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Archive for the ‘Warrantless Wiretaps’ Category

I voted for Obama because he represented the people, and called for change and transparency in government, but most of all because he admitted that he inhaled. Little did I think that he would be cowed by the shadow government. Little did I think that he would allow the continuation of corporate government as usual. Little did I think that his presentations to the public would be photo-ops, but here is one of them, that are as big as life and twice as ugly.

Counterpunch

April 10 / 12, 2009

Fakes Left, Goes Right

Obama’s Crossover Dribble on Marijuana Policy

By FRED GARDNER

Executive summary: Obama fakes left, goes right. Passes to Holder at the head of the key. Holder holds the ball, looking for a cutter. Looks in to Brown posting up, then swings it over to Russoniello on the wing. The Warriors veteran finds Obama behind a screen from Holder. Obama launches from beyond the arc… Off back iron. Rebound, Sibelius.

It has been business as usual for the Drug Enforcement Administration since Barack Obama took office. Attorney General Eric Holder has decreed a “policy change,” and some PC (as in Pro-Cannabis) lobbyists and lawyers have hailed that “policy change” as a major victory. But try explaining it to workers at any of the six dispensaries that have been raided by the Obama-era DEA.

“I would have let them in if they would have showed me something,” said John W., 35, who came to the front door of Emmalyn’s on Howard St. in San Francisco on the afternoon of March 25. “They were dressed kind of like me,” according to John, who was garbed in a football jersey. “Once they actually got in I could see that they had bulletproof vests that said DEA on the back. But I couldn’t see that from the door. The only thing I could see was a person with a gun. I asked for a search warrant or a badge but they didn’t show me either one, they just battered down the gate.

“They rushed in and pushed us down -me, two or three patients, a lady who doesn’t work here anymore, and Rose [a beautiful woman of 30 who was behind the counter when your correspondent visited Emmalyn’s a week after the raid]. There were between 15 and 20, all DEA. The man lying next to me didn’t put up any kind of struggle but he kept saying, ‘I’m a patient.’ And ‘Why are you doing this?’”

“They never asked me no questions. They just went through the whole place and took the medicine we had and the little bit of money.” Some heavy machinery was deployed to rip out a safe that had been bolted to the floor. The agents hauled it off, past a passionate group of protesters on the sidwalk chanting, “This medicine is marijuana. Listen to Obama.” Did they know that Obama has said no such thing?

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by Geezer Power

So, you know about the Treasury’s $700 billion bailout plan. But you probably don’t know that the Federal Reserve has lent out about $2 trillion since September. Few do. And that is what’s irritating bulldog Congressman Alan Grayson. Will he be able to shed a light on the Fed’s secret spending?

Grayson raises voice, hackles in D.C.

Mark K. Matthews | Washington Bureau
February 9, 2009

“WASHINGTON – In just a few short weeks, freshman U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has delivered more memorable quotes than some members of Congress do in an entire career.”

“In interviews, the 6-foot-5-inch Grayson downplays his combative approach, bridling at a reporter’s use of the “abrasive” label and saying that he would not have been assigned to the House Science Committee — the “most bipartisan committee in Congress,” he said — if he wasn’t collegial.”

“Meanwhile, his Dylan-quoting, freewheeling stance has earned him liberal fans nationwide, including Darcy Burner, a failed Washington state congressional candidate who has already asked supporters to back Grayson’s re-election campaign.”

“He’s going to have a vicious re-election battle in two years, and he’s getting pressure to sell out to the lobbyists and corporations so that he’ll have enough money to fund his re-election. That, my friends, would be a real pity,” Burner wrote in a letter.

“Fundraising, however, is unlikely to be a problem. He is the 10th-wealthiest House member, with assets of more than $29 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

The rest of the story

Here’s Grayson’s alter ego Steven Seagal as an abstract, reality TV, illustration of what should really happen to the major players in the shadow government that still hangs over the White House.

