July 13, 2008
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
ACLU Announces Legal Challenge To Follow President’s Signature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312, email@example.com or
(212) 549-2666; firstname.lastname@example.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
By George Washington
April 15, 2008
One of the top investigative journalists in the country, Larisa Alexandrovna (the lead journalist at Raw Story), says the following concerning her attempts to determine whether or not the U.S. is still officially in a state of emergency, such as would justify the continuation of Continuity of Government (COG) Plans implemented on 9/11:
“Well, I have called around… believe it or not, no one seems to have an answer as to this simple question: ‘are we in a state of emergency?’ “
(see comments following essay).
Keep in mind that Alexandrovna has broken many top stories, later picked up by the New York Times and other mainstream publications, and has developed a broad network of contacts. And yet she couldn’t find an answer.
“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 York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, and the powers and… Continue reading
By Tom Burghardt From Antifascist Calling…Exploring the shadowlands of the corporate police state
The Washington Post revealed Friday that the FBI is continuing its systematic violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
A Justice Department report concluded that the Bureau had repeatedly abused its intelligence gathering “privileges” by issuing bogus “national security letters” (NSLs) from 2003-2006. On at least one occasion, the FBI relied on an illegally-issued NSL to circumvent a ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain records the secret court deemed protected by the First Amendment.
While the Bush regime claims that the Bureau requires sweeping authority to invade the privacy of American citizens to “protect the homeland” from the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets, al-Qaeda, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine determined that fully “60 percent of the nearly 50,000 security letters issued that year  by the FBI targeted Americans,” according to Post reporter Dan Eggen.
Despite the FISA court twice rejecting Bureau requests to obtain sensitive private records, determining “the ‘facts’ were too thin” and the “request implicated the target’s First Amendment rights,” the FBI used an NSL as a “work around” and proceeded anyway.
The stunning disregard for all legal norms under the Bush regime is encapsulated by FBI general counsel Valerie E. Caproni’s statement to investigators that “it was appropriate to issue the letters in such cases because she disagreed with the court’s conclusions.”
Fine asserted in the Inspector General’s report that the Bureau has… Continue reading
Take Action and save the life of Dr. Sami Al-Arian!
Save a life! Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was acquitted in 2005
of bogus "terrorism" charges by a Tampa Bay jury, yet he still remains
imprisoned in the United States.
Dr. Sami Al-Arian is currently on the fifteenth day of a no food or water hunger
strike to protest the legal manipulations and harassment by the Bush Administration
that are keeping him behind bars despite his acquittal by jury and subsequent
plea bargain (signed under significant pressure from the U.S. government) that
promised his release in May of 2006.
Dr. Al-Arian, a diabetic, is already losing his eyesight and is in extraordinary
danger of renal failure. The federal medical facility where he has been moved
to in Bunter, North Carolina has not given him an IV, despite their legal obligation
to keep him alive. The situation is urgent! Please write immediately to your
elected officials and the federal medical facility to protest this legal harassment
and torture and to demand his release. Dr. Al-Arian’s life depends on it.
Specifically, please contact (call and email):
Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: (703) 299-3339
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax
Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Department of Justice
By Ryan Paul
March 06, 2008
Computer security analyst Babak Pasdar says that a major mobile telecommunications carrier has a built-in backdoor that provides an undisclosed third-party with unfettered access to its internal technical infrastructure, including the ability to eavesdrop on all calls through its network. In an affidavit that describes the circumstances and basis for the allegations, Pasdar provides evidence which could indicate that the FBI is on the other side of the secret line, engaging in warrantless surveillance of mobile communications.
Pasdar discovered evidence of the backdoor when he was part of a rapid deployment team that was brought in to facilitate a large-scale network security hardware migration for the mobile carrier. During the migration, Pasdar was instructed not to migrate the traffic for one particular DS-3, which was referred to as the “Quantico Circuit” by consultants who worked closely with the carrier (the FBI Academy is based in Quantico, Virginia).
According to Pasdar, the consultants informed him that the Quantico Circuit is supposed to have no firewalls of any kind and no access control—it is given complete access to everything in the carrier’s internal network and there is no way to tell conclusively what has been accessed through it. The consultants indicated that they knew who was at the other end of the Quantico Circuit, but they refused to divulge this information to Pasdar.
