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In the past few days, a deluge of reports have come out regarding the now admitted spying on the American people. By connecting these reports, a possible timeline emerges, which may explain a good deal more about the NSA-Gate/Snoop-Gate/Wiretap-No-No-Gate than we ever expected in the first place. Also, this theory works to answer a major question critics in the media have been asking; that being why wasn't FISA and the FBI used legally to do the spying- instead of the NSA without warrants? Let's connect the dots:

1. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration wants to spy on Americans. They go on a spying rampage, at this point doing it the official way, and using FISA regulations to obtain warrants for wiretaps and similar surveillance. Ashcroft is in charge of this at that time. Unable to prove his and his cohorts suspicions about various people and groups they want to spy on, they go nuts and lie like crazy for several months to FISA courts in order to obtain warrants. (explained by upcoming link)

2. The FISA court catches on to his lies in May of 2002, and tells Ashcroft he's been very naughty. Read the following:
A May 17 opinion warrants by the court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials supplied erroneous information to the court in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps
(source: WaPo)

Before we go onto 3, a very important history lesson:
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance [FISA] Court was supposed to put an end to the kinds of wiretaps that were placed on the phones of enemies of President Nixon
(source: NPR) Keep that in mind as we move on.

3. After having been caught lying continuously to obtain warrants by the FISA court in May, Ascroft and his pals seek other ways of spying. They decide to use the highly secretive N.S.A. (an agency meant to spy abroad, not at home). After getting authorization from the President, they go forward with their plan. (source: NYT)

Unwilling or uncaring for congressional approval of his new tactic, Ascroft told Bush that what they were doing had been already approved right after 9/11, in a Presidential Authorization passed by congress. But that congressional approval wasn't an approval at all. The bill wasn't introduced with this in mind, but it was the only weak rationalization they could find. It didn't matter, the only important thing was that it was vague enough to "justify" it. NYT:
President Bush cited the resolution, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, on Monday at his news conference. So did Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who in a session with reporters said the Congressional measure, in addition to the president's inherent power as commander in chief, gave the government the power "to engage in this kind of signals intelligence."
[...]
It provides the president with sweeping but vaguely defined authority "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
The resolution makes no mention of surveillance activity.
[...]
"Nobody, nobody thought when we passed a resolution to invade Afghanistan and to fight the war on terror - including myself who voted for it - that this was an authorization to allow a wiretapping against the law of the United States," Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said in an interview on the "Today" show Monday.


4. But Ascroft hadn't given up on the FBI just yet. You see, shortly after 9/11, he had made a commitment to spy on Americans using the FBI, and had increased their powers to do so. Ascroft wasn't about to let all that perfectly good loosening of restrictions on FBI power go to waste. Nope, he went ahead with the spying- only without wiretaps. NYT:
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
[...]
"It's clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans," said Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the A.C.L.U.
"You look at these documents," Ms. Beeson said, "and you think, wow, we have really returned to the days of J. Edgar Hoover, when you see in F.B.I. files that they're talking about a group like the Catholic Workers league as having a communist ideology."
[...]
"It's shocking and it's outrageous," Mr. Kerr said. "And to me, it's an abuse of power by the F.B.I. when groups like Greenpeace and PETA are basically being punished for their social activism."
5. NYT gets wind of N.S.A. story in 2004. They phone over to White House (henceforth WH) for a confirmation or on-the-record statement about the N.S.A. spy scoop. WH agrees to talk, but won't confirm or deny at first. WH first asks NYT reporters Risen and Lichblau to kill the story. They refuse. WH then says okay- cut out the juciest parts of your story then (as they supposedly endanger National Security). Risen and Lichblau agree. For unknown reasons, they hold off on publishing the story until late 2005. NYT claims they were conducting additional reporting during this time to back up the story.

WaPo speculates on the reason for the delay:
The paper offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It also did not disclose that the information is included in a forthcoming book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," written by James Risen, the lead reporter on yesterday's story. The book will be published in mid-January, according to its publisher, Simon & Schuster.
My own guess is that NYT ran the story when they did because they might have wanted to break it, before Risen's book came out, which undoubtedly has further details. Or, Risen could have kept the story in bed, until the perfect time to publish it came- as close to his book's publication as possible, in order to maximize press coverage. Either way, the story's publication so close to his book publication date is likely no accident.

6. When they're finally ready to run the story, Rizen and Lichblau call WH up again, to ask for comment. Again, WH does not deny the story, but no official comment is given. WH goes above the reporters' heads this time, desperately calling in senior NYT Editor and Publisher Sulzberger and Keller.

December 6, Sulzberger and Keller refuse to kill the story, after a last minute plea from the President himself. (source: Newsweek). More than a week goes by without publication of the story. We can guess that during this week and a half, Rove was hard at work, straining to think of any possible talking points for Bush. On the 16, the story goes to print, and explodes everywhere.

7. Bush confirms the story, and the only talking point Rove seems to have come up with two talking points. A, that running the story was horrible, and that it compromised National Security, and B, that congress supposedly approved the N.S.A. spying "dozens of times."

Since we've all heard the first talking point- and even though it sounds like B.S.- it's impossible to destroy (somebody prove me wrong), let's take a moment to look at the second talking point. In an Wiretap Scandal Roundup I wrote recently, I noted the following:
Firstly (possibly the most important development), it just came out that Bush et al lied at press conferences where they've consistently said (the now familiar talking point) that Congress supposedly approved the illegal NSA program which included spying on Americans without getting warrants from a judge. More on that here. Hopefully this aspect of the story will get more play.

-Also on the congress aspect, C&L points to this: "The former Senate Majority and Minority leader, Tom Daschle, says tonight in a statement that the White House "omitted key details" from him related to the NSA interception program"


If anyboy else knows of other examples of members of congress poking holes in this story, I'd love for somebody to send a tip to my website, as I may just flesh this aspect out into a full story.

Originally posted at The Daily Background.com
P.S.- Thanks to shock. Also, thanks to Earl for a correction on a Bush quote. :)

UPDATE: Hollywood Liberal notes that apparently it wasn't just Ascroft obsessed with all this spying. It seems as though John Bolton (now U.S. representative to the United Nations) was heavily involved as well:
"During the Bolton hearings, however, it emerged that when he was at the State Department, Bolton on several occasions received summaries of intercepts between foreigners and "U.S. persons" and requested that the spy agency tell him who those Americans were. The agency complied. Following this revelation, Newsweek discovered that from January 2004 to May 2005, the National Security Agency had supplied names of 10,000 American citizens in this informal fashion to policy makers, intelligence services and law enforcement agencies. Democrats took advantage of Bolton's transgression in the nomination battle, playing up his reputation as a sharp-elbowed brute and implying that he might have used the intercepts to intimidate Washington adversaries. Bolton, for his part, told Congress that he asked the spy agency for the names in order "to better understand" summaries of intercepted conversations: "It's important to find out who is saying what to whom.


UPDATE 2: on point 2- shock just pointed this out (my wording):

It appears that there were problems with the FBI investigators lying to FISA before bush took office. in 2000, when these problems were uncovered, and the FISA court suggested to congress that they change the laws so that this type of lying wouldn't occur or would be more difficult- Ascroft heavily opposed this. Ascroft went the exact other direction- and wanted to reform FISA so that it would be easier to get warrants and approval; not harder. Although he the court ruled against him, the decision was overturned upon appeal in novemer, filed by Ascroft.

UPDATE 3: Here's item 9.:

9. But this wasn't all. Ever heard of "CIFA"? Neither had I. It turns out, it's yet another agency which possibly is being used to spy on people inside the United States. Since it's a bit of a mouthful to condense, I'll leave the explanation up to Magorn.

Update #456463: I'd like to draw attention to this article by AP: "Democrats Say They Didn't Back Wiretapping"

Originally posted to remove office on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:05 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  emerging (4.00)
    This story is exploding on CNN.  It seems huge.  Are democrats going to wait a few weeks before jumping on the impeachment bandwagon
    •  Certainly the wave hasn't crested yet.... (4.00)
      I am very curious as to why the talking points haven't been fully developed when the story broke.  They had so much time to work this out, and the only things they come up with are the "honey, I'm beating you for your own good" lines.  

