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Disregarding the Constitution

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The Political Persecution of the RNC 8

by Leslie Rose
February 23, 2009
Revcom.us

Introduction to the Series:

A very important case is unfolding in Minnesota–eight people are being singled out by the government for their role in the political protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).

At the September ’08 RNC in St. Paul, war criminal John McCain and right-wing religious fundamentalist Sarah Palin were being selected as the Republican ticket for the presidential race. The national media spent endless hours on things like Palin’s unmarried pregnant daughter. Meanwhile, the streets of St. Paul were turned into a militarized zone with massive police mobilization. Over the course of four days, thousands defied the armed clampdown to make known their opposition to U.S. wars-torture-spying and the imperialist globalization that has brought suffering to a huge section of humanity and caused catastrophic environmental damage. Over 800 people were arrested and scores were brutalized by the police.

Even before the protests started, law enforcement authorities carried out preemptive raids and arrests of activists and independent journalists throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul (the Twin Cities). Among those arrested were eight who are now being targeted for persecution, facing over 12 years in prison. They are known as the RNC 8.

For the first time, a state version of the fascistic USA Patriot Act is being applied to political demonstrations. The RNC 8 are charged with felony conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism and felony conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, along with two other felonies. They were sitting in jail for the duration of the Republican convention–but they are being held legally responsible for anything that any protestor did during that time.

The prosecution of the RNC 8 would set a very bad precedent that criminalizes political protest. But too few people even know about this case. Everyone who understands the importance of dissent and the ability to resist the crimes being committed by the government and ruling institutions needs to speak out. A big demand to drop the charges on the RNC 8 needs to be raised from a broad cross section of society. This railroad must be stopped cold in its tracks.

In three articles over several issues of Revolution, this series examines key aspects and layers of what has come to light about the unjust prosecution of the RNC 8. The three articles are: “The Case of the RNC 8”; “The Informants and Undercover Agents”–the lies and strategy of the government; “The Clampdown”–the police state, mass arrests, and targeting of journalists.

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The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It’s time to stop the mission creep.

By Thomas A. Schweich
Sunday, December 21, 2008

We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.

President-elect Barack Obama’s selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence present the incoming administration with an important opportunity — and a major risk. These appointments could pave the way for these respected military officers to reverse the current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d’etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media.

While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the U.S. government. The first assault on civilian government occurred in faraway places — Iraq and Afghanistan — and was, in theory, justified by the exigencies of war.

The White House, which basically let the Defense Department call the budgetary shots, vastly underfunded efforts by the State Department, the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to train civilian police forces, build… Continue reading

Court Rules Patriot Act’s ‘National Security Letter’ Gag Provisions Unconstitutional

Image of ACLU banner

Court Rules Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” Gag Provisions Unconstitutional (12/15/2008)

ACLU Hails Victory In Challenge To Government’s Power To Silence NSL Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court today upheld, in part, a decision striking down provisions of the Patriot Act that prevent national security letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret records demands. The decision comes in an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the FBI’s authority to use NSLs to demand sensitive and private customer records from Internet Service Providers and then forbid them from discussing the requests. Siding with the ACLU, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the statute’s gag provisions violate the First Amendment.

“We are gratified that the appeals court found that the FBI cannot silence people with complete disregard for the First Amendment simply by saying the words ‘national security,'” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “This is a major victory for the rule of law. The court recognized the need for judicial oversight of the government’s dangerous gag power and rejected the Bush administration’s position that the courts should just rubber-stamp these gag orders. By upholding the critical check of judicial review, the FBI can no longer use this incredible power to hide abuse of its intrusive Patriot Act surveillance powers and silence critics.”

The appeals court invalidated parts of the statute that wrongly placed the… Continue reading

The Government’s Argument for Deploying Troops in the U.S. is Ridiculous – Even On Its Own Terms

December 2, 2008

GeorgeWashington’s Blog

Everyone knows that deploying 20,000 troops on U.S. soil violates Posse Comitatus and the Constitution.

