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House Steers Its Own Path on Wiretaps
By Eric Lichtblau, New York Times
Washington - In continued defiance of the White House, House Democratic leaders are readying a proposal that would reject giving legal protection to the phone companies that helped in the National Security Agency's program of wiretapping without warrants after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congressional officials said Monday.
March 17th, 8-9 p.m. ET
Listen to General William Odom discuss the need to withdraw from Iraq on http://thepeoplespeakradio.net
This will be a live interview with host David Swanson, who will be taking calls from listeners. The conversation will cover both Iraq and warrantless spying.
William Eldridge Odom (born June 23, 1932) is a retired U.S. Army 3-star general, and former Director of the NSA under President Ronald Reagan, which culminated a 31 year career in military intelligence, mainly specializing in matters relating to the Soviet Union. After his retirement from the military he became a think tank policy expert and a university professor and has since became known for his outspoken criticism of the Iraq War and warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.
FISA Myths: Lies and Misconceptions behind Bush's Push for FISA Reform and Why House Leaders Must Not Cave
By Elliot D. Cohen
In a recent press conference, President Bush has attempted to turn up the heat on House leaders to pass Senate Bill 2248, which amends the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as well as granting retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies such as AT&T and Verizon for aiding the Bush Administration in its NSA spying program. Unfortunately, the reasons the Bush Administration has given for passage of this bill do not hold water.
By Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Thursday 06 March 2008
Security letters used to get personal data.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told senators yesterday that agents improperly used a type of administrative subpoena to obtain personal data about Americans until internal reforms were enacted last year.
Mueller said a forthcoming report from the Justice Department's inspector general will find that abuses recurred in the agency's use of national security letters in 2006, echoing similar problems to those identified in earlier audits.
By Lara Jakes Jordan
The Associated Press
Wednesday 05 March 2008
Washington - FBI Director Robert Mueller says an upcoming Justice Department report will show the bureau improperly used national security letters to obtain personal data on Americans during terror and spy investigations.
Mueller says the report focuses on national security letters issued only in 2006 - a year before the FBI enacted sweeping new reforms to prevent future lapses.
Mueller's comments Wednesday morning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee came just days before the Justice Department's inspector general is scheduled to release the follow-up to a similar audit in 2007.
Last year's report found that over a three-year period, the FBI had demanded personal data on people from banks, telephone and Internet providers and credit bureaus without official authorization and in non-emergency circumstances.
Last week, Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic majority stood up to the President’s fear mongering. They killed the Senate bill on FISA that included retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies who spied on innocent Americans.
But Republicans want to bring immunity back to life and the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (TX-16) said over the weekend he was ready to make the deal. We must stop him.
Call Rep. Reyes right now and demand he stands with the Democratic majority and against telecom immunity.
By Glenn Greenwald, www.Salon.com
By Allan Uthman, Buffalo Beast, Alternet
Something astonishing happened the other day in the House: The Democratic leadership found some courage. After over a year of demoralizing, often inexplicable capitulation, they actually gathered the fortitude to push back slightly against Republicans on so-called national security issues. The Republicans' response was swift: They took their ball and went home, after a brief stop at a prearranged press conference on the Capitol steps.
By Dave Lindorff
With a viral campaign underway via email, right-wing radio, and on the street suggesting that Barack Obama is a black “Manchurian Candidate,” secretly trained as a Muslim fanatic who will insinuate himself into the White House, thence to undermine all that we hold dear, perhaps it is time to look at the Manchurian Candidate we already have in the White House, who, together with his handler over in Blair House, has pretty much done all the damage already.
This from Majority Leader Hoyer:
FISA FACT VS. FICTION
Republicans Try to Stampede America Once Again
Republicans have resorted to fear mongering in an attempt to stampede America on a key national security issue – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Democrats are working hard to craft a bipartisan modernization of FISA that protects America, while protecting Americans’ fundamental rights.
Read more about the real facts on FISA.
Call Speaker Pelosi at 202-225-0100 and Majority Leader Hoyer at 202-225-4131. Tell them to stay strong against warrantless wiretapping and billions more for the Iraq war. READ MORE.
By Dave Lindorff,
President Bush has turned to the cheapest lies in an effort to protect himself from being exposed as a criminal in the ongoing campaign to have the National Security Agency spy at will on Americans.
Claiming—without a scintilla of evidence to back him up—that there are people planning a “much worse attack” than 9-11 on America, he says he must not only have free rein to unleash the NSA
The National Lawyers Guild Condemns Senate Grant of Immunity to Lawbreaking Telecommunications Companies
Responding to fear-mongering by the Bush administration, the Senate voted on February 12 to give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that have turned over our telephone and Internet communications to the government. These companies have violated several laws, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Title III, the Communications Act, and the Stored Communications Act, as well as the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.
