Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday 2-day

Because They Said So
The New York Times | Editorial

Sunday 10 February 2008

Even by the dismal standards of what passes for a national debate on intelligence and civil liberties, last week was a really bad week.

The Senate debated a bill that would make needed updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - while needlessly expanding the president's ability to spy on Americans without a warrant and covering up the unlawful spying that President Bush ordered after 9/11.

The Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, John Rockefeller of West Virginia, led the way in killing amendments that would have strengthened requirements for warrants and raised the possibility of at least some accountability for past wrongdoing. Republicans declaimed about protecting America from terrorists - as if anyone was arguing the opposite - and had little to say about protecting Americans' rights.

We saw a ray of hope when the head of the Central Intelligence Agency conceded - finally - that waterboarding was probably illegal. But his boss, the director of national intelligence, insisted it was legal when done to real bad guys. And Vice President Dick Cheney - surprise! - made it clear that President Bush would authorize waterboarding whenever he wanted.

The Catch-22 metaphor is seriously overused, but consider this: Attorney General Michael Mukasey told Congress there would be no criminal investigation into waterboarding. He said the Justice Department decided waterboarding was legal (remember the torture memo?) and told the C.I.A. that.

So, according to Mukaseyan logic, the Justice Department cannot investigate those who may have committed torture, because the Justice Department said it was O.K. and Justice cannot be expected to investigate itself.

As it was with torture, so it was with wiretaps.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the president decided to ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and authorized wiretaps without a warrant on electronic communications between people in the United States and people abroad. Administration lawyers ginned up a legal justification and then asked communications companies for vast amounts of data.

According to Mr. Rockefeller, the companies were "sent letters, all of which stated that the relevant activities had been authorized by the president" and that the attorney general - then John Ashcroft - decided the activity was lawful. The legal justification remains secret, but we suspect it was based on the finely developed theory that the president does not have to obey the law, and not on any legitimate interpretation of federal statutes.

When Mr. Bush started his spying program, FISA allowed warrantless eavesdropping for up to a year if the president certified that it was directed at a foreign power, or the agent of a foreign power, and there was no real chance that communications involving United States citizens or residents would be caught up. As we now know, the surveillance included Americans and there was no "foreign power" involved.

The law then, and now, also requires the attorney general to certify "in writing under oath" that the surveillance is legal under FISA, not some fanciful theory of executive power. He is required to inform Congress 30 days in advance, and then periodically report to the House and Senate intelligence panels.

Congress was certainly not informed, and if Mr. Ashcroft or later Alberto Gonzales certified anything under oath, it's a mystery to whom and when. The eavesdropping went on for four years and would probably still be going on if The Times had not revealed it.

So what were the telecommunications companies told? Since the administration is not going to investigate this either, civil actions are the only alternative.

The telecoms, which are facing about 40 pending lawsuits, believe they are protected by a separate law that says companies that give communications data to the government cannot be sued for doing so if they were obeying a warrant - or a certification from the attorney general that a warrant was not needed - and all federal statutes were being obeyed.

To defend themselves, the companies must be able to show they cooperated and produce that certification. But the White House does not want the public to see the documents, since it seems clear that the legal requirements were not met. It is invoking the state secrets privilege - saying that as a matter of national security, it will not confirm that any company cooperated with the wiretapping or permit the documents to be disclosed in court.

So Mr. Rockefeller and other senators want to give the companies immunity even if the administration never admits they were involved. This is short-circuiting the legal system. If it is approved, we will then have to hope that the next president will be willing to reveal the truth.

Mr. Rockefeller argues that companies might balk at future warrantless spying programs. Imagine that!

This whole nightmare was started by Mr. Bush's decision to spy without warrants - not because they are hard to get, but because he decided he was above the law. Discouraging that would be a service to the nation.

This debate is not about whether the United States is going to spy on Al Qaeda, it is about whether it is going to destroy its democratic principles in doing so. Senators who care about that should vote against immunity.

Why tap your phone, why read your e-mail. Well to make sure their sinister plans are not revealed before they have a chance to pull them off thats why, oh and remember Uncle Bernie, he needs help with his stock picks, plenty of reasons and why do YOU want to know anyway? If you are not doing anything wrong why do you care?

