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In response to the now-famous NYT article exposing Bush's secret plan to defy the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA"), and monitor Americans' phone and email usage without Court supervision, the Bush Administration went on the offensive and accused the people who disclosed the program of harming national security.  Bush himself stated:

[T]he fact that somebody leaked this program causes great harm to the United States.

As a matter of pure logic, this assertion makes no sense.  The only way that this disclosure could harm national security would be if it tipped off a terrorist under surveillance to the fact that his communications were being monitored.  However, before the disclosure of this program, any terrorist would know based on public information that the federal government had the power to secretly obtain a warrant under FISA and monitor his phone calls and emails without his knowledge.  (See the EFF's summary of the government's secret wiretapping power under FISA here).  Thus any terrorist talking on the phone or engaging in email communications would have to know, even if he was an American citizen in the United States, that the government may have obtained a secret FISA warrant against him and could be monitoring his actual communications.  

The disclosure of the NSA's secret wiretapping program therefore changes nothing in terms of a terrorist's knowledge, and simply could not under any circumstances "tip off" a terrorist that he was under surveillance.  Accordingly, there are simply no circumstances under which disclosure of the program could harm national security.  (Of course, if the disclosure were to then go on and identify actual persons under surveillance, then of course that could harm national security -- but clearly that is not what happened here).

Which leads us back to the question of why the NYT held off on publishing the NSA story for over a year.  The NYT had an accurate story of undeniable national importance, the disclosure of which simply could not under any circumstances harm national security.  So why on earth did it refuse to publish?  Did it simply take Bush's assertion that disclosure would harm national security at face value, without engaging in the most simple analysis to demonstrate that it would not?

This is a big mystery that needs to be resolved.  Unfortunately, the editors at the NYT are not talking:

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.

It looks like, once again, reporting will need to be done on the reporting institution itself in order to get to the truth.  I personally plan to keep an eye on The New York Observer, which had great coverage of the Judith Miller imbroglio within the halls of the Times.  Hopefully they'll be similarly aggressive with this matter as well.

Originally posted to pontificator on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 07:54 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yea but (none)
    don't forget, it's only those calls coming in from overseas that are caught.
    So I guess it's OK to call Uncle Osama from here to wish him a happy holidays.

    "Trying to make it real compared to what." Gene McDaniels/Les McCann

    by Sprinkles on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 07:57:39 AM PST

    •  Question regarding (none)
      "don't forget, it's only those calls coming in from overseas that are caught."

      Which raises a question I haven't seen asked here.

      If we have the phone numbers of "of known al Qaeda or affiliate people" (Bush Quote), then why are we not locating them via those phone members with the cooperation of the governments in the countries which they reside and questioning them?

      We know who they are, we can say Can You Hear Me Now, and land line or cell their locations can be tracked - so why do we not pick them up?

      Something just doesn't add up.

      •  Bush lied about that, too (none)
        and the White House is already trying to minimize the damage. This is from Lichtblau's article in today's New York Times:

        Mr. Bush also emphasized that the program was "limited" in nature and designed to intercept communications from known associates of Al Qaeda to the United States. He said several times that the eavesdropping was "limited to calls from outside the United States to calls within the United States."

        That assertion is at odds with press accounts and the public statements of his senior aides, who say that the authorization for the program requires that one end of a communication - either incoming or outgoing - be outside the United States. The White House, clarifying the president's remarks after his appearance, said later that either end of the communication can in fact be outside the United States.

        "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

        by QuickSilver on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:49:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And even that may be a lie (4.00)
          I diaried about this last week.

          I've yet to see this from another source, but Insight reported that:

          The sources provided guidelines to how the administration has employed the surveillance program. They said the National Security Agency in cooperation with the FBI was allowed to monitor the telephone calls and e-mails of any American believed to be in contact with a person abroad suspected of being linked to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

          At that point, the sources said, all of the communications of that American would be monitored, including calls made to others in the United States. The regulations under the administration's surveillance program do not require any court order.

          So this program is apparently not restricted to international calls once they've tagged someone as a target.

          •  are your e-mail and phone calls stored forever? (none)
            Since the whole NSA monitoring program is extrajudicial, it's not as if they have to discard 'evidence' after 90 days, right?

            Although it's only a little more more than my hunch, I think the 'data mining' meme is also obscuring what's really going on: the NSA is building vast automated files on just about anyone and everyone they think is 'of interest', saving the e-mail and phone records for a rainy day when they can perhaps make use of it, dig through it backwards, sort out connections with the benefit of hindsight. Data mining and data storage. What BushCo doesn't want us to know is that it's based on our politics, not on any known link to terrorism.

            If the terrorists are being helped, it's because Bush doesn't want them to know that he's already become Big Brother, and that whirring on some tapes in some deep salt mine, there's already a record of everything.

            "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

            by QuickSilver on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:37:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I've been thinking of just tagging everything (none)
            on this site with "duh"

            Subscribe to your most sarcastic news source.

            by therightlies on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 11:10:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You do know... (none)
            that the right-wing Insight is a Moonie rag, right? It's owned lock, stock & barrel by the Unification church. This might explain why you're not seeing it anywhere else.

            Just a "consider the source" FYI more than anything else...

            Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. - Mark Twain


            by OhioLen on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 11:25:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  In other words ... (4.00)

          ... according to Bush, we ALREADY KNOW the phone numbers of people INSIDE THE U.S. who are "known associates of al Qaeda."

          So why haven't we arrested them, Mr. President?

          Of course, he was lying through his teeth.  That's not what this program is about -- it's about surveillance of domestic political "enemies."  That's why he couldn't go to the FISA court, or to the Congress.

          When will one of the so-called journalists of the MSM ask:  "Sir, how can the American people be certain you never used the NSA to listen in on John Kerry's phone calls during the 2004 elections?"

        •  A witness proved dishonest in one context... (4.00)
          Does anyone believe ANYTHING that Bush says?  I doubt that he can even recall what is true, and what is his own spin any more.  The guy lied about warrants being needed, now he says that they are, but they aren't, so he wasn't really lying.  And besides, when he lies to protect Americans, it isn't REALLY a lie, it is a secret mission that must not be discussed.

          Smoke?  what smoke?  Mirrors?  what mirrors?  Lies?  We don' need no steekeng warrants here.

          Our nation will survive this, too.  The denoument will either be an easy one, or a hard one, but our nation will survive this great test.  There are too many Americans who were paying attention in school, and do recall what is right and what is wrong, to allow our nation to descend into totalitarianism.  We've had a brush with disaster, but not a fatal collision.  Historians will make sense of this, and the end result will become a powerful lesson on the need for eternal vigilence to protect our nation from enemies within, who seek to use external threats to subvert our government and our freedoms.

          Democracy is messy sometimes, and the process of saving and renewing the republic is something that each generation must step forward and do.  They have in each past generation, they will in this one as well.  All of you posting here are a part of that vast process of renewal.

      •  Assuming they're telling the truth (4.00)
        which is a dangerous assumption, to be sure, there is one legitimate reason I can see for not picking them up and questioning them--following them for intelligence sources, seeing who they contact, trying to get intel from them, and then when it sounds like something is going to happen, snatching them up.

        However, I don't for one second believe that the Bushies are using the NSA solely for that, because that's a legitimate use of wiretapping, and would be done by people who had gotten warrants, i.e. law enforcement agencies who were trying to build cases.

        I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

        by incertus on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:04:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's the Usual BS... (none)
        ...there are so many logic traps in everything the Chimp says that it would be funny if it weren't so dangerous.

        As I've said before, the government alrady has all the information it needs on citizens: your fingerprints if you were in the service or the Peace Corps (VISTA) or any other service.  I have a government job, so they fingerprinted me there, too.

        They have access to any info they want under FISA if they can talk a judge into it...and now without judicial oversight.

        I'm left with the one logical question when voting for a member of government: will they use the information the government has, legally or illegally?  To exploit me?  To deprive me of my rights and responsibilities as a citizen?

        I don't trust these jokers any farther than I can spit.


        "Ninety-nine miles of solid-gold track, lay on the whistle and don't look back..."

        by InquisitiveRaven on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:29:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Your diary is exactly on point (4.00)
    What exactly does Bush think the "terrorists" now know that they didn't know before?  Given that the CIA is kidnapping people in other countries, given that we are also locking up "suspected" terrorists in other countries, given that Bush doesn't think anyone suspected of being a terrorist is deserving of having a trial (or seeing a lawyer, or being able to let family members know where they are), why in the hell would this newest event surprise them and "tip" them off to what the government is doing?

    With my tinfoil hat on I will suggest that what is going on here is that Bush has authorized wiretapping of political opposition (ie Democrats) in this country, and since there is no oversight, no one will know until this whole issue is investigated.  The person that is most harmed by knowing about this program is Bush, who has harmed our constitution by taking these actions.

    Further, it is beyond reason for Bush to suggest that somehow (as you point out) NOW the terrorists "know" they are being listened to).  Since we found out about Bush and his illegal wiretaps, and now the "investigation" of who leaked, I have been  shaking my head as clearly ANYONE who is involved with terrorism KNOWS that every move they make is potentially being watched or listened to.

    So exactly what has been "exposed" with this news?  Only that Bush is breaking the law, and clearly that is something Bush does NOT want anyone to "know."  The danger is not to our safety as a nation, the danger is to Bush as president.

    "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

    by SanJoseLady on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:04:50 AM PST

    •  Here's a brain-teaser (4.00)
      Since terrorists are evil-doers, they must deny that we are "good."  If they deny we're good, they must assume that we do not honor the rule of law or play by rules we claim to cherish.  Only good people do that.  So, they must assume that, despite all our laws, our Constitution, our vaunted civil liberties, etc., we engage in illegal, warrantless spying at will.  (If nothing else, the revelation of spying on the UN in the run-up to the war taught them that.)  Hence, they must have already assumed that any communications they had, wherever originating, were at risk of surveillance, whatever our paper laws might suggest to the contrary (to get this far, of course, we have to assume they are experts in FISA, etc.).  Ergo, the disclosure of the program by the NYT could not have told them anything they didn't already assume.

      But here's a question: since it turns out "we" acted in accordance with their worst expectations of us, does that mean they're right in believing that we're not "good"?

      The mind boggles.

      "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

      by scorponic on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:18:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about more boggling (none)
        given that we had information about the 9/11 terrorists, but the agencies couldn't/wouldn't coordination their information, how in the hell will MORE information help us to catch those "evil doers" if agencies are not able to effectively coordinate all that they gather?

