Opinion Politics

White House fearful of prosecution…

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Harpers Magazine interviewed Jane Mayer, the author of The Dark SideAn inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals. This book is a series of articles which chronicle the Bush’s administrations involvement with torture and the individuals that helped make it happen.

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public.

The interview involved six questions which can be found here… I highly recommend reading this interview in it’s entirety.

What I found striking was Jane Mayer’s respsonse to the first question which included this statement:

Activists will be angry at me for saying this, but as someone who has covered politics in Washington, D.C., for two decades, I would be surprised if there is the political appetite for going after public servants who convinced themselves that they were acting in the best interests of the country, and had legal authority to do so. An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

Much will depend on who the next president and attorney general are, and how much pressure they feel. At the very least, as a journalist, I hope that the records are opened, and all the legal memos released (several crucial ones remain secret) so that the country can learn its own history here. My guess is that the real accountability for President Bush will be in the history books, not the court room.

Remember, there are both Democrats and Republicans that sit on the Intelligence Committees and these legislators were informed of the torture programs as developed by the Bush administration. This would make them both accessory before and after the fact.

The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA’s prisoners to Guantanamo, “people will want to know where they have been—and what we’ve been doing with them.” Alberto Gonzales, a source said, “scared” everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds.

(I added the emphasis)

Well, now I understand why there was this big push to pass the Military Commission Act back in the Fall of 2007. And to think that most Congress men and women didn’t even read this bill. My Congressman told me that he voted in favor of this bill because Nancy Pelosi told him to vote “yea” and he did. She wields a strong arm in the Democratic Congress.

Wait, there’s even more… Cheney and his buddies have been carrying around a grudge ever since Watergate and they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to strike back.

After interviewing hundreds of sources in and around the Bush White House, I think it is clear that many of the legal steps taken by the so-called “War Council” were less a “New Paradigm,” as Alberto Gonzales dubbed it, than an old political wish list, consisting of grievances that Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, had been compiling for decades. Cheney in particular had been chafing at the post-Watergate reforms, and had longed to restore the executive branch powers Nixon had assumed, constituting what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the Imperial Presidency.

Then there is the matter of the recent FISA bill and Congressional members’ knowledge of the illegal spying when it first took place.

From Salon:

Democrats Politics Videos

Patriots that supported protecting the 4th Amendment

Senator Chris Dodd defends the Constitution…

Senator Russ Feingold defends the Constitutions…

Senators that voted “nay” on FISA

Chris Dodd (CT)

Russ Feingold (WI)

Tom Allen (ME)

Tom Udall (NM)

Carol Shea-Porter (NH)

Doug Tudor (FL)

Dennis Shulman (NJ)

Andrew Rice (OK)

Rick Noriega (TX)

Darcy Burner (WA)

Jim Himes (CT)

Jon Tester (MT)

What I find interesting is that this FISA debate has been going on for months and it’s been in all the news. Does anyone believe that a terrorist would be sending messages electronically now that they know the US Government is gathering their information? Snail mail may be the way of the future. All they need to do is make hundreds of CD’s with music or anything else legitimate on it and have just one of these with their “message” on it and send these CDs through the mail. This bill was all about covering up the boy Bush’s and barnacle Cheney’s illegal spying on Americans and keeping the telecoms from spilling the beans. Hopefully when Barack Obama becomes President, he will use the data collected on Cheney and Bush to send these two traitors off to jail.

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Democrats Politics

Disappointing Democrats

These are the Democrats that voted “yea” for the FISA bill.

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)

We all know that Republicans hate our freedom, but so do these Democrats. They are nothing more than fainting goats that fall over whenever they are the least bit frightened.

UPDATE: I am simply being facetious about these Democrats. I don’t think they really hate our freedoms. They did fall over and freeze like fainting goats when it came to this FISA bill. They gave Bush what he wanted. Are we safer because of this bill? I doubt it.

UPDATE 2:  Because some people took offense by stating Democrats hate our freedoms, I’ll reword this.  The Democrats that voted “yea” for this FISA bill turned their backs on our freedom from warrentless wiretaps.  They turned their backs on the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

Barack Obama Campaign Democrats Elections Government Obama Politics

Plan for Homeland Security

Since the FISA bill is up for a vote today and many Americans are disappointed in this bill, I thought it may be a good time to post Barack Obama’s plan for Homeland Security. Yes, I do agree, this FISA bill is catering to the boy Bush. There is one thing that this bill does not include, it DOES NOT give immunity to prosecution for criminal charges so it may protect the phone companies financially but it doesn’t protect them from going to jail.

