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In a press conference yesterday afternoon, SJC chairman Patrick Leahy informed us that the White House failed to comply with a subpoena requesting documents detailing the legal basis for the Warrantless Wiretapping Program.

However, during the press conference, Leahy indicated that the Office of the Vice President had responded to the subpoena with a letter, listing documents in the Vice President's Office that were responsive to the subpoena.

The Vice President's list of documents reveal that the Warrantless Wiretapping Program was continued unchanged for at least 9 days, despite knowledge that the program was illegal.

Dan Eggen at the Washington Post reports on the contents of the Vice President's document list and notes that the list sheds light on changes made to the NSA-drive Surveillance Program in response to the findings by James Comey that the program had "no legal basis".

(Blockquote text from Eggen Article)
The List includes dates of:

43 separate authorizations from President Bush for the program, which had to be renewed approximately every 45 days beginning on Oct. 4, 2001.

The letter also lists dates, from October 2001 through February 2005, for 10 legal memoranda from the Justice Department.

We know from Comey's SJC testimony that the legal analysis of the program had been ongoing for months in early 2004, and that Comey's objection to the program was communicated to Ashcroft, who concurred, on March 4, 2004.  Comey's refusal as acting Attorney General to sign off on behalf of the DOJ for reauthorization prompted the infamous Hospital Signature Mission.  This incredible dark-of-night excursion by Card and Gonzales to extract approval for the program from the critically-ill Ashcroft was thwarted by Janet Ashcroft, Ashcroft's Chief of staff and James Comey, with the support of Robert Mueller and FBI agents:

The disclosure of the existence of the documents and their dates sheds new light on some events surrounding the NSA program, including a now-famous legal dispute in March 2004. A half-dozen senior Justice officials threatened to resign if the White House did not agree to change parts of the program that Justice lawyers had determined were illegal.

Despite knowledge that the NSA-driven Surveillance Program had been found to be illegal by DOJ lawyers, and despite a desperate but failed attempt to get an approval signature from a delerious Ashcroft, The Program was reauthorized unchanged by Bush on March 11, 2004.

We now know from the OVP letter to SJC Chairman Patrick Leahy
that:
Bush ordered The Program, known to be illegal, continued unaltered for 9 days before it was amended on March 19, 2004.  The Program was changed a second time with an amendment on April 2, 2004, 23 days after reauthorization:  

Coffin's letter indicates that Bush signed memos amending the program on March 19 and April 2 of that year.

As noted by NC Dem in the comments below, this latter date is probably the change that resulted in the program conforming to DOJ legal objections, as Comey's written testimony (PDF) noted:

b. How long did the classified program continue without legal certification from DoJ?
I don’t recall exactly, but believe it was approximately several weeks.

We still do not know what aspects of The Program Comey and other Justice Department Lawyers found to be illegal.  We do not know how these illegal aspects were altered to remove the DOJ objection.  But it is clear that the knowingly illegal program was continued for 9, and probably 23, days after the March 11, 2004 reauthorization.

Conclusions
Yesterday, many of us voiced frustration that the Admninistration had not produced documents in response to the SJC subpoena, and that Leahy seemed powerless to compel disclosure.  Yet clearly as a result of the SJC investigations and subpoenas, Leahy has elicited a new document that adds more information to the puzzle of Bush Administration malfeasance.

The administration should be compelled to disclose not only the legal justification for all of the activities included in the NSA-driven Surveillance Program, but also what the justification was for continuing the program despite knowledge that it was illegal.

Although knowledge of illegality does not change the basic fact that an illegal act is committed, it does show intent.  It changes the constitutional violation committed by the Bush Administration from Constitutional Manslaughter, to Constitutional Murder in the First Degree.
.
.
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For an excellent timeline and further analysis of the Program amendments, please see this post by emptywheel at The Next Hurrah.
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.
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Update: On SECRET MEMORANDA
One important exercise left incomplete in the Eggen article is connecting the dots regarding the dates of the 10 legal memoranda related to The Program that were disclosed in the Cheney Letter:

 title=

There are 6 legal memoranda pre-dating the March 10, 2004 Hospital Showdown that allegedly pertain to the NSA-driven Surveillance Program.  Cheney's letter notes that these memoranda "were not rendered to the Office of the Vice President (suggesting they may be retained within the White House, presumably to be covered by a future claim of Executive Privilege).  However, Comey's testimony asserts that he was unaware of the existence of any legal memoranda prior to March 10, 2004.

d. Did the response include any legal opinion or memorandum from the White House, or any other federal agency related to the classified program? If so, please identify what individual(s) or entities prepared and reviewed the legal opinion or memorandum.
I am not aware of any other such memorandum or legal opinion prior to March 10,

  1. Some time shortly after March 10, I received a memorandum from White

House Counsel Gonzales.