And everyone understands that staging troops within the U.S. to “help out with civil unrest and crowd control” increases the danger of overt martial law.

But no one is asking an obvious question: Does the government’s own excuse for deploying the troops make any sense?

As the Washington Post writes:

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities
may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.

But homeland defense is doing nothing to stop the creation of new terrorists or to prevent bad guys from attacking.

If They Wanted to Stop Terrorism . . .

Remember, the war on terror is a hoax which is actually weakening national security (see this, this, this and this).

And the Department of Homeland Security, instead of protecting vulnerable targets, has instead randomly made up lists which include kangaroo centers, petting zoos and ice cream parlors as high-priority terrorist threats. And the administration is refusing to fill important positions at DHS so that our security can be protected.

The government is… Continue reading

Pentagon plans to station 20,000 troops for ‘domestic security’

December 1, 2008
Agence France-Presse|Rawstory.com

The US Department of Defense plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to terror or nuclear attacks and emergencies, The Washington Post said Monday.

Citing Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces.

The first 4,700-strong unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade, is based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and is already available for  deployment, according to General Victor Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, it said.

Two additional groups will later join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops to support local and state authorities nationwide, The Post said.

They will all would be trained to respond to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks.

The newspaper said that civil liberties groups and libertarians had expressed concern that the plan could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would
have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month noted by the Post. But the recognition that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe [Hurricane Katrina might be used as an example] prompted “a fundamental change in military culture.”

“The Pentagon’s plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011,” the Post added.…

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Bush Spy Revelations Anticipated When Obama Is Sworn In

Privacy Advocates Expect Whistleblowers to Share Warrantless Wiretap Info After
Inauguration Day

By RYAN SINGEL
Nov. 11, 2008

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, Americans won’t just
get a new president; they might finally learn the full extent of George W. Bush’s
warrantless domestic wiretapping.

Since The New York Times first revealed in 2005 that the NSA was eavesdropping
on citizens’ overseas phone calls and e-mail, few additional details about the
massive "Terrorist Surveillance Program" have emerged. That’s because
the Bush administration has stonewalled, misled and denied documents to Congress,
and subpoenaed the phone records of the investigative reporters.

Now privacy advocates are hopeful that President Obama will be more forthcoming
with information. But for the quickest and most honest account of Bush’s illegal
policies, they say don’t look to the incoming president. Watch instead for the
hidden army of would-be whistle-blowers who’ve been waiting for Inauguration
Day to open the spigot on the truth.

"I’d bet there are a lot of career employees in the intelligence agencies
who’ll be glad to see Obama take the oath so they can finally speak out against
all this illegal spying and get back to their real mission," says Caroline
Fredrickson, the ACLU’s Washington D.C. legislative director.

New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources
waiting to spill the Bush administration’s darkest secrets, he said in an interview
last month. "You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them
on January… Continue reading

Terrorizing Dissent – The Election Cut

rnccopsGlass
Bead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia, and other independent media activists
have released a new film, ‘Terrorizing Dissent’, an exposé of events
at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Featuring first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on
the streets, ‘Terrorizing Dissent’ focuses on the story of dissent suppressed.
People charged with “conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism”
speak out against the government’s campaign to manipulate media coverage and
label civil disobedience and community organizing as terrorism.

“If civil disobedience becomes framed as ‘terrorism’ … that’s baloney.
And the reason they’re waving the T-word around, there’s one reason and
one reason only, because they want to squash dissent and they want to justify
what the police do in the effort of squashing that dissent.”

Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality

‘Terrorizing Dissent’ shows the results of the $50 million dollars the Department
of Homeland Security gave to local authorities for security — a large
chunk of which went to weaponize the police — and the $10 million insurance
policy contract between the RNC Host Committee and the City of St. Paul, which
shattered Minnesota’s civil compact between protesters and police.


