Friday, December 23, 2005

SPYING ON AMERICANS: BLAME IT ON THE LAWYER

That will be the right-wing stategy to save Bush's derriere.

Great words of wisdom by Ken. LS

John Yoo, the Berkeley law professor who has invented the legal justification for many of Bush's most dictatorial actions, is now coming under the spotlight, mainly because he supplied Bush with the legal arguments that they are using to back their claim that it was okay to spy on Americans without warrants. 

With even the Wall Street Journal lining up against Bush on this one, you have to know that one of the coming right-wing talk points will be "Bush's lawyer said it was okay. It's the lawyer's fault Bush did this. He was just listening to his lawyer's advice." 

Clearly Presidents are so powerful that they can easily find a lawyer who will justify ANYTHING they want to do, making it important for the president and his people to let their advisors, both legal and intelligence, feel comfortable about telling them the truth. A friend of mine pointed out that for every Supreme Court case there is a very well written brief on each side, including the losing side. Right-wing ideologues do not want truth, they want a good excuse.

The best thing that can develop from this case would not be impeachment, because that would only bring us President Cheney (and not just the current virtual version). The best thing would be endless hearings, crippling Bush from carrying out as much of his terrible agenda as possible.  (I couldn't agree more. Cheney would be even worse than Bush, if that is possible. LS)

Beyond that it'll hopefully scare other ambitious attorneys from being as zealously ready to encourage a president's worst instincts, as John Yoo has. He is profiled below. -K

December 23, 2005
The Advocate
A Junior Aide Had a Big Role in Terror Policy
By TIM GOLDEN
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/23/politics/23yoo.html?emc=eta1

BLAME BUSH SPYING ON THE LAWYERS HERE OR READ BELOW

Moments after planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, lawyers in the Justice Department's elite Office of Legal Counsel began crowding into the office of one of the agency's newest deputies, John C. Yoo, to watch the horror unfold on his television set.

"We all stood around watching this event, and he just seemed very calm, like he wasn't going to let these terrorists stop him from doing his work," recalled Robert J. Delahunty, a friend of Mr. Yoo's who worked in the office.

Fearful of another attack and told that all "nonessential personnel" should evacuate, Mr. Delahunty and others streamed out of the department's headquarters and walked home. Mr. Yoo, then a 34-year-old former law professor whose academic work had focused on foreign affairs and war-powers issues, was asked to stay behind, and he quickly found himself in the department's command center, on the phone to lawyers at the White House.

Within weeks, Mr. Yoo had begun to establish himself as a critical player in the Bush administration's legal response to the terrorist threat, and an influential advocate for the expansive claims of presidential authority that have been a hallmark of that response.

While a mere deputy assistant attorney general in the legal counsel office, Mr. Yoo was a primary author of a series of legal opinions on the fight against terrorism, including one that said the Geneva Conventions did not apply and at least two others that countenanced the use of highly coercive interrogation techniques on terror suspects. Recently, current and former officials said he also wrote a still-secret 2002 memorandum that gave legal backing to the administration's secret program to eavesdrop on the international communications of Americans and others inside the United States without federal warrants.

A genial, soft-spoken man with what friends say is a fiercely competitive streak, Mr. Yoo built particularly strong working relationships with several key legal officials in the White House and the Pentagon. Some current and former government officials contend that those relationships were in fact so close that Mr. Yoo was able to operate with a degree of autonomy that rankled senior Justice Department officials, including John Ashcroft, then the attorney general.

More than two years after Mr. Yoo returned to teaching, controversy over some of the legal positions he staked out for the administration in his two years in government has only continued to grow. Last year, an opinion he wrote on interrogations with the head of the legal counsel office, Jay S. Bybee, was publicly disavowed by the White House, a highly unusual step. Now, the revelation of the eavesdropping program has renewed the criticism.

In the uproar, Mr. Yoo has stood fast and even smiled cheerfully. Despite occasional campus protests and calls for his resignation, he has remained - somewhat incongruously but, he says, quite happily - on the law faculty at the liberal University of California, Berkeley. He keeps a busy schedule of speeches and debates at colleges and universities around the country. He is promoting a new book, and appears frequently on television to take on legal and policy issues that many former officials will discuss only under cloak of anonymity.

"I didn't go into these subjects looking for a brawl," Mr. Yoo said in an interview. Of his work at the Justice Department he added: "I had this job, and I had these questions to answer. I think it's my responsibility to explain how I thought them through."

Mr. Yoo is often identified as the most aggressive among a group of conservative legal scholars who have challenged the importance of international law in the American legal system. But his signature contributions to the policies of the Bush administration have had more to do with his forceful assertion of wide presidential powers in wartime.

While Mr. Yoo has become almost famous for some of his writings - the refutation of both his academic and government work has become almost a cottage industry among more liberal legal scholars and human rights lawyers - much less is known about how he came to wield the remarkable influence he had after Sept. 11 on issues related to terrorism.

