Saturday, August 18

The Suicidal Army : Bush Disturbing Legacy to our Troops

Blogging today on Thinkprogress, Army Reserve Capt John Soltz - head of VoteVets.org - has posted a sad and disturbing report that although recent figures via the WaPo indicate that the rate of suicides by active duty members of our military is currently at it's highest point in 26 years, the rate of diagnosis for post traumatic stress disorder has strangely not kept pace - leaving many of these emotionally wounded soldiers undiagnosed, untreated, and at severe risk.

<>To get to the core of the issue, we have to look at the real reason for which combat troops and veterans would take their own lives. And that real issue — the larger issue — is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder The numbers of troops diagnosed by the military and the VA with PTSD are disturbingly low — especially when viewed by one who’s been in combat. Early in the war, the number given was around 30 percent. So the question becomes then, how do we reconcile these two figures — the high suicide rate with the low PTSD rate?

The next most obvious question is, of course, if PTSD is a leading cause of suicides among our troops - why is the rate of PTSD so low yet the rate of suicide so high?

Possibly because, like so many government services, before treatment is provided the potential patient has to run a gauntlet to prove that they've actually suffered an injury. And sometimes that proof is exactly what you don't want to see.

If you walk into a hospital and your arm is broken you have an X-Ray for proof. If you have cancer or HIV there is medical proof for the diagnosis. There is nothing in the medical community that can completely prove or disprove PTSD — that is until its too late. These increased suicide rates are a sign that were still not doing our jobs catching those with PTSD, before they reach a critical point.

And then there's another reason why it might be increasing difficult for those soldier potentially suffering from PTSD to find treatment. The cost.

It can’t be ignored that there’s a monetary "benefit" for the government if it keeps the count of PTSD down. The bar for qualifying for is kept unreasonably high. If a veteran is diagnosed with PTSD, it will cost our government money in care and disability, perhaps for the life of the person. So, while we’re not seeing a real increase in the cases of declared PTSD, we have seen an increase in the diagnosis of "adjustment disorder" and "pre-existing personality disorder," because those aren’t diagnoses the government will compensate our troops for. Not only does it deny troops financial disability, but also the mental services the system provides, leaving them all alone in society.

If you don’t think it’s accurate, I would remind you this is an administration that won’t even tell our country the names of soldiers wounded in war. They have a track record of dishonesty in supporting our veterans.

We have to look no further than the quality of outpatient care at Walter Reed Hospital, to understand how keeping both eyes on the bottom line can and has blinded the Department of Defense from giving our wounded soldiers the type of care they deserve.

But the true roots of the problem, and the issue of costs, go far deeper than Walter Reed as Paul Krugman pointed out earlier this year.

The quagmire in Iraq has vastly increased the demands on the Veterans Administration, yet since 2001 federal outlays for veterans’ medical care have actually lagged behind overall national health spending.

To save money, the administration has been charging veterans for many formerly free services. For example, in 2005 Salon reported that some Walter Reed patients were forced to pay hundreds of dollars each month for their meals.

More important, the administration has broken longstanding promises of lifetime health care to those who defend our nation. Two months before the invasion of Iraq the V.H.A., which previously offered care to all veterans, introduced severe new restrictions on who is entitled to enroll in its health care system.

What's worse is the fact that even those who have received care, and have been diagnosed with PTSD are being sent back into active duty - with prescriptions of anti-depressants.

As reported by the Hartford Courant, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, confirmed that there was a decision to send back soldiers to Iraq with symptoms or a diagnosis of PTSD stating that it was "something that we wrestle with," and partly driven by the military’s need to retain troops because of recruiting shortfalls.

...

Also, according to the Hartford Courant, one 26 year old Marine who was having trouble sleeping was put on a strong dose of Zoloft that carries warnings urging doctors to closely monitor new patients for suicidal urges. Within several months of starting that drug the Marine killed himself in Iraq.

The initial WaPo article that Soltz refers to while reporting these horrifically high suicide rates, attempts with the usual media strategy of creating false balance, to counter it's own implications by claiming that suicide rates are not linked to multiple deployments - or PTSD.

Failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and the stress of their jobs were factors motivating the soldiers to commit suicide, according to the report.

There also "was limited evidence to support the view that multiple ... deployments are a risk factor for suicide behaviors," it said.

However...

