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October 16, 2007


I would prefer that there also be some type of verified statement provided by the Administration that these are the full and complete opinions, not partial, altered or redacted versions, and that all opinions that have been operative during the administration to present have been so produced in full. Without such a verification, I literally don't think the administration can be trusted to not be hiding the pea under a "double super secret" shell. If these documents were not produced in direct response to official subpoena or in conjunction with testimony of record, I do not trust the veracity of the disclosure. They literally may have opinions that control how to interpret these opinions that are not being disclosed, but that really control the operation of these opinions.


I noticed this passage doesn't speak to any surveillance PRIOR to 9/11.

"That means it would reaffirm that FISA is the only basis for conducting domestic surveillance and require the administration to “fully inform” Congress of any surveillance programs put into place since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

Doesn't that leave a significant loophole, given the Qwest allegations?

I agree with Tony Ross on that. Also, in addition to the verification discussed above, it strikes me that simply having the legal memorandums without having a full briefing/disclosure of the actual programs and modalities they are being applied to does not tell you enough to make intelligent determinations about what has gone on, what is going on and how law and oversight ought to be constructed. If this inquiry is not certain and complete, it is a bill of goods; the Administration's track record is 100% for deception on details.

Complain, complain, complain.

What more do you want?

If there's a landslide in the next election and most of these Republican Bush shills are sent home in disgrace, will the MSM continue to copy down all the Rovian talking points of the new minority? Will it be simply business as usual by the MSM and the rabid talking heads at Fox, even though we'll then have Democrats in full control of the presidency and both houses? How much do you want to bet that the Rovian Swiftboating machinery is oiled and cranked up as we speak? In this Alice in Wonderland political world in America, what the vast majority of PEOPLE say is irrelevant. Screw the people, right?

Well, well, well...Looks like the Yoo-Addington Memos are finally out for review. The same ones Jack Goldsmith said on Frontline's 'Cheney's Law' video that he would have had a tough time defending.

These Memos are what should have been the subject of the Telecoms' due diligence back in 2001. If the Telecoms get Immunity now, it will be because these Memos are accepted as 'good enough' to waive Liability.

But, if the Memos aren't 'good enough,' then there should be No Immunity - leaving Bush, Cheney and Addington set-up to go down for 'an excessive Presidential power grab.'

If the Memos aren't 'good enough' to have waived the Constitutional Rights of Domestic Citizens without a Warrant, then why shouldn't the 720 Verizon Customers (plus their Friends and the Friends of those Friends) be allowed to sue some negligence out of Verizon?

Without a suitable legal foundation for Violating Our Rights, how would giving the Telecoms Immunity for Secretly Spying on US be any different, in principle, than if Merck got a pass for faking the human-safety data on Vioxx - both could/did have very bad consequences for the unknowing?

Lacking appropriate legal precautions, shouldn't both the Telecoms and Merck be guilty of Negligently Deceiving for Profit?

And, the Trojan Horse in this fight is Huge - Giving the Telecoms Immunity based on the Yoo-Addington Memos is tantamount to the Senate Judiciary Committee Approving BushCo's 2001 4th Branch Take-Over and Operation above the Law.

RFW - your last paragraph is right, failure to act and awarding the seal of approval of a grant of immunity is indeed tantamount to ratifying the Fourth Branch agenda. However, as to the legal foundation bit, the irony is that, if the memos are, as you say, "good enough", i.e. actually have rational legal validity, then the telcoms don't need immunity, because their actions were either arguably or presumptively legal. If this is actually the case (not a chance in hell), then nobody needs immunity because the actions of both the public and private sectors are legally founded. Now, as you know, it is my position that the telcos don't need immunity in either case, because they have been promised by the government that the actions were legal and necessary, and the telcoms have enough documentation to establish that they acted in good faith and the government is the true malfactor and must indemnify them for any losses and damages incurred. Indeed, both Verizon and AT&T have suggested in their letters to Congress that they already enjoy legal immunity and indemnity.

i wish the holt bill wasn't being buried in committee while the "restore act" (giving basket warrants and prospective immunity) was being rushed through the house.

the kabuki is so fast and furious, i'm having trouble seeing through it.

I'm with bmaz: I have no faith that this administration is cooperating in full. At all. I'd bet the farm that the SIC was not given the core documents. Remember the DOJ email dumps what, was it last spring? Drivel. So we all know this administration's mo by now. It's actually not that hard to think like they do in terms of tactics--just access your own worst self.

I also have no faith in Jay Rockefeller's judgment. He folds fast, easily and often.

Land of Goshen these seven years have radicalized me!

bmaz - However, as to the legal foundation bit, the irony is that, if the memos are, as you say, "good enough", i.e. actually have rational legal validity, then the telcoms don't need immunity, because their actions were either arguably or presumptively legal.