That Washington tale began about a decade before Mr. Yoo joined the administration in July 2001, when he finished at Yale Law School and won a clerkship with Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a keen spotter of young legal talent and a patriarch of the network of conservative lawyers who have occupied key positions throughout the Bush administration.

By then, Mr. Yoo already thought of himself as solidly conservative. He had grown up with anticommunist parents who left their native South Korea for Philadelphia shortly after Mr. Yoo was born in 1967, and had honed his political views while an undergraduate at Harvard.

From the chambers of Judge Silberman, Mr. Yoo moved on to a clerkship with Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, stopping briefly at Berkeley. Justice Thomas helped place him with Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, as general counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Along the way, Mr. Yoo passed up a chance to work in the Washington office of the law firm Jones Day, where he caught the eye of a senior partner, Timothy E. Flanigan. After five years that Mr. Yoo spent at Berkeley, writing on legal aspects of foreign affairs, war powers and presidential authority, the two men met up again when Mr. Yoo joined the Bush campaign's legal team, where Mr. Flanigan was a key lieutenant.

Mr. Flanigan became the deputy White House counsel under Alberto R. Gonzales. Mr. Yoo ended up as a deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, or the O.L.C., a small unit of lawyers that advises the executive branch on constitutional questions and on the legality of complex or disputed policy issues.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, Mr. Yoo - the only deputy with much expertise on foreign policy and war powers - began dealing with the White House and other agencies more directly than he might have otherwise.

Mr. Flanigan, who had led the legal counsel office himself at the end of the first Bush administration, was acutely aware of its role in providing a legal grounding for the kinds of policy decisions the White House faced. He called over for advice soon after the World Trade Center towers fell.

"John Yoo, given his academic background and interests, was sort of the go-to guy on foreign affairs and military power issues," Mr. Flanigan said in an interview, referring to the legal counsel office staff. "He was the one that Gonzales and I went to to get advice on those issues on 9/11, and it just continued."

The torrent of opinions that Mr. Yoo churned out in the months that followed was striking, notwithstanding the research and writing assistance he had from lawyers on the office staff. Although only a portion of those documents have become public, copies of some still-confidential memorandums reviewed by The New York Times give a flavor of their sweeping language.

On Sept. 20, Mr. Yoo wrote to Mr. Flanigan about the president's constitutional authority to conduct military operations against terrorists and nations that support them. He noted that two Congressional resolutions recognized the president's authority to use force in such circumstances.

"Neither, however, can place any limits on the president's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing and nature of the response," he wrote. Similar language concludes a memo written by Mr. Yoo on Sept. 25, only a week after Congress authorized President Bush to use military force against Al Qaeda and its supporters.

"One concern that people have raised is that John had a lot of these views going into the government and was perhaps overeager to write them," said Curtis A. Bradley, a law professor at Duke University who, like Mr. Yoo, has written skeptically about the import of international law. "In terms of war powers, you won't find a tremendous number of scholars who will go as far as he does."

Mr. Yoo's belief in the wide inherent powers of the president as commander in chief was strongly shared by one of the most influential legal voices in the administration's policy debates on terrorism, David S. Addington, then the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney. Documents and interviews suggest that those views have been part of the legal arguments underpinning not only coercive interrogation and the prosecution of terrorism suspects before military tribunals but also the eavesdropping program.

Some current and former officials said the urgency of events after Sept. 11 and the close ties that Mr. Yoo developed with Mr. Addington (who is now Mr. Cheney's chief of staff), Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Flanigan and the general counsel of the Defense Department, William J. Haynes II, had sometimes led him to bypass the elaborate clearance process to which opinions from the legal counsel office were normally subjected.

Mr. Yoo's January 2002 conclusions that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the conflict in Afghanistan and that the conventions' minimum standards did not cover terrorists touched off a long, hard-fought battle within the administration, in which lawyers for the State Department and the military services strongly disputed his views. Thereafter, several senior officials said, those lawyers were sometimes excluded from the drafting of more delicate opinions.

For example, they said, Mr. Yoo's much-criticized 2002 memorandum with Mr. Bybee on interrogations - which said that United States law prohibited only methods that would cause "lasting psychological harm" or pain "akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure" - was not shared with either State Department or military lawyers, despite its implications for their agencies.

"They were not getting enough critical feedback from within O.L.C., or from within the Justice Department, or from other agencies," one former official said of Mr. Yoo's opinions. Officials said senior aides to Attorney General Ashcroft also complained that they were not adequately informed about some of the Mr. Yoo's frequent discussions with the White House.

Mr. Yoo said he had always duly notified Justice Department officials or other agencies about the opinions he provided except when "I was told by people very high in the government not to for classification reasons."

Yesterday, with controversy brewing again about some of the policies on which Mr. Yoo worked, he said he was unmoved.

"If you're being criticized for what you did and you believe that what you did was right, you shouldn't take it lying down," he said. "You should go out and defend yourself."



