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Mon Jul 29, 2013, 03:19 PM


Bush wanted FISA law changes to cover his own illegal spying

from Ron Fullwood (bigtree), 7/29/2007:

Bush's FISA Duck and Cover
Just like the Torture Bill pardoned his tortures, Bush want(ed) FISA law changed to cover his illegal spying

The recent Sixth Circuit court dismissed an ACLU wiretapping suit on the bizarre, Kafkaesque grounds that the organization couldn't sue because they couldn't prove they had been harmed. Even though the records which could answer the question remain classified, the court ruled that a “reasonable expectation” their organization's name would be found in the domestic warrantless surveillance program's target lists didn't give them enough 'standing' to claim injury and advance their lawsuit.

It's not just the ACLU who has reason to believe their communications were intercepted by the NSA. The intelligence agency was running a 'data-mining' program under the authorization of a presidential order signed by Bush in 2002. For three years, without informing Congress, Bush and the NSA had been monitoring telephone calls and e-mail messages of thousands of United States citizens without warrants.

The sixth Circuit's ruling, while stifling ACLU attempts to crack the domestic spying program open for inspection, did not get as far as deciding the issue of whether the program had actually violated the FISA Act; or ruled on it's constitutionality under the First and Fourth Amendments. The reason Bush is so eager to have Congress pass a series of accommodations to the Justice Dept's questionable exercise of the surveillance law is to preempt any other legal challenge which might force them to end the practice.

More important to the Bush administration is to have Congress join them in codifying their warrantless spying by merely agreeing to modify it; instead of pressing forward with their determination that Bush actually broke the law they already had in place. In his radio address today, Bush complains that the FISA law he ignored for the three years he was sneaking around it, is "out of date," despite his neglect in saying anything at all to Congress in that period about 'updating' it.

He preferred, instead, to hide his actions from Congress and the American people; even today with his continued refusal to provide the public (or Congress) with the knowledge of which of our citizens' private communications was subject to NSA intercepts.

Bush's sudden interest in pressing Congress to pass his FISA revisions "before they leave town," has to also be seen as an attempted insulation of his embattled Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. Repeatedly forced into perjurious contradictions as he's defended Bush's surveillance programs before congressional committees, Congress is demanding Gonzales explain his previous testimony that his late-night dash with the FBI chief into Ashcroft's intensive care ward in 2004 had nothing to do with the data mining operation. Democrats are especially interested in FBI Director Mueller's testimony this week, in which he clearly contradicted Gonzales, saying that the conversation at Ashcroft's bedside was, in fact, all about the "much discussed" surveillance program.

Bush quoted Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, in his address, as he complained of being "significantly burdened" because Congress hasn't given his agency the absolution he demands from the legal restraints FISA provides that he's already ignored. While giving lip-service to 'civil liberties' and 'privacy' interests, one of the provisions Bush mentioned would change the law to allow them to "work more efficiently with private-sector entities like communications providers" -- much like the administration did when they secretly conspired with nation's telecommunications giants to get them to the point where they could manipulate the transmissions so that their intercepts would be technically legal.

Today's report in the NYT, quoting 'current and former officials' who witnessed a near mutiny over the data-mining program in it's inception, suggests a spying effort which was even larger than previously disclosed. Despite the vain, transparent attempt by the paper to provide Gonzales cover by suggesting the existence of some other program Mueller could have been referring to -- parsing the difference between 'eavesdropping' and 'data-mining' -- there should be no question that the entire effort by the administration was to subvert the requirements of the FISA, especially the warrants.

On July 26, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy sent a letter to Gonzales giving him a chance to avoid perjuring himself further, giving him an August 3 deadline to change his tune. But it looks like the WH is intent on standing their ground on their convoluted explanation that Mueller couldn't have contradicted Gonzales because, in doing so, he would have to reveal national security secrets; so desperate to avoid having their their tacky, despicable attempt to steamroll the sedated Ashcroft devolve into a full-blown perjury investigation that they were willing to (partially) reveal yet another one of their illegally operated, domestic spying schemes.

It just makes sense that, before we even consider allowing this administration (or any other) to unravel the protections provided under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act , that we demand and ensure -- through the courts as well as in the legislature -- that there is enough of an incentive to comply by tightening review and enforcement provisions. At the very least, we should continue to demand that this administration be held accountable in court for the FISA laws (and others) they've already admitted breaking.

read: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_ron_full_070729_bush_s_fisa_duck_and.htm


Relying on 'Reasonable' Beliefs of Bush and Hayden (bigtree article)

The reasonable test. Reasonableness. That's the threshold test Bush and his lawyer Gonzales use to determine whether to spy on Americans. 'Reasonableness' is also the standard that Bush's nominee for the CIA, Gen. Hayden, has used to defend the warrant-less wiretapping and data-mining of U.S. citizens, in blatant disregard for the FISA law set in place by Sen. Kennedy and others in response to unwarranted surveillance in the '60's and the '70's.

