Monday, July 24, 2006

Call now to stop S.2354

Firedoglake's got the info about calling to stop Specter's monstrocity of a bill.
The Joe Lieberman sucks video

Chickenhawk

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On Hannity and Colmes, Lowry and Simmons teamed up to smear Murtha

[snip]

On the July 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, former CIA operative and frequent Fox News guest Wayne Simmons joined guest co-host Rich Lowry in smearing Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA). Lowry, who is also the editor of National Review, asserted that Murtha was "again sounding like the grim reaper when it comes to the war on terror," addressing Murtha's claim that the war in Iraq is "depleting our resources" for handling other problems around the world. Lowry also asked whether Murtha has "already decided to undermine another American war effort."


It takes guts to smear a respected patriot like John Murtha. Here's a blurb on Murtha's Military/defense service to his country:
Congressman Murtha is so well-respected for his first-hand knowledge of military and defense issues that he has been a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties on military and defense issues and is one of the most effective advocates for the national defense in the country. He is ranking member and former chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, a Vietnam combat veteran and a retired Marine Corps colonel with 37 years of service, a rare combination of experience that enables him to understand defense and military operations from every perspective.

He learned about military service from the bottom up, beginning as a raw recruit when he left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marines out of a growing sense of obligation to his country during the Korean War. There he earned the American Spirit Honor Medal, awarded to fewer than one in 10,000 recruits. He rose through the ranks to become a drill instructor at Parris Island and was selected for Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia. He then was assigned to the Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 1959, Captain Murtha took command of the 34th Special Infantry Company, Marine Corps Reserves, in Johnstown. He remained in the Reserves after his discharge from active duty until he volunteered for Vietnam in 1966-67, where he served as the S-2 intelligence officer for the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division and received the Bronze Star with Combat "V", two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. The official notification of award for his Bronze Star and Purple Hearts are available to view here. He remained in the Reserves until his retirement. This first-hand knowledge of military and defense issues has made him a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties and one of the most effective advocates for the national defense in Washington. At the request of Presidents and Speakers of the House, he served as chairman of delegations monitoring elections in the Philippines, El Salvador, Panama and Bosnia.

He was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal by the Marine Corps Commandant when he retired from the Marines.
Now a bit about Lowry's military service:
{crickets chirping}

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Muddy

Friday, July 21, 2006

People are waking up to Specter's sham bill

Glenn Greenwald: Defeating the Specter bill

[snip]

But this article this morning from the Washington Post's Dan Eggen (one of the best journalists on this story) suggests that the Specter bill may already be experiencing some significant problems. It begins by noting that the Specter bill was one "personally negotiated by President Bush and Vice President Cheney" -- a fact that I had not seen reported previously and which reflects just how important it is for the President to have a legislative solution which protects his from the consequences of his illegal eavesdropping behavior.

Eggen also clearly recognizes that the claim by the Post and other newspapers last week that the Specter bill is a "compromise" is false, and was merely the self-serving characterization peddled by the parties involved (which, thanks to Eggen's gullible colleagues, became the lens through which the Specter bill was described):

The proposal was billed as a rare and noteworthy compromise by the administration when unveiled last week. But the legislation quickly came under attack from Democrats and many national security experts, who said it would actually give the government greater powers to spy on Americans without court oversight.

Time to write and call your congressperson.

more voting irregularities getting heard by the masses

RFK jr and Brad Freidman on Catherine Crier Live.

Ann Coulter interview

Check it out - you'll be glad you did.
Jackson Browne Lives In the Balance

great cartoon

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brad's all over it

BREAKING: DNC'S VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE ISSUES STATEMENT CALLING FOR 'MANUAL COUNT' OF ALL BALLOTS IN BUSBY/BILBRAY ELECTION!
Denounces Adminstrative Failures, Irregularities, Security Breaches and Diebold Voting Machine 'Sleepovers' in Bellwether June 6th U.S. House Special Election!
Announcement Comes as DNC Chair Howard Dean Set to Address Activist, Election Integrity Convention in San Diego!


