Lair of the Poisonous Scribblers

Theme Chooser

orange  graphite  green  purple  yellow  grey


Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

Brass Knuckle Blogs

Useful Links

Add to Technorati Favorites

[Valid RSS]

Nucleus CMS v3.24

template by i-marco's choice

Dynamic Drive

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS


  • RSS
  • XML
  • Google
  • My Yahoo
  • Bloglines
  • NewsGator
  • MyMSN
  • feedster
  • myAOL
  • Furl
  • RoJo
29 October 2010

Quote of the Day:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"When the Federal Reserve Act was passed, the people of these United States did not perceive that a world banking system was being set up here. A super-state controlled by international bankers and industrialists...acting together to enslave the world...Every effort has been made by the Fed to conceal its powers but the truth is--the Fed has usurped the government."
Rep. Louis T. McFadden, Republican representative from Pennsylvania

The helpful wikipedia entry does not say that he died of food poisoning after attending a banquet in New York City. You can find the info on that little detail HERE.
01 October 2010

What experiments will they be apologizing for 64 years from now?

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"The United States apologized on Friday for an experiment conducted in the 1940s in which U.S. government medical researchers deliberately infected Guatemalan prison inmates with syphilis."

I suppose one of the things they'll apologize for is screaming with ecstasy while at the same time buttfucking us. Rest of the story is HERE.

24 March 2010

And in this corner...

by: Foiled Goil

After a decade of failed governance -- two unnecessary wars and a ruined economy, Republicans had all but run out of enough moderately-sane voters willing to take any further chances with them. That’s when they glommed onto the idea of corralling America’s moron-demographic to plug the gap.

The teed baggers:

The crazed brigade?

Absolutely Republican leaders need to condemn this, loudly and frequently.

· ·
16 March 2010

I Spy

by: Foiled Goil

“What do you spy?”

“Anything we want.”

Your new Facebook ‘friend’ may be the FBI
The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.

Think you know who's behind that "friend" request? Think again. Your new "friend" just might be the FBI.

The document, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, makes clear that U.S. agents are already logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target's friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among other purposes: Investigators can check suspects' alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree — people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars — can link suspects or their friends to robberies or burglaries.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the Justice Department document when it sued the agency and five others in federal court. The 33-page document underscores the importance of social networking sites to U.S. authorities. The foundation said it would publish the document on its Web site on Tuesday.

EFF Posts Documents Detailing Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites

26 January 2010

Gotcha Back

by: Foiled Goil

What the heck were these clowns thinking?

Duh! They weren't. Obviously:

ACORN 'gotcha' man arrested in attempt to tamper with Mary Landrieu's office phones
Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street on Monday about 11 a.m., dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu's 10th-floor office, O'Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

4 charged in U.S. Senate office infiltration in New Orleans
A conservative activist who made undercover videos of the liberal community-organizing group ACORN was one of four men charged Tuesday with attempting to illegally access and manipulate the phone system in a district office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Joseph Basel, 24; Robert Flanagan, 24; James O'Keefe, 25; and Stan Dai, 24, were charged with entering Landrieu's New Orleans office under "false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony," according to a news release from the local U.S. attorney's office. The office is federal property.

The four posted a $10,000 unsecured bond and were released, said Kathy English of the Department of Justice. According to CNN affiliate WWL, the next court date in the case is set for February 12.

O'Keefe is the same activist who dressed up as a pimp last summer and visited ACORN offices to solicit advice on setting up a brothel, among other scenarios, law enforcement officials confirmed. He secretly recorded the visits on videotapes that were posted on the Internet, leading to a media firestorm.

Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, his office said.

Articles on conservative Web sites connect O'Keefe to a man named Joe Basel, describing them as conservative student activists and filmmakers. [snip]

If convicted, the four men would each face a possible maximum penalty of a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison, according to the news release. [snip]

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

~Forrest Gump

14 December 2009

22 Million Lost Emails Found

by: Foiled Goil

Don't hold your breath on this, either. Like every-dang-thing else, it's not going to go anywhere real fast.