Now, as you know, it is my position that the telcos don't need immunity in either case, because they have been promised by the government that the actions were legal and necessary, and the telcoms have enough documentation to establish that they acted in good faith and the government is the true malfactor and must indemnify them for any losses and damages incurred.


Now, as you know, it is my position that the telcos don't need immunity in either case, because they have been promised by the government that the actions were legal and necessary, and the telcoms have enough documentation to establish that they acted in good faith and the government is the true malfactor and must indemnify them for any losses and damages incurred.

Then let us be sure the telecoms are duly held to account, and that for the next 20 years there is a "line 84" on all individual tax returns: "Write $500 (for single filers) or $1000 (for joint filers) towards the Bush Administration Executive Crimes Indemnification Fund (p. 74)"

What do I want?

I have a contract (colloquially known as "the Constitution") with my government. I'd like to see that contract enforced.

bmaz - Thanks, as always for cranking the diopter lens around to a clearer setting!

I see what you are saying - essentially Verizon, AT&T and the others have 'AG' certifications that show they 'were held-up at legal gunpoint by BushCo' under the pretext of National Emergency and the AUMF.

Which makes the Telecom situation similar to Wilkes' defense - they 'made' me do it for 'classified' or secret reasons in the name of the State.

What I don't understand is - Why are we even taking-up the issue of Telecom Immunity, if the legality of the whole thing depends on the Yoo-Addington Memos that Goldsmith has all but said are gross over-reaches for Executive Power?

Isn't that putting the cart before the Horse?

This would be like holding the Rank and File of the NSA or the CIA responsible for Warrantless Wiretapping of Citizens or Torture, before evaluating the legal basis for the Executive Orders given to authorize it.

This would be the same as Firing USAs from the DoJ without insuring the Integrity of the Process - checking to be sure the action isn't masking Criminally Political reasons. There is no way Pajamas Pete had Iglesias fired for National Security reasons - it was to save his own ass.

Is this really the Right Way to put the Genie of the UE back in the bottle of the Rule of Law?

If Scottish Haggis is saying no immunity without the opinions, that's how you know he already has the opinions or has been assured of getting them. Because there's no way he's not supporting immunity.

RFW - Exactly.

Oh, and Professor Foland, I didn't say this all worked out well for the taxpayer. Heh heh. The piper has to be paid somewhere, sometime; and we will be paying for the sins of Bush/Cheney for a long time. In a way, painful as it may be, that is OK; maybe citizen taxpayers will think twice before electing fraudulent, hollow rubes the next time.

Jo-dee Jo-dee Jo-dee

don't you belong in a screwball comedy with Cary Grant?

Better than you deserve -- but also better than having you here...

Maybe it's all Kabuki, in the name of 'protecting US.'

It could all be 'getting worked out' in a back room and 'played out' as drama for 300 Million American Idol watching Citizens.

It certainly seems like all the Scandals are converging on the central issue of the 4th Branch Legal Rationale for setting-up above the Rule of Law and commanding unquestioning compliance like a King - which could be the most pivotal SCOTUS decision ever to test the strength of Our Republic.

Leahy doesn't have the mandate to 'rule' on the Cheney-Addington-Yoo construction of the UE, and We the People aren't being 'allowed' to see the evidence of Malfeasance so we can Impeach.

This issue is being 'steered' to the Supreme Court, and it's likely to take the rest of Bush's term before a ruling is made.

BushCo wants to get to the Supreme Court, because it guarantees them a ride-out of their term, and We the People want to Impeach/Try/Convict them for Betraying Our Trust.

No amount of Legal Justification pardons Ordering Torture.

No amount of Legal Justification immunizes Ordering Spying on Citizens without a Warrant, disappearing them into Black Space, and treating them worse than animals, pancaking their minds.

No amount of Legal Justification can make a Criminal Political Vendetta legal.

No amount of Legal Justification makes Lying US to War okay.

But, BushCo wants to get a SC ruling that says: The 4th Branch is Neither Legal nor Not Legal, but Extra-Legal under dire circumstances (National Emergency, President acting as Commander in Chief during War time) - therefore, just like Monica Goodling says - it certainly wasn't my intent to do wrong - therefore, No Harm-No Foul.

Will the Kabuki end in a walk away for all parties, with promises of new and better rules for the next time - or, Will BushCo's Criminality Invalidate their claims to Executive Immunity - regardless of their 4th Branch Rationale?