        Of course, if it is purely "political" in nature, sending all of this "information" to the GOP for their use comes to mind.

        It is beyond amazing how telling terrorists they are being monitored is something that should be some huge surprise.  The only surprise is that Bush is breaking the law (and is that really a surprise?) by listening in on American citizens which he is prevented from doing (but has done anyway.)

        Bush is harming our country more then any terrorist could hope to do, by destroying our constitution we slowly unravel our core democracy, and as we do that we inflict on ourselves that which no bomb can destroy.

        "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

        by SanJoseLady on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 11:07:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Politicians of both parties (none)
      Not only Democratic opponents. What about tapping the phones of wavering republicans to find out if they are about to defect on a particular  key vote (and perhaps dig up a little dirt on the wavering repug's extracurricular sex life or shady tax shelters or business deals to black-mail and reinforce loyalty to the Bush cause)?

      And also government/military staff and journalists are likely the targets of Bush warrantless wiretapping.

      Can you imagine the value to the Bushies of tapping Sy Hersh's phone to find out the next story he is working on, or clues to the identities of his Pentagon/CIA sources for his stories?

      And what about tapping the phone/email of  "uncooperative" independent 4-star generals who are vocally complaining to Congress about the Rumsfeld military detainee "interrogation" program (but who also have a secret mistress),  that the Bushies would like to see quickly become a non-problem?

  •  have you sent this information out (none)
    Okay so it is not so much information and analysis, but it should go out to all major news entities.
    You are absolutely right.  And send it to democrats too.  Send it to Howard Dean, he might actually soeak up about this.
    What is disgusting is that they have their people on TV yesterday saying how the leak of Plames name was not a matter of national security and this leak is.  
    •  They meaning (none)
      republicans.  Republican and particularly bushco is spinning this leak and where were the democrats.....silent and scared to call a lie a lie as usual.
    •  Yes yes yes - important frame change (none)
      Thanks for reminding us not to get caught in the Republican frame trap!

      The problem is not the spying, but the not asking permission (even ex post, as is permitted by the FISA rules).

      The Times story was news not because it told us that spying was going on -- we all knew that, all along, even the evil-doers -- but because it was done by executive fiat, in deliberate violation of the checks and balances.

      By the way, the Republican spin machine has been working well: today's Atlanta Journal Constitution published two LTEs in which Democrats were described as "hoping" for another attack (after which we would be "dancing in the streets") and "trying to destroy America." I have no doubt that these letter writers have been enboldened by GOP claims that the leakers (and fellow travelers) are, in essence, enemies of the state.

  •  the timing of the investigation is also suspicious (4.00)
    Obviously were security an issue, the administration knew it had been breached more than a year ago when the Times first tried to get a reaction on the story and the administration leaned on  them to back off.   Were it truly such a critical security issue, an immediate investigation would have begun then.   After all, if the Pentagon papers case demonstrated anything, it is that someone willing to shop a story to one press outlet can easily if so inclined get it to another if the first in any way is suppressed in distributing the information.

    Thus there are only two choices.  (1) The leak was not in any way either criminal or jeopardizing security, and the only reason the administration now pushes for an investigation is because it is trying to minimize its own political damage.   (2)  The leak was damaging, in which case thjis administration was criminally negligent in not having move aggressively to track down the leak before the information  became public.

    And this dichotomous choice should  be the basis of our talking points.  Perhaps someone can phrase it more succinctly, then offer it to possibly sympathetic media outlets, or write the necessary LTEs?

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:16:42 AM PST

    •  Yes, yes yes (4.00)
      Exactly right.  
      I can tell this is going to be a good diary.  Everyone is making a hell of a lot more sense than the media or bushco.
      But it is not going to do any good if other people don't see it...people who do not read dkos.
      This analysis needs to get out to a wider audience.
    •  About as succinct as one can put it... (none)
      and those questions need to be asked in the White House press briefings and gaggles as well as in the media as suggested in the comment above.  If this "leak" was known over a year ago, why wait until now to conduct an investigation?  No one had the insight to ask Trent Duffy this question in the December 30th gaggle.  We know the answer in this forum, but it needs to be asked openly and repeatedly and appear in the nightly news.  People will get confused about the issues here unless they are concisely and clearly stated like you have done.  Furthermore, forget about analogies to the Plame outing...completely spurious...a more accurate analogy is that of the Pentagon Papers (oh my...I am getting a feeling of deja vu).
    •  More to the point (none)
      If the leak was so damn damaging to the GWOT, it was important to investigate a year ago, not just to make sure no other paper printed it, but to find the evil leaker and make sure s/he lost his/her security clearance.
  •  hint (4.00)
    You ask:

    "So why on earth did they refuse to publish? "

    Remember the anthrax attacks?  Journalists?  Like Bob Stevens, of the national Enquirer, who kept publishing the "drunken Jenna" pix?  Who boasted of having George's Skull&Bones initiation pic?

    Remember Brokaw, whom Bush personally phoned to tell him not to interview Clinton?  But he did?  Then surprise:  anthrax the next day.

    Stuff like that?

    Funny, anthrax attacks just went out of style and evidently never came back.