When Pasdar insisted that the Quantico Circuit should at least have the minimum level of security access logging if not access control, the… Continue reading
AP Chief: Press Freedoms Are Among Casualties of Terrorist Attacks
Mar 06, 2008
The shadow of the Sept. 11 terror attacks is eclipsing press freedom and other
constitutional safeguards in the United States, Associated Press President and
CEO Tom Curley said Thursday.
“What has become clear in the aftermath of 9/11 is how much expediency
trumps safeguards,” Curley said during the annual dinner of the Radio and
Television News Directors Foundation.
“Congress steps back from its constitutional role of executive oversight.
Civilian oversight of the military wanes. A Justice Department interprets laws
in ways that extend police powers. More drastically, prisons are established
in places where government or military operatives circumvent due process or
control trials,” Curley said in accepting the foundation’s First Amendment
“It’s at moments like these when a free press matters most,” he said.
Curley was selected for his role in pushing for more openness in government
and for emphasizing reporting on First Amendment issues. That includes efforts
by the AP to establish the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a news media coalition
that presses for strengthening Freedom of Information laws and for greater government
Also receiving First Amendment honors from the foundation Thursday were CBS
News correspondent Bob Schieffer and NBC Universal vice president Paula Madison.
A special award also recognized former Federal Communications Commission Chairman
Media and public interest organizations tell the jurist that his order violates constitutional provisions against prior restraint of free speech.
By Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 27, 2008
A coalition of media and public interest organizations went to federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday urging a judge to reconsider his order to shut down a muckraking website that publishes leaked documents from businesses and government agencies worldwide.
Lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen and several news organizations, told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White that two orders he issued last week against wikileaks.org were prior restraints that violated the 1st Amendment.
Laura Handman, a Washington, D.C., attorney for the news organizations, said White’s order was so expansive that the only way to describe it was as if a judge had shut down a newspaper because of controversy over one article.
“I can’t think of another injunction that was so broad,” said Matt Zimmerman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil rights group that focuses on digital issues.
White acted in response to a lawsuit filed Feb. 6 by Julius Baer & Co., a Zurich-based bank, alleging that a disgruntled former employee had posted internal documents alleging money-laundering and tax evasion schemes at its Cayman Islands branch.
Wikileaks.org specifically urges readers to post leaked documents in an effort to discourage “unethical behavior” by corporations and government agencies. Among the 1.2 million documents that Wikileaks says it has posted over the last… Continue reading
Between The Lines
For The Week Ending Feb. 29, 2008
Posted Feb. 20, 2008
LISTEN to this week’s entire program/view the program summary.
Click here for downloadable or streaming audio, and more information.
Interview with Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild,
conducted by Scott Harris
On Feb. 11, the Bush administration announced it would charge six detainees held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, alleged to be involved in the planning of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Among those being charged are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the purported mastermind of the 9/11 conspiracy. This is the first set of charges brought by U.S. authorities against Guantánamo detainees that related directly to involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.
These trials will be conducted under the rules outlined in the Military Commissions Act passed in 2006 by the Republican-controlled Congress in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the original Bush trial procedures at Guantánamo were unconstitutional.
Although the Military Commissions Act forbids the admission of evidence extracted by torture, it permits evidence obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if it was secured before Dec. 30, 2005. Thus, the Bush administration’s refusal to declare waterboarding as an act of torture will be a key issue in these trials. Other procedures criticized allow a trial to proceed in the absence of the accused, places the power to appoint judges in the hands of the Secretary of Defense, permits the introduction of hearsay and evidence obtained without a warrant, and denies the accused the right to see all of the evidence against them.…Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@acluorg; (212) 549-2666
Ruling Allows Executive Branch To Police Itself, Says ACLU
NEW YORK — The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to review a legal challenge to the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who say that the unchecked surveillance program is disrupting their ability to communicate effectively with sources and clients. The court’s decision today lets stand an appeals court’s ruling on narrow grounds that plaintiffs could not show with certainty that they had been wiretapped by the National Security Agency.
