March 14th, 2008
EFF Applauds House Passage of Surveillance Bill with No Telecom Immunity
Bill Would Allow Spying Cases to Proceed Fairly and Securely
Washington, D.C. – This morning the House of Representatives passed a compromise
surveillance bill that does not include retroactive immunity for phone companies
alleged to have assisted in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. The bill
would allow lawsuits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s case against
AT&T to proceed while providing specific security procedures allowing the
telecom giants to defend themselves in court.
The House bill succeeded 213 to 197 despite the president’s threat to veto
any bill that does not include immunity.
“We applaud the House for refusing to grant amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms,
and for passing a bill that would allow our lawsuit against AT&T to proceed
fairly and securely,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior
Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “Amnesty proponents have been claiming on
the Hill for months that phone companies like AT&T had a good faith belief
that the NSA program was legal. Under this bill, the companies could do what
they should have been able to do all along: tell that story to a judge.”
The Senate is expected to consider the House bill when it returns from recess
on Monday, March 31. House and Senate staff are expected to spend much of the
break negotiating over differences between the new House bill and a previous
Senate bill that includes immunity provisions.
“This newly-passed House bill represents a true compromise on… Continue reading
Latest Findings Raise New Questions about Hijackers and Suggest Incomplete Investigation
A contributor to the History Commons has obtained a 298-page document entitled Hijackers Timeline (Redacted) from the FBI, subsequent to a Freedom of Information Act request. The document was a major source of information for the 9/11 Commission’s final report. Though the commission cited the timeline 52 times in its report, it failed to include some of the document’s most important material.
The printed document is dated November 14, 2003, but appears to have been compiled in mid-October 2001 (the most recent date mentioned in it is October 22, 2001), when the FBI was just starting to understand the backgrounds of the hijackers, and it contains almost no information from the CIA, NSA, or other agencies. This raises questions as to why the 9/11 Commission relied so heavily on such an early draft for their information about the hijackers.
CooperativeTimeline.org has posted new information from the “Hijackers Timeline,” recently released by the FBI. Links to the full FBI documents are at the end of the article, (which also contains many links to other Timeline entries in the original announcement, at the source).
In addition, the 90-page “Charge Sheet” (see also press release 2/11/08, “Sept. 11 Co-Conspirators Charged”) conveys an enormous amount of information relating to the hijackers for a significant period of time before, and on, September 11th.
For an event this government has said “no one could have… Continue reading
February 6, 2008
As someone also motivated by the need for the truth about 9/11, as well as aware of the way conflicts of interest have a way of covering up truth, let me add my thanks to Philip Shenon on the release of his new book. Also let me share this recent comment forwarded to me by Monica Gabrielle of the September 11th Advocates:
Philip Shenon’s new book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, serves to justify our suspicions and the concerns of the Family Steering Committee, that we attempted to publicly air during the course of the 9/11 Commission’s tenure.
One of the most egregious revelations put forth by Mr. Shenon is the fact that Philip Zelikow was hired as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, despite his direct ties to the Bush administration. In 2000-2001 he served as a member of Condoleezza Rice’s National Security Council (NSC) transition team, where he was allegedly the “architect” of the decision to demote Richard Clarke and his counter terrorism team within the NSC. Furthermore he was a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) from 2001-2003, where Zelikow drafted most of the 2002 “National Security Strategy of the United States,” creating the pre-emptive Iraq war strategy. These areas were within the scope of the Commission’s mandate and as such were of critical importance to determine what, if any, impact they had on the government’s ability to prevent the 9/11 attacks.
As the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow was given the responsibility for choosing the entire direction of the Commission’s investigation.…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 17, 2008
“The US Director of National Intelligence asserts that the terror attacks
of September 11, 2001, were caused by weak domestic wiretapping laws,”
David Edwards and Mike Sheehan write for Raw Story. “Vice Admiral
Mike McConnell, former head of the National Security Agency who was appointed
DNI in 2007 by President Bush, spoke today to a group of students in St. Mary’s
City, Missouri, about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a federal
statute that outlines procedures for electronic surveillance by the US intelligence
According to McConnell, “alleged 9/11 conspirator Mohamed Atta”
was able to pull of his dastardly deed because he was “invisible to your
intelligence” after he entered the United States. “He’s now
a US person,” said McConnell, with all the rights and privileges of ordinary
Inside the US, McConnell continued, Atta would be “invisible to your
intelligence community. As long he doesn’t break the law, law enforcement
can’t conduct surveillance, [because] they don’t have probable
Terror network al-Qaeda understood that, McConnell then said, “and
that’s why 9/11 happened, in my view.”
