Whistleblower: FISA ‘compromise’ advances police state agenda

Raw Story

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.”

Deja vu all over again

Truthout

You’re a Florida resident. You want to do your civic duty, and vote in the upcoming 2008 election. You fill out your voter registration form promptly and correctly, and turn it in. You’re not a convicted felon, and you’ve lived at the same address in Florida for 20 years — no residency problems.

But, the data entry clerk who entered your name into the voter registration roles made an error, and you were entered as Jon Smith, rather than John Smith. Oh heavens, mistakes are made sometimes, and they’re easily fixed. Right?

Wrong. If this error is discovered when you arrive to vote on November 4 — YOU WILL NOT BE VOTING.

At issue is Florida’s so-called “no-match, no-vote” law, which allows county officials to reject new voter registration applications if the names on the forms do not match other state databases. Voter advocacy groups sued the state, claiming that database errors can cause applications to be rejected – through no fault of would-be voters.

This week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida sided with the state, saying it has the right to reject voter applications if they didn’t match an applicant’s Florida driver’s license or the last four digits of their social security number. The state had been sued by a coalition of voting rights groups after election officials rejected applications from 14,000 African-American Floridians dating back to 2006.

That’s right, boys and girls. Shades of election year 2000. Who needs Katharine Harris, when you have the U.S. District Court in Florida?

Well, you think, I’ll just take my ID to the polls with me — just in case.

“The most senseless part is that the state creates these errors, and then makes it unnecessarily hard to fix the problem,” said Elizabeth Westfall of Advancement Project, another attorney for the plaintiffs. “You can’t show a passport. You can’t show a military ID. And though you can show your driver’s license itself, it doesn’t count if you show it at the polls – the very place where voters have to show a photo ID anyway.”

You cannot fix this at the polls, and you can’t even fix it in the weeks leading up to the election. Florida has rules against that sort of thing. They do not have the staff to check all the voter records, and if they happen to find a mistake, you will not be notified. SOL, ladies and gentlemen.

Still, voter advocates hope local Florida election officials will use their discretion to help all voters this fall.

“At the very least, the counties can and should help avoid the chaos that this law creates by making it possible to fix the problem at the polls,” said Brian Mellor, attorney for Project Vote, another plaintiff in the suit. “We hope that the (county) Supervisors of Elections use the discretionary power they have to allow corrections at the polls so that voters are inconvenienced as little as possible.”

Maybe someone will write a sternly worded letter….

Muse’s Monday Menagerie

Its Monday! I am looking forward to this weekend when I get to meet with a couple other Critters in the big city! Yay!

Here’s a short list of articles and opinion pieces from the past few days..

There appears to be some interesting back and forths going on between Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann over Obama’s stance on the FISA Bill. It starts with a blog post by Glenn Greenwald “Keith Olbermann: Then and now“, a response by Keith Obermann on Daily Kos “Well, You Stumped Me“, then back to Glenn, with “Keith Olbermann’s reply and Obama’s secret plan to protect the rule of law“. Firedoglake has more with “Glenzilla vs. Olbermann: John Dean Weighs In“.

I love Keith Olbermann, and I support Barack Obama, but Glenn Greenwald makes some valid points. I am not happy with the direction Obama is going on the FISA Bill, and even though he has my support, it doesn’t mean I don’t question his stance or hold him to account for it. We have to hold the feet of our leaders to the fire and not just follow them blindly, or we get what we’ve been through for the last eight years.

Juan Cole of Informed Comment blogs about the words of Lee Iacocca in his post for today. Strong words, and more surprising, from a Republican.. Please read them: “Iacocca: Where the Hell is our Outrage?

“Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

“Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!
(Continue on..)

On AlterNet: The ‘Mortgage Meltdown’ Was No Accident.

From BradBlog, House Judiciary Subpoenas DOJ for Documents on CIA Leak, Selective Prosecutions“:

On Friday, just 10 days after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas to the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) for notes from a June 2004 interview the FBI conducted with George Bush and Dick Cheney regarding their roles in the CIA leak scandal, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for documents related to the leak as well as the department’s alleged political prosecutions.

