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Obama Network Organizes and Revolts Over Spying

By Ari Melber, The Nation

Barack Obama tapped his sizeable grassroots network on Saturday, coordinating over 4,000 "Unite for Change" meetups across the country through the campaign's social networking portal, MyBo. At the same time, however, other supporters worked furiously over the weekend to organize a new MyBo campaign to protest and pressure Obama. Many activists are outraged by the Senator's recent announcement that he will back a controversial bill to grant the Executive more spying powers and immunize telephone companies accused of illegal surveillance. Both efforts demonstrate how Obama's national network, which broke fundraising records and turned the first term Senator into an unlikely presidential nominee, can respond to top-down edicts and spring into action for self-organized protests.

Dodd Stands Strong, Obama Cowers and Whimpers and Waffles

Only 15 Senators stood up for the 4th Amendment today. Obama took his now customary course of NOT voting at all, neither Yes nor No. Here's the roll call.

Robocall to Steny Hoyer by Reverend Lennox Yearwood

Listen to Rev and Call Hoyer. Then Call Rev and Tell Him to Run for Congress in Hoyer's district!

Questions on FISA

Received by Email from a comment on a site on another site ...

* Can you help us non-techie geeks understand the following:
* 1. Why did AbuG and Andy Card go to the hospital bed to try and pressure Ashcroft to sign off on something that he refused? What could that something be?
* 2. Why did Comey refuse to certify the spying program? What do you think troubled him?
* 3. Why did Joe Nacchio and Qwest believe what the NSA requested of them was illegal? What could that have been? Why did the government then retaliate against Nacchio and Qwest?
* 4. Why is the government using "state secrets" as the only defense against all the lawsuits?
* 5. The EFF lawsuit, with a sworn affidavit by an AT&T technician, charges that NSA had a "backbone tap." What could such a tap be and what are the implications?

Telecom Donations Tied to FISA Vote

By Mike Lillis, The Washington Independent

Supporters of the spying bill received twice the contributions as those against it.

When scores of House Democrats joined Republicans last week to reauthorize a controversial White House spying program, many critics attributed that support to election-year jitters. But as liberal voters continue to bash Democrats on the issue, some campaign finance reformers charge that political contributions from the telecom industry, which benefited handsomely under the bill, probably also swayed votes.

In an analysis released Tuesday,, a nonprofit campaign finance watchdog group, found that lawmakers voting Friday in support of the wiretap deal averaged roughly twice the donations from the nation's leading telecoms - Verizon, Sprint and AT&T - over the last three years as those voting against it.

Dodd, Feingold, Wyden, Boxer to Filibuster Telecom Immunity - Now What's Obama's Excuse? And the Other 95 Senators?

Surely they're not all as cowardly and stupid as Steny Hoyer, fearing being criticized for backing majority opinion and standing up for the Fourth Amendment. Surely they're not all owned by the telecoms. Surely they're not all being blackmailed by Karl Rove. Surely they're not all dumbly obeying Obama or Reid.

In Memoriam Amendment IV

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.

Dodd and Feingold to Filibuster Telecom Immunity - Now What's Obama's Excuse? And the Other 97 Senators?

From Dodd and Feingold:

“This is a deeply flawed bill, which does nothing more than offer retroactive immunity by another name. We strongly urge our colleagues to reject this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation and oppose any efforts to consider this bill in its current form. We will oppose efforts to end debate on this bill as long as it provides retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that may have participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and as long as it fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

“If the Senate does proceed to this legislation, our immediate response will be to offer an amendment that strips the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. We hope our colleagues will join us in supporting Americans’ civil liberties by opposing retroactive immunity and rejecting this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation.”

Feingold Says House Should Not Impeach for an Impeachable Offense Because the House Doesn't Want to Do It

“One of the Greatest Intrusions, Potentially, on the Rights of Americans Protected Under the 4th Amendment”–Sen. Feingold Blasts Telecom Spy Bill

Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: It’s being described as the most significant revision of the nation’s surveillance law in three decades. The Senate is preparing to vote on rewriting the nation’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and giving immunity to phone companies involved in President Bush’s secret domestic spy program. On Friday, the Democratic-controlled House approved the measure by a vote of 293-129. The legislation gives the government new powers to eavesdrop on both domestic and international communications. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned it would allow for the mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States.

