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"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." Theodore Roosevelt


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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Search Term Subpoena Bingo

So, I found a site where there is some serious discussion of the search term subpoena and details about what is being sought and provided. I found it pretty interesting, in that the blogger knows a good bit about how search engines work and goes into some detail about the results of various searches. And overall, it's assessed as an exercise in futility.

It's important to note that from what I read, the requests do not involve user data at all. Shutting off your cookies or purging your personalized search data wouldn't protect you with this request, because the request wasn't going after personal data. To stress again:

According to the report, they wanted a list of one million web addresses. Not who went to the web pages and when, just a list of URLs picked randomly.

They wanted searches for one week. I haven't seen the court documents, but I'm guessing Google could have handed over a list of searches that were entirely unassociated with IP addresses, times, cookies and registration information. Nothing suggests that they wanted to know who did the searches in any way.


Having said this, such a move absolutely should breed some paranoia. They didn't ask for data this time, but next time, they might. Of course, it bears reminding that this type of data is easily obtainable from ISPs. So even if the search engines refuse to comply, your own ISP could be
giving up your data -- or selling it.


There is a lot more, and some of it pretty interesting. E.g. one search would show that there are 26.5 million porn sites out there. Wow. So why can't I find a site with a Lucy Liu look-alike porn flick to watch? (Oops. Did I write that out loud? ) Anyway...

What worries me about this whole thing is the concept and the possible uses of a precedent established by this action. The law the Bushies are trying to defend is already invalidated by the Supreme Court, per the Yahoo article in the first posting on this subject below. So the administration is using federal powers to try to overturn a ruling by the very Supreme Court packed with neo-con sympathizers by Republican presidents over the last 30 years. Isn't it supposed to be the job of Congress to write laws to overturn or correct Supreme Court rulings? Damned right it is.

And what WILL they ask for next, if they get away with this? What are they really looking for? To my way of thinking it's a two pronged fork. One is to set a precedent that they will use to further expand federal power into NSA spying on and control of your computer activities. They are after all trying to justify controlling what can be searched for under the 'protect the children' scam.

The other is to see if they can find terror suspects (like political dissenters?) by following their search terms. It's basically an extension of the library book check-out surveillance / fishing that they're already doing, only they finally realized the biggest library is on the web.

I could be wrong. But I don't think so. One thing I've learned by 50 years of paying attention to US politics is that a cynical approach to anything the feds do is seldom the wrong approach. They just never let me down by doing something nice when I think it's gonna be shitty.

So, look for China style net controls in the future. Look for firewalls if you don't have one already, encryption, and any other foil (foreign based e-mail or ISP maybe?) you can think of. Or risk losing any privacy you do have. It may not stop them, but why let it be easy?

You can run but you can't hide.

At least one Republican senator is having trouble even ditching the money that he got from Jack Abramoff. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana tried to give $110,000 to a Native American council and it was refused on the basis of being dirty money. And he just keeps running into trouble at home.

Every chance they get, the Democrats accuse Burns of being at the epicenter of a GOP "culture of corruption." Recent polls show that his two leading Democratic challengers may be gaining on him. Newspaper editorials have been critical, with the Missoulian calling Burns the "perfect candidate" to help the Democrats win his seat. And Burns finds himself dismissing speculation he will step aside in favor of a more popular Republican.
-------------------------------
The Democrats already hold the governorship in this historically Republican-leaning state and are salivating over the chance to pick up a Senate seat and help break the GOP's 55-45 control of the chamber. Among Senate Republicans, only Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum is more vulnerable than Burns, some observers say.

"Burns is front and center in the Abramoff scandal, and I don't think you are going to see this race drop off anyone's radar screen until he is out," said state Democratic Party spokesman Matt McKenna.
-------------------------------
Burns, who turns 71 next week and has token primary opposition, has positioned himself closely to the president and sits on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee. Over the years, he has pushed for airline pilots to carry guns, supported more oil drilling and held sway over Western land issues and the National Park Service.


So, a possible change in the membership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a change in the balance of power in the Senate, and the potential loss of Rick Santorum. I think the sun is gonna shine again next winter.


I did not have sex with that man!