Full Movie Now Available to Watch Online
at TerrorizingDissent.org

Check out the Downloads Page for the latest video versions available.
Disk Image for DVD Burning Available Now

Screenings, Screenings, Screenings

Check out our growing Screenings
Page

for show times in the Twin Cities and across the US.
… and check out the Artwork… Continue reading

Project Censored 2009: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007-08

Cover image of Censored 2009

by Mickey Huff, Associate Director of Project Censored

Project Censored, the media research group at Sonoma State University (SSU), has just released it’s annual report on the top stories that didn’t make the corporate mainstream news from the past year. The book is published by Seven Stories Press. Censored 2009, edited by director Dr. Peter Phillips with Dr. Andrew Roth, exposes the major stories Americans should know and care about that the “free press” just doesn’t deliver. The top stories for this year can be viewed at the PC website and the piece in the North Bay Bohemian can be read here.

Project Censored award winning journalist and researcher Stephen Lendman has just written about the Project in a piece titled Project Censored‘s Media Democracy Advocacy which looks at the history of the Project as well as details in this year’s volume. A lecture series hosting authors of this years top censored stories is presently underway at SSU for those in the Bay Area wishing to attend. The series is being broadcast at Free Speech TV this fall as well.

As acting Associate Director of Project Censored, I invite everyone to explore this year’s book and help support media democracy in action. Our currently calamitous and critical condition as a fragile free society depends upon a well informed citizenry and I strongly believe that Project Censored is a major force in the direction of strengthening our society’s democratic institutions and principles. Help spread the word if you… Continue reading

Does (did) the First Amendment apply to ALL of Us? Apparently, Not Iraq War Veterans… IVAW Member Attacked by Police

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2008 CONTACT: Jason Lemieux, jasonlemieux@ivaw.org, 760-409-9403 or Kristofer Goldsmith, kgoldy1985@gmail.com, 516-457-1260

Iraq War Veterans Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Questions to Obama and McCain

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions to the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate, but received no response.

The contingent of veterans in dress and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask questions about poor veterans’ healthcare and supporting war resisters of the candidates, but were turned back by police. IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.

“Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election.” said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.…

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ABC News Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

U.S. Officers’ “Phone Sex” Intercepted; Senate Demanding Answers By Brian Ross, Vic Walter and Anna Schecter

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said the committee has begun its own examination.

“We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration,” Rockefeller said Thursday. “The Committee will take whatever action is necessary.”

WATCH THE NIGHTLINE STORY

“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

Kinne described the contents of the calls as “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”

WATCH Kinne discuss why it was ‘awkward’ listening to her fellow Americans.

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States.

Watch “World… Continue reading

New, controversial FBI guidelines go into effect – ACLU Condemns

Guidelines Released Amid Protest from Congress, Privacy Groups and American Public

Don't Spy on Me logoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 10/3/2008
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org
(212) 519-7829 or 549-2666 or media@aclu.org

Washington, DC — New FBI guidelines governing investigations were released today after being signed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly blasted the Department of Justice and FBI for ignoring calls for more stringent protections of Americans’ rights. The guidelines replace existing bureau guidelines for five types of investigations: general criminal, national security, foreign intelligence, civil disorders and demonstrations. The ACLU has been vocal in its disapproval of the overly broad guidelines, citing both the FBI’s and DOJ’s documented records of internal abuse.

The new guidelines reduce standards for beginning “assessments” (precursors to investigations), conducting surveillance and gathering evidence, meaning the threshold to beginning investigations across the board will be lowered. More troubling still, the guidelines allow a person’s race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.