      I never trust my feelings when I believe them to be totally stupid!

      But this time, they are actually saying things like "I am the President, and I can do what I want to keep you safe!"  
      What lawyer would ever let his client say such a thing?!!?

      The Moral Majority - all those Christian conservatives left on Earth AFTER the Rapture....

      by sp0t on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:48:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i'll be interested to see how this ties into (4.00)
        the recent conyers report entitled "The Constitution in Crisis"... perhaps an adendum can be added?

        Looking for weekly columnists for The Daily Background. Drop me a line if interested: removeoffice@gmail.com

        by remove office on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:51:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some emerging thought... (4.00)
        As presented by Stirling Newberry a couple of days ago - is that the fact that they had Bush himself come out swinging on this shows that they believe that this is potentially very damaging.  This is one of the few things, in all the scandals, that may show people that they are personally affected by this decision.  They have no recourse before the law now and have to totally rely on the benevolance of Dear Leader.  Has America become too complacent to even care that their rights are determined by an individual and not the Constitution - time will tell.

        "[A] 'Sharecropper's Society' [is] precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us." - Warren Buffet

        by RichM on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:53:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  People (4.00)
          need to understand that this is just part of a much larger issue. This post sums it up quite well from a standpoint that might get some traction with groups that don't normally agree with too many of us here on a lot of things.
          Read it.
          We have no more rights.

          Listen, buddy, if I could tell you in a minute what I did, it wouldn't be worth the Nobel Prize. -Richard Feynman

          by justme on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:40:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed (none)
            That is the point we need to make in order to get through to these people.

            cheers,

            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:35:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Brilliant. (n/t) (none)

            Are we still routinely torturing helpless prisoners, and if so, does it feel right that we as American citizens are not outraged by the practice? -Al Gore

            by soyinkafan on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:04:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  the suspension of Habeas Corpus (none)
            as evidenced by Padilla and Hamdi was where we lost our most precious rights, but I think that people could rationalize it by thinking they were bad people. However it seems extremely unlikely to me that either one was really a threat to Americans.  Since Hamdi supposedly fought against American troops in Afghanistan, it seems like there are crimes for which he could be convicted.  Padilla's situation is probably more cut and dried, I doubt they have a case worth talking prosecuting.  

            In either case, the Bush administration doesn't trust an American jury to do the right thing, or else they know they have nothing to prosecute.  I'm not sure which is more offensive, but what is offensive is that they choose to ignore the constitution.

        •  How many are personally affected? (none)
          If it turns out that what we're really talking about is a massive data mining program--like Carnivore or Echelon, but bigger, more state-of-the-art and more invasive--the list of targets could include most Americans.

          Think about it. How many Americans have visited made overseas calls or engaged in electronic communications with other countries? At first, folks might assume this covers only Arabs e-mailing Riyadh. In fact, it might include senior couples booking anniversary trips to England...right-wing bloggers checking up on Al Jezeera...bank customers transferred to call centers in Bangalore...who knows?

          The panic suggests the net was cast very broadly indeed. If it weren't, they'd be rushing to leak the identities of the targets, whether the revelations compromised security or not.

          •  RE: how many people? (none)
            NYT says that under the program, the NSA spied on "up to 500 people at a time"... at a time. there could have been several batches of people [tinfoil hat firmly on]

            the bolton numbers are 10,000...

            i doubt we'll ever know the names or exact numbers though... the WH certainly isn't going to give them away, and if there's an investigation with suppeona power, they'll probably fight and say that the people on the list are terrorists, and that revealing their names would give them away or some such. anyways, this is all just speculation at this point, we're going to have to wait until an actual comittee is formed to investigate this scandal. which i suspect it will be.

            Looking for weekly columnists for The Daily Background. Drop me a line if interested: removeoffice@gmail.com

            by remove office on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:25:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Panopticon (none)
            This is the core issue.  Reading between the lines of the Rockefeller letter, it is clear that this program was a substitute for Poindexter's TIA.  EVERYBODY was a possible target.  No international communication is immune - email, letter, phone, telex, fax...

            We are all under suspicion and any expectation of privacy is a pipe dream.

            Solar is Civil Defense

            by gmoke on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:56:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Really interesting question (none)
            I'm not a conspiracy theorist but if you look at the mundane details of my life in a new light, I believe I could easily have been spied on:  I'm a leftwing activist in a leftwing city who calls a Central American country with a leftwing president at least once a month to talk to my dad who is a former highly placed government official (now retired).  Oh, and I've posted highly critical remarks about the current administration.

            What happens if every Kossack files an FOIA request with FISA?  I mean beyond overwhelming the agency. Would we be surprised that they've spied on bloggers?

            •  While this may be true (4.00)
              it presumes two things:

              that Bush actually cares about protecting America against terrorists, or amwerican lives in danger and two and that they would do something to stop it.

              Now one word: Katrina.

              Katrina proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that these people do not care one whit about the lives of innocent Americans. What thwey do care about however is power.

              Unrestrained, unending perpetual power.

              Who are their political enemies?
              Who's lives do they care most about saving?

              Their political enemies are the targets of their little secret operation. They lives they are hell bent on saving are their own.

              Anyone else they tap into without oversight is just for the fucking fun of it.

              I've never felt so sure of anything in my life. These people have proved their incompetency in all things except one: politics.

              •  A subtext (none)
                I haven't seen it put that way....of course many people must get that on some level.  Katrina did show that this government doesn't care about Americans, so why bother to protect us.  It's about perpetuation of power.
              •  Too simple (none)
                They care about SOME Americans - those that will vote for them.  Poor African Americans in metropolitan New Orleans aren't exactly the Republican "base".

                Hence we get to watch this doofus play guitar while people are looting for drinkable water and dodging gunfire.

        •  Look we can trust Bush (none)
          I know I went to elementary school
          with him.

          (ok, I admit I am a shameless blog whore)

      •  They Felt Invincible (4.00)
        Because they had controlled the News Cycle for so long.

        But now, as I've argued elsewhere, the 2005 Year in Review media blitz which begins next Monday is all about the many ways they've fucked up, the 2006 Year to Come media blitz is about all the challenges they face, and the beginning of 2006 itself is all about the heat bill, the holiday bill, the slump in retail holiday spending, the lack of overall job growth, reductions in benefits and then....oh shit....it's time to file taxes and more people than ever before will be hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax.

        Then it's election time. Then it's multiple impeachment time.

        There's no surviving this short of martial law. And martial law won't wash. Trust me. Nixon called me last night and said that even he wasn't in nearly this deep, and none of these guys have gotten any smarter since they worked for him.

        The only trick is keeping our heads from exploding while what we knew all along becomes apparent to 75% of the American people.

        •  NIxon called me too. (4.00)
          He calls me every night.  He is very lonely.  I tell him, "Just hold on, you'll have lots of company soon in the Annals of Infamy."  (He doesn't like Joe McCarthy, never has.  J. Edgar is gay (which makes Dick uncomfortable) and McKinley is such a spineless prig.) He seemed relieved last night, what with all the tasty news coming out. "Will it just be Bush, Cheney and Rummy, or do you think Condi will be keeping me company as well?" he asked me.  I just chuckled, remembering what a bigot he was in life.  Maybe Hell can change you for the better, who knows?  

          Then he asked me if I wanted to play a hand or two of poker.  Jacks or better, one-eyed Jacks wild, etc etc.  I said, "Yea, right," and then I hung up on him like I always do.  

          I enjoy our little talks. He must also, otherwise why would he keep calling?

          Jorge's a renegade; there's blood on his hands, oil in his arteries and cyanide inside his glands...

          by nailbender on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:00:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you can't make it on your own name... (4.00)
          use someone elses.

          I never called you, and I'm tired of you dropping my name all over the site.

          "I am not a crook" - The Honorable Richard M. Nixon

          by tricky dick on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:14:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  what a coincidence Georgie called me! (none)
          Just to set the record straight.