Well, at least we think Bush can say that much about his relationship with Jack Abramoff. But the claim Scott McClellan made that our pResident doesn't even KNOW Jack Abramoff is wearing thinner and thinner. Doug Thompson has come up with even more details about the relationship between Bush and the bagman, and it looks like money is thicker than blood. (By the way, I used Doug's tag line and changed it a bit, as you'll notice, but I wanted your attention to this matter. Apologies, Doug.)

Abramoff, the GOP loyalist who White House spokesman Scott McClellan claims Bush doesn’t know, was a key player in Bush’s transition team after the disputed 2000 Presidential election. Abramoff, working on Interior Department transition issues, attended a number of meetings with Bush during the transition.


“Bush tapped Abramoff as member of his Presidential Transition Team, advising the administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees Native American issues,” writes Richard Wolfe and Holly Baily in Newsweek. “That level of close access to Bush, DeLay and other GOP leaders has been cited by many of the Indian tribes who hired Abramoff with hopes of gaining greater influence with the administration and Congress on gaming issues.”

------------------------------------

Yet public lobbying records filed by Abramoff’s firm show the lobbyist made 195 lobbying contacts with the administration on issues for the Marianas islands alone during Bush’s first 10 months in office. Abramoff lobbied to preserve the American territorial islands -- notorious for their "Made in the USA" sweatshops -- as exempt from federal minimum wage standards.


Two key players on Abramoff's lobbying team wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.


In fact, Abramoff’s close ties with Bush go back to 1997 when the then Governor of Texas wrote a letter on the lobbyist’s behalf supporting his Marianas island client’s school choice proposal.

'Nuff said?

Reader service

Tired of those unending recorded telephone mazes you get into when you call a help desk or customer service number? They're called Interactive Voice Response systems, and most of us think they suck. Sometimes what you need isn't one of the options, other times you almost can't get out. And just TRY to find a way to a living breathing human with a functional brain.

Well, there is a webpage called the IVR Cheat Sheet, which lists the responses you need to provide to go directly to a human being to handle the issue that prompted you to call. As a 'service' to Daily Dissent readers, I'm sharing it now. It doesn't list every number out there (e.g. my credit union isn't on the list), but it has a lot of them and probably will have at least one that you do use. Check it out.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A random thought about timing

We've all heard the 'timing is everything' expression. It's also discussed in Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and many other discussions of strategy. It is not only a strategic tool, but can indicate much about motive. For example, a sudden move in one direction may be a diversion from something else, not a real interest in going in the new direction.

So, I'm thinking about timing today. Last month Iraq had it's 'historic' elections, and of course nothing changed. Americans are increasingly disenchanted with the Iraq war and war on terror in general. Sure, it's largely the fault of Bush and his inability to actually make any progress in a war he started, as well as the cost to the entire nation. But loss of support is not new in this arena.

However, last week we had the 'I-word' (Impeachment) come from the mouth of a Republican over the NSA spying on citizens felony. And suddenly, this week, we have 1) a renewed health care concern for the State of the Union address, 2) a supboena of Google's search records under a law already declared unconstitutional, 3) Gonzales addressing the nation today about terrorism, and 4) the announced arrest of 11 terrorists in the Northwest (ECO-terrorists mind you - not the kind Bush is after - but now defined as terrorists none the less so that they could find some).

To me this is reminiscent of the magician throwing up his hands and releasing a flock of birds from his sleeves so that you're distracted from what his hands are doing. So keep you eyes on the spying issue. The rest is merely smoke up your hiney.

And the beat goes on....

And yet another Republican accused of bribery.

A liberal watchdog group called Thursday for a criminal investigation of a multibillion-dollar hedge fund's political contributions to a California congressman.

The Campaign for a Cleaner Congress (CCC) wrote the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section asking for a bribery probe of Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

It's almost laughable - if it weren't so criminal and dangerous to America - but these guys are actually turning the GOP into an endangered species with their corruption. They'll be wishing they hadn't gutted the EPA when they find out they're on the endangered list.

Lying's a sin, when you get to Heaven, God won't let you in.

During yesterday's press briefing, White House snake-oil man Scott McClellan discussed the Bin Laden tape with reporters. And he said, "the President made it clear that we will end it at a time and place of our choosing". In essence, Scott just said that we have the ABILITY to end the war at any time. Now, we can believe one of two things about this statement, which per Scott comes directly from the horse's mouth - the pResident.