I don't know if anyone else noticed this, or if it adds to our knowledge about witnesses (I think it does at least re Comey's testimony), but there's a good amount of detailed information in the Intelligence Committee's Report on the RESTORE Act, posted at the House Rules Committee site, including this section:

To date in the first session of the 110th Congress, the Committee has held seven hearings with respect to improvement of the FISA, two of which were held in open session and five of which were held in closed session.

The Committee held four hearings prior to passage of the PAA on August 4, 2007. On June 14, 2007, the Committee held a closed hearing to receive testimony from former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey. On June 21, 2007, the Committee met in closed session to receive testimony from former Attorney General John Ashcroft. In a closed hearing on July 11, 2007, the Committee received testimony from General Michael Hayden, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former Director of the National Security Agency. On July 19, 2007, the Committee held a closed hearing to receive testimony from then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Three additional hearings were held after passage of the PAA. On September 6, 2007, the Committee met in closed session and received testimony from Mr. Robert S. Mueller, III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein of the Department of Justice National Security Division; and Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency. On September 18, 2007, the Committee held an open hearing to receive testimony from Mr. James Baker, former Counsel for the Department of Justice Office of Intelligence Policy and Review and lecturer at Harvard Law School; Mr. Jim Dempsey, Policy Director for the Center for Democracy and Technology; Ms. Lisa Graves, Deputy Director of the Center for National Security Studies; and Mr. David Rivkin, a partner at Baker Hostetler. On September 20, 2007, the Committee again held an open hearing and received testimony from Vice Admiral J. Michael McConnell, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Director of National Intelligence; and Assistant Attorney General Wainstein from the Department of Justice National Security Division.

The Committee also received five briefings from the intelligence community on topics relating to FISA. On January 24, 2007, Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein, and National Security Agency General Counsel Vito Potenza briefed the Committee in a closed session. On July 24, 2007, the Committee was briefed by General Michael Hayden, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former Director of the National Security Agency. On July 31, 2007, the Committee, in a joint closed session with the House Committee on the Judiciary, was briefed by Vice Admiral J. Michael McConnell, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Director of National Intelligence. Director McConnell returned on August 2, 2007, to brief the entire House in a closed session, which was co-hosted by the Speaker of the House and the Committee. On September 11, 2007, Director McConnell again briefed the Committee in a closed session.

Unlike the Judiciary Committee, the House Intelligence Committee responded to and refuted the propaganda in the "Minority Views" published in their report. Here's one response:

Additionally, as part of a campaign to ‘‘put a human face’’ on the FISA discussion, some Republican officials have begun to suggest that FISA caused a delay in intercepting communications related to the missing soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. This is as cynical as it is misleading. The RESTORE Act removes any requirement for individual warrants for foreign targets. But more fundamentally, as the DNI was forced to publicly acknowledge, the 9-hour delay in that case was caused by the Bush Administration’s own bureaucracy. Although the Attorney General could have authorized surveillance in minutes, he was unreachable for nearly two hours because he was traveling in Texas. FISA does not preclude leadership and common sense in a time of crisis.


The House Judiciary Committee Report on RESTORE is also informative - as in this revealing case, for example:

There have been published reports about the intelligence and law enforcement communities having telecommunications companies assist in the analysis of the ‘‘social networks’’ with data about suspects’ patterns of communication. Like ripples in a pond, network analysis can lead to new subjects whose communications can then be targeted.27 Following such leads is an important and legitimate investigative tool, and the RESTORE Act does not prohibit this activity. The bill mandates safeguards to prevent abuses stemming from such use, by requiring that a warrant [sic] once a substantial purpose of the acquisition is to acquire the communications of a United States person. This requirement is fully consistent with Director of National Intelligence McConnell’s insistence that NSA will not target an American in the United States without a FISA warrant. The FISA Court will approve the guidelines if it concludes that they are reasonably designed to ensure such an outcome.

And here:

In response to these concerns, the RESTORE Act requires the Government, for purposes of surveillance based on programmatic authorizations under Section 105B rather than on a regular FISA warrant, to certify to the FISA Court that a substantial purpose of the surveillance will be the acquisition of foreign intelligence relating to terrorism, national defense, or other national security matters, as delineated in paragraphs (1) and (2)(A) of section 101(e) of FISA. Targets of this surveillance include radical jihadist groups, nuclear proliferators, hostile foreign governments, and narco-terrorists, among other threats.


Telecoms can argue that under FISA the government doesn't need to present a warrant to get the snooping started and therefore they are required to go along with the demands. Then, when the government has to have a warrant (some 72 hours later maybe) the Bush admin. didn't. That puts the entire culpability on Bush.

The problem telecoms would still face is that they CONTINUED to allow snooping even when the warrants didn't show up.