Copyright 2005The New York Times Company !DSPAM:43ac480c152251915019533!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

INTOLERABLE, IMPEACHABLE

This is a brilliant piece written by William Rivers Pitt on Bush's unspeakable abuse of power and his blatantly illegal acts. Mr. Pitt weaves Conyer's report, The Constitution in Crisis, into the piece to clearly demonstrate how far Bush has steadfastly veered away from the guiding principles of law both explicit and implicit in the Constitution. In short, Bush has become a dictator.

Please take the time to read the entire article. It is extremely important. LS

Found on Truthout.org

"BREAKING THE STRAIN"

"THE BREAKING STRAIN"

The Breaking Strain
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday 21 December 2005

The framers of the Constitution devised an elaborate system of checks and balances to ensure our liberty by making sure that no person, institution or branch of government became so powerful that a tyranny could be established in the United States of America. Impeachment is one of the checks the framers gave the Congress to prevent the executive or judicial branches from becoming corrupt or tyrannical.

- Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Opening Statement, Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton, 10 December 1998
A long time ago - before the Iraq invasion, before the elections in '02 and '04, before all the unprecedented governmental violations of trust we have discovered and endured - I wrote something for a book.

"This is America," I wrote. "At bottom, America is a dream, an idea. You can take away all our roads, our crops, our people, our cities, our armies - you can take all of that away, and the idea will still be there as pure and great as anything conceived by the human mind. I do very much believe that the idea that is America stands as the last, best hope for this world. When used properly, it can work wonders. That idea, that dream, is in mortal peril. You can still have all our roads, our crops, our people, our cities, our armies - you can have all of that. But if you murder the idea that is America, you have murdered America itself in a way that ten thousand 9/11s could never do. No terrorist can destroy the ideals we hold dear. Only we can do that."

The breaking strain has been reached, and those ideals we hold so dear are indeed in mortal peril. The President of the United States of America has declared himself fully and completely above the law. The Constitution does not matter to him, nor do the Amendments. Laws passed to safeguard the American people from intrusive governmental invasion have been cast aside and ignored, simply because George W. Bush finds it meet to do so.

Intolerable. Impeachable.

As has been widely reported, Mr. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens. He activated this program in 2002, and has since reauthorized the program thirty times. No one knows for sure exactly who in this country has unwittingly endured investigation by the powerful and secretive NSA. Cindy Sheehan? Patrick Fitzgerald? Joseph Wilson? Non-violent protest organizations? You? Me? No one knows, but the unanswered questions shake the existence of our democracy to its bones.

It is not enough that Mr. Bush blew through the Fourth Amendment, which defends the citizenry from unreasonable searches and seizures. It isn't enough that Mr. Bush blew through the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires a warrant from a special FISA court be obtained before such surveillance is undertaken. For the record, this special FISA court has granted more than 19,000 such warrants, and has denied exactly four.

The worst part of this whole mess is the simple fact that Mr. Bush does not see anything wrong in this. This administration has steadfastly adhered to the idea that the Executive branch is supreme, beyond the bounds of the justice system and further empowered because we are "at war."

Of course, Mr. Bush was careful to speak otherwise. For example, during a speech in Buffalo back in April of 2004, Bush said, "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

We're talking about getting a court order, he said. We value the Constitution, he said.

Lies.

Mr. Bush, in fact, brought the editors of the New York Times into the Oval Office to browbeat them into not running their story on these illegal NSA activities. "Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story - which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year - because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker," wrote columnist Jonathan Alter for Newsweek on Monday. "He insists he had 'legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.' But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing 'all necessary force' in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism."

Intolerable. Impeachable.

Even Attorney General Gonzales agrees with these sentiments. During his January 2005 confirmation hearings before Congress, Sen. Russ Feingold queried Gonzales on whether Mr. Bush has, "at least in theory, the authority to authorize violations of the criminal law under duly enacted statutes simply because he's commander in chief?" Gonzales replied, "Senator, this president is not - I - it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes."

Mr. Gonzales, it appears, did not get the memo.

Rep. John Conyers and the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee have compiled a massively detailed, impeccably-researched report on the activities of this administration titled "The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War." The report runs some 273 pages. A portion of the Executive Summary reads as follows:

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.
There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses.

This report was completed before the revelations of Bush-authorized domestic spying, and its release has added to the maelstrom. Upon issuance of the report, Rep. Conyers put forth three resolutions for consideration by the House of Representatives:

H.RES.635 : Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.
H.RES.636 : Censuring President George W. Bush for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that he and others in his Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of his Administration, for failing to adequately account for specific misstatements he made regarding the war, and for failing to comply with Executive Order 12958.

H.RES.637 : Censuring Vice President Richard B. Cheney for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that he and others in the Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of the Administration and for failing to adequately account for specific misstatements he made regarding the war.

Columnist John Nichols offered an astute analysis of the meaning behind the Conyers report, the proffered resolutions, and their issuance on the heels of the NSA revelations. "The Conyers resolutions add a significant new twist to the debate about how to hold the administration to account," wrote Nichols. "Members of Congress have become increasingly aggressive in the criticism of the White House, with U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, saying Monday, 'Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.'"

