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View Diary: HUGE: Illegal wiretaps may threaten terror cases!! (148 comments)

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  •  I don't believe that terrorism concerns (none)
    Bush/Cheney. That's a smokescreen justification for the police state and the neoliberalization policies designed to concentrate ever more wealth in the top .1%, while controlling the ever more restless downtrodden. The major reason for the illegal electronic spying IMO is for control, blackmail and financial gain, not to detect terrorist plots.

    When one thinks about the trillions of bits of information to sort through, it is absurd to believe that they're merely hoping to catch a terrorist plot before it hatches. Just remember Able Danger, and the warnings they ignored prior to 9/11.

    It's always politics and greed with Bushco. Just think how you would use the power of mind-reading to gain what you want, and apply that to Cheney.

    The War on Terror is terrorism

    by Halcyon on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 08:30:39 PM PST

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    •  Terrorism Defined: (none)
      1. Some guys with a truck hit a building.
      2. Some guys with knives hit 3 buildings.

      Next time "The United States" is hit, all bets are off.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 10:04:01 PM PST

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    •  It's tempting to believe this (none)
      But I'm not necessarily convinced that this was their primary or even secondary reason for doing this. Think about it.

      First, there's as yet no proof (that I know of at least) that shows that this illegal program was intended to or actually did gather damaging evidence on their political enemies. I'm not saying that it didn't, but where's the evidence?

      Secondly, the NSA is a huge organization mostly staffed by career professionals. It's hard to imagine it devoting its considerable resources and manpower to spying on the administration's political enemies for years on end without opposition or leaks. This is not J Edgar Hoover's FBI, which was basically his personal security firm to do with as he pleased. Sooner or later, its staff would have realized what was going on and leaked it to the press and congress, or at least refused to do this work.

      Of course, you could argue that this is precisely what has happened. Stories have reported that NSA staffers sometimes balked at doing some of this work, and it clearly has now been leaked, probably by an insider. But BushCo must have known that this was bound to happen, and that once it did, it would put them at huge legal and political risk, having to defend a program that was illegal not only because of the methods used, i.e. warrantless wiretaps, but because of the targets selected, i.e. political enemies. Joe Biden and Russ Feingold are many things to many people, but potential terrorists or their accomplices they are not. BushCo is stupid, but not THAT stupid.

      On the other hand, having the NSA spy on people whom it could reasonably be argued might have associations with terrorism, would probably have been a much easier "sell" to career NSA professionals, even if it was to be done in a potentially illegal manner. All the administration had to do was tell the NSA that it was going to take care of the legal end of things, and that they needn't worry about being legally liable.

      E.g. if a police commissioner tells a detective unit to perform surveillance work on a suspected mobster, without a judge-authorized warrant but waving a page of municipal code in front of them saying that it fully authorizes this, they're a lot more likely to do as they're told than if he asks them to spy on his ex-wife's boyfriend, also without a warrant, but claiming that as police commissioner he has the right to spy on anyone he suspects of being a bad guy. In the first case they're probably off the hook if it turns out that the commissioner misused the code because they were just following what appeared to be a legitimate order to do legitimate surveillance work. In the second case, though, the "just following orders" excuse doesn't hold up because whether or not the order was legitimate, the work itself was clearly not.

      Anyway, I'm not saying that this wasn't at least part of the reason for the wiretaps, but there are problems with this theory, as I've spelled out, and I'm going to need some hard evidence to buy into it. I do agree with you, though, that whatever the targets, this program was completely in line with BushCo's obvious need to diminish civil liberties, increase executive power, and subvert our laws and system of checks and balances. If they succeed at that, then spying on political enemies then becomes a lot easier to pull off. I don't think we're quite there yet, but this program was clearly intended to get them there.

      •  Correction (none)
        I have a bit of egg on my face, as it would appear that there HAS been SOME spying by the NSA of US officials, as described in the following recent diary:

        Bill Richardson-Colin Powell-Joe Biden Target of NSA Spying

        However, even if the allegations made here are true, this doesn't necessarily constitute an ongoing PROGRAM of spying on US officials. However illegal and egregious, these could well have been occasional and isolated instances of spying, as opposed to a regular program of spying on US officials.

        I'm guessing that people in the administration figured that hey, they've already got this super-secret high-tech spying program underway, so what's the harm in "borrowing" it from time to time to spy on "secondary" targets (who, by some amazing and totally unintentional coincidence, happened to be political enemies)?

        •  I stand by my analysis (none)
          We know from Watergate that these people feel the need to spy on their US political opponents.

          We know from Strauss that they think the ends justify any means, and that they will abuse their positions to achieve the power that they feel entitled to wield towards the ends that they seek.

          James Bamford informs us that many NSA career employees have been 'let go' and rehired the next day to continue working as 'contract employees' presumably now without the same allegiance and duty to refuse to violate a code of ethics.

          How many Colleen Rowleys, Capt. Ian Fishbacks, Sibel Edmonds are out there? Most people keep their heads low, so they can make their mortgage payments.

          The John Bolton intercepts denied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee raise a very red flag.

          They lied us into a war; they're responsible for ~100,000 civilian deaths; they use WP on civilians. What's a little spying on US citizens in contravention of the Constitution and a few laws to them? It gives them some of their illusion of omnipotence.

          The War on Terror is terrorism

          by Halcyon on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 04:49:15 AM PST

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