If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy

Whistle-blower Had to Fight NSA, LA Times to Tell Story. Remember when Dubya said this,

President Bush has acknowledged he authorized the NSA to intercept the communications of people with known links to terrorist organizations “into or out of the United States,” but that “we’re not trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.”

But the tap in this room at AT&T filters not just phone calls between suspected terrorists – an odd notion in itself that the U.S. is crawling with suspected terror suspects and they haven’t been arrested. They are filtering millions of internet based communications among American citizens. We know from this and other reports they are abusing the ability to put millions of Americans under surveillance  State Secrets Privilege Was Used to Cover Up Corruption and Silence Whistleblowers

On April 2, 2002, Graham filed with the DOJ-OIG a classified protected disclosure, which provided a detailed account of FISA violations involving misuse of FISA warrants to engage in domestic surveillance. In his unclassified report SA Graham states: “It is the complainant’s reasonable belief that the request for ELSUR [electronic surveillance] coverage was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters.” Graham blew the whistle on this illegal behavior, but the actions were covered up by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office.

The answer by administration supporters is always that they might be doing some domestic spying, but the president has that right and wouldn’t abuse it. That any president has the right to unrestricted spying on American citizens is debatable and its seems they are willing to abuse the ability to do so. Then there is the national security argument – the president needs to do this to protect us. The problem with this reasoning is that it appeals to absolute centralized authority as as some kind of ultimate protection. The Soviet Union was a very strict authoritarian based government with secret police and informers everywhere yet that did not make them immune from home grown sabotage/terrorism. No amount of authority resting in the hands of the few, who have been shown that they are perfectly willing to lie to cover up their actions, will guarantee every American perfect safety. What is does do is erode our privacies, our laws, and the trust we should have in our government in times of emergency. Then there’s the I have nothing to hide argument – I have nothing to hide, but I do value my privacy, hiding something isn’t the point – is your whole life public from the day you’re born to the day you die – is every move you make , every word out of your mouth, everything you write up for public display. The Value of Privacy

Some clever answers: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.” “Because the government gets to define what’s wrong, and they keep changing the definition.” “Because you might do something wrong with my information.” My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? (“Who watches the watchers?”) and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

Sure Libby’s conviction was welcome, but as this gentleman notes Scooter Libby Is Collateral Damage one of the jurors makes the obvious observation,

“It was just very hard to believe how he could remember it on a Tuesday and forget it on a Thursday and then remember it two days later,” Collins told reporters outside U.S. District Court. “Having said that, I will say that there was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby on the jury.”

“It was said a number of times, ‘What are we doing with this guy here? Where’s [Karl] Rove … where are these other guys?’

“We’re not saying we didn’t think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of, but it seemed like … he was the fall guy.”

Fall guy might be the wrong term. More like the smaller fish scarified to save big fish Cheney and Rove. LYING ABOUT NUKES….Sullivan on the Libby verdict

Nobody else lied to the FBI and the grand jury. Only Libby. And that makes it pretty obvious that he was trying to hide the one thing he knew that no one else did: the fact that he learned Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity from Dick Cheney.

Are hoards of right-wingers getting drool all over their keyboards over this. Sure, but that is little consolation knowing that people trusted with the national security of this country have been officially exposed as petty vicious thugs. Bush, Cheney and Libby are in no way leaders they’re second raters. They’re the class of people that exists in every society that got into positions of power based on connections, money and power plays, not merit, not great ideas, and certainly not character. The spies who pushed for war

The president’s most trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was at the shadow network’s sharp end. He made several trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more “forward-leaning” interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make his influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was. Such hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence data was unprecedented for a vice-president in recent times, and it put pressure on CIA officials to come up with the appropriate results.

They play politics with national security so playing around with our justice system is no big leap, Prosecutors Say They Felt Pressured, Threatened

Six fired U.S. attorneys testified on Capitol Hill yesterday that they had separately been the target of complaints, improper telephone calls and thinly veiled threats from a high-ranking Justice Department official or members of Congress, both before and after they were abruptly removed from their jobs.

In back-to-back hearings in the Senate and House, former U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico and five other former prosecutors recounted specific instances in which some said they felt pressured by Republicans on corruption cases and one said a Justice Department official warned him to keep quiet or face retaliation.

Chuck Hagel continues to say the right words. Too bad he seems so reluctant to follow up with action – Chuck Hagel’s historic moment, and what it means for a declining presidency.

“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore,” Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”

The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word — impeachment — spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It’s barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.

“Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility,” he says. “The press abdicated its responsibility, and the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly.”

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy” -James Madison