"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

Impeach, Kucinich Tonight, Chris Dodd, FISA, ACLU, ROVE, Obamas, Should Bush be tried for war crimes? (Plus)

The chorus demanding George Bush be prosecuted for torture and other constitutional abuses is getting louder

Stand Ready To Help Dennis Kucinich

http://itsthejudiciarycommitteestupid.blogspot.com/ (Additional Tools Update)

Chris Dodd (His Finest Moment)


Keep In Touch With Rasmussen

Telecom Amnesty Flip-Floppers Got More Telecom Dollars

Democrats who switched from opposing to supporting legal amnesty to telecoms that aided the government's warrantless wiretapping program received twice as much money, on average, from telcom political action groups than Democrats whose opposed the idea in March and again last Friday, according to an analysis of campaign donations by Maplight.org.

220 Democratic members of the House voted against telecom amnesty in March, when the Democrats unexpectedly rejected a Bush-backed Senate spying bill. But, 94 of those switched their vote last Friday, supporting a bill ironed out by the House leadership that expands the government's ability to conduct blanket wiretaps inside American telecom facilities and freeing those companies from the 40 or so lawsuits pending in Federal court.

Maplight.org analyzed the contributions to both sets of the Democrats and found that those who switched their votes received, on average, 40 percent more money in campaign contributions over the last three years from Sprint, Verizon and AT&T's political action committees.

On average, those who changed their votes collected $8,359 dollars from those PACs from January 2005 through March 2008, while those who did not change their opposition collected $4,987.

For all House members, including Republicans, those supporting immunity collected nearly twice as much money from those PACs than those who did not: $9,659 to $4,810.

Maplight.org was careful not to say that any member's vote was purchased, but says the correlation raises questions.

"Why did these ninety-four House members have a change of heart?" asked Daniel Newman, executive director of Maplight.org in the accompanying press release. "Their constituents deserve answers."

Larry Lessig, a Stanford professor who serves on Maplight.org's board, has argued that money corrupts, despite the fact that our current crop of politicians may be the cleanest in the nation's history.

In a March speech about his new project to drive special interest money out of politics, Lessig argued that politicians subtly align themselves with the money they have and need to raise -- much like researchers funded by drug companies internalize their benefactors' goals.

"Money corrupts the process of reasoning," Lessig said. "They get a sixth sense of how what they do might affect how they raise money."

Senate keeps telecom immunity in surveillance bill
Computerworld - Framingham,MA,USA
By Grant Gross July 9, 2008 (IDG News Service) WASHINGTON - The US Senate has defeated three amendments that would have removed or weakened lawsuit immunity ...See all stories on this topic

Conyers Probe Reeks of Racism and Conspiracy (and here’s why . . .)
By Liberty Bell
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to consider Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment against Bush and Dick Cheney. In a career-calculating move, she called the impeachment proceedings “divisive,” and then was later seen ...Freedom Fighters United - http://freedomfightersunited.wordpress.com

The United States Congress has reached an all time low in polling among voters. According to the most recent Rasmussen Report, only nine percent (9%) of voters approve of the job that Congress is doing.

When asked to explain the awful showing among voters, Speaker Pelosi mentioned that she, too, is concerned about how Congress is performing. Pelosi urged voters not to be too harsh on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, reminding us that "Harry is doing the best he can for a man his age and with his limited skills set."

The big question: Who are the dunderheads that make up the nine percent that think Pelosi and Reid are doing a good job?

Impeach Bush Now
By Elizabeth Holtzman, The Nation
Impeachment is a critical way to curb executive power gone amok. Without public support, presidents will continue to abuse their authority. Read more »

According to a top aide, John McCain recently endorsed George W. Bush's right to wiretap American citizens without court approval, despite the clear requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Clearly, McCain has learned nothing from the past seven-plus years of Bush/Cheney assaults on the Constitution.

