Anti-torture Coalition Files Disciplinary Complaints Against 12 Bush Administration Lawyers by Andy Worthington

by Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
18 May 2009

The following is a statement issued today by Disbar Torture Lawyers, a newly-formed organization that has just filed disciplinary complaints against the twelve Bush administration lawyers who were most closely involved with “violat[ing] the rules of professional responsibility by advocating torture, which is illegal under both United States and international law.”

On Monday, May 18, 2009, a broad coalition of organizations dedicated to accountable government, and representing over one million members, filed disciplinary complaints with state bar licensing boards against twelve attorneys who advocated the torture of detainees during the Bush Administration. These detailed complaints with over 500 pages of supporting exhibits have been filed against John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington. The complaints, filed with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, seek disciplinary action and disbarment. Copies of the complaints and exhibits are available on the Disbar Torture Lawyers website. Continue reading

A Torturous Debate: Controlling the Agenda By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
crossposted on TPJmagazine
March 8, 2009

Hopefully, torture, and how to deal with its purveyors in the Bush/Cheney Regime at both the policy and delivery levels, will be back on the political/policy agenda, once A.G. Holder and his team get set in their new positions.

One of the principal lessons that Karl Rove (gone for now, but don’t forget him) learned from his master teacher Lee Atwater was that he who controls the agenda wins the debate and, in grander terms, the election. Rove was positively brilliant with this tactic, from 2000 until 2006. True Bush policies and programs were never on the agenda, whether in that first election or any of the subsequent ones. Rove was able to do this on both the grand and the lesser scales. And so we came to the debate over torture and Judge Mukasey (Bush’s last undistinguished Attorney General, you may recall) at his confirmation hearing, and the agenda for that debate. I have no way of knowing whether Rove was still active on a day-to-day basis at that time in the Bush White House. My suspicion is that he was, for the tactics they used had Rove’s fingerprints all over them.

Continue reading

Countdown: Michael Moore on the Auto Bailout + “Matthew Alexander” on Torture

Dandelion Salad


Keith talks to Michael Moore about the proposed bailout of the auto industry and how it should be handled.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Countdown: Michael Moore on the Auto …“, posted with vodpod


“Matthew Alexander” on Torture

Keith talks to author “Matthew Alexander” about which interrogation techniques work and why we should not be torturing prisoners.


Tonight’s: Society’s Loss is the Military’s Gain-Gate, Torture by Proxy-Gate and Our Attorney General is not Rational-Gate.


Detroit vs. Wall Street: The Trillion Dollar Class War by Cameron Salisbury

Nancy Pelosi Response by Plans Submitted to Congress by Automakers

Making Smarter Cars Instead of Stupid Decisions by William Cox

They Auto Know Better: Fueling Anti-Union Fires by Walter Brasch

Dr. J.’s Commentary: Why the Republicans Want to Kill GM

Countdown: Bushed! Torture-Gate + India and the Bush Doctrine


Unaccountable Secret Government: Most Serious Constitutional Crisis in American History

Dandelion Salad

by Sherwood Ross
Global Research, September 15, 2008

ANDOVER , MASS. (Sept. 13)— President Bush’s conduct in office has precipitated a “most serious constitutional crisis,” “one that has already transformed the U.S. from a constitutional republic to an elected monarchy,” a noted political scientist told a conference on seeking prosecution of high Bush administration officials for war crimes. “We need to revers[e] a fifty-year trend towards unaccountable secret government, which can commit crimes with impunity,” said Professor Christopher Pyle of Mount Holyoke College.

“Sending a clear signal to future Cabinet-level officials that ours is still a government under law, and that they had better obey the criminal law, no matter what their president and his legal lackeys say,” is a matter of overwhelming importance, said Pyle.

Pyle spoke to 120 academics, constitutional scholars, public officials and political activists gathered in Andover, MA for the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference on Planning For the Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals. Attendees were in consensus agreement that overwhelming evidence exists to bring legal actions against President Bush and other top members of his administration.

The consensus of attendees is President Bush’s attack on Iraq is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and that he is culpable for this as well as for torture and abuse of war prisoners held by the U.S. military and the CIA.

Pyle said ideally the Justice Department should bring charges against Bush “if only to restore its integrity” (although many thought the DOJ unlikely to act because of its own culpability and partisanship). But there is nothing to “preclude the appointment of a non-partisan prosecutor with considerable independence, much as Attorney General Elliot Richardson did when he chose Archibald Cox to lead the Watergate team.”

A special prosecutor could be chosen by the next Attorney General from among any number of “distinguished Republican attorneys,” Pyle said. He added that if Congress and the Justice Department fail to act, state attorney generals might take action and that if no U.S. officials acted “the way is open for foreign trials.”

Even if the next president and two-thirds of the Senate “do not ratify the Rome Statute and submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” said Pyle, “the next president could revoke the non-extradition agreements that John Bolton negotiated and allow the Justice Department to facilitate extradition proceedings on behalf of any European court with universal jurisdiction over war crimes.”.

He went on to say that while the legal obstacles to prosecuting “the torture team” are substantial, they are no more daunting than those that Argentina and Chile faced and overcame after their generals initially obtained immunity for their “dirty wars.”

“Whether our nation will take as long to bring its torturers to justice remains to be seen, but failure to prosecute now almost certainly will lead to demands for prosecution later. This is not an issue likely to go away,” Pyle said. (Emphasis added.) That’s because there is “overwhelming” evidence that “the torture, kidnapping, and degradation of suspected terrorists was part of a deliberate policy, hatched and concealed at the highest levels of the Bush administration.”

Pyle pointed out the weight of legal opinion is against the Bush administration, “which is why it is keeps its legal opinions secret.” He added, “Today, even Attorney General Mukasey won’t deny that waterboarding is a crime. He simply refuses to say that it is, because, if he admitted the obvious, he would have to prosecute the criminals. The best excuse Mukasey can give is a version of the Eichmann defense: ‘Our lawyers said we could do it.”

Pyle drew applause when he pointed out that “We would be here addressing the same questions had these crimes been committed by Democrats.” “This is not a campaign event. It is a conference about how to restore governmental accountability in the wake of a criminal administration. It addresses the most serious crisis in our nation’s history—the claim that the president and his secret agents can get away with torture, kidnapping, and even manslaughter.” (Emphasis added.)

Pyle went on to say the issue is not whether the “torture team” deserves to be prosecuted but is about “reversing a fifty-year trend toward unaccountable, secret government, which can commit crimes with impunity.”

“Punishing the torture team is just the beginning. We also need to change the laws and legal doctrines, like the state secret privilege, that have already transformed the United States from a constitutional republic to an elected monarchy,” Pyle said.

Further Information or to reach Pyle for interviews: Sherwood Ross, media consultant to the war crimes prosecution conference at

© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:

Big Brother in the “Big Apple”: Encircling Manhattan with thousands of surveillance cameras

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, September 15, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

New York’s Mass Surveillance Plan Fast-Tracked by the NYPD. Mukasey Hands FBI Broad New Powers

Last month Antifascist Calling reported on a scheme by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to encircle Manhattan with thousands of surveillance cameras and sensors that would photograph all vehicles entering the city. Information captured by this intrusive system would be stored in a huge database for an undisclosed period of time. That plan is now moving forward with a vengeance.

The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI) and a related program, Operation Sentinel, are modeled after London’s so-called “Ring of Steel.” In London, roads entering the city are narrowed and have tight serpentine curves that force drivers to slow down and be recorded by CCTV cameras. Typically, such roads have concrete or reinforced plastic medians with a sentry box where police stand guard and monitor traffic flows. Following the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London, security has been stepped up, with occasional spot checks by machine-gun toting police of cars and trucks entering the security cordon.

As it now stands, LMSI would link a matrix of 3,000 public and private surveillance cameras for monitoring and tracking vehicles and pedestrians south of Canal Street, the city’s financial hub. Other features of the system include mobile roadblocks that could swivel into place and block off any given street to traffic.