From TPM Muckraker: “U.S. Advised Iraqi Ministry On Oil Deals“:

A couple weeks ago, we learned that Iraq’s oh-so-very-sovereign Ministry of Oil was about to award a round of no-bid contracts to several western oil companies that would bring the large multinationals back into Iraq for the first time in more than 35 years.

The Bush Administration insisted that they were not going to interfere in this deal, which was between Iraq’s democratic leaders and private-sector companies.

But today’s New York Times report confirms what many people have suspected for years — that U.S. officials are working behind the scenes to influence the future of Iraq’s massive oil reserves.

From Democracy Now!: “Hersh: Congress Agreed to Bush Request to Fund Major Escalation in Secret Operations Against Iran“:

Congressional leaders agreed to a request from President Bush last year to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing Iran’s leadership, according to a new article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine. The operations were set out in a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush which, by law, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders. The plan allowed up to $400 million in covert spending for activities ranging from supporting dissident groups to spying on Iran’s nuclear program.

Here is Seymour Hersh’s article from The New Yorker (via Truthout): “Preparing the Battlefield“.

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McCain lambasted by vets for his GI Bill flip flopping

The site VetVoice had this article posted yesteday.

A Tale of Two Johns

Lambasting Johns Coryn (R TX) and McCain (R AZ) for their shoddy faux support of Webb’s GI Bill. Quoting the article
“Senators John Cornyn and John McCain are like two anti-troop peas in a pod. After voting against the Dwell TIme Amendment that would give soldiers equal time at home as they spent overseas, both adamantly opposed the new GI Bill as “too generous.” Going a step further, Cornyn’s aide personally told me during a call to his office that the new GI Bill would encourage soldiers to leave the service. Of course, Cornyn pulled that notion out of John McCain’s ass, who repeatedly suggested the new GI Bill would harm the military by way of reduced retention. Transferability of the bill to family members never came up during the opposition to this bill. “

McCain then shamelessly tried to take credit for the bill.

Veterans of America, you should know who’s on your side, and McIIIrd, it ain’t.

What if..?

If Terrorists Rock the Vote in 2008
by Frank Rich – Truthout

Don’t fault Charles Black, the John McCain adviser, for publicly stating his honest belief that a domestic terrorist attack would be ‘a big advantage’ for their campaign and that Benazir Bhutto’s assassination had ‘helped’ Mr. McCain win the New Hampshire primary. His real sin is that he didn’t come completely clean on his strategic thinking.

In private, he is surely gaming this out further, George Carlin-style. What would be the optimum timing, from the campaign’s perspective, for this terrorist attack – before or after the convention? Would the attack be most useful if it took place in a red state, blue state or swing state? How much would it ‘help’ if the next assassinated foreign leader had a higher name recognition in American households than Benazir Bhutto?

Unlike Hillary Clinton’s rumination about the Bobby Kennedy assassination or Barack Obama’s soliloquyremarks were not an improvisational mishap. He gave his quotes on the record to Fortune magazine. He did so without thinking twice because he was merely saying what much of Washington believes. Terrorism is the one major issue where Mr. McCain soundly vanquishes his Democratic opponent in the polls. Since 2002, it’s been a Beltway axiom akin to E=mc2 that Bomb in American City=G.O.P. Landslide.

Read entire article…

A gaffe – according to the NY Times:

It was the journalist Michael Kinsley who changed Washington’s understanding of gaffes with his observation that they occur not when people lie, but when they say what they really think.

Was this a gaffe? Or was it a political calculation.. Charlie Black MAY have committed a huge gaffe with this statement, but I don’t believe for a second it was an accident, and it definitely wasn’t ‘misspeaking’. It may well have been a political calculation – especially beings it was said during an interview for a magazine. His simply apologizing, or ‘disavowing’ the remark afterwards, after he already got it out there, doesn’t really work… Not very convincing. The damage is already done; the idea is already planted.

