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April 10th, 2006, 12:22 AM
I would hardly call Bloomburg "conservative," but his record with illegal arrests of protesters at the RNC, continued harrasment of Critical Mass riders and the very visible and predominant use of intimidation to squelch protests in the city is disturbing. Giuliani was okay in term one and turned fascist in term two. Luckily we have term limits.

April 11th, 2006, 11:47 AM
Bloomberg's crack-down on protests is infuriating. I am at a good portion of the protests in this town (what can I say, I cherish the First Amendment and I always have an opinion) and I've seen it myself time and time again.

One good thing he did was support the High-Line project. Even a broken clock is right twice a day:D

April 11th, 2006, 05:50 PM
Considering that we had Giuliani before Bloomberg you'd have to say that NYC is swinging back to the left -- stuck in center for now, which in some ways is A-OK.

Not true. Giuliani won because Dinkins was terrible: New York was losing people, crime rate was high, homeless people were lying on the streets. We were blessed to have Giuliani as our major for 2 terms. People like Dinkins made NYC the crime and welfare capital of the US. In other words, I don't think the fact that Giuliani and Bloomberg won in this city say anything about our political direction. Bloomberg won the first time not because he was a republican but because he had a lot of money and got Rudy's endorsement. The fact that Mark Green was an unpleasant guy and a bad candidate helped him as well, but he barely won (which is in itself remarkable considering how bad Green was).

And the fact that Freddy Ferrer got 40% of the vote when Bloomberg spent almost 100 million of his own money and it was universally aknowledged that Bloomberg was a great major (New York Times said that he has a chance to become the best major of all times) tells you that NYC is still a very liberal town. I just can't imagine why would anyone vote for Ferrer who is nothing but an inept beauracrat with socialist leanings.

April 11th, 2006, 06:47 PM
In NYC we call our highest lelected official the "MaYor"

April 11th, 2006, 07:12 PM
In NYC we call our highest lelected official the "MaYor"

I dont get it....anyway I call him Nanny (as in nanny state) :)


April 11th, 2006, 07:24 PM
Spice, reading your posts is like a glimpse into a parallel universe. Do the trees in your world grow upside down?

You praise Giuliani and then call Green "unpleasant". What a hoot!
Giuliani is one of the most bitter, mean-spirited, narrow-minded people ever to occupy the public spotlight.

April 11th, 2006, 10:25 PM
Agreed, Midtown.

But ya gotta admit that Green proved himself to be a dork of the highest degree. The mayoral election in '01 was his -- until he said some of the stupidest things I've ever heard come out of a politician's mouth.

April 11th, 2006, 10:29 PM
Also agreed.

April 11th, 2006, 10:53 PM
This will get some folks here riled up ...

Giuliani Documentary Seeks to Get Beyond Heroic 9/11 Image

By PATRICK HEALY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/patrick_d_healy/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
April 12, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/12/mo...=1&oref=slogin (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/12/movies/12rudy.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

Fairly or not, it was a phrase that came to symbolize an era thick with accusations of police brutality against minorities, artists and other residents of New York City: "Giuliani Time." (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=326353&inline=nyt_ttl)

Now it is the title of a new documentary about the political life of the mayor who presided over those years — and who, it is safe to assume, would not include the film on his campaign Web site if he were to decide to run for president in 2008.

The two-hour feature is nothing less than a full frontal assault on the civic deification of Rudolph W. Giuliani (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/rudolph_w_giuliani/index.html?inline=nyt-per) that occurred in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, when much of the news coverage shined a spotlight on his steady hand. The film is scheduled to have its premiere at the Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side on May 12; the distributor, Cinema Libre Studio, is aiming to release it in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco as well.

If the film does not take a wrecking ball to Mr. Giuliani's pedestal, it at least serves as a reminder of all the controversy, all the fighting and all the dirty laundry that defined him before the halo effect set in after the terrorist attacks. If nothing else, the filmmakers say they want to define his public image for voters and the news media before he can define himself as a possible presidential candidate — an approach that prompts the former mayor's aides to call the film a hatchet job.

Mr. Giuliani's role in 9/11, for instance, gets about as much time as his war against the squeegee men, those windshield-washing extortionists who seemed to be treated like Public Enemy No. 1 after his election in 1993.

The director, Kevin Keating, who has principally worked as a cinematographer on documentaries like "Harlan County, USA," (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=21576&inline=nyt_ttl) said he was seeking to fill in the blanks for people who know Mr. Giuliani only because of the terrorist attacks. As he sees it, he is fighting 9/11 propaganda with his own brand of agitprop.

"We want to provoke heat and debate and a closer look at the man and leader in full, not just the leader who has been raised to secular sainthood," Mr. Keating said.

With rare exceptions like "Fahrenheit 9/11," political theater can be a tough sell commercially. Regardless of how many Americans wind up seeing "Giuliani Time," the film does point up a number of controversies that the news media would also surely explore if Mr. Giuliani were to run for president. Less clear is whether, in such a presidential race, voters would care about his political record before 9/11. Many political analysts believe that a Giuliani bid in 2008 would be complicated more by his support for abortion (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/a/abortion/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) rights and gay rights than by strong-arm tactics by the New York Police Department a decade earlier.

Mr. Keating said he was initially drawn to the idea of making a film about Mr. Giuliani by the mayor's record on free speech issues, which the director saw as hostile to artists, political protesters and institutions like the Brooklyn Museum. When he began shooting in 1999, Mr. Keating delved into the mayor's policies of cutting welfare and toughening police tactics, while also focusing on his attacks on public financing for the Brooklyn Museum after he took umbrage at the "Sensation" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/titlelist.html?v_idlist=109458;162647;235766;10946 2;43596&inline=nyt_ttl) exhibition there.

Throughout the film, the Giuliani administration is rendered as a heartless and heavy-handed police state that mistreated minorities, the poor and sick, artists, people on welfare and victims of crime. The title, "Giuliani Time," is a phrase that Abner Louima initially said was uttered by a police officer involved in his beating and sodomizing in 1997 but which Mr. Louima later retracted.

The film also includes anti-Giuliani commentary by two onetime city officials with whom he clashed: William J. Bratton (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/william_j_bratton/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the former police commissioner, and Rudy Crew, the former schools chancellor. At one point, Mr. Crew describes a voucher program supported by Mr. Giuliani as "racist" and "class biased."

Mr. Keating said his repeated requests for an interview were denied by Mr. Giuliani's office.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani, Sunny Mindel, who was Mr. Keating's point of contact at City Hall, said in an interview that the documentary seemed slanted from the get-go and that participating did not seem as if it would be fruitful for the former mayor. The distributor, Cinema Libre, is known for its slate of leftish films, like "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=309213&inline=nyt_ttl) and "Uncovered: The War on Iraq." (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=299651&inline=nyt_ttl)

Ms. Mindel said that even if the documentary were to build an audience, she doubted it would change many minds about Mr. Giuliani.

"People know him as the man who was the leader of an urban renaissance of the city that was deemed to be ungovernable," Ms. Mindel said. "His legacy is sustained by the accomplishments as leader of New York City for eight years."

George Arzt, a political and communications consultant in New York City, said the documentary was a reminder that Mr. Giuliani is a far more complicated leader than the post-9/11 hagiography suggests.

"In the second term he was fighting with a lot of people, he had tense relationships, his marriage was falling apart, nothing was going right, and he was headed for political oblivion when 9/11 happened," said Mr. Arzt, once the press secretary for Mayor Edward I. Koch (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/edward_i_koch/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Robert Polner, a former Newsday reporter and the editor of a 2005 book of essays and articles about Mr. Giuliani, said that many Americans did not know the same man New Yorkers may recall: one who wanted to win every battle, who lashed out at his critics and who rarely ceded ground (at least in public).

"I wasn't that surprised with him in 9/11 because he was always good in a crisis," said Mr. Polner, whose book, "America's Mayor: the Hidden History of Rudy Giuliani's New York" (Soft Skull Press), was published last year. "When it was quiet in the room or a problem needed finesse, it was almost like he couldn't exist. He almost existed to manage a crisis. But there is far more to him than that."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

April 12th, 2006, 12:38 PM
"In the second term he was fighting with a lot of people, he had tense relationships, his marriage was falling apart, nothing was going right, and he was headed for political oblivion when 9/11 happened," said Mr. Arzt, once the press secretary for Mayor Edward I. Koch

This is a 100% accurate description IMO.

As far as his marriage, I will never forget the day his wife was in tears on the front lawn of Gracie Mansion, news people all around her, after just learning from someone besides Rudy that he was divorcing her. This, after running around with his aide, Christine "whisper in my ear" Latigano, and then that Judith Nathan woman.
Normally I don't care what public officials do in their private life. But when they walk around with a sanctimonius attitude, trying to protect Holy Mary from being defiled at a museum, and then bringing his mistress to the same house his children are sleeping in, I say he is a phoney SOB.

On 9/11, hearing from that creep gave me zero comfort. After 8 years of his bitter, divisive, authoritarian rule over this city, I just wanted him to piss off.

As far as architectural and urban vision are concerned, Rudy lacked both. Exhibit A: he wanted to tear down the High Line, and his administration arranged to have it unlawfully demolished in December of his last term.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing the documentary.

April 12th, 2006, 03:11 PM
"Throughout the film, the Giuliani administration is rendered as a heartless and heavy-handed police state that mistreated minorities, the poor and sick, artists, people on welfare and victims of crime."

Throughout the Giuliani years in office I always felt that this perception was comlpetely wrong. He was not the touchy-feely guy and his frist instinct was to defend the police officers in disputes. I think Rudy Giuliani was one of the best majors this city ever had - he really transformed the city from unorganized, unmanageable, welfare-ridden dump into a business-friendly metropolis. I remember the city before Giuliani. I remember the high unemoployment rate, I remember companies fleeing the city because of crime, red tape and high taxes. I remember homeless people living the streets. I remember people being afraid to walk in the evening in Brooklyn where I lived. He made the city great again. I am not saying he was always right - he made mistakes like all of us. But when you evaluate any leader, you have to look at the overall impact. Him messing around with Brooklyn museum funding because of the Virgin Mary painting will not have any lasting impact on this city. He was wrong, he lost in court on this and I hope he learned his lesson.

April 12th, 2006, 04:04 PM
Another thing he was wrong on and shameful of him to defend the cops in that case:

Abner Louima

April 12th, 2006, 04:08 PM
A lot of credit Guiliani gets is due to good timing. Many cities experienced a revival during the 90's, and New York's was due to many, many factors that Guiliani was not responsible for - the upswing of the national economy for starters. I'll always be indebted to him for removing the squeegee people, but ultimately without him I think New York would have done just fine.

April 12th, 2006, 09:40 PM
Throughout the film, the Giuliani administration is rendered as a heartless and heavy-handed police state that mistreated minorities, the poor and sick, artists, people on welfare and victims of crime.

I think it became more so during his second term.

"People know him as the man who was the leader of an urban renaissance of the city that was deemed to be ungovernable," Ms. Mindel said. "His legacy is sustained by the accomplishments as leader of New York City for eight years."

I think he went from a rather strong-armed leader in his first term, which was successful, to a over-confident, mean-spirited bully in his second term. George Arzdt is 100% right when he says he was headed for political oblivion. He couldn't be elected Senator and dropped out of the race and his popularity in New York, despite excellent leadership in the post 9/11 months, remains low enough to ensure he never holds public office in this state again.

The children of the corn (and their parents) love him.

April 13th, 2006, 10:04 AM
As spooky as the movie by that name.

April 16th, 2006, 10:46 AM
White House changes Easter Egg Roll admit process;
LGBT families 'moved from front of the line'

by Michael Rogers
April 16, 2006


After waiting outside overnight to be among the first to enter this year's White House Easter Egg Roll (http://www.whitehouse.gov/easter/history.html), families in line were surprised to learn that the White House had changed the ticketing policy for the annual event, PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) has learned.

The unannounced change means that the families who waited in line the longest, in one case for twenty-four hours, will not be among the visitors at the event's opening ceremonies. The first families in line, who were not part of the LGBT family group, received tickets with an 11:00am entrance time, two hours later than the opening time listed in the White House press release (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/03/20060308.html).

Various media reports have publicized participation of lesbian and gay families, including a piece in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/10/us/10letter.html), which ran on April 10th, and media representatives were interviewing families in the line about the small swirl of controversy created by the decision of LGBT families to participate in the annual event. This morning, cameras from approximately half a dozen television stations, including CNN, were on the Ellipse, interviewing families about the decision of LGBT parents to participate.

In a telephone call and email exchange with PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) earlier today, Deputy White House Dana Perino, the Deputy White House Press Secretary told PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) that, "[T]he number of tickets are the same as every year, and that the large group we invited this year is youth volunteers ... and they are coming in the morning. We invite a group like that every year, for instance one or two years ago it was military families. In order to accomodate [sic] all of the people who want to come to the easter egg roll, we stagger the times to ensure maximum enjoyment for everyone."

One ticket recipient who was approximately fifty people behind the Family Pride Coalition, told PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) that he was "upset, very upset, that they would change the policy to make those of us who spent the night be the last ones to get into the event." When asked his name, the man said that, "Because my brother works for the State Department, I'd rather keep my name out of the article."

The Family Pride group, which was located approximately 150 people from the start of the line, received tickets with entry times of 11:30am and later.

Some waiting in line were not upset with the ticketing change. "This means we get to sleep at the hotel later," one teenager was heard saying. Other participants were not as happy. In addition to the first group in line, others who were near the front of the line expressed disappointment over their entry times. "We thought we would wait in line so we could go to the ceremony," said one parent.

When asked about the ticket time issue, Jennifer Chrisler, Family Pride Coalition's Executive Director stayed out of the controversy by telling PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) that, "We're just so happy to be participating in this national event, and we are thrilled to be a part of this national tradition."

The egg roll takes place Monday morning on the White House grounds.


PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) has receive a follow-up e-mail from the White House Deputy Press Secretary. In PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/)'s original note, we inquired:
Can you tell me why in the past those that waited in line overnight received tickets to the early part of the program? ...[W]hy the policy this year bumped the families who waited in line the longest. as apposed to other years when special guests must have been integrated with the earlier ticket holders?Perino's reply:
Here's additional comment, but don't think I'll have anything more:

This year, the President and Mrs. Bush invited a special group of children who volunteer from organizations like 4-H, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Campfire USA, Citizen Corps, Learn & Serve, Little Hands Big Hearts, YMCA and Youth Service America. These youth volunteer were invited to attend during the morning hours of the event.

The number of public tickets is the same as in years past and has not changed as a result of this group's participation. Although the public tickets begin with times later in the morning, the event will have the same activities throughout the day for everyone to enjoy.

Inviting special groups to the event has become an annual tradition. Mrs. Bush invited mentoring youth in 2005, youth affiliated with the National Childhood Cancer Foundation in 2004, and the event was completely closed to only military families in 2003. The number of available public tickets has remained the same in recent years, including this year.
PageOneQ (http://www.pageoneq.com/) wrote back to ask Perino:
There is one question that is still unanswered.

In years past, with the exact same arrangement of invited guests, those that spent all night outside for tickets were given tickets to the event's opening times. When was the decision made, and by whom, to exclude those families from the opening ceremonies? This is the first time that no early tickets were distributed to those that waited the longest. Do you know why?
Perino's reply:
"The early morning tickets were designated this year for the youth voulunteers[sic]." Copyright © 2006 PageOneQ.

April 16th, 2006, 11:27 AM
I wasn't that surprised with him in 9/11 because [Giuliani] was always good in a crisis...He almost existed to manage a crisis.
Well, the crises in NYC have abated, but we sure have a plentiful supply of them nationally and globally.

Maybe we could get him to manage the mideast situation, terror threats, nuclear proliferation and global warming for starters...

Can't remember when we were last in such a pickle.

He should appoint Bill Clinton as Secretary of State. Need someone who's good at mending fences.

April 16th, 2006, 11:50 AM
He should appoint Bill Clinton as Secretary of State. Need someone who's good at mending fences.
Good idea ^

Plus that would really tick off the Republican Religious Right -- and remind them that we're all in this TOGETHER.

April 16th, 2006, 11:56 AM
Seriously though, now that he's (mostly) out of my life, I wouldn't even want to see him manage a popsicle stand.

April 16th, 2006, 12:45 PM
ha, ha --

I wouldn't want Giuliani in public office, either -- mainly was thinking that Clinton could be a great Secretary of State.

April 30th, 2006, 07:27 PM
Bush challenges hundreds of laws

President cites powers of his office

The Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/)
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff
April 30, 2006

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.

But with the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.

Phillip Cooper, a Portland State University law professor who has studied the executive power claims Bush made during his first term, said Bush and his legal team have spent the past five years quietly working to concentrate ever more governmental power into the White House.

''There is no question that this administration has been involved in a very carefully thought-out, systematic process of expanding presidential power at the expense of the other branches of government," Cooper said. ''This is really big, very expansive, and very significant."

For the first five years of Bush's presidency, his legal claims attracted little attention in Congress or the media. Then, twice in recent months, Bush drew scrutiny after challenging new laws: a torture ban and a requirement that he give detailed reports to Congress about how he is using the Patriot Act.

Bush administration spokesmen declined to make White House or Justice Department attorneys available to discuss any of Bush's challenges to the laws he has signed.

Instead, they referred a Globe reporter to their response to questions about Bush's position that he could ignore provisions of the Patriot Act. They said at the time that Bush was following a practice that has ''been used for several administrations" and that ''the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution."

But the words ''in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution" are the catch, legal scholars say, because Bush is according himself the ultimate interpretation of the Constitution. And he is quietly exercising that authority to a degree that is unprecedented in US history.

Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation's sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work.

Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ''signing statements" -- official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register.

In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed.

''He agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises -- and more often than not, without the Congress or the press or the public knowing what has happened," said Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio political science professor who studies executive power.

Military link

Many of the laws Bush said he can bypass -- including the torture ban -- involve the military.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to create armies, to declare war, to make rules for captured enemies, and ''to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." But, citing his role as commander in chief, Bush says he can ignore any act of Congress that seeks to regulate the military.

On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels.

After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief.

Bush has also said he can bypass laws requiring him to tell Congress before diverting money from an authorized program in order to start a secret operation, such as the ''black sites" where suspected terrorists are secretly imprisoned.

Congress has also twice passed laws forbidding the military from using intelligence that was not ''lawfully collected," including any information on Americans that was gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches.

Congress first passed this provision in August 2004, when Bush's warrantless domestic spying program was still a secret, and passed it again after the program's existence was disclosed in December 2005.

On both occasions, Bush declared in signing statements that only he, as commander in chief, could decide whether such intelligence can be used by the military.

In October 2004, five months after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq came to light, Congress passed a series of new rules and regulations for military prisons. Bush signed the provisions into law, then said he could ignore them all. One provision made clear that military lawyers can give their commanders independent advice on such issues as what would constitute torture. But Bush declared that military lawyers could not contradict his administration's lawyers.

Other provisions required the Pentagon to retrain military prison guards on the requirements for humane treatment of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, to perform background checks on civilian contractors in Iraq, and to ban such contractors from performing ''security, intelligence, law enforcement, and criminal justice functions." Bush reserved the right to ignore any of the requirements.

The new law also created the position of inspector general for Iraq. But Bush wrote in his signing statement that the inspector ''shall refrain" from investigating any intelligence or national security matter, or any crime the Pentagon says it prefers to investigate for itself.

Bush had placed similar limits on an inspector general position created by Congress in November 2003 for the initial stage of the US occupation of Iraq.

The earlier law also empowered the inspector to notify Congress if a US official refused to cooperate. Bush said the inspector could not give any information to Congress without permission from the administration.

Oversight questioned

Many laws Bush has asserted he can bypass involve requirements to give information about government activity to congressional oversight committees.

In December 2004, Congress passed an intelligence bill requiring the Justice Department to tell them how often, and in what situations, the FBI was using special national security wiretaps on US soil. The law also required the Justice Department to give oversight committees copies of administration memos outlining any new interpretations of domestic-spying laws. And it contained 11 other requirements for reports about such issues as civil liberties, security clearances, border security, and counternarcotics efforts.

After signing the bill, Bush issued a signing statement saying he could withhold all the information sought by Congress.

Likewise, when Congress passed the law creating the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, it said oversight committees must be given information about vulnerabilities at chemical plants and the screening of checked bags at airports.

It also said Congress must be shown unaltered reports about problems with visa services prepared by a new immigration ombudsman. Bush asserted the right to withhold the information and alter the reports.

On several other occasions, Bush contended he could nullify laws creating ''whistle-blower" job protections for federal employees that would stop any attempt to fire them as punishment for telling a member of Congress about possible government wrongdoing.

When Congress passed a massive energy package in August, for example, it strengthened whistle-blower protections for employees at the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The provision was included because lawmakers feared that Bush appointees were intimidating nuclear specialists so they would not testify about safety issues related to a planned nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada -- a facility the administration supported, but both Republicans and Democrats from Nevada opposed.

When Bush signed the energy bill, he issued a signing statement declaring that the executive branch could ignore the whistle-blower protections.

Bush's statement did more than send a threatening message to federal energy specialists inclined to raise concerns with Congress; it also raised the possibility that Bush would not feel bound to obey similar whistle-blower laws that were on the books before he became president. His domestic spying program, for example, violated a surveillance law enacted 23 years before he took office.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.

''Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional," Golove said.

Defying Supreme Court

Bush has also challenged statutes in which Congress gave certain executive branch officials the power to act independently of the president. The Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed the power of Congress to make such arrangements. For example, the court has upheld laws creating special prosecutors free of Justice Department oversight and insulating the board of the Federal Trade Commission from political interference.

Nonetheless, Bush has said in his signing statements that the Constitution lets him control any executive official, no matter what a statute passed by Congress might say.

In November 2002, for example, Congress, seeking to generate independent statistics about student performance, passed a law setting up an educational research institute to conduct studies and publish reports ''without the approval" of the Secretary of Education. Bush, however, decreed that the institute's director would be ''subject to the supervision and direction of the secretary of education."

Similarly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld affirmative-action programs, as long as they do not include quotas. Most recently, in 2003, the court upheld a race-conscious university admissions program over the strong objections of Bush, who argued that such programs should be struck down as unconstitutional.

Yet despite the court's rulings, Bush has taken exception at least nine times to provisions that seek to ensure that minorities are represented among recipients of government jobs, contracts, and grants. Each time, he singled out the provisions, declaring that he would construe them ''in a manner consistent with" the Constitution's guarantee of ''equal protection" to all -- which some legal scholars say amounts to an argument that the affirmative-action provisions represent reverse discrimination against whites.

Golove said that to the extent Bush is interpreting the Constitution in defiance of the Supreme Court's precedents, he threatens to ''overturn the existing structures of constitutional law."

A president who ignores the court, backed by a Congress that is unwilling to challenge him, Golove said, can make the Constitution simply ''disappear."

Common practice in '80s

Though Bush has gone further than any previous president, his actions are not unprecedented.

Since the early 19th century, American presidents have occasionally signed a large bill while declaring that they would not enforce a specific provision they believed was unconstitutional. On rare occasions, historians say, presidents also issued signing statements interpreting a law and explaining any concerns about it.

But it was not until the mid-1980s, midway through the tenure of President Reagan, that it became common for the president to issue signing statements. The change came about after then-Attorney General Edwin Meese decided that signing statements could be used to increase the power of the president.

When interpreting an ambiguous law, courts often look at the statute's legislative history, debate and testimony, to see what Congress intended it to mean. Meese realized that recording what the president thought the law meant in a signing statement might increase a president's influence over future court rulings.

Under Meese's direction in 1986, a young Justice Department lawyer named Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a strategy memo about signing statements. It came to light in late 2005, after Bush named Alito to the Supreme Court.

In the memo, Alito predicted that Congress would resent the president's attempt to grab some of its power by seizing ''the last word on questions of interpretation." He suggested that Reagan's legal team should ''concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."

Reagan's successors continued this practice. George H.W. Bush challenged 232 statutes over four years in office, and Bill Clinton objected to 140 laws over his eight years, according to Kelley, the Miami University of Ohio professor.

Many of the challenges involved longstanding legal ambiguities and points of conflict between the president and Congress.

Throughout the past two decades, for example, each president -- including the current one -- has objected to provisions requiring him to get permission from a congressional committee before taking action. The Supreme Court made clear in 1983 that only the full Congress can direct the executive branch to do things, but lawmakers have continued writing laws giving congressional committees such a role.

Still, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton used the presidential veto instead of the signing statement if they had a serious problem with a bill, giving Congress a chance to override their decisions.

But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.

''What we haven't seen until this administration is the sheer number of objections that are being raised on every bill passed through the White House," said Kelley, who has studied presidential signing statements through history. ''That is what is staggering. The numbers are well out of the norm from any previous administration."

Exaggerated fears?

Some administration defenders say that concerns about Bush's signing statements are overblown. Bush's signing statements, they say, should be seen as little more than political chest-thumping by administration lawyers who are dedicated to protecting presidential prerogatives.

Defenders say the fact that Bush is reserving the right to disobey the laws does not necessarily mean he has gone on to disobey them.

Indeed, in some cases, the administration has ended up following laws that Bush said he could bypass. For example, citing his power to ''withhold information" in September 2002, Bush declared that he could ignore a law requiring the State Department to list the number of overseas deaths of US citizens in foreign countries. Nevertheless, the department has still put the list on its website.

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who until last year oversaw the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for the administration, said the statements do not change the law; they just let people know how the president is interpreting it.

''Nobody reads them," said Goldsmith. ''They have no significance. Nothing in the world changes by the publication of a signing statement. The statements merely serve as public notice about how the administration is interpreting the law. Criticism of this practice is surprising, since the usual complaint is that the administration is too secretive in its legal interpretations."

But Cooper, the Portland State University professor who has studied Bush's first-term signing statements, said the documents are being read closely by one key group of people: the bureaucrats who are charged with implementing new laws.

Lower-level officials will follow the president's instructions even when his understanding of a law conflicts with the clear intent of Congress, crafting policies that may endure long after Bush leaves office, Cooper said.

''Years down the road, people will not understand why the policy doesn't look like the legislation," he said.

And in many cases, critics contend, there is no way to know whether the administration is violating laws -- or merely preserving the right to do so.

Many of the laws Bush has challenged involve national security, where it is almost impossible to verify what the government is doing. And since the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, many people have expressed alarm about his sweeping claims of the authority to violate laws.

In January, after the Globe first wrote about Bush's contention that he could disobey the torture ban, three Republicans who were the bill's principal sponsors in the Senate -- John McCain of Arizona, John W. Warner of Virginia, and Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina -- all publicly rebuked the president.

''We believe the president understands Congress's intent in passing, by very large majorities, legislation governing the treatment of detainees," McCain and Warner said in a joint statement. ''The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation."

Added Graham: ''I do not believe that any political figure in the country has the ability to set aside any . . . law of armed conflict that we have adopted or treaties that we have ratified."

And in March, when the Globe first wrote about Bush's contention that he could ignore the oversight provisions of the Patriot Act, several Democrats lodged complaints.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, accused Bush of trying to ''cherry-pick the laws he decides he wants to follow."

And Representatives Jane Harman of California and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan -- the ranking Democrats on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, respectively -- sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales demanding that Bush rescind his claim and abide by the law.

''Many members who supported the final law did so based upon the guarantee of additional reporting and oversight," they wrote. ''The administration cannot, after the fact, unilaterally repeal provisions of the law implementing such oversight. . . . Once the president signs a bill, he and all of us are bound by it."

Lack of court review

Such political fallout from Congress is likely to be the only check on Bush's claims, legal specialists said.

The courts have little chance of reviewing Bush's assertions, especially in the secret realm of national security matters.

''There can't be judicial review if nobody knows about it," said Neil Kinkopf, a Georgia State law professor who was a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. ''And if they avoid judicial review, they avoid having their constitutional theories rebuked."

Without court involvement, only Congress can check a president who goes too far. But Bush's fellow Republicans control both chambers, and they have shown limited interest in launching the kind of oversight that could damage their party.

''The president is daring Congress to act against his positions, and they're not taking action because they don't want to appear to be too critical of the president, given that their own fortunes are tied to his because they are all Republicans," said Jack Beermann, a Boston University law professor. ''Oversight gets much reduced in a situation where the president and Congress are controlled by the same party."

Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ''Bush has essentially said that 'We're the executive branch and we're going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.' "

Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ''to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

''This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ''There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."

© Copyright (http://www.boston.com/help/bostoncom_info/copyright) The New York Times Company

April 30th, 2006, 07:56 PM
If Giuliani runs, I hope we have Al Sharpton in the race to push all of his buttons. If Giuliani runs, it should be a prerequisite for the Dems to run Sharpton as an agitator. Sharpton should shadow him EVERYWHERE. Giuliani won't get away with treating him on anational level as he did locally.

April 30th, 2006, 09:50 PM
Local Mall Pulls Plug On Band With Anti-Bush T-Shirts

UPDATED: 3:51 pm EDT April 29, 2006

CLEVELAND -- Managers at a downtown mall stopped a performance by a band whose members wore T-shirts critical of President Bush.

Mifun, an Afro-beat band, had been playing for about 20 minutes Friday as part of a jazz festival when the sound system was cut off at Tower City Center.

"They didn't like that all the band members wore a T-shirt with a picture of George Bush with a line through it," said band leader Jacob Fader, 28, of Cleveland Heights. "They said we either remove the shirts, turn them inside out, or get off the stage. I said that doing so would be against our core principles and free speech. We told the audience what happened from the stage after the microphones were cut. The crowd booed."

Tower City general manager Lisa Kreiger said the band's attire was distracting and inappropriate.

"The purpose of the show was to provide musical entertainment," she said.

Fader said the band was stopped during a performance of "Supercrush," which he described as a "song about how the Bush administration separates the wealth, causing the elimination of the middle class."

"When my father started to say that it was wrong to silence us, a security cop told him to shut up," Fader said. "My dad said he had the right to free speech and the security guy said, 'Not in here you don't.'"

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.

April 30th, 2006, 09:53 PM
Friday, 28 April 2006
Feds Drop Bomb on EFF Lawsuit

The federal government intends to invoke the rarely used "State Secrets Privilege" -- the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb -- in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class action lawsuit against AT&T that alleges the telecom collaborated with the government's secret spying on American citizens.

The State Secrets Privilege is a vestige from English common law that lets the executive branch step into a civil lawsuit and have it dismissed if the case might reveal information that puts national security at risk.

Today's assertion severely darkens the prospects of the EFF's lawsuit, which the organization had hoped would shine light on the extent of the Bush Administration's admitted warrantless spying on Americans.

The government is not admitting, however, that AT&T aided the National Security Agency in spying on American's phone calls and internet communications.

"[T]he fact that the United States will assert the state secrets privilege should not be construed as a confirmation or denial of any of Plaintiffs¿ allegations, either about AT&T or the alleged surveillance activities," the filing reads. "When allegations are made about purported classified government activities or relationships, regardless of whether those allegations are accurate, the existence or non-existence of the activity or relationship is potentially a state secret."

The Justice Department has not formally invoked the privilege yet.

Today's notice was intended to inform Northern California US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that the government was intending to assert the privilege in order to seek dismissal of the case.

The complete paperwork justifying the government's decision will be filed by May 12.

Posted by ryansingel at 4:03 PM PDT

April 30th, 2006, 10:35 PM
FBI Investigated 3,501 People Without Warrants
by Mark Sherman

WASHINGTON - The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval, the Justice Department said Friday.

It was the first time the Bush administration has publicly disclosed how often it uses the administrative subpoena known as a National Security Letter, which allows the executive branch of government to obtain records about people in terrorism and espionage investigations without a judge's approval or a grand jury subpoena.

Friday's disclosure was mandated as part of the renewal of the Patriot Act, the administration's sweeping anti-terror law.

The FBI delivered a total of 9,254 NSLs relating to 3,501 people in 2005, according to a report submitted late Friday to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. In some cases, the bureau demanded information about one person from several companies.

The numbers from previous years remain classified, officials said.

The department also reported it received a secret court's approval for 155 warrants to examine business records last year under a Patriot Act provision that includes library records. However, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said the department has never used the provision to ask for library records.

The number was a significant jump over past use of the warrant for business records. A year ago, Gonzales told Congress there had been 35 warrants approved between November 2003 and April 2005.

The spike is expected to be temporary, however, because the Patriot Act renewal that President Bush signed in March made it easier for authorities to obtain subscriber information on telephone numbers captured through certain wiretaps.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the same panel that signs off on applications for business records warrants, also approved 2,072 special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies. The record number is more than twice as many as were issued in 2000, the last full year before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The FBI security letters have been the subject of legal battles in two federal courts because, until the Patriot Act changes, recipients were barred from telling anyone about them.

Ann Beeson, the associate legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the report to Congress "confirms our fear all along that National Security Letters are being used to get the records of thousands of innocent Americans without court approval."

The number disclosed Friday excludes requests for subscriber information, an exception written into the law. It was unclear how many FBI letters were not counted for that reason.

© Copyright 2006 Associated Press

May 1st, 2006, 08:18 PM
Local Mall Pulls Plug On Band With Anti-Bush T-Shirts

And some idiots still can't see how dissent is being criminalized in this country.

Brooklynrider- LOVE the idea about Sharpton being Giuliani's nemesis in the upcoming elections. He'd drive him NUTS:D


May 2nd, 2006, 08:51 AM
Too bad they couldn't just go acoustic!

I wonder if they could sue the mall for breach of contract.....

Oh, BTW, Gulianni was spotted in Iowa. He says he was just vacationing... ;)

May 2nd, 2006, 09:05 AM
^ Beauty spot.

May 3rd, 2006, 01:55 AM
oh no:eek:
Giuliani in Iowa...this is starting to make me nervous. Should I be nervous?

May 3rd, 2006, 02:23 AM
ha, ha --

I wouldn't want Giuliani in public office, either -- mainly was thinking that Clinton could be a great Secretary of State.

Its a scary thought when anyone would want Clinton in charge of anything. Personally I think he is one of the worst presidents!! This is coming from a registered democrat. Clinton destroyed this country by weakening our army. He was also insane when the first bombing of the world trade center(I believe in 1992) went down and Clinton did NOTHING!! Wait there is a theme here. He also did NOTHING when the 2 US Embassy's in Africa were bombed. And he also did NOTHING when the USS Cole was bombed. All of these attacks were from the terrorist organization Al Quaedas. I mean we can talk about stem cell research and civilian rights but all of that means nothing when people across the Atlantic Ocean would crave to have us dead.

I think Clinton was too involved with his sexual life when there were more important things to worry about like protecting his country. So again, he is a horrible leader.

I will give you this, I respect the fact that Clinton was one of the only presidents that came from nothing and rose to such prominence. He is not like Kerry who had to marry Heinz to budget his campaign funds. But thats about as far as my respect for Clinton goes.

May 3rd, 2006, 10:53 AM
Its a scary thought when anyone would want Clinton in charge of anything. Personally I think he is one of the worst presidents!! This is coming from a registered democrat. Clinton destroyed this country by weakening our army.

What? How do you get that? We had one of the most oversized military forces in the world, how is spending MORE money on that going to save the country?

He was also insane when the first bombing of the world trade center(I believe in 1992) went down and Clinton did NOTHING!!

Um, he did, and he got flak for it. I believe he had a missile attack and the Republican controlled senate would not "stand for it".

You think we should have invaded someone?

Wait there is a theme here. He also did NOTHING when the 2 US Embassy's in Africa were bombed. And he also did NOTHING when the USS Cole was bombed.

Um, he did something. BUT, you forget, he did not have a "carte blanche" to do whatever he wanted like Bush did. These were mostly small, or foreign events that the public did not rally behind and the congress did not call for any reprisal.

So when a public does NOT cry for anything, should it also blame him in retrospect?

All of these attacks were from the terrorist organization Al Quaedas. I mean we can talk about stem cell research and civilian rights but all of that means nothing when people across the Atlantic Ocean would crave to have us dead.

I am sorry, but that is a REALLY juvenile attitude. When people, without a full military force, halfway around teh globe want us dead then it is our responsibility to kill them?

You need to do a bit more reading.

I think Clinton was too involved with his sexual life when there were more important things to worry about like protecting his country. So again, he is a horrible leader.

MORE involved? Him or the people that were trying to hang him out to dry? I think the congress and whitewater investigators were "too involved with [Clinton's] sexual life when there were more important things to worry about".

I will give you this, I respect the fact that Clinton was one of the only presidents that came from nothing and rose to such prominence. He is not like Kerry who had to marry Heinz to budget his campaign funds. But thats about as far as my respect for Clinton goes.

You say you are a democrat and you are spewing republican by-lines?

Troll elsewhere.

May 3rd, 2006, 06:55 PM
Im no Bush fan but I defintily would like to have a president with some balls already. which clearly leaves Hilary out of the running THANK GOD!!

May 4th, 2006, 12:53 AM
One potential Republican Presidential candidate with less balls that Hillary: Bill Frist

May 4th, 2006, 08:48 AM
Im no Bush fan but I defintily would like to have a president with some balls already. which clearly leaves Hilary out of the running THANK GOD!!

This is like the Anti-Colbert!

"I am a democrat, but I hate everything Clinton did, I hate bush but OMG Hillary!!!"

Thats great PS. Try putting a little more effort into the replies and discuss the issues rather than telling us the same things that the pollsters and mainstream media keeps trying to sell us.

May 7th, 2006, 06:07 PM
U.S. Defense Pays United To Play Military Video (recruiting ad)

(AP) CHICAGO The U.S. Department of Defense is paying United Airlines to run in-flight videos touting glamorous military jobs, but passengers aren't told that the Pentagon produced the spot, according to a published report.

The 13-minute video titled "Today's Military" is played in between standard in-flight programming, such as NBC sitcoms or Discovery Channel productions.

It profiles five military jobs, although none are in dangerous regions like Iraq or Afghanistan, where thousands of U.S. military personnel are supporting the war.

The video shows only one solider beyond U.S. borders: a Hawaii-based Army animal-care specialist on a humanitarian mission in Thailand, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The defense department is paying United about $36,000 to run the video from April 17 through May 17, said Lt. Bradley Terrill, project officer for the video.


May 7th, 2006, 06:16 PM
Bush challenges hundreds of laws

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Article Tools

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

(snip)Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. (snip)

The new law also created the position of inspector general for Iraq. But Bush wrote in his signing statement that the inspector ''shall refrain" from investigating any intelligence or national security matter, or any crime the Pentagon says it prefers to investigate for itself.


May 7th, 2006, 07:17 PM
Candidate Arrested While Examining Public Records
By VoteTrustUSA
May 06, 2006

Charles Grapski, a candidate for Florida's State House, was arrested and briefly detained after Alachua City Manager Clovis Watson Jr. alleged Grapski recorded him without his knowledge on Friday, April 28.

Grapski had met with Watson "to discuss Grapski's request for public records relating to last month's Alachua city election." Watson alleged that he "left his office briefly during the discussion, and only realized when he came back in and saw a blinking red light on what appeared to be a phone that he was being recorded." Watson asked if the meeting was being taped and Grapski said it was and "since Watson is a public official, the recording was legal."

Watson disagreed. Grapski, in an e-mail to Watson, said "Watson could "clearly see" his recorder, because Watson "openly stated" he knew he was being recorded and because "as a public official . . . anything you say is deemed to be a public statement." " The two agreed to meet again on Monday where Watson told Grapski that the public records they discussed on Friday would be available.

Grapski arrived on Monday with co-chairman of the Alachua County Green Party Michael Canney. When Grapski was finished reviewing the records, police arrested him. Grapski was charged with "interception and disclosure of wire, oral or electronic communications."

While Canney believes the punishment was too harsh for the crime, Watson said the police department acted appropriately and that the arrest "was necessary to impress upon Grapski the seriousness of the matter." Watson charges that a felony was committed resulting in Grapski's arrest.

Canney points out that the arrest deflected attention from Grapski's reasons for requesting the records in the first place:

"Grapski was looking through materials relating to absentee ballots for the recent city election, which is being challenged by a lawsuit Grapski is participating in.


The lawsuit says city officials are "guilty of misconduct in conducting the absentee ballot portion of the election."

Grapski was released Monday night on his own recognizance.

May 7th, 2006, 07:22 PM
Newly Discovered Diebold Threat Described as National Security Risk
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog
May 05, 2006

Voting Systems in Question Were Used Last Week in Ohio Primary, Soon in Pennsylvania

We've now been able to gather a great deal of additional information concerning details about the story we first posted yesterday on the official Pennsylvania state warning issued about the new "security vulnerability" discovered in all Diebold touch-screen electronic voting machines.

That warning, which has now brought a lock-down on all Diebold systems in PA, where early absentee (non-machine) voting is about to begin prior to their upcoming May 16th primary election, was reported by the Morning Call yesterday. The warning says the serious security vulnerability could allow ''unauthorized software to be loaded on to the system."

Public details about the warning are still sketchy as those in the know have acknowledged that the problem is so serious, they are hoping to keep the info under wraps until mitigation steps can be taken to safeguard systems.

The BRAD BLOG has been told on the record, however, by one person involved in the matter, that the vulnerability is a "major national security risk."

We've been speaking to many sources today, and we've been able to get several first hand comments on the problem from top officials and analysts directly involved in both state and federal certification of the Diebold systems, as well as from those involved in the initial discovery of the problem.
What's clear is that Morning Call's reporting that it was Diebold who found the "glitch" are flat wrong. The discovery of the "glitch" (which is anything but) emanated from the examination of Diebold AccuVote TSx (touch-screen) machines recently in Emery County, UT.

A source has told The BRAD BLOG that Diebold was "cornered" into admitting to the problem, a far cry from them having "found" it, as the Morning Call characterized it.

What's also clear is that neither Diebold themselves, nor federal officials at the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) have been notifying states about the serious problem which apparently affects all Diebold AccuVote touch-screen systems, including both their newer TSx models, and the older TS and TS6 models.

The Diebold TSx models, with the security vulnerability still intact, were apparently used in the primary election last Tuesday in Ohio.

A document at Diebold's website describes [PDF] the TSx models as featuring "Industry Leading Security."

In Utah's Emery County, state officials are attempting to force Bruce Funk, the 23-year elected County Clerk out of his job in the wake of his having allowed a security evaluation of the county's new Diebold touch-screen systems by both computer security firm Security Innovation and Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti. According to several sources, that analysis revealed many new vulnerabilities and problems in the Diebold touch-screen systems, including the one that seems to be at the heart of the problem now being warned about by Pennsylvania officials.

Funk -- who has since been "vilified," as one source told us, by both Diebold and Utah state officials as high as the Lt. Governor -- was forced to implement the new Diebold touch-screen systems for the first time this year against his own objections. His prudent subsequent security evaluation of the systems was arranged by electronic voting watchdog organization, BlackBoxVoting.org. (We recently interviewed Funk on the radio concerning that evaluation, and his subsequent removal from office in its wake. Listen to that interview here [MP3].)

Here's some of what we've so far been able to learn from a number of officials, both on the record and off, in Pennsylvania, elsewhere around the country and at the federal level, as well as those involved in the initial Emery County discoveries...

The BRAD BLOG has confirmed with a top official in Pennsylvania, close to those responsible for giving state certification of voting systems in the Keystone state, that the problem comes from a "feature" that is purposely built into all Diebold touch-screen systems.

"As far as I know, it's present on all TS and TSx machines," he told us. "It relates to potential misuse of the procedure by which Diebold does field updates to the machines. It's not a bug -- it's a deliberate but unwise 'feature'. Every jurisdiction that uses the machines should be notified. Now that the story is out, I suspect they will be. The fix can be applied at any time prior to the next election, however, so there is no particular rush except in states like Pennsylvania, which has a primary in less than two weeks. The fix is administrative and requires no new or modified software."

Bev Harris, of BlackBoxVoting.org (BBV), who described the situation as "horrifying" said in a comment posted on BRAD BLOG earlier today that, "The problem is very serious and because primary elections are being held, releasing even a small part of what makes this security hole so dangerous presents an immediate threat to U.S. elections."

She told us in a phone conversation this afternoon that BBV will be publicly publishing summaries of the full reports both from Security Innovation and Hursti on Emery County "in redacted format" soon.

"Because the vulnerability is so serious," she wrote, "and until ALL states have been able to implement the FULL recovery path, we can release a redacted version only, but will send an unredacted version to the states," she wrote in another comment earlier today.

She explained when we discussed the matter that even that "FULL recovery path" may not be possible due to the severity of the problem which she describes as "a major national security issue."

Harris wrote about a discussion last night with Dr. Michael Shamos who is responsible for testing voting systems in Pennsylvania concerning the full breadth of the security issue and the necessary means for mitigating it.

"When Dr. Shamos called me and described the mitigations being used in Pennsylvania, I have to say that they did not appear to be the full mitigation needed according to the videotaped examination we have by Security Innovation and Hursti," Harris wrote.

But whether other states and counties who use Diebold's TS and TSx machines will be properly notified by official federal authorities, or even Diebold themselves, is another question. Apparently the state of California has known about the problem for some time, as well as Diebold obviously, but the matter in PA seems only to have come to public attention when state officials were questioned by Election Integrity Activists in a public meeting.

A member of the team involved in evaluating the Diebold systems recently in California on behalf of Sec. of State Bruce McPherson has told us that they've known about the problem for some time and confirmed the seriousness of the issue:

"Yes, California has definitely been aware of the issue for several weeks and will address it before the June 6 primary," the computer scientist in California explained. "Other Diebold TS and TSx jurisdictions are equally affected, and in my opinion must take ameliorating action."

Earlier this year, when McPherson was considering whether or not to re-certify Diebold in California after the Diebold optical-scan systems were revealed, in no uncertain terms, to be hackable in a Leon County, Florida mock-election test, he commissioned an independent analysis [PDF] of the flaws in the Diebold memory cards which allowed for the hack to be carried out without a trace being left behind.

That report confirmed the Leon County hack, and found 16 other bugs described as "a more dangerous family of vulnerabilities" which "go well beyond" what was discovered in Leon County. Remarkably, after the report was issued, McPherson certified Diebold's systems in the state despite those dire warnings from his own security team.

Harris, however, confirms to us that the problems now being discussed in PA are an "entirely different class of problems" than were even revealed by the California report.

The Washington state Sec. of State's voting systems director, Paul Miller, has told us that when he asked a Diebold representative about the problem yesterday, the rep told him that he had no knowledge of the issue and promised to get back to him if he was able to find out anything.

When we inquired with Jeannie Layson, a spokesperson for the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) as to whether the EAC would be notifying states about the vulnerability, she told us that their commission had nothing to do with system certification.

We reminded her that this was not an issue about certification, but rather of product security and vulnerability which needed to be passed on to every state that uses Diebold TS and TSx systems. The EAC's role in serving as a central clearinghouse for notifying states about such issues was defined by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which created the commission in the first place. As well, a recent 107-page report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the problems and vulnerabilities of electronic voting (which went virtually unreported by the mainstream corporate media) discussed the EAC's role in this matter as well.

Layson told us that she would discuss the matter with the EAC's Voting System Secretariat, Brian Hancock. We look forward to action by the EAC.

John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.org contributed to this story

May 7th, 2006, 07:26 PM
Cleveland's election system gets another black eye
Associated Press

CLEVELAND - The state that decided the 2004 presidential election already was under scrutiny before its largest county held up the statewide primary tally with election workers who were unfamiliar with new machines and looking for lost votes.

It was Ohio's first punch card-free election, raising questions of how the state will fare in November when turnout is expected to be greater and several key races will be decided.

Voting in the primary was half finished Tuesday before one polling place opened in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County, prompting a judge to keep the location operating two extra hours and holding up a prompt reporting of the statewide vote.

Election leaders in Cuyahoga and other counties with glitches are trying to fix what went wrong.

Most of the problems in the Cuyahoga County, which has had numerous election mishaps before, can be attributed to mistakes by the 7,500 poll workers hired only for election-day work, county elections director Michael Vu said. "We knew that we were going to be overwhelmed."

It eventually took three days to count ballots.

The county, the nation's 15th largest election jurisdiction, has more than 1 million voters and 1,436 precincts, each staffed by workers paid $72 for the day and $30 for a a few hours of training. Some have worked at the polls since the 1950s.

A botched absentee-ballot operation contributed to problems. The county didn't test whether absentees could be read by scanning devices until the day before the election. Finding count discrepancies, the elections board decided at midday Tuesday to count absentees by hand.

Media demands for quick results and partisans unhappy with the outcome of Ohio's critical role in the 2004 presidential election, which gave President Bush the 20 electoral votes that he needed to stay in the White House, lent additional scrutiny to a county election system with few admirers.

In recent years some precincts ran out of ballots, votes were found after the counting stopped, ballots of unregistered voters were counted and some voters were never informed of polling place changes.

James Lee, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's chief elections officer and a Republican nominated for governor on Tuesday, said Cuyahoga County was the exception to a mostly smooth electronic voting across the state.

"If you look across the state, you find out voters, poll workers and election officials were pleased with the operation of the new voting machines. They worked well. From initial reports out of Cuyahoga, we seem to be dealing more with procedural problems," he said.

Diebold Election Systems, which made the county's new voting machines, was careful to avoid antagonizing an important customer, blaming problems on the newness of the system.

"It's just intuitive, when you work with something you will feel more comfortable," said Diebold spokesman David Bear. "The machines worked properly."[/size][/b]

S. Candice Hoke, election law professor at Cleveland State University, worked the polls and said voters seemed satisfied with the machines. But closing out the machines at day's end was complicated with numerous security checks, a process multiplied by thousands of poll workers and polling places, thus injecting the risk of human error, she said.

Vu, hired for $115,000 a year from the Salt Lake City election operation in 2004 to clean up the mess in Cleveland, said screw-ups reflected a combination of expected problems with the first use of a new touch-screen voting system, unexpected poll-worker absences and human errors.

"You had 80 percent of the polling places open and the precincts were reporting properly on time with minor issues or no issues whatsoever," he said. "Then you had the other 20 percent of places that didn't."

Vu said aging poll workers also played a role.

"We knew there were going to be poll workers who have worked for us for 30, 40, 50 years and changing over from a punch-card system to an electronic system as far as terms as well as process would be an issue," Vu said.

Bob Bennett, county elections board chairman and Ohio GOP chairman, said problems should be expected in a countywide election involving more voters than some states. He said he was satisfied with Vu's performance.

Bennett said the board routinely faces obstacles in training workers for 584 polling locations in Cleveland and 58 other communities, rich and poor.

Their day begins before the polls open at 6:30 a.m. and continues at least until 7:30 p.m., later if people are standing in line waiting to vote when the polls close or if problems must be resolved.

"It (poll worker training) reflects the diversity of the community. It also reflects the education level of the community, the socio-economic level of the community," Bennett said. "That means you are going to have a pretty wide range of abilities out there."

AP reporter M.R. Kropko contributed to this report.

May 10th, 2006, 11:29 PM
Three States Mandate More Security for Diebold Voting Machines

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Officials overseeing elections in three states have directed local authorities to take additional security measures with a popular type of electronic voting machine to prevent election fraud. California, Iowa and Pennsylvania issued the voting directives in recent weeks after researchers discovered a feature that could allow someone to load unauthorized software on Diebold Election Systems computerized machines.


May 10th, 2006, 11:31 PM
Army releases 18-year-old with autism from enlistment contract
The Associated Press

PORTLAND — An 18-year-old Portland man with autism, whose recruitment renewed questions about Army practices, was released Tuesday from his enlistment contract.

Jared Guinther signed up for one of the Army’s most dangerous jobs, cavalry scout, after being heavily recruited. He passed medical and other examinations. He was scheduled to leave for basic training in August.

The Army announced Tuesday that it decided he didn’t meet enrollment criteria, two days after The Oregonian newspaper reported his parents’ objections.

Gaylan Johnson, spokesman for the United States Military Entrance Processing Command, said Guinther’s disability was not disclosed in the medical exam and information regarding his condition was not available to the command until after the enrollment process was complete. The command oversees medical exams for the Army.

May 11th, 2006, 08:23 AM
NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: The NSA record collection program

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders,this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.

The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the NSA program is secret.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, nominated Monday by President Bush to become the director of the CIA, headed the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005. In that post, Hayden would have overseen the agency's domestic call-tracking program. Hayden declined to comment about the program.

The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.

In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, declined to discuss the agency's operations. "Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operational issues; therefore, we have no information to provide," he said. "However, it is important to note that NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."

The White House would not discuss the domestic call-tracking program. "There is no domestic surveillance without court approval," said Dana Perino, deputy press secretary, referring to actual eavesdropping.

She added that all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government "are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists." All government-sponsored intelligence activities "are carefully reviewed and monitored," Perino said. She also noted that "all appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on the intelligence efforts of the United States."

The government is collecting "external" data on domestic phone calls but is not intercepting "internals," a term for the actual content of the communication, according to a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the program. This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for "social network analysis," the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.

Carriers uniquely positioned

AT&T recently merged with SBC and kept the AT&T name. Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T are the nation's three biggest telecommunications companies; they provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers.

The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans.

Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services — primarily long-distance and wireless — to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.

Created by President Truman in 1952, during the Korean War, the NSA is charged with protecting the United States from foreign security threats. The agency was considered so secret that for years the government refused to even confirm its existence. Government insiders used to joke that NSA stood for "No Such Agency."

In 1975, a congressional investigation revealed that the NSA had been intercepting, without warrants, international communications for more than 20 years at the behest of the CIA and other agencies. The spy campaign, code-named "Shamrock," led to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was designed to protect Americans from illegal eavesdropping.

Enacted in 1978, FISA lays out procedures that the U.S. government must follow to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches of people believed to be engaged in espionage or international terrorism against the United States. A special court, which has 11 members, is responsible for adjudicating requests under FISA.

Over the years, NSA code-cracking techniques have continued to improve along with technology. The agency today is considered expert in the practice of "data mining" — sifting through reams of information in search of patterns. Data mining is just one of many tools NSA analysts and mathematicians use to crack codes and track international communications.

Paul Butler, a former U.S. prosecutor who specialized in terrorism crimes, said FISA approval generally isn't necessary for government data-mining operations. "FISA does not prohibit the government from doing data mining," said Butler, now a partner with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.

The caveat, he said, is that "personal identifiers" — such as names, Social Security numbers and street addresses — can't be included as part of the search. "That requires an additional level of probable cause," he said.

The usefulness of the NSA's domestic phone-call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear. Also unclear is whether the database has been used for other purposes.

The NSA's domestic program raises legal questions. Historically, AT&T and the regional phone companies have required law enforcement agencies to present a court order before they would even consider turning over a customer's calling data. Part of that owed to the personality of the old Bell Telephone System, out of which those companies grew.