But as Durham University geographer Stephen Graham argues, these intrusive projects presuppose an “inside” and “outside” within a militarized urban space. Graham writes,

In a world of intensifying transnational migration, transport, capital and media flows … such attempts at constructing a mutually exclusive binary–a securitized ‘inside’ enclosing the urban places of the US Empire’s ‘homeland’, and an urbanizing ‘outside’, where US military power can pre-emptively attack places deemed sources of ‘terrorist’ threats–are inevitably both ambivalent and ridden with contradictions. They rest alongside the ratcheting-up of state surveillance and repression against Others targeted within US cities and society. They are paralleled … by military strategies which increasingly treat the ‘inside’ spaces within the US and the ‘foreign’ ones in the rest of the world as a single, integrated, ‘battlespace’ prone to the rapid movements of ‘terrorist’ threats into the geographical and urban heartlands of US power at any instant. And they obscure the complex geographies and political economies of ‘primitive accumulation’ which closely tie predatory post-war ‘reconstruction’ and oil contracts in Iraq, and homeland security contracts in US cities, to the same cartel of Bush-friendly oil companies, defence and security contractors and ‘private military corporations.’ (“Cities and the ‘War on Terror’,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Volume 30.2, June 2006, pp. 255-276)

As I have frequently reported, “homeland security” corporations and a related complex of right-wing think tanks and terrorism “specialists” drawn from academia and the media have sprung up across the U.S. Empire’s urban “battlespace” like so-many genetically-modified weeds.

Armed with a (highly-profitable) brief to “keep America safe,” the net result has been the strangling of democratic processes and institutions. While its corollary, lack of accountability and state criminality, are the built-in features of a “war on terror” promulgated by an illegitimate regime that operates privately and secretly and which demands only silence from a terrorized and compliant population.

In light of recent moves to securitize New York’s financial district as a first step towards militarizing the city as a whole, Operation Sentinel would photograph the license plates of every car and truck entering Manhattan across bridges or through tunnels. Under the proposal, radiation sensors would scan every vehicle for nuclear materials which could potentially be used in manufacturing a “dirty bomb.”

However, as I previously reported the technology to do so does not exist. Indeed, a recent story in The Washington Post confirms my initial assessment that Operation Sentinel is little more than a corporatist scam.

Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) monitors designed by major defense contractors Raytheon, Thermo Electron and Canberra Industries failed to perform as advertised after Congress had allocated tens of million of dollars for the system.

The program is now being scaled back after an audit report by the Government Accountability Office determined that the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) “misled Congress about the testing, cost and effectiveness of the machines. Budget documents this year showed the cost to put the monitors at borders and ports would be far higher than the detection office originally estimated,” according to the Post.

DNDO “is not sure” what methods it will deploy to screen “rail cars, privately owned vehicles, airport cargo and cargo at seaport terminals” in the near future, the report said. (emphasis added)

The lack of a reliable nuclear detection system will not deter NYPD officials however, who continue claiming Operation Sentinel is on a fast-track. But whether or not radiation monitors actually work, it now appears that the primary thrust of the project is to scrutinize all vehicles entering Manhattan. Information captured by the system will be stored in a huge database amenable to the usual data-mining techniques employed by the U.S. intelligence “community.”

However, last Monday the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), filed a lawsuit in New York’s State Supreme Court “challenging the NYPD’s refusal to disclose information about its plan to create a massive surveillance network in downtown Manhattan.” According to a statement by NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman,

“The NYPD is planning blanket surveillance of millions of law-abiding New Yorkers, but it refuses to disclose even the simplest details of this costly proposal. A plan of this scope, expense and intrusiveness demands robust public debate and legislative oversight. The public has a right to this information.” (New York Civil Liberties Union, “NYCLU Sues NYPD for Information on Massive Surveillance Plan,” Press Release, September 8, 2008)

With initial estimates to complete the system in the range of $100 million, massive cost overruns can be expected as high-tech security and other corporate grifters scramble to reap the benefits of federal, state and city largesse.

Among the many unanswered questions about the LMSI and Operation Sentinel, the NYCLU is seeking clarification on the scope of information gathered about citizens; how the cops intend to use the surveillance videos; with whom will police share captured video data; how long will such information be retained in its database; what privacy protections, if any, are built into the system; which private surveillance systems will be incorporated into LMSI; will assessments of London’s “Ring of Steel” be made prior to LMSI’s launch date; and finally, the extent of city funding.

Needless to say, the NYPD have been less than forthcoming. According to The New York Times, the police all but accused the NYCLU of aiding and abetting “terrorism” for seeking information on their intrusive programs. The Times reported,

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said the department had already released as much information as it could without compromising its plans for an area of the city–and nation–that has repeatedly been a target of terrorists.

“We have already provided the N.Y.C.L.U. with information short of a road map for terrorists to use in another attack on the financial district,” Mr. Browne said. ( Al Baker, “Group Sues for Details on Security Downtown,” The New York Times, September 9, 2008)

With grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), New York City is listed as a “tier 1” city by DHS. Accordingly, the New York State Office of Homeland Security (NYOHS) has designated that the NYPD and the Port Authority Police Department will be able to disperse funds in order to implement the proposed LMSI for “full-time counterterrorism duties” including “intergovernmental assignments.”

And a NYOHS “Program Guidance” document, states that “counterterrorism duties include such activities as intelligence gathering, information-sharing, and surveillance.”

Under the umbrella of the UASI, DHS is disbursing some $781.6 million “to build capabilities in high-threat, high-density urban areas across the country. The seven highest risk urban areas will receive a combined total of $429.9 million, and 53 high-risk urban areas will receive a total of $351.7 million.” New York’s LMSI clearly fall within these federal guidelines and undoubtedly, the feds will have major input in decision making.

As with other federal homeland security programs, the lack of civilian oversight appear to be de rigueur. Indeed, the New York City Council first learned of these programs when they were reported in the media. One might also reasonably inquire: “intelligence gathering, information-sharing, and surveillance” on whom and for what purpose?

If recent massive police preemptive actions in St. Paul during the run-up to the Republican National Convention are an indication of the direction “counterterrorist operations” are heading we can only surmise that the NYPD’s LMSI represent nothing less than a quantum leap towards the construction of a panoptic surveillance state.

Indeed, the World Socialist Web Site reported that eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist group that spearheaded protests in St. Paul have been charged with “terrorism.” The organizers have been brought up on conspiracy charges simply for attempting to organize marches and civil disobedience in Minnesota earlier this month during the coronation of right-wing presidential and vice presidential candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin, the darling of the theocratic Christian Right.

In what may be the first case of its kind, American citizens have been arrested and charged as terrorists for no other act than planning to protest and obstruct a political event. In this case the occasion was the nominating convention of a party chiefly responsible for policies detested by the majority of Americans, including the war in Iraq and the enrichment of a tiny layer of the enormously wealthy. (Tom Eley, “Political dissent as terrorism: ‘Minnesota Patriot Act’ charges filed against RNC Eight,” World Socialist Web Site, 11 September 2008)

As Eley points out, “more alarming than the case itself, however, is the fact that it has gone virtually unnoted by the national news media. This reporter could also find no mention of the case on the web sites of left-liberal publications such as the Nation, the Progressive, or In These Times.”

But as with all such repressive actions, the goal of “preemptive policing” and the mass surveillance that accompany the run-up to “cops-gone-wild” events like St. Paul, their purpose is to intimidate–and serve as a warning–to the population as a whole. In this respect, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative like the NSA’s warrantless spying programs are clearly designed to insure a seamless transition from surveillance to wholesale repression.

