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July 28, 2007


I feel so much better to know that he is authorizing that which he authorized. It makes me feel safe.

Please wake me up when it is Jan 21, 2009!

Marcy, I don't wish to hijack your blog for OT subjects, but, last night, as I watched C-Span testimony of Meuller, all the way to the end, of which the next to last Congresswoman to speak, was Debbi Wasserman-Schultz, an appalling set of circumstances was presented. She referred to the fact that the FBI had over 2000 investigators involved in white collar crime, and only a little over 200 in online child pornography, which involves nearly 500,000 offenders! Most of the material is generated in this country, from 100,000 sites! Surely, this is a crime, involving terrible sexual acts against small children and babies (!) (which is, to my mind, notwithstanding the seriousness of spying on the whole damn country), that should be highlighted with the purpose of motivating the Justice Department and the public to demand some action. Mueller's reaction to her questions about what the FBI was going to do about going after this kind of crime was not terribly reassuring. She is offering legislation to add resources for it. Mueller seemed tired and overwhlemed with the amount of corruption and incompetence he has to deal with from this Administration.

Morning EW,

I noticed this morning that Bush is again asking for FISA to be "modernized". I would think the Administration would want to bring LESS attention to FISA right now given the hyper-focus of everyone on "the program".

Any thoughts on whether Congress is savy enough to blow the NSA domestic wiretapping (we all know that's what they've been doing) open. Do you think Feingold, Feinstein et al are already aware of the domestic portion and are trying to get the info out to the public? Or are they still in the dark and hoping a perjury investigation will allow them to find out something?

I spent a career sandpapering witness testimony (for my clients and their witnesses) to remove rough edges so as to just barely slide in under the threshold of perjury. I have represented clients on perjury charges. I would not want to have to argue that "the program the President has acknowledged" is not the entirety of all the things that can be taken away from the whole of the speech you cite from the radio address. To bring up here something I touched on in the last thread, what we are doing is gleaning the line between fraud and perjury; not between legality and illegality.

Margaret...this is off topic so I will make this short. Follow the link between the neo con shadow government and child porn. In 1988, there was a big scandal in omaha nebraska called the Franklin Case. I am trying to publish a blog about it on dkos but there is a technical problem hanging me up. Google "the Franklin Case". Some of it was debunked but only because the children involved were not believed. Let's just say that I worked in a mental hospital during the early nineties and I am a counselor who works with survivors of child sexual abuse. The children involved all acted out just like you would expect them to. This was used against them. Several have disappeared and two are serving jail sentences for petty crimes. Two had sibs who committed suicide during the case.

There were at least 4 suicides connected to this case which included Hunter Thompson. There was a plane crash that killed the top investigator and supposedly his research went down with the plane. There are links to the missing paper boy from des moines IA. Johnny Gosch. Michael Jackson made a special stop to the King mansion in the the late 1980's just to visit for several hours in Omaha NE. Long before we knew about his predilection for children. When Gannon was uncovered as a male prostitute in the White house, pictures showed up at Johnny Gosch's house that were later supposedly not him. Mom does not agree and swears it is her son.

Anyway, the way the page situation was handled, the several pedaphiles in high places in the administration, the fact that Bush Sr was named as a perp in the Franklin Case, the fact that it included banking and finance scams, the overly hysterical views about homosexuality, the religious cover, and the resources NOT being alotted to such a HUGE problem makes me really wonder about about a link.

Read the stories. It's at the very least fascinating.


Given this administration's track record, what's the likelihood that the illegal portions, presumably the ones the DOJ's whole management team objected to by threatening to resign, are not continuing, perhaps diffused under different names and offices?

Even the purportedly legal portions of "the program" have been compromised because the president "reserved the right" not to obtain the requisite FISA court reviews and has apparently refused to do so notwithstanding his earlier promises - given, by the way, only to temporarily quiet an earlier controversy.

These guys don't revise their route because the law closes some intersections; they just change the street names.

With these criminals, always assume the worst; it has the highest probability.

With these criminals, always assume the worst; it has the highest probability.

With these criminals, always assume the worst; it has the highest probability.

With these criminals, always assume the worst; it has the highest probability.

With these criminals, always assume the worst; it has the highest probability.

i know it is a bit off topic, but from the bush quote above >>Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.<< it isn't lost of many of just what he thinks about revealing classified info as the libby trail lays it bare..nothing like having a president who is so full of shit it isn't funny.

impeachment needs to take place. thanks for the work you do ew.


Q And the briefing in 2004 was about that program, or about something else?