22 Million Bush E-Mails Reportedly Found

Electronic Messages Located after Previously Being Mislabeled, Two Nonprofits Say
Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush and the Obama administration is searching for dozens more days' worth of potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that filed suit over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.

The two private organizations - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive - say there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mail and there may never be a complete tally.

It will be years before the public sees any of the recovered e-mails because they will now go through the National Archives' process for releasing presidential and agency records. Presidential records of the Bush administration won't be available until 2014 at the earliest.

The tally of missing e-mails, the additional searches and the settlement are the latest development in a political controversy that stemmed from the Bush White House's failure to install a properly working electronic record keeping system. Two federal laws require the White House to preserve its records.

The two private organizations say there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mail and there may never be a complete tally.

Obama Administration Will Restore Missing Bush White House Emails
The White House has announced a settlement in a lawsuit filed by two good-government groups concerning emails that went missing over a two-and-a-half year period during the Bush administration.

Under the terms of the deal, 94 days of emails -- which could shed light on controversial topics that the Bush administration sought to obscure from public view, such as the Valerie Plame scandal and the run-up to the war in Iraq -- will be transferred to the National Archives, and eventually made public.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics statement:

CREW and Obama Administration Settle Lawsuit Over Missing Bush White House Emails

National Security Archive statement:

National Security Archive and White House Reach Agreement for Restoration of Missing Bush White House E-mails

· ·
06 October 2009

Updates: Sibel Edmonds

by: Foiled Goil

Brad Friedman at Brad Blog has all the latest updates and details on the Sibel Edmonds story:

10/5/2009: FBI Veteran Executive Calls For Special Counsel Investigation, Prosecutions in Sibel Edmonds Case
Details panic inside the Bureau, executive effort to 'keep this whole thing quiet' when matter first came to light in 2002

Further confirms FBI translator/whistleblower's allegations, credibility...

18-year counterintel/espionage manager John Cole further confirms Edmonds credibility, accuracy
of charges, panic at Bureau when allegations first surfaced in 2002, and the need for prosecutions...

10/4/2009: VIDEO: ABC's Diane Sawyer on Sibel Edmonds, FBI Whistleblower, First Amendment 'Heroine'
Includes 2006 testimonials on 'First Amendment heroine' from U.S. House Rep. Maloney, Sen. Lautenberg, Paul Newman...

10/1/2009: Schmidt v. Krikorian Hearing Continues...
UPDATED: The recommendations from the Ohio Election Commission are in...

9/29/2009: CIA Vet: FBI Whistleblower Edmonds 'Very Credible'
Longtime counterterrorism agent Phil Giraldi comments on FBI vet John Cole's recent confirmation of Bush official targeted in 'decade-long' espionage probe

9/28/2009: Former FBI Agent Confirms: Bush State Official Was Target of 'Decade-Long' Espionage Probe
Longtime counterintel official acknowledges evidence behind key aspect of allegations against Marc Grossman made by former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds

Bureau vet says investigation was 'buried and covered up,' calls for new investigation, 'accountability'...

9/28/09: VIDEO: Schakowsky Publicly Denies Affair With Turkish Agent as 'Total Fantasy,' 'Totally Made Up'
FBI whistleblower Edmonds stands by allegations, challenges IL Dem Congresswoman to 'bring a libel suit against me'...

9/24/09: Edmonds Issues Formal Response to Schakowsky's Denial of Lesbian Affair with Turkish Operative
Formerly-gagged FBI translator/whistleblower invites Congresswoman to 'pursue facts' of the case, use her position as member of House Intel Committee to find the truth about allegations of bribery, blackmail, nuclear espionage

UPDATED: Schakowsky's office replies to Edmonds letter/invitation...

9/22/09: Exclusive: Schakowsky Responds to Edmonds Claim, Vehemently Denies Lesbian Tryst With Turkish Agent
FBI whistleblower rebuts Illinois Congresswoman's response with details, specific questions, and polygraph challenge...

