"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) -

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

News Clips: Impeachment, FISA, Obama (Plus) from the DC Sewer and Manure Pile.

The Complete Impeachment Toolbox

CQ Says: Amendments To Electronic Spying Bill Doomed, But Senate Debate Continues

The Senate Tuesday resumed consideration of a rewrite of electronic surveillance guidelines and began debate on several apparently doomed amendments.

The chamber is on schedule to clear the bill early Wednesday, after delaying votes to accommodate senators attending the funeral of former Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

The legislation would overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The White House supports the bill, assuming a series of amendments it opposes fail, as expected.

Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., said he indicated to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., that he planned to have a final vote on the bill before the scheduled Republican party lunch.

“We’re going to do everything we can to complete all the votes before the Republican caucus tomorrow,” Reid said. If they don’t finish, there might be a vote after the lunch, he said.

Bush administration officials have signaled their opposition to all three amendments pending to the bill.

Each would modify or cut out a provision of the bill that would effectively wipe out lawsuits against companies being sued for assisting President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program.

“I do believe at this point in time to give this retroactive immunity kind of makes a mockery of the fact that we’re supposed to be a government of laws, not people,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer , D-Calif.

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, argued against the amendments.

“Private companies who cooperated with the government in good faith, as the facts before the congressional intelligence committees demonstrate they did, should not be held accountable for the president’s bad policy decisions,” said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV , D-W.Va.

New Jersey Impeach Groups (FISA)

Ellsberg Says FISA Bill Means Blackmail of Congress


Time for a new American revolution?
Capitol Hill Blue - VA,USA
Simply impeaching Bush is not an answer. Removing him by impeachment means turning the reins of power over to Vice President Dick Cheney, the mastermind of ...


Kucinich to bring single article of impeachment for misleading US ...
Raw Story - Cambridge,MA,USA
In a video message, Kucinich thanked supporters for responding to his Independence Day call for Bush's impeachment. In the video, Kucinich said his threat ...

Kucinich to take yet another crack at impeachment

Gather.com - Boston,MA,USA
by Cynthia C. While our elected representatives do their best to ignore any hints that impeachment may be a possibility, a chance for us as a nation to ...

Impeach Bush Now

By Elizabeth Holtzman, The Nation. Posted July 7, 2008.

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.

Should John Conyers Hold Impeachment Hearings Anyway?

The prosecution of George W. Bush for murder
By Kathy G.
Bush and most likely Dick Cheney are morally guilty of murder, and that Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, and others are at the very least guilty of being accessories to that crime. And I for one think Bush and Cheney deserve to spend the rest of ...
The G Spot - http://thegspot.typepad.com/blog/

COTATI Impeaching Bush on council agenda

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Santa Rosa,CA,USA
Councilwoman Patty Minnis was the dissenting voice, saying Congressional leaders have already ruled out the possibility of impeachment before Bush leaves ...

Should Bush be tried for war crimes?
guardian.co.uk - UK
Yet when congressman Dennis Kucinich recently attempted to impeach Bush over torture, extraordinary rendition and other grotesque constitutional abuses, ...

Impeach Bush Now
AlterNet - San Francisco,CA,USA
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 ...
See all stories on this topic

Congress Should Impeach Bush Now
From The Seattle PI By Elizabeth Holtzman According to a top aide, John McCain recently endorsed George W. Bush’s right to wiretap US citizens without court approval, despite the clear requirements of the Foreign Intelligence ...
True Blue Liberal - http://www.trueblueliberal.com

Arrest Karl Rove

The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Karl Rove to testify on July 10, but on July 1 Rove announced he would defy the subpoena.

Could you or I get away with defying a Congressional subpoena? Of course not. So why can Karl Rove? Like George Bush and Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, believes he is simply above the law.

It's time for Congress to prove them wrong by using its power of "inherent contempt" to send the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest Karl Rove (as imagined in photoshop at left) and bring him before the full House to answer to the charge of Contempt of Congress, and to punish him to the maximum extent allowed by law, including prison.

Before Democrats won Congress in 2006, Nancy Pelosi said the most important reason to put Democrats in control of Congress was "subpoena power." But now Pelosi is quietly blocking the use of inherent contempt.

Tell your Representatives to Arrest Karl Rove:

http://www.thenation.com/ : Pelosi and Torture


McCain Faces Mixed Audience in Denver Town Hall
The Washington Independent - Washington,DC,USA
McCain replied: “I won’t support those articles of impeachment [for President Bush], how can I answer it any more clearly?” At this point, it got a little ...

FISA, Obama, and American Strength
OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USA
Sure there are other Democratic politicians like Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders, Chris Dodd, and Dennis Kucinich that have show tremendous fortitude in not ...
See all stories on this topic

Last week, thousands of Barack Obama's supporters urged him to oppose the FISA bill. Obama finally responded with a blog post that was wrong on the key issues. In his post Obama wrote, "I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too." We're doing just that through our new Obama Progressive Escrow Fund, to which 550 of you have pledged $83,821 so far.