Ma Bell's bedrock principle — protection of the customer — guided the company for decades, said Gene Kimmelman, senior public policy director of Consumers Union. "No court order, no customer information — period. That's how it was for decades," he said.

The concern for the customer was also based on law: Under Section 222 of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers' calling habits: whom a person calls, how often and what routes those calls take to reach their final destination. Inbound calls, as well as wireless calls, also are covered.

The financial penalties for violating Section 222, one of many privacy reinforcements that have been added to the law over the years, can be stiff. The Federal Communications Commission, the nation's top telecommunications regulatory agency, can levy fines of up to $130,000 per day per violation, with a cap of $1.325 million per violation. The FCC has no hard definition of "violation." In practice, that means a single "violation" could cover one customer or 1 million.

In the case of the NSA's international call-tracking program, Bush signed an executive order allowing the NSA to engage in eavesdropping without a warrant. The president and his representatives have since argued that an executive order was sufficient for the agency to proceed. Some civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, disagree.

Companies approached

The NSA's domestic program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the sources. Right around that time, they said, NSA representatives approached the nation's biggest telecommunications companies. The agency made an urgent pitch: National security is at risk, and we need your help to protect the country from attacks.

The agency told the companies that it wanted them to turn over their "call-detail records," a complete listing of the calling histories of their millions of customers. In addition, the NSA wanted the carriers to provide updates, which would enable the agency to keep tabs on the nation's calling habits.

The sources said the NSA made clear that it was willing to pay for the cooperation. AT&T, which at the time was headed by C. Michael Armstrong, agreed to help the NSA. So did BellSouth, headed by F. Duane Ackerman; SBC, headed by Ed Whitacre; and Verizon, headed by Ivan Seidenberg.

With that, the NSA's domestic program began in earnest.

AT&T, when asked about the program, replied with a comment prepared for USA TODAY: "We do not comment on matters of national security, except to say that we only assist law enforcement and government agencies charged with protecting national security in strict accordance with the law."

In another prepared comment, BellSouth said: "BellSouth does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any governmental agency without proper legal authority."

Verizon, the USA's No. 2 telecommunications company behind AT&T, gave this statement: "We do not comment on national security matters, we act in full compliance with the law and we are committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy."

Qwest spokesman Robert Charlton said: "We can't talk about this. It's a classified situation."

In December, The New York Times revealed that Bush had authorized the NSA to wiretap, without warrants, international phone calls and e-mails that travel to or from the USA. The following month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T. The lawsuit accuses the company of helping the NSA spy on U.S. phone customers.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales alluded to that possibility. Appearing at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Gonzales was asked whether he thought the White House has the legal authority to monitor domestic traffic without a warrant. Gonzales' reply: "I wouldn't rule it out." His comment marked the first time a Bush appointee publicly asserted that the White House might have that authority.

Similarities in programs

The domestic and international call-tracking programs have things in common, according to the sources. Both are being conducted without warrants and without the approval of the FISA court. The Bush administration has argued that FISA's procedures are too slow in some cases. Officials, including Gonzales, also make the case that the USA Patriot Act gives them broad authority to protect the safety of the nation's citizens.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would not confirm the existence of the program. In a statement, he said, "I can say generally, however, that our subcommittee has been fully briefed on all aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. ... I remain convinced that the program authorized by the president is lawful and absolutely necessary to protect this nation from future attacks."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., declined to comment.

One company differs

One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest.

According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest's CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA's assertion that Qwest didn't need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers' information and how that information might be used.

Financial implications were also a concern, the sources said. Carriers that illegally divulge calling information can be subjected to heavy fines. The NSA was asking Qwest to turn over millions of records. The fines, in the aggregate, could have been substantial.

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as "product" in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.

The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard.

Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.

In June 2002, Nacchio resigned amid allegations that he had misled investors about Qwest's financial health. But Qwest's legal questions about the NSA request remained.

Unable to reach agreement, Nacchio's successor, Richard Notebaert, finally pulled the plug on the NSA talks in late 2004, the sources said.

Contributing: John Diamond


May 11th, 2006, 09:49 AM
Army Using Policy to Deny Reserve Officer Resignations

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 11, 2006; A03

The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.

The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers, according to Army figures.

"I don't think during a time of war you would want to let people go when you have a shortage of people," Army Reserve spokesman Steve Stromvall said when asked to comment on the memo, which surfaced during litigation over the policy. At least 10 reserve officers have sued the Army, saying they should be allowed to get out because they have finished their mandatory eight years of service.

Blocking reserve officers' resignations is one of several steps the Army has undertaken in recent years to keep soldiers beyond their original terms of service, as today's wars place unprecedented demands on the all-volunteer force. Under another practice, known as "stop-loss," thousands of active-duty Army and reserve soldiers have been temporarily prevented from leaving the military, either because their skills were needed or because their units were going overseas. As of January, more than 13,000 soldiers were being kept in the service under stop-loss, a policy criticized by some as a "backdoor draft," which the Army says it seeks to end.

But experts in military law say barring reserve officers from resigning is in some ways more expansive and open-ended than stop-loss. The policy applies to officers who do not fall under stop-loss.

At the heart of the controversy is whether a law stating that commissioned reserve officers are appointed "for an indefinite term and are held during the pleasure of the President" gives the government the power to force them to serve permanently -- as Army lawyers say -- or only to discharge them against their will.

"This is a dangerous precedent for the future of all officers. They are saying officer service is permanent," said Capt. Bradley Schwan, who served six years on active duty before joining the Army Reserve. He is suing Defense Department leaders to be allowed to resign, after being turned down twice. He is awaiting a ruling on a government motion to dismiss his case by a judge in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

"What the Army is saying is even though you are promised up front eight years as a reserve officer, they are saying they can keep you as long as they desire," said Stuart Slotnick, a lawyer involved in Schwan's case and four similar cases since 2004. Another pending case involves Capt. Jonathan O'Reilly, who has tried to resign five times in two years but was required to report to Fort Hood, Tex., on Monday to prepare to go to Iraq, said his attorney, Donald G. Rehkopf Jr.

But Defense Department lawyers say that the federal law, including its use of the phrase "indefinite term," clearly gives the administration the authority to disapprove officer resignations. "The term 'indefinite' means what it says," they said in a filing in the Schwan case. "An indefinite term has no specific length, but is rather unlimited."

In addition, Army regulations have included broad language for several decades that could be used to restrict a reserve officer's ability to leave the service, including a 1987 rule that resignations may be accepted except during a national emergency proclaimed by the president or "other conditions which may necessitate such action."

The recent memos disclosed in the litigation were attempts to get more specific about what those conditions were, reserve officials said.

"The Army Reserve told me it's based on the needs of the Army," said retired Maj. Gen. David Bockel, deputy executive director of the Reserve Officers Association, a professional association that represents 75,000 officers from all services. "If the Army needs you, you can't resign," said Bockel, who has received calls from officers whose resignations were rejected.

The indefinite forced service has come amid a surge of call-ups for the reserve, which has mobilized more than 140,000 soldiers since 2001 for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and for homeland defense. Army Reserve units, known as the Selected Reserve, have a total of about 188,000 soldiers, including 34,000 officers.

Meanwhile, the Army Reserve is falling short of recruits, making only 84 percent of its recruiting goal in fiscal 2005, and 95 percent so far this fiscal year.

Helmly cited the heavy operational demands combined with officer shortages as the main reasons for setting down new guidelines to curtail resignations, a move that led the Army Reserve to turn down 176 resignation requests in 2004, 190 in 2005 and 34 so far this year, the Army said.

The May 2005 memo states that to be allowed to resign, a reserve officer must first either serve a term supporting military operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan or for homeland defense; be assigned to a job specialty that has at least 80 percent of its personnel; or suffer a recent family death or financial trouble that would lead to serious, permanent hardship unless the resignation is granted.

"The reason you don't want to discharge people when you have a critical shortage is twofold: The first is readiness, and the second is fiscal. If you need them now and let them go, then you have to train someone to replace them, and that's expensive," Stromvall said.

Not all Army Reserve officers fall under this policy. Those affected by it belong to the 167,000-strong force of "drilling reservists" assigned to units that train on weekends. Another category is the Individual Ready Reserve, made up of 110,000 soldiers who are not assigned to units and who are given the opportunity to resign after they complete eight years of service unless they are mobilized before then.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

May 12th, 2006, 11:05 AM
Red Cross Chief 'Deplores' White House
Friday May 12, 2006 8:31 AM

GENEVA (AP) - The head of the international Red Cross on Friday deplored the Bush administration's refusal to allow its delegates to visit detainees in secret detention.

In an unusually strongly worded statement, the neutral agency known for its discretion expressed disappointment that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials refused to yield to its demand.

``No matter how legitimate the grounds for detention, there exists no right to conceal a person's whereabouts or to deny that he or she is being detained,'' said Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, following a series of top-level meetings in Washington.

The ICRC is designated by the Geneva Conventions on warfare as the organization to visit prisoners of war. It is the only independent body the United States allows to visit terror suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but it has long been demanding access to detainees in ``undisclosed locations.''


May 12th, 2006, 11:53 AM

'Nuff said.

May 12th, 2006, 11:55 AM
'Nuff said.

That's a very good quote. He was right. But in a democracy, you cannot maintain this perception for long, fortunately. Otherwise, GW Bush's approval ratings would not be 31% right now...

May 12th, 2006, 12:06 PM
:: AHEM ::

Make that 29% ...

Bush's Ratings Hit New Low, Poll Shows

Wall Street Jornal (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114735765551950179-w7V4BRLul0aQ57xTm63c_3bKREY_20070512.html?mod=blog s)
May 12, 2006

President Bush's approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll.

Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an "excellent or pretty good" job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. It compares with 71% of Americans who said Mr. Bush is doing an "only fair or poor" job, up from 63% in April...

Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114735765551950179-w7V4BRLul0aQ57xTm63c_3bKREY_20070512.html?mod=blog s#)

May 15th, 2006, 09:20 PM
FBI Acknowledges:
Journalists Phone Records are Fair Game

May 15, 2006 7:18 PM
ABC News (http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/05/fbi_acknowledge.html)
The Blotter

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters’ phone records in leak investigations.

“It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,” said a senior federal official.

The acknowledgement followed our blotter item that ABC News reporters had been warned by a federal source that the government knew who we were calling.

The official said our blotter item was wrong to suggest that ABC News phone calls were being “tracked.”

“Think of it more as backtracking,” said a senior federal official.

But FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA.

In a statement, the FBI press office said its leak investigations begin with the examination of government phone records.

“The FBI will take logical investigative steps to determine if a criminal act was committed by a government employee by the unauthorized release of classified information,” the statement said.

Officials say that means that phone records of reporters will be sought if government records are not sufficient.

Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL).

The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.

Copyright © 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures

May 16th, 2006, 08:50 AM
That's a very good quote. He was right. But in a democracy, you cannot maintain this perception for long, fortunately. Otherwise, GW Bush's approval ratings would not be 31% right now...

A for effort though!

May 16th, 2006, 08:53 AM
Gee. We all know how many reporters are terrorists!!!

We really need to clamp down on this stuff before it gets even more out of control. Sealing leaks to "the enemy" is one thing, but since when is the American People considered an enemy?

May 16th, 2006, 10:19 AM
Did You Consent to Be Wiretapped?

“Consent” appears to be the right wing’s favorite defense for the apparent decision by major phone companies to hand over millions of customers’ calling records to the National Security Agency. As reported in the Washington Post, “the Bush administration has argued that a company can turn over its entire database of customer records — and even the stored content of calls and e-mails — because customers ‘have consented to that’ when they establish accounts.”

ThinkProgress has been compiling legal answers to all the questions about telco liability, here and here. Here’s why the consent argument won’t work:

1. The telco language terms of service provide no basis for “consent.” The terms of service of AT&T, BellSouth, and Verizon highlight that they will turn over records in response to court orders or subpoenas, which did not exist, according to USA Today. Verizon also mentions “exigent circumstances” – a very slim reed on which to conclude that customers gave actual consent to having all their phone calls disclosed to the government.

2. Consent is for a specific action, not a blanket permission. As explained by former prosecutor and law professor Orin Kerr, cases under the wiretap laws require that “the user actually agreed to the action, either explicitly or implicitly based on the user’s decision to proceed in light of actual notice.” You give consent for a call when you have actual notice. That’s why we always hear that “this call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.”

3. You can’t consent to a secret program. Under this “consent” defense, a federal court would have to hold that even the people outraged by the NSA program have given their individual consent to it. That’s a legal fiction we don’t think courts will accept. It’s doubtful we can give our consent to any secret program.

4. It would mean you consented to have the contents your calls handed over to the government. USA Today reported that the phone companies turned over call detail information – which phone numbers called which other phone numbers. The consent provision for call detail information [18 USC § 2702 and 2703] is essentially the same as the consent provision for wiretaps of the full contents of calls and e-mails [Sec. 2511(c)]. When you signed up for phone service, did you and all your friends consent to have the government listen to all your calls? That would make a mockery of decades of wiretap law.

May 16th, 2006, 10:26 AM
... since when is the American People considered an enemy?
hmmmm .... November 7, 2000 springs to mind.

May 16th, 2006, 11:38 AM
hmmmm .... November 7, 2000 springs to mind.

Idiot does not neccesarily mean enemy. :P

June 5th, 2006, 09:35 AM
Invoking Secrets Privilege Becomes a More Popular Legal Tactic by U.S.

By SCOTT SHANE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/scott_shane/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/washington/04secrets.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin&oref=slogin)
June 4, 2006

WASHINGTON, June 3 — Facing a wave of litigation challenging its eavesdropping at home and its handling of terror suspects abroad, the Bush administration is increasingly turning to a legal tactic that swiftly torpedoes most lawsuits: the state secrets privilege.

In recent weeks alone, officials have used the privilege to win the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a German man who was abducted and held in Afghanistan for five months and to ask the courts to throw out three legal challenges to the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.

But civil liberties groups and some scholars say the privilege claim, in which the government says any discussion of a lawsuit's accusations would endanger national security, has short-circuited judicial scrutiny and public debate of some central controversies of the post-9/11 era.

The privilege has been asserted by the Justice Department more frequently under President Bush than under any of his predecessors — in 19 cases, the same number as during the entire eight-year presidency of Ronald Reagan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/ronald_wilson_reagan/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the previous record holder, according to a count by William G. Weaver, a political scientist at the University of Texas at El Paso.

While the privilege, defined by a 1953 Supreme Court ruling, was once used to shield sensitive documents or witnesses from disclosure, it is now often used to try to snuff out lawsuits at their inception, Mr. Weaver and other legal specialists say.

"This is a very powerful weapon for the executive branch," said Mr. Weaver, who has a law degree and is a co-author of one of the few scholarly articles examining the privilege. "Once it's asserted, in almost every instance it stops the case cold."

Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University who is studying the recent use of the privilege, said the administration's legal strategy "raises profound legal and policy questions that will be the subject of intense debate for the foreseeable future."

Some members of Congress also have doubts about the way the privilege has been used. A bill approved by the House Government Reform Committee would limit its use in blocking whistle-blowers' lawsuits.

"If the very people you're suing are the ones who get to use the state secrets privilege, it's a stacked deck," said Representative Christopher Shays (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/christopher_shays/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Republican of Connecticut, who proposed the measure and has campaigned against excessive government secrecy.

Yet courts have almost always deferred to the secrecy claims; Mr. Weaver said he believed that the last unsuccessful assertion of the privilege was in 1993. Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said, "It's a sign of how potent the national security mantra has become."

Under Mr. Bush, the secrets privilege has been used to block a lawsuit by a translator at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/f/federal_bureau_of_investigation/index.html?inline=nyt-org), Sibel Edmonds, who was fired after accusing colleagues of security breaches; to stop a discrimination lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Sterling, a Farsi-speaking, African-American officer at the Central Intelligence Agency (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org); and to derail a patent claim involving a coupler for fiber-optic cable, evidently to guard technical details of government eavesdropping.

Such cases can make for oddities. Mark S. Zaid, who has represented Ms. Edmonds, Mr. Sterling and other clients in privilege cases, said he had seen his legal briefs classified by the government and had been barred from contacting a client because his phone line was not secure.

"In most state secrets cases, the plaintiffs' lawyers don't know what the alleged secrets are," Mr. Zaid said.

More recently the privilege has been wielded against lawsuits challenging broader policies, including the three lawsuits attacking the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program — one against AT&T by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco and two against the federal government by the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.

In a filing in the New York case, John D. Negroponte (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/n/john_d_negroponte/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the director of national intelligence, wrote that allowing the case to proceed would "cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States" because it "would enable adversaries of the United States to avoid detection." Mr. Negroponte said he was providing more detail in classified filings.

Those cases are still pending. Two lawsuits challenging the government's practice of rendition, in which terror suspects are seized and delivered to detention centers overseas, were dismissed after the government raised the secrets privilege.

One plaintiff, Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained while changing planes in New York and was taken to Syria, where he has said he was held in a tiny cell and beaten with electrical cables. The other, Khaled el-Masri, a German of Kuwaiti origin, was seized in Macedonia and taken to Afghanistan, where he has said he was beaten and injected with drugs before being released in Albania.

The United States never made public any evidence linking either man to terrorism, and both cases are widely viewed as mistakes. Mr. Arar's lawsuit was dismissed in February on separate but similar grounds from the secrets privilege, a decision he is appealing. A federal judge in Virginia dismissed Mr. Masri's lawsuit on May 18, accepting the government's secrets claim.

One frustration of the plaintiffs in such cases is that so much information about the ostensible state secrets is already public. Mr. Arar's case has been examined in months of public hearings by a Canadian government commission, and Mr. Masri's story has been confirmed by American and German officials and blamed on a mix-up of similar names. The N.S.A. program has been described and defended in numerous public statements by Mr. Bush and other top officials and in a 42-page Justice Department legal analysis.

In the A.C.L.U. lawsuit charging that the security agency's eavesdropping is illegal, Ann Beeson, the group's associate legal director, acknowledged that some facts might need to remain secret. "But you don't need those facts to hear this case," she said. "All the facts needed to try this case are already public."

Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, said he could not discuss any specific case. But he said the state secrets privilege "is well-established in federal law and has been asserted many times in our nation's history to protect our nation's secrets."

Other defenders of the administration's increasing use of the privilege say it merely reflects proliferating lawsuits.

In all of the N.S.A. cases, for instance, "it's the same secret they're trying to protect," said H. Bryan Cunningham, a Denver lawyer who served as a legal adviser to the National Security Council under Mr. Bush. Mr. Cunningham said that under well-established precedent, judges must defer to the executive branch in deciding what secrets must be protected.

But critics of the use of the privilege point out that officials sometimes exaggerate the sensitivities at risk. In fact, documents from the 1953 case that defined the modern privilege, United States v. Reynolds, have been declassified in recent years and suggest that Air Force officials misled the court.

An accident report on a B-29 bomber crash in 1948 was withheld because the Air Force said it included technical details about sensitive intelligence equipment and missions, but it turned out to contain no such information, said Wilson M. Brown III, a lawyer in Philadelphia who represented survivors of those who died in the crash in recent litigation.

"The facts the Supreme Court was relying on in Reynolds were false," Mr. Brown said in an interview. "It shows that if the government is not truthful, plaintiffs will lose and there's very little chance to straighten it out."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 15th, 2006, 12:45 PM
High Court Backs Police No-Knock Searches

Jun 15, 2006

RAW STORY / MY WAY (http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fapnews.myway.com% 2Farticle%2F20060615%2FD8I8NNDO0.html)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police armed with a warrant can barge into homes and seize evidence even if they don't knock, a huge government victory that was decided by President Bush's new justices.

The 5-4 ruling signals the court's conservative shift following the departure of moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.

The case tested previous court rulings that police armed with warrants generally must knock and announce themselves or they run afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said Detroit police acknowledge violating that rule when they called out their presence at a man's door then went inside three seconds to five seconds later.

"Whether that preliminary misstep had occurred or not, the police would have executed the warrant they had obtained, and would have discovered the gun and drugs inside the house," Scalia wrote.

But suppressing evidence is too high of a penalty, Scalia said, for errors by police in failing to properly announce themselves.

The outcome might have been different if O'Connor were still on the bench. She seemed ready, when the case was first argued in January, to rule in favor of Booker Hudson, whose house was searched in 1998.

O'Connor had worried aloud that officers around the country might start bursting into homes to execute search warrants. She asked: "Is there no policy of protecting the home owner a little bit and the sanctity of the home from this immediate entry?"

She retired before the case was decided, and a new argument was held so that Justice Samuel Alito could participate in deliberations. Alito and Bush's other Supreme Court pick, Chief Justice John Roberts, both supported Scalia's opinion.

Hudson's lawyers argued that evidence against him was connected to the improper search and could not be used against him.

Scalia said that a victory for Hudson would have given "a get-out-of-jail-free card" to him and others.

In a dissent, four justices complained that the decision erases more than 90 years of Supreme Court precedent.

"It weakens, perhaps destroys, much of the practical value of the Constitution's knock-and-announce protection," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for himself and the three other liberal members.

Breyer said that police will feel free to enter homes without knocking and waiting a short time if they know that there is no punishment for it.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate, joined the conservatives in most of the ruling. He wrote his own opinion, however, to say "it bears repeating that it is a serious matter if law enforcement officers violate the sanctity of the home by ignoring the requisites of lawful entry."

The case is Hudson v. Michigan, 04-1360.

© 2006 IAC Search & Media. All rights reserved.

June 15th, 2006, 02:25 PM
Scary stuff.

Although knocking in and of itself was kind of silly to begin with.

But the ability to bage in without announcement or allowing time to come to the door is pretty scary....

June 15th, 2006, 02:49 PM
Scary stuff.

Although knocking in and of itself was kind of silly to begin with.

But the ability to bage in without announcement or allowing time to come to the door is pretty scary....

Allowing some high-profile criminal to escape in 20 second the police has to wait is even scarier - IMHO. I watched enough Law and Order episodes to know that one first-hand :)

June 15th, 2006, 02:58 PM
You know Law & Order is fiction, right?

June 15th, 2006, 03:29 PM
Allowing some high-profile criminal to escape in 20 second the police has to wait is even scarier - IMHO. I watched enough Law and Order episodes to know that one first-hand :)

That is what I am saying, Both are stupid, but the thing is, most people do not have a way of getting out like they do in Law and Order.

They have a few cops waiting at the back door or at the fire escape.

You would think as often as it happens in L+O the cops in that world would get smart and start covering all exits before announcing their presence..... :crosseyed:

June 15th, 2006, 03:29 PM
You know Law & Order is fiction, right?

Yes I do :) Thanks for clarifying that.

June 15th, 2006, 03:32 PM
That is what I am saying, Both are stupid, but the thing is, most people do not have a way of getting out like they do in Law and Order.

They have a few cops waiting at the back door or at the fire escape.

You would think as often as it happens in L+O the cops in that world would get smart and start covering all exits before announcing their presence..... :crosseyed:

Do you think cops always have so many people "to cover all exists"? Do you think it's always so easy to cover all exists when the number of those exists is significant? I don't. It's not always easy to outsmart criminals who only need 20-30 seconds to escape and have been preparing for that knock for a while. I think it's a difficult question. But I would guess that this new ruling will make it more difficult for some criminals to escape.

June 15th, 2006, 03:38 PM
Interesting that a country whose laws are based on Legal Precedent tosses aside 90 years of rulings to save officials from a knock / announcement.

Damned sure that the Founding Fathers would have said differently when it was the Redcoats coming up the walk.

June 15th, 2006, 03:44 PM
Do you think cops always have so many people "to cover all exists"?

Do you think they don't?

Do you think that all places have an escape route where the guy can easily jump out a window and lead police on a chase across rooftops?

What world are you living in? Turn off the TV and come back to ours!

Do you think it's always so easy to cover all exists when the number of those exists is significant?

Where the hell are you living?

I don't. It's not always easy to outsmart criminals who only need 20-30 seconds to escape and have been preparing for that knock for a while.

Dude, you are slipping with your assertions here. The only one that you could have made that would have made more sense would have been something along the line of "well, you do not them pointing a gun at the door", but no. You insist on defending your ridiculous supposition that these guys are like spider-man and can get half way to New Mexico in 20 seconds if the cops knock at the door.

Just admit that the escape scenario is not a feasible defense of this latest encroachment on our civil liberties and try to find a more salient argument like the one I presented you with.

I think it's a difficult question. But I would guess that this new ruling will make it more difficult for some criminals to escape.


I see it as having more of a chance of being abused with the addition of further laws and rulings. Who is to say that an innocent will not get killed because of an error, or because someone jumps from their seat when their front door is kicked down by mistake.

June 15th, 2006, 05:52 PM
Exactly --

The door flies open, somebody jumps up from their couch, scared out of their wits ...

An officer sees a sudden movement from within ---

A Threat? Maybe ...

Respond ...

After the smoke clears ...

"Reasonable Response".

Just hope that they get the address correct on the warrant -- or it could be you sprawled across your living room floor.

June 15th, 2006, 06:05 PM
Exactly --

The door flies open, somebody jumps up from their couch, scared out of their wits ...

An officer sees a sudden movement from within ---

A Threat? Maybe ...

Respond ...

After the smoke clears ...

"Reasonable Response".

Just hope that they get the address correct on the warrant -- or it could be you sprawled across your living room floor.

Nah, that wouldn't phase MrSpice:

MrSpice sitting on the couch watching an episode of Law and Order

[Door smashes in]


MrSpice: You again? I will tell you one more time, there is nothing in my vanity and I did not shoot those Mexicans! They just died while trying to install my sink!

June 15th, 2006, 06:21 PM
LMAO ^^ A++++

Calling Dick Wolf ....

June 16th, 2006, 09:03 AM
Latest 5 to 4 I heard:

No automatic relinquishing of evidence gathered during an illegal search and seisure.

Now while I see this as something that would be useful if a cop found somethnigthey were not looking for n a place that they were not allowed into (say a dead body), but it stands to be abused to teh extreme.

If a cop could break int a house, drop evidence which they "collect" they can get a warrant, smash down your door and arrest you on something that you had nothing to do with.

It has the possibility of reading like a 1970's cop-u-drama. All I can say is, those guys better have their drop piece stashed in their sock JIC!!!

June 17th, 2006, 02:44 PM
TIA Lives On - Minus Abuse Protections


By Justin Rood
June 16, 2006
MuckRaker (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000924.php)

Your tax dollars at work: Congress attempted to kill the ill-conceived Terrorist Information Awareness program in 2003. But instead, the Rasputin-like program -- designed to somehow find terrorists from a sky-high pile of credit card bills, car rental receipts and travel records -- came back, bigger and stronger and arguably worse than ever, National Journal's Shane Harris reports today (article not available online -- yet, anyway).

How could a program designed to monitor the minute data of millions of innocent Americans be any worse? By stripping its privacy protections and abuse safeguards, and opening the database up to browsers all over the national security community.

Have at it, boys -- there's only one Consitution, so you'll have to share the scissors:

As National Journal revealed in February, the NSA’s Advanced Research and Development Activity took over TIA and carried on the experimental network in late 2003. ARDA continued vetting new tools and even kept the aggressive experiment schedule. . . documents show.

But it discontinued some programs, most notably a multimillion-dollar effort to build privacy-protection technologies. ARDA also abandoned the effort to build audit trails in TIA, which would have permanently recorded any abuse by users.

The National Journal (http://nationaljournal.com/) reports the program is now accessed by, among others: the NSA, the CIA, DIA, CENTCOM, the National Counterterorrism Center, the Guantanamo prison, and Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

June 24th, 2006, 12:24 AM
GWB may not be directly responsible for the following, but he certainly has set the scene ...

Bandanna banned in Springfield mall

Officials won’t explain how headgear is offensive.

June 22, 2006
RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.showmenews.co m%2F2006%2FJun%2F20060622News031.asp)

SPRINGFIELD (AP) - A southwest Missouri mall defended its dress code after a security guard told a 10-year-old girl her bandanna decorated with peace signs, smiley faces and flowers violated the mall’s code of conduct.

Lydia Smith, who was shopping with her mother at Battlefield Mall for new church clothes when the incident happened Saturday, said she wore the orange and yellow bandanna to give her outfit some color.

Lydia and her mom, Susan Smith, were eating lunch when the girl saw a mall security officer ask a nearby teenager to remove a bandanna. Then the officer approached her.

"(The officer) asked me to take it off and said there’s this new rule we have or something like that," Lydia said.

The officer handed Lydia’s mother a printed copy of the Battlefield Mall Code of Conduct, which prohibits patrons from engaging in certain activities while on mall property.

Lydia had violated No. 10 on the list of 17 offenses: "failing to be fully clothed or wearing apparel which is likely to provide a disturbance or embroil other groups or the general public in open conflict."

Mall officials won’t clarify what clothing and accessories are prohibited.

"The code of conduct is pretty clear, and, you know, I think common sense should prevail," said Les Morris, spokesman for Simon Property Group Inc., which owns the mall.

Under the code, people who don’t comply with the code can be asked to leave. If they don’t leave, they can be arrested for trespassing.

Christine Moses, director of mall marketing, noted the mall is privately owned and behavior on its premises can be regulated.

"The bottom line is we want to have an environment (conducive) to shopping. Offensive apparel does not fit in with that environment," she said, although she could not say how the bandanna was offensive.

Similar policies are in place at 285 Simon properties in 39 states and Puerto Rico.

At least one Battlefield Mall retailer, JCPenney, sells bandanas. They come in black, white, blue and red and sell for $4.50.

"There are things we sell that it’s OK to own them, but to use them in the mall setting is inappropriate," Morris said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright © 2006 The Columbia Daily Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

June 24th, 2006, 12:28 AM
Just in case you're curious what clothing MIGHT be in violation of the Mall's code give 'em a call ...

Battlefield Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=174) (Springfield, Missouri)
Phone Number (417) 883-7777

They like FEEDBACK (https://www.simon.com/mall/feedback.aspx?ID=174) !!

June 24th, 2006, 12:39 AM
Aha ... This corporation has lots of Malls in both NY & NJ ... Be Careful!

Simon Mall or Center Search Results:

Deptford Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=850) Deptford, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=1750 Deptford Center Rd+Deptford,+NJ+08096,+us)
Brunswick Square (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=108) East Brunswick, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=755 State Route 18+East Brunswick,+NJ+08816,+us)
Menlo Park Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=113) Edison, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=40.5442,-74.3355(Route 1 South and Parsonage Road, Edison, NJ 08837))
Liberty Village Premium Outlets (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=889) Flemington, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=One Church Street+Flemington,+NJ+08822,+us)
Jackson Premium Outlets (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=888) Jackson, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=537 Monmouth Road+Jackson,+NJ+08527,+us)
Newport Centre (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=114) Jersey City, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=30 Mall Drive West+Jersey City,+NJ+07310,+us)
Quaker Bridge Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=849) Lawrenceville, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=150 Quaker Bridge Mall R+Lawrenceville,+NJ+08648,+us)
Livingston Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=111) Livingston, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=112 Eisenhower Parkway+Livingston,+NJ+07039,+us)
Hamilton Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=852) Mays Landing, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=4403 Blackhorse Pike+Mays Landing,+NJ+08330,+us)
Rockaway Townsquare (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=116) Rockaway, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=301 Mt. Hope Ave+Rockaway,+NJ+07866,+us)
Ocean County Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=115) Toms River, New Jersey Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=1201 Hooper Avenue+Toms River,+NJ+08753,+us)
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=893) Central Valley, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=498 Red Apple Court+Central Valley,+NY+10917,+us)
Roosevelt Field (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=102) Garden City, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=630 Old Country Rd+Garden City,+NY+11530,+us)
Walt Whitman Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=106) Huntington Station, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=160 Walt Whitman Rd.+Huntington Station,+NY+11746,+us)
Smith Haven Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=103) Lake Grove, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=313 Smith Haven Mall+Lake Grove,+NY+11755,+us)
Chautauqua Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=156) Lakewood, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=318 East Fairmount Avenue+Lakewood,+NY+14750,+us)
Nanuet Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=101) Nanuet, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=75 W. Route 59+Nanuet,+NY+10954,+us)
Waterloo Premium Outlets (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=892) Waterloo, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=655 Route 318+Waterloo,+NY+13165,+us)
Mall at The Source (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=104) Westbury, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=1504 Old Country Road+Westbury,+NY+11590,+us)
The Westchester (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=105) White Plains, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=125 Westchester Avenue+White Plains,+NY+10601,+us)
Jefferson Valley Mall (http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=100) Yorktown Heights, New York Click for Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=650 Lee Boulevard+Yorktown Heights,+NY+10598,+us)

June 24th, 2006, 07:21 AM
^ Free publicity.

June 24th, 2006, 11:41 AM
Free access ^^ to express your thoughts to the powers that be regarding the limitation of display (re: subversive showing of flowers, smiley faces and peace sympols) ;)

June 24th, 2006, 05:28 PM
If life were so sympol loft... ;)

This is rediculous. This should be contestable. When a rule is undefined they can eventually say "black" is not an acceptable color to wear.

It is private property, but whan a 10 year old is wearing a "hippie bandanna" and a security guard stops her, it is a sure sign that that mall does not have enough to worry about.

June 27th, 2006, 12:38 PM
Bush Ignores Laws He Inks, Vexing Congress

Congress Questions President Bush's Claims That He Can Ignore Some Laws That He Signs

The Associated Press
June 27, 2006

ABC NEWS (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/print?id=2122700)

WASHINGTON - A bill becomes the rule of the land when Congress passes it and the president signs it into law, right?

Not necessarily, according to the White House. A law is not binding when a president issues a separate statement saying he reserves the right to revise, interpret or disregard it on national security and constitutional grounds.

That's the argument a Bush administration official is expected to make Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who has demanded a hearing on a practice he considers an example of the administration's abuse of power.

"It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," Specter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm interested to hear from the administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick."

Apparently, enough to challenge many more statutes passed by Congress than any other president, Specter's committee says. The White House does not dispute that, but notes that Bush is hardly the first chief executive to issue them.

"Signing statements have long been issued by presidents, dating back to Andrew Jackson all the way through President Clinton," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday.

Specter's hearing is about more than the statements. He's been compiling a list of White House practices he bluntly says could amount to abuse of executive power from warrantless domestic wiretapping program to sending officials to hearings who refuse to answer lawmakers' questions.

But the session also concerns countering any influence Bush's signing statements may have on court decisions regarding the new laws. Courts can be expected to look to the legislature for intent, not the executive, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., a former state judge.

"There's less here than meets the eye," Cornyn said. "The president is entitled to express his opinion. It's the courts that determine what the law is."

But Specter and his allies maintain that Bush is doing an end-run around the veto process. In his presidency's sixth year, Bush has yet to issue a single veto that could be overridden with a two-thirds majority in each house.

Instead, he has issued hundreds of signing statements invoking his right to interpret or ignore laws on everything from whistleblower protections to how Congress oversees the Patriot Act.

"It means that the administration does not feel bound to enforce many new laws which Congress has passed," said David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues. "This raises profound rule of law concerns. Do we have a functioning code of federal laws?"

Signing statements don't carry the force of law, and other presidents have issued them for administrative reasons, such as instructing an agency how to put a certain law into effect. They usually are inserted quietly into the federal record.

Bush's signing statement in March on Congress's renewal of the Patriot Act riled Specter and others who labored for months to craft a compromise between Senate and House versions, and what the White House wanted. Reluctantly, the administration relented on its objections to new congressional oversight of the way the FBI searches for terrorists.

Bush signed the bill with much flag-waving fanfare. Then he issued a signing statement asserting his right to bypass the oversight provisions in certain circumstances.

Specter isn't sure how much Congress can do to check the practice. "We may figure out a way to tie it to the confirmation process or budgetary matters," he said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

June 28th, 2006, 09:12 PM
Dems say Judiciary Chair breaks rules,
closes meeting after losing vote

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
June 28, 2006

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committe F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has broken House rules to adjourn a meeting after losing a vote to Democrats, Democratic sources tell RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/).

The vote was on an item from the Republican's "American Values Agenda," which the party says will codify "the American character." Specifically, it aims to bar any court--including the United States Supreme Court--from hearing any legal challenge to the pledge of allegiance.

Sensenbrenner, according to sources, hoped to reverse the vote when the committee reconvened later in the afternoon.

Democrats on the committee, save ranking member John Conyers (D-MI) refused to attend. With many Republicans also absent, there was no quorum present to hold a vote.

Conyers attended, according to sources, only for the sake of raising a point of order, indicating that the previous adjournment had violated rules.
Sensenbrenner responded by indicating that he had not heard the objection earlier. However, sources tell RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) that Sensenbrenner actually responded to the earlier statement at the time.

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) hopes to make a transcript available shortly.

The committee was again adjourned, and is likely to reconvene Thursday.
Whether or not they hold another vote remains to be seen, however sources tell RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) that it is likely to happen. Several Republicans on the committee did not cast a vote in the first round.


June 28th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Let's see ... Runaway Deficit, Immigration Concerns, Hurricane Katrina Re-Building, Health CAre --- all worthy of Congress' attention, but what are they doing down in Washington???????

House GOP Leaders Launch American Values Agenda

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


House Republican leaders today unveiled the American Values Agenda, a list of freedom-based legislative initiatives expected to move through the House in the coming weeks and months. The American Values Agenda complements the broader House Republican agenda that was unveiled by GOP leaders back in March.

“The American Values Agenda is a collection of legislative initiatives that speak to the values many American citizens hold dear,” said House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). “Freedom to display the American flag. . . freedom of religious expression. . .the right to keep and bear arms. . .respect for the sanctity of marriage, and the dignity of all human life. These are values that have defined the American character, protected our families, and shaped our society.

June 29th, 2006, 09:22 AM
"Apple Pie Defense" is next.

July 2nd, 2006, 09:03 AM
Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say

Raw Story / Bloomberg News (http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com %2Fapps%2Fnews%3Fpid%3D20601087%26sid%3DabIV0cO64z JE%26refer%3D)

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

``The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. ``This undermines that assertion.''

The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.

``The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that AT&T may neither confirm nor deny AT&T's participation in the alleged NSA program because doing so would cause `exceptionally grave harm to national security' and would violate both civil and criminal statutes,'' AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk said in an e-mail.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller and NSA spokesman Don Weber declined to comment.

Pioneer Groundbreaker

The NSA initiative, code-named ``Pioneer Groundbreaker,'' asked AT&T unit AT&T Solutions to build exclusively for NSA use a network operations center which duplicated AT&T's Bedminster, New Jersey facility, the court papers claimed. That plan was abandoned in favor of the NSA acquiring the monitoring technology itself, plaintiffs' lawyers Bruce Afran said.

The NSA says on its Web site that in June 2000, the agency was seeking bids for a project to ``modernize and improve its information technology infrastructure.'' The plan, which included the privatization of its ``non-mission related'' systems support, was said to be part of Project Groundbreaker.

Mayer said the Pioneer project is ``a different component'' of that initiative.
Mayer and Afran said an unnamed former employee of the AT&T unit provided them with evidence that the NSA approached the carrier with the proposed plan. Afran said he has seen the worker's log book and independently confirmed the source's participation in the project. He declined to identify the employee.

Stop Suit

On June 9, U.S. District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel in New York stopped the lawsuit from moving forward while the Federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Washington rules on a U.S. request to assign all related telephone records lawsuits to a single judge.

Robert Varettoni, a spokesman for Verizon, said he was unaware of the allegations against AT&T and declined to comment.

Earlier this week, he issued a statement on behalf of the company that Verizon had not been asked by the NSA to provide customer phone records from either its hard-wired or wireless networks. Verizon also said that it couldn't confirm or deny ``whether it has any relationship to the classified NSA program.''

Mayer's lawsuit was filed following a May 11 USA Today report that the U.S. government was using the NSA to monitor domestic telephone calls. Earlier today, USA Today said it couldn't confirm its contention that BellSouth or Verizon had contracts with the NSA to provide a database of domestic customer phone call records.

Jeff Battcher, a spokesman for Atlanta-based BellSouth, said that vindicated the company.

``We never turned over any records to the NSA,'' he said in a telephone interview. ``We've been clear all along that they've never contacted us. Nobody in our company has ever had any contact with the NSA.''

The case is McMurray v. Verizon Communications Inc., 06cv3650, in the Southern District of New York.

(C) Bloomberg

July 6th, 2006, 07:41 PM
Your Federal Tax $$ at Work --

Tax dollars to fund study on restricting public data

USA TODAY (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-07-05-foia-research_x.htm)
By Richard Willing

The federal government will pay a Texas law school $1 million to do research aimed at rolling back the amount of sensitive data available to the press and public through freedom-of-information requests.

Beginning this month, St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio will analyze recent state laws that place previously available information, such as site plans of power plants, beyond the reach of public inquiries.

Jeffrey Addicott, a professor at the law school, said he will use that research to produce a national "model statute" that state legislatures and Congress could adopt to ensure that potentially dangerous information "stays out of the hands of the bad guys."

"There's the public's right to know, but how much?" said Addicott, a former legal adviser in the Army's Special Forces.

"There's a strong feeling that the law needs to balance that with the need to protect the well-being of the nation. ... There's too much stuff that's easy to get that shouldn't be," he said.

The federal Freedom of Information Act, which became law 40 years ago this week, has long been a source of tension between the government and the public and news media.

Critics say the research plan overstates the need for secrecy and is likely to give state and federal governments too much discretion to withhold material.

"Restricting information (for) security and efficiency and comfort level, that's the good story," says Paul McMasters, a specialist in public information law at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va. "The bad story is that it can also be a great instrument of control. ... To automatically believe that the less known the better is really not rational."

Congress added the grant to this year's Defense Department budget. It is being administered through the Air Force Research Laboratory, Addicott said. The laboratory in Rome, N.Y., specializes in information technology, according to its website.

The Freedom of Information Act was signed July 4, 1966. All 50 states and the federal government have "sunshine laws" that allow reporters and citizens access to many government meetings and to government records through freedom-of-information requests.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT: Signed documents by President Johnson (http://www.usatoday.com/news/foia-lbj-doc2.pdf) (.pdf files)

In the past four years, Congress, the District of Columbia and 41 of the 50 states have moved to close some meetings and restrict records for fear of making information available to terrorists, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va.

Under a 2002 law, for instance, information submitted to the federal government by private industry that concerns "critical infrastructure programs" is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests or use in lawsuits.

Since 2004, Virginia has withheld terrorism response plans, as well as engineering and architectural drawings of government buildings that are deemed to be possible terrorist targets. Since 2004, Ohio has required formal requests and fees to access formerly open birth and death records.

Addicott says the various state plans should "take a more uniform approach" so that neighboring states and the federal government are "on the same page."

In 2003, he said, a simulated cyberattack on San Antonio's water and government information systems showed that computer security data that was protected under federal law could have been accessed by terrorists under Texas legislation.

Lucy Dalglish, director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, says the research program is in keeping with a recent federal trend to use "homeland security" as an excuse to restrict unrelated material.

"Decisions (on requests for public information) are being handled in progressively less friendly ways," she said.

Addicott said he knows of no cases in this country in which public records or a public meeting were used for a terrorist act. In 2002, a hacker in Australia breached the data control system of a water treatment plant and caused 260,000 gallons of sewage to be discharged.

"We're leaning forward in the saddle (and) thinking about this before it happens," he said.

Copyright 2006 USA TODAY

July 13th, 2006, 08:39 AM
Ideological Exclusion - Censorship at the Border

http://www.aclu.org/images/buttons/ideoexcl012506.gif (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/21211prs20051110.html)

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging a provision of the Patriot Act that is being used to deny visas to foreign scholars whose political views the government disfavors. The lawsuit charges that the provision, known as the "ideological exclusion" provision, is being used to prevent United States citizens and residents from hearing speech that is protected by the First Amendment.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and PEN American Center, and also names as a plaintiff Professor Tariq Ramadan (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/23588res20060124.html), a Swiss intellectual who is widely regarded as a leading scholar of the Muslim world. The government revoked Professor Ramadan's visa under the ideological exclusion provision in 2004, preventing him from assuming a tenured teaching position at the University of Notre Dame. Read More >> (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/21211prs20051110.html?cpt_internal/25992)

In March 2005, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/17573lgl20050316.html) to learn more about the government's use of the Patriot Act ideological exclusion provision and about the practice of ideological exclusion more generally - a practice that has led to the recent exclusions of Dora María Telléz, a Nicaraguan scholar who had been offered a position at Harvard University, as well as numerous scholars from Cuba. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in November 2005 to enforce this Freedom of Information Act request.

A History of Ideological Exclusions

During the Cold War, the U.S. government abused the immigration laws in order to exclude prominent artists and intellectuals. None of these individuals represented any danger to national security. They were excluded simply because the U.S. government wanted to prevent U.S. citizens and residents from meeting with them and hearing their ideas.

(Click the names to learn more.)

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/mccarran.html)
PIERRE TRUDEAU (Former Prime Minister of Canada) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/trudeau.html)
GRAHAM GREENE (Novelist) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/greene.html)

JAN MYRDAL (Author) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/myrdal.html)

YVES MONTAND (Actor, Singer) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/montand.html)

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (Novelist, Nobel Laureate) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/marquez.html)
CARLOS FUENTES (Novelist) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/fuentes.html)

PABLO NERUDA (Poet, Nobel Laureate) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/neruda.html)

DORIS LESSING (Novelist) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/lessing.html)
ERNEST MANDEL (Economist) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/mandel.html)

OSCAR NIEMEYER (Architect) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/niemeyer.html)

DARIO FO (Playwright, Nobel Laureate) and FRANCA RAME (Actress) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/fo.html)

GENSUIKYO (Japanese Antinuclear Group) and GYOTSU SATO (Buddhist Monk, Leader of Gensuikyo) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/sato.html)
ANGEL RAMA (Scholar) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/rama.html)

NINO PASTI (Former NATO Deputy Supreme Commander, Forrmer Italian Senator) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/pasti.html)
HORTENSIA BUSSI DE ALLENDE (Widow of Chilean President Salvador Allende) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/allende.html)

MARITZA RUIZ (Leader of El Salvador's Comadres) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/ruiz.html)

FARLEY MOWAT (Novelist) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/mowat.html)

CHOICHIRO YATANI (Professor) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/yatani.html)
PATRICIA LARA (Journalist) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/lara.html)

JIM HUNTER(Union Leader) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/hunter.html)

JOHN CLARKE (Organizer for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/clarke.html)

NELSON MANDELA (Former President of South Africa) and TOKYO SEXWALE and SIDNEY MUFAMADI (African National Congress Activists) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/mandela.html)
CARLOS ALZUGARAY TRETO (Scholar, Former Ambassador to the European Union) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/treto.html)

TARIQ RAMADAN (Scholar, Author) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/ramadan.html)
61 CUBAN SCHOLARS (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/2004cuban.html)

DORA MARIA TELLEZ (Scholar, Former Nicaraguan Minister of Health) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/tellez.html)
FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ (Human Rights Lawyer) (http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/details/rodriguez.html)

August 9th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Justice Kennedy warns ABA of 'slight foreboding'

rawstory (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Justice_Kennedy_warns_ABA_of_slight_0809.html)
Wednesday August 9, 2006

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the third most senior judge on the Supreme Court who has often been its swing vote, addressed the state of the rule of law in America and globally on August 5, 2006. His remarks came during the keynote address at the ABA's Annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"We are at another turning point in the history of the law," Kennedy remarked. Discussing the importance of an independent judiciary, Kennedy added, "I sense a slight foreboding, I sense that we are not making the case as well as we ought."

Kennedy's comments were also global, and he feared that the American legal institution was not making the case for freedoms globally as well as it needs to. He closed by noting that "The freedom of the next generation hangs in the balance."

An excerpted video of the remarks was provided by the ABA, and can be accessed HERE (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Justice_Kennedy_warns_ABA_of_slight_0809.html).

January 7th, 2007, 09:13 PM
Britons to be scanned for FBI database
· Anger over airport fingerprint plan
· Terror tests to start this summer

Paul Harris in New York, Jamie Doward and Paul Gallagher
Sunday January 7, 2007


Millions of Britons who visit the United States are to have their fingerprints stored on the FBI database alongside those of criminals, in a move that has outraged civil rights groups.
The Observer has established that under new plans to combat terrorism, the US government will demand that visitors have all 10 fingers scanned when they enter the country. The information will be shared with intelligence agencies, including the FBI, with no restrictions on their international use.

US airport scanners now take only two fingerprints from travellers. The move to 10 allows the information to be compatible with the FBI database.

'We are going to start testing at several airports,' a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman confirmed. 'It will begin some time this summer.'

Sources said 10 airports would initially be involved. The scheme will cover most of the major airports frequently used by British travellers, including New York, Washington and Miami. Countries subject to the new scheme include Britain, other European Union nations, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Last night the British civil rights group Liberty expressed astonishment at the plan, which will affect four million British travellers to the US. 'This must be the Keystone Cops school of border control,' said Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty. 'Accumulating the fingerprints of millions of innocent passengers will not deter would-be suicide bombers.'

Security experts warned the scale of the scheme might jeopardise its success. 'This maniacal proposal will turn thousands of law-abiding British travellers into terrorist suspects,' said Simon Davies, head of Privacy International, a campaign against intrusive surveillance.

'The technology at US airports will be far less reliable. That means anyone could be the victim of a false match, Davies said. 'Be warned. A San Francisco Bay family holiday may easily become a nightmare.'

He predicted that airport queues would treble as a result of the scheme. 'Taking fingerprints is a delicate and complex undertaking that can't be rushed to keep queues short,' he said.

A recent report by the civil liberties group Statewatch highlighted a Japanese study that tested 15 biometric systems and found 11 of them failed to detect 'false' fingerprints were being used in the form of a latex strip covering a person's fingers.

Britons already have their credit card details and email accounts inspected by the American authorities following a deal between the EU and the Department of Homeland Security. Now passengers face having all their credit card transactions traced when using one to book a flight. And travellers giving an email address to an airline will be open to having all messages they send and receive from that address scrutinised.

The demands were disclosed in 'undertakings' given by the Department of Homeland Security to the EU and published by the Department for Transport after a request under the freedom of information legislation.

In America, the 10-digit fingerprint plan has sparked concern among civil rights groups, which accuse the government of using the excuse of terrorism to expand its ability to monitor individuals. The scheme uses an electronic scanner. Fingerprint information is then fed into a Department of Homeland Security database that stores material from domestic security organisations such as the FBI, as well as international bodies like Interpol. It already holds 71 million fingerprints and is growing.

'This is about stopping crime and about national security after 9/11,' the Homeland Security spokeswoman said. 'The reason for 10-digit fingerprints is that it is more secure than the two-digit system, and the 10-digit system is becoming the international standard.'

The spokeswoman said she was confident the new procedure would not deter people from visiting the US. 'That is what people said when we introduced the two-digit system,' she said. 'But that is not what happened.'

She added the reason the scheme was to run in just 10 airports initially was to ensure its smooth operation before it became standard at all US airports, major ports of entry and consulates abroad. The Department of Homeland Security aims to have the new system in place across the US by the end of 2008.

In a speech at a technology conference Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security, said the main aim was to deter 'the unknown terrorist'.

It could pick up on fingerprints left at terrorist sites around the world. 'A fingerprint that is left... in the training camp or in the safe house is, in fact, a powerful tool.' He added that he hoped the system would deter any terrorists from ever trying to enter the US. 'We will have a world in which any terrorist who has ever been in a safe house or has ever been in a training camp is going to ask himself or herself this question: have I ever left a fingerprint anywhere?' Chertoff said.

January 8th, 2007, 04:46 AM
Britons to be scanned for FBI database
· Anger over airport fingerprint plan
· Terror tests to start this summer

The spokeswoman said she was confident the new procedure would not deter people from visiting the US.


July 4th, 2007, 10:49 AM
A "re-worked" MTA security poster seen on a random E Train heading downtown (Heed the Warning) ...


July 5th, 2007, 04:14 AM
USA TODAY (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-07-05-foia-research_x.htm)
By Richard Willing

Jeffrey Addicott, a professor at the law school, said

"There's the public's right to know, but how much?" said Addicott, a former legal adviser in the Army's Special Forces.

Copyright 2006 USA TODAY
A scary comment in a supposedly free democracy. In other words "We" will determine what "you" have access to - who said knowledge is power!
Freedom is a bit like pregnancy, you're either pregnant or you're not, likewise you're either free or you're not.

The topic is entitled The Bush Police State, we're also heading down that road under Bliar & now Brown. Here's one small example of tax collection British style:

Notice how we are assumed to be guilty at the claim of the ‘authorities’; another manifestation of automatic fines without recourse to a trial in court, but this time our bank accounts are to be raided directly by government. This represents total ownership of the people by the political elite; and none of this has been put before the electorate.

July 5th, 2007, 09:02 AM
An interesting read from another thread -- a good follow-up to the 4th ...

Wrapped in the Star-Spangled Toga (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=174588&postcount=17)

July 23rd, 2007, 03:44 PM
DeFazio asks, but he's denied access
Classified info - The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack
Friday, July 20, 2007
The Oregonian Staff (http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/118489654058910.xml&coll=7)

WASHINGTON -- Oregonians called Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom" in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

"I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," DeFazio says.

Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed. DeFazio doesn't know who did it or why.

"We're talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America," DeFazio says. "I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee."

Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn declined to say why DeFazio was denied access: "We do not comment through the press on the process that this access entails. It is important to keep in mind that much of the information related to the continuity of government is highly sensitive."

Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he "cannot think of one good reason" to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

"I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House," Ornstein said.

This is the first time DeFazio has been denied access to documents. DeFazio has asked Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to help him access the documents.

"Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right," DeFazio said.

Jeff Kosseff: 202-383-7814 jeff.kosseff@newhouse.com


If this alarms you contact these House members:

August 6th, 2007, 10:10 AM
August 6, 2007

Bush Signs Law to Widen Legal Reach for Wiretapping


WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 — President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.

Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.

“This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.

Previously, the government needed search warrants approved by a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, e-mail messages and other electronic communications between individuals inside the United States and people overseas, if the government conducted the surveillance inside the United States.

Today, most international telephone conversations to and from the United States are conducted over fiber-optic cables, and the most efficient way for the government to eavesdrop on them is to latch on to giant telecommunications switches located in the United States.

By changing the legal definition of what is considered “electronic surveillance,” the new law allows the government to eavesdrop on those conversations without warrants — latching on to those giant switches — as long as the target of the government’s surveillance is “reasonably believed” to be overseas.

For example, if a person in Indianapolis calls someone in London, the National Security Agency can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant, as long as the N.S.A.’s target is the person in London.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Sunday in an interview that the new law went beyond fixing the foreign-to-foreign problem, potentially allowing the government to listen to Americans calling overseas.

But he stressed that the objective of the new law is to give the government greater flexibility in focusing on foreign suspects overseas, not to go after Americans.

“It’s foreign, that’s the point,” Mr. Fratto said. “What you want to make sure is that you are getting the foreign target.”