First, since the FACT is that the war is going on and on and on, and it is causing damage to the nation and (to Bush) more importantly the administration, you might believe the statement is a lie. Just more lying bullshit coming out of the Bush Administration. Tough talk from somebody who started a fight he can't possibly win. Obviously, we do not have the ability to end the war whenever we choose to do so, or why would Bush continue it? Apparently, we don't even have the ability to end the war, period. So you can believe that this is a mouth-full-of-horse-puckey lie. May God split your tongue for lying, Scott.

OR, you can believe the statement. In which case one has to ask why we have not ended the war yet. What benefit is Bush getting out of his wars that he would continue them if he has the capability to end it whenever he chooses? How many American troops is Bush willing to kill off just to continue a war he can end any time he wants to, and why? What payoff is Bush reaping by the war on terror that he will NOT end a war he himself claims to have the ability to end at any time? Certainly, if we could hack into the files of the Carlyle Group we'd find out what Bush's take on the war profits is. That might provide the answer. But probably not the entire answer. I suspect that its also partly wrapped up in the damaged ego of a career alcoholic and coke addict, and his need for feeling superior. Of course, he could fill that need by simply learning to speak English properly.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Congress to hold Spying hearings!

This from Yahoo late in the afternoon -

House Democrats were to quiz experts Friday about the legality of President George W. Bush's domestic eavesdropping program, after ruling Republicans ignored a request for formal hearings.

Unable to convince Republican House leaders to summon administration officials to Capitol Hill to testify about the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans, Democrats said they would hold instead a formal briefing by academics and ex-officials about the controversial program.

Now, did anyone expect the neo-nazi neo-cons to have the balls to stand up to Bush on this? He has the money handoff history of all of them thru Jack and other K Street bagmen (it was an organized program, so you know they kept records just to be sure everybody played like they were supposed to), so they are effectively blackmailed into silence any time he wants it.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a nonprofit group focusing on civil liberties and privacy issues, on Thursday filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice, calling on the federal courts to require the government to divulge additional information about the program.

EPIC's lawsuit seeks the disclosure of internal Justice documents, arguing that a raging public debate "cannot be based solely upon information that the administration voluntarily chooses to disseminate."

Well DUH-UH! Of course you can't have any kind of discussion without knowing who was spied upon, how many of us, how many of those spied upon were with or without probable cause, and how many terrorists were actually found and prosecuted via the program. And that is EXACTLY why the administration is producing no information about it.

Next step - a replay of the Enron / Cheney meeting logs. The administration will file actions in court to block any kind of Congressional subpoena or FOIA actions to get these records. They will claim executive privelege, national security and whatever else almost plausible crapola they can think of just to tie it up in court for years.

If we can't impeach the dictator wannabe over this felonious action, we might as well all just march in line to the White House to have him burn his mark on our foreheads. But Congress holding hearings is a start. We do have to give the Dems credit for making a start. And if it is Congressional Hearings, then maybe, just maybe, it'll get to the six o'clock news.

DeLay Conspiracy charges Resurrected?

Prosecutor Ronnie Earle is appealing the Texas court's decision that the original conspiracy charges against DeLay should be dropped. It's not on the MSM yet, but I did find it here, and here. And over here, is a nice article describing the arguments being used to hopefully reinstate the original charges. In essence, the argument is that it was in error that Judge Priest ordered the conspiracy charges dropped. The reasons are spelled out in that article.

So, DeLay could be in bigger trouble than he thought he was. If the tables turn on him, I wonder if he'd make a deal to sing too? And I wonder who he'd sing about?

They say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. We've already picked two birds from the Bush. When they begin to sing, how many more will they call out into the net? And how many of those will make deals? Where will it end?

Why not just beg?

Bush has apparently lost so much support that he is willing to make the most transparent attempts at bringing the sheep who support him back into the pen. But on the other hand, it may also be a backhanded way of trying to get a precedent set for spying on internet use. Today, we have the announcement that he is trying to enforce an anti-porno law already invalidated by the Supreme Court. His excuse, of course, is that spying is more effective than parental control. I suppose he would then extend it to say that spying on citizens is a more effective way of ensuring we behave than depending on our sense of patriotism.

I'm not sure if I should think of this as a blatant and wasteful attempt to get his evilgelical support base worked up about something so that they stop falling off the roster so quickly, or if it's really just a legal ploy related to spying. Maybe there is even another option. What do you think?

Keep your eye on the pea...