While Democratic leaders in Congress, as well as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, have hailed the bill as a “compromise,” Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin describes it as a “capitulation.” Senator Feingold has been the leading congressional voice against the Bush administration’s warrantless spy program since it was exposed nearly three years ago. Today, the Wisconsin senator joins us from Washington, D.C.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Senator Feingold.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: Good morning, Amy. Gets One Right has stood up on its hind legs and threatened to bite the hand that usually beats it mercilessly expecting to be licked:

On Friday, House Democrats caved to the Bush administration and passed a bill giving a get-out-of-jail-free card to phone companies that helped Bush illegally spy on innocent Americans.

This Monday, the fight moves to the Senate. Senator Russ Feingold says the "deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation." Barack Obama announced his partial support for the bill, but said, "It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses."

Last year, after phone calls from MoveOn members and others, Obama went so far as to vow to "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." We need him to honor that promise.

Can you call Senator Obama today and tell him you're counting on him to keep his word? Ask him to block any compromise that includes immunity for phone companies that helped Bush break the law.

Obama's presidential campaign: (866) 675-2008

Obama Caves to Bush on Domestic Spying

By Bill Wolfe,

This is not the change we were promised

Today the House voted to approve a FISA bill that would provide retroactive immunity for criminal domestic spying violations by Telecom companies and expand Bush domestic spying powers. Here is a link to the vote tally - NJ Republicans Ferguson, Freylinghuysen, Garrett, Saxton and Smith were joined by lone NJ Democrat Sires to vote yes in support of the bad bill - Democrats Andrews, Holt, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, and Rothman stood up for the Constitution and opposed the bill.

Wexler Opposes FISA Compromise

Legislation Threatens Constitutional System of Checks and Balances

Today, Congressman Wexler (D-FL) issued the following statement regarding H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008:

"I am strongly opposed to H.R. 6304. There is simply no way to get around three simple facts about this bill. One, it creates a path for surveillance requests to avoid court review, and it is naïve to assume that if court review is optional, that courts would ever be a meaningful part of the process. Two, with minimal protections for over-broad searches outside the US, we are virtually guaranteed that Americans citizens in the US – with no connection to terrorism whatsoever – will be included in the surveillance. And three, the judicial review of lawsuits telephone and Internet companies is written to create no possibility of a legitimate review and ensure that the immunity sought by the President is a predetermined outcome.

Wiretapping: Impeachment Not Immunity

Let's flood Congress with 100,000 petitions for Wiretapping: Impeachment not Immunity

House "Majority" Leader Steny Hoyer doesn't understand the meaning of NO.

In December 2005, when the New York Times reported George Bush was spying on millions of Americans without a warrant - after a year's delay in publication that allowed Bush to steal a second term - the American people demanded that it stop.

But even after voters put Democrats in charge of Congress to end Bush's abuses, Steny Hoyer spat on all of us and pushed the Orwellian "Protect America Act" through Congress in August 2007 to increase Bush's wiretapping powers.

That was the last straw for many progressives, and we have fought Hoyer furiously every time he has floated a "compromise" with Bush that provides any form of immunity for the telcos and the Busheviks who spied on us.

On March 14, we won a huge victory when the House voted 213-197 for a bill to strengthen FISA without providing immunity. Thanks to our lobbying efforts - including over 58,000 petitions! - just six Bush Democrats voted for immunity - Dan Boren (OK02), Chris Carney (PA10), Jim Cooper (TN05), Tim Holden (PA17), Nick Lampson (TX22), and Heath Shuler (NC11).

Even Steny Hoyer voted against immunity. But Hoyer kept conspiring with Bush to sneak immunity through Congress when no one was watching. And on Friday, Hoyer quietly announced a new bill to provide retroactive immunity for past warrantless wiretapping and allow new wiretapping for six more years.

