January 6, 2006
The BuzzFlash Mailbag
The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are not necessarily those of BuzzFlash. More reader opinion is at "Contributors." You can write to Mailbag at http://www.buzzflash.com/contact/mail.html. Guidelines for submissions are at BuzzFlash FAQ #18.
Great article by David Wallechinsky. However, I don't think the right question is being asked about the illegal domestic wiretapping by the Bush administration.
Remember the revelation that two of the 9/11 hijackers had their coded communications intercepted BEFORE 9/11, but it took the Bush administration until the day after 9/11 to translate them? Remember how upset the Bush administration got after this was revealed? Is this the circumstantial link indicating that the Bush administration was conducting illegal, warrantless surveillance BEFORE the 9/11 attacks and BEFORE they supposedly received post-9/11 Congressional authorization, as Bush claims, to bypass the FISA court and its federally-mandated warrant requirements in certain "limited" instances?
You see, if the data-mining operation that recorded the 9/11 hijackers' communications BEFORE the 9/11 attacks had been FISA court-approved and therefore involved legal warrants, then wouldn't the translations of the intercepts have occurred within hours instead of the 48 hours it actually took? In other words, the pre-911 communications by two of the 9/11 hijackers must have been buried among a whole lot of communications intercepted and stored by the ?NSA? BEFORE the 9/11 attacks.
I believe that Cheney and Rumsfeld, being old Nixonites, got up to their old tricks immediately after assuming office in early 2001. They were finally in control of our nation's intelligence agencies after so many years, so they picked up where the Nixon administration left off, and began using intelligence gathering for partisan political purposes. This is what I believe the Bush administration is trying so desperately to hide from the American people. And one way they are approaching this coverup is by getting everyone to focus only on their claim that they only started bypassing the FISA court AFTER the 9/11 attacks, because national security required them to do so.
Do you believe them? I don't.
The Bush administration started subverting our intelligence agencies the moment they entered the White House. They started illegally spying on U.S. citizens and other U.S. residents immediately after Bush was sworn in as president.
And whether it was wide-ranging data-mining or relatively limited surveillance is actually irrelevant. They knew they couldn't get FISA court approval BEFORE 9/11 for what they were doing, just as they knew they'd still face difficulty AFTER 9/11 in getting FISA court approval. So they blew off FISA, and the federally-mandated warrant requirement for domestic surveillance activities...which they continue to do to this day.
I hope the someone looks into this further. Sometimes in investigative reporting it is important to know what questions to ask of one's confidential sources. (As Woodward and Bernstein discovered in their conversations with Deep Throat).
So, was the Bush administration conducting illegal, warrantless surveillance BEFORE the 9/11 attacks?
Subject: Republican Outlaws
I was trying to stay out of the rain in Portland, OR. Ducking under the overhangs, I was struck by a white flash, heard a voice say, “You are the chosen one.” “Go forth and arrest all republicans.” I got to my feet and ran like hell to 82nd Street.
Knowing that I must have tripped and hit my head, I continued on my way to work, when again I hear the voice, “You have been given a great task.” I said aloud, “Who is this?” “I am who is,” said the voice, sounding more annoyed----this was getting weird.
Working alone had a great advantage this night; I was not excited about hearing voices, a sure sign that you are going nuts, loony tune time. I did not hear the voice again that night but the next night the thought was loud and clear, can we arrest the Republican Party, the whole party? I am not even a lawyer, what do I know about prosecuting the republicans, this is not something any sane person would even entertain. But----
I started to wonder how the RICO Act would apply to the Republican Party, could we outlaw the entire Republican Party? I did what any good citizen would do, I looked up the RICO Act and guess what?
The RICO Act fits perfectly:
When three or more parties conspire to carry on an ongoing criminal enterprise and/or conspiracy, it can fall under the RICO Act. Their pattern of deception and conspiracy plus all the theft clearly made this a RICO action in my view.
This was going to be fun; I started to have visions of dozens of republicans arrested on the capitol steps, a group “Perp walk.” Can you just imagine the expression on the face of the head cockroach-man, DeLay? We could have a wonderful time at the hearings, a combined select hearing on the corrupt enterprise known as the Republican Party, this was getting good!