          But he was sounding a lot like tricky dick

      •  maybe that's because... (none)
        I am very curious as to why the talking points haven't been fully developed when the story broke.  They had so much time to work this out, and the only things they come up with are the "honey, I'm beating you for your own good" lines.

        Well, if you think about it, there ARE no good talking points on this one. There seldom are when you are defending the completely indefensible. So, you are left with what you have, and they are using it to the best of their ability. Not that it will be enough.

        •  I must agree.... (4.00)
          But that never stopped them before.  They could divert, create a new crisis that doesn't affect them.  They could simply shut up (arguably that would wind up being much worse....)  

          But to launch Bush into tirades about how necessary it is for him to break the law to protect us is simply baffling!

          To have Gonzales making a claim that Congress gave him the power without actually stating any sort of relevant passage (because there isn't) is just plain weird for a lawyer.

          To have Condi claim that Gonzales is the top legal authority in the land is just plain stupid!

          Maybe these are just anti-logic bombs to just confuse us into submission.

          The Moral Majority - all those Christian conservatives left on Earth AFTER the Rapture....

          by sp0t on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:41:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  How does he say this stuff? (none)
        <quote>"I am the President, and I can do what I want to keep you safe!"  

        What lawyer would ever let his client say such a thing?!!?<quote>

        "Silly plebian!  What makes you think I listen to lawyers?  Lawyers are irrelevant.  I live the law.  I breathe the law.  I swore to uphold the law.  I /am the law!  I am the Commander-in-Chief!  What that means is, I get to command people about what the law means. It's hard work.  But I have to do it, for your own good."

        Sometimes you cover your ass with the lame excuses you have, instead of the lame excuses you wish you had. (-3.00, -5.49)

        by litigatormom on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:29:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What cracks me up (4.00)
        is that some right-wing spinmeister tried this one out today: "every time the Dems go up against Bush on issues of national security, they lose.  So they really should just drop this one for their own good."

        Really, how stupid do they think the American people are?

        "Don't blame me, I voted for the smart guy."

        by frsbdg on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:33:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it seems to be (none)
        working on his poll numbers!!!

        Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

        by hairspray on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:01:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Intent is actually central (none)
        to the criminal law.  Which is why so many smart criminals beat the rap.  Intent is very hard to prove.
        The problem the President has is that what he's confronting is the failure to carry out (execute) the laws of the land.  The corrective for that is impeachment and removal from office, not going to jail.
        Of course, the commission of a crime would be, ipso facto, a failure to perform up to snuff, but the failure to perform one's duty is not necessarily a crime.

        Forget "GOD, GUNS, GAYS, GIRLS & GETS"

        by hannah on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 03:11:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  CNN (none)
      I wish they would make the Bolton connection on CNN or MSNBC. Haven't heard anybody do it. If they get Larry Johnson on as a commentator, he'll do it.
    •  What scared me was... (none)
      ... that the damn plane crash in Miami yesterday was going to wipe this off the table. So glad to see this is exploding!

      Either you're wit' us or a Guinness -- Brilliant!

      by Unforgiven on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:36:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  *Tin Foil Alert* (none)
        A little help from some Cubans? Say hello to my l'il fren

        "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

        by buhdydharma on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:41:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Missing C4 explosive scares me (none)

        Hundreds Of Pounds of Explosives Missing In New Mexico
        $50,000 Reward Offered For Information That Could Recover C-4, Blasting Caps

        POSTED: 7:58 pm MST December 19, 2005
        UPDATED: 8:04 pm MST December 19, 2005

        Authorities asked the public for help Monday after "several hundred pounds" of high explosives turned up missing from a private storage site, along with about 2,500 blasting caps and an undisclosed length of explosive detonation cord.

        "In the hands of the wrong person, this material can be very, very destructive," Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said during a news conference.
        ...

        http://www.thedenverchannel.com/...

        That could blow up a large building. It would be real convenient politically for Bush if there were some terrorist attacks right now. Not that he would ever want that to happen...

        etrans.blogspot.com

        Tracking energy and transportation news.

        by joel3000 on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:08:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  isn't the wiretapping keeping us safe? (none)
          of course, all this attention means that illegal wiretapping stopped over the weekend, and you know how volatile those terrorists can be.  If they know they are only being wiretapped legally with a 72 hour limit before paperwork has to be filed with a FISA court, the sky's the limit, terror-wise.
        •  The very first thing I thought. . . (none)
          . . .of after hearing about the missing C-4 was a politically-convenient false flag attack.  This is not tin-foil paranoia.  Bushco is capable of anything, no matter how heinous.  What better way to squash all this nonsense about constitutional rights than to point smugly at an ugly "terrorist" event and start hammering home the I-told-you-so theme?

          The time is now. Damn it, the time is ALWAYS now!

          by PrairieCorrespondent on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 09:47:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not so sure about that (none)
          It would be real convenient politically for Bush if there were some terrorist attacks right now.

          I'm not so sure about that.  While people may react like they did after 9/11 and run to Bush for security, they might also viciously turn on him for failing to provide the protection he continually claims to be providing.  The mob can be unpredictable.

          Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

          by Bearpaw on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 07:39:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Goin home to check (none)
      The Dems can take the holiday break to go home and come back saying their constituents are outraged and so are they. Storm's a-brewin and this time it won't blow over.

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

      by The Crusty Bunker on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 11:16:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bush actually said (none)
    "dozens of times," not "a dozen times."

    You didn't do it.

    by Earl on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:09:29 PM PST

    •  thanks (4.00)
      for the clarification. i'll change that :)

      Looking for weekly columnists for The Daily Background. Drop me a line if interested: removeoffice@gmail.com

      by remove office on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:23:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also, for clarity, surveillance, not JUST wiretaps (4.00)
        This is an important distinction. Bush may have used phone types and phone numbers in his example to folksy down what he was doing, but phrases like "similar surveillance" and [domestic and overseas] "transmissions" cover almost the entirety of electronic communication: fax, email, text messaging, voicemail answering machine tapes, postage machine use, and on and on.
        .
        Also, wiretaps suggest a human being listening in rather than an electronic mass-harvester collecting personal data from people and having no discernment, eg, "oops, looks like we overstepped our bounds spying on Mr. and Mrs. Normal in Anytown when we picked up that conversation with their family doctor."
        .
        In other words, massive harvesting has no brakes -- it's a privacy sucking Roomba.
        .

        Treason's Greetings, Karl Rove (DOB Xmas Day, 1950), the grinch who stole freedom.

        by Peanut on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:15:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This would fit my hypothesis (none)
          that the NAS exercise was simply a dry run for a system of surveillance which will eventually be handed over to the private sector to assist in maintaining control of the financial, industrial espionage and information technology sectors of the global economy.
          The "war on terror" is just a smoke screen for setting up multiple redundant electronic monitoring networks from which to rule the American Empire.
          When people have such grand ambitions it's hard for them to take individuals' concern for their privacy seriously.  The individual right to privacy isn't something they even think about.  So, of course, they have no talking points.

          Think of a sperm whale being asked to consider the interests of a bit of plankton.

          Forget "GOD, GUNS, GAYS, GIRLS & GETS"

          by hannah on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 03:21:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Jim Lehrer interview (none)
        transcript

        Worth a read if you missed it.

        -7.00,-7.74 No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. -- Edward R Murrow

        by subtropolis on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 10:46:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I believe (none)
        he mentioned X number of times he authorized it, but appears each authorization has a 45-day running period, so essentially that extends for just about from 9/11 to the present time (something just short of 4 years).  

        (From what I'm reading, it appears their strategy has become that they plan to have this all go to the Supreme Court, where (once Alito is ensconced) prior decisions limiting presidential authority will be reversed.)

  •  Cafferty (4.00)
    On the situation room Cafferty said the majority of messengers thing Bush broke the law and should be impeached.
  •  good summary (none)
    thanks
  •  Incoherent WH Line on This. (4.00)
    Glenn Greenwald has interesting things to say on White House incoherence regarding its lawless surveillance
    .
  •  Good post (4.00)
    My own guess is that NYT ran the story when they did because they might have wanted to break it, before Risen's book came out, which undoubtedly has further details. Or, Risen could have kept the story in bed, until the perfect time to publish it came- as close to his book's publication as possible, in order to maximize press coverage. Either way, the story's publication so close to his book publication date is likely no accident.