Does this Comey statement indicate that the DOJ Lawyers charged with reviewing the legality of the NSA-driven Surveillance Program were not given existing memoranda on the legality of The Program when they were conducting their analysis?
Is the conflict between the Comey Testimony and the newly disclosed existence of DOJ memoranda evidence of the "compartmentalization" that was hindering effective review, and the source of Ashcroft's March 10, 2004 complaint noted in the Mueller notes?

If so, who was the original author(s) of the 6 memoranda, and where are these memoranda?  It is time for a direct subpoena to the DOJ....

Marty Lederman at Balkinization makes a good case that the author of the prior legal analysis was John Yoo.

Originally posted to drational on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 04:27 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Leahy might as well site contemp of Congress (12+ / 0-)

    the day the Senate comes back from their break, as it will take the Supreme Court (if America is lucky) to get the Bushie's to even consider giving up the documents.  Even that, I guess, would not be enough to make them hand over anything incriminating.  Still, they have to start somewhere, and soon.

    Adequate resources are necessary for feasible tasks. -6.00, -6.21

    by funluvn1 on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 04:29:21 AM PDT

  •  Leahy is not what most people think, he (15+ / 0-)

    is like a dog with a bone and won't let go of this issue. Patience does pay off.

    Progressive Dems should be reborn as Aggressive Dems and 1) get out of Iraq asap 2) impeach Cheney then Bush 3) elect Gore.

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 04:33:19 AM PDT

  •  Peter Weihner is on Washington Journal (6+ / 0-)

    right now. He is talking about the spy program and the fact that the Dems. will not get the info they seek. Someone needs to ask him who paid his salary in the WH.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 04:44:35 AM PDT

  •  Executive privilege? (10+ / 0-)

    The administration should be compelled to disclose not only the legal justification for all of the activities included in the NSA-driven Surveillance Program, but also what the justification was for continuing the program despite knowledge that it was illegal.

    I don't see how they can claim EP on this.
    This isn't a case of protecting an environment where the president can solicit candid opinions from people who might not be willing to do so as a matter of public record.
    This is an official government program. Congress not only has the right, but an obligation to know it's scope, rationale and legal underpinnings. To argue otherwise is to argue for the repeal of the constitution.

    •  As I understand it, executive privilege (13+ / 0-)

      whithers in the face of a criminal investigation.  Clearly, there is now a clear inference in the release of the document list provided by OVP that the program was operated outside the law.

      It would seem that what is required is for Congress to officially initiate a criminal investigation and demand the requested documents.  While the ensuing legal wrangling wends its way through the courts, inherent contempt proceedings proceed apace, and the dungeon can be filled with those who continue to stonewall and obstruct the investigation.

      Impeachment for all is put back on the table.  The hope that we will reclaim a functional democracy returns.  The dark clouds of this administration begin to lift.

      Yeah, I know..... but it sure feels good to think it could really happen that way.

      •  Executive Privilege is whatever they want (6+ / 0-)

        and can get away with.  So far, they're getting away with damn near everything.  Until the Supreme Court decides that Executive Privilege doesn't apply, anything and everything that this administration does is covered by it if they want it to be.

        These arguments about Executive Privilege going away are made based upon past responsible quasi-ethical administrations.  Nothing is going to shame these folks; nothing is going to force them to change their minds.  They know there's too little time left in the term.  They've won.

        Our only hope is the next administration is a Democrat and they don't decide to just look forward, but they also look back to find enough shreds of the documents and electronic data to prosecute.  Anyone know of a good bookie where I can wager that Bush and his administration get away scot free?

    •  Justification? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JoeWPgh

      but also what the justification was for continuing the program despite knowledge that it was illegal.