Filed by Brad Friedman from San Diego…

In a harshly worded statement, the DNC's Voting Rights Institute has issued a statement condemning the administration of the recent U.S. House race between Democrat Francine Busby and Republican Brian Bilbray, joining a growing national outcry in calling for "a swift and verifiable 'manual count' of all 150,000 ballots cast in California's 50th District's 'bellwether' June 6th special election."

"This is no longer about whether or not Busby or Bilbray won the election on June 6th," the just-issued statement reads. "This is about the importance of verifying the facts related to election and voting machine irregularities in this race and the need to ensure an accurate count of all votes cast in this election so that the electorate may have confidence in the announced results in future elections."
read it all here
John Lennon - Give Peace a Chance (1969)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

More on Specter's "Compromise"

Let's take a look at pages 25 thru 27 of S.2453. (text of the bill is in blockquotes, with my commentary in between, and I've bolded some of the text for effect)
"TITLE VIII-EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY
"SEC. 801 EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY.

"Nothing in this act shall be construed to limit the constitutional authority of the President to gather foreign intelligence or monitor the activities and communications of any person reasonably believed to be associated with a foreign enemy of the United States.".
That doesn't confuse the issue now does it? I thought the whole issue here was the president overstepping his authority.
(b) REPEAL. -Sections 111, 309, anf 404 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978v(50 U.S.C. 1811, 1829, and 1844) are repealed.
Ok, let's see what they want to repeal:

SUBCHAPTER I—ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE
§ 1811. Authorization during time of war

Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.

SUBCHAPTER II—PHYSICAL SEARCHES
§ 1829. Authorization during time of war

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize physical searches without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed 15 calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.

SUBCHAPTER III—PEN REGISTERS AND TRAP AND TRACE DEVICES FOR FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE PURPOSES
§ 1844. Authorization during time of war

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize the use of a pen register or trap and trace device without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed 15 calendar days following a declaration of war by Congress.

Back to Specter's bill:
(c) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.-
(A) TITLE 18. - Section 2511(2) of title 18, United States Code, is amended-
(i) in paragraph (e), by striking ", as definedin section 101" and all that follows through the end of the paragraph and inserting the following: "under the constitutional authority of the executive of the Foreign Surveillance Act of 1978.";
Ok, let's see what that does:

TITLE 18—CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I—CRIMES
CHAPTER 119—WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND INTERCEPTION OF ORAL COMMUNICATIONS
§ 2511. Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title or section 705 or 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, it shall not be unlawful for an officer, employee, or agent of the United States in the normal course of his official duty to conduct electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as authorized by that Act.

ok....now Specter wants it to read:

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title or section 705 or 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, it shall not be unlawful for an officer, employee, or agent of the United States in the normal course of his official duty to conduct electronic surveillance, under the constitutional authority of the executive or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

And just what is section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978?
It's the definitions section of the FISA law (public law 95-511) which is section 1801 of US code 50.

-HEAD-
Sec. 1801. Definitions

-STATUTE-
As used in this subchapter:
(a) "Foreign power" means -
(1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or
not recognized by the United States;
(2) a faction of a foreign nation or nations, not
substantially composed of United States persons;
(3) an entity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign
government or governments to be directed and controlled by such
foreign government or governments;
(4) a group engaged in international terrorism or activities
in preparation therefor;
(5) a foreign-based political organization, not substantially
composed of United States persons; or
(6) an entity that is directed and controlled by a foreign
government or governments.