I tell ya, there are a multitude of reasons we DO NOT need our phones tapped, listening in on hot steamy phone sex, making arrangements to get our girlfriends to the right motel, hooking up to our dealers and pimp daddies, you know, the American way. We Americans like to live on the edge of legality, whether it is speeding or screwing we want our privacy to do so and it isn't none of Pervert Boy in the WH's bizness! Get your own hookers peeper boy!



DEN said...

Time to rid us of the fascist chains that bind us today and run the scurvy dogs right out of Dodge!

Go O !

DEN said...

From the WTF file:

The Pentagon is planning to charge six detainees at Guantanamo Bay for the Sept. 11 terror attacks on America and seek the death penalty.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said an announcement of the charges could come Monday.

A second official said that military leaders also will seek the death penalty for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.

Among those held at Guantanamo is Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the attack six years ago in which hijacked planes were flown into buildings in New York and Washington. Five others are expected to be named in sworn charges.

"The department has been working diligently to prepare cases and bring charges against a number of individuals who have been involved in some of the most grievous acts of violence and terror against the United States and our allies," Whitman said.


Since when is the Pentagon able to bring charges to ANY civilian?

Isn't that the job of the JUSTICE Dept.? (scratches head)
Once again the neo-fascists overstep their bounds hoping no one notices. Better put a sop to this soon before we all (bloggers)face waterboarding.

Hajji said...


Didn't you know that a TURBAN constitutes an "enemy combatant uniform"?

Where ya been hidin'?


DEN said...

Hajji, makes it easier to identify the 2nd Century crowd for sure.

Step into the 21st Century and wear a Ballcap!


David B. Benson said...

Micki --- We miss you!

DEN said...

Double Bubble Trouble!

Bogus bunch of BS as you would ever want to see with a clearly printed DEMOCRATIC ballot being thrown out because you did not check which voter you are. What difference does it make as long as you are not a repug???? Dumbass of the year award winner!

The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters is refusing to count all of the votes cast for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Election Day. I just signed a petition from the Courage Campaign demanding that the Registrar count every single vote.

Will you join me? Click here to sign the petition.

√≤¿√≥arol said...

Weather report

More than 50 inches of snow has fallen on the Lansing area so far this season. That's almost 40 percent above normal.

AND I'M SICK OF IT!!! You wouldn't believe the amount of rocks from my gravel drive that I'll have to pick up and put back on the drive. I'll be sitting in the grass with a bucket for weeks! Arghhhhh! I like the years we don't have to get plowed out at all. With front wheel drive there are years like that.

DEN said...

FISA Vote on Tuesday -- I need your help, Patrick Leahy

Tuesday, February 12 is a critical day in our fight to stand up for American values and preserve our freedoms while protecting our national security. The Senate is voting on amendments to FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing the use of wiretaps and other means to conduct surveillance of foreign threats.

Unfortunately, the new FISA bill we'll be voting on still has many problems. I will do everything in my power -- including joining my colleague Chris Dodd in a filibuster against this legislation -- to fix it.

Please tell Congress that any new FISA bill must both protect our national security and preserve our civil liberties!

Keyboard activism

DEN said...

Carol, sorry to hear about your dilemma, snow is not fun, it is a PAIN! to shovel, to drive in, and to walk on, don't fall!

David B. Benson said...

Carol --- The link helps explain your snow (and mine):

WNO: La Nina conditions continue, expected to strengthen

but won't make it go away for some time yet...

Gerald said...

Alan, I want a woman for president. I am tired of men screwing up the world we live in. I have problems with McCain and Obama. Obama claims to be against the war but he has been absent from voting on key issues regarding the war. Obama wants it both ways. Hillary made the tough calls through voting. Voting for the war was a mistake. Let us forget about Hillary, she is finished as a candidate.

If CK is on the ballot for the Green Party, I will probably vote for Cynthia McKinney and the Green Party.

Obama will not add Hillary to the ticket. He has said that he will get most of the Hillary's voters but if Hillary was the nominee, she would not get most of his voters. I do not see Obama adding Hillary to the ticket. Hillary as part of the ticket would make it a formidable team. Obama is in the cat bird seat and he will choose whom he pleases.