9/21/2009: Exclusive: Cover Story on Edmonds 'Outs' Video-taped, 'Blackmailed' Dem Congresswoman; Alleges State Dept. Mole at NYTimes; MUCH MORE...
'American Conservative' mag's description of interview with previously-gagged FBI whistleblower as 'explosive' may prove to be a gross understatement

Blackmail, bribery, infiltration, theft, and sale of nuke secrets by Turkey, Israel explained in clearer detail than ever before...

· ·
22 September 2009

Add Another Name On Sibel's List

by: Foiled Goil

Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds reveals another name -- the congresswoman who was a potential target for Turkish government blackmail -- and alleges massive corruption among Congressmembers over nuclear secrets.

From the original article at Brad Blog:

Exclusive: Upcoming Cover Story on Edmonds 'Outs' Video-taped, 'Blackmailed' Dem Congresswoman; Alleges State Dept. Mole at NYTimes; MUCH MORE...

American Conservative' mag's description of interview with previously-gagged FBI whistleblower as 'explosive' may prove to be a gross understatement

Blackmail, bribery, infiltration, theft and sale of nuke secrets by Turkey, Israel explained in clearer detail than ever before...

On Friday, we reported on the coming exclusive American Conservative cover story interview with formerly-gagged FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds by quoting the magazine's own teaser description of the piece as "explosive". Over the weekend, we received an embargoed look at the final version of the AmCon interview by former CIA officer Phil Giraldi, and yes, "explosive", may be a vast understatement. At least if the U.S. corporate media bothers to notice it this time.

It seems it may be difficult to not notice it, given that Edmonds finally names, on the record, for the first time, in a right-leaning periodical founded by Pat Buchanan, the identity of the currently-serving Democratic Congresswoman she has previously described as married with grown children and having been "hooked" into participating in a lesbian affair with a Turkish foreign agent, as she was secretly video-taped for blackmail purposes.

Edmonds has alluded to the Congresswoman, without naming her, in the past, most notably in her recent sworn and video-taped deposition in the Schmidt v. Krikorian case now pending before the Ohio Election Commission. In that testimony, she did manage to name the names of other Congress members she had previously identified publicly. At the time, we (and virtually no other media outlets) reported on her disclosures that Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Bob Livingston (R-LA), Dan Burton (R-IN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Stephen Solarz (D-NY) and Tom Lantos (D-CA, deceased), were all participants in blackmail and/or bribery schemes by and with agents of the Turkish government, as she became aware while translating wiretaps in the FBI's counterintelligence division after 9/11. Some of those crimes are said to have resulted in the theft and sale of nuclear weapons technology to allies and enemies alike.

In her 8/8/09 D.C. deposition, she discussed, for the first time on the public record since being previously gagged by the Bush Administration's use of so-called "State Secrets Privilege" (twice), details of what she heard while reviewing and translating wiretaps of Turkish agents who were targets of a long-running FBI investigation centered out of Chicago, but extending far beyond.

In addition to specific details on allegations of serious wrongdoing by the Congress members mentioned above, as well as State and Defense Department officials such as Marc Grossman, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, Edmonds had offered details, during the deposition, about a Democratic Congresswoman who is "married with...grown children, but she is bisexual."

"So they have sent Turkish female agents," she testified, in her sometimes-broken English, according to the transcript [PDF]. "And that Turkish female agents work for Turkish government, and have sexual relationship with this Congresswoman in her townhouse actually in this area, and the entire episodes of their sexual conduct was being filmed because the entire house, this Congressional woman's house was bugged."

She went on to add that she hadn't used her name in the past because she left the FBI before knowing whether or not the information was actually used against the Congresswoman to blackmail her, or if the woman had even been made aware of it. "I don't know if she did anything illegal afterwards," Edmonds said.

In Giraldi's AmCon interview, Edmonds again repeats that she doesn't know if the Congresswoman "ever was actually blackmailed or did anything for the Turkish woman", but she does name her name this time...