Yesterday, Senator Arlen Specter questioned the efficacy of the bill since a judge had already ruled on spying on Americans without court oversight so even if this bill is passed, it may still end up being challenged in court at some later date. Hopefully by then, Barack Obama will be President with a strong Democratic majority in Congress.

From Barack Obama’s website on the issues:

The first responsibility of any president is to protect the American people. Yet, more than five years after the 9/11 attacks, our country is still unprepared. The 9/11 Commission gave the government five Fs and 12 Ds on the implementation of its homeland security recommendations. As president, Barack Obama will take every step to make our homeland more secure. He will implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and ensure that the nation is prepared to prevent and respond to catastrophe. An Obama administration will provide the nation’s first responders with the equipment, training, and support they need; invest in the resources necessary to improve our emergency preparedness and planning; allocate our homeland security dollars according to risk; increase the security of our transit systems, rail lines, and ports; and secure our chemical and nuclear plants, and other critical infrastructure.


Allocate Funds Based on Risk: Barack Obama believes that the president and Congress should direct our precious homeland security dollars according to risk, not as a form of general revenue sharing. These dollars help states and localities prepare for disaster and fund first responder needs. To address this pressing issue, Obama introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to increase risk-based funding in the 9/11 bill. Obama’s amendment was supported by the Families of 9/11 and former 9/11 Commissioners Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer.
Prepare Effective Emergency Response Plans: As our nation witnessed in the Hurricane Katrina crisis and its aftermath, too many localities do not have integrated emergency response plans to handle disasters. As an Illinois state legislator, Barack Obama passed legislation to improve Illinois’ disaster preparedness for terrorism and public health crises. Obama took his firsthand knowledge of state and local disaster planning to Washington where he has worked to provide greater federal tools and guidance to those responding to emergencies on the ground. Obama passed legislation to require mandatory planning for evacuating individuals with special needs from emergency zones and to create a National Family Locator System to help families locate loved ones after a disaster. As president, Obama will further improve coordination between all levels of government, create better evacuation plan guidelines, ensure prompt federal assistance to emergency zones, and increase medical surge capacity.
Support First Responders: During emergencies our nation’s first responders — police, firefighters, and emergency medical professionals — come to the rescue. They deserve the tools necessary to get the job done safely and quickly. Unfortunately, over the past few years the Bush Administration has repeatedly attempted to significantly reduce support for our nation’s first responders. Barack Obama has consistently fought attempts to undercut the base of our homeland security system. Obama is committed not only to rolling back the funding cuts that have affected first responders, but also to increasing federal resources and logistic support to local emergency planning efforts.
Improve Interoperable Communications Systems: Our nation lost precious time during the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because of the lack of a 21st-century communications network for first responders, local governments, and federal agencies. In January 2007, the Department of Homeland Security gave only six of 75 metropolitan areas high grades for emergency communications. These systems must enable communications across city, county, and state lines and there must be a system by which the Federal government communicates with local entities. Barack Obama supports efforts to provide greater technical assistance to local and state first responders and dramatically increase funding for reliable, interoperable communications systems. He also supports a more rapid turnover of broadcast spectrum to first responders.