(b) "Agent of a foreign power" means -
(1) any person other than a United States person, who -
(A) acts in the United States as an officer or employee of
a foreign power, or as a member of a foreign power as defined
in subsection (a)(4) of this section;
(B) acts for or on behalf of a foreign power which engages
in clandestine intelligence activities in the United States
contrary to the interests of the United States, when the
circumstances of such person's presence in the United States
indicate that such person may engage in such activities in
the United States, or when such person knowingly aids or
abets any person in the conduct of such activities or
knowingly conspires with any person to engage in such
activities; or

(2) any person who -
(A) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering
activities for or on behalf of a foreign power, which
activities involve or may involve a violation of the criminal
statutes of the United States;
(B) pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or
network of a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other
clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of such
foreign power, which activities involve or are about to
involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United
States;
(C) knowingly engages in sabotage or international
terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor,
for or on behalf of a foreign power;
(D) knowingly enters the United States under a false or
fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power or,
while in the United States, knowingly assumes a false or
fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power; or
(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of
activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or
knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities
described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

(c) "International terrorism" means activities that -
(1) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that
are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of
any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed
within the jurisdiction of the United States or any State;
(2) appear to be intended -
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation
or coercion; or
(C) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination
or kidnapping; and

(3) occur totally outside the United States, or transcend
national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are
accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or
intimidate, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate
or seek asylum.

(d) "Sabotage" means activities that involve a violation of
chapter 105 of title 18, or that would involve such a violation
if committed against the United States.
(e) "Foreign intelligence information" means -
(1) information that relates to, and if concerning a United
States person is necessary to, the ability of the United States
to protect against -
(A) actual or potential attack or other grave hostile acts
of a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power;
(B) sabotage or international terrorism by a foreign power
or an agent of a foreign power; or
(C) clandestine intelligence activities by an intelligence
service or network of a foreign power or by an agent of a
foreign power; or

(2) information with respect to a foreign power or foreign
territory that relates to, and if concerning a United States
person is necessary to -
(A) the national defense or the security of the United
States; or
(B) the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United
States.

(f) "Electronic surveillance" means -
(1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other
surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio
communication sent by or intended to be received by a
particular, known United States person who is in the United
States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting
that United States person, under circumstances in which a
person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant
would be required for law enforcement purposes;
(2) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other
surveillance device of the contents of any wire communication
to or from a person in the United States, without the consent
of any party thereto, if such acquisition occurs in the United
States, but does not include the acquisition of those
communications of computer trespassers that would be
permissible under section 2511(2)(i) of title 18;
(3) the intentional acquisition by an electronic, mechanical,
or other surveillance device of the contents of any radio
communication, under circumstances in which a person has a
reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be
required for law enforcement purposes, and if both the sender
and all intended recipients are located within the United
States; or
(4) the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical, or
other surveillance device in the United States for monitoring
to acquire information, other than from a wire or radio
communication, under circumstances in which a person has a
reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be
required for law enforcement purposes.

(g) "Attorney General" means the Attorney General of the United
States (or Acting Attorney General) or the Deputy Attorney
General.
(h) "Minimization procedures", with respect to electronic
surveillance, means -
(1) specific procedures, which shall be adopted by the
Attorney General, that are reasonably designed in light of the
purpose and technique of the particular surveillance, to
minimize the acquisition and retention, and prohibit the
dissemination, of nonpublicly available information concerning
unconsenting United States persons consistent with the need of
the United States to obtain, produce, and disseminate foreign
intelligence information;
(2) procedures that require that nonpublicly available
information, which is not foreign intelligence information, as
defined in subsection (e)(1) of this section, shall not be
disseminated in a manner that identifies any United States
person, without such person's consent, unless such person's
identity is necessary to understand foreign intelligence
information or assess its importance;
(3) notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), procedures that
allow for the retention and dissemination of information that
is evidence of a crime which has been, is being, or is about to
be committed and that is to be retained or disseminated for law
enforcement purposes; and
(4) notwithstanding paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), with
respect to any electronic surveillance approved pursuant to
section 1802(a) of this title, procedures that require that no
contents of any communication to which a United States person
is a party shall be disclosed, disseminated, or used for any
purpose or retained for longer than 72 hours unless a court
order under section 1805 of this title is obtained or unless
the Attorney General determines that the information indicates
a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

