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Archive for the ‘Wiretapping’ Category

Panetta: Too Dangerous To Release Torture Tape Docs

TPM Muckraker- By Zachary Roth – June 9, 2009, 9:58AM

Do we have yet another case of the Obama administration mimicking its predecessor’s notorious penchant for government secrecy?

The CIA argued yesterday that Bush-era documents detailing the videotaped interrogations of detainees should not be released, citing national security concerns, reports the Washington Post.

The videotapes, which depicted harsh interrogation tactics, were famously destroyed in 2005. As part of a wide-ranging lawsuit, the ACLU is seeking the release of CIA emails discussing the tapes, handwritten notes taken after reviewing the tapes, and a photograph of one high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah, among other items relating to the tapes.

CIA director Leon Panetta argued in a statement that releasing the material “could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security by informing our enemies of what we knew about them, and when, and in some instances, how we obtained the intelligence we possessed.”

Panetta wrote that the “disclosure of explicit details of specific interrogations” would give al-Qaeda “propaganda it could use to recruit and raise funds.” He called it “ready-made ammunition.”

MORE HERE

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More OLC Memos To Come?

Some followup by the New York Times on the Bush-era OLC memos released yesterday by the Justice Department…

Department officials have told the paper that they may soon release more secret opinions about counter-terror tactics. Those that contain classified information will need to be cleared with other government agencies before they can be released.

Separately, some Democrats are jumping on the controversial memos to bolster their argument for a commission to look into the Bush administration’s counter-terror policies.

Senate Judiciary chair Pat Leahy, who has called for such a commission, put out a statement Monday that praised the Justice Department for releasing “some of these long-secret opinions.” But it also argued that a “fuller review of these policies” by the new Obama team was needed.

And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said: “These memos appear to have given the Bush administration a legal blank check to trample on Americans’ civil rights. We need to get to the bottom of what happened at O.L.C. and ensure it never happens again.”

Also, the Times picks up on that footnote in the Steven Bradbury memo that we highlighted earlier. Reports the paper:

In a footnote to Mr. Bradbury’s Jan. 15, 2009, memorandum sharply criticizing Mr. Yoo’s work, Mr. Bradbury signaled that he did not want his repudiation of the legal reasoning employed by Mr. Yoo to be used against Mr. Yoo as part of the ethics probe.Mr. Bradbury wrote that his retractions were not “intended to suggest in any way that the attorneys involved in the preparation of the opinions in question” violated any “applicable standards of professional responsibility.”

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Pelosi: Bush Administration lawbreakers should face prosecution, not immunity

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Thursday February 26, 2009

Not so fast.

Bush administration officials who broke the law should face criminal prosecution and shouldn’t get immunity in exchange for testimony under a proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission being discussed in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in an interview broadcast late Wednesday.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) yesterday announced his committee will hold hearings on creating a panel to investigate alleged crimes committed by Bush administration officials, including torture of detainees and illegal wiretapping. Leahy has said the panel would avoid criminal charges except in cases of perjury.

Pelosi said she supported the investigation, but any plan should hold open the possibility of prosecution.

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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Senate Chairman says he’d investigate Democrats who backed Bush policies

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Monday February 23, 2009

In little noticed one-line remark on Sunday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) endorsed the investigation of Democrats who approved of President George W. Bush’s policies as president that he aims to review as part of a “truth commission.”

The veteran Democrat has floated the idea of a “truth commission” to probe and put to rest alleged Bush Administration constitutional abuses, in areas such as wiretapping and harsh interrogation. Those who participated would likely be granted immunity from prosecution so long as their testimony is truthful, mirroring similar venues of public catharsis as were practiced in South Africa and Chile in previous decades.

Speaking to the New York Times’ Scott Shane, “Mr. Leahy said he has learned that the temptation to abuse powers in a crisis is bipartisan and the commission’s review should include the role of Democrats in Congress in approving the Bush policies. The work should be done in one year, he added, to avert accusations that it was being dragged out for political gain.”

Leahy’s commission has attracted unusual followers. While receiving a tepid response from President Barack Obama — who said he was “more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards” — former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he would cooperate if calling to speak.

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Sudhan @16:00 CET

This Abu Ghraib detainee was reportedly threatened with electrocution if he fell.
This Abu Ghraib detainee was reportedly threatened with electrocution if he fell.

By Patrick Leahy, Time, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

More than 30 years ago, a special Senate investigation peered into abuses that included spying on the American people by their own government.

The findings by Senator Frank Church’s committee, drawn from testimony spanning 800 witnesses and thousands of pages of government documents, revealed how powerful government surveillance tools were misused against the American people. For instance, the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation spent more than two decades searching in vain for communist influence in the NAACP and infiltrated domestic groups that, for example, advocated for women’s rights. The Church committee’s work led to creation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and later to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act–reforms that largely held until the Bush years. (See George W. Bush’s biggest economic mistakes.)

The parallels with today are clear, and so are the lessons. Then, as in recent years, some were willing, in the name of security, to trade away the people’s rights as if they were written in sand, not stone. For much of this decade, we have read about and witnessed such abuses as the scandal at Abu Ghraib, the disclosure of torture memos and the revelations about the warrantless surveillance of Americans.

Continued >>

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Whistleblower: NSA spied on everyone, targeted journalists

Raw Story- David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday January 21, 2009

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists.

“The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications — faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications,” Tice claimed. “It didn’t matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.”

Tice further explained that “even for the NSA it’s impossible to literally collect all communications. … What was done was sort of an ability to look at the metadata … and ferret that information to determine what communications would ultimately be collected.”

According to Tice, in addition to this “low-tech, dragnet” approach, the NSA also had the ability to hone in on specific groups, and that was the aspect he himself was involved with. However, even within the NSA there was a cover story meant to prevent people like Tice from realizing what they were doing.

MORE HERE

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Conyers publishes massive report on ‘Imperial Presidency’

Raw Story- Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday January 13, 2009

Report demands investigation of Bush administration’s abuses of power

Everyone wants to know: will Obama order investigations into the Bush administration’s abuses of power? But, perhaps a better question would be: if he doesn’t, who will?

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), it appears, will at least try.

Conyers published a 487-page report (PDF link) Tuesday titled, “Reining in the Imperial Presidency: Lessons and Recommendations Relating to the presidency of George W. Bush.”

Conyers’ report makes 47 recommendations “designed to restore the traditional checks and balances of our constitutional system,” reads the foreward. Recommendations include the establishment of a ‘blue ribbon’ commission to fully investigate the Bush administration, and the launch of criminal probes.

“Even after scores of hearings, investigations, and reports, we still do not have answers to some of the most fundamental questions left in the wake of Bush’s Imperial Presidency,” Conyers said in a release. “Investigations are not a matter of payback or political revenge – it is our responsibility to examine what has occurred and to set an appropriate baseline of conduct for future administrations.”

On Jan. 6, Conyers introduced a bill that, if passed, would create the “Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties,” which would seek to root out President Bush’s abuses.

MORE HERE

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