    (heard in background:  "wait, honey!  Hold it, don't open that mail..."}

    "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

    by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:21:14 AM PST

    •  as long as the New York Times published fake news (4.00)
      they got fake anthrax letters ... Judith Miller received an envelope full of harmless powder, mailed from Florida in October 2001. The New York Times was the only media outlet to endure a fake anthrax attack. By contrast, The National Enquirer, The New York Post, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Tom Daschle, and Patrick Leahy all suffered real attacks in a carefully coordinated wave following 9/11.

      The anthrax attacks softened the U.S. up to the idea of invading a country with supposed anthrax reserves. Remember Colin Powell holding up that anthrax vial at the UN? Indeed, who can forget? It's interesting that Powell refused to present other fake intelligence, including the purported Iraqi nuclear threat, but stuck to what was familiar to Americans, stuck to what had been play-tested....

      "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

      by QuickSilver on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:38:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anthrax mystery never solved (none)
        This topic doesn't come up very often here or on other blogs, but it is clearly at the heart of the descent into tyranny that we have experienced during the past four years, because more than anything, it made ordinary people afraid in a way that the bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon could never do.  The FBI never got to the root of this.  The anthrax was traced to a US government lab, one person was fingered and then let go, and then the investigation was dropped.  I believe two people died.  More importantly, coming closely on the 911 attacks, it increased the hysteria surrounding the passage of the War Measures Act.

        My tinfoil hat sits pretty loose on my head, but the question why the anthrax business was never resolved keeps coming back.  Was it a set-up?

        •  Yeah, Anthrax! (none)
          I asked a question about that last week on an Open Thread. It was absolutely, no question about it, definitely an inside Government job. Somewhere inside a bioweapons lab, maybe Fort Dix but could be anywhere in some "undisclosed location", someone knows that somebody with very high level clearance checked out a stock of anthrax. The USA probably has "secret" secret facilities like this in many places in addition to the "public" secret sites that act as a decoy. The US Government was always the origin of the anthrax. It was used to scare the fuck out the Democrats in Congress, and it worked. I bet they were a bit disappointed that Tom Daschle survived.
        •  I never understood WHY (none)
          the National Enquirer, of all papers, would be targeted.

          I guess if you don't want embarassing things to come out, you'd go after them, if, there was some sort of  conspiracy, say, which, of course, there wouldn't be, because of course, NO ONE could be that evil.

          Why would the Natioanl Enquirer be sent anthrax
          ? It just didn't seem to fit with the rest, all bastions of democracy and liberalism.

          (Don't get me wrong, I love the Enquirer, too, but,the New York Times, well...)

          And a postal worker was MURDERED too, remember, a man from Washington, DC who delivered the mail for a living, went to the doctor amd was told he just had a cold, or something, but it was anthrax.

          No wonder the press has been so intimidated, almost blackmailed into complicity.


          •  as terrorist attacks go, the 2001 anthrax attacks (none)
            achieved maximum visibility with relatively small numbers of casualties. Which was, perhaps, the point of the whole exercise, an effort to soften us up to the idea of invading a country with anthrax reserves... From Wikipedia's summary of the 2001 anthrax attacks:

            Twenty-two people developed anthrax infections, eleven of the life-threatening inhalation variety. Five died of inhalation anthrax. In addition to the death of Robert Stevens [of the National Enquirer] in Florida, two died from unknown sources, possibly cross-contamination of mail: Kathy Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant from New York City; and Ottilie Lundgren, a 94-year old woman from Oxford, Connecticut, who was the final victim. The two remaining deaths were employees of the Brentwood mail facility in Washington, D.C., Thomas Morris Jr. and Joseph Curseen.

            Thousands of people took a two-month course of the antibiotic Cipro in an effort to preempt anthrax infections. Associated Press reported that members of Vice President Cheney's staff took Cipro a week before the first anthrax attack.

            That last reference is to an October 23, 2001 article, also (apparently) in the Washington Post, titled White House Mail Machine Has Anthrax, which contained the following:

            At least some White House personnel were given Cipro six weeks ago. White House officials won't discuss who might be receiving the anthrax-treating antibiotic now.

            On the night of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House Medical Office dispensed Cipro to staff accompanying Vice President Dick Cheney as he was secreted off to the safety of Camp David, and told them it was "a precaution," according to one person directly involved.

            At that time, nobody could guess the dimensions of the terrorists' plot.

            Now, Bush said on Tuesday, "There's no question that the evil-doers are continuing to try to harm America and Americans."

            I'll bet the reason we found out that Cheney's staff received CIPRO on 9/11 is because they told their families. That's one secret that, if was ever under wraps, seems to have snuck out... Funny how someone, somewhere, knew that the mail system was about to become compromised (the first anthrax letter was mailed on September 17th or September 18th, 2001. Funny that it was someone on Cheney's staff....

            "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

            by QuickSilver on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 11:55:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like a republican hit list (none)
        in retrospect, doesn't it?

        Good LORD.......

      •  Send them a lifetime supply of cipro (none)
        and tell them to get back to work.

        The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

        by peeder on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 12:33:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  other targets (none)
      include Daschle, who insisted Congress keep the purse strings... and the closure of the Senate offices resulted in the "confiscation" of Heaven knows what mail...  then there was the closure of the Washington DC post office, where a lot of mail had to be "confiscated.."

