"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Thursday, July 10, 2008

FISA, FISA And More FISA. (and) Bush: “Whoa, nobody gets to see our emails…No Sir!

Angle uncritically reported Hatch's remarks downplaying reach of government's warrantless eavesdropping program

Summary: On Special Report, Jim Angle reported that during debate on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, "Senator Orrin Hatch dismissed the idea that the intelligence agencies were trying to listen to anyone other than those with terrorist connections" and aired a clip of Hatch stating, "I don't want to bruise anyone's ego, but if Al Qaeda is not on your speed dial, the government is probably not interested in you." Angle did not note that several news articles have reported that surveillance under the government's warrantless eavesdropping program was not limited to those with "Al Qaeda on [their] speed dial," but also included thousands of Americans with no ties to any terrorist group.

In a report on the Senate's passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that aired during the July 9 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle aired clips of senators debating whether to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that allegedly participated in the administration's warrantless surveillance program.

He then stated that during the debate on the bill, "Senator Orrin Hatch [R-UT] dismissed the idea that the intelligence agencies were trying to listen to anyone other than those with terrorist connections" and uncritically aired a clip of Hatch stating, "I don't want to bruise anyone's ego, but if Al Qaeda is not on your speed dial, the government is probably not interested in you." However, as Media Matters has repeatedly noted (here here, here, here, and here), following the December 2005 New York Times article revealing the existenc e of the government's warrantless surveillance program, several news articles reported that surveillance that occurred under the program was not limited to those with "Al Qaeda on [their] speed dial," as Hatch put it, but also included thousands of Americans with no ties to any terrorist group.

Surveillance takes place in several stages, officials said, the earliest by machine. Computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears.

More….. (Much More)

NSA Wiretapping: The Legal Debate

National Security Agency

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Hold the Senate Accountable for Their FISA Votes

Please take a moment to send an email to your senators holding them accountable for their vote on the FISA bill yesterday. Either thank them for voting against it, or hold them accountable for voting for it. With just a zip code and a couple of clicks of the mouse, you can send either a pre-filled message or a custom message to your senators on this issue.

Open Letter to Barack Obama: We Demand Accountability

Wednesday, the Senate passed the so-called "compromise" FISA bill and gave retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that illegally gave the Bush administration private data without warrants.

Obama voted for this bill. Please sign our open letter to Barack Obama demanding accountability, and invite your friends to the do the same.

Join the Discussion on FISA

Due to the overwhelming volume of email in our MyBO email group, we have created an online open discussion forum where we can talk about FISA and how to get involved to demand that this issue be revisited.

Bush Looks to His (Secret) Legacy | By Jason Leopold | July 11, 2008

George W. Bush, who has expanded his power to access the e-mails and other electronic communications of Americans, is resisting congressional demands that White House e-mails be saved for later research by historians.

Bush signaled he would veto a House-passed bill that seeks to overhaul the Presidential and Federal Records Act to ensure that e-mails and other government documents are preserved in the age of the Internet.

The measure passed the House, 286-137, on Wednesday, after congressional investigations revealed that the Bush administration apparently purged millions of e-mails and that dozens of administration officials used e-mail accounts maintained by the Republican National Committee to conduct official White House business and thus evade federal records laws.

Watchdog groups -- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, and George Washington University’s National Security Archive -- sued the administration last year alleging the White House violated the Presidential Records Act by not archiving e-mails sent and received between 2003 and 2005.

The Bush administration, in threatening to veto the legislation, said the bill is "an excessive and inappropriate intrusion" into the work of the Executive Branch and its staff.

In a statement, the White House said the Electronic Message Preservation Act would "upset the delicate separation of powers" created in the 1978 Presidential Records Act, a law drafted in response to the widespread abuse of federal records during the Nixon administration.

The Presidential Records Act states that the records of a President, his immediate staff and specific areas of the Executive Office of the President belong to the United States, not to the individual President or his staff.

The act further states that the President must "take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented."

By coincidence, Bush issued his veto threat – against this legislative “intrusion” into the handling of his internal records – on the same day that Congress gave final approval to a law granting Bush broader authority to intercept e-mail and other electronic communications by American citizens.

Bush, who signed that legislation into law on Thursday, said his new spying powers were necessary to keep an eye on international communications between people in the United States and foreigners suspected of terrorist ties. However, critics say the warrantless wiretaps shred the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Expanded Secrecy

Since taking office in January 2001, Bush has sought to limit the public’s right to see historical records from past presidents, including his father. In one of his first acts, Bush delayed the scheduled release of documents from the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

After the 9/11 attacks, Bush expanded this secrecy by requiring that releases of historical White House documents must get approval from the current President and the former President or his heirs.

