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Not being a regular poster here, but a frequent lurker, I simply have a small question to raise. First off, take a look at The Spitzer Scandal: asking that question by Red Wind over at the Seminal. The article is a good look at how the Spitzer scandal is almost certain to have relied upon the extraordinary wiretapping that the Bush administration has put in place.

But here’s what I am amazed by: I am amazed that a Democrat—no, let’s make that any Democrat—thinks that he or she can do anything on the sly and keep it secret these days.

I actually have to wonder, as I've wondered before, if elected Democrats realize that issues like the US Attorney scandal and warrantless surveillance are not just inside baseball, not just about a debatable difference of opinion on the balance to strike between security and civil rights, but are rather about Republican attempts to lock in one party rule.

Does Spitzer or any of the Democratic Party leadership really believe that their calls and e-mails are not being monitored? Ten years ago, maybe I would have broken out the tinfoil hats, but now, after all we know? C'mon!

-Red Wind
The Seminal

emphasis mine

Since 2006 I've been repeatedly flummoxed by the seeming inability of the Democrats to take a stand against what should be easy issues for them. I've had this sneaking suspicion for awhile that the Bush administration had managed to find a way to pin down our politicians to the point where they couldn't effectively act. It's pretty easy to force the hand of any politician if you happen to know what they're hiding in the closet. And if you can read every email your political opponent has sent...

My supposition is that the leading Democrats are more than aware of this - they know they've been monitored since 9/11.  Now, what happens if telco immunity doesn't get put into the FISA bill? It means that the lawsuits against the telcos can go forward, which means that there's a good chance that the evidence will reveal the mother of all Watergate scandals by the Bush administration.

Which I'm betting, will reveal the blackmail of leading Democratic politicians, and most likely, the revelation of the secrets they wanted to hide.

Who do I think has been blackmailed? I'm not sure, but it might be good to take a look at who voted for what on FISA.

See, the Spitzer scandal isn't about Spitzer. It's a warning shot, fired by the Bush Administration, across the bow of a Democratic Congress that had the audacity to exercise some of their Constitutional authority.

Not convinced? Spitzer vs. Vitter - which one got their name leaked to the press, and which one is being pressured to resign?

Brief update: a great diary has made the rec list on why this investigation really seems to stink of a hack job:

And what the hey, how about a poll?

Originally posted to Mercutio on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:32 AM PDT.


Do you think the Bush Administration is using it's wiretapping capabilities to blackmail prominent Democrats?

46%6 votes
38%5 votes
15%2 votes
0%0 votes

| 13 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm with you (4+ / 0-)

    Spitzer should have resigned last night, and not give the GOP the satisfaction for asking. But Geez, did he think that the govt wouldnt look at his bank transactions? Or even listen to his phone conversations? We don't know what's going on and I wouldn't give the feds the benefit of the doubt.

    •  WRONG! (10+ / 0-)
      Spitzer should not even think of resigning because frankly, that's capitulation to the rightwing smear machine. They want to make Democrats so fearful that they will be attacked if they so much as swipe a free gumball that we end up howling for the heads of our own, as we've so ludicrously seen here in the last day. By using the media machine against us and only against us, they've set up two radically different sets of standards -- and ours can not be met by very many people. For anyone here to even insinuate that Spitzer should resign is to hand the Republicans the noose to hang us with. Look at ALL the dirt that has come pouring out about Republicans on ALL levels: what on earth could Democrats have been doing that is any worse than that? I doubt blackmail is the issue because the Republicans gain the upper hand by having this stuff exposed -- as we've seen.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14:

      by anastasia p on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:39:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think Spitzer needs to take up DOJ spying. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        He's a former prosecutor, so he knows what goes on.  He needs to come clean and begin to rail against Bush spying and the surveillance state.  He needs to link these people to Nixon and Nixon's enemies list.  He needs to make this about fighting against Bush's Orwellian nightmare.

        Will he do it?  It's going to take some massive cohones.  But he has the resources and can fight the fight.  

