire about Wilson, the CIA official said. Hadley had also raised questions about Wilson during this month with the State Department officials and asked that information regarding Wilson's trip to Niger be sent to his attention at the National Security Council.

That's when Valerie Plame Wilson's name popped up showing that she was a covert CIA operative. The former CIA official who works in the counter-proliferation division said another meeting about Wilson took place in Cheney's office, attended by the same individuals who were there in March. But Cheney didn't take part in it, the officials said.

It was at this point that Cheney himself appeared to take a back seat.
"Libby led the meeting," one of the State Department officials said. "But he was just as upset about Wilson as Cheney was."

The officials said that as of late May 2003 the only correspondence they had had was with Libby and Hadley. They said they were unaware who had made the decision to unmask Plame Wilson's undercover CIA status to a handful of reporters.

On June 10th, a memo was attached to CIA document regarding Wilson's Niger trip which (incorrectly) indicated that his wife, a CIA employee, had sent him. The source of this memo was someone within the State Department. Apparently the plot at this time was to create a "false fact" within the intelligence data, then to let that information leak out in various ways so that it's original source couldn't be traced - and with the Vice-President's Office now having the "cover" of being able to declassify such information at will.

By June 23rd, after two more articles on Wilson's Niger trip had appeared, Libby spoke to Judith Miller of the New York Times and informed her that "Wilson's Wife might work for the CIA." which laid the groundwork for the leak to begin and it's origin to be hidden.

On July 6th Wilson's Op-ed "What I didn't find in Africa" was released by the New York Times, but by that point in time the efforts to undermine Wilson were well underway according to Patrick Fitzgerald.

The next day, July 7th, Libby discussed with the White House Press Secretary that "Wilson's Wife worked for the CIA" creating another potential leak source. He spoke again with Judith Miller on July 8th, and with Tim Russert on July 10th (although Wilson's wife was not discussed with Russert).

By now Robert Novak through other reporters and officials to whom the rumor had been spread (by Libby) learned of the connection between Plame and the CIA and had contacted "Official A" (who is generally known to be Karl Rove) indicating that he intended to write an article on the subject, even though the CIA had warned him not too.

On July 14th, Novak's column on Wilson was published - this was the first public revelation of Plame's status as a CIA employee. This exposed not only her, but the CIA anti-proliferation front organization Brewster Jennings & Associates.

We now know due to Newsweek that Valerie Plame WIson was an undercover CIA operative, a NOC. And that her work with in trying to prevent Iran from creating a Nuclear Weapon. As far as I'm concerned Scooter Libby, at the Vice-President's urging has commited Treason and Sedition.


Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

The Vice-President, with the tacit aid of the President in giving him declassification authority, attempted to discredit a critic of claims that Iraq was attempting to gain nuclear materials - a claims which was completely correct according to the Dulfer Report - and in the process may have done significant harm to our own efforts to curtail Iran's Nuclear aims.

The President and Vice-President may have maneuvered this situation so that what occurred is technically legal, but as to whether what has occured represents a "High Crime and Misdemeaner" I think the answer is clearly, Yes.

Vyan

Wednesday, February 15

Cheney finally connected to Plame Leak?

A rather off-the-beaten-path web paper has just released a report that claims several former and current Administration Officials have now come forward to state that the outing of Valerie Plame's identity was part of a coordinated effort by Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Stephan Hadley to discredit Joseph Wilson and his OP-ed on Niger.

Update: Truthout.org also has had the story posted as of Feb 9th, apparently this is the original source. Details over the flip.

As Reported.

Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley led a campaign beginning in March 2003 to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for publicly criticizing the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, according to current and former administration officials.

The officials work or had worked in the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council in a senior capacity and had direct knowledge of the Vice President's campaign to discredit Wilson.

These officials have apparently testified before they Grand Jury already, but another issue which comes to mind is - did these person reveal this information to the Grand Jury and FBI? If so, then Fitz has a great deal more information at his fingertips than he's let on -- if not, they may be subject to the same charges as Libby.


The officials said they decided to speak out now because they have become disillusioned with the Bush administration's policies regarding Iraq and the flawed intelligence that led to the war.

Now, they've become disillusioned?


They said their roles, along with several others at the CIA and State Department, included digging up or "inventing" embarrassing information on the former Ambassador that could be used against him, preparing memos and classified material on Wilson for Cheney and the National Security Council, and attending meetings in Cheney's office to discuss with Cheney, Hadley, and others the efforts that would be taken to discredit Wilson.

A former CIA official who has worked in the counter-proliferation division, and is familiar with the undercover work Wilson's wife did for the agency, said Cheney and Hadley visited CIA headquarters a day or two after Joseph Wilson was interviewed on CNN.

I wasn't able to locate this interview which the article indicates took place on March 2, 2003, but I did find one that took place on July 8th, 2003 with CNN's Bill Hemmer. Wilson's New York Times Op-Ed describing what he hadn't found in Niger had been been published the previous day.


These were the first public comments Wilson had made about Iraq. He said the administration was more interested in redrawing the map of the Middle East to pursue its own foreign policy objectives than in dealing with the so-called terrorist threat.

The indication that Wilson had spoken to CNN before the start of the War is relatively new to me. But this story indicates that this was when Wilson first came only Cheney and Hadley's radar. This became a bit more heated when Wilson begin to leak information to reporters in May as Wilson discussed his trip with Nicholas Kristoff of the New York times which eventually lead to a column.

Wilson said he believed the administration had ignored his report and were dishonest with Congress and the American people.
After the Kristoff column:
What in the previous months had been a request to gather information that could be used to discredit Wilson now turned into a full-scale effort involving the Office of the Vice President, the National Security Council, and the State Department to find out how Wilson came to be chosen to investigate the Niger uranium allegations.
The report indicates that Cheney and Libby made it clear Wilson had to be "shut down".
Cheney was personally involved in this aspect of the information gathering process as well, visiting CIA headquarters to inquire about Wilson, the CIA official said. Hadley had also raised questions about Wilson during this month with the State Department officials and asked that information regarding Wilson's trip to Niger be sent to his attention at the National Security Council.

