The Real Importance of Telecom Immunity to the Cheney Administration

 Congress, Constitution, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, The Courts  Comments Off on The Real Importance of Telecom Immunity to the Cheney Administration
Mar 142008
 

Well, the House seems to be sticking to their guns, and not passing a FISA bill that will grant immunity to the telecom industry for illegal spying. This is critically important, because it’s the last best hope to have the illegal surveillance activities of the current Cheney Administration see the light of day.

During a press conference on February 28, George Bush finally went rogue on Dick, and accidentally told the truth about the reason for telecom immunity.

Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance.

The part about aiding our enemies is the usual administration fear mongering BS, but the rest reveals a truth that Dick probably didn’t want exposed.

The truth is that Federal Courts receive and rule on secret and classified information on a fairly regular basis, and those secrets seem better kept than most of the Administration’s secrets (when it suits them to harm someone they don’t like…see Valery Plame). The FISA law provided for those procedures a long time ago, and they have worked just fine. When FISA was originally passed by Congress, they knew that preventing courts from ever having access to anything deemed “secret” would allow government officials to break any laws their little hearts desired, and then just declare it related to national security.

The real reason the Cheney Administration doesn’t want a court to ever hear a telecom spying case is because those lawsuits are the absolute last hope for ever learning what the administration did when they spied on Americans for years in violation of the law. Dismissing the cases based on a grant of amnesty would ensure that their spying activities stay concealed, buried forever, and just as important, that no court ever rules on the legality of what they did.

It amazes me how this aspect of telecom amnesty is never discussed, and how little interest it generates among journalists — whose role, theoretically, is to uncover secret government actions?

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Miracle on DOJ Street

 Congress, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Miracle on DOJ Street
May 242007
 

Steve Benen, in a post at Crooks and Liars makes an excellent point about the U.S. Attorney firings. It seems that all these high ranking Justice Department officials have been asked who created the list of the U.S. Attorneys to be fired, and none of them know. I guess given Bush’s divine dispensation, it just floated down from heaven.

Benen sums it up quite well:

Lawmakers asked Kyle Sampson about who drew up the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired and how those names got on the list. Dunno, he said. They asked Alberto Gonzales. Beats me, he said. They asked Paul McNulty. Ask everybody else, he said. They asked Monica Goodling. Ask anybody else, she said.

As Benen says, it really is a simple question for which there seems no answer.

Mar 112007
 

NY Times says fire “the Failed Attorney General”:

We opposed Mr. Gonzales’s nomination as attorney general. His résumé was weak, centered around producing legal briefs for Mr. Bush that assured him that the law said what he wanted it to say. More than anyone in the administration, except perhaps Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Gonzales symbolizes Mr. Bush’s disdain for the separation of powers, civil liberties and the rule of law.

On Thursday, Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, hinted very obliquely that perhaps Mr. Gonzales’s time was up. We’re not going to be oblique. Mr. Bush should dismiss Mr. Gonzales and finally appoint an attorney general who will use the job to enforce the law and defend the Constitution.

Think about that last line. Everyone, every President and every American, should want and expect an A.G. who will enforce the law and defend the Constitution — everyone, that is, except George Bush.

Waterboard Rumsfeld?

 Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, War  Comments Off on Waterboard Rumsfeld?
Nov 102006
 

If he has nothing to hide…

Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany’s top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hey, maybe the Germans can try that cute little trick that Bush’s CIA did in Italy. Just swoop in and steal people off the street of a NATO ally, then ship them out of the country to be tortured. I mean, after all, America is the beacon of hope in the world and we set the standard for decency. Hell, we are decency country-ified. Anything we do is per se humane and legal. So why couldn’t the Germans use the same tactics on us? I understand war criminals don’t get the same rights as real people anyway – you know, like habeas corpus or the Geneva Conventions – so no harm no foul.

We are at war, you know.

The Energizer Bunny of Corruption

 Congress, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Society  Comments Off on The Energizer Bunny of Corruption
Oct 162006
 

They just keep going and going and going.

It seems that Rep. Kurt Weldon, (R-PA) is now under investigation for using his power to help his daughter get contracts and favorable consideration for her lobbying practice. The FBI today raided her home. Of course, being a member of the party of personal responsibility, Weldon blames it all on a liberal conspiracy and partisan politics.

Uh, just nevermind that the FBI is part of the Justice Department…which, at last check, was run by Bush appointee and staunch Republican Conservative, Alberto Gonzales. Go figure. Watch it on YouTube.

Gonzales Backtracks on Senate Testimony – Hints At Additionaly Spying Programs

 Congress, Constitution, Politics  Comments Off on Gonzales Backtracks on Senate Testimony – Hints At Additionaly Spying Programs
Mar 012006
 

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee clarifying his Feb. 6 testimony on Bush’s warrantless electronic surveillance activities. I call it backtracking.

In a letter yesterday to senators in which he asked to clarify his Feb. 6 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales also seemed to imply that the administration’s original legal justification for the program was not as clear-cut as he indicated three weeks ago.

At that appearance, Gonzales confined his comments to the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, saying that President Bush had authorized it “and that is all that he has authorized.”

But in yesterday’s letter, Gonzales, citing that quote, wrote: “I did not and could not address . . . any other classified intelligence activities.” Using the administration’s term for the recently disclosed operation, he continued, “I was confining my remarks to the Terrorist Surveillance Program as described by the President, the legality of which was the subject” of the Feb. 6 hearing.

Shorter version: Bush has been engaged in more warrantless spying on Americans than the Administration has disclosed to date.

At least one constitutional scholar who testified before the committee yesterday said in an interview that Gonzales appeared to be hinting that the operation disclosed by the New York Times in mid-December is not the full extent of eavesdropping on U.S. residents conducted without court warrants.

“It seems to me he is conceding that there are other NSA surveillance programs ongoing that the president hasn’t told anyone about,” said Bruce Fein, a government lawyer in the Nixon, Carter and Reagan administrations.

Sen. Russ Feingold called Gonzales’ misleading Senate testimony right away. From his Feb. 7 statement, delivered on the Senate floor:? Continue reading »