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It was apt that West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller chose Halloween to publish an op-ed in the Washington Post that once again tried to justify warrantless surveillance of US citizens by invoking the specter of 9/11.

(I quote from Sen. Rockefeller's op-ed)

In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, the Bush administration had a choice: Aggressively pursue potential terrorists using existing laws or devise new, secret intelligence programs in uncharted legal waters.

. . . .

Within weeks of the 2001 attacks, communications companies received written requests and directives for assistance with intelligence activities authorized by the president. These companies were assured that their cooperation was not only legal but also necessary because of their unique technical capabilities. They were also told it was their patriotic duty to help protect the country after the devastating attacks on our homeland.

Though I for one am not scared by the regurgitated talking points of the cowardly and oft-bunkered Vice President Dick-in-a-Box, I am terrified that a purportedly fully briefed Senator—a Democrat, no less—thinks that any of us should be satisfied with his contorted explanations for illegal spying and retroactive immunity.

Glenn Greenwald does a fine job of debunking the circular logic used by Jell-O Jay as he tries to distract us from his cozy relationship with the people and companies that he’s indemnifying, but he misses what is to me the most glaring fabrication.

In case you missed it, let me reprise a select sentence:

Within weeks of the 2001 attacks, communications companies received written requests and directives for assistance with intelligence activities authorized by the president.

Well, I’m tired of niceties on this one, so I’m just going to state it plain; THIS. IS. A. LIE.

As has been noted in books, newspapers (and here), e-magazines (and here, and here), wire services, and blogs (and here, and here, and here, and here, to link to but a handfull) repeatedly over the last two years, the Bush Administration, directly from the White House or through the NSA, approached telecommunications companies about eavesdropping and data-mining on US citizens within the United States over six months before the attacks of 9/11/01. This assessment has now been confirmed by documents unsealed in the case of former Qwest head Joseph Nacchio.

Since we believe that J-Rock, as a then ranking member of the SSCI, was briefed on some or all of these warrantless spy programs early on, and since he now assures us that he’s seen all appropriate documents concerning telco involvement, unless by “within weeks of the 2001 attacks” Rocky means within 27 weeks before the attacks, Senator Rockefeller is lying. He is not only invoking 9/11 to once again scare Americans into accepting unfettered violations of their privacy, he is using the terrorist acts of 2001 to directly deceive us about the nature and intent of the illegal surveillance programs.

I perhaps am not overwhelmingly shocked that another senator has been compromised by administrations bullying and corporate cash, but I am a little dismayed that critics of Rockefeller, the new Senate FISA re-write, and the Bush Administration’s domestic spying programs in general, still often fail to cite this very disturbing and revealing truth.

It is not simply a matter of scheduling; it goes to the root of all arguments both for and against the surveillance programs. Since the telecommunications companies were approached by the administration in February of 2001, then none of this is a response to the attacks of 9/11. And, since the spying is not a response to those events, then what were the NSA and the White House looking for?

If they were looking for terrorist conversations, then the September ‘01 attacks prove that the program was a flop. In fact, it is possible to go so far as to say that the giant dragnets cast by the intel/telco partnership flooded the NSA with so much data that it actually overwhelmed the system and buried much more valuable and readily apparent terrorist signal intelligence.

As I struggle to remain up to speed on illegal surveillance issues, I know all too well that there is a heck of a lot to read out there, but I think it essential that on this key point, all off us, the SSCI, the establishment media, and the blogosphere, need to be on the same page. Warrantless domestic surveillance of US citizens by the Bush Administration started long before the 2001 hijackings. Bush, Cheney, their attorneys, their intelligence bureaucracy, and the telecom industry may all have their reasons for collecting signal intelligence on Americans without a court order, but, back when the spying started, 9/11 wasn’t one of them.

. . . . .
(cross-posted on capitoilette)

Originally posted to Red Wind on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 10:31 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  *How much* might be in question (15+ / 0-)

    But whether is not.

    Reasonable minds seem to have a variety of opinions on what degree of domestic surveillance existed before 9/11—what was part of TIA, what was part of Groundbreaker, What was part of Pioneer-Groundbreaker—but, IMO, after reading so much on this, I am pretty darn sure that the Bush Admin went ahead with programs that spied on Americans without court approval long before the September attacks.

    Though I have no tolerance for warrantless surveillance before or after 9/11, I think the fact that the spying started without terrorist provocation makes a world of difference to the current debate. . . and how many Americans might perceive it.

    I find it hard to fathom, but it feels as if many key Democrats still don’t believe that the Republican Party would use the intelligence community to do opposition research and suppress dissent.

    This is not about security, just like the US Attorneys scandal is not about partisanship. Both WH initiatives are about grabbing and holding power. I see this—why doesn’t my party?

    Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

    by Red Wind on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 10:36:18 PM PST

  •  and those wire taps sure saved out bacon (6+ / 0-)

    without them, we might not have stopped those attack oh, wait...
    damn
    maybe the problem was they were looking for profits, not foreigners?

    The Nation Guard: They're in firefights over there, so they can't fight fires over here

    by askyron on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 10:47:40 PM PST

  •  You got it here,very good diary (7+ / 0-)

    Warrantless domestic surveillance of US citizens by the Bush Administration started long before the 2001 hijackings. Bush, Cheney, their attorneys, their intelligence bureaucracy, and the telecom industry may all have their reasons for collecting signal intelligence on Americans without a court order, but, back when the spying started, 9/11 wasn’t one of them.