The State of the Union address this year will attempt to shift the nation's attention from the Iraq failures to changes in health care. Just what we've come to expect from the Bush administration - ignore the real problem and shout "Hey, look over there!".

I don't mean to say that the health insurance business isn't important to us. Health costs are skyrocketing every year. More and more Americans go without insurance every year because their employer drops the coverage due to costs, or they already don't have employer provided coverage and can't afford their own. And the fact that the health insurance companies are pricing themselves out of a market goes unnoticed by anyone who still has insurance, like our Congress. Yet the costs go up annually, and the companies are constantly introducing new ways to weasel out of paying any benefits - out of network, not reasonable and customary charges, you don't really need that, you have a prior injury to your body, etc.

But, having had 5 years of the Bush-shit coming out of Washington, is there ANYONE who really believes Bush will or can do anything that will help working Americans? Nostradamnthem does NOT believe that will happen. To really make a difference he'd have to propose either federally provided national insurance for everyone, nationalize the entire health care industry, or put federal regulation in place to manage the industry where at least in the case of insurance companies, there is none now. Anything short of one of those solutions is nothing but a sop to the peasants. Anything short of those will result in nothing.

Now, the chances of any of that happening are 50/50, between Slim, and None. It just will not even be suggested, let alone happen. No. Look for a proposal that will be controversial, but almost plausible. Why? To distract the attention of the people and the Congress from Iraq, from corruption, from impeachment, that's why. This is what it's all about - a shell game. Just try to keep your eye on the pea while Shrubby shuffles the issues.


Democracy

Surprise, surprise.

"An international assessment team on Thursday cited numerous violations and cases of fraud in Iraq's Dec. 15 parliamentary elections."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire...

This morning Scott McClellan told reporters that Bush did NOT KNOW Jack Abramoff, but may have met him at a few receptions. Oh, what a thin veil a web of lies makes. Check out this story from Capitol Hill Blue.

McClellan, as skilled a liar as anyone who has stood before the press and misled reporters on behalf of a President, fails to mention Abramoff’s frequent visits to the President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, the private meetings that the lobbyist arranged with the President on the 2004 campaign trail and at the Republican National Convention that year.
---------------------------
But Abramoff, who raised more than $100,000 for Bush in the last campaign, promised big time donors face time with the President and delivered on those promises during the convention. In addition, he traveled to Bush’s ranch in Texas with his co-conspirator in crime, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
A former DeLay staffer who is cooperating with the investigation into both Abramoff and the disgraced GOP leader’s activities, has told investigators that Abramoff and DeLay visited Bush at his ranch on at least four occasions in 2003 and 2004.
---------------------------
Dale Knally, a campaign worker in the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, recalls a meeting between Bush and Abramoff during a campaign stop in Florida.“He put his arm around Abramoff and told us that ‘this man is one of this administration’s greatest friends,’” Knally recalls.


But Bush doesn't know him, right? Somebody put Scotty out of his misery please. I can't stand to see him whore himself like that any more. In the words of the late Senator and famous out of control alcoholic Joe McCarthy, "there's one behind every Bush". Back then, Joe was talking about Commies, not Lobbyists, but the phrase is just so apropos.

Did you get the Bush spying e-mail?

Well, just in case you didn't get it, here is a copy of the one I got from MoveOn.org. It provides a link to Al Gore's speech, links for petitions you may be interested in, responses to the administration's defense of the illegal spying, and documentation links....