(i) "United States person" means a citizen of the United
States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as
defined in section 1101(a)(20) of title 8), an unincorporated
association a substantial number of members of which are citizens
of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent
residence, or a corporation which is incorporated in the United
States, but does not include a corporation or an association
which is a foreign power, as defined in subsection (a)(1), (2),
or (3) of this section.
(j) "United States", when used in a geographic sense, means all
areas under the territorial sovereignty of the United States and
the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
(k) "Aggrieved person" means a person who is the target of an
electronic surveillance or any other person whose communications
or activities were subject to electronic surveillance.
(l) "Wire communication" means any communication while it is
being carried by a wire, cable, or other like connection
furnished or operated by any person engaged as a common carrier
in providing or operating such facilities for the transmission of
interstate or foreign communications.
(m) "Person" means any individual, including any officer or
employee of the Federal Government, or any group, entity,
association, corporation, or foreign power.
(n) "Contents", when used with respect to a communication,
includes any information concerning the identity of the parties
to such communication or the existence, substance, purport, or
meaning of that communication.
(o) "State" means any State of the United States, the District
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Trust Territory
of the Pacific Islands, and any territory or possession of the
United States.

So if I'm reading this correctly Specter wants to ignore the definitions in FISA and allow the president to use his "executive authority" to define the who, what, where and how of government electronic surveillance.

Back to the bill:
and (ii) in paragraph (f), by striking "from international or foreign communications," and all that follows through the end of the paragraph and inserting "that is permitted under a Federal Statute or the Constitution of the United States.".
Here's how paragraph (f) reads now:

(f)Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other than electronic surveillance as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and procedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.

Here's how Specter wants it to read:

(f) Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information that is permitted under a Federal Statute or the Constitution of the United States.

Looks like he's basically gutting FISA. Instead of using FISA to determine the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be conducted, now it will be whatever is permitted by "Federal Statute" (which will be his bill) or the Constitution, which will include (I suspect) the president's "Executive Authority."

Back to the bill:
(B) FISA. - SECTION 109(a) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1809(a) is amended-
(i) in paragraph (1), by inserting "or under the constitutional authority of the executive" after "authorized by statute"; and
Let's break it down, how the referenced paragraph (1) reads now:

§ 1809. Criminal sanctions
(a) Prohibited activities
A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—
(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or

Now, how Specter wants it to read:

§ 1809. Criminal sanctions
(a) Prohibited activities
A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—
(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or under the constitutional authority of the executive.

It's obvious what that's all about.

Back into the belly of the beast:
(ii) in paragraph (2), by inserting "or executed under the constitutional authority of the executive" after "authorized by statute".
Here's how paragraph (2) reads now:

§ 1809. Criminal sanctions
(a) Prohibited activities
A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—
(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.

Specter's version:

§ 1809. Criminal sanctions
(a) Prohibited activities
A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—
(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute or executed under the constitutional authority of the executive.

More CYA for the executive by Specter and friends.

We're almost through this abomination:
(2) RETROACTIVE EFFECT.- The amendments made by paragraph (1) shall be construed to have the same effective date as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
So basically, Specter's gutting FISA, and giving the President the authority that FISA was created to reign in. And on top of that he wants to make it all retroactive. Some compromise.

There's one last section of the bill, SECTION 10, which just amends the FISA table of contents.

come on Arlen, do you think we're stupid?

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So, I started writing a letter to Senator Specter about his "compromise" bill with the Whitehouse. I found this excellent diary on Kos by georgia10. In her diary she provides this link to Spector's bill S.2453. I started reading it and I only made it to item 3, in SEC. 2 FINDINGS, when things started looking fishy.
(3) For days before September 11, 2001, the Federal Bureau of Investigation suspected that confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui was planning to hijack a commercial plane. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, could not meet the requirements to obtain a traditional criminal warrant or an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to search his laptop computer. Report of the 9/11 Commission 273-76.
Ok boys and girls let's go read the report of the 9/11 Commission 273-76.
Paragraph #1315 (on page 273)
The agents in Minnesota were concerned that the U.S.Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis would find insufficient probable cause of a crime to obtain a criminal warrant to search Moussaoui’s laptop computer.94 Agents at FBI headquarters believed there was insufficient probable cause. Minneapolis therefore sought a special warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct the search (we introduced FISA in chapter 3).