Unleashing the FBI: the New COINTELPRO

Meanwhile on the federal front, The Washington Post reports that “The Justice Department will unveil changes to FBI ground rules today that would put much more power into the hands of line agents pursuing leads on national security, foreign intelligence and even ordinary criminal cases.” Carrie Johnson writes,

The overhaul touches on several sensitive areas. It would allow, for example, agents to interview people in the United States about foreign intelligence cases without warrants or prior approval of their supervisors. It also would rewrite 1976 guidelines established after Nixon-era abuses that restrict the FBI’s authority to intervene in times of civil disorder and to infiltrate opposition groups. (“Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers,” The Washington Post, September 12, 2008)

In other words, COINTELPRO-style infiltration and neutralization operations by federal gangsters and their paid provocateurs will now be “normalized” under new Bushist rules. However, far from being a case of improving the efficacy of “information gathering” to “detect terrorist threats” as the Post claims, new federal guidelines will create a broad legal framework for the suppression of basic constitutional and democratic rights.

Indeed, under the new rules proposed by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, “threat assessments” based on one’s race, ethnicity or religion will become standard operating procedure as FBI agents and their informants target individuals, or left-wing political groups, solely on the basis of constitutionally-protected speech or religion.

Aping the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, Nazi Security Service) approach to law enforcement, the Bush administration and their minions in the private security sector such as InfraGard, seek to criminalize broad sections of the population who don’t fit a prescribed behavioral “norm.” Denouncing the proposals, the American Civil Liberties wrote,

The rewritten guidelines have been drafted in a way to give the FBI the ability to begin surveillance without factual evidence, stating that a generalized “threat” is enough to use certain techniques. Also under the new guidelines, a person’s race or ethnic background could be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes will institute racial profiling as a matter of policy. The guidelines would also give the FBI the ability to use intrusive investigative techniques in advance of public demonstrations. These techniques would allow agents to conduct pre-textual (undercover) interviews, use informants and conduct physical surveillance in connection with First Amendment protected activities. (“New FBI Guidelines Open Door to Further Abuse,” American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, September 12, 2008)

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said,

“The new guidelines offer no specifics on how the FBI will ensure that race and religion are not used improperly as proxies for suspicion, nor do they sufficiently limit the extent to which government agents can infiltrate groups exercising their First Amendment rights. The Bush administration’s message once again is ‘trust us.’ After eight years of historic civil liberties abuses, the American people know better. From the U.S. attorney purges to the abuse of national security letters, the Department of Justice and the FBI have repeatedly shown that they are incapable of policing themselves.”

By tossing Nixon-era intelligence guidelines out the window, Mukasey and his masters in the Executive branch are granting line agents, “unparalleled leeway to investigate Americans without proper suspicion, and that will inevitably result in constitutional violations,” according to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Our right to protest the government and its policies is not suspicious behavior; it is constitutionally protected speech.”

Unfortunately, in America’s post-constitutional “new normal,” characterized by an unprecedented looting of social wealth by crony capitalists, bloody wars of aggression, environmental plunder and the general putrefaction of culture under the flag of a “Christian Republic,” protesting the government and its policies are indeed the quintessential hallmarks of suspicious behavior!

Karl Marx perhaps said it best, prefiguring the high-tech barbarism of 21st century America: “The past lies like a nightmare upon the present.”

© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008

The url address of this article is:


Operation Sentinel: The High-Tech Police State Takes Shape

Annals of Homeland Security: Crony Capitalism, Nuclear Terror & the “Advanced Spectroscopic Portal”

RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act

RoboCops: Professional Policing of Political Protest – An Insider’s Viewpoint

Businessmen can “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law!! (video)

Infragard – First in a Series by Virginia Simson

The FBI Deputizes Business By Matthew Rothschild

Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers

FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects

Police State


COINTELPRO and Domestic Spying by Tom Burghardt

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, August 21, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

Slippery Slope towards police state methods. Mukasey Loosens Guidelines

The waning months of the Bush administration can be characterized by an avalanche of changes to long-standing rules governing domestic intelligence operations.

The revisions proposed by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other top administration officials, represent the greatest expansion of executive power since the Watergate era and should been viewed as an imminent threat to already-diminished civil liberties protections in the United States.

The slippery slope towards open police state methods of governance may have begun with the 2001 passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, but recent events signal that a qualitative acceleration of repressive measures are currently underway. These changes are slated to go into effect with the new fiscal year beginning October 1, and are subject neither to congressional oversight nor judicial review.

Bush allies in Congress kicked-off the summer with the shameful passage by the House and Senate of the FISA Amendments Act, an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that gutted Fourth Amendment protections. With broad consensus by both capitalist political parties, the FISA Act eliminates meaningful judicial oversight of state surveillance while granting virtual immunity to law-breaking telecoms.

Despite posturing by leading Democrats, including the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, the FISA legislation legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program and set the stage for further assaults on the right to privacy and dissent.

Further attacks were not long in coming.

In the last month alone, mainstream media have reported that the FBI illegally obtained the phone records of overseas journalists allegedly as part of a 2004 “terrorism investigation.”

Other reports documented how the Department of Homeland Security asserts the right to seize a traveler’s laptop and other electronic devices for an unspecified period of time and without probable cause.

Still other reports revealed that the administration has expanded the power of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to issue “overarching policies and procedures” and to coordinate “priorities” with foreign intelligence services that target American citizens and legal residents.

And on Wednesday, The Washington Post exposed how the federal government has used “its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations.” Ellen Nakashima writes,

The disclosure of the database is among a series of notices, officials say, to make DHS’s data gathering more transparent. Critics say the moves exemplify efforts by the Bush administration in its final months to cement an unprecedented expansion of data gathering for national security and intelligence purposes. (“Citizens’ U.S. Border Crossings Tracked,” The Washington Post, August 20, 2008)

The Post also revealed that the information will be linked to a new database, the Non-Federal Entity Data System, “which is being set up to hold personal information about all drivers in a state’s database.” Posted at the Government Printing Office’s website, the notice states that the information may even be shared with federal contractors or consultants “to accomplish an agency function related to this system of records.”

But perhaps the most controversial move towards increasing the federal government’s surveillance powers were unveiled by the Justice Department in late July. According to The Washington Post, “a new domestic spying measure…would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.”

New rules for police intelligence-gathering would apply to any of the 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive some $1.6 billion each year in federal grants. These proposed changes, as with other administration measures, were quietly published July 31 in the Federal Register.

The McClatchy Washington Bureau reported August 13, that Mukasey confirmed plans to “loosen post-Watergate restrictions on the FBI’s national security and criminal investigations,” under cover of improving the Bureau’s “ability to detect terrorists.” Marisa Taylor wrote,

Mukasey said he expected criticism of the new rules because “they expressly authorize the FBI to engage in intelligence collection inside the United States.” However, he said the criticism would be misplaced because the bureau has long had authority to do so.

Mukasey said the new rules “remove unnecessary barriers” to cooperation between law enforcement agencies and “eliminate the artificial distinctions” in the way agents conduct surveillance in criminal and national security investigations. (“FBI to Get Freer Rein to Look for Terrorism Suspects,” McClatchy Washington Bureau, August 13, 2008)

While the Justice Department’s draft proposals have been selectively leaked to the media, and DoJ is expected to release its final version of the changes within a few weeks, even then the bulk of these modifications will remain classified on grounds of “national security.”

Under the new regulatory regime proposed by Mukasey, state and local police would be given free rein to target groups as well as individuals, and to launch criminal intelligence investigations based on the “suspicion” that a target is “engaged in terrorism.” The results of such investigations could be shared “with a constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others in many cases,” according to Post reporters Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson.

With probable cause tossed overboard, domestic intelligence as envisaged by the Bush Justice Department is little more than a fishing expedition intended to cast a wide driftnet over Americans’ constitutional rights, reducing guarantees of free speech and assembly to banal pieties mouthed by state propagandists.

These changes are intended to lock-in Bush regime surveillance programs such as warrantless internet and phone wiretapping, data mining, the scattershot issuance of top secret National Security Letters to seize financial and other personal records, as well as expanding a security index of individuals deemed “terrorist threats” by the corporatist state.

Simultaneous with the release of new DoJ domestic spying guidelines, the Bush administration’s “modernization” of Reagan-era Executive Order 12333, as The Washington Post delicately puts it, also calls for intensified sharing of intelligence information with local law enforcement agencies.