        Plus, his approval was already in the shitter (although higher than Bush's).

        You're exactly right, he should fight, and as he does he can put the lie to all the IOKIYAR bullshit.


        by maxschell on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:45:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  AGREED>> DO NOT RESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        o the umanity

        The longer he stays the more the story will come out.  Hammer home the fact that Bush had a DUI yet he is still somehow fit to be president.  He should memorize the data regarding resources that went into this investigation, admit his mistakes and take his lumps, while at the same time reciting over and over how much money and time the government wasted to figure out he was banging a high dollar call girl.  Where are the small government Republicans when you need them?

      •  If Spitzer (0+ / 0-)

        wants to continue to fight, he needs to give up the Gov.'s Mansion. He's on tape. He won't be credible unless he does. If he doesn't and continues to fight, is he fighting for what's right, or for his job?

      •  Spitzer has too many enemies (0+ / 0-)

        and not enough friends to stay.  If we learned anything from the Vitter and Craig incidents, sexual indescretions, even criminal ones, do not necessarily disqualify one from continuing to hold public office.

        Trouble is, even Spitzer's "friends" didn't like him.  That makes it a lot harder to shrug it off.

        •  I'm curious (0+ / 0-)

          define "friends" as you use it here :)

          I mean, I figure the guy has pissed off a few people over the years, as a politician and as a former AG, let alone as a lawyer, period.

          But come on--the operator of this ring was requested to be held without bail.

          Huh?? Get outta here! There's way more to this than meets the eye.

          On second thought , let's not go to Camelot. 'Tis a silly place

          by o the umanity on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:09:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (4+ / 0-)

        Spitzer should fight back - first off, because I think  all in all he's been a great politician and fighter for New York, but secondly, because if he does, it will reveal to the public record exactly how and when the information collected on his impropriety came to light. There is a great deal more to be gained for Democrats and America at large if he goes down fighting.

        And after all, everyone screws up. Yeah, it was pretty hypocritical of him to go to a prostitute after building his career on ethics, but you know what? When it comes down to it, paying someone $5k of your own money for sex doesn't really hurt anyone. Something tells me this girl didn't suffer too much.

        In comparison, how much taxpayer money did Ghouliani spend on his mistress again? And what sort of investigation has been opened up on him?

        "Love your country always. Love your government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain

        by Mercutio on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:49:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Democrats should stand for the rights (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl

        of former attorneys general who prosecute prostition rings to use a prostitution ring while serving later as governor.

        As attorney general, he also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

        In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

        "This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multitiered management structure," Mr. Spitzer said at the time. "It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring."

      •  "But the GOP is corrupt." (0+ / 0-)

        That's your story?


        "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

        by burrow owl on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:44:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Damn right it's a Warning Shot (13+ / 0-)

    "Fuck with us and we'll ruin your career, if not your personal life".

    Now, what happens if telco immunity doesn't get put into the FISA bill? It means that the lawsuits against the telcos can go forward, which means that there's a good chance that the evidence will reveal the mother of all Watergate scandals by the Bush administration.

    "The Mother Of All Watergate Scandals" doesn't even come close in describing the shit that would come out if even one of these lawsuits could move forward.

    On second thought , let's not go to Camelot. 'Tis a silly place

    by o the umanity on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:35:24 AM PDT

    •  Nixon redux. (6+ / 0-)

      Nixon had this type of surveillance operation on all political "enemies" and, yes, also used the IRS to target them and collect information on them.

      As I've reminded people repeatedly, this is the SAME EXACT CREW.  They are doing the same things.  

      I totally agree this is a Watergate waiting to happen, only this time, they may well be able to blackmail everyone because they have 7 years of data on them.  Remember that they started this in FEB 01, before 9/11.

      This is scary stuff, which makes the FISA fight perhaps the most important fight in the history of our country.


      by maxschell on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:39:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well.... (4+ / 0-)

      unless the hooker contacted him, which I have yet to hear, then nobody ruined his personal life other than himself.  Whether or not someone finds out that you are cheating on your spouse you have ruined a pretty sacred trust the moment it happens....  

      however I do not think he should resign and I think its asinine that the government spent money on this shit.  Find Bin Laden....