The following quote can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project:
“Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act intending to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and residents, and the president systematically broke that law over a period of more than five years. It’s very disturbing that the president’s actions will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court. It shouldn’t be left to executive branch officials alone to determine what limits apply to their own surveillance activities and whether those limits are being honored. Allowing the executive branch to police itself flies in the face of the constitutional system of checks and balances.”
The following quote can be attributed to Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU:
“Although we are deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to review this case, it is worth noting that today’s… Continue reading
U.S. Agents Seize Travelers’ Devices
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 7, 2008; Page A01
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… Continue reading
by Glenn Greenwald
Published on Sunday, February 3, 2008 by Salon.com
Ever since the President’s illegal warrantless eavesdropping program was revealed by the New York Times’ Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau back in December, 2005, there has been a faction of neoconservatives and other extremists on the Right calling for the NYT reporters and editors to be criminally prosecuted — led by the likes of Bill Kristol (now of the NYT), Bill Bennett (of CNN), Commentary Magazine and many others. In May, 2006, Alberto Gonzales went on ABC News and revealed that the DOJ had commenced a criminal investigation into the leak, and then “raised the possibility  that New York Times journalists could be prosecuted for publishing classified information.”
That was one of the more revealing steps ever taken by Bush’s DOJ under Gonzales: the administration violated multiple federal laws for years in spying on Americans, blocked all efforts to investigate what they did or subject it to the rule of law, but then decided that the only real criminals were those who alerted the nation to their lawbreaking — whistleblowers and journalists alike. Even Gonzales’ public musing about criminal prosecutions could have had a devastating effect — if you’re a whistleblower or journalist who uncovers secret government lawbreaking, you’re obviously going to think twice (at least) before bringing it to light, given the public threats by the Attorney General to criminally prosecute those who do.
Eighteen months have passed since Gonzales’ threats, and while there have been… Continue reading
Mission Statement of 911Blacklist.org
In the six years since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, the mainstream media in America has largely been a mouthpiece of the Bush administration. All of the major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and others had until recently, been silently complicit in the cover-up of the events of that day, the un-Constitutional wars that would follow, and the steady erosion of our Constitutionally protected rights.
When the “9-11 Truth” community grew to the point that it could no longer be ignored, these same networks that had ignored the issue for so long began to attack individuals and groups of individuals who were seeking answers to the lingering questions which still remain about 9-11. As the success of various truth movements continues to broaden, these attacks have now escalated to include Peace activists, monetary reform activists, and now even supporters of Presidential candidate Ron Paul. Recent attacks have suggested that the 9-11 movement, Peace activists, and Ron Paul supporters are terrorists, and some in the media have implied that we should be silenced.
LET IT BE KNOWN THAT
* 1) We are proud Americans exercising our First Amendment Rights to free speech and the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances.
* 2) We categorically condemn and refute any and all attempts to associate us with foreign or domestic terrorism. Our entire mission is to oppose terrorism in all its forms, including false flag terrorism. We abhor violence in all its forms, whether committed by individuals or by governments.…
During today’s [11/5/07] White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino condemned Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of “emergency rule” in Pakistan. She said that the administration is “deeply disappointed” by the measure, which suspends the country’s constitution, and believes it is never “reasonable” to “restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism”:
Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?
MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no.
Watch it at http://thinkprogress.org/2007/11/05/musharraf-freedom/.
The Bush administration never suspended the U.S. Constitution; instead, it interpreted the document so broadly as to provide all the powers they desired. A look at some of the ways the White House has overstepped its constitutional powers in the name of national security:
First Amendment: In September, a federal judge ruled that the FBI’s use of secret “national security letters” to obtain citizens’ personal data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations “violate[d] the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers.”
First Amendment, Fourth Amendment: In Aug. 2006, a federal district court in Detroit ruled that the Bush administration’ss NSA warrantless wiretapping program was unconstitutional, violating the “separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III.”