In addition to consolidating power within the ODNI, E.O. 12333 revisions direct the CIA “and other spy agencies,” in a clear violation of the Agency’s charter, to “provide specialized equipment, technical knowledge or assistance of expert personnel” to state and local authorities.

The latest moves to expand executive power follow close on the heels of other orders and rule changes issued by the Bush regime. As researcher and analyst Michel Chossudovsky reported in June, the Orwellian National Security Presidential Directive 59/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 24 (NSPD 59/HSPD 24), entitled “Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security,” is directed against U.S. citizens. Chossudovsky wrote,

NSPD 59 goes far beyond the issue of biometric identification, it recommends the collection and storage of “associated biographic” information, meaning information on the private lives of US citizens, in minute detail, all of which will be “accomplished within the law.”

The directive uses 9/11 as an all encompassing justification to wage a witch hunt against dissenting citizens, establishing at the same time an atmosphere of fear and intimidation across the land.

It also calls for the integration of various data banks as well as inter-agency cooperation in the sharing of information, with a view to eventually centralizing the information on American citizens. (“Big Brother” Presidential Directive: “Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security,” Global Research, June 11, 2008)

Indeed, NSPD 59/HSPD 24 creates the framework for expanding the definition of who is a “terrorist” to include other categories of individuals “who may pose a threat to national security.”

In addition to al Qaeda and other far-right Islamist terror groups, many of whom have served as a cat’s paw for Western intelligence agencies in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the Balkans, NSPD 59/HSPD 24 has identified two new categories of individuals as potential threats: “Radical groups” and “disgruntled employees.”

In other words, domestic anarchist and socialist organizations as well as labor unions acting on behalf of their members’ rights, now officially fall under the panoptic lens of federal intelligence agencies and the private security contractors who staff the 16 separate agencies that comprise the U.S. “intelligence community.”

These moves represent nothing less than an attempt by the Bush administration to return to the days of COINTELPRO when the Bureau, acting in concert with state and local police “red squads” targeted the left for destruction.

“After 9/11, the gloves come off”

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. national security state has ramped-up its repressive machinery, targeting millions of Americans through broad surveillance programs across a multitude of state and private intelligence agencies.

While the FBI, CIA, NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be the federal “tip of the spear” of current intelligence operations, they certainly are not alone when it comes to domestic spying.

Outsourced contractors from communications, defense and security corporations such as AT&T, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Verizon Communications, Northrop Grumman, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), L-3 Communications, CACI International and many more, have collaborated with Bush regime war criminals in fashioning a hypermodern, high-tech police state.

That these corporations have staked-out “homeland security” as a niche market to expand their operations has been explored by Antifascist Calling in numerous articles. As I have previously reported, it is estimated that some 70% of the personnel employed by U.S. intelligence agencies are now private contractors holding top secret and above security clearances.

Unaccountable actors virtually beyond congressional scrutiny, outsourced intelligence agents first and foremost are employees answerable to corporate managers and boards of directors, not the American people or their representatives. Chiefly concerned with inflating profit margins by overselling the “terrorist threat,” the incestuous relationships amongst corporate grifters and a diminished “public sector” demonstrate the precarious state of democratic norms and institutions in the U.S.

New rules governing FBI counterintelligence investigations will allow the Bureau to run informants for the purpose of infiltrating organizations deemed “subversive” by federal snoops. Many of the worst abuses under COINTELPRO, the CIA’s Operation CHAOS and the U.S. Army’s deployment of Military Intelligence Groups (MIGs) for illegal domestic operations during the 1960s, employed neofascists as infiltrators and as nascent death squads.

While the Bureau may have eschewed close collaboration with fascist gangs, will sophisticated, high-tech private security corporations now play a similar role in Bureau counterintelligence and domestic security operations?

If history is any judge, the answer inevitably will be “yes.”

Currently equipping the “intelligence community” with electronic specialists, network managers, software designers and analysts, will defense and security corporations bulk-up the Bureau and related agencies with “plausibly deniable” ex-military and intelligence assets for targeted infiltration and “disruption” of domestic antiwar and anticapitalist groups?

It can’t happen here? Why its happening already! As investigative journalist James Ridgeway revealed in April, a private security firm,

organized and managed by former Secret Service officers spied on Greenpeace and other environmental organizations from the late 1990s through at least 2000, pilfering documents from trash bins, attempting to plant undercover operatives within groups, casing offices, collecting phone records of activists, and penetrating confidential meetings. According to company documents provided to Mother Jones by a former investor in the firm, this security outfit collected confidential internal records–donor lists, detailed financial statements, the Social Security numbers of staff members, strategy memos—from these organizations and produced intelligence reports for public relations firms and major corporations involved in environmental controversies. (“Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups,” Mother Jones, April 11, 2008)

The firm, Beckett Brown International (later called S2i) provided a range of services for corporate clients. According to Ridgeway, the private snoops engaged in “intelligence collection” for Allied Waste; conducted background checks and “performed due diligence” for the Carlyle Group; handled “crisis management” for the Gallo wine company and Pirelli; engaged in “information collection” for Wal-Mart. Also listed as BBI/S2i records as clients were Halliburton and Monsanto.

Mike German, a former FBI agent and whistleblower who is now the policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that once proposed changes are implemented, police may collect intelligence even when no underlying crime is suspected. This is nothing less than “preemptive policing” and a recipe for tightening the screws on dissent. The Post averred,

German, an FBI agent for 16 years, said easing established limits on intelligence-gathering would lead to abuses against peaceful political dissenters. In addition to the Maryland case [that targeted antiwar and death penalty opponents], he pointed to reports in the past six years that undercover New York police officers infiltrated protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention; that California state agents eavesdropped on peace, animal rights and labor activists; and that Denver police spied on Amnesty International and others before being discovered.

“If police officers no longer see themselves as engaged in protecting their communities from criminals and instead as domestic intelligence agents working on behalf of the CIA, they will be encouraged to collect more information,” German said. “It turns police officers into spies on behalf of the federal government.” (Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson, “U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules,” The Washington Post, August 16, 2008)

In a related report on Fusion Centers, that German coauthored with Jay Staley for the ACLU, they documented how so-called “counterterrorist” national collection agencies are “characterized by ambiguous lines of authority, excessive secrecy, troubling private-sector and military participation, and an apparent bent toward suspicionless information collection and data mining.”

As I reported earlier this month, citing research from German and Staley’s report, U.S. Marine Corps officers, enlisted personnel and an analyst with U.S. NORTHCOM, pilfered intelligence files and shared them with private defense contractors in hope of securing future employment.

Money talks, particularly in a political culture where the business of government is, after all, business!

With little oversight from a compliant Congress, and an “opposition” party in league with their “constituents”–multinational corporate grifters out to make a buck–the final nails are being hammered into the coffin of America’s former democratic Republic.

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:


FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects

Wiretaps “R” Us: Is the FBI Tracking Your Cellphone?

COINTELPRO Comes to My Town: My First-Hand Experience With Government Spies by Dave Zirin

“Big Brother” Presidential Directive: “Biometrics for Identification & Screening to Enhance National Security”

Black Ops on Green Groups (video link)

Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups

Private Spies: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing

FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects

Dandelion Salad

By Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Newspapers
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael Mukasey confirmed plans Wednesday to loosen post-Watergate restrictions on the FBI’s national security and criminal investigations, saying the changes were necessary to improve the bureau’s ability to detect terrorists.

Mukasey said he expected criticism of the new rules because “they expressly authorize the FBI to engage in intelligence collection inside the United States.” However, he said the criticism would be misplaced because the bureau has long had authority to do so.


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Countdown: Beating the War Drum + Dept of Injustice

Dandelion Salad

Aug 12, 2008


Keith reports on the statements coming out of the McCain campaign about the war between Russia and Georgia, that McCain’s top foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann was a lobbyist for Georgia, and the Cold-War type rhetoric coming from McCain and his BFF Joe Lieberman. Rachel Maddow weighs in.

