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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.

Director of National Intelligence Makes Case for Eliminating Intelligence Operations from Our Government

In a speech at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina this past week, Vice Admiral Mike McConnell told a crowd that, during the debate over the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, members of Senate called for the outright abolition of the Intelligence Community and even the jailing of President Bush: "We had a bill go into the Senate. It was debated vigorously," said McConnell. "There were some who said we shouldn't have an Intelligence Community. Some have that point of view. Some say the President of the United States violated the process, spied on Americans, should be impeached and should go to jail. I mean, this is democracy, you can say anything you want to say. That was the argument made. The vote was 68 to 29."

Now, we all have fantasies about Democrats with spines and respect for the Constitution, but we don't go around asserting them as fact or believing them to be true. And we don't all serve as Director of National Intelligence. If the director of an operation intended to acquire facts believes such patent absurdities, I think he makes the case for eliminating the operation.

Skirting the Law Does Not Make Us Safer

By Coleen Rowley, Huffington Post

FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote the following op-ed almost two weeks ago when an abundance of wishful thinking and the importance and timeliness of the push for FISA changes, investigation of the administration's out-of-control, error-laced terror watch list and other national security-civil liberty issues deluded me into thinking there was a chance of publication in the main stream media. Although one newspaper did apparently give it serious consideration, the op-ed got turned down in the ensuing two weeks by a succession of three different newspapers. So I give up! The blessing in disguise, however, with what would have been otherwise just a waste of time seeking hard print (and the best thing about on-line publication here on the Huffington Post) is that it comes with the ability to insert a couple of links to Glenn Greenwald's expose yesterday of Michael Mukasey's lies. Despite their tears, it's pretty clear that none of the President's men, including this theatrical AG, have any real interest in connecting the dots to make us safer.

Bush's Law: Eric Lichtblau on Exposing the NSA's Warrantless Wiretapping Program

And How the White House Pressured the New York Times to Kill the Story

In a national broadcast exclusive, we speak with New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau about his new book, Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice. Lichtblau won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005. He reveals the inside story of the New York Times's decision to delay publication of the story for more than a year after intense lobbying from the White House.


Intelligence Director McConnell Is Cast as a Lobbyist

By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times

Congressional Democrats see the spy chief as an agent of the Bush administration. Relations are strained.

Washington - On the eve of a House vote on controversial wiretapping legislation last month, the nation's intelligence director, J. Michael McConnell, convened a secret weekend meeting in northern Virginia with members of the House Intelligence Committee.

The two-day session was designed to promote a calmer atmosphere for discussing an array of intelligence issues, including the nation's eavesdropping laws. But participants said the event ended with a series of acrimonious exchanges.

Democrats accused McConnell of making exaggerated claims and of doing the bidding of the Bush administration, according to officials who attended the event. McConnell bristled at the Democrats' charges, and chastised members of the committee for failing to defend the intelligence community amid a barrage of bad press.

New York Times Editorials Far Surpass its "News," But Fail to Find the I Word

The Intelligence Cover-Up
By New York Times

For more than two years now, Congress, the news media, current and former national security officials, think tanks and academic institutions have been engaged in a profound debate over how to modernize the law governing electronic spying to keep pace with technology. We keep hoping President Bush will join in.

Instead, the president offers propaganda intended to scare Americans, expand his powers, and erode civil liberties — and to ensure that no one is held to account for the illegal wiretapping he ordered after 9/11.

Online Radio: Gen. William Odom to Discuss Iraq and Warantless Spying Live and Take Your Questions

Please join me, and call in with your questions Monday evening, March 17, 2008, 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET. My guest will be retired General and former Director of the National Security Agency William Odom. We'll be discussing the occupation of Iraq, now entering its sixth year, and other abuses of power including warantless wiretapping. Listen in at

Phone in with your questions toll-free from the U.S. and Canada at 888-228-4494, and from the rest of the world at 877-489-6350.

Hoyer, Conyers, Reyes Applaud House Passage of the FISA Amendments Act

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD), House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes applauded today’s passage of the FISA Amendments Act, which passed the House 213-197.

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

House Passes New Surveillance Bill


By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House on Friday approved a Democratic bill that would set rules for the government's eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails inside the United States.

The bill, approved as lawmakers departed for a two-week break, faces a veto threat from President Bush. The margin of House approval was 213-197, largely along party lines.

Because of the promised veto, "this vote has no impact at all,'' said Republican Whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Democrats Reject Telecom Immunity Ahead of Vote

By Christopher Kuttruff and Simona Perry,

On Thursday night, the House held the first closed session meeting in 25 years in order to debate retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who assisted the Bush administration in its warrantless surveillance program. [1] The session, requested by House minority whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), pushed back an upcoming vote (H.R. 3773) on updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to today.

Several House Democrats Object To Closed Session

By Politico

Mar 13, 2008(The Politico) As the House prepared to enter into a rare closed session Thursday night to discuss controversial electronic surveillance legislation, several House Democrats voiced strong objections to the meeting, offering a rare public objection to a floor decision by House Democratic leadership.


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