More troubling is that he doesn't seem very worried that his position will generate serious criticism. And apparently it has not. The lack of public outcry points to the likelihood that too many Americans are either confused about a President's prerogatives or have been persuaded by the years of Bush's constitutional abuses that a chief executive has the right to violate the law or subvert the Constitution in other ways.

McCain's position and the response to it demonstrate how much the Bush Administration has damaged public understanding of the system of checks and balances that lies at the heart of our democracy. The framers believed that unchecked power, including unchecked executive power, was the greatest threat to our liberties, but too many citizens today perceive that danger as unreal.

That is why Congress should initiate impeachment proceedings now.

John Dean Proposes a Permanent Impeachment Subcommittee with Power ...
By davidswanson
I interviewed him online for the past hour. The audio will be posted HERE.
AfterDowningStreet.org - Impeach... - http://www.afterdowningstreet.org

Senate Backs Wiretap Bill to Shield Phone Companies
New York Times - United States
Liberal Democrats in the Senate, led by Senators Feingold and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, sought in vain to pare down the proposal. ...See all stories on this topic

Senate Dems Cave on Telecom Immunity
The Washington Independent - Washington,DC,USA
Specter, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it makes little sense for lawmakers to grant immunity without knowing the crime. ...See all stories on this topic

if this doesn't get Dems to vote 3rd party, nothing will
By r_b_bergstrom(Jake)
Letting this telecom immunity crap go through is burning all the good will I had for the Dems - and I've voted Democrat in every Presidential, Senatorial, or Congressional election as long as I could vote, and Democrat in most local ...Repeated Expletives: - http://repeatedexpletives.blogspot.com/

Senate Approves Telecom Amnesty, Expands Domestic Spying Powers
Wired News - USA
By Ryan Singel July 09, 2008 | 3:13:49 PMCategories: NSA, Surveillance, The Ridiculous The Senate overwhelming voted Wednesday to grant retroactive amnesty ...See all stories on this topic

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to grant retroactive amnesty to the telecoms that aided the President Bush's five-year secret, warrantless wiretapping of Americans, and to expand the government's authority to sift through U.S. communications, handing a key victory to the Bush administration.

The Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama (D-Illinois) voted for the final bill, despite intense lobbying by supporters who used Obama's own online organizing technology to try to hold him to his promise to fight any bill that included amnesty. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted against the bill.

The 68 to 29 vote puts an end to more than a year of debate over whether the government should be able to collect millions of e-mails and phone calls daily from U.S.-based communication switches without any probable cause. It also answers whether Congress believes the nation's telecoms and president had a duty to follow the rules set out in 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was passed after the abuses of the 1950s and 60s.

If the FISA Amendments Act survives constitutional challenge, it dooms the dozens of anti-wiretapping lawsuits filed against the nation's telecoms, by ordering the judge in charge of the cases to dismiss them if the telecoms can prove the government asked them to help out.

Those suits seek billions in damages for alleged massive violations of communication privacy laws, and seek to prevent companies from participating again in the future without proper court orders.

Congress's wiretapping debate started in earnest last spring after the nation's secret spying court struck down a version of the president's secret surveillance program. That led Bush and his surrogates in the Justice Department and intelligence community to push Congress to grant it powers that the administration claimed for itself, until it was forced to submit the secret wiretapping program to a court in January 2007.

Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, who nearly single-handedly derailed a vote on a similar bill in December, took the floor one last time Wednesday morning, imploring his fellow senators to let the courts continue without interference. He also offered hope to immunity foes by predicting of the measure will be struck down in court.

"Opponents of retroactive immunity can take solace in knowing that it will still ultimately be the judiciary that decides whether any of this would have passed muster with the framers," Dodd said. "I can hardly see how it would have."

“The law itself is a massive intrusion into the due process rights of all of the phone subscribers who would be a part of the suit,” said Bruce Afran, a New Jersey lawyer representing several hundred plaintiffs suing Verizon and other companies. “It is a violation of the separation of powers. It’s presidential election-year cowardice. The Democrats are afraid of looking weak on national security.”

