The Peter B Collins Show
Info on Podcast #57
October 24, 2009
Former FBI Agent John Cole talks about his work on counterintelligence, the Sibel Edmonds case and his own experience as a whistleblower. This is the 8th in our series of Boiling Frogs interviews, co-hosted with Sibel Edmonds. Cole has a lot to say about the internal workings of the FBI, and the chilling effect on its employees who witness the retaliation against people like Cole and Edmonds who raised issues of criminal behavior or agency mismanagement. He talks about Turkish and Israeli espionage operations in the US, the infiltration of the Bureau by a Pakistani spy, abuses of FISA applications, the TRILOGY software fiasco, and more. Cole’s new book is “While America Sleeps–An FBI Whistleblower’s story”. Continue reading
American Civil Liberties Union
Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging FISA Amendments Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212 549-2666; email@example.com
NEW YORK – A federal court today dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional government spying law. The ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed the landmark lawsuit in July 2008 to stop the government from conducting surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the executive branch virtually unchecked power to sweep up Americans’ international e-mails and telephone calls.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose ability to perform their work – which relies on confidential communications – is greatly compromised by the FAA.
In recent interviews, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds suggested that all channels were apparently closed in her particular case because it appeared that she had exhausted her options within the Judiciary (and both Congress and the Corporate Media refused to offer her a forum to disclose what she knows about malfeasance at the Pentagon and State Department)
That all changed today, as Sibel outlines in a ‘BREAKING NEWS‘ item at her blog. Because of an unlikely set of circumstances, Sibel’s sworn deposition and affidavit testimony was requested in a case involving the Ohio Election Commission involving Ohio Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. Schmidt has been accused by her electoral opponent of being on the payroll of Turkish interests, and her opponent, David Krikorian, sought Sibel’s testimony about:
You know, Mr. Randolph, I’ve heard everything you’ve said tonight, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I agree with everything that you’ve said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. … But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it. — FDR to Labor Activist A. Philip Randolph
President Obama and his followers are fond of quoting this little historical vignette. President Obama has told his followers if they want him to do anything then they have to “Make him.”
How is that working out so far?
The biggest rebellion against Obama from his supporters came during the campaign when he made it known that he would vote to authorize the Bush regime to spy on us and immunize telecom companies from releasing our phone records without warrants.
by Mike Whitney
Global Research, May 17, 2009
Anyone who has ever wasted good money on a clunker only to drop the transmission 15 minutes after leaving the car-lot, knows the feeling. It’s like a swift-kick in the groin followed by weeks of fist-pounding rage. It’s called buyer’s remorse; “Gawd, I wish I hadn’t bought that piece of dogshite!”
There are probably a lot of former-Obama supporters feeling that same agonizing sense despair now that President Rainbow has done an about-face on every campaign promise he made. So much for “truth in advertising”, eh?
What a disaster. Did anyone know it was gonna be this bad?
The always-excellent Scott Horton interviewed Sibel Edmonds for Antiwar Radio. Sibel was typically effective at highlighting the real issues. The audio is here, the transcript, including any errors, is mine.
Scott Horton: I’m so excited to bring Sibel Edmonds back to the show. The precedent has been set, Sibel, you can tell me everything as long as you tell the Israeli embassy too. Go ahead!
Sibel Edmonds: (laughs) How are you Scott? Good to be on your show.
SH: I’m doing great. Welcome to the show. For people who don’t know, Sibel Edmonds was a translator for the FBI, a contractor after September 11. Fluent in a few different languages there from the old world, and uncovered a bunch of scandals and corruption and got booted out and is founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. Her website is JustACitizen.com. She is, according to the ACLU, the most gagged person in American history.
American Civil Liberties Union
Agency Skirts Broad Powers Authorized By Congress
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(212) 549-2666 or email@example.com
WASHINGTON – The National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans’ emails and phone calls in recent months to an extent that exceeded even the overbroad limits permitted under the controversial spying legislation passed last summer. According to the New York Times, the NSA’s “overcollection” of American’ communications has been “significant and systemic.”
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) was passed last July despite opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates. It effectively legalized the secret warrantless surveillance program President Bush approved in late 2001, but it also gave the government new spying powers, including the power to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit immediately after Congress passed the law challenging its constitutionality. The lawsuit is still pending.