That's when Valerie Plame Wilson's name popped up showing that she was a covert CIA operative. The former CIA official who works in the counter-proliferation division said another meeting about Wilson took place in Cheney's office, attended by the same individuals who were there in March. But Cheney didn't take part in it, the officials said.

Libby himself was deeply involved in the effort to discredit Wilson, but exactly who made the decision to reveal Valerie Wilson's identity was not known by the sources.

One key factor mentioned in the reports is that Cheney, Hadley and Libby were aware that Plame was a Covert Agent, which would put them in violation of the Intelligence Agent Identities Act when they revealed her CIA connections to reporters.

As far as I recall the indication that Valerie Plame was connected to sending Joseph Wilson to Niger was originally planted (although the CIA has vigorously denied that Plame "sent" Wilson to Niger) in a Classified INR Memo on June 10th. This would be a month after the Kristoff column - this Memo essentially seeded the ground for the disinformation campaign to come once Wilson went fully public in July.

Libby's claims that his "superiors" (Cheney and Hadley?) had requested him to release classified information to discredit Wilson including, but not limited to, the NIE of Iraq WMD programs and the revelation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that White House emails (which might either confirm or refute Libby's story) have disappeared, is very interesting.

Some of the claims made here are quite damning, but also need to be seriously questioned and verified. It's almost too good to be true for Bush-bashers -- could it be like the (possibly) forged National Guard documents, giving the Blue-Staters exactly what they've been salivating for just before yanking the rug out?

The fact that this report comes from Jason Leopold who has frequently written for Truthout.org lends it a considerable level of credibility to me.

We'll just have to see, won't we?

Vyan

Tuesday, February 14

Additional Abu Ghraib Photos

The following are 15 of the 60 additional Abu Grhaib photos which the Dod have attempted to keep secret despite the decision by Judge Hellerstein last month that they be released in response to the FOIA request by the ACLU.


Bully O'Leily would have you believe that these photos are "more of the same" and simply examples of "frat behavior" by the night shift at Abu Ghraib prison, but even a coursery examinition of them shows that this isn't the case. Detainees can clearly be seen naked with bloody wounds and even foaming at the mouth, in several shots blood can be seen smeared on the floor and walls.

Sydney Morning Herald story here.

Tonight the SBS Dateline program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Although a US judge last year granted the union access to the photographs following a freedom-of-information request, the US Administration has appealed against the decision on the grounds their release would fuel anti-American sentiment.

Some of the photos are similar to those published in 2004, others are different. They include photographs of six corpses, although the circumstances of their deaths are not clear. There are also pictures of what appear to be burns and wounds from shotgun pellets.


Vyan

C&L On Cheney and Canned Lawyer Shooting

TDS: Cheney makes Stewart so happy!

Jon Stewart was having a really boring weekend and he was really sad. Nothing had been getting his blood boiling lately and he just wasn't excited to be alive anymore-Until:

Video-WMP Video-QT

Stewart was on fire tonight:

"Whittington was mistaken for a bird."

"Harry Whittington, seasoned to an inch of his life."

"Don't let your kids go hunting with the Vice President. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land or-energy regulations they're trying to get lifted. He'll shoot them in the face."

Rob Corddry joined in.

Corddry : "Jon, tonight the Vice President is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Whittington. Now according to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time-there-were-quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be the 78 year old man. Even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists-he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face.


Scotty McClellan on Cheney Shooting

Here's the press briefing with Scotty and the gang.

Video-WMP Video-QT (David Edwards)

Atrios before the briefing:

Why was the White House relying on a Texas rancher to get the word of Cheney's hunting accident out over the weekend, asked Gregory, accusing McClellan of "ducking and weaving.''

"David, hold on-the cameras aren't on right now,'' McClellan replied. "You can do this later.''

"Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,'' the newsman said, his voice rising somewhat. "Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question.''

"You don't have to yell,'' McClellan said....read on

Raw Story has the transcript up now...

What I found most interesting was the interview on Countdown w/Keith Olberman with the reporter (Catherine Garcia of the Corpus Christi Caller Times) who received the called from Mrs. Armstrong. Apparently she had been attempting to reach an old family friend on the local papers staff beginning at 8 am Sunday morning, finally reaching Ms Garcia at 11am. After taking the story and confirming "You do mean Vice-President Cheney, right?" The reporter called the Whitehouse - after looking up the phone number on the web - and attempted to confirm the report with the "Press office". After being told the it wouldn't be "open until Monday Morning" she said "The Vice-President just accidently shot someone..." to which the White House switchboard operator responded. "Oh, okay", and put her though.

It doesn't get much more surreal than that. But just in case you want more -- here's Countdown's Official Digital Recreation of the Cheney Shooting.

Vyan

Katrina Survivors Abandoned again by Bush Admin

Katrina victims face being kicked out of the hotels. From The Shreveport Times.
Harry Langston is frustrated, but not just about the latest hotel deadline handed down by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I've applied for everything," said Langston when asked if he has applied for a hotel authorization code to stay beyond the Feb. 7 deadline set for the FEMA hotel subsidy program.

Langston has been living at Plantation Inn in Shreveport for almost three months and has finally decided to find an apartment after giving up on receiving a FEMA temporary housing unit.

"It's all the calling and nobody seems to know anything about the trailers. Whether FEMA helps me or not, it wouldn't matter. I'd do OK, but some of these people are scared of change. They've never been anywhere else in their life and they don't know where to look."

Today is the last day for evacuees to call the agency to request an authorization code in order to extend their hotel stays beyond Feb. 7. Without the code, FEMA stops paying. With the code, FEMA will pay for hotel rooms at least until Feb. 13.

That date could be further extended for evacuees whose temporary housing assistance applications are pending.

FEMA reports it has evacuees in 26,885 rooms in 3,157 hotels throughout the nation. In Louisiana, the agency is paying for 10,517 rooms in 488 hotels. And in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, Centerpoint, a local referral agency which operates the 2-1-1 social service referral call center, has reported there are 1,248 evacuees in 316 rooms.

