I’m sure that Louis XI of France (1461-1483) and his menions were as politically manipulative as their modern counterparts, but Louis did not have to worry about television or the internet catching him talking out of both sides of his mouth. Intel Chief: Spy Program Could Have Stopped 9/11 Attacks
After the attacks, Hayden used his authority as NSA director to increase coverage of terrorism targets and share information with counterterrorism officials across the government. An executive order that gave Hayden this authority was separate from the eavesdropping program, which President Bush approved months after the attacks, allowing the agency to perform warrantless electronic surveillance of al Qaeda subjects in the United States.
The warrantless eavesdropping program was authorized by the president, senior government lawyers at the White House, the Justice Department and three top lawyers at the NSA picked by Hayden.
“That authorization was based on an intelligence community assessment of a serious and continuing threat to the homeland,” said Hayden. “The lawfulness of the actual authorization was reviewed by lawyers at the Department of Justice and the White House, and was approved by the attorney general.”
This would be the equivalent of Louis XI turning to a court appointed astrologers who said it was okie dokie because the other court appointed astrologers said it was and the moon was up in the house of the sacred chimp.
Louis XI was a superstitious man who surrounded himself with astrologers. Interested in science, he once pardoned a man sentenced to death on condition that he serve as a guinea pig in a gallstone operation
The most obvious problem with the General’s assertion is that if the technology was available to prevent 9-11 and it wasn’t used, why wasn’t it. Why didn’t the general go to the president or the Senate Intelligence Committee and tell them a wide ranging program of data mining might prevent a terrorists attack. The general has unwittingly given credence to the tin foil theory that the government ( Bush ) allowed 9-11 to happen or was more probably negligent. The general even had “probable cause” according to the infamous presidential daily brief, The following is a redacted text of the presidential daily briefing from August 6, 2001
Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bringthe fighting to America.” :
After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladentold followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [deleted text] service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told [deleted text] service at the same time that Bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’saccess to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.
As myself and others have pointed out several times the NSA actually ratcheted up its domestic surveillance program before 9-11.
“The president personally and directly authorized new operations, like the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, that almost certainly would never have been approved under normal circumstances and that raised serious legal or political questions,” Risen wrote in the book. “Because of the fevered climate created throughout the government by the president and his senior advisers, Bush sent signals of what he wanted done, without explicit presidential orders” and “the most ambitious got the message.”
The NSA’s domestic surveillance activities that began in early 2001 reached a boiling point shortly after 9/11, when senior administration officials and top intelligence officials asked the NSA to share that data with other intelligence officials who worked for the FBI and the CIA to hunt down terrorists that might be in the United States. However the NSA, on advice from its lawyers, destroyed the records, fearing the agency could be subjected to lawsuits by American citizens identified in the agency’s raw intelligence reports.
The declassified report says that the “Director of the National Security Agency is obligated by law to keep Congress fully and currently formed of intelligence activities.” But that didn’t happen. When news of the NSA’s clandestine domestic spying operation, which President Bush said he had authorized in 2002, was uncovered last month by the New York Times, Democratic and Republican members of Congress appeared outraged, claiming that they were never informed of the covert surveillance operation. It’s unclear whether the executive order signed by Bush removes the NSA Director from his duty to brief members of Congress about the agency’s intelligence gathering programs.
In this document-pdf, entitled – National Security Agency/Central Security Service Transition 2001 it references the Legal Standards for the Intelligence Community in Conducting Electronic Surveillance
(U) Electronic surveillance is conducted by elements of the Intelligence Community for foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence purposes. Because of its potential intrusiveness and the implications for the privacy of United States persons,1 such surveillance is subject to strict regulation by statute2 and Executive Order3 and close scrutiny. The applicable legal standards for the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons reflect a careful balancing between the needs of the government for such intelligence and the protection of the rights of U.S. persons, consistent with the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment,4 as determined by factual circumstance.
Remember that the issue is not spying on foreign persons, and certainly not terrorists, members of both parties in Congress have expressed concern over the legality of these operations directed by the executive branch concerning domestic spying without a warrant.