     Why is Jay Rockerfeller falsifying the history and aiding and abetting the power grab and spying constitutional violations?  Is it he agrees with the need to defend these power groups in that grab for power over ordinary Americans(regardless of his "Democratic senator' credentials). Doesn't he actually (not in words,except his waffles and squirms) allow the president with dictatorial powers?

     He wrote an apologia for rolling over on FISA with the WSJ op ed previously and now this piece. Why is J  Rock carrying water for the  outrages (unpublicized) of the Bush administration?

    America has been stolen, your citizenship is a hollow fraud, and you have no power. What will YOU do to reverse these hurts, crimes, outrages?

    by Pete Rock on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 10:50:55 PM PST

  •  I believe the critical part of this (5+ / 0-)

    is the Bush administration and their enablers like the jello spine Jay R don't want Americans to know the spying was ramped up as soon as Bush got into office many months and even years before 911. the  attacks were an excuse for a quick expansion. But nothing more useful was done that wasn't already done, the dragnet didn't amount to any real extensive or useful "terrorist' capture but it made illegal and secret spying on Americans routine.

     They are pushing the lie this was all AFTER 911 to "improve' an emergency situation. The truth they were doing it all along and were intending to ramp it up regardless of 911 is the dirty deep secret they are afraid to share.

    America has been stolen, your citizenship is a hollow fraud, and you have no power. What will YOU do to reverse these hurts, crimes, outrages?

    by Pete Rock on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 10:57:15 PM PST

    •  White House taping system (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Red Wind, gem spa

      I'm having trouble finding references, but I remember one of the very first things bush/cheney did when they picked the lock on the WH in 2001 was dismantle the White House Taping system. As the ensuing carnage of the "administration" played out, i chalked that bit of caution destruction of evidence as cheney's way of keeping his Energy Task Force meetings on the QT.
      I'm wondering now if that was the of a piece with the initiation of spying on the rest of us.

      Has anybody got a link to documentation of this?

      Apparently only elections of Republicans have consequences. My bad.

      by kamarvt on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:12:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bush in an interview in '04 about 9/11... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Wind, Ekaterin, Rex Manning, kyril

    ...this is spooky. He acts snake-bit:

    08.04.07 It took the Titanic longer to sink than for the 110th Congress to surrender to Bush.

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 11:01:11 PM PST

    •  who is it that's asking the question? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ImpeachKingBushII

      I don't recognize the reporter, but the question is pure FoxSpeak. It "seems" Dean was saying. . . puh-leez! The question was clearly a soft-toss softball, and Bush whiffs it.

      While I do find his response weird as shit, his mumble-stammer could also be from a big night in front of the mini bar, an ear-piece malfunction, or a complete lack of interest in the subject. . . .

      While I put nothing past these venal bastards, I tend to believe that while a different president might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, Bush did not have a hand in planning them or consciously allowing them to happen. . . . Call me naive. . . I've been wrong before.

      Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

      by Red Wind on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 11:27:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In a word, I don't know... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Red Wind, truong son traveler

        ...who the reporter was. I don't believe that the Bush administration planned 9/11. I don't know what to believe about the rest. All I know is since 9/11 my Constitution has been shredded, my citizenship revoked, and my constitutional and civil rights, my privacy, my presumption of innocence, and the Writ of Habeas Corpus have been nullified and negated.

        Mister Bush has done more damage to this republic than OBL could have done with a thousand 9/11s.

        Mister Bush has waged a war of aggression and occupation of a sovereign nation that was at no time an imminent threat to the U.S. Mister Bush has slaughtered over one million innocent Iraqis in the name of freedom and democracy, mocking the very meaning of the words.

        Mister Bush has codified torture with the MCA and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in my name by his unprovoked attack and wanton invasion of Iraq, raping, pillaging, and plundering that nation for a FALSE MISSION and based 100% and completely on LIES!

        And he has made us all war criminals by extension, our Congress still continues funding this illegal war and sending American troops to fight Mister Bush's war of aggression, in DIRECT violation of the Nuremberg Protocols, the Geneva Conventions General Article III, and the U.S. Statute, the 1996 War Crimes Act!

        08.04.07 It took the Titanic longer to sink than for the 110th Congress to surrender to Bush.

        by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 11:51:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary. (4+ / 0-)

    Jay, why are you a liar?

    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by kyril on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 11:22:29 PM PST

  •  surprised he did an op-ed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Wind

    he might have written a letter to himself and put it in his office safe instead;

    Senator Bernie Sanders - Let's be very clear. A vicious and premeditated class warfare is being waged today against the American middle class.

    by pollwatch on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:13:27 AM PST

  •  Great diary, and yes many have read this before. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Wind, gem spa

    The question becomes why has the main street media not jumped all over this?  Oh that's right, in America, the only news that fit for consumption is what they want us to know.....  Pffft.

    BushCo Policy... If you aren't outraged, you haven't been paying attention. -3.25 -2.26

    by Habanero on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:36:18 AM PST

  •  Nothing to hide (0+ / 0-)

    I have nothing to hide. Im not a criminal. They can spy on me all they want if it means finding out who is out to kill Americans. At least my grandkids would be safer in the future. If others are afraid then maybe they should think about why?

  •  Facts (0+ / 0-)

    When I hear people assume lol I always wonder why.

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