In the five months since hurricanes Katrina and Rita displaced more than 400,000 individuals in Louisiana, FEMA has paid or reimbursed more than $325 million for hotel and motel rooms for those without housing.

Meanwhile, it's revealed that FEMA has over 10,000 trailers on hand in Hope, Arkansas (President Clinton's home town) that are going empty! From the LA Times.
At Uncle Henry's Smokehouse Bar B Que in Hope, Ark., the lunchtime crowd filled every table Thursday — all 10 of them. At City Hall, the phones were ringing off the hook. And out at the airport, a private pilot who just turned 45 said she didn't expect to live long enough to see things get back to normal.

All because of the latest example of how federal, state and local officials have responded to Hurricane Katrina. Time was, Hope was known primarily as the childhood home of President Clinton. Now it's Trailer Town, USA.

After the Aug. 29 storm left thousands homeless on the Gulf Coast, officials in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama began calling for trailers to provide temporary shelter. More than 100,000 were requested, and somebody decided to create holding areas for the trailers outside the hurricane zone.

Today, legions of wide-bodied mobile homes sit empty at Hope's Municipal Airport, a sprawling former military base. After all these months, storm victims can't seem to get the trailers, which are proving a mixed blessing to Hope and Arkansas.

"It just boggles the mind in this day and time," said Mark Keith, director of the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. "There are 10,770 trailers at Hope Airport. That's one for every man, woman and child in Hope, with a few left over to send to Emmet, down the road."

Is this not insane? Is this not completely callous and incompetent to have availabe resources - 10,000 trailers available as temporary housing, yet we've spent $325 Million dollars on hotels and then dumped 14,00 families on the street while completely failing to get any real traction on rebuilding New Orleans even six-months after the fact?

Vyan

Clemens : Plame was working on Iran Nukes

From Steve Clemens on Huffington Post.
plame.gif

An important and provocative report has just been published that suggests that Iran was the target of much of Valerie Plame's covert investigative work and that outing her identity had far worse consequences than has thus far been acknowledged.

This information also dovetails with information I have been digging up on Iran's interests in Niger uranium.

Raw Story has just published this piece by Larisa Alexandrovna.

The core of the article is:

The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, RAW STORY has learned.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

While many have speculated that Plame was involved in monitoring the nuclear proliferation black market, specifically the proliferation activities of Pakistan's nuclear "father," A.Q. Khan, intelligence sources say that her team provided only minimal support in that area, focusing almost entirely on Iran.

This is rather huge news. The Washington Note had some knowledge of this Raw Story article before it hit the net and mentioned it was on the way on the WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show earlier today.

There are different directions this story may go.


With the recent discussion of escalation of hostilities with Iran in the air, the information that one of our few assets in combating proliferation in the regions was lost due to political gamesmanship, it quite tragic - for both America, the World and the Bush Administration.

Vyan.

The Growing Anti-Bush Coalition

In an excellent analysis that has rocketed across the cybersphere, Glenn Greenwald the other day wrote about how the meaning of "liberal" and "conservative" has been redefined away from a description of social/political values into a definition of ones fealty to George W. Bush.

It used to be the case that in order to be considered a "liberal" or someone "of the Left," one had to actually ascribe to liberal views on the important policy issues of the day – social spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, "judicial activism," hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc. These days, to be a "liberal," such views are no longer necessary.

Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a "liberal," regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more "liberal" one is. Whether one is a "liberal" -- or, for that matter, a "conservative" -- is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.

One can see this principle at work most illustratively in how Bush followers talk about Andrew Sullivan. In the couple of years after 9/11, Bush followers revered Sullivan, as he stood loyally behind Bush, providing the rhetorical justifications for almost every Bush action. And even prior to the Bush Administration, Sullivan was a fully accepted member of the conservative circle. Nobody questioned the bona fides of his conservative credentials because he ascribed to the conservative view on almost every significant political issue.

We see the same thing happening to hard-core conservative Bob Barr due to his criticism of Bush's violations of FISA . Similarly, the minute a Senator with years of conservatism behind them deviates from a Bush decree on a single issue, they are no longer "conservative." George Voinovich became a "liberal" the minute he refused to support John Bolton’s nomination; John Sununu is now "liberal" because he did not favor immediate renewal of every single provision of the Patriot Act which Bush demanded, and Senators like Chuck Hagel and John McCain long ago gave up any "conservative" status because of their insistence on forming opinions that occasionally deviate from the decrees from the White House.

Self-proclaimed Bush Conservatives of course, rose to their feet en masse to proclaim "No", and in the process denouced Glenn as a "leftist liberal" (character assasination being so much more effective a debating tactic than facts) for pointing out how Conservatives have treated other Conservatives over issues related solely to George Bush. By failing to point out a single policy stance of Greenwalds that would even remotely resemble the point of view of Barbara Streisand other than disapproval of George W. Bush's Administration, they manage to prove his point thoroughly and completely.

On Dkos, Grand Moff Texan used this as a jumping off point to note that the meaninglessness of the term "Conservative" in relation to George W. Bush policies of cronyism and kleptocracy.

As people like Pat Buchanan and the CATO Institute long ago observed, Bush is not a conservative. He is merely an advocate for his class, for unearned wealth and privilege. Smarter people have dressed him up as a conservative. He pretends to be a Christian. But nowhere in his actions is there a single example of either credo. The last ten years of a GOP-controlled Congress and the last five Republican presidents: no conservatism in sight. Government becomes bigger, more expensive, and more powerful.

Conservatism today is just an advertising jingle, and I ain't dumb enough to hum along.

The single objective of so-called conservatives is the exploitation of everyone else for the sake of their own lifestyle. Everything else is just marketing and misdirection.

They can dress up their credit-card-Keynesianism as "supply-side economics," but for the most part they know better. They can pretend their crass Malthusianism and jingoism are somehow Christian, but their blasphemy stands in stark contrast to this pacifist and anti-materialist religion's sacred texts and long history.