  •  It's not just about Spitzer (14+ / 0-)

    ...and it's not just about Democrats. It's about anyone who dares to make a peep about any wrongdoing.  Politicians and corporations have always sought to smear whistleblowers and new technology makes it easier than ever to do.  But, it's a one-way window. Meanwhile, the activities of government and corporate officials are becoming more and more opaque even as they become more and more corrupt.  It's a recipe for the downfall of the United States.

    Speak the truth, but ride a fast horse.

    by Deep Harm on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:36:02 AM PDT

  •  I may need to be fitter for a tin-foil hat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pompatus, creeper, o the umanity

    because all this is seeming depressingly plausible to me.

    And our odds of being able to walk it all back in the foreseeable future are small.

    Thank you Senator Dodd!

    by jrooth on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:40:37 AM PDT

  •  Too much smoke for no fire (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pompatus, o the umanity

    The lengths to which the Bushniks are willing to go to keep things under wraps leads me to believe that when we finally figure out what has been going on, it will be worse, far worse, than anything we have even imagined.

  •  I hope this gets recd..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, o the umanity

    because Spitzer SHOULD NOT RESIGN OVER THIS.  The best thing he can do is stay in office and have the questions regarding the investigation continue to arise.  Including the questions you raised I would like to see how much money was spent on this investigation.  Get the raw numbers out there and the resources that were used..... I am sure it will be nauseating.

    I would also like people to highlight that there is somewhere around 5 duis in the white house between Dick and Bush.

    What he did was dumb but it did not require this sort of investigation.  If he walks away the entire back story will fade....

    •  I agree whole-heartedly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hind2, DarkestHour, o the umanity

      I'm indignant that

      • the machinery of state is being used to destroy someone for consensual acts;
      • the Mann act is applied selectively in what can only be a partisan hunt, given the politicization of the DoJ;
      • Larry Craig was indicted for months before anyone knew it, but  Spitzer's dirty laundry is immediately made public;
      • the net that caught Spitzer is laid so wide that not many of us  won't risk getting caught when it suits the powers that be to make us a target.

      It's time to wake up!  This is another witch hunt.  Disclaimer: I'd never given a thought to Spitzer until today; I just knew that NY had a Democratic governor and was glad of it.  But today my sympathy is
      very much with Eliot Spitzer, unlike that of many of the commenters.

      •  I will be clear that I don't.... (0+ / 0-)

        feel bad that his marriage may very well fall apart over this.  If his wife knew and was okay with it then so be it but if he was possibly exposing her to diseases and what not I have no sympathy for the fall out he suffers personally.  

        I have seen too many middle aged women come to the ER wondering why they had a "odd spot" down there to feel sympathy for yet ANOTHER cheating husband.

  •  This is why Dems must fight (5+ / 0-)

    OK, if Spitzer were a Republican, the contention would be twofold:

    a) the investigation was politically motivated, if not illegal, and

    b) the Feds shouldn't be using something as outdated at the Mann Act to conduct a political hit job

    Dems don't have to embrace (b), to still focus on (a).  And we've needed a "smoking gun" to get people's attention on why the Bush warrantless wiretapping program is potentially so dangerous for the nation.  We've got everyone's attention - we should be focussing it not on a question of Spitzer's guilt, or resignation - but on the broader question of what the hell is happening to our country under a Justice Department that's everything the Republican's accused Reno of being, except on steroids.

    •  Right. On. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      creeper, o the umanity

      This is the attention-getting smoking gun we need to combat the Bush spying apparatus.  

      There is a huge amount of evidence that Bush has been spying on Democrats then selectively prosecuting them based on that evidence.  Siegelman is the first example but I know there are others.

      The Dems control the NY Assembly and they are almost in control of the NY Senate.  They can control this process, and also open up a new Watergate for Bush.

