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July 24, 2007


If Reyes really believes what he said, he is being extremely foolish. If he doesn't believe what he said, he's even more foolish. I don't see how anyone can believe that this Administration is being honest about their domestic surveillance program.

Sadly I find it altogether too probable that these 8 weenies did in fact say, go ahead with the program. The Republicans need no explanation. As for the Democrats: Pelosi was hardly one to make too many waves during the long period of congressional captivity, Harman has always been an uber-hawk, and Rockefeller we know to be a serial wuss. The only as to whom I'm mildly surprised at is Daschle. But I think it's all too easy to forget what it was like then: the Dems were a bunch of pants-wetters as a whole anytime the Administration flexed its terra terra terra muschles.

Allow me to revise the above to say that I wouldn't be surprised if the Ganag of 8 got their highly selective briefing on the program, were not informed of the nature of any intramural objections, and failed to raise any kind of stink about it, effectively allowing the Administration to claim -- as it has been constantly -- that Congress was fully briefed on the program. I do think that they failed us, even if what they were being fed was mostly sanitized horseshit. We should be able to rely on our elected representatives to be able to detect horseshit notwithstanding an attempt to cover it with a Glade Plug-In.


Yeah, it's a bleak day when we're hoping Jay Rockefeller, serial wuss, made a stink.

Maybe I need to go back to school and relearn what was commonly known as "civics"; because I just don't understand what the hell is going on in Washington, whether it be by dastardly Republicans or the supposedly good guy Democrats. I am down to about a handful of legislators, from either side, that I want back in Washington. This is just sick. Our government is broken. I had always thought the Constitution was enduring and good to go for the indefinite and enduring future. The founding fathers actually contemplated that the Constitution, from time to time, might need to be blown up and re-tooled. I NEVER gave a thought to this as being anything other than an ironic and funny bit of trivia; but what is going on currently is occurring supposedly under the auspices of the Constitution and none of our leaders, even Democrats, seem to be able to do anything meaningful to stop and reverse the slide. Maybe it is time; I just don't know anymore. I would also like to say that I agree with WO and Sebastian completely in their comments above.

Shouldn't we learn the facts before we crucify our guys?

When "our guys" refuse to even follow the evidence where it leads on a whole spectrum of wrongdoing, which is exactly what is occurring with the belligerent refusal to consider opening an impeachment investigation of even Gonzales, that is pretty much enough for me. Those "facts" are already known. If you are a student of history, you come to learn that complacency, timidity and the general sense of being so strong and pure that things like this don't matter are exactly the calling card of the decline and end of the greatest civilizations and governmental entities over the course of history. That is the cusp we stand on today.

Looks to me like Nancy has a choice. Admit that she pressed the President to illegally spi on Americans - Or admit that she's willing to allow an AG to lie about what she's said in the past to protect the administration.

Either would be shameful for her. If she won't push for impeachement of Gonzo now, she has no honor, and her constituance should bring her home for good.

Yes, bmaz. I'm with you - govenment is way broken. It's long past time for a Constitutional Convention. Need what 33 states to Ratify?

My gut feeling is that both sides are corrupted by the same handlers. The house is mostly a bunch of empty suits, and the Senate just passed a resolution "that Iran has engaged in acts of war" without debate - what does that tell you.

I'm convinced that we have an invisible government over our government. I just don't see any other logical explanation for what looks largely like a marionette show.

I do not want in any to diffuse the righteous anger against Congress. As John Dean says so rightly, they have "lost their institutional pride."

At the same time, as I am sure everyone on this thread is well aware, our government tolerated slavery until 1865 and legalized white supremacy until the 1960's.

Boo Radley - that is a good point. Wrong as slavery may have been however, there was substantial public support for it, especially in the regions it was practiced in. It was also a blindingly simple concept to understand, so people were capable of making informed discourse and personal determination. The current situation is so malignant and convoluted that even the people frequenting this blog, generally among the most informed and passionate citizens out there, still don't have a good grip on exactly what is going on and, thanks to our "leaders", we do not look to improve much on that; certainly not with the speed and depth deserved.