Senate Votes to Give Retroactive Immunity for Telecoms
By Paul Kiel, TPMMuckraker
Let there be no doubt: a majority of senators, and a large number of Democrats, think the telecoms should not suffer the hazard of accountability for cooperating with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) took to the floor last night to give a speech asking, "This is our defining question, the question that confronts every generation: The rule of law, or the rule of men?" The resounding answer: the rule of men.
29 Congress Members Say Illegal Bush Program Undermines Basic Civil Liberties, So Need to Impeach Him
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Progressives Vow To Oppose Immunity in FISA Legislation
Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey & Progressives Target Bush Spying Program with Telecomm
(Washington, DC) – Declaring that telecommunications companies involved in President’s Bush’s domestic spying program “undermined [the] fundamental civil protections and privacy rights of Americans,” twenty-nine House Members today wrote to President Bush to warn him that they will oppose any legislation that grants the companies retroactive immunity.
By Ryan Singel
In a Senate floor speech, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) inadvertently made plain that the proposed changes to the nation's spying laws radically expand how the government wiretaps inside the United States. Rockefeller was decrying an amendment that would require the government to discard non-emergency evidence if a court later finds that the spying methods violate the law.
Rockefeller makes clear that the impending changes to the law aren't about making it easier for the National Security Agency to listen in on a particular terrorism suspect's phone calls. Instead, the changes are about letting the nation's spooks secretly and unilaterally install filters inside America's phone and internet infrastructure.
Domestic Wiretapping Could Pose ‘An Awesome Risk’ to National Security
By Justin Rood, ABC News
Although the Bush administration calls it a vital weapon against terrorism, its domestic wiretapping effort could become a devastating tool for terrorists if hacked or penetrated from inside, according to a new article by a group of America’s top computer security experts.The administration has said little about the program except to defend it against charges it amounts to illegal spying on U.S. citizens. When news of the program broke in 2006, then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the program a “limited” effort “targeted at al Qaeda communications coming into or going out of the United States.”
By Robert Jereski
Truthout's Matt Renner reports: "a think tank with close ties to the telecommunication industry has been working with a key Democrat in the Senate on a domestic surveillance bill that would provide telecommunications companies with retroactive immunity for possibly violating federal law by spying on American citizens at the behest of the Bush administration. Third Way, a non-profit [so-called] 'progressive' think tank that is funded and controlled by hedge fund managers, corporate lawyers and business executives has advised Sen. Jay Rockefeller on a domestic surveillance bill that includes immunity for telecommunications companies with which Third Way board members have close ties."
While they may have primarily been defending their right to get a chance to vote on amendments, Senators today did block immunity for criminal telecom companies spying in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and they did so with a filibuster, and they did that because Senator Chris Dodd had the backbone and the decency to throw down the gauntlet. Now why in the world will not one single senator choose to be an instant international hero, win or lose, and propose to filibuster any more money for the occupation of Iraq?
Despite Reid's recent pledge to oppose immunity for the telecom industry, he has brought forward one of two bills, both amended by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which contains… immunity!
Reid didn't have to do this. He could have championed the other bill, which eliminated immunity for the telecom industry.
So today, the Senate will vote to grant immunity to the telecom industry for their illegal spying on Americans, or they will protect our rights and the Constitution and vote no.
Michael Ratner: Senate vote on FISA bill could threaten basic rights (complete interview)
By Elliot Cohen, Truthdig
Amid the controversy brewing in the Senate over Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform, the Bush administration appears to have changed its strategy and is devising a bold new plan that would strip away FISA protections in favor of a system of wholesale government monitoring of every American’s Internet activities. Now the national director of intelligence is predicting a disastrous cyber-terrorist attack on the U.S. if this scheme isn’t instituted.
For three years, the Bush administration has drawn fire from civil liberties groups over its use of national security letters, a kind of administrative subpoena that compels private businesses such as telecommunications companies to turn over information to the government. After the 2001 USA Patriot Act loosened the guidelines, the FBI issued tens of thousands of such requests, something critics say amounts to warrantless spying on Americans who have not been charged with crimes.
By Glenn Greenwald
Harry Reid -- who has (a) done more than any other individual to ensure that Bush's demands for telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping powers will be met in full and (b) allowed the Republicans all year to block virtually every bill without having to bother to actually filibuster -- went to the Senate floor yesterday and, with the scripted assistance of Mitch McConnell and Pat Leahy, warned Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and others that they would be selfishly wreaking havoc on the schedules of their fellow Senators (making them work over the weekend, ruining their planned "retreat," and even preventing them from going to Davos!) if they bothered everyone with their annoying, pointless little filibuster.
By Marjorie Cohn
After a January 24 debate in the Senate on amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Senate appears ready to capitulate once again to the Bush administration's agenda of sacrificing liberty for questionable security.
On the day before Congress was slated to take up this issue, Dick Cheney addressed the Heritage Foundation, the most influential right-wing think tank. He was given a thunderous reception, to which he quipped, "I hold an office that has only one constitutional duty - presiding over the Senate and casting tie-breaking votes." But the most powerful vice president in this nation's history was about to strong-arm Congress into doing the administrations' bidding.