"In addition, there was a significant relationship between suicide attempts and number of days deployed" in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops are participating in the war effort, it said. The same pattern seemed to hold true for those who not only attempted, but succeeded in killing themselves.

About a quarter of those who killed themselves had a history of at least one psychiatric disorder. Of those, about 20 percent had been diagnosed with a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder and/or depression; and 8 percent had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, including post traumatic stress disorder _ one of the signature injuries of the conflict in Iraq.

As Soltz points out the Military does rigorous screening during the recruitment process (Or is supposed to) and those suffering from pre-existing mental and/or psychiatric disorders are not supposed to ever become active soldiers. The most likely cause for their current emotional distress, is the trauma they've suffered while serving their country he argues. But then again, recruitment standards haven't really been at their highest for the last couple years.

October 2005: In the wake the worst recruiting slump in decades, the Army announced earlier this week that they are loosening recruitment standards to accept more high school dropouts:

The move comes on the heels of a free iTunes offer by the National Guard, debates about military recruitment in high schools, legislation to raise the age limit for active-duty recruits from 35 to 42, recruiters talking to Katrina evacuees, and the appearance of a Marines advertisement on CraigsList.

We're getting our new soldiers from Craigslist? Are you serious? Am I the only one that finds that more than a tad, scummy?

But here the thing, for those who eventually do make it to active duty and finish at least one tour - not only those who have been emotionally wounded have been sent back, so too have those who are physically wounded.

As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.

Although many on the right decry the words "Broken Military" - the facts show that that is exactly where we're headed if we don't drastically change our policies, strategy and diplomatic focus in Iraq.

Soon.

Vyan (Note: This is my 1000th Post on this blog)

Friday, August 17

Jon Stewart : Time to end the "Traitor" Talk

The other night on The Daily Show, our next to last, best American Journalist - Jon Stewart - directly confronted Cheney Biographer Stephen Haynes on the tendency of the Administration and it's supporters to cast aspersions on the patriotism of those who are critical of the War in Iraq.

To the loud groans in the audience, Hayes denied that any such accusations of unpatriotism have been made. Unfortunately, he's very wrong.

Just as a quick refresher we've had the following types of statement made by Bush Officials and his supporters.

So it's not like all this treason talk is a pattern of behavior or anything.

Stewarts comments to Stephen had been prompted by this Video from 1994 where Dick Cheney explains why it would have been wrong to "Go to Baghdad" to take Saddam out of power.

In 1994, Dick Cheney felt that it was the correct assessment that "Saddam wasn't worth another American life." Hayes argued in Cheney's defense that everything changed after 9-11" - but according to the documents from the Project for the New American Century publish in 1998 which urged President Clinton to invade Iraq and depose Saddam - that simply isn't true.

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

Nevertheless - Hayes soldiered on.

STEWART: I think that they've gone -- they, they've seemingly gone out of their way to belittle people. You know, he's actually literally come out and said, "If you don't elect us, we might get hit again." That to me, I -- I can't jibe the portrait you paint of the steadfast leader with the fear-mongering, not-bright guy that I've seen.

HAYES: Yeah, but I mean, no, really -- I mean isn't it that case that, I mean, that's essentially what this debate has been about, the political debate has been about since 2001?

STEAWART: No. They keep saying we don't understand the nature of this war. And critics keep saying, we understand the nature of it. You've been doing it wrong.

HAYES: Right, so why is that -- what's the, what's the quality of difference there?

STEWART: Well, no the, the difference there is, we're not calling them traitors.

HAYES: I don't -- yeah, but I don't think that the administration has called anyone a traitor. When has it happened? I mean, I'm serious. When has that happened? When has that happened?

STEWART: Let me say this. I -- I think that there's a real feeling in this country that your patriotism has been questioned by, by people in, in very high-level positions. Not fringe people. You know, I myself had some idiot from Fox playing the tape of me after September 11th -- very upset. And them calling me a phony --

HAYES: Right.

STEWART: -- because, apparently, my grief didn't mean acquiescence.

At a certain point these false accusations of treason and appeasement have to be called out for the bullcrap that they are. Those who are simply pointing out the truth that Saddam was not a threat, that he wasn't in league with Al Qeada, that he did not have stockpiles or active programs for WMD's, that the insurgency could have been forseen, that the surge isn't working - do not deserve to be belittled and ignored.