Countdown: Beating the War Drum“, posted with vodpod

Department of Injustice

Keith reports on Michael Mukasey talking to the American Bar Association saying that he will not persue charges in the Monica Goodling hiring inquiry. Jonathan Turley weighs in.


Tonight’s: War Profiteer-Gate, Gears Grind-Slowly-Gate and Cheney-Gate.

Worst Person

And the winner is….Gerard J. Arpey of American Airlines.Runners up the Rocky Mountain News and Sean Hannity.


The Reality Behind Western Propaganda Regarding War In Georgia

A Path to Peace in the Caucasus By Mikhail Gorbachev

The Reality Behind Western Propaganda Regarding War In Georgia

Mosaic News – 8/11/08: World News from the Middle East

Medvedev orders end to military operation + Roadmap for Georgian peace

The Caucasus —Washington Risks nuclear war by miscalculation

RNN: Who’s to blame for the Russian Georgian conflict?

08/08/08: The Beginning of the Summer Olympics and the Third World War

McCain, Obama react to Caucasus crisis + CNN caught using wrong footage

Irresponsible Risk-Takers in Command by Rodrigue Tremblay

Russia-Georgia war could become nuclear!!

Georgian troops fire at refugees + burying their dead

What the HELL is going On?


Atty Gen Mukasey testifies before the House Judiciary Ctte

Dandelion Salad

93 min – Jul 28, 2008

July 27, 2008 C-SPAN Attorney General Michael Mukasey testifies before the House Judiciary Cmte. on oversight of the Justice Dept. A.G. Mukasey comments on his requests of Congress to resolve the problem of detainee rights raised by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

Continue reading

Mukasey to Congress: Defy the Rule of Law by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, July 23, 2008

Along with other past and present administration officials, Attorney General Michael Mukasey supports lawlessness and police state justice. Weeks after the Supreme Court’s landmark (June 12) Boumediene ruling, he addressed the conservative, pro-war American Enterprise Institute (on July 21) and asked Congress to overrule the High Court – for the third time. His proposal:

— subvert constitutional and international law;

— authorize indefinite detentions of Guantanamo and other “war on terror” prisoners (including US citizens designated “enemy combatants”); and

— deny them habeas rights, due process, and any hope for judicial fairness.

Since June 2004, the (conservative) High Court made three landmark rulings. Twice Congress intervened, and Mukasey wants a third time. In Rasul v. Bush (June 2004), the Court granted Guantanamo detainees habeas rights to challenge their detentions in civil court. Congress responded with the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) of 2005 subverting the ruling.

In June 2006, the Supreme Court reacted. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, it held that federal courts retain jurisdiction over habeas cases and that Guantanamo Bay military commissions lack “the power to proceed because (their) structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions (of) 1949.”

In October 2006, Congress responded a second time. It enacted the Military Commissions Act (MCA) – subverting the High Court ruling in more extreme form. In its menu of illegal provisions, it grants the administration extraordinary unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate, torture and prosecute alleged terrorist suspects, enemy combatants, or anyone claimed to support them. It lets the President designate anyone anywhere in the world (including US citizens) an “unlawful enemy combatant” and empowers him to arrest and detain them indefinitely in military prisons. The law states: “no (civil) court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever….relating to the prosecution, trial or judgment of….military commission(s)….including challenges to (their) lawfulness….”

On June 12, 2008, the High Court again disagreed. In Boumediene v. Bush, it held that Guantanamo detainees retain habeas rights. MCA unconstitutionally subverts them, and the administration has no legal authority to deny them due process in civil courts or act as accuser, trial judge and executioner with no right of appeal or chance for judicial fairness.

On July 21, Mukasey responded, and immediately the ACLU reacted in a same day press release headlined: “Attorney General Wants New Declaration of War Allowing Indefinite Detention and Concealment of Torture.” It called Mukasey’s speech “an enormous executive branch power grab….authoriz(ing) indefinite detention(s) through a new declaration of armed conflict.” He asked Congress to redefine habeas through legislation “that will hide the Bush administration’s past wrongdoing – an action that would undermine the constitutional guarantee of due process and conceal systematic (lawless) torture and abuse of detainees.”

Like his two predecessors, Mukasey mocks the rule of law and supports harsh police state justice. He wants Congress to “expand and extend the ‘war on terror’ forever” and let the president detain anyone indefinitely without charge or trial. ACLU’s Washington Legislative Director, Caroline Fredrickson, called this “the last gasp of an administration desperate to rationalize what is a failed legal scheme” – that the Supreme Court thunderously rejected three times.

Mukasey proposes lawlessness and cover-up, “but there is no reason to think that Congress will assist him.” It “won’t fall for this latest (scheme) to (suppress) its wrongdoing.” Besides, the House Judiciary Committee is now investigating whether high-level administration officials authorized torture and abuse. Mukasey wants to hide it and is asking Congress to “bury the evidence.”

The ACLU is righteously outraged by this latest attempted power grab. It rejects Mukasey’s lawlessness and states there is “no need to invent yet another set of legal rules to govern the detention and trial of prisoners held on national security grounds, and the rules that (Mukasey) is proposing are fundamentally inconsistent with” constitutional and international law.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Responds

After Mukasey’s September 17, 2007 nomination for Attorney General, CCR issued the following November 1, 2007 statement:

“Michael Mukasey is not fit to be Attorney General because he supports torture, illegal spying on Americans, and limitless powers for the Executive Branch.” As the “country’s highest law enforcement official,” he’s obligated “to enforce the law” – not make excuses for the government when it’s in violation. CCR stands “firmly against Mukasey’s nomination….Our country cannot afford to make compromises to our laws, our morals, and our humanity any longer.” The Senate must reject Attorney General candidates who’ll “undermine American justice and shred the Constitution.”

CCR expressed equal outrage on July 21. Its Executive Director, Vincent Warren, denounced Mukasey’s proposal in the following excerpted statement:

“What Mukasey is doing is a shocking attempt to drag us into years of further legal challenges and delays. The Supreme Court has definitively spoken” in Boumediene v. Bush and its two prior rulings. “For six and a half years,” the administration and Congress “have done their best to (deny due process) and prevent the courts from reviewing the legality of the detention of the men in Guantanamo. Congress should be a part of the solution this time by letting the courts do their job.”

For the past six years, CCR litigated for Guantanamo detainee rights and continues to do it. It organized and coordinated over 500 pro bono lawyers for everyone held there illegally. Most recently, it represented plaintiffs in the landmark Boumediene v. Bush case – argued on December 5, 2007 and ruled on June 12, 2008.

The Wall Street Journal Reports and Editorializes

Its July 22 article states: “Mukasey Seeks Law on Detainees – Congress Is Urged to Limit Rights of Terror Suspects….in light of a rebuke by the Supreme Court.” It quotes Mukasey wanting:

— legislative “principles” for “practical” limits on the right of detainees to challenge their incarceration;

— Congress to give the administration freedom to detain combatants “for the duration of the (‘war on terror’) conflict;”

— a “reaffirmation of something that was enacted in legislation after September 11, 2001” (a menu of harsh repressive laws);

— no “enemy combatants” released in (or brought to) the US (even to appear in civil court);

— no intelligence (or harsh interrogation) methods revealed (so evidence of torture and abuse is suppressed), and

— military officers (and intelligence officials) to be excused from testifying (because what they know is damning).

On its editorial page, the Journal is supportive. It called Mukasey’s proposal “modest” on a “difficult” issue over which “different judges even on the same court will disagree.” Mukasey wants congressional “guidance” because there’s risk of “inconsistent rulings and considerable uncertainty.”

