April 3, 2008
A letter has been sent by leaders of the House Judiciary Committee to Attorney
General Michael Mukasey, demanding that he explain a recent public statement
that federal authorities failed to intercept a call from suspected terrorists
in Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks, when doing so could have prevented
the attacks from taking place.
Mukasey blamed that failure on a lack of the sort of warrantless wiretapping
authority that the administration has now called on Congress to provide. However,
there has never been any previous mention of such a call, and the Judiciary
Committee letter — signed by Chairman John Conyers and two subcommittee chairs
— points out that the law that existed at the time would have allowed the call
to be intercepted immediately, with permission granted retroactively by the
That letter has been noted by blogs, such as Talking Points Memo, but does
not appear to have gained any attention from the mainstream media.
Blogger Glenn Greenwald, who has covered the Mukasey incident extensively,
originally believed that “he just made this up out of whole cloth in order
to mislead Americans into supporting the administration’s efforts to eliminate
spying safeguards and basic constitutional liberties and to stifle the pending
surveillance lawsuits against telecoms.”
However, Greenwald has now received an email from the Department of Justice’s
Principal Deputy Director of Public Affairs, citing both a reference by a 2002
Congressional Joint Inquiry to an untraced call between one of the 9/11 hijackers… Continue reading
Post-9/11 Memo Indicates View Around Constitution
Thursday, April 3, 2008
For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush administration
argued that the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches and
seizures on U.S. soil did not apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism.
That view was expressed in a secret Justice Department legal memo dated Oct.
23, 2001. The administration stressed yesterday that it now disavows that view.
The October 2001 memo was written at the White House’s request by John Yoo,
then the deputy assistant attorney general, and addressed to Alberto R. Gonzales,
then the White House counsel. The37-page memo has not been released.
Its existence was disclosed Tuesday in a footnote of a separate secret Justice
Department memo, dated March 14, 2003, that discussed the legality of various
interrogation techniques. It was released by the Pentagon in response to an
ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application
to domestic military operations,” the footnote in that memo states, referring
to a document titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist
Activities Within the United States.”
Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear.
Source URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040300067.html
2003 Justice Department memo justifies torture, presidential dictatorship
By Joe Kay
4 April 2008
On Tuesday, the Defense Department released a 2003 memo asserting the right
of the US president to order the military to torture prisoners.
The memo is signed by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and is
dated March 14, 2003, one week before the launch of the Iraq war.…
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
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
In the streets!
Market & Sansome Sts.
San Francisco, California 94104
DIRECT ACTIONS ON THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRAQ WAR: DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO
7:30 am Multiple actions at multiple locations.
Market and Sansome
Marches to direct action locations leaving from Market and Sansome throughout
Join the March 19 DASW Text Mob to stay updated through the day:
Send a text to 40404 with the words ?follow dasw? (case sensitive,
no quotation marks). Standard rates apply.
On March 19, 2008 – the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – Direct
Action to Stop the War (http://www.actagainstwar.net/)
will be organizing a day of decentralized, multiple-target direct action against
government offices and war profiteers in downtown San Francisco. We have created
a list (see the website) of San Francisco offices of federal agencies, corporations
with military contracts or contracts in Iraq, politicians who have failed to
stop the war, and foreign embassies of countries linked to the war in Iraq.
We are focusing primarily on corporations with military or Iraqi contracts,
because we want to focus attention on the prominent role played by war-profiteering
corporations in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. We will take direct action on March
19th against as many of these locations as possible, in order to send a clear
message to the economic and political elites that control this country: No business
as usual until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq!
**How you can plug into the March 19th San Francisco Day of Direct Action:**
We?re asking that you:
Authorities to Gain Fast and Expansive Access to Records
By Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Several thousand law enforcement agencies are creating the foundation of a
domestic intelligence system through computer networks that analyze vast amounts
of police information to fight crime and root out terror plots.
As federal authorities struggled to meet information-sharing mandates after
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police agencies from Alaska and California
to the Washington region poured millions of criminal and investigative records
into shared digital repositories called data warehouses, giving investigators
and analysts new power to discern links among people, patterns of behavior and
other hidden clues.
Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local
and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the
National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. Federal authorities hope N-DEx will become
what one called a "one-stop shop" enabling federal law enforcement,
counterterrorism and intelligence analysts to automatically examine the enormous
caches of local and state records for the first time.
Although Americans have become accustomed to seeing dazzling examples of fictional
crime-busting gear on television and in movies, law enforcement’s search for
clues has in reality involved a mundane mix of disjointed computers, legwork
These new systems are transforming that process. "It’s going from the
horse-and-buggy days to the space age, that’s what it’s like," said Sgt.
Chuck Violette of the Tucson police department, one of almost 1,600 law enforcement
agencies… Continue reading
by MICHAEL GOULD-WARTOFSKY
[from the January 28, 2008 issue of The Nation]
Free-speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security
curriculum. Private security contractors. Welcome to the homeland security campus.
From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower
in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent
radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"–as it was recently
dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name–have set out to
reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.