The legislation to change the surveillance act was rushed through both the House and Senate in the last days before the August recess began.

The White House’s push for the change was driven in part by a still-classified ruling earlier this year by the special intelligence court, which said the government needed to seek court-approved warrants to monitor those international calls going through American switches.

The new law, which is intended as a stopgap and expires in six months, also represents a power shift in terms of the oversight and regulation of government surveillance.

The new law gives the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve the international surveillance, rather than the special intelligence court. The court’s only role will be to review and approve the procedures used by the government in the surveillance after it has been conducted. It will not scrutinize the cases of the individuals being monitored.

The law also gave the administration greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with such spying operations. The companies can now be compelled to cooperate by orders from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence.

Democratic Congressional aides said Sunday that some telecommunications company officials had told Congressional leaders that they were unhappy with that provision in the bill and might challenge the new law in court. The aides said the telecommunications companies had told lawmakers that they would rather have a court-approved warrant ordering them to comply.

In fact, pressure from the telecommunications companies on the Bush administration has apparently played a major hidden role in the political battle over the surveillance issue over the past few months.

In January, the administration placed the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and subjected it for the first time to the scrutiny of the FISA court.

Democratic Congressional aides said Sunday that they believed that pressure from major telecommunications companies on the White House was a major factor in persuading the Bush administration to do that. Those companies were facing major lawsuits for having secretly cooperated with the warrantless wiretapping program, and now wanted greater legal protections before cooperating further.

But the change suddenly swamped the court with an enormous volume of search warrant applications, leading, in turn, to the administration’s decision to seek the new legislation.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

August 6th, 2007, 10:26 AM
People always seem to be worried about surveillance cameras (see the Congestion Charge thread) (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6044&page=58), but are more ambivalent to the more pervasive and dangerous intrusions such as wiretapping.

Video evidence is not as conclusive as many think, unless you are actually doing something wrong, like riding in a Testarossa with a testarossa.

A case against you can more easily be built by documenting your telephone conversations (cellphones especially, since they also track your movements); credit card purchases; website visits; emails; and posts you make on forums like WNY.

These technologies are ingrained in our society; we have to live with them. What becomes important is not the camera taking pictures, but the laws protecting us from what can be done with them.

August 6th, 2007, 02:38 PM
I'd say its the whole package of measures Zippy, the CCTV, credit cards, mobile phones, congestion charge, travel details, car ownership, property ownership, etc

If you travel in London using the Oyster card you can be tracked as to where you go.

And those introducing our repressive laws in the UK are now suggesting that DNA has to be given to the Police for even minor issues like dropping litter of allowing your dog to foul the pavement - and the DNA is kept on the database for LIFE! The Police say it'll make it easier in the future to solve crimes should that dastardly litter dropper turn into a serial killer!

August 6th, 2007, 03:42 PM
I see no problem with cameras and DNA loggen SO LONG AS THE RULES ARE SET BEFORE THEY START DOING THIS.

There should be a classic "three rules" akin to the three rules of Robotics from Asimov that, despite any legal wrangling by the powers that be, CANNOT be interfered with.

The surveilance cameras that are im place for one thing should not be used for the monitoring of individuals, but only on issue of a warrant for a particular individual. They should NEVER be under the control of the police or government law enforcement agencies.

As for DNA, they need to be careful with that in that a few abuses could be perpetrated. Why get a "drop piece" when you can spill some DNA at the scene you have generated from a sample of someone you want to pressure, or arrest under other circumstances?

DNA collection and databasing should be done by an outside agency, not for profit and not directly connected to any law enforcement agency.

If it is to work properly, you need to have that degree of seperation making it exceedingly difficult to establish any collusion between them, private insurance, and/or the government. You do not want your insurance rates going up because they found you have a predisposition to XXX...... A side topic on that might be fair though.... Would an insurance company have the right to require certain preventative steps be taken for people at higher risk for certain ailments in order to keep their premiums down?

Anyway, the key here is regulation, Iron-clad, and a definite seperation between the powers that be and the instruments of observance.

August 6th, 2007, 05:39 PM

In Republican forms of government this primary rule is laid out in a constitution. We used to have one, but evidently; “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmc60JmaLbE)

GW Bush quote source (http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_7779.shtml).

August 8th, 2007, 03:43 PM
Editorials On FISA: ‘Unnecessary And Dangerous Expansion of President Bush’s Powers’

Last week, under heavy political pressure from the White House, Congress approved the White House-backed version (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/08/04/nadler-issa-fisa-politics/) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which provided expansive spying authority (http://balkin.blogspot.com/2007/08/senate-passes-administration-bill.html) to the Bush administration. The White House had earlier rejected a compromise bill that provided powers sought by the Director of National Intelligence, opting instead to play politics (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/08/03/fisa-battle/) with the issue.

In the past two days, at least nine major newspapers have editorialized against the FISA legislation, with the New York Times today calling it an “unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush’s powers. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/opinion/07tue1.html)” Some examples:

USA Today (http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/08/wartime-power-g.html#more):

A skittish Congress allowed itself to be stampeded last week into granting the president unfettered surveillance power. When it returns to Washington, it should do what it can to make sure that the sun goes down on this flawed measure.


Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/05/AR2007080501050.html):

To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law — or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions.


The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/opinion/07tue1.html):

While serving little purpose, the new law has real dangers. It would allow the government to intercept, without a warrant, every communication into or out of any country, including the United States. Instead of explaining all this to American voters — the minimal benefits and the enormous risks — the Democrats have allowed Mr. Bush and his fear-mongering to dominate all discussions on terrorism and national security.


The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-fisa7aug07,0,4310469.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail):

You know something’s wrong with this Congress when a Democratic champion of privacy rights feels compelled to vote for Republican legislation that compromises those rights. That’s what California Sen. Dianne Feinstein did last week when she joined a stampede to approve a temporary “fix” sought by the Bush administration in a law governing electronic surveillance.


San Francisco Chronicle (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/08/07/EDO4RDNJ51.DTL):

No-limits spying is on a roll. In rushed votes, both the House and Senate meekly accepted a White House plan to vastly expand phone and e-mail eavesdropping. The changes were sold as a key step in tracking foreign terrorists and their allies on American soil. But the shift guts any semblance of oversight, leaving the picking and choosing of targets to spy agencies.


The Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2007/08/07/all_tapped_out_on_civil_liberties/):

The administration maintains that technological changes have created problems with the 1978 law. But never has Bush demonstrated why the terms of that law, which permitted officials to get warrant approvals up to 72 hours after they started a wiretap, are no longer workable. This and other questions could have been answered if Congress had demanded an open debate on the administration’s bill. Its failure to do so is a shameful abdication of its own responsibility. It’s difficult to maintain a system of checks and balances when one branch simply checks out.


Rocky Mountain News (http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/editorials/article/0,2777,DRMN_23964_5661532,00.html):

Now the authority to approve wiretaps rests with the attorney general - hardly a reassuring prospect given Alberto Gonzales’ performance in that office - and the director of national intelligence. … Given the administration’s expansive view of its own powers, this FISA rewrite could allow much wider eavesdropping, with little outside oversight.


Sacramento Bee (http://www.sacbee.com/editorials/story/311802.html):

After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush did an end run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which prohibits eavesdropping on Americans without judicial oversight. Instead of going to Congress to change the law, Bush decided to simply monitor without warrants the international phone calls and e-mails of people inside the United States. Six years later, the Bush administration belatedly has gone to Congress. But instead of promoting modernization in the law, the administration has ginned up new fears about terrorist attacks and cowed Congress into passing hasty, ill-considered changes.


Seattle Post Intelligencer (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/326551_spyinged.html):

The redeeming aspect of the political theater involving Americans’ rights to privacy is that Congress wrote itself an option for a better ending in six months.

Compiled by Igor Volsky (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/08/07/fisa-editorials/)

August 8th, 2007, 05:59 PM

what a bunch of gutless swine these people are. It makes you want to wretch.

August 11th, 2007, 11:54 AM
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.
-Thomas Paine (http://www.mindspring.com/~phila1/)

August 13th, 2007, 10:11 PM
Original Post (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=181775&postcount=753)

One such technological asset now being used in Iraq is the HIIDE™ (Hand-held Interagency Identity Detection Equipment) system, a biometric identification database through which soldiers can quickly input and access the name, age, address, religious sect, birthplace, fingerprints, retinal information, and facial photograph of any individual who has been previously entered into the system and uploaded to the database’s mainframe.
“The world’s first hand-held, multi-modal (Iris, Finger, Face) enrollment and recognition device,” according to the company’s (SecuriMetrics, Inc. (http://www.securimetrics.com/)) website, “the HIIDE™ was developed for the US Department of Defense and other government agencies.” Last August, the DoD signed a $10 million contract with SecuriMetrics, and the HIIDE system is now being used with increasing frequency – and success – in Iraq.

Looks like our soldiers are now being trained in police state tactics, i.e. how to occupy and control a population through intimidation, excessive monitoring, and hostile intervention.

I'm more fearful of the mercenary private contractors in Iraq, Blackwater etc. (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/13/3138/)

August 14th, 2007, 11:35 AM


August 13, 2007 -- The NYPD's new patrol chief has ordered that special overtime money earmarked for cops in violence-prone precincts be given to "aggressive" officers rather than "do-nothings," The Post has learned.

Chief Robert Giannelli issued that edict last week during a meeting with his borough chiefs, who then relayed it to their precinct commanders, sources said.

His order affects a pool of funds known as Impact Overtime.

In some boroughs, that money has gone only to veteran cops permanently assigned to precincts that have high incidences of shooting and other violence.

In other boroughs, the funds have been made available to veteran patrol officers who work overtime in such precincts on special duty, without being permanently assigned to them.

But Giannelli, a 40-year department veteran who took the top patrol job last month, now has said the system should reward cops who use their overtime shifts to make a lot of arrests involving higher-profile crimes such as gun possession, shootings and robberies.

Sources said Giannelli also wants to reward cops who use their overtime shifts to issue a lot of summonses and who do numerous "stop-and-frisks" of people who match the descriptions of criminal suspects.

"The chief wants to give the overtime to aggressive cops and not to do-nothings," one source said.

"Do-nothing" cops are considered those who never leave their patrol cars or ones who primarily work inside a precinct house.

Another source said Giannelli wants the OT to go to "intelligently aggressive" cops, such as ones who manage to avert civilian complaints by adequately explaining to people why they are being stopped and frisked.

In response to the new policy, some precincts already have compiled lists of their top-performing officers - when it comes to arrests - and forwarded the lists to the borough commanders.

Sources also said bosses have been told not to worry in the future about their officers' names appearing on lists of cops who have received large amounts of overtime.

In the past, such bosses have been told to cut down on those officers' overtime.

Giannelli's overtime order comes amid an ongoing decline in the kinds of crimes considered a top priority by the NYPD.

As of Aug. 5, there had been 289 murders in New York City since the beginning of 2007. That is a 13.2 percent drop from last year, when there were 333 murders as of Aug. 5, according to the NYPD.

Shooting incidents have declined slightly, by 1 percent, with 842 so far in 2007 compared to 853 last year. The number of people shot in those cases dropped 3 percent, to 994 from 1,025 in 2006.

Overall, reported crime is down 6.8 percent in 2007 compared to 2006.


August 14th, 2007, 01:42 PM
Good idea, possibly bad outcome.

Paying a cop to be less tolerant and more suspicious is not a good way to get the community to accept them.

OTOH, paying a vet to get a desk job, or sit in a patrol car in a more violent district may not be the way to reduce crime. It is just awarding fat-cat $$ to the old timers.

We will see what this brings.

We need more fastidious and industrious police officers. NOT aggressive.

August 16th, 2007, 05:25 PM
Gonzales to Get Power In Death Penalty Cases
Rules Would Expand Fast-Track Authority

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 15, 2007; A02 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401707_pf.html)

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, under political siege for his handling of the U.S. attorney firings and other issues, is to get expanded powers to hasten death penalty cases under regulations being developed by the Justice Department.

The rules would give Gonzales the authority to approve "fast-track" procedures by states in death penalty cases, enabling them to carry out sentences more speedily and with fewer opportunities for appeal if those states provide adequate representation for capital defendants.

Such powers were previously held by federal judges, but a provision of the USA Patriot Act reauthorization bill approved by Congress last year hands the authority to the attorney general.

Under the regulations, death row inmates would have six months, instead of a year, to file appeals in the federal courts, and federal judges would have less time to consider petitions in capital cases.

The proposed changes, reported yesterday by the Los Angeles Times, would hand new authority to Gonzales as leading Democrats and some Republicans have called for his resignation and questioned his truthfulness. Earlier this month, Congress gave Gonzales greater powers in overseeing the government's warrantless wiretapping program.

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), asked Gonzales in a letter sent earlier this month to delay implementing the new death penalty rules until October at the earliest, "to guarantee adequate representation of death row prisoners before certification occurs."

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department has extended the time for public comment to Sept. 24 "to ensure ample opportunity" for advocacy groups to lodge objections.

Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned Gonzales's judgment about the death penalty, including his refusal to hear the concerns of a federal prosecutor in Arizona, Paul K. Charlton, who argued against pursuing a death sentence in a case in which no body had been recovered.

Charlton and several other U.S. attorneys were fired last year in part because of clashes with Gonzales and his aides over death penalty issues, according to documents and testimony. Both Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, have supported the aggressive use of death penalty authority in the federal courts.

Many prosecutors and GOP lawmakers have long complained that death penalty cases are needlessly delayed during the federal appeals process. In 1996, Congress implemented a system of "expedited review" for death penalty cases, but required federal courts to first determine that individual states had good systems in place to provide legal representation for defendants.

The arrangement languished amid legal challenges, however.

The department's proposed rules to implement the statute, initially circulated in June, have since come under sharp attack from many defense lawyers and advocacy groups, including the Judicial Conference of the United States, a policymaking body of the federal courts.

Kathryn Kase, a Houston lawyer who serves on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' death penalty committee, said the Justice Department's proposed regulations are "severely lacking" because they do not provide enough oversight to ensure that defendants are receiving adequate legal counsel.

"In our judgment they allow states to . . . claim they have a capital representation case that is functional, when in fact it might not be functional at all," Kase said. "It may not prevent people from being wrongfully sentenced to death."

Kase and other defense lawyers also say the underlying legislation is faulty because it allows Gonzales, who is the nation's chief prosecutor, to effectively determine the pace of executions.

But Roehrkasse said the rules are narrowly tailored and he noted that Gonzales's decisions about the state programs can be reviewed by a federal appeals court.

The moves toward speedier federal executions come as the number of executions nationwide has dropped, in part because of moratoriums aimed at ensuring that innocent defendants are not wrongfully put to death or subjected to cruelty.

The number of executions fell from a peak of 98 in 2000 to 53 last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Several states have halted executions in recent months because of legal challenges to the use of lethal injection.

August 17th, 2007, 08:45 AM
SHREVEPORT, LA (http://www.ksla.com/Global/story.asp?S=6937987)

Homeland Security Enlists Clergy to Quell Public Unrest if Martial Law Ever Declared

http://ksla.images.worldnow.com/images/6937987_BG2.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-BtWhs8qlg)
VIDEO: Clergy to Help Government During Martial Law

Aug 15, 2007 07:07 PM

Could martial law ever become a reality in America? Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that. KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us.

Charleton Heston's now-famous speech before the National Rifle Association at a convention back in 2000 will forever be remembered as a stirring moment for all 2nd Amendment advocates. At the end of his remarks, Heston held up his antique rifle and told the crowd in his Moses-like voice, "over my cold, dead hands."

While Heston, then serving as the NRA President, made those remarks in response to calls for more gun control laws at the time, those words live on. Heston's declaration captured a truly American value: An over-arching desire to protect our freedoms.

But gun confiscation is exactly what happened during the state of emergency following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-taU9d26wT4), along with forced relocation. U.S. Troops also arrived, something far easier to do now, thanks to last year's elimination of the 1878 Posse Comitatus act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act), which had forbid regular U.S. Army troops from policing on American soil.

If martial law were enacted here at home, like depicted in the movie "The Siege", easing public fears and quelling dissent would be critical. And that's exactly what the 'Clergy Response Team' helped accomplish in the wake of Katrina.

Dr. Durell Tuberville (http://www.thephoenixprojectusa.org/id27.html) serves as chaplain for the Shreveport Fire Department and the Caddo Sheriff's Office. Tuberville said of the clergy team's mission, "the primary thing that we say to anybody is, 'let's cooperate and get this thing over with and then we'll settle the differences once the crisis is over.'"

Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other. "In a lot of cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they're helping to diffuse that situation," assured Sandy Davis. He serves as the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13 (http://romans13.embassyofheaven.com/understanding.htm). Dr. Tuberville elaborated, "because the government's established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3942/is_200106/ai_n8962556)"

Civil rights advocates believe the amount of public cooperation during such a time of unrest may ultimately depend on how long they expect a suspension of rights might last.

Story by Jeff Ferrell: jferrell@ksla.com

August 17th, 2007, 09:07 AM
August 17, 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/17/us/17spy.html?ei=5088&en=54ee8070da313140&ex=1345003200&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1187355725-RriRY3GVUU6N0HVqVGmziQ)
Liberties Advocates Fear Abuse of Satellite Images

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 — For years, a handful of civilian agencies have used limited images from the nation’s constellation of spy satellites to track hurricane damage, monitor climate change and create topographical maps.

But a new plan to allow emergency response, border control and, eventually, law enforcement agencies greater access to sophisticated satellites and other sensors that monitor American territory has drawn sharp criticism from civil liberties advocates who say the government is overstepping the use of military technology for domestic surveillance.

“It potentially marks a transformation of American political culture toward a surveillance state in which the entire public domain is subject to official monitoring,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.

At issue is a newly disclosed plan that Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, approved in May in a memorandum to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, which puts some of the nation’s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials as early as this fall.

The uses include enhancing seaport and land-border security, improving planning to mitigate natural disasters, and determining how best to secure major events, like the Super Bowl or national political conventions. Eventually, state and local law enforcement officials could be allowed to tap into the technology on a case-by-case basis, once legal guidelines are worked out, administration officials said.

Spy satellites, which provide higher-resolution photographs than commercial satellite imagery, and in real time, have traditionally been used overseas to monitor terrorist movements and nuclear tests. Their expanded use in domestic surveillance marks a new era in intelligence gathering, conjures up images of “Big Brother in the sky,” and raises civil liberties concerns.

“This touches so many Americans, it can’t be allowed to be discussed behind closed doors,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The new data sharing comes as Congress passed legislation this month that broadened the Bush administration’s authority to eavesdrop without warrants on some Americans’ international communications.

Administration officials say that in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the government has been looking for ways to use spy satellites and other sensors to strengthen the nation’s defenses against terrorism.

“The view after Sept. 11 was that we ought to move this to homeland security and broaden the domain,” Charles E. Allen, the Department of Homeland Security’s top intelligence officer, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “We obviously believe this is a good expansion.”

The new plan largely follows recommendations included in a 2005 independent study group led by Keith R. Hall, a former head of the National Reconnaissance Office who is a vice president of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

“Today, policies and practices governing the use of I.C. capabilities, many of which predate 9/11, discourage rather than encourage use by domestic users especially law enforcement,” the report said. The abbreviation I.C. refers to the intelligence community.

“The ultimate effect is missed opportunities to collect, exploit and disseminate domestic information critical to fighting the war on terrorism, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters natural and man-made,” the report said.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the active-duty military forces from conducting law enforcement missions on American soil, and Mr. Allen underscored that the new information-sharing would not violate that ban.

Mr. Allen said that the new program would be especially useful for disaster planning, and for policing land and seaports. He said the effort might eventually share information with domestic law enforcement officials but only after a careful review that would take several months.

“We are not going to be penetrating buildings, bunkers or people’s homes with this,” Mr. Allen said. “I view that as absurd. My view is that no American should be concerned.”

A new office within the Homeland Security Department, called the National Applications Office, will be responsible beginning in October for coordinating requests from civilian agencies for spy satellite information.

The Homeland Security Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would be responsible for overseeing the program. Reviews would be conducted by agency lawyers, inspectors general and privacy officers.

Civil liberties advocates complained that the agencies could not be trusted to supervise themselves, and that Congress needed to play a larger oversight role.

An official with the House Intelligence Committee said the panel had been notified of the program last spring but had not been given details of the data-sharing, and would ask for a full briefing when lawmakers returned in September from their summer recess.

“Crystal-clear rules on the use of such information are needed to protect the privacy of the American people,” said Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who heads the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.

August 19th, 2007, 05:52 AM
August 19, 2007

Concerns Raised on Wider Spying Under New Law


WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.

Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns from Democrats in Congress recently, and that there was a continuing debate over the meaning of the legislative language. But they said the Democrats were simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation.

They also emphasized that there would be strict rules in place to minimize the extent to which Americans would be caught up in the surveillance.

The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.

It also offers a case study in how changing a few words in a complex piece of legislation has the potential to fundamentally alter the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a landmark national security law. The new legislation is set to expire in less than six months; two weeks after it was signed into law, there is still heated debate over how much power Congress gave to the president.

“This may give the administration even more authority than people thought,” said David Kris, a former senior Justice Department lawyer in the Bush and Clinton administrations and a co-author of “National Security Investigation and Prosecutions,” a new book on surveillance law.

Several legal experts said that by redefining the meaning of “electronic surveillance,” the new law narrows the types of communications covered in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, by indirectly giving the government the power to use intelligence collection methods far beyond wiretapping that previously required court approval if conducted inside the United States.

These new powers include the collection of business records, physical searches and so-called “trap and trace” operations, analyzing specific calling patterns.

For instance, the legislation would allow the government, under certain circumstances, to demand the business records of an American in Chicago ]without a warrant if it asserts that the search concerns its surveillance of a person who is in Paris, experts said.

It is possible that some of the changes were the unintended consequences of the rushed legislative process just before this month’s Congressional recess, rather than a purposeful effort by the administration to enhance its ability to spy on Americans.

“We did not cover ourselves in glory,” said one Democratic aide, referring to how the bill was compiled.

But a senior intelligence official who has been involved in the discussions on behalf of the administration said that the legislation was seen solely as a way to speed access to the communications of foreign targets, not to sweep up the communications of Americans by claiming to focus on foreigners.

“I don’t think it’s a fair reading,” the official said. “The intent here was pure: if you’re targeting someone outside the country, the fact that you’re doing the collection inside the country, that shouldn’t matter.” Democratic leaders have said they plan to push for a revision of the legislation as soon as September. “It was a legislative over-reach, limited in time,” said one Congressional Democratic aide. “But Democrats feel like they can regroup.”

Some civil rights advocates said they suspected that the administration made the language of the bill intentionally vague to allow it even broader discretion over wiretapping decisions. Whether intentional or not, the end result — according to top Democratic aides and other experts on national security law — is that the legislation may grant the government the right to collect a range of information on American citizens inside the United States without warrants, as long as the administration asserts that the spying concerns the monitoring of a person believed to be overseas.

In effect, they say, the legislation significantly relaxes the restrictions on how the government can conduct spying operations aimed at foreigners at the same time that it allows authorities to sweep up information about Americans.

These new powers are considered overly broad and troubling by some Congressional Democrats who raised their concerns with administration officials in private meetings this week.

“This shows why it is so risky to change the law by changing the definition” of something as basic as the meaning of electronic surveillance, said Suzanne Spaulding, a former Congressional staff member who is now a national security legal expert. “You end up with a broad range of consequences that you might not realize.”

The senior intelligence official acknowledged that Congressional staff members had raised concerns about the law in the meetings this week, and that ambiguities in the bill’s wording may have led to some confusion. “I’m sure there will be discussions about how and whether it should be fixed,” the official said.

Vanee Vines, a spokeswoman for the office of the director of national intelligence, said the concerns raised by Congressional officials about the wide scope of the new legislation were “speculative.” But she declined to discuss specific aspects of how the legislation would be enacted. The legislation gives the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broad discretion in enacting the new procedures and approving the way surveillance is conducted.

Bush administration officials said the new legislation, which amends FISA, was critical to fill an “intelligence gap” that had left the United States vulnerable to attack.

The legislation “restores FISA to its original and appropriate focus — protecting the privacy of Americans,” said Brian Roehrkasse, Justice Department spokesman. “The act makes clear that we do not need a court order to target for foreign intelligence collection persons located outside the United States, but it also retains FISA’s fundamental requirement of court orders when the target is in the United States.”

The measure, which President Bush signed into law on Aug. 5, was written and pushed through both the House and Senate so quickly that few in Congress had time to absorb its full impact, some Congressional aides say.

Though many Democratic leaders opposed the final version of the legislation, they did not work forcefully to block its passage, largely out of fear that they would be criticized by President Bush and Republican leaders during the August recess as being soft on terrorism.

Yet Bush administration officials have already signaled that, in their view, the president retains his constitutional authority to do whatever it takes to protect the country, regardless of any action Congress takes. At a tense meeting last week with lawyers from a range of private groups active in the wiretapping issue, senior Justice Department officials refused to commit the administration to adhering to the limits laid out in the new legislation and left open the possibility that the president could once again use what they have said in other instances is his constitutional authority to act outside the regulations set by Congress.

At the meeting, Bruce Fein, a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, along with other critics of the legislation, pressed Justice Department officials repeatedly for an assurance that the administration considered itself bound by the restrictions imposed by Congress. The Justice Department, led by Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, refused to do so, according to three participants in the meeting. That stance angered Mr. Fein and others. It sent the message, Mr. Fein said in an interview, that the new legislation, though it is already broadly worded, “is just advisory. The president can still do whatever he wants to do. They have not changed their position that the president’s Article II powers trump any ability by Congress to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence.”

Brian Walsh, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who attended the same private meeting with Justice Department officials, acknowledged that the meeting — intended by the administration to solicit recommendations on the wiretapping legislation — became quite heated at times. But he said he thought the administration’s stance on the president’s commander-in-chief powers was “a wise course.”

“They were careful not to concede any authority that they believe they have under Article II,” Mr. Walsh said. “If they think they have the constitutional authority, it wouldn’t make sense to commit to not using it.”

Asked whether the administration considered the new legislation legally binding, Ms. Vines, the national intelligence office spokeswoman, said: “We’re going to follow the law and carry it out as it’s been passed.”

Mr. Bush issued a so-called signing statement about the legislation when he signed it into law, but the statement did not assert his presidential authority to override the legislative limits.

At the Justice Department session, critics of the legislation also complained to administration officials about the diminished role of the FISA court, which is limited to determining whether the procedures set up by the executive administration for intercepting foreign intelligence are “clearly erroneous” or not.

That limitation sets a high bar to set off any court intervention, argued Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who also attended the Justice Department meeting.

“You’ve turned the court into a spectator,” Mr. Rotenberg said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation.

August 20th, 2007, 02:59 PM
Can the letter of the law (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/060327/27fbi_print.htm) mean anything if we have illiterate or blind legislators?

August 20th, 2007, 04:11 PM
This legislation may have been instigated by Bush, but i place the accountability firmly at the feet of the Democratic leadership.

August 26th, 2007, 11:17 AM
^ ?

August 27th, 2007, 10:28 AM
IOW, Bush and co. may have written it, but a Democratically controlled congress passed it.

The same responsibility lies with the whole vote on the war.

August 27th, 2007, 11:33 AM
Both the Patriot and the Fisa votes were assisted by the use of toxic bacterium:

Bacillus anthracis in the former,
http://archive.salon.com/politics/feature/2001/11/21/anthrax/story.jpg (http://archive.salon.com/politics/feature/2001/11/21/anthrax/index.html)

Clostridium botulinum in the latter.
http://www.lucianne.com/routine/images/11-14-02.jpg (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/11/22/nbtox22.xml&sSheet=/news/2002/11/22/ixhome.html)

August 28th, 2007, 10:45 AM
Bird Cage Liner Changed, Illegal Spying Stays
Gonzales' exit does little to undo the damage inflicted on the Constitution

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet Editorial (http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/august2007/280807_bird_cage.htm)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The bird cage liner has been changed but the illegal spying, warrantless wiretapping and torture embracing precedents remain following the resignation of Attorney General Alberto "Mengele" Gonzales.

The ineffective liberal left celebrates the exit of Gonzales like it's some major victory when in fact it changes nothing and every assault on the Constitution that was crafted with his help remains on the books.

Why are the left so naive as to believe that just because a token figurehead is toppled this somehow makes amends for the fact that the infrastructure of a totalitarian state has been implemented over the last six years?

"Unfortunately, Gonzales's incompetence will live on in a string of dubious
legal arguments largely rubber-stamped by a pliant Congress and
maintained through claims of executive privilege and state secrecy,"
writes Burke Hansen of the Register (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/27/gonzalez_resigns/).

"Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to undo the damage done, as
Gonzalez spent so much time walking all over the fundamental rights of
Americans he's practically left footprints on the Bill of Rights. Thanks to his
stewardship, American citizens can now be classed as enemy combatants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enemy_combatant),
spied on without warrants, imprisoned indefinitely without charges or
redress to the courts, and subjected to "enhanced interrogation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_interrogation)" techniques."

Where is the pressure for Democrats to repeal the Military Commissions Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Commissions_Act_of_2006), the John Warner Defense Authorization Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.R._5122_%282006%29) and innumerable other police state measures (http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2002/cr062702.htm) that were passed with their willing consent?

Only when we get the unconstitutional laws that Gonzales was responsible for pushing through stricken can we even begin to make progress.

The left likes to label itself as a "progressive community" yet they are seemingly content to wait and do nothing until Hillary Clinton gets in office so that she may enjoy the smorgasbord of tyranny that the Bush administration has laid out for her since 2001.

"Let's be clear," writes Dave Lindorff (http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff08272007.html), "Alberto Gonzales is resigning as
attorney general not because he's become an embarrassment to the Bush
administration-which has repeatedly shown itself to be beyond
embarrassment-but because he is no longer useful. Exposed as a serial liar
and an administration hack, he can no longer be relied upon by the Bush
administration to carry forward its criminal agenda of subverting the
Constitution, the electoral process and the Bill of Rights, because his every
step is being watched by the public and the Congress."

The fact is that Gonzales was merely a disposable battery for the rampaging robot of mechanized tyranny that symbolizes the Bush administration. He has now run out, been ejected and will be replaced by another while the destruction wrought by the machine itself remains untouched - until we realize that the overarching agenda and not its minions should be the real focus.

September 6th, 2007, 08:10 PM
Judge Rules Provisions of Patriot Act Unconstitutional

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 6, 2007; 3:36 PM

A federal judge today struck down portions of the USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional, ordering the FBI to stop issuing "national security letters" that secretly demand customer information from Internet service providers and other businesses.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York ruled that the landmark anti-terrorism law violates the First Amendment and the Constitution's separation of powers provisions because it effectively prohibits recipients of the FBI letters (NSLs) from revealing their existence and does not provide adequate judicial oversight of the process.

Marrero wrote in his 106-page ruling (http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/maerro_decision_090607.pdf) that Patriot Act provisions related to NSLs are "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values."

The decision has the potential to eliminate one of the FBI's most widely used investigative tactics. It comes amid widespread concern on Capitol Hill over reported abuses in the way the FBI has used its NSL powers.

NSLs allow agents in counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations to secretly gather Americans' phone, bank and Internet records without a court order or a grand jury subpoena. Although the FBI has had such power for many years, the Patriot Act, enacted in October 2001, significantly expanded its ability to issue the letters.

But Marrero wrote that "in light of the seriousness of the potential intrusion into the individual's personal affairs and the significant possibility of a chilling effect on speech and association--particularly of expression that is critical of the government or its policies--a compelling need exists to ensure that the use of NSLs is subject to the safeguards of public accountability, checks and balances, and separation of powers that our Constitution prescribes."

He ruled that only some of the NSL provisions were unconstitutional, but found that it was impossible to separate those provisions from other parts of the law. He therefore struck down the FBI's ability to issue NSLs altogether.

Marrero delayed enforcement of his order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal. Justice spokesman Dean Boyd said the department is "reviewing the decision and considering our options."

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a plaintiff identified only as John Doe, an Internet service provider prohibited under the law from publicly revealing the receipt of an NSL.

Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said the ruling "is yet another setback in the Bush administration's strategy in the war on terror and demonstrates the far-reaching efforts of this administration to use powers that are clearly unconstitutional."

The ruling marks the second time that Marrero has struck down the Patriot Act's NSL provisions. In 2004, the judge found the law unconstitutional because it silenced NSL recipients and gave them no recourse through the courts.

As the government was appealing that ruling, Congress passed new legislation in 2005 that was aimed at solving the problems identified by Marrero. But the judge, responding to an amended complaint by the ACLU, ruled today that "several aspects of the revised nondisclosure provision of the NSL statute violate the First Amendment and the principle of separation of powers."

An internal FBI audit earlier this year found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while using NSLs to collect data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years. Those findings followed an earlier audit by the Justice Department's inspector general, which found a much smaller number of violations in a narrow sampling.

More than 19,000 NSLs were issued in 2005 seeking 47,000 pieces of information, mostly from telecommunications companies, according to the government.

September 7th, 2007, 04:14 PM
An excellent decision, except that on p.62 in explaining the separation of powers, Judge Marrero states:
"When the Founders designed our constitutional democracy, they divided the government into three branches." [emphasis mine]

In what should be an eminently quotable decision, this glaring taint is shameful.

September 7th, 2007, 04:42 PM
Are you saying that we do not currently have a constitutional democracy? (Or a democracy that is constitutional?)

If not, then you are splitting hairs. It all depends on what that sentance was directly relating to. A constitutional democracy as described by our forefathers (the term "democracy" itself being, or not being, literally, constitutional), or an institution that was made by our forefathers that is now a constitutional democracy (a democracy that adheres to the tenets of the constitution).

Isn't the english language fun! Hours of double meanings and intents with a single written piece!!!! ;)

September 7th, 2007, 04:53 PM
Constitutional Republic

September 8th, 2007, 11:14 PM
I don't recall the forefathers ever referring to the new government as a "democracy." Is that a fact? I do recall it being called a great "experiment." It wasn't much of a "democracy" - black's were only 3/5 of a person, women couldn't vote, we had slavery and indentured servants, and no federal offices were eleced by direct vote. That ain't democracy.

September 9th, 2007, 08:04 AM
^ Spare us the canard that universal suffrage now makes us a democracy.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." Benjamin Franklin, 1759

An updated take:

Democracy: Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

Representative democracy: Two thousand wolves and one thousand sheep electing two wolves and a sheep who vote on what to have for dinner.

Constitutional republic: Two thousand wolves and one thousand sheep electing two wolves and a sheep who vote on what to have for dinner, but are restricted by a Constitution that says they cannot eat sheep. The Supreme Court then votes 5 wolves to 4 sheep that mutton does not count as sheep.

Liberty: Well-armed sheep contesting the above votes.

For more. (http://www.insolitology.com/simplyanarchy/donotvote/pb/wp_b091041b/wp_b091041b.html)

September 9th, 2007, 09:34 AM
^ Spare us the canard that universal suffrage now makes us a democracy.

What post is this directed at? I didn't imply that we were or are a "democracy" at all.

September 9th, 2007, 01:03 PM
Perhaps not intentionally.

By concluding a society is un-democratic by the absence of equal rights or the presence of slavery would, by implication, suggest their presence and absence respectively to represent democracy. Both inferences by the way are erronious. In fact, a true democracy permits the majority to freely vote to deny equal rights or permit or prohibit anything, slavery or otherwise.

There is much confusion about this, just refer to Ninjahedge's post above.
Democracy, n:

A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of direct expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic... negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Result is demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.
-- U. S. Army Training Manual No. 2000-25 (1928-1932), since withdrawn.

September 9th, 2007, 09:53 PM
Your point is taken and I agree.

September 12th, 2007, 12:32 AM
Former Law Adviser Speaks Out On Bush

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/books/11kaku.html?ref=arts)

September 11, 2007

Books of The Times

Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration


By Jack Goldsmith
256 pages
W. W. Norton

In October 2003 Jack Goldsmith, a legal scholar with sterling conservative credentials, was hired to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president and the attorney general about the legality of presidential actions. As he was briefed on counterterrorism measures the Bush administration had adopted in the wake of 9/11, Mr. Goldsmith says he was alarmed to discover that many of those policies “rested on severely damaged legal foundations,” that the legal opinions that supported these counterterrorism operations were, in his view, “sloppily reasoned, overbroad, and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the president.”

Mr. Goldsmith eventually withdrew several key department opinions — including two highly controversial “torture memos” dealing with the authority of the executive branch to conduct coercive interrogation — but only after contentious battles with administration hardliners led by David Addington, then Vice President Cheney’s legal adviser and now chief of staff.

As Mr. Goldsmith recounts in his chilling new book, “The Terror Presidency,” he and his Justice Department colleagues (in consultation with lawyers from the State Department, the Defense Department, the C.I.A. and the National Security Council) reached a consensus in 2003 that the Fourth Geneva Convention (which governs the duties of an occupying power and the treatment of civilians) affords protection to all Iraqis, including those who are terrorists. When he delivered this decision to the White House, he recalls, Mr. Addington exploded: “ ‘The president has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections,’ he barked. ‘You cannot question his decision.’ ”

The portrait of the Bush administration that Mr. Goldsmith — who resigned from the Office of Legal Counsel in June 2004, only nine months after assuming the post — draws in this book is a devastating one. It is a portrait of a highly insular White House obsessively focused on expanding presidential power and loathe to consult with Congress, a White House that frequently made up its mind about a course of action before consulting with experts, a White House that sidelined Congress in its policymaking and willfully pursued a “go-it-alone approach” based on “minimal deliberation, unilateral action, and legalistic defense.”

Similar portraits, of course, have been drawn by reporters and other former administration insiders, but Mr. Goldsmith’s account stands out by virtue that he was privy to internal White House debates about explosive matters like secret surveillance, coercive interrogation and the detention and trial of enemy combatants. It is also distinguished by Mr. Goldsmith’s writing from the point of view of a conservative who shared many of the Bush White House’s objectives (and who was an ideological ally of John Yoo, one of the main architects of the administration’s legal responses to a post-9/11 world and the author of some of the very opinions Mr. Goldsmith would later call into question). But he found himself alarmed by the Bush White House’s obsession with expanding presidential power, its arrogant unilateralism and its willingness to use what he regarded as careless and overly expansive legal arguments in an effort to buttress its policies.

Mr. Goldsmith does not go into detail here about his role on that March 2004 night when Alberto Gonzales, then White House legal counsel, and the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, went to the hospital to visit an ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to pressure him into approving a secret program (which was about to expire) over objections from Mr. Goldsmith and Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey. But he does provide a visceral sense of the tensions within the administration, with Mr. Ashcroft and members of the Justice Department often at odds with Mr. Gonzales and the White House, and the hard-line, hard-driving Mr. Addington, backed with the power of the vice president’s office, usually prevailing in the legal policy meetings held in Mr. Gonzales’s office.

Noting that “the president and the vice president always made clear that a central administration priority was to maintain and expand the president’s formal legal powers,” Mr. Goldsmith says that lawyers soon realized that they “could gain traction for a particular course of action — usually, going it alone — by arguing that alternative proposals would diminish the president’s power.”

Working with Congress on matters like detention and military commissions, Mr. Goldsmith says, would have helped the administration establish “a solid legal foundation” for the war on terrorism while diminishing “many complaints about legitimacy.” And yet the White House took working with Congress “off the table,” which meant that “a lot of sensible policy options” simply “were not available.”

Fear of another terrorist attack, Mr. Goldsmith contends, created pressure on administration officials “to act to the edges of the law.” He writes that Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and now director of the C.I.A., would often say that after 9/11 he was troubled if he was not using “the full authority allowed by law,” and that he was “going to live on the edge,” where “his spikes will have chalk on them.”

This attitude “permeated the executive branch after 9/11,” Mr. Goldsmith says, and he agreed that his own job was “to make sure the president could act right up to the chalk line of legality.” But he adds, “Even blurry chalk lines delineate areas that are clearly out of bounds,” and in some pivotal cases he felt compelled to stand up to the hardliners and insist that the administration’s counterterrorism policies be put on sounder legal footing.

Of the notorious Aug. 1, 2002, torture memo (which narrowly defined torture as “extreme acts” causing “severe pain” of the sort that “accompanies serious physical injury” leading to “death or organ failure,” and which asserted that “any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of battlefield detainees would violate the Constitution’s sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president”), Mr. Goldsmith writes that its concept of sweeping executive power had “no foundation” in prior Office of Legal Counsel opinions, or in judicial decisions, or in any other source of law.”

What’s more, “the conclusion’s significance sweeps far beyond the interrogation opinion or the torture statute,” he says. “It implies that many other federal laws that limit interrogation — anti-assault laws, the 1996 War Crimes Act, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice — are also unconstitutional, a conclusion that would have surprised the many prior presidents who signed or ratified those laws, or complied with them during wartime.”

Mr. Goldsmith is similarly scathing about how the Bush administration went about side-stepping the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which required the president and government agencies to obtain warrants from a special court before conducting electronic surveillance of people suspected of being terrorists or spies. Although he says he shared many of the administration’s concerns on this issue, he “deplored the way the White House went about fixing the problem.”

He quotes Mr. Addington saying of the surveillance act in court: “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious court.” And he observes that top Bush officials dealt with that act “the way they dealt with other laws they didn’t like: they blew through them in secret based on flimsy legal opinions that they guarded closely so no one could question the legal basis for the operations.”

This sort of unilateral action, Mr. Goldsmith argues, led to “legal and political errors that became very costly to the administration down the road.” In his view it was also a strategy “guaranteed not to work” and “certain to destroy trust altogether,” for “when an administration makes little attempt to work with the other institutions of our government and makes it a public priority to emphasize that its aim is to expand its power, Congress, the courts and the public listen carefully, and worry.”

Mr. Goldsmith concludes this illuminating volume with the observation that unlike Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt — two presidents who also presided over the nation at times of crisis — President Bush has relied only on “the hard power of prerogative,” ignoring “the soft factors of legitimation — consultation, deliberation, the appearance of deference, and credible expressions of public concern for constitutional and international values — in his dealing with Congress, the courts, and allies.” As a result, Mr. Goldsmith says, even if President Bush’s “accomplishments are viewed more charitably by future historians than they are viewed today,” they will “likely always be dimmed by our knowledge of his administration’s strange and unattractive views of presidential power.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

September 12th, 2007, 01:00 PM
McConnell Baselessly Claims New Expansive FISA Law Responsible For Preventing Terror Attack

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell yesterday tried to claim that the new expansive FISA law (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/08/07/fisa-editorials/) adopted by Congress prior to the August recess was responsible for the foiling of a recent alleged terror attack. The New York Times reports (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/washington/11terror.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1189501895-1gZh/KfM1zSqoBuvXGEp+A) that McConnell tried to tie the capture of three Islamic militants accused of planning bomb attacks in Germany (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Doubts_over_whether_intelligence_law_update_0911.h tml) to the FISA bill:

Mr. McConnell made his remarks to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. When asked by the chairman, Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, whether the new law that Congress adopted last month facilitated the German arrests, Mr. McConnell said, “Yes, sir, it did.”
Fox News quickly used the comments to drum up support for the administration’s demand for broad spying authority. “Just last week three Germans allegedly planning attacks against US interests were arrested and it was partly due to a strengthened Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in danger now of being scaled back by Democrats in Congress,” Fox reported. Watch it:

http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/09/foxfisa.320.240.jpg (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/09/11/mcconnell-fisa-false/)

McConnell’s statements have no basis in reality, but rather, appear to be an effort to build public support for the new FISA law that expires in five months. The Times reported today that a government official said “McConnell might have misspoken (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/washington/11terror.html).” In fact, the information gathered ahead of the alleged German attacks was done under the prior FISA law (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/washington/11terror.html) — the law that required warrants:

[T]he official, who has been briefed on the eavesdropping laws and the information given to the Germans, said that those intercepts were recovered last year under the old law.
Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) sent a letter to McConnell demanding that he back up his claims. The letter states (http://www.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/091107-to-dni-mcconnell.pdf):

Please state whether a specific decision was made to de-classify the information you provided to the Senate Committee and, if so, when, by whom, under what authority, and what was the specific background and explanation. In addition, please clarify whether the intercepts in question were foreign-to-foreign, as your statement implied, and whether they were in fact obtained under the old FISA law or the new FISA law.
UPDATE: Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a member of the House intelligence committee, issued this statement (http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=741):

“Contrary to DNI McConnell’s remarks before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee yesterday, the so-called ‘Protect America Act’ played no role in uncovering the recent German terrorist plot. Those arrests were made with the assistance of intelligence gathered under U.S. laws in effect earlier this year. The DNI knew that going into the hearing. The questions remain why he asserted otherwise during the hearing, and why he has yet to correct the record.

“The German terror case in question is another example of why I voted against the ‘Protect America Act’ when it came to the House floor in August. Our existing collection activities are working well overall, uncovering potential terrorist plots in Europe and elsewhere. While some technical adjustments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) might be in order, the bill the Congress passed last month went far beyond what was necessary by effectively suspending the Fourth Amendment. I’ll be exploring these issues with DNI McConnell in future oversight hearings.”


September 12th, 2007, 07:28 PM
Inside the 'Terror Presidency' (http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2007/09/20070912_a_main.asp)

Aired: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 10-11AM ET

By host Tom Ashbrook

Conservative legal hot shot Jack Goldsmith was tapped for a key job in the Bush Justice Department in part because of his "get tough" reputation on terror.

But within hours of getting inside as head of the Office of Legal Counsel -- the office that sets legal boundaries for the presidency -- this conservative top gun was shocked by what he saw: The law being tortured, he says, to expand the power of the presidency.

Now he's out and telling all, about what we should learn from the wartime powers of Lincoln, FDR -- and Bush.


· Jack Goldsmith, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2004, now a professor at Harvard Law School, his new book is "The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration."
· Benjamin Wittes, fellow and research director in public law at the Brookings Institution and member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law.

September 20th, 2007, 10:44 AM
Bush calls for expansion of spy law
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press WriterWed Sep 19, 7:08 PM ET (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070919/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_eavesdropping&printer=1;_ylt=AqlgJ8MrPGbWpyp69K530YAGw_IE)

President Bush said Wednesday he wants Congress to expand and make permanent a law that temporarily gives the government more power to eavesdrop without warrants on suspected foreign terrorists.

Without such action, Bush said, "our national security professionals will lose critical tools they need to protect our country."

"It will be harder to figure out what our enemies are doing to train, recruit and infiltrate operatives into America," the president said during a visit to the super-secret National Security Agency's headquarters. "Without these tools, our country will be much more vulnerable to attack."

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act governs when the government must obtain warrants for eavesdropping from a secret intelligence court. This year's update — approved just before Congress' August break — allows more efficient interceptions of foreign communications.

Under the new law, the government can eavesdrop without a court order on communications conducted by a person reasonably believed to be outside the U.S., even if an American is on one end of the conversation — so long as that American is not the intended focus or target of the surveillance.

In requesting the change, the Bush administration said technological advances in communications had created a dire gap in the ability to collect intelligence on terrorists.

Such surveillance generally was prohibited under the original law if the wiretap was conducted inside the U.S., unless a court approved it. Because of changes in technology, many more foreign communications now flow through the U.S. The new law, known as the Protect America Act, allows those to be tapped without a court order.

Civil liberties groups and many Democrats say the new changes go too far. Democratic leaders in Congress set the law to expire in six months so that it could be fine-tuned; that process now is beginning on Capitol Hill.

Democrats hope for changes that would provide additional oversight when the government eavesdrops on U.S. residents communicating with overseas parties.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said lawmakers understand the need to update the law, but also the need to protect the rights and liberties of Americans.

"For over five years, the president carried out a warrantless surveillance program that ignored the law and the role of court oversight," Rockefeller said. "Today, the president continues to seek unchecked surveillance powers that many of us in Congress cannot support. The fact is, the Protect America Act did provide authority for collection, but it did not include sufficient protections for Americans. There's no reason we can't do both," Rockefeller said.

"The president needs to step up to the plate and show that he is willing to work with Congress to get this important legislation passed."

Bush timed his visit to Fort Meade to press his case.

"The threat from al-Qaida is not going to expire in 135 days," he said, "so I call on Congress to make the Protect America Act permanent."

He also urged lawmakers to expand the law, not restrict it. One provision particularly important to the administration, but opposed by many Democrats, would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies which may have helped the government conduct surveillance before January 2007 without a court order.

Bush was joined at the podium in an NSA hallway by Vice President Dick Cheney, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and others.

The president received private briefings from intelligence officials and mingled with employees in the National Threat Operations Center. While cameras and reporters were in the room, the large video screens that lined the walls displayed unclassified information on computer crime and signal intelligence.

Along one wall at NSA is a sign that says, "We won't back down. We never have. We never will."


On the Net:

National Security Agency: http://www.nsa.gov/

September 20th, 2007, 11:37 AM
To all my American friends on this forum, if you do nothing else in your life, resist by all means possible attempts by your government to turn your wonderful country into the Surveillance State that the UK has become!
And all without any democratic debate!

The national DNA databse was only established in 1995. But today, just 12 years later, some 4 Million Britons have their unique genetic fingerprint stored on that database - and one new profile is being added every 45 seconds. Once on, there is no way you can get it removed.

Of these, half a million are false or incorrect. Another one million have never been convicted of a crime, but have had their sample collected as witnesses, or when they were suspected of an offence for which they were later cleared.

The government wants to collect many more samples. It is planning to extend the number of offences for which DNA samples are routinely collected by the Police, to include such heinous (?) crimes as dropping litter, shoplifting, and anti-social behaviour.

But in the longer term there is an even more sinister development. Stephen Sedley, a former communist who is now a senior judge, suggested everyone in Britain should have their DNA recorded at birth on the database. The government minister responsible, Tom McNulty, said he was "broadly sympathetic". He didn't mention that only 1% of crime scenes contain usable DNA, nor that virtually all those caught through the database have been persistent offenders whose data would have been available anyway.

This is the same repressive socialist government that wants us all to carry ID cards containing our biometric (eyes, face, fingerprints) details. Yet another database!

Everything we do on the internet is recored by our service providers and is available to the government. The same is true for all our phone calls, and our location when we made them can also be tracked. Our government intercepts some 500,000 personal calls a year and the numbers are growing fast.

Britain has 4.2 Million CCTV cameras, one for every 14 people, and one-fifth of all such cameras on earth. Every move we make in our towns, in our shops, on our motorways, etc., is monitored in anonymous control rooms.
Some car insurance companies are now experimenting with putting satellite-tracking systems into cars as a condition of issuing insurance cover.

The government has given extended powers to numerous government agencies - including trading standards, environmental health officers and councils - to engage in electronic surveillance.

Council tax inspectors have the right to enter our homes and take photographs and measurements of our rooms and our garden outside.

All this without any public debate or agreement, and all this from a government that lies and cheats its own people. From a recent survey it was shown that only 1 in 5 people trust this government, or to put it another way, 80% distrust this lying conniving bunch of third-rate hucksters who take us into illegal wars on the back of a dossier of pure fiction!

Americans, wake up, resist, don't let your government do what ours has done, and is still doing. We in Britain will soon be worse off in terms of privacy than the citizens of Eastern Europe under the yoke of Soviet Communism!

September 20th, 2007, 11:40 AM
How is Britian doing, when will your country admit that it has been overtaken by Radical Islam and a shell of whatit once was?

September 21st, 2007, 12:50 PM
How is Britian doing, when will your country admit that it has been overtaken by Radical Islam and a shell of whatit once was?
I wouldn't disagree with that ....

September 30th, 2007, 12:09 AM

Captain - as i said before, we've got our own thread for the UK, (and one for radical Islam too for that matter).

Kliq6, have a read of the last post in the Islamic totalitarian thread - it may interest you.

October 8th, 2007, 12:27 PM
FBI Puts Antiwar Protesters on Criminal Database; Canada Uses It To Ban Protesters From Entry

by Rob Kall (http://www.opednews.com/author/author2.html)

opednews.com (http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_rob_kall_071007_fbi_puts_antiwar_pro.htm)

Two well-respected US peace activists, CODEPINK (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bIpyn5WXW8) and Global Exchange (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_ArKGNHQvI) cofounder Medea Benjamin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk_MXFdGEkU) and retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxieJR5eAKs), were denied entry into Canada On October third. The two women were headed to Toronto to discuss peace and security issues at the invitation of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition (http://www.nowar.ca/). At the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry.

"In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition (http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/67/24386) signed by 152,000 women around the world," says Benjamin. "For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country."

"The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies," says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. "The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country." Both Wright and Benjamin plan to request their files from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and demand that arrests for peaceful, non-violent actions be expunged from international records. "It's outrageous that Canada is turning away peacemakers protesting a war that does not have the support of either US or Canadian citizens," says Benjamin.

"In the past, Canada has always welcomed peace activists with open arms. This new policy, obviously a creature of the Bush administration, is shocking and we in the US and Canada must insist that it be overturned. Four members of the Canadian Parliament--Peggy Nash, Libby Davies, Paul Dewar and Peter Julian-- expressed outrage that the peace activists were barred from Canada and vow to change this policy.

Ann Wright told OpEdNews that this was the second time the two Code Pink activists had been turned away from the border, the first event ocurring on August 19th (http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?id=3372).

Wright explained, "We decided to go to Canadian border to push the envelope to see if the Canadian Gov would not let us into Canada again until we had been "criminally rehabilitated."

To be criminally rehabilitated, they would have to do a huge amount of paperwork and state that they were no longer going to commit the "crimes" they were convicted of.

Wright told OpEdNews "We were told (by the canadian border agents) if we tried to enter Canada again, we would be officially deported from the country, which is "big trouble. 'We've warned you not to come back until we are criminally rehabilitated.'

Wright asserted, "We will never be criminally rehabilitated since we intend to continue to engage in non-violent peaceful protest of Bush administration policies, particular the war on Iraq and we intend to peacefully and nonviolently protest all of these until they end. They can lead to arrests for civil disobedience, like refusing to move from the fence in front of the whitehouse or standing up and speaking at congressional hearings."

Wright explained that the Canadians, by their own law, do not allow people in who have been convicted of various kinds of offenses.

If, when you are asked by a Canadian immigration officer if you have been arrested, they check the FBI database and that's how they found we were listed.

Wright added, "The fact that the FBI has put us on this list. The National Crime Information Center (http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.htm) Computerized Index is a form of political intimidation. The list is supposed to be for felony and serious misdemeanor offenses.

"We don't qualify-- it's for sex offenders, foreign fugitives, gang violence and terrorist organizations, people who are on parole, a list of eight categories all together.

"It is very disturbing. We've asked our congressional representatives to investigate this."