Thanks bmaz, as per usual, you make excellent points.

I'm with you, too, bmaz. EW, this kinda begs the question of whether Nancy's opposition to impeachment may be motivated in her own personal complicity in agreeing to violate the law by countenancing the domestic spying conducted by this administration. As you noted the other day, Dems are not releasing a report related to the Cunningham scandal in order to prevent embarrassing Congressional Dems.

It is becoming increasing clear that Rethugs aren't the only ones in need of a CYA plan.

bmaz, I'm listening to the rebroadcast of Feingold's questions to Gonzales and he said that AGAG's briefing of the Gang of Eight violates the National Security Act. Any idea, what the specific violation might have been?

Jeez, phred. Ding, ding. I think you've got it. What a pig shit mess.

No joke, Dismayed, we are in a world of hurt and Leahy's "disappoint" isn't cutting it for me. It is WAY past time to impeach AGAG and the time is now to impeach Bush and Cheney. I agree with the consensus in these parts that Darth Cheney is evil, but Puppet-Emperor Bush is on board with everything Cheney does, so they must BOTH be removed forthwith.

If the Dems continue to stonewall, you've just got to wonder why...

bmaz @ 15:54

The National Security Act – as amended – requires that the Executive Branch keep the Full Intelligence Committees of both the House & the Senate “fully and currently informed” of U.S. intelligence activities, including any “significant anticipated intelligence activity”. The Act draws a distinction between Intelligence Activities and “covert” action. However, for TSA they informed the Gang of Eight, in theory, under the covert action standard.

…Congress restricted the President’s authority to limit prior notice to only members of the Gang of Eight to findings involving covert actions, provided the President determined that doing so was “...essential...to meet extraordinary circumstances...” affecting U.S. vital interests. The 1991 Act restricted the President’s authority to provide Congress the more limited Gang of Eight prior notices only in situations involving covert action, and not in those situations involving other non-covert action intelligence activities. With regard to intelligence activities, other than those involving covert action, the executive branch was legally obligated to inform “the congressional intelligence committees…

…In addition to limiting Gang of Eight limited prior notice authority, P.L. 96-450 included several other covert action program reforms enacted by Congress, the stated intention of which was put in place a more coherent and comprehensive statutory oversight framework for covert action and other intelligence activities. The reforms included the requirements that covert action findings be in writing; a finding may not be retroactive; a finding may not authorize any action that would violate the Constitution or any statute of the United States; and, a finding must identify any third parties (third countries or private parties outside normal U.S. Government controls) who implement a covert action in any significant way.


So, they violated the National Security Act, by notifying the Gang of Eight and not the full Committees because TSA is clearly NOT a covert action but an intelligence activity.

Furthermore, even if one could argue that the program is a covert action, it is still a violation of the National Security Act because it violates FISA, violates the 4th Amendment and hence is not a permissible Covert Action under the law.

Nice work EW, bmaz and DCgaffer. Keep pushing.

DCgaffer -- Thanks for the explanation, I really appreciate it.

And, to give Nancy the benefit of the doubt, I see Tom Daschle has said Gonzo lied about the Gang of Eight. So, perhaps she doesn't need to C-her-A on this point. All the same, her insistence that impeachment is not on the table defies all logic at this point.

Getting the Gang of Eight on record:

Rockefeller - http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1646714,00.html

"Once again he's making up something to protect himself and creating situations that never happened," Rockefeller said, adding that "based on what I know about it, I'd have to say" Gonzales has committed perjury.

Daschle - http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003768.php

"I have no recollection of such a meeting and believe that it didn't occur. I am quite certain that at no time did we encourage the AG or anyone else to take such actions. This appears to be another attempt to rewrite history just as they have attempted to do with the war resolution."