According to the Journal, Mukasey “was right in stepping forward to say that someone has to take responsibility for the consequences of the Supreme Court’s 5 – 4” Boumediene ruling. It wants “Congress (to) give one court jurisdiction over (all detainee) cases” and not let the process “bog down into a Babel of conflicting procedural and legal rulings.” Mukasey is “right” to ask Congress to settle the issue, (regardless of three landmark High Court rulings). In other words:

— constitutional and international laws don’t apply;

— judicial fairness is a dead letter;

— presidential power is supreme; and

— Congress must support the executive and overrule the highest court in the land….A “modest (police state) proposal” according to the Journal and one it clearly supports.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at .

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:


Al-Marri and the power to imprison U.S. citizens without charges

Gitmo ‘Justice’ for US Citizens? By Robert Parry

Police State

Homeland Security


Mukasey Senate Hearing: Siegelman & Rove; Torture

Dandelion Salad

July 09, 2008 C-SPAN

Sen Whitehouse to AG Mukasey: Is Waterboarding Torture?

Sen Leahy to AG Mukasey: I Want to See Someone Go To Jail!

Sen Durbin Questions AG Mukasey on Torture & War Crimes Prosecution

Sen Cardin to Mukasey: What are You’re Plans for 2008 Election

Sen Feingold asks AG Mukasey: Politicization Of Justice Dept

Sen Whitehouse asks AG Mukasey about Executive Orders


Congresswoman Wasserman on Karl Rove’s Refusal To Appear

Verdict: Bush League Justice: Rove




AG to begin American Inquisition by R J Shulman (satire)


by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
April 29, 2008

Due To Questionable Obama Preacher Attorney General To Begin “American Inquisition”

WASHINGTON – In light of the shocking revelations by former Obama minister Jerimiah Wright, Attorney General Michael Mukasey has announced the formation of a new program to protect America. The program will be called the American Inquisition and is designed to purge the unfaithful from the flock, according to Mukasey. “With the Islamofacists at our door and phony Christians already among us,” Mukasey said, “this program should be able to detect the true believers. With our carefully selected lists of potential terrorists we got from our legal spying, we will start with a procedure called ‘the Edicts of Grace’ where we will ask, let’s say for example, Jeremiah Wright to voluntarily come forward and confess fully and freely any of his heresy. And if he should refuse,” Mukasey continued, “we have a program in place to persuade him to confess more fully and freely.”

“We feel some Americans have falsely converticated to Americanism, wearing bibles and thumping jeans,” said President Bush, “go we need to go on this crusade to separate the meat from the chaff.” “For those that are worried about the budget,” said Hank Torquemada, a senior Bush financial advisor, “we already have the equipment needed for this operation.”

“This will be a good direction for our efforts,” said Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, “so we will direct our employees away from the time wasting duties such as trying to secure the boarders and checking out foreign cargo to go after these dangerous heretics.”

Senator John McCain has given his full support to the program. “This should help John with the Hispanic vote,” said William Rowe, a McCain campaign spokesman, “John understands how to be sensitive to the Latino culture and heritage and since the American Inquisition is directly based upon the Spanish Inquisition, his support for this new program clearly shows his support for Hispanics.”

Mukasey has tapped Vice President Dick Cheney to head up the committee to oversee the American Inquisition. “I can say, if you will,” the Vice President said from deep inside a chamber of an underground bunker, “that Barack Obama’s ridiculous claim he is a Christian and not a Muslim is in its final throes.”


Reverend Wright Delivers the Knockout Punch By Mike Whitney

Rev Jeremiah Wright Without The Right-Wing Propaganda (vid)

Bill Moyers Journal: Reverend Jeremiah Wright (videos)

Subsidizing Corporate Crime & Rewarding Constitutional Abuses

Dandelion Salad

By Shahid Buttar
04/24/08 “Huffington Post

Government handouts to corporations might seem untenable at a time when more and more Americans suffer every day from the impacts of a mounting economic crisis. Yet efforts to bolster the economy have largely taken the form of corporate welfare — much like an appalling effort, in the closing days of the Bush administration, to subsidize corporate violations of the rule of law and individual liberties.

After the Federal Reserve’s $30 billion bailout for investment bank Bear Stearns last month came the Senate’s recent decision to set aside $25 billion in tax breaks for corporate homebuilders, and then last week’s revelation of “a historic collapse in audits” of major corporations by the IRS. All three stories prompted outrage from observers noting the implications for American workers.

But even these insults pale next to another round of corporate welfare currently considered by Congress for the telecom industry — a handout that, despite a smaller price tag, even more thoroughly degrades the public interest by both undermining national security and offending our nation’s fundamental interests in transparency and the rule of law.

Subsidy Via Amnesty

Both houses of Congress recently authorized a constitutionally suspect domestic spying program that violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The Senate also approved, although the House patriotically rejected, a further give-away to telecom companies.

Unlike loan guarantees for Bear Stearns or tax subsidies for condo developers, the Senate’s handout to telecom companies including AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon takes the form of an amnesty: retroactive immunity from nearly 40 pending lawsuits alleging that their participation in the Administration’s surveillance activities illegally (and possibly unconstitutionally) invaded the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans.

Given the pervasive secrecy surrounding government surveillance, concerned citizens across the country initiated the litigation largely to learn more about the government’s activities. But even the limited information known to the public suggests that the Senate bill effectively subsidizes corporate crime, encourages secrecy, denigrates transparency, offends the rule of law, rewards constitutional subversion — and also undermines national security.

Secret Government and Censorship

First and foremost, the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (TSP) is the mere tip of an iceberg that remains mostly secret.

Enacted over the dramatic objections of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the TSP is the only domestic surveillance program confirmed by government sources. Other programs — for which potential challenges could loom in the future — continue to operate in secret, including a data-mining scheme run by the National Security Agency (NSA) that reportedly duplicates the “Total Information Awareness” program affirmatively rejected by Congress.

In late 2005, The New York Times exposed the TSP in an investigative report that the White House stonewalled for over a year and attempted to censor. Like the revelation of the Nixon administration’s (far less ambitious) surveillance operations, the story deeply shook the Washington establishment. However, in sharp contrast to the Watergate era, the contemporary abuses have only grown worse since their revelation.

The Watergate scandal led to the formation of the Church Committee, the FISA statute (for whose violations telecom companies now seek a public subsidy), and the threatened impeachment and resignation of the President. In contrast, the revelation of today’s domestic spying scandal culminated in congressional permission for previously illegal acts committed by executive officials.

Even before evading accountability for secret programs violating the rights of millions of Americans, Administration officials threatened to prosecute the journalists who exposed their abuses to the public. The reporters pursued both ends and means at the core of the First Amendment, and even delayed publication of their story for over a year based on objections fabricated by the administration. Yet they were framed as criminals, rather than guardians of the public interest.

Transparency and Checks & Balances

Among the principles protected by the Constitution, few compare with the transparency sought by the First Amendment. The reason is simple: government secrecy impedes democracy.

Controversial government programs are theoretically restrained by checks and balances, like legislative oversight and judicial review. But neither Congress nor the courts have a way to check a secret program.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) faced this problem when reviewing the TSP in a closed 2003 briefing. After the meeting, he wrote to Vice President Dick Cheney to “reiterate [his] concerns,” noting that “the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues,” but that, because he is “neither a technician nor an attorney,” his “inability to consult staff or counsel on [his] own” rendered him “unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities.”

Nor is Congress the only branch stymied by secrecy. Domestic spying faced no legal challenges in court until 2006 only because, until then, the TSP had been secret. And the Senate’s bill effectively forces courts to dismiss the numerous suits filed after the program was revealed.

As Sixth Circuit Judge Damon Keith wrote in another context, it is because “[d]emocracies die behind closed doors….[that] the Framers of the First Amendment….protected the people against secret government.” But secrecy pervades the TSP’s history, animates the Administration’s threat to prosecute the journalists who courageously exposed it, and continues to hide from scrutiny the government’s other unconfirmed — but ongoing — surveillance programs.

Each obstruction violates bedrock democratic principles by denying the opportunity for either a legislative or judicial check. Put another way, executive secrecy leaves the President unrestrained by precluding other branches of government, as well as civil society, from pursuing checks and balances.