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remnant

A broken spear point, missing its tip on the right hand end in this photo, it may have been perhaps 3 inches long intact. The notches for attachment to the shaft are broken off as well. Made from a fine grained jasper that isn’t found in the area where this tool was left, it’s too large for an arrowhead, possibly the point of an atl-atl (spear-thrower) dart.

The somewhat rough workmanship suggests it is a relatively recent tool, probably nomadic Athapascans (Navajo, Apache), rather than the earlier Desert Archaic peoples who had more refined tool making skills.

Rules regarding artifacts require that they be left undisturbed when found. I take a picture, mark the waypoint in my GPS, and report the details to my district archaeologist. Most sites I run across have already been documented, still it’s fun to roll out the maps and locate them.

The best part is to sit down, look around, and begin to imagine who may have been there, where they might have lived, the animals and plants they sought, and the feelings they may have had…

It was the oil all along — naturally

Bill Moyers & Michael Winship, Truthout

Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn’t a war about oil. That’s cynical and simplistic, they said. It’s about terror and al-Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be … the bottom line. It is about oil.

Alan Greenspan said so last fall. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, “Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” He elaborated in an interview with The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, “If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first Gulf War.”

Remember, also, that soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. “We had virtually no economic options with Iraq,” he explained, “because the country floats on a sea of oil.”

Shades of Daniel Plainview, the monstrous petroleum tycoon in the movie, “There Will Be Blood.” Half-mad, he exclaims, “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet!” then adds, “No one can get at it except for me!”

No wonder American troops only guarded the Ministries of Oil and the Interior in Baghdad, even as looters pillaged museums of their priceless antiquities. They were making sure no one could get at the oil except … guess who?

Here’s a recent headline in The New York Times: “Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back.” Read on: “Four western companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.”

There you have it. After a long exile, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are back in Iraq. And on the wings of no-bid contracts – that’s right, sweetheart deals like those given Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater. The kind of deals you get only if you have friends in high places. And these war profiteers have friends in very high places.  Keep reading→

Imagine that….

The war in Iraq was about the oil all along.  Not because the terrorists attacked us.  Not because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.  Not because the Iraqi people needed freeing.  Not because it’s our manifest destiny to spread democracy across the world.  None of that shit.

It’s a fact:  IT WAS THE OIL, STUPID.

And it will be the same for Iran.

Hey, if anyone stops by to read this post, and still supports this war and/or George W. Bush, I’d like to hear your story.

Oil Prices Likely to Hit $150 to $170 Per Barrel

These are the prices as estimated by OPEC President Chakib Khelil according to an interview he gave Thursday to Reuters.

Khelil said he doubted prices would climb as high as $200.

“I think that the devaluation of the dollar against the euro, if everything goes as I think it will, will be of the order of perhaps 1-2 percent and this will probably generate an $8 rise in the price of oil,” he said.

The head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said it had been clearly established that speculation was impacting markets.

“It’s not a question, but a certainty. The problem is the extent of that speculation on the market,” he said, adding that the effect of the subprime crisis in the United States had affected oil markets.

Asked what the main factor behind the rise in prices had been, he replied: “I think it’s the devaluation of the dollar.”

Of course Iran sees things differently according to another article from Reuters.

The Revolutionary Guards said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the vital Gulf oil route if Iran was attacked and warned regional states of reprisals if they took part, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

Fear of an escalation in the standoff between the West and Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, have been one factor propping up sky-high oil prices. Crude hit a record level on international markets near $143 a barrel on Friday.

Speculation about a possible attack on Iran because of its disputed nuclear ambitions has risen since a report this month said Israel had practiced such a strike, prompting increasingly tough talk of retaliation, if pushed, from Tehran.

President Bush takes no responsibility for high oil prices but the devaluation of the dollar is in large part a result of the money borrowed from China to fund the Iraq war and then there is his eagerness to attack Iran even though their nuclear capabilities have been debunked. His answer is more leases for the oil companies and Senator McCain agrees. It appears there are more immediate remedies.