    And either way the NYT was not making a principled decision.  The Bush administration is/was fully prepared to argue that this needed to stay secret forever.  It seems highly unlikely that their ability to make an argument in favor of that changed at all, over the YEAR that the NYT sat on the story.  It seems to me that the NYT was all too willing to give up what ever principles that they had in sitting on the story, in favor of the attention they would gather by breaking the story.  Total bullshit.

    Ann Coulter, the right-wing bully who seems too loud even when you mute the television. -NYT Magazine

    by juls on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:24:39 PM PST

  •  Video of Bush (4.00)

    Empire Burlesque and Canofun Present

    Bush Caught- a video. It's so nice to see him utter these words. Edited with footage of his recent defense of wire tapping without court order. It's also available for download in .wmv format on the page.

    Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires-a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

    - George Bush - April 2004

    To see the video - click here.
  •  waste of time (4.00)
    It's clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans," said Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the A.C.L.U.
    "You look at these documents," Ms. Beeson said, "and you think, wow, we have really returned to the days of J. Edgar Hoover, when you see in F.B.I. files that they're talking about a group like the Catholic Workers league as having a communist ideology."
    [...]
    "It's shocking and it's outrageous," Mr. Kerr said. "And to me, it's an abuse of power by the F.B.I. when groups like Greenpeace and PETA are basically being punished for their social activism"

    Can I just mention what a collossal waste of time all this is, by the way? What a waste of scarce resources when there are so many REAL risks and threats out there that the FBI should be focusing on.  It's so absurd that they are risking the integrity of our constitution so they can follow around a bunch of vegans and catholic activists. This whole thing is not just insidious, it's PURE INCOMPETENCE.

    By the way, is there evidence that they did anything beside surveil these groups? Any actual damage? Disruption? Harrassment? I'm fairly certain I was surveiled in the '80s and late '90s during my Central American activism days, but mostly it was a big joke to us since no disruption actually happened.

    •  well... (4.00)
      we know that Tom DeLay tried to track Democratic Texas senators with Homeland Security resources to help his own party stay in power (Homeland Security was unable to help him in this case, but not from lack of trying).

      Domestic spying and tracking can affect things.

    •  You are ascribing compitence and the willingness.. (4.00)
      To actually protect the American People to this administration.  I believe that is a false hope.  When you boil down what this administration is really about:

      • Maintaining power.
      • Making money for themselves and their benefactors.
      • Squelching descent.
      • Spreading fear in the populace so nobody questions them and in fact they scream for more protection.
      • Providing distractions to their `base' (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) while fattening the bottom like of their `real base.'

      You take these principals and apply them to your above statement and you see that they actually very efficient in using these resources.

      "[A] 'Sharecropper's Society' [is] precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us." - Warren Buffet

      by RichM on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:04:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some helpful corrections (none)
        competence (think "compete")
        dissent (not descent)
        I think "principles", too.
        •  Sigh.... (none)
          It has just been one of those days.  I can't seem to do anything right.  You are right on all accounts, including 'principals'.  I can't edit comments, however.

          "[A] 'Sharecropper's Society' [is] precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us." - Warren Buffet

          by RichM on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:25:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's Not a Waste of Time (4.00)
      --to them. It's their core purpose. They've been promising publicly to carry out this agenda and their demolition of liberalism generally since FDR.

      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 20, 2005 at 03:05:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good point.... (none)
      We are having murders here across state borders.  FBI could help out!

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 07:29:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (none)
      I have been on the mailing lists of the Catholic Wokker for over 25 years, and I would love to see any attempt to defame that group as contributing to the downfall of the Bush Administration.  The CW are fervently nonviolent people who spend their time feeding the hungry and housing the homeless.  Dorothy Day, the founder (since deceased), was one of my great heroes as a youth.  I cannot believe that they would be in any away harrassed by our government;  it just sickens and disguts me.

      "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it." -- Voltaire

      by WaitingForLefty on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 11:45:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bolton hearings belong in the timeline (4.00)
    Don't forget about the Bolton hearings.


    "During the Bolton hearings, however, it emerged that when he was at the State Department, Bolton on several occasions received summaries of intercepts between foreigners and "U.S. persons" and requested that the spy agency tell him who those Americans were. The agency complied.

    Following this revelation, Newsweek discovered that from January 2004 to May 2005, the National Security Agency had supplied names of 10,000 American citizens in this informal fashion to policy makers, intelligence services and law enforcement agencies.

    Democrats took advantage of Bolton's transgression in the nomination battle, playing up his reputation as a sharp-elbowed brute and implying that he might have used the intercepts to intimidate Washington adversaries. Bolton, for his part, told Congress that he asked the spy agency for the names in order "to better understand" summaries of intercepted conversations: "It's important to find out who is saying what to whom.


    •  thanks, (4.00)
      updated with new information.

      Looking for weekly columnists for The Daily Background. Drop me a line if interested: removeoffice@gmail.com

      by remove office on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:36:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  another choice tidbit from Bolton hearing era (4.00)
        The recess appointment was all about avoiding the release of this info, thanks to  Bush and Frist

        ....according to reports from those close to this negotiation process, Frist backed off from all of his offers (on release of NSA materials) and chose not to pursue the matter further. It's not clear whether Frist was trying to demonstrate some illusion of progress or whether the White House -- when it learned what Frist was negotiating with Biden -- told Frist to back off and stop trying to "successfully" negotiate a deal on the NSA intercepts and the Syria testimony -- two of the three pending document requests made by Senators.

        •  Bingo (none)
          So anyone want to bet Frist knew that if that got out (the NSA taps on domestic people) that it would toss BushCo. into a huge legal black hole?

          So... are we seeing here the surface shapes of the GOP doing a CYA for Shrub by putting Bolton's nomination in neutral then Bush pulling the trigger on the recess appointment to clear the deck on the NSA thing. not to mention trying to deflect the melt-down the nomination hearings were turning into for them politically?

          cheers,

          Mitch Gore

          Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

          by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:37:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (3.83)
      Was this why Voinovich was on the verge of tears during the comittee vote?  Did he get an inkling of what the administration was up to during the hearings and  become horrified and conscience stricken?

      Republicans - For Saddam until they were against him.

      by calipygian on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:54:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting numbers (none)
    from the whistleblowing NYT article Dec. 16.  NSA eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time.

    While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it say the N.S.A. eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands since the program began, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials.

    •  difference in numbers (none)
      Note that in the Bolton hearings, the number of AMERICANS being discussed:

      the National Security Agency had supplied names of 10,000 American citizens in this informal fashion to policy makers, intelligence services and law enforcement agencies.

      but not in reference to warrantless surveillance, necessarily.

    •  Each one is a civil suit in waiting (none)
      Impeachment or no, the political, legal and financial exposure to those involved is enormous--except for Bush whose only fear is impeachment.

      If a president himself illegally authorizes illegal acts is he competent to provide pardons for those carrying out the acts? As I recall, Reagan supposedly was in the dark on Iran-Contra, or that was the story he stuck to.

      My God, he's stuck his foot in it right up to the hip this time.

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

      by The Crusty Bunker on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 11:22:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great breakdown (none)
    of the sequence of events. Those of us who are visual spacial need numbers and bullet points so we can remember.

    One thing though, you need to close your < /blockquote > tag on your last quote.

  •  Great summary, but... (4.00)
    No proof of this yet, but a gut feeling that Asscroft was up to no good well before 9/11.  I'll eat my keyboard if he didn't have some sort of Enemies List of Democrats, activists, pornographers and reporters already in place, with early examples of illegal shenanigans already in place.

    9/11 may have accelerated this trend, but I'll bet you my laptop that Bush's crew picked up where Nixon left off on January 21, 2001.