      Any justiffication is irrelevant. Tt was illegal, they knew it was illegal, and they knowingly continued breaking the law. That's all we need to know.

      If some guy robs a bank, you don't ask why, you throw him in jail.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 10:00:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do we know yet the nature of the objections (6+ / 0-)

    Comey and others voiced regarding the surveillance program? Were the objections about types of surveillance, or about mechanisms for DOJ and/or judicial review?

    The reason I ask, is because, if the dispute were over review, it seems to me that there are zero grounds for keeping information out of the public domain. The WH cannot, I think,  claim that "internal deliberations are privileged" when it comes to Congressional access and public deliberation over legislative, constitutional, and criminal matters.

    The name is not the thing named, the map is not the territory. -- Gregory Bateson

    by semiot on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 05:09:43 AM PDT

  •  A couple of comments... (25+ / 0-)

       First, the visit to the bedside of Ashcroft occurred around 8:30 PM and not near midnight. Comey and Olsen did go to the WH after 11:00 PM to meet with Card one final time. This meeting occurred after Comey had met with key leaders of DOJ around 9:00-10:00 PM to discuss the situation and brief everyone on the path forward. The fact that 8-10 leaders of the DOJ would continue to meet on this issue after 9:00 PM lends importance to what the DOJ felt about this effort to authorize an illegal program.
       The date of March 4th that is used in the diary refers to the meeting with Comey and Ashcroft to review the legal problems with the program. Meetings with Goldsmith, Philpin and others from DOJ had been continuing for over 2 months according to Comey. Although no definitive decision was made until March 9th and communicated to Cheney and Addington on that date, the EO knew for months that the program was under the microscope but not dead in the water until immediately before the the March 11 deadline.
       Although Dan Eggen lists two dates after March 11th where Bush signs amendments to the program, we know from Comey's testimony that DOJ did not sign off on the program for weeks. Thus, my assumption is that date of April 2 is probably the date that had DOJ support. The real problem is that even on that date, we don't know if it was legal. It may simply be that the facets of the program that was listed on the authorization were those that could be deemed legal and those that were illegal were dropped from the form but maybe not discontinued.
        Thanks, Drational for keeping us updated on this.

    Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

    by NC Dem on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 05:22:57 AM PDT

    •  Excellent points (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xrepublican, donnamarie, ezdidit, Lujane

      "midnight" was not intended to denote a specific time point, but I updated for clarity.
      I also incorporated several of your other excellent points.
      Thanks

    •  Ashcroft's virtues maybe not a blessing for Bush (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drational

      I guess Bush and his brain-trust picked Ashcroft because of his staunch conservative and strongly evangelical religious background, but maybe his adherence to the word of the law was just a bit too much.

      Maybe Bush should have realized earlier on that if he was going to run a crooked ship he'd need a crooked crew and not any straight arrows like John "Let the Eagle Soar" Ashcroft.

      "The best way to determine what a person wants is by surveying what he gets." -Erle Stanley Gardner

      by KOTCrum on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 05:43:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you give him too much credit... (11+ / 0-)

           John Ashcroft was a very conservative person and pushed for lowering the wall between the FISA enforcement and criminal/civil investigations in 2002. This simply continued the efforts of the Clinton administration in 1995 when even more egregious changes were made. Thus far, the only publicly released documents from the FISA court were released in 2002 in response to the push by Ashcroft. The court (I believe) was crying for help from the public to thwart the move to the right on diminishing the 4th amendment.
           I think the current request from Bush to respond to ACLU's request for documents is the second cry for help. Ashcroft to his credit may not have been fully informed of the "program" in 2001-2004 because of John Yoo and his connections with Cheney and Addington. If there are heroes in all this, it should stay with Jack Goldsmith, Patrick Philpin, and James Comey. I firmly believe John Ashcroft was forced to act by Comey and the program would have continued for longer without James Comey.
           I have always been intrigued by the term Comey used in his public testimony in May, 2007 when he said the after the meeting with Ashcroft, he said "we agreed on a plan of action". This means that they knew there would be push-back and a fight from Cheney and Addington. What was this "plan"? Did it include resignations? I have always thought it interesting that Ashcroft went immediately ("within hours") into the hospital on March 4th after their "plan of action". Most people think I'm putting my tinfoil hat on about this point. I'll withhold judgement until the truth emerges.

        Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

        by NC Dem on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:17:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  this was the only way it could morph IMHO (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NC Dem, xrepublican, drational, Lujane

      It may simply be that the facets of the program that was listed on the authorization were those that could be deemed legal and those that were illegal were dropped from the form but maybe not discontinued.

      "Well, we're a little disturbed by the situation in the Middle East, but other than that..." Cyril, Breaking Away (1979)

      by peaceloveandkucinich on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:22:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Could it be as simple as that? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peaceloveandkucinich

        The fact that they deemed it illegal means they saw 'something'?

        Of course we can't push for 'what he saw' because of 'national security'.

        So we find ourself with a foot nailed to the floor.

        We can verify that whatever it was was illegal (at least because of the threat of resignations), which were conducted for sometime. Maybe we should focus on that and impeachment and/or inherent contempt. NOW.

  •  What the helll ??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, drational

    Leahy looked like he was quite embarrassed to be saying this stuff out in public....like he was carrying somebody else's water, or something.

    The only thing that "responsible" Repuglics (Specter?) can do to save their elephant from extinction is move to contempt proceedings before the entire Senate.  It will be good to take their names now so we can kick their asses later.  

    Somebody needs to pimp their ride, and a Democrat like Leahy is the likeliest person to prevent their meltdown, give them a paint job by allowing them to distance themselves from the criminal political conspirators currently in the White House.

    If Leahy plays this right, the thing will grow legs and --- hoo-raw!!! --- the Senate may even unseat the nitwits!!

    Lieberman must be quite conflicted about this hoo hah!

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

    by ezdidit on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 05:38:31 AM PDT

  •  Blue Dog Dems Are In Effect Repubs On This (8+ / 0-)

    A big reason for the Dem leadership passivity are the Blue Dog Dems, closer to the GOP than the Democratic base on the occupation of Iraq and illegal warrantless domestic spying.

    Is Reid putting the kibosh on contempt proceedings?

    One gets the impression there are only a few dozen Dem senators that actually care about the constituition.

    'It's deja vu all over again'-Yogi Berra

    by frandor55 on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:13:05 AM PDT

    •  yah, a lot of ex repubs came to the dem tent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, frandor55, xaxado

      out of disgust with their party.  This did not change them into progressives or anything approaching the left.  They just hated the thugs and crooks who had taken over "their" party.  Now they act as a drag on any attempt at real change.  Helped, of course, by Hoyer and Lieberman et al, who are corrupt moles.  IMHO, that is.

      Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.

      by Glorfindel on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:48:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To me that is the most depressing part ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frandor55

      All this could simply be window dressing for those, down level, (potential whistle blowers for example) who "KNOW".

      Which in effect, gives the admin cover, which makes the blue dogs even more conniving.

      Very distressing.

  •  Excellent analysis, as always. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frandor55, zbctj52, NC Dem, drational

    The Canary in the Coalmine is available for purchase at patriotictruthteller.net

    by Jesselyn Radack on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:33:48 AM PDT

  •  The review that Goldsmith and Philpin... (6+ / 0-)

       conducted was focused on the current program and did not involve the program as it existed before the last 45 day period. This may be one reason that Comey testified that he had not seen any previous legal arguments for the program. This may also be part of the way to compartmentalize the research on the program.
       In Comey's  written testimony, he did indicate that both he and Jack Goldsmith had submitted legal arguments on the program. Basically, these arguments would support that the program was being operated illegally. Both of these reports were submitted shortly after March 10th when they failed to re-authorize the program. This would be the most interesting document to analyze and the date should be around March 12-15th.

    Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

    by NC Dem on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:38:39 AM PDT

    •  Hmmm (5+ / 0-)

      Goldsmith and Philbin had been reviewing the program for "weeks to months" per Comey.  It is unbelievable that they would not have access to prior legal memoranda on which to help base their analysis.

      If so, then this compartmentalization is clearly nefarious.
      I agree that the SJC needs the Comey and Goldsmith analysis, as well as all prior legal memoranda to get an idea of the extent of the dysfunction in the administration, as well as the questionable legal underpinnings to whatever it was they were doing....

      •  Maybe nobody inside DOJ knew the details (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rincewind, xrepublican, xaxado

        of the NSA program(s).