“The attorney general today gave the FBI a blank check to open investigations of innocent Americans based on no meaningful suspicion of wrongdoing,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The new guidelines provide no safeguards against the FBI’s improperly using race and religion as grounds for suspicion. They also fail to sufficiently prevent the government from infiltrating groups whose viewpoints it doesn’t like. The FBI has shown time and… Continue reading

9/11 National Emergency Extended by Bush Yet Again

by Peter Dale Scott
September 5, 2008

Though few Americans realize it, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked through the 1980s and 1990s on emergency nuclear-response plans which allegedly suspended the American Constitution and also Congress.1 (Through these decades Rumsfeld was CEO of a major pharmaceutical firm, and in the later 1990s Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; but their private status did not deter them from continuing to exercise a supra-constitutional planning power conferred on them by Ronald Reagan.)

Even fewer Americans know that these rules, originally dealing with a nuclear attack on America, were extended by Reagan Executive Order 12656 to cover “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”2 And few Americans realize that at least some of these rules, known technically as Continuity of Government (COG) rules, were invoked before 10:00 AM on September 11, 2001.3

As he did in 2007, President Bush has again, on August 28, 2008, continued for another year the national emergency first officially proclaimed on September 14, 2001, along with “the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency”:

Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks

Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New… Continue reading

RNC Planners Sued By Impeachment Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

St. Paul, Minnesota — August 12, 2008 — Impeach for Peace (IfP), along with others looking to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention (RNC), filed a lawsuit Friday with the help of the ACLU of Minnesota in Ramsey County District Court demanding our right to free speech. Plaintiffs include: Jodin Morey and Mikael Rudolph of Impeach for Peace, Colleen and Ross Rowley, and Ron Deharporte.

Impeach for Peace is a grassroots, nonpartisan organization based in Minnesota with chapters in twelve states throughout the country working to achieve the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and holding them and future elected officials fully accountable under the Rule of Law.

The RNC is having their election year convention in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center. During this event, the St. Paul Police have decided to relegate most speech activities in what they call the ‘Primary Event Area’ to an inadequate ‘Designated Public Assembly Area’ or free speech zone. The ‘Primary Event Area’ remains to be fully defined by the police, making it impossible for people to know where in St. Paul they can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. At the convention, members of congress, mayors, governors, the President and Vice-President of the United States are expected to be in attendance. This provides IfP and other potential demonstrators with a unique  opportunity to express their political messages to these governmental officials.

The lawsuit alleges that the St. Paul City Council and police have created guidelines for the RNC which restrict free speech to areas that are “inadequate and unacceptably small.”

The ACLU also alleges that the City Council/Police denied IfP their due process rights as stipulated in the Minnesota State Constitution by failing to give notice of their plans regarding free speech restrictions, which would have allowed for public comment and a public hearing.…

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Bush’s Mass Pardons Predicted

By Brent Budowsky
July 26, 2008
Consortiumnews.com

Consortiumnews Editor’s Note: As his presidency nears its end, George W. Bush will be faced with a tough choice: either run the risk, along with many of his top aides, of future prosecution for a variety of crimes from the “war on terror” — or fashion a mass pardon for all those involved.

In this guest essay, former Democratic congressional aide Brent Budowsky predicts that Bush will take the latter course, even outdoing his father’s lame-duck Iran-Contra pardons in 1992:

Before leaving office George W. Bush will issue a mass pardon, the largest collection of presidential pardons in American history.

Bush will pardon himself, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of officials involved in torture, eavesdropping, destruction of evidence, the CIA leak case, and a range of other potential crimes.

As George Bush signs the pardons and boards the helicopter to depart Washington as his presidency finally ends, even then he and those pardoned will worry about the statute of limitations.

There is an important point to this, often not recognized in official Washington during the Bush years: When the unthinkable became a way of life, acts were committed that defied constitutional and legal principles in ways never done by an American president.

Torture alone violates international law, domestic law, criminal statutes, and American principles that date back to George Washington.