So it's time for us to tell Congress once again that we will not tolerate warrantless wiretapping by George Bush or any other President, and we demand full accountability for George Bush through impeachment. Our last wiretapping petition sent over 58,000 emails to Congress - let's see if we can double that number to over 100,000 with a new petition:

Questions for Republicans, Democrats, and Others

By David Swanson

A question for Republicans: Do you want to hand a President Barack Obama the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for Democrats: Do you want to hand a President John McCain, who has already openly said he will use it, the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

McCain: I'd Spy on Americans Illegally, Too

By Ryan Singel, Wired

If elected president, Senator John McCain would reserve the right to run his own warrantless wiretapping program against Americans, based on the theory that the president's wartime powers trump federal criminal statutes and court oversight, according to a statement released by his campaign Monday.

McCain's new tack towards the Bush administration's theory of executive power comes some 10 days after a McCain surrogate stated, incorrectly it seems, that the senator wanted hearings into telecom companies' cooperation with President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, before he'd support giving those companies retroactive legal immunity.

As first reported by Threat Level, Chuck Fish, a full-time lawyer for the McCain campaign, also said McCain wanted stricter rules on how the nation's telecoms work with U.S. spy agencies, and expected those companies to apologize for any lawbreaking before winning amnesty.

Sentence in Memo Discounted FISA

By Robert Barnes, Washington Post

What does "exclusive" mean?

The answer was at the heart of a highly sensitive memo by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2001, when Bush administration officials were keen to institute warrantless domestic surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A 1978 law appeared at first glance to be an impediment to using new procedures for such surveillance. It stated that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provided the "exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . and the interception of domestic wire, oral and electronic communications may be conducted."

But the administration did not want to follow FISA, because the law requires court approval. The administration has said that law could be a cumbersome obstacle in real-time efforts to intercept intelligence.

New NSA Whistleblower Tells of Faulty WMD Evidence

By David Swanson

David Murfee Faulk was a translator in the Navy, working in Arabic and Iraqi dialect. In April 2004 he began working for the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Gordon outside Augusta, Georgia. (He now writes, under the name Murfee Faulk, for the Metro Spirit newspaper in Augusta, but he has never written about what he did for the NSA.)

Faulk says that in May 2004 he found an extremely large text file containing grid coordinates for alleged chemical weapons sites in Iraq. Faulk showed it to his supervisor, who was surprised. But he was not surprised that the file existed, only that it had not been deleted. The supervisor said he had believed all such files had been deleted, and that there had been a great many of them. In fact, according to this supervisor, U.S. Special Forces had gone to the locations and found nothing.

DHS Wants to Spy on Americans, Dems Charge

New DHS Office Would Share Detailed Surveillance Capabilities of Military Intel Satellites With Local Law Enforcement

The Department of Homeland Security wants to set up a new program to illegally spy on Americans, two senior Democratic lawmakers charged Thursday in a letter urging colleagues to deny funds for the program.

In a letter to three colleagues obtained by ABC News, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, Miss., and Rep. Jane Harman, Calif., voiced objections to a new office DHS wants to create that would share the detailed surveillance capabilities of military intelligence satellites and other monitoring technology with state and local law enforcement.

Stop Unconstitutional Spying

By Caroline Fredrickson, Director ACLU Washington Legislative Office

Late Friday night, the ACLU caught wind of a dangerous backroom deal brewing. The “deal” would rush a House vote that would push through a dangerous sellout on government spying powers, possibly in the next few days.

We need you to immediately contact your member of Congress. Let your representative know you’re watching and expect him or her to stand firm. That means no immunity for lawbreaking phone and internet companies, and no spying on Americans without a warrant.

Let your member of Congress know you’re watching!

Back in February, the House stood up to President Bush’s fear-mongering tactics by letting the so-called “Protect America Act” expire. This ill-named bill eviscerated the protections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and violated the constitutional rights of Americans.