Secret programs recall those of former Soviet bloc countries during the era of totalitarian rule. The Constitution — and our Republic — has been turned on its head.

Executive Aggrandizement vs. The Rule of Law

Setting aside how secrecy offends democracy, domestic spying also assaults the rule of law on multiple fronts and aggrandizes executive power.

At the outset, the Senate’s immunity provision effectively declares the FISA law void — but only after the fact of violation, and only as it pertains to specific violators. Such procedural arbitrariness makes a mockery of the Rule of Law, even setting aside the substantive illegitimacy of rewarding criminal behavior.

In addition, the TSP shares the same legal pedigree as the infamous “torture memo” recently repudiated by Attorney General Mukasey. Its concoction roiled the executive branch, inspired resistance culminating in threats by senior officials to resign, and bears the fingerprints of the same arch-conservatives whose view of executive power bears no limit. The program embodies a deeply controversial theory attacked from across the ideological spectrum.

The only court to publicly examine the program on its merits declared the TSP unconstitutional, and a separate ruling by a secret court struck down portions of the program, although its precise contours remain unknown. A conservative appellate court dismissed the first ruling on a legal technicality, and since the Supreme Court rejected a petition to appeal the case, the TSP has been effectively insulated from judicial review despite grave concerns about its legal basis.

The TSP stood on thin legal ice — until Congress lay itself (and the American people) at the President’s feet.

Thus, a scheme invading the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans continues unchecked, despite the constitutional abuses implicit in warrantless surveillance. Private suits pending against the program’s telecom enablers present the only remaining opportunity through which to check the administration’s surveillance activities, especially now that Congress has authorized them to continue.

Moreover, unless suits against the telecom companies are allowed to proceed, the full scope of warrantless surveillance — and the extent to which it may have been abused by an administration already known for politicizing various institutions, including the Justice Department and even the Centers for Disease Control — may never be known.

Finally, the Bush administration’s other surveillance programs stand effectively immune from judicial review or congressional oversight as long as they, too, remain secret. Regarding unconfirmed secret data-mining by the NSA, Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden (D-OR) recently argued, “There’s not been as much discussion in the Congress as there ought to be.”

Especially given this lack of oversight, private interests should be discouraged from compromising individual liberty interests. The Senate bill instead invites them to disregard their customers’ privacy with impunity.

Immunizing telecom companies for enabling the TSP thus sends the wrong message to other companies that, through other secret programs, continue to help authorities spy on Americans — as well as those, like Qwest, that tried to protect their customers from prying government eyes.

Dragnets vs. Real Security

Transparency, democratic checks & balances, and the rule of law are not the only values undermined by domestic spying. The TSP also hinders counterterrorism efforts. Put simply, sweeping domestic surveillance undermines security by inundating analysts with false leads.

Throughout the debate about re-authorizing FISA, Administration apologists have falsely claimed that domestic spying is necessary to protect the country from a future terrorist attack. Intelligence analysts have repeatedly rejected such red herrings.

Earlier this month, senior counter-terrorism officials and intelligence analysts from agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center hosted a briefing on their assessments of domestic terrorism. One analyst captured a point of consensus by explaining that “having too much data is as much a problem as having too little.”

According to The Washington Post, “Even with 38,000 employees, the NSA is incapable of translating, transcribing and analyzing more than a fraction of the conversations it intercepts.” The New York Times confirms that, in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, “F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the [NSA], which was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans’ international communications and conducting computer searches…that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators.”

Domestic surveillance not only violates several constitutional principles and tears at the very fabric of our constitutional Republic, but also fails to achieve its purported ends.

Government Handouts to Repeat Recipients

By granting immunity for participating in this ineffective and potentially illegal scheme, the Senate offered the telecom industry — which is no stranger to government largess — yet another corporate handout.

In 2004, Philadelphia announced a municipal wireless plan enabling wi-fi service for its residents at a fraction of the retail cost. The plan enhances efficiency by leveraging economies of scale and encouraging economic development, while also seeking equality by diminishing the digital divide.

But, lobbied by telecom companies, the Pennsylvania state legislature banned other cities from following Philadelphia’s lead. The ensuing state-by-state march against municipal wireless began shortly after Congress passed the 2003 Medicare legislation, which similarly maximized health care costs by prohibiting collective bargaining by government purchasers. Each measure represented an enormous — though politically covert — give-away to corporate interests.

The TSP itself entails corporate handouts to telecom companies. As security analysts monitor, review and track the telephone calls of millions of Americans, they incur millions of dollars in fees. Beyond those charges known to the rogue authorities who oversee the program, companies also have at least sometimes overcharged the government, and some law enforcement authorities have embezzled funds.

Congressional Co-optation

After enabling the most secret and intrusive government program since COINTELPRO, running roughshod over the Fourth Amendment, expanding Presidential power without congressional or judicial authorization, and reaping immense profits while doing so, telecom companies now demand immunity from law-abiding Americans seeking to vindicate their rights.

And instead of responding assertively to defend the Constitution — or even simply maintaining the statutory protections erected by the Watergate-era Church Committee — Congress instead perversely debates whether retroactive immunity is necessary to encourage such corporate crime and constitutional subversion in the future.

Corporate welfare may be offensive in the abstract, but it is even more galling when supporting chronic recipients, and downright odious when used to reward constitutional subversion.

The House bill is the lesser of two evils. Like its Senate counterpart, it abdicates Congress’ responsibility to check the executive and sacrifices constitutional liberties violated by warrantless surveillance. But by allowing in camera (i.e., sealed) judicial review of classified evidence, it at least leaves the courthouse doors open, while allowing corporate defendants to challenge their accusers without violating the Administration’s secrecy.

Policymakers have already abandoned the freedom sought by the framers of the First Amendment, and their successors who passed FISA, by authorizing domestic surveillance in the first instance. But the suits against telecom companies enabling surveillance should proceed. With corporate welfare having already richly padded the telecom industry’s pockets, it should not receive from Congress yet another subsidy for abusing Americans and the Constitution.

Shahid Buttar is a civil rights lawyer, hip-hop MC, independent columnist, grassroots community organizer, singer and poet. Professionally, he directs a program combating racial & religious profiling at a non-profit legal advocacy and educational organization representing the American Muslim community. He also leads a U.S.-based organization supporting the Pakistani lawyers movement in its struggle to defend the Rule of Law.

Copyright © 2008, Inc.


Bailout Bonanza by Ralph Nader

Interview: Ralph Nader Says We’re Living Under Corporate Fascism (link)

Mukasey Defends Bush Regime Spying, Domestic Military Operations by Tom Burghardt

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, April 13, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

During an emotional speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on March 27, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asserted that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented “if the government had been able to wiretap a phone call from Afghanistan,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

As I wrote March 30, we know that Mukasey’s declaration was factually false, yet the USAG continues to claim that the government should be able to monitor communications from “terrorists,” without seeking permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) whose brief from Congress, under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), does precisely that.

In other words, Mukasey is either substantially ignorant of the law or is playing a mendacious game at the behest of his political masters, one that strips Americans of their constitutionally-guaranteed Fourth Amendment rights.

During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Thursday, Mukasey told sceptical senators “the one thing I got wrong was the geography, but other than that, it was spot on.”

The Bush administration continues to press Congress to expand the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program by passing a new “Protect America Act” which expired February 16.

The administration would grant various arms of the intelligence bureaucracy carte blanche to spy on Americans while limiting court review of the process. The proposed new law, overwhelmingly supported by Senate Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress, would bar pending lawsuits against giant telecommunications companies accused of providing access to their networks and company records to Bushist spymasters.

