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July 26, 2007

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Wow, you truly amaze me. I read the very same list of briefings and didn't even come close.

Thank you for the insight (& don't stop).

Thanks for emphasizing again how corrupt Murtha is. While we're revisiting old Josh Marshall pieces, Jane Hamsher should really do a follow up on Murtha at some point. Her spirited (four part, was it?) defense of Murtha never made any sense. Our position should be that even Murtha is against this war, not that Murtha is some kind of hero.

The real issue is that the policy of the DOJ is now clearly to obstruct justice with respect to culpability arising out of the illegal program that was run between 2002-2004.
This is the program over which Comey, Goldsmith and all threatened to resign.

The Administration came into office with a plan to have its constitutionally repugnant plans behind a blanket of claims of National Security. Congress was cut out of oversite on the grounds sung so loudly to the press of leaks by Congressmen leading to these "fig leaf" briefings in the first place.

The irony is that Bush really didn't know what was going on. I would have hated to have been the aide that informed him that warrants were not in fact being issued as he initially claimed.

The constitutional issues, as I see it, pertain to Bush's delegation of non-delegable powers. This is the reasonable pitfall of the executive privilege claims. The unknown is how this stands up to any judicial emergence of the theory of the "unitary executive."
And we know both Roberts and Alito have both publically signed off on some species of this theory.

The headline: Duplicitous Gonzales Obstructs Investigation into Secret Domestic Surveillance.

I strongly suspect that the leak of those NSA intercepts after 9/11 that the administration blamed on Congress was in fact the work of the administration. That's just the way Cheney operates.

Remember, we learned in the four-part WaPo series on Cheney that there was a similar leak in Nov. 2001 that Cheney blamed on the State Department that almost certainly came from Cheney's office. And Cheney's office leaked the identity of Plame for political purposes. And Cheney's office saw fit to exempt itself from security inspections.

sometimes when i read analyses like this one, i just stare at the screen and wonder whether or not there is a bush administration functioning as one entity

or whether "the administration" is just a lot of powerful folk freelancing when they feel like it.

cheney gets a bee in his bonnet; he initiates an action.

rove gets a wild hair in his ass and he goes of a tear.

rumsfeld does what he damn well pleases in iraq, and in the united states, too.

is bush the quiet manager of all these goings on or is he just the clueless figurehead who gives the state of the union speech?

unitary executive?

not from a management standpoint apparently.

Your link to the listings doesn't work on Safari

Margaret

Try it now.

EW,

You being an attorney should well understand the following: A quick way to bring Gonzo down is to file a bar complaint either in DC or Texas. Correct me if I am wrong but perjury is considered a moral turpitude offense under bar ethics and Gonzo could be disbarred for such as finding.

orionATL: "is bush the quiet manager of all these goings on or is he just the clueless figurehead who gives the state of the union speech?"

The latter I suspect. I know a lot of people with personal experience that say "dry drunk". That is an untreated addict. One way to recreate those missing, drug induced, endorphins is exercise. Problem is that the relief is short lived and needs increasing levels. Does that describe any one we know's activities?

Jazz you are correct that perjury is considered a crime of moral turpitude; but while EW is smarter than most other lawyers I know (self included) she is not an attorney.

All the more impressive as she has a brilliant legal mind. EW have you considered teaming up with POGO or CREW? They litigate. At the least, you could have some productive meetings with them. FAS and EFF, too. I would love to see your talents put to use (indirectly) in the courts.

Does attendance at these briefings necessarily indicate that the participants approved of the program? Also, as you pointed out with the Cheney briefing (which sounded mostly like a PR exercise), exactly what type of information were participants provided? I'm loathe to accuse either Democrats or Republicans who were briefed of acquiescing to anything if they were not receiving substantive information on what was really going on. And even if they knew exactly what was going on, what could they do about it without violating all these secrecy oaths they're supposed to take? This whole intelligence secrecy issue seems right up Cheney's alley. What could be better for keeping the American public in the dark?

ew,

I think you are being unfair to Congressional leaders. To say that they approved of the warrantless wiretapping is a bit too strong. They were informed and failed to raise the alarm, but we should acknowledge that the Administration manipulated them shamelessly. Until we know the content of the briefings, we really won't know their culpability. Still, I am appalled at their inaction after the NYT exposé.