I could see Rep. Connors pointing his finger and asking, “Mr. O’Reilly, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Republican Party?” “Name names sir!” and Billy giving up his family, friends and even some people he didn’t know, it would be great. The fact that we would have established a criminal conspiracy; we could bug all the phones and homes of every registered republican, wow! We would learn so much from that little move.
We could build a new prison in Cuba to hold all the republicans awaiting charges and trial, they could see first-hand how much fun it is to be in the Caribbean eating wonderful meals. This is good! However, the best part is to come!
Again, I am not a lawyer, but I understand under this act all property can be confiscated by the state. We could take all their wealth, that would be good---get the money honey. Sen. Frist, broke---alone, on the street, I just love it.
I know, I know----maybe this will never happen or maybe some prosecutor out there will become so upset about what is going on that RICO would be waved around to scare the hell out of the Republican Party. Did I tell you about a guy named Abramoff?
Subject: "Congress Votes" Website
Thanks to you, BuzzFlash, for posting my note about the new "Congress Votes" website, and to the thoughtful BuzzFlashers who wrote with comments about the site! Based on those comments, I'm pleased to report that the site has been dramatically improved. The bills in "major legislation" now have brief summaries, a "report card" page has been added, as has a page with additional resources, including Congress.org, which was the subject of a January 5 Mailbag post.
Marjorie Swanson's January 2 Mailbag post, with the incredible summary of roll call votes on Rep. Ryan, demonstrates how important -- and empowering -- it is for ordinary citizens to be able to research what their elected officials in Congress have done.
Would you please repost the link to the Congress Votes website? I want everyone to be able to put together the kind of summary Ms. Swanson created, and I promise to keep updating and improving the site. If anyone wants help, they're free to send an email and my colleagues and I will provide whatever assistance we can!
Subject: Bush's 'Signing Statement' to Ignore the Law
Regarding your reporting of the continuing Boston Globe stories of Bush's "Showdown at Empire Gulch" with the Congress in disregarding laws through his own 'signing statement,' I just wanted to report that rumor has it that Bush has already had John Yoo draft up a 'signing statement' to be kept in his desk drawer in case of impeachment which states "the commander in chief does not have to abide by Congressional actions of impeachment during wartime."
Subject: "It's Happening Here"
I recently read a republication of Sinclair Lewis’ prescient 1935 novel, "It Can’t Happen Here" and it got me thinking about what’s going on in our country today and where we are heading.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Bush’s war on terror is designed to scare the bejezzus out of the American people so that they will blindly follow him in his megalomaniacal desire to control the world.
Consider just a few of the many examples from his record:
Item: He frightened the Congress with totally fabricated stories concerning Saddam Hussein’s "weapons of mass destruction" so that they would grant him dictatorial powers.
Item: He regularly invokes the specter of 9/11 to justify the extraordinary rendition and torture of those he decides are a threat.
Item: He has claimed the right to ignore the law and secretly spy on anyone, for any reason, without obtaining the necessary court orders.
Those born before WW2 will recall that Adolf Hitler got all of his dictatorial powers by exactly the same process - read William L. Shirer’s 1959 classic, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."
Robert R. Regl
Subject: Hope You Saw Reps John Murtha and Jim Moran
Hi BuzzFlash Readers,
Hope you all saw the Town Hall Meeting on C-Span2 in Virginia, with Representative John Murtha and Representative Jim Moran.
It was broadcast on January 5th from 7PM - 9PM.
If you missed it, keep an eye out for a replay on the C-Span website.
I kept trying to stand in my wheelchair to applaud both Representatives and the Soldiers that attended the town hall meeting.
Any wild guess what DVD I'm getting from C-Span next, when it becomes available?
I'll guarantee that when you see it, you'll be buying the DVD of the meeting!
Subject: Reductions in Aid to Families on Medicaid
For almost five years now my husband and I have been helping out a mother and her two boys with tutoring aid, food, clothes, and some medical help. The boys are now 14 and almost 12. The mother tries the best she can and is raising alone two wonderful children with strong values and character. She has held three different jobs since we have known them and would work well over 40 hours a week if she could. She brings home just under $250 a week and from that she must pay rent, utilities, transportation to work (she doesn't drive), medical expenses, food, etc.