MR. SNOW: Again, I don't want to go too much into the briefing. The answer to your question is, yes.

Yes, it "was about that program, or about something else."

Snowjob lives up to his name.

I have a legal question for anyone who cares to tackle it...

If a member of the Gang of 8 received a briefing that that member felt was illegal (either under the National Security Act because the briefing should have been made to the full intelligence committees, or because the nature of the program itself was illegal) to whom could that member complain? A FISA court judge? Someone else? No one at all, due to the classified nature of the program in question? In other words which is trump the illegal activity or the classified information?

From what I've read about the Rockefeller letter, I am left to speculate that even if a member believed the program to be illegal, that it would be illegal for them to reveal what they knew to anyone. Seems like a serious flaw in the laws regulating classified information.

I was just reading about Tony Snow on Wikipedia. Did you know that he used to guest-host for The Rush Limbaugh Show or that he was chief speechwriter and Deputy Assistant of Media Affairs for George H.W. Bush?

EW, even though I have never bought the idiot hick that W plays on TV, I still thought his grasp of the English language was too tenuous for him to be capable of careful parsing. Who knew? Thanks for the analysis, yet another layer of deceit revealed for all to see...

Much as I've appreciated this site's willingness to get in the weeds on many issues, the warrantless spying is a matter that repays keeping a focus on the big question while trying to unravel the many lies that have been told avoiding it:

What was the spying program that went on between fall 2001 and March 2004? Whose communications were being intercepted, how, and how many? And then, what did the revised program involve?

Both were illegal; both are impeachable offenses; but the first is what will show people why impeachment is the only remedy to protect our system of government.

This Marty Lederman post is a beacon. It should be op-ed-ized, turned into letters to Congress and calls to talk shows, etc. Yes, it's the coverup and not the crime that often gets the criminals, but in this case the country needs to know just exactly what the hell happened, not just who lied about it when.

Thank you, Katie Jensen, for the link, but I can't stand to read about such things, not wanting to have the images in my head, even in wrting, but I am intrigued by what you say about a link to the Administration....maybe, that explains Meuller's reticence in the face of Wasserman Schultz's questioning...and the expression on his face.

Kate, so you are familiar with the Franklin Case? I have wondered if the story was an urban legend or if the news articles I've seen online are actual or fabricated. After all, there weren't many people using the Internet back in the '80s. I have lived in the DC area since the late 80's and I don't remember hearing reports about it back then. That does not mean it did not happen, and my bet is that it did. Too many closeted Republicans around here.

Well, that's the brass ring Nell. But, given the restrictions on classified information, finding out the details is going to be a real trick, because everyone who knows what they are can't talk about them. Mighty convenient, that. This is why some of us here have been very critical of classification. Too often it is used simply to hide things for political cover. Yes, there are times when keeping things secret is necessary, but such times are rare. Classification has grown exponentially and it is only getting worse. We need to find a way to limit its use. This is what led to my legal question above... Reporting illegal activity (or at least suspected illegal activity), even if such a report initially goes to a FISA judge, ought to prevail over restrictions about not disclosing classified information.

Phred - That is a fascinating question, and there is not a good answer for it. Actually, there is one decent answer and you hit it exactly; take a complaint to the FISA panel. I pondered this very question long and hard back when the the Rockefeller conundrum was first brought to light. As EW has eloquently discussed, Rockefeller is a wimp. There certainly were things he could have done. For instance, he could have made a solid record, on the record and in public, that he had become aware of certain actions and policies on the part of the Administration that he felt were clearly illegal and unconstitutional, and demanded that an avenue and/or forum for addressing the matters be found. There were plenty of modalities that could have been used to bring the issues out into the open without disclosing classified material.

On another front, there exists under the law the defense to criminal activity known as justification. shooting and killing another is a crime, but it may be justified in order to protect yourself and/or others from harm. If I had to defend somebody on this, I would argue this theory through two prongs: 1) the conduct in disclosing classified material is justified in order to prevent the bigger crime of patently unconstitutional and illegal mass violation of fundamental rights and subversion of the constitutional government; and 2) That there is no crime in the first place when that which is disclosed, irrespective of classification status, is itself criminal conduct.

How about the undisclosed parts of the program "just happened" to intercept communications among people, where at least one of whom was a member of Congress or political leader, and Comey et al thought this went a little far?

Cheney probably authorized even more than Bush did. There must be programs that "the VP authorized" that aren't on anyone's radar. Cheney and Rummy go back to Nixon, remember, as does Rove. Could explain a great deal.

