Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Karl Can't Hurt You From Jail

Dear Congressperson:
As I understand it, the White House, led by Karl Rove is squeezing hard. Posted by PicasaUsing threats to withhold money and support if people keep investigating the Administration.

As with any bully, you have to stand up to make them stand down. I know the stakes are higher than they were in the schoolyard, but the idea is the same. However, I believe R.W. Emerson when he said:
“When a resolute fellow steps up to the great bully and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
The more they pressure you to support them on party lines, the more it shows how fragile their position. And instead of looking for compromise--the normal political and diplomatic way---it is time to look at what is best for America.

It is time to take down whoever has to go in our government. Those that have lied and manipulated us into war and loss of civil liberties. Those who have destroyed lives, careers, and our reputation as a country. I no longer what the word ‘American’ to be associated with lies, torture, and pointless harm. With using weapons such as depleted uranium and phosphorus. A country that is led by people I do not trust. Back in the days of the cold war, the question used to be: “Would you trust ___ with their finger on the nuclear button?” Posted by Picasa

I do not trust anyone in the Executive Branch to use their power wisely. Whether its appointees, long time civil servants, or ‘elected’ officials like Bush and Cheney. I would rather scandalize the country by arresting and impeaching those who deserve it; than watch it destroyed due to their lack of respect for our people or institutions.

The Administration and its representatives have said “trust us” to be doing the program correctly. Well such confidence has to be earned, and their actions have not warranted such guarantees. In addition, they have made it clear that they don’t trust you, so why should you trust them?

If their spying program is so legal, if they really believe the President has this inherent right -- then why did they keep it so secret? Why did they pressure the NYT not to print the story? Why did they refuse to take it to the FISA Court? Why are they withholding most basic information?

They claim that such knowledge will compromise the program. How? They themselves say that Al Quaida operatives are very sophisticated. I am sure that Al Quaida knows who their people are, and how many of them are in the U. S. The only people really out of the loop are American people and the people they elected in the House and the Senate.
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How many times have we heard Bush, or someone from the Administration state that they are only monitoring ‘known Al Quaida’ agents? So if they know who they are--why aren’t they arresting them? So far their track record of arresting people without sufficient evidence has been so dismal. If they are using the NSA to spy illegally to obtain more evidence, there’s a good chance it won’t hold up in court.

Do you really want to align yourself with this group? If so many people had not died already, this would be bad comedy. Most absurd is that there is a good chance that the number of Americans dead in Iraq and Afghanistan will equal the number that died on 9/11. To protect us from further tragedy we will create situations where more will die. And use the argument that we are preventing more from dying.

The truth is there is such a long list of reasons the President and Vice President could be impeached--from causing over 2,000 American deaths under false circumstances--to gross malfeasance in ignoring the warnings before 9/11.

9/11 was a tragedy. It was a shock to everyone in this country. But it is insulting to use the backs of those dead to destroy our fundamental rights as Americans. As the 9/11 Commission Report has shown---so much that happened that day would NOT have occurred if everyone was doing their job properly. So why is Al Quaida the only group being punished? Why is their no accountability in our own government over this?

Am I safer today than I was on 9/10/2001? No. Did our government respond properly to Hurricane Katrina? No. Posted by Picasa Did our government send young men and women to die under false pretenses? Yes Posted by Picasa
Has our government shown its great love and concern for its citizens by cutting benefit
Programs and making it harder for average people to eke out a living? Yes

It is time to change the standard operating procedures this Administration has used. It is time for every Senator and every Congressperson to make sure that no other little tricks are played or slipped past them.

I was appalled to learn that the Patriot Act was passed without being thoroughly read and vetted. I was stunned to see how open-ended the proclamation that allowed Bush to send the military after Al-Quaida. Now this has returned to haunt us all. We are paying a price for a congress more worried about looking like they were taking action, than taking responsibility.