Gary,

Can you please provide a link to CREW.

EW,

I stand corrected. But you do have a great knowledge of the law

Slightly OT: We keep hearing about Fredo's perjury on the Ashcroft visit, but when are reporters going to charge hard on the other two bombshells that came up in his testimony: 1) The stripping of significant language from the new USA manual and 2) Giving Cheney and his minions direct DOJ access? The latter, in particular, should be front page.

grayslady, I agree with you. We don't have all of the facts. I want to get these creeps, too, but I don't want to accuse Dems or Republicans for anything in which they weren't possibly given all the information, or for which they can't talk about because of security interests. We're beginning to eat our own with no real justification whatsoever. Isn't that what we're fighting for -- the truth?

A wee bit of speculation on where this matter is going.

This from the new Cunningham, Cheney, CIFA chronology:

"November 30, 2005, USNORTHCOM JPEN deletes all TALON reports"

Is this around the time the NYT article came out?

If this is the program nixed by Comey at al why was the information retained for 18 mos.
If this is the case the program was ongoing in that the information was being utilized at for a significant time after it had been challenged in DOJ forcing concessions.

The dissent must have continued until the deleting action took place and the TSP was amended again in January 2007 with respect to the necessity of FISA warrants. These things would not have happened without ongoing internal dissent.

The bottom line: it appears Gonazles will rely upon is "hey we agreed it was illegal and we cancelled it and deleted all the information after Comey's objection", but this does not speak to the issue of ongoing internal DOJ dissent and the continuance of the data. We of course do not know when the operational aspects were shut down.

Dec. 16, 2005 is the date that comes to mind for the NYT article. But I imagine it would have been available in some form to people in the editorial offices for some time before it was actually published.

J Thomason

No, they're entirely distinct programs, one using technology the other not at all.

THe CIFA program was just indpendent reports, some old fart calling a base saying, "I saw six hippies hanging out in front of the base gate, wearing tiedies. I think they're terrorists." And that would go in a database, perhaps with names attached.

Whereas the domestic wiretap program is stuff collected directly from the telecomm networks. THere is a database issue here, too (one of the probable sources of violation is that NSA kept data from non-terrorist citizens illegally). But it's a different database.

And yes, the Risen/Lichtblau article was December 16, 2005.

Is Talon synonymous with CIFA Marcy? I was thinking Talon was one of Poindexter's revived programs.

The contextual bottom line I was seeing was using the need for Cheney to be aware of DOJ enforcement so he could come into compliance quickly in monitoring programs as an argument of why he was in the loop especially if the fruit of the "set of intelligence activities" that Comey and Goldsmith objected to were destroyed or there was administrative difficulty in shutting this program down. Besides this the argument could be made that the channels were not clear between DOJ and the OVP supervising these programs and this was the error that prevented earlier checks of illegality.

In any event I think the main point is that there must have been ongoing dissent within the DOJ about the TSP after the Ashcroft incident if the program was subsequently amended in Jan. 2007.

My instincts may be wrong about this but this is where I think Gonzales is vulnerable. He lied about dissent because dissent would have played into the politial uproar about the program the President described. So rather than tell the truth he just said something like "You know we are all on the same page. Nothing to see hear. We all agree it is legal. Move on to something else." But the circumstances, especially the recent change claiming to bring the program into the warrant provisons of FISA, show that this was not true.

So in other words maybe CIFA/Talon though not technological is the "set of intelligence activities" Gonzales now admits gave rise to internal dissent.

But circumstances show that dissent must have continued about the TSV too.

On the narrow point of "this is the first we're hearing of it" (i.e., little publicity before the midterm elections). Marty Lederman said:

Truly, this isn't news. I "obtained" the same document this evening. I did so by downloading it from the Web, where it has been available since it was released to the public on May 17, 2006.

He links to a copy of the list of meetings, hosted by USA Today.

See this May 2006 thread and
this June 2006 paper (caution - 3.5 Mb pdf),
each of which refers to the same USA Today location for the list of attendees.

One further point, that you hinted at but didn't spell out:

There were no briefings/meetings between the one that prompted Jay Rockefeller's hand-written letter to Cheney and the March 10th G/8 meeting. Which means we ought to assume that TSP (let's call it 'Total Surveillance Program') was substantially the same at the time Comey refused to re-certify it.