      Fight, Eliot, Fight!!


      by maxschell on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:49:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

        Why aren't Dems fighting this, especially Dems in NEW YORK?

        If they can control the process, then why aren't they?

        This is bullshit. So is this:

        The agent said evidence collected during the probe included statements from a confidential source and an undercover officer, a review of more than 5,000 telephone calls and text messages and more than 6,000 e-mails along with bank records, travel and hotel records and surveillance.

        Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stein said a search of Brener's apartment produced $600,000 in cash and an Israeli passport. He asked that Brener be held without bail.

        Held without bail? What is he, a flight risk? He must be--Heidi Fleiss walked out on bail when she got busted, and in her case, illegal drugs were involved!

        On second thought , let's not go to Camelot. 'Tis a silly place

        by o the umanity on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:05:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  great points.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think Spitzer should lead the chant about how ridiculous this all is......  He should stay in office and do his job otherwise.  I do think he is an idiot for but SOOOO many people that are highly sucessful have self destructive tendancies.  Type A personalities fill rehabs.... I remember when I was first working as an RN at a major teaching hospital I was really surprised about how many cardiology fellows were pretty much openly cheating on their spouses until someone explained the dynamics of many of their personalities.  Hospital after hospital and year after year I have watched that similar dynamic play out.  He slept with a prostitute.  BIG FREAKING DEAL.

    •  Wiretap of Spitzer was authorized by warrant (0+ / 0-)

      The warrantless wiretap issue is vitally important, but it doesn't appear to be at issue here since a warrant was obatined for this wiretap.

      •  The wiretapping that's PUBLIC was via warrant (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        o the umanity

        But this investigation got kicked off somehow.

        Do you really believe it was because a multi-millionaire was making some cash withdrawals of about 5K?

        Personally, I'm quite suspicious that they're monitoring all bank activity down to this level (and worried if they are) - or whether a fishing expedition illegal wiretap turned up that Spitzer was doing something wrong, and an "investigation" was cobbled together to find something (funny bank transactions!) to justify getting a warrant to obtain legal evidence.

        •  Yes. Bankers are trained to notice w/ds (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          science first

          just like the ones Spitzer was making.  His textbook money laundering behavior.

          "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

          by burrow owl on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:47:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) (0+ / 0-)

          are required by law to be filed for transactions meeting certain specifications.

          Further, it is illegal to structure transactions ("structuring") to avoid reporting requirements of SARs.

          And finally it is not required to show that structuring is related to another illegal activity; structuring is illegal all on its own.

          A bank challenged the requirements to report SARs, arguing in part that such surveillance violated bank customers fourth amendment protections against unreassinable searches.

          The bank lost the case at the Supreme Court in 1974.

          •  I'm confused about this ... (0+ / 0-)

            What makes it "structuring" if there's no criminal activity being concealed?

            Suppose it's my habit to withdraw $4995 every few weeks for some non-criminal reason.  Let's say I like to gamble and that's my personal loss limit each time I go.  Would I have to demonstrate somehow that I'm not "structuring?"  Why is that anybody's business?

            Thank you Senator Dodd!

            by jrooth on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:27:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 (0+ / 0-)

              Criminalized structuring and money laundering on stand-alone basis.

              In Ratzlaf v US, decided at Supreme Coourt in 1994, Ruth Ginsburg, writing for the majority, ruled that to establish that a defendant "willfully violat[ed]" the antistructuring law, the Government must prove that the defendant acted with knowledge that his conduct was unlawful.

              You may also be interested to know that the Clinton Justice Department argued:

              "On occasion, criminal statutes--including some requiring proof of `willfulness'--have been understood to require proof of an intentional violation of a known legal duty, i.e., specific knowledge by the defendant that his conduct is unlawful. But where that construction has been adopted, it has been invoked only to ensure that the defendant actedwith a wrongful purpose. See Liparota v. United States, 471 U.S. 419, 426 (1985) . . . .

              . . . . .