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Reply Bush wanted FISA law changes to cover his own illegal spying (Original post)
bigtree Jul 2013 OP
Catherina Jul 2013 #1
bigtree Jul 2013 #3
Catherina Jul 2013 #4
bigtree Jul 2013 #5
Catherina Jul 2013 #6
kentuck Jul 2013 #2

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 03:59 PM

1. Rec'd for your work on this but a question

Edited for a really stupid mistake. Comey, not Gonzales.

In 2007 Here's how [strike]Gonzales[/strike] Comey testified. He did testify that his late night dash had to do with a classified, renewable operations. He didn't elaborate but I thought it was clear. What am I missing? (btw, all the bolding is from a previous post).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 01:00 PM CAST
The hospital room showdown
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey tells the tale of a remarkable attempt by the White House to bully John Ashcroft in his hospital bed.
By Salon Staff

Sen. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.): There have been media reports describing a dramatic visit by Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card to the hospital bed of John Ashcroft in March 2004, after you, as acting attorney general, decided not to authorize a classified program.

First, can you confirm that a night-time hospital visit took place?


SCHUMER: OK. Can you remember the date and the day?

COMEY: Yes, sir, very well. It was Wednesday, March the 10th, 2004.

SCHUMER: And how do you remember that date so well?

COMEY: This was a very memorable period in my life; probably the most difficult time in my entire professional life. And that night was probably the most difficult night of my professional life. So it’s not something I’d forget.

SCHUMER: Were you present when Alberto Gonzales visited Attorney General Ashcroft’s bedside?


SCHUMER: And am I correct that the conduct of Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card on that evening troubled you greatly?


COMEY: I’ve actually thought quite a bit over the last three years about how I would answer that question if it was ever asked, because I assumed that at some point I would have to testify about it.

The one thing I’m not going to do and be very, very careful about is, because this involved a classified program, I’m not going to get anywhere near classified information. I also am very leery of, and will not, reveal the content of advice I gave as a lawyer, the deliberations I engaged in. I think it’s very important for the Department of Justice that someone who held my position not do that.

SCHUMER: In terms of privilege.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

SCHUMER: Understood.


COMEY: In the early part of 2004, the Department of Justice was engaged — the Office of Legal Counsel, under my supervision — in a reevaluation both factually and legally of a particular classified program. And it was a program that was renewed on a regular basis, and required signature by the attorney general certifying to its legality.

And the — and I remember the precise date. The program had to be renewed by March the 11th, which was a Thursday, of 2004. And we were engaged in a very intensive reevaluation of the matter.

And a week before that March 11th deadline, I had a private meeting with the attorney general for an hour, just the two of us, and I laid out for him what we had learned and what our analysis was in this particular matter.

And at the end of that hour-long private session, he and I agreed on a course of action. And within hours he was stricken and taken very, very ill…

SCHUMER: (inaudible) You thought something was wrong with how it was being operated or administered or overseen.

COMEY: We had — yes. We had concerns as to our ability to certify its legality, which was our obligation for the program to be renewed.

The attorney general was taken that very afternoon to George Washington Hospital, where he went into intensive care and remained there for over a week. And I became the acting attorney general.

And over the next week — particularly the following week, on Tuesday — we communicated to the relevant parties at the White House and elsewhere our decision that as acting attorney general I would not certify the program as to its legality and explained our reasoning in detail, which I will not go into here. Nor am I confirming it’s any particular program. That was Tuesday that we communicated that.

The next day was Wednesday, March the 10th, the night of the hospital incident. And I was headed home at about 8 o’clock that evening, my security detail was driving me. And I remember exactly where I was — on Constitution Avenue — and got a call from Attorney General Ashcroft’s chief of staff telling me that he had gotten a call…

SCHUMER: What’s his name?

COMEY: David Ayers. That he had gotten a call from Mrs. Ashcroft from the hospital. She had banned all visitors and all phone calls. So I hadn’t seen him or talked to him because he was very ill. And Mrs. Ashcroft reported that a call had come through, and that as a result of that call Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to the hospital to see Mr. Ashcroft.

SCHUMER: Do you have any idea who that call was from?

COMEY: I have some recollection that the call was from the president himself, but I don’t know that for sure. It came from the White House. And it came through and the call was taken in the hospital.