According to Wright, there was almost no coverage of this in the US, except for an AP release (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hM39L92MjW387jO_7Pz46p6ga4xgD8S2AK5O0). In Canada, Toronto's Globe and Mail and several other (http://news.therecord.com/News/CanadaWorld/article/251909) newspapers and three Canadian TV stations covered it.

October 10th, 2007, 12:46 PM
Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs.

http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2007/10/08/PH2007100801353.jpg (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/10/08/GA2007100801345.html)
Robotic fliers have been used by the military since
World War II, but in the past decade their numbers
and level of sophistication have increased enormously.

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/mmedia/player/images/100307-4v_228.jpg (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2007/10/04/VI2007100400958.html)

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; A03 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/08/AR2007100801434.html)

Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.

"I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those,' " the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects."

Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.

"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Others think they are, well, dragonflies -- an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look.

No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Some federally funded teams are even growing live insects with computer chips in them, with the goal of mounting spyware on their bodies and controlling their flight muscles remotely.

The robobugs could follow suspects, guide missiles to targets or navigate the crannies of collapsed buildings to find survivors.

The technical challenges of creating robotic insects are daunting, and most experts doubt that fully working models exist yet.

"If you find something, let me know," said Gary Anderson of the Defense Department's Rapid Reaction Technology Office.

But the CIA secretly developed a simple dragonfly snooper as long ago as the 1970s. And given recent advances, even skeptics say there is always a chance that some agency has quietly managed to make something operational.

"America can be pretty sneaky," said Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert in unmanned aerial vehicles who is now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonprofit Washington-based research institute.

Robotic fliers have been used by the military since World War II, but in the past decade their numbers and level of sophistication have increased enormously. Defense Department documents describe nearly 100 different models in use today, some as tiny as birds, and some the size of small planes.

All told, the nation's fleet of flying robots logged more than 160,000 flight hours last year -- a more than fourfold increase since 2003. A recent report by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College warned that if traffic rules are not clarified soon, the glut of unmanned vehicles "could render military airspace chaotic and potentially dangerous."

But getting from bird size to bug size is not a simple matter of making everything smaller.

"You can't make a conventional robot of metal and ball bearings and just shrink the design down," said Ronald Fearing, a roboticist at the University of California at Berkeley. For one thing, the rules of aerodynamics change at very tiny scales and require wings that flap in precise ways -- a huge engineering challenge.

Only recently have scientists come to understand how insects fly -- a biomechanical feat that, despite the evidence before scientists' eyes, was for decades deemed "theoretically impossible." Just last month, researchers at Cornell University published a physics paper clarifying how dragonflies adjust the relative motions of their front and rear wings to save energy while hovering.

That kind of finding is important to roboticists because flapping fliers tend to be energy hogs, and batteries are heavy.

The CIA was among the earliest to tackle the problem. The "insectothopter," developed by the agency's Office of Research and Development 30 years ago, looked just like a dragonfly and contained a tiny gasoline engine to make the four wings flap. It flew but was ultimately declared a failure because it could not handle crosswinds.

Agency spokesman George Little said he could not talk about what the CIA may have done since then. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service also declined to discuss the topic.

Only the FBI offered a declarative denial. "We don't have anything like that," a spokesman said.

The Defense Department is trying, though.

In one approach, researchers funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are inserting computer chips into moth pupae -- the intermediate stage between a caterpillar and a flying adult -- and hatching them into healthy "cyborg moths."

The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project aims to create literal shutterbugs -- camera-toting insects whose nerves have grown into their internal silicon chip so that wranglers can control their activities. DARPA researchers are also raising cyborg beetles with power for various instruments to be generated by their muscles.

"You might recall that Gandalf the friendly wizard in the recent classic 'Lord of the Rings' used a moth to call in air support," DARPA program manager Amit Lal said at a symposium in August. Today, he said, "this science fiction vision is within the realm of reality."

A DARPA spokeswoman denied a reporter's request to interview Lal or others on the project.

The cyborg insect project has its share of doubters.

"I'll be seriously dead before that program deploys," said vice admiral Joe Dyer, former commander of the Naval Air Systems Command, now at iRobot in Burlington, Mass., which makes household and military robots.

By contrast, fully mechanical micro-fliers are advancing quickly.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have made a "microbat ornithopter" that flies freely and fits in the palm of one's hand. A Vanderbilt University team has made a similar device.

With their sail-like wings, neither of those would be mistaken for insects. In July, however, a Harvard University team got a truly fly-like robot airborne, its synthetic wings buzzing at 120 beats per second.

"It showed that we can manufacture the articulated, high-speed structures that you need to re-create the complex wing motions that insects produce," said team leader Robert Wood.

The fly's vanishingly thin materials were machined with lasers, then folded into three-dimensional form "like a micro-origami," he said. Alternating electric fields make the wings flap. The whole thing weighs just 65 milligrams, or a little more than the plastic head of a push pin.

Still, it can fly only while attached to a threadlike tether that supplies power, evidence that significant hurdles remain.

In August, at the International Symposium on Flying Insects and Robots, held in Switzerland, Japanese researchers introduced radio-controlled fliers with four-inch wingspans that resemble hawk moths. Those who watch them fly, its creator wrote in the program, "feel something of 'living souls.' "

Others, taking a tip from the CIA, are making fliers that run on chemical fuels instead of batteries. The "entomopter," in early stages of development at the Georgia Institute of Technology and resembling a toy plane more than a bug, converts liquid fuel into a hot gas, which powers four flapping wings and ancillary equipment.

"You can get more energy out of a drop of gasoline than out of a battery the size of a drop of gasoline," said team leader Robert Michelson.

Even if the technical hurdles are overcome, insect-size fliers will always be risky investments.

"They can get eaten by a bird, they can get caught in a spider web," said Fearing of Berkeley. "No matter how smart you are -- you can put a Pentium in there -- if a bird comes at you at 30 miles per hour there's nothing you can do about it."

Protesters might even nab one with a net -- one of many reasons why Ehrhard, the former Air Force colonel, and other experts said they doubted that the hovering bugs spotted in Washington were spies.

So what was seen by Crane, Alarcon and a handful of others at the D.C. march -- and as far back as 2004, during the Republican National Convention in New York, when one observant but perhaps paranoid peace-march participant described on the Web "a jet-black dragonfly hovering about 10 feet off the ground, precisely in the middle of 7th avenue . . . watching us"?

They probably saw dragonflies, said Jerry Louton, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Washington is home to some large, spectacularly adorned dragonflies that "can knock your socks off," he said.

At the same time, he added, some details do not make sense. Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies -- an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison.

"Dragonflies never fly in a pack," he said.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies. If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, "it would be a significant violation of people's civil rights."

For many roboticists still struggling to get off the ground, however, that concern -- and their technology's potential role -- seems superfluous.

"I don't want people to get paranoid, but what can I say?" Fearing said. "Cellphone cameras are already everywhere. It's not that much different."

November 8th, 2007, 10:02 PM
"This is where we've come: two criminal gangs run the United States from Washington. Neither of them understands the supreme and sacred value of an individual human life. Neither understands any matter of principle relating to liberty or peace. Both of them are intent upon power, no matter how many innocent people must die, and regardless of how many countries must be destroyed, including our own."
Complete essay (http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2007/11/barren-deadly-wasteland-that-is-now-our.html) by Arthur Silber

November 8th, 2007, 11:06 PM
We're in for a long and bleak winter ...

November 9th, 2007, 04:46 PM

The problem I see with this well intentioned effort is that it could become a self fulfilling prophecy if disgruntled youths get a hold of the map. So, while the LAPD may find it helpful to give its anti-terrorism unit a map of radical mosques, radical Muslims could also use the map to locate sympathetic individuals. I think the LAPD needs to safeguard against this as well as enforce fair housing laws to make sure we don't create a Londinistan type radical neighborhood in LA.

November 9th, 2007, 05:41 PM
investordude, interesting you see no danger of bigoted anti-a-rab vigilantees of the KKK variety harassing or, perish the thought, -- harming muslims. Your assumption that disgruntled youths using the map for nefarious purposes would be radical muslims not white supremacists just illustrates how you swallowed whole the premise of the article.

I say this with the best of intentions; you need to use more critical thought when consuming media. You repeatedly parrot the most shallow superficial "drive-by analysis."

November 10th, 2007, 08:22 PM
Well, sure, another danger of this is its use by vigilantes or bigots. Like I said, I think if they are going to develop this map, they need to think through the unintended users. I do think the police are well intentioned though.

November 11th, 2007, 04:41 PM
The LAPD? Must disagree.

November 11th, 2007, 04:50 PM

Agree with you on that one, pricedout ...

LAPD can be far from friendly and -- at least in the past when I had the misfortunate of living there -- do tend to target those who don't fit what they seem to think a respectable citizen should look like / be.

November 12th, 2007, 10:36 AM
http://multimedia.heraldinteractive.com/images/43d3d2619d_vets_1112007.jpg (http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1044078)
Photo by Angela Rowlings

18 arrested in antiwar protest by veterans

By Tania deLuzuriaga and Charles M. Sennott
Globe Staff / November 12, 2007 (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/11/12/18_arrested_in_antiwar_protest_by_veterans/)

More than a dozen members of an antiwar veterans group were arrested yesterday as they protested the exclusion of their message from Boston's Veterans Day parade.

Members of Veterans for Peace lined up in front of a podium at City Hall Plaza holding antiwar placards, as color guards from Massachusetts military units and JROTC bands from across the state filed into Government Center for a ceremony, sponsored by the American Legion, to honor veterans after the parade. Some protesters wore gags, which they later said symbolized the fact that, while they were permitted to march in the parade, they were prevented from carrying signs opposing the war in Iraq.

"We were exercising our First Amendment rights," said Winston Warfield of Dorchester, a member of the group. "The First Amendment protects free speech, even when you don't agree with what's being said."

When Boston police asked the demonstrators to move from the front of the podium so that the Veterans Day services could continue, they refused. As the Boston Firemen's Band played The Marine Hymn, several protesters were placed in plastic handcuffs and led away.

"Our free speech and civil rights are being abridged here," said Nate Goldschlag, a Vietnam-era veteran who was among those standing in front of the podium. "We are veterans, too, and we should be allowed to express our opposition to this war."

American Legion officials declined to comment.

Boston police said that 18 people were arrested - 15 men and three women. All were charged with disturbing a lawful assembly (http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/272-40.htm) of people.


Denver (http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071111/NATION/111110031) also dealt with the "problem" of war protesting Veterans.


Washington Post: How Not to Pay Respect (http://blog.washingtonpost.com/earlywarning/2007/11/post_20.html?nav=rss_blog)

November 12th, 2007, 06:44 PM
http://www.bostonnow.com/files/imagecache/landscape/files/images/leaders/Parade_large.jpg (http://www.bostonnow.com/files/media/slideshow/2007/11/11/vets/soundslider.swf)

November 13th, 2007, 04:00 AM
This country is going down the toilet.

November 13th, 2007, 09:37 AM
Actually MTG, portions of it are coming back up the toilet.

November 13th, 2007, 06:26 PM
Gross! lol:D

November 14th, 2007, 01:44 PM
House Passes Thought Crime Prevention Bill ( HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007)

"The definition of violent radicalization uses vague language to define this term of promoting any belief system that the government considers to be an extremist agenda. Since the bill doesn’t specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government. Considering how much the government has done to destroy the Constitution they could even define Ron Paul supporters as promoting an extremist belief system. Literally, the government according to this definition can define whatever they want as an extremist belief system. Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime."

November 16th, 2007, 04:38 PM
Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to ‘Disrupt’ Radical Movements in the United States


By Jessica Lee
Under the guise of a bill that calls for the study of “homegrown terrorism,” Congress is apparently trying to broaden the definition of terrorism to encompass both First Amendment political activity and traditional forms of protest such as nonviolent civil disobedience, according to civil liberties advocates, scholars and historians.

The proposed law, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1955), was passed by the House of Representative in a 404-6 vote Oct. 23. (The Senate is currently considering a companion bill, S. 1959.) The act would establish a “National Commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence” and a university-based “Center for Excellence” to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence in the United States” in order to develop policy for “prevention, disruption and mitigation.”

Many observers fear that the proposed law will be used against U.S.-based groups engaged in legal but unpopular political activism, ranging from political Islamists to animal-rights and environmental campaigners to radical right-wing organizations. There is concern, too, that the bill will undermine academic integrity and is the latest salvo in a decade-long government grab for power at the expense of civil liberties.

David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martin’s University who studies government surveillance and harassment of dissident scholars, says the bill “is a shot over the bow of environmental activists, animal-rights activists, anti-globalization activists and scholars who are working in the Middle East who have views that go against the administration.” Price says some right-wing outfits such as gun clubs are also threatened because “[they] would be looked at with suspicion under the bill.”
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), which has been organizing against post-Sept. 11 legislative attacks on First Amendment rights, is critical of the bill. “When you first look at this bill, it might seem harmless because it is about the development of a commission to do a study,” explained Hope Marston, a regional organizer with BORDC.

“However, when you realize the focus of the study is ‘homegrown terrorism,’ it raises red flags,” Marston said. “When you consider that the government has wiretapped our phone calls and emails, spied on religious and political groups and has done extensive data mining of our daily records, it is worrisome of what might be done with the study. I am concerned that there appears to be an inclination to study religious and political groups to ultimately try to find subversion. This would violate our First Amendment rights to free speech and freedoms of religion and association.”

One pressing concern is definitions contained in the bill. For example, “violent radicalization” is defined as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

Alejandro Queral, executive director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, asks, “What is an extremist belief system? Who defines this? These are broad definitions that encompass so much. … It is criminalizing thought and ideology.”

For her part, Marston takes issue with the definition of homegrown terrorism. “It is about the ‘use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence to intimidate or coerce the government.’ This is often the language that refers to political activity.”

Congressional sponsors of the bill claim it is limited in scope. “Though not a silver bullet, the legislation will help the nation develop a better understanding of the forces that lead to homegrown terrorism, and the steps we can take to stop it,” said Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) Oct. 23, who co-authored the bill. “Free speech, espousing even very radical beliefs, is protected by our Constitution — but violent behavior is not.”

The bill’s purpose goes beyond academic inquiry, however. In a press release dated Nov. 6, Harman stated: “the National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.” (Harman’s office refused three separate requests by The Indypendent for comment.)

Some assert this would allow law enforcement agencies to target radicals in general. Price says, “This bill is trying to bridge the gap between those with radical dissenting views and those who engage in violent acts. It’s a form of prior restraint.”

Price explains how this may work, citing an example in his home town of Olympia, Wash., where a peaceful blockade took place in early November at the Port of Olympia to prevent the shipment of war materials between the United States and Iraq. He says, “It will be these types of things that will start getting defined as terrorism, including Quakers and indigenous rights’ campaigns.”

Kamau Franklin, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), is also concerned at the targeting of peaceful protests. He says the “Commission’s broad mandate can lead to the ability to turn civil disobedience, a form of protest that is centuries old, into a terrorist act.” It’s possible, he says, “that someone who would have been charged with disorderly conduct or obstruction of governmental administration may soon be charged with a federal terrorist statute.”

“My biggest fear is that they [the commission] will call for some new criminal penalties and federal crimes,” says Franklin. “Activists are nervous about how the broad definitions could be used for criminalizing civil disobedience and squashing the momentum of the left.”

The bill provides a list of Congressional findings, including a failure to understand the development and promotion of “violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence,” which is argued to pose a threat to domestic security. The Internet was highlighted as a tool in “providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would cost $22 million over four years.


Although the legislation is vague, a chief target appears to be Islamic militants living in the United States. Harman, in her Nov. 6 press release, says the bill is needed to combat violent radicalization and cites four cases as examples of such — all of them involving Muslim Americans allegedly engaged in terrorist activity. The bill’s language also states that proposed appointees to the National Commission should have “expertise and experience” in a long list of disciplines such as “world religions.” But the only religion named is Islam.

The bill appears to be influenced by the government-affiliated RAND Corporation, whose website includes a letter from Harman noting, “RAND … and I have worked closely for many years.” Harman, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, introduced H.R. 1955 on April 19, 2007.

Two weeks prior to this, Brian Michael Jenkins of RAND delivered testimony on “Jihadist Radicalization and Recruitment” to Harman’s subcommittee. Jenkins claimed “radicalization and recruiting are taking place in the United States,” and listed a number of high-profile cases in which Muslim Americans have been arrested on terrorism-related charges.

In his testimony, Jenkins admitted convictions in these cases — in Lackawanna, N.Y., Northern Virginia, New York City, Portland, Ore., and elsewhere — relied on charges being “interpreted broadly” by the courts.

There has been significant criticism of how government officials have hyped many of these cases as mass terror attacks thwarted in the nick of time despite a lack of any actual plans or means to commit a violent act on the part of the defendants. It’s also been noted that in numerous instances the government employed informants who goaded the suspects into committing the illegal acts for which they were arrested.

In June, Jenkins was back before Harman’s subcommittee discussing the role of the National Commission. According to the Congressional Quarterly website, Jenkins said, “[Homegrown terrorism] is the principal threat that we face as a country and it will likely be the principal threat that we face for decades.” The website stated, “Unless a way of intervening in the radicalization process can be found, ‘we are condemned to stepping on cockroaches one at a time,’ he added.”

At the end of his second round of testimony, Jenkins undercut the claims that there is any real danger requiring the creation of the National Commission and Center for Excellence. He said, “Judging by the terrorist conspiracies uncovered since 9/11, violent radicalization has yielded very few recruits. Indeed, the level of terrorist activities in the United States was much higher in the 1970s that it is today.” (Repeated inquiries by The Indypendent to the RAND Corporation to interview Jenkins or other staff analysts were turned down by the media relations department, which claimed they were all unavailable for the rest of the year.)

This has the Arab-American community worried. “When you look at the creation of the Commission, it is scary, especially when people [on the national commission] will be appointed by the White House,” said Kareem Shora, executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). He pointed to the recess appointment, despite widespread criticism, of Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace in 2003, who, Shora said, “propagated hate against Arabs.”

Shora is worried H.R. 1955 will unfairly target Muslims, even though he says they have been largely helpful in terrorist investigations since Sept. 11. Despite the assistance, he says civil rights abuses continue to occur, including “voluntary interviews,” the Absconder Apprehension Initiative and the Special Registration Program.


The passage of the H.R. 1955 coincided with a furor over the Los Angeles Police Department’s plan to “map” Muslim communities in the city. Appearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security on Oct. 30, Michael Downing, the assistant commanding officer of LAPD’s Counter-terrorism/Criminal Intelligence Bureau, said the project “will lay out the geographic locations of the many different Muslim population groups around Los Angeles [and] take a deeper look at their history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic breakdown, socio-economic status and social interactions.”

Shora says, “Looking at a community based on religious affiliation alone … is unconstitutional. The ADC added in a press release that singling “out individuals for investigation, surveillance, and data collection based solely on religion … would violate equal protection and burden the free exercise of religion.”

Following the outcry, the LAPD announced Nov. 15 that it was dropping the mapping plan. Opposition came from many quarters, including scholars, because the LAPD envisioned using academics in the mapping program. It reportedly intended “to have the data assembled by the University of Southern California’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis.” Recruiting academics for counterterrorism efforts is also at the heart of H.R. 1955, which proposes a university-based Center of Excellence.

Roberto Gonzalez, an anthropologist who co-authored a recent article with David Price criticizing the Pentagon’s use of scholars in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, says the prospect of creating a Center “is a bad idea because it is likely to compromise the intellectual integrity of the academy.” H.R. 1955 advocates for the use of “cultural anthropologists,” which concerns Price that they would “be doing secretive work for the state.”

Chip Berlet, senior analyst at the Boston-based Political Research Associates, argues the government is trying to establish a Center to get around legal prohibitions on gathering data specifically based on race and religion. He explains that there is already extensive research being done on the roots of political violence by scores of academics around the country but many of their findings do not fit into the government’s agenda. To Berlet, the proposed Center is nothing more than “a slush fund for politically connected hacks.”


Islamic militants are not the only threat on the government’s radar.

“A chief problem is radical forms of Islam, but we’re not only studying radical Islam,” Harman told In These Times, a Chicago-based newsmagazine. “We’re studying the phenomenon of people with radical beliefs who turn into people who would use violence.”

In 2004, the FBI named “eco-terrorism,” a broad term that includes property destruction, the top domestic threat. The July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate found that “special interest groups” were also likely to cause small-scale violent attacks.

These “special interest groups” were outlined in a 2005 RAND report, “Trends in Terrorism.” One chapter was devoted to a non-Muslim “homegrown terrorist” threat — anti-globalists. “Anti-globalists directly challenge the intrinsic qualities of capitalism, charging that in the insatiable quest for growth and profit, the philosophy is serving to destroy the world’s ecology, indigenous cultures and individual welfare,” stated the report. The report identifies rightwing movements such as neo-Nazis as threats and states there should be a focus on anarchist and radical environmental groups, citing anarchists involved in civil disobedience during the 2004 National Republican Contention in New York City and millions of dollars in property damage by the Earth Liberation Front in the last decade.


Observers say using vaguely defined terms is part of a historical pattern of sweeping government repression that includes the post- World War II “Red Scare” and Cointelpro. They are also concerned that H.R. 1955 will foster a legislative momentum on criminalizing a broad range of dissident voices.

Jules Boykoff, an assistant professor of politics and government at Pacific University and author of Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States, said he was alarmed that “violence” was not defined. He noted the definition of “ideologically based violence” is the “means to use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.”

“It is a circular definition, what does that mean?” asked Boykoff, while reading the bill aloud. “What does violence mean? We do not need laws like this because we already have plenty of laws on the books that make it a crime to blow up or set fire to buildings. It is called arson.”

Boykoff commented that the bill used the terms “extremism” and “radicalism” interchangeably. “The word ‘radical’ shares the etymological root to the word ‘radish,’ which means to get to the root of the problem. So, if the government wants to get at the actual root of terrorism, then let’s really talk about it. We need to talk about the economic roots, the vast inequalities in wealth between the rich and poor.” Boykoff says historically the government has used “radical” as a way of dismissing groups as “extremists,” however, and uses the two words as synonyms.

Hope Marston of the BORDC is nervous about the definition of homegrown terrorism, which is “about the ‘use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence’ to intimidate or coerce the government.” She says, “The definition does not make clear what force is.”

Bron Taylor, a professor at University of Florida who studies radical religion and environmental movements, questioned the government’s interpretation of violence. He spent years as an ethnographic researcher exploring the propensity of individuals within the radical environmental movement to turn to violence, a word he says defines as harm to sentient beings, not property destruction.

“There are all sorts of things that activists do that involve little or no risk of hurting people, but their actions get labeled as violent, or even worse, as acts of terrorism,” Taylor said. “For example, if 10 activists push themselves into a congressperson’s regional office, make noise, pull out files and make a scene, is that an act of terrorism? It is quite possible that the act could scare the hell out of the secretary and office workers because they don’t know these people or what they intend to do? But is that terrorism? Some people would like to frame it that way.”

“In any political dispute, whoever succeeds in defining the terms is likely to prevail in the debate,” Taylor said. “That is why scholars and the media need to be scrupulous in the ways they use and define terms deployed by the partisans in these disputes. They should strive to come up with terms that are as descriptive, accurate and as neutral as possible.”


The legislation authorizes a 10-member National Commission (the Senate bill calls for 12 members) appointed by the President, the secretary of homeland security, congressional leaders and the chairpersons of both the Senate and House committees on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

After convening, the Commission is to submit reports at six-month intervals for 18 months to the President and Congress, stating its findings, conclusions, and legislative recommendations “for immediate and long-term countermeasures … to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence.”

Kamau Franklin of CCR says he finds the timing of the legislation disturbing coming a year before the presidential elections and about eight months prior to the Democratic and Republication National Conventions — both which of have increasingly been the site of large-scale protests and civil disobedience.

More disturbing are the similarities to Cointelpro, which was investigated by a U.S. Senate select committee on intelligence activities (commonly known as the Church Committee), which convened in 1975. The Church Committee found that from 1956 to 1971, “the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”

Hope Marston says, “In the 1970s when we learned of the violation in rights that the government had been doing for 40 years, there was public outrage. Because these erosions of the Bill of Rights have happened during ‘the war on terror,’ we aren’t supposed to protest anything the government does because they are ‘protecting us.’ That feeling has made the government’s actions more dangerous.”


The Senate version of the bill finds that the domestic threats “cannot be easily prevented through traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts, and requires the incorporation of State and local solutions.”

“That’s about joint terrorism task force making,” Franklin said. “It’s a way to create a federal slush fund so local police departments can get their hands on it. This happened in the 1960s.”

Marston agreed. “This sounds like part of the same continuum we’ve experienced in the last seven years, which is the effort to deputize local law enforcement to work with the FBI and national agencies without local accountability, as we have seen with the establishment of joint-terrorism task forces across the country,” Marston said. “On 9/11, there were only a few joint-terrorism task forces, now there are more than 100 in existence. … When you talk about working with local law enforcement to possibly spy on groups and individuals to try to find the so-called ‘needle in the haystack,’ this definitely poses a threat to local autonomy.”

Although Cointelpro was partially dismantled in the 1970s and the FBI’s power to conduct domestic intelligence curbed, many safeguards have been overturned in the last 30 years, according to David Cole and Jim Dempsey, authors of Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security. Legislation such as the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the 2001 USA Patriot Act “radically transformed the landscape of government power, and did so in ways that virtually guarantee repetition of some of law enforcement’s worst abuses of the past,” the authors wrote.

In the last few years, many states have passed versions of the Patriot Act, while Congress has placed further checks on civil liberties with the Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act (2006), the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006) and the Protect America Now Act (2007), which amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.


H.R. 1955 gives Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff the power to establish a “Center of Excellence,” a university-based research program to “bring together leading experts and researchers to conduct multidisciplinary research and education for homeland security solutions.” The Department currently has eight Centers at academic institutions across the country, strengthening what many see as a growing military-security-academic complex.

Rep. Harman, in an Oct. 23 press release, stated that, the Center would “examine the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of domestic terrorism.”

“I do not have a lot of concerns with this legislation,” said Jim Dempsey, policy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Violent radicalization is an issue that deserves to be studied and understood. I am more comfortable with this bill’s approach, which is to treat the issue as a matter for broad study using largely open sources, than I would be with an approach that directed the FBI, DHS or the CIA to examine the issue,” Dempsey said. Dempsey was the assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights from 1985-1994, the former Deputy Director for the Center for National Security Studies and co-authored with David Cole, Terrorism and the Constitution.

“I do have some concern that the Commission and the Center will focus on Muslims and will contribute to a climate of apprehension,” Dempsey continued. “But I still think the bill is probably a good idea, if its concepts are in a true spirit of inquiry.”

Taylor agrees, but is leery that Washington politicians will hold power over commission and Center. “As an academic, I like the idea of creating Centers of Excellence in general because they bring together excellent scholars,” Taylor said. “But this is not something that the government should have a great deal of control over, because it is so ideologically charged. We’ve had plenty of examples of administrations, this one in particular, that likes to manipulate and downplay scientific findings that run at variance with their ideological and political objectives.”

“The bill itself, no matter how well drafted, does not guarantee a balanced outcome,” noted Dempsey. “To ensure balance, human rights activists will have to get involved in the work of the Commission and the Center.”

“If they really want to know why we have terrorism, they are going to need to explore counter-narratives,” explained Boykoff. “When the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, one narrative to explain the situation was that there is ‘an external enemy out there who hates America.’ Other narratives, such as that perhaps U.S. foreign policy might be fueling acrimonious feelings towards the U.S., were not considered. I am skeptical that the Center for Excellence would be open to these other narratives, but rather would be regurgitating the standard narrative.”

It is unclear how researchers would gather the information.

“If you are trying to understand in the broadest sense what turns people to violence in a variety of political causes, it is not something you can do easily, and it must be studied in a serious way,” said Taylor, who has began studying the radical environmental movement since 1989. “It is exceptionally hard to study these groups. They tend to be suspicious of new comers and outsiders, rightfully so. They aren’t fond of academic institutions or academics because they tend to view most of what goes on at institutions of higher education as being subservient to interests of global capital,” he said.

With his research experience, Taylor believes that it is absurd to think the Commission could produce a significant report in 18 months.

“To find out what makes people tick, you actually have to engage with them as a human being, and that is a long process that takes patience and trust building.”

Anthropologist Price is also worried. “My concern is that anthropologists would again be doing secretive work for the state. This bill is going to be interpreted so narrowly. It is calling for an ideological litmus test,” Price said. “The military believes there are ways to get around this questions legally, but ethically, it is a big deal. There are ethical codes of conduct in anthropology, sociology, psychology, in the social sciences in general, that they very basic precautions are taken.”


For U.S. historian Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, H.R. 1955 can be added to a long list of government policies that have been passed to target dissent in the United States.

“This is the most recent of a long series of laws passed in times of foreign policy tensions, starting with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which sent people to jail for criticizing the Adams administration,” Zinn said in an email to The Indypendent. “During World War I, the Espionage Act and Sedition Act sent close to a thousand people to jail for speaking out against the war. On the eve of World War II, the Smith Act was passed, harmless enough title, but it enabled the jailing of radicals — first Trotskyists during the war and Communist party leaders after the war, for organizing literature, etc., interpreted as ‘conspiring to overthrow the government by force and violence.”

“In all cases, the environment was one in which the government was involved in a war or Cold War or near-war situation and wanted to suppress criticism of its policies,” Zinn said.

Regardless, Zinn remains optimistic. “We should keep in mind that an act of repression by the state is a recognition of the potential of social movements and therefore we need to persist, through the repression, in order to bring about social change,” Zinn said. “We can learn to expect the repression, and not to be intimidated.”

Hope Marston remains hopeful. “The work we have been doing at BORDC is mobilizing people in the grassroots across the political spectrum, she said. “It is not just a Leftist effort to protect the Bill of Rights. We have worked with libertarians and republicans. We have helped get 412 resolution passed on the state and local level against the erosion of the Bill of rights.”

Editors Note:

Shortly after this article went to press, the Los Angeles Police Department announced they scrapped their plan to “map the muslim community” after meeting behind closed doors with leaders in the Arab-American communities.

A.K. Gupta contributed research and interviews.

November 20th, 2007, 01:45 PM
Fox host 'for Tasing anyone in Code Pink' after Hillary heckled (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Clinton_heckled_by_protester_at_Los_1118.html)

David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Monday November 19, 2007

A Fox News morning host has a novel idea to handle those pesky Code Pink protesters who disrupt political events and Congressional hearings: 50,000 volts of electricity.

Brian Kilmead shared his ever-so-evolved views on crowd control Monday morning in a Fox & Friends discussion of a Code Pink-disrupted Hillary Clinton speech. His answer to annoying anti-war types? Tasers or Billy clubs.

“They should Tase this guy,” Kilmead says. “At one point with security so high and tensions on edge, don’t you think they’re going to get at the very least Tased or beaten to a pulp by somebody? These people look threatening.”

Kilmead's Taser-lust came one day after a 20-year-old Maryland man died after being shocked by police.

The other hosts argue for some restraint when dealing with feisty, pink-clad protesters.

“Why should they tase him? He’s not resisting arrest,” co-host Steve Doocy says, injecting some much-needed rationality into the conversation.

The protest-of-the moment, came during a recent Clinton speech in Los Angeles on global warming.

“Were you invited to speak here this afternoon?” Clinton scolds the protester as he is removed by security.

The Fox hosts used the disruption to remind viewers of Code Pink’s habit of disrupting Capitol Hill hearings, and they re-played the famous “don’t Tase me bro” sound-bite from a University of Florida student earlier this year. The student’s screams seemed to delight the hosts, and Kilmead clearly wanted to hear more of them.

“I would be for Tasing anyone in Code Pink,” he says. “I’m pro-Pink Tasing.”

The following video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast on November 19, 2007.

http://www.rawprint.com/media/2007/0711/fox_ff_hillary_anitwar_protester_071119a.jpg (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Fox_host_for_tasing_anyone_in_1119.html)

A word about extremists.

"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents." - Robert F. Kennedy, 1964

Who's who again?

November 20th, 2007, 03:58 PM
I don't agree with this guy.

Lets taze him.

December 17th, 2007, 01:01 PM
AT&T engineer says Bush Administration sought to implement domestic spying within two weeks of taking office

12/16/2007 @ 6:45 pm
Filed by John Byrne (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/ATT_engineer_says_Bush_Administration_sought_1216. html)

Nearly 1,300 words into Sunday's New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/washington/16nsa.html?ei=5065&en=03d7b2d9209d9d7d&ex=1198472400&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print) revealing new details of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, the lawyer for an AT&T engineer alleges that "within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.”

In a New Jersey federal court case, the engineer claims that AT&T sought to create a phone center that would give the NSA access to "all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through" a New Jersey network hub.

The former AT&T employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Times said he took part in several discussions with agency officials about the plan.

"The officials, he said, discussed ways to duplicate the Bedminster system in Maryland so the agency “could listen in” with unfettered access to communications that it believed had intelligence value and store them for later review," Times reporters Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane wrote. "There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications, he said."

“At some point,” he told the paper, “I started feeling something isn’t right.”

"Two other AT&T employees who worked on the proposal discounted his claims, saying in interviews that the project had simply sought to improve the N.S.A.’s internal communications systems and was never designed to allow the agency access to outside communications."

AT&T's spokesman said they didn't comment on national security matters, as did a spokesman for Qwest, which was also approached but apparently rebuffed the plan. The lawyer for the engineer and others in the New Jersey case says AT&T's internal documents would vindicate his clients.

“What he saw,” Bruce Afran, a New Jersey lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Times, “was decisive evidence that within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.”

The full Times article is here (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/washington/16nsa.html?ei=5065&en=03d7b2d9209d9d7d&ex=1198472400&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print).

December 17th, 2007, 01:41 PM
Which ^ would mean that Bush et al were "listening" in to communications in the months well before 9/11 and STILL missed it.

December 17th, 2007, 02:00 PM
Which leads me back to my assertion in the other thread that there was tremendous negligence, maybe feigned ignorance. *note: this does not include theories of laser beams or remote controlled aircraft.

December 17th, 2007, 02:45 PM
Which ^ would mean that Bush et al were "listening" in to communications in the months well before 9/11 and STILL missed it.

Yeah that seems about right an dthat makes him even more to blame then he already is. All in all the worst presidency and leagacy anyone has ever left behind

December 17th, 2007, 03:53 PM
It would be truly sad if he knew the plot but thought (or was told and believed) that we could stop it while in action and that that would give him the reasons needed for a protracted military engagement in the Middle East. :(

December 17th, 2007, 04:42 PM
^and for all of the ensuing curtailment of constitutional principals.:(:(

December 17th, 2007, 07:28 PM
All in all the worst presidency and leagacy anyone has ever left behind

Not to mention what it's all done to the economy.

Putrid he is.

I reiterate: Soon the man will have to bolt himself behind the gates of his Texas "ranch", as there will be few places in America which will welcome him post-2008.

December 17th, 2007, 11:33 PM
Maybe he can spend his retirement clearing brush in Mexico - permanently.

December 19th, 2007, 08:54 AM
^ Probably go to Dubai with all the other crooks (http://www.articlediscovery.com/blog/2007/03/17/halliburton-relocates-world-headquarters-to-dubai/).

I found this:

Bill of Rights Under Bush: A Timeline

By Phil Leggiere (http://mondoglobo.ning.com/profile/PhilLeggiere), writing for QuestionAuthority (http://mondoglobo.ning.com/group/questionauthority)



Presidential directive delays indefinitely the scheduled release of presidential documents (authorized by the Presidential Records Act of 1978) pertaining to the Reagan-Bush administration. Link (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E01E0DB143EF93AA35755C0A9679C8B 63&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Organizations/V/Vanderbilt%20University)

Bush and Cheney begin process of radically broadening scope of documents and information which can be deemed classified. Link (http://www.slate.com/id/2114963/)


The National Security Agency (NSA) sets up Project Groundbreaker, a domestic call monitoring program infrastructure. Link (http://tumerica.blogspot.com/2007/10/wen-want-you-to-give-us-your-phone.html)


Bush administration order authorizes NSA monitoring of domestic phone and internet traffic. Link (http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/48/17009)


US Supreme Court rules that medical necessity is not a permissible defense against federal marijuana statutes. Link (http://www.jointogether.org/news/headlines/inthenews/2001/supreme-court-rules-against-3.html)


In immediate aftermath of 9-11 terror attacks, Department of Justice authorizes detention without charge for any terror suspects. Over one thousand suspects are brought into detention over the next several months. Link (pdf) (http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/us_law/OIG_report.pdf)


Attorney General John Ashcroft announces change in Department of Justice (DOJ) policy. According to the new policy DOJ will impose far more stringent criteria for the granting of Freedom of Information Act requests. Link (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/2002/01/17/sinrod.htm)


NSA launches massive new database of information on US phone calls. Link (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm?csp=34)


The USA Patriot Act becomes law. Among other things the law: makes it a crime for anyone to contribute money or material support for any group on the State Department’s Terror Watch List, allows the FBI to monitor and tape conversations between attorneys and clients, allows the FBI to order librarians to turn over information about patron’s reading habits, allows the government to conduct surveillance on internet and email use of US citizens without notice. The act also calls for expanded use of National Security Letters (NSLs), which allow the FBI to search telephone, email and financial records of US citizens without a court order, exempts the government from needing to reveal how evidence against suspected terrorists was obtained and authorizes indefinite detention of immigrants at the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities.

NJ Superior court judge and civil liberties scholar Anthony Napolitano, author of A Nation of Sheep, has described the law’s assault on first and fourth amendment principles as follows, “The Patriot Act’s two most principle constitutional errors are an assault on the Fourth Amendment, and on the First. It permits federal agents to write their own search warrants [under the name “national security letters”] with no judge having examined evidence and agreed that it’s likely that the person or thing the government wants to search will reveal evidence of a crime… Not only that, but the Patriot Act makes it a felony for the recipient of a self-written search warrant to reveal it to anyone. The Patriot Act allows [agents] to serve self-written search warrants on financial institutions, and the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 in Orwellian language defines that to include in addition to banks, also delis, bodegas, restaurants, hotels, doctors' offices, lawyers’ offices, telecoms, HMOs, hospitals, casinos, jewelry dealers, automobile dealers, boat dealers, and that great financial institution to which we all would repose our fortunes, the post office. Link 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act) | Link 2 (http://reason.com/news/show/123496.html)


Executive order limits release of presidential documents. The order gives incumbent presidents the right to veto requests to open any past presidential records and supercedes the congressionally passed law of 1978 mandating release of all presidential records not explicitly deemed classified. Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13233)



FBI and Department of Defense (DOD), forbidden by law from compiling databases on US citizens, begin contracting with private database firm ChoicePoint to collect, store, search and maintain data. Link (http://govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32802&printerfriendlyVers=1)


Secret executive order issued authorizing NSA to wiretap the phones and read emails of US citizens. Link (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html)


Transportation Security Adminstration (TSA) acknowledges it has created both a “No Fly” and a separate “Watch” list of US travelers. Link (http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/27/02/feature3.shtml)


Department of Justice authorizes the FBI to monitor political and religious groups. The new rules permit the FBI to broadly search or monitor the internet for evidence of criminal activity without having any tips or leads that a specific criminal act has been committed. Link (http://seclists.org/politech/2002/May/0124.html)


Supreme Court upholds the right of school administrators to conduct mandatory drug testing of students without probable cause. Link (http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5322)


Homeland Security Act of 2002 establishes separate Department of Homeland Security. Among other things the department will federally coordinate for the first time all local and state law enforcement nationwide and run a Directorate of Information and Analysis with authority to compile comprehensive data on US citizens using public and commercial records including credit card, phone, bank, and travel. The department also will be exempt form Freedom of Information Act disclosure requirements. The Homeland Security department’s jurisdiction has been widely criticized for being nebulously defined and has extended beyond terrorism into areas including immigration, pornography and drug enforcement. Link 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeland_Security_Act) | Link 2 (http://www.conservative.org/columnists/keene/030805dk.asp)



Draft of Domestic Security Enhancement Act (aka Patriot Act 2), a secret document prepared by the Department of Justice is leaked by the Center for Public Integrity. Provisions of the February 7th draft version included:

Removal of court-ordered prohibitions against police agencies spying on domestic groups.

The FBI would be granted powers to conduct searches and surveillance based on intelligence gathered in foreign countries without first obtaining a court order.

Creation of a DNA database of suspected terrorists.

Prohibition of any public disclosure of the names of alleged terrorists including those who have been arrested.

Exemptions from civil liability for people and businesses who voluntarily turn private information over to the government.

Criminalization of the use of encryption to conceal incriminating communications.

Automatic denial of bail for persons accused of terrorism-related crimes, reversing the ordinary common law burden of proof principle. All alleged terrorists would be required to demonstrate why they should be released on bail rather than the government being required to demonstrate why they should be held.

Expansion of the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency would be prevented from releasing "worst case scenario" information to the public about chemical plants.

United States citizens whom the government finds to be either members of, or providing material support to, terrorist groups could have their US citizenship revoked and be deported to foreign countries.

Although the bill itself has never (yet) been advanced in congress due to public exposure, some of its provisions have become law as parts of other bills. For example The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge. Under the law, the FBI does not need to seek a court order to access such records, nor does it need to prove just cause. Link 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_Security_Enhancement_Act_of_2003) | Link 2 (http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2004/01/61792)


Executive order issued which radically tightens the declassification process of classified government documents, as well as making it far easier for government agencies to make and keep information classified. The order delayed by three years the release of declassified government documents dating from 1978 or earlier. It also allowed the government to treat all material sent to American officials from foreign governments -- no matter how routine -- as subject to classification, and expanded the ability of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to shield documents from declassification. Finally it gave the vice president the power to classify information. Link 1 (http://ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2004a/010904/010904a.php) | Link 2 (http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/eoamend.html)


In a ruling seen as a victory for the concentration of ownership of intellectual property and an erosion of the public domain, the Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft held that a 20-year extension of the copyright period (from 50 years after the death of the author to 70 years) called for by the Sonny Bono copyright Extension not violate either the Copyright Clause or the First Amendment. Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eldred_v._Ashcroft)


In Demore v. Kim, the Supreme Court ruled that even permanent residents could be subject to mandatory detention when facing deportation based on a prior criminal conviction, without any right to an individualized hearing to determine whether they were dangerous or a flight risk. Link (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/04/30/MN270981.DTL)


The FBI changes its traditional policy of destroying all data and documents collected on innocent citizens in the course of criminal investigations. This information would, according to the bureau, now be permanently stored. Two years later in late 2005 Executive Order 13388, expanded access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined. Link 1 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/05/AR2005110501366.html) | Link 2 (http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo/eo-13388.htm)


As authorized by the Patriot Act, the FBI expands the practice of national security letters. NSLs, originally introduced in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, enabled the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. This was extended by the Patriot Act to include permitting clandestine scrutiny of all U.S. residents and visitors whether suspected of terrorism or not. Link (http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2003/11/61341?currentPage=2)



The FBI begins keeping a database of US citizens based on information obtained via NSLs. Link (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/05/AR2005110501366.html)


John Ashcroft invokes State Secrets privilege to forbid former FBI translator Sibel Edmunds from testifying in a case brought by families of victims of the 9-11 attacks. Litigation by 9-11 families is subsequently halted. Link 1 (http://www.counterpunch.com/edmonds07092004.html) | Link 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibel_Edmonds)


Supreme Court upholds Nevada state law allowing police to arrest suspects who refuse to provide identification based on police discretion of “reasonable suspicion.” Link (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57604-2004Jun21.html)



Supreme court rules that police do not need to have probable cause to have drug sniffing dogs examine cars stopped for routine traffic violations. Link 1 (http://www.opinioneditorials.com/guestcontributors/rcurry_20050127.html) | Link 2 (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-24-drug-dog_x.htm)


Supreme Court rules that the federal government can prosecute medical marijuana users even in states which have laws permitting medical marijuana. Link (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/06/AR2005060600564.html)


The Patriot Act, due to expire at the end of 2005, is reauthorized by Congress. Link (http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/21/patriot.act/)

Winter 2005

Senate blocks reauthorization of certain clauses in Patriot Act. Link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4536418.stm)



Senate passes amended version of Patriot Act, reauthorization, with three basic changes from the original including: recipients of secret court orders to turn over sensitive information on individuals linked to terrorism investigations are not allowed to disclose those orders but can challenge the gag order after a year, libraries would not be required to turn over information without the approval of a judge, recipients of an FBI "national security letter" -- an investigator's demand for access to personal or business information -- would not have to tell the FBI if they consult a lawyer. New bill also said to extend Congressional oversight over executive department usage guidelines. Shortly after bill is signed George Bush declares oversight rules are not binding. Link 1 (http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=16579) | Link 2 (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/03/24/bush_shuns_patriot_act_requirement/)


Supreme court rules that evidence obtained in violation of the “knock and announce” rules can still be permitted in court. Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_v._Michigan)


US Congress and Senate approve the Military Commissions Act, which authorizes torture and strips non- US citizen detainees suspected of terrorist ties of the right of habeas corpus (which includes formal charges, counsel and hearings). It also empowers US presidents at their discretion to declare US citizens as enemy combatants and subject to detention without charge or due process. Link 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Commissions_Act_of_2006) | Link 2 (http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20061011.html) | Link 3 (http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2006/10/23/detention-and-torture/)


John Warner Defense Authorization Act is passed. The act allows a president to declare a public emergency and station US military troops anywhere in America as well as take control of state based national guard units without consent of the governor or other local authorities. The law authorizes presidential deployment of US troops to round-up and detain “potential terrorists”, “illegal aliens” and “disorderly” citizenry. Link 1 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-5122) | Link 2 (http://www.bordc.org/threats/hr5122.php)



National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) establishes a new post-disaster plan (with disaster defined as any incident, natural or man-made, resulting in extraordinary mass casualties, damage or disruption) which places the president in charge of all three branches of government. The directive overrides the National Emergencies Act which gives Congress power to determine the duration of a national emergency. Link 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Directive_51) | Link 2 (http://www.slate.com/id/2176185/pagenum/2)


In “Bong Hits for Jesus” case Supreme court rules that student free speech rights do not extend to promotion of drug use. Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_v._Frederick)


Executive Order 13438: "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, issued. The order asserts the government’s power to confiscate the property “of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people." Link (http://www.newswithviews.com/Weeks/darren3.htm)


The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act passes the House of Representatives 400 to 6 (to be voted on in the Senate in 2008). The act proposes the establishment of a commission composed of members of the House and Senate, Homeland Security and others, to "examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States” and specifically the role of the internet in fostering and disseminating extremism. According to the bill the term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change, while the term 'ideologically-based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.” Link 1 (http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=43&ItemID=14396) | Link 2 (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h1955/show) | Link 3 (http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3388/examining_the_homegrown_terrorism_prevention_act/)


This book is a great companion piece:

http://www.imagineatrium.com/EndofAmerica.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc)

December 22nd, 2007, 05:06 PM
^What has happened to this country and to our rights makes me furious, sad, hopeless, you name it.
Personally, I hold anyone who voted for Bush-Cheney to be responsible for the above, I'm sure there are many guilty parties right on this forum. Plenty of them now admit it was a mistake to vote for these creeps and STILL ready themselves to vote for a Republican again!!:mad: YOU ARE NOT VOTING FOR TWO MEN, YOU ARE VOTING FOR AN ENTIRE WICKED cabal !!!!
I have erased from my social circle people who brought this upon us (any non-repentant Republican basically). All people who continue to support Republicans are the lowlife of this Earth. You shall reap what you sow.
New York is going down the toilet with the rest of this country. Is my future retirement home in Crete ready for me yet? Soon it'll be time to abandon this sinking ship. Unless none of us can escape at that point because the dollar has sunk to the value of the paper it's printed on.
I'm hugely pissed off after seeing all of that Constitutional wreckage in one list, forgive my tirade.

Excuse me while I go to Duane Reade to choose between 10 flavors of Snapple so I can remind myself how much freedom I enjoy in this country.:rolleyes:

December 22nd, 2007, 05:25 PM
You can take heart in that the present time is not unique in American history.

December 23, 2007

Hoover Planned Mass Jailing in 1950


A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.

Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons.

Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau.

The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote.

“In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” it said.

Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has been a fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush administration’s decision to hold suspects for years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has made habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress and the Supreme Court today.

The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the F.B.I. from 1924 to 1972, stretched that clause to include “threatened invasion” or “attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory.”

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush issued an order that effectively allowed the United States to hold suspects indefinitely without a hearing, a lawyer, or formal charges. In September 2006, Congress passed a law suspending habeas corpus for anyone deemed an “unlawful enemy combatant.”

But the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of American citizens to seek a writ of habeas corpus. This month the court heard arguments on whether about 300 foreigners held at Guantánamo Bay had the same rights. It is expected to rule by next summer.

Hoover’s plan was declassified Friday as part of a collection of cold-war documents concerning intelligence issues from 1950 to 1955. The collection makes up a new volume of “The Foreign Relations of the United States,” a series that by law has been published continuously by the State Department since the Civil War.

Hoover’s plan called for “the permanent detention” of the roughly 12,000 suspects at military bases as well as in federal prisons. The F.B.I., he said, had found that the arrests it proposed in New York and California would cause the prisons there to overflow.

So the bureau had arranged for “detention in military facilities of the individuals apprehended” in those states, he wrote.

The prisoners eventually would have had a right to a hearing under the Hoover plan. The hearing board would have been a panel made up of one judge and two citizens. But the hearings “will not be bound by the rules of evidence,” his letter noted.

The only modern precedent for Hoover’s plan was the Palmer Raids of 1920, named after the attorney general at the time. The raids, executed in large part by Hoover’s intelligence division, swept up thousands of people suspected of being communists and radicals.

Previously declassified documents show that the F.B.I.’s “security index” of suspect Americans predated the cold war. In March 1946, Hoover sought the authority to detain Americans “who might be dangerous” if the United States went to war. In August 1948, Attorney General Tom Clark gave the F.B.I. the power to make a master list of such people.

Hoover’s July 1950 letter was addressed to Sidney W. Souers, who had served as the first director of central intelligence and was then a special national-security assistant to Truman. The plan also was sent to the executive secretary of the National Security Council, whose members were the president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and the military chiefs.

In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law authorizing the detention of “dangerous radicals” if the president declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

December 22nd, 2007, 10:08 PM
Why did it take 50 + years for this info about Hoover's plan to be de-classified? That old Pile of Secrecy has been dead for 30+ years.

Hoover’s plan was declassified Friday as part of a collection of cold-war documents concerning intelligence issues from 1950 to 1955. The collection makes up a new volume of “The Foreign Relations of the United States,” a series that by law has been published continuously by the State Department since the Civil War.

December 24th, 2007, 04:02 PM
In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law authorizing the detention of “dangerous radicals” if the president declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal.

Does this mean the law is still on the books? :eek:

Does this mean that the next time an Iraqi launches an RPG into the green zone Bush can round up any radicals in the FBI database?

December 24th, 2007, 04:31 PM
I don't know if the particular law is still in effect, but the general term is state of exception.

A lengthy paper that might have the answer:


It's Christmas Eve; I only skimmed through it.

December 24th, 2007, 07:03 PM

By William J. Haddad, Executive Director of the Arab-American Bar Association of Illinois

Presentation (http://www.arabbar.org/art-sept11impact.asp): American Immigration Law Foundation - Immigration Policy Center Forum
Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Chicago Bar Association

(Scroll down through about 3/4 of the linked webpage to get to ...)

Ashcroft's "Citizen Camps"

On August 8, 2002 the Wall Street Journal broke a story that Attorney General John Ashcroft had announced a desire to establish camps for United States citizens who he deems to be "enemy combatants". (See reports in LA Times, Turley, 8/14/02; Wall Street Journal, 8/8/02; CNN.com, Findlaw, Prof. A. Ramasastry - Washington Law School; and R. Goldstein, Internment Camps, 8/26/02) Internees in these special camps will be treated just as Padilla and Hamdi have been so far -- as if they did not possess the basic, traditional rights that can be invoked by U.S. citizens suspected of crimes. (CNN.com, Findlaw, A. Ramasastry, 9/4/02) Jonathon Turley, a constitutional law expert from George Washington University, commented on Ashcroft's plan:

Few would have imagined any attorney general seeking to reestablish such camps for citizens. Of course, Ashcroft is not considering camps on the order of the internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese American citizens in World War II. But he can be credited only with thinking smaller. (LA Times, Turley, 8/14/02)

Such a policy raises questions of who qualifies as an "enemy combatant" and who decides. How will the line be drawn? Would speech be suspect? Can the government eavesdrop upon those who speak in support of Al Qaeda, or those who criticize government policy in the Middle East? Would such speech "render a US citizen vulnerable to summary arrest and indefinite detention?"; Would donations to an Islamic charity suspected of ties to a terrorist organization render one qualified for arrest and detention? (The Monitor, June 12, 2002 - Military Trial for US citizen?)

The question of "who decides?" has been answered by Ashcroft aides who "indicated that a 'high-level committee' [Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency] will recommend which citizens are to be stripped of their constitutional rights and sent to Ashcoft's new camps". (CNN.com, Findlaw, A. Ramasastry, 9/4/02) These camps would be administered under a "parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say." This parallel system would permit "indefinite military detention for those designated enemy combatants". For example, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, armed with new authority under the USA Patriot Act, could approve clandestine searches of the homes of U.S. citizens. Thereupon, the Justice Department under Executive Authority could declare citizens as "enemy combatants, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base". Courts have little authority to question such detentions and the detainee would have little opportunity to contest his detention. (See Washington Post, Terror War, 2nd Track for Suspects, C. Lane, 12/01/02) The Post reports:

Probably the most hotly disputed element of the administration's approach is its contention that the president alone can designate individuals, including U.S. citizens, as enemy combatants, who can be detained [incommunicado] with no access to lawyers or family members unless and until the president determines, in effect, that hostilities between the United States and that individual have ended. (C. Lane, Washington Post, 12/01/02)In defending this scheme in his address to the American Bar Association on August 10, 2002, Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson said:
[W]e have had to think carefully through the treatment of captured enemy combatants - and to think especially hard about U.S. citizens who have taken up arms against their own country ... It is a universal principle of warfare that enemy combatants may be detained outside the criminal justice system for the duration of hostilities. In every war since the founding of the Republic, the United States has detained, without legal recourse, captured enemy combatants - sometimes including U.S. citizens fighting for the enemy.Tim Lynch, Project Director on Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute in Washington states: "The president is asserting the power to take people into custody on US soil outside the judicial process ... We have a fourth Amendment, and the president seems to be saying he can set that aside and take into custody anybody he or the FBI thinks are involved in terrorism".