Sure, and big fat chartreuse raspberries grow on the dark side of the Moon.
In fact, the NSA has snooped the American public at large for decades now.
Mr. McConnell needs to find a computer and do a Google search of the word SHAMROCK.
It was a massive snoop program predating the NSA, created by Truman in 1952.
SHAMROCK snooped all telegraph data entering and… Continue reading
Iran showdown has echoes of faked Tonkin attack
January 11, 2008
A dramatic showdown at sea. Crossed communication signals. Apparently-hostile craft nearby. Sketchy intelligence leading to ratcheted up rhetoric.
The similarities between this week’s confrontation between US warships and Iranian speedboats and events off the coast of North Vietnam 44 years ago were too hard for many experts to miss, leading to the question: Is the Strait of Hormuz 2008′s Gulf of Tonkin?
On Aug. 2nd and 4th, 1964, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy, patrolling off the North Vietnamese coast, intercepted signals indicating they were under attack. Within days, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which paved the way to the escalation of the Vietnam War. However, as some intelligence agents suspected at the time, the Aug. 2nd attack took place after the USS Maddox fired first, according to a National Security Agency report released in 1995.
This week another NSA report surfaced, confirming suspicions that the Aug. 4th attack never happened.
The researcher who uncovered the most recent NSA assessment tells RAW STORY that the Strait of Hormuz confrontation, and the immediate saber-rattling from the Bush administration and its allies, demonstrates the extent to which officials must be wary about politicizing shaky intelligence in times of war.
“The parallels (between Tonkin and Hormuz) speak for themselves, but what they say is that even the most basic factual assumptions can be made erroneously [or] can prove to be false,” Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, told Raw Story.…Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
December 27, 2007
“There are few things as odd as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theater. … Perhaps the only comparably odd thing is the way that now, years later….”
These are the words of Sebastian Haffner (pen name for Raimund Pretzel), who as a young lawyer in Berlin during the 1930s experienced the Nazi takeover and wrote a first-hand account. His children found the manuscript when he died in 1999 and published it the following year as “Geschichte eines Deutschen” (The Story of a German).
The book became an immediate bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages–in English as “Defying Hitler.”
I recently learned from his daughter Sarah, an artist in Berlin, that today is the 100th anniversary of Haffner’s birth. She had seen an earlier article in which I quoted her father and e-mailed to ask me to “write some more about the book and the comparison to Bush’s America. … This is almost unbelievable.”
More about Haffner below. Let’s set the stage first by recapping some of what has been going on that may have resonance for readers familiar with the Nazi ascendancy, noting how “odd” it is that the frontal attack on our Constitutional rights is met with such “calm, superior indifference.”
Goebbels Would be Proud
It has been two years since top New York Times officials decided to let the rest of us in on the fact that the George W.…Continue reading
Ellsberg Says Sibel Edmonds Case ‘Far More Explosive Than Pentagon Papers’
‘Gagged’ FBI Whistleblower, Risking Jail, Says American Media Has Refused Her
Offer to Disclose Classified Information, Including Criminal Allegations, Information
Concerning ‘Security of Americans’
Charges Several Mainstream Publications Have Been Informed of ‘Full Story’
by Other FBI Leakers Nearly a Year Ago, Have Remained Mum…
Brad Friedman, The BRAD
“I’d say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers,”
Daniel Ellsberg told us in regard to former FBI translator turned whistleblower
“From what I understand, from what she has to tell, it has a major difference
from the Pentagon Papers in that it deals directly with criminal activity and
may involve impeachable offenses,” Ellsberg explained. “And I don’t
necessarily mean the President or the Vice-President, though I wouldn’t be surprised
if the information reached up that high. But other members of the Executive
Branch may be impeached as well. And she says similar about Congress.”
The BRAD BLOG spoke recently with the legendary 1970′s-era whistleblower in
the wake of our recent exclusive, detailing Edmonds’ announce that she was prepared
to risk prosecution to expose the entirety of the still-classified information
that the Bush Administration has “gagged” her from revealing for the
past five years under claims of the arcane “State Secrets Privilege”.