It's all bullshit, and the smarter ones know it.

...

Do you see capitalism here? I don't. The millionaires don't want to have to compete, and since the fools will believe whatever they're told the fraud can continue indefinitely.

...

Do you see ideology here? There isn't any.

  1. The fraud is called "conservatism."
  2. Opposition to fraud is dismissed as "liberalism."
Neither word means a damned thing. It's all just advertising for the great scam, and you get to pay for it.
We live in a post 9-11 world. Where "Conservative" used to mean government restraint, fiscal responsibility - now it means spending billions on Medicare and Defense, while asking wounded soldiers to pay for the armor that was destroyed as they were shot, cutting spending on police and first responders and flat out losing even more billions to curruption and malfeasance in Iraq.

As this trend continues, there are eventually going to be more Ex-communicated Conservatives and Republicans like Bob Barr and Andrew Sullivan than those who continue to support George W. Bush - whose approval ratings just dipped back down to 39% again (2/9-12 /06 CNN/USA/Gallup) showing that is temporaty "State of the Union bump" (to 44%) is already over.

People have to remember the Ambassador Joe Wilson is a Republican and a Conservative.

Former Bush Treasury Secratary Paul O'Neill, was a Conservative before he was fired for questioning Bush's repeated tax cuts.

Christine Todd Whitman, who left her position as EPA director for the Bush Adminstartion amids her feelings and experience in New Jersey that his environmental policies were reckless.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has remained tight-lipped, but his Chief of State Lawrence Wilkerson - also a Republican - has been screaming his head off about the "Rumseld/Cheney Cabal".

UNSCOM Inspector Scott Ritter, who has repeated criticized Bush on WMD's is a Republican.

Conservative Columnist William Safire has opposed Bush's NSA program.

The NSA Whistle-blower Russel Tice, is a Republican.

The State Department Employee who complained about intimidation by John Bolton, was a Republican.

In order to keep the Senate in proper lock step on the NSA issue, Karl Rove has been forced to threaten Republicans with pulling Presidential support for their future campaigns.

Gradually, Bush is losing supporters from his own party. Honest and principled Conservatives are in fact eventually seeing the light and recognizing how this Administration has increasingly become a danger to not just their values, but the continued properity of America itself.

It's certainly true that al Qaeda isn't checking poll numbers to see if a particular state is "Red" or "Blue" before targeting it - why should we do so as we stand to protect all of America?

The truth is that many who may frequent what are considered "leftist strongholds" such as Dkos or Democratic Underground rarely discuss actual policy. I've attempted on several occasions to bring up positive policy iniatives, but those threads rarely see responses or go anywhere -- but bring out any of the latest negative tid-bits about Bush or Cheney (like his shooting spree this weekend where he managed to bag approximately 70 caged birds and one 78 lawyer from Austin) and people are ready to go to town, not that I blame them...

The question I wonder is that from this loose coalition of Bush Admin detractors - can a series of policy initiatives be forged primarily in reversing everything that George Bush has done to our country? Can we build a platform based on opposition to Bush?

How about this...
  • Reverse the Bush Birth Tax (Restore the Budget Surplus - End or roll over the tax cuts, but also reward companies and individuals with Tax Credits for private initiatives that eliminate public spending)
  • Isolate Social Security from the rest of the Budget to protect and preserve it.
  • Fix the Medicare Prescription Drug problem.
  • Fix the Bankruptcy Bill.
  • Make our schools second to none, and fix the incredible drop-out rate created by No Child Left Behind Act.
  • Create Free and Equal Access for Policital Campaigns on Radio and TV (which would eliminate the need to chase those campaigns to spend so much of their time chasing donations and cowtoying to lobbyists)
  • Restore Legitimate Government Oversight and Accountability.
  • Save our Military from collapsing - give them the proper armor and equipment, so that we can fight Al Qaeda and terrorism vigorously, but within the law, without torture or chemical weapons.
  • Rebuild our international reputation and prestige by bringing Good Faith back into Foreign Policy.
  • Vigorously remove fraud, waste and abuse from Government and it's contractors. Expect competence and efficiency, remove cronyism.
  • Correct problems with environmental, health and safety oversight.
  • Implement strong environmental reforms that foster the creation and development of new technologies and economic growth.
  • Protect our children from both Sexual Predators and Sexual Disease.
  • Safe, Secure and Verified Voting Systems
  • Recognize the importance of our various Faiths, but do not allow them to divide and seperate us by ensuring that the public space remains neutral and open to all.
I don't think any of these initiatives are particularly "Leftist", and if presented as the core of a either Democratic or even moderate Republican platform - they could work. We can and should be turning our opposition to George Bush policies, into our our own policy initiatives.

If you think about it for just a few minutes, the initiatives practically write themselvs.

Opposing Bush is a political philosophy, and be they former Liberals or Conservatives.
the practitioners of that philosophy are growing each and every day.

The question is - "can this currently unformed and unfocused coaltion be brought together to battle and defeat the Bush kleptocracy?"

We certainly won't know if we don't try and find out.

Vyan

Sunday, February 12

History of Presidential Wiretapping - Wingbats Ahoy Episode III

I've always felt there was value in discussing vital issues with people who don't always agree with you. It causes you to question what you automatically believe, to test it and see if your arguements hold water.

It's a challenge, and sometimes you surprise yourself.

That's been the case here.

I picked out a lonely Wingnut to pick on in order to test myself - to push myself. Far too often the political debate has become like the sound of one hand clapping. We're like two massive armies staring at each other across a huge field, occasionally tossing spitballs, spears and bunker-busting nukes at each other -- talking past, but not too one another.

That has to change, and over the flip is my small attempt to move in that direction --aka Episode III : The Revenge of the Supremes!

    I've been having a but if back and forth with the Right-wing blog Obviously Right, but before I take a look at their latest installment and get deeply into the "tit for tat" aspect of things - I've decided I should level-set just what it is that's going on here.