If you support Obama (as we do) and plan to contribute, consider an informal "pledge" to our escrow fund until Obama demonstrates leadership on the progressive issues you care about most: http://www.democrats.com/obama-escrow-fund

Time for change's Journal
Democratic Underground - Washington,DC,USA
In any event, the passage of this FISA bill will set a terrible precedent, just as the failure to impeach Bush and Cheney is setting a terrible precedent. ...See all stories on this topic

Obama Silent as Democrats Give Bush More Spying Powers

Checks on power
Northwest Herald - Crystal Lake,IL,USA
Even though Bush and Cheney continue their looting, and Congress stuffs their pockets with Telecom cash, the Gitmo detainees have a right to be charged with ...

Who Is John D. Bates?»

Yesterday, federal district Judge John D. Bates “dismissed a lawsuit filed by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband [Joe Wilson] against Vice President Cheney and other top officials over the Bush administration’s” retaliatory leak of Plame’s identity. Bates’s decision yesterday is in line with a long record of injecting his personal political agenda into the administration of law. Some other recent examples include:

- In August 2006, Bates “ruled that it was acceptable for the president to sign a bill that had not been passed by Congress.” A clerical error resulted in the President receiving a version of a law approved by only one half of Congress. Bates upheld the law, despite the President being warned of the error before signing the bill.

- In December 2002, Bates protected the Bush administration by narrowly dismissing a lawsuit filled by the U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker against Cheney. Walker “wanted Mr. Cheney to reveal the names of industry executives who helped the administration develop” its energy policy. Bates argued turning the records over to Walker “would hobble an administration’s essential, legitimate ability to receive frank information and advice.”

- From September 1995 to March 1997, Bates served as Deputy Independent Counsel to Whitewater investigator Ken Starr. During that time, Bates wanted open access to what Sen. Pat Leahy called, the “dresser drawers of the White House.” At the time, Bates “successfully argued that the White House had to turn over documents related to then-first lady Hillary Clinton.”

Furthermore, shortly after he was appointed to the FISA court, the Bush administration sought and received approval to continue its domestic spying program.

ANALYSIS: Democrats betray the Fourth Amendment

By ANTHONY GREGORY | Sunday, July 6, 2008 12:16 AM PDT

The Senate put off voting on a controversial electronic surveillance legislation late last month that essentially legalizes Bush's warrantless surveillance program.

It would expand wiretapping powers against foreign targets, extend the grace period of warrantless domestic eavesdropping on Americans at home, and grant retroactive immunity to telecom companies that cooperated in illegal domestic spying.

The New York Times calls it the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years, but it is also just the latest example in 30 years of Democratic betrayals of the Fourth Amendment ---- designed to protect citizens against unlawful search and seizures by the government.

In 1978, Democratic President Carter signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act into law. A meager response to Nixon's surveillance of peaceful activists and other such abuses, it established a secret court within the Justice Department to issue special warrants for wiretapping foreign suspects.

Even when spying on a "United States person," intelligence officials now had 72 hours before they needed a warrant. Carter said in his signing statement, "This is a difficult balance to strike, but the act I am signing today strikes it." The Fourth Amendment lost its teeth.

From 1979 to Sept. 11, 2001, more than 13,000 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants were issued. Not a single application was rejected.

But that wasn't enough for Bush. He demanded the Patriot Act, which amended the act to widely expand executive spying powers and weaken judicial review.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had obstructed intelligence gathering before 9/11, we were told. (But the real problem was ineptitude. For example, the FBI in the weeks before 9/11 had legitimate cause to search "twentieth hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui's computer, but FBI agents misunderstood the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process and blew the opportunity.)

Intimidated by the administration in October 2001, the Democrats, including all but one senator, voted for the Patriot Act. They gave the president what he said he needed, on top of the rubberstamping Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process he already had, to protect America.

But that was still not enough for Bush.

Glenn Greenwald : The political establishment and telecom immunity -- why it matters

A George W. Bush Sewage Plant?
By Chip
A California group submitted a proposal Monday to rename a sewage treatment plant after President Bush, calling the initiative a fitting tribute to the outgoing chief executive and the "mess" he'll leave behind. ...
AfterDowningStreet.org - Impeach... - http://www.afterdowningstreet.org

Senate Show Down At High Noon Delayed

Tomorrow, July 9, the Senate will vote on whether to expand the government's surveillance powers to allow warrantless surveillance of Americans and give immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the Bush administration engage in illegal surveillance in the past. Please tell your senators to vote NO on this legislation.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6304) is based on flawed rationales rejected just last week in Al Haramain v. Bush. Judge Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge of the Northern District of California district court, reaffirmed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is the "exclusive means for foreign intelligence surveillance activities to be conducted."