Building a homeland security campus and bringing the university to heel is
a seven-step mission:
1. Target dissidents. As the warfare state has triggered dissent,
the campus has attracted increasing scrutiny–with student protesters in the
cross hairs. The government’s number-one target? Peace and justice organizations.
From 2003 to 2007 an unknown number of them made it into the Pentagon’s Threat
and Local Observation Notice system (TALON), a secretive domestic spying program
ostensibly designed to track direct "potential terrorist threats"
to the Defense Department itself. In 2006 the ACLU uncovered, via Freedom of
Information Act requests, at least 186 specific TALON reports on "anti-military
protests" in the United States–some listed as "credible threats"–from
student groups at the University of California, Santa Cruz; State University
of New York, Albany; Georgia State University; and New Mexico State University,
among other campuses.
At more than a dozen universities and colleges, police officers now double
as full-time FBI agents, and according to the Campus Law… 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
January 28, 2008 Issue
by Philip Giraldi
Most Americans have never heard of Sibel Edmonds, and if the U.S. government has its way, they never will. The former FBI translator turned whistleblower tells a chilling story of corruption at Washington’s highest levels–sale of nuclear secrets, shielding of terrorist suspects, illegal arms transfers, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, espionage. She may be a first-rate fabulist, but Edmonds’s account is full of dates, places, and names. And if she is to be believed, a treasonous plot to embed moles in American military and nuclear installations and pass sensitive intelligence to Israeli, Pakistani, and Turkish sources was facilitated by figures in the upper echelons of the State and Defense Departments. Her charges could be easily confirmed or dismissed if classified government documents were made available to investigators.
But Congress has refused to act, and the Justice Department has shrouded Edmonds’s case in the state-secrets privilege, a rarely used measure so sweeping that it precludes even a closed hearing attended only by officials with top-secret security clearances. According to the Department of Justice, such an investigation “could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the foreign policy and national security of the United States.”
After five years of thwarted legal challenges and fruitless attempts to launch a congressional investigation, Sibel Edmonds is telling her story, though her defiance could land her in jail. After reading its November piece about Louai al-Sakka, an al-Qaeda terrorist who trained 9/11 hijackers in Turkey, Edmonds approached the Sunday Times of London.…Continue reading
By John Bresnahan
January 2, 2008
(The Politico) Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s decision earlier today to appoint a veteran federal prosecutor to oversee a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA videotapes has not mollifed Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who still wants a special counsel appointed to oversee the case.
Mukasey has chosen John Durham, an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to run the investigation. Durham will “serve as acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia for purposes of this matter.” Mukasey said. “Mr. Durham is a widely respected and experienced career prosecutor who has supervised a wide range of complex investigations in the past, and I am grateful to him for his willingness to serve in this capacity. As the acting United States attorney for purposes of this investigation, Mr. Durham will report to the deputy attorney general, as do all United States attorneys in the ordinary course. I have also directed the FBI to conduct the investigation under Mr. Durham’s supervision.”
Chuck Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria, Va., has recused himself from the CIA probe. Rosenberg worked in former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ office during the period when the fate of the CIA tapes, which included records of 2002 interrogations of top Al Qaeda operatives, were reportedly discussed with the CIA and White House. The tapes were destroyed in 2005 by CIA officials despite legal objections. A preliminary probe by DOJ and the CIA’s inspector general determined that a criminal probe was warranted, which… Continue reading
Op-Ed Contributors Stonewalled by the C.I.A.
By THOMAS H. KEAN and LEE H. HAMILTON
Washington: MORE than five years ago, Congress and President Bush created the 9/11 commission. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001” — and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks. Soon after its creation, the president’s chief of staff directed all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the commission.
The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.
There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. — or the White House — of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.
When the press reported that, in 2002 and maybe at other times, the C.I.A. had recorded hundreds of hours of interrogations of at least two Qaeda detainees, we went back to check our records. We found that we did ask, repeatedly, for the kind of information that… Continue reading
December 21, 2007
Judge Refuses to Order Hearing on C.I.A. Tapes
By DAVID STOUT and DAVID JOHNSTON
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday declined to rule immediately on
a request to compel the government to explain in detail the destruction of C.I.A.
videotapes showing the harsh interrogation of two suspected Al Qaeda operatives.
District Judge Henry H. Kennedy said he would rule later on a request by lawyers
for a dozen Yemeni prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that
he order such a hearing.
But Judge Kennedy, who heard a motion from the prisoners’ lawyers, appeared
at one point to be at least partly swayed by Bush administration lawyers that
he should not get more deeply involved while Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey
is undertaking one of the inquiries into the tapes’ destruction.
“Why should the court not permit the Department of Justice to do just
that?” Judge Kennedy asked David H. Remes, a lawyer for the detainees.
For Mr. Remes, the answer was simple. “Plainly, the government wants
only foxes guarding the henhouse,” he asserted in his motion. Considering
the government’s behavior so far, Mr. Remes argued, the Justice Department
is not entitled to a presumption that it will do the right thing.