The way to turn the tide is to start doing your job properly. Begin with upholding your oath to the Constitution. Behave as a patriot, not as a politician. Because any money and support the Administration could provide for you is tainted. In fact, the American public is slowly wising up to their behavior. By the time the elections roll around, I think that anyone sharing a platform with a member of the Executive branch will be doomed.

Most of all, as I mentioned already, if they are fully investigated I don’t believe they will even have power. Karl can’t hurt you from jail. Neither can Bush, Cheney, Rice, or Rumsfeld. Remember that.

Are you the hammer or the nail? You were elected to hammer. If you can’t strike back and lead, then you should not be re-elected. Make way for someone who can behave as if they belong to a branch of government EQUAL to the Executive. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 05, 2006


We live in a dizzy world of acronyms. Turn on the news and you might hear that the ‘AG told the NSA that the FISA wasn’t necessary. Not everyone in DOJ agreed and the CRC published a paper disagreeing. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill the SJC met to discuss the DOD budget plan. (See bottom of post for translation if necessary).

Most of us can deduce the acronyms if we take the time. But instant simultaneous translation in the short time the newscaster delivers it--and moves on to the next topic--can result in mental confusion. By the time most people have translated the acronyms they have forgotten the point of the story.

Undoubtedly you have heard FISA over and over in the news lately. You know you have heard of it, and vaguely remember it is some kind of law. Here, in less than three minutes (that’s how long it took me to read it out loud) is all you need to know about FISA to understand the news.

What does FISA stand for?
F oreign I ntelligence S urveillance A ct

Why did Congress create this law?
President Nixon was convinced that the anti-war groups were controlled by communist organizations. This justification was at the heart of his eavesdropping and spying on American citizens. Nixon expanded the program to include anyone that he disliked. This was part of the scandal that caused Nixon to resign to avoid impeachment.
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When was it passed?
For six years the Congress, White House and a few constitutional scholars worked together to create FISA. President Carter signed it in 1978. It has been amended at least three times since then: 1994, 1998, and 2004.

Who chooses the judges?
They are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Posted by Picasa

What is/was its purpose?
It created a legal entity that allowed the Executive Branch and its Justice Department to spy above and beyond ordinary law enforcement procedures.

Why is it called a ‘secret’ court?
The files and records are sealed, and may not be revealed outside of the court.

Who argues the cases?
The proceedings are non-adversarial and presented by representatives of the Department of Justice.
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Is it hard to win?
The FISA courts approves over 90% of applications submitted

What paperwork do they need to file an application for warrant?
o A statement of why they believe the target for surveillance is an agent of a foreign power.
o Specific information on how the surveillance will be implemented.
o List of previous applications involving the target.
o Description of the nature of the information sought and the type of communication or activities subject to surveillance.
o Length of time surveillance is required.
o Whether physical entry to premises is necessary.
o Their plan for retention of information concerning non-consenting U. S. persons.
o Certification from a high ranking executive branch official stating that they believe the information sought will apply to foreign intelligence, and they cannot reasonably obtain the information through normal investigative techniques.

What criteria is the judge looking for when granting or denying the application?
The court requires proof of ‘probable cause’ in order to approve an application for spying on U.S. persons. In general, one of the following conditions must be met. Target:
• knowingly engages in clandestine (or other) intelligence activities on behalf of a foreign power which may violate criminal law.
• knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism or is preparing for such activities.
• knowingly aids or abets another who is acting in one of the above ways.

What if it is an emergency, no time for paperwork?
If it involves a US person the Attorney General may authorize immediate surveillance and file for judicial review within 72 hours.

For a non-U. S. person has one year to collect information without a court order. IF the surveillance has been certified by the Attorney General and notice is sent to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. A sealed copy must also be filed with the FISA court.

Can a ruling against the Department of Justice be appealed?
Yes, there is an appeal process with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The only time it has been utilized was in 2002.
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Link to complete text of FISA

First sentence
Translation: ‘Attorney General told the National Security Agency that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act wasn’t necessary. Not everyone in Department Of Justice agreed and the Congressional Research Council published a paper disagreeing. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill the Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss the Department Of Defense budget plan.