She has now been told that she will no longer be allowed to work overtime and she is not eligible and never will be for any kind of medical insurance. Recently, the local social services agency did decrease by $30 the amount she has to pay for her rent-subsidized apartment; however, in the next breath, they took away an equal amount of the food stamp money she received because of cutbacks in aid from the government (she now receives just under $50 a month for food). And now she has been told that she makes too much to be eligible for Medicaid herself although her two boys are still eligible. She literally is unable to pay for her own blood pressure medicine. The boys are growing fast now and the oldest at least is very talented athletically and is always hungry. I truly believe that often when I buy them food, it is probably the one time that they are somewhat full.
Being around this family and watching them function in this age has been an eye-opener for both my husband and me. And now I read where Congress again wants to cut the social programs that allow my friend and her children to survive. My husband and I will continue to do all that we can to help them, but I must wonder what about all of the other similar families who have no help.
This family is very grateful and appreciative for our help and my entire family has become very close to them. We all attend the older boy's football and basketball games with his mother and brother and they have all become part of our family.
I guess my whole point is that I would like for all of the members of Congress who have voted to cut the aid to families such as this be required one month to live as this family does. For some time now I have wanted to share this story with BuzzFlash readers, not for any praise, but to let others know something of what the truly less fortunate are up against in this Republican world that we live in. We all saw the pictures after Katrina, but often what is out of sight is truly out of mind.
Maybe we could all contact our representatives and ask them to remember the less fortunate and to find other ways to cut spending. And maybe, just maybe, one day we can return to being a nation that truly cares about all of its citizens.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: More Lives Reclaimed in Iraq Today
On December 18, the omnipotent one had this to say about the violence and deaths in Iraq in his televised "staying the course" speech:
"For every life lost, there are countless more lives reclaimed."
That slogan is particularly apropos for days like today when well over a hundred people died in bombings around Iraq. Using that standard, this must be a good day.
Can Dubya produce a list of these countless people who were reclaimed by the violence in Iraq today to prove his assertion?
Subject: Open Letter To Congress - Please Circulate
To the Honorable (put Senator or Rep's name here), It is our concerned opinion that on the issue of warrantless surveillance the President is not acting in the best interests of the citizens of the United States of America. Circumventing the law is not within the President's LIMITED scope of power. The President is not above the law, indeed his actions ought to be scrutinized more than most. Contrary to his opinion, he DOES owe U.S. an explanation for his actions - every one of them. We trust him to act prudently on our behalf, not recklessly. Al Qaeda knows they are under surveillance. To insist that our national security is in jeopardy because of this irresponsibly delayed 'leak' is nonsense. We were in jeopardy the moment this administration ignored the pre 9/11 intelligence that led to that fateful day. We and our soldiers are in jeopardy because we flaunt the Geneva Conventions, control the world at gunpoint, force our superpower sovereignty on the world, and occupy other nations against their will. We know only what's best for U.S. and of late, not even that. Exposed as a criminal, the President intends to 'investigate' the source of the leak - by no doubt using warrantless surveillance against them.
The 4th Amendment expressly states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizure... no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." Anything can sound 'reasonable' when the President wields the threat of 'terrorism' against a people. Probable cause does not mean spy on people then apologize later. Probable cause means the victim of the intended spying made HIMSELF an obvious target FIRST, not that the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, the DIA or the President himself can zero-in on whomever they want with no reason at all. It doesn't take a lawyer to know that. John Yoo and all those other lawyers hired by the administration don't have the authority to circumvent Congress by irresponsibly spinning the law to suit the whims of a would-be dictator. The President has no power to make law, much less contemptuously overrule it. Katz v. the United States established that a wiretap constitutes a "search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, thus the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements apply to wiretapping.
Additionally, the 1st Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." If Congress, which makes the laws, Constitutionally cannot abridge the freedom of speech or press, the President has even less authority to do so, much less use it against the ordinary citizenry – people who are simply expressing their Constitutionally guaranteed opinion. Bush has called people who simply DISAGREE with him ‘terrorists’. If that is the definition of terrorism, we have reason to fear domestic spying.