I can personally forgive them for folding under Bush pressures to snoop for national security reasons. I'm not so sure it's good for the nation to forgive them if they don't at least show good faith by giving up EVERYTHING on what the Bush admin. has demanded, so we can nail Bushies to the wall (where they belong).

Even with that, there can be no immunity for snooping purely for commercial gain.

"substantial purpose" = total wiggle room. Ought to include some type of "reasonable good faith basis" language.

MarkH - Precisely.

bmaz--it was probably unclear, but the point of my post was to agree with you. We very well should hold the telecoms to account and then let the taxpayers know the consequences of voting for the GOP.

Sadly, people like you and I will end up paying line 84, too. But we'd be paying for it one way or another anyway, might as well make it clear where the blame lies.

Professor - Actually, I think it was I that was unclear in my response. I understood, that why I was chuckling. And you are exactly right to raise the tax implications. I often think that many people misunderstand my argument on the telcos not having any dire financial liability that stands to put them out of business. I believe they have exposure, and tons of it, but under certain common law principles of indemnification and subrogation, not to mention I truly believe they have agreements with the administration that will compel this, the liability exposure will have to be paid by the government if it maintains. And it appears we both are in agreement that people ought to understand this fact, and feel a little pain for it, so maybe they will vote and think more clearly in the future. Alas, as you say, we will be paying for this until the next of never either way.

Would someone please explain to me how the Administration can share supposedly sensitive national security information with the Telecoms, but that the Telecoms are incapable of sharing that information with legislators who possess the highest security clearances in the land?

Could someone please tell me how they are supposed to legislate on a particular subject if they are unaware of its specifics? Who, then, is writing the legislation? The Administration? Lobbyists?

Can anyone, anyone, tell me why the Democratic leadership would let any legislation come on to the floor, or why no one besides the ACLU is mounting a campaign against disgraceful FISA bills?

Could you let me know why three Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate are not putting a hold on this legislation--even secretly--or promising to fillibuster any such legislation?

Could anyone please tell me how a memo from the OLC gives justification for anything? What if it says the moon is made of cream cheese? Does that make it so?

Jay, I think it's becuase we went through the looking-glass at some point. Or into some kind of mirror universe, anyway. We have a political party which talks opposition but never opposes, one which talks about spreading democracy to other countries while removing it from their, and a large number of officials who swore to uphold the Constitution and seem never to have read it as well as forgetting that they ever swore that oath.

I guesss we'll be seeing each other in the re-education centers.

Jodi: "What more do you want?"

Testimony. From officials at AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, and any company involved in illegal wiretapping on behalf of the Administration.

Frankly, I don't understand the outcry and wrangling over their testimony.

They want immunity? Fine. Give it to them. Not through some law exonerating the corporations, but individually, under the same conditions we give immunity to any other criminal whose testimony we want.

Grant the telco officials immunity in exchange for testifying, just as we did for Monica Goodling.

The whole 'retroactive immunity' for telcos is simply a con game, to get immunity without testifying, in exchange for covering up the Bush Administrations lawbreaking. What could be more obvious? Or more wrong?


I very much appreciate EW's tireless hard work and everyone interested here who has concern with wiretapping, email gathering, National Security Letters gone amuck, State Secrets bashing the Bill of Rights and now being wielded in cert. denials by the S. Ct., keeping up with the latest twists and turns, but the handwriting is clearly on the wall. The Democrats are spineless. Let me type that again. The Democrats in the Senate and House--every damn committee are completely spineless. Your rights are in the toilet.

Done deal. They are going to be intimidated into giving complete immunity to the Telcos who began wiretappping Americans with blanket switches illegally prior to 911 and continue to do so this minute.

Just google for a list of Telco law firms. Many of the major firms in your big city are on the lists of lobbyists. Take a look at this Verizon List Christy Hardin Smith posted

Verizon Lobbyists

recently in her article

Not Ready to Make Nice by Christy Hardin Smith at Fire Dog Lake

All of your internet searches are being saved for long periods of time--months or years and turned over to the government like a lab retriving a ball.

The administration will continue to use warantless wiretapping to target innocent Americans as before. This bill's final form will immunize the Telcos completely and retroactively and invigorate Mike McConnell's machine to spy completely on all Americans and cross pollinate huge data bases.

The Pentagon and the FBI will continue to issue so called "National Security Letters" that mine your private data and financial data including your bank accounts and your investment accounts at will, and they will be unchecked in any effective way by the Congress, and they will find a way to include your medical records in this data as well if this has not happened already and it probably has.

You will be told nothing as to the details, and the Administration in full Addington-Cheney mode, will continue to stonewall Congress as will the Telco's.