"Even Republicans," continued Nichols, "including Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, are talking for the first time about mounting potentially serious investigations into abuses of power by the president. But Conyers is seeking to do much more than schedule a committee hearing, or even launch a formal inquiry. He is proposing that the Congress use all of the powers that are available to it to hold the president and vice president to account - up to and including the power to impeach the holders of the nation's most powerful positions and to remove them from office."

Many political pragmatists will tell you that impeachment is a pipe dream. If the God of the Righteous roared down from Heaven and denounced George W. Bush from the top of the Capitol dome, Republicans in Congress would denounce Him as a traitor, paint Him as standing against the troops, and accuse Him of aiding in the War on Christmas. In other words, the odds that enough Republican members of the House would turn against this administration and support impeachment are about as good as the odds of my cat winning next year's Kentucky Derby.

Even if the odds are defied and impeachment hearings are successfully undertaken, one must go many steps down the ladder to find an official worthy of the office. Impeach Bush and you get Cheney. Impeach Cheney and you get Dennis Hastert. Impeach Hastert and you get Ted Stevens, the 82-year-old Senator from Alaska who recently threatened to resign from the Senate if funding for his "Bridge to Nowhere" was stripped and delivered to aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Pragmatism is good, but hardly the point in this matter. We have gone far beyond consideration of the odds, of the smartest and safest course. This is not about Clintonian lies about sex, nor is it even about Nixonian spying on political appointees. In the simplest terms, we now have a self-appointed dictator occupying the highest office of the land. Of course, the catch-all excuse for these reprehensible actions is that Bush is protecting our freedoms against the terrorists. But if our freedoms are destroyed, what is left to protect? If the rule of law no longer has meaning, why bother? If that which makes this nation good and great is burned out from within, there is nothing left to defend.

Calls for the impeachment of George W. Bush must be heeded, and the House must act. This must happen not because it is pragmatic, not because it stands a chance of succeeding. This must happen because the issues at hand demand it. If we as a nation do not impeach a sitting President for such a vast array of blatantly illegal activities, activities directed at the American people themselves, then as a nation of laws we have lost our way. We have no meaning. We are finished, and the ideals for which so many have served and fought and died are ashes.

Intolerable. Impeachable.

ONGOING GOP CULTURE OF CORRUPTION, SPYING AND LYING

SPY COURT TO MEET TO DISCUSS LEGALITY OF BUSH'S SPYING ON AMERICANS

From the Washington Post via Raw Story

IS IT LEGAL FOR BUSH TO SPY ON US?

EXCERPTS FROM EDITORIAL BOARDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ON BUSH'S SPYING
Found on Buzz Flash.com

Excerpt:

Washington, DC Editorial boards across the country resoundingly panned President Bushs performance during a Monday morning news conference dominated by questions about a secret program to spy on American citizens and his continuing failure to explain his actions and decisions on the program.

Even newspapers in hot red states are appalled by Bush's latest stunt.

EDITORIAL BOARDS ON BUSH SPYING

ABRAMOFF DEAL COULD TAKE DOWN A DOZEN POLITICIANS AND/OR THEIR STAFF IN EXHANGE FOR A 5-7 YEAR SENTENCE

Piece from the New York Times.

NYT PIECE ON ABRAMOFF HERE

MORE PROBLEMS WITH DIEBOLD AND OTHER ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES

Found via Raw Story

MACHINES THAT STEAL ELECTIONS

MSNBC POLL SHOWS 87% OF AMERICANS THINK BUSH'S ACTIONS JUSTIFY IMPEACHMENT

CLICK HERE TO VOTE IN POLL

A HOLIDAY/CHRISTMAS/WHATEVER GIFT TO MY FAMILY, FRIENDS AND READERS.

Have a little fun and enjoy!

HAVING SOME FUN WITH BUNGLE

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ON SPINNING THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

This administration goes beyond the pale. Even Republicans are beginning to bail from Bush ideology and his blatant and astonishing departure from the solid foundation of basic law and principle that is supposed to guide our country.
Give me liberty or give me death. Remember?

Doesn’t Bush understand that Americans are hard wired to face the consequences of foes, either domestic or foreign, and we will deal head on with the enemy, at whatever the cost, on our own and chosen terms, guided by the principles of the Constitution, rather than lose our liberty?

Lose our freedom to the likes of an appointed President?

An imposter and former draft dodger? A chicken hawk? I should think not.

But Bush has never understood the legal and psychological underpinnings of our society, really. He and Cheney dwell in an alternative reality driven by the lust for power, greed and global hegemony. They are not one of us. And yet, they ensnared and captured many of us into believing in their twisted ideology.

Why?

I wonder how the average college student will feel when (s)he finds out there is no more financial aid available to offset tuition costs? Or when (s)he finds that scholarships routinely available to middle and low income families no longer exist? The outcome - a career beckons at WalMart? Part-time workers, no benefits, minimum wage……learning to live near homeless?