Telecom Whistleblower Discovers Circuit that Allows Access to All Systems on Wireless Carrier


Telecom Whistleblower Discovers Circuit that Allows Access to All Systems on Wireless Carrier -- Phone Calls, Text Messages, Emails and More

Babak Pasdar is a computer security expert who was hired in 2003 to help
restructure the tech infrastructure at a major wireless telecommunications
company. What he found shocked him. The company had set up a system that
gave a third party, presumably a governmental entity, access to every
communication coming through that company¹s infrastructure. This means every
email, internet use, document transmission, video, text message, as well as
the ability to listen to and record any phone call.


On Waking Sleeping Giants

By Dave Lindorff

During my six-year sojourn in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, one of the things I came away with was a sense of how generally un-nationalistic and non-patriotic the Chinese people were.

Caught up in the struggle first to simply survive and then, in the mid-90s, to try and grab onto the moving train that was China’s new Great Leap into Capitalism, average mainland Chinese, whether out in the remote farmlands of western Anhui Province or in the rundown house lining the hutongs of Shanghai or Beijing, had no time for patriotic displays or nationalistic concerns.

When Chinese Communist Party leaders in Beijing would beat the drum of nationalism over Taiwanese independence efforts in the 1990s, it evoked mostly yawns among average Chinese people, and in fact, to Beijing’s embarrassment, a popular computer game featured a war-game in which Taiwan defeated the People’s Liberation Army.

Jay Rockefeller: The Most Gullible Sheep in the Senate?

By Alexander Zaitchik, AlterNet

Read aloud the legislative positions and "accomplishments" of Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and you might think you're hearing about the career of some boot-licking GOP White House sycophant: collaborator on telecom immunity, strong advocate of Bush's unconstitutional domestic spying efforts, effusive cheerleader for invading Iraq, enthusiast of preventing accountability for any of the nation's most severe intelligence failures. But that's just Jay being Jay.

Why doesn't the 9/11 Commission know about Mukasey's 9/11 story?

By Glenn Greenwald, SALON

Last week, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he delivered in San Francisco, Attorney General Michael Mukasey revealed a startling and extremely newsworthy fact. As I wrote last Saturday, Mukasey claimed that, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration was aware of a telephone call being made by an Al Qaeda Terrorist from what he called a "safe house in Afghanistan" into the U.S., but failed to eavesdrop on that call. Some help is needed from readers here to generate the attention for this story that it requires.

White House Query Led to Memo Advising Bush to Ignore Fourth Amendment

By Jason Leopold

Eleven days after 9/11, John Yoo, a former deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, drafted a 20-page memorandum that offered up theories on how Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures would be applied if the U.S. military used "deadly force in a manner that endangered the lives of United States citizens."

Yoo came up with a number of different scenarios. He suggested shooting down a jetliner hijacked by terrorists; setting up military checkpoints inside a U.S. city; implementing surveillance methods far more superior than those available to law enforcement; or using military forces "to raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed or injured by exchanges of fire," says a copy of the little known Sept. 21, 2001 memo.

Newly Unredacted Documents Confirm Lack of Oversight of Military’s Domestic Surveillance Powers

Records Released in ACLU’s National Security Letters Lawsuit

NEW YORK - April 1 - On the heels of an internal report criticizing the FBI for abusing its power to issue National Security Letters (NSLs), newly unredacted documents released today as a result of an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit reveal that the Department of Defense (DoD) is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL power and may have overstepped its authority to obtain private and sensitive records of people within the United States without court approval. The previously withheld records also reveal that the military is secretly accessing these private records without providing training, guidance, or any real recordkeeping.

Speaking Events


War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Book Tour

May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
Sign up on FB.

May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
Community United Church of Christ
5550 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93710
Contact Dan Yaseen 559-251-3361,
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June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
Sign up on FB.

June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
Sign up on FB.

June 24 Roanoke, Va.
7:30 pm @ Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke (2015 Grandin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24015) Contact:

Other Events Here.






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