On August 8, the American Bar Association's "Task Force on Treatment of Enemy Combatants" released a preliminary report inquiring "whether the government can-or should-be able to detain American citizens indefinitely without charges and hold them incommunicado without a hearing and without access to counsel." The Report opposes holding detainees without clear standards defining qualifications for detention, due process and judicial review, and access to counsel.

The Report finds support in a 1971 law, inspired by the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which provides that "no citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United Sates except pursuant to an Act of Congress." (18 USC 4001 (a)) The 1971 law effectively repealed the 1950 Emergency Detention Act of 1950, a cold war-era statute "that authorized detention camps for "individuals deemed likely to engage in espionage or sabotage." (See ABA Preliminary Report, pgs. 10-11) The ABA Task Force report states that such detentions also violate international law, namely the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides that "everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating ... fundamental rights" and that no one "shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

The Justice Department contends that the 1971 law does not apply to the Chief Executive who has sole authority to establish citizen camps for enemy combatants without legislative intervention. The Supreme Court may be unwilling to challenge this use of executive power in light of it holding in Korematsu v. United States, 321 U.S. 760 (1944), wherein it held that an executive order for the "civil exclusion" of all persons of "Japanese ancestry" in time of war with Japan was constitutional, regardless that it resulted in the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans.

December 24th, 2007, 08:05 PM
Some say that the President / Executive Branch can do anything and everything in order to preserve the Security of the Nation. The USA PATRIOT Act [short for "The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (“USA PATRIOT”) Act of 2001] is so broad that theoretically Congress has given the President carte blanche to do just about anything with anyone who could be deemed dangerous. But the Supreme Court has been pushing back.

More on the 1950 law ...

McCarran Internal Security Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarran_Internal_Security_Act)

The Internal Security Act (also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act, McCarran Act or ISA) of 1950 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950) is a United States federal law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_law) that required the registration of Communist organizations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_registration) with the Attorney General (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attorney_General) in the United States (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States) and established the Subversive Activities Control Board (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subversive_Activities_Control_Board) to investigate persons thought to be engaged in "un-American" activities. Members of these groups could not become citizens. Citizen-members could be denaturalized in five years.

It was a key institution in the era of the Cold War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War), tightening alien exclusion and deportation laws and allowing for the detention of dangerous, disloyal, or subversive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subversion_%28political%29) persons in times of war or "internal security emergency". The Democratic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Democratic_Party) Congress overrode President Harry S. Truman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_S._Truman)'s veto to pass this bill. Truman called the bill "the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_and_Sedition_Acts)."

Sections of the ISA were gradually ruled unconstitutional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconstitutional) by the Supreme Court (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States).

Much of the Act has been repealed, but some portions remain intact. For example, violation of Section 797 of Title 50, United States Code (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Code) (Section 21 of "the Internal Security Act of 1950"), which concerns security of military bases and other sensitive installations, may be punishable by a prison term of up to one year.

THE McCARRAN INTERNAL SECURITY ACT OF 1950 (http://www.rosenbergtrial.org/docmcaran.html)

(exerpt and summary)
Section 1.

(a) This title may be cited as the "Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950."

(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize, require, or establish military or civilian censorship or in any way to limit or infringe upon freedom of the press or of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and no regulation shall be promulgated hereunder having that effect.

The Emergency Detention Act of 1950


Short Title

Section 100. This title may be cited as the "Emergency Detention Act of 1950."

[Section 101 contains findings of fact similar to those made in Title I, with certain omissions and additions.]

Section 102. (a) In the event of any one of the following:

(1) Invasion of the territory of the United States or its possessions,

(2) Declaration of war by Congress, or

(3) Insurrection within the United States in aid of a foreign enemy, and if, upon the occurrence of one or more of the above, the President shall find that the proclamation of an emergency pursuant to this section is essential to the preservation, protection and defense of the Constitution, and to the common defense and safety of the territory and people of the United States, the President is authorized to make public proclamation of the existence of an "Internal Security Emergency."
(b) A state of "Internal Security Emergency" (hereinafter referred to as the "emergency") so declared shall continue in existence until terminated by proclamation of the President or by concurrent resolution of the Congress.

Section 103. (a) Whenever there shall be in existence such an emergency, the President, acting through the Attorney General, is hereby authorized to apprehend and by order detain, pursuant to the provisions of this title, each person as to whom there is reasonable ground to believe that such person probably will engage in, or probably will conspire with others to engage in, acts of espionage or of sabotage.

(b) Any person detained hereunder (hereinafter referred to as "the detainee'') shall be released from such emergency detention upon--
(1) the termination of such emergency by proclamation of the President or by concurrent resolution of the Congress;

(2) an order of release by the Attorney General;

(3) a final order of release after hearing by the Board of Detention Review, hereinafter established;

(4) a final order of release by a United States court, after review of the action of the Board of Detention Review, or upon a writ of habeas corpus.
[Sections 104 to 111 provide the procedure for apprehension and detention. Any person apprehended has a right to a preliminary hearing before a hearing officer appointed by the President. "Such person may introduce evidence in his own behalf, and may cross-examine witnesses against him, except that the Attorney General or his representative shall not be required to furnish information the revelation of which would disclose the identity or evidence of Government agents or officers which he believes it would be dangerous to national safety and security to divulge." Thereafter the detainee may appeal to the Board of Detention Review, consisting of nine members appointed by the President, and from there to the Court of Appeals and, by certiorari, to the Supreme Court. Section 112 establishes criminal penalties for resisting or evading apprehension or advising or assisting others to do so.]

Statement on Signing Bill (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=3158)
Repealing the Emergency Detention Act of 1950.

President Richard Nixon
September 25th, 1971

I HAVE today signed into law a measure recently enacted by the Congress repealing the Emergency Detention Act of 1950. This repeal legislation was wholeheartedly supported by this Administration.

The Emergency Detention Act was enacted as title II of the Internal Security Act of 1950. Among its provisions, it established procedures for the apprehension and detention, during internal security emergencies, of individuals likely to engage in acts of espionage or sabotage.

No President has ever attempted to use the provisions of this act. And while six detention camps were established and funded by the Congress, none of them was ever used for the purposes of this legislation. In fact, all six camps have been abandoned or used for other purposes since 1957.

Nevertheless, the mere continued existence of these legal provisions has aroused concern among many Americans that the act might someday be used to apprehend and detain citizens who hold unpopular views. Some have feared that it might someday be used to permit a situation comparable to the detention of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. I have supported and signed this repeal in order to put an end to such suspicions. In taking this action, I want to underscore this Nation's abiding respect for the liberty of the individual. Our democracy is built upon the constitutional guarantee that every citizen will be afforded due process of law. There is no place in American life for the kind of anxiety--however unwarranted--which the Emergency Detention Act has evidently engendered.

This strong country has no reason to fear that the normal processes of law-together with those special emergency powers which the Constitution grants to the Chief Executive--will be inadequate to deal with any situation, no matter how grave, that may arise in the future. But we do have a great deal to fear if we begin to lose faith in our constitutional ideals. The legislation I have signed today keeps faith with those ideals.

© 1999-2008 - Gerhard Peters - The American Presidency Project

December 26th, 2007, 01:05 AM
Maybe this is why we've never had a formal declaration of war by Congress since World War II.

December 26th, 2007, 08:29 AM

Vital Presidential Power
By William Kristol and Gary Schmitt
Washington Post
Tuesday, December 20, 2005; Page A31 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/19/AR2005121901027.html)

Of course, their argument is not that the president has the inherent power to authorize domestic surveillance anytime he wants, only that he has that power during wartime. And as near as I can tell, that's the elephant in the room that no one is really very anxious to discuss: What is "wartime"? Is George Bush really a "wartime president," as he's so fond of calling himself? Conservatives take it for granted that he is, while liberals tend to avoid the subject entirely for fear of being thought unserious about the War on Terror. But it's something that ought be brought up and discussed openly.

December 26th, 2007, 09:19 AM
But with the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act it seems that the President now has similar -- or wider -- detention powers than what were outlined under the McCarran Internal Security Act (powers which would require a Declaration of War by Congress before they went into effect).

The wider Presidential powers stance certainly seems to be the position taken by the upper levels of the Department of Justice. The entire Executive Branch behaves as if they need not confer with any other Branch on this subject.

December 26th, 2007, 09:46 AM
you're all a bunch of wackos....show me a single instance of a innocent american not involved in jihad detained by Bush...show me ONE....oh that's right you can't because you're all a bunch of liberal scum who don't deserve to live in this great country of ours instead you wan't your igaliterian utopia where President nor the federal govmnt has any powers AT ALL...to do anything you're all saying anarchy is the best ....

go off yourselves scum...

mary xmas!

(this was a joke post dont get all your panties in a bunch :D)

December 26th, 2007, 10:12 AM
Erwin Chemerinsky on Executive Power and the War on Terror
UC Davis - Mar 20, 2006 - 59 min 3 sec (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2600108626470830478)

December 31st, 2007, 02:05 AM
US Seen Internationally as “Endemic Surveillance Society.”

In the recently released annual survey of worldwide privacy rights (http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-347-559597) by Privacy International and EPIC, the United States has been downgraded from “Extensive Surveillance Society” to “Endemic Surveillance Society.” As Glenn Greenwald notes (http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-347-559597), this is “the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia.” In general, “the 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world (http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-347-559597), reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance of privacy safeguards.”


December 31st, 2007, 07:55 AM
December 31, 2007

Looking at America

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

January 18th, 2008, 05:43 PM
Institutionalized Spying on Americans
Homeland Security's National Applications Office (NAO)

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7824), January 17, 2008

This article reviews two police state tools (among many in use) in America. One is new, undiscussed and largely unknown to the public. The other was covered in a December article by this writer called Police State America. Here it is updated with new information.

The National Applications Office (NAO)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established a new domestic spying operation in 2007 called the National Applications Office (NAO) and described it as "the executive agent to facilitate the use of intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland security and law enforcement purposes within the United States." The office was to begin operating last fall to "build on the long-standing work of the Civil Applications Committee (CAC), which was created in 1974 to facilitate the use of the capabilities of the intelligence community for civil, non-defense uses in the United States."

With or without congressional authorization or oversight, the executive branch is in charge and will let NAO use state-of-the-art technology, including military satellite imagery, to spy on Americans without their knowledge. Implementation is delayed, however, after Committee on Homeland Security Chairman, Bennie Thompson, and other committee members raised questions of "very serious privacy and civil liberties concerns." In response, DHS agreed to delay operating (officially) until all matters are addressed and resolved.

Given its track record post-9/11, expect little more than pro forma posturing before Congress signs off on what Kate Martin, the director of the Center for National Security Studies, calls "Big Brother in the Sky" and a "police state" in the offing.

DHS supplies this background information on NAO. Post-9/11, the Director of National Intelligence appointed an Independent Study Group (ISG) in May, 2005 to "review the current operation and future role of the (1974) Civil Applications Committee and study the current state of Intelligence Community support to homeland security and law enforcement entities."

In September 2005, the Committee produced a "Blue Ribbon Study," now declassified. Its nine members were headed by and included three Booz Allen Hamilton officials because of the company's expertise in spying and intelligence gathering. Its other members have similar experience. They all have a vested interest in domestic spying because the business potential is huge for defense related industries and consultants.

ISG members included:

Keith Hall, Chairman
Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

Edward G. Anderson
LTG US Army (Ret),
Principal, Booz Allen Hamilton

Thomas W. Conroy
Vice President
National Security Programs
Northrop Grumman/TASC

Patrick M. Hughes
LTG US Army (Ret)
Vice President, Homeland Security
L-3 Communications

Kevin O'Connell
Director of Defense Group Incorporated (DGI)
Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis (CIRA)

CIRA is a think tank that calls itself "the premier open source and cultural intelligence exploitation cell for the US intelligence community." Its business is revolutionizing intelligence analysis.

Jeff Baxter
Independent Defense Consultant with DOD and industry ties

Dr. Paul Gilman
Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
US Department of Energy

Kemp Lear
Booz Allen Hamilton, and

Joseph D. Whitley, Esq
Alston & Bird LLP, Government Investigations and Compliance Group, former Acting Associate Attorney General in GHW Bush administration, and former General Counsel for DHS under GW Bush

The ISG's report produced 11 significant findings and 27 recommendations based on its conclusion that there's "an urgent need for action because opportunities to better protect the nation are being missed." It "concluded a new management and process model (is) needed to effectively employ IC (Intelligence Community) capabilities for domestic uses."

In March 2006, DHS unveiled the new agency to implement ISG's recommendations called the National Applications Office. In May, 2007, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Michael McConnell, named DHS as its executive agent and functional manager. At least in principle according to DHS, Congress agreed with this approach and to provide funding for it, beginning in the fall of 2007.

The public knew nothing about this until a feature August 15, 2007 Wall Street Journal story broke the news. It was headlined "US to Expand Use of Spy Satellites." It noted that for the first time the nation's top intelligence official (DNI's McConnell) "greatly expanded the range of federal and local (civilian law enforcement agencies that) can get access to" military spy satellite collected information. Until now, civilian use was restricted to agencies like NASA and the US Geological Survey, and only for scientific and environmental study.

The Journal explained that key objectives under new guidelines will be:

-- border security,

-- securing critical infrastructure and helping emergency responders after natural disasters,

-- working with criminal and civil federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and

-- unmentioned by the Journal, the ability to spy on anyone, anywhere, anytime domestically for any reason - an unprecedented act using state-of-the-art technology enabling real-time, high-resolution images and data from space.
NAO will also oversee classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and other US agencies involved in dealing with all aspects of national security, including "terrorism."

NSA was established in 1952, is super-secret, and for many years was never revealed to exist. Today, its capabilities are awesome and worrisome. It eavesdrops globally, mines a vast amount of data, and does it through a network of spy satellites, listening posts, and surveillance planes to monitor virtually all electronic communications from landline and cell phones, telegrams, emails, faxes, radio and television, data bases of all kinds and the internet.

NGA is new and began operating in 2003. It lets military and intelligence analysts monitor virtually anything or anyone from state-of-the-art spy satellites. Both NSA and NGA coordinate jointly with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) that designs, builds and operates military spy satellites. It also analyzes military and CIA-collected aircraft and satellite reconnaissance information.

Combined with warrantless wiretapping, pervasive spying of all kinds, the abandonment of the law and checks and balances, intense secrecy, and an array of repressive post-9/11 legislation, Executive Orders and National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directives, NAO is another national security police state tool any despot would love. It's now established and may be operating without congressional approval.

Using spy satellites domestically "is largely uncharted territory," as the Wall Street Journal noted. Even its architects admit there's no clarity on this, and the ISG's report stated "There is little if any policy, guidance or procedures regarding the collection, exploitation and dissemination of domestic MASINT (Measurement and Signatures Intelligence)."

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is the main DOD spy agency. It manages MASINT that's ultra-secret and sophisticated. It uses state-of-the-art radar, lasers, infrared sensors, electromagnetic data and other technologies that can detect chemicals, electro-magnetic activity, whether a nuclear power plant produces plutonium, and the type vehicle from its exhaust. It can also see under bridges, through clouds, forest canopies and even concrete to create images and collect data. In addition, it can detect people, activity and weapons that satellites and photo-reconnaissance aircraft miss, so it's an invaluable spy tool but highly intrusive and up to now only for military and foreign intelligence work.

Further, military spy satellites are state-of-the-art and superior to civilian ones. They record in color as well as black and white, use different parts of the light spectrum to track human activities and ground movements and can detect chemical weapons traces and people-generated heat in buildings.

This much we know about them. Their full potential is top secret and available only to the military and intelligence community. The Journal quoted an alarmed Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel and director of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology, that advocates for digital age privacy rights saying: "Not only is the surveillance they are contemplating intrusive and omnipresent, it's also invisible. And that's what makes this so dangerous."

Anyone for any reason may be watched at all times (through walls) with no way to know it, but a June 2001 (before 9/11) Supreme Court decision offers hope. In Kyllo v. United States, the Court ruled for petitioner 5 to 4 (with Scalia and Thomas in the majority). It voided a conviction based on police use of thermal imaging to detect heat in his triplex to determine if an illegal drug was being grown, in this case marijuana.

The Court held: "Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of a private home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a Fourth Amendment 'search," and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant....To withdraw protection of this minimum expectation would be to permit police technology to erode the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment" protecting against "unreasonable searches and seizures."

In 1981, Ronald Reagan seemed to agree in Executive Order 12333 on United States Intelligence Activities. It bars the intelligence community from most forms of home eavesdropping while providing wide latitude to all government agencies to "provide the President and the National Security Council with the necessary information (needed to) conduct....foreign, defense and economic policy (and protect US) national interests from foreign security threats. (Collecting this information is to be done, however,) consistent with the Constitution and applicable law...."

That was then, and this is now. It's hard imagining congressional concern or DHS meaning that NAO will "prioritize the protection of privacy and civil liberties" and citing the Reagan Executive Order and the 1974 Privacy Act. That law mandates that no government agency "shall disclose any record (or) system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains." The Privacy act requires the US government to maintain an administrative and physical security system to prevent the unauthorized release of personal records.

Post-9/11, the Patriot Act ended that protection, so DHS is shameless saying NAO must comply with civil liberties and privacy laws and be subject to "oversight by the DHS Inspector General, Chief Privacy Officer, and the Officer for Civil Rights and Liberties" plus additional oversight. No longer post-9/11 when the national security state got repressive new tools to erode the constitution, ignore democratic principles, and give the President unrestricted powers in the name of national security. NAO is the latest one watching us as our "Big Brother in the Sky." Orwell would be proud.

Real ID Act Update - Another Intrusive Police State Tool

The Read ID Act of 2005 required states to meet federal ID standards by May, 2008. That's now changed because 29 states passed or introduced laws that refuse to comply. They call the Act costly to administer, a bureaucratic nightmare, and New Hampshire said it's "repugnant" and violates the state and US Constitutions.

The federal law mandates that every US citizen and legal resident have a national ID card that in most cases is a driver's license meeting federal standards. It requires it to contain an individual's personal information and makes one mandatory to open a bank account, board an airplane, be able to vote, get a job, enter a federal building, or conduct virtually all essential business requiring identification.

States balked, and that doomed the original version. On January 11, changes were unveiled when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued binding new rules. Under them, states have until 2011 to comply (instead of 2008), until 2014 to issue "tamper-proof licenses" to drivers born after 1964, and until 2017 for those born before this date. DHS said the original law would cost states $14 billion. The new regulations with an extended phase-in cuts the amount to around $3.9 billion or $8 per license.

These numbers may be bogus, however, the true costs may be far higher, and that's why the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) is lobbying for Real ID's passage. Its members include high-tech card makers like Digimarc and Northrup Grumman and data brokers like Choicepoint and LexisNexis that profit by selling personal information to advertisers and the government.

Under new DHS rules, licenses must include a digital photo taken at the beginning of the application process and a filament or other security device to prevent counterfeiting. They must also have three layers of security that states can select from a DHS menu. In addition, states must begin checking license applicants' Social Security and immigration status over the next year.

As of now, a controversial radio frequency identification (RFID) technology microchip isn't required. It may come later, however, and here's the problem. It'll let cardholder movements and activities be tracked everywhere, at all times - in other words, a police state dream along with other pervasive spying tools.

Even worse would be mandating human RFID chip implants. It's not planned so far (but not ruled out), and three states (California, Wisconsin and North Dakota) preemptively banned the practice without recipients' consent.

Think it can't happen? Consider a January 13 article in the London Independent headlined "Prisoners 'to be chipped like dogs.' " The article states that civil rights groups and probation officers are furious that "hi-tech 'satellite'.... machine-readable (microchip) tagging (is) planned (for thousands of offenders) to create more space in jails." Unlike ankle bracelets now sometimes used, tiny RFID chips would be surgically implanted for monitoring the way they're currently used for dogs, cats, cattle and luggage. They're more reliable, it's believed, as current devices can be tampered with or removed.

Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), was quoted saying: "We have looked at....the practicalities and the ethics (and we concluded) its time has come." The UK currently has the largest prison population per capita in western Europe. It sounds like authorities plan to expand it using fewer cells. It also sounds like a scheme to tag everyone after testing them first on prisoners. And consider the possibilities. RFID technology is advancing, and one company plans deeper implants that can vibrate, emit electroshocks, broadcast a message to the implantee, and/or be a hidden microphone to transmit conversations. It's not science fiction, and what's planned for the UK will likely come to America. In fact, it's already here.

In 2004, the FDA approved a grain-of-rice sized, antenna-containing VeriChip for human implantation that allows vital information to be read when a person's body is scanned. The company states on its web site that it's "the world's first and only patented, FDA-cleared, human-implantable RFID microchip....with skin-sensing capabilities." Reportedly, about 2000 test subjects now have them, but it may signal mandatory implantation ahead. Consider for whom for starters - prisoners, military personnel and possibly anyone seeking employment. After them, maybe everyone in a brave new global surveillance world.

It gets worse. Katherine Albrecht authored a report called "Microchip-Cancer Report - Microchip-Induced Tumors in Laboratory Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature 1990-2006." After reading it, Dr. Robert Benezra, Director Cancer Biology, Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said: "There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members. Given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."

Albrecht's report evaluated 11 previously published toxicology and pathology studies. In six of them, up to 10.2% of rats and mice developed malignant tumors (typically sarcomas) where microchips were implanted. Two others reported the same findings for dogs. These tumors spread fast and "often led to the death of the afflicted animals. In many cases, the tumors metastasized and spread to other parts of the animals. The implants were unequivocally identified as the cause of the cancers."

Report reviews, conclusions and recommendations were to immediately stop further human implantations, inform people with them of the dangers, offer a microchip removal procedure, and reverse all animal microchipping mandates.

Debate Ahead on New DHS ID Rules

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said new ID rules require states to verify each cardholder's personal information (including a person's legal status in the country) by matching it against federal Social Security and passport databases and/or comparable state ones.

States have time to adjust, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy wasted no time saying he'll recommend legislation to ban Real ID drivers' license provisions because "so many Americans oppose" them. They're intrusive, burdensome, and federal databases are full of false or out-of-date information that's hard to disprove, but unless it is Americans will be denied their legal right to a driver's license.

The ACLU also strongly opposes Real ID because it violates privacy, lets government agencies share data, and its "tortured remains" represent an "utterly unworkable" system that will "irreparably damage the fabric of American life." An ACLU January 11 press release further states that DHS "dumped the problems of the statute on future presidents like a rotting corpse left on (its) steps (and) whoever is president in 2018." Congress must "recognize the situation and take action." The Real ID Act and new DHS rules must be "repealed and replaced with a clean, simple, and vigorous new driver's license security law that does not create a national ID" or violate Americans' privacy.

Futuristic Hi-Tech Profiling

On January 14, Computerworld online revealed more cause for concern in an article called "Big Brother Really is Watching." It's about DHS "bankrolling futuristic profiling technology...." for its Project Hostile Intent. It, in turn, is part of a broader initiative called the Future Attribute Screening Technologies Mobile Module. It's to be a self-contained, automated screening system that's portable and easy to implement, and DHS hopes to test it at airports in 2010 and deploy it (if it works) by 2012 at airports, border checkpoints, other points of entry and other security-related areas.

Here's the problem. If developed (reliable or not), these devices will use video, audio, laser and infrared sensors to feed real-time data into a computer using "specially developed algorithms" to identify "suspicious people." It would work (in theory) by interpreting gestures, facial expressions and speech variations as well as measure body temperature, heart and respiration rate, blood pressure, skin moisture, and other physiological characteristics.

The idea would be detect deception and identify suspicious people for aggressive interrogation, searches and even arrest. But consider what's coming. If developed, the technology may be used anywhere by government or the private sector for airport or other checkpoint security, buildings, job interviews, employee screening, buying insurance or conducting any other type essential business.

Aside from Fourth Amendment issues, here's the problem according to Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at security consultant BT Counterpane: "It's a good idea fraught with difficulties....don't hold your breath" it will work, and a better idea is to focus on detecting suspicious objects. Schneier further compares the technology to lie detectors that rely on "fake technology" and only work in films. They're used because people want them although it's acknowledged, even when well-administered, their median accuracy percentage is 50% at best.

This technology is worse, it may never be reliable, but may be deployed anyway in the age of "terror." Something to consider next time we blink going through airport security, and ACLU Technology and Liberty Project director Barry Steinhardt states the concern: "We are not going to catch any terrorists (with it), but a lot of innocent people, especially racial and ethnic minorities, are going to be trapped in a web of suspicion." Even so, DHS spent billions on this and other screening tools post-9/11. Expect lots more ahead, and here's the bottom line:

As things now stand, Washington, post-9/11, suspended constitutional protections in the name of national security and suppressed our civil liberties for our own good. This article reviewed their newest tools and wonders what's next. This writer called it Police State America in December that won't change with a new White House occupant in 2009 unless organized resistance stops it. Complacency is unthinkable, and unless we act, we'll deserve Aleksandr Herzen's curse of another era - to be the "disease," not the "doctors."

Stephen Lendman is Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com.

January 19th, 2008, 01:11 PM
Gallery: Spy Gear and Police Tech at Homeland Security Conference (http://www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/multimedia/2008/01/gallery_homeland_security)

As one commenter remarks:

Ooooo, fascism tech. The Fourth Reich marches onward.

January 20th, 2008, 02:22 AM
January 20, 2008

Canada to Rewrite Manual Linking U.S. and Torture

By IAN AUSTEN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/ian_austen/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

OTTAWA — The Canadian minister of foreign affairs, Maxime Bernier, said Saturday that he had ordered officials to rewrite an internal government manual that listed the United States among countries that potentially torture or abuse prisoners.

“I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department’s torture awareness training,” Mr. Bernier said in a statement. “It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten.”

The United States government has repeatedly said that it does not torture prisoners, an assurance that has been accepted by Canada (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/canada/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)’s Conservative government.

Although the Department of Foreign Affairs would not specify which countries would be removed from the list, the United States is a close ally and had complained to Canada about its inclusion.

The 89-page PowerPoint presentation now under review is used to train diplomats on how to detect and handle cases involving the torture of Canadians held by other countries. It became public after being turned over last week to Amnesty International (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/amnesty_international/index.html?inline=nyt-org) Canada as part of a lawsuit.

The document includes the United States on a list of nations under the heading: “Possible Torture/Abuse Cases.” Another slide, titled “Definition of Torture,” lists six “U.S. interrogation techniques” that it describes as nonphysical, including blindfolding, covering heads in hoods, forced nudity and sleep deprivation.

The presentation concludes, “All of the above have the same long-term effects as physical torture.”

It was not clear from Mr. Bernier’s statement if the rewriting of the manual would remove all references to the United States or any other nation. When asked if that would be the case, Neil Hrab, a spokesman for Mr. Bernier, replied in an e-mail message: “The statement speaks for itself. The manual is being reviewed and rewritten.”

Other countries identified in the document include Afghanistan, Israel, China, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The American military base and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is included on the list separately from the United States.

Afghanistan is included on the list although the Canadian government says that prisoners turned over to the Afghan government by Canadian troops are not ill treated or tortured in violation of Canadian laws.

Amnesty International’s lawsuit is an attempt to end those handovers.

The current Canadian government has rejected calls from human rights groups to ask the United States to return the one Canadian currently held at Guantánamo Bay. Other allies of the United States have asked for their citizens to be returned.

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

January 23rd, 2008, 10:53 PM
Cheney wants surveillance law expanded

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jan 23, 3:34 PM ET (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080123/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cheney_terrorist_surveillance)

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney prodded Congress on Wednesday to extend and broaden an expiring surveillance law (http://www.cfr.org/publication/13982/), saying "fighting the war on terror is a long-term enterprise" that should not come with an expiration date.

"We're reminding Congress that they must act now," Cheney told the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The law (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/31203res20070807.html), which authorizes the administration to eavesdrop on phone calls and see the e-mail to and from suspected terrorists, expires on Feb. 1. Congress is bickering over terms of its extension.

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to extend the stopgap Protect America Act (http://www.protectamericaact.com/) without expanding it, raising stakes for an expected showdown in the Senate later this week on a new version of the law.

"This cause is bigger than the quarrels of party and the agendas of politicians," Cheney said. "And if we in Washington, all of us, can only see our way clear to work together, then the outcome should not be in doubt."

Congress hastily adopted the stopgap act (http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20070810.html) last summer in the face of warnings from the administration about dangerous gaps in the government's ability to gather intelligence in the Internet age (http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/analysis-new-la.html).

Administration allies in Congress not only want the expiring law (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/08/20070806-5.html) made permanent but amended to give telephone companies and other communications providers immunity from being sued for helping the government eavesdropping and other intelligence-gathering efforts.

Cheney said such providers "face dozens of lawsuits."

"The intelligence community doesn't have the facilities to carry out the kind of international surveillance needed to defend this country since 9-11. In some situations, there is no alternative to seeking assistance from the private sector. This is entirely appropriate," Cheney said.

At the White House, press secretary Dana Perino (http://www.democraticcentral.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=1245) defended the proposal to protect phone companies from liability. "These are companies who helped their country right after 9-11," she said. She also criticized Democratic plans for a one-month extension of the current law. "Look, there's been six months to hash out the differences. Actually, there's been a whole year-and-a-half worth ... And there was robust debate, a hearty debate (http://balkin.blogspot.com/2007/08/senate-passes-administration-bill.html) back in August when we got the bill that we have now."

At the heart of the controversy is whether the government's wireless surveillance program violated provisions of the original FISA law that requires warrants for wiretaps whenever one of the parties involved in the communication resides in the United States.

Cheney also said the administration "feels strongly that an updated FISA law should be made permanent, not merely extended again. ... There is no sound reason to pass critical legislation like the Protect America Act (http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/) and slap an expiration date on it."

Reid plans to bring (http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/392-The-FISA-Debate-It-s-Not-Just-About-Immunity) to the Senate floor on Thursday competing versions (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s2248/show) of the legislation.

If a bill is not approved then, Reid said he would require the Senate to work through the weekend to get a bill passed.

The original FISA law requires the government to get permission from a special court to listen in on the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States. Changes in communications technology mean many purely foreign to foreign communications now pass through the United States and therefore require the government to get court orders to intercept them.

The Protect America Act (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/31496leg20070829.html), adopted in August, eased that restriction. Privacy and civil liberties advocates say it went too far (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/10/3089/), giving the government far more power to eavesdrop on American communications without court oversight.

January 25th, 2008, 05:38 AM
Interesting how governments on both side of the pond are seeking to expand their "war on terror" laws - just a coincidence? So much for our basic rights and freedoms that have been fought for long and hard over many centuries and that are now being taken from us under the guise of "fighting terror."

In Britain the 28 days already in place has never been needed yet they are pushing to increase the holding-without-charge time up to 42 days, soon they'll be pushing for what they originally wanted, 96 days!

Magna Carta, a landmark in British legal history says in Article 39: "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him except upon the lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land."


Government wants to hold terror suspects 42 days

24/01/2008 21:01 By Tim Castle LONDON (Reuters)

The government has published its proposals on extending pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects to a possible 42 days, saying it was confident it would be able to turn the controversial measure into law.

The plan to raise by two weeks the maximum period that suspects can be held without charge in an emergency forms a key plank of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's legislative agenda for this year.

But Brown risks a damaging defeat in parliament unless he can convince Labour rebels to back the move.

Opposition parties have said they will vote against the plans, detailed in the government's Counter Terrorism Bill.

A proposal to increase pre-charge detention to 90 days led to Tony Blair's first defeat in the House of Commons in November 2005 as many Labour MPs rebelled before compromising on the current 28-day maximum.

This time round, a rebellion by just 34 Labour MPs would be enough to defeat the bill when it is debated later this year.
A newspaper poll last month found that at least 38 were prepared to vote against the government on the 42-day extension.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she remained hopeful that opposition parties could be won round to support the bill.
"We have consulted on the measures ... we have listened closely to the representations we have received, we have adopted many of the suggestions that have been made," she said.
"I think that we will get this legislation onto the Statute Book."
Smith said civil liberties would be protected through a system of judicial and parliamentary checks.

Police wanting to detain terrorism suspects longer than 28 days will have to ask the Home Secretary to enforce a temporary reserve power allowing detention up to 42 days.
The order will be subject to parliamentary approval and will in any case expire after 60 days.

Police will still have to apply to a judge to obtain an extension of detention.
Smith said the power to go to 42 days would only be invoked in exceptional circumstances, such as the discovery of multiple terrorism plots.

She said police needed the extra time because of the complexity of terrorism cases, with investigations spanning continents and potentially involving the need to trawl through masses of computer data .

"We are facing an unprecedented threat from terrorism in this country and are determined to take whatever action is necessary to protect the public from future attacks," she said.
"The police and security service are working to deal with over 200 groupings totalling around 2,000 individuals. That is the highest it has ever been."

Shami Chakrabarti of human rights group Liberty said there was no new evidence of the need to go beyond 28 days, which she said was already the longest period in the Western democratic world.

January 30th, 2008, 12:06 PM
Protect America Act, FISA Amendment (0:35 video):
Feingold’s Quick and Easy Guide to FISA (http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/20080129_feingolds_quick_and_easy_guide_to_fisa/)

February 2nd, 2008, 10:57 PM
The New Crime of Thinking

by Gary D. Barnett (gary.barnett@raymondjames.com), February 1, 2008

It looks like the term “thought police” just might take on a whole new and real meaning. This depends on what happens in the U.S. Senate after receiving House bill H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This act (now S-1959 – Senate version) is now being considered by Senate committees and, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, will become law. Common sense would indicate that something this vague and dangerous would not make it out of committee, but considering that the House passed it on October 23 with 404 ayes, 6 nays, and 22 present/not voting, I’m not holding my breath. Of course, Ron Paul was one of the 6 nay votes, but that is to be expected.

The most disturbing aspects of this bill, and there are many, are the definitions noted in Section 899a. The three offenses defined in this document that will warrant prosecution are:

“Violent Radicalization: The term ‘violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

“Homegrown Terrorism: The term ‘homegrown terrorism’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

“Ideologically based violence: The term ‘ideologically based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.”

Besides the fact that this Act would greatly expand an already monstrous bureaucracy (Homeland Security Act of 2002), it is on its very face a threat to all ideological thinking not approved by the state. Any citizen at any given time could be considered a terrorism suspect and accused or prosecuted for “bad” thoughts. Since the very act of thinking could now be considered a crime, how would the populace react to this new paradigm? Would political debate among the citizenry become more subdued? Would watch groups, whether police or private, arise to monitor individual and group conversations? Would speaking out and writing against the government become a dangerous activity?

The language contained in this proposed legislation is not only vague, it is also broad, sweeping, and unclear. The tenebrous and obscure nature of the above definitions is obviously not an accident. The broader the net, the more who are caught; the more who are caught, the more who live in fear of being caught. Ambiguity and fear are mighty deterrents, and ambiguity and fear foster obedience. In this case, unconditional obedience to the mighty state and its many dictates.

In the definition of “violent radicalization,” it is a crime to adopt or promote an extremist belief system to facilitate ideologically based violence. Neither “extremist” nor type of political, religious, or social change is defined. And what about “ideologically” based violence? Is it violence to simply advocate radical change that might lead someone else to initiate violence? Who decides what beliefs are okay and what beliefs are not? The state, of course, is the final decider. The door is left open for interpretation, but for interpretation by government only.

“Homegrown terrorism,” although similarly defined, is notable in that it concentrates strictly on U.S.-born, U.S.-raised, or U.S.-based individuals and groups operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States. The Bush administration has had its problems in the courts at times concerning American citizens and their rights, sometimes setting it and its agenda back. This bill could help alleviate those problems. In addition, to intimidate or coerce the U.S. government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives, is forbidden and considered criminal. Let me repeat; to intimidate the government to further political or social objectives is forbidden. If this is allowed to stand, what does it do to demonstration, protest, petition, and the right to assemble?

Remember, this proposed act is attached to the Homeland Security Act of 2002. This is what gives it the teeth so that the enforcers can pursue and detain those considered guilty of holding or promoting an “extremist” belief system or wishing to advance political, religious, or social change. I use the word “enforcers” because this bill allows for the federal authorities, including intelligence and law enforcement, to use any state or local law-enforcement agencies. In addition, the commission may contract to enable enforcement. Also, “The Commission may request directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this Section.” (Section 899C.) What little privacy still exists will not exist for long with the passage of this bill.

One of the tenets of any totalitarian society is that the citizenry must acquiesce to government control. The state itself is supreme and sovereign, not the people. This has been true throughout history whether it was during Hitler’s, Stalin’s, Mao’s or any other of a number of brutal dictatorial rulers’ reigns. Dissent was stifled, whether it was ideological or physical, and accused parties faced humiliation, incarceration, or death for their unwillingness to conform. Is that where we’re headed?

The newest weapon we have at our disposal in our fight against tyranny is our advanced communication systems, especially the Internet. Reaching untold numbers of persons, something not possible only a few years ago, is now possible because of the Internet. With the mainstream media kowtowing to politicians and government, the Internet has become the major tool for those promoting liberty and truth. It has allowed many brilliant freedom lovers to reach and change minds. Even this has not escaped the watchful eye of Big Brother in this bill. In Section 899B Congress finds the following:

“The internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

This bill, if passed into law, will do nothing less than muffle, if not destroy, our ability to speak out against government. Considering the combination of the USA PATRIOT Act, The Homeland Security Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the now-enhanced executive power, adding this single piece of legislation fills the only loophole left. With the passage of this abominable act, all U.S. citizens are at risk, not just those few radical persons and foreigners spoken about by government, but all of us. This very article could be considered as ideologically based violence, subjecting me to punishment by government. This could be the final piece of the puzzle.

This new proposed legislation will help an already tyrannical government in its effort to become supreme.

Gary D. Barnett [send him mail (gary.barnett@raymondjames.com)] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Missoula, Montana.

Copyright © 2008 Future of Freedom Foundation (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0802a.asp)

February 7th, 2008, 08:23 PM
Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches
U.S. Agents Seize Travelers' Devices

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 7, 2008; A01 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/06/AR2008020604763.html?hpid=topnews)

Nabila Mango, a therapist and a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country since 1965, had just flown in from Jordan last December when, she said, she was detained at customs and her cellphone was taken from her purse. Her daughter, waiting outside San Francisco International Airport, tried repeatedly to call her during the hour and a half she was questioned. But after her phone was returned, Mango saw that records of her daughter's calls had been erased.

A few months earlier in the same airport, a tech engineer returning from a business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his password into his laptop computer. "This laptop doesn't belong to me," he remembers protesting. "It belongs to my company." Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.

Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had "a security concern" with her. "I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight," she said.

The seizure of electronics at U.S. borders has prompted protests from travelers who say they now weigh the risk of traveling with sensitive or personal information on their laptops, cameras or cellphones. In some cases, companies have altered their policies to require employees to safeguard corporate secrets by clearing laptop hard drives before international travel.

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts.

The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background, many of whom, including Mango and the tech engineer, said they are concerned they were singled out because of racial or religious profiling.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman, Lynn Hollinger, said officers do not engage in racial profiling "in any way, shape or form." She said that "it is not CBP's intent to subject travelers to unwarranted scrutiny" and that a laptop may be seized if it contains information possibly tied to terrorism, narcotics smuggling, child pornography or other criminal activity.

The reason for a search is not always made clear. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives, which represents 2,500 business executives in the United States and abroad, said it has tracked complaints from several members, including Udy, whose laptops have been seized and their contents copied before usually being returned days later, said Susan Gurley, executive director of ACTE. Gurley said none of the travelers who have complained to the ACTE raised concerns about racial or ethnic profiling. Gurley said none of the travelers were charged with a crime.

"I was assured that my laptop would be given back to me in 10 or 15 days," said Udy, who continues to fly into and out of the United States. She said the federal agent copied her log-on and password, and asked her to show him a recent document and how she gains access to Microsoft Word. She was asked to pull up her e-mail but could not because of lack of Internet access. With ACTE's help, she pressed for relief. More than a year later, Udy has received neither her laptop nor an explanation.

ACTE last year filed a Freedom of Information Act request to press the government for information on what happens to data seized from laptops and other electronic devices. "Is it destroyed right then and there if the person is in fact just a regular business traveler?" Gurley asked. "People are quite concerned. They don't want proprietary business information floating, not knowing where it has landed or where it is going. It increases the anxiety level."

Udy has changed all her work passwords and no longer banks online. Her company, Radius, has tightened its data policies so that traveling employees must access company information remotely via an encrypted channel, and their laptops must contain no company information.

At least two major global corporations, one American and one Dutch, have told their executives not to carry confidential business material on laptops on overseas trips, Gurley said. In Canada, one law firm has instructed its lawyers to travel to the United States with "blank laptops" whose hard drives contain no data. "We just access our information through the Internet," said Lou Brzezinski, a partner at Blaney McMurtry, a major Toronto law firm. That approach also holds risks, but "those are hacking risks as opposed to search risks," he said.

The U.S. government has argued in a pending court case that its authority to protect the country's border extends to looking at information stored in electronic devices such as laptops without any suspicion of a crime. In border searches, it regards a laptop the same as a suitcase.

"It should not matter . . . whether documents and pictures are kept in 'hard copy' form in an executive's briefcase or stored digitally in a computer. The authority of customs officials to search the former should extend equally to searches of the latter," the government argued in the child pornography case being heard by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

As more and more people travel with laptops, BlackBerrys and cellphones, the government's laptop-equals-suitcase position is raising red flags.

"It's one thing to say it's reasonable for government agents to open your luggage," said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. "It's another thing to say it's reasonable for them to read your mind and everything you have thought over the last year. What a laptop records is as personal as a diary but much more extensive. It records every Web site you have searched. Every e-mail you have sent. It's as if you're crossing the border with your home in your suitcase."

If the government's position on searches of electronic files is upheld, new risks will confront anyone who crosses the border with a laptop or other device, said Mark Rasch, a technology security expert with FTI Consulting and a former federal prosecutor. "Your kid can be arrested because they can't prove the songs they downloaded to their iPod were legally downloaded," he said. "Lawyers run the risk of exposing sensitive information about their client. Trade secrets can be exposed to customs agents with no limit on what they can do with it. Journalists can expose sources, all because they have the audacity to cross an invisible line."

Hollinger said customs officers "are trained to protect confidential information."

Shirin Sinnar, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, said that by scrutinizing the Web sites people search and the phone numbers they've stored on their cellphones, "the government is going well beyond its traditional role of looking for contraband and really is looking into the content of people's thoughts and ideas and their lawful political activities."

If conducted inside the country, such searches would require a warrant and probable cause, legal experts said.

Customs sometimes singles out passengers for extensive questioning and searches based on "information from various systems and specific techniques for selecting passengers," including the Interagency Border Inspection System, according to a statement on the CBP Web site. "CBP officers may, unfortunately, inconvenience law-abiding citizens in order to detect those involved in illicit activities," the statement said. But the factors agents use to single out passengers are not transparent, and travelers generally have little access to the data to see whether there are errors.

Although Customs said it does not profile by race or ethnicity, an officers' training guide states that "it is permissible and indeed advisable to consider an individual's connections to countries that are associated with significant terrorist activity."

"What's the difference between that and targeting people because they are Arab or Muslim?" Cole said, noting that the countries the government focuses on are generally predominantly Arab or Muslim.

It is the lack of clarity about the rules that has confounded travelers and raised concerns from groups such as the Asian Law Caucus, which said that as a result, their lawyers cannot fully advise people how they may exercise their rights during a border search. The lawsuit says a Freedom of Information Act request was filed with Customs last fall but that no information has been received.

Kamran Habib, a software engineer with Cisco Systems, has had his laptop and cellphone searched three times in the past year. Once, in San Francisco, an officer "went through every number and text message on my cellphone and took out my SIM card in the back," said Habib, a permanent U.S. resident. "So now, every time I travel, I basically clean out my phone. It's better for me to keep my colleagues and friends safe than to get them on the list as well."

Udy's company, Radius, organizes business trips for 100,000 travelers a day, from companies around the world. She says her firm supports strong security measures. "Where we get angry is when we don't know what they're for."

Staff researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.

February 12th, 2008, 07:04 PM
Senate Finalizes Their Surveillance Bill, Immunity Intact

February 12, 2008 - by Donny Shaw (http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/420-Senate-Finalizes-Their-Surveillance-Bill-Immunity-Intact)

It was a rough morning in the Senate for those who oppose giving legal immunity to the telecom companies that helped President Bush with his warrantless wiretapping program. For months, the question of granting immunity to the companies, who are currently facing over 40 lawsuits, had been a sticking point (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/02/11/wsj/index.html) in the Senate's work on updating the foreign surveillance law, or FISA. Many Democrats vehemently opposed granting immunity, but President Bush repeatedly stated that he would not sign a FISA bill without it.

But this morning, with the expiration of part of FISA looming on Friday, the Senate once and for all approved the immunity and completed their work on the bill (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s2248/show), jolting it forward towards finally becoming law.

This morning's main immunity vote came on an amendment from Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) to strip the immunity provision from the bill. It was rejected by a vote of 31 (in favor) to 67 (opposed). Just to be clear, a vote opposed to the amendment is tantamount to a vote in favor of immunity. Eighteen Democrats (and one Independent-Democrat) voted for the immunity. Booman lists them here (http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2008/2/12/115245/547).

Several other amendments to the bill were also voted on this morning. One, from Arlen Specter (R-PA), to substitute the United States for the telecom companies in the pending lawsuits, was rejected by a vote of 68-30 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00017). Another, from Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), which would have added a statement to the bill that FISA is the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance and interception of domestic wire, oral and electronic communicatoins may be conducted, was also rejected by a vote of 41-57 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00013). Daily Kos diarist Kagro X (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/2/12/11136/6768/433/455177) writes that by rejecting that amendment the Senate is saying that "they're passing a law, but if a president decides later on that he thinks there's really some other controlling authority besides the law, that's OK."

Russ Feingold's reverse targeting amendment was also rejected (http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00012#position). The amendment would have required the FISA court to approve any surveillance of communications between a U.S. person and a foreign person if a "significant purpose of the surveillance was to listen in on the U.S. person.

The Senate, by voice vote, did adopt one amendment to the bill. That amendment, offered by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) strengthens the FISA court's ability to monitor what the government does with information that is incidentally obtained on a U.S. person during surveillance of a foreign person. Ed Morrissey of the Captain's Quarters blog (http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/016955.php), sees this as a "good and productive compromise." "We need to give the maximum amount of flexibility and responsiveness to our front-line efforts, but we also need to ensure that they follow the rules and do not abuse their power," he wrote.

For more information on other amendments to the FISA bill that were rejected today in the Senate, check out the excellent, rolling coverage at the Senatus blog (http://senatus.wordpress.com/).

The Senate's FISA bill now has to be reconciled with the House's FISA bill (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h3773/show) in a joint conference committee. As CongressDaily ($) explains, it may be tough to get that done by Friday (when part of the current FISA law expires) because there is not a agreement among key House negotiators that telecom immunity should be granted.

The House bill, pushed through by Democrats in the fall, would require the administration to get warrants from the secret FISA court to conduct surveillance against groups of suspected terrorists. And, notably, the House bill would not give the companies retroactive legal immunity. House Democratic leaders and members of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees have been reviewing legal documents underpinning the administration's warrantless surveillance program to determine if the companies should be given immunity.
Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., a key member of the Intelligence Committee, said Monday he is not ready to give the companies immunity, despite having reviewed documents. He said he had not read all the documents available, and is not sure if the administration has provided every document that is needed. "What I can say from the papers I've seen is the surveillance program should not have gone forward as it did," he said. "The legal justifications for it were shallow at best and maybe flat out wrong." Hoyer suggested last week that the issue of immunity could be dealt with in separate, stand-alone legislation. When asked if the idea of doing stand-alone legislation was actively being considered, an aide to Hoyer said Democratic leaders were waiting to see the final Senate bill before deciding how to proceed.


Or as Talking Points Memo’s Muckraker, Paul Kiel (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/senate_votes_for_retroactive_i.php) puts it:

Let there be no doubt: a majority of senators, and a large number of Democrats, think the telecoms should not suffer the hazard of accountability for cooperating with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) took to the floor last night to give a speech asking, "This is our defining question, the question that confronts every generation: The rule of law, or the rule of men?" The resounding answer: the rule of men.


And for all you Campaign ‘08 enthusiasts out there, Sen. John McCain voted against the Dodd/Feingold amendment, Sen. Barack Obama voted for it, and Sen. Hillary Clinton was not present for the vote.

February 12th, 2008, 10:19 PM
Exclusive! The FBI Deputizes Business

By Matthew Rothschild, February 7, 2008 (http://www.progressive.org/mag_rothschild0308)


Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.

InfraGard is “a child of the FBI,” says Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, an international consulting firm.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.

“Then the FBI cloned it,” says Phyllis Schneck, chairman of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance, and the prime mover behind the growth of InfraGard over the last several years.

InfraGard itself is still an FBI operation, with FBI agents in each state overseeing the local InfraGard chapters. (There are now eighty-six of them.) The alliance is a nonprofit organization of private sector InfraGard members.

“We are the owners, operators, and experts of our critical infrastructure, from the CEO of a large company in agriculture or high finance to the guy who turns the valve at the water utility,” says Schneck, who by day is the vice president of research integration at Secure Computing.

“At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector,” the InfraGard website states. “InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.”

In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, www.infragard.net, which adds that “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard.”

To join, each person must be sponsored by “an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization.” The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed an InfraGard convention on August 9, 2005. At that time, the group had less than half as many members as it does today. “To date, there are more than 11,000 members of InfraGard,” he said. “From our perspective that amounts to 11,000 contacts . . . and 11,000 partners in our mission to protect America.” He added a little later, “Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.”

He urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they “note suspicious activity or an unusual event.” And he said they could sic the FBI on “disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.”

In an interview with InfraGard after the conference, which is featured prominently on the InfraGard members’ website, Mueller says: “It’s a great program.”

The ACLU is not so sanguine.

“There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations—some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers—into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI,” the ACLU warned in its August 2004 report The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society.

InfraGard is not readily accessible to the general public. Its communications with the FBI and Homeland Security are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act under the “trade secrets” exemption, its website says. And any conversation with the public or the media is supposed to be carefully rehearsed.

“The interests of InfraGard must be protected whenever presented to non-InfraGard members,” the website states. “During interviews with members of the press, controlling the image of InfraGard being presented can be difficult. Proper preparation for the interview will minimize the risk of embarrassment. . . . The InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should review the submitted questions, agree on the predilection of the answers, and identify the appropriate interviewee. . . . Tailor answers to the expected audience. . . . Questions concerning sensitive information should be avoided.”

One of the advantages of InfraGard, according to its leading members, is that the FBI gives them a heads-up on a secure portal about any threatening information related to infrastructure disruption or terrorism.

The InfraGard website advertises this. In its list of benefits of joining InfraGard, it states: “Gain access to an FBI secure communication network complete with VPN encrypted website, webmail, listservs, message boards, and much more.”

InfraGard members receive “almost daily updates” on threats “emanating from both domestic sources and overseas,” Hershman says.

“We get very easy access to secure information that only goes to InfraGard members,” Schneck says. “People are happy to be in the know.”

On November 1, 2001, the FBI had information about a potential threat to the bridges of California. The alert went out to the InfraGard membership. Enron was notified, and so, too, was Barry Davis, who worked for Morgan Stanley. He notified his brother Gray, the governor of California.

“He said his brother talked to him before the FBI,” recalls Steve Maviglio, who was Davis’s press secretary at the time. “And the governor got a lot of grief for releasing the information. In his defense, he said, ‘I was on the phone with my brother, who is an investment banker. And if he knows, why shouldn’t the public know?’ ”

Maviglio still sounds perturbed about this: “You’d think an elected official would be the first to know, not the last.”

In return for being in the know, InfraGard members cooperate with the FBI and Homeland Security. “InfraGard members have contributed to about 100 FBI cases,” Schneck says. “What InfraGard brings you is reach into the regional and local communities. We are a 22,000-member vetted body of subject-matter experts that reaches across seventeen matrixes. All the different stovepipes can connect with InfraGard.”

Schneck is proud of the relationships the InfraGard Members Alliance has built with the FBI. “If you had to call 1-800-FBI, you probably wouldn’t bother,” she says. “But if you knew Joe from a local meeting you had with him over a donut, you might call them. Either to give or to get. We want everyone to have a little black book.”

This black book may come in handy in times of an emergency. “On the back of each membership card,” Schneck says, “we have all the numbers you’d need: for Homeland Security, for the FBI, for the cyber center. And by calling up as an InfraGard member, you will be listened to.” She also says that members would have an easier time obtaining a “special telecommunications card that will enable your call to go through when others will not.”

This special status concerns the ACLU.

“The FBI should not be creating a privileged class of Americans who get special treatment,” says Jay Stanley, public education director of the ACLU’s technology and liberty program. “There’s no ‘business class’ in law enforcement. If there’s information the FBI can share with 22,000 corporate bigwigs, why don’t they just share it with the public? That’s who their real ‘special relationship’ is supposed to be with. Secrecy is not a party favor to be given out to friends. . . . This bears a disturbing resemblance to the FBI’s handing out ‘goodies’ to corporations in return for folding them into its domestic surveillance machinery.”

When the government raises its alert levels, InfraGard is in the loop. For instance, in a press release on February 7, 2003, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General announced that the national alert level was being raised from yellow to orange. They then listed “additional steps” that agencies were taking to “increase their protective measures.” One of those steps was to “provide alert information to InfraGard program.”

“They’re very much looped into our readiness capability,” says Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. “We provide speakers, as well as do joint presentations [with the FBI]. We also train alongside them, and they have participated in readiness exercises.”

On May 9, 2007, George Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 entitled “National Continuity Policy.” In it, he instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate with “private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.”

Asked if the InfraGard National Members Alliance was involved with these plans, Schneck said it was “not directly participating at this point.” Hershman, chairman of the group’s advisory board, however, said that it was.

InfraGard members, sometimes hundreds at a time, have been used in “national emergency preparation drills,” Schneck acknowledges.

“In case something happens, everybody is ready,” says Norm Arendt, the head of the Madison, Wisconsin, chapter of InfraGard, and the safety director for the consulting firm Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. “There’s been lots of discussions about what happens under an emergency.”

One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation—and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, “Partnership for Protection.” On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.

This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.

“The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage,” he says. “From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we’d be given specific benefits.” These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out.
But that’s not all.

“Then they said when—not if—martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,” he says.

I was able to confirm that the meeting took place where he said it had, and that the FBI and Homeland Security did make presentations there. One InfraGard member who attended that meeting denies that the subject of lethal force came up. But the whistleblower is 100 percent certain of it. “I have nothing to gain by telling you this, and everything to lose,” he adds. “I’m so nervous about this, and I’m not someone who gets nervous.”