    -4.50, -5.85 "To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime." ---Nuremberg Tribunal

    by Dallasdoc on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:51:55 PM PST

  •  data mining (4.00)
    I'm with Ezra Klein and loads of others in thinking that this was a massive data mining operation, in which hosts of phone calls, emails, etc. were intercepted and randomly analyzed, perhaps through a computer program, for keywords, patterns, and particular phrases.  The technology exists to do this quickly and quietly.  Here's Ezra's reaction:

    In that way, they are spying domestically, but the untargeted nature of the program makes the very concept of a warrant meaningless.

    That doesn't mean they don't need a law. America is not ruled by executive whim, instinct, or fiat. If the post-9/11 moment compelled Bush to immediately authorize this program, the intervening four years offered him plenty of time to seek statutory authority for it. His lame protestations that codifying the operation would tip terrorists off to our fishing expeditions are irrelevant -- that same argument militates against reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act (why let them know the "wall" is down?) and passage of the intelligence bills. Terrorist elements already have a hunch we're monitoring them; shredding our government's checks and balances is too high a price for such a low reward.

    What is needed is a redefining of the law.  I think the technological angle will be played up in the coming weeks, as it is becoming clear that the other excuses are falling flat.  But we should all realize that what this "change in technology" is, in effect, is a massive, unencumbered data mining operation without respect for citizenship or privacy.

    •  poindexter reincarnate (4.00)
      from http://www.politechbot.com/... regarding Transcript of Pentagon briefing on Poindexter's "TIA" program:


      My statement goes along the following: The war on terror and the
      tracking of potential terrorists and terrorist acts require that we
      search for clues of such activities in a mass of data. It's kind of a
      signal-to-noise ratio. What are they doing in all these things that
      are going on around the world? And we decided that new capabilities
      and new technologies are required to accomplish that task. Therefore,
      we established a project within DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research
      Project Agency, that would develop an experimental prototype --
      underline, experimental prototype, which we call the Total Information
      Awareness System. The purpose of TIA would be to determine the
      feasibility of searching vast quantities of data to determine links
      and patterns indicative of terrorist activities.

      •  Here's Poindexter's old operation (4.00)
        The TIA homepage, scroll down a bit and read the vision statement. Here is a schematic diagram of the TIA system. While TIA got shut down by Congress, it obviously lives on in other forms (CIFA?).

      •  TIA was outsourced - bypassing US privacy laws (4.00)

        Bahamas Firm Screens Personal Data To Assess Risk Operation Avoids U.S. Privacy Rules

        2004

        Ben H. Bell III's employer, the Bahamas-based Global Information Group Ltd., intends to amass large databases of international records and analyze them in the coming years for corporations, government agencies and other information services.

        One of the first customers is information giant LexisNexis Group, one of the main contractors on the government system that was known until recently as the second generation of the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening Program, or CAPPS II. The program is now known as Secure Flight.""

        So, along with the ChoicePoint's of the world, the information is vacuumed up and sieved through this offshore company where the NSA boys can either remotely access or go visit on company working-vacations.

        Your tax dollars at work.

        They can even lose your information, after all it isn't really YOUR information anyways the corporations all OWN YOU now. Get with the program, we're all slaves to the new paradigm.

        If you want to crack down on liberals just make sure they can't fly, can't use their credit cards--which are maxxed out due to the negative savings rate, outsource their jobs to India and China, and just to add insult to injury, hire only conservatives to populate the "new" NSA, FBI, CIA, etc. etc.

        <h3>Total Information Awareness Goes Offshore</h3>

        Robert O'Harrow Jr:

        It began as one of the Bush administration's most ambitious homeland security efforts, a passenger screening program designed to use commercial records, terrorist watch lists and computer software to assess millions of travelers and target those who might pose a threat.

        The system has cost almost $100 million. But it has not been turned on because it sparked protests from lawmakers and civil liberties advocates, who said it intruded too deeply into the lives of ordinary Americans. The Bush administration put off testing until after the election.

        Now the choreographer of that program, a former intelligence official named Ben H. Bell III, is taking his ideas to a private company offshore, where he and his colleagues plan to use some of the same concepts, technology and contractors to assess people for risk, outside the reach of U.S. regulators, according to documents and interviews.

        Bell's new employer, the Bahamas-based Global Information Group Ltd., intends to amass large databases of international records and analyze them in the coming years for corporations, government agencies and other information services. One of the first customers is information giant LexisNexis Group, one of the main contractors on the government system that was known until recently as the second generation of the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening Program, or CAPPS II. The program is now known as Secure Flight.

    •  More like "data gill-netting" (4.00)
      Yesterday, kovie  posted a diary  on the importance of recognizing the emphasis Bush put on the distinction between "monitoring" and "detection" when it came to illegal monitoring of phone conversations.

      In essence, "monitoring" involves listening in on the phone conversations of specified individuals; "detecting" means listening to all conversations, in an effort to pick up keywords, etc. - i.e., data mining. Kovie's thesis was that the Bush administration could not possibly have gotten FISA approval to do what they wanted to do, because no individual would have been specified; instead, what Bush's snoops were doing was - literally - trolling for evidence of wrongdoing. (Understand, of course, that I am here giving them the benefit of the doubt, that they were in fact looking for signs of terrorist activity.)

      This thesis makes sense to me, given how much the Preznit kept stressing the point about "detect and prevent" yesterday. To wit, here are the SEVEN occasions during yesterday's "press conference" *cough, cough* when Bush used the word "detect":

      #1 and #2:

      After September the 11th, one question my administration had to answer was how, using the authorities I have, how do we effectively detect enemies hiding in our midst and prevent them from striking us again? We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to al Qaeda here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives. To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks.

      #3, #4 and #5:

      right after September the 11th, I knew we were fighting a different kind of war. And so I asked people in my administration to analyze how best for me and our government to do the job people expect us to do, which is to detect and prevent a possible attack. That's what the American people want. We looked at the possible scenarios. And the people responsible for helping us protect and defend came forth with the current program, because it enables us to move faster and quicker. And that's important. We've got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent. We use FISA still -- you're referring to the FISA court in your question -- of course, we use FISAs. But FISA is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect.

      #6:

      We will, under current law, if we have to. We will monitor those calls. And that's why there is a FISA law. We will apply for the right to do so. And there's a difference -- let me finish -- there is a difference between detecting so we can prevent, and monitoring. And it's important to know the distinction between the two.

      And, finally, #7:

      We used the process to monitor. But also, this is a different -- a different era, a different war, Stretch. So what we're -- people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this is a -- it requires quick action.

      So, what does all of this mean? It may mean simply that the reason Bush didn't go through the FISA court to get approvals for monitoring is that he wasn't going to do monitoring, he was going to do "detecting"; i.e., mass accumulation of data from many undefined sources, from which he hoped to glean information.

      In other words, on these fishing expeditions, they weren't using a pole - they were using a drift net. And, as with drift-netting, thousands of innocent Americans might have been swept up by this indiscriminate, but criminal, method.

      In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

      by occams hatchet on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:42:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  From reading this, (none)
        it would seem that terrorists comprise the usual suspects, and there is no need for data "gill netting," per se.

        Meaning good old fashioned intelligence gathering is more than sufficent to flush out potential threats to America, I would think.

        All that fishing, and all they turned up were a bunch of law-abiding Catholics?

        Bush and Cheney's and Ashcrofts actions seem a clear abuse of the technology, and the system.

        But, you know, the disclosure has led to discussion, and that's a good thing, the right thing to do to perserve our civil liberties in this age of emerging technologies.

        We are a free people, we have an inherent right to live our lives free of governement interference, forever.

        •  I agree that there's a positive (none)
          Just like there is any time a light is shone on governmental secrecy.  Governments have difficulty distinguishing between legal and illegal is sources and methods when the intent is to uncover illegalities.  They need a refresher course, and we need this debate every few years or so to keep government secrecy in check.
      •  Good use of analogy (4.00)
        And I suspect you are correct given the threads that have been coming up over at TPMcafe on this as well.

        What we have stumbled over was the NSA setting up a TIA-esque shop, which they could not get FISA approval for because of the nature of it, particularly after the FISA court rulings in '02, so then just went with it.