Thanks bmaz -- somehow I knew you would know :) So now what I'm wondering is this... Do you think the Dems (either among the Gang of 8 or on the intelligence committees) have been fully briefed on whatever (program, authorization) you name it, the whole enchilada? If so, they appear to have never managed to figure out how to challenge it legally. If not, then that's another thing to add to the list of crimes isn't it?

Mimikatz - Boy, no kidding. But, as I stated in the comment directly above yours, there were avenues to address this perfidy, our pretty much worthless, timid and cowering Democrats were derelict in their duty and hid in the corner. There is a special place in hell (metaphorically) for the Democrats in this regard; maybe not as deep as the Republicans, but in the same neighborhood. What is more distressing is that these are the same luminaries we are counting on to lead us away from the abyss now and the quality and determination of their efforts exhibit the same flaws. Every time something positive comes out of one of these Congressional committees, there are so many among us that leap up and down and proclaim "More like this. They have really been doing the job behind the scenes. They are on the right and only track they can take." Bullshit. They are still terminally slow, timid, self-interested and behind the curve. If this shit that has occurred is not locked down and exposed, it will become an acceptable part of our fabric. It already is.

I think what really makes me sick is that no one calls them out. Watching Gonzales just giggle in the face of Leahy and Whitehouse wrenches at my gut. The sharp words aren't enough. "You have no credibility" doesn't work. You, Sir, are a liar. Closer.

Maybe it's just the testosterone talking, but a sharp slap in the face would work for me.

masaccio - Same reaction here. Why not harken back to the justifiable outrage of "Have you no decency sir?" When watching it streaming or on TV, I tend to leap up and let loose with more than a few expletives; but there is a sophisticated way of putting it. For instance, how about "You sir have been patently dishonest and untruthful with us here today, and you have in the past as well. You are a disgrace to the Department of Justice, a disgrace to our government and a disgrace to everything this country stands for."

I think Bmaz's analysis is more accurate. The administration has perpetrated fraud, as I see it. What legal significance to public statements by Bush have compared to the actual executive order(s) that he signed? It seems clear to me that the public statements of Bush have almost no legal force, especially when there is a written record of orders regarding the program.
Furthermore, Gonzalez should be disbarred for putting forth such a dishonest argument. Isn't it possible to get him disbarred now? I know its the Texas Bar.. but still!!

bmaz, maybe the Democrats weren't in the wilderness long enough for the old weak bulls to be replaced by younger firebreathers. My daughter says she is sick of baby boomers. So am I, and I am one. Too much capitulation to the way things are, that cynical approach, and not enough action for the better.

I freely admit that after the turmoil of the late Viet Nam era, I was ready to be a grown-up, and just gave in to the demands of work, accommodating myself to the system, and trying to adjust it around the edges for the benefit of my clients. Now this administration proves the failure of that approach. At least I realize my mistake. The old weak bulls don't.

What I find interesting is based on my intuition, I admit, but it seems that there is less "fear" exhibited by Congressmen in opposing the p-Resident(sic) now than there was when all this "extra-legal" spying was going on, suggesting, that, perhaps, whatever was being "discovered" is not allowed to be "discovered" now. Perhaps, it was this kind of political spying that Comey, et al, were so worried about, rather than blanket spying on everybody.

bmaz -- I think you hit the nail on the head about the Dems being derelict in their duty. If I could think of lodging a complaint with the FISA court surely Rockefeller or Pelosi could have as well. Instead I think they wussed. It seems likely that to me given Cheney's penchant for secrecy that there were things they weren't told. But I think they were told enough to find a way to legally challenge what was going on.

I've begun speculating on why the Dems are dragging their feet on impeachment. My guess is that they know the illegal spying will come to light during impeachment proceedings and the culpability of the Dems in the Gang of 8 (if not the full intel committees) will see the light of day. I don't think their guilt in all this rises to the level of Bush and cohorts, but they know they share some and they don't want to spoil their "but we're the good guys" image going into the '08 elections.

masaccio - guilty here as well. I was pretty active in high school and college; on issues and working for Mo Udall and Bruce Babbitt as well. Then I spent darn near two decades doing little more than voting and tending to the justice system, but through paying clients and/or cases. The 2004 election and results finally drove home the fact that I needed to get up and return to my more activist past. slowly, but surely, I started finding my way back into the mix in a way that I could be somewhat productive. It took awhile to sort through the noise of the internet to find a truly proactive and intellectually stimulating home and platform for interaction. That is how I came to be here; wish I had found it much earlier. EW, Mimi, Kagro and all the resident locals that participate here really are a treasure.