Ellsberg, the former defense analyst and one-time State Department official,
knows well the plight of whistleblowers. He himself was prepared to spend his
life in prison for… Continue reading
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
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.…
Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didn’t tell full story of deadly ’67 incident
By John Crewdson
Chicago Tribune senior correspondent
October 2, 2007
Bryce Lockwood, Marine staff sergeant, Russian-language expert, recipient of the Silver Star for heroism, ordained Baptist minister, is shouting into the phone.
“I’m angry! I’m seething with anger! Forty years, and I’m seething with anger!”
Lockwood was aboard the USS Liberty, a super-secret spy ship on station in the eastern Mediterranean, when four Israeli fighter jets flew out of the afternoon sun to strafe and bomb the virtually defenseless vessel on June 8, 1967, the fourth day of what would become known as the Six-Day War.
For Lockwood and many other survivors, the anger is mixed with incredulity: that Israel would attack an important ally, then attribute the attack to a case of mistaken identity by Israeli pilots who had confused the U.S. Navy’s most distinctive ship with an Egyptian horse-cavalry transport that was half its size and had a dissimilar profile. And they’re also incredulous that, for years, their own government would reject their calls for a thorough investigation.
“They tried to lie their way out of it!” Lockwood shouts. “I don’t believe that for a minute! You just don’t shoot at a ship at sea without identifying it, making sure of your target!”
Four decades later, many of the more than two dozen Liberty survivors located and interviewed by the Tribune cannot talk about the attack without shouting or weeping.
Their anger has been stoked by the declassification of government documents and the recollections of former military personnel, including some quoted in this article for the first time, which strengthen doubts about the U.S.…Continue reading
‘A Coup Has Occurred’
By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)
Consortium Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former
Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of
the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss
of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept.
Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:
I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which
I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here
that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.
If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they
switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently
constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and
accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.
Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? …
They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not.
But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.
And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran,
you will then see an increased attack on Iran — an escalation —
which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country,
including… Continue reading
Top Ten Myths About the Illegal NSA Spying on Americans
From the ACLU
Watch ACLU’s National Town Hall Meeting on Spying, Secrecy, and Presidential
Power, held June 11, here.
MYTH: This is merely a "terrorist surveillance program."
REALITY: When there is evidence a person may be a terrorist,
both the criminal code and intelligence laws already authorize eavesdropping.
This illegal program, however, allows electronic monitoring without any showing
to a court that the person being spied upon in this country is a suspected terrorist.
MYTH: The program is legal.
REALITY: The program violates the Fourth Amendment and Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and will chill free speech.
MYTH: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)
REALITY: The resolution about using force in Afghanistan doesn’t
mention wiretaps and doesn’t apply domestically, but FISA does–it requires
a court order.
MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of
the military to spy on Americans without any court oversight.
REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration’s
claim of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an unacceptable
effort to "condense power into a single branch of government," contrary
to the Constitution’s checks and balances.
MYTH: The president has the power to say what the law is.
REALITY: The courts have this power under our system of… Continue reading
Intelligence Chief Says Bush Authorized Secret Activities Under One Order
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2007; A01
The Bush administration’s chief intelligence official said yesterday that President
Bush authorized a series of secret surveillance activities under a single executive
order in late 2001. The disclosure makes clear that a controversial National
Security Agency program was part of a much broader operation than the president
The disclosure by Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, appears
to be the first time that the administration has publicly acknowledged that
Bush’s order included undisclosed activities beyond the warrantless surveillance
of e-mails and phone calls that Bush confirmed in December 2005.
In a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), McConnell wrote that the executive
order following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks included “a number of . . .
intelligence activities” and that a name routinely used by the administration
— the Terrorist Surveillance Program — applied only to “one particular
aspect of these activities, and nothing more.”
“This is the only aspect of the NSA activities that can be discussed publicly,
because it is the only aspect of those various activities whose existence has
been officially acknowledged,” McConnell said.
The program that Bush announced was put under a court’s supervision in January,
but the administration now wants congressional approval to do much of the same
surveillance without a court order.