        THis also points to why First et all took the foot off the accelerator on the Bolton nomination then Bush pulling the recess appointment trigger. Because Bolton's intercept diving which was starting to come out in his scuttle confirmation hearings would have pulled the lid off.

        I have a suspicion that is how/when the NYT found what they did then sat on it (under the then shitty editorial management... not that it has improved much) because of the extra-legal shit that Bolton was getting into via the NSA shit.

        It is legally toxic, and now the fun will really begin as the real fight to keep Bush in office by the GOP begins since he clearly fucked the dog on this one.

        cheers,

        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:13:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the volume excuse (none)
          Former CIA official John McLaughlin is justifying this all by saying that the use of this new technology makes FISA impractical because it would require hundreds of applications, even retroactively, which cannot be handled efficiently and in a timely manner under FISA procedures. Or something along those lines.  Not a direct quote, I warn you. Not sure if Lehrer Report does transcripts.
  •  Now I understand a little more (4.00)
    why Roberts was put in the Chief Justice seat and why Bush tried to shoe in Harriet Miers.  

    He knew months ago that this was going to break and the issue would go before the Supreme Court.


    Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

    by nupstateny on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:00:05 PM PST

    •  not the supremes (none)
      congress will weigh in on this.

      "I ain't no physicist, but I knows what matters"-Popeye

      by keefer55 on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:43:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Supremes very important (none)
        Watergate would have gone nowhere if Nixon hadn't lost cases that went to the SCOTUS.  If the Justices had been partisan republicans like they are now, this country would be very different.
      •  I believe it's going to the SCOTUS (none)
        How effective has Congress been on ANYTHING, investigation wise, so far?

        Z-E-R-O  effectiveness.  Christ, we're still waiting on investigations that started years ago.  And the 9/11 commission was a fucking joke.

        There will be some type of criminal charge, or a civil suit, and then it will go to the SCOTUS.  Meanwhile, either Bush will relent under public pressure to cease and desist, or he'll force a (another!!) constitutional crisis.

        He must be close, by now, to holding the record.


        He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot - Groucho Marx

        by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:37:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bush has a Messianic complex (4.00)
    I'm relatively convinced that much of the motivation behind Bush's actions in this case can be tied to Bush's Messianic complex.  He really seems to believe that it is his calling to "save" America from evil, and little things like laws and rules should not get in his way.  This becomes most clear when we see how visibly angry he's becoming over these challenges to his authority.  How dare anyone tell the Savior that he must answer to earthly authorities in his campaign against the Devil?

    So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause -- Padme

    by dnta on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:00:44 PM PST

    •  Most of What's Being Done Has Nothing (4.00)
      to do with Bush.

      This isn't something that he invented and 99.999% of what's up against us doesn't go away or stop when he leaves.

      'Messianic' explains elements of his demeanor and communication but it doesn't explain the entirety of the military-industrial-intelligence complex that's involved in it one way or another.

      There probably aren't any easily defined borders around this activity.

      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 20, 2005 at 03:11:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bush is the face of others... (4.00)
      He is a brand, if you will. "They" are using his messianic complex. While it is fun to have something to focus on, Bush couldn't find his ass with both hands.
  •  Revision for point 2 (none)
    FYI, I recently updated my diary after a comment thread made clear the many/most of the violations happened during the Clinton administration.  However (as I said there), in my view this does little to change two of the main emphases of my diary, which wasn't just about the violations that led to the friction between the DoJ and the judges, but also about two things I see as more relevant to today:   (1) the fact that this friction (which, remember, was still present in 2002 with the Bush DoJ, otherwise why the extraordinary press release by the judges?) provides a motive for Bush's NSA activities, and (2) Congress was willing to work with him back then to make appropriate fixes to the procedure, yet he chose to take an extra-legal route intead.

    So, regarding your point 2, the main point is that there was friction between the DoJ and the judges that gave Bush the motive.

    (-7.75, -6.05).   Life is like this analogy...

    by shock on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:02:40 PM PST

  •  Fall of 2002 (none)
    Just reported on Hardball. Sen. Graham (D-FL), then chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said that he was never briefed about the NSA program. He said that he was questioned whether he believed the NSA could spy domestically in October/November of 2002, but no specific program or desire to create a program which bypassed FISA was ever expressed to him.

    'You can't begin to imagine how effective the Big Lie is.' N. Mailer 'TNatD'

    by jorndorff on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:03:14 PM PST

    •  Graham too? (none)
      somebody needs to write up a talking-points-buster diary on this whole "cleared with congress dozens of times" thing.

      the political talk shows seem to be giving it airtime- so congress reps and senators should have plenty of chances to rebutt the "dozens of times" issue... i'd say give it another day maybe and it'll be ripe for a diary.

      Looking for weekly columnists for The Daily Background. Drop me a line if interested: removeoffice@gmail.com

      by remove office on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:08:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  George W. Bush is About to Face 10,000 Civil Suits (none)
    Hope the Crawford Ranch is in trust or Dumbleweed is going to be homeless.

    America Wants Names

    WHO WAS SPIED ON?
    WE WANT THE NAMES

  •  What about point 2.5? (none)
    From shock's diary: "DragOn points out that this was overturned on appeal on November 18, 2002."
  •  mis-spelling Ashcroft (none)
    Good stuff, but correct the mis-spelling of Ashcroft.
  •  More material (none)
    I did a similar analysis a couple days ago here. Links to loads more material there.

    Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

    by brainwave on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:26:05 PM PST

  •  The more I read about the (none)
    authority given to Cheney/Bush with these war powers, the more I lean toward that argument, and the more pissed I get at these fucking assholes in Congress for passing the fucking law!

    My apologies. I do feel slightly better.

  •  Ask yourself... (4.00)
    Has this thread been highjacked?
    Has this thread been highjacked?

    Read this and think about it:

    An excellent and insightful analytical piece.
    'Netwar'[flooding the channel] (pdf).

    The modern incarnation of CoIntelPro activities within the perfect anonymity of Blogs ? 'Net CoIntelPro, where agents would be assigned multiple topics/blogs to track and monitor and 'engage/influence/disrupt/misinform' with a series of defined almost schizophrenic, yet relatively consistent, individual 'persona's', no small task though ... shades of 'Rendon'.  ? ...
     

    •  I don't think the group mind (none)
      is that easy to scew with. We are pretty self-regulating. We talk, and talk, and talk... and occassionally eradicate the trolls. Any spooks around here are just adding to the conversation.

      Come get lost in our world: www.politicsandletters.com

      by MonkeyDog102 on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:09:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  au contraire... (none)
        group minds are the easiest to manipulate, by chance did you even view the pdf?
         It bears repeating that this administration -- more than any other in recent times -- has employed deception and innuendo to mold public opinion and advance its political agenda. Indeed, the very scandal now enveloping the White House -- the apparent conspiracy to punish whistle-blower Joseph Wilson by revealing the covert CIA identity of his wife, Valerie Plame -- is rooted in the President's drive to mobilize support for the invasion of Iraq by willfully distorting Iraqi weapons capabilities and spy on America.

        `My adage is that in a world of insecurity, security trumps privacy, and we are seeing it.'

         -Scott Greiper,
        now, ask yourself who is this Scott Greiper

  •  a great big shout out (none)
    to all of you who are doing the research, compiling it, sending out calls to action, and providing the leadership to drive this course of events to it's ultimate destination - impeachment.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am constantly amazed by the quality of information that pop up here, and as a relative newbie on dailykos, this is the first time that I've had the experience of watching this magnitude of synergy take off.

    Thank you again, remove office, and dailykos community!

  •  What about the National ID cards? (none)
    One wonders how that piece of crap ties into all this.  Truly fascist tactics.  I pray to God that justice is served here.  

    Oh, hi George!  Hi, Alberto!  Thanks for reading my email!  You're both extremely macho!!! : )

    Sturm und Drang -- poking at culture's soft underbelly since 2005.

    by magpie02141 on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:35:55 PM PST

  •  Even Redstaters are having second thoughts (none)
    From our friends at Redstate.org;

        Not quite     By: Lambo
        Let's see. Your point (4) is not correct. The White House or other members of the Executive (apparently at least some of the time it was VP Cheney) met with Congressional leaders a total of 12 times. This includes ALL meetings with any Congressional leaders. For example, Sen. Reid, the Minority Leader of the Senate, had a total of ONE meetings about this ever. He, like the other members of Congress, was informed and in no way participated in what could be considered authorization, approval or oversight of this program.