The legislation also expands the government’s power to invoke emergency wiretapping procedures. While the N.S.A. would be allowed to seek court orders for broad groups of foreign targets, the law creates a new seven-day period for directing wiretaps at foreigners without a court order in “exigent” circumstances if government officials assert that important national security information would be lost. The law also expands to seven days, from three, the period for emergency wiretaps on Americans without a court order if the attorney general certifies there is probable cause to believe the target is linked to terrorism.

Democrats pointed to some concessions they had won. The final bill includes a reaffirmation that the FISA law is the “exclusive” means of conducting intelligence wiretaps — a provision that Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House speaker, and other Democrats insisted would prevent Mr. Bush or any future president from evading court scrutiny in the way they say that the N.S.A. program did.

Congress votes to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, legalize warrantless eavesdropping : http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

Senate Approves Telecom Immunity and New Eavesdropping Rules


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bowing to President Bush's demands, the Senate approved and sent the White House a bill Wednesday to overhaul bitterly disputed rules on secret government eavesdropping and shield telecommunications companies from lawsuits complaining they helped the U.S. spy on Americans.

The relatively one-sided vote, 69-28, came only after a lengthy and heated debate that pitted privacy and civil liberties concerns against the desire to prevent terrorist attacks. It ended almost a year of wrangling in the Democratic-led Congress over surveillance rules and the president's warrantless wiretapping program that was initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The House passed the same bill last month, and Bush said he would sign it soon.

Opponents assailed the eavesdropping program, asserting that it imperiled citizens' rights of privacy from government intrusion. But Bush said the legislation protects those rights as well as Americans' security.

''This bill will help our intelligence professionals learn who the terrorists are talking to, what they're saying and what they're planning,'' he said in a brief White House appearance after the Senate vote.

The bill is very much a political compromise, brought about by a deadline: Wiretapping orders authorized last year will begin to expire in August. Without a new bill, the government would go back to old FISA rules, requiring multiple new orders and potential delays to continue those intercepts. That is something most of Congress did not want to see happen, particularly in an election year.

The long fight on Capitol Hill centered on one main question: whether to protect from civil lawsuits any telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on American phone and computer lines without the permission or knowledge of a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The White House had threatened to veto the bill unless it immunized companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. against wiretapping lawsuits.

Forty-six lawsuits now stand to be dismissed because of the new law, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. All are pending before a single U.S. District Court in California. But the fight has not ended. Civil rights groups are already preparing lawsuits challenging the bill's constitutionality, and four suits, filed against government officials, will not be dismissed.

Numerous lawmakers had spoken out strongly against the no-warrants eavesdropping on Americans, but the Senate voted its approval after rejecting amendments that would have watered down, delayed or stripped away the immunity provision.

The lawsuits center on allegations that the White House circumvented U.S. law by going around the FISA court, which was created 30 years ago to prevent the government from abusing its surveillance powers for political purposes, as was done in the Vietnam War and Watergate eras. The court is meant to approve all wiretaps placed inside the U.S. for intelligence-gathering purposes. The law has been interpreted to include international e-mail records stored on servers inside the U.S.

''This president broke the law,'' declared Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.

The Bush administration brought the wiretapping back under the FISA court's authority only after The New York Times revealed the existence of the secret program. A handful of members of Congress knew about the program from top secret briefings. Most members are still forbidden to know the details of the classified effort, and some objected that they were being asked to grant immunity to the telecoms without first knowing what they did.

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter compared the Senate vote to buying a ''pig in a poke.''

But Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., one of the bill's most vocal champions, said, ''This is the balance we need to protect our civil liberties without handcuffing our terror-fighters.''

Just under a third of the Senate, including Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, supported an amendment that would have stripped immunity from the bill. They were defeated on a 66-32 vote. Republican rival John McCain did not attend the vote.