"Bush's statement remains perfectly consistent with the possibility that the illegal activities were continuing in December 2005, right along with the legal activities."

EW, your last statement in the original piece set off some warning bells for me that have been dinging in the background since Tuesday.

As idiotic as Bush and Gonzo act, could it be that those illegal activities continue today? Could that be part of all the obfuscation that is going on? Something in my gut tells me that it is -- and particularly because these people seem not to know or care about our legal system.

I was reading a news item a little while ago that there was a major concern raised over the last few days by Homeland Security of terrorists trying some 'dry runs' as they did before 9/11. Some of the information was provided by the FBI. The news item reported that the bulletin that had been released to law enforcement personnel was false.

In other words, by using the auspices of the FBI and DoJ, Chimpy continues to cry "Wolf!" to try to justify his continued illegal activities -- and he will justify it until the cows come home. How pathetic!

Even more pathetic is that (I think) everyone yawned...

As quickly as the wheels are coming off this presidency, I think there is something going on that will cause it to collapse completely -- the arrogance of the Bushies in thinking that they can get away with it all! It will be a sight to behold...

Sojourner - I saw something on some news show about that, CNN I think. The main stated basis for the "dry run" bit, and the bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide turned out to some old gray grandmother from Iowa or similar innocuous place that had lumbego or a bad back or something and had some old ice packs in her luggage that were crusty and hardened. They interrogated her for three hours about "her relationship with Osama Bin Laden".

The latest from the NYTimes: Mining of Data Prompted Fight Over Spying

The program involved data mining of huge databases, and almost certainly something else. But get this:

The first known assertion by administration officials that there had been no serious disagreement within the government about the legality of the N.S.A. program came in talks with New York Times editors in 2004. In an effort to persuade the editors not to disclose the eavesdropping program, senior officials repeatedly cited the lack of dissent as evidence of the program’s lawfulness.

Note the lack of a date. I bet this was after the blow-up with Comey. What a bunch of cowards.

Bmaz, that was it... I think that the FBI provided some overblown info to the TSA and it was issued "eyes only" to law enforcement personnel. Regardless, it turns out that it was bogus.

Amazingly, I checked CNN's site to see if I could find the story but was unable to locate mention of it. I did find a video from CNN over on Raw Story at http://rawstory.com/news/2007/TSA_dry_run_terror_alerts_bogus_0727.html


We know when they spiked the story--October 2004. Just weeks (or days) before the election.

So yes, it was after the blow-up with COmey.

Not only that, but NYT published a story on the blowup with Comey on January 1 2006 (IIRC). So they knew at least a month before Gonzales floated this line that it was bullshit.

And didn't bother to tell us about it until today.

You can see my comment on the thread above, but they didn't go THAT far in telling us today either.

I am intrigued by a Pelosi comment this week, made when she was being questioned by the press in an informal setting, yet caught on video, regarding the meeting of the Gang of 8, and eventually, the Muller testimony in HJC. Someone asked rather broadly if she could confirm the disagreement between Gonzales's testimony -- and the representations of others and was it evidence of a cover-up dependent on the AG's seeming perjury? She sighed and then said ... "You don't know the half of it." Then she was off.

It was an odd statement. Pelosi is usually quite precise -- this was so broad, and in a sense almost the statement of a very weary woman. The sense I got was someone saying the rot is so deep and you are hardly yet picking at it.

Did anyone else see this?

Sara, I just did a little googling to look, but to no avail, hopefully someone else will catch it. I also find her comment intriguing. Again, I wonder why they didn't complain to the FISA court...

They interrogated her for three hours about "her relationship with Osama Bin Laden".

I gave myself to Osama, but now he never writes. . .

Solution to Problem:

I think this woman was someone returning home with some delicious and quite fancy Wisconsin Cheese in her luggage. (at least from what I saw pictured on TV). Since one tourist thing one can do in Wisconsin is to visit cheese factories -- one would expect some touristic purchases.

So new law. If you fly out of a cheese production state to another destination, you can avoid problems of having your cheese misunderstood as a bomb if you wear a Green Bay Packers Cheese Head Tricorn Foam Rubber Hat while flying. It will identify you as a cheese lover, and not a bin Laden lover. Afterall, Cheese is not all that common in the domestic diet of much of the Arab World, and while the Danes were trying very hard to turn them into cheese lovers, something about the Danish sense of humor ended the commercial relationship.