Dec. 16, 2008
The whistleblower behind the exposure of the Bush administration’s domestic spy program has revealed his identity. In an interview with Newsweek, former Justice Department official Thomas Tamm says he personally called the New York Times from a Washington, D.C. subway pay phone in 2004 to tell them about the program. Tamm was working as an attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. The secretive unit oversees surveillance of terrorist and espionage targets. [includes rush transcript]
Michael Isikoff, investigative correspondent for Newsweek. He has the cover story in the latest issue of the magazine. It’s called ‘The Fed Who Blew the Whistle’
DN!!! LEGENDARY WHISTLE BLOWER!!!
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Nov 17, 2008
George Bush is the most hated president in American history. Number Two, Harry S. Truman, left office with a 64% disapproval rating and George Bush’s is now a very dismal, yet richly deserved 76%. I can’t remember a time when Americans have been so united in anything since we were actually a compassionate country after the tragedy on 9-11.
Barack Obama and the Democrats rode this wave of hatred for nearly all things Republican on November 4th. The reason for the Democratic victories could not have been because the Democrats give a viable alternative to the Republicans, because most of the time, they do not. In the contest for the highest office in the land, the Republicans threw a bone to their old and decrepit dog, McCain and offered us an even weaker (but younger) choice for his running mate. The deck was stacked for Obama and this was a year that practically anyone could have beaten McCain/Palin (in fact, polls showed that Hillary would have beaten McCain even worse).
I confess, I have become cynical about the political process since I witnessed little (if any) progress towards peace and economic justice after the Democrats regained some power in 2006. I have little hope that Emperor-Elect Obama will voluntarily give up any imperial power or reduce the size of the US Empire as he has already promised to increase US presence in Afghanistan and Super-Duper-Size our military to levels never seen before and can only be used for spreading corporate-imperialism. I hope I am wrong but I am not going to drink the blue flavored Kool-Aid anymore than I would drink the Red flavored Kool-Aid and give Obama a free pass because he chooses to put a (D) behind his name instead of the dreaded (R).
I am willing to give an Obama regime the chance to prove me wrong but I do not think that the movements that put him in power should relax. Obama has proven to be resistant to constituent pressure as he voted to give telecom companies and BushCo immunity from prosecution for smashing the 4th Amendment to bits and pieces as he voted to and pressured other people to vote for the bankster bailouts which has proven to be disastrous. How can anyone who has been alive the last 8 years, but especially a Constitutional attorney/professor vote to give billions (really trillions) of dollars to a corrupt administration that has proven to be criminally inept and callous in every way?
In my refusal to be coma-tized by Obama, whom I have met several times and think he is very smart and very likable (like some people think about George), I have been confronted by friends and strangers alike who do not want facts pointed out to them, just like Republican war hawks and troop “supporters” do not want the facts that Dick and George dodged Vietnam and reduced Veteran’s benefits pointed out to them.
Recently, I was on a cable access show here in San Francisco and I was talking about the FISA abomination and pointed out the “pesky” fact that Obama voted for it and a very nice woman who had already voted for me in early voting called and said: “I don’t believe that Obama would vote to take away our rights!” I told her that it was a fact that I did not pull out of thin air and she said: “Then he must have had a good reason.” Where have our critical thinking skills gone? It is human nature to be partisan for your political party, but to give up your brains and your rights to either party is just plain wrong.
After election day, I received an email from a person who said that he “liked” me and would have voted for me, if I didn’t lie about Obama and his funding. He said: “the reason that he has so much money is that WE GAVE IT TO HIM!” I haven’t heard from him since I sent him this link that shows how much corporate money Obama also took.