Eavesdropping without court order violates a statute, FISA, that includes severe criminal penalties. If the courts ultimately conclude that these laws… Continue reading

‘Imperial presidency’ hearing to feature 13 witnesses

Nick Juliano
July 24, 2008

Kucinich, Barr, Bugliosi among those testifying

The House Judiciary Committee has released a witness list for its hearing to examine “the imperial presidency” of George W. Bush.

Testifying Friday morning will be Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has introduced several resolutions calling for President Bush’s and Vice President Dick Cheney’s impeachment; former Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian presidential candidate who led the charge to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998; Vincent Bugliosi, author of the just-released book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder; and 10 other current and former members of Congress, constitutional experts and human rights activists.

The hearing, which was announced last week, seems to be the one Judiciary Chairman John Conyers promised to Kucinich after he introduced his second impeachment resolution aimed at Bush earlier this month. Any action on Kucinich’s articles of impeachment still seems unlikely, but the Ohio Democrat has previously said he just wants to be able to present his case.

Late Thursday afternoon, the committee released the full witness list, broken down into two panels.

Panel One

The Honorable Dennis Kucinich, Representative from Ohio
The Honorable Maurice Hinchey, Representative from New York
The Honorable Walter Jones, Representative from North Carolina
The Honorable Brad Miller, Representative from North Carolina

Panel Two

The Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, Former Representative from
New York
The Honorable Bob Barr, Former Representative from Georgia,
2008 Libertarian Nominee for President
The Honorable Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, Founder and President, High Roads for Human Rights
Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law
Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1981-82, Chairman, American Freedom Agenda
Vincent Bugliosi, Author and former Los Angeles County Prosecutor
Jeremy A.

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1991 CNN Report: Secret Succession Plans Would Grant Cheney Special Authorities During Disaster

by Devlin Buckley
July 21, 2008
Theamericanmonitor.blogspot.com

“In the United States of America there is a hidden government about which you know nothing.”

So begins a revealing television exposeé aired by CNN in 1991. The hour-long Special Assignment presented the findings of a yearlong CNN investigation into the ultra-secretive Continuity of Government (COG) program, commonly referred to as the “doomsday government” or the “shadow government”.

The COG program was originally designed in the 1950s to ensure the survival of the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack. The highly secretive emergency plans were substantially upgraded during the 1980s and have become a focus point of the current administration, particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The COG program, which until recent years was believed to be reserved for nuclear disasters, was officially activated for the first time during the 9/11 attacks. The program, according to the most recent reports, was never completely shut down. Portions of the “shadow government” are presumably still operating to this day.

Recent efforts to reform and expand the emergency protocols, according to the best available reports, have been led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who played a major role in the COG program during the Reagan Administration.

The underground program is historically run out of the office of the Vice President through a clandestine agency, identified by CNN as the National Program Office (NPO).

In 1991, CNN found the Continuity of Government program and National Program Office to be rife with waste, fraud, and abuse.…

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The Real-Life

July 13, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

We know what a criminal White House looks like from “The Final Days” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s classic account of Richard Nixon’s unraveling. The cauldron of lies, paranoia and illegal surveillance boiled over, until it was finally every man for himself as desperate courtiers scrambled to save their reputations and, in a few patriotic instances, their country.

“The Final Days” was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away. The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat. Her book “The Dark Side” connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution.

Some of “The Dark Side” seems right out of “The Final Days” minus Nixon’s operatic boozing and weeping. We learn, for instance, that in 2004 two conservative Republican Justice Department officials had become “so paranoid” that “they actually thought they might be in physical danger.” The fear of being wiretapped by their own peers drove them to speak in code.

The men were John Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, James Comey, and an assistant… Continue reading

Senate Passes Unconstitutional Spying Bill And Grants Sweeping Immunity To Phone Companies

ACLU Announces Legal Challenge To Follow President’s Signature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312, media@dcaclu.org or
(212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – Today, in a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy, the Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

‘Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,’ said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.’

The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The bill further trivializes court review by authorizing the government to continue… Continue reading

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