Paragraph #1316 (on page 274)
To do so, however, the FBI needed to demonstrate probable cause that Moussaoui was an agent of a foreign power, a demonstration that was not required to obtain a criminal warrant but was a statutory requirement for a FISA warrant.95 The case agent did not have sufficient information to connect Moussaoui to a “foreign power,” so he reached out for help, in the United States and overseas.

Paragraph #1317 (on page 274)
The FBI agent’s August 18 message requested assistance from the FBI legal attaché in Paris. Moussaoui had lived in London, so the Minneapolis agent sought assistance from the legal attaché there as well. By August 24, the Minneapolis agent had also contacted an FBI detailee and a CIA desk officer at the Counterterrorist Center about the case.

Paragraph #1318 (on page 274)
The FBI legal attaché’s office in Paris first contacted the French government on August 16 or 17, shortly after speaking to the Minneapolis case agent on the telephone. On August 22 and 27, the French provided information that made a connection between Moussaoui and a rebel leader in Chechnya, Ibn al Khattab. This set off a spirited debate between the Minneapolis Field Office, FBI headquarters, and the CIA as to whether the Chechen rebels and Khattab were sufficiently associated with a terrorist organization to constitute a “foreign power” for purposes of the FISA statute. FBI headquarters did not believe this was good enough, and its National Security Law Unit declined to submit a FISA application.

Paragraph #1319 (on page 274)
After receiving the written request for assistance, the legal attaché in London had promptly forwarded it to his counterparts in the British government, hand-delivering the request on August 21. On August 24, the CIA also sent a cable to London and Paris regarding “subjects involved in suspicious 747 flight training” that described Moussaoui as a possible “suicide hijacker.” On August 28, the CIA sent a request for information to a different service of the British government; this communication warned that Moussaoui might be expelled to Britain by the end of August. The FBI office in London raised the matter briefly with British officials as an aside, after a meeting about a more urgent matter on September 3, and sent the British service a written update on September 5. The case was not handled by the British as a priority amid a large number of other terrorist-related inquiries.


Paragraph #1320 (on page 274)
On September 4, the FBI sent a teletype to the CIA, the FAA, the Customs Service, the State Department, the INS, and the Secret Service summarizing the known facts regarding Moussaoui. It did not report the case agent’s personal assessment that Moussaoui planned to hijack an airplane. It did contain the FAA’s comment that it was not unusual for Middle Easterners to attend flight training schools in the United States.