        Yoo's original memo may just have been based on his general BS argument about the president being entitled to do just about anything as commander in chief in wartime.

        What Comey said was that the original program was "without legal basis."  That may just have meant he had never seen arguments giving it a legal basis that held water in his opinion.  And that may have been because he wouldn't accept Yoo's BS argument.  We know he rejected it in the case of the torture memo.

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:15:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Comey (8+ / 0-)

          was unaware of the existence of prior memoranda.  Given that he was working with Goldsmith and Philbin on the legal assessment, I don't think any of them ever saw the prior Yoo memos....
          They were compartmentalized out of the loop.

          I'd resign too if they wanted my signature on somethink I was not permitted to read.

        •  I think he never saw any documents... (6+ / 0-)

             not just those that he concurred with. In the note above, I conjectured that the Comey/Goldsmith documents would have been filed between March 12-15th. It appears that March 15th was correct. See the actual letter from Coffin to Leahy at TPM.

             On page two we see March 15th as one of the dates for legal analysis. I also note that May 6th also has a legal analysis. I would suggest that maybe the amendments made to the program on March 19th and April 2 may NOT be the times for DOJ to finally approve the program. It indeed may have been as late as May 5th. Comey said "weeks". Please note that it was amended on May 5th and a legal analysis was done by DOJ (we assume) on May 6th. This is the first legal analysis since the March 15th one by Goldsmith and Comey that found the program illegal. Thus my reasoning for saying that the program actually operated illegally (without DOJ approval) for 56 days and not the 9 or 25 listed in the diary. Any other thoughts on this?

          Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

          by NC Dem on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:34:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If my surmise is right that Yoo just used his (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rincewind, mataliandy, drational, xaxado

            general BS argument, I can't imagine why Comey, Goldsmith, and Philbin would have been denied access to his memos.  (Philbin I believe was even at OLC when Yoo wrote the memos.)

            So maybe, if it's true, that's evidence that his memos contained some details about the NSA program(s).

            The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

            by lysias on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:51:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  authorship (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lysias
              Any time a trail seems to end at Yoo, bet your last dollar it really leads to Addington.

              If you call a chimp a president, how many presidents do we have? One: DICK.

              by rincewind on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:22:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yoo and Addington have no doubt been closely (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rincewind

                associated for years.

                But, unlike, say, Gonzales, Yoo is perfectly capable of writing legal memos on his own.  He's a graduate of Yale Law School, clerked for Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, and is rumored to have essentially authored some of Thomas's more extreme opinions.

                But I suspect that, when Yoo was asked to stay behind in his office in the Justice Department building the morning of 9/11 when the building was evacuated, Addington was involved in asking him to stay behind.

                The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

                by lysias on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:29:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  When Cheney was SecDef, 1989-93, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rincewind

                Addington was first his special assistant, and then DOD General Counsel.

                I've never heard about any interest they may have taken in NSA (technically within DOD) at the time, but I wonder what their attitude towards the agency was.

                The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

                by lysias on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:35:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  keep in mind that (6+ / 0-)
      this list of "documents that may be responsive to the subpoena" is only what Cheney is choosing to tell Leahy about (while disclaiming any ownership of them -- we're supposed to believe OVP just got 'courtesy copies' of White House/DOJ docs). There are no docs initiated out of the OVP on the list. I'm thinking the listed docs really ARE out of OVP's effective control -- that is, there are multiple avenues to get at them -- so OVP will admit to having these docs because they could come out anyway through one of the other sources? And when they do come out, nobody would believe that OVP didn't have 'em?

      We have active reason to believe this list is incomplete: "We continue our efforts to identify further documents that may be responsive"; and no reason to believe that OVP will admit the existence of any docs they can retain sole control of (to bury deep enough).

      IOW, OVP is only telling us what they think we're going to find out from somebody else, while leaving the door open to "find" more if the stonewalling breaks down.

      If you call a chimp a president, how many presidents do we have? One: DICK.

      by rincewind on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:47:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Problem I'm seeing with this.... (4+ / 0-)

    I am not seeing or hearing the public outrage that I should be. Why? If the public doesn't show that they are damn mad, nothing is going to come of this either. It seems like over and over we think they have hung themselves, but it looks like it may be that we are the only ones watching. Sigh. I don't mean to be such a downer, maybe some of the rest of you have been having different experiences. That would be great to hear about.