        Separately, Bush has reauthorized this program every 45 days at the request of the Attorney General. He got no authorization to do so from any other part of our government at any time.

        You point (5) seems to indicate that this method was done because someone didn't know what to put in some of the blanks on the forms... This is the equivalent of saying that if you are filling out a loan application at a bank and don't know what to put, just forget the form and take the money out of the vault. You go on to discuss some technical points. Perhaps these are valid. I'll even add that perhaps the burden of proof needed or expected for a FISA warrant was too steep for the activities that Bush wanted to engage in. However, as you say, this in no way means that the law can be circumvented. The president, just like the rest of us, is bound by the law, imperfect or no.

        Regarding (6), the president is claiming powers as commander in chief over the civilian NSA. While the military tasks NSA sometimes, and there are even military surveillance operators sitting side by side with tehir civilian counterparts at Ft. Meade, MD, where most of this actual work is done, there are clear strictures as to what the civilian side may do and how it may interact with the military. The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, not the NSA. He has authority to direct military intelligence to collect intelligence, but the line has been drawn clearly between military and civilian intelligence gathering and between domestic and foreign intelligence gathering.

        Last night I read all the opinions written the the relevant Supreme Court decision, Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld. In this case, Hamdi, a US citizen, was fighting against American troops on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Even so, only ONE Justice (Thomas) asserted that the government could hold Hamdi indefinitely without a hearing as to his status. The remaining 8 Justices insisted he had a right to a judicial proceeding with a moderately heavy burden of proof as to his status. 4 justices, including Scalia, opined that they believed that Hamdi should go free, since they denied that the president could detain an American under his warmaking powers.

        So you see, your assertion about the leeway given by the Judiciary in such matters is quite wrong. It seems clear that the Supreme Court demands that due process be followed in the case of American citizens even in the extreme circumstances of finding an American in an act of Armed Conflict with an enemy.

        The president's actions have to pass the LEGAL test, too. They clearly do not.

    Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:38:47 PM PST

  •  The White House (none)
    didn't ask Vongress for approval of this.  They were merely "briefed" on it.  They are saying they didn't need approval, then they lie and say they had Congressional approval, then they say again, that the war resolution gave them the power, but then they had tried to get around FISA at first, before Bush declared it legal to spy on us.

    There IS no rational defense of this, as far as I can see.  They've got four or five stories going all at once, and they ALL contradict each other.

    They're hoping that playing that "fear card" once again will squeak them through.......once again.

    I don't think most Americans are buying it any more.


    He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot - Groucho Marx

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:40:39 PM PST

  •  My sneaking suspicion of another tie-in... (4.00)
    How hard would it be to connect the dots here to the CIA secret prisons in Europe?  It's possible that an email or phone call between an American and someone outside of the country may have resulted in the party of the second part being picked up for questioning. (Rendition anyone?)  

    It would be interesting to see if any Americans have mysteriously lost contact with friends or relatives overseas in the last few years.

  •  Compromising National Security (none)
    Since we've all heard the first talking point- and even though it sounds like B.S.- it's impossible to destroy (somebody prove me wrong),...
    Daniel Benjamin at Slate writes: Bush's Bogus Analogy
    In 1998, the Washington Times tipped off Osama. In 2005, the New York Times didn't.

    Bush implied that the story about the satellite phone and the intercepts were of a kind by saying,
    "I'm not going to talk about that [the NSA intercepts], because it would help give the enemy notification and/or, perhaps, signal to them methods and uses and sources. And we're not going to do that, which is ... it's really important for people to understand that the protection of sources and the protections of methods and how we use information to understand the nature of the enemy is secret. And the reason it's secret is because if it's not secret, the enemy knows about it, and if the enemy knows about it, adjusts."
    But this misrepresents the issue, because the New York Times' story about the National Security Agency eavesdropping on communications that have one terminus in the United States does not, at least on the face of it, compromise "sources and methods."  [...]

    This is the second time in a matter of six weeks that stories about administration excesses in the war on terror have brought the administration grief. The other was Dana Priest's Washington Post piece about "black site" detention centers. That story does appear to have compromised sources and methods to some extent, and it may have increased the physical risk that CIA officers face. It could also have a long-term cost in terms of the viability of our liaison relationships with other intelligence services, as publics, especially in Europe, begin to insist on restrictions on cooperation with the U.S. intelligence community. Post editors had to weigh those potential harms against issues of prisoner abuse and the right of the public and of Congress to know what the Bush administration is doing in our name. In a bow to the CIA, the paper withheld the names of the Eastern European countries hosting the detention centers.

    In this case, however, there doesn't appear to have been any significant trade-off. The Times revelation made the Bush administration angry, but it did not tell terrorists anything about our spying on them that they haven't long assumed.
    It did, however, tell Americans and a Congress that has been remarkably supine through the war on terror a great deal about the White House's extraordinary interpretation of the president's executive prerogatives.
    Talking point A doesn't sound like BS, it is BS!
  •  Were Denver Town Meeting Protesters Wiretapped? (none)
    Here's an interesting exercise called "Connecting the Dots."  

    Dot #1:

    Three Were Told to Leave Bush Town Meeting

    By Jim VandeHei
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page A04

    Three Denver residents yesterday charged that they were forcibly removed from one of President Bush's town meetings on Social Security because they displayed a bumper sticker on their car condemning the administration's Middle East policies.

    The three, all self-described progressives who oppose Bush's Social Security plan, said an unidentified official at an event in Denver last week forced them to leave before the president started to speak, even though they had done nothing disruptive, said their attorney, Dan Recht.

    Dot #2:
    FBI Papers Show Terror Inquiries Into PETA; Other Groups Tracked

    By Spencer S. Hsu
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, December 20, 2005; Page A11

    FBI counterterrorism investigators are monitoring domestic U.S. advocacy groups engaged in antiwar, environmental, civil rights and other causes, the American Civil Liberties Union charged yesterday as it released new FBI records that it said detail the extent of the activity.

    I wonder whether the three people opposing the Bush Social Security Destruction Plan spoke or sent e-mails about going to Bush's speech? Was the NSA listening without a warrant?  Did the FBI grab their e-mail correspondence using a "business records" warrant on their ISP?  Sure would be interesting to find out - assuming the ACLU is still around come 2006...
  •  Fascist (none)
    If this fascist isn't "worthy" of impeachment I'd hate to see one that deserved it. This is just the latest in a long list of crimes against humanity and individuals. He never should have come to power in the first place and could only do so by intimidation, harassment and lies to end vote counting. If that is not un-American I don't know what is.
  •  not only that (none)
    but would it be a stretch to figure that the Plame and Abramoff stories somehow tie in to this as well? Interesting thought...but chilling.
  •  Missing the obvious: Why FISA doesn't apply! (none)
    We are missing the obvious here, folks, and the truth of this matter may lie in the answer to the question, Why Didn't They Just Use The FISA Court?

    The answer to this question has to do with what, exactly, the NSA does when it 'eavesdrops'. The NSA is known as 'The Big Ear' because it, just like the human ear, hears EVERYTHING within it's capability. This differs from FBI wiretapping in that an FBI wiretap listens to a single person or small group of people; the NSA listens to ENTIRE STREAMS OF COMMUNICATIONS from satelites, microwave transceivers, fiber-optic cable terminals, and underseas cables. They are unable to apply for a FISA warrant because what they are doing is LISTENING TO EVERYONE and then running those communications through their computer system to trap the individual communications of potential interest.

    FISA warrants don't apply because they would have to name EVERYONE on the warrant they are listening to, and that list includes, well, ALL OF US.