McConnell’s letter was aimed at defending Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
from allegations by Democrats that he… Continue reading
During June 27th to July 1st, approximately 9,400 people from across the America,
and beyond, gathered in Atlanta for the historic, first-ever United
States Social Forum. Thanks to donations from some of our generous supporters,
911Truth.org was there, together with about 15 other 911Truth activists from
Georgia, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Washington DC, and Maryland.
We went with the idea we’d work to “convince” people to look at the
need for a real investigation into the crimes of 9/11. After all, the various
issues and causes represented by this diversity of People were predicated, to
such a strong degree, upon the events of 9/11, and it made sense that if presented
with the information, we’d win some allies.
We were wrong. What we found, instead, was that nearly everyone we spoke with
was already aware of at least some questions about 9/11 and agreed
with us! The People, in spite of resistance we’ve heard from many of their organizational
“leaders,” are already with us.
We learned that on Sunday, the People would gather for a final Assembly where
resolutions would be read and voted upon. Peter Thottam, of 911TruthLA recommended
we submit a proposal, so the group of us at dinner on Friday pulled together
the whereas’s and therefore’s, Peter and Keith Dunwoody (of Atlanta) tweaked
and typed it up, Brian Ottolini made 1000 copies, and the group hit the ground
Saturday morning to distribute the copies and talk with people. At the last
minute, Jose Rodriguez graciously translated… Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Should an actual “showdown” occur over the constitutionality of Cheney’s stonewalling, we would welcome it. Let’s know exactly where we stand with respect to the willingness of elected officials to stand up to the criminals-in-chief.
It’s well past the time Leahy and company should have been pressing for these sorts of answers. Get on with it.
By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Published: 28 June 2007
The Bush administration may soon face a courtroom showdown over its secret eavesdropping programme after subpoenas were issued to the White House, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and the Justice Department.
There is a storm gathering over Mr Cheney in particular, with increasingly vocal demands for his impeachment for “political crimes against the nation”.
The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know the legal basis, if any, for the placing of wiretaps on American citizens without court warrants, as part of the war on terror.
These taps were placed by the National Security Agency, which runs a vast international electronic eavesdropping and codebreaking web with Britain’s GCHQ. When reports emerged in the media of the wiretaps, it provoked widespread anger.
The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy gave the Bush administration until 18 July to hand over documents which the White House described last week as highly classified and off limits.
Senator Leahy wrote: “Over the past 18 months, this committee has made no fewer than nine formal requests to the Department of Justice and to the White House, seeking information and documents about the authorisation of and legal justification for this programme.”
The eavesdropping programme began after the attacks of 11 September 2001.…Continue reading
Book: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba By David Ruppe
N E W Y O R K, May 1, 2001
In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.
Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.
The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.
America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantánamo Bay and blame Cuba,” and, “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”
Details of the plans are described in Body of Secrets (Doubleday), a new book by investigative reporter James Bamford about the history of America’s largest spy agency, the National Security Agency. However, the plans were not connected to the agency, he notes.
The plans had the written approval of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy’s defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in March 1962. But they apparently were rejected by the civilian leadership and have gone undisclosed for nearly 40 years.
“These… Continue reading
The View, a talk show featuring four women with a variety of backgrounds and ideologies, is produced by and often features appearances by Barbara Walters. In May 2001, the co-hosts were awarded the Safe Horizon Champion Award for their continued efforts to raise awareness on issues of importance to girls and women. In March 2002, The View received the Linda Dano Heart Award from Heartshare Human Services of New York for its programming philosophy that brought enlightenment, entertainment and comfort to families throughout the nation and New York in the wake of September 11, 2001. As a result, the show boasts 30 million viewers, received the 2003 Daytime Emmy® Award for ‘Outstanding Talk Show,’ and other Daytime Emmy® Awards.
In her history as host of The View, Rosie O’Donnell has brought important and difficult-to-discuss issues to the table, such as depression and autism. Long ago she established “Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation,” which has raised more than $56 million and awarded more than $22 million in grants to over 1,400 child-related non-profit organizations to benefit low income families across the country since its inception.
Addressing the need for truth and transparency in US government and media is thus in keeping with Rosie’s long history of grappling with important issues on The View.
A bit of background–What is The View, and who is Rosie O’Donnell? (And what’s the big deal, anyway?) In the last few weeks, Rosie O’Donnell, host of ABC’s popular morning talk show ”… Continue reading