    In any case, I hope this does go somewhere. Thanks for the diary and the info! :-)

    No Retreat Baby, No Surrender

    by WI Dem on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:50:09 AM PDT

    •  That is a very good point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frandor55, zbctj52, Leo in NJ

      and I believe it has to do with how the issue is presented to the public. "Warrantless Wiretapping" seems remote, technical and boring (sorry, drat). "Domestic Spying" seems remote from ordinary people. If it turned out, as many suspect, that Amanpour's phone (CNN) was tapped, that would start raising some eyebrows. But if it can be shown that "Rove was watching every movement of Ms. XYZ, cheerleader from Arkansas" you got a slam dunk. Innocent white blonde targeted by evil white house man: hey, even CNN may get on board!

      Well? Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

      by whenwego on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:01:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy

        Illegal wiretapping is supposedly justified by extraordinary need to defend the "homeland" against terorist attack. Sketchy, but let's not argue that for now. We can't have people blowing up Chicago.

        If it was also used to, say, copy the confidential communications of the Kerry campaign to Karl Rove's office, that would be your smoking BFG.

        Given everything else we know about this crew, why should we think they wouldn't have done that?

      •  Exactly! n/t (0+ / 0-)

        No Retreat Baby, No Surrender

        by WI Dem on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 04:19:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  What we need is a good old... (0+ / 0-)

      fashioned MSM breach. A champion in the MSM that does not let the story die. KOlbermann! He'll have to tell his producers to dump the Paris Pony Show :)

  •  yet they gave them 6 more months to wiretap ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, drational

    I don't understand how they can be pursuing this at the same time giving BushCo. 6 more months of wiretap authority.

    It could be the only purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.

    by eyewall on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:06:06 AM PDT

  •  It is this simple, really (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, smkngman, xaxado

    and we can thank all of those who either gave their consent or refused to block the nominations of Roberts and Alito.

    They know they can win.  They want to flash it in the face of Congress for two purposes: 1) to provoke a Constitutional showdown that they are certain will be voted their way in SCOTUS or tossed back at them as the Court has done repeatedly through the years as a spat between two equals that they must resolve thus elongating the process until they are out of office; and, 2) because they can use the whole process to say "See how unhinged Democrats are?" when the Ds show their anger or "See, they're losers and never had a real case, they just like to litigate like all Ds" if SCOTUS does rule on it.

    They want a real confrontation because they want to have precedent exhibiting the overriding power of the Executive Branch to do whatever the fuck it wants.  Why, when Ds could become president?  Because it is the only branch which they have owned for the better part of the last forty years, because they are able to present faux cowboys as best for American leadership and the people swoon, because even when a D is in the WH, their media machine and relentless propaganda ensures no D President is ever able to enact a program truly representing the interests of the American people, and because any D politician faced with such a barrage will happily acquiesce to the right wing occasionally to burnish their right-wing credentials... always to no avail, mind you.

    In short, they know that they needn't fear a D WH and they are confident they will continue winning the WH for the Rs.

    Give me ten lines from a good man and I'll find something in there to hang him. - Cardinal Richelieu

    by lgrooney on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:12:24 AM PDT

  •  I just don't get it (5+ / 0-)

    I called Leahy's office yesterday, too, and urged him to use his power of Inherent Contempt and put a stop to this B.S. right now. I don't believe the old "they must have something on them" line -- if that were true, and they threatened to use it, case in point that they're spying unnecessarily. In which case, if I were any Dem Senator, I'd respond, "Bring it on, a**hole."
    WHY won't the Dems show a little muscle. Don't they know how positively thrilled we'd all be? Sheesh, the wave of frustrated American props alone would carry them to their graves. Seriously, I just don't get it.

    A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.

    by charlestown dem on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 07:22:05 AM PDT

  •  Biding their time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lysias

    They know they are on the clock.

    They'll send Leahy stuff that keeps him chasing his tail but that is it - anticipate that!

    What Leahy needs is a megaphone - CSPAN does not cut it. Neither does Kos. In this case, yelling louder - to more people - seems appropriate. Or impeachment. Preferrably impeachment :)

    Something like this, I bet, is on deck.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

  •  Comey's Fix and Executive Privilege (6+ / 0-)

    Whatever acting AG Comey and his team objected to, he and Bush worked something out that provided adequate cover in less than a month.  What this fix consisted of is really at the heart of the matter.  Comey needs to be called again to testify in camera but under oath with a transcript.  The subpoena might well be met with yet another claim of executive privilege.

