By Tom Burghardt
June 16, 2008
from Antifascist Calling, Reprinted at Global Research
Proving the old axiom that Congress "is the best that money can buy,"
congressional Democrats are preparing to gut the Constitution by granting giant
telecom companies retroactive immunity and liability protection on warrantless
wiretapping by the Bush regime.
According to Congressional Quarterly, "Congressional leaders
and the Bush administration have reached an agreement in principle on an overhaul
of surveillance rules."
Tim Starks reports,
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the compromise would
be very similar to the last proposal by Sen. Christopher S. Bond , R-Mo.,
to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.
Sources said the major change is that a federal district court, not the
secret FISA court itself, would make an assessment about whether to provide
retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies being sued for
their alleged role in the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program.
("Agreement Could Pave Way for Surveillance Overhaul," Congressional
Quarterly, June 13, 2008)
In other words, the telecommunication corporations and their "customers,"
the NSA, FBI and other members of the "intelligence community" will
get everything they want–retroactive immunity and billions of dollars in continued
taxpayer subsidies for intelligence "outsourcing."
Under rules being considered by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO),
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO)
and Bush administration officials, the deal would allow the federal district
court "to look at… Continue reading
Watch the video here; written transcript follows:
AMY GOODMAN: Former Alaska senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel is holding a news conference in New York City today to call for a new independent investigation into 9/11. Gravel will be speaking on behalf of the NYC 9/11 Ballot Initiative Campaign, a grassroots group seeking to place an initiative on the ballot of the November 6th general election allowing registered New York City voters to create a new commission to investigate 9/11.
The group is looking to appoint between nine and fifteen commissioners on the panel to conduct the investigation. Some of the people who have reportedly already agreed to serve as commissioners include Lori Van Auken, a 9/11 widow, one of the so-called “Jersey Girls”; Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator from Rhode Island; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a pastor in Detroit, Michigan; as well as former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, who joins us here today.
He has published three books this year: Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change, The Kingmakers: How the Media Threatens Our Security and Our Democracy and A Political Odyssey. His book Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change has a forward by Ralph Nader. He’ll be joining us on the show later in the week.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Senator Gravel.
MIKE GRAVEL: Amy, thank you for having me. But before we launch into the mission of my appearance, I want to comment on this young man you just had on. I’ve got… Continue reading
by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton
Posted at Lewrockwell.com
June 7, 2008
The George W. Bush administration responded to the 9/11 attack on the World
Trade Center and Pentagon with an assault on U.S. civil liberty that Bush justified
in the name of the “war on terror.” The government assured us that
the draconian measures apply only to “terrorists.” The word terrorist,
however, was not defined. The government claimed the discretionary power to
decide who is a terrorist without having to present evidence or charges in a
court of law.
Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy evades any notion of procedural
due process of law. Administration assurances that harsh treatment is reserved
only for terrorists is meaningless when the threshold process for determining
who is and who is not a terrorist depends on executive discretion that is not
subject to review. Substantive rights are useless without the procedural rights
to enforce them.
Terrorist legislation and executive assertions created a basis upon which federal
authorities claimed they were free to suspend suspects’ civil liberties
in order to defend Americans from terrorism. Only after civil liberties groups
and federal courts challenged some of the unconstitutional laws and procedures
did realization spread that the Bush administration’s assault on the Bill
of Rights is a greater threat to Americans than are terrorists.
The alacrity with which Congress accepted the initial assault from the administration
is frightening. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act passed by a vote of 98 to 1 in
the… Continue reading
Wed May 21, 2008 8:57pm EDT
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – FBI counterterrorism units are dangerously ill-equipped and barely 60 percent of the supervisory positions in the division that tracks al Qaeda were filled as of March, a bureau agent told Congress on Wednesday.
Bassem Youssef told a congressional hearing that the bureau has failed to recruit, retain and promote experienced personnel and experts in Arabic culture and language.
The shortfall has contributed to problems such as the improper use of FBI demands for personal and business records, said Youssef, who helped uncover the abuse.
Youssef, who was born in Egypt, has also sued the FBI alleging discrimination because of his race and ancestry.
“The FBI’s counterterrorism division is ill-equipped to handle the terrorism problems we’re facing,” said Youssef, a 20-year veteran who investigated bombings in 1993 at the World Trade Center and in 1996 at the Khobar Towers residence at a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia.
Asked how much use the FBI had made of his own experience, he replied, “The bureau used my background and experience very extensively — up to September 11.”
Youssef, who heads the FBI counterterrorism division’s communications analysis unit, attributed the shift to a name mix-up with another agent, discrimination and cultural ignorance.
Members of the House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism urged the bureau to revise an “up or out” policy that makes supervisors move from the field to Washington headquarters after five years, or take a demotion or retire.…Continue reading
While the US media obsesses on delegates, superdelegates and whether or not Hillary Clinton is using math formulae hallowed by MSNBC, we learn that US interrogators used snakes to torture prisoners (that’s right, PentaPost –torture, not ‘interrogate’ and prisoners, not ‘detainees’) at Guantánamo Bay – while the FBI watched.
By Lori Price
21 May 2008
Today, we learned form NEWS.com.au, an Australian news and information site, that US interrogators – at least on one occasion – used a snake (in addition to military dogs and pornography) on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. We also discovered that “[Australian detainee Mamdouh] Habib alleged that ‘Mike’ a private-contract interrogator with Lockheed Martin, had hit him during an interrogation.” Further, we discovered that, ”of the more than 450 FBI agents who served at Guantánamo… almost half ‘observed or heard about various rough or aggressive treatment of detainees, primarily by military interrogators’.”
Snakes used in interrogation sessions?! This is Nazi tactics territory, folks – using our dollars and under our name! I don’t care about Democratic superdelegate totals or nomination math formulae. The US media is using the election itself as a distraction for war crimes that are being carried out in our name, every day!
Lest we forget: U.S. Has Detained 2,500 Juveniles as Enemy Combatants 16 May 2008 The United States has imprisoned approximately 2,500 people younger than 18 as illegal enemy combatants in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay since 2002, according to a report filed by the Bush regime with the… Continue reading
By Shane Harris, National Journal
In the old days, everyone was linked to a lug nut, and Jim Kallstrom liked it that way.
It was 1985, a simpler time for a cop like Kallstrom, who was in charge of setting telephone wiretaps on suspected drug dealers and mobsters for the FBI’s New York City field office.
In New York, Kallstrom’s cases were often won on the basis of incriminating evidence surreptitiously snatched from the mouths of criminal defendants through their phone lines.
With a mere 203,000 Americans using mobile phones, people were still tied to the ground, and that gave Kallstrom’s world a certain comforting order.
On any given day, he could stand on a street corner in Manhattan, gaze up at an apartment building with its neat rows and columns of units stacked atop each other, and know that inside each one there was a telephone, tethered by thin copper wire to a single point, sometimes several miles away. In his mind’s eye, Kallstrom could have imagined shrinking himself to the size of an electron and traveling over the phone line, down to the bottom of the building, then shooting beneath the streets, until he ended up in the basement of the telephone company’s switching station. There, the wire emerged, pegged to a rack by a single copper lug nut. Acres of racks lined the walls, each holding rows and columns of lug nuts and their wires, neatly stacked atop each other — the city of New York in… Continue reading
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