    This particular debate started after the New York Times posted an Editorial which in no uncertertain terms indicates their view that the President Bush's extra-FISA NSA wiretaps are blatantly illegal. I happen to strongly agree.

    In a generic search, I found Obviously Right's post attempting to debunk this claim by repeating DOJ talking points that "Many President's have exerted this authority", and in fact they have, but that doesn't mean that what they've done was legal or Constitutional. In fact, several of them have been challenged in court and the overall results have not exactly been favorable to their position.

    Before I go over the History Presidential of Wiretapping, let me first state again that I think that we absolutely should be wiretapping members of al Qaeda and tracking their communications whether they are within the United States or overseas. Just today on Meet the Press, Jane Harmon (D-CA) and Tom Dashchle - who were both members of the Gang-of-Eight and were briefed on the program before it was publically revealed by James Risen - have stated that the program should continue. I concur, although I also agree with their statements that it should be done in concordance with the law (FISA), or else FISA should be amended to include the program and make it Constitutional..

    The President's arguements that they don't have enough time to submit and have the warrants approved, echoed by Sen Pat Roberts on the very same program, sound hollow and false when the fact that the Patriot Act already amended FISA to allow for warrants to be submitted up to 72-hours after the fact, and that DOJ lawyers can usually prepare and submit the paperwork within 24 hours and keep listening in the meantime.

    They can already act immediately if they have probable cause and reasonable suspicion of terrorist activity,and have plenty of time for the paperwork after-the-fact, so what more do they need?

    Similarly the arguement that amending the law now would let al qaeda know too much of our inside baseball, is ridiculous -- the cat's out of the bag and half-way down the street already. Either we can get off our ass and chase it down [fix the law and abide by it] or else sit there and let it get further away.

    Apparently, according to General Hayden, former director of the NSA, they need to lower the Constitutional the standard from Probable Cause to "Reasonableness", (except of course when he denies that claim) - and that is clearly an attempt to re-write the Constitution on back of napkin, which is frankly, unacceptable.

    So, that is where we are - just where have we been on this subject over the last 150 years?

    During the Civil War President Lincoln authorized taps of telegraph communications, this action was done in secret and not challanged in court to verify it's Constitutionality - however his action to suspend habeas corpus was challenged and overturned as the power to suspend habaes in times of national emergency is a power granted exclusively to the Congress under Article I Section 9, not the President.

    The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
    After the invention of the telephone the issue of wiretaps grew far more active. In 1927 J. Edgar Hoover used telephone taps to capture bootleggers. In court, a bootlegger named Olmstead challenged the taps under the 4th Amendment ban on unreasonable search and seizure. The Supreme court upheld the tap, arguing that it was legal as long as a break-in was not peformed in order to place the listening device.

    Concerned with Hoover's growing power, Congress passed the 1934 Communications Act which outlawed non-consensual phone taps. This was followed by a 1939 Supreme Court ruling which established that illegally gathered phone conversations were inadmissable under the Exclusionary Rule originally established in Weeks v The United States in 1914.

    In 1940 President Roosevelt, having signed the 1934 Communications Act and agreeing with a 1939 SCOTUS Decisions upholding it, decided to carve an exception into the rules for communications involving possible foreign spies - particularly "Fifth Columnist" Germans who might be within the borders of the U.S. Like Lincoln, this surveillance was implemented secretly and never challenged directly in a court of law. Interestingly, Roosevelt did not include American Citizens in his surveillance net. Roosevelt told his Attorney General in a memo dated May 21 1940.

    You are, therefore, authorized and directed in such cases as you may approve, after investigation of the need in each case, to authorize the necessary investigation agents that they are at liberty to secure information by listening devices directed to the conversation or other communications of persons suspected of subversive activities against the Government of the United States, including suspected spies. You are requested furthermore to limit these investigations so conducted to a minimum and limit them insofar as possible to aliens.

    After World War II President Truman continued this secret practice, only in the midst of the burgeoning coldwar and the "Red Scare" this surveillance was increasingly used against Americans suspected of being "Communist Sympathisers". This is where things began to slide off the rails.
    [Attorney General] Clark and Truman endorsed wiretapping whenever matters of "domestic security" were at stake, allowing taps to be placed on someone simply because he held radical views.

    Truman's taps is where Obviously Right (and the DOJ) conventiently ended ther justification of Presidential power, but what's most interesting is what happened next.

    The next four presidents, with escalating zeal, each made use of taps and bugs, drawing little scrutiny amid the Cold War anxiety. The FBI and CIA monitored all sorts of citizens who were far from subversive. Most famously, under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, the FBI eavesdropped on Martin Luther King Jr. on the threadbare rationale that he had Communist ties and posed a security threat. Although the King incident wasn't revealed for years, a backlash against the so-called "national security state" nonetheless began. Itself quite worried, the liberal Warren Court stepped in and in the 1967 Katz case overruled Olmstead, holding that government taps did indeed constitute an unconstitutional search and seizure.

    In the midst of increasing violence and riots in reation to the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, Congress attempted to undue Katz by passing the 1968 Omnibus Crimes and Safe Streets Act.
    ...passed in part as a response to the Supreme Court decisions Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41 (1967) and Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), which the Church Report on the FBI's COINTELPRO program described as holding "that the Fourth Amendment did apply to searches and seizures of conversations and protected all conversations of an individual as to which he had a reasonable expectation of privacy".

    Section 2511(3) specifies that nothing in this act or the Federal Communications Act of 1934 shall limit the constitutional power of the President "to take such measures as he deems necessary ":

    • "to protect the nation against actual or potential attack or other hostile acts of a foreign power, to obtain foreign intelligence information deemed essential to the security of the United States or to protect national security information against foreign intelligence activities"

    • "to protect the United States against the overthrow of the Government by force or other unlawful means, or against any other clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the Government"

    With this law on the books, President Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell took warrantless wiretaps of much further than even than Truman during the midst of the '50s anti-Communist "Blacklists" -- by creating COINTELPRO.
    Mitchell held that the Justice Department was free to tap without a warrant any political dissenters it deemed threats to national security. Given how many Americans were organizing to oppose various government policies in 1969, Mitchell's reading promised to sanction the surveillance of millions of people who agitated against the Vietnam War, championed black radicalism, or engaged in campus protests.
    In 1972 the Supreme Court again acted to check the President's wiretap power in the "Keith" case.
    In the name of protecting national security, Nixon wanted to be able to wiretap without the approval of a judge. The authority for this power? Before the Court of Appeals, Nixon relied on a vague "historical power of the sovereign to preserve itself" and "the inherent power of the President to safeguard the security of the nation."