I wonder how the senior citizen will feel when (s)he finds out that their prescription drug plan no longer covers the meds necessary to keep her or him healthy, if not alive, or if their doctor will no longer accept Medicaid or Medicare patients. Paying $100.00 for one month of only one kind of medication on a fixed income of social security (average of $900.00) per month? Enter the grave a few years sooner?

Please remind me, college kids and seniors, why did you vote for Bush or not vote at all?

Lawmakers today, especially Republicans, demonstrated clearly that they care more about protecting Alaska’s environment than they do about you.

You need to think about this. Hint: Cheney broke the tie on your benefits. Cheney broke the tie, smirking and sneering as Cheney is known to do. He voted with the majority of Republicans to slash your benefits. You need to do whatever it takes to get to the polls in 2006. No excuses. Your lawmakers who voted against your benefits are not your friends. They don't care about you. In Texas, that would include Kay Bailey Hutchison.....a mere Bush rubber stamp. A former cheerleader and news anchor who went into politics because she couldn't get into a law firm. These are the kinds of people who voted against your benefits.

Give us liberty or give us misery and a painful but certain death.

Moving on to hard facts in the news today, minimally covered by MSM, as they scramble to keep up with non corporate, mostly volunteer liberal and progressive bloggers and on line news sources. ….

FACT CHECKING THE GOP LIE AND DISINFORMATION MACHINE ON THE CONSTITUTION AND OUR RIGHTS AS AMERICAN CITIZENS.

Er - you might want to reframe from making that long-distance phone call to a friend or relative tonight, especially if you feel like venting and railing against Bush and Cheney. BIG BROTHER IS HERE AND IS LISTENING.

Naturally the GOP is trying to implicate Democrats in all of their Constitutional nose thumbing, illegal and un-American acts.

ON THE RECIPIENTS OF ABRAMOFF'S DIRTY MONEY: Bush said both parties are equal opportunity recipients of Abramoff's money. NOT SO SAYS BLOOMBERG.COM

BLOOMBERG REVEALS MORE REPUBLICANS FED AT THE ABRAMOFF TROUGH THAN DEMS

ON THE WIRETAPPING CRIME: Bush said Democratic members in the House and Senate knew about it. Right wing lie spinning machines (e.g. Dredge, etc.) are screaming about Clinton and Carter and how they enabled wiretapping, too. THINK PROGRESS ran a fact check on Dredge's allegations and naturally GOP fascist loyalist Dredge lied as usual.

THINK PROGRESS FACT CHECKING GOP LIES

The GOP is also screaming that if Democrats had a problem with wiretapping they could have squealed about it to the press some time ago. DAILY KOS counters with no, they could not, for to do so would mean breaking the law.

DAILY KOS HERE

EVEN CONSERVATIVE PUBLICATIONS ARE RETICIENT ABOUT BUSH'S ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING.

Ken identified a piece in the Washington Times today (a conservative newspaper)
that is against warrantless wiretapping. (In the olden days, conservatives used to fear Big Brother more than anything alive or dead and routinely accused liberals of enabling BB).

The Washington Times is a right-wing organ owned by the Moonie organization. They usually cheerlead for Bush at the speed of light. This piece is by Bruce Fein, former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, and it is very clearly against the warrantless wiretaps.

Abstract: "President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law."
-K