Dear MoveOn member,
On Monday, former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech about President Bush's recent admission that he's wiretapping American citizens without the warrants required by law. In the speech—which was sponsored by a coalition of progressive and conservative groups—Gore said it plainly: "What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compells the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law, repeatedly and persistently."
Breaking the law to spy on American citizens is a very serious abuse of power, but many members of Congress think people will let it slide. So we're launching a petition today to make it clear that we expect action. The petition asks the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor—like Patrick Fitzgerald—to find out the facts, and asks Congress to hold a real investigation into what happened.
Can you help us reach 250,000 signers before we deliver it at the Congressional hearings on Bush's wiretaps in early February? Just go to:
http://political.moveon.org/ruleoflaw?id=6669-6757197-mm9_cEckHC4.lXha.h7n6Q&t=2
We seldom send you speeches to read or watch, but this address is very important. It's powerful, inspiring, and "reality-based"—Gore cuts through the spin to explain why it is vital that we defend our system of checks and balances and the rule of law. At a time when politicians talk about balancing freedom and safety, Gore makes the case that open democracy and freedom are essential for security. You can watch, listen to, or read the speech here:
http://www.libertyspeeches.org
President Bush has admitted that he personally authorized thousands of apparently illegal wiretaps,1 and he doesn't plan to stop2. In his address Al Gore asked, "If the president has the power to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?"
Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are outraged. Even the non-partisan Congressional Research Service released a report indicating that the White House program "conflicts with existing law."3 Republican Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter said he plans to look at the program closely at hearings in Congress next month. 4
Gore's speech is already making President Bush nervous. The White House is in a full-blown spin campaign trying to defend against it. They're in deep trouble on this—and they know it. As former Republican Congressman Bob Barr recently pointed out, the president had full Constitutional authority to legally spy on terrorists. We need to know why he chose to go around it.5
The more pressure we can add, the less Congress and the White House will be able to sweep this problem under the rug. Can you take a moment to sign our petition calling for a special prosecutor now?
http://political.moveon.org/ruleoflaw?id=6669-6757197-mm9_cEckHC4.lXha.h7n6Q&t=3
No one disagrees that our government must be able to track terrorists. But as Sandra Day O'Connor recently wrote, "It is during our most challenging and uncertain moments . . . that we must preserve our commitment at home to the principles for which we fight abroad."6
Thanks for all you do,
–Eli, Nita, Wes, Jennifer and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team Wednesday, January 18th, 2006
P.S. If you want some more information on this issue, here's a briefing on what the Bush administration has said—and what the truth is. As you can see, they're pretty far apart on this issue.

They have claimed this unauthorized wiretap on phone calls and email was legal because of Congressional resolution.8WRONG: Congress has passed no resolution allowing the president to ignore the 4th Amendment and spy on Americans.9 Moreover, Congress explicitly denied this right to the administration.10

Then they claimed that they did it because they needed to act swiftly.11WRONG: Current law allows immediate wiretaping, with up to three days after the tap to get the official court order. 12

They claimed that Congress was fully briefed and knowledgeable on the program.13WRONG: Only a handful of Congressional leaders were briefed on the program. Those who attended briefings were ordered to keep quiet about it.14 When Congressional leaders submitted concerns to Vice President Cheney's office about the program, there was no response. 15 Now, it also seems that the administration wasn't forthcoming on major parts of the program.16

They argued that the administrative overhead is too high.17WRONG: Too much 'paperwork' is not an excuse to break the laws of the land. If it did prove to be too difficult, the president could have sought to fix the law; after all, that's what the Patriot Act is all about.

They said that the spying program was narrow and limited.18WRONG: A New York Times article about the program reports that the data from the eavesdropping program was 'swamping investigators.' "The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month. But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans."19

The president said the person who leaked the spy program to the New York Times caused great harm to our security and now the Justice Department is involved in an investigation to discover their identity.20WRONG: Anyone who brings illegal and unconstitutional activity to light is just doing their job—upholding the laws of the land. Our nation has a rich history of protecting whistleblowers—they are heroes who keep our democracy strong.

The administration is now attacking the Clinton-Gore White House by saying they also engaged in warrantless searches of Aldrich Ames' home.WRONG: The Clinton White House never violated the law in its searches. Warrants were not required for physical searches at that time, and Clinton supported and signed legislation changing the law to require warrants.21