The destruction in 2005 of the videotapes, disclosed earlier this month, has
caused a furor in the capital. Critics of the administration have seized on
the episode as further evidence that it may have a lot to hide in its treatment
of detainees. In… Continue reading
What is Probably in the Missing Tapes
By Naomi Wolf, Monday, December 13, 2007*
To judge from firsthand documents obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA lawsuit, we can guess what is probably on the missing CIA interrogation tapes — as well as understand why those implicated are spinning so hard to pretend the tapes do not document a series of evident crimes. According to the little-noticed but extraordinarily important book Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh, Columbia University Press, New York 2007), which presents dozens of original formerly secret documents – FBI emails and memos, letters and interrogator "wish lists," raw proof of the systemic illegal torture of detainees in various US-held prisons — the typical "harsh interrogation" of a suspect in US custody reads like an account of abuses in archives at Yad Vashem.
More is still being hidden as of this writing — as those in Congress now considering whether a special prosecutor is needed in this case should be urgently aware: "Through the FOIA lawsuit," write the authors, "we learned of the existence of multiple records relating to prisoner abuse that still have not been released by the administration; credible media reports identify others. As this book goes to print, the Bush administration is still withholding, among many other records, a September 2001 presidential directive authorizing the CIA to set up secret detention centers overseas; an August 2002 Justice Department memorandum advising the CIA about the lawfulness of waterboarding [Italics mine; nota bene, Mr.…Continue reading
December 6, 2007
By MARK MAZZETTI
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.
The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.
The existence and subsequent destruction of the tapes are likely to reignite the debate over the use of severe interrogation techniques on terror suspects, and their destruction raises questions about whether C.I.A. officials withheld information about aspects of the program from the courts and from the Sept. 11 commission appointed by President Bush and Congress. It was not clear who within the C.I.A. authorized the destruction of the tapes, but current and former government officials… Continue reading
The National Lawyers Guild on Friday unanimously and enthusiastically passed a resolution supporting the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
Resolution on Impeachment of Bush and Cheney
Whereas George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney:
1. deliberately misled the nation and doctored intelligence, as described in the Downing Street minutes, http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/memos.html about the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war of aggression and an occupation of Iraq, as further described in House resolution H.Res. 333: http://kucinich.house.gov/UploadedFiles/int3.pdf and as listed in House Resolution H. Res. 635: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hr109-635
2. committed crimes against peace by initiating war against Iraq in violation of the UN Charter http://www.worldpress.org/specials/iraq/ ;
3. committed crimes against humanity in… 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:
“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.…
Watch the news video here: “Who Poisoned Local 9/11 Investigator Dr. David Graham?”
Who killed Dr. David Graham? That’s the question at the heart of a complaint filed with the Inspector General’s office at the U.S. Justice Department. It comes a year after Graham’s painful death that was never investigated.
Other examples of Mr. Ferrell’s reporting follow:Continue reading
By Ryan Singel
The FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system
that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device, according
to nearly a thousand pages of restricted documents newly released under the
Freedom of Information Act.
The surveillance system, called DCSNet, for Digital Collection System Network,
connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by traditional land-line
operators, internet-telephony providers and cellular companies. It is far more
intricately woven into the nation’s telecom infrastructure than observers suspected.
It’s a “comprehensive wiretap system that intercepts wire-line phones,
cellular phones, SMS and push-to-talk systems,” says Steven Bellovin, a
Columbia University computer science professor and longtime surveillance expert.
Snapshots of the FBI Spy Docs
DCSNet is a suite of software that collects, sifts and stores phone numbers,
phone calls and text messages. The system directly connects FBI wiretapping
outposts around the country to a far-reaching private communications network.
Many of the details of the system and its full capabilities were redacted from
the documents acquired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but they show
that DCSNet includes at least three collection components, each running on Windows-based
The $10 million DCS-3000 client, also known as Red Hook, handles pen-registers
and trap-and-traces, a type of surveillance that collects signaling information
— primarily the numbers dialed from a telephone — but no communications content.
(Pen registers record outgoing calls; trap-and-traces record incoming calls.)
DCS-6000, known as Digital Storm, captures and collects the content of phone
calls and text messages for full wiretap orders.… Continue reading
By Peter Phillips
Published Friday, September 07, 2007
We need to broaden our understanding of censorship in the United States. No
longer is the dictionary definition of direct government control of news adequate.
The private corporate media in the United States significantly under-cover and/or
deliberately censor numerous important news stories every year as well.
Project Censored at Sonoma State University has annually researched these stories
for 31 years. Over 200 faculty, community experts, and students, select and
rank the stories the media failed to cover. Hundreds of uncovered news stories
are evaluated. The result is the annual listing of the top 25 most important
ones that were censored.
The systemic erosion of human rights and civil liberties in the United States
is the most common theme of censorship for 2006-07.
The corporate media last year ignored that habeas corpus can now be suspended
for anyone by order of the president. With the approval of Congress, the Military
Commissions Act MCA of 2006 allows for the suspension of habeas corpus for U.S.
citizens and non-citizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in
"The New York Times" October 19, 2006, have given false comfort that
American citizens will not be the victims of the measures legalized by this
act, the law is quite clear that "any person" can be targeted. The
text in the MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the
constitutional justice system for "any person" regardless of American
citizenship. The MCA effectively does away… Continue reading