. . unlimited?
By Bruce Fein
December 20, 2005


According to President George W. Bush, being president in wartime means never having to concede co-equal branches of government have a role when it comes to hidden encroachments on civil liberties.
Last Saturday, he thus aggressively defended the constitutionality of his secret order to the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international communications of Americans whom the executive branch speculates might be tied to terrorists. Authorized after the September 11, 2001 abominations, the eavesdropping clashes with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), excludes judicial or legislative oversight, and circumvented public accountability for four years until disclosed by the New York Times last Friday. Mr. Bush's defense generally echoed previous outlandish assertions that the commander in chief enjoys inherent constitutional power to ignore customary congressional, judicial or public checks on executive tyranny under the banner of defeating international terrorism, for example, defying treaty or statutory prohibitions on torture or indefinitely detaining United States citizens as illegal combatants on the president's say-so.
President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses. Congress should swiftly enact a code that would require Mr. Bush to obtain legislative consent for every counterterrorism measure that would materially impair individual freedoms.
The war against global terrorism is serious business. The enemy has placed every American at risk, a tactic that justifies altering the customary balance between liberty and security. But like all other constitutional authorities, the war powers of the president are a matter of degree. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer (1952), the U.S. Supreme Court denied President Harry Truman's claim of inherent constitutional power to seize a steel mill threatened with a strike to avert a steel shortage that might have impaired the war effort in Korea. A strike occurred, but Truman's fear proved unfounded.
Neither President Richard Nixon nor Gerald Ford was empowered to suspend Congress for failing to appropriate funds they requested to fight in Cambodia or South Vietnam. And the Supreme Court rejected Nixon's claim of inherent power to enjoin publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War in New York Times v. United States (1971).
Mr. Bush insisted in his radio address that the NSA targets only citizens "with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist organizations."
But there are no checks on NSA errors or abuses, the hallmark of a rule of law as opposed to a rule of men. Truth and accuracy are the first casualties of war. President Bush assured the world Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion. He was wrong. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Americans of Japanese ancestry were security threats to justify interning them in concentration camps during World War II. He was wrong. President Lyndon Johnson maintained communists masterminded and funded the massive Vietnam War protests in the United States. He was wrong. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan's remark to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, President Bush can be trusted in wartime, but only with independent verification.
The NSA eavesdropping is further troublesome because it easily evades judicial review. Targeted citizens are never informed their international communications have been intercepted. Unless a criminal prosecution is forthcoming (which seems unlikely), the citizen has no forum to test the government's claim the interceptions were triggered by known links to a terrorist organization.
Mr. Bush acclaimed the secret surveillance as "crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies." But if that were justified, why was Congress not asked for legislative authorization in light of the legal cloud created by FISA and the legislative branch's sympathies shown in the Patriot Act and joint resolution for war? FISA requires court approval for national security wiretaps, and makes it a crime for a person to intentionally engage "in electronic surveillance under color of law, except as authorized by statute."
Mr. Bush cited the disruptions of "terrorist" cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas and Ohio as evidence of a pronounced domestic threat that compelled unilateral and secret action. But he failed to demonstrate those cells could not have been equally penetrated with customary legislative and judicial checks on executive overreaching.
The president maintained that, "As a result [of the NSA disclosure], our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk." But if secrecy were pivotal to the NSA's surveillance, why is the president continuing the eavesdropping? And why is he so carefree about risking the liberties of both the living and those yet to be born by flouting the Constitution's separation of powers and conflating constructive criticism with treason?

Bruce Fein is a constitutional lawyer and international consultant with Bruce Fein & Associates and the Lichfield Group.

ABRAMOFF SAID TO DISCUSS "DEAL"

BREATHTAKING.... SIMPLY BREATHTAKING....... ONE CAN HARDLY KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THE REVELATIONS OF CORRUPTION, SQUEALING, DOUBLE DEALING AND BAILING.

It is indeed hard to stay on top of all that is blasting through a newly awakened or re-focused media right now after years of a vast and desolate desert of non information, or disinformaton, as the case may be,and one in which “entertainment’ new replaced hard news, thanks to corporate and bottom line driven interests on all levels, including lobbyists who now power our government’s policies.

All that aside, it seems that another GOP rat is trying to crawl out of the sewer.

From Raw Story.com

Abramoff is ready to rat on those he “accommodated.” You know, his best buds in government.

ABRAMOFF TO DISCUSS PLEA

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

THE ASTONISHING ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF BUSH 2000-PRESENT

I have been venting and railing about culpable Diebold and the probably-paid-for rubber stamping Blackwell's joint complicity in delivering the election 2004, specifically in Ohio, to Bush. Now I find to my deep disillusionment and great sorrow that the NYT, too, is a player, of all entities involved, in giving us this corrupt, cynical, disingenuous, mean-spirited, stone cold and incompetent king, dictator, whatever...pick your choice of poisons.

Right the wrong, NYT and print every word and resource you have available to you to help us impeach the imposter. You, the publisher and editor, are a disgrace not only to your country and to journalism but you are complicit in aiding and abetting the fall of a great Democracy. You sirs, are traitors.

Right the wrong. Save us and yourselves.

Moving on......

I spent a little time today reading and posting comments on the Think Progress site that exposed Bush's blatant lie on spying. While there I noticed some great comments made by a person named "Quick Sand." (S)he gave me permission to post the comments. (Below Quick Silver comments is the link to the Think Progress piece on Bush's lying on spying.)

THE ASTONISHING ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF BUSH 2000-PRESENT

01. Allowed Corporate lobbysits to write it’s own laws - textbook fascism. Check.

02. Illegally detained Americans without right to a trial. (Hamdi vs. Cheney) Check.

03. Used chemical weapons, as chemical weapons, against civilian targets. Check.

04. Used taxpayer money as agit prop for its Admin’s pet policies. Illegal.Check.

05. Initiated taxpayer supported Faith Based charities - a violation of church and state. Check.

06. Outed a covert CIA agent for political retribution. Check.

07. Got a blow-job by an intern and lied about it under oath.***

08. Either balantly lied to get us into Iraq, and/or arrograntly thought that they would find WMD despite cherrypicking of intelligence that stated otherwise. Check.

09. Broke international law with subsequent invasion of Iraq for the purposes of regime change. Check.

10. Oh, and used the NSA to spy on Americans without FISA courts. Check.

All of them true. Damn, have they missed anything that we Americans hold dear? What’s next, surrender to the British?