    Later, arguing the issue before the Supreme Court, the government got even more vague -- just loosely using the national security contention. In the end, the Court -- in the ironically named case United States v. United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan(which became known as the Keith Case) -- said no. Joining the opinion were all of Nixon's own appointees -- except William Rehnquist, who recused himself.

    So those who are arguing in favor of this kind of broad executive power - which has been repeatedly blocked and limited by the Supreme Court at least four times by 1978 when the FISA law was passed - are actually standing in support of the extreme views of President Nixon, who was nearly Impeached for his actions and ultimately resigned the Presidency in shame.


    That bring us to into the tat-for-tat of "Mr. Obviously Right".

    My point was solely, is solely, and remains solely this: It is Constitutional for the President to spy on enemies during war time. Compared to the actions of past Presidents, President Bush has shown far more regard for civil liberties than Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR.
    Well, the first question I have to that point is - "What exactly has President Bush done to protect civil liberties in this current scenario"? The one lone protection available, is to abide by the 4th Amendment, meet probable cause and get a warrant in regards to domestic targets as is required by FISA and numerous Supreme Court decisions. President Bush has not done this, and has instead asserted an inherent right that frankly has been shown several times - as I have explained above - to not trump the 4th Amendment.

    Hence my point - which you dismissed - remains wholely relevant.

    "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."

    Obviously Right continues;

    Vyan says:
    My point isn't that it's wrong to spy on foreign enemies - of course we should do that
    and:
    I didn't have any contention with the point that other President's have done worse, they have.
    Then, pardon my French, but what the hell is the point?
    Please refer to "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." Or to put it another way, the President - no President - has the power to violate the bill of rights. Yes, they can and should do surveillance, but they have to do it within the confines of the law and Constitution. There is no provision in the Constitution that gives the President super-uber-duper powers which allow him to ignore the 4th Amendment. None.

    O-Right.

    I advanced two claims. You've conceded them both. End of argument. Period. Finit. That's it. Fat lady's sung. Show's over. Boat has sailed. The curtain's down. The bell has tolled. End of story. The house lights are coming up. The bar's closed. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
    Uh huh. Actually it's "You don't have to go home, but you have to get the Hell outta here!" - can't you even quote your cliches correctly? And it should be clear, that you're completely missing the point. Let me make it simple - Presidents are not Kings.

    Actually, I brought up Youngstown because the DOJ and AG Gonzales brought it up...one with AG Gonzales has repeatedly brought up himself

    Here's how nutty Vyan is: He quotes from Gonzoles's address to Congress, that happened Monday, February Fifth. He insists I must have gotten my post from it and that therefore I am obligated to trawl through it and defend every single statement and line.

    I wrote my post on Sunday, January 29. Fully 8 days before.

    Let me repeat - "because the DOJ and AG Gonzales brought it up - repeatedly". Before he testified before Congress Gonzales had a press conferece with General Hayden which I linked too - Here. That press conference took place on December 19. Let's see 12+29 , carry the one - well that's fully 41 days before your post. Wow. What Gonzales said then was this...
    I might also add that we also believe the President has the inherent authority under the Constitution, as Commander-in-Chief, to engage in this kind of activity. Signals intelligence has been a fundamental aspect of waging war since the Civil War, where we intercepted telegraphs, obviously, during the world wars, as we intercepted telegrams in and out of the United States.
    What I also said was that these same claims had been made by the Department of Justice. They did so in a 42 page document which was released on January 19 - Fully 10 days before your post. In the document the DOJ stated the following.
    In fact, Washington himself proposed that one of his Generals "contrive a means of
    opening [British letters] without breaking the seals, take copies of the contents, and then let them go on."

    More specifically, warrantless electronic surveillance of wartime communications has
    been conducted in the United States since electronic communications have existed, i.e., since at least the Civil War, when "[t]elegraph wiretapping was common, and an important intelligence source for both sides."

    Shortly after Congress declared war on Germany in World War I, President Wilson (citing only his constitutional powers and the joint resolution declaring war) ordered the censorship of messages sent outside the United States via submarine cables, telegraph, and telephone lines.

    As noted in Part I, on May 21, 1940, President Roosevelt authorized warrantless
    electronic surveillance of persons suspected of subversive activities, including spying, against the United States.


    I did not claim that you heard these statments at the Gonzales hearing, only that at the hearing he was repeating himself - and you were - wittingy or not - repeating him. I said that you were regurgitating DOJ/Gonzales talking points, because you were - and I had seen them before. The fact that you cited almost the exact same events that the DOJ did (while conveniently omitting the illegal surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and COINTELPRO during the Nixon era) simply could not be happenstance. Maybe you didn't know that's where those arguments came from - maybe you did. Doesn't matter. You were promulgating their propoganda, and I called you on it.
    According to Vyan, none of [Washington's attempted surveilance during the Revolution] has any relevance to the Constitution because it happened before the Constitution and isn't contained within the text of the Constitution.

    But is this actually so?

    In the Constitution, they gave the Federal Government the power to tax some activities, because during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington couldn't get the funds he needed for his troops.

    Washington's experience during the War->affects Constitution

    Umm... call me silly but isn't the power to tax "Contained within the text of the Constitution"? Yeah, it is - that's why it has an "affect" on the Constitution. It's in the text. Opening the mail during a war isn't.
    Many of those involved in the Convention were involved in and carried out the orders to monitor domestic mail during the War. All of them were privy to the actions, and none- not one- ever denounced the actions. They clearly felt it was an integral and necessary part of warmaking activities.
    They did? So where is this inherent ability included in the Constitution? Or better yet, as I asked previous what in the Federalist Papers supports this view? Oh wait, nothing does. Never mind.