Jane Harman - an interesting March 3, 2006 WaPo article - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/02/AR2006030201783.html

Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said she sent Gonzales a fax "seeking clarification about his written testimony, which has left room for the possibility of an additional program or a broader program" of surveillance without court approval.

White House counsel Harriet Miers called Harman on Wednesday, and Gonzales phoned yesterday, Harman said. She said both of them "assured me that there is not a broader program or an additional program out there involving surveillance of U.S. persons."

Getting the Gang of Eight on record.

Pelosi - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a.JVbWELQRG4&refer=home

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office said in a statement that she attended the meeting and ``made clear my disagreement with what the White House was asking'' regarding an intelligence program.


That's all four Dems in the Gang of Eight making it clear that - far from encouraging use of The Program - they all had serious concerns, if not outright objections to it.

So Gonzo lied through his teeth - TGFT. So now he's just red-handed guilty of lying to congress.

If I were one of the four this would really piss me off.

I think it's time to start another death watch on Gonzo - There's no way he makes another 6 weeks if democracy in this country has any hope

Actually, the only reason slavery continued unabated for as long as it did was because it was a lucrative business to the banks up north. It is a terrible, terrible thing that we still continue to place economic interests above personal freedom and simple human decency. But it only takes a few good people in positions of power to change the outcome of such tragedies. We just haven't found them yet.

lespool - That is very true. However, on the flip side, it only takes a few bad people with their hands on the levers of power to screw us all. We HAVE found those already.

Not sure if anybody is still following this thread, but I tried to post a somewhat long comment about this yesterday (right about the time that TypePad went down). I would strongly encourage folks to go back and read the discussion that ew, KX, and I had in the comments to ew's post from last August: http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2006/08/a_guide_to_dome.html

I think I can explain the "other intelligence activities" dodge that Gonzales is using (No, it is too much. Let me sum up (bonus points if you recognize the reference)).

After 9/11, the Bush Administration directed the NSA to intensify its data collection efforts on domestic and international voice and data traffic. The program (singular) worked like this (I will focus on voice traffic only). The NSA started with a list of known suspect phone numbers (international and domestic). They collected metadata (the phone numbers, the time of the call, the length of the call, but not the content of the call) on as many domestic phone calls as they could. When they saw a call to or from one of the suspect numbers, they added the other number to the list. They monitored all outgoing and incoming international calls and when one of the numbers from the list showed up, they recorded those calls. They couldn't go to FISA for a warrant after the fact (as allowed by FISA) because, in most cases, they didn't have anything resembling probable cause.

To make this work, they had to have the cooperation of the telephone companies. Those companies are required by law to ask for either a warrant or a signed statement from the Attorney General verifying that the electronic surveillance is legit. That's what Gonzales and Card were doing in Ashcroft's hospital room. Those Attorney General statements have to be renewed regularly.

After the NYT broke the story, Bush publicly admitted to the warrantless recording of international calls, but not the collection of the domestic call metadata. Four years after they started this business, they are trying to retroactively redefine the "program" as two separate activities. That allows them to continue to use the "state secrets" claim to avoid scrutiny of the courts. There is a lot more at stake than Gonzales' perjury. If they admit to the domestic metadata collection, almost everybody in the country has standing to sue them over this breach of privacy.

Thanks for that WO -- I do tend check back on older threads for awhile.

I wish I could say "Inconceivable!", but alas, nothing is inconceivable these days. Unless of course that word does not mean what I think it means ;) Do I get the bonus points?


Yes. Just remember to never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

I'll keep that in mind -- now if we can just sort out our problems with land wars in Asia... ;)

Vizzini: I can't compete with you physically, and you're no match for my brains.
Westley: You're that smart?
Vizzini: Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
Westley: Yes.
Vizzini: Morons.

WO - Of course on the other hand nobody would have standing as they would not have proof their data (privacy) was involved. This thanks to the recent decision in district court in which even people who were almost guaranteed to have been subjects/targets were deemed to not have sufficient proof to have standing.

I will happily share my bonus points with you radiofreewill ;)

Have fun storming the castle...

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