(in earlier years, when returning to the US from Denmark, my normal present for folk was a hunk of Danish Cheese from one of the speciality Mejeriejer -- and I usually brought some home for my own edification.) Never was considered a terrorist because of my choice of gifts for friends. Wisconsin Speciality Cheese is nearly as good. (but not quite).

Recommended combination -- a good Danish or Wisconsin Cheese on a small cutting board. A Danish style cheese slicer, Danish Kiks, or the close American Cousin, water wafers, and a very full bodied red wine. Works well on your blogging desk.

Well, if it was Limburger, and was subjected to any heat, it could be considered dangerous. The extremely nice, and flustered, lady I saw interviewed may well have had cheese also; but she clearly stated that it was old, kind of crusty and hardened, reusable freezable gel packs that were the culprit. I guess like "Blue Ice" or something. I know there has been a big huff over block cheese as well, but the clear implication of the report was that was some kind of bizarre misinterpretation of the gel-paks. Maybe she had both. Maybe there was a second grandmother returning from summer in the land of cheese. I dunno. What does appear clear is that this was yet another pile of hokum from the geniuses that demand ever more unrestrained power in order to "protect us". I guess it is progress that they didn't tell us to get out the plastic sheeting and duct tape to secure ourselves from the cheese and Blue Ice.

It may have been the gel-packs bmaz, but I really like Sara's suggestion that wearing a Cheeshead could save us all from the TSA. I've got 3 in my closet right now, I'll share ;)

Go Packers!

The report on the gel-pak incident I saw was from the San Diego police. They said that
(a) it was old gel-paks that had apparently leaked and the gel had dried out;
(b) there was no duct tape involved; and
(c) they had no clue what the TSA was talking about.
There seems to have been a certain amount of 'be afraid! be very afraid!' about the handling of whatever-it-was.

Sara and Phred - We probably should keep in mind the chap a few years ago who was in a small plane crash and whose life was saved because he was wearing one of those Packers Foam Cheeseheads. Ah, the power of cheese. Go Pack!

bmaz (13:18)

an interesting point of view.

Yea, but I live in Vikingland, and we wear helmuts with attached Horns. We polish the horns.

We could just make them much bigger and put the Cheesehead foam underneath. like a Wisconsin Cushion maybe?

Need to know before I figure my Purple body paint job for this fall.

bmaz -- I think of that fellow every time I see a Cheesehead. Who knew then what a fine example he was setting ;)

Sara -- on behalf of Packer fans everywhere I would like to offer the Cheesehead as a national service, even to those unfortunate souls with misguided loyalties to the west and mostly south of the home state of the Packers. Paint them another color, add horns if you must, but deep down we will all know that it is the humble Cheesehead saving the nation ;)

Jeez, I dunno. Putting a Pack Hat underneath the Viking lid might be, well, cheesy. Heh heh.

I am fairly certain that one of the cheeses the supposed bin Laden loving lady flying out of Wisconsin had in her luggage was Hot Pepper/ Tomato/Basil cheese.

I started thinking about that cheese, and searched my freezer and all, and I am flat out. Can't get delivery till Monday evening. I have since remembered I shreaded all the cheese heel remainders, and used on a pizza. It actually is a medium hot pepper, Sun dried Tomato and Basil cheese. TSA should not send out pictures of things I am likely to become addicted to.

Sara - Do you have any connection, business or blood, to the greater Mondale family? I ask this from a positive tact, not negative.

Yes, I've known WM since he was first running for Attorney General back in the early 1960's -- and then had a few dealings with him as we discussed necessary Civil Rights Legislation for Minnesota -- for instance, how to best restructure the state enforcement agency. My neighbor across the street, who was a professor of Social Work, before retirement, was a principle consultant to WM on Child Care, Pre-School Ed, and the like while he was in the Senate.

And one of WM's long time staffer's was an old friend from a small after seminar "beer thirty" groups in my first year in Grad School. I was just recently laughing with another person in that group about a spring evening when Mike was trying to decide whether to accept a post law school-pre bar exam job offer from WM in the State AG Office, or wait and see whether the Senate would soon act on a Federal Judge Appointment (Remember this was Kennedy Era) who he thought would offer him a clerkship. He took the AG's office job, cause it promised a pay-check pronto, but thought it was a bad career move. HA -- He got to be Chief of the Research Staff on the Church Committee, and then Chief of staff to a VP. Yea -- really bad career move.

Interesting and cool. I am going to send an email to you through EW to explain why I asked.

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