      Funny, such attacks just went out of style after what reads as a Bush enemies list became cowed...

      and anthrax never came back again... yet...

      "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

      by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:44:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (none)
        guess some people "learned their lesson."

        I'm going to suggest that the NYT are courageous, and waited for the right moment.  They knew the mortal enemy of the people is that Patriot Act.  They just waited until the moment was right.  Good job.

        "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

        by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:45:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  remember, it was an attack on Feingold as well (4.00)
        The Wikipedia timeline on the 2001 anthrax attacks is worth reading:

        October 15 [2001]: The letter to Senator Daschle is opened. The anthrax in the letter was described as a "fine, light tan powder" which easily flew into the air.

        October 17 [2001]: 31 Capitol workers (five Capitol police officers, three Russ Feingold staffers, 23 Tom Daschle staffers), test positive for the presence of anthrax (presumably via nasal swabs, etc.). Feingold's office is behind Daschle's in the Hart Senate Building. Anthrax spores are found in a Senate mailroom located in an office building near the Capitol. There are rumors that anthrax was found in the ventilation system of the Capitol building itself. The House of Representatives announces it will adjourn in response to the threat.

        "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

        by QuickSilver on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:01:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oh , no... (none)
      that man who died in Florida from the antrax was publishing picutres of a drunken Jenna, not playing the game ? ? ?

      Oh, no............

      •  OK, one more thing (none)
        My mother and I bonded over the National Enquirer.

        I mean, that's, that's just taking it a step too far...

        We also share a penchant for Libby's canned mushrooms.

        My mother and I loved those mushrooms, on a pizza, on a Friday night.

  •  wag the dog (none)
    personally I think the whole flap is merely a calculated diversion away from the Plame/Libby leak and they will inevitably demand sources from the NYT's journalists and put them in prison when they refuse to comply. These people have no shame. Where is Fitz when we need him?
    •  Miller went to jail, and Cooper and Time folded, (none)
      because the D.C. District Court and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld sending them to jail.  In the circumstances of Spygate, there is a good chance that federal judges would behave differently.
    •  about (none)
      the plame thing...

      When Larry King interviewed Wilson, a very strange thing happened:  Wilson, one very articulate, sophisticated man, twice said "nucular" instead of "nuclear."

      We winced, wondering:  is this some kind of wink and nod to Bush?  Saying "nucular" is not cute.

      And we wondered some more:  is the Plame thing the CIA's idea of a PR campaign?  A pretty new face on the CIA?  Study the CIA's history for the past 50 years, and discover why everyone in the world hates our government.  The CIA is the backbone of a secret government force within the US now since WWII.  They are, arguably, a sort of Gestapo force.  I would threadjack by carrying that further.  But Valerie Plame made the CIA look attractive and righteously indignant.

      Suffice it to say that almost nothing, with this administration, is what it is said to be on first take.  Start giving everything a 180 degree spin, and you see how the CIA works - provoke a crisis, to make counter-measures seem reasonable which otherwise would not.  You can't have, for instance, a Patriot Act without a 9/11 first.

      "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

      by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:59:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with your arguement, though, (none)
        is the CIA is not trying to consolidate power, and the CIA, with the exception of a few mindless goons, pretty much keeps to it's own business.

        So what would motivate someone to do a 911 anyway, if it weren't related directly to Osama?

        Who had the most to gain, or hide, and why?

        Somehow, in this instance, the CIA comes out looking pretty clean, live and let live, you know?

        Boy, I remember those pre 911 days, and this White
        House was just sooo arrogant, walking around like they owned the place, or something...

        And now, all of their crimes, they try to pin back on the CIA.

        Who would be so evil as to plan an attack on their own country?

        A sociopath, I guess.

        It's not like the CIA wants to rule America, you know.

        •  CIA as easy scapegoat (none)
            The CIA is an easy victim (for the administration) because of the dark elements of its reputation and the nature of its work. On the other hand, the basic core of the CIA (at least before Goss) seems to tend to its mission; however, there has been suspicion of rouge elements within the CIA structure since the 1960s.

            The privatization following the Church committee in the 70s probably allowed the rouge elements to take control of certain functions of the CIA and render those conveniently out of sight of the Congress and the CIA directorate.

            One of the disturbing elements of the current spying story is that 'private' contractors seem to be handling some of the domestic spying functions of CIA. That seems even more dangerous to me than the spying itself; how are those companies controlled, how does Congress exert itself into that domain?

            And the anthrax case needs continuous action now; the attack came as the PATRIOT Act was being discussed; Daschle and Leahey were fighting against it, along with Fiengold. Coincidence?

          Energy and information are the primary elements of the universe.

          by walkshills on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 01:21:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rumsfeld, and the rest of them, almost seem (none)
            to want to take  from the government any ability to function indepedently from the executive branch.

            I wonder if this is why he has been contracting out so many army jobs to private security firms.

            It's as if they want there own little goon squad, unnaccountable to the laws of this country.

            Good thing people are catching on, and putting up a fight.

            •  You're right (none)
                Regaining control and oversight on all those groups - and dismembering the mercenaries/goon squads/non-state militias so they function only as security guards in this nation - will be an important step.

                That combo of unaccountability and control of the judiciary is lethal to a country such as ours.