The most gut wrenching emails I have received are from friends who have literally been in the ditches with me saying things like: “Obama has to send more troops to Afghanistan to catch Osama bin Laden, that’s a no brainer.” Well, I guess I have no brains, because in the first place, has it been established that bin Laden is even in Afghanistan and secondly, do we need two combat brigades in Afghanistan to catch one very tall man with failing kidneys? Afghanistan is now our second longest military misadventure and was the downfall of the USSR’s empire. Iraq, Afghanistan and our warfare state may be the downfall of ours if Obama continues the Bush trajectory and his war OF terror. Do not get me wrong, I believe our empire should crumble, but if we do it voluntarily, we may retain some dignity. Additionally, when the empire crumbles, it will crumble on We the People and the ones who have been making immoral profits are already scampering away to places like Dubai (Halliburton after it has soaked US taxpayers for over 20 billion) to preserve their ill-gotten gains.
I was at the No on 8 Protest at City Hall yesterday when a participant and I got into a discussion about civil rights. He said that we reclaimed them on November 4th when Obama (who does not support same gender marriage) was elected. I said, “How so, Obama voted to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT ACT.” The young man brilliantly retorted with: “No, he didn’t.” I replied with: “He most certainly did and what did you think of him voting for the FISA Modernization Act?” At which point, the man turned around and walked away. That’s the rabid Republican way and the new rabid Obama-ite way. If a fact doesn’t conform to your worldview, then walk away from it and the un-truth fairy will hopefully scrub it from your mind with a wave of her magic wand.
Obama’s statements on Iraq are exactly the same as Bush’s. He will bring the troops home in a responsible manner when the Generals on the ground tell him it is safe to do so. However, the Iraqi Cabinet has now agreed to the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) that keeps US troops in Iraq until 2011. I do not think the Parliament or the people of Iraq will agree to this SOFA, as one Bagdad resident put it: “We don’t want an agreement with America. We don’t want an agreement with Israel… We fully and totally reject this security pact.” The Iraqi people will not lie down and accept this as US citizens have. It is unconscionable to think that our forces will be under Iraqi authority, but to also think that we will be infecting that unfortunate nation for another three years after we never should have gone in there in the first place.
The anti-war movement must stick to its “Troops home immediately” mantra and not be lulled into complacency by slick marketing and empty rhetoric. We never accepted the “Troops home eventually” crap and we must not accept it now.
Red, Blue, Green or Purple, we should not allow ourselves to be rocked back to sleep and re-abdicate our responsibilities to our Republic or to humanity. We are going to go through some very rocky economic times before we come out the other end.
Are we going to come out the other end as victims or victors?
By Chris Hedges
It is no longer our economy but our democracy that is in peril. It was the economic meltdown of Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the collapse of the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in czarist Russia that opened the door for Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Financial collapses lead to political extremism. The rage bubbling up from our impoverished and disenfranchised working class, glimpsed at John McCain rallies, presages a looming and dangerous right-wing backlash.
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Major shock: Eavesdropping powers abused without oversight
by Glenn Greenwald
Thursday Oct. 9, 2008 09:36 EDT
(updated below – Update II – Update III)
In the most unsurprising revelation imaginable, two former Army Reserve Arab linguists for the National Security Agency have said that they routinely eavesdropped on — “and recorded and transcribed” — the private telephone calls of American citizens who had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. The two former NSA employees, who came forward as part of journalist James Bamford’s forthcoming book on the NSA, intercepted calls as part of the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” whereby George Bush ordered the NSA in 2001 to eavesdrop on Americans’ calls in secret, without first obtaining judicial approval as required by the law (FISA). That illegal eavesdropping continued for at least six years — through 2007.
by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, September 18, 2008
Last Friday the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) in Federal District Court in New York. But on the same day, Wired reported that Justice Department special counsel Anthony Coppolino informed U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco that the government would seek blanket immunity under FAA for spying telecoms.
Calling the FAA “the most sweeping surveillance bill ever enacted by Congress,” the ACLU urged the court to strike down the law as an unconstitutional breach of privacy and free speech rights.
The FAA, a piece of Bushist legislative flotsam, was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of Congress and signed into law in July by president Bush. While the reputed “opposition” party, the Democrats, managed a few bleats against immunity provisions for lawbreaking corporate grifters, they quickly fell into line and passed this disgraceful statute.
Why? So as not to appear “soft on terror” during November’s general election according to The New York Times. But flip-flopping “liberal” Democrats, including the party’s nominee for president, Sen. Barack Obama, joined their colleagues across the aisle for a more salient reason: cold, hard cash.