Tell your senators to vote "no" on H.R. 6304, which would rewrite FISA in a way that expands the executive branch's spying powers without doing enough to protect the privacy of innocent people whose communications are being monitored.

Everyone agrees that the government should be able to collect the communications of terrorists, but the government also has a duty to protect the privacy of innocent Americans. Warrantless surveillance doesn't just threaten our individual privacy. It threatens our democratic society - the Bush administration has abused surveillance powers to target groups that dissent from its policies. The FISA Amendments Act would legalize this kind of Big Brother conduct.

Act Now and send a message to your senators

House Panel Threatens Attorney General With Contempt

A House panel Tuesday threatened Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey with contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena demanding FBI reports of an interview of Vice President Dick Cheney regarding the disclosure of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s covert status.

In a letter to Mukasey, Henry A. Waxman , D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said his committee will take up a contempt resolution July 16.

“You have neither complied with this subpoena by its returnable date nor asserted any privilege to justify withholding documents from the committee,” Waxman wrote.

Waxman said the committee would no longer seek access to the FBI report on an interview with President Bush as originally sought “in deference to your concerns and in a further attempt at accommodation.”

The subpoena had instructed Mukasey to comply by June 23. But the Justice Department said a day later that it would not “provide or make available any reports of interviews with the president or the vice president from the leak investigation.

“Communications of the president and the vice president with their staffs relating to official executive branch activities lie at the absolute core of executive privilege,” wrote Keith B. Nelson, the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legislative affairs.

The subpoena and potential contempt resolution stem from the publication of former White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s book, “What Happened,” in which McClellan asserts that White House staff misled him about whether senior administration officials had played any role in revealing Plame’s identity in 2003.

“This is a significant revelation and, if true, a serious matter,” Waxman wrote in a June 3 letter to Mukasey. “It cannot be responsibly investigated without access to the vice president’s FBI interview.”

Mukasey is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bush Blacks

Got The Picture?

There is no way this is the Party of Lincoln , and the Republicans need to stop invoking Lincoln, as if they are somehow connected to the ideological mindset that Lincoln’s party represented. Today’s Republican Party doesn’t want that kind of change. So, they need to stop telling that lie. They are not Lincoln’s party. This is not your great, great grand-daddy’s Republican Party. They just have the name of Lincoln’s party.

There Is Real Danger In The FISA Vote For Obama. He Cannot Afford To Alienate His Base and Become a Candidate of “Politics As Usual”.

Netroots Activists Mad at Obama for Spy Bill Flip-Flop



By Sarah Lai Stirland July 07, 2008 | 4:42:01 PMCategories: Election '08

(The Obama campaign has walked on some shaky ground recently making the transition from the Primary mode of Campaigning to the general election. Angering, disappointing the netroots funding base is a dangerous step. Those funds are still needed, and if there is an unannounced “Fall Back Plan “B” Big Donor Card”, and it is played by necessity; the integrity of his campaign will suffer greatly! (Ed.)

Netroots activists who helped Barack Obama to become the Democratic party's presumptive presidential nominee are unmoved by the senator's explanation of his change of heart on a pending bill regarding warrantless wiretapping. The Obama campaign posted the senator's thoughts on the legislation on the eve of Independence Day, and members of his policy team answered questions for an hour and a half.

"My biggest disappointment is the intellectual disappointment over the shoddiness of the legal analysis that's coming from these statements," says Jon Pincus, a Seattle-area technology strategist and civil liberties activist. Pincus has helped round up 20,000 people using the Obama campaign's social networking tool my.BarackObama.com to ask the senator to reconsider his position. (The group was started just 11 days ago.)

Pincus has also set up a wiki to petition Obama and other congressional representatives to reject the pending legislation, which the Senate is scheduled to debate and approve this Tuesday.

The Seattle activist and 30 to 50 other people on a listserv have also responded to Obama's letter with their own letter. It called for Obama to explain why this latest piece of legislation is so pernicious to civil liberties:

"We ask that you back up your words with action by addressing your constituents on the floor of the Senate with the same oratorical power you used in Philadelphia to lay out your vision of a 'More Perfect Union.'

The American people have just as much right to know of the dangerous precedent this Congress would be setting by granting retroactive immunity to those who 'may have violated the law' and allowing spying on law-abiding citizens as we did to relearn of segregation and Jim Crow."

The bill in question would overhaul surveillance law to provide federal authorities broad powers to engage in blanket surveillance using facilities inside the United States. Civil liberties advocates have argued such a provision is unnecessary because the law already gives the authorities fairly unfettered access to the information they need.

The current bill's most controversial provision, which has split members of the Democratic party, gives telecommunications providers legal immunity against lawsuits. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T charging that it has violated its customers' privacy by complying with the Bush administration's orders to illegally wiretap its traffic.

On Thursday, Obama's internet director Joe Rospars posted a letter from the senator to the activists that said that the legislation up for a vote Tuesday is the best deal that could be achieved.

Obama admitted that telecom immunity "potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses." He added that that's why he supports an amendment that would strip the immunity provision from the legislation.

Nevertheless, he added:

"The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise."

Glenn Greenwald, an author, vocal civil liberties analyst and advocate at Salon, tore apart Obama's statement on his blog, calling many of Obama's statements misleading. Greenwald argues that existing law already provides the administration with the legal tools it needs to track terrorists.

"The current law results in virtually no denials of any spying requests," Greenwald asks. "So how can Obama -- echoing the Bush administration -- claim a new law is needed to provide 'the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people' when the current FISA law already provides that?"

Pincus says he'll continue to campaign for Obama no matter what happens because of a lack of viable alternatives, but that Obama's recent flip-flop has diminished his civil liberties credentials -- something that made him an attractive candidate to voters like himself in the first place.

Pincus' support is important even though voters like him may represent only one noisy sliver of the general election electorate to which Obama must appeal: Activists have been strategically important in building Obama's critical mass online, which has translated to subsequent offline action.

He has, for example, helped to recruit supporters to Obama's One Million Strong Facebook group, and he has donated repeatedly to the senator's primary campaign. He has canvassed neighborhoods to turn out the vote for the senator. Supporters like him have said repeatedly over the campaign that it's Obama's clear, reasoned logic and lack of political posturing that appealed to them.

Nevertheless, Obama's position reflects congressional politics: Following the White House' messaging lead, Republicans in congress have repeatedly ignored the nuances of the law to broadly paint Democrats as weak on national security.

"In terms of betrayal, I think in general, I knew what I was getting with him. I don't agree with him on everything, and I think his positions have been clear and consistent," Pincus says. But, he adds, "It would really disappoint me if he's making a decision about a constitutional issue based on what his pollsters are telling him."

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign is already using Obama's FISA flip-flop to attack the senator.

"Over the past several weeks, Barack Obama has made it increasingly difficult to take him at his word on anything," wrote John McCain's senior policy advisor Doug Holtz-Eakin in a memo sent out to the press Monday morning. "After pledging to accept public financing, he decided not to. After saying he would debate 'anywhere, anytime,' he decided against participating in any of the 10 joint town hall meetings. After backing the D.C. handgun ban, he now says it was unconstitutional. After pledging to filibuster the FISA bill, he voted for it."

But a new poll from CNN/Research shows that voters believe both candidates are guilty of flip-flopping. The poll shows that six out of 10 voters believe both candidates change their positions when it's politically expedient.

Even if Obama doesn't vote the way that they want, Pincus says he hopes that the body of 20,000 people can be motivated to influence the senator's stance on other issues during the course of the rest of the campaign.

As Ari Melber notes in the left-leaning weekly magazine The Nation:

"By simultaneously growing its membership, mission and ambition, the spying group exhibits the characteristics of a successful net movement.

MoveOn began with the single objective of fighting Clinton's impeachment, but evolved to tackle other issues that resonated with its members.

The protest against the spying bill began last month by urging Obama to change his vote. After quickly drawing him (and his senior staff) into a dialogue, however, it is nimbly shifting its focus to Obama's role in the immunity floor fight -- an easier request on common ground -- while launching campaigns to target senators with constituents recruited through MyBarackObama.com.

Update: MoveOn.org Political Action's Communications Director Ilyse G. Hogue just sent along the following statement. The group enthusiastically supported Obama during the primary phase of the campaign.

But Obama's latest decision on the FISA bill has disappointed the group's leaders. MoveOn.org Political Action is another strategic group that is planning to call on its 3.2 million members to phone bank and engage in other get-out-the vote efforts during the election's key moments.

We're disappointed in Senator Obama's support of the compromise on FISA—the bill doesn’t go far enough in protecting our constitutional liberties and allows a free pass for phone companies who helped the President illegally wiretap innocent Americans.

We hope Sen. Obama will honor his word and do everything he can to strip this immunity from the bill.

He’s also said that accountability is very important to him, so we’re hoping he will follow up with a plan for how to protect our liberty and our security, along with a plan to bring lawbreakers to justice.

Americans want those who violate the constitution to see consequences; it's a core American value and a winning position for the election.

This along with his strong stands on healthcare, the energy crisis and ending the war can help the Senator win in November.

When Sen. Obama takes those strong stands, we're right there with him; and when he doesn't, we will let him know.


This is the position supporters want and expect him to take. There is nothing as dangerous in politics as unfulfilled expectations.

Obama: I'll Fight To Strip Telecom Immunity From FISA : Posted by David S Morgan