Let us be candid!!! I am not happy to concede the nomination to Obama but HILLARY IS TOAST!!!

Michigan made a mistake having their primary so early. We should have had it after the Ohio and Texas primaries.

I do not like the snowfall but I am planning to take my wife for a sleigh ride with candle light and Bud Lite. My wife and I went shopping earlier today and we passed by a golf course that is offering sleigh rides. Will history repeat itself with candle light and Bud Lite?

Alan said...

Obama will not add Hillary to the ticket. He has said that he will get most of the Hillary's voters but if Hillary was the nominee, she would not get most of his voters.

Hmmm, I never heard him say that... and it is directly opposite of what the poll of Obama's supporters said. Surely you didn't just make that up, so if you could source that comment, I'd 'preciate it.

I don't see Hillary accepting the vice-presidency either. I believe in her head, it's all or nothing.
Obama, I think he WOULD accept the vice-president role if it worked out that way. We'll just have to see.
Cool old song Hajji!! That's going wayyyyy back and showing your age. hehe Me 'n my brother had that "Blind Faith" album, and I bet my brother still has it somewhere.

Hajji said...


In a "brush with fame", I spent a few nights in the studio with Jimmy Miller, producer of the Blind Faith Album. (and many, many others, including the BEST 4 'Stones albums!)

He was producing some tracks for the Bar Manager in one of my old clubs, The Channel, Johnny Barnes. He's a VERY interesting feller!

One night at "Necco Place" a small, VIP club in the back of the big club was a great band from St.Louis, whose name escapes me.
Having no idea Jimmy Miller was in the house, they did a version of "Can't Find My Way Home", that FLOORED him!

I'd sucked down too many Seabreezes that night, and it must've been some weird reaction to all that vitamin C, but no matter how hard I wish, I just can't remember that band's name.

Speaking of The Channel...Iggy Pop rears his ugly (REALLY UGLY!) head again! This was recorded about a year before I got there.

Hey, can I stick any more links in there?


Hajji said...


Dinky gave me a LISTING!

Man, I lived and breathed (hack, hack, cough, cough) for that place for about 2 years!

carey said...

I'm on the go alot right now. I wanted to say quickly that Clinton's campaign can be very, very smart. This whole thing over David Schuster? Brilliant. Did you hear or read Hillary's letter to the president of MSNBC? Oh my gosh, it's a good milk. She's good.

Keith went overboard in his apology to the point of showing off. Stop it, Schuster is an extremely serious, fine journalist. Pull his name out this silly fray and get back to work. Do not, MSNBC, cowtow to a pure campaign manipulation of a non-issue.

I told you Clinton's campaign would be imaginative and steely when it came to press manipulation. That's part of this whole process. I'm not sayin' that's good, mind you, but it is a reality.

David B. Benson said...

Feeling chill?

Record low in the icebox of the nation

And also all across the northern parts...

DEN said...

Betcha Jeanne has the Mukluks going there too, 65 here today in CA.

Don't worry Doc, you should thaw out by June. Jeanne? might never thaw out.

Hajji said...


The one thing that the MSM fear is the revocation of ACCESS.

To get scooped because a "senior aide" is told to "lose" your phone # is the worst thing possible, especially on the trail.

Hell, even Hunter Thompson had full access with his Gonzo FEAR and LOATHING on the Campaign Trail.

Where's TODAY's Gonzo? This Campaign Season could use a little of the H.Thompson touch!


carey said...

This just in. Put together these particular battles the administration is picking:

The legality of waterboarding, the Iran NIE and its interpretations, the Pentagon's announcement it will seek the death penalty in six of the Gitmo prisoners' cases, the leak of the existence of a secret prison in Cuba, and other things I can't remember.

All add up to Rove setting the stage for an election fight based on fear.

Rove is at work, he's determining the terms of the debate: Securtiy and fear.

Revelation courtesy of Rachel Maddow.

Gerald said...

Alan, here is the exact quote from Obama. It was on the Detroit Free Press' editorial page (February 10, 2008)


Why vote for Hillary

Gerald said...