    Democrats are afraid to take claims of executive privilege to the Supreme Court because Chief Justice Roberts was once assistant to Fred Fielding, current White House Counsel who controls the executive privilege strategy.  Which is why this oversight thing has become an exercise in toothless chewing.  Nobody want to give Roberts a chance to write a new opinion endorsing the unitary executive theory -- which he probably would do.

    Democrats are fraidy cats.  Time to become tigers, as Buhdy so often stresses.  The showdown should be over subpoenaed testimony regarding Comey's fix -- that will unravel everything else.  Executive Privilege?  Force Roberts to recuse himself or impeach him.  Every Democrat in Congress should sign onto that in blood -- no exceptions!

    My own theory is that Comey's reservations had to do with unwarranted data mining, and the fix took that offshore and put it into the hands of contractors.  It could have involved a foreign government, in which case a state secret defense might be invoked.  Let's deal with that when we get there. At least it's worth a try!

    •  Why didn't the original program use a foreign (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rincewind, zbctj52, xrepublican, xaxado

      agency the way the Echelon system has been rumored to work for years (in exchange for, say, GCHQ spying on U.S. persons and providing the U.S. government with the resulting intel, NSA spies on UK persons for GCHQ)?  I think that really boils down to the same question as why they didn't go through the FISA court.

      Whatever they were doing, it was something they didn't want either FISA judges or GCHQ bureaucrats to find out they were doing.

      Which really smells

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:12:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Doj docs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rincewind, drational, lurks a lot

    I'm putting together some thoughts on collecting docs/material to help the process of collaboration and hopefully sheading some light on the warrantless wiretapping.

    A wiki may very well be the best format for this but a google group may be quicker and that is prob where we'll start.

    -------
    A Forum/Group (name DojDocs??) - much like here - but longer running.

    Description:"Sheading light on the warrantless wiretapping by the DOJ"

    Threads would serve as free form investigative collaboration - just like they do here (making them redundant maybe?)

    -------
    Pages - more 'formal documents' - each maintained by one (or few) individual(s) meant to highlight a particular aspect of the investigation.

    1. Intro:warrantless wiretapping by the DOJ
    • Goal - provide a succint starting point and gist of problem.
    1. Dates - in chron order - hopefully graphically informative
    1. People - who and why and links
    1. Links - most pertenent collection - maybe in chron order?
    1. Legal - what are the most important legal aspects/definitions to consider? What it legal? Why? Etc. (good for the lawyer type )

    -----------

    Should the forum be public/restricted? I think public but I'm not sure. Thoughts?

    Me, I think it should be LOUD AND PUBLIC. This is America, still. The pages will be maintained and less free-flow but public as well?

    ------------

    Suggestions / objections ?

  •  Following the money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rincewind, lysias

    The assumption is that whatever form spying took under the secret program, the intent was counterterrorism.  Another possibility exists: financial datamining in support of civil seizure.

    Entirely tinfoil, but we might well consider that asset seizure is a well-developed system that could be extended from anti-drug programs to many others, including suppression of political enemies.

    Datamining is a poor way to track individuals who may be plotting attacks.  It's an excellent way to build financial documentation.

  •  How would Cheney's office have copies of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, chimpy, drational

    documents if they were not rendered to it?

    The only way I can think of is if the documents were authored in the Office of the Vice President (even though the documents include 43 separate authorizations by President Bush.)

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:53:43 AM PDT

  •  Wasn't there already something on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy

    Does this Comey statement indicate that the DOJ Lawyers charged with reviewing the legality of the NSA-driven Surveillance Program were not given existing memoranda on the legality of The Program when they were conducting their analysis?

    That Gonzales / Bush did not allow the oversight of the NSA / DOJ to go forward and everyone was yelling at the time that the people perpatrating the crime where the ones blocking the oversight by their own agency.

    Gosh - I only read stuff - cannot remember specifics - this is a job for TPM!

    Turn Virginia Blue - 2007 21/51

    by totallynext on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 09:40:32 AM PDT

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