Youtube video

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Leahy: Investigate Bush Now

Huffington Post- Sam Stein

February 9, 2009 11:44 AM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy insisted on Monday in firm and passionate terms that a comprehensive investigation be launched into the conduct of the Bush administration, saying anything less would prevent the country from moving forward.

Speaking at a forum at Georgetown University, the Vermont Democrat suggested the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to uncover the “misdeeds” of the past eight years.

“Many Americans feel we need to get to the bottom of what went wrong,” said Leahy. “I agree. We need to be able to read the page before we turn the page.”

The Senator also stated that Attorney General Eric Holder never gave assurances to Republican Senators that he would not prosecute Bush administration officials who may have been involved in illegalities such as authorizing torture or warrantless wiretapping.

“There are some who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past,” he said. “Indeed, during the nomination hearing of Eric Holder, some of my fellow Senators on the other side of the aisle tried to extract a devil’s bargain from him in exchange for the votes — a commitment that he would not make… That is a pledge no prosecutor should give and Eric Holder did not give it. But because he did not it accounts for some of the votes against him.”

At one point, Leahy slammed the lectern with his right fist, underscoring the emotion he brought to the debate. His remarks referred to claims that Holder had provided Republicans on the Judiciary Committee a pledge not to prosecute Bush officials — claims that the Obama administration denied.

Leahy framed his commission idea — which he had not discussed publicly prior to Monday — as a middle ground of sorts between those who adamantly oppose investigations and those who say “we must prosecute Bush administration officials to lay down a marker.”

MORE HERE

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Greenwald: Cheney setting up Obama in anticipation of another terrorist attack

Raw Story- David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday February 5, 2009

In an interview with Politico published on Wednesday, former vice president Dick Cheney defended the Bush administration’s use of torture and warrantless surveillance and suggested that unless the Obama administration maintains these policies, it risks a new “9/11-type event” that could “involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.”

“This argument is setting us up for the future,” asserted MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday evening. “If there is another attack, there’s a reason to keep pushing this legacy … so that there will be a political blowback against Barack Obama, so … the country wouldn’t rally around him they [the] way they rallied around Bush and Cheney after 9/11.”

Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who had previously written about the Cheney interview in his blog at Salon, agreed with Maddow: “That’s what’s so nefarious. It’s setting the groundwork if there is another terrorist attack.”

“Why does it help Dick Cheney politically for him to be scary?” Maddow asked.

“There’s really no more effective weapon for a government to keep a citizenry in submission to whatever it wants than keeping the fear level as high as possible,” replied Greenwald.

Greenwald insisted, however, that it is “inane” for Cheney to argue — and for his supporters in the media to accept — that “there must be something to what they did, because after all they kept us safe” from a subsequent terrorist attack.

“What they’re really saying,” noted Greenwald, “is, ‘During our administration, we allowed one catastrophic terrorist attack on US soil — but don’t worry, because we only allowed one.’”

MORE HERE

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Dozens of secret Bush surveillance, executive power memos found; Could be made public

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Tuesday February 3, 2009

Details about more than three dozen secret memoranda written by Bush Administration officials now sit atop a chart created by a public interest reporting group. The memos track new details about dozens of secret Bush Administration legal positions on torture, detention and warrantless wiretapping.

Meanwhile, Obama’s freshly-confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder told senators that he was open to declassifying White House legal memos if no support for their original classification could be found, signaling a likely showdown with former President George W. Bush over executive privilege.

“The Bush administration’s controversial policies on detentions, interrogations and warrantless wiretapping were underpinned by legal memoranda,” Pro Publica’s Dan Nguyen and Christopher Weaver write. “While some of those memos have been released (primarily as a result of ACLU lawsuits), the former administration kept far more memos secret than has been previously understood. At least three dozen by our count.”

Nguyen and Weaver produced the chart. Propublica was founded in 2007 as a non-profit driven investigative news outlet and is run by a former managing editor from the Wall Street Journal.

The chart lists 40 memos that remain secret, along with identifying the 12 that have been made public.

Click for more

Given the chart, one can find the exact date a memo was written, its author and sometimes short details the authors have gleaned from other sources.

