Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.
. . . Gonzales said “it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.” In fact, he personally approved Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program, in contravention of a criminal statute. We have the full transcript of the Feingold/Gonzales exchange posted. In addition to Gonzales, former NSA director Michael Hayden and President Bush also made false statements relating to warrantless domestic surveillance.
According to Hayden, the reason the President wanted to bypass FISA was because FISA requires a showing of "probable cause" in order to obtain a FISA warrant for eavesdropping on telephone conversations, and the President believed that standard was too burdensome.This is an argument that falls flat on its face when you consider (among all the other reasons) the Administration would not support Senator DeWine's bill, which would have eliminated the "probable cause" barrier because it believed it would be unconstitutional. The reason why you're worked up, and NavySwan is worked up, and I as well, is because we love our country and would not see it perish. Here, however, one of the very things that makes our country great, the rule of law, specifically that which is embodied in the Fourth Amendment, is in jeopardy. I for one do not take that lightly, and I'm afraid that the situation will be solved in a political manner instead of what the law would proscribe:
Section 1809 of FISA, expressly provides that "[a] person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally - (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute. . . ." And Section 2511(2)(f) provides that FISA "shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted."
The story doesn't note it, but the argument the Justice Department used against expanding FISA to cover non-US citizens inside the U.S. was -- get this -- that it was probably unconstitutional.
to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to modify the standard of proof for issuance of orders regarding non-United States persons from probable cause to reasonable suspicion. . . .In other words, DeWine's bill, had it become law, would have eliminated the "probable cause" barrier (at least for non-U.S. persons) which the Administration is now pointing to as the reason why it had to circumvent FISA.
The Department of Justice has been studying Sen. DeWine's proposed legislation. Because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues, the Administration at this time is not prepared to support it.
The Department's Office of Legal Counsel is analyzing relevant Supreme Court precedent to determine whether a "reasonable suspicion" standard for electronic surveillance and physical searches would, in the FISA context, pass constitutional muster. The issue is not clear cut, and the review process must be thorough because of what is at stake, namely, our ability to conduct investigations that are vital to protecting national security. If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a "reasonable suspicion" standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions.
The result is a detailed, well-researched narrative that persuasively answers dozens of questions that are still painfully relevant today: Did the CIA give bin Laden his start in Afghanistan in the 1980s jihad against the Soviets? (No, the CIA's aid went directly to Afghan mujaheddin fighting the occupiers, not to Arab outsiders like bin Laden.) Did the Pentagon let him slip away in 2001? (Yes, by only belatedly sending U.S. troops to Tora Bora, where Bergen -- despite Bush administration claims -- confirms that bin Laden was cornered.) Is bin Laden behind Abu Musab Zarqawi's insurgent attacks in Iraq? (No, Zarqawi's group was always a separate, Jordanian-based organization, not one that takes orders from bin Laden.) Did Saddam Hussein and bin Laden work together? (No, the fanatically religious bin Laden loathed the secular Iraqi tyrant.)Go ahead and Google, "Did the CIA give bin Laden his start in Afghanistan in the 1980s jihad against the Soviets?" You'll find that among the other established facts, about bin Laden's relationship with Zarqawi and Saddam, Bergan's implication (via Clarke) that bin Laden had no connection whatso ever with the CIA is on less solid ground. I'm not saying that the CIA created bin Laden, and I'm not saying that Google should be the end all, be all of research, but the results are interesting. Items of intrest... Exhibit A: Thursday, June 10th, 2004 Ghost Wars: How Reagan Armed the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan
During Reagan's 8 years in power, the CIA secretly sent billions of dollars of military aid to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in a US-supported jihad against the Soviet Union. We take a look at America's role in Afghanistan that led to the rise of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda with Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. [Includes transcript]Exhibit A-1: Abolish the CIA! By Chalmers Johnson TomDispatch.com
Friday 05 November 2004
This piece is adapted from and printed thanks to the permission of the London Review of Books where, in slightly altered form, it appeared on 21 October 2004, pp. 25-28.
"Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to 10 September 2001", by Steve Coll, New York: Penguin, 2004, 695 pp, $29.95.
Funding the Fundamentalists
The CIA had no intricate strategy for the war it was unleashing in Afghanistan. Howard Hart, the agency's representative in the Pakistani capital, told Coll that he understood his orders as: "You're a young man; here's your bag of money, go raise hell. Don't fuck it up, just go out there and kill Soviets." These orders came from a most peculiar American. William Casey, the CIA's director from January 1981 to January 1987 . . . Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western imperialism. He saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the counter-strategy of covert action to thwart Soviet imperialism. He believed that the USSR was trying to strike at the U.S. in Central America and in the oil-producing states of the Middle East. He supported Islam as a counter to the Soviet Union's atheism, and Coll suggests that he sometimes conflated lay Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian extremist organization, of which Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant, was a passionate member. The Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was strongly backed by the Pakistani army, and Coll writes that Casey, more than any other American, was responsible for welding the alliance of the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and the army of General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan's military dictator from 1977 to 1988. On the suggestion of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization, Casey went so far as to print thousands of copies of the Koran, which he shipped to the Afghan frontier for distribution in Afghanistan and Soviet Uzbekistan. He also fomented, without presidential authority, Muslim attacks inside the USSR . . .Fair-Weather Friends
Enter bin Laden and the Saudis
A co-operative agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan was anything but natural or based on mutual interests. Only two weeks after radical students seized the American Embassy in Tehran on November 5, 1979, a similar group of Islamic radicals burned to the ground the American Embassy in Islamabad as Zia's troops stood idly by. But the US was willing to overlook almost anything the Pakistani dictator did in order to keep him committed to the anti-Soviet jihad. After the Soviet invasion, Brzezinski wrote to Carter: "This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our non-proliferation policy." History will record whether Brzezinski made an intelligent decision in giving a green light to Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons in return for assisting the anti-Soviet insurgency.