Sources:
1. "Bush: Secret wiretaps won't stop," CNN.com, December 20, 2005http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/12/19/bush/
2. "Official: Bush Authorized Spying Multiple Times," Associated Press, December 16, 2005http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10488458/
3. "Report Rebuts Bush on Spying," Washington Post, January 7, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1373
4. "Specter: Bush has no `Blank Check' to Spy," Chicago Tribune, January 16, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1384
5. The Situation Room, CNN, January 16, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1374
6. "Real Oversight on the War on Terrorism," San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1375
7. "Bush Vigorously Defends Domestic Spying," CBS News, December 19, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1376
8. "Bush Administration's Defense," New York Newsday, December 20, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1385
9. "ACLU Letter to Attorney General Gonzales Requesting the Appointment of Outside Special Counsel," ACLU, December 21, 2005http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/23184leg20051221.html
10. "Daschle: Congress Denied Bush War Powers in US," Washington Post, December 23, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1377
11. "Bush Let U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts," New York Times, December 16, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1378
12. "Bush Officials Claim Spy Court Cumbersome," Baltimore Sun, December 20, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1386
13. "Cheney Roars Back on Spying, Torture, Iraq," ABC News, December 18, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1379&id=
14. "Surveillance Court Judge Quits in Protest," Seattle Times, December 21, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1380
15. "Letter shows senator raised concerns in '03," Chicago Tribune, December 20, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1387
16. "Bush Vigorously Defends Domestic Spying," CBS News, December 19, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1376
17. "Bush officials claim spy court cumbersome," Baltimore Sun, December 20, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1386
18. Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, January 3, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1381
19. "Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends," New York Times, January 17, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1382
20. "Bush Says Leaker Caused Great Harm," MSNBC, January 1, 2006http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10673060/
21. "White House Lobs Accusations Back at Gore," Associated Press, January 17, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1383
Support our member-driven organization: MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.3 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. Our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. If you'd like to support our work, you can give now at:
http://www.moveonpac.org/donate/email.html?id=6669-6757197-mm9_cEckHC4.lXha.h7n6Q&t=4
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://political.moveon.org/?id=6669-6757197-mm9_cEckHC4.lXha.h7n6Q&t=5Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Implausible Denial

Now that the word is out that Jack Abramoff was buying the White House staff as well, Scott McClellan is doing backflips to get our pResident away from Jack. But we knew, didn't we, last week when Bush was donating Abramoff funds to charity that Bush had taken the money. And he gave away - refresh my memory - something like $6k out of over $100k that he had received. Impressive, no? No.

The White House is refusing to reveal details of tainted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits with President Bush's staff.

Abramoff had "a few staff-level meetings" at the Bush White House, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday. But he would not say with whom Abramoff met, which interests he was representing or how he got access to the White House.

-----------------------------------

McClellan said Tuesday that he checked on it at reporters' requests, but wouldn't discuss the private staff-level meetings. "We are not going to engage in a fishing expedition," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, along with three other Democratic senators, wrote Bush a letter Tuesday asking for an accounting of Abramoff's personal contacts with Bush administration officials and acts that may have been undertaken at his request. "The American people need to be assured that the White House is not for sale," they wrote.

With respect Senator, I think you're too late.

McClellan said Bush does not know Abramoff personally, although it's possible the two met at the holiday receptions.


And that is EXACTLY what Bush said about Ken Lay of Enron fame, the single biggest contributor to his gubernatorial campaign in Texas. Same words, just change the name. Do you believe it? I don't.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Game one...

In an amazing game of comparing raisins to watermelons, the White House pot calls the kettle black while denying it's own sooty face. Today, Scott McClellan called Al Gore a hypocrite for criticizing the citizen spying program.

It seems that Scotty cited in defense of the warrantless spying on thousands of innocent citizens, a Clinton order to search the home of CIA agent and traitor Aldrich Ames. So, to the Bush administration, a probable cause search of one traitor's home is eqivalent to a fishing expedition on thousands of citizens, and Bush's spying orders are OK, because Clinton authorized a search WITH probable cause in the case of a traitor spy.
"Gore called the program, authorized by President Bush, "a threat to the very structure of our government" and charged that the administration acted without congressional authority and made a "direct assault" on a federal court set up to authorize requests to eavesdrop on Americans."

To be sure, the administration claims they only listened to Americans talking to known terrorists. But we know that to be a lie. The NY Times article posted earlier makes it clear that it was anybody who was called by anyone who had calls to or from a 'suspected' terrorist. So, my friend who's ex-boyfriend still calls her from Turkey is spied on, and I'm also spied on because she calls me to meet her for coffee sometimes. And maybe the other folks I call. Sounds like the health department tracking down who gave somebody the clap, doesn't it? How about you? Even if you don't know anyone who MIGHT know someone who knows a suspected terrorist - do you still believe Bush or anything that comes out of his mouth or administration? (You do? Well, I've got a car I think you'll be interested in. I fished it out of a bayou after Katrina, but it's dried out real nice, you hardly notice the smell an' cain't even see where the bodies were on the upholstery, so she should be worth, say, about 25 thou....).

"What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently," he said.

Bush has pointed to a congressional resolution passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that authorized him to use force in the fight against terrorism as allowing him to order the program.