              "The anti structuring statute, 31 U.S.C. § 5324 satisfies the `bad purpose' component of willfulness by explicitly defining the wrongful purpose necessary to violate the law: it requires proof that the defendant acted with the purpose to evade the reporting requirement of Section 5313(a)." Brief for United States 23-25.

              " `[S]tructuring is not the kind of activity that an ordinary person would engage in innocently,' " the United States asserts. Id., at 29 (quoting United States v. Hoyland, 914 F. 2d 1125, 1129 (CA9 1990)). It is therefore "reasonable," the Government concludes, "to hold a structurer responsible for evading the reporting requirements without the need to prove specific knowledge that such evasion is unlawful." Brief for United States 29.

              •  OK, so if I'm understanding this correctly (0+ / 0-)

                in my above hypothetical, the burden would be on the state to prove that my $4995 withdrawals were intended to avoid the reporting requirement.

                I guess I can see how the pattern could amount to probable cause for a search or wiretap, though.

                Thank you Senator Dodd!

                by jrooth on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:05:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  But WHY did they start the taps? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Because some suspicious FINANCIAL transactions caught the attention of federal investigators.

        Why were they combing thru his FINANCIAL transactions?  He is a former prosecutor and smart enough to know the $ limits for cash transactions to avoid the legally mandated reporting from banks to feds.  With his money, what is suspicious about removing 5500 in cash (or transferring it to another account he owns and then removing it)?

        This thing stinks and smells like someone was specifically targetting Spitzer, on a fishing expedition looking for any kind of dirt.

        I think if you targetted high-level politicians (governors, US senators, US congressmen, etc) you could find SOMETHING on almost all of them that they would like to keep hidden - unsavory associates, campaign fund-raising quid-pro-quo, self-enriching schemes, unsavory/unpopular personal habits, etc.  

        A reasonably high percentage of ordinary citizens probably have some things they prefer to keep private and would not want exposed to family, friends, acquaintances, employers, and business associates.

        Gaining possession of this kind of information and the POWER it confers on the holder, was almost certainly the primary goal of the illegal, secret, warrantless wiretapping undertaken for the last 7 years (starting well before 9/11).  

  •  Hint: If you are Guv- don't use hookers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jrooth, armadill

    Agreed I am sure this info is being misused.

    Don't think, however, this argument works for the general public.

    Because, well... as a former A.G. he REALLY should have known better.  

    Bush will be impeached.

    by jgkojak on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:55:34 AM PDT

    •  Interesting Point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Looks like my original point is getting a bit lost in the way of yea or nay to resignation, but I agree - it would be difficult to get the public to see beyond the sensationalism of the "fall from grace". I can see why many Democrats would want to walk away from supporting him on ethical grounds.

      That being said, let's take a look at the dynamic here - the double standard. Vitter and Craig still hold office simply because of their political allegiance.

      What I think Spitzer should do is simply say that he'll resign once they do. Otherwise, he will be ceding his responsibility and power to those who are less ethical than him (ie by staying in office in similar scandals). By resigning over this, he'd effectively condone the behavior in his political opponents.

      And ultimately, if we don't forgive and fight for our own, the Republicans will continue to crush us by that very dynamic alone. No one is perfect - everyone has an Achilles heel, and politicians are human like the rest of us. Do I think he should step down when his term ends? Yes, and if he doesn't, I hope his primary challenger is a better candidate than he. But to cede power now, and potentially control of the state senate on the matter, would do more to hurt Democratic ideals than him staying in office. It may look bad to the public, but certainly no worse than Craig's busy hands in the bathroom stall, or Vitter's trysts with the DC Madam, or for that matter, being led into an Arabian deathtrap on lies.

      "Love your country always. Love your government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain

      by Mercutio on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:12:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beyond the taps, this case suggests (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a review of the statutes governing datamining.

    i'm seeing vindications of Ron paul's mid '90s warnings about the dangers inherent in the weakening of financial privacy in laws overseen by the Bush I and Clinton administrations.

    Keep your eyes on November, Frodo. Don't use The Ring.

    by ben masel on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:08:59 AM PDT

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