One important spinoff is that the favorable deals granted to these large Telco's in exchange for their cooperation in screwing you will never ever be revealed. It's analagous to the favorable billions betowed on Blackwater. It's what electing Republicans and apparently now Democrats is about.

Your fellow apathetic Americans who know and follow Britney's everyday adventures, but not blogs like this are the main reason. Informed Americans who care are in the vast minority and the Bushies and Right Wing exploit this with unparalleled success. The intelligence community can't deliver quality intelligence when it comes to terrormism or the vast amounts of money being pissed away to Musharriff (billions) but they have an accurate understanding of the apathy and ignorance of the American people and they mine their data at will, considering correctly that the US Congress is nothing more than a gnat on a fast moving freight train.

There is absolutely nothing that SJC (which is quickly rubberstamping Mukasey's eggregious confirmation before my eyes as I type this)--a federal judge who rubberstamped DOJ's completely illegal use of material witness laws to imprison hundreds of innocent people and is actually to the right of Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia and the rest of the puppy dogs who follow them) will do to stop the retroactivity despite the weak objections of Arlen Specter and Pat Leahy.

House and Senate Intelligence Committess will at the final bell do nothing to stop complete retroactive Telco Immunity and blanket permission to wiretap innocent Americans on US soil without qualification into infinity.

When this happens soon, I'll come back and say "Toldja so" and let me be quick to clarify I could not agree more with the outstanding posts by EW, and the Fire Dog Lakers on this topic and the many prescient people who comment on these threads.

Despite so-called Democratic control of the House and the Senate gained last November, nothing has really changed when it comes to the important bills that gut your constitutional rights. Anyone, including EW whose great quality hard work I appreciate is welcome to name me one single dent that the Democrats have put in Bush's, DOJs, FBIs, CIAs, and other alphabet agencies ability to completely gut your rights when it comes to the 4th Amendment, wiretapping, National Security Letters, mining your data, collecting your emails, and saving your searches via any search engine. Every ISP is now saving all your internet searches and turing them over to the government.

If you want to assess the outcome of the Telco and other bills regarding FISA, wiretaps and immunity just write on the blackboard:

They are going to make Glenn Greenwald's, EW's and Christy Hardin Smith and the FDL bloggers worst nightmare come true. Nuance and analytical reason have no real place when it comes to Republican Senators and House members. Bin Ladin and the terrororists who support him have been supremely successful in cowing the Right who cows the Democrats time after time successfully--and not just the so-called Midwest centrists, but all of them from Coast to Coast into systemically and systematically stripping you of any privacy rights whatsoever.

A very disturbing event that has not gotten much attention was the Supreme Court's inability to grant cert. to a recent "State Secrets" appeal in the El Mazari case from the Fourth Circuit. There were no noted dissents from the denial order in El-Masri v. U.S. (06-1613) or 382 F.3d 453 (4th Cir. 2004).

El Masri denied Cert. grant--State Secrets for Rendition or Anything Else Fine with Supremes

You can look forward to a very complete gutting of the Constitution--this President and both sides of the Congressional aisles devastating legacy. The vast majority of Americans are poorly educated in these matters regardless of whether they pull in six figure incomes. Most attorneys are completely apathetic or lap dogs for the Republican Right.

When Bush told them to just keep shopping, he could just as well have injected that impulse into the water because that's precisely what's happening.

What kind of "warm smiley face feeling" is in your heart when all of you pay your monthly Anerican Telco bill as all of you do for your cell phone and or/your Iphone/PDA smart phone or for your various forms of wireless laptop adapters?

They have certainly told you to go screw yourself in the boldest of fonts and you can't do a thing about it and your Congress's PA and lateral cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine fills would show complete soft tissue and zero BMD aka bone mineral density. The Congress is not at all going to protect you. They are gutless pawns of Bush, Cheney and Addington and this has played out in the last few years and continues to play out today as Michael B. Mukasey gets confirmed without a whimper and Schumer sucks up to him as if he were a big Manhatten stake.

Mukasey's civil rights record as a federal district judge is abominable, and the relatively conservative (aren't they all) Second Circuit had to come back twice and force him to carry out their opinion in one notable case. Judge Mukasey is a civil rights nightmare and although he is more federal judicially sophisticated than Alberto Gonzales (and so is my dog) the result will be much the same as far as trampling on your rights. "Independant look" my ass. Mukasye brings credibility to DOJ only if you're illiterate and haven't followed his conduct on the federal trial court bench.

They could care less about your rights when it comes down to voting them away.

Watch this nightmare unfold this week, and in the next month.