Gore, however, contended that Bush failed to convince Congress to support a domestic spying program, so he "secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother."

Like say, Neil or Marvin?

Spy Hunter

Let the games begin.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday said it had filed suit against the National Security Agency, alleging that its warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and that President Bush, in authorizing it, exceeded his constitutional authority.

Spying on Thousands of Ordinary Americans

Confirmed by the New York Times:

In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency, which was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of foreign-related phone and Internet traffic, that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy. [...]

"We'd chase a number, find it's a school teacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former FBI official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration." [...]

F.B.I. field agents, who were not told of the domestic surveillance programs, complained they often were given no information about why names or numbers had come under suspicion. A former senior prosecutor, who was familiar with the eavesdropping programs, said intelligence officials turning over the tips "would always say that we had information whose source we can't share, but it indicates that this person has been communicating with a suspected Al Qaeda operative." He said, "I would always wonder, what does 'suspected' mean?"

President Bush lied to us. I'm shocked.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Get ready for it....

One thing that really gets me going is when some bozo starts talking about martial law as though it's a good thing. I've read a lot of history, and although I may have missed an event by not reading ALL history, I recall that in every event of Martial Law that I did read about the citizens got screwed. Typically they were given some totally false or at best flimsy but almost reasonable excuse like 'public safety' or 'natural disaster'. Almost always, it was done purely to protect the vested interests of the wealthy and the corrupt and incompetent adminisitration. The administration essentially jails the entire population within their own nation, using the army they pay taxes to support. And it nearly always took revolution 'straight up' to put an end to it.

So I was pretty upset when I read about the several Executive Orders from Bush that would set us up for him to declare Martial Law when HE deems it necessary. Combine that with the concept of Unitary Executive (all-powerful leader) and you have a DICTATOR, pure and simple. Not in my nation, not while I breathe.

So I looked about for information about our upcoming Martial Law period. It's scary, let me tell you. First, here is a little article about the use of Martial Law for the dictatorship. On that page and on this page you can read about the use of Blackwater mercenaries for taking over control of the country and how they were used in NOLA to evict citizens and confiscate their firearms, violating their rights in the process. Just as they will violate ours. It seems the use of mercenaries avoids certain legal 'issues' that might complicate the process - like violations of laws regarding detention, murder and torture which career military patriots may not be willing to commit against their own countrymen.

Now, sure, Bush has discussed using Martial Law in the case of the bird flu (that 'almost reasonable excuse). But just what the hell is the NEED for martial law in a flu pandemic? What will they acutally DO? And why use mercenaries? Why not the local guard units? (Oh, right, I forgot.) Well, anyway, what is the martial law going to accomplish? Keeping sick poor people out of Republican neighborhoods I suppose. (So if you do get the flu, be damned sure to go to church where all the rich folks go to church - and you go on Sunday, first service, so you can get two shifts of them. Also, if you have the flu, be real sure to go up to every Martial Law enforcer you see and cough in his face.) I frankly don't see where it's going to do any good to execute martial law for the flu. The flu is already becoming immune to two of the common drugs used against it, so all the mercenaries will have to do is to go about with trucks yelling 'Bring out your dead', bring out your dead!'.

At this site, I found a description of what Martial Law entails and the Executive Order enabling these activities (e.g. they may confiscate your food as well as your weapons), as well as the use of FEMA to execute the Martial Law order. Now, I will confess I did not read all the links on this subject on this site (there are a lot of them), and the site is much larger than just the Martial Law takeover to come. In my defense I'll bring up two points - 1) I've been awfully busy lately, and 2) I don't believe in censorship in ANY form, so you should read them yourself and decide what you think. While it's clear (or should be) that I abhor the idea of Martial Law (especially declared by King George IV), you should make up your own mind. Who knows? You might want to snitch on your neighbors because they stockpiled food.

But there is one question I came up with that I couldn't answer, and maybe some of you can. If Bush uses Blackwater Security goons to implement martial law, would they be covered by the Geneva Conventions or any other existing law? Since they aren't citizen members of the US Military, but would be carrying weapons and taking away rights and maybe citizens (Me, me, pick me!), they certainly would be 'combatants' by the definition of the populace. So would they fall into that legal blackhole where they would be 'enemy combatants' and could be dealt with as appropriate because they legally don't exist and they were in fact making war on the citizens?







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