Though Schneck says that FBI and Homeland Security agents do make presentations to InfraGard, she denies that InfraGard members would have any civil patrol or law enforcement functions. “I have never heard of InfraGard members being told to use lethal force anywhere,” Schneck says.

The FBI adamantly denies it, also. “That’s ridiculous,” says Catherine Milhoan, an FBI spokesperson. “If you want to quote a businessperson saying that, knock yourself out. If that’s what you want to print, fine.”

But one other InfraGard member corroborated the whistleblower’s account, and another would not deny it.

Christine Moerke is a business continuity consultant for Alliant Energy in Madison, Wisconsin. She says she’s an InfraGard member, and she confirms that she has attended InfraGard meetings that went into the details about what kind of civil patrol function—including engaging in lethal force—that InfraGard members may be called upon to perform.

“There have been discussions like that, that I’ve heard of and participated in,” she says.

Curt Haugen is CEO of S’Curo Group, a company that does “strategic planning, business continuity planning and disaster recovery, physical and IT security, policy development, internal control, personnel selection, and travel safety,” according to its website. Haugen tells me he is a former FBI agent and that he has been an InfraGard member for many years. He is a huge booster. “It’s the only true organization where there is the public-private partnership,” he says. “It’s all who knows who. You know a face, you trust a face. That’s what makes it work.”

He says InfraGard “absolutely” does emergency preparedness exercises. When I ask about discussions the FBI and Homeland Security have had with InfraGard members about their use of lethal force, he says: “That much I cannot comment on. But as a private citizen, you have the right to use force if you feel threatened.”

“We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions,” the whistleblower says. “It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone.”

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine and the author of "You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression." This article, "The FBI Deputizes Business," is the cover story of the March issue of The Progressive.

February 27th, 2008, 01:37 PM
The title of this topic is "The Bush Police State" - is this our future?
Make sure your sound is on!


February 28th, 2008, 01:07 PM
InfraGard: An Unhealthy Government Alliance

by Gary D. Barnett, February 22, 2008 (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0802g.asp)

There is an organization that is quietly and secretly becoming very large and powerful. The FBI started this partnership or alliance between the federal government and the private sector in 1996 in Cleveland with a few select people. After September 11, 2001, when the general population replaced their rationality with fear, this organization, called InfraGard, continued growing, and with little notice. By 2005 more than 11,000 members were involved, but as of today, according to the InfraGard website, there are 23,682 members, including FBI personnel. At first glance, many would think this alliance healthy and useful in the fight against “terrorism,” but upon further examination, one has to wonder.

InfraGard began as an alliance between the FBI and local businesses with the objective of investigating cyber threats. Since that time, little resemblance to that design exists. According to InfraGard’s own website,

InfraGard is an information sharing and analysis effort serving the interests and combining the knowledge base of a wide range of members. At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector. InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence [emphasis added] to prevent hostile acts against the United States.
Every InfraGard chapter has an FBI special agent coordinator attached to it, and this FBI coordinator works closely with FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Initially, while under the direction of the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the focus of InfraGard was cyberinfrastructure protection, but things have gotten much more interesting since September 11, 2001. NIPC then expanded its efforts to include physical as well as cyberthreats to critical infrastructures.

A progression is occurring, but it gets even more interesting as time passes. In March 2003, NIPC was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security which now has total responsibility for critical infrastructure protection (CIP) matters. Part of the Department of Homeland Security’s mission is to facilitate InfraGard’s continuing role in CIP activities and to further develop InfraGard’s ability to support the FBI’s investigative mission, especially as it pertains to counterterrorism and cyber crimes.

InfraGard’s stated goal “is to promote ongoing dialogue and timely communications between members and the FBI.” Pay attention to this next part:

Infragard members gain access to information that enables them to protect their assets and in turn give information to government that facilitates its responsibilities to prevent and address terrorism and other crimes.
I take from this statement that there is a distinct tradeoff, a tradeoff not available to the rest of us, whereby InfraGard members are privy to inside information from government to protect themselves and their assets; in return they give the government information it desires. This is done under the auspices of preventing terrorism and other crimes. Of course, as usual, “other crimes” is not defined, leaving us to guess just what information is being transferred. Since these members of InfraGard are people in positions of power in the “private” sector, people who have access to a massive amount of private information about the rest of us, just what information are they divulging to government? Remember, they are getting valuable consideration in the form of advance warnings and protection for their lives and assets from government. This does not an honest partnership make; quite the contrary.

In my article “The New Crime of Thinking (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0802a.asp),” I criticized H.R.1955 and Senate 1959, which, if passed, will literally criminalize thought against government. As usual, the exact type of thought is left undefined. This vagueness in the thought-crime legislation together with the secrecy of InfraGard makes for a dangerous combination. S.1959, if passed, will be attached to the Homeland Security Act and InfraGard is already a part of the Department of Homeland Security. This is not a coincidence. Under section 899b of S.1959 it is stated:

Preventing the potential rise of self radicalized, unaffiliated terrorists domestically cannot be easily accomplished solely through traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts, and can benefit from the incorporation of State and local efforts.
This appears to be a direct reference to the InfraGard program. Moreover, in section 899c of S.1959 the new commission created after passage is to build upon and bring together the work of other entities, and will establish, as designated under 899d, a “Center of Excellence.” This center will be university-based, and is to study “violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism” in the United States. According to InfraGard’s mission statement, it is a group of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence. Keep in mind that this new center will be, and InfraGard already is, a part of the Department of Homeland Security. I’m just speculating, of course, but is it possible that InfraGard will be a domestic police and spying arm for the government concerning “thought crime”?

There is a definite and natural link here, and it should give us pause. The definitions concerning thought crime are vague and unclear, left to the interpretation of government only. InfraGard, on the other hand, is an organization cloaked in secrecy. It holds secret meetings with the FBI. It also, according to FBI Director Robert Mueller, shares information (what information, we don’t know) with the Secret Service and all government agencies involved with security in the United States.

One question on InfraGard’s application for membership is, Which critical infrastructures does your organization belong to? Some choices listed are defense, government, banking and finance, information and telecommunications, postal and shipping, transportation, public health, and energy. At least 350 of the Fortune 500 companies have representation in InfraGard, this according to their website. These representatives have access to most of our private records, including phone and Internet use, health records, and banking and finance records. Considering the recent attempts by President Bush and his administration to protect many telecommunications companies and executives from prosecution for releasing private information, how many of the top telecom executives are members of InfraGard? I, for one, would be very interested in this information, but alas, it is not public information; it is secret.

According to InfraGard’s own policies and procedures,

The interests of InfraGard must be protected whenever presented to non-InfraGard members. Independent of the type of presentation, (interview, brief, or published documentation) the InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should be made aware of the upcoming presentation. The InfraGard member and the FBI representative should agree on the theme of the presentation. The identity of InfraGard members should be protected at all times.
This means that no one outside InfraGard is to know who is a member unless previous approval has been given. In addition, when interviews with members of the press are forthcoming, all questions should be submitted in writing prior to the interview. The InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should review the submitted questions, agree on the character of the answers, and identify the appropriate person to be interviewed prior to the interview. Even demeanor is addressed in this directive, and strict guidelines for behavior are listed. You see, when I said secret, I wasn’t kidding.
The bottom line is this: This is an organization created by the FBI, sanctioning individuals from the private business sector to provide information, sensitive and private information, to government agencies for special concessions. These concessions, or favors, according to an article titled “The FBI Deputizes Business,”in The Progressive magazine, include advance warning on a secure portal about any threatening information related to infrastructure disruption or terrorism. InfraGard notes as much on their website by advertising for members “access to an FBI secure communication network complete with VPN encrypted website, webmail, listservs, message boards and much more.” Also advertised: “Learn time-sensitive, infrastructure related security information from government sources such as DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and the FBI.” Is this elitist group of InfraGard members a group of Americans superior to the rest of us? Are they truly privileged or just selling their souls for protection and favors? And how involved will they be in watchdog activities, activities sanctioned by the U.S. government? Is this a new kind of conscription by government meant to increase its surveillance capabilities so that it can monitor our lives even more than it does now?

Legislation, bureaucracies, and government/business partnerships created since 9/11 have severely infringed our freedom. Almost all of the so-called terror-protection legislation has been linked — and in many cases it is linked — to increased government oversight of the rest of us. This is evident concerning InfraGard and the Department of Homeland Security. If this program is for the benefit of this country, why are the members’ names and their activities kept so secret? Why do some gain protection and early warning while the rest of us do not? And what information and “intelligence” is being shared? Since these business members are fully protected by government, how far will they go, and when will it be too late to stop this secret assault by this behemoth we call government?

Gary D. Barnett is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana. Send him email (gary.barnett@raymondjames.com).

February 28th, 2008, 01:36 PM
Canada-U.S. pact allows cross-border military activity

Deal allows either country to send troops across the other's border to deal with an emergency

David Pugliese, Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, February 23, 2008

Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.

Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.

The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation in a civil emergency.

The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.

The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal.

"It's kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and contentious issues like military integration. We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites," said Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians.

Trew said there is potential for the agreement to militarize civilian responses to emergency incidents. He noted that work is also underway for the two nations to put in place a joint plan to protect common infrastructure such as roadways and oil pipelines.

"Are we going to see [U.S.] troops on our soil for minor potential threats to a pipeline or a road?" he asked.

Trew also noted the U.S. military does not allow its soldiers to operate under foreign command so there are questions about who controls American forces if they are requested for service in Canada. "We don't know the answers because the government doesn't want to even announce the plan," he said.

But Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon said it will be up to civilian authorities in both countries whether military assistance is requested or even used. He said the agreement is "benign" and simply sets the stage for military-to-military co-operation if the governments approve."But there's no agreement to allow troops to come in," he said. "It facilitates planning and co-ordination between the two militaries. The 'allow' piece is entirely up to the two governments."

If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military, Scanlon added.

News of the deal, and the allegation it was kept secret in Canada, is already making the rounds on left-wing blogs and Internet sites as an example of the dangers of the growing integration between the two militaries.

On right-wing blogs in the U.S. it is being used as evidence of a plan for a "North American union" where foreign troops, not bound by U.S. laws, could be used by the American federal government to override local authorities."Co-operative militaries on Home Soil!" notes one website. "The next time your town has a 'national emergency,' don't be surprised if Canadian soldiers respond."

Scanlon said there was no intent to keep the agreement secret on the Canadian side of the border. He noted it will be reported on in the Canadian Forces newspaper next week and that publication will be put on the Internet.
Scanlon said the actual agreement hasn't been released to the public as that requires approval from both nations.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

March 14th, 2008, 12:17 PM
President weakens espionage oversight
Board created by Ford loses most of its power

President Ford with Vice President Dick Cheney (left), then Ford's chief of staff, and Jim Baker.
Cheney said in 2005 that postWatergate reforms went too far. (New york times/file 1976)
By Charlie Savage
Globe Staff / March 14, 2008 (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2008/03/14/president_weakens_espionage_oversight/?page=full)

WASHINGTON - Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.

The White House did not say why it was necessary to change the rules governing the board when it issued Bush's order late last month. But critics say Bush's order is consistent with a pattern of steps by the administration that have systematically scaled back Watergate-era intelligence reforms.

"It's quite clear that the Bush administration officials who were around in the 1970s are settling old scores now," said Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. "Here they are even preventing oversight within the executive branch. They have closed the books on the post-Watergate era."

Ford created the board following a 1975-76 investigation by Congress into domestic spying, assassination operations, and other abuses by intelligence agencies. The probe prompted fierce battles between Congress and the Ford administration, whose top officials included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the current president's father, George H. W. Bush.

To blunt proposals for new laws imposing greater congressional oversight of intelligence matters, Ford enacted his own reforms with an executive order that went into effect on March 1, 1976. Among them, he created the Intelligence Oversight Board to serve as a watchdog over spying agencies.

"I believe [the changes] will eliminate abuses and questionable activities on the part of the foreign intelligence agencies while at the same time permitting them to get on with their vital work of gathering and assessing information," Ford told Congress.

The board's investigations and reports have been mostly kept secret. But the Clinton administration provided a rare window into the panel's capabilities in 1996 by publishing a board report faulting the CIA for not adequately informing Congress about putting known torturers and killers in Guatemala on its payroll.

But Bush downsized the board's mandate to be an aggressive watchdog against such problems in an executive order issued on Feb. 29, the eve of the anniversary of the day Ford's order took effect. The White House said the timing of the new order was "purely coincidental."

Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity that it believed might be "unlawful or contrary to executive order," it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush's order deleted the board's authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation, and the new order said the board should notify the president only if other officials are not already "adequately" addressing the problem.

Bush's order also terminated the board's authority to oversee each intelligence agency's general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in.

Suzanne Spaulding, a former deputy counsel at the CIA who has worked as a congressional staff member on intelligence committees for members of both parties, said the order "really diminishes the language that calls on the Intelligence Oversight Board to conduct independent inquiries," leaving the panel as potentially little more than "paper pushers."

And Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel at both the CIA and the National Security Agency who is now the dean of the University of the Pacific law school, said it was unwise for the Bush administration to undermine the Intelligence Oversight Board at the same time that the administration has been pushing for fewer restrictions on its intelligence powers.

"An organization like this gives some level of comfort that there is an independent review capability," Parker said. "Changes like this appear to water down an organization that contributes to the public's confidence."

But Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, denied that the order reduced the authority and independence of the panel.

Fratto pointed to a federal statute that makes it a general duty of all government officials to report lawbreaking to the Justice Department. Because of this, he said, there is still a "widely understood background presumption" that the board can contact the attorney general even though Bush deleted the authority to make criminal referrals from its list of core responsibilities.

Fratto also said the changes merely updated the board's responsibilities after Congress in 2004 created a director of national intelligence to run the intelligence community. The order says the director is the person responsible for making any criminal referrals to the Justice Department.

Still, critics contend that the director of national intelligence cannot play the same watchdog role as the oversight board because he is part of the intelligence world, not independent from it, and so there may be occasions in which he has signed off on an activity whose legality might be questioned by outsiders.

Some analysts said the order is just the latest example of actions the administration has taken since the 2001 terrorist attacks that have scaled back intelligence reforms enacted in the 1970s.

In his 1976 executive order, for example, Ford also banned foreign intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency, from collecting information about Americans. The Bush administration bypassed that rule by having domestic agencies collect information about Americans and then hand the data to the NSA, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Ford's order also banned assassination. But Bush authorized the CIA to draw up a list of Al Qaeda suspects who could be summarily killed.

The administration decided that such targeted killings were an exception to the rule because it was wartime.

In 1978, Congress enacted a law requiring warrants for all wiretaps on domestic soil. But now spies are free to monitor Americans' international calls and e-mails without court supervision if the wiretaps are aimed at targets overseas.

In 1980, Congress enacted a law requiring that the full House and Senate intelligence committees be briefed about most spying activities. The Bush administration asserted that it could withhold significant amounts of information from the committees, briefing congressional leaders instead.

Finally, executive orders were once widely understood to be binding unless a president revoked them, an act that would notify Congress that the rules had changed. But the administration has decided that Bush is free to secretly authorize spies to ignore executive orders - including one that restricts surveillance on US citizens traveling overseas - without rescinding them.

Some critics of the post-Watergate era have contended that its investigations and reforms went too far. For example, Cheney, who was Ford's chief of staff, said in December 2005 that "a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam . . . served to erode the authority, I think, the president needs to be effective, especially in a national security area."

But Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., the former chief counsel to the Senate committee that undertook the 1975-76 investigation into intelligence abuses, said that by rolling back the post-Watergate reforms, the Bush administration had made intelligence abuses more likely to occur.

"What the Bush administration has systematically done is to try to limit both internal oversight - things like the Intelligence Oversight Board - and effective external oversight by the Congress," Schwarz said, adding, "It's profoundly disappointing if you understand American history, and it's profoundly harmful to the United States."

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

March 21st, 2008, 02:16 PM
3 Candidates' Passport Files Breached

The Associated Press
Friday, March 21, 2008; 1:04 PM

WASHINGTON -- The passport files of the three presidential candidates _ Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain _ have been breached, the State Department said Friday.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the breaches of McCain and Clinton's passport files were not discovered until Friday, after officials were made aware of the privacy violation regarding Obama's records and a separate search was conducted.

McCormack said the individual who accessed Obama's files also reviewed McCain's file earlier this year. This contract employee has been reprimanded, but not fired. The individual no longer has access to passport records, he said.

"We are reviewing our options with respect to that person and his employment status," McCormack said.

In Clinton's case, an individual last summer accessed her file as part of a training session involving another State Department worker. McCormack said the one-time violation was immediately recognized and the person was admonished.

The incidents raise the question of whether the information was accessed for political purposes.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with Obama and Clinton on Friday and expressed her regrets. She planned to speak with McCain as well. State Department officials headed to Capitol Hill to brief the staffs of all three candidates.

"The secretary has made it clear . . . to them that this is top priority," McCormack said. "There's nothing else that's more important than make sure go through and do this investigation."

The State Department said the Justice Department would be monitoring the probe in case it needs to get involved. The Justice Department declined to comment on its role.

McCormack declined to name the companies that employed the contractors, despite demands by a senior House Democrat that such information is in the public interest.

"At this point, we just started an investigation," he said. "We want to err on the side of caution."

Sen. McCain, who was in Paris on Friday, said any breach of passport privacy deserves an apology and a full investigation.

"The United States of America values everyone's privacy and corrective action should be taken," McCain said.

It is not clear whether the employees saw anything other than the basic personal data such as name, citizenship, age, Social Security number and place of birth, which is required when a person fills out a passport application.

Aside from the file, the information could allow critics to dig deeper into the candidates' private lives. While the file includes date and place of birth, address at time of application and the countries the person has traveled to, the most important detail would be their Social Security number, which can be used to pull credit reports and other personal information.

The violations were detected because electronic files of high-profile people are flagged.

© 2008 The Associated Press

The clutch (Bush) is out; the Executive branch is freewheeling.

April 10th, 2008, 11:05 AM
The Martial Law Act of 2006

April 10, 2008
by James Bovard (http://www.lewrockwell.com/bovard/bovard56.html)

Martial law is perhaps the ultimate stomping of freedom. And yet, on September 30, 2006, Congress passed a provision in a 591-page bill that will make it easy for President Bush to impose martial law in response to a terrorist “incident.” It also empowers him to effectively declare martial law in response to what he or other federal officials label a shortfall of “public order” – whatever that means.

It took only a few paragraphs in a $500 billion, 591-page bill to raze one of the most important limits on federal power. Congress passed the Insurrection Act in 1807 to severely restrict the president’s ability to deploy the military within the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tightened those restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone who used the military within the United States without the express permission of Congress. (This act was passed after the depredations of the U.S. military throughout the Southern states during Reconstruction.)

But there is a loophole: Posse Comitatus is waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.

The Insurrection Act and Posse Comitatus Act aim to deter dictatorship while permitting a narrow window for the president to temporarily use the military at home. But the 2006 reforms basically threw any concern about dictatorial abuses out the window.

Section 1076 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2006 changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from “Insurrection Act” to “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.” The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only “to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The new law expands the list of pretexts to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition” – and such a “condition” is not defined or limited.

One might think that given the experience with the USA PATRIOT Act and many other abuses of power, Congress would be leery about giving this president his biggest blank check yet to suspend the Constitution. But that would be naïve.

The new law was put in place in response to the debacle of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. There was no evidence that permitting a president far more power would avoid future debacles, but such a law provides a comfort blanket to politicians. The risk of tyranny is irrelevant compared with the reduction of risk of embarrassment to politicians. According to Washington, the correct response to Katrina is not to recognize the failure of relying on federal agencies a thousand miles away but rather to vastly increase the power of the president to dictate a solution, regardless of whether he knows what he is doing and regardless of whether local and state rights are trampled.

The new law also empowers the president to commandeer the National Guard of one state to send to another state for as many as 365 days. Bush could send the South Carolina National Guard to suppress anti-war protests in New Haven. Or the next president could send the Massachusetts National Guard to disarm the residents of Wyoming, if they resisted a federal law that prohibited private ownership of semi-automatic weapons. Governors’ control of the National Guard can be trumped with a simple presidential declaration.

Section 1076 had bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, including support from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Since the law would give the feds more power, it was very popular inside the Beltway.

On the other hand, every governor in the country opposed the changes. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned on September 19, 2006, that “we certainly do not need to make it easier for presidents to declare martial law.” Leahy’s alarm got no response. Ten days later, he commented in the Congressional Record, “Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy.”

A U.S. Enabling Act

The new law vastly increases the danger from the actions of government provocateurs. If there is an incident now like the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993, it would be far easier for the president to declare martial law – even if, as then, it was an FBI informant who taught the culprits how to make the bomb. Even if the FBI masterminds a protest that turns violent, the president could invoke the “incident” to suspend the Constitution.

“Martial law” is a euphemism for military dictatorship. When foreign democracies are overthrown and a junta establishes martial law, Americans usually recognize that a fundamental change has occurred. Perhaps some conservatives believe that the only change when martial law is declared is that people are no longer read their Miranda rights before they are locked away. “Martial law” means: Obey soldiers’ commands or be shot. The abuses of military rule in Southern states during Reconstruction were legendary, but they have been swept under the historical rug.

Section 1076 is an Enabling Act-type legislation – something which purports to preserve law and order while formally empowering the president to rule by decree.

Bush can commandeer a state’s National Guard any time he declares a “state has refused to enforce applicable laws.” Does this refer to the laws as they are commonly understood – or to the “laws” after Bush “fixes” them with a signing statement? Unfortunately, it is not possible for Americans to commandeer the federal government even when Bush admits that he is breaking a law (such as the Anti-Torture Act).

Section 1076 is the type of “law” that would probably be denounced by the U.S. State Department’s Annual Report on Human Rights if enacted by a foreign government. But when the U.S. government does the same thing, it is merely another proof of benevolent foresight. The “comfort blanket” on Section 1076 is that the powers will not be abused because the president will show more concern with the Bill of Rights than Congress did when it rubberstamped this provision. This is the same “pass the buck on the Constitution” that worked so well with the PATRIOT Act, the McCain Feingold Campaign Reform Act, and the Military Commissions Act. As long as there is hypothetically some branch of the government that will object to oppression, no one has the right to fear losing his liberties.

The military on the home front

Section 1076 is more ominous in light of the Bush administration’s long record of Posse Comitatus violations. Since 2001, the Bush administration has accelerated a trend of using the military as a tool in the nation’s domestic affairs. From its support of the Total Information Awareness surveillance vacuum cleaner, to its use of Pentagon spy planes during the Washington-area sniper shootings in 2002, to the Pentagon’s seizures of Americans’ financial and other private information without a warrant, the Bush administration has not hesitated to use military force and intimidation at home whenever convenient. And Americans may have little or no idea of how far the military has actually gone on the home front, given the Bush team’s obsessive secrecy.

The Pentagon has sent U.S. military intelligence agents on domestic fishing expeditions. In 2004, two U.S. Army intelligence agents descended on the University of Texas’s law school in Austin. They entered the office of the Journal of Women and the Law and demanded that the editors turn over a roster of the people who attended a recent conference on Islam and women. The editors denied having a list; the behavior of one agent was described as intimidating. The agents then demanded contact information for the student who organized the conference, Sahar Aziz. University of Texas law professor Douglas Laycock commented,

We certainly hope that the Army doesn’t believe that attending a conference on Islamic law or Islam and women is itself ground for investigation.
Military officials later declared that U.S. Army intelligence agents had overstepped their bounds. But this did not stop the Bush administration from having a provision inserted in a bill passed in secret session by the Senate Intelligence Committee that would allow military intelligence agents to conduct surveillance and recruit informants in the United States. Wired.com reported,

Pentagon officials say the exemption would not affect civil liberties and is needed so that its agents can obtain information from sources who may be afraid of government agents.
The provision would authorize military agents to go undercover and never inform their targets that they were dealing with a G-man. Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, denounced the provision:

This ... is giving them the authority to spy on Americans. And it’s all been done with no public discussion, in the dark of night.
The controversy over the amendment scuttled its enactment, though it is unclear whether that has deterred the military from expanding its domestic spying.
There is no Honesty-in-Absolute-Power mandate in the federal statute books. The more power government seizes, the more easily it can suppress the truth. There is nothing to prevent a president from declaring martial law on false pretexts – any more than there is to prevent him from launching a foreign war on false pretenses. And when the lies become exposed years later, it could be far too late to resurrect lost liberties.

James Bovard [send him mail (jbovard@his.com)] is the author of the just-released Attention Deficit Democracy (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1403971080/qid=1136831818/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/002-6128835-6979203?/lewrockwell/), The Bush Betrayal (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/140396727X/lewrockwell/), and Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1403963681/lewrockwell/). He serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation (http://www.fff.org/). Visit his website (http://www.jimbovard.com/).

Copyright © 2008 The Future of Freedom Foundation

May 9th, 2008, 03:31 PM
The Republican Dictatorship (http://www.lewrockwell.com/greenwald/greenwald13.html)

The following is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald’s new book, Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics (http://www.amazon.com/Great-American-Hypocrites-Toppling-Republican/dp/0307408027/lewrockwell). The excerpt is drawn from Chapter Five entitled "Small-Government Tyrants":

Ever since Ronald Reagan famously declared in his 1980 inaugural address that "government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem," Republicans have masqueraded as the party of limited government. Its leaders reflexively pledge to keep government off the backs of regular, hardworking Americans. Homage is paid to the wisdom and insight of the American people, which, Republicans endlessly insist, is far superior to the judgment of government officials.

This political battle cry is, in reality, grounded in a populist cultural argument – namely, that the Republican Party takes the side of ordinary Americans against the faceless, power-hungry, freedom-abridging Washington bureaucrat. In this rendition of America’s culture war, which pits normal folks against D.C. politicians, right-wing leaders are on our side, doing everything in their power to keep government out of our lives.

But then the Bush administration ushered in truly unprecedented expansions of federal power – including virtually unlimited detention and surveillance powers aimed at American citizens even on U.S. soil. And all but a handful of right-wing Republican ideologues immediately shed their small-government pretenses as they cheered on almost every one of these power grabs, transforming themselves almost overnight from liberty-defending warriors to loyal authoritarian followers.

Throughout the 1990s, conservatism was defined by its fear of expansive powers seized by the federal government – particularly domestic law-enforcement and surveillance powers. Conservatives vigorously opposed every proposal to expand the government’s investigative and surveillance authority on the grounds that such powers posed intolerable threats to our liberties. More than specific policies, the right-wing ideology was grounded in warnings against the dangers of unchecked government power. Illustrating this ideology was the speech delivered by Ronald Reagan in accepting his party’s nomination at the 1980 GOP Convention:

"Trust me" government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs – in the people.

Following this path, conservatives have endlessly claimed that they stand for limitations on government intrusion into the lives of Americans. One article in 2000 on the right-wing web-site Free Republic actually decried the dangerous loss of liberty and privacy as a result of what it alarmingly described as the Clinton administration’s use of a "secret court" (something called the "FISA court") that actually enables the federal government to eavesdrop on American citizens! Worse, warned the article, the judicial approval that the government obtains for this eavesdropping is in secret, so we don’t even know who is being eavesdropped on!

The conservative commenters at Free Republic – having been fed a steady diet of anti-government rhetoric for decades – predictably reacted to news of expanded eavesdropping powers under FISA with such liberty-minded sentiments as "This is beyond frightening"; "This does not bode well for continued freedom"; "Franz Kafka would have judged this too wild to fictionalize. But for us – it’s real." One worried right-wing commentator wondered: "Any chance of Bush rolling some of this back? It sounds amazing on its face." Another pointed out – quite rationally – the severe dangers of allowing the government to exercise power in secret and with little oversight:

This is one of those ideas that has a valid purpose behind it, but is wide open to terrible abuse. And there’s no way to check to see if it is abused.

Like all things that don’t have the light of day shining on them, you can be sure that it is being twisted to suit the purposes of those who hold the power.

Conservatives thus used to claim that they considered things such as unchecked surveillance powers to be quite disturbing and bad – and the secret eavesdropping about which they were complaining back then was at least conducted with judicial oversight. But with a Republican president in office, all of the distrust conservatives claimed to have of the federal government evaporated. Because they trust in George W. Bush and he knows what’s best for us, he should have not just those powers but many more, and he should exercise all of them in secret, too, with no interference from the courts or Congress.

Few things are more striking than the gap between the actual power-expanding behavior of Republicans when in office and the manipulative limited-government rhetoric they spew when they want to win elections or attack Democrats. What Republicans claim to despise when they are out of power is exactly what they do when they are in power.

Indeed, if one goes back and actually reads the statements made by GOP leaders throughout the 1990s, the complete and total reversal of all their views upon taking over the government in 2001 is truly mind-boggling. Such a trip down memory lane shows how boisterously conservatives used to pretend that they believed in principles of limited government powers, the need for investigations into lawbreaking accusations, and the preference for individual liberty over increased security.

Let us begin with then-senator John Ashcroft, one of the architects of the wild expansions of secret federal surveillance powers in the early years of the Bush administration. Back in July 1997, Ashcroft was warning of the profound dangers posed by far less invasive government powers than the ones he would go on to implement.

Specifically, Ashcroft was sounding the alarm bells over the Clinton administration’s proposals for the federal government to overcome encryption technology in order to enable the government to monitor international computer communications – powers that were justified by the Clinton administration on the ground that terrorists use such communications. Ashcroft – who as Bush’s attorney general would go on to approve wholly unprecedented warrantless spying on Americans’ telephone calls and e-mails – wrote, in an article titled "Keep Feds’ Nose Out of the Net":

J. Edgar Hoover would have loved this. The Clinton administration wants government to be able to read international computer communications – financial transactions, personal e-mail and proprietary information sent abroad – all in the name of national security.

In a proposal that raises obvious concerns about Americans’ privacy, President Clinton wants to give agencies the keys for decoding all exported U.S. software and Internet communications. . . .

Not only would Big Brother be looming over the shoulders of international cybersurfers, he also threatens to render our state-of-the-art computer software engineers obsolete and unemployed.

Granted, the Internet could be used to commit crimes, and advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?

The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. . . .

Every medium by which people communicate can be exploited by those with illegal or immoral intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records or translate our international communications.

Those who made such arguments in 1997 when Democrats were in power were deemed by the right wing to be great patriots defending core American liberties. But once Bush was ensconced in the White House, anyone who urged limits on government power was an ally of the Terrorists working subversively to destroy America.

The right-wing political movement spent all of the 1990s claiming to distrust governmental power and even printing bumper stickers like this (http://www.lewrockwell.com/greenwald/love-country.jpg) to prove it.

These are the same people who continue to publish screeds like this one – from National Review in 2004 – still pretending to believe in these conservative principles:

Yet in the long run, Goldwater had an extraordinary influence on the Republican Party. . . . He did as much as anyone to redefine Republicanism as an antigovernment philosophy: "I fear Washington and centralized government more than I do Moscow," he said – and this from a cold warrior who had once suggested lobbing a nuclear bomb into the men’s room at the Kremlin. . . .

But, in philosophical terms at least, classical conservatism does mean something. The creed of Edmund Burke, its most eloquent proponent, might be crudely reduced to six principles: a deep suspicion of the power of the state; a preference for liberty over equality; patriotism; a belief in established institutions and hierarchies; skepticism about the idea of progress; and elitism. . . .

The American Right exhibits a far deeper hostility toward the state than any other modern conservative party. How many European conservatives would display bumper stickers saying "I love my country but I hate my government"?

How many would argue that we need to make government so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub?

The American Right is also more obsessed with personal liberty than any other conservative party. . . .

The heroes of modern American conservatism are not paternalist squires but rugged individualists who don’t know their place: entrepreneurs who build mighty businesses out of nothing, settlers who move out West and, of course, the cowboy. There is a frontier spirit to the Right – unsurprisingly, since so much of its heartland is made up of new towns of one sort or another.

These "rugged individualists" of the frontier, these swaggering skeptics and despisers of government power, these Burkean defenders of individual liberty who hate "centralized government" and – above all else – are guided by "a deep suspicion of the power of the state," now want to vest virtually unlimited secret power in the President to detain, interrogate, and spy on Americans. When George Bush was caught breaking the law by spying on Americans without warrants, they insisted that he had the right to do so, that it was for our own good, for our protection, and that we ought to be grateful. Has there ever been a political movement more antithetical to the political values they pompously espouse than the right-wing movement – those "small-government" authoritarians – epitomized by National Review editors?

Once securely in power, these small-government conservatives churned out brand-new theories that enabled some of the most severe expansions of federal power in our nation’s history. They insisted that congressional investigations and judicial oversight of the activities of the President are all unnecessary, that they are merely partisan obstructionism. We could and should place blind faith in the Leader to exercise power for our own Good, said the limited-government deceivers.

A belief in endless expansions of government power is – along with endless wars – now the defining feature of today’s Republican Party, at least its dominant right-wing faction. In April 2007, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb participated in a conference call with former senator George Mitchell, during which Mitchell advocated a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. The following day, this is what Goldfarb wrote about that call:

Pam Hess, the UPI reporter who gave us this extremely moving and persuasive glimpse of the liberal case for the war in Iraq, asked if timetables for withdrawal "somehow infringe on the president’s powers as commander in chief?" Mitchell’s less than persuasive answer: "Congress is a coequal branch of government . . . the framers did not want to have one branch in charge of the government."

True enough, but they sought an energetic executive with near dictatorial power in pursuing foreign policy and war. So no, the Constitution does not put Congress on an equal footing with the executive in matters of national security.

So according to our nation’s right-wing liberty warriors, the American Founders risked their lives and fortunes in order to wage war against Great Britain and declare independence from the King, all in order to vest "near dictatorial power" in the American President in all matters of foreign policy and national security. And, of course, for the Michael Goldfarbs of the world, war and national security – and the near-dictatorial power vested in the President in those areas – now encompass virtually every government action, since scary and dangerous Muslims are lurking on every corner and the entire world, including American soil, is one big battlefield in the War on Terrorism.

Until the Bill Kristols, Dick Cheneys, John Yoos, and other authoritarians of that right-wing strain that define today’s Republican Party entered the political mainstream, one never heard of prominent Americans who describe the power that they want to vest in our political leaders as "near dictatorial." Anyone with even a passing belief in American political values would consider the word "dictatorial" – at least rhetorically, if not substantively – to define that which we avoid at all costs, not something that we seek, embrace, and celebrate. If there is any political principle that was previously common to Americans regardless of partisan orientation, it was that belief.

Indeed, under the rule of the "love-my-country-but-fear-my-government" party, it is no exaggeration to say that the United States has turned into a lawless surveillance state. If that sounds hyperbolic, just review the disclosures over the course of recent years concerning what databases the federal government has created and maintained – everything from records of all domestic telephone calls we make and receive, to the content of our international calls, to risk-assessment records based on our travel activities, to all sorts of new categories of information about our activities obtainable by the FBI through the use of so-called National Security Letters. And none of that includes, obviously, the as-yet-undisclosed surveillance programs undertaken by the most secretive administration in history.

This endless expansion of federal government power by the small-government, states-rights wing of the Republican Party is no longer even news. They barely bother to espouse these principles except when it comes time to win elections. In April 2007, leading conservatives Andy McCarthy, David Frum, and John Yoo participated in an event to argue for this Orwellian proposition: "Better More Surveillance Than Another 9/11." In the right-wing mind, there is the ultimate irony: We need to empower the federal government to maintain comprehensive dossiers on all Americans; otherwise, our freedoms might be at risk from The Terrorists.

The results of this complete abandonment of alleged small-government principles by the Republican Party are as predictable as they are dangerous. This November 11, 2007, report from the Associated Press is extraordinary, yet barely caused a ripple:

As Congress debates new rules for government eavesdropping, a top intelligence official says it is time that people in the United States change their definition of privacy.

The central witness in a California lawsuit against AT&T says the government is vacuuming up billions of e-mails and phone calls as they pass through an AT&T switching station in San Francisco, California.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, helped connect a device in 2003 that he says diverted and copied onto a government supercomputer every call, e-mail, and Internet site access on AT&T lines. . . .

"Anonymity has been important since the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms," [privacy lawyer Kurt] Opsahl said. "The government has tremendous power: the police power, the ability to arrest, to detain, to take away rights. . . .

"There is something fundamentally different from the government having information about you than private parties," he said. "We shouldn’t have to give people the choice between taking advantage of modern communication tools and sacrificing their privacy."

"It’s just another ‘trust us, we’re the government,’ " he said.

At the end of 2007, the nonpartisan groups, Privacy International and Electronic Privacy Information Center, released their annual survey of worldwide privacy rights. The United States had been downgraded from its 2006 ranking of "Extensive Surveillance Society" to "Endemic Surveillance Society," the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore, and Malaysia. The survey uses a variety of objective factors to determine the extent of privacy protections citizens enjoy from their government, and the United States now finishes at the bottom for obvious reasons, including the vastly expanded domestic surveillance and data-collection powers ushered in during the Bush presidency, all exercised with virtually no oversight.

The same political party that spent decades tricking Americans into believing that they stood for limited government has now ushered in a virtually limitless framework of government spying and unchecked power. Its top officials are telling Americans that we must fundamentally redefine what we understand privacy to mean when it comes to the power of our own government to spy on us. The right-wing faction that formed weekend militias to guard against a tyrannical government it claimed to hate and distrust now meekly and submissively cheers on every expansion of power, including powers completely anathema to core American freedoms.

Glenn Greenwald [send him mail (GGreenwald@gclaw.us)] is the author of A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency (http://www.amazon.com/Tragic-Legacy-Mentality-Destroyed-Presidency/dp/0307354199/lewrockwell/) and How Would a Patriot Act? (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097794400X/102-9382954-3160925?ie=UTF8&tag=lewrockwell&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=097794400X) See his blog Unclaimed Territory (http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/).

Copyright © 2008 Glenn Greenwald

May 22nd, 2008, 01:00 PM
In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is
soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups
Moles Wanted

By Matt Snyders (http://articles.citypages.com/2008-05-21/news/moles-wanted/)

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.

“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.

For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to sway him. He remained obstinate.

“Well, if you change your mind, call this number,” said Mazzola, handing him her card with her cell phone number scribbled on the back.

(Mazzola, Swanson, and the FBI did not return numerous calls seeking comment.)

Carroll’s story echoes a familiar theme. During the lead-up the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division infiltrated and spied on protest groups across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe. The program’s scope extended to explicitly nonviolent groups, including street theater troupes and church organizations.

There were also two reported instances of police officers, dressed as protestors, purposefully instigating clashes. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD orchestrated a fake arrest to incite protestors. When a blond man was “arrested,” nearby protestors began shouting, “Let him go!” The helmeted police proceeded to push back against the crowd with batons and arrested at least two. In a similar instance, during an April 29, 2005, Critical Mass bike ride in New York, video footage captured a “protestor”—in reality an undercover cop—telling his captor, “I’m on the job,” and being subsequently let go.

Minneapolis’s own recent Critical Mass skirmish was allegedly initiated by two unidentified stragglers in hoods—one wearing a handkerchief over his or her face—who “began to make aggressive moves” near the back of the pack. During that humid August 31 evening, officers went on to arrest 19 cyclists while unleashing pepper spray into the faces of bystanders. The hooded duo was never apprehended.

In the scuffle’s wake, conspiracy theories swirled that the unprecedented surveillance—squad cars from multiple agencies and a helicopter hovering overhead—was due to the presence of RNC protesters in the ride. The MPD publicly denied this. But during the trial of cyclist Gus Ganley, MPD Sgt. David Stichter testified that a task force had been created to monitor the August 31 ride and that the department knew that members of an RNC protest group would be along for the ride.

“This is all part of a larger government effort to quell political dissent,” says Jordan Kushner, an attorney who represented Ganley and other Critical Mass arrestees. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force is another example of using the buzzword ‘terrorism’ as a basis to clamp down on people’s freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian government.”

May 23rd, 2008, 12:31 PM


That is pretty scary there.

I have no problem, really, with internal monitoring of protest groups in certain aspects. If groups are protesting the RNC, then maybe something should be found out about what they are protesting and why to try to assuage (is that the right word?) their dissatisfaction. Get a different perspective.

But the way this was presented, and in conjunction with the bureau of Terrorism (or whatever they want to call it) scares me.

This is not appeasment, this is quelling. This is smothering, fracturing, infecting. This is not good.

It is one thing to try and feel the pulse of a nation. It is another to sneak up behind them to feel their pulse hard enough to make it stop.

May 23rd, 2008, 01:55 PM
The Last Roundup
Is the government compiling a secret list of citizens to detain under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham
This article (http://www.radaronline.com/from-the-magazine/2008/05/government_surveillance_homeland_security_main_cor e_01-print.php) is from the May/June issue of Radar Magazine. For a risk-free issue, click here (https://secure.palmcoastd.com/pcd/FormRedirect?iID=3111201).

ARE YOU ON THE LIST? The federal government has been developing a highly classified
plan that will override the Constitution in the event of a major terrorist attack
(Photo: Illustration by Brett Ryder)

In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president's henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft's second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush's first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration's various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn't allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush's men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.

Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program's authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey's words, "to take advantage of a very sick man," sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft's sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and "literally ran" up the hospital stairs to beat them there.

Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. "I'm not the attorney general," Ashcroft told Bush's men. "There"—he pointed weakly to Comey—"is the attorney general." Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey's presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—"without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," he testified.

What was the mysterious program that had so alarmed Comey? Political blogs buzzed for weeks with speculation. Though Comey testified that the program was subsequently readjusted to satisfy his concerns, one can't help wondering whether the unspecified alteration would satisfy constitutional experts, or even average citizens. Faced with push-back from his bosses at the White House, did he simply relent and accept a token concession? Two months after Comey's testimony to Congress, the New York Times reported a tantalizing detail: The program that prompted him "to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases." The larger mystery remained intact, however. "It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate," the article conceded.

ONE NATION, UNDER SURVEILLANCE James Comey testifies before the
Senate Judiciary Committee
(Photo: Getty Images)

Another clue came from a rather unexpected source: President Bush himself. Addressing the nation from the Oval Office in 2005 after the first disclosures of the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance became public, Bush insisted that the spying program in question was reviewed "every 45 days" as part of planning to assess threats to "the continuity of our government."

Few Americans—professional journalists included—know anything about so-called Continuity of Government (COG) programs, so it's no surprise that the president's passing reference received almost no attention. COG resides in a nebulous legal realm, encompassing national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces—and effectively suspend the republic. In short, it's a road map for martial law.

While Comey, who left the Department of Justice in 2005, has steadfastly refused to comment further on the matter, a number of former government employees and intelligence sources with independent knowledge of domestic surveillance operations claim the program that caused the flap between Comey and the White House was related to a database of Americans who might be considered potential threats in the event of a national emergency. Sources familiar with the program say that the government's data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

DESPERATE TIMES Should another 9/11 occur, Continuity of Governance plans
developed during the Cold War go into effect
(Photo: Getty Images)

Of course, federal law is somewhat vague as to what might constitute a "national emergency." Executive orders issued over the past three decades define it as a "natural disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency," while Department of Defense documents include eventualities like "riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order." According to one news report, even "national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad" could be a trigger.

Let's imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a "parallel government" that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.

Interestingly, plans drawn up during the Reagan administration suggest this parallel government would be ruling under authority given by law to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, home of the same hapless bunch that recently proved themselves unable to distribute water to desperate hurricane victims. The agency's incompetence in tackling natural disasters is less surprising when one considers that, since its inception in the 1970s, much of its focus has been on planning for the survival of the federal government in the wake of a decapitating nuclear strike.

Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary. From the comfortable perspective of peaceful times, such behavior by the government may seem far-fetched. But it was not so very long ago that FDR ordered 120,000 Japanese Americans—everyone from infants to the elderly—be held in detention camps for the duration of World War II. This is widely regarded as a shameful moment in U.S. history, a lesson learned. But a long trail of federal documents indicates that the possibility of large-scale detention has never quite been abandoned by federal authorities. Around the time of the 1968 race riots, for instance, a paper drawn up at the U.S. Army War College detailed plans for rounding up millions of "militants" and "American negroes," who were to be held at "assembly centers or relocation camps." In the late 1980s, the Austin American-Statesman and other publications reported the existence of 10 detention camp sites on military facilities nationwide, where hundreds of thousands of people could be held in the event of domestic political upheaval. More such facilities were commissioned in 2006, when Kellogg Brown & Root—then a subsidiary of Halliburton—was handed a $385 million contract to establish "temporary detention and processing capabilities" for the Department of Homeland Security. The contract is short on details, stating only that the facilities would be used for "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs." Just what those "new programs" might be is not specified.

In the days after our hypothetical terror attack, events might play out like this: With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people who—for a tremendously broad set of reasons—have been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.

It is, of course, appropriate for any government to plan for the worst. But when COG plans are shrouded in extreme secrecy, effectively unregulated by Congress or the courts, and married to an overreaching surveillance state—as seems to be the case with Main Core—even sober observers must weigh whether the protections put in place by the federal government are becoming more dangerous to America than any outside threat.

Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets' behavior and tracks their circle of associations with "social network analysis" and artificial intelligence modeling tools.

"The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help," he says. "Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets." An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that "it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time."

CROWD CONTROL New Yorkers walk home on the afternoon of the September 11 attacks
(Photo: Getty Images)

A host of publicly disclosed programs, sources say, now supply data to Main Core. Most notable are the NSA domestic surveillance programs, initiated in the wake of 9/11, typically referred to in press reports as "warrantless wiretapping."

In March, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal shed further light onto the extraordinarily invasive scope of the NSA efforts: According to the Journal, the government can now electronically monitor "huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches, as well as bank transfers, credit card transactions, travel, and telephone records." Authorities employ "sophisticated software programs" to sift through the data, searching for "suspicious patterns." In effect, the program is a mass catalog of the private lives of Americans. And it's notable that the article hints at the possibility of programs like Main Core. "The [NSA] effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called black programs whose existence is undisclosed," the Journal reported, quoting unnamed officials. "Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach."

The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.

Main Core also allegedly draws on four smaller databases that, in turn, cull from federal, state, and local "intelligence" reports; print and broadcast media; financial records; "commercial databases"; and unidentified "private sector entities." Additional information comes from a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which generates watch lists from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for use by airlines, law enforcement, and border posts. According to the Washington Post, the Terrorist Identities list has quadrupled in size between 2003 and 2007 to include about 435,000 names. The FBI's Terrorist Screening Center border crossing list, which listed 755,000 persons as of fall 2007, grows by 200,000 names a year. A former NSA officer tells Radar that the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, using an electronic-funds transfer surveillance program, also contributes data to Main Core, as does a Pentagon program that was created in 2002 to monitor antiwar protesters and environmental activists such as Greenpeace.

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU From your late-night e-mails and travel plans to phone
records and financial transactions, the government finds you fascinating—and may
consider you a potential enemy of the state
(Photo: Illustration by Brett Ryder)

If previous FEMA and FBI lists are any indication, the Main Core database includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protesters, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.

A veteran CIA intelligence analyst who maintains active high-level clearances and serves as an advisor to the Department of Defense in the field of emerging technology tells Radar that during the 2004 hospital room drama, James Comey expressed concern over how this secret database was being used "to accumulate otherwise private data on non-targeted U.S. citizens for use at a future time." Though not specifically familiar with the name Main Core, he adds, "What was being requested of Comey for legal approval was exactly what a Main Core story would be." A source regularly briefed by people inside the intelligence community adds: "Comey had discovered that President Bush had authorized NSA to use a highly classified and compartmentalized Continuity of Government database on Americans in computerized searches of its domestic intercepts. [Comey] had concluded that the use of that 'Main Core' database compromised the legality of the overall NSA domestic surveillance project."

If Main Core does exist, says Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism officer and an outspoken critic of the agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its likely home. "If a master list is being compiled, it would have to be in a place where there are no legal issues"—the CIA and FBI would be restricted by oversight and accountability laws—"so I suspect it is at DHS, which as far as I know operates with no such restraints." Giraldi notes that DHS already maintains a central list of suspected terrorists and has been freely adding people who pose no reasonable threat to domestic security. "It's clear that DHS has the mandate for controlling and owning master lists. The process is not transparent, and the criteria for getting on the list are not clear." Giraldi continues, "I am certain that the content of such a master list [as Main Core] would not be carefully vetted, and there would be many names on it for many reasons—quite likely including the two of us."

UNDER REAGAN In the 1980s, control of the FBI's "security index" was reportedly
transferred to none other than FEMA
(Photo: Getty Images)

Would Main Core in fact be legal? According to constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who served as associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, the question of legality is murky: "In the event of a national emergency, the executive branch simply assumes these powers"—the powers to collect domestic intelligence and draw up detention lists, for example—"if Congress doesn't explicitly prohibit it. It's really up to Congress to put these things to rest, and Congress has not done so." Fein adds that it is virtually impossible to contest the legality of these kinds of data collection and spy programs in court "when there are no criminal prosecutions and [there is] no notice to persons on the president's 'enemies list.' That means if Congress remains invertebrate, the law will be whatever the president says it is—even in secret. He will be the judge on his own powers and invariably rule in his own favor."

The veteran CIA intelligence analyst notes that Comey's suggestion that the offending elements of the program were dropped could be misleading: "Bush [may have gone ahead and] signed it as a National Intelligence Finding anyway."

But even if we never face a national emergency, the mere existence of the database is a matter of concern. "The capacity for future use of this information against the American people is so great as to be virtually unfathomable," the senior government official says.

In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world-renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won't prevent terrorist conspiracies. "Because there is so little historical terrorist event data," Jonas tells Radar, "there is not enough volume to create precise predictions."

The overzealous compilation of a domestic watch list is not unique in postwar American history. In 1950, the FBI, under the notoriously paranoid J. Edgar Hoover, began to "accumulate the names, identities, and activities" of suspect American citizens in a rapidly expanding "security index," according to declassified documents. In a letter to the Truman White House, Hoover stated that in the event of certain emergency situations, suspect individuals would be held in detention camps overseen by "the National Military Establishment." By 1960, a congressional investigation later revealed, the FBI list of suspicious persons included "professors, teachers, and educators; labor-union organizers and leaders; writers, lecturers, newsmen, and others in the mass-media field; lawyers, doctors, and scientists; other potentially influential persons on a local or national level; [and] individuals who could potentially furnish financial or material aid" to unnamed "subversive elements." This same FBI "security index" was allegedly maintained and updated into the 1980s, when it was reportedly transferred to the control of none other than FEMA (though the FBI denied this at the time).

FEMA, however—then known as the Federal Preparedness Agency—already had its own domestic surveillance system in place, according to a 1975 investigation by Senator John V. Tunney of California. Tunney, the son of heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney and the inspiration for Robert Redford's character in the film The Candidate, found that the agency maintained electronic dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans that contained information gleaned from wide-ranging computerized surveillance. The database was located in the agency's secret underground city at Mount Weather, near the town of Bluemont, Virginia. The senator's findings were confirmed in a 1976 investigation by the Progressive magazine, which found that the Mount Weather computers "can obtain millions of pieces [of] information on the personal lives of American citizens by tapping the data stored at any of the 96 Federal Relocation Centers"—a reference to other classified facilities. According to the Progressive, Mount Weather's databases were run "without any set of stated rules or regulations. Its surveillance program remains secret even from the leaders of the House and the Senate."

JUST IN CASE The Miami Herald contended that Reagan loyalist Oliver North had
spearheaded the development of a "secret contingency plan"
(Photo: Getty Images)

Ten years later, a new round of government martial law plans came to light. A report in the Miami Herald contended that Reagan loyalist and Iran-Contra conspirator Colonel Oliver North had spearheaded the development of a "secret contingency plan,"—code-named REX 84—which called "for suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to FEMA, [and the] appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments." The North plan also reportedly called for the detention of upwards of 400,000 illegal aliens and an undisclosed number of American citizens in at least 10 military facilities maintained as potential holding camps.

North's program was so sensitive in nature that when Texas congressman Jack Brooks attempted to question North about it during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, he was rebuffed even by his fellow legislators. "I read in Miami papers and several others that there had been a plan by that same agency [FEMA] that would suspend the American Constitution," Brooks said. "I was deeply concerned about that and wondered if that was the area in which he [North] had worked." Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Iran, immediately cut off his colleague, saying, "That question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area, so may I request that you not touch upon that, sir." Though Brooks pushed for an answer, the line of questioning was not allowed to proceed.

Wired magazine turned up additional damaging information, revealing in 1993 that North, operating from a secure White House site, allegedly employed a software database program called PROMIS (ostensibly as part of the REX 84 plan). PROMIS, which has a strange and controversial history, was designed to track individuals—prisoners, for example—by pulling together information from disparate databases into a single record. According to Wired, "Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon's enemies list or Senator Joe McCarthy's blacklist look downright crude." Sources have suggested to Radar that government databases tracking Americans today, including Main Core, could still have PROMIS-based legacy code from the days when North was running his programs.

In the wake of 9/11, domestic surveillance programs of all sorts expanded dramatically. As one well-placed source in the intelligence community puts it, "The gloves seemed to come off." What is not yet clear is what sort of still-undisclosed programs may have been authorized by the Bush White House. Marty Lederman, a high-level official at the Department of Justice under Clinton, writing on a law blog last year, wondered, "How extreme were the programs they implemented [after 9/11]? How egregious was the lawbreaking?" Congress has tried, and mostly failed, to find out.

HISTORY'S LESSONS Japanese Americans moved to internment camps in World War II

In July 2007 and again last August, Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, sought access to the "classified annexes" of the Bush administration's Continuity of Government program. DeFazio's interest was prompted by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (also known as NSPD-51), issued in May 2007, which reserves for the executive branch the sole authority to decide what constitutes a national emergency and to determine when the emergency is over. DeFazio found this unnerving.

But he and other leaders of the Homeland Security Committee, including Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, were denied a review of the Continuity of Government classified annexes. To this day, their calls for disclosure have been ignored by the White House. In a press release issued last August, DeFazio went public with his concerns that the NSPD-51 Continuity of Government plans are "extra-constitutional or unconstitutional." Around the same time, he told the Oregonian: "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right."

"Congress itself has recently widened the path for both extra-constitutional detentions by the White House and the domestic use of military force during a national emergency. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively suspended habeas corpus and freed up the executive branch to designate any American citizen an "enemy combatant" forfeiting all privileges accorded under the Bill of Rights. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, also passed in 2006, included a last-minute rider titled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," which allowed the deployment of U.S. military units not just to put down domestic insurrections—as permitted under posse comitatus and the Insurrection Act of 1807—but also to deal with a wide range of calamities, including "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or incident."

More troubling, in 2002, Congress authorized funding for the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which, according to Washington Post military intelligence expert William Arkin, "allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control."