Challenging the veracity of Mukasey’s assertions at the Commonwealth Club, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), pointedly inquired:

This statement is very disturbing for several reasons. Initially, despite extensive inquiries after 9/11, I am aware of no previous reference, in the 9/11 Commission report or elsewhere, to a call from a know terrorist safehouse in Afghanistan to the United States which, if it had been intercepted, could have helped prevent the 9/11 attacks. In addition, if the Administration had know of such communications from suspected terrorists, they could and should have been intercepted based on existing FISA law. For example, even assuming that a FISA warrant was required to intercept such calls, as of 9/11 FISA specifically authorized such surveillance on an emergency basis without a warrant for a 48 hour period. If such calls were known about and not intercepted, serious additional concerns would be raised about the government’s failure to take appropriate action before 9/11. (Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, “The Honorable Michael Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States,” April 3, 2008)

Claiming that many threats “do not appear to be emergencies until it is too late,” Justice Department official Brian Benczkowski, challenged Conyers’ assertion and said that it’s “easy to say, after the fact,” a particular call could have been intercepted under the law. Chronicle reporter Bob Egelko writes that Benczkowski said “it makes more sense to eliminate legal obstacles to effective intelligence-gathering overseas.” In other words, give the administration what it wants: unlimited power to spy on Americans.

Despite Conyers’ correctly calling out Mukasey on his unequivocal falsehoods on the issue of monitoring al-Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks, Conyers too, substantially misrepresents the facts. To wit, the National Security Agency (NSA) maintained close electronic surveillance of al-Qaeda’s communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen for years before 9/11. Such monitoring included not one call, but probably dozens of communications amongst operatives of Osama bin Laden’s “Martyrdom Battalion.”

According to Paul Thompson at the History Commons, NSA, CIA and FBI monitoring included the interception of communications among al-Qaeda assets prior to the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000:

Mid-August 1998-October 2000: Al-Qaeda Operatives Use Monitored Yemen Communications Hub to Coordinate Cole Bombing

Al-Qaeda operatives use a communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, to “put everything together” before the bombing of the USS Cole. The communications hub is run by Ahmed al-Hada, who US officials will later describe as “a prominent al-Qaeda member who is believed to have been involved in the Cole bombing.” The hub is monitored by US intelligence from 1998, at least, (see Late August 1998) and information gleaned from it is used to thwart a number of plots (see Late 1998-Early 2002). The US monitors the house through bugs planted inside and through spy satellites to monitor people leaving and entering it. The hub was also used before the 1998 embassy bombings and will be used to communicate with the 9/11 hijackers before 9/11 (see Early 2000-Summer 2001). [MSNBC, 2/14/2002; MIRROR, 6/9/2002; MSNBC, 5/2005] When the FBI arrives in Yemen to investigate the bombing, it finds that “telephone records show[…] that suspects in the Cole bombing had been in touch with suspects from the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya.” [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 238] Calls between the hub and an al-Qaeda cell in Ireland that seems to have a connection to the Cole bombing are also intercepted during part of this period (see Late December 1999-October 12, 2000). It is unclear why the information does not allow the NSA to thwart the plot. Despite the scope of the monitoring, NSA Director Michael Hayden will later say there were no intercepts the NSA could have exploited to stop the bombing: “When the Cole disaster took place I had brought to my desk in, in this office, every stitch of NSA reporting on the–that could in any way be related to this. And I went thought it report by report and I sent a letter out to our entire work force, which was essentially, you performed well. Keep up the good work.” [CBS NEWS, 6/19/2002]

As I have written before, the 9/11 attacks, were neither a “failure of the imagination” as the 9/11 Commission asserted, nor the result of “flawed communications” between various security arms of the state to “connect the dots.” The murder of some 3,000 individuals on U.S. soil were the result of actions undertaken by successive U.S. administrations’ to protect on-going intelligence operations by the United States in the Balkans, Central Asia and the Middle East.

While al-Qaeda is certainly a far-right terrorist organization responsible for politically-motivated acts of murder, and have sought to obtain and deploy chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, this did not preclude their utilization as intelligence assets by the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations. The United States and their NATO allies, freely employed al-Qaeda and other Islamist forces as a cats-paw as they conducted multiple destabilization campaigns in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as well as within the former Soviet Union itself, notably in Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Russian province of Chechnya, as Michel Chossudovsky has documented. Nor has it prevented the Bush administration from using such reactionary forces as disposable assets as it currently wages a covert war against Iran, as Seymour Hersh reported last year in The New Yorker.

As with his fictitious claims regarding the 9/11 attacks, Mukasey has essentially condoned moves by the administration to deploy the U.S. military domestically for “counterterrorist” operations.

Despite Bush administration assertions to the contrary, there is no evidence that domestic operations by the U.S. military are legal under the U.S. Constitution, despite Mukasey’s testimony Thursday, when he attempted to distance himself from a classified October 2001 Department of Justice memorandum.

Responding to a question put to him by the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mukasey said that “the Fourth Amendment applies across the board, whether we’re in wartime or peacetime,” according to The New York Times.

Times’ reporter Philip Shenon wrote,

Still, the attorney general did not repudiate the entire document. He also did not say if its findings had been formally withdrawn or when it might be turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has requested a copy.

The memorandum’s existence was revealed last week when the Bush administration released a copy of a separate Justice Department document from 2003 that referred to the October 2001 memorandum in a footnote.

The footnote said the 2001 memorandum, which has not been shared outside the administration, concluded that the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, did not apply to “domestic military operations” against terrorist threats. (“Mukasey Distances Himself from a Memo on Searches,” The New York Times, April 11, 2008)

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Saturday that the Department of Homeland Security “plans to start using the nation’s most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea’s legal authority.”

DHS will “activate” the National Applications Office’s satellite surveillance program for (unspecified) domestic purposes. First proposed last August by DHS, the NAO’s overhead sensor data will be used by law enforcement “once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved.” DHS has previously averred that the program “will not intercept communications.”

This however, is a meaningless parsing of intelligence terminology by DHS, more reflective of its desire to conceal than to reveal the nature of NAO’s domestic “mission.” Data “captured” by satellites are referred to in the “trade” as GEOINT or Geospatial Intelligence, gathered by satellite, aerial photography, mapping/terrain data, or IMINT, imagery intelligence, gathered from satellite or aerial photography. Strictly speaking, communications monitoring such as that conducted by NSA is referred to as SIGINT, or signals intelligence. The question is: what or whom will be “mapped” by space-based satellites and/or high-altitude spy planes such as Lockheed’s U2 or its SR-71 Blackbird? DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff claimed,

“There is no basis to suggest that this process is in any way insufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans,” Chertoff wrote to Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.), chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee and its intelligence subcommittee, respectively, in letters released yesterday.

“I think we’ve fully addressed anybody’s concerns,” Chertoff added in remarks last week to bloggers. “I think the way is now clear to stand it up and go warm on it.”

His statements marked a fresh determination to operate the department’s new National Applications Office as part of its counterterrorism efforts. The administration in May 2007 gave DHS authority to coordinate requests for satellite imagery, radar, electronic-signal information, chemical detection and other monitoring capabilities that have been used for decades within U.S. borders for mapping and disaster response.

But Congress delayed launch of the new office last October. Critics cited its potential to expand the role of military assets in domestic law enforcement, to turn new or as-yet-undeveloped technologies against Americans without adequate public debate, and to divert the existing civilian and scientific focus of some satellite work to security uses. (Spencer S. Hsu, “Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S..” The Washington Post, April 12, 2008, Page A3)

We should not be deceived either by Mukasey, Chertoff or by half-hearted gestures from Congress to reign in the “post-Constitutional” Bush regime. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Democratic Party has been complicit with Bush administration claims of unlimited executive power to fight its alleged “war against terror.”

From the torture of detainees, the launching of “preemptive” wars of conquest, the circumvention of binding international treaties, to the subversion of Americans’ democratic rights under the U.S. Constitution, the Democrats have rubber-stamped and provided Bush and his minions a rationale–“protecting the Homeland”–for overturning all Constitutional restrictions on presidential and military power.

Illegal domestic spying by the FBI, NSA and “security” corporations operating beyond the reach of any meaningful oversight by elected, democratic institutions will continue long after the Bush administration ignobly sails off into the proverbial sunset.

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
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