    Vyan continues:
    In short, bubula, the President's powers are effectively limited by the rules and regulations of the armed forces as written by Congress...It's also the reason that FISA is perfectly Constitutional.
    Wow, look, I was talking about one thing and here you are "rebutting" it by talking about something completely different and unrelated. How novel.
    Ok, this is where we have an obvious disconnect. FISA is the controlling law regarding surveillance within the United States, whether you think what President Bush is doing is "worse" or "better" than what other Presidents have done -- his actions violate FISA. Pardon me for quoting legal scripture but 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.
    This is the LAW. Back to the Wingerman.
    However, since you are so clearly begging for an ass-kicking, here's my reply: Your claim- "Article 2 gives Congress the power to 'regulate the army and navy.' This means they can dictate absolutely every detail of the President's activities in war. This then means that Congress can ban the President from gathering intelligence from enemies in wartime."- is flawed, unsupported, contradicted by the FISC and in general irrelevant.
    First of all, it's Article I - not Article II. Don't invent quotes for things I didn't say and then get them wrong, please. I didn't say that it can set the rules of "every detail" of the President's activities in war - it allows the Congress to set the rules for the Army, as in, who can be IN the Army & Navy (although technically not the rules for the Air Force since it didn't exist at the time - which I guess a strict constructionalist could quibble with, but I won't), and what their conduct can be or shouldn't be as prescribed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but it doesn't allow them to dictate battle field tactics. It's a more general set of rules.

    I mean c'mon - we just recently had Congress put a ban on torture into the Defense Appropriations Bill, even though the President originally threatened to veto it, it is now the law. So, Congress authority to set the rules on the military is supported. Easily.

    More, the very language of the clause you quote doesn't support you. The power to "regulate the army and navy" doesn't confer the power to absolutely dictate every single wartime policy.
    I didn't say that it did, only that it allows the Congress to set rules for the conduct of the DoD and NSA, including the FISA procedure.
    Were that true, giving the President power would be meaningless as the power would really lie with Congress. It is barking mad to believe that the Constitution says the President is C-in-C, but that the same Constitution then gives the entirety of that authority to Congress.
    It's not the same authority. Congress draws the bounderies, the limits - particular in regard to actions that have an effect within the borders and jurisdiction of the U.S. - the President is free to act only within those limits. However actions which occur abroad, are generally outside the control of Congress.

    Under normal circumstances, with Wars involving foreign nations and foreign actors - there is no conflict. When the focus of "Combat" enters the confines of the U.S. itself - as I said, the President is limited as shown by Katz and Keith.

    Nor is the NSA part of the military. It is part of the intelligence community.

    What is the NSA? "The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) is the Nation's cryptologic organization."

    Is it part of the military? "The Central Security Service (CSS) was established by Presidential Directive in 1972 to promote full partnership between the NSA and the cryptologic elements of the Armed Forces."

    How could the NSA partner with cryptological counterparts in the Armed Forces if it were them?

    There are 18 different Intelligence agencies in the U.S. Government. Each branch of the Armed Forces has one, and NSA coordinates with them all while itself being a part of the DoD (Department of Defense). Why do I say that? Because....
    The U.S. Constitution, federal law, executive order, and Executive Branch and Department of Defense regulations govern NSA/CSS activities.
    Let me repeat, Congress has the authority, under the Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, to write DoD regulations - including those governing the NSA.
    You knew for a fact you had no information about the Consitutionality of any of the cited actions of Lincoln, and yet you used a court case you knew was irrelevant to declare those actions Unconstitutional.
    I hadn't yet found and compiled the information I presented at the beginning of this post, which does directly address Presidential wiretapping. What I showed was the next best thing, but it (the Taney decision) was not irrelevent, it directly answers the question of what the President's powers are during Wartime. In this case, Lincoln didn't have the power to suspend habeas, as mentioned above. Presidents of all of political stripes have repeatedly attempted to assume powers not granted by the Constitution and they've been repeatedly shutdown by either the Courts, Congress of both.
    More, your theory of Constitutional justice- "Only that which has been argued in court is Constitutional."- is monumentally stupid. Were it true, this would also have to follow: "Only that which has been argued in Court is Unconstitutional."
    Again with the phony quotes. I didn't say that. The point is that a President can't simply assert he has a specific authority that isn't enumerated in the Constitution - as you admit the ability to conduct wartime domestic surveillance is not included. That assertion has to be tested, and the current method for testing such assertion since Marbury V Madison in 1803, is in the Supreme Court. So far, the Presidency has failed that test.
    And, in this case, your bizarre legal claim is moot. Warrantless eLint operations against an wartime enemy located in the U.S. is an issue that has been argued in court and has been declared Constitutional. So says the FISC and every other court that has reviewed the issue.

    When offered the chance to overturn that self-same FISA decision, the Supreme Court declined, thereby letting it stand. The Supreme Court was aware of the FISC decision, aware of the position it made and declined to review.

    You are claiming this based on the Sealed Case, for which there are no details available? Already argued. Supreme Court Decisions such as Hamdi supercede decisions of the FISC. Next.

    I didn't "defend" Lincoln's activities, en masse or one at a time. I merely pointed out that your Leftist hysterics about Bush are unfounded, paranoid, and ignorant. He isn't Hitler, he isn't engaging in an uprecedented seizure of power and he isn't establishing a dictatorship.

    Compared to all of the other Presidents I cited, he has gone to extreme lengths to respect civil liberties. And you've admitted it.