***Clinton of course, but I throw him in there to keep the neo-con’s reading along.

Comment by Quicksand — December 20, 2005 @ 5:39 pm

THINK PROGRESS PIECE ON BUSH LYING ABOUT SPYING HERE

MONEY AND POWER WHORES

This is one hell of an administration. The president orders spying on American citizens, cooks the books on intel to go to war where 2500+ of our precious own have been killed, then lies through his teeth about both the spying and fixed intel while his top GOP fundraiser and power broker in Congress whores his way through one luxury resort after another compliments of GOP donors. What an expensive piece of trash Delay is. Bush and Delay are the two dudes who lead the charge in slashing taxes for the country club set while trashing and slashing social programs for the economically disadvantaged. From what cesspool of humanity did these sewer rats come from?

Donors Underwrite DeLay's Luxury Lifestyle By LARRY MARGASAK and SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writers
1 hour, 14 minutes ago

From Yahoo News.com via Raw Story.

CLICK HERE OR READ BELOW

As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants — all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.

Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.

Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.

Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress.

Put them together and an opulent lifestyle emerges.

"A life to enjoy. The excuse to escape," Palmas del Mar, an oceanside Puerto Rican resort visited by DeLay, promised in a summer ad on its Web site as a golf ball bounced into a hole and an image of a sunset appeared.

The Caribbean vacation spot has casino gambling, horseback riding, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and private beaches.

"He was very friendly. We always see the relaxed side of politicians," said Daniel Vassi, owner of the French bistro Chez Daniel at Palmas del Mar. Vassi said DeLay has eaten at his restaurant every year for the last three, and was last there in April with about 20 other people, including the resort's owners.

The restaurant is a cozy and popular place on the yacht-lined marina at Palmas del Mar. Dishes include bouillabaisse for about $35.50, Dover sole for $37.50 and filet mignon for $28.50. Palmas del Mar is also a DeLay donor, giving $5,000 to DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC in 2000.

Since he joined the House leadership as majority whip in 1995, DeLay has raised at least $35 million for his campaign, PACs, foundation and legal defense fund. He hasn't faced a serious re-election threat in recent years, giving him more leeway than candidates in close races to spend campaign money.

AP's review found DeLay's various organizations spent at least $1 million over the last six years on top hotels, restaurants, golf resorts and corporate jet flights for their boss and his associates.

The spending shows how political power can buy access to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. While it's illegal for a lawmaker to tap political donations for a family vacation, it is perfectly legal to spend it in luxury if the stated purpose is raising more money or talking politics.

Until his recent indictment in Texas on political money laundering charges, DeLay was the second most powerful lawmaker in the House and as such, could command an audience of donors wherever he went.

DeLay attorney Don McGahn declined to identify which trips listed in the reports were taken by DeLay and which by his associates. But he said all the travel was legal and not done for DeLay's benefit. "Raising political money costs money," he said.

"Mr. DeLay has done extensive fundraising, and traveled far and wide to do so, but you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has raised more for others, whether for candidates or political parties," McGahn said.

Special interests routinely make donations and attend fundraisers to gain access to government decisionmakers. And while other congressional leaders accepted trips and used political money to cover travel, none compares with DeLay:

_Campaign and PAC reports filed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., show several payments to companies for travel, including Cracker Barrel, Union Pacific, Schering-Plough and Home Depot. But there were few visits to golf courses, and those were mostly close to home.

_Reports from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., show expenses at resorts in South Carolina, New Mexico and Puerto Rico. But he too holds most events closer to home, like Las Vegas casinos and Lake Tahoe resorts.

_House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has held events at ritzy hotels such as The Mark in New York and the Four Seasons in Atlanta, but had few corporate flights or visits to resorts, her reports show.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., comes closest to rivaling DeLay's travels, reporting fundraisers at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Florida, the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Hawaii, the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Waterfall Resort in Alaska. Hastert's groups also paid for dozens of corporate jet flights and restaurant meals.

Some say DeLay pushes the limits, and risks alienating donors.

"I don't think the people that contributed to me would believe it was a good expenditure of their hard-earned dollars for me to go and play golf and enjoy life anywhere," said former Rep. Charlie Stenholm, a fiscally conservative Texas Democrat who lost his House seat following DeLay-led redistricting.

DeLay's travels with recently indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff are now under criminal investigation. But those trips were paid by special interests directly under the banner of congressional fact-finding.

DeLay's own political empire has underwritten far more travel.

The destinations for DeLay or his political team include a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Jamaica; the Prince Hotel in Hapuna Beach, Hawaii; the Michelangelo Hotel in New York; the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico; and the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., built by Charles Keating before he became the most public face of the savings and loan scandal in the early 1990s.

There's also the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla., offering "dazzling views of the Gulf of Mexico, warm golden sunsets and three miles of pristine beach" plus golf, a spa, goose-down comforters, marble bathrooms and private, ocean-view balconies. Rooms run from about $389 to more than $3,000 a night in December, the month DeLay's PAC spent $4,570 on lodging there in 2004.