                I'm afraid the privatization of CIA will be discovered to be a giant mistake.

                No doubt we have our work cut out for us.

              Energy and information are the primary elements of the universe.

              by walkshills on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 06:55:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (none)
          "... the CIA is not trying to consolidate power, and the CIA, with the exception of a few mindless goons, pretty much keeps to it's own business."


          Maybe I don't understand you.  Mind it's own business?  Don't you know it's beyond argument that the CIA have overthrown (please don't make me go count) roughly an elected leader a year for the past 50 years?  Don't you know they're the right arm of George Bush41?  Don't you know about their origins within the Skull&Bones racist cabal at Yale?  

          Here, try this if you truly don't know there is a secret government in the US going back 50 years, which has been the heart/soul of CIA work.  There are so many sources you can go to - this is what I would call the most readable start.

          How about 9/11/73... and the overthrow of Allende's government?  They really like that number...


          "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

          by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 03:53:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  A different opinion (4.00)
    The reason that it hurts National Security, from the Bushista POV, is that this has become US public knowledge. The disclosure threatens the administration's unfettered repeated breaches of the constitution, ie the law, and their ability to secretly and illegally snoop anywhere at any time. Theoretically, the removal of the naked Emperor from office through impeachment is "a threat to national security".

    Of course the inference that terrorists benefit from the disclosure and that thusly the threat to the nation is totally bogus. But ironically the constitutional crisis arising from this disclosure is a major threat to the national security of the USA.

    Conclusion: George W. Bush's illegal actions are a threat to national security.

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin

    by Marcus Junius Brutus on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:29:14 AM PST

  •  I am tired (4.00)
    of the Administration's justification that they are protecting me when they trample my civil rights.  

    If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything-Mark Twain

    by Desert Rose on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:36:46 AM PST

  •  Hey ponitificator... (none)
    where's your tip jar?

    Check out ePM's great new tool: Timelines!

    by Timroff on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:57:22 AM PST

  •  harming national security (4.00)
    Bush's so-called argument is that revealing a program like this tips off the evildoers. Knowing "now" that their communiques may be monitored, the evildoers will adapt and Bush will be back at square one. I think you smack that nonsense down nicely, pontificator.

    (Aside: Bush allegedly thinks the evildoers "hate us because of our freedoms;" perhaps this is a simpleton's attempt at appeasing Them--eliminate those freedoms the evildoers hate so much and there'll be less terrorism. /kidding)

    My question for Bush would be, if revealing his illegal NSA program gave away too much information to the terrorists, what about those posters at the post office about "how to identify a suspicious package?" They're practically a blueprint for what not to do if you're a terrorist intent on using the mail. Or press releases like this one at the DHS website ("US-VISIT installed biometric entry procedures at the 50 busiest land border ports along the U.S. Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders as of Dec. 29, 2004")? Are those pieces of information just worthless, so it doesn't matter that the evildoers know about them? Or should we be keeping all that under wraps, too? Does Bush really think that complete ignorance is the path to security?

    I know, I know. This is all just gotcha-style hypocrisy sniffing (which has gotten pretty tedious what with all Bush's years of hypocrisy). Bush got caught breaking the law. Full stop. He can't go back and unbreak the law; he's "pot committed." His only move now is to make a huge bluff and hope the Wurlitzer can trick us into folding.

    I am a citizen of the United States. Mine is a nation of laws. I am not afraid to let criminals and terrorists know the rules of engagement. September 11, 2001 did not change everything.

    •  has anyone (4.00)
      ever spent much time on one of the nation's big harbors, out in a boat?

      What will floor a person, in light of all the hassling we go through in airports, is the sheer enormity of potential security breaches on ships.  Ships from everywhere, moored just so far out from shore, ships from just about every named enemy state.

      Who doesn't know that nuclear devices can fit in something the size of a shoebox?  And who can say what's on all of those ships?  If the govt conscripted everyone who drives fords and chevys, there would not be enough personnel to adequately assure us all of security.

      Or who has seen homeland security personnel monitoring most bridges?

      Point is, the terrorism thing is, largely, a hoax. In a land this size, with this much commercial transaction from everywhere, the job simply can't be done, period, as long as commerce and transportaion continue unabated.

      The WALL of Mexico is a ruse.  Come on, the guys in power are the very financial engine of the 3rd Reich (see my diary).  If they cared so much about the economy, how about dealing with the $8,000,000,000,000+ national debt?  40%+ of which is owed to the FED itself (mostly foreign banks)?  Or why give incentives to Mexicans to cross the border?  This is a ruse.  It will eventually contain us, not keep people out.  Look out.  This govt knows nothing but how to lie, steal, kill and destroy.  They spend ALL the tax dollars overseas (on war, whatever).  Which means that we, the taxpayers, are being had.  When we need so desperately for houses to be built HERE we instead get a damned WALL...

      don't even get me started.  The terrorism threat, while real in a small part, is just being exploited to make us all senseless with fear.

      same way the torture is a PR campaign to intimidate everyone, everywhere in the "free world."  Damned if they need information from these many innocent people.  

      "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

      by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:24:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cowardly to the core. (none)
          Yo, stonemason, that wall on the border will never be built. Everyone in Texas knows it's an incredibly stupid boondoogle.  