"We are at the edge of a cliff and we're about to fall off," says constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein. "To a national emergency planner, everybody looks like a danger to stability. There's no doubt that Congress would have the authority to denounce all this—for example, to refuse to appropriate money for the preparation of a list of U.S. citizens to be detained in the event of martial law. But Congress is the invertebrate branch. They say, 'We have to be cautious.' The same old crap you associate with cowards. None of this will change under a Democratic administration, unless you have exceptional statesmanship and the courage to stand up and say, 'You know, democracies accept certain risks that tyrannies do not.'"

(Photo: Getty Images)

As of this writing, DeFazio, Thompson, and the other 433 members of the House are debating the so-called Protect America Act, after a similar bill passed in the Senate. Despite its name, the act offers no protection for U.S. citizens; instead, it would immunize from litigation U.S. telecom giants for colluding with the government in the surveillance of Americans to feed the hungry maw of databases like Main Core. The Protect America Act would legalize programs that appear to be unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the mystery of James Comey's testimony has disappeared in the morass of election year coverage. None of the leading presidential candidates have been asked the questions that are so profoundly pertinent to the future of the country: As president, will you continue aggressive domestic surveillance programs in the vein of the Bush administration? Will you release the COG blueprints that Representatives DeFazio and Thompson were not allowed to read? What does it suggest about the state of the nation that the U.S. is now ranked by worldwide civil liberties groups as an "endemic surveillance society," alongside repressive regimes such as China and Russia? How can a democracy thrive with a massive apparatus of spying technology deployed against every act of political expression, private or public? (Radar put these questions to spokespeople for the McCain, Obama, and Clinton campaigns, but at press time had yet to receive any responses.)

These days, it's rare to hear a voice like that of Senator Frank Church, who in the 1970s led the explosive investigations into U.S. domestic intelligence crimes that prompted the very reforms now being eroded. "The technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny," Church pointed out in 1975. "And there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know."

UPDATE: Since this article went to press, several documents have emerged to suggest the story has longer legs than we thought. Most troubling among these is an October 2001 Justice Department memo that detailed the extra-constitutional powers the U.S. military might invoke during domestic operations following a terrorist attack. In the memo, John Yoo, then deputy assistant attorney general, "concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations." (Yoo, as most readers know, is author of the infamous Torture Memo that, in bizarro fashion, rejiggers the definition of "legal" torture to allow pretty much anything short of murder.) In the October 2001 memo, Yoo refers to a classified DOJ document titled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States." According to the Associated Press, "Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear. But federal documents indicate that the memo relates to the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program." Attorney General John Mukasey last month refused to clarify before Congress whether the Yoo memo was still in force.

Meanwhile, congressional sources tell Radar that Congressman Peter DeFazio has apparently abandoned his effort to get to the bottom of the White House COG classified annexes. Penny Dodge, DeFazio's chief of staff, says otherwise. "We will be sending a letter requesting a classified briefing soon," she told Radar this week.

Christopher Ketcham (http://www.radaronline.com/search.php?search=Christopher+Ketcham) writes for Harper's, GQ, and Mother Jones, among other publications. He splits his time between Utah and Brooklyn, NY.

May 23rd, 2008, 11:13 PM

It is really sad that I do not find the prospect of a list all that far-fetched. Is it paranoia if it is true?

May 23rd, 2008, 11:39 PM
Such a "list" is the best argument I've heard for a widely interpreted Second Amendment and a gun (or ten) in every house.

May 25th, 2008, 07:05 PM
October 22, 2005

The Troops Don’t Defend Our Freedoms

by Jacob G. Hornberger (http://www.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger64.html)

How often do we hear the claim that American troops “defend our freedoms”? The claim is made often by U.S. officials and is echoed far and wide across the land by television commentators, newspaper columnists, public-school teachers, and many others. It’s even a common assertion that emanates on Sundays from many church pulpits.

Unfortunately, it just isn’t so. In fact, the situation is the exact opposite – the troops serve as the primary instrument by which both our freedoms and well-being are threatened.

Let’s examine the three potential threats to our freedoms and the role that the troops play in them:

1. Foreign regimes

Every competent military analyst would tell us that the threat of a foreign invasion and conquest of America is nonexistent. No nation has the military capability of invading and conquering the United States. Not China, not Russia, not Iran, not North Korea, not Syria. Not anyone. To invade the United States with sufficient forces to conquer and “pacify” the entire nation would take millions of foreign troops and tens of thousands of ships and planes to transport them across the Atlantic or Pacific ocean. No foreign nation has such resources or military capabilities and no nation will have them for the foreseeable future.

After all, think about it: the U.S. army, the most powerful military force in all of history, has not been able to fully conquer such a small country as Iraq because of the level of domestic resistance to a foreign invasion. Imagine the level of military forces that would be needed to conquer and “pacify” a country as large and well-armed as the United States.

I repeat: No foreign nation has the military capability to invade the United States, conquer our country, subjugate our people, and take away our freedoms. Therefore, the troops are not needed to protect our freedoms from this nonexistent threat.

2. Terrorists

Despite widespread fears to the contrary, there is no possibility that terrorists will conquer the United States, take over the government, and take away our freedoms. At most, they are able to kill thousands of people, with, say, suicide bombs but they lack the military forces to subjugate the entire nation or any part of it.

Equally important, while the troops claim that they are protecting us from “the terrorists,” it is the troops themselves – or, more precisely, the presidential orders they have loyally carried out – that have engendered the very terrorist threats against which the troops say they are now needed to protect us.

Think back to 1989 and the years following – when the Berlin Wall fell, East and West Germany were united, Soviet troops withdrew from Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union was dismantled. The Pentagon didn’t know what to do. Unexpectedly, its 50-year-old “official enemy” was gone. (The Soviet Union had previously been America’s “ally” that had “liberated” Eastern Europe from Nazi Germany.) With the fall of the Soviet empire (and, actually, before the fall), the obvious question arose: Why should the United States continue to have an enormous standing army and spend billions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep it in existence?

The Pentagon was in desperate search for a new mission. “We can be a big help in the war on drugs,” the Pentagon said. To prove it, U.S. military forces even shot to death (http://www.americas.org/item_121) 18-year-old American citizen Esequiel Hernandez in 1997, as he tended his goats along the U.S.-Mexican border. “We’ll help American businesses compete in the world.” “We’ll readjust NATO’s mission to protect Europe from non-Soviet threats.” “We’ll protect us from an unsafe world.”

Then along came the Pentagon’s old ally, Saddam Hussein, to whom the United States had even entrusted weapons of mass destruction (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0304p.asp) to use against the Iranian people, and gave America’s standing army a new raison d’être. Invading Kuwait over an oil-drilling dispute, Saddam provided the Pentagon with a new official enemy, one that would last for more than 10 continuous years.

Obeying presidential orders to attack Iraq in 1991, without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, the troops ended up killing tens of thousands of Iraqis. Obeying Pentagon orders to attack Iraq’s water and sewage facilities, the troops accomplished exactly what Pentagon planners had anticipated (http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0401c.asp) – spreading deadly infections and disease among the Iraqi people. Continuing to obey presidential orders in the years that followed, the troops enforced what was possibly the most brutal embargo in history (http://www.fff.org/whatsnew/2004-02-09a.htm), which ended up contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, deaths that U.S. officials said were “worth it. (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0311c.asp)” Obeying presidential orders, the troops enforced the illegal “no-fly zones” (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0211h.asp) over Iraq, which killed even more Iraqis, including children (http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/000616.htm). Obeying presidential orders, the troops established themselves on Islamic holy lands with full knowledge of the anger and resentment that that would produce among devout Muslims. Obeying presidential orders, the troops invaded and occupied Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis – that is, people whose worst “crime” was to resist the unlawful invasion of their homeland by a foreign power.

All that death and destruction – both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 – have given rise to terrible anger and hatred against the United States, which inspired the pre-9/11 attacks, such as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks on overseas U.S. embassies, the 9/11 attacks, and the terrorist threats our nation faces today.

Through it all, the Pentagon simply echoed the claims of the president – that all the death and destruction and humiliation that the U.S. government had wreaked on people in the Middle East, as well as its unconditional military and financial foreign aid to the Israeli government, had not engendered any adverse feelings in the Middle East against the United States. Instead, the president and the Pentagon claimed, the problem was that the terrorists simply hated America for its “freedom and values.”

If the American people had dismantled the nation’s standing army when the Soviet empire was dismantled, the federal government would have lacked the military means to meddle and intervene in the Middle East with unconstitutional military operations, sanctions, no-fly zones, bases, invasions, and occupations. Therefore, there never would have been the terrorists attacks against the United States and a “war on terrorism” for the troops to fight, not to mention the USA PATRIOT Act, secret search warrants and secret courts, the Padilla doctrine (http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0506a.asp), and other federal infringements on our rights and freedoms.

Finally, but certainly important, despite being the most powerful standing army in the world, the U.S. troops were not even able to protect Americans from terrorist acts, as best evidenced by two terrorist attacks on the same target – the World Trade Center, first in 1993 and then again in 2001.

3. The federal government

As our Founding Fathers understood so well, the primary threat to our freedom lies with our own government. That’s in fact why we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – to protect us and our freedoms from federal officials. If the federal government did not constitute such an enormous threat to our freedoms, there would be no reason to have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Yet, what is the primary means by which a government takes away the freedoms of its citizenry? Our American ancestors gave us the answer: its military forces. That is in fact why many of our Founding Fathers opposed a standing, professional military force in America – they knew not only that such a force would be used to involve the nation in costly, senseless, and destructive wars abroad but also that government officials would inevitably use the troops to ensure a compliant and obedient citizenry at home.

Consider the words of James Madison:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
Here’s how Patrick Henry put it:

A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?
Would U.S. troops obey presidential orders to deploy against the American people and take away our freedoms?

There is no doubt about it. Of course they would, especially if the president told them that our “freedom and national security” depended on it, which he would.

As I suggested in my article, “The Troops Don’t Support the Constitution (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0510c.asp),” in the United States the loyalty of the troops is to the president as their supreme commander of chief, not to the Constitution. Recent evidence of this point, as I observed in my article, was the willingness of the troops to obey presidential orders to deploy to Iraq despite the fact that the president had failed to secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war.

What if the president ordered the troops to deploy across the United States and to round up “terrorists” and incarcerate them in military camps, both here and in Cuba? Again, there can be no doubt that most of the troops would willingly obey the president’s orders, especially in the middle of a “crisis” or “emergency” because they view themselves as professional soldiers whose job is to serve the president and not to question why but simply to do or die.

Another good example of the allegiance that the troops have toward the president involves the case of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla. Labeling Padilla a “terrorist,” the president ordered the troops to take him into military custody, deny him access to an attorney, and punish him without a trial and due process of law. The troops obeyed without question. Do you know any troops who have publicly protested the Padilla incarceration or who have resigned from the army in protest? How many have publicly announced, “I refuse to participate in the Padilla incarceration because I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution”?

Indeed, how many of the troops resigned in protest at the president’s orders to set up a prisoner camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, knowing that the reason he and the Pentagon chose Cuba, rather than the United States, was precisely to avoid the constraints (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0306a.asp) of the Constitution?

If the troops didn’t protest with respect to Iraq or Padilla or Gitmo, what is the likelihood they would protest when their commander in chief ordered them to arrest 100 other Americans “terrorists,” or 1,000?

I repeat: The troops, from the Pentagon on down, would not disobey orders of the president to disarm and arrest American “terrorists,” especially in the midst of a “crisis” or “emergency.”

And even if some were to protest, they would be quickly shunted aside (probably punished as well) and replaced with those troops whose allegiance and loyalty to the president would be unquestioned.

Now it’s true that soldiers are supposed to disobey unlawful orders, but as a practical matter most of the troops are not going to overrule the judgment of their commander in chief as to what is legal or not. After all, how many troops involved in the torture and sex-abuse scandal refused to participate in the wrongdoing, especially since they thought that it was approved by the higher-ups? Again, how many refused orders to deploy to Iraq despite the fact that there was no constitutionally required congressional declaration of war?

Imagine that the president issues the following grave announcement on national television during prime time: “Our nation has come under another terrorist attack. Our freedoms and our national security are at stake. I have issued orders to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to immediately take into custody some 1,000 American terrorists who have been identified by the FBI as having conspired to commit this dastardly attack or who have given aid and comfort to the enemy. I have also ordered the JCS to take all necessary steps to temporarily confiscate weapons in the areas where these terrorists are believed to be hiding. These weapons will be returned to the owners once the terrorist threat has subsided. I am calling on all Americans to support the troops in these endeavors, just as you are supporting them in their fight against terrorism in Iraq. We will survive. We will prevail. God bless America.”

Now ask yourself: How many of the troops would disobey the orders of the president given those circumstances, especially if panicked and terrified Americans and the mainstream press were endorsing his martial-law orders?

The answer: Almost none would disobey. They would not consider it their job to determine the constitutionality of the president’s orders. They would leave that for the courts to decide. Their professional allegiance and loyalty to their supreme commander in chief would trump all other considerations, including their oath to “support and defend the Constitution.”

Therefore, if the federal government is the primary threat to our freedom, then so are the troops: their unswerving loyalty to their commander in chief makes them the primary instrument by which the federal government is able to destroy or infringe the rights and freedoms of the citizenry.

The solution

No one can deny that we now live in a nation in which the president wields, albeit unconstitutionally, the omnipotent power to send the entire nation into war against another nation – and that he has the means – a loyal and obedient army – to exercise that power. President Bush made his position clear prior to his invasion of Iraq, when he emphasized that while he welcomed the support of Congress in the event he decided to wage war on Iraq, he didn’t need its approval. His position was reconfirmed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who informed Congress (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/19/iraq/main955470.shtml) on October 19, 2005, that the commander in chief’s position was that he did not need the consent of Congress to send the nation into another war, this time against Syria.

No one can deny that we now live in a nation in which the president claims the omnipotent power to jail and punish any American citizen whom the president labels a “terrorist,” denying him due process of law, trial by jury, and other constitutional guarantees – and that he has the means – a loyal and obedient army – to exercise that power.

Thus, as a practical matter the troops serve not as a defender of our freedoms but instead simply as a loyal and obedient personal army of the president, ready and prepared to serve him and obey his commands. It is an army that stands ready to obey the president’s orders to deploy to any country in the world for any reason he deems fit and attack, kill, and maim any “terrorist” who dares to resist the U.S. invasion of his own country. It is also an army that stands ready to obey the president’s orders to take into custody any American whom the commander in chief deems a “terrorist” and to punish him accordingly.

There is one – and only one – solution to this threat to our freedoms and well-being: for the American people to heed the warning of our Founding Fathers against standing armies before it is too late, and to do what should have been done at least 15 years ago: dismantle the U.S. military empire, close all overseas bases, and bring all the troops home, discharging them into the private sector, where they would effectively become “citizen-soldiers” – well-trained citizens prepared to rally to the defense of our nation in the unlikely event of a foreign invasion of our country. And for the American people to heed the warning of President Eisenhower (http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html) against the military-industrial complex, by shutting down the Pentagon’s enormous domestic military empire, closing domestic bases, and discharging those troops into the private sector.

“Oh, my gosh, if we did all that, how would our freedoms be protected?”

Protected from what? Again, there is no threat of a foreign invasion. And again, terrorism is not a threat to our freedom. Moreover, dismantling the standing army would remove the primary means by which presidents have succeeded in engendering so much anger and hatred against our nation – anger and hatred that in turn have given rise to the threat of terrorism against our nation. And finally, the worst threat to our freedom is our own government, and by dismantling the standing army we would reduce that threat significantly.

What would happen if a foreign nation ever began constructing thousands of ships and planes and mobilizing millions of people to invade the United States? The answer to that threat was also provided by our Founding Fathers: the foreign nation in question would be met by a nation of free well-armed citizens who would be prepared and willing to rally quickly to oppose any invasion and conquest of our nation. Invading a United States filled with well-trained, free men and women would be much like invading Switzerland – like swallowing a porcupine. Don’t forget that the men and women who currently serve in the U.S. armed services wouldn’t disappear; instead they would join the rest of us as citizen-soldiers, people whose fighting skills could be depended on in the unlikely event our nation were ever threatened by invasion by a foreign power.

We should also keep in mind the tremendous economic prosperity that would result from the dismantling of America’s enormous standing army. Not only would all the taxpayer money that is being used to fund the standing army be left in the hands of the citizenry for savings and capital, but all those new people in the private sector would be producing as well, instead of living off the IRS-provided fruits of other people’s earnings. Thus, the economic effect would be doubly positive, and, while weakening the federal government, it would make our nation stronger.

What about foreign monsters, tyrants, oppressors, and conquerors? The answer to that was also provided by our Founding Fathers: Our government would no longer go abroad in search of monsters to destroy (http://www.fff.org/comment/AdamsPolicy.asp), but foreigners suffering oppression and tyranny would know that there would always be at least one nation that would accept them – the United States of America. Rather than police the world, Americans would focus on producing the freest and most prosperous society in history as a model for the world and to which those who escaped tyranny and oppression could freely come.

Of course, those Americans who would nonetheless wish to leave their families and jobs to help oppressed people overseas would still be free to do so.

We should also bear in mind the perverse results (http://www.fff.org/books/0964044757.asp) of the federal government’s military empire and overseas interventions. World War I brought World War II, which brought the Soviet communist occupation of Eastern Europe, which brought the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, along with an enormous standing army in our country. The Middle East interventions and meddling have brought us terrorism, the war on terrorism, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Padilla doctrine, military torture and sex abuse, and CIA kidnappings and “renditions” to foreign countries for the purpose of proxy torture.

By their fruits, you shall know them.

One vision – the vision of militarism (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195173384/thefutureoffreed/104-0800385-1566358) and empire (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805077979/thefutureoffreed/104-0800385-1566358) – will bring America more violence, death, destruction, impoverishment, and loss of freedom. The other vision – the vision of a limited-government, constitutional republic with citizen-soldiers – would put our nation back on the right road of peace, prosperity, harmony, and freedom.


Enacted to glorify the deaths of Union soldiers following the Civil War, Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, has sanctified death in service of federal power ever since.

On Memorial Day remember the soldiers, remember the death, but above all - remember the orders that doomed them.

June 1st, 2008, 10:19 PM
Legal outsourcing suit spotlights surveillance fears

Saturday, May 31, 2008 (http://washtimes.com/news/2008/may/31/legal-outsourcing-suit-spotlights-surveillance-fea/)

Some lawyers are worried that the growing practice of outsourcing legal work to overseas companies is undermining the constitutional guarantees that protect the privacy of lawyer-client communications, leaving them vulnerable to electronic spying by the federal government.

Paralegal firms in India are doing a booming business handling the routine legal work of American law firms, such as drafting contracts, writing patents, indexing documents or researching laws.

These so-called legal process outsourcing firms charge an average of about $40 an hour for their work, about one-quarter to one-third of what the work would cost in the United States.

But a lawsuit filed this month by the Bethesda firm of Newman, McIntosh & Hennessey argues that the constitutional guarantees that protect confidential communications between lawyers and clients may not apply when legal work is transmitted abroad - typically by e-mail, fax or telephone.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent such outsourcing until clients can be assured that their privacy will be protected against electronic monitoring by the National Security Agency and other government agencies.

Government officials would not say whether they are monitoring such legal communications, which could include documents about clients' criminal, marital or financial problems.

"We have no comment for you on the hypothetical scenario you describe involving India," said Dean Boyd, spokesman for the Justice Department's national security division.

Law-enforcement agencies that intercept electronic communications in the United States are limited by Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act of 1968 and by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Title III is used to gather evidence for criminal investigations. FISA is used to collect foreign intelligence information.

Both of them require court orders based on a likelihood the evidence law-enforcement agencies seek will be found through the intercepts.

"The FBI does not tap electronic communications without court orders," said FBI spokesman Rich Kolko.

The only exception would be when the "target" of an intercept is in a foreign country and the electronic communication originates in another country, he said.

"The specific number of international calls intercepted is not a statistic that is collected," Mr. Kolko said.

Evalueserve, a legal process outsourcing firm, estimates that billings to U.S. law firms by foreign outsourcing companies will rise to $970 million by 2015 at the current growth rate of about 60 percent per year.

Outsourcing firms earned about $119 million last year and are expected to earn $180 million this year, said Alok Aggarwal, chairman of Evalueserve. The company has about 2,300 employees, and about 2,000 of them work in New Delhi.

He could give no assurance the U.S. government does not tap into the outsourcers' electronic communications.

"It could be a one-in-a-billion chance, but the chances are still there," Mr. Aggarwal said. "We'd have no way of knowing what the U.S. government is doing. Governments don't tell you what they want to do when it comes to secrecy or when it comes to national security."

Privacy in the United States is protected by the Fourth Amendment. However, recent congressional hearings on the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay showed that legal rights in U.S. courts are sparse when government inquiries occur offshore.

"We have a multibillion-dollar infrastructure that is designed to intercept foreign intelligence and we have lawyers who are pushing a lot of their legal work overseas with very little analysis and very little discussion about what rights are waived when they outsource that legal work," said Joseph Hennessey, the Bethesda attorney who filed a lawsuit this month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. government and a paralegal company in India.

Some of the Washington area's largest law firms have outsourced legal work, including Arnold & Porter LLP and Howrey LLP. Major corporations that have outsourced legal work include United Technologies Corp., Oracle Corp. and Bayer AG.

Outsourcing firms do not represent clients in court or sign documents for them, which requires a U.S. law license.
Mr. Hennessey said he became concerned about the privacy of clients when he received a business solicitation from one of the Indian firms.

"We at Acumen have an upper edge over other [legal processing outsourcing firms] operating from India both in terms of quality, turnaround time and, of course, cost-effectiveness," said the letter from Acumen Legal Services India Ltd.

The letter says the firm tries to ensure "data confidentiality," but Mr. Hennessey says it is unlikely they could avoid the NSA's ECHELON (http://www.nsawatch.org/echelonfaq.html) system for monitoring electronic communications.

As many as 3 billion electronic transmissions daily are filtered through the surveillance system with software that allows unrestrained keyword searches of them, Mr. Hennessy's lawsuit says. After they are intercepted, there is no legal barrier to prevent them from being transferred to other law-enforcement agencies in the United States or among allied nations.

"Because of the pervasive nature of the seizure and search of electronic transmissions obtained through ECHELON, the United States government is necessarily engaged in the seizure and search of client secrets and client confidences," Mr. Hennessey's lawsuit says.

Mr. Hennessey also requested formal opinions from the Maryland State Bar Association and D.C. Bar's legal ethics committee on whether lawyers should transmit information to overseas legal process outsourcing firms.

Neither organization has issued an opinion on the question.

The NSA monitors foreign electronic communications for counterintelligence and support of military operations.

NSA officials said they had no specific knowledge of legal process outsourcers.

"I wouldn't have any information to provide," NSA spokesman Patrick Bomgardner said.

Saul Jay Singer, the D.C. Bar's legal ethics counsel, said a court ruling might be required to resolve the issue.

"It's not an issue that's been ruled on," Mr. Singer said. "I think the bottom line is that this is an issue that is out there and this is an issue that has to be dealt with and will be in the future."

June 4th, 2008, 10:00 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Jasonik/aw-radio-logo2.gif (http://antiwar.com/radio/)

Scott Horton interviews freelance reporter Christopher Ketcham, author of a new piece called “The Last Roundup” for Radar magazine (at the top of this page) , discusses the “Continuity Of Government” (COG) plan to keep government operating after a national emergency such as a nuclear strike, effectively suspending the Constitution and turning the country into a fascist military dictatorship, the history of COG going back to the Cold War and it’s partial implementation after 9/11, DHS’s “Main Core” and other databases and lists of dissidents kept ready by the government, the measures in place for total police state after the next crisis, the pending collapse of America resulting from the suicide-pact with the military industrial complex and the possibilities to reverse this course.

Listen to interview 44:38 (http://dissentradio.com/radio/08_06_02_ketcham.mp3)

June 5th, 2008, 03:00 PM
It's Not Exactly a National Emergency

by Don Bacon

“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.” ~ President Ronald Reagan

In fact the United States operated under a continuous state of emergency from 1933 until 1976, according to By Order Of The President (http://www.amazon.com/Order-President-Executive-Direct-Action/dp/0700611800/lewrockwell/) by Phillip J. Cooper.

To correct this ridiculous situation Congress passed The National Emergencies Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Emergencies_Act) (50 U.S.C. 1601–1651) in 1976 to stop open-ended states of national emergency and formalize Congressional checks and balances on Presidential emergency powers. The act sets a limit of two years on states of national emergency. It also imposes certain "procedural formalities" on the President when invoking such powers, and provides a means for Congress to countermand a Presidential declaration of emergency and associated use of emergency powers.

The perceived need for the law arose from the scope and number of laws granting special powers to the Executive in times of national emergency (or public danger). Constitutional protections are subject to revocation during a state of emergency including the right of habeas corpus.

In addition, many provisions of statutory law – as many as 500 by one count – are contingent on a state of national emergency. According to a 1990 report (http://usa-the-republic.com/emergency%20powers/crs.html) to Congress the President may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.

A popular penalty in recent presidential edicts has been to block property transfers of any offenders. There is never a mention of due process, of course. When it comes to executive privilege justice is not only blind but deaf and dumb.

A big part of the problem is the assumed "executive powers" by presidents who want to act like kings (naturally). From the founding of this nation, American presidents have developed and used various types of presidential or executive "directives." The best-known directives are executive orders and presidential proclamations, but many other documents have a similar function and effect. Presidential directives have been raised to dangerous levels by Presidents William Clinton and George W. Bush. Another excellent reference in this area is With A Stroke of the Pen (http://www.amazon.com/Stroke-Pen-Executive-Orders-Presidential/dp/0691094993) by Kenneth R. Mayer. It includes a quote from a Clinton advisor which described the strategy: "Stroke of the pen . . . . law of the land. Kind of cool."

It was due in part to concern that a declaration of "emergency" for one purpose should not invoke every possible executive emergency power that Congress in 1976 passed the National Emergencies Act. Among other provisions, this act requires the President to declare formally a national emergency and to specify the statutory authorities to be used under such a declaration. The declaration must be published in the Federal Register.

Wow, they really tightened it up, didn't they. The president must state what laws are involved and the order must be published in the Federal Register so that the Congress might act on it if it sees the need to countermand the President. Don't hold your breath – the US Congress has never countermanded a presidential executive order, in fact recently it has rarely stood up to "executive privilege" of any kind. It's simply not an issue, unfortunately. And according to Phillip J. Cooper (cited above), although Congress provided in the National Emergencies Act for the possibility of a legislative veto that would terminate an emergency, the Supreme Court struck down the legislative veto in 1983. So the President rules supreme! US presidents hate Americans for their freedom, apparently, and seek to reduce it.

In the case of executive orders the president supposedly binds himself to do only what's in his order. Sure he does. The problem is that recent presidents (principally Clinton and Bush-43) haven't even obeyed legislated laws and have issued "signing statements" to that effect, so who says they would obey their own executive orders? Might not a president just decide that certain additional steps must be taken because of a national emergency?

In a national emergency, one thing an unrestrained president might do is enact martial law – call out the troops. Can the President impose martial law on his own say-so? Well, yes, whenever he decides to.

US CODE TITLE 10-332 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/10/332.html): Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.

Note that the President doesn't even need a state of emergency to call out the troops. But a state of emergency would help, and has customarily been used by state governments after catastrophic acts of nature, for example, to call up the National Guard and to ask for federal support.

The new domestic military command, NORTHCOM (http://www.northcom.mil/About/index.html), was set up for this purpose. NORTHCOM includes a task force which consists of active, Guard and Reserve military members drawn from all service branches, as well as civilian personnel, who are commanded by a federalized National Guard general officer. From its mission statement: "USNORTHCOM plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions."

Admiral Michael Mullen (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2008/03/mil-080311-afps01.htm), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on NORTHCOM: “The command also has maturing relationships with agencies inside our country, the FBI for instance.”

Oh goody, domestic military forces which are ready to provide "civil support" have "maturing relationships" with organizations that spy on US citizens and keep files on them. But what about the Posse Comitatus Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act) (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1385), which states: "Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." Posse Comitatus is supposed to keep troops in the barracks regarding domestic situations, right?

Well, no, according to Homeland Security (http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/brinkerhoffpossecomitatus.htm): "The Posse Comitatus Act is often cited as a major constraint on the use of the military services to participate in homeland security, counterterrorism, civil disturbances, and similar domestic duties. It is widely believed that this law prohibits the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps from performing any kind of police work or assisting law enforcement agencies to enforce the law. This belief, however, is not exactly correct. . . . The biggest error is the common assertion that the Posses Comitatus Act was enacted to prevent the military services from acting as a national police force."

So the bottom line is that we'd better pay attention when a national emergency is declared, right?

That's right, in fact pay attention fourteen times. There are currently fourteen (14) national emergencies in effect in the United States. Here they are, with their topics, listed chronologically in order of their last annual renewal (they seem perpetual):

Western Balkans (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/06/20070622-9.html) – "(i) extremist violence in the Republic of Macedonia and elsewhere in the Western Balkans region, or (ii) acts obstructing implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia"

Former Liberian regime of Charles Taylor (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/20070720-7.html) – "blocking of property of certain persons associated with the former Liberian regime of Charles Taylor"

Terrorism (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/09/20070920-9.html) – after 9/11 "constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States" [Note: Current Homeland Security position: "At this time there is no credible information warning of an imminent, specific threat to the homeland."]

Colombian Narcotics Traffickers (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/10/20071018-7.html) – "to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia"

Democratic Republic of the Congo (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/10/20071024-10.html) – "blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in that country"

Sudan (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071101-7.html) – "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan"

Iran (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071109-6.html) – "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the situation in Iran"

Weapons of mass destruction (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071109-5.html) – "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons "weapons of mass destruction" and the means of delivering such weapons"

Middle East Terrorists (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071109-5.html) – "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by grave acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process"

Cote d'Ivoire (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071109-5.html) – "blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire"

Cuba (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/02/20080207-6.html) – "to address the disturbance or threatened disturbance of international relations caused by the February 24, 1996, destruction by the Cuban government of two unarmed U.S.-registered civilian aircraft in international airspace north of Cuba"

Syria (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/02/20080213-7.html) – "the Government of Syria continues to engage in certain conduct that formed the basis for the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, including but not limited to undermining efforts with respect to the stabilization of Iraq"

Zimbabwe (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/03/20080304-6.html) – "blocked the property of persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe"

Burma (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/05/20080501-6.html) – "additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13047 of May 20, 1997"

These are the fourteen US "national emergencies" that George W. Bush has annually renewed with his signature within the past year, without a peep from Congress. Now obviously these are not truly national emergencies. They are fakes, dictated by a phony President, acceded to by a rubber-stamp Congress and abetted by a dictator-loving Supreme Court. The United States is in no way extraordinarily threatened by the Government of Sudan. But these Presidential decrees do have some purposes, don't they? First, they are ploys to give the US government some power it wouldn't ordinarily have. Secondly, they are meant to frighten US citizens about terrorism, among other things. (Terror means fright and the goal of terrorists is to frighten, so what does that tell you?) Thirdly, they might provide a President, a "Decider," some basis for military or other action against US citizens. Okay, not under a Balkans or Liberian "national emergency," but how about WMD or terrorism? Or Iran?

Fourteen (not exactly) US national emergencies. Sleep on, America.

Don Bacon [send him mail (smedleybutlersociety@msn.com)] is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society (http://warisaracket.org/) several years ago because, as General Butler said, "war is a racket."

June 5, 2008
Copyright © 2008 LewRockwell.com (http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig9/bacon3.html)

June 26th, 2008, 06:00 PM
U.S. border agents copying contents of travelers' laptops

By Federica Narancio | McClatchy Newspapers (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/42186.html)

WASHINGTON — U.S. border agents are copying and seizing the contents of laptops, cell phones and digital cameras from U.S. and foreign travelers entering the United States, witnesses told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday.

The extent of this practice is unknown despite requests to the Department of Homeland Security from the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution and several nonprofit agencies.

The department also declined to send a representative to the hearing. Subcommittee Chairman Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said Homeland Security had told him that its "preferred" witness was unavailable Wednesday.

Feingold added that he'd submitted written questions about the seizures of electronic data — and of some devices — to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in April. To date, Feingold said, he's gotten no reply.

Chertoff's department provided a written statement that said it wasn't its intention to infringe on Americans' privacy but to protect the country from terrorists and criminals, whose electronic devices can reveal incriminating materials.

During border searches of laptops, according to the statement, the department's Customs and Border Protection officers have found "jihadist material, information about cyanide and nuclear material, video clips of improvised explosive devices being exploded, pictures of various high-level al Qaida officials and other material associated with people seeking to do harm to U.S. and its citizens."

Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, signed the statement.

Some witnesses noted that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had ruled in a recent child-pornography case that federal agents could seize a laptop computer at the border without reasonable suspicion that its owner was engaged in unlawful activities.

However, several witnesses said that the ruling, by the most liberal of U.S. appeals courts, didn't end their concerns about Homeland Security's refusal to explain the standards for its searches, how it protects privacy, how the seized material is used and who can see or use it.

Three nonprofits — the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org/), the Asian Law Caucus (http://www.asianlawcaucus.org/) and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (http://www.acte.org/) — filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year seeking Homeland Security's answers to those questions. They've gotten none thus far.

They and other groups consider seizures made without probable cause to be an invasion of privacy that leaves the door open to ethnic and racial profiling.

Farhana Khera, the president of Muslim Advocates (http://www.muslimadvocates.org/), a San Francisco nonprofit, said they'd received complaints from Muslim, Arab and South Asian Americans. She said they also had been questioned about their political, religious and personal views.

Retaining confidential computer files also worries business travelers and companies, said Susan Gurley, the executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, an international group based in Alexandria, Va..

Her organization surveyed its 2,500 members in February, Gurley said. Of 100 respondents, seven said border agents had seized their laptops or their files. Four out of five, she said, were unaware that border agents could seize (http://www.lewrockwell.com/bacon/bacon8.html) their electronic data and devices.

McClatchy Newspapers 2008


The laudable Senator from Wisconsin -- Mr. Feingold -- responds:

“Once again, this administration has demonstrated its perverse belief that it is entitled to keep anything and everything secret from the public it serves and their elected representatives, while Americans are not allowed to keep any secrets from their government. That’s exactly backwards.”Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee hearing 6/25 (http://rawstory.com/news08/2008/06/25/feingold-bush-admin-secrecy-cant-outweigh-travelers-privacy/)

June 30th, 2008, 12:52 AM
Whistleblower: FISA ‘compromise’ advances police state agenda

By Nick Langewis | Sunday, 29 June 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news08/2008/06/29/whistleblower-fisa-compromise-advances-police-state-agenda/)

Retired AT&T engineer Mark Klein has condemned the Senate’s Wednesday cloture vote on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h6304/show).

The bill, if passed by final vote planned for July 8, would revise the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to retroactively grant immunity to customers’ civil lawsuits against telecommunications companies who participated in the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, on the condition that they can provide documentation that they were told ahead of time that their activities were legal.

Klein, in November 2007, urged Congress not to allow such immunity, having gone public with his story of a secret room in AT&T’s San Francisco switching center, which required NSA clearance to enter. All Internet traffic, he said, was being diverted to equipment in the room, as he discovered during his time maintaining optical splitters that handled data to and from AT&T customers.

“[My] thought was George Orwell’s 1984 and here I am forced to connect to the Big Brother machine,” Klein told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Countdown_Telcom_whistleblower_describes_secret_ro om_1107.html) in a November 2007 interview.

Documents Klein obtained, along with conversations he had with colleagues, suggested that 15 to 20 other sites such as this were in other offices across the country, ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=3833172) reported. The documents (http://rawstory.com/images/other/att_kleindocs.pdf), acquired by Wired.com (http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/06/att-whistleblow.html), were submitted as part of a 2006 class action lawsuit, currently awaiting further action in the 9th Circuit US Appeals Court, filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“[Wednesday]’s vote by Congress effectively gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies and endorses an all-powerful president,” Klein said. “It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.”

“This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice,” he went on. “Congress has made the FISA law a dead letter–such a law is useless if the president can break it with impunity. Thus the Democrats have surreptitiously repudiated the main reform of the post-Watergate era and adopted Nixon’s line: ‘When the president does it that means that it is not illegal.’ This is the judicial logic of a dictatorship.”

July 7th, 2008, 12:07 PM
Domestic spying quietly goes on
NSA faces new limits, but surveillance thrives

By Bradley Olson | Baltimore Sun reporter
July 7, 2008 (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/bal-te.fisa07jul07,0,2783557.story)

With Congress on the verge of outlining new parameters for National Security Agency eavesdropping between suspicious foreigners and Americans, lawmakers are leaving largely untouched a host of government programs that critics say involves far more domestic surveillance than the wiretaps they sought to remedy.

These programs - most of them highly classified - are run by an alphabet soup of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They sift, store and analyze the communications, spending habits and travel patterns of U.S. citizens, searching for suspicious activity.

The surveillance includes data-mining programs that allow the NSA and the FBI to sift through large databanks of e-mails, phone calls and other communications, not for selective information, but in search of suspicious patterns.

Other information, like routine bank transactions, is kept in databases similarly monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency.

"There's virtually no branch of the U.S. government that isn't in some way involved in monitoring or surveillance," said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian and fellow at the National Security Archives at The George Washington University. "We're operating in a brave new world."

Federal rules limit the ways some of the information can be used and shared among government agencies. Pending changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act contain numerous provisions set up to safeguard the privacy of Americans. But there are few similar protections with other types of surveillance.

Under the FISA proposal, for example, a CIA transcript or NSA summary of an innocent social conversation between a foreign terrorist and his relative in the United States would not be shared with other intelligence analysts. Even if the conversation was later found to have investigative merit, the U.S. relative's name and other identifying information would either be redacted or revealed only under limited circumstances to select agencies.

The Bush administration argues that the privacy and civil liberties protections in place for surveillance not covered by the FISA rules are "unprecedented." In addition to the data-mining, use of financial transaction databases and satellite imagery, the surveillance includes monitoring the travel patterns of airline passengers.

Use of satellites by local law enforcement agencies, for instance, is supposed to go through a stringent approval protocol at the Department of Homeland Security's newly formed National Applications Office (http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1187188414685.shtm).

But critics say the safeguards don't always work. Some blunders in the use of such protections have become public. NewYorker writer Lawrence Wright wrote in January about one such experience. In 2002, while he was researching The Looming Tower, his Pulitzer Prize-winning book on al-Qaida, two members of an FBI terrorism task force arrived at his home. Why, they asked, had his daughter been speaking with someone in the United Kingdom who was in touch with suspected al-Qaida operatives?

It wasn't his daughter, he told them flatly. Wright himself had made the calls. And the person he contacted was a British civil rights lawyer who had asked him not to speak with her clients, some of whom are relatives of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant.

"My daughter is no terrorist - she went to high school with the Bush twins," Wright said. "I was taken aback. They were apparently monitoring my phones."

Wright said he was particularly surprised because he was aware of protections supposedly in place to conceal his name and other identifying information that would have been gathered during the creation of transcripts of the call.

Wright said he doubted the government would have been able to get a warrant for the information, and he said he didn't know how the FBI obtained his daughter's name, let alone got the impression that she was communicating with the British lawyer.

Critics say such stories recall 1960s and 1970s-era abuses - the CIA's involvement in political activities, and the FBI monitoring of peace groups and civil rights activists - that prompted Congress to pass far-reaching laws bringing foreign-intelligence gathering and any domestic surveillance under strict controls and judicial oversight.

Although the latest FISA proposal includes numerous provisions for a secret court to monitor and authorize surveillance, and for inspectors general to keep tabs on who's being monitored by various agencies, little oversight exists for surveillance programs that fall outside FISA scrutiny.

Congress has requested, and in many cases received, briefings on some of the programs. But its dissatisfaction with the amount of information provided by the administration has frequently resulted in holding back funding for programs.

The House Appropriations Committee took such a step this week, holding back funding for the National Applications Office's effort to use U.S. satellites for domestic purposes until August, when the Government Accountability Office will release a report about how the program will handle civil liberties and privacy concerns.

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the department had repeatedly met with lawmakers and would comply with any review process. He called efforts to stall the funding "misguided" and a potential threat to public safety and security missions.

Even when Congress has received information, lawmakers say their questions or concerns are often addressed within the agency that is responsible for the surveillance, amounting to a practice of self-policing.

"You don't have to look far into history to know that when the government, any government, is given secret authorities, that those authorities are ultimately abused," said Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "You don't even have to attribute bad motives to anyone. In an intelligence officer's zeal to protect the country, they often will overstep their bounds."

In part to assuage privacy concerns, the Department of Homeland Security has established a privacy czar (http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/bio_1166549785058.shtm) to ensure that the technologies and programs initiated by the federal agency do not erode privacy laws or violate civil liberties. While many have lauded the creation of such a position, some believe it should be expanded to a Cabinet-level post in the executive branch, a step that some advocates say would send a powerful message in an age when digitized communications have ballooned and made safeguarding private information vastly more complicated.

"We should have what Canada has, which is a minister of privacy, someone looking out for the privacy issues of Americans," said James Bamford, an intelligence expert and author on two books about the history of the NSA. "We have armies of people out there trying to pick into everyone's private life, but we have nobody out there who's an advocate."


July 8th, 2008, 04:00 PM
Want some torture with your peanuts?

By Jeffrey Denning (http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/aviation-security/2008/Jul/01/want-some-torture-with-your-peanuts/)

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all...

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video (http://www.lamperdlesslethal.com/video_gallery.asp?video=http://www.lamperdlesslethal.com/video/EMDsafetybracelet.flv&title=) found at the Lamperd Less Lethal (http://www.securitystockwatch.com/Interviews/in_Boardroom_LLLI.html) website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.

This bracelet would:

• take the place of an airline boarding pass

• contain personal information about the traveler

• be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

• shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to as, would be worn by every traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.” Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and that it would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if he/she got out of line?

Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is an euphuism for the EMD Safety Bracelet, or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability, thus the term ID Bracelet is ambiguous at best. EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according to the promotional video the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes.

So is the government really that interested in this bracelet? Yes!

According to a letter (http://www.lamperdlesslethal.com/news/upload/pg2HomelandSecurity7_06.pdf) from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, to the inventor whom he had previously met with, he wrote, “To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in…the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal.” The letterhead, in case you were wondering, came from the DHS office (http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/tc/) at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City International Airport, or the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters.

In another part of the letter (http://www.lamperdlesslethal.com/news/upload/pg1HomelandSecurity7_06.pdf), Mr. Ruwaldt confirmed, “It is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes.”

Would every paying airline passenger flying on a commercial airplane be mandated to wear one of these devices? I cringe at the thought. Not only could it be used as a physical restraining device, but also as a method of interrogation, according to the same aforementioned letter from Mr. Ruwaldt.

Would you let them put one of those on your wrist? Would you allow the airline employees, which would be mandated by the government, to place such a bracelet on any member of your family?

Why are tax dollars being spent on something like this? Is this a police state or is it America?

As we approach July 4th, Independence Day, I can’t help but think of the blessing we have of living in America and being free from hostile government forces. It calls to mind on of my favorite speeches given by an American Founding Forefather, Patrick Henry, who said,

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

July 11th, 2008, 12:26 PM
Fox News video, July 11, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/rawreplay/?p=1463) covering the aforementioned shock bracelets. Interview of Neil Livingstone (http://www.executiveaction.com/nlivingstone).

"In a post-9/11 world, who's to say?" - Fox News’ Megyn Kelly

July 11th, 2008, 12:58 PM
U.S. defends laptop searches at the border
Courts have upheld routine checks of Americans’ hard drives at the border. Critics say they’re anything but routine.

By Alexandra Marks | Staff Writer for The Christian Science Monitor / July 10, 2008 edition (http://features.csmonitor.com/innovation/2008/07/10/us-defends-laptop-searches-at-the-border/)

Is a laptop searchable in the same way as a piece of luggage? The Department of Homeland Security believes it is.

For the past 18 months, immigration officials at border entries have been searching and seizing some citizens’ laptops, cellphones, and BlackBerry devices when they return from international trips.

In some cases, the officers go through the files while the traveler is standing there. In others, they take the device for several hours and download the hard drive’s content. After that, it’s unclear what happens to the data.

The Department of Homeland Security contends these searches and seizures of electronic files are vital to detecting terrorists and child pornographers. It also says it has the constitutional authority to do them without a warrant or probable cause.

But many people in the business community disagree, saying DHS is overstepping the Fourth Amendment bounds of permissible routine searches. Some are fighting for Congress to put limits on what can be searched and seized and what happens to the information that’s taken. The civil rights community says the laptop seizures are simply unconstitutional. They want DHS to stop the practice unless there’s at least reasonable suspicion.

Legal scholars say the issue raises the compelling and sometimes clashing interests of privacy rights and the need to protect the US from terrorists and child pornographers. The courts have long held that routine searches at the border are permissible, simply because they take place at the border. Opponents of the current policy say a laptop search is far from “routine.”

“A laptop can hold [the equivalent of] a major university’s library: It can contain your full life,” says Peter Swire, a professor of law at Ohio State University in Columbus. “The government’s never gotten to search your entire life, so this is unprecedented in scale what the government can get.”

In recent court challenges, lower courts have ruled that laptop searches at the border are reasonable, just like searches of a person’s baggage or other physical property. But the courts have drawn the line at personal, invasive searches, ruling that things like “strip searches, body-cavity searches, and involuntary X-ray searches” are nonroutine, according to Nathan Sales, a professor of law at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., who recently testified before Congress.

Thus, they require reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a warrant.

Advocates of the current practice say that the contents of a laptop are like the contents of a suitcase, and as such, customs officials have every right to go through them. They also argue that requiring probable cause for laptop searches would create huge delays at the border and give criminals and terrorists an easy way to bring dangerous things into the country.

“The idea that we would create some kind of sanctuary for criminals and terrorists to carry things across the border to me is absolutely ludicrous,” says James Jay Carafano, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “It’s also unrealistic to require probable cause when you think about the millions of people a day who come in and go out of the country.”

People who’ve had their laptops and other electronic devices searched and seized believe that it’s reasonable and constitutional to expect a higher level of suspicion before customs officials take their laptop.

Amir Khan, an information technology consultant from the San Francisco area, has had his laptop searched twice on returning to the US from business abroad. Once, a customs official took it away for more than two hours.

“I don’t know what he did with it. He could have planted malicious software or copied files,” Mr. Khan says. “It was very intrusive and I think unreasonable. The Fourth Amendment makes it clear you can’t just stop anybody in the street and start searching them and their things.”

Many people, particularly in the business community, also say that a laptop is more like a virtual office than a piece of baggage. In addition, they believe the government should be required to tell people what it does with the information it copies.

“Right now, [DHS] seems to believe that it can hold anything it wants from your laptop, BlackBerry, or cellphone indefinitely,” says Susan Gurley, executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives in Alexandria, Va. “There are no limits on what they can do with it or whether they can share it with any third party.”

Ms. Gurley and others in the business community would like DHS to be required to come up with a set of rules that determine what can be done with the information and how long it can be held. Civil rights advocates would like to see Congress go even further and determine that a search of an electronic device is invasive and requires probable cause.

“We treat our laptops, BlackBerrys, and cellphones as an extension of our brains. They can contain our most intimate thoughts,” says Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union.

As for creating a “sanctuary” for terrorists to bring in lethal plans, Mr. Sparapani counters: “Any terrorist worth his or her salt would send that stuff in an encrypted file from a remote location to a remote server somewhere in the United States.”

In an e-mail, DHS says its officers “have the responsibility to check items such as laptops and other personal electronic devices to ensure that any item brought into the country complies with applicable law and is not a threat to the American public.”

July 11th, 2008, 02:48 PM
This is silly.

You want to get around this? You have a removable HD and detach/stow it in your checked in luggage. They can still search that, but I don't think they have the brains for it yet.

And the "secret plans". Come on. You can set up your machine, at home, as an FTP server and upload whatever you want, from wherever, to it on an encrypted connection.

I just love how they take two of the most evil, in our minds, criminals you can mention and put them in the same sentance.

I surprised they did not mention Nun beaters and baby seal clubbers in the same breath!

Maybe they are afraid of Child Pornography Terrorists!!!!!!

July 17th, 2008, 05:11 PM
The smell of voter suppression coming out of Florida is getting stronger.

You wrote that in 2004. But I have to wonder how loudly you've complained about the smell of voter suppression coming out of Florida and Michigan by the DEMOCRATIC party which refused to COUNT THE VOTES in this year's primary.

July 17th, 2008, 07:27 PM
You should read up on primary rules vs general election rules.

July 17th, 2008, 07:45 PM
I was about to post the same thing.

July 17th, 2008, 09:21 PM
some people like to make up their own "facts" rather than educate themselves.

July 18th, 2008, 12:06 AM
You should read up on primary rules vs general election rules.
I did. And I read that DEMOCRATS don't count millions of primary votes. That's fair. As long as we're all clear on who has "not counting votes" written right into their rule book.

July 18th, 2008, 12:15 AM
You're really missing the point, but just to satisfy your line of reasoning...

The Republican primary system is further removed from "counting each vote," since ALL state contests are winner-take-all.

July 18th, 2008, 12:19 AM
And it's reassuring that your vote won't count at all toward putting Bush III in office.

July 18th, 2008, 12:46 AM
The Republican primary system is further removed from "counting each vote," since ALL state contests are winner-take-all.
Yes, but at least they count each vote. And at least each vote counts. The general election is winner take all as well. So doesn't seem like a bad method to use.

July 18th, 2008, 01:25 AM
You wrote that in 2004. But I have to wonder how loudly you've complained about the smell of voter suppression coming out of Florida and Michigan by the DEMOCRATIC party which refused to COUNT THE VOTES in this year's primary.

You've been here ONE day. You don't know me.

I wonder how big a troll you really are. I wonder if your an incredibly unhappy middle-aged woman, heavy at the hips, not very attractive, who loves McDonald's milkshakes and gallon size Slurpees from 7-11. I wonder what ever happened to all those people that once liked hanging around with you, but now avoid you at all costs because you're mean and politically deranged. I have to wonder about that smell, no, no THAT STENCH that rises like a bad draft over a septic tank each time I open a thread and see a post from you.

I wonder how a person becomes so bitter and so hateful and so judgmental. Was it a moment when you looked in a mirror and just got angry at the world for what Taco Bell did to your thighs? I wonder too. I wonder whether the attendents in the home bring the computer over to you for a while. I wonder if you have to shuffle over to the computer and wait for them to put that kewpsy doll name "bobbiesox" in the user line. I wonder if you hack at baby kittens with a cleaver as you angrily punch your secret password T-R-O-L-L into the screen.

I do wonder about trolls like you who come charging into a forum and start digging things up thinking that no one will notice. We've seen our share of trolls. It never ends nicely. I wonder how you'll end - because in this cyber world and in this virtual community we post with courtesy. You see, you're new. You don't know that this is one of the most highly trafficked sites because we do maintain standards of behavior and... I just wonder where you will go when you find yourself shut out of this very community-oriented forum.

I wonder if you've ever been in a forum where people respected one another. I think you'll learn some great lessons out in the virtual world. But, TROLL, you are not going to come storming in here straight out of the asylum and ransack the place before the attendents restrain you and get you back on your meds.

So, my dear DEAR bobbiesox... one misstep...one itsy bitsy teeny weeny peep from you that I can interpret as you defacing our forum and you are OUT of HERE.

Your schtick only works on Fox News. That's not the real world and that's not our world.

Gregory Tenenbaum
July 18th, 2008, 01:54 AM
What Bush police state?

Havent you guys been reading the news?

In England the government is actually considering a curfew for children.

Now thats a police state.

July 18th, 2008, 11:16 AM
You've been here ONE day. You don't know me.

I wonder how big a troll you really are. I wonder if your an incredibly unhappy middle-aged woman, heavy at the hips, not very attractive, who loves McDonald's milkshakes and gallon size Slurpees from 7-11. I wonder what ever happened to all those people that once liked hanging around with you, but now avoid you at all costs because you're mean and politically deranged. I have to wonder about that smell, no, no THAT STENCH that rises like a bad draft over a septic tank each time I open a thread and see a post from you.

I wonder how a person becomes so bitter and so hateful and so judgmental. Was it a moment when you looked in a mirror and just got angry at the world for what Taco Bell did to your thighs? I wonder too. I wonder whether the attendents in the home bring the computer over to you for a while. I wonder if you have to shuffle over to the computer and wait for them to put that kewpsy doll name "bobbiesox" in the user line. I wonder if you hack at baby kittens with a cleaver as you angrily punch your secret password T-R-O-L-L into the screen.

I do wonder about trolls like you who come charging into a forum and start digging things up thinking that no one will notice. We've seen our share of trolls. It never ends nicely. I wonder how you'll end - because in this cyber world and in this virtual community we post with courtesy. You see, you're new. You don't know that this is one of the most highly trafficked sites because we do maintain standards of behavior and... I just wonder where you will go when you find yourself shut out of this very community-oriented forum.

I wonder if you've ever been in a forum where people respected one another. I think you'll learn some great lessons out in the virtual world. But, TROLL, you are not going to come storming in here straight out of the asylum and ransack the place before the attendents restrain you and get you back on your meds.

So, my dear DEAR bobbiesox... one misstep...one itsy bitsy teeny weeny peep from you that I can interpret as you defacing our forum and you are OUT of HERE.

Your schtick only works on Fox News. That's not the real world and that's not our world.
OMG! Are you kidding me! you throw all those insults my way and then you say this is a place where peple respect one another! You need to look at yourself.

All I've done is found posts I disagreed with and I've responded intelligently and politely. I've insulted no one here. It wouldn't surprise me if you kick me off though. That's what liberals always do on these boards. The minute there's one word of dissent suddenly they're slimed with insults and then they're kicked off.

So much for free speech huh? A little hard to take I guess when not everyone agrees with you.

I see why there have been no conservative voices here in a long time. They all got kicked off!

Interesting in light of my FACTUAL statement about the Democratic primary methods that your only response is to lash out at me with the most vitriolic personal insults. If I moderated a board I would never put up with those kinds of insults on my members from other members - no matter who was first!

July 18th, 2008, 11:20 AM
You see, you're new. You don't know that this is one of the most highly trafficked sites because we do maintain standards of behavior and... I just wonder where you will go when you find yourself shut out of this very community-oriented forum.

I wonder if you've ever been in a forum where people respected one another.

Like this one? Is this what you call standards of behavior, and people respecting one another? So you're saying I don't respect you if I happen to not agree with you on everything? But you're respecting me because you set me right by hurling all kinds of vitriolic insults my way? Very interesting take on "respect" you have there!