Time and time again they are been right, while Bush has been wrong.

Vyan

Most Examples (Courtesy Dkos)

  • George Bush : "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses."
  • Dick Cheney : "It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again,"
  • George Bush : "I asked Congress to give me the flexibility necessary to be able to deal with the true threats of the 21st century by being able to move the right people to the right place at the right time so we can better assure America we're doing everything possible. The House responded, but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people." [Bush remarks in Trenton, New Jersey, 9/23/02, emphasis added]
  • John Ashcroft : "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists - for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends." [Washington Post, 12/7/01;]
  • Karl Rove : "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

Billo Gets a Two-Fer on Countdown

O'Reilly is Worstest and the Worser.

Quick Truths

- Despite claiming he was at Ground Zero “as often, if not more” than 9/11 rescue workers, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral archive reveals that from Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001, “he was there for a total of 29 hours.” In that same period, “many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts.”

- Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to Bush asking that he provide all documents and other information sought by the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in order to conduct oversight of the implementation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

- The State Department’s “$5 billion construction efforts abroad have come under increasing strain.” In a cable sent this summer, “U.S. diplomats complained of building delays and shoddy workmanship, underscoring problems with State’s one-size-fits-all approach to building.” The IG is now probing the use of sole-source contracts at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

- The “number of coalition military deaths in the war in Iraq has reached 4,000,” with the majority of the fatalities — 3,702 — suffered by U.S. soldiers. Forty-four U.S. troops have died this month.

- “People using CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.” It was not known whether changes were made by an official representative of an agency or company, a CIA spokesman said, but it was certain the change was made by someone with access to the organization’s network.

- Today, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe dismissed a report by the Washington Post that claimed Bush aides were resisting the open testimony of Gen. David Petraeus. “General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will testify to the Congress in both open as well as closed sessions prior to the September 15th report,” he said. “That has always been our intention.” Apparently, that message hasn’t been communicated to Congress:

- This morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) “asked the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) to investigate potentially false or misleading testimony given by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during his appearances before various congressional committees.” Leahy highlights several contradictory statements made by the Attorney General on the NSA’s spy program, the use of National Security Letters, and his role in the U.S. attorney purge:

Consistent with your jurisdiction, please do not limit your inquiry to whether or not the Attorney General has committed any criminal violations. Rather, I ask that you look into whether the Attorney General, in the course of his testimony, engaged in any misconduct, engaged in conduct inappropriate for a cabinet officer and the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, or violated any duty — including the duty set out in federal regulations for government officials to avoid any conduct which gives the appearance of a violation of law or of ethical standard, regardless of whether there is an actual violation of law.

Read the full release.

- In a July hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller revealed that he took notes of the infamous White House visit to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital room because the events were so “out of the ordinary.” Chairman John Conyers wrote to Mueller after the hearing to request access to his notes. Today, Conyers’ office put out a statement explaining that the Judiciary Committee has taken a look at Mueller’s notes, which were “heavily-redacted.” Yet, even from the amount the Committee was able to read, Conyers reported that it is clear there was a craven effort to take advantage of “a sick and heavily-medicated Ashcroft

dag234.bmp

- After the recent resignation of Karl Rove, media outlets speculated on what the rest of President Bush’s term will look like without “the Architect.” The President is “fighting lame duck status,” reported the AP. In response, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow shot back: “As the president has said many times, he’s going to sprint to the tape.”

But even Tony Snow doesn’t want to be around for that sprint. In an interview with the conservative Hugh Hewitt show, Snow signaled that he will not stay until the end of the term. He also mentioned that there are “probably a couple” of other high-level resignations “coming up in the next month or so.”

- Yesterday, the LA Times reported that the September progress report on Iraq “would actually be written by the White House,” instead of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The Washington Post echoed the admission in an article today, describing the report as “the Bush administration’s progress report.” But the WaPo’s editorial page is still pushing the myth that “the September report will represent the sole word of Petraeus,” writing that “The general is expected to elaborate on that progress in a report to Congress.”

One million dollars. That’s how much it cost the Defense Department to ship two 19-cent washers after a South Carolina small supplies shipping company exploited an automated shipping system designed to quickly get supplies to American troops. Charlene Corley, the owner of C&D Distributors LLC, pleaded guilty yesterday to wire fraud and money laundering when she and her late sister Darlene Wooten overcharged the government by over $20 million through a loophole in the automated system. (AP)

Thursday, August 16

Cheney Biographer on the Daily Show

Stephen Hayes on the Daily Show.