From the beginning, Zia demanded that all weapons and aid for the Afghans from whatever source pass through ISI hands. The CIA was delighted to agree. Zia feared above all that Pakistan would be squeezed between a Soviet-dominated Afghanistan and a hostile India. He also had to guard against a Pashtun independence movement that, if successful, would break up Pakistan. In other words, he backed the Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan on religious grounds but was quite prepared to use them strategically. In doing so, he laid the foundations for Pakistan's anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir in the 1990s.
From the moment agency money and weapons started to flow to the mujahidin in late 1979, Saudi Arabia matched the U.S. payments dollar for dollar. They also bypassed the ISI and supplied funds directly to the groups in Afghanistan they favored, including the one led by their own pious young millionaire, Osama bin Laden. According to Milton Bearden, private Saudi and Arab funding of up to $25 million a month flowed to Afghan Islamist armies. Equally important, Pakistan trained between 16,000 and 18,000 fresh Muslim recruits on the Afghan frontier every year, and another 6,500 or so were instructed by Afghans inside the country beyond ISI control. Most of these eventually joined bin Laden's private army of 35,000 "Arab Afghans." . . . the CIA made almost no effort to recruit paid agents or collect intelligence. The result was that Saudi Arabia worked continuously to enlarge the ISI's proxy jihad forces in both Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the Saudi Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the kingdom's religious police, tutored and supported the Taliban's own Islamic police force.
"While the charges that the CIA was responsible for the rise of the Afghan Arabs might make good copy, they don't make good history. The truth is more complicated, tinged with varying shades of gray. The United States wanted to be able to deny that the CIA was funding the Afghan war, so its support was funneled through Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI). ISI in turn made the decisions about which Afghan factions to arm and train, tending to favor the most Islamist and pro-Pakistan. The Afghan Arabs generally fought alongside those factions, which is how the charge arose that they were creatures of the CIA. [Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (New York: The Free Press, 2001), pp. 64-66.]
The summary seen at usinfo.state.gov:
• U.S. covert aid went to the Afghans, not to the "Afghan Arabs."
• The "Afghan Arabs" were funded by Arab sources, not by the United States.
• United States never had "any relationship whatsoever" with Osama bin Laden.
• The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Arab backing for the "Afghan Arabs," and bin Laden's own decisions "created" Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, not the United States.
What we did do was: * Facilitate Arab funding for the fight against the Russians * Use the Pakistani intelligence services as intermediaries far more that was prudent * Tolerate the modest number of "Arab fighters" who joined the cause because we assumed that while they were not militarily significant, they were somehow a necessary part of keeping the flow of private Arab funding at substantial levels.I'm not going to let Clarke slip by with what he said anymore than Blackton's commentors:
It looked like a wedding. The setting was the majestic Great Hall of the Library of Congress, an absurdly ornate cavern of white marble, grand staircases, brass inlayed floors, stained glass sky lights, and 75-feet high ceilings. Reporters were warned not to block one staircase landing as it was being used for the "procession." And sure enough, as a treacly orchestral soundtrack echoed through the room, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, followed by dozens of their fellow Democrats, slow-walked two-by-two down the aisle and assembled on a makeshift stage....
"When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about." - Hillary Clinton---". . . the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses." - Al Gore
. . . without fundamentally tackling campaign finance reform, making minor changes to how lobbyists and members interact with each other is meaningless. And as the left-leaning folks at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have noted, the Democrats' plan is silent on how to revive the ethics committee or create other enforcement mechanisms that are true watchdogs of congressional behavior.
". . . Oceania will not let up in the peace conflict on terror despite the threats on the tape, said Inner Party Headquarters press secretary Scott McClellan."-from our friends at the Agitprop News Agency.
|Inventor. Businessman. Genius.|
"Make no mistake. There are only two types of people in this world: those who collect more interest than they pay, and those who pay more interest than they collect."
I've got pools of blood and code at me feet... please be patiant, the Doc is at work.-Update, this three column thing is kicking my ass...
. . . Mr. Kennedy was on shaky ground accusing the nominee of associating with people opposed to the inclusion of women in private institutions. The eight-term senator belonged to an all-male social club -- the Owl -- at Harvard University. The Owl refused to admit women until it was forced to do so during the 1980s, according to records kept by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper.
Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) performance has been no great service to the public either. I don't care about that soap opera shit. Why is it Republicans are already firmly behind Alito, don't they remember how they been burnt before with Souter, Kennedy, and even Ginsburg? What really needs to be focused on is clearing up the myths, the lies, and the half-truths. They are identified and debunked here by Media Matters:
Summary: For the second time in a week, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the FBI a warrant to search the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui. But in fact, the FBI never petitioned the court for a warrant after bureau attorneys determined they did not have sufficient evidence.stop carrying water!