The Congresswoman in question, according to Edmonds, is Illinois' 9th-district Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

29 August 2009

Resistance Is Futile

by: Debra

As advanced as we like to think we are, thee are several forces that still kick our butt and Mother Nature is the greatest of these.  Whether it is an earthquake, tsunami, volcano, tornado or hurricane, nothing is the same afterward.  Lives are lost, property is destroyed and everyone runs around blaming someone other than themselves.  The further from the event, the more likely it will be perceived to be the victim's fault.  And the more likely it is that someone will take advantage of the circumstances.

Katrina had my bells going before she made landfall.  Actually, ever since and probably for the rest of my life.  Four years later and American citizens are still suffering from the effects of both Mother Nature and deliberate criminal negligence on the part of the government.  Make no mistake, the federal government took full advantage of the opportunity to rearrange a city and state to their advantage.

Mother Jones has an article fleshing out some of the background on the situation in New Orleans after Katrina that deliberately escaped the notice of the media.  True to form most people are upset about the racial implications, which are pretty bad and more than likely to be true, whereas I find the police state aspect to be even more frightening.  All the people currently proudly strutting around with their firearms on display would be in for a rude awakening if the same tactics were used in their area as were used against the citizens of New Orleans.
It started immediately after the storm and flood hit, when civilian aid was scarce—but private security forces already had boots on the ground. Some, like Blackwater (which has since redubbed itself Xe), were under federal contract, while a host of others answered to wealthy residents and businessmen who had departed well before Katrina and needed help protecting their property from the suffering masses left behind. According Jeremy Scahill's reporting in The Nation, Blackwater set up an HQ in downtown New Orleans. Armed as they would be in Iraq, with automatic rifles, guns strapped to legs, and pockets overflowing with ammo, Blackwater contractors drove around in SUVs and unmarked cars with no license plates.

"When asked what authority they were operating under,'' Scahill reported, "one guy said, 'We're on contract with the Department of Homeland Security.' Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, 'He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary.' The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck.''

The Blackwater operators described their mission in New Orleans as "securing neighborhoods," as if they were talking about Sadr City. When National Guard troops descended on the city, the Army Times described their role as fighting "the insurgency in the city." Brigadier Gen. Gary Jones, who commanded the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force, told the paper, "This place is going to look like Little Somalia. We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control."

Ten days after the storm, the New York Times reported that although the city was calm with no signs of looting (though it acknowledged this had taken place previously), "New Orleans has turned into an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, as well as National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers." The local police superintendent ordered all weapons, including legally registered firearms, confiscated from civilians. But as the Times noted, that order didn't "apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property…[who] openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles."
Isn't it fascinating how some people on the right are so worried about Obama taking their guns at will when Bush had already accomplished it and there wasn't a peep from the NRA before, during or after he did it?

The poor, not necessarily black (Barry Cowsill being one sad example), people had no way to get out of town before the storm.  Not being able to drive, they're the ones who use public transportation the most, they were dependent on those who had cars or the aforementioned public transportation.  Since history seems to show that disaster plans are practiced but rarely implemented, it is no surprise that bus drivers were evacuated with the rest of the middle class and there was no one left to drive the buses that everyone later saw underwater.  After the levees broke the poor's only hope was a coordinated rescue.  And we all know how well that turned out.

Rescue and return was never the point.  Collection and dispersion was the goal, even to the point of separating children from their parents.  Katrina is a shameful chapter in American history and the ramifications will not be going away soon.  Now that the government has had a satisfying taste of martial law and seen how willing the citizens were to turn on each other, any disaster can be turned into a public relations tool to convince the citizenry that everything will return to normal as long as they follow the directions of those wearing uniforms and carrying weapons.  You will be assimilated. 

Or you will die. From the elements, be they weather related or lead poisoning.


· · ·
08 August 2009

The Position of Bombardier Has Been Filled

by: Peter of Lone Tree


Here's the headlines from BRADBLOG:
"Deposition of Sibel Edmonds Completed, DoJ a 'No Show', Bombshells Under Oath"
"'State Secrets' privilege NOT asserted by DoJ; FBI whistleblower answered ALL questions under oath on Turkish infiltration of U.S. Government..."