Obama ended up voting for the final bill, as did Specter. Feingold voted no.

The bill tries to address concerns about the legality of warrantless wiretapping by requiring inspectors general inside the government to conduct a yearlong investigation into the program.

Beyond immunity, the new surveillance bill also sets new rules for government eavesdropping. Some of them would tighten the reins on current government surveillance activities, but others would loosen them compared with a law passed 30 years ago.

For example, it would require the government to get FISA court approval before it eavesdrops on an American overseas. Currently, the attorney general approves that electronic surveillance on his own.

The bill also would allow the government to obtain broad, yearlong intercept orders from the FISA court that target foreign groups and people, raising the prospect that communications with innocent Americans would be swept in. The court would approve how the government chooses the targets and how the intercepted American communications would be protected.

The original FISA law required the government to get wiretapping warrants for each individual targeted from inside the United States, on the rationale that most communications inside the U.S. would involve Americans whose civil liberties must be protected. But technology has changed. Purely foreign communications increasingly pass through U.S. wires and sit on American computer servers, and the law has required court orders to be obtained to access those as well.

The bill would give the government a week to conduct a wiretap in an emergency before it must apply for a court order. The original law said three days.

The bill restates that the FISA law is the only means by which wiretapping for intelligence purposes can be conducted inside the United States. This is meant to prevent a repeat of warrantless wiretapping by future administrations.

The ACLU, which is party to some of the lawsuits that will now be dismissed, said the bill was ''a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy.''

Rachel Maddow on the FISA Capitulation
By Lindsay Beyerstein, AlterNet
Maddow blasts Bush appeasers in the Senate on Olbermann's Countdown. Read more »

Bush's Secret Army of Snoops and Snitches
By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
A new class of everyday spies, from paramedics to utility workers, are being recruited to be "terrorism liason officers." Read more »

Sex Crimes in the White House
By Naomi Wolf, Huffington Post
How Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay basically turned into an organized sex-crime ring in which the trafficked sex slaves were US-held prisoners. Read more »

Will Wikileaks Revolutionize Journalism? :
By Sean Gonsalves, AlterNet
While journalists should view Wikileaks with some skepticism, it cannot be ignored. Welcome to the brave new world of investigative reporting. Read more »

The Persecution of Political Prisoner Sami Al-Arian
By Ali Gharib, IPS News
Years after he was found not guilty in a federal court, the Bush administration is keeping a Palestinian university professor jailed, in legal limbo. Read more »

After Boumedine, What Next to Close Guantanamo?
The Progress Report
Infighting and political grandstanding are holding up measures to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Read more »

DOJ Oversight Office Isn't Releasing Reports on Waterboarding, Wiretapping
Office of Professional Responsibility Isn't Being Very Responsible. Read more »

Rep. Waxman Threatens to Hold Contempt Vote on AG Mukasey
By Satyam Khanna, Think Progress
Mukasey must produce FBI interview with Cheney, or face the consequences. Read more »

Cowed by the Bush administration's pre-election scare tactics, the Senate passed privacy-stealing FISA legislation undermining your Fourth Amendment rights.

It's outrageous, unconstitutional and un-American. That's why the ACLU is prepared to challenge this law the moment George Bush signs it -- and you can rest assured, they'll be meeting our lawyers in court.

The ACLU's lawsuit will send a powerful message to those in Congress who played it safe when they had the opportunity to defend the Constitution.

In addition, the ACLU will be taking out a full-page ad in a major national newspaper announcing their lawsuit and expressing outrage at this abandonment of our Constitutional principles. Their goal is to run an ad containing the names of tens of thousands of Americans who believe in the Constitution and want Congress to hear us loud and clear: next time, stand up for our rights.

You can sign your name to the ACLU's ad by visiting:


Psst! Congress Doesn't Want War Powers.