Ah but Hillary. She's my person. After all the things that the neo-cons have done to her and her family over the last 16-odd years? More than any other candidate, I can count on her to put Cheney and Bush into the shackles and jump suits where they belong. "Revenge is a dish best served cold." And boy do I want revenge! I want George W. Bush to PAY -- for 9-11, for violating our Constitution, for advocating torture, for Katrina, for bankrupting our treasury, for scamming on Christianity, for the slow and painful death of the American working class....

Gerald, seconds this last paragraph!!!!!

Gerald said...

Old men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.
– Herbert C. Hoover

Gerald said...

Waterboarders for God

Gerald said...

The Bush Family

carey said...

Clinton's threat of no interviews granted to MSNBC as a boycott to protest Schuster's use of the word, "pimp"?

You would do that to one of the finest journalist careers working for the cause of democracy?

Gee, sounds like Clinton thinks she's already in the White House. A foretaste of how her administration might handle the press?

You bet.

Gerald said...

Thou shall not be a bystander

Gerald said...

"So where there is illegitimacy in political authority or the disorder of coerced order, or injustice of any degree afflicted upon anyone, there is blasphemy. And when nations conceive their own sanctification and pronounce wars just, there is a bombast and blasphemy of the Antichrist." - William Stringfellow, Conscience and Obedience.

Gerald said...

It is truly amazing of the number of judges in Nazi America who are the antichrists. - Gerald

Gerald said...

The second coming of Jesus Christ will bring down the antichrists. It may be sooner than we believe or think. - Gerald

Hajji said...


She might've usta thunk it...

She's thinkin' she sinkin' now!


As I've stated, it is certainly unclear whether Clinton could get the majority of Obama's votes...

It is a CERTAINTY that his grass-roots network of energetic volunteers will mostly not WORK for Hillary!

It'd be like trading in a Brand New Corvette for a worn-out Ford Escort Wagon!

I sure do WISH that "Rapture" would happen soon! I could use the elbow room, and I know I'd still have ALL my good friends!


Gerald said...

It is quite interesting that Shuster can say the pimping of Chelsea but where is the balance in not stating the pimping of Obama's children with their father on the political stage.

Obama's children are cute but Chelsea is pimped.

David B. Benson said...

Unfortunately, the rapture is likely to come with a sizable whiff of hydrogen sulfide (sour gas, rotten or over-cooked egg smell).

Not fun for the sane...

Hajji said...


A little BRIMSTONE never hurt anyone...

I grew up in the Ohio and Kanawha River Valleys, home to Dupont and Union Carbide and Semet Solvay and Ashland Oil, INC.

Can't wait to get back up there to do some Politikin'...


Smells like home!


Carey said...

They talking about the FISA thing currently in the Senate. Dodd is on the floor.

He's doing his damndest.

Carey said...

Den knows more about this than me, but I will say Dodd is fighting awfully hard on the floor right now to alter the FISA vote.

Rather stoic of him.

DEN said...

Where is everyone else?

DEN said...

In the Senate. OOPS

DEN said...

Chris is an eloquent speaker, ran 20 hours, whew!

Smart man and the dictionary definition of a patriot, definitely VP qualified.

DEN said...

OK, nuff of this stuff.

Dreamland dead ahead, steady as she goes..........

•¿•arol said...

I wish the La Nina would go away, Dr. B. It is REALLY cold. I don't think we got this cold here last winter. I had to boost the furnace two degrees today. When the sun barrels thru the LR window, the furnace doesn't go on because the thermostat is in that room. :(

Carey said...

Carol, Gerald & Jeanne in Minn.,

They showed pictures of the cold blast where you are.

God, it's just unbelievable. Inhuman cold.

Shout out to Erling. Saw a piece on your crown prince today. He's a good soul, isn't he?

Alan said...


Thanks Gerald. That's not exactly what you said, but close enough. It was at a press conference the day after Super Tuesday, so not very long ago.

Hajji, good story. Your link mentioned Traffic. I got to see them once wayyyy back when. They played on the U of Houston campus along with Mountain. On the "favorite attended concert" list, it's right there with Ten Years After.

Hajji said...


One of the acts I got to mix in the little "VIP" club, Necco Place, was "Mountain's" Leslie West!

On the weather topic, last 5 days here have been in the Sixties during the day, in the high 30s at night. Worked in the yard shirtless yesterday, expanding the Hajji Rainwater Runoff Diversion Project.