UPDATE: Sibel has her own blog at 123 Real Change.
15 July 2009

Sy Hersh And The Next Shoe Drop

by: Foiled Goil

Seymour Hersh has already provided quite a bit of interesting insight into the dark side of the Bush/Cheney regime. Here is some more:

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh was mocked in March when he referred to Dick Cheney’s secret squad of CIA assassins. Now, he talks to The Daily Beast about the next shoe to drop.

The Man Who Knew Cheney's Secret

Benjamin Sarlin:
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh raised eyebrows back in March when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that Dick Cheney ran a secret hit squad that he kept hidden from congressional oversight.

"Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on," Hersh said at the time. He added: "Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us." [snip]

Now, there are key differences between Hersh's reporting and the Times' latest piece. Hersh suggested that the assassination ring was conducted out of the Joint Special Operations Command rather than the CIA. Moreover, according to Hersh's sources, the program was operational, leaving a trail of bodies, while the Times cited officials saying that the CIA hit squad never actually carried out a mission. The Times and Hersh could conceivably be reporting two distinct squads.

The Daily Beast tracked down Hersh in South Asia, where he says he has not been able to read the New York Times piece but has received calls buzzing about the report. Asked about the officials quoted in the Times' report who claimed that Cheney's assassination ring never became operational, Hersh offered a skeptical response.

"I said what I said, they can always say what they say," Hersh told The Daily Beast. "The last time they said the government doesn’t torture; this time it's the government doesn’t assassinate."

Hersh said that his words in Minnesota were exaggerated in the press, because he had previously reported on covert operations that he alleged were out of Congress' view. In February 2005, he published a report that the president had authorized Donald Rumsfeld to organize special operations in South Asia and the Middle East without going through the CIA, and thus not having to report them to Congress. In July 2005, he wrote that the White House circumvented Nancy Pelosi to organize covert operations led by retired CIA officers and non-government personnel to influence the Iraqi elections.

"In my reporting for this story, one theme that emerged was the Bush administration’s increasing tendency to turn to off-the-books covert actions to accomplish its goals," he wrote in the July 2005 piece. "This allowed the administration to avoid the kind of stumbling blocks it encountered in the debate about how to handle the elections: bureaucratic infighting, congressional second-guessing, complaints from outsiders." [snip]

"There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing," he wrote then.

Beyond his own reporting, Hersh said President Bush's own speeches provided evidence of secret assassinations.

"Go read George Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech," he said. "He's talking and he says we've captured and detained 3,000 al Qaeda members and other terrorists—crazy numbers—and said some of them will never bother us anymore. And Congress cheers."

Bush's full quote then was:

"All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."


Hersh Allegations

Seymour Hersh: Secret U.S. Forces Carried Out Assassinations in 'a Lot of' Countries, Including in Latin America

History Commons - Profile: Seymour Hersh

· · · ·
11 July 2009

Illegal G. W. Bush Surveillance Program

by: Foiled Goil

United States Constitution

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.

The Rachel Maddow Show:
CIA gone rogue?

July 10: CIA director Leon Panetta ended a spy program that was kept secret from Congress. Why did this program last so long without Congress’ knowledge? Rachel Maddow is joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL. [ 7:36 ]

Inspectors General Report on Warrantless Wiretapping

Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 10, 2009
Today, the Inspectors General of five government agencies released the unclassified version of a report on the Bush Administration’s warrantless domestic surveillance program. The report was required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008, which was signed into law one year ago today.

The IG report has been carefully scrubbed so that it reveals as little new information as possible about the illegal surveillance of ordinary Americans. Given the wide range of information already publicly known about the program, it is disappointing that today’s report is not more informative.

For example, as a candidate for President, then-Senator Barack Obama said there was “little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.” His administration’s unclassified report, however, does not discuss the role that telecommunications companies played in this illegal surveillance. Indeed, the IG report provides less information on the telecoms’ role than the Senate Intelligence Committee report issued prior to the law.