Bush’s veto threat also underscores his position that the President is entitled to broad executive powers and attempts by Congress to rein in that authority are unconstitutional.

The e-mail controversy first surfaced in January 2006 when Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity, said he "learned that not all e-mail of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."

An internal investigation by officials in the Office of Administration had concluded that e-mails from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney between Sept. 30, 2003, and Oct. 6, 2003, were lost and unrecoverable.

That was the week when the Justice Department launched an investigation into the Plame leak and set a deadline for Bush administration officials to turn over documents and e-mails containing any reference to Plame Wilson or her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had angered the White House by criticizing Bush’s case for invading Iraq.

Additionally, Office of Administration staffers said there were at least 400 other days between March 2003 and October 2005 when e-mails could not be located in either Cheney’s office or the Executive Office of the President.

Theresa Payton, the Office of Administration’s chief information officer, admitted in January that the White House “recycled” its computer back-up tapes until October 2003, making it much more difficult to retrieve e-mails. ‘

Legislation Would Reduce Abuses

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said the new House-passed bill also addressed the administration’s conduct of official business through non-governmental e-mail.

Waxman noted that former White House political adviser Karl Rove conducted more than 90 percent of his White House business via an RNC e-mail account going as far back as 2001 and that those records were apparently destroyed.

"Despite the importance of these records, serious deficiencies exist in the way e-mails are preserved, both by the White House and federal agencies," said Waxman, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Waxman said the Oversight Committee first discovered administration officials were using nongovernmental e-mail accounts during its investigation into disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his contacts with the White House.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, said many of the missing White House e-mails coincide with some of the Bush administration's biggest scandals, depriving the public a historical accounting of an already secretive administration.

"Whether it is Vice President Cheney's secret Energy Task Force meetings or the cover-up of the outing of Valerie Plame, the Bush administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to conduct its affairs in secret and to hide key documents from those investigating wrongdoing," Dingell said.

The House bill, which now heads to the Senate, calls upon the Archivist of the United States to develop a plan to capture, manage and preserve White House and federal agencies' e-mails and requires the archivist to certify whether the White House has complied with management of electronic communications.

Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives, said in an interview that her agency does not have the power to force the White House to comply with the Presidential Records Act.

“The key thing to remember about presidential records is that it doesn’t become ours until the end of the administration,” Cooper said. “The National Archives does not have any say or legal input until the end of a President’s term. It’s up to the President to decide how he manages his records.

“However, federal records are a different story. We have input into that immediately. If we believe a federal agency is violating the Federal Records Act we will write a letter to the agency and ask for an explanation and if necessary we will refer the case to the Justice Department.”

In May 2007, Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, said the National Archives wrote a letter to the White House when reports about the extent of the missing e-mails began to surface.

“Because the [Executive Office of the President] e-mail system contains records governed under both the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act, on May 6, 2007, the National Archives sent a standard letter to [Alan R. Swendiman] the Director of the Office of Administration requesting a report on the allegations of unauthorized destruction of Federal records,” Weinstein told the House Oversight Committee last month.

The White House criticized Waxman’s legislation as "vague" and said the US. Archivist would be provided with "substantial leeway to establish standards that could impose significant costs and burdens on an incumbent administration, which could interfere with a President's ability to carry out his or her constitutional and statutory responsibilities"

David Gewirtz, an expert on e-mail and the author of the book Where Have All the Emails Gone?, said the legislation is a good first step but the fact that it would take at least five years to fully implement an electronic document preservation program is troubling.

"White House e-mail is very problematic," Gewirtz said. “What offends me as an IT professional is that none of these problems are insurmountable. In fact, most of them are easy to solve. What's worse: not a single private-sector CIO [chief information officer] would be allowed to get away with negligence on this massive scale.”

Jason Leopold has launched a new Web site, The Public Record, at www.pubrecord.org

Kucinich Article and FISA Suit Brewing
By Ed. Dickau(Ed. Dickau)
Draft Version of New Article of Impeachment. AND. The Nation joined with the ACLU in a lawsuit filed in the US District Court (Southern District) of New York challenging the constitutionality of the Act. Kucinich opened his resolution ...

The Impeachment Hearing Room - http://theimpeachmenthearingroom.blogspo t.com/

Bush Did NOT Invoke Executive Privilege for Rove
By emptywheel
Toady, Karl Rove was set to appear under subpoena before the House
Judiciary Committee to discuss the politicization of the Justice Department. Yesterday, Rove’s lawyer wrote a letter declaring Rove would not testify, citing executive ...(Send The Marshalls and Arrest Hid Ass..No More Screwing Around (Ed.)
Emptywheel - http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com


America Is Losing the World's Respect