    No, I didn't admit that. I said that other Presidents have asserted simlar authority - but that doesn't make them correct. In effect, you used Lincoln's secret actions (since those that were discovered were declared Unconstitutional at the time) to justify Bush's secret actions. Lincoln was proven wrong. Roosevelt was wrong. Truman was wrong. Johnson was wrong and Nixon was wrong - it was just that Nixon was the first one since Lincoln that GOT CAUGHT RED HANDED - except of course, for Bush. Again, what "extreme lengths" has Bush gone to protect "civil liberties" other than stick a new rubber-stamp on an illegal program every 45 days?
    Furthermore, Justice Taney declared that African-Americans weren't citizens, weren't human, were nothing more than property, and that they had no rights at all. According to Taney, a white man could walk up to an African-American and shoot him in the face and it would be perfectly legal, as the black man wasn't even human.
    Yeah, that sucks (not that Taney literally said any of that from what I've seen) - he was, however, constrained by the Constitution as it was written at the time. And at the time the Constitution itself declared that black people were only equal to 3/5ths of a man. This didn't change until the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, but even so how does this prove that Taney's decision was wrong on the habeas case?

    He didn't have the ability to change the Constitution, only work within it it's flaws. Talk about irrelevant arguments.

    So, and let me get this straight, the President can spy on enemy actions all he wants but the moment they cross onto American soil, suddenly he needs a warrant.
    Yep, says so in the Fourth Amendment right here...

    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.
    Children in a Concentration Camp This protection is neccessary or else the U.S. just might do some thing drastic and stupid like rounding up every Japanese person (even those who are U.S. Citizens) and sticking them in camps for their own "protection". Then we're likely to get all embarassed by what we did, apologize and have to pay them restitution.

    Oops.

    Too late.

    When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, spying on them required a warrant. When the South invaded Pennsylvania, spying on them required a warrant. When Al Qaeda sends enemy cells into the country to blow up the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, spying on them required a warrant.

    So we can monitor the enemy everywhere in the world, but when they pose the most danger- when they have invaded the U.S.- suddenly we can't listen to them at all.

    That's simply insane.

    No, it's the law. It's the Constitution. All you need is "probable cause", and frankly that isn't impossible to achieve. Tens of thousands of warrant requests have gone to the FISA court in the last 27 years and every report indicates that they've only rejected a hand full. What is the problem? Just follow the law and everything is fine.

    The Fourth Amendment stands, and frankly it was "informed" by the events of the Revolutionary War - it was informed by the actions of British Soldiers as they wantonly broke into the homes of Colonials.

    The Fourth Amendment protection against "unreasonable searches and seizures" was adopted as a protection against the widespread invasions of privacy experienced by American colonists at the hands of the British Government. So-called "writs of assistance" gave royal officers broad discretion to conduct searches of the homes of private citizens, primarily as a way of discovering violations of strict British customs laws. This practice led to a unique awareness among our Founding Fathers of the threat to individual liberty and privacy that is created by unchecked government search powers.

    More from O-man.
    And contradicted by Vyan's earlier statements, as he's already admitted that spying on the enemy is right- "of course we should do that." So spying on the enemy is right and necessary, until they invade us when it suddenly become verboten. And this is the position he claims is mandated by the Consitution.

    Although, I note, he can't quote the Constitution to support it.

    Yes, I can - and did - it's right here. (And that wasn't the first time....)
    Instead he relies on a tortured, tenuous, and faulty chain of logic: "The President is C-in-C. Congress can make rules and regulations for the Army and Navy. This allows them to override the C-in-C at will. The NSA is part of the military. Congress wrote FISA. It therefore regulates the military. It therefore applies to the NSA. Therefore Bush's actions are Unconstitutional."

    Riiiight.

    Wrooong.

    This is the third attempt by him to write his own version of my statements, quoting them as if I had said them, making them seem illogical and then claiming I - by extension - am illogical. Cheap trick. No sale.

    The problem you still have to deal with is that my Constitution view happens to be supportd by Former President Carter (who signed FISA into law), Grover Norquist, one of the prime leaders of the Conservative movement - has determined that the program is illegal. Some of the most conservative members of the Senate have said they think Bush broke the law. Heather Wilson (R), chairman of the House Committe that overseas the NSA has some serious questions about it.

    Even William Freaking Safire has big problem with NSA spying

    "I was writing a speech on welfare reform, and the president looks at it and says, "OK, I'll go with it, but this is not going to get covered. Leak it as far an wide as you can beforehand. Maybe we'll get something in the paper." And so I go back to my office and I get a call from a reporter, and he wants to know about foreign affairs or something, and I said, "Hey, you want a leak? I'll tell you what the president will say tomorrow about welfare reform." And he took it down and wrote a little story about it. But the FBI was illegally tapping his phone at the time, and so they hear a White House speechwriter say, "Hey, you want a leak?" And so they tapped my phone, and for six months, every home phone call I got was tapped. I didn't like that. And when it finally broke--it did me a lot of good at the time, frankly, because then I was on the right side--but it told me how easy it was to just take somebody who is not really suspected of anything for any good reason and listen to every conversation in his home--you know, my wife talking to her doctor, my--everything.

    When they're wiretapping members of the White House Staff - that is what I call insane. Events like these are why we have FISA, and events like these are exactly what we're headed toward without it - regardless of whether the President is an "R" or a "D".

    Your position and argument makes William Safire look like a Civil Liberterian.

    It's not just the "looney lefties" who have a problem with this program. This is not a "leftist" issue, it's an American issue.

    Is what Bush has done as bad as the interment of Japanese by Roosevelt during WWII? I don't know, ask the hundreds of innocent Muslims being held at Gitmo who were captured by bounty hunters and sold like livestock to U.S. Forces.

    Now, since you didn't even bother to try and answer any of the questions I posed to you I should just assume that you regularly debate in "bad faith". If you want to prove me wrong - you can simply answer the one question I've asked repeatedly... "what protection to our civil liberties has President Bush enacted in this program" -- particularly since the FBI seems to be getting flooded with bogus NSA referrals, and some of the "dangerous foreign agents" identified so far seem to include Greenpeace, PETA, some Quakers, Catholics and Vegans?

    Yeah, that makes me feel much safer.

    Your serve.

    Vyan