Nevertheless, the IG report does confirm that the warrantless surveillance involved “unprecedented collection activities,” beyond the surveillance program of Al-Qaeda touted by President Bush. The report described the scope of the additional spying only as “Other Intelligence Activities.” Collectively, the so-called terrorist surveillance program and the Other Intelligence Activities were referred to as the “President’s Surveillance Program.” The report does not use the program’s code name, Stellar Wind, which remains classified. Given the scope of the Nixon Administration’s illegal spying (which led to FISA in the first place), it is sobering to consider that the Other Intelligence Activities were unprecedented.

While the IG report does not offer an opinion about the legal issues, it does condemn the process, where the program was so tightly held that only a few lawyers reviewed the legal issues.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Bush behind secret surveillance

July 10: MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe discusses the new revelations that the infamous pressuring of John Ashcroft in his hospital bed was orchestrated by President Bush, not Vice President Cheney. [ 7:53 ]

Report: Bush-era surveillance went beyond wiretaps

A government report raises new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice officials in the dark about the post-Sept. 11 program.

Josh Meyer, LA Times, July 11, 2009
The Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 surveillance efforts went beyond the widely publicized warrantless wiretapping program, a government report disclosed Friday, encompassing additional secretive activities that created "unprecedented" spying powers.

The report also raised new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice Department officials in the dark as it launched the surveillance program.

In a move that it described as "extraordinary and inappropriate" the report said the White House relied on a single, lower-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office Legal Counsel for assessments about the legality of the programs.

The attorney, John Yoo, a young George W. Bush appointee with close ties to the president's inner circle, wrote a series of memos legally blessing the program even though his superiors and most top officials were uninformed about it.

The report was compiled at the request of Congress by five government agency watchdogs: the inspectors general of the Justice Department, Pentagon, CIA, Directorate of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency.

It represents the most detailed public disclosure of the existence of secret surveillance efforts beyond the warrantless wiretapping program, saying the overall package of efforts came to be known in the Bush administration as the "President's Surveillance Program."

However, the report did not describe the other programs or explain how they worked.

"All of these activities were authorized in a single presidential authorization," the report said, referring to the warrantless wiretapping a "terrorist surveillance program" and the undisclosed efforts as "other intelligence activities."

"The specific details of the other intelligence activities remain highly classified," the report said.

The inspectors general interviewed more than 200 top officials and front-line agents in defense and intelligence agencies, and said views of the effectiveness of the warrantless wiretapping and other still-secret activities were mixed.

While many agents thought the efforts filled a gap in intelligence efforts, others "had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the President's Surveillance Program to counter-terrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many."

The inspectors general concluded that, even though Congress has adopted changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legalizing some of the activities, the information they produce "should be carefully monitored."

The report also provided a comprehensive and official narrative concerning the selective and often confrontational way in which the Bush administration sought and procured legal authorization for its post-Sept. 11 programs.

Eventually, the surveillance program and the Justice Department's role in it were so controversial that the deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III both threatened to resign in 2004 because they believed the program was illegal.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Bush caught again

July 10: A new internal government report reveals that former President George Bush played a direct role instructing Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card to go to former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital bed and urge him to personally approve warrantless wiretapping on Americans. The New York Times’ John [s/b James] Risen talks about the major headlines from the report. [ 5:03 ]

U.S. Wiretaps Were of Limited Value, Officials Report

Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, NYT, July 10, 2009
While the Bush administration had defended its program of wiretapping without warrants as a vital tool that saved lives, a new government review released Friday said the program’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism was unclear.

The report, mandated by Congress last year and produced by the inspectors general of five federal agencies, found that other intelligence tools used in assessing security threats posed by terrorists provided more timely and detailed information.

Most intelligence officials interviewed “had difficulty citing specific instances” when the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program contributed to successes against terrorists, the report said.

While the program obtained information that “had value in some counterterrorism investigations, it generally played a limited role in the F.B.I.’s overall counterterrorism efforts,” the report concluded. The Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence branches also viewed the program, which allowed eavesdropping without warrants on the international communications of Americans, as a useful tool but could not link it directly to counterterrorism successes, presumably arrests or thwarted plots.

