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Archive for June 29th, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 7:30 PM MST

Whistleblower: FISA ‘compromise’ advances police state agenda

By Nick Langewis | Sunday, 29 June 2008

Retired AT&T engineer Mark Klein has condemned the Senate’s Wednesday cloture vote on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

The bill, if passed by final vote planned for July 8, would revise the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to retroactively grant immunity to customers’ civil lawsuits against telecommunications companies who participated in the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, on the condition that they can provide documentation that they were told ahead of time that their activities were legal.

Klein, in November 2007, urged Congress not to allow such immunity, having gone public with his story of a secret room in AT&T’s San Francisco switching center, which required NSA clearance to enter. All Internet traffic, he said, was being diverted to equipment in the room, as he discovered during his time maintaining optical splitters that handled data to and from AT&T customers.

“[My] thought was George Orwell’s 1984 and here I am forced to connect to the Big Brother machine,” Klein told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann in a November 2007 interview.

Documents Klein obtained, along with conversations he had with colleagues, suggested that 15 to 20 other sites such as this were in other offices across the country, ABC News reported. The documents, acquired by Wired.com, were submitted as part of a 2006 class action lawsuit, currently awaiting further action in the 9th Circuit US Appeals Court, filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“[Wednesday]’s vote by Congress effectively gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies and endorses an all-powerful president,” Klein said. “It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.”

“This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice,” he went on. “Congress has made the FISA law a dead letter–such a law is useless if the president can break it with impunity. Thus the Democrats have surreptitiously repudiated the main reform of the post-Watergate era and adopted Nixon’s line: ‘When the president does it that means that it is not illegal.’ This is the judicial logic of a dictatorship.”

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By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 AM MST

U.S. escalating covert operations against Iran – report

From: Raw Story

Reuters
Published: Sunday June 29, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. congressional leaders agreed late last year to President George W. Bush’s funding request for a major escalation of covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing its leadership, according to a report in The New Yorker magazine published online on Sunday.

The article by reporter Seymour Hersh, from the magazine’s July 7 and 14 issue, centers around a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush which by U.S. law must be made known to Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders and ranking members of the intelligence committees.

“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” the article cited a person familiar with its contents as saying, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.”

Hersh has written previously about possible administration plans to go to war to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including an April 2006 article in the New Yorker that suggested regime change in Iran, whether by diplomatic or military means, was Bush’s ultimate goal.

Funding for the covert escalation, for which Bush requested up to $400 million, was approved by congressional leaders, according to the article, citing current and former military, intelligence and congressional sources.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. U.S. Special Operations Forces have been conducting crossborder operations from southern Iraq since last year, the article said.

These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in Bush’s war on terrorism, who may be captured or killed, according to the article.

But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which include the Central Intelligence Agency, have now been significantly expanded, the article said, citing current and former officials.

Many of these activities are not specified in the new finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature, it said.

Among groups inside Iran benefiting from U.S. support is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, according to former CIA officer Robert Baer. Council on Foreign Relations analyst Vali Nasr described it to Hersh as a vicious organization suspected of links to al Qaeda.

The article said U.S. support for the dissident groups could prompt a violent crackdown by Iran, which could give the Bush administration a reason to intervene.

None of the Democratic leaders in Congress would comment on the finding, the article said. The White House, which has repeatedly denied preparing for military action against Iran, and the CIA also declined comment.

The United States is leading international efforts to rein in Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, although Washington concedes Iran has the right to develop nuclear power for civilian uses.

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Defending the President as Tyrant

Sudhan @11:40 CET

Robert Parry | Consortium News, June 27, 2008

All over the world down through history, political leaders who have engaged in torture and other grotesque crimes of state have justified their actions as necessary to protect their governments or their people or themselves.

It was true when England’s King Edward I had William Wallace – “Braveheart” – drawn and quartered in 1305 for resisting the crown’s rule in Scotland, and a gruesome death was what King George III foresaw for America’s Founding Fathers in 1776 when they stood up to his abuses in the Colonies.

Kings and tyrants often inflicted special pain on people they viewed as challenging their authority and – at such times – they wiped away the rules of justice. But the United States was supposed to be different.

Indeed, reaction to tyrannical monarchs was what compelled the Founders to establish a government of laws, not men, based on “unalienable rights” for all mankind, including protection against arbitrary detention and prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Which is why it was stunning to watch the June 26 hearing before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution as two representatives of George W. Bush’s presidency responded with disdain when pressed on the administration’s extraordinary vision of an all-powerful Executive operating without legal limits.

While Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington treated the committee Democrats with haughty contempt, former State Department lawyer John Yoo expressed the ultimate arrogance of power with his muddled responses and evasions of direct questions.

The soft-spoken Yoo, who authored some of the key legal opinions justifying the abuse of detainees, wouldn’t even give a clear answer to the simple question of what atrocity might be beyond President Bush’s power to inflict.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, cited a news report quoting an ambiguous response from Yoo, who is now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, about whether the President could torture the child of a “war on terror” suspect to induce the suspect to talk.

The Judiciary Committee chairman asked: “Is there anything, Professor Yoo, the President cannot order to be done to a suspect if he believes it’s necessary for national defense?”

When Yoo dissembled, Conyers posed the question more pointedly: “Could the President order a suspect buried alive?”

Yoo continued to fence with the congressman, avoiding a direct answer.

“I don’t think I ever gave advice that the President could bury somebody alive,” Yoo said, adding he believed that “no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.”

Pointedly, however, Yoo avoided a direct response to the question of whether he believed the President had the authority to do it.

Continued . . .

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