Among the memos’ titles: “Criminal Charges against U.S. terrorists”; “Options for Interpreting the Geneva Convention” and “Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to military operations abroad or in U.S.”

LARGER CHART & MORE HERE

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Our Responsibility

Huffington Post- Rep. John Conyers

Posted January 31, 2009 | 02:23 PM (EST)

The Obama era began in earnest last week, with bold action such as closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and promising to end torture. In its very first days, the new administration has begun to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding executive branch operations, and has made great strides forward on fundamental challenges such as energy and the environment, and above all the national economic crisis left in the wake of the Bush Presidency. While great challenges and much hard work remain, the way forward is bright and clear.

As we proceed, however, the question remains how best to respond to the severe challenge posed to our constitutional structure, and to our national honor, by the Bush administration’s actions, and in particular its national security programs. Faced with a record of widespread warrantless surveillance inside the United States, brutal interrogation policies condemned by the administration’s own head of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions as torture, and flawed rendition practices that resulted in innocent men being abducted and handed to other countries to face barbaric abuse, what actions will we take to meet our commitment to the rule of law and reclaim our standing as a moral leader among nations?

I have previously explained my view that a full review of the record must be conducted by an experienced and independent prosecutor, and should focus on the senior policymakers and lawyers who ordered and approved these actions. Others, such as my fellow Michigander Senator Carl Levin, have suggested similar measures. This approach is compelled in my opinion by the basic notion that, if crimes were committed, those responsible should be held accountable – after all, is there any principle of American freedom more fundamental than the rule that no person is above the law? If this independent review concludes that the Bush Administration’s legal constructs make prosecution impossible for some, so be it, but the matter should be given a proper look before such judgments are made one way or the other.

Some commentators – including even those firmly opposed to criminal investigation – support the creation of an independent Commission with appropriate clearances and subpoena power to review the existing record, make policy recommendations, and publish an authoritative account of these events. I have introduced a bill in the House that would create such a commission, and I believe this sort of public accounting is critical as well.

There remain those, however, who would have us simply move on. Some fear the consequences of a true accounting, or worry that taking time to reckon with the sins of the past will hinder us in meeting the challenges of the future. Others argue that the facts are already known, and further review will accomplish little. Often, the call for further review of the Bush administration’s actions is dismissed as partisan payback, kicking an unpopular President when he’s down.

I could not disagree more with these views. As a practical matter, I do not believe that empowering a commission or an independent prosecutor would burden the Congress or the executive or would hinder our efforts to meet the challenges of the day. To the contrary, allowing outside review of these matters by qualified independent experts will free us and President Obama to focus our efforts where they are most needed – on solving the problems before us and improving the lives of the American people.

MORE HERE

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Civil rights group to Obama: Release secret Bush memos

Raw Story- Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday January 28, 2009

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the Justice Department to release Bush administration documentation pertaining to torture, surveillance and other controversial national security policies.

The civil rights watchdog sent a letter today to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the same office that provided legal advice to the White House under George W. Bush.

The secret memos were essentially the legal foundation for many of the Bush adminstration’s questionable practices, says the ACLU in a news release received by Raw Story.

The Bush White House vigorously fought the release of such revealing (some would say, damning) documentation in the interests, it insisted, of protecting national security and other factors.

The ACLU’s filing of the Freedom of Information Act request follows President Obama’s recent directive to minimize federal secrecy and “usher in a new era of open government.”

The request is seen as a test of the freshly inaugurated president’s transparency policy. “The ACLU now sees a new opening,” writes Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers.

The new policy is a promise by Obama that the rights group hopes he follows through with. “President Obama should be commended” for his commitment to openness, said an ACLU director. “We’re eager to see this commitment put into practice.”

The release of the secret documentation will help the nation–and the world–move on from the “lawless conduct” of the Bush administration, the ACLU argues.

More details on the ACLU’s pursuit of the information release is here. Excerpts from their press release today follow…

MORE HERE

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