As I wrote in June (see: “‘Fighting Democrats’ Rake-in Big Telecom Bucks”), citing a blistering report by the watchdog group MAPLight, “the 94 Democrats who changed their position on telecom immunity ‘received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008’.”
While none of this should come as a surprise to readers of Antifascist Calling, Glenn Greenwald pointed out Monday in Salon,
…it is extremely easy to understand why not only the White House and Congressional Republicans, but also the Democratic leadership, was so eager to ensure that this law-breaking remain concealed from the public and that there are never any consequences for it. It’s because, as is true for so much of the Bush radicalism and lawbreaking over the years, top Democrats were fully aware of what was taking place and either explicitly endorsed the lawbreaking or, with full complicity, allowed it to continue.
Indeed, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman documents in his new book, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, that top congressional Democrats worked covertly to conceal the Bush administration’s illegal NSA surveillance programs from the American people. Gellman writes:
More than three years later, [former U.S. Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales would testify that there was “consensus in the room” from the lawmakers, “who said, ‘Despite the recommendation of the deputy attorney general, go forward with these very important intelligence activities.'” By this account–disputed by participants from both parties–four Democrats and four Republicans counseled Cheney to press on with a program that Justice called illegal.
…there is no dispute that the meeting took place and that these members were repeatedly briefed on the spying program–not only after 2004, but before 2004. This specific meeting described by Gellman, and the briefings generally, included Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, Steny Hoyer, and Jay Rockefeller–all of whom voted to put an end to the telecom lawsuits (and thereby ensure that these crimes remain concealed), and the latter two of whom were, far and away, the key forces behind the new law that killed the lawsuits looking into these spying activities (and then joined Bush and Cheney at a festive, bipartisan White House signing ceremony to celebrate their joint victory). (“What illegal ‘things’ was the government doing in 2001-2004?”, Salon, Monday, September 15, 2008)
In other words, even when presented with the facts of Bushist criminality, congressional Democrats urged Cheney to “press on” with programs that would have made Watergate felon Richard Nixon and his cronies blush, a stunning indictment of the “Washington consensus” and the bogus “war on terror.”
In this context, it makes perfect sense that the biggest recipients of telecom largesse were House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), $29,000, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), $24,000. No slouch herself, Jane Harman (D-CA), House co-sponsor of the Orwellian “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” (H.R. 1955) pulled down some $7,000 from grateful corporate grifters in the telecommunications industry. But no matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of boodle for the best Congress money can buy!
The FAA gives the Bush–and future administrations–virtually unlimited power to intercept the emails and phone calls of American citizens and legal residents. Indeed, the new law hands the state the authority to conduct intrusive spying operations “without ever telling a court who it intends to spy on, what phone lines and email addresses it intends to monitor, where its surveillance targets are located, why it’s conducting the surveillance or whether it suspects any party to the communication of wrongdoing,” according to the ACLU. Jameel Jaffer, the Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said:
“The FISA Amendments Act allows the mass acquisition of Americans’ international e-mails and telephone calls. The administration has argued that the law is necessary to address the threat of terrorism, but the truth is that the law sweeps much more broadly and implicates all kinds of communications that have nothing to do with terrorism or criminal activity of any kind. The Fourth Amendment was meant to prohibit exactly the kinds of dragnet surveillance that the new law permits.” (“ACLU Asks Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Spying Law,” American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, September 12, 2008)
As the civil liberties group argues in its brief, the FAA grants unaccountable Executive branch agencies the right to acquire all of the international communications of American citizens under the pretext that “the surveillance is directed at collecting foreign intelligence information and targeted at people outside the United States.”
This is a patent falsehood. Driftnet-style communications obtained by the government in league with spying telecoms, as AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed, were facilitated by AT&T when the NSA installed intercept equipment in a secret room in the corporation’s San Francisco switching office.
Indeed, Klein submitted an affidavit in support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) landmark lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T. In that affidavit Klein declared, the room contained among other equipment, a Narus STA 6400 traffic analyzer into which all of AT&T’s internet and phone traffic was routed. The retired technician should know since he helped wire the splitter box that made this possible.