James Baker and Warren Christopher, two former secretaries of state, have set forth a new plan to streamline the role of Congress in declaring war. There's only one problem. Congress doesn't want to streamline its role in declaring war, because, for all its bluster (not to mention its constitutional responsibility), Congress doesn't want to be held politically accountable for the results. I first became aware of this phenomenon 21 summers ago while covering a House debate on the use of Navy convoys to escort 11 Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf. Iraq and Iran were at war, and although the United States didn't officially take sides, this military action reflected our government's quiet tilt toward Saddam Hussein's Iraq. (For more about this furtive and little-remembered near-alliance, which compelled President Reagan to soft-pedal Saddam's use of chemical weapons, click here.)

Anyway, on that August afternoon in 1987 the House was debating whether to invoke the War Powers Resolution, a 1973 law meant to require congressional approval of any executive action that introduced the armed forces into hostilities, or into a situation in which hostilities seemed pretty goddamned likely, as appeared to be the case here. (Happily, the Navy escort occurred without incident.) What amazed and shocked me, and moved me to write up the debate for the New Republic, was the unembarrassed manner in which members of Congress declared as their paramount interest the absence of any legislative fingerprints on whatever might result from allowing (or not allowing) the Navy convoys to enter an area of violent conflict. In fact, it was pretty much taken as a given that the War Powers Resolution would not be invoked, not because the president was not complying with it (no president ever has) but because doing so would require Congress to either approve or revoke Reagan's decision. Here is how I described the House debate 14 years later in this column (I can't seem to locate the original New Republic piece); I should point out that the first two speakers were members of Reagan's own party:

To continue reading, click here.


Impeach the torturers
Salt Lake Tribune - United States
... formulated at the highest levels of the White House, the obvious first step in holding those responsible to account is through impeachment hearings. ...

National Impeachment Network lobbyists : Bush/Cheney impeachment soon
By Mikael
A spokesperson for a National Impeachment Network (NIN) lobbying delegation, which has been meeting with Congress members in Washington DC this week, said "There is clear evidence that the mood of Congress has shifted. ...Impeach Bush For Peace - http://impeachforpeace.org/impeach_bush_blog

Summary data for Dennis J. Kucinich | OpenSecrets
Kucinich will now face four challengers in the Democratic congressional primary ... NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2008 election cycle


CALL CONGRESS: Rove has been subpoenaed to testify on July 10th but his attorney last week informed the Judiciary Committee that he will not comply. Siegelman wants you to let Congress know that Rove must face the consequences of his actions. Please contact your Congress Member--202 224-3121. Or Visit: www.house.gov

Please ask your Representative to cosponsor H Res 1258: Call his or her office at 202-224-3121 (Capitol Switchboard) this Monday and/or use our action alert to send them an email and find the direct number to call.

Contact the national and local media: Demand they cover impeachment, Karl Rove refusing to testify under oath, and the effort to pass H Res 1258

Dear MoveOn member,

Over 428,000 people have signed a petition telling FOX to stop their racist and hate-filled smears against Barack Obama. If we hit half-a-million signatures, we can draw media attention and put pressure on FOX's advertisers.

Plus, Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films released a video this morning documenting FOX's ongoing smears against Michelle Obama. Please check out the video, and then sign the petition calling on FOX to stop peddling racism—and then tell your friends. Just click here

Here's the link: https://pol.moveon.org/donate/foxsmears.html?id=13181-5694953-bGqwqWx&t=3

FOX is shameless: in the last several weeks alone, they've "confused" Obama's name with Osama's, referred to Michelle as "Obama's Baby Mama," and called an affectionate fist bump by Barack and Michelle a "terrorist fist jab."

Our partners at ColorOfChange.org will hold a major event next week to deliver boxes and boxes of petition signatures to FOX's headquarters. If we can deliver half-a-million signatures, other media outlets will have a powerful story to report—and FOX's advertisers will get the hint that it's not a good idea to associate their products with FOX's hate-speech.

Thanks for helping to fight the right-wing smears.

–Adam G.




Don’t Miss This Link

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