          The border is incredibly rugged through most of it's length in Texas (and in NMex, Ariz. and California). Some 95% of such a fence would be just fucking useless. Another example of how the Repugs like to throw money at an solution with extremely low odds of success.

          Living in the midst of Hispanics all my life, I know they are an industrious, hard working and inventive people and no fence will contain them. The administration just loves to look down its nose at races and poorer nations, particularly when they think they hold all the bullets. These are cowards - two-bit, moma's boys whiny little cowards who never really want to solve a problem they can exploit for cash.

        Energy and information are the primary elements of the universe.

        by walkshills on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 01:43:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, you could certainly say that the torture (none)
        issue is a PR campaign to intimidate free people.

        Who would think like that, beside Hitlerian insaniacs, with no real grip on reality?

        I mean, the 3rd reicht ultimately failed, too.

        Of course, leave it too a dumb Republican to miss that point.

        •  umm (none)
          the third reich lost its head man in Hitler, but it was financially girded up on Wall Street and a lot of its best money just emmigrated there and took its sweet time - Like a rider getting shot, while the horse gallops on.  This diary I posted yesterday would contend with the idea that the 3rd Reich is gone.  Surprise:  most of their money passed through Bu$h family hands.

          "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" ... Benjamin Franklin

          by stonemason on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 03:58:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Disclosure (none)
    (Of course, if the disclosure were to then go on and identify actual persons under surveillance, then of course that could harm national security -- but clearly that is not what happened here).

    You mean people like Cindy Sheehan, John Kerry, Michael Moore, Joe Wilson, etc.?

    "Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by reef the dog on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:15:28 AM PST

  •  The Whistleblower din't hurt national security (none)
    but Chimpy does with every explanation he gives of the spying program.  Wouldn't you think that whcich calls were tapped (calls incoming from AQ) would be classified material?

    And how could whether or not a warrant is obtained be classified?

  •  It helps domestic enemies only (none)
    As I wrote on Friday, the revelation does not help terrorists. This only helps DOMESTIC OPPONENTS OF BUSH'S POLICIES who have more ammo to use against Bush. This is the only way in which it causes harm to the United States, or to the Bush regime anyway.
  •  Bushco's response probably would be (none)
    (1) Any revelation of secret government methods is ipso facto harmful to the government, and (2) before this particular revelation, terrorists would have assumed that the government needed to get FISA approval of surveillance, which is not flexible enough [!] to respond to terrorists.

    Remember, their claim is that the non-FISA surveillance methods were necessary due to the inflexibility of FISA. If you accept that, then their claim that leaking it was harmful to national security follows logically.

    In effect, this diary is based on a direct contradiction of the primary reason Bushco has given in support of non-FISA surveillance; therefore, it is not going to be convincing to KoolAid drinkers.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the reasons Bushco has given for bypassing FISA don't wash, but their logic on this (given that they obviously accept those reasons) is internally consistent.

    Greg Shenaut

  •  Not only (none)
    has the belated disclosure of high crimes NOT harmed "national security", a term like, "conservative" which has become so larded with Orwellian opposites that it must be spelled in quotation marks, Bush's illegal wiretaps have virtually destroyed any possibility of using any real evidence gained of being used in a proper legal prosecution.  Since the evidence is unlawful, it will be tossed out by any honest judge.

    Of course, Imperator Bush doesn't see the least need to worry about courts and jurisprudence.  He and his gang will just "disappear" anybody they decide is a threat.  I leave it to you to guess who, or what,  might be considered a threat by this oily crowd.

      As long he has a few, sychophantic, second-rate, Wormtongue layers to tell him he's beyond the reach of Congress, the constitution, historical judgement or even his daddy's friends, he will continue to behave like the lazy, venal, nettlesome, willing tool that he is.  History is written by the winners, after all and he doesn't read much anyway.

  •  Pontificator (none)
    Here is a suggestion... add a link to your diary to the dnc ltte page here:  and urge people to write letters.
    Someone below also made the point that bush has done more damage to national security than the leaker, with his admission that only incoming calls are monitored.

    Here is my letter:

    Dear Edidor,

    I am writing in regards to our nation's recent debate about national security and the problem of leaks to the media.

    President Bush and his spokespeople in the Republican Party, including right wing media are presenting the idea that the recent leak of his illegal spying is damaging to national security.  But in fact, it is not.  Our enemies already knew that they could be monitored without their knowledge.  How would knowing the president ordered it to be done without the proper legal procedure change anything?  

    In addition, the Whitehouse had knowledge of this leak a year ago when the New York Times contacted them for a reaction.  The Whitehouse asked the NYT not to do the story and the NYT complied.  So why didn't the Department of Justice start an investigation then?  Why only now that the Plame leak bringing indictments and public hearings?

    In my opinion the Plame leak was a matter of broken national security.  A whole wing of the overseas investigation on WMD was exposed when she was outed.  All of her contacts and information about contacts, gathered over many years, was rendered all but useless.  As we all know, that leak came from the Whitehouse from the office of the VP and, I believe, we are about to find out, from the office of the President.  

    <name, address and phone number>

  •  New bumpersticker: (none)
    W is for Wiretapping
  •  9/11 (none)
    changed everything; didn't you get the new logic implant?