So we have Specter claiming that, "The Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, could not meet the requirements to obtain a traditional criminal warrant or an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to search his laptop computer." But after reading the 9/11 commission report it's clear that the there's a big difference between,"could not meet the requirements" and "FBI headquarters did not believe this was good enough,". I'd be willing to bet that if it was up to the field agents, they would have filed the FISA request. In fact let's read what Coleen Rowley had to say about it in her now famous memo to her boss.
3) The Minneapolis agents' initial thought was to obtain a criminal search warrant, but in order to do so, they needed to get FBI Headquarters' (FBIHQ's) approval in order to ask for DOJ OIPR's approval to contact the United States Attorney's Office in Minnesota. Prior to and even after receipt of information provided by the French, FBIHQ personnel disputed with the Minneapolis agents the existence of probable cause to believe that a criminal violation had occurred/was occurring. As such, FBIHQ personnel refused to contact OIPR to attempt to get the authority. While reasonable minds may differ as to whether probable cause existed prior to receipt of the French intelligence information, it was certainly established after that point and became even greater with successive, more detailed information from the French and other intelligence sources. The two possible criminal violations initially identified by Minneapolis Agents were violations of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b (Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, which, notably, includes "creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person by destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States or by attempting or conspiring to destroy or damage any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States") and Section 32 (Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities). It is important to note that the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th was based on probable cause of a violation of Section 32.1 Notably also, the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th did not include the French intelligence information. Therefore, the only main difference between the information being submitted to FBIHQ from an early date which HQ personnel continued to deem insufficient and the actual criminal search warrant which a federal district judge signed and approved on September 11th, was the fact that, by the time the actual warrant was obtained, suspected terrorists were known to have highjacked planes which they then deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To say then, as has been iterated numerous times, that probable cause did not exist until after the disasterous event occurred, is really to acknowledge that the missing piece of probable cause was only the FBI's (FBIHQ's) failure to appreciate that such an event could occur. The probable cause did not otherwise improve or change. When we went to the United States Attorney's Office that morning of September 11th, in the first hour after the attack, we used a disk containing the same information that had already been provided to FBIHQ; then we quickly added Paragraph 19 which was the little we knew from news reports of the actual attacks that morning. The problem with chalking this all up to the "20-20 hindsight is perfect" problem, (which I, as all attorneys who have been involved in deadly force training or the defense of various lawsuits are fully appreciative of), is that this is not a case of everyone in the FBI failing to appreciate the potential consequences. It is obvious, from my firsthand knowledge of the events and the detailed documentation that exists, that the agents in Minneapolis who were closest to the action and in the best position to gauge the situation locally, did fully appreciate the terrorist risk/danger posed by Moussaoui and his possible co-conspirators even prior to September 11th. Even without knowledge of the Phoenix communication (and any number of other additional intelligence communications that FBIHQ personnel were privy to in their central coordination roles), the Minneapolis agents appreciated the risk. So I think it's very hard for the FBI to offer the "20-20 hindsight" justification for its failure to act! Also intertwined with my reluctance in this case to accept the "20-20 hindsight" rationale is first-hand knowledge that I have of statements made on September 11th, after the first attacks on the World Trade Center had already occurred, made telephonically by the FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) who was the one most involved in the Moussaoui matter and who, up to that point, seemed to have been consistently, almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents' efforts (see number 5). Even after the attacks had begun, the SSA in question was still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the World Trade Center attacks as a mere coincidence with Misseapolis' prior suspicions about Moussaoui.2

And you really have to wonder why, when the FBI sent a teletype to the FAA and the CIA they didn't include, "the case agent’s personal assessment that Moussaoui planned to hijack an airplane."

Let's see how hard is it for the FBI to get a FISA warrant approved? From the Electronic Privacy Information Center's website (where they compiled statistics from the list of FISA annual reports) it appears to be very easy to get a FISA warrant approved. From 1978 to 2000, 13,147 FISA warrants had been approved by the court and exactly 0 (ya that's right- 0) had been rejected. So I'm thinking incompetence caused the failure of Moussaoui's laptop to being searched, not FISA requirements. Specter has to know this, and should quit trying to cover for Bush.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Howlin' Wolf at Newport 1/2

Blues at it's finest

RFK Jr files suit

FIRST RFK JR. VOTING MACHINE WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT NOW FILED IN FEDERAL COURT! NEW DETAILS!
Attorney Papantonio on Mike Malloy Show: 'We're gonna shut down some of these companies'!
Excoriates 'Indolent Democrats' and 'Lazy Media' for Not Taking Action; Lauds BRAD BLOG for Putting Issue on 'Radar Screen'…

The first of several federal whistleblower qui tam (fraud) suits have now been filed against one of America's major electronic voting machine companies, The BRAD BLOG can now report.

About f'ng time somebody does something read it all here....

Thank you RFK and thank you Brad for hanging in there covering these stories for so long.



Life's not fair

"Lieberman is facing a real challenge in the primary, he's running against a democrat." - Stephen Colbert

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Spector needs a refresher course

Spector and the rest of his wingnut cohorts need a refresher course in the history of the Bill of Rights.
During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.
On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States therefore proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.
And Amendment IV as adopted by the founding fathers reads as follows:
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.
Nothing hard to understand about that, now is there Arlen, "and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation," simple and elequoent. Please stop appeasing and force this president to obey the law. Stop coddling criminals.