Bmaz - is it possible that the AG certifications that are essentially the "get out of jail free" cards for the telcos only cover the programs that we (sort of, a little bit) know about? And that these AG-endorsed programs are only the tip of the iceberg, and that the telcos knowingly violated the law in ways that are far broader than that which would be excused by the AG certifications? In which case, they definitely need immunity? I'm starting to think about potential Sarbanes-Oxley claims again against the telcos, and personal libaility by corporate presidents and general counsel.

I would look for a rapid sub rosa deal for ebullient JoeNacchio. Seidenberg first, true to form, took a somewhat egalitarian approach, making public denials. Nacchio simply said his RBOC Qw balked; though later it surfaced the torrent had breached and Qw was there with the rest, feeding the algorithmic communities of interest. Given the fracas the administration gleefully would expect between the raucous representatives at HPSCI versus counterpart SSCI members, column inches will appear depicting those congressional turf tiffs, all set upon the difficult healing process at Dept of Justice, given that the various responsible leadership people at DoJ have remained in hearings, h/t p.-w. for excerpts. Yet, I sense Nacchio is going to ameliorate a lot of requests very soon, if promised an exit rather than remaining in the limelight as the scapegoat; he always was disposed to engaging in pyrotecnic disputes in public, so the payoff to him will need to be major reduction in charges. Certainly his intramural spies in the industry also are likely to have more about the predominant incumbent carriers' complicity than has surfaced so far. Chris Cox likely will give a blessing on the process, as well. There is more going on in Silicon Valley about this; Vernon Walker has yet to reach a decision on his packet of assigned cases. Scotus I would expect to have an interesting time deciding what construct would be least Star Chamberish in evaluating the appeal in the 6th court of appeals case now proposed for cert with Scotus. Maybe that is a copy of LisaG's formal remarks to the committee, although it appeared just this week at the ACS site, perhaps reshaped with advisories to the neoPAA crafters in congress. Graves' article also references the new name of the legislation 'Restore'. I believe e.w. already linked to the Conyers letter from his website; the Speaker has a replica as well, at the blogsite.

Ishmael - It is certainly possible, but I find it hard to believe. The key is "knowingly". I don't know if you have ever dealt with General Counsels and legal offices of telcos before, but to say that they are populated with a complete battery of bright, thorough, and dogged attorneys is an understatement. I have had to deal with them (Qwest/US West, AT&T and PacBell) occasionally over the years on wiretap/warrant issues on criminal cases, and a couple of times in making a claim for wrongful disclosures. These guys are pros, and have been dealing with these and/or analogous issues forever. I have NEVER seen an instance where they were doing things for, or at the request of, the government where they did not have written agreements, specifications, protections and indemnification provisions up the ying yang. On the valid claims I have seen, granted this was at the state level, the governmental entity has generally just assumed the defense and liability, so the telco was cut loose. That is why I keep harping on this. So, in answer to your question, it is possible but I would be incredibly shocked. As to anything they did not reasonably know the government was doing as a result of association therewith, I don't think they have an issue to start with; the exposure is on the government.

Pete Pierce writes:

"Your fellow apathetic Americans who know and follow Britney's everyday adventures, but not blogs like this are the main reason. Informed Americans who care are in the vast minority and the Bushies and Right Wing exploit this with unparalleled success."

I respectfully disagree with this sentiment. Although it would be fine and well for ordinary Americans to be conversant in every aspect and point of law concerning secrecy, FISA, the budget, etc., and some actually have the time and opportunity to do so, it is contingent on their represtentatives in Congress to do this. Any one of the 100 Senators could stop this or any other piece of legislation with a hold or a filibuster--just ask Mitch McConnell how. And if they did, Bush, the GOP, and many Democrats would scream and howl like stuck pigs. Let them. Throw down the gauntlet. The more noise they make, the more Americans become aware of the issue and how important it is.

Chris Dodd? Hillary Clinton? Barak Obama? I'm looking for an honest man or woman to stick to their guns. They missed the chance when they passed the first FISA bill before the August recess. Looking for a Hero here.

John Palcewski wrote:
"If there's a landslide in the next election and most of these Republican Bush shills are sent home in disgrace, will the MSM continue to copy down all the Rovian talking points of the new minority?"

Not to subvert this discussion, but if/when a democrat wins the White House, the traditional media (and right wing bloggers) might still spout minority talking points. But even more importantly, they'll reinvigorate their investigative skills:

President Clinton: Is she STILL a lesbian?!

President Obama: Half Black--is that too black, or too little??

President Edwards: The Breast Cancer Hoax!