    Next: horses appointed to the senate!

    by Bob Love on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:58:17 AM PST

  •  The outing of Plame was a real threat (none)
    It doesn't even compare to this. As you said this doesn't make sense. PLAME put us and many countries in danger. How many ops and investigations were compromised by that? I hope the Dems wake up and ask that question and lay the facts to the people.
  •  US Justice Dept. (none)
    Why oh why oh why oh, why did I ever leave Ohio?  I'm bummed that our Justice dept. thinks that they should waste their time looking for the leaker on this dumb act of the President and not be looking for the leaker of the Plame incident.  Further they should be looking at the President and his illegal act and take him to task.  Somebody wake up the Justice Dept., the media (oh, excuse me, I should know better then to expect anything of the media, all coporate owned and Bushies,) the American people should be up in arms that this terrifying President is messing with the constitution of the United States of America.  We don't need terrorists, we have BushCo, he is doing more damage than any terrorist could do!  9/11,9/11, 9/11 the chant that gave him permission to rule.  Take it back America.

    The shrub needs to be pulled he is terrifying

    by libbie on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 10:30:35 AM PST

  •  Why the Times Held the Story......... (none)
    We are all missing a potentialy huge point here.
    We are all so quick to criticize The Times for holding the story, citing everything from pure Capitolistic Convenience(The Book that is coming out next week), to conspiracy with the WH in order to insure a win for BushCo in the 2004 election.

    I offer what I think is a reason that makes more sense........

    Is it too far out of the realm of reason to consider the possibility that there are aspects of this story, such as political spying and retaliation, that overlap with the Fitzgerald Investigation of the Plame Leak? If there is in fact overlap, could the Times be afraid of infecting Fitzgerald's Case against the Govt?

    I mean let's use a little logic here people. Any "Political Spying" that were to take place would certainly involve Rove/Cheny. Doesn't the whole issue of using the NSA to spy on Political Opponents fall under their guise?....I would certainly think that it does. I think that it is possible that there are perpetrators in the Plame investigation that would almost certainly have been part of this NSA operation as well. I think that perhaps the Grey Lady might be falling on the sword for the moment in order to temporarily protect the Fitz Investigation. I believe that it is very possible that he has some involvement here. I believe that some of his sources may be the same sources that the Times used in this story, and to fully disclose the true reasons as to WHY BushCo was circumventing FISA would jeapordize Fitz's case. This is the only logical explanation in my mind. I believe that it is possible that NYT contacted Fitz under the guise of "Commenting" on the story prior to release, and he told them that there are Elements to this story[NSA/BushCo]that would jeapordize his case. Both of these stories point back to the same small group of people, the Cabal, so one has to be part of the other.

    I have a feeling that this is going to be a very big week.

  •  Plame was the least of it (none)
    Forgive my laziness not looking this up, but you'll remember it:

    During the RNC Convention, in a shameless act of self-promotion, Bushco announced that they'd caught some big Al Qaeda type lurking in Europe.  Well, foreign intel agents had been tracking the guy for a long time, and were laying a careful trap so they could catch the whole network of the cell.  Bush's leak blew their whole operation; they were furious

    You want to talk about a leak damaging the Great War on Terror?  Not only did Bush's leak blow that particular operation, it has to have damaged enormously the trust of our allies, and our ability to get them to work with us cooperatively.

    And the motive for the leak--the crassest of political opportunism.

  •  It could have harmed NS (none)
    It could have harmed National Security.  Suppose there was strong evidence to believe that somewhere in the FISA system there was a leak to a terrorist group causing that group to be notified of all FISA warrants obtained, or even requested.  So the terrorists know they are being watched when a FISA warrant comes out against them, but otherwise, knowing their mole is reliable, will nto be suspicious.  Now the NYT story comes out and they are suspicious regardless of whether a warrant is taken out against them or not.

    Use your imagination.  There's always a way to spin everything, and, no matter how ludicrous that spin may seem, there's going to be plenty of whackjobs that will believe it.  It all comes down to likelihoods, and who, based on their record, is trustworthy or not.  Based on this I can feel completely confident that Bush is actually circumventing FISA because he wants to wretap potential political rivals to blackmail them or discredit them.

  •  A year ago (none)
    the biggest thing this would have harmed was Bush's chances to be re-elected. Can you imagine if this came out right before the elections? We might have President Kerry right now.
  •  The right won this argument... (none)
    ... the moment they framed it as a question of whether or not bush had the right to break the law to protect national security. In the minds of many people, bush has a right to do ANYTHING to protect national security.  If we want to regain control of the debate, we have to go backward to the argument this the secret wiretapping was never necessary for national security reasons - we were winning that until we let ourselves be dragged off.  We're going to lose even more ground if we let ourselves be dragged further off into the debate over whether the leak damaged national security.  The only appropriate response to anybody who brings up that argument is a shocked expression and a brief statement such as "I'm amazed that you seem to think that the president is so far above the law that exposure of his crimes could be a crime".  
  •  Disclosure of this program (none)
    has threatened the power of the Messiah (Bush) to exercise his divine will.

    If the evil Democrats take his powers, he will not be able to protect us all from the evil-doers.

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

    by tricky dick on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 02:40:52 PM PST

  •  The War on Logic (none)

    All men are mortal.

    Socrates is a man.

    Therefore, Socrates is a terrorist.

    If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

    by HenryDavid on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 03:03:35 PM PST

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