The report also hinted at political pressure in preparing the so-called threat assessments that helped form the legal basis for continuing the classified program, whose disclosure in 2005 provoked fierce debate about its legality. The initial authorization of the wiretapping program came after a senior C.I.A. official took a threat evaluation, prepared by analysts who knew nothing of the program, and inserted a paragraph provided by a senior White House official that spoke of the prospect of future attacks against the United States.

These threat assessments, which provided the justification for President George W. Bush’s reauthorization of the wiretapping program every 45 days, became known among intelligence officials as the “scary memos,” the report said. Intelligence analysts involved in the process eventually realized that “if a threat assessment identified a threat against the United States,” the wiretapping and related surveillance programs were “likely to be renewed,” the report added.

The report found that the secrecy surrounding the program may have limited its effectiveness.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Can Bush be prosecuted for surveillance reports?

July 10: Prof. Jonathan Turley discusses the legal implications for former President George Bush if he tried to force his attorney general, John Ashcroft, to authorize domestic spying. [ 6:02 ]

National Security Act of 1947 (pdf)

· ·
08 July 2009

Concealed Intelligence Activity

by: Foiled Goil

House intel chair: CIA 'affirmatively lied'

Domenico Montanaro:
The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes claims the CIA "affirmatively lied to" his panel. He said so in a letter to Pete Hoekstra, the committee's ranking Republican, CQ reports.

Reyes "wrote that the committee has recently received information that reveals significant problems with the intelligence agency’s reporting to the panel," CQ writes. " 'These notifications have led me to conclude this committee has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to,' Reyes wrote. Reyes did not describe or detail the alleged false or misleading statements to the committee." [snip]

... Republicans contend a provision of the fiscal 2010 bill (HR 2701) scheduled for floor action Thursday would modify congressional notification procedures to provide political cover for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Such briefings are a sensitive political topic, because Republicans have repeatedly criticized Pelosi over what she knew and when about the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques and her assertion that the CIA “misled” Congress on that topic."

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
CIA deceived Congress?

July 8: Former CIA agent, Jack Rice talks with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann about new Congressional testimony that CIA briefers deceived Congress. [ 4:23 ]

House Democrats: Panetta testified that CIA misled Congress

CIA Director Leon Panetta recently testified to Congress that the agency concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001, according to a letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta made public Wednesday.

The letter to Panetta, dated June 26, was published on the Web site of Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.

"Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," said the letter, signed by Eshoo and six other House Democrats — Reps. John Tierney of Massachusetts, Mike Thompson of California, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Alcee Hastings of Florida, Adam Smith of Washington and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
House Dems versus the CIA

July 8: NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports the latest on the feud between House Democrats loyal to Speaker Pelosi and CIA Director Leon Panetta. [ 7:02 ]

CIA Admitted It Misled Congress Since 2001, Six Lawmakers Say

Six Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said the Central Intelligence Agency misled Congress since 2001 about “significant actions.”

In a letter to CIA Director Leon Panetta, the six members said he had “recently” testified that “top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress” and “misled members” from 2001 until this week. [snip]

The letter called on Panetta to “publicly correct” his May 15 statement that “it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.”

The disclosure came on the eve of a scheduled House debate on an intelligence spending measure. It would expand the number of lawmakers who must be notified of covert intelligence operations from eight congressional leaders to more than 35 members of House and Senate intelligence panels. [snip]

The lawmakers’ letter said Panetta’s recent testimony disclosed concealment by the CIA that is “similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods.” The intelligence committee regularly receives private briefings from U.S. officials.

CIA spokesman George Little said in a statement that Panetta “stands by his May 15 statement” because “it is not the policy or practice of the CIA to mislead Congress” and that “Director Panetta’s actions back that up.”

The agency went to the panel with the new information, the agency’s statement said.

“As the letter from these six representatives notes, it was the CIA that took the initiative to notify the oversight committees,” Little said.

