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October 06, 2007


I don't know how much actual spying on Congress there is, but, if I were a Congresscritter, the idea that I could be under surveillance, and anything I said might end up in Darth's office, would sure put a damper on my communications. I'd probably be doing it on paper in code ... by courier. Or face-to-face, someplace where I was sure no one was in earshot, or where it was too noisy to hear a conversation more than a few feet away.

I am not sure what, if anything, it means; but it is interesting that the Shelby stuff was going on during a Democratic Administration. It could have only gotten worse once the Bushies took the helm. Also, EW, as you note, one would think that the worst abuses must have been during the Goss period. How bad was it, how many Gosslings are still seed pod planted in the CIA and how much of this nefarious BS is still occurring? Lastly, and it pains to have to go back into this thought mode, but how wired in to this information gravy train was good old Uncle KKKarl?

PJ - Maybe that is why so many of them are toe tapping in the men's room......

The Chicago Tribune wrote a nice ambivalent accolade on Sulick's return five weeks ago, mentioning Kappes and Goss. It would seem wierd, though, that the early stovepipe bunch would gather at DaCapo in the anticipation TIA would exclude their bugged environment. The LRozen linked article also sounds like parallel reading of Drumheller and Tenet might prove interesting; must ask Sara... One item that preoccupies me about Shelby remains his reluctant participation in the majority in the IranContra hearings. And, yes, KR, according to Horton's gumshoeing series of reports has an active interest in the governor race and how it was won in AL last year; I think SH puts most of that material on the personal Stress site. Muck, as they say.

From what I recall of Bamford's books, the NSA in the pre-Bush days would delete out any Americans' names from transcripts if such a transcript or summary was needed by someone in the intelligence community or government. Even back then, however, someone in the government with clearance, could request the redacted names.
The NSA, if it acquiesced to the request, would record the name of the requester of any such transcript given.

Does the NSA still carry on this practice? Who has the right to look at the requestor list?

If Congressmen knew they were being spied on, wouldn't you think a solid majority of them could have gotten together before now to change the spying rules? If they are not willing to reduce their access, why not open the NSA access to all Americans? It could be a quicker way to do away with one's political enemies. Let that politician's constituency hear or see for themselves. ;-)

John - You are right about the Alabama race and Rove, of course; I had assumed that one though because of all the Siegelman stories. My question is what else, and how much what else; because it is hard to believe they limited this BS to the Alabama scene.

I've generally accepted the idea that everybody has been monitored by this administration, and by a number of different entities including foreign agents. This administration wanted that info badly enough to turn a blind eye to all the others spying on our elected officials; it's one of the reasons I believed that the Larry Franklin case didn't expand more widely (and what's up with that, anyhow?). It's all one big quid pro quo, with the various players yanking on each other's chain from time to time.

One thing niggling at the back of my mind for a long time is Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures. Were folks encouraged to go there, only to be spied upon? Were there other such locations? How else to describe Novakula's latest comments that everybody knew about Larry Craig's behavior?

I have no doubt that spying on Congress is practiced and explains the reluctance of Congress to provide real oversight of the executive. When you consider how much the White House has gotten away with, it's clear that extortion and coercion have taken place.

Think J.Edgar Hoover in the 50's. The power is based on fear.

Read about COINTELPRO right here:

Yeah, but WHICH members of congress? Democrats? Why bother to spy on Democrats -- they didn't control anything. Oh no. It was REPUBLICANS. That's how Delay was able to keep them in line. They were spying on their own party.

Mooncat over at Left in Alabama found this very interesting:
http://www.leftinalabama.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=571 (Shades of J. Edgar Hoover).


Yes, that's what the NSA is supposed to do (and btw, that's the "minimization" we keep talking about on FISA threads). There was a report that I'm going to look for--from about 2003--that says the requests to leave the US Person name in went up astronomically in this adminsitration. SOmething like the 10s of thousands.

This has been my fear about all warrantless wiretapping.

Rove getting raw data feeds from wiretaps placed on political targets without any court supervision? How could he resist asking Bush to give him wiretaps on political foes, and how could Bush resist providing them?

Shelby staffers had been asking whether there was derogatory information in their communications intercepts on Lake

That seems an odd choice of words if all they wanted were any "foreign powers" intercepts that randomly mentioned Lake and had his name redacted out via minimization procedures.

I have long thought and wondered about the kind of power this administration exhibits. It doesn't seem completely validated by what we see. Low polls numbers, but still this administration keeps moving it's agenda forward. I think I have stated more than once that this administration exhibits a type of power beyond democratic power. It's not coming from popularity but from the abuse of power.