    Remember ECHELON, the decades-old NSA program that intercepts massive amounts of communications and then sorts through it looking for keywords or calls from, or to, any telephone number on a list of telephones of interest? Now let's direct this technology at our civilian population. The NSA feeds into their massive computer system a list of people, telephone numbers, keywords, and other criteria collected from other 'terrorist' investigations and points their antennas at our domestic communications system. They scoop up EVERYTHING and sort through the individual communications looking for applicable information. Now add e-mail, IM, and other intercept capability and stir.

    Now here's the fun part - how to abuse this system. It's as easy as rigging a Diebold voting machine. Just input your boss' name and phone number into the system and out pops all his/her communications for you to peruse at your leisure. Heck, you could even listen in on, say, John Kerry's communications during the 2004 campaign because he's an obvious threat to the country.

    Now let's bring this all home. Do you have friends or relatives overseas that you call? Do you have business that requires communicating with someone in a foreign country like, say, Commie Canada? Or Venezuela, or Cuba, or the Netherlands, or Greece, or Egypt? I'll bet you a cold Molson the NSA has your number. And your e-mail. And your credit history. And even your medical records.

    The reason FISA warrants don't apply, folks, is that what they are doing is so MONSTROUS that it was beyond the imagination of Joe Biden and the other congresscritters that came up with FISA as a response to the executive abuses prior to Watergate. Bush is not just 'breaking' the FISA law, he is violating it's restrictions in a manner so breathtaking that it is beyond immediate comprehension.

  •  The Bush Adminstration is nothing but a (none)
    Politically driven machine with an unquenchable thirst for unrestrained power. The "domestic spying in order to stop terrorists" line is wholly TRUE -- the terrorists, in their mind, are those who threaten their power, ie. their political opponents. They themselves are terrorized at the mere hint of their power being lost in some election or some embarassmening scandal that might cause their numbers to go down.

    I will wager all I own that some of those they illegally wiretapped:
    John Kerry
    Patrick Fitzgerald
    Cindy Sheehan
    CBS News
    Colin Powell
    Paul O'Neill

    and everyone else who is in a position of credibility and/or power.

    I especially hope Fitzgerald is paying attention here and governs himself accordingly.

  •  Great Post (none)
    Well documented, informative posting. I forgot about the FISA courts busting the Bush administration.

    It all fits...

    Bush wasn't getting their way with FISA so they just said forget FISA, I'm King!

  •  FANTASTIC DIARY (none)
    Really topnotch. Thank you so much. You did miss two Rove Talking Points: 1)The President needs to move fast to catch terrorists. Must be nimble, must be quick, no time for paperwork. 2) The suggestion that we are only spying on terrorists. Not likely. This is domestic spying on Americans they don't like.

    Fox has picked up these two talking points and merged them into one: The President has to move fast to catch terrorists, they change phone numbers, and addresses. Must move quick.

    There is NO attempt to justify this legally. They are going for the Court of Public Opinion, they are not going for an actual defense that will hold up in any court or inquest, because there will be none. They control Congress. The Specter hearings will be derailed before they are begun (is Senator Specter healthy these days), and if they are not, nothing can come from them but mild condemnation, which affects them not at all.

    "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

    by Bensdad on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 08:37:09 PM PST

    •  yup (none)
      --highly recommended. They've just kept on using all divisions in their power (and not) to spy on all of us, and they think it's ok. It's a laundry list of agencies now, and growing.
    •  Those two points aren't playing well (none)
      (1) "Be Quick" fails because there is a built-in failsafe in FISA for a 72 hour retroactive warrant if you need to "be quick;" and
      (2) Only terrorists fails because, as the NYT reported this morning, some purely domestic conversations "accidentally" got caught in the web.

      This is abuse of power, period.  No talking point will hide that BushCo. got caught with its hand in the cookie jar.  The question is, what are we going to do about it?

  •  What Next (none)
    The NYT breaks a story it has known about for months  where the NSA directed by Cheney are hacking into electronic voting machines to ensure a Bush election. When exposed Bush just gets up to say we had to do it to protect you from the evil terrorists. And the worst part - at least 40% of the country buy it as neccessary.
  •  I am wondering ... (none)
    with all this spying and all, I heard someone ttell (forgive the no-link) that one other group that was spyed on was gay rights groups on college campuses (maybe lawyers no?)

    maybe it has something to do with the legalized discrimination against lesbigay individuals serving and recruiting on campuses?

    Law schools say they would welcome military recruiters if the Pentagon dropped its policy against openly gay personnel. Gay men and women may serve only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.

    source: AP via the Guardian

    may be a stretch but I know someone said something about it here in the last day or two

    help?

    "There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules." via Josh Marshall

    by grollen on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:27:00 AM PST

  •  Breaking: FISA Court Judge Robertson quits (none)
    in protest. Bush's secret surveillance program said to be a concern

    (AP) -- A federal judge has resigned from a special court set up to oversee government surveillance to protest President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program on people with suspected terrorist ties, The Washington Post reported.
  •  Hubris...Gets 'em Every Time (none)
    Chimperor George and his court appear to believe that their authority is unlimited.

    It reminds me of Nixon taping his conversations. When the tapes were revealed, Nixon didn't even understand right away what that meant.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:56:33 AM PST

  •  Question: (none)
    The May 2002 court ruling said NO, you can't do X.

    November 2002, that court's ruling is overturned.

    In between May and November 2002, was it illegal to do X?

    Example:  if the death penalty for murder is removed between 1990 and 2000 and one commits murder in 1992, he can't get the death penalty even though he's tried in 2002.  And I can see that; prosecutors would just wait until 2002 to charge murder (say he's already in jail for another crime) so he can fry.

  •  Yet, I am still hearing from people (none)
    that it may be a good idea to spy on some people in this country.  Not being able to distinguish between what is unconstitutional because it brings a tyranous safety will hasten the death of America -- inflicted on us by ignorant us.  O my.
  •  The Can Opener (none)
    UPDATE: Hollywood Liberal notes that apparently it wasn't just Ascroft obsessed with all this spying. It seems as though John Bolton (now U.S. representative to the United Nations) was heavily involved as well:
      I think that this is a superb way to break open the can.
      Bolton ... how did HE know about the NSA intercepts?
      Just your normal NSA intercepts?
      Unredacted?
      Or was HE in on the wind of the program when his boss, Secretary of State Powell WASN'T?
      I'd follow this line ... because Bolton to me seems like the kind of guy who'd NOT really be thrilled to have some big bubba poking him while he's in the shower ... and if Bolton transgressed the law by virtue of a knowledge that this program of "data mining" was underway, then he is vulnerable in several ways:
       One, to beat the living dogshit out of him in the Press;
       Two, to provide the eight or ten folks whose conversations he got unredacted, to file a lawsuit against his sorry piece of shit ass.
       Bolton is one of those guys who really need to have their asses whipped publicly.
       There are enough folks who despise his ass that maybe more can be revealed about HIS tiny slender part in this.
       IF the inner circle of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bolton, etc., had a "pass that one around so I can read it..." mentality (they're inside the circle, and KNOW about these intercepts and while one or more may not know HOW this information was obtained ... they were TOLD ... you can request info on so and so ...) well, that would represent, in effect, "an enemies list."
        I'd recommend that all guns be fired in Bolton's direction.
        I'd bet there's more fire there than it appears.
        Also, what about Steven Hadley?
        Cambone?
        Rumsfeld?
        Wolfowitz?
        Did any of THEM make use of the "data that was mined"
    by NSA?
    "During the Bolton hearings, however, it emerged that when he was at the State Department, Bolton on several occasions received summaries of intercepts between foreigners and "U.S. persons" and requested that the spy agency tell him who those Americans were. The agency complied. Following this revelation, Newsweek discovered that from January 2004 to May 2005, the National Security Agency had supplied names of 10,000 American citizens in this informal fashion to policy makers, intelligence services and law enforcement agencies. Democrats took advantage of Bolton's transgression in the nomination battle, playing up his reputation as a sharp-elbowed brute and implying that he might have used the intercepts to intimidate Washington adversaries. Bolton, for his part, told Congress that he asked the spy agency for the names in order "to better understand" summaries of intercepted conversations: "It's important to find out who is saying what to whom.
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