Specter: Deal reached with White House on wiretaps

Ya ....here's the deal, Bush breaks the law and Specter (Rubberstamp-Pa) covers for him.
From CNN:

Legislation would let FISA court decide legality of NSA program
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday that he had struck a deal with the White House to resolve a dispute over the constitutionality of conducting electronic surveillance with court approval.

There's no dispute, what the president is doing is clearly illegal. He said so himself, from the Whitehouse website, "Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

Or you can listen to him say it here. This is a snow job and I hope the Senate Democrats (at least Russ Feingold) will rise up and filibuster this bill and demand that the Administration be held accountable for their illegal activities.
Bob marley & The Wailres - Get up, Stand Up

Message for Senate Dems.....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

one thing's for sure......

.....finding the differences between the candidates in PA04 couldn't be easier.

Jason Altmire on Social Security:

Jason Altmire will strongly oppose any plan to privatize Social Security, a program that has worked well for more than 70 years.

Melissa Hart on Social Security: (sucking up to Cheney when he was in town)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Martha Rial, Post-Gazette
Rep. Melissa Hart welcomes Vice President Dick Cheney to La Roche College yesterday, where Cheney talked about the White House's plans for Social Security.


From James O'Toole's article, "Cheney Ready to Deal,"
Friday, March 25, 2005 in the, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


[snip]

Not surprisingly, Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Bradford Woods, the vice president's co-host for the gathering, offered rave reviews both for Cheney's performance and for the merits of personal savings accounts.

Despite recent poll results suggesting that a majority of the public disagrees with the president's proposal, she predicted that Congress would enact some version of it this year. Hart said sessions like yesterday's would help that happen. She noted poll numbers that showed that, whatever the attitudes on specific remedies, the proportion of the public who viewed Social Security as having serious financial problems had climbed sharply over the last year.

(Text highlighted by me.)
Wonder if she'll flip-flop when this is brought up on the campaign trail?

Mischaracterizing the "Estate Tax"

From Melissa Hart's website:
Hart Supports Repeal of Death Tax

[snip]

“The Death Tax not only places a tremendous strain on small businesses who have to pay the tax, it also costs them resources trying to understand it and comply with it,” said Hart. “If small businesses are freed from this regressive tax, one recent study indicates that Pennsylvania could stand to gain over 10,000 jobs.”

How misleading can you be? (or should I say dishonest?). In the first place it's not called the "Death Tax" it's called an "Estate tax" and it only affects the very wealthy. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website"
Today the estates of only 1 out of every 200 people who die owe any estate tax whatsoever, because the first $2.0 million of the value of any estate ($4.0 million for a couple) is totally exempt from the tax.

There's no need to distort, we working stiffs know who you Republicans support.

Melissa Hart....lover of the environment

From a letter to the Tribune Review...(local right-wing rag)

Offshore reps

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PennEnvironment is disappointed with U.S. Reps. Melissa Hart, Tim Murphy and Mike Doyle, who rejected the opportunity to take a stand for the environment and voted in favor of allowing drilling off America's coasts ("House votes to allow drilling," June 30).

Unfortunately, the House as a whole did the same and narrowly voted to pass this anti-environmental proposal.

The House passed the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, ending the 25-year bipartisan moratorium that has kept the expansion of offshore drilling in check. This bill could result in both gas and oil drilling as close as three miles offshore and make it harder for states to keep drilling at least 50 miles from their pristine coasts.

This legislation offers no solutions to our country's energy problems and instead emphasizes drilling rather than efficiency and new renewable energy sources. We hope Hart, Murphy and Doyle will rethink their positions on future environmental issues.


Kristen Bird
Philadelphia

The writer is with PennEnvironment (pennenvironment.org).


First her vote to gut the endangered species act, and now she promotes offshore drilling. At least she's predictable.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton