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Friday News Dump: July 10, 2009

bush-obama

I was thinking today was a pretty slow news day, but it appears that the administration has tried to quietly sneak out quite a bit of very creepy information today in a classic Bush-style Friday news dump.

Warrantless Wiretapping Report

The Inspector General’s report on Bush’s secret warrantless wiretapping program came out today, and the Associated Press says it was “massive.”

The Bush administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of federal inspectors general reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they’re still too secret to reveal.

The report, compiled by five inspectors general, refers to “unprecedented collection activities” by U.S. intelligence agencies under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Just what those activities involved remains classified, but the IGs pointedly say that any continued use of the secret programs must be “carefully monitored.”

That sounds like a sneaky way of saying the program goes way beyond any semblance of legality. I say let’s prosecute all of the fascists who created and tried to justify this horrendous program to spy on Americans citizens as if we were all terrorists. Let’s start with the five Bush officials who refused to be interviewed by the Inspectors General: Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Assistant AG John Yoo, former CIA Director George Tenet, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Dick Cheney’s alter ego, David Addingon. And can we find out if the Obama administration is still carrying on this program, because the report apparently doesn’t say. From the AP story:

Although the report documents Bush administration policies, its fallout could be a problem for the Obama administration if it inherited any or all of the still-classified operations.

According Wired’s Threat Level blog,

also warned that President’ Bush’s post-9/11 extrajudicial intelligence programs involved unprecedented collection of communications, and that the government needs to be careful about storing and using that data.

Senator Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat who sits on the Intelligence committee, said the report showed the programs were “outrageous” and called for more declassification.

“This report leaves no doubt that the warrantless wiretapping program was blatantly illegal and an unconstitutional assertion of executive power,” Feingold said. “I once again call on the Obama administration and its Justice Department to withdraw the flawed legal memoranda that justified the program and that remain in effect today.”

The government has only admitted to eavesdropping on calls and e-mails where one end was overseas and one person was suspected to be a terrorist. It has never officially confirmed that it sucked in the telephone records of millions of Americans or eavesdropped wholesale on the internet, despite repeated media reports and confirmations from Congress members. But the report makes clear that there were more intelligence programs that the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program” that the administration acknowledged after the New York Times revealed in December 2005.

And the massive spying program was apparently stunningly ineffective–at least for its supposed purpose of detecting and catching terrorists.

Despite the Bush administration’s insistence that its warrantless eavesdropping program was necessary to protect the country from another terrorist attack, FBI agents, CIA analysts and other officials had difficulty evaluating its effectiveness, according to an unclassified government report made public Friday.

The CIA made no effort to document how the program had contributed to counterterrorism successes, and CIA officials saw it as just “one source among many available analytic and intelligence-gathering tools,” the report said.

“Consequently, it is difficult to attribute the success of (any) particular counterterrorism case exclusively to the (program),” it said.

Uh huh. Did CIA officials “make no effort” to find out how well the program was serving the Agency’s own purposes (whatever they might be) though? Spencer Ackerman argues that the CIA Played a Leading Role in Warrantless Surveillance

As far as I know, the CIA involvement in domestic spying is absolutely illegal–not that I’m kidding myself that it doesn’t happen. I’d like to know if this is still going on.

Afghanistan

According to the Washington Post, “‘Extraordinary and inappropriate’ secrecy about” the spying program “undermined its effectiveness as a terrorism-fighting tool.”

For the first few years of the program’s operation, only three Justice Department lawyers were aware of the highly classified initiative, and intelligence analysts whose “scary memos” helped certify the program initially were kept in the dark by supervisors who sometimes ordered up more data to prepare a “compelling case,” the watchdog report said.

Bush_Obama_s_20081111

In addition to the wiretapping report, a couple of big stories about the war in Afghanistan were also dumped out there today. James Risen reports that

After a mass killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war by the forces of an American-backed warlord during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Bush administration officials repeatedly discouraged efforts to investigate the episode, according to government officials and human rights organizations.

American officials had been reluctant to pursue an investigation — sought by officials from the F.B.I., the State Department, the Red Cross and human rights groups — because the warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, was on the payroll of the C.I.A. and his militia worked closely with United States Special Forces in 2001, several officials said. They said the United States also worried about undermining the American-supported government of President Hamid Karzai, in which General Dostum had served as a defense official.

The Obama administration will certainly investigate these war crimes, right?

It is not clear how — or if — the Obama administration will address the issue. But in recent weeks, State Department officials have quietly tried to thwart General Dostum’s reappointment as military chief of staff to the president, according to several senior officials, and suggested that the administration might not be hostile to an inquiry.

The question of culpability for the prisoner deaths — which may have been the most significant mass killing in Afghanistan after the 2001 American-led invasion — has taken on new urgency since the general, an important ally of Mr. Karzai, was reinstated to his government post last month. He had been suspended last year and living in exile in Turkey after he was accused of threatening a political rival at gunpoint.

“If you bring Dostum back, it will impact the progress of democracy and the trust people have in the government,” Mr. Prosper said. Arguing that the Obama administration should investigate the 2001 killings, he added, “There is always a time and place for justice.”

If I were Mr. Prosper, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the Obama administration to investigate. So far they have mostly defended Bush’s policies on torture, domestic spying, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, according to the Washington Post,

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly arrived top commander in Afghanistan, has concluded that Afghan security forces will have to expand far beyond currently planned levels if President Obama’s strategy for winning the war there is to succeed, according to senior military officials.

Well isn’t that a shocker?

Such an expansion would require additional billions beyond the $7.5 billion the administration has budgeted annually to build up the Afghan army and police over the next several years, and the likely deployment of thousands more U.S. troops as trainers and advisers, officials said.

McChrystal has not yet completed a 60-day assessment of the war due next month. But Defense Department officials in Washington and in Kabul said he has informed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, including in a status update this week, of the need to increase the Afghan force substantially.

Doesn’t anyone down there in D.C. remember Vietnam? Oh yeah, that was one of those “excesses of the 1960s and 1970s” that Obama told us all we need to forget about.


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46 Responses

  1. Good detective work bb. These Friday dumps are quite predictable aren’t they? If so, why aren’t the press following up. Oh yea…it’s the press.

    OT, but another interesting bit of data that must infuriate the self-important elite:

    Sarah Palin still popular, says poll, despite quitting as Alaska Governor

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/07/08/2009-07-08_sarah_palin_still_popular_despite_quitting_at_alaska_governor.html#ixzz0KuZuO7oH&C

    • Her poll numbers seem to vary directly to the number of media attacks. How interesting.

  2. This information is very disheartening but not surprising. 123real change has a very interesting article about being a police state. Nothing I read today was uplifting. Each day my eyes are more wide open. And, frankly, I don’t like what I see.

  3. This is by far the best reasoned, most explicit take down of the MSM’s hatchet on Sarah Palin that I’ve seen anywhere (not that there’ve been a lot of them out there). Big, loud kudos to Carl Cannon. A whole lot of people need to read this. Cannon’s exposition of the vice-presidential debate, in which he says Palin cleaned Biden’s clock, simply can’t be denied. More like this, please:

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/07/08/sarah-barracuda-palin-and-the-piranhas-of-the-press/

    • From the Carl Cannon piece. Origins of some of the worst attacks on Palin.

      “The most egregious example was posted on Daily Kos on Sept. 12, 2008 by Paul Lewis Hackett III, a trial lawyer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran of Iraq, who ran in 2005 for a vacant seat in the House from Ohio’s second congressional district, losing narrowly in a district President Bush had carried easily just a year earlier.

      Fretting that the Obama campaign was going to lose Ohio to McCain, Hackett proposed his own solution: A series of savage attacks on the GOP ticket focusing on Sarah Palin and her family. Here is what he wrote:

      The message (would be) simple and the professionals can refine it but essentially it should contain these elements: Sarah Palin? Can’t keep her solemn oath of devotion to her husband and had sex with his employee. Sarah Palin? Accidentally got pregnant at age 43 and the tax payers of Alaska have to pay for the care of her disabled child. Sarah Palin? Unable to teach her 16 year old daughter right from wrong and now another teenager is pregnant. Sarah Palin? Can you trust Sarah Palin and her values with America’s future?”

      If this lousy scumbag should ever raise his butt ugly head in politics again, I hope we all remember and destroy this SOB!

  4. I confess I am flabbergasted ! Has there ever been a dump of this sheer magnitude? Any ONE of these revelations is fodder for weeks of followup investigation, but the volume of this gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “piling on”.

    They don’t make shovels big enough to clean up this sh^*t.

    Thanks for the big dig.

    • It is amazing, isn’t it? At least the newspapers and blogs are covering it extensively. But how many citizens will be paying attention?

  5. Back on topic…the sad thing is, BB, not too many Americans appear to give a flying f*ck about Obama’s heinous record on civil rights. Too many of us don’t seem to realize the frightening implications of what’s going on. And the White House knows this. They also know they have the complicit lap dog media in their lap – at least for now.

    • Uh, a little editing – “…the complicit media in their lap…”

      (Too bad WordPress doesn’t have a preview option.)

  6. Hello every one … thank you for the quick healing wishes. I’m still in process but doing better. 🙂

    • Hope you are ALL better real soon! We’ve missed you. 🙂

      • It’s going to take a few weeks to recover but I’m getting better every day! Thank you! Naps are not as exciting as reading you all!!!

        • Hey d’kat, so good to see you resurface! I have no idea what you’re recovering from or if you have any desire to share the nature of “it”, but here’s hoping you’re all well soon.

        • Hi there!! It’s great to “see” you.

          • thanks again for scrambling to cover for me while I’ve been so terrifically indisposed. I appear to be down to one huge nap a day at least! And my phone is calling you on it’s own again, so we’re some what approaching normal. lol!

          • LOL! I just want you to rest and get back to normal. We’re doing fine at TC. Of course we’ll be thrilled when you can post again.

  7. As noxious as John Ashcroft was, I read today that he and his deputy Comey were kept in the dark about the warrantless spying until it was in full operation. By then it was too late to do anything about it quietly. I think that’s why Ashcroft resigned if I had to guess, and I do.

    More Americans would care deeply about this if they only knew about it. Let’s face it, we are a nation of TV “news” consumers for the most part and there’s no better way to remain happily in the dark.

    • The story about Ashcroft and Comey was out long ago. Ashcroft refused to sign off on the program. So why did e refuse to talk to the Inspectors General then? I don’t trust the guy.

      • Who knows? Maybe he was letting the eagle soar. 🙂

        He’s certainly not one of the “good guys”, but I don’t know any of those except Feingold.

  8. I have a question can everyone see the Weblog badge in the top right of the blog?

    I’ve heard that it’s missing in some browsers.

  9. Check this out (via Betty Jean Kling)

    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/07/06/6-surprises-from-obamas-sit-down-with-the-catholic-press.html

    Obama talking to Catholic press about abortion and gays and not sounding at all like a liberal.

    • oh, goodness, I thought we got rid of the one religious nut and now we have another … the founding fathers are rolling in their graves now!

    • Oh, boy. But when it comes time for the scare tactics to come out, remember, Palin is pro-life!

      He can bite my “hard line agenda.”

    • He does try his best to take all sides of every issue. The gentleman from Illinois votes “present”.

      When he doesn’t it’s worse.

    • What an ass.

      • Obama:

        “I don’t know any circumstance in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision,” Obama said, “and to the extent that we can help women avoid being confronted with a circumstance in which that’s even a consideration, I think that’s a good thing.”

        How about when the mother is going to die if she carries the baby to term?

        How about when a woman is pregnant from being raped?

        This man is a moron.

  10. “But in recent weeks, State Department officials have quietly tried to thwart General Dostum’s reappointment as military chief of staff to the president, according to several senior officials, and suggested that the administration might not be hostile to an inquiry.”

    Oh, for god’s sake. These people are just stupid.

  11. Obama Administration: No Grounds to Probe Afghan War Crimes

    Obama administration officials said Friday they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces.

    The mass deaths were brought up anew Friday in a report by The New York Times on its Web site. It quoted government and human rights officials accusing the Bush administration of failing to investigate the executions of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of prisoners.

    U.S. officials said Friday they did not have legal grounds to investigate the deaths because only foreigners were involved and the alleged killings occurred in a foreign country.

    Yes, except one of the foreigners–the one in charge–was a CIA asset. Oh well, never mind. First priority, defend all Bush wrongdoings.

  12. I knew he looked familiar! 😯

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