(U) In the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Executive Order (E.O.) 12333, Congress and the Executive have codified this balancing. Both documents reflect a deference to U.S. persons’ rights by closely regulating the conduct of electronic surveillance that either targets U.S. persons or may result in the acquisition of information to, from, or about U.S. persons. For example, in order to conduct electronic surveillance against a U.S. person located within the United States, FISA requires the intelligence agency to obtain a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If the United States person is abroad, the Executive Order requires that the Attorney General approve such surveillance. In both instances, generally speaking there must be probable cause 5 that the target is an agent of a foreign power. 6 In addition, the information sought by the surveillance must be foreign intelligence that cannot be obtained by other less intrusive collection techniques.
This should be tattooed on the forehead of every journalist and right-wing pundit in America, ” that either targets U.S. persons or may result in the acquisition of information to, from, or about U.S. persons”. Its about the rule of law and respect for the American people. Lets take a look at the executive order part, the part that Bush and his political appointee, the Attorney General are leaning on to save their hoohaas.
For example, in order to conduct electronic surveillance against a U.S. person located within the United States, FISA requires the intelligence agency to obtain a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If the United States person is abroad, the Executive Order requires that the Attorney General approve such surveillance. In both instances, generally speaking there must be probable cause 5 that the target is an agent of a foreign power.
The Whitehouse is on solid ground when it claims the right to spy on an American who is abroad. When it comes to electronic surveillance of a US citizen in the US, FISA is the Holy Grail. Period.
As alluded to above, FISA is the statutory regime governing electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.
This whole interview between Jim Lehrer and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is interesting and the Senator brings up a very salient point: Is the NSA program legal?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: That’s the FISA law. You know, we go by the –it’s well laid out. In fact, laid out by Justice Jackson. It says that if the – the president’s authority —
JIM LEHRER: The late Justice Jackson back in World War II.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Yes. It said that the president’s authority is at its lowest ebb once Congress has acted. Congress has acted, laid out very specifically. Nobody has suggested the president couldn’t have gone to the FISA court if he really had reason.
And yet, we hear people like Michael Chertoff, the head of the homeland security, suggesting that thousands of Americans had been wiretapped and been spied upon.
Are you telling me that there are thousands of Americans calling Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida members around the world?
and they get into the AUMF justification used by Bush and Gonzales:
The war powers resolution
JIM LEHRER: The attorney general just said this surveillance was authorized by the resolution passed by the Congress to use military force after 9/11, that the war powers that you and the members of Congress gave the president all includes this sort of thing.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Well, of course, it does not. I was there when that happened. I remember just briefly before we passed the resolution to go after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Them coming up and saying, by the way, could we expand this to give us other powers beyond the law? We said no.
The White House never came back after that to ask for any further powers. We gave them the authority to go after Osama bin Laden. In fact, many of us, both Republicans and Democrats, were terribly disappointed when we found out that instead of catching Osama bin Laden when we had a chance to catch Osama bin Laden, our most elite forces were yanked out of Afghanistan and sent into Iraq.
Ouch, thats gotta sting. Unka Karl Rove probably couldn’t sleep that night trying to think of ways to smear Senator Leahy.
A July 2002 Justice Department statement to a Senate committee appears to contradict several key arguments that the Bush administration is making to defend its eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing such operations, was working well, the department said in 2002. A “significant review” would be needed to determine whether FISA’s legal requirements for obtaining warrants should be loosened because they hampered counterterrorism efforts, the department said then.
President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top officials now argue that warrantless eavesdropping is necessary in part because complying with the FISA law is too burdensome and impedes the government’s ability to rapidly track communications between suspected terrorists.
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.- Abraham Lincoln
It was something of a political anthropology overload: to witness on the same day Osama the moral troglodyte emerging from his cave, and Dick the collector of indictments emerging from his bunker, both delivering ideological sermons. Neither was very convincing or appealing. Their deadly, supposedly divinely sanctioned, combination of arrogance and violence has elicited the rejection and active political resistance of virtually the entire world. And in any case, both these guys are already in some trouble with the law.
update: I did want to add the disclaimer or stipulation to the Rejecting article that until Hamas gives up violence.terrorism as a means to an end, then they’re part of the problem, not the solution. If thse elections are a turning point for them and they take a more progessive approach in dealing with Israel thats great, but I won’t believe it until I see it.
A tiny spot of blood was the only positive clue to the identity of Clark Douglas’ murderer— but Dr. Feather knew how to make that bloodspot talk!
from the short story CLUE IN CRIMSON by Ray Cummings