Article I: Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attempted to justify the administration’s detainee policy by claiming, “There is no express grant… Continue reading
by Naomi Wolf
November 4, 2007
I have argued that in the closing stages of a ‘fascist shift’, events cascade. I am hearing about them, even across the globe. Here in Australia I hear from the nation’s best-know feminist activist, and former adviser to Paul Keating, Anne Summers, who was also at the time this took place Chair of the Board of Greenpeace International. Summers was detained by armed agents for FIVE HOURS each way in LAX on her way to and from the annual meeting of the board of Greenpeace International in Mexico, and her green card was taken away from her. ‘I want to call a lawyer’, she told TSA agents. ‘Ma’am, you do not have a right to call an attorney,’ they replied. ‘You have not entered the United States.’
Apparently a section of LAX just beyond the security line is asserted to be ‘not in the United States’ — though it is squarely inside the airport — so the laws of the US do not apply. (This assertion, by the way, should alarm any US citizen who is aware of how the White House argued that Guantánamo is not ‘in the United States’ – is a legal no-man’s land — so the laws of the US do not apply.) Toward the end of her second five-hour detention she asked, `Why am I being detained?’ `Lady, this is not detention,’ the TSA agent told her. `Detention is when I take you to the cells out… Continue reading
UPDATE: Since this article was written, H.R. 1955 was passed in the House, by a vote of 404-3. Roll call posted at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll993.xml
October 25, 2007
By Col. Dan Smith
Congresswoman Jane Harman has introduced legislation–H.R. 1955: “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism”–that is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee for assignment of floor time for debate by the House. This is a bill that is unneeded, unwise, and unfortunately will pass and be signed into law as it purports to be part of the response to 9/11 and the global war on terror.
At base, Harman’s proposal seems to be a direct attack on First Amendment rights. No where is this more clear than in the third introductory paragraph (the “where as” section) that provides the context for the action desired. Specifically, this legislation aims at the unregulated nature of the Internet:
“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.”
Moreover, Harman is telling the American public, citizens and permanent residents, that they are too dumb to recognize hate speech, demonizing rhetoric, and propaganda, and are so morally immature that they are not capable of knowing when to “blow off” terrorists and their messages designed to incite large scale insurrection
One also gets the impression that Harman believes that terrorist criminality has become so wide and the number of people… Continue reading
The Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Retroactive immunity for telecom companies who engaged in illegal spying at the behest of the NSA is at the heart of a bill currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, even before having been officially introduced, is being hotly debated by bloggers, electronic privacy groups, and civil libertarians, as well as presidential contenders (CT Senator Chris Dodd has actually posted a petition at his election website, encouraging readers to support his threatened “hold” on the bill). We should compare the issues involved here with the retroactive immunity provided CIA interrogators in the September, 2006 Military Commissions Act, who could otherwise have been accused of war crimes.
Below, we direct readers to an important series of programs from PBS’ Frontline to help readers investigate the background of this issue, and a deeper consideration of some of what’s at stake in continually ceding power to a rogue Executive bent on dissolving the few civil liberties which currently remain untouched.
Lest readers be swayed by the Administration’s repeated argument that “9/11 makes this necessary,” the Rocky Mountain News reported (emphasis added) on October 11, 2007 that this spying was underway well before 9/11/01:
… Continue reading
“The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.
A CALL TO ACTION – EMERGENCY MEETING
“First they came for the terrorists but I wasn’t a terrorist so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then they came for those suspected of terrorism, but I certainly wasn’t a suspect so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then they came for those who defended those who were suspected of terrorism, but I wasn’t defending such people so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then, one day, they came and began to “suspect” me, so I stayed very, very silent and went about my business.
And that is how I lost my soul.”
You can feel it in the air: many of us are living in the fear that we are one “bad event” away from this administration seizing power over the people in such a way that we will find ourselves swept up in a nightmare of tyranny such as we’ve never seen before.
Others before us have also lived in such times. Others before us have also witnessed the tyranny of empire, the fear it unleashes, and the trance it imposes on its population. There is a story in the Gospel of Mark (this Sunday I’ll be preaching about it) that has Jesus encountering a man in a graveyard, chained to the tombs and possessed by a powerful demon that has caused the man to become violent, insane, and out of control. The name of the demon is Legion, a military term that… Continue reading