So I hung up the phone, immediately called my chief of staff, told him to get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately. I hung up, called Director Mueller and — with whom I’d been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week — and told him what was happening. He said, “I’ll meet you at the hospital right now.”

Told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital. I got out of the car and ran up — literally ran up the stairs with my security detail.

SCHUMER: What was your concern? You were in obviously a huge hurry.

COMEY: I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.



COMEY: I was worried about him, frankly. And so I raced to the hospital room, entered. And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed, Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn’t clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off.

SCHUMER: At that point it was you, Mrs. Ashcroft and the attorney general and maybe medical personnel in the room. No other Justice Department or government officials.

COMEY: Just the three of us at that point. I tried to see if I could help him get oriented. As I said, it wasn’t clear that I had succeeded.

I went out in the hallway. Spoke to Director Mueller by phone. He was on his way. I handed the phone to the head of the security detail and Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances. And I went back in the room.

I was shortly joined by the head of the Office of Legal Counsel assistant attorney general, Jack Goldsmith, and a senior staffer of mine who had worked on this matter, an associate deputy attorney general. So the three of us Justice Department people went in the room. I sat down…

SCHUMER: Just give us the names of the two other people.

COMEY: Jack Goldsmith, who was the assistant attorney general, and Patrick Philbin, who was associate deputy attorney general.

I sat down in an armchair by the head of the attorney general’s bed. The two other Justice Department people stood behind me. And Mrs. Ashcroft stood by the bed holding her husband’s arm. And we waited.

And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there — to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was — which I will not do.

And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me — drawn from the hour-long meeting we’d had a week earlier — and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, “But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general.”

SCHUMER: But he expressed his reluctance or he would not sign the statement that they — give the authorization that they had asked, is that right?

COMEY: Yes. And as he laid back down, he said, “But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general. There is the attorney general,” and he pointed to me, and I was just to his left. The two men did not acknowledge me. They turned and walked from the room. And within just a few moments after that, Director Mueller arrived. I told him quickly what had happened. He had a brief — a memorable brief exchange with the attorney general and then we went outside in the hallway.

SCHUMER: OK. Now, just a few more points on that meeting. First, am I correct that it was Mr. Gonzales who did just about all of the talking, Mr. Card said very little?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

SCHUMER: OK. And they made it clear that there was in this envelope an authorization that they hoped Mr. Ashcroft — Attorney General Ashcroft would sign.

COMEY: In substance. I don’t know exactly the words, but it was clear that’s what the envelope was.


SCHUMER: Right. OK. Let’s continue. What happened after Mr. Gonzales and Card left? Did you have any contact with them in the next little while?

COMEY: While I was talking to Director Mueller, an agent came up to us and said that I had an urgent call in the command center, which was right next door. They had Attorney General Ashcroft in a hallway by himself and there was an empty room next door that was the command center. And he said it was Mr. Card wanting to speak to me.

I took the call. And Mr. Card was very upset and demanded that I come to the White House immediately. I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present.

He replied, “What conduct? We were just there to wish him well.”

And I said again, “After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness. And I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States.”


SCHUMER: Can you tell us a little bit about the discussion at the Justice Department when all of you convened? I guess it was that night.

COMEY: I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to go into the substance of it. We discussed what to do. I recall the associate attorney general being there, the solicitor general, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, senior staff from the attorney general, senior staff of mine. And we just — I don’t want to reveal the substances of those…

SCHUMER: I don’t want you to reveal the substance. They all thought what you did — what you were doing was the right thing, I presume.


SCHUMER: Right. OK. Was there any discussion of resignations with Mr. Card?

COMEY: Mr. Card was concerned that he had heard reports that there were to be a large number of resignations at the Department of Justice.

SCHUMER: OK. OK. And the conversations, the issue, whatever it was, was not resolved.

COMEY: Correct. We communicated about it. I communicated again the Department of Justice’s view on the matter. And that was it.

SCHUMER: Right. And you stated that the next day, Thursday, was the deadline for reauthorization of the program, is that right?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

SCHUMER: OK. Can you tell us what happened the next day?

COMEY: The program was reauthorized without us and without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality. And I prepared a letter of resignation, intending to resign the next day, Friday, March the 12th.


COMEY: I believed that I couldn’t — I couldn’t stay, if the administration was going to engage in conduct that the Department of Justice had said had no legal basis. I just simply couldn’t stay.

SCHUMER: Right. OK. Now, let me just ask you this. And this obviously is all troubling. As I understand it, you believed that others were also prepared to resign, not just you, is that correct?


SCHUMER: OK. Was one of those Director Mueller?

COMEY: I believe so. You’d have to ask him, but I believe so.