I'm sorry, but I remember the 90's. They were pathetic (journalistically, I mean)

Valerie Plame's new book criticizes Bush and journalists

Pete Pierce --

I agree with your assessment that the Dem leadersheep are not inclined to stand up for the Constitution, but this is hardly a new observation. You are pretty much preaching to the choir in these parts. But this then leads to the question of how best to wrest control of OUR country back from the thugs currently running the show. And that is a question we are still trying to answer. Personally, I favor targeting the Dem leadership with primary challengers. Others prefer to keep the focus on Republicans. Others are targeting Bush Dogs. I don't think there is a single solution. However, I think it is extremely important to keep working towards a solution to the crisis we are in. I am unwilling to cede control of the country to the likes of Cheney and Bush without a fight.

One of the frameworks predicted in the Senate intell committee for the House forwarded version of the fisa legislation update is predicated on the obsolete US person on US turf paradigm. If the first sort algorithm sees US person traveling in foreign airspace, on international seas, or in a nonUS country, for all practical purposes the sifting software at that moment already has sufficiently drilled into the packet to understand going further is to delve into the penumbra of comms of a person of the US. It would be nice if the Senate could modernize that concept to offset its business friendly exemption of telcos. Aclu is reminding us, however, as e.w. and others now have, that one program pre-dated the terrorist event in NYC2001; loosely remembering Comey's artfully incomplete and CIPA-like testimony in Senate Judiciary, I think one of his stammered sentence fragments covered that legacy program as having olc approval, even though olc soon was to be in turmoil for several years during term1Bush2. AmandaS's aclu article giving congressional calendaring info is there.


I appreciate your comments. I know my observations are hardly new, but they are what I see now.

"I am unwilling to cede control of the country to the likes of Cheney and Bush without a fight."

I'm with you all the way there. I hope my cynicism and tone weren't mistaken for resignation. You consider "how best to wrest control of OUR country back from the thugs currently running the show."

I wish I knew what the focus of opposition as you mention should be. Bush's statements basically go to the Republican strategy of ratcheting up fear with fear as the main tool to gut the constitution as well as their tour de force in the primary and general elections.

Fear certainly is going to be Rudy 911's mainstay (long on fear and completely stripped of any details whatsoever) which is the common denominator for the gang of Republican clown candidates.

"Any one of the 100 Senators could stop this or any other piece of legislation with a hold or a filibuster." Yes you're absolutely right; they sure could, but they are too busy preening and posturing to do so.

If only becoming informed were a matter of time for most Americans. As to opportunity, there could be more, but it has become exponentially greater with the advent of the net. There are many components in the ignorance equation and time is a minor one IMHO.

Time is spent by choice on the superificial and the TV news media understands this well--check out CNN's or C-Span's or the cable and non-dable network coverage of either the Mickey Mukasey tea party at Senate Judy or the fast moving freight train to wiretap you every possible way and to give complete retro immunity to the Telco's. LOL of course Telco's have fairly competent attorneys--why would you expect otherwise, but they are hiding behind the skirts of the White House and DOJ's OLC who is using State Secrets as a blunt instrument to defend whatever they want to do to morph the US Presidency into a pure monarchy.

Document requests by Congress brought up today at the love in for Judge MuKasey who is ready and willing to do the West Wing's bidding. What a joke. They'll never see the light of day.

I don't believe Congress will stop an awful update to the wiretapping bill. Just watch the replays of the SJ hearings on C-Span sucking up to Mukasey and refusing to ask the tough questions on how he was the facillitator of DOJ's systemic abuse of the material witness laws.

Imagine the reaction of John Cornyn if he and his family were incarcerated for years with abuse of the material witness laws as DOJ did with Mukasey's help and blessing.

Congress has never stood up to the Bush White House since the dysfunctional allowance of 911 by FBI, State, DOJ, and the White House and its aftermath (NYPD and NYFD and EMS still can't radio communicate to this second)and it never will. Mukasey will continue to be a Bush rubberstamp failing to stop Addington, Fred Fielding and DOJ's OLC from continuing to gut your basic constitutional rights.

Your mention of the fillibuster always reminds me of the craziness of the then Frisk ledRepublicans threatening the "Nuclear Options" without regard to consequences of how it could been reversed if the Dems gained power.

None of these points was covered in any detail in the characteristic ebulent love fest for Mike MuKasey today:

Questions of Justice


Pressing Mr. Mukasey

I hope you find your hero.