IIRC, the briefed Congresscritters were read the riot act as to the classified nature of the program, and risked being cut out of future briefings (at least), or being charged with illegal release of classified information if they "raised the alarm."

cboldt

Thanks for the correction--I've noted it in the post.

cboldt,

You are correct that one of the manipulative techniques that the Administration used was the threat of being charged with the illegal release of classified information. I am still disappointed by our representatives. They either have no courage or no convictions (or possibly neither).

WO - my vote is for damn little of both.

EW-I found your post "More Funny Business with Record Keeping" from July 2, 2007 which explains the relationship between Talon and CIFA. I appreciate your sending me out to do some more research. I am sure I am not able to see all these matters as discrete and deleting records of domestic surveillance on Nov. 30, 2005 right before the NYT article, an article held by the NYT for nearly a year until after the 2004 election, seems to me to be causally related.

I suppose the relevant question now becomes whether there was a consolidating funtion within DHS or elsewhere which drew together CIFA/TALON, TSP, Eschelon and other data bases effectively creating a secret intelligence cadre of domestic data obtained both from legitimate and illegitimate sources?

Great work as usual, Marcy!

Now I am seeing a need for all of the intelligence programs that are controversial - a chart of when started, when stopped, when revived secretly etc as well as brief summaries of their tech, intent, who is being spied on, who is involved, and what we suspect we don't know yet.
It is hard to keep all the illegal/subversive ways our gov't is spying on us straight!

J Thomason

Talon is completely separate, done under largely different laws, and managed through a different area of DOD. If they were going to cover up the domestic surveillance program, they would have secured the tap rooms in SF, not delete a completely unrelated database.

Besides the conduit signals there is an airborne component, and technologies exist for various forms of aerial intercepts; for example the press reports of the US eliciting the ire of a certain Asian land when a US plane equipped to intercept cellphone relay antenna traffic landed in an unacceptable locale in an emergency in 2000. My guess during the NYC debacle was the US government focused all such aerial signal intercepting devices upon our own soil, since that was where the action was.

And a few link updates, with appreciation for the list link repair: Laesch has a FL campaign 2008 site US House of Representatives campaign already; he should do like Marcy and add to the 2006 campaign site link an automatic forwarding to the currently active site. Marcy W's campaign began a mere three months before the primary, and gathered over $400k; she won 38% of the vote; Harman endorsers withdrew support pell mell, and in unprecedented fashion the CAdem party convention began without the Dem Party's endorsing Harman, Marcy W's campaign having built amazing momentum quickly by that time. Her former website forwards the visitor to the new site, WinogradWatchdog. She had a funny remark in an interview that admitted she planned an '08 run, based on the costliness of running the first time; their organization carried forward considerable debt. Yet, she speaks with a clearly resonant voice in her part of southern CA. And, yes, the homepage on her website has a picture of her with a dog, a feature sure to attract TNH readers.

Of course this had to exist. Not to be snarky EW but the analysis would not occur in the tap rooms and there would be an effort to consolidate both technological data and hard asset data for it to have any utility:

"ADVISE (Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement) is a "research and development program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its three-year-old 'Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment' portfolio. The TVTA received nearly $50 million in federal funding this year," Mark Clayton reported in the February 9, 2006, Christian Science Monitor.

ADVISE is "at the core" of a "massive computer system" "being developed by the US government ... that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity," Clayton wrote.

"The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But," Clayton wrote, "by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy."

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ADVISE

In any event I could make this a live link if I had a menu of the editing code for the comments field for TypeKey. I would appreciate a reference in this respect so I could provide this courtesy.

Richard @ 12:59

Slightly OT: We keep hearing about Fredo's perjury on the Ashcroft visit, but when are reporters going to charge hard on the other two bombshells that came up in his testimony: 1) The stripping of significant language from the new USA manual and 2) Giving Cheney and his minions direct DOJ access? The latter, in particular, should be front page.

I totally agree. Particularly the Cheney-DOJ part.

Code: <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ADVISE">Link to SourceWatch Article</a>

Result: Link to SourceWatch Article

Did direct DOJ access for Cheney and his office mean that they could consult DOJ case files on computer?

Thanks cboldt.

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