Melanie Morgan is a Complete Moran!

As highlighted tonight as Keith Olbermann's latest "Worst Person in the World" KSFO host Melanie Morgan has attacked Votevets head John Soltz for violating a completely made up Military Rule.

Couldn't find /static/images/tv_clips/melanie-morgan.jpg

Click Play Play to listen to this audio clip

Morgan was responding in support of criticizm that Solz received on Hardball from .

Watch it:
As noted by Media Matters:

Melanie Morgan called VoteVets.org chairman Jon Soltz "a hypocrite and a liar" for criticizing Army Sgt. David Aguina's appearance in uniform at a YearlyKos convention panel but using a picture of himself in uniform on the VoteVets.org website and engaging in political activism while serving in the Army Reserve, which Morgan called "a violation of the U.S. Military's Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Actually to be fair here, Media Matters actually corrects Morgan's mistake. It would have been a least slightly more correct to criticizm Soltz for violating the "Uniform Code of Military Justice" but Morgan didn't do that - she said this.

RODGERS: Now, Mel can put it into context. This happened on, what, that Chris Matthews scream-fest, is that it?

MORGAN: Yeah, it happened last night. The producers of Hardball invited Jon Soltz on. Jon Soltz is this individual who says that he -- tells everybody he has the absolute moral authority to denounce the war in Iraq because he's an Iraqi war veteran. He's actually a reservist, and he has no business -- well, he's in violation of the United States Marine Corps Code of Justice by making these kinds of outrageous political and partisan statements.

Hello, Melanie - the there is no United States Marine Corps "Code of Justice"!

Point number two - Jon Soltz isn't a Marine, he's a Captain in the U.S. Army.
Jon Soltz is a leader of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans community and is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From May to September 2003, Soltz served as a Captain during Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying logistics convoys with the 1st Armored Division. During 2005, Soltz was mobilized for 365 days at Fort Dix New Jersey, training soldiers for combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also served his country with distinction in the Kosovo Campaign as a Tank Platoon Leader between June and December 2000. Soltz is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College with dual degree in Political Science and History. He has completed graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

sholtz.gifOk, that's two strikes - and for number three the core point Melanie was trying to make is that Soltz is a hypocrite for critizing Sgt Aguina when he himself is shown on the VoteVets website in uniform.

Well, he is - but...

Although there is a rule that states that members of the U.S. Military are prohibited from engaging in political activity while in uniform - that rule is part of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), but that rule does not apply to photographs.

j. Wearing Army uniforms is prohibited in the following situations:

(1) In connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests, or when engaged in off-duty civilian employment.

(2) When participating in public speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies, or public demonstrations, except as authorized by competent authority.

(3) When attending any meeting or event that is a function of, or is sponsored by, an extremist organization.

(4) When wearing the uniform would bring discredit upon the Army.

(5) When specifically prohibited by Army regulations.

The above is exactly what Soltz was trying to tell Sgt Aguina when the latter attempted to make a statement at the YearlyKos convention while in Uniform. This wasn't simply an attempt by Soltz to stop Aguina from speaking - he did speak and was able to argue vehemently that the "Surge is Working", even though it's like - NOT - it was a warning that the Sgt was putting himself in jeopardy simply by being at the convention in uniform and that any political statments - whether pro or con the proceedings - might get Sarge in extreme hot water, just as it had previously happened to two marines who attended an anti-war protest.

<>Two of the members of IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden are facing hearings by the Marine Corps for their protest attire. But if you read David Montgomery’s article, Antiwar to the Corps, in the Washington Post, you would think that the Marines were attempting to silence an anti-war voice. Not only did Montgomery miss the entire reason for the hearings, but he overlooked a few facts in his reporting.

Montgomery gave the background of the case...

In a case that raises questions about free speech, the Marines have launched investigations of three inactive reservists for wearing their uniforms during antiwar protests and allegedly making statements characterized as "disrespectful" or "disloyal."

Ultimately Kokesh had his honable discharge downgraded for his participation in the rally.

As far as being able to participate in politics while being a reservist, without being in uniform, if Soltz can't do it neither can several members of Congress.

In fact, military law does not prohibit reservists from engaging in political activities. Indeed, several members of Congress are members of the U.S. military reserve, including Rep. Stephen Buyer (R-IN), a colonel in the Army Reserve; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a colonel in the Air Force Reserve; and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a Naval Reserve intelligence officer.


Rep Buyer even has a pictures of himself in uniform on his Congressional website. Aguina in his own counter attack on Soltz in Pajamas Media claimed of Soltz that ...

he’s in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 88 which says no commissioned officer can criticize a government official.

Except that that rule only applies to officers who are "on duty" which Soltz isn't right now even as a reservist. He also claimed that Soltz violated..

Article 91," he said, forbids a commissioned officer from criticizing a non commissioned officer, and behaving in the "condescending" manner in which he was treated.

Except that that rule only applies to subordinant non-coms, not to officers criticizig a Sergeant.

I know right-wingers have problems with y'know - the truth - but this is a clear-cut case of standard wing-nut socio-pathological delusion, only seeing what they want to see, not the facts.

"Liberals are Bad, mm'kay?!"

According the Moran's like Morgan, "they're bad when their in uniform, they're bad when their out of uniform - they don't even have to actually be liberal, they're bad simply for disagreeing with us and "hurting the troops" - particularly when THEY ARE THE TROOPS!

Fact is, the only person who violated the UCMJ in the dustup between Soltz and Aguina - was Aguina. And the more right-wingers keep opening their yaps about Yearlykos and Dailkykos - especially without knowing what the frack their talking about - the more important and powerful they make both of them.

Vyan

Monday, August 13

Dick Cheney on why we shouldn't invade Iraq

Sunday, August 12

FISA Court Rules NSA Taps Illegal - Twice

Just as we saw in Bush's mad dash to have the MCA passed after receiving the massive WWE judicial smack-down of Hamdan v Rumsfeld, the push to have the new FISA Bill passed before August recess had to do with the fact the not one, but two judges on the FISA court told the Bush Admin that their program was flat out illegal.

A federal intelligence court judge earlier this year secretly declared a key element of the Bush administration's wiretapping efforts illegal, according to a lawmaker and government sources, providing a previously unstated rationale for fevered efforts by congressional lawmakers this week to expand the president's spying powers.

So naturally what they decided to do about it, rather than y'know perhaps abide by the law they've been ignoring for the last several years, was instead - to change it

Following defeats in twin lawsuits filed by the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the administrations attempts to bypass the FISA court in conducting telephonic surveillance the Administration decided that they would actually start using the court after one of it's judges agreed to approve the program this past January.

I am writing to inform you that as of January 10, 2007 a Judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued orders authorizing the Government to target for collection international communications into and out of the United States where there is probable cause to believe that one of the communicants is a member or agent of Al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.

As a result of these orders, any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," [Alberto] Gonzales wrote [in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee], a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

"Accordingly, under these circumstances, the President has determined not to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program when the current authorization expires," the attorney general wrote.

As a side note there is some suspicion (on Thinkprogress) that the Judge who authorized the program to function under the FISA court may have been John D. Bates who replaced the Judge who had resigned from the court in protest of the TSP.

Bates is a staunch conservative, who had previously ruled that the President could sign legislation into law that had not passed both houses of congress. He dismissed a suit against Dick Cheney requiring him to disclose the members of his 2001 Energy Task Force. And although he had previously served as Deputy Counsel in Ken Starr's Office during the Whitewater investigation and attempted Impeachment of President Bill Clinton, he dismissed the Plame Suit arguing that "such efforts (to rebut criticizm of their policies by disclosing the identity of a covert CIA operative) are a natural part of the officials' job duties, and, thus, they are immune from liability."

If anyone on the FISA is likely to have been the one to give Bush the green light to spy on international calls without a specific warrant - this is probably the guy.

Fortunately the court isn't completely chock full of wingnuts like this one. Just two months after the program had been moved under the umbrella of the FISC, it was tossed back out in the rain again - not just once, but a second time in May.

In May, a judge on the same court went further, telling the administration flatly that the law's wording required the government to get a warrant whenever a fixed wire is involved.

The rulings — which were not disclosed publicly until the congressional debate this month — represented an unusual rift between the court and the U.S. intelligence community. They led top intelligence officials to conclude, a senior official said, that "you can’t tell what this court is going to do" and helped provoke the White House to insist that Congress essentially strip the court of any jurisdiction over U.S. surveillance of communications between foreigners.

"All of a sudden, the world flipped upside down," said a senior administration official familiar with the rulings.

Yeah, all of a sudden the rubber stamp court said they had to get a warrant for each and every wiretap. Heaven forfend - all that paperwork!? Oh, the cruel Zumanity.

So much for this program being "Very Limited in Nature". And it's not like all that surveillance might have been of completely innocent people causing thousands of man-hours to be wasted on wild goose chases, or anything. And it's not like every plot they've claimed was stopped via this program, were actually stopped via other means.

Uh huh.

Anywho...

The decisions had the immediate practical effect of forcing the NSA to laboriously ask judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court each time it wanted to capture such foreign communications from a wire or fiber on U.S. soil, a task so time-consuming that a backlog developed. "We shoved a lot of warrants at the court" but still could not keep up, the official said. "We needed thousands of warrants, but the most we could do was hundreds." The official depicted it as an especially "big problem" by the end of May, in which the NSA was "losing capability."

Hey man, if you really need "thousands of warrants" I don't think your doing this right. Do we really have thousands of members of Al Qeada making phone calls into the U.S.? According to the General Abizaid there are only about a thousand members of al Qaeda in Iraq, are they all calling at once?

And brother, they must sure have a ton of cell and satelite phones in those Pakistani caves and mountains. Just how do they get decent reception up there anyway? Think they've got Verizon?

"Yeah, you bet We can Hear you NOW!"

Personally, I think only being able to do hundreds of warrants is probably a good thing, it might help these guys focus on the important stuff rather than mess around with knuckle-heads like the Liberty City Seven.

Congress at first resisted changing FISA, until they pulled the old oogey-boogey trick that we were in imminent danger of an attack... .

A critical moment for the Democrats came on July 24, when McConnell met in a closed session with senators from both parties to ask for urgent approval of a slimmed-down version of his bill. Armed with new details about terrorist activity and an alarming decline in U.S. eavesdropping capabilities, he argued that Congress had days, not weeks, to act.

"Everybody who heard him speak recognized the absolute, compelling necessity to move," Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), vice chairman of the intelligence panel, said later of the closed session.

Democrats agreed. "At that time, the discussion changed to 'What can we do to close the gap during the August recess?' " said a senior Democratic aide who declined to be identified because the meetings were classified. As delivered by McConnell, the warnings were seen as fully credible. "He's pushing this because he thinks we're in a high-threat environment," the senior aide said.

Following this afternoon Fright Night feature enough spineless Dems backed down from their objections to hand Bush his Blank Spying Check. But hey, didn't we go this before with Colin Powell at the UN with the mobile labs, and the aluminum tubes with the anondyne coating?

All of it, every allegation and assertion - dead wrong.

Yeah, thought so.

This entire process seems very interesting to me since Bush so often declared that we couldn't amended the FISA laws (even though it already had been amended) because it would "Show the enemy our playbook") Yeah, right.

So Al Qaeda has experts in American Constitutional Law, the FISA Act and USSID 18 on the payroll now? Do tell.

Oh, and let just remember this golden oldie from Arlen of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, if the president did break the law or circumvent the law, what’s the remedy?

SPECTER: Well, the remedy could be a variety of things. A president — and I’m not suggesting remotely that there’s any basis, but you’re asking, really, theory, what’s the remedy? Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy, George, under our society is to pay a political price.

At this point we've had three judges, two on the FISA Court as well as Federal Judge Ann Diggs Taylor who have all declared that Bush's Domestic Spying Program is illegal and unconstitutional!, not to mention an an additional lawsuit filed by the Gitmo Attorneys. The fact is that this New FISA Bill is an act of desperation so blatant that it almost explains why Gonzo is so willing to lie his face off before Congress.

It's not about fighting terrorism, not with more and more Conservatives saying "We Need Another 9/11" (So they can make this country even more Fascist than it already is) it's about Bush legally covering his well exposed ass.

Not a pleasant image to end a diary on, but talking politics and protecting our freedoms are often dirty jobs. They could have a show on the Discovery Channel called "Dirty Politics."

"I'm Mike Rowe, and this is how you pass a bill through the colon of Congress..."

Oh wait, that's everything on Faux isn't it?

Vyan