I have wondered if this isn't one of the ways that they continue to get things done. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the more power you have, the more power you have to abuse. My reading of history suggests to me, that it can happen very quickly. Naomi Klein suggests it can happen within a very short period of time for the same reason. It's like being wealthy. Once you have a lot of money the risk of losing it decreases significantly and the ability to make it increases significantly. Some cycles feed themselves, like global warming. I wonder if a calculation for abuses of power could be made based on the boundaries crossed and abused.

If I were a representative, you can bet I would not trust electronic communication devices.

Does anyone remember the source on this? At some juncture during the various investigations of the Florida 2000 Election, a story emerged about a group of retired CIA and Military Intelligence folk, resident in Florida, and active in Republican Circles, volunteering to "Work" for Bush by helping expedite the mailing of the absentee ballots -- they were able to identify which requests were Republican, and the Party had printed its own distinctive request forms. Thusly, only republican requests were filled in a timely manner. Whoever dug out this story, and I remember it as well sourced, was MSM -- and the story was widely discussed on the pre-blog site -- Table Talk at Salon.

Apparently this was only the margin of the real story -- the 2000 Bush Campaign pulled in hundreds of retired intelligence types to ply their tradecraft, not only in Florida but elsewhere. Goss, then Congressperson from Florida, was identified with pulling together this Florida Operation.

Many of these "retirees" are not particularly old -- Remember the CIA and other Intelligence Community agencies were vastly expanded during the Reagan/Bush One era, and then hit by RIF's as the community contracted during the budget cuts after the Cold War was recognized as being over. There were quite a number of them at Enron, for instance, charged with importing Tradecraft into the Enron operating systems. What was the name of the Enron book we all read prior to the trial? It's there. (Now How in the hell did I shelve that one????)

Yes -- reading Drumheller along with Tenet is usefull -- they profoundly disagree on the Curveball intelligence, and Drumheller takes down more than Tenet in his telling. His story discredits what Powell knew and when he knew it vis a vis the UN speech, and he identifies McLaughlin as the person who failed to underscore weaknesses in Curveball reporting being relied on by Tenet. Drumheller had also developed the only source in Hussain's Government prior to the invasion, but that reporting (no WMD's) was dismissed as "single source" -- unlike that of the drunk and nuts Curveball whom the INC had introduced into the intelligence stream.

Of course the FBI, NSC and all the rest of they "spy" on congress. It is done in a number of ways. Remember that the security agencies control who gets what kind of security clearance -- includes both members and staff. If a member is on any of the security committees, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, appropriations for these, and various trade and commerce committees -- they not only have to sign for classified information, but only cleared staff can work with any aspect of it. Members have to make certain they totally compartmentalize information -- what they learn from open sources, versus what is classified. This totally corrupts what congresscritters can say in public, for instance in a response to a question at a Town Hall type meeting. Any yes, the agencies keep track of such, and are more than capable of using it if one of the critters raises a difficult question, or takes a stand in opposition to legislation or appropriations.

Sara - was that book _The Smartest Guys in the Room_?

Tens of thousands of requests is pretty significant. I don't know how long it would take to sign one's name that many times to request NSA information! Sounds like the work of some computer automation.

I hope NSA is still keeping the list of requestors of such unredacted US names. I also don't trust minimization methods by our intellingence service if the requestors (such as Bolton) to the redacted information and the frequency of their requests are made not public--or at least shared with the full Congress. From that at least we can attempt our own traffic analysis--even without knowing the details of the transcripts.
I have a feeling this avenue is shut off to us (if it was not always, at least since this administration)

So are there other executive branch agencies surveilling Members of Congress besides the FBI, the NSA, and in some instances (at least) the CIA? The practice deserves more attention (thanks for what is provided here). Not only are violations of law troubling, there are balance of power implications, and implications for communicants with Members of Congress, including state and local governments, foreign governments (who may well expect to be spied upon), businesses and business organizations and their lobbies, various other organizations and their lobbies, and, not least of all, constituents.

Somehow I doubt that information gathered from surveillance of Members of Congress feeds only their dossiers and dossiers of members of the executive branch.

If Shelby leaked that NSA information about the Al Qaeda intercepts, maybe he did it with administration connivance? After all, that leak then proved very useful in limiting briefings to the Gang of 8.

In Dec. 2001, there was another leak to the Washington Times that the administration blamed on Powell and the State Department, and then used to lower the boom on the State Department. The recent four-part series on Cheney in the Washington Post suggested that the Office of the Vice President was really responsible for the leak.

I wonder what J. Edgar Hoover had on Sam Rayburn.

TPMM on AL governorship and KR.

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