Pete - I think you were actually quoting and referring to Phred's comment, but it applies to me as well I suppose. Neither I, nor to the best of my knowledge, any of the regular participants here, wear rose colored glasses on this. But the alternative is giving up and resigning yourself and the country to the decayed, hollowed out subsistence we have been consigned to by Cheney/Bush and their wingnut band of thugs. I don't know what the answer is; but fighting, analyzing, educating and learning what has happened, and is happening, is certainly part of it. So that is what we do. I fully understand the cynicism; but if you have any better ideas, I am sincerely open to suggestion. I will say this, I think the quality and level of discussion here at this site is hands down the best and most concentrated out there, and I have observed first hand the fact that it is monitored and studied by a broad range of actors in the political and governmental process. There is a direct impact from what is done here, and it is a very positive one. And I can't speak for others, but while I might well generally keep up for informational purposes, the sole reason I spend as much time and effort is because I feel there is much to be done and this is an effective forum from which to accomplish a worthwhile part of it. While it may not be watching Britney or Paris, I would be quite content to spend more time on the couch watching football with beer and chips. Actually, I have not totally given up all of that.....


I hope I'm clear. I'm in the fight with you and totally in your corner. I would never give up to those thugs and thugs is a very appropriate term. They can be beaten, but the question is how and with whom.

Of course they'll lose the Presidential election in 2008, and to whom is still up in the air, but I'm concerned about the damage and carnage that Bush and the House and Senate Republicans are creating legislatively and to a significant degree in the "States Secret You Betcha" Supreme Court and the "State Secrets You Betcha Appellate Courts" with the possible exception of some of the Ninth Circuit panels in the mean time, and very possibly after.

Bush and his camp realize this, and they are determined to gut as many rights as possible until they drag him out of the West Wing. They will release as little information as possible, and distort what they do release revolving around fear because they know that the Democrats in the House and Senate act like frightened elementary school kids when they yell "Boo."

I take your point on the quality and level of discussion and the efforts that follow, which is why I've been a daily reader for most days I can for quite some time. I wasn't in any way disparaging them. I continue to enjoy them and learn from them, and appreciate the constructive efforts and energy.

I wish I had better ideas on how to stop this awful capitulation on the part of Dems in Congress--seemingly to every initiative the Republicans launch. I sure would offer them. I agree with you 100% there is much to be done and I appreciate your spirit. I'm with you.

I was attempting to answer you most of the time, and agreeing with much of what you said, but I tossed in a comment on Telco counsel that might have been referencing someone else's comment without qualifiying it. Sorry to be confusing there.

Glenn Greenwald, as you probably know has been doing some fine posting that informs the "Congress Gives it Up to the Telcos" aka "Them State Secrets are Just Great Ways to Eviscerate the Constitution" situation over at Salon--you may want to check some of his last few posts out. He interviewed EFF's counsel Cindy Kahn:

The truth about telecom amnesty

Telecom amnesty would forever foreclose investigation of vital issues

EFF just sued Mike McConnnell for the Telco Lobbying records. Can ya just hear the sweet sounds of "Yo State Secrets Buddy" swaying in the briefs from McConnell's lawyuhs?

EFF Suit Demands Telecom Lobbying Records from Director of National Intelligence

While ole Senate Judiciary on the rebound from Freaky Fredo was running into the arms of Mike Mukasey to use Slate's Emily Bazon's phrase

Rebound Relationship: The Senate Runs Into the Arms of Mike MuKasey

the rest of the Senate Republicans weren't snoozin--they were manuverin' to stall the vote on "Telco State Secrets Lollapalooza"

Vote Is Put Off on Limiting N.S.A. Wiretapping--House Republicans use Osama bin Ladin Of Course

Keep up your efforts of course.

Pete - Wasn't trying to bust your chops at all, sometimes I have to go through those things even to keep myself motivated and positive. Glad you have been around for a while; but, to my knowledge, I had not seen you. You seemed kind of disillusioned, and trust me, I understand that; so I simply thought I would relate why I am here. And you are exactly right about the damage being done and institutionalized in the meantime. That is what is so maddening about the refusal to start an impeachment investigation. Against anybody; even if its not Bush or Cheney. Gonzales was the best shot and the Dems inexplicably pissed that away. Greenwald is good and I have talked to the folks at the San Francisco office of EFF several times; they are incredible and are really doing yeoman's work. Welcome and stay in the discussion; there are never enough dedicated voices.


i don't know about bush

"giving away the family jewels".

rozen quotes cq as writing that rockefeller said his staff had been allowed to review some docs

and take notes.

that seems like small change to me - one can't study the docs at leisure and can't be certain one has all the docs needed,

when given only one little peek.

plus this is all on rockefeller's word. and i read that a good chunk of his campaign money comes from telecos.

pete pierce

good comments.


are you curious to know how much money at&t has contributed to democratic and republican campaigns recently?

how does $38 million grab you?

and how much has sen. rockefeller received from the telecos?

there a chart for those and other figures in glenn greenwald's new column (oct 18) appearing just above the one that pete peirce's cite (above) led me to.

William Barr is general counsel and executive VP of Verizon. I suspect Verizon at least was on board with the conspiracy from the start.

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