Klein told the court that the company routed its “peering links” into the splitter which means that any and all traffic passing through AT&T’s network could also be scanned. The whistleblower told Judge Walker that AT&T offices in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego had similar secret rooms built for the exclusive use of NSA’s multitude of surveillance programs.
In a direct threat to attorney-client privilege and the right of a detained person to receive a fair trail, the ACLU declares that FAA grants the government the right to “acquire all of the communications of European attorneys who work with American attorneys on behalf of prisoners held at Guantánamo, including communications in which the two sets of attorneys share information about their clients and strategize about litigation.”
This is a particularly sinister feature of the law, considering Bushist treatment of so-called “enemy combatants” at the Guantánamo Bay prison gulag and global CIA “black sites.”
Meanwhile, Wired reports that the Justice Department has moved to dismiss EFF’s Hepting v. AT&T lawsuit. When Judge Walker ruled that the so-called “state secrets privilege” was not grounds for dismissal, the government deployed a new tactic, this time relying on the FAA’s immunity provisions.
Like the ACLU, EFF has stated in court briefs that the FAA is unconstitutional. The organization provided the court with five reasons not to dismiss their case against AT&T:
1. Congress violated the separation of powers by attempting to usurp judicial authority to decide the Fourth Amendment claims of millions of ordinary Americans who have been, and continue to be, subjected to dragnet surveillance for the past seven years.
2. Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by passing legislation that grants to the Executive the discretion to essentially dictate the outcome of specific, pending litigation.
3. The statute improperly requires dismissal of claims of illegal surveillance between September 11, 2001 and January 17, 2007 based not on a judicial finding about the facts of the surveillance or the legality or constitutionality of the surveillance, but instead merely based on a ‘certification’ from the attorney general that some unknown member of the Executive branch told the carriers that some undescribed surveillance is ‘lawful.’
4. The legislation denies due process to the plaintiffs by granting to the Executive, rather than the courts, the essential decision making about their constitutional and statutory rights.
5. The legislation purports to grant the Executive a unilateral right to require that the court keep secret not only the evidence, but also its own decisions. (Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Joint Case Management for Cases Involving Telecommunications Carrier Defendants,” United States District Court, Northern District of of California, San Francisco Division, MDL Docket No 06-1791 VRW, Filed September 2, 2008)
If the legislation stands constitutional muster–Bushist style–the telecoms will get off scott free if the government can prove their “assistance” was the result of a court order, authorized under the Protect America Act of 2007, or was approved by the president and was designed “to detect or prevent a terrorist attack, or in activities in preparation for a terrorist attack, against the United States, and the subject of a written request or directive.”
But given the climate of hysteria surrounding “national security” and “terrorism” (the retail variety practiced by religious nutters such as al-Qaeda or Christian fundamentalist abortion clinic bombers, not the wholesale brand of state terrorism practiced let’s say, by the U.S. government itself), the jury is out on how far the courts are willing to go in defiance of the Executive branch and a lap-dog Congress.
Speaking of hysteria, the whistleblowing website Wikileaks released a non-public “for official use only” document by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Titled “Fear of Terrorist Attack Could Trigger Mass Psychogenic Illness,” the 2006 report by the Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) cautions that terrorism-fear-created illnesses are “an additional factor to consider in the response to terrorist attacks, particularly those involving chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) weapons. The number of those suffering psychogenic illness could far exceed the number of actual casualties in a CBR event.”
That’s rich coming from a government office that specializes in whipping-up endless terror frenzies amongst the American public! The HITRAC “private sector note” provides DHS’s “perspective on the potential for mass psychogenic illness occurring as a result of anxiety over terrorism.” (emphasis added)
Proving once again, as Lilly Tomlin wisely said: “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up”!
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.
© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10267
This post has been updated by Ignorance Isn’t Bliss, click his name to read the updated version. ~ Lo
Amidst all the potential nasties, I fear one thing most. And this one reason alone is why I’ve deeply felt for some time that he will surely be the one “elected”. And I’ll preemptively point out that the list of reasons that precedes this one thing almost wholeheartedly applies to McCain as well (worse in many cases). This won’t be a reason any Liberal or Conservative would ever expect, nor is the preceding list hardly particular in any ‘wedge issue’ topic. Vote None of the Above! Continue reading