The Rachel Maddow Show:
Did the CIA mislead Congress?

July 8: MSNBC contributor Michael Isikoff joins Rachel Maddow with the latest details on new revelations that CIA director Leon Panetta has admitted in testimony to Congress that the CIA misled Congress. Does vindicate House Speaking Nancy Pelosi? [ 6:42 ]

A reaction to the CIA - Panetta - Congress story

For too long administrations Democratic and Republican have sought to limit who in the Congress was informed about matters military and of intelligence. In some cases those members informed were not allowed to take notes, were not allowed to discuss with other elected representatives of the American people nor to consult with the staff members who might have the specific expertise to help them raise the questions that appropriately needed to be asked. These administrations - not merely that of the previous president - sought to fulfill a shadow of the letter of the law while ignoring the clear purpose that Congress must be informed - how else can it determine if funds [to] be expended are in accordance with what Congress has, under its constitutional authority, permitted? Absent oversight, rules by Congress can be ignored, moneys can be spent on actions specifically prohibited by the Congress by an administration playing shell games. And that, as we saw in the Reagan administration with how it played games with the Boland Amendment, can have tragic consequences not merely for the foreign policy goals of the US, but for people in many nations.

I want my Congressman and my Senators to have all the access they need to do their jobs. That includes voting on authorizations and appropriations for all government activities. If their fellow House Members and Senators in the leadership and/or on the intelligence and armed services committees believe it is appropriate to share with people who are neither on those committees nor in the leadership, that should be a judgment appropriate to be made within the Congress under its rules and discipline - a member who might violate the appropriate secrecy is still subject to discipline within the chamber, up to and including expulsion.

The White House is apparently signaling that it is prepared to veto an intelligence bill that would place within the Congress the power to decide who else within the Congress should be informed. I object to that veto threat. I want oversight, I want checks and balances.

And I want a thorough examination of the actions of the intelligence agencies in recent years, in the Bush 43 administration to be sure, but even earlier. Unfortunately, the history of the CIA insofar as we know it does not lend confidence to assertions it might make on its own behalf about policy and practice, as expressed in May by Leon Panetta - we have too many documented instances of the CIA doing things not authorized by law or in some cases specifically prohibited. We have too many cases where people in the CIA have lied or obfuscated in the past for me to be willing to trust that merely by placing Leon Panetta at the top we have somehow changed a culture in that agency that has been, to put it mildly, problematic.

I do not want the Executive to have untrammeled power. Neither do I propose having all power rest within the Congress. Power is supposed to be shared - that is what our system of separation of powers and checks and balances is supposed to mean.
H.R. 2701

06 July 2009

Mommy! They're pickin' on me again!

by: Father Tyme

The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

The party's over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just being with him
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over...
It's all over, my friend

music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

"An', an' when I grow up, I wannabe a presnent, 'cause, 'cause I got lots more 'xecutive 'xperience than that Obama guy. Yeah, bein' the governator of the biggest state and havin' to worry 'bout Russia, did I tell you I can see Russia from my SBS Built Deck, that's a harder job than bein' some ol' Sen-a tor from some librul state? Yeah, 'cause if he really wanted ta help his state, he'd a stayed in the Senate an' got more experience, like me. Heck, he don't even know how ta clean an' gut a moose, or mush a dog team. How can he run a country without them qualifications? Yep! You betcha! I'm gonna be presnent someday. Jis as soon as them bad media types stop pickin' on me fer neglecting my duties while I'm governator. I'll show 'em!"
04 June 2009

Daily Dick

by: Foiled Goil

Dick (Uncut) [ 3:50 ]

Wed, June 3, 2009

Dick Cheney doesn't recall Richard Clarke warning the White House of an imminent terrorist attack months before 9/11, but he hasn't read his book.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Dick (Uncut)
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis

Related post



«  April 2014  »




Blog Headlines


Dark Wraith's Bookstore

♦           ♦           ♦
Free Sound Effects
Download Free Sound Effects from AudioMicro.
♦           ♦           ♦



In the News

Quote of the Day