I wonder how big a troll you really are. I wonder if your an incredibly unhappy middle-aged woman, heavy at the hips, not very attractive, who loves McDonald's milkshakes and gallon size Slurpees from 7-11. I wonder what ever happened to all those people that once liked hanging around with you, but now avoid you at all costs because you're mean and politically deranged. I have to wonder about that smell, no, no THAT STENCH that rises like a bad draft over a septic tank each time I open a thread and see a post from you.

I wonder how a person becomes so bitter and so hateful and so judgmental. Was it a moment when you looked in a mirror and just got angry at the world for what Taco Bell did to your thighs? I wonder too. I wonder whether the attendents in the home bring the computer over to you for a while. I wonder if you have to shuffle over to the computer and wait for them to put that kewpsy doll name "bobbiesox" in the user line. I wonder if you hack at baby kittens with a cleaver as you angrily punch your secret password T-R-O-L-L into the screen.

I think you'll learn some great lessons out in the virtual world. But, TROLL, you are not going to come storming in here straight out of the asylum and ransack the place before the attendents restrain you and get you back on your meds.

So, my dear DEAR bobbiesox... one misstep...one itsy bitsy teeny weeny peep from you that I can interpret as you defacing our forum and you are OUT of HERE.

Your schtick only works on Fox News. That's not the real world and that's not our world.

So that's what you consider high standards of courtesy huh? Very interesting. And very couteous by the way.

What you're really saying is as long as I agree with everything you believe then you'll be courteous and then I'm welcomed to stay. But the minute I disagree, stray off the reservation as it were - all bets are off - I'm outta here, right!?

I hope to any fair individuals who may be out there and get the chance to read this, you'll see this for what it is. AGREE WITH US OR YOUR FREE SPEECH RIGHTS WILL BE TAKEN AWAY. Unbelievable.

July 18th, 2008, 11:27 AM
So that's what you consider high standards of courtesy huh? Very interesting. And very couteous by the way.

What you're really saying is as long as I agree with everything you believe then you'll be courteous and then I'm welcomed to stay. But the minute I disagree, stray off the reservation as it were - all bets are off - I'm outta here, right!?

I hope to any fair individuals who may be out there and get the chance to read this, you'll see this for what it is. AGREE WITH US OR YOUR FREE SPEECH RIGHTS WILL BE TAKEN AWAY. Unbelievable.

You pulled the pin, try not to stand to close to it when it goes off.

Oh, one thing to remember, free speech may be a right, but it can still get you beat up in a hallway if you call someone's mother fat. You come in here fresh and ready to flame every single thread that is critical of the current administration and wonder why you have blown the cap on one of our more passionate members that, for teh past few years, has restrained himself admirably in the name of the forum?

Congrats. When are you putting up your attack ads for 2K8?

July 18th, 2008, 11:49 AM
WEDNESDAY JULY 16, 2008 08:06 EDT (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/)
Al-Marri and the power to imprison U.S. citizens without charges

Of all the constitutionally threatening and extremist powers the Bush administration has asserted over the last seven years, the most radical -- and the most dangerous -- has been its claim that the President has the power to arrest U.S. citizens and legal residents inside the U.S., and imprison them indefinitely in a military prison, without charging them with any crime, based on his assertion that the imprisoned individual is an "enemy combatant." Beginning with U.S. citizen Yasser Esam Hamdi (detained in Afghanistan), followed by U.S. citizen Jose Padilla (detained at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport), followed by Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri (in the U.S. on a student visa and detained at his home in Peoria, Illinois), the Bush administration has not only claimed that power in theory but has aggressively exercised and defended it in practice.

The Bush administration's strategy of imprisoning these "enemy combatants" in a South Carolina military brig has (by design) ensured that subsequent legal challenges are heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most right-wing judicial circuit in the country. In September, 2005, a three-judge panel from that circuit issued a ruling in the Jose Padilla case (http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/056396.P.pdf) (.pdf) that actually upheld the President's power to arrest and indefinitely detain even U.S. citizens arrested on U.S. soil without charging them with any crime -- a decision which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review (because the Bush administration, after 3 1/2 years of lawless imprisonment, avoided that review by finally charging Padilla with a crime), thus leaving that Padilla decision as still-valid law in this country.

Citing the allegation that Jose Padilla had "served as an armed guard at what he understood to be a Taliban outpost" in Afghanistan (Dec. at 7), the 2005 Padilla decision held that "the President is authorized by the AUMF to detain Padilla as a fundamental incident to the conduct of war." The court rejected Padilla's claim that -- as a U.S. citizen who was "captured" on U.S. soil -- he was entitled under the Constitution to be charged with a crime and tried in a civilian court. Under Padilla, the President thus has the power to imprison even U.S. citizens in a military brig indefinitely, merely be alleging that they are "enemy combatants" who have "taken up arms against the U.S."

Yesterday, the full Fourth Circuit appellate court, in a 5-4 ruling (http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/067427A.P.pdf) (.pdf), expanded that Draconian power even further. This ruling was issued in al-Marri's case, whose extraordinary plight I've previously written about (http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/11/military-commissions-act-in-action.html) in detail. Al-Marri is a citizen of Qatar who, in 2001, was in the United States legally, on a student visa. He was a computer science graduate student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he had earned an undergraduate degree a decade earlier. In Peoria, he lived with his wife and five children. Shortly after the 9/11 attack, al-Marri was detained as a material witness and subsequently charged in a civilian court (http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/terrorism/usalmarri1202cmp.html) with a variety of crimes relating to credit card fraud and making false statements as part of the 9/11 investigation. He vehemently denied those accusations, and -- in June, 2003 -- he was preparing for his criminal trial, scheduled to begin the following month.

Suddenly -- a month before his trial was to begin -- George Bush declared him to be an "enemy combatant" and ordered the U.S. military to seize him from civilian officials and transfer him to military custody. There -- in a South Carolina military brig -- al-Marri has remained for the last five years, with no criminal charges having been brought against him and no meaningful opportunity to contest his guilt in a court of law. He has been kept in solitary confinement and denied any contact (http://edition.cnn.com/2005/LAW/12/13/forgotten.enemy/index.html) with the outside world other than his lawyers.

The Fourth Circuit's 5-4 ruling yesterday upheld the President's authority to detain al-Marri in a military prison as an "enemy combatant." What makes the ruling so striking is that -- unlike Hamdi and Padilla -- not even the Bush administration claims that al-Marri fought alongside the Taliban, fought against U.S. forces, or had even been to Afghanistan. He's simply a civilian accused by the President of being involved in a terrorist plot. As one of the seven separate opinions issued as part of the court's ruling yesterday noted [p. 28]:


The Judge who was the swing vote in this ruling (Judge Traxler) -- whose opinion became the court's binding decision -- described, with remarkable casualness, the power that the al-Marri court was therefore vesting in the President [Dec. at 70]:


Thus, the President can order anyone in the U.S. imprisoned in a military brig as an "enemy combatant" -- even if they have never fought on a battlefield or with a foreign power against the U.S. Rather, mere accusations by the President of "terrorism" are sufficient to justify the indefinite incarceration of such an individual as an "enemy combatant," who is then denied basic Constitutional guarantees.

To say that such individuals can be held "for the duration of relevant hostilities" means, of course, that such individuals can be imprisoned by the President in a military brig not just for years but for decades [Dec. at 62]:


Most critically of all -- as two of the opinions separately recognized, including the one from the swing Judge (Traxler) whose opinion was the only one to attract five votes and is therefore the court's opinion -- this decision applies every bit as much, and to exactly the same extent, to U.S. citizens on U.S. soil as it does to non-citizens (such as al-Marri) who are in the U.S. legally. From Judge Traxler's opinion [Dec. at 98]:


And from Judge Gregory's [Dec. at 100]:


So, then, the President has the power to imprison in a military prison even U.S. citizens inside the U.S. -- who are pure civilians, having not been anywhere near a battlefield -- indefinitely and without having to charge them with any crime.

The same court yesterday, also by a 5-4 decision (with Judge Traxler switching sides), went on to rule that, following the Supreme Court's Hamdi decision, even so-called "enemy combatants" are entitled to some minimal, indeterminate amount of "due process" to contest their "enemy combatant" designation (the Bush administration had contended in Hamdi that U.S. citizens designated as "enemy combatants" were entitled to no process at all). The court ruled yesterday that al-Marri -- despite being imprisoned for almost seven years -- has thus far been denied even the minimal process he was due under Hamdi.

Under this ruling, the minimal process due to al-Marri (and, by extension, to any U.S. citizen arrested as an "enemy combatant") is effectively the same as what the Hamdi court accorded to actual combatants captured on a foreign battlefield, and what the Supreme Court in Boumediene recently accorded to non-citizens held at Guantanamo. Thus, while ruling that individuals in al-Marri's position are entitled to some basic procedures to view the evidence against them and offer counter-evidence, the court ruled that those rights are far, far less than the Constitution guarantees generally before the Government can imprison people inside the U.S. The basic Constitutional rights of a citizen against executive imprisonment can therefore effectively be circumvented simply by having the President declare someone an "enemy combatant."

At least with regard to individuals detained on U.S. soil, the Bush administration has exercised these definitively tyrannical powers in only a handful of cases -- two U.S. citizens (Hamdi and Padilla) and one non-citizen in the U.S. legally (al-Marri). But what the administration has done is asserted those powers generally, and embarked upon a strategy to ensure that they are institutionalized. Yesterday's ruling -- likely (though not certain) to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court -- is but another step down the path of un-American radicalism we've been traversing.

The dangers of empowering the President to order the U.S. military to arrest U.S. citizens inside the U.S. and indefinitely imprison them as "enemy combatants" -- and thereby deny them core Constitutional protections -- is manifest. It's literally hard to imagine a more un-American power than that. Even Justice Scalia, dissenting in Hamdi (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-6696.ZD.html), warned that allowing the President to hold U.S. citizens as "enemy combatants" is to vest the President with the ultimate power of tyranny, exactly what the Founders most wanted to prevent:

The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive.
George Bush will likely leave office with this particular tyrannical power infrequently exercised but nonetheless vigorously asserted, defended, and close to established. This is yet another step in the creeping extremism of the last seven years -- like torture and warrantless eavesdropping, this power (allowing the President to imprison U.S. citizens in military brigs with no charges) is one that was until quite recently inconceivable, but is now a defining part of how our Government operates.

-- Glenn Greenwald

July 18th, 2008, 12:01 PM
I hope to any fair individuals who may be out there and get the chance to read this, you'll see this for what it is. AGREE WITH US OR YOUR FREE SPEECH RIGHTS WILL BE TAKEN AWAY. Unbelievable.Get off the soap box and cut the crap. You're trolling for arguments now.

You happen to be on a New York centric forum, and can expect no sympathy for your political views, which are at best, naive.

If I wanted to take away your "free speech rights," I wouldn't have bothered trying to make sense of your absurd ramblings, and banned you long ago.

But the day is young.

July 18th, 2008, 02:03 PM
OMG! Are you kidding me! you throw all those insults my way and then you say this is a place where peple respect one another! You need to look at yourself.

All I've done is found posts I disagreed with and I've responded intelligently and politely. I've insulted no one here. It wouldn't surprise me if you kick me off though. That's what liberals always do on these boards. The minute there's one word of dissent suddenly they're slimed with insults and then they're kicked off.

So much for free speech huh? A little hard to take I guess when not everyone agrees with you.

I see why there have been no conservative voices here in a long time. They all got kicked off!

Interesting in light of my FACTUAL statement about the Democratic primary methods that your only response is to lash out at me with the most vitriolic personal insults. If I moderated a board I would never put up with those kinds of insults on my members from other members - no matter who was first!

You don't moderate a forum because you aren't a moderate person.

One of the other facts that you might want to consider in your narrow, dark, ignorant world is the fact that you haven't been banned. People like you (that would be "ignorant" as opposed to conservative or Republican) don't last here because their arguments are are vaporized by irrefutable evidence.

You won't be banned - I think this whole community would be in an uproar if that happened. In fact, I won't write another word directed at you. I'm going to sit back and watch you go "poof" all on your own.

July 19th, 2008, 12:10 AM
One Million Terrorists?

July 18, 2008
by Paul Craig Roberts (http://www.antiwar.com/roberts/?articleid=13153)

The Bush Regime's "terrorist" protection schemes have reached the height of total incompetence and utter absurdity. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org/privacy/36026prs20080717.html?s_src=RSS), a private organization that defends the US Constitution that inattentive Americans neglect, there are now one million names on the "terrorist" watch list.

One of them is that of former Assistant US Attorney General Jim Robinson, whose top security clearances are current. Every time Mr. Robinson flies away on business, he is delayed by a totally incompetent "terrorist" protection racket that cannot tell a person named Jim Robinson, who served in the highest echelons of the US government, from a Muslim terrorist.

What confidence can we have in a regime that is incapable of differentiating an Assistant US Attorney General from a terrorist?

Mr. Robinson said: "If I were convinced that America is a safer place because I get hassled at the airport, I might put up with it, but I doubt it. I expect my story is similar to hundreds of thousands of people who are on this list and find themselves inconvenienced."

"Hundreds of thousands of people" on a watch list that they have no business being on?

Yes. "Members of Congress (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jHIKJvDKrDdgdAAETwlFjPGjjJWwD920G6M80), nuns, war heroes and other 'suspicious characters,' with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

And this is America, not Nazi Germany?

How can Airport "Security" possibly protect anyone when the idiots cannot differentiate a high level American government official from a terrorist (http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/05/70783)?

Do you really believe there are one million terrorists and nothing has blown up in the US since September 11, 2001 (assuming you believe the government's account of that episode)?

How can there possibly be 1,000,000 terrorists and America still be in one piece? If there were 1,000,000 terrorists, America would be in ruins. According to the Bush Regime's line, it only took a handful of terrorists to destroy America's tallest skyscrapers and a section of the Pentagon and to send the President of the United States scurrying to a hiding place.

One million terrorists could bring America to its knees, and they wouldn't need to fly on airplanes to accomplish this.

What we are witnessing with the one million person "watch list" is bureaucracy run amok. One Million Terrorists makes the danger seem overwhelming. Such overwhelming danger rationalizes the aggressive behavior of the bullies and thugs attracted by the power of confiscating your toothpaste and bottled water and riffling your belongings in your luggage.

Show your ID.
Take off your shoes.
Take off your belt.
Take off your jacket.
Empty your pockets.

Don't complain about being searched without a warrant or you will miss your flight. You might be arrested, handcuffed, kicked and otherwise abused – the fate of many American citizens.

The morons who comprise the US government call the "watch list" one of the government's "most effective tools in the fight against terrorism."

What an effective tool it is! It cannot tell the difference between Jim Robinson and a Muslim terrorist.

The "watch list" has not apprehended a single terrorist, but thousands of American citizens have been inconvenienced and arrested.

The ACLU says that "putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning."

It is worse than that. What the "watch list" or "no-fly list" is doing is training Americans to submit to warrantless searches, to abandon their constitutional rights, and to submit to humiliation by thugs and bullies. A Gestapo is being trained to have no qualms about searching and intimidating fellow citizens, using any excuse to delay or arrest them. Americans are being taught to use arbitrary power and to submit to arbitrary power. In the false name of "safety from terrorists," Americans are being made the least safe people on earth.

July 19th, 2008, 12:14 AM
Same mindset ^ that can't tell a tomato from a jalapeno.

This entire crew is a disaster for the republic.

Too bad DC isn't in earthquake country.

We might be better served if we were to start fresh.

July 19th, 2008, 01:50 AM
One of the other facts that you might want to consider in your narrow, dark, ignorant world is the fact that you haven't been banned. People like you (that would be "ignorant" as opposed to conservative or Republican) don't last here because their arguments are are vaporized by irrefutable evidence.

You won't be banned - I think this whole community would be in an uproar if that happened. In fact, I won't write another word directed at you. I'm going to sit back and watch you go "poof" all on your own.
That's good to hear. I appreciate that. I'm really just surprised that moderators post such incredible insults. You won't see anything like that from me.

July 19th, 2008, 02:14 AM
I suggest you carefully review the rules for posting in this forum.


As long as you remain on topic in your posts and follow the Forum Rules of Conduct going forward, you are welcome in this community.

You commented once on my post. This second comment is pushing it. This is not a "public" forum. It is privately owned and the Moderators here have established themselves in the forum community, and, in some cases, been nominated or recommended by the active forum community for these roles. The body of posts by our moderators, myself included, runs from 1,000 to over 5,000 and shows commitment to the forum community, willingness to maintain discourse, and demonstrates the credibility and general personal traits of the posting forum member of a longer period of time.

Your body of posts, activity in the forum and the breadth of your knowledge and curiousity will define you here as it has each of us.

You are welcome here, but I will caution you this once: stay on topic, do not insult another forum member - including moderators, and further referral to my post shall be viewed as a challenge to the directions of a moderator.

These are the rules of engagement here.

If are enjoying yourself here, then I would encourage you to post documentation from other independent sources of the facts you cite in your posts. If you are stating an opinion, say so. If you are citing a fact, prove it.

Off topic posts will be deleted. This is a fairly common action here to deal with repeated attempts to shift the discussion off topic. If you want to discuss something new, start a new thread.

I have no doubt that these simple rules will enhance your continued enjoyment at this forum.

July 19th, 2008, 12:33 PM
Maryland troopers spied on activist groups
Protesters added to database of terrorist suspects

http://media.washingtontimes.com/media/img/photos/2008/07/18/20080717-234048-pic-358267854_r350x200.jpg?0babd24c675f3097b9d1ff106ec 8653055db7939
David Rocah (sitting left) was alongside organizer Max Obuszewski,
whose name was entered into a counterterrorism database, at a
press conference in Baltimore.

Friday, July 18, 2008 (http://washtimes.com/news/2008/jul/18/maryland-troopers-spied-on-activist-groups/)

Undercover Maryland state troopers infiltrated three groups advocating peace and protesting the death penalty — attending meetings and sending reports on their activities to U.S. intelligence and military agencies, according to documents released (http://www.aclu-md.org/aPress/Attachments/MSP_Documents.pdf) Thursday.

The documents show the activities occurred from at least March 2005 to May 2006 and that officers used false names, which the documents referred to as "covert identities" - to open e-mail accounts to receive messages from the groups.

Also included in the 46 pages of documents, obtained by the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, is an account of an activist's name being entered into a federally funded database designed to share information among state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies on terrorist and drug trafficking suspects.

ACLU attorney David Rocah said state police violated federal laws prohibiting departments that receive federal funds from maintaining databases with information about political activities and affiliations.

The activist was identified as Max Obuszewski. His "primary crime" was entered into the database as "terrorism - anti govern(ment)." His "secondary crime" was listed as "terrorism - anti-war protestors." The database is known as the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA (http://www.hidta.org/).

"This is not supposed to happen in America," said Mr. Rocah. "In a free society, which relies on the engagement of citizens in debate and protest and political activity to maintain that freedom ... you should be able to attend a meeting about an issue you care about without having to worry that government spies are entering your name into a database used to track alleged terrorists and drug traffickers."

Mr. Rocah called the surveillance "Kafka-esque insanity."

State police Chief Col. Terrence B. Sheridan said the agency "does not inappropriately curtail the expression or demonstration of the civil liberties of protesters or organizations acting lawfully."

The surveillance of Mr. Obuszewski, of Pledge of Resistance (http://www.iraqpledge.org/)-Baltimore, and another person came to light during his trial for trespassing and disorderly conduct in a 2004 protest outside the National Security Agency's headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

Documents released by the prosecution revealed that the protesters had been under surveillance by an entity called the Baltimore Intelligence Unit (http://fox43.trb.com/entertainment/foxnetwork/bal-te.md.intelligence02sep02,0,1956137.story).

The Maryland ACLU sued last month, claiming the state police refused to release public documents about the surveillance of peace activists.

The documents, which include intelligence reports and printouts from the database, show that several undercover officers from the state police's Homeland Security and Intelligence Division (http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/23dsp/html/dsp.html#intelligence) attended meetings of three groups: Mr. Obuszewski's group; the Coalition to End the Death Penalty; and the Committee to Save Vernon Evans, a convicted murderer who was slated for execution.

The documents show at least 288 hours of surveillance over the 14-month period. The undercover officers attended at least 20 organizing meetings at community halls and churches and a dozen rallies against the death penalty, including several at the state's SuperMax jail in Baltimore.

Included in the documents are references to a proposed sit-in at the offices of Baltimore County State's Attorney SandraA. O'Connor. However, they show no trooper reports of violence or threats of violence. Organizers repeatedly stressed the importance of peaceful and orderly demonstrations, the documents show.

"There were about 75-80 protestors at the rally and none participated in any type of civil disobedience or illegal acts," said one report of a demonstration against the death penalty at the SuperMax jail. "Protesters were even careful to move out of the way for Division of Correction employees who were going into the parking lot for work."

Still, information about the protesters and their activities was sent to seven agencies, including the National Security Agency and an unnamed military intelligence official.

"Americans have the right to peaceably assemble with others of a like mind and speak out about what they believe in," Mr. Rocah said. "For state agencies to spend hundreds of hours entering information about lawful and peaceful political activities into a criminal database is beyond unconscionable. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars, which does nothing to make us safer from actual terrorists or drug dealers."

July 19th, 2008, 01:12 PM
Uh, hello Geniuses. Did anyone think to ask which party has controlled Maryland for years!?

The Governor is a DEMOCRAT
The State Senate is controlled by DEMOCRATS by a 2-1 margin
The State House is controlled by DEMOCRATS by a 3-1 margin

July 19th, 2008, 02:07 PM
bs: why are so caught up in this democrat / republican divide?

don't you see that for the most part they play by the same rule book?

July 19th, 2008, 02:16 PM
Lofter, that's quite true, but my initial post was predicated upon the following passage:

Still, information about the protesters and their activities was sent to seven agencies, including the National Security Agency and an unnamed military intelligence official.

But bobbiesox' post led me to do some checking.

For the record, it was the Bush endorsed Bob Ehrlich (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021002-14.html) as republican governor (http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2003/06/30/daily14.html) of Maryland (http://gohs.maryland.gov/gohs_teammates.asp) who set up the MDSP HOMELAND SECURITY & INVESTIGATION BUREAU (http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/23dsp/html/dsp.html#homeland) in 2003.

The above reported surveillance was likely inspired by Israeli "best practices," (http://www.israel21c.org/bin/en.jsp?enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enZone=Democracy&enDispWho=Articles%5El750&enPage=BlankPage) (this 'inspiration' was directly funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security).


July 19th, 2008, 02:32 PM
bobbiesox gets a bit of credit for making us all the wiser :cool:

July 19th, 2008, 06:42 PM
I did. And I read that DEMOCRATS don't count millions of primary votes. That's fair. As long as we're all clear on who has "not counting votes" written right into their rule book.

you're still missing the point.. but honestly I am too weary to explain it to you.

July 21st, 2008, 01:19 AM
you're still missing the point.. but honestly I am too weary to explain it to you.
No, I'm not missing the point at all! Democrats have fashioned a system where the party leaders (super delegates) have a huge say in who the nominee is. This system was put into place to prevent the nomination of a wacko. In other words they put a system into place where super delegates could override the will of the voters. So it's no surprise they're willing to discount the millions of votes in Michigan and ironically in Florida. Just doesn't matter that all those people went out to vote in good faith that their voices would be heard. Democrats said to those people "We don't need your voice, we've already made up our minds. Thank you for your time though."


July 21st, 2008, 01:35 AM
Stop crudding up this thread with your petty tit-for-tats.

This thread is about THE BUSH POLICE STATE.

I notice you haven't responded to the post (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=241210&postcount=474) wherein I SCHOOLED you...

July 27th, 2008, 01:42 AM
Maryland State Police Head Says Surveillance Doesn't Merit Probe

Weijia Jiang PIKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ/AP) (http://wjz.com/local/aclu.police.surveillance.2.780133.html) ― "We did nothing wrong".

That's what the superintendent of the Maryland State Police says in response to a 14 month undercover operation to spy on anti-death penalty and anti-war groups.

Still, as Weijia Jiang reports, many people, including the colonel, believe the operation lacked good judgement.

The story begins with Vernon Evans. Back in February 2005, protestors fought for his life after he was sentenced to death row.

But despite the uproar to stop the death penalty, a death warrant was signed the following November for Wesley Baker.

"We hadn't had executions for a while, then we had one in 2004 and then two scheduled close together and the concern was because the state police do provide security and ensure the safety of those people," said Colonel Terrence Sheridan.

In a 43-page document, the American Civil Liberties Union shows Maryland State Police went on to monitor Baltimore activists during 2005 and 2006.

Two undercover troopers tagged Marylanders on a terrorist database.

"We're hoping to use this as a teaching moment where other cities, other states can start investigating to see if there's been surveillance on their own groups. I cannot believe Maryland was the only state doing this," said activist Max Obuszewski.

Colonel Sheridan reiterated several times that he knew nothing about the monitoring when it was going on even though at the time, he was the Baltimore County police commissioner and served on a Homeland Security advisory board.

"I have no knowledge of ever receiving a report about this," said Sheridan.

The monitoring went on for 14 months after troopers concluded there was no threat to public safety at protests.

A federal investigation is underway, but no hearing has been set.

Colonel Sheridan says no federal money was used to monitor the groups.

See video (http://rawstory.com/rawreplay/?p=1562) from WJZ 13 Baltimore, broadcast July 25, 2008.

August 9th, 2008, 03:10 PM
FBI admits spying on multiple US reporters, apologizes

Offers no explanation for spying

John Byrne
Published: Saturday August 9, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/FBI_admits_spying_on_multiple_US_0809.html)

We're sorry.

That's the message from FBI Director Robert Mueller to the executive editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post, after an inspector general discovered that the agency had seized telephone records from four US reporters without a grand jury.

Mueller called Times' editor Bill Keller and Post chief Len Downie Friday, "expressing regret" that agents had not followed "proper procedures. The "lapse" occurred nearly four years ago and involved four staff members of the papers.

"The FBI discontinued use of the emergency letters after privacy advocates and internal watchdogs cited hundreds of cases in which agents intentionally, or out of sloppiness, did not follow up their 'exigent' requests with paperwork that linked the submission to a genuine matter of national security," Washington Post reporter Carrie Johnson wrote in an article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/08/AR2008080803603.html) Saturday.

The bureau obtained phone records for a Post reporter and a researcher in Indonesia, and Times reporters Raymond Bonner and Jane Perlez, also in the country at the time.

The records were obtained through what is called an exigent circumstances letter, a demand made by the agency in a practice that skirts civil liberties protections that has flourished in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.

Neither Mueller nor his agency offered any explanations regarding the nature of the subject of the investigation that involved spying on American reporters based overseas. Writing in the Post today, Johnson noted (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/08/AR2008080803603.html) that the reporters were writing about Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia.

"Efforts to obtain phone records for reporters are subject to special rules at the Justice Department, generally requiring approval by the attorney general or another top official," Johnson added. "But such procedures were not followed in the two incidents found by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, bureau officials said yesterday."

"FBI agents involved in the undisclosed national security probe stated at the time of the request that they would follow up with subpoenas from a U.S. attorney, but 'no subpoena was ever issued for your telephone toll records,' according to a letter that Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. received yesterday from FBI General Counsel Valerie Caprone," she added.

Such records listed the phone numbers the reporters called and received, but not the actual conversation, similar to the warrantless wiretapping program the Bush Administration has employed in tracking calls American citizens have placed to overseas destinations.

An FBI spokesman said the records have been expunged.

"I thanked Director Mueller for calling and informing us of this and apologizing," Post editor Downie told his paper. "I told him that we would be asking our general counsel to look into this."

His editors placed the story on page 4 of Saturday's edition.


Do regular non-reporter citizens who've been wrongly spied upon also get an apology? LOL!

This is just a press chilling stunt. "We've got our eye on all of you..."

August 10th, 2008, 01:35 PM

by Mickey McCarter
Friday, 08 August 2008 (http://hstoday.us/content/view/4637/128/)

Measure seeks restrictions on laptop searches

In response to growing concerns about the search and seizure of laptops and other electronic devices by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at border checkpoints, a New York congressman has introduced a bill to require the department to establish a "reasonable suspicion" of a crime before examining electronic data, the bill's sponsor said in an editorial Friday.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) announced in The Washington Post that he had introduced the bill (HR 6702) (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.6702:) on July 31 " to rein in the Department of Homeland Security's search and confiscation of laptops without reasonable suspicion or probable cause."

The bill, so far cosponsored only by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

The legislation also would require government agents to search any electronic devices in private. Once a laptop or any electronic data were seized, DHS would have to protect the data, to keep the data for only a limited time, to restrict the sharing of the data, and to respect a traveler's right to the return of electronic devices or data.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a policy statement on July 16 to spell out its authority to search laptops and other devices.

"In the course of a border search, and absent individualized suspicion, officers can review and analyze the information transported by any individual attempting to enter, reenter, depart, pass through, or reside in the United States, subject to the requirements and limitations provided herein," the statement read.

The statement came on the heels from criticism from House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who wrote CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham on July 9 to voice his concerns over "troubling allegations of CBP practices during these searches."

Thompson questioned the policies for opening laptops, reading documents on them, accessing e-mail in any accounts, examining digital photographs, and other possible intrusions.

"While the government's interest in preventing the entry of dangerous persons and goods into this country is vital, it is not exempt from Constitutional safeguards," Thompson asserted.

Critics like the American Civil Liberties Union have objected to a number of recent limitations on the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects US citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, including the use of data under the reauthorization of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (PL 110-261), signed by President Bush on July 10.

In the House, Engel had voted in favor of the FISA Act, while Paul did not vote on it (although he did speak out against the bill (http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul463.html)). Paul restated his opposition to any encroachment on the Fourth Amendment in an August 4 statement on the laptop seizure bill.

"The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution acknowledges the right of the people to be secure in their persons and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. It is unfortunate that it takes legislation to remind border agents of this Constitutionally protected right, but it is apparent to me that HR 6702 is absolutely necessary," Paul said.

August 11th, 2008, 09:35 PM
Leahy, Specter demand FBI answers on reporter phone records

Nick Juliano
Published: Monday August 11, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Senate_Judiciary_toppers_demand_FBI_answers_0811.h tml)

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding an explanation from FBI head Robert Mueller about the Bureau's improper efforts to access reporters' phone records.

Mueller called Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on Friday to express regret that agents did not follow proper procedures in 2004 when they obtained the phone records of a Post reporter and a researcher and two Times reporters. All four were working in Indonesia and writing about Islamic terrorism at the time.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) told Mueller they appreciated him bringing to light the improper records access and apologizing for it, but the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee said they wanted more answers.

"[T]he new revelations about the improper collection of reporters’ phone records -- combined with the general reports on the misuse of [National Security Letters] and exigent letters -- create a troubling impression of deliberate wrongdoing or serious negligence at the FBI," the senators wrote in a letter to Mueller Monday. "Together, these revelations underscore the importance of vigorous congressional oversight and suggest that additional legislation may be needed."

Mueller and other FBI officials told the newspapers that agents obtained the records under a process that allowed them to bypass a grand jury review in emergency cases. The incident came to light through a review by the Justice Department's inspector general of bureau procedures that enabled the FBI to obtain thousands of records from phone companies after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the case of the newspaper reporters, agents obtained toll phone records — records of incoming and outgoing calls, but not details of conversations — using what are known as "exigent circumstances" letters.

Last year, the inspector general uncovered 700 cases in which FBI agents obtained telephone records through "exigent letters," which asserted that grand jury subpoenas had been requested for the data when in fact such subpoenas never had been sought. The FBI eliminated use of the letters in 2007.

Specter and Leahy said they were looking forward to a follow-up report from the Inspector General on NSL abuse. In the meantime, they warned Mueller the subject would come up the next time he appeared before the committee and they requested a full briefing before then.

Leahy and Specter's full letter appears below:


August 11, 2008

The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III


Federal Bureau of Investigation

935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20535

Dear Director Mueller:

We were disappointed to learn that, in 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misused so-called “exigent letters” to obtain the telephone records of reporters working in the Jakarta, Indonesia, bureaus of The Washington Post and The New York Times. While we commend you for personally apologizing to the newspapers on behalf of the FBI, and for personally bringing this matter to the Committee’s attention, we expect to receive a more complete accounting of this violation of the Justice Department’s guidelines intended to protect privacy and journalists’ First Amendment rights.

The FBI’s misuse of “exigent letters” first came to light in March 2007, as part of a congressionally-mandated Inspector General (IG) audit of National Security Letters (NSLs). In addition to uncovering problems with NSLs, the IG found that the FBI had misused “exigent letters” to obtain records from telephone companies. The letters claimed that the records were being requested due to “exigent circumstances” and that subpoenas or NSLs would follow. According to the IG, however, “the FBI used the exigent letters in non-emergency circumstances, failed to ensure that there were duly authorized investigations to which the requests could be tied, and failed to ensure that NSLs were issued promptly after the fact.”

We recognize that, after the March 2007 report, you ended the FBI’s practice of using “exigent letters.” We also appreciate that, according to an IG audit earlier this year, the “FBI and the Department have made significant progress” in implementing corrective actions. Nevertheless, the new revelations about the improper collection of reporters’ phone records -- combined with the general reports on the misuse of NSLs and exigent letters -- create a troubling impression of deliberate wrongdoing or serious negligence at the FBI. Together, these revelations underscore the importance of vigorous congressional oversight and suggest that additional legislation may be needed.

If nothing else, these new findings suggest a pressing need for the legislation we have cosponsored with a bipartisan group of Senators to create a qualified privilege for reporters, the “Free Flow of Information Act of 2008.” Our bill includes a provision designed to limit the government’s ability to collect the telephone records of reporters. In most cases, this provision would require a court to balance the government’s need for the information against the public’s interest in newsgathering and the free flow of information. Moreover, with rare exceptions, a federal court may compel the disclosure of such records from a phone company only after the reporter is given notice and an opportunity to be heard. This judicial review requirement would preclude a unilateral determination of exigent circumstances or investigative need by the FBI or any executive branch agency.

In future congressional hearings, we plan to ask you about the misuse of exigent letters and the possible need for additional legislation. We also look forward to the IG’s follow-up report on this topic. Before then, however, we request that the FBI fully brief Committee staff on the incidents involving reporters for The New York Times and The Washington Post, so that we can have a more substantive and constructive discussion of the matter in the very near future.



Chairman Ranking Member

August 26th, 2008, 02:58 PM
Woman forced from federal building for wearing lesbian t-shirt

African American woman feels discrimination every day.

by AP News
LOS ANGELES (http://pageoneq.com/news/2008/Woman_forced_from_fed_building_for_wearing_lesbian _t_0826.html)—A woman wearing a T-shirt promoting lesbianism said she was forced the leave a federal building Monday by a security guard who didn't approve of her attire.

Lapriss Gilbert said she was picking up a Social Security card for her son when the guard was offended by her "lesbian.com" shirt and threatened her with arrest.

She was eventually allowed inside after her mother called police, according to a Los Angeles Daily News story.

The guard, whose name was not immediately available, works for Paragon Security, which contracts with the Department of Homeland Security.

Lori Haley, a spokeswoman within the Homeland Security Department, said the guard's actions were inappropriate and unacceptable.

"We have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said.

A message left with Paragon Security was not immediately returned Monday night.

Gilbert said the guard cited a document, the Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof he had jurisdiction over her clothing. The document does not address what type of clothing is allowed in federal buildings.

Gilbert called the guard's actions "shocking."

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination," Gilbert said.

Her mother called police after Gilbert was kicked out, but another security guard escorted her to the front of the Social Security line before officers arrived, the Daily News reported.

According to a police report, a witness described Gilbert as "peaceful and quiet" before the guard told her to leave.

August 26th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Very bad.

But I do not see how it directly connects to teh Bush Police State....

Indirectly, maybe, but it seems like even coworkers of this guy did not approve of what he did. He may have been working for a sub contractor from Homeland, but it seems like this is just a case of one A-hole that does not like the work "Lesbian".

BTW, I know there are ways, but it just seemed a bit strange that a Lesbian was going in to get a SS card for her Son..... Brought a quick "?" to my head while I was reading it. I imagine it confuse the hell out of that homophobic guard!!!!

August 26th, 2008, 03:58 PM

August 26th, 2008, 04:15 PM
For reference:

Appendix to Part 102-74—Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property
Federal Management Regulations
Title 41, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 102-74, Subpart C (http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/channelView.do?pageTypeId=8199&channelId=-16531&specialContentType=FMR&file=FMR/Part102-_74.html#wp2015988)

Were you aware that you have no Fourth Amendment rights on Federal property? Is this 'reasonable?' Does merely posting the regulation satisfy Katz's privacy test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katz_v._United_States#Justice_Harlan.27s_concurren ce)? Does the very fact that Oklahoma City and 9/11 happened cause there to be an a priori satisfaction of Katz?

Inspection (41 CFR 102-74.370 (http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/channelView.do?pageTypeId=8199&channelId=-16531&specialContentType=FMR&file=FMR/Part102-_74.html#wp2017551)). Federal agencies may, at their discretion, inspect packages, briefcases and other containers in the immediate possession of visitors, employees or other persons arriving on, working at, visiting, or departing from Federal property. Federal agencies may conduct a full search of a person and the vehicle the person is driving or occupying upon his or her arrest.

Does a private security contractor meet the definition of "private actor" thereby exempting illegally obtained evidence from the exclusionary rule?

August 27th, 2008, 09:06 AM


August 28th, 2008, 09:19 AM
FBI blames phone flap on miscommunication

Ben Conery (Contact)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/26/fbi-blames-phone-flap-on-miscommunication/)

The FBI's top lawyer said miscommunication - not malevolence - led the bureau in 2004 to improperly obtain the telephone records of newspaper reporters writing about Islamic terrorism in Indonesia.

http://media.washingtontimes.com/media/img/photos/2008/08/26/20080825-232154-pic-558091643_r350x200.jpg?0babd24c675f3097b9d1ff106ec 8653055db7939

Valerie E. Caproni, the FBI's general counsel, told The Washington Times in an interview that her explanation was based on a preliminary review of e-mails sent among agents at the time.

It was the first time an FBI official described any circumstances surrounding the situation, though the explanation seems unlikely to sway critics.

A more definitive account of the situation is expected to be included in a forthcoming report from the Justice Department's Inspector General (IG) into the use of so-called "exigent letters."

The FBI used such letters to request telephone toll-billing records and subscriber information, but not the content of the calls. The letters sent to the phone companies simply stated the information was being requested because of an emergency.

"Exigent letters" are similar to the controversial National Security Letters (NSLs), which allow agents to gather certain information without normal judicial oversight.

In the case regarding the New York Times and The Washington Post, the FBI violated a long-standing Justice Department policy that requires high-level approval before seeking that type of information from journalists.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III apologized to The Times and The Post earlier this month, and the case likely will be brought up Sept. 17, when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ms. Caproni said the case agent e-mailed an agent in the terrorism-investigating Communications Analysis Unit (CAU) to suggest seeking Justice Department permission and a grand jury subpoena to obtain the reporters' phone records.

Ms. Caproni said the case agent did not say it was an emergency, but the agent in CAU sent an "exigent letter" anyway.

While it is not known why the agent in CAU sent the letter, Ms. Caproni suggested the agent in CAU may have been trying to be helpful. She also noted CAU is on the front lines of the fight against terrorism and that the unit was busy at the time.

Mike German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office, said he didn't buy Ms. Caproni's argument. "It's clear the FBI wants to minimize this as a mistake and not abuse," he said. "The facts are, there was a ridiculous amount of misuse and abuse."

Ms. Caproni said she does not want to minimize the bureau's mistakes, but stressed changes made in recent years should prevent a similar situation in the future.

She said the bureau has banned the use of "exigent letters" and has a new process in place to obtain such information in an emergency.

An agent seeking emergency toll-billing information from a phone company now must write a memo explaining the emergency that makes such a request necessary. Ms. Caproni said a supervisor must approve the request.

In the past, phone companies could refuse the requests made in an "exigent letter." But they were in a difficult position to do so because they didn't know the circumstances of the apparent emergency.

Now, Ms. Caproni said, the letters sent to phone companies must provide more facts to help the company determine whether the emergency is serious enough to turn over the records without first receiving a subpoena.

"This, at least, creates a factual record," Ms. Caproni said. "Assuming it passes the 'straight-face test,' we don't anticipate any problems with the phone companies."

According to a report from the Justice Department's inspector general, more than 700 "exigent letters" were sent from 2003 to 2006.

"The numbers of true emergencies is far smaller than that," Ms. Caproni said. "It's a small number of true emergencies, though there are some. There are times when we have true emergencies, and we need things quickly."

She said she is not sure how many letters have been sent under the new standards.

The upcoming IG report will be its third about the bureau's expanded investigative power under the Patriot Act, which originally was passed in response to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The first two reports focused mostly on NSLs, which allow the bureau to act unilaterally in demanding financial, phone and other records. Unlike typical subpoenas or search warrants, NSLs do not need judicial approval.
The reports found widespread abuses.

"National Security Letters can be a valuable tool for the FBI to use in detecting and preventing acts of terrorism. But abuses should not be tolerated; there's too much at stake for the FBI to get it wrong," Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and member of the Judiciary Committee, said Monday. "The FBI needs better transparency and accountability, and those who broke the rules should be held accountable."

Ms. Caproni said the biggest problems with NSLs were similar to those regarding "exigent letters" in the Times and the Post case. She described them not as malicious, but as "procedural" or "failure of care."

In 2007, the bureau increased training about NSLs and created a work-flow system that ensures supervisory review. Every NSL also must be reviewed by a bureau lawyer, she said.

Despite the changes, Ms. Caproni doesn't suspect any fewer NSLs are being sent.

Mr. German thinks the bureau's internal changes are not enough. "This requires outside oversight," he said. "Getting the courts involved is the most important check against abuses of executive power."


Why are journalists treated differently by the Justice Department? By what privilege were they to have been more shielded from "procedural" mistakes and bureaucratic "failure of care" otherwise perpetrated against US citizens?

August 31st, 2008, 11:25 AM
Bush quietly seeks to make war powers permanent, by declaring indefinite state of war

John Byrne
Published: Saturday August 30, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Bush_seeks_to_institutionalize_war_powers_0830.htm l)

As the nation focuses on Sen. John McCain's choice of running mate, President Bush has quietly moved to expand the reach of presidential power by ensuring that America remains in a state of permanent war.

Buried in a recent proposal by the Administration is a sentence that has received scant attention -- and was buried itself in the very newspaper that exposed it Saturday. It is an affirmation that the United States remains at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and "associated organizations."

Part of a proposal for Guantanamo Bay legal detainees, the provision before Congress seeks to “acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”

The New York Times' page 8 placement of the article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/30/washington/30terror.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print) in its Saturday edition seems to downplay its importance. Such a re-affirmation of war carries broad legal implications that could imperil Americans' civil liberties and the rights of foreign nationals for decades to come.

It was under the guise of war that President Bush claimed a legal mandate for his warrantless wiretapping program, giving the National Security Agency power to intercept calls Americans made abroad. More of this program has emerged in recent years, and it includes the surveillance of Americans' information and exchanges online.

"War powers" have also given President Bush cover to hold Americans without habeas corpus -- detainment without explanation or charge. Jose Padilla (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_Padilla_(prisoner)), a Chicago resident arrested in 2002, was held without trial for five years before being convicted of conspiring to kill individuals abroad and provide support for terrorism.

But his arrest was made with proclamations that Padilla had plans to build a "dirty bomb." He was never convicted of this charge. Padilla's legal team also claimed that during his time in military custody -- the four years he was held without charge -- he was tortured with sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, forced stress positions and injected with drugs.

Times reporter Eric Lichtblau notes that the measure is the latest step that the Administration has taken to "make permanent" key aspects of its "long war" against terrorism. Congress recently passed a much-maligned bill giving telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for their participation in what constitutional experts see as an illegal or borderline-illegal surveillance program, and is considering efforts to give the FBI more power in their investigative techniques.

"It is uncertain whether Congress will take the administration up on its request," Lichtblau writes. "Some Republicans have already embraced the idea, with Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, introducing a measure almost identical to the administration’s proposal. 'Since 9/11,' Mr. Smith said, 'we have been at war with an unconventional enemy whose primary goal is to kill innocent Americans.'"

If enough Republicans come aboard, Democrats may struggle to defeat the provision. Despite holding majorities in the House and Senate, they have failed to beat back some of President Bush's purported "security" measures, such as the telecom immunity bill.

Bush's open-ended permanent war language worries his critics. They say it could provide indefinite, if hazy, legal justification for any number of activities -- including detention of terrorists suspects at bases like Guantanamo Bay (where for years the Administration would not even release the names of those being held), and the NSA's warantless wiretapping program.

Lichtblau co-wrote the Times article revealing (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/1216-01.htm) the Administration's eavesdropping program along with fellow reporter James Risen.

He notes that Bush's language "recalls a resolution, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001... [which] authorized the president to 'use all necessary and appropriate force' against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks to prevent future strikes. That authorization, still in effect, was initially viewed by many members of Congress who voted for it as the go-ahead for the administration to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban, which had given sanctuary to Mr. bin Laden."

"But the military authorization became the secret legal basis for some of the administration’s most controversial legal tactics, including the wiretapping program, and that still gnaws at some members of Congress," he adds.

January 23rd, 2009, 12:51 AM
http://rawstory.com/images/other/rawsmaller2.gif (http://rawstory.com/)

Whistleblower: NSA even collected
credit card records

01/22/2009 @ 9:25 pm

Filed by David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster

Ex-analyst believes program actually the remnants of 'Total Information Awareness,' shut down by Congress in 2003

On Wednesday night, when former NSA analyst Russell Tice told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann that the Bush administration's National Security Agency spied on everyone in the United States, specifically targeting journalists, the Countdown host was so flabbergasted that Tice was invited back for a second interview.

On Thursday, he returned to the airwaves with expanded allegations against the NSA, claiming the agency collected Americans' credit card records, and adding that he believes the massive, warrantless data vacuum to be the remnants of the Total Information Awareness program, shut down by Congress in 2003.

Asked for comment by Olbermann's staff, the agency responded, "NSA considers the constitutional rights of US citizens to be sacrosanct. The intelligence community faces immense challenges in protecting our nation. No matter the challenges, NSA remains dedicated to performing its mission under the rule of law."

Olbermann ran the quote under a banner which read, "Non-denial denial."

"As far as the wiretap information that made it though NSA, there was also data-mining that was involved," Tice told Olbermann during the pair's second interview. "At some point, information from credit card records and financial transactions was married in with that information."

At this point on the audio track, Olbermann can be heard taking a deep breath.

"So, lucky American citizens, tens of thousands of whom are now on digital databases at NSA, who have no idea of this, also have that information included in those digital files that have been warehoused," said Tice.

"... Do you have any idea what all this stuff was used for?" asked the stunned host.

"The obvious explanation would be, if you did have a potential terrorist, you'd want to know where they're spending money, whether they purchased an airline ticket, that sort of thing," said Tice. "But, once again, we're talking about tens of thousands of innocent US citizens that have been caught up into this trap. They have no clue.

"This thing could sit there for 10 years, then all the sudden it marries up with something else 10 years from now, and 10 years from now they get put on a no-fly list and they of course won't have a clue why."

Tice added that "in most cases," spied-upon Americans didn't have to do anything suspicious in order to trigger the surveillance.

"This is garnered from algorithms that have been put together to try to just dream up scenarios that might be information that is associated with how a terrorist could operate," he said.

Ultimately, the technical explanation boils down to this: "If someone just talked about the daily news and mentioned something about the Middle East, they could easily be brought to the forefront of having that little flag put by their name that says potential terrorist," said Tice.

"Do you know, or do you have an educated guess, as to who authorized this? Who developed this?" asked Olbermann.

"I have a guess, where it was developed," he replied. "I think it was probably developed out of the Department of Defense, and this is probably the remnants of Total Information Awareness, that came out of DARPA. That's my guess, I don't know that for sure."

Olbermann then asked if Tice knows who had access to the data.

"I started looking into this, and that's when ultimately they came after me to fire me," said Tice. "They must have realized that I'd stumbled onto something, and after that point I of course had no ability to find anything else out."

Tice concluded that he does not know if the program, as he understands it, continues to this day, and he refused to specifically state which media organizations the Bush administration's NSA had targeted for surveillance.

March 2nd, 2009, 07:01 PM

Secret anti-terror Bush memos made
public by Obama

By DEVLIN BARRETT – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday released a long-secret legal document from 2001 in which the Bush administration claimed the military could search and seize terror suspects in the United States without warrants.

The legal memo was written about a month after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It says constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure would not apply to terror suspects in the U.S., as long as the president or another high official authorized the action.

Even after the Bush administration rescinded that legal analysis, the Justice Department refused to release its contents, prompting a standoff with congressional Democrats.

The memo was one of nine released Monday by the Obama administration.

Another memo showed that, within two weeks of Sept. 11, the administration was contemplating ways to use wiretaps without getting warrants.

The author of the search and seizure memo, John Yoo, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

In that memo, Yoo wrote that the president could treat terrorist suspects in the United States like an invading foreign army. For instance, he said, the military would not have to get a warrant to storm a building to prevent terrorists from detonating a bomb.

Yoo also suggested that the government could put new restrictions on the press and speech, without spelling out what those might be.

"First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully," Yoo wrote, adding later: "The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically."

While they were once important legal pillars of the U.S. fight against al-Qaida, some of the memos were withdrawn in the final days of the Bush administration.

In one of his first official acts as president, Barack Obama also signed an order negating the memos' claims until his administration could conduct a thorough review.

In a speech Monday, Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder said that too often in the past decade the fight against terrorism has been put in opposition to "our tradition of civil liberties."

That "has done us more harm than good," he declared. "I've often said that the test of a great nation is whether it will adhere to its core values not only when it is easy but when it is hard."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

March 2nd, 2009, 10:50 PM
In Legal Memos, Clearer View of Power Bush Sought

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/us/politics/03legal.html?hp)
March 3, 2009

WASHINGTON — The secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11 attacks included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants.

That opinion was among nine that were disclosed publicly for the first time Monday by the Justice Department, in what the Obama administration portrayed as a step toward greater transparency.

The opinions reflected a broad interpretation of presidential authority, asserting as well that the president could unilaterally abrogate foreign treaties, ignore any guidance from Congress in dealing with detainees suspected of terrorism, and conduct a program of domestic eavesdropping without warrants.

Some of the positions had previously become known from statements of Bush administration officials in response to court challenges and Congressional inquiries. But taken together, the opinions disclosed Monday were the clearest illustration to date of the broad definition of presidential power approved by government lawyers in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a memorandum dated this Jan. 15, five days before President George W. Bush left office, a top Justice Department official wrote that those opinions had not been relied on since 2003. But the official, Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel, said it was important to acknowledge in writing “the doubtful nature of these propositions,” and he used the memo to repudiate them formally.

Mr. Bradbury said in his memo that the earlier ones had been a product of lawyers’ confronting “novel and complex questions in a time of great danger and under extraordinary time pressure.”

The opinion authorizing the military to operate domestically was dated Oct. 23, 2001, and written by John C. Yoo, at the time a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Robert J. Delahunty, a special counsel in the office. It was directed to Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, who had asked whether Mr. Bush could use the military to combat terrorist activities inside the United States.

The use of the military envisioned in the Yoo-Delahunty reply appears to transcend by far the stationing of troops to keep watch at streets and airports, a familiar sight in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The memorandum discussed the use of military forces to carry out “raids on terrorist cells” and even seize property.

“The law has recognized that force (including deadly force) may be legitimately used in self-defense,” Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty wrote to Mr. Gonzales. Therefore any objections based on the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches are swept away, they said, since any possible privacy offense resulting from such a search is a lesser matter than any injury from deadly force.

The Oct. 23 memorandum also said that “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.” It added that “the current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty said that in addition, the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally bars the military from domestic law enforcement operations, would pose no obstacle to the use of troops in a domestic fight against terrorism suspects. They reasoned that the troops would be acting in a national security function, not as law enforcers.

In another of the opinions, Mr. Yoo argued in a memorandum dated Sept. 25, 2001, that judicial precedents approving deadly force in self-defense could be extended to allow for eavesdropping without warrants.

Still another memo, issued in March 2002, suggested that Congress lacked any power to limit a president’s authority to transfer detainees to other countries, a practice known as rendition that was widely used by Mr. Bush.

Other memorandums said Congress had no right to intervene in the president’s determination of the treatment of detainees, a proposition that has since been invalidated by the Supreme Court.

The Jan. 15 memo by Mr. Bradbury repudiating these views said that it was “not sustainable” to argue that the president’s power as commander in chief “precludes Congress from enacting any legislation concerning the detention, interrogation, prosecution and transfer of enemy combatants.”

Mr. Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is widely known as the principal author of a 2002 memorandum, separate from those made public Monday, that critics have characterized as authorizing torture. That memorandum, signed by Jay S. Bybee, a predecessor of Mr. Bradbury as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, was repudiated in 2004.

The memorandum issued by Mr. Bradbury this January appears to have been the Bush lawyers’ last effort to reconcile their views with the wide rejection by legal scholars and some Supreme Court opinions of the sweeping assertions of presidential authority made earlier by the Justice Department.

Walter Dellinger, who led the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration and is now a law professor at Duke University, said in an interview that Mr. Bradbury’s memo “disclaiming the opinions of earlier Bush lawyers sets out in blunt detail how irresponsible those earlier opinions were.”

Mr. Dellinger said it was important that it was now widely recognized that the earlier assertions “that Congress had absolutely no role in these national security issues was contrary to constitutional text, historical practice and judicial precedent.”

In a speech a few hours before the documents were disclosed Monday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said: “Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties. Not only is that thought misguided, I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good.”

Mr. Holder said that the memorandums were being released in light of a substantial public interest in the issue.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

May 5th, 2009, 07:36 AM
Disturbing and alarming story:
Patriot Act Being Used Against a 16 Year Old Boy [video 4:04] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9zGhYSIAP8)


Not so fast...

Teenage Bomb Threat Suspect Was Internet Prank-Call Star (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/05/teenage-bomb-threat-suspect-was-an-internet-prank-phone-call-star/)

...the boy allegedly moved beyond pranks this year and began accepting donations from students eager to miss a day of school. In exchange for a little money, Tyrone would phone in a bomb threat that would shutter the donor’s school for a day.

“People would pay about five dollars, and they get to submit a number,” says Jason Bennett, a 19-year-old college student in Syndey, Australia. “It was getting way out of hand.”
Responding to the internet outrage on Thursday, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Indiana issued a press release (http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2009/05/tyrone_press_release.pdf) (.pdf) emphasizing the the teenager is not being held on terrorism charges. The case “alleges a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(e), which prohibits sending false information about an attempt to kill, injure or intimidate any individual or to unlawfully to damage any building through an instrument of interstate commerce,” the prosecutors wrote.