Create a Real National Infrastructure Protection Plan
: The federal government’s National Asset Database, which is supposed to guide homeland security priorities, lists 77,069 potential U.S. targets including petting zoos and popcorn factories. Experts say this database is relatively useless for any level of homeland security planning. Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security will develop a meaningful critical infrastructure protection plan across the nation and will work with the private sector to ensure that all real targets are prepared for disasters both natural and man-made.
Secure our Chemical Plants: Chemical plants are potential terrorist targets because they are often located near cities, are relatively easy to attack, and contain multi-ton quantities of hazardous chemicals. While a number of plants have taken steps to improve security, there are still major gaps, and the federal government has never established meaningful, permanent security regulations. Barack Obama worked with Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to introduce the Chemical Security and Safety Act that would establish a clear set of federal regulations that all plants must follow. The bill requires chemical facilities to enhance security, including improving barriers, containment, mitigation, and safety training, and, where possible, using safer technology, such as less toxic chemicals.
Ensure Safe and Secure Disposal of Nuclear Waste: Within the past five years, three nuclear power plants have reported missing spent fuel. The federal government must not only implement regulations and guidelines to account for all dangerous nuclear waste, but also ensure that nuclear power plants and waste facilities have the resources to keep terrorists from obtaining potential weapons. Barack Obama introduced the Spent Nuclear Fuel Tracking and Accountability Act in 2005 to create specific and uniform guidelines to track and control individual spent fuel rods or segments. Obama’s proposals passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June 2005.
Improve Airline Security: Between October 2005 and January 2006, Government Accountability Office investigators were able to smuggle bomb components past federal screeners at all 21 airports they targeted. As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Barack Obama believes we must redouble our efforts to determine if the measures implemented after 9/11 are adequately addressing the threats our nation continues to face from airplane-based terrorism. Obama has supported increased numbers of federal airport screeners and improved funding for aviation security. Airline passengers are still not screened against a comprehensive terrorist watch list. Such a list must be developed and used in a way that safeguards passengers’ privacy while ensuring the safety of air travel.
Monitor our Ports: Despite the 9/11 Commission’s strong recommendation that the government significantly improve port security, the Bush Administration underfunded security at the nation’s ports by more than $1 billion for fiscal year 2005. Barack Obama has been a consistent supporter of strengthening our port security, and has voted for efforts to mandate screening of all inbound cargo to the U.S., improve scanning of cargo at foreign ports, and promote greater sharing of shipping data across nations.
Safeguard Public Transportation: Every weekday, Americans take 34 million trips on public transportation systems to get to work, school and beyond. Even though recent attacks have happened on public transit in Madrid, Mumbai, and London, the Bush Administration has invested only a small fraction of the $6 billion that transportation officials have said is necessary to implement needed security improvements. Barack Obama believes that this critical hole in our homeland security network must be addressed. He will fight for greater information sharing between national intelligence agents and local officials and provide local law enforcement agencies with the everyday tools they need to protect their transportation systems. As a U.S. Senator representing Chicago, IL, one of the nation’s major rail transportation hubs, Obama has consistently advocated stronger rail and transit security programs.
Protect Local Water Supplies: There are almost 170,000 public water systems in the United States. An attack on a drinking water system could contaminate or disrupt water service, impacting human health and compromising critical activities such as fire protection. Barack Obama introduced legislation, which passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to provide $37.5 million over five years to upgrade the monitoring and security efforts of drinking water systems. The bill also directs the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control to develop the tools for drinking water systems to detect and respond to biological, chemical, and radiological contamination.
Improve Border Security: Americans know that our national border security system is broken, leaving our country vulnerable. Barack Obama has been a consistent advocate of strengthening our borders and has voted to transfer $367.6 million to add an additional 1,000 border agents to our nation’s most vulnerable areas as well as increase funding overall for border protection efforts. Obama also believes that border security extends beyond our land borders and that increased federal attention must be paid to those who enter our borders by water and air. Obama supports comprehensive immigration reform to ensure that we truly find a solution to this critical issue.

Improve Information Sharing and Analysis: The attacks of September 11th demonstrated the critical importance of information sharing. While some progress has been made, we are still not good enough at “connecting the dots.” State and local emergency officials represent more than 95 percent of America’s counterterrorism capability, but they too often do not get actionable intelligence from federal sources. Barack Obama will improve our intelligence system by creating a senior position to coordinate domestic intelligence gathering; establishing a grant program to support thousands more state and local level intelligence analysts and increasing our capacity to share intelligence across all levels of government.
Revise the PATRIOT Act: Barack Obama believes that we must provide law enforcement the tools it needs to investigate, disrupt, and capture terrorists, but he also believes we need real oversight to avoid jeopardizing the rights and ideals of all Americans. There is no reason we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties. Unfortunately, the current administration has abused the powers given to it by the USA PATRIOT Act. A March 2007 Justice Department audit found the FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the PATRIOT Act to secretly obtain personal information about American citizens. As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.
Strengthen Warrantless Wiretap Approval Process: Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration’s initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional Intelligence Committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law.
Restore Habeas Corpus: The right of habeas corpus allows prisoners to ask a court to determine whether they are being lawfully imprisoned. Recently, this right has been denied to those deemed enemy combatants. Barack Obama strongly supports the bipartisan efforts to restore habeas rights. He firmly believes that those who pose a danger to this country should be swiftly tried and brought to justice, but those who do not should have sufficient due process to ensure that we are not wrongfully denying them their liberty.

So regardless of the outcome of today’s FISA vote, the bill can always be changed. None of these bills that were designed and supported by the Republicans and the go along Democrats are set in stone. Is this why the boy Bush purchased land in Paraguay? Will the boy Bush be taking the first available flight out of the USA on January 20, 2009?

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Spying and FISA and Telecom Immunity

This is why we need accountability and transparency in the White House, the very values and qualities that Barack Obama has.

From the Washington Post online

Barack Obama left the campaign trial to vote “Ney” on the most recent Senate version of FISA. His opponent skipped out on the vote and continued her campaign. Barack Obama shows good judgement.