COMEY: Yes. I ended up agreeing — Mr. Ashcroft’s chief of staff asked me something that meant a great deal to him, and that is that I not resign until Mr. Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me. He was very concerned that Mr. Ashcroft was not well enough to understand fully what was going on. And he begged me to wait until — this was Thursday that I was making this decision — to wait til Monday to give him the weekend to get oriented enough so that I wouldn’t leave him behind, was his concern.

SCHUMER: And it was his view that Mr. Ashcroft was likely to resign as well?


SCHUMER: So what did you do when you heard that?

COMEY: I agreed to wait. I said that what I would do is — that Friday would be last day. And Monday morning I would resign.


SCHUMER: Thank you. Now, let’s go to the next day, which was March 12. Can you tell us what happened then?

COMEY: I went to the Oval Office — as I did every morning as acting attorney general — with Director Mueller to brief the president and the vice president on what was going on on Justice Department’s counterterrorism work.

We had the briefing. And as I was leaving, the president asked to speak to me, took me in his study and we had a one-on-one meeting for about 15 minutes — again, which I will not go into the substance of. It was a very full exchange. And at the end of that meeting, at my urging, he met with Director Mueller, who was waiting for me downstairs.

He met with Director Mueller again privately, just the two of them. And then after those two sessions, we had his direction to do the right thing, to do what we…

SCHUMER: Had the president’s direction to do the right thing?

COMEY: Right. We had the president’s direction to do what we believed, what the Justice Department believed was necessary to put this matter on a footing where we could certify to its legality. And so we then set out to do that. And we did that.


SCHUMER: Let me ask you this: So in sum, it was your belief that Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card were trying to take advantage of an ill and maybe disoriented man to try and get him to do something that many, at least in the Justice Department, thought was against the law? Was that a correct summation?

COMEY: I was concerned that this was an effort to do an end-run around the acting attorney general and to get a very sick man to approve something that the Department of Justice had already concluded — the department as a whole — was unable to be certified as to its legality. And that was my concern.



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Response to Catherina (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 04:34 PM

3. it may well have been clear, but his ambiguity looked to be an attempt at deniability


. . . that he was discussing the 'data mining' by leaving it out there that it could have been some other intelligence matter that he raised at the hospital.

Gonzales had characterized the internal debate as centering on "other intelligence activities" than the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, whose existence President Bush confirmed in December 2005.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #3)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 05:25 PM

4. Bigtree! My last post was confused

Last edited Mon Jul 29, 2013, 07:43 PM - Edit history (1)

Don't ask me how I did this but I mixed up Gonzales and Comey (not enough sleep) so I started with the wrong premise but I still ended up in the same place, with more questions.

You know how these things go. Every time you think you have one answer, it only leads to several more which is why it's going to be so hard for anyone to get to the bottom of this.

So now I'm trying to find more. Your response is the first time I've paid attention to "other intelligence activities" so I searched for that

"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."

"Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "Come on. If you say it's about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."

"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."


Asked for comment on the documents Wednesday evening, Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Gonzales "stands by his testimony."

"The disagreement referenced by Jim Comey in March 2004 was not about the particular intelligence activity that has been publicly described by the president," Roehrkasse said. "It was about other highly classified intelligence activities that have been briefed to the intelligence committees."


Gonzales is the last slime-ball I want to even look like I'm giving any benefit of the doubt to tut, based on that, it seems his testimony was truthful because the conversation wasn't about the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" but the non-AlQaeda-related Domestic Surveillance Program.

I either have the luxury looking at all of this with total hindsight or I'm missing something very basic.

Two of the NSA whistleblowers made the point that you can't really question the Intel community because it obfuscates, parses words, misleads, withholds, and whenever you start getting close to the truth, they tell you it's too classified to answer except to the same people who cover for them.

At this point, I don't see how anything else will do except a lengthy and full briefing to all of Congress about ALL their programs.

I hope you plan to do more threads on this for people, like me, who weren't paying close enough attention to who was parsing what, just that it was all a bunch of lies.

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Response to Catherina (Reply #4)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 06:46 PM

5. dear, Catherina


. . . the testimony you posted was but a step away from Gonzales' denials. The lying is what Gonzales will always be remembered for. He was more craven than most in doing the bidding of his Executive master. No independent craftiness from that one; he was led by the nose by Cheney and others in that admin., I believe.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #5)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 07:42 PM

6. No doubt. No amount of parsing can ever excuse those things.

This is why I'm really looking forward to your posts. I picked up on the cravenness and the collusion but my grasp of the particulars are weak. Even without the details, it's clear it was all a huge bundle of lies and they need to pay for all the harm and suffering they inflicted. Thank you my friend

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 04:00 PM

2. Exactly!

...Why it was changed.

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