Bush cannot simply wipe out the entire Constitution. To spy on the American citizen (regardless of faith or association) is repugnant and not something the Founding Fathers ever dreamed of doing with or without a warrant. What are the guidelines by which warrantless surveillance is permitted - skin color, manner of dress? How are the rest of U.S. to know that WE are not being spied upon? Are we to live in a perpetual state of fear of our own government regarding what we might say or do? John Peter Zenger paved the way for the 1st Amendment because dissent is not unpatriotic. Peace is not unpatriotic. If the press cannot speak out (as the 'paper of record' didn't for a year), and if we have no right to speak out against the government by protesting the war or other policies, misappropriations of the taxpayer dollar, and excessive abuses of power, the true democracy of America that is taken for granted by most Americans must be considered DEAD. This war on terrorism has evolved into a paranoid tailspin. Bush's approach is akin to hunting for a needle in a haystack and effectively amounts to domestic terrorism.
Ultimately and unfortunately, the tragedy of 9/11 and the atmosphere of fear that followed has been manipulated by this administration for use as a very effective political tool of fear to achieve an unconscionable personal agenda and increase Executive power beyond what the Founding Fathers intended - all in the name of 'national security'. Does Bush think that the Founding Fathers were radical revolutionaries who overthrew a king protecting their national security? In no 'time' does the Constitution grant the President absolute powers. America was not established as a monarchy for a huge, good reason. If the checks and balances system that they established is so casually dismissed, we'll have no need for either a Legislative branch or a Judicial branch. The Executive branch is not allotted any more power than the other two branches and indeed, it is the Legislative branch that enacts laws, not the President, and even the Executive Order (when they know about it) is still subject to a 2/3 majority vote in Congress if they wish to overturn it. Bush not only violated the law, but he did not make use of the Executive Order in the same way that Clinton and Carter before him. It was done in secret to violate an already established law because Nixon had previously attempted to overstep his bounds. Section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires the Attorney General to certify that the search will not involve “the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person.” That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States. It does not specify citizen.
Apparently, anything is justified under 'terrorism' and 'national security'. Where and when will it end? We're tired of being 'spun' until we're dizzy with all the staged photo-ops, legal manipulations, and catch phrases of the day paid for courtesy of our tax dollars, and ultimately, the sacrifice of our Constitutional freedoms, civil and human rights. We don't want to wake up in Nazi Germany.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
Benjamin Franklin said it best, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
We are asking for a redress of grievances on this count and Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Warrantless surveillance and Section 215 blatantly violate the Oath of Office, no matter what attempt at spin is put on it. Presidential powers are granted by the Constitution and by Congressional law, not by the President. Is it not enough that Congress is Republican-controlled, and the judiciary soon to be as well? The Constitution provides for "impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." Bush ignored pre 9/11 evidence allowing the tragedy to unfold, then manipulated evidence to 'lie' U.S. into the war on Iraq. Lying to We the People is emotional bribery. Warrantless spying is a high crime and misdemeanor. Nixon was charged in Article II (ironically) of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, also, claimed were national security reasons during wartime. What happens when we go to war with Iran next? Will that justify continued violation of FISA? If we are ever to see peacetime again, will the NSA cease it's broad warrantless spying? Who is going to stop them?
We the People vote the President and the Congress - our REPRESENTATIVES, those who represent OUR will; the will of the American citizenry without aid of spin doctoring - into office because not all of U.S. can run the country at once nor do we necessarily possess the skills. Our Representatives should worry less about their careers and worry more about where our country is headed.
We are trusting you to do what is right and honorable and in OUR best interests. Please begin impeachment proceedings and convict Bush for his arrogant high crimes and misdemeanors. They are an affront to Congress, the judicial branch, and American democracy at the heart of which lies that most impressive, profound, and timeless of all documents, the Constitution of the United States of America.
(Feel free to add your name and pass along to family, friends, colleagues, scholars, lawyers, and ultimately all of our congresspeople.)
Mr. And Mrs. A. J. Mills
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THE JANUARY 6, 2006 BUZZFLASH MAILBAG
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