"He liked to talk to people," said Pedro Muriel, a waiter at Puerto Rico's El Conquistador Resort. Muriel recalled DeLay staying in an enclave of privately owned red tile-roofed villas.

The villas have up to three bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and French doors that open onto terraces or balconies facing the Caribbean. A moon-shape pool hugs the edge of a steep cliff, its waters spilling over and appearing to blend into the sea. Villa prices average about $1,300 a night.

Guests get their own butlers. The resort offers six swimming pools and an 18-hole championship golf course. Its casino served as the setting for the last scene in the James Bond movie "Goldfinger."

DeLay's donors have also financed visits to country clubs and tournament-quality golf courses, including the exclusive Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., site of this summer's PGA Championship; Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa., home of another PGA event; and Harbour Town Golf Links, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

"World class. Dynamic. Luxury resort. Spend a day, spend a week, spend a lifetime," another DeLay fundraising spot, the ChampionsGate golf resort near Orlando, Fla., invites on its Web site.

The resort, where a round of golf typically costs $70 to $80 per player, has two championship courses designed by pro golfer Greg Norman and offers players a Global Positioning Satellite system it boasts "acts as a professional caddie."

Dining at fine restaurants also is routine. The stops for DeLay and his associates include Morton's of Chicago, where the average dinner for two goes for about $170 before tax and tip, and "21" in Manhattan, a longtime glamour spot where American caviar goes for $38 for a taste.

When DeLay wants to head somewhere without the hassle of commercial travel, he often asks a company for its jet and uses donations to pay for it.

Dozens of businesses have loaned DeLay their planes, from tobacco giants UST, RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris to energy companies like El Paso, Panda, Reliant and Dynegy.

R.J. Reynolds let DeLay use a company plane at least nine times since 1999, once joining Philip Morris in making jets available for a DeLay PAC fundraiser at a Puerto Rican resort in winter 2002. R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said planes are loaned usually at lawmakers' request and are only done if jets aren't needed for company business.

"It's much more convenient as opposed to your regular commercial travel," Howard said, noting there is no need to go through airport security.

On R.J. Reynolds' planes, smoking is allowed and there are usually beverages and deli-style food. There's more leg room and the convenience of phones.

The smoking rule suits DeLay, who likes to chomp on cigars while golfing and reported spending at least $1,930 in PAC money on cigar-shop purchases. The cigars were reported to the Federal Election Commission as donor gifts.

DeLay's political committee also reported a $2,896 shopping spree at the Amelia Marche Burette gift shop on Amelia Island, Fla., for donor gifts. The shop carries "gourmet cookware, Sabatier cutlery and gadgets for your every need."

____

Associated Press writer Alexandra Olson in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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DIEBOLD UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ITS 401K PLAN

This is the voting machine company that delivered the 2004 election in Ohio to Bush. Too bad they didn't crash and burn in October 2004. Bush wouldn't be president and we wouldn't be living in a Bush imposed hell.

DIEBOLD UNDER INVESTIGATION
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com |

Dec. 20, 2005, 12:20PM

(PZ) Wechsler Harwood Announces an Investigation of ERISA Violations Relating to the Diebold, Incorporated 401(k) Savings Plan -- DBD
© 2005 PRIMEZONE

NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- The New York law firm of Wechsler Harwood LLP today announced that it has commenced an investigation into Diebold, Inc. ("Diebold" or the "Company") (NYSE:DBD) for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") in relation to its handling of investments in the Diebold, Incorporated 401(k) Savings Plan (the "Plan").

In particular, the investigation focuses on whether the Company and certain Plan administrators breached their fiduciary duties by, among other things: (a) negligently misrepresenting and negligently failing to disclose material facts to the Plan and the Plan participants in connection with the management of the Plan's assets; (b) failing to properly monitor Plan fiduciaries; and (c) negligently permitting the Plan to purchase and hold Diebold stock when it was imprudent to do so.

Diebold is primarily engaged in the manufacture, sale, installation and service of automated self-service transaction systems, electronic and physical security products, election systems and software. The material facts being investigated include, but are not limited to allegations that the Company issued false statements about its business, products, financial results and prospects which caused the Company's stock to trade at artificially inflated levels. On September 21, 2005, before the market opened, the Company announced it was "lowering its third quarter and full-year earnings per share guidance for 2005." Upon release of this news, the Company's stock plummeted to $37.27 per share on volume of 6.1 million shares. Diebold's CEO and Chairman subsequently resigned.

According to a recent class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Company and certain of its senior officers and directors for violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, defendants were aware of but concealed from the investing public that: (a) Diebold's financial statements in 2004 and the first two quarters of 2005 were misstated due to its improper accounting for commission expenses; (b) the Company's internal controls were woefully deficient; (c) Diebold was losing market share in North America to NCR such that its ATM business would not be nearly as favorable in 2005 as the market had been led to believe; (d) Diebold's election machines continued to have severe problems that would hurt the Company in the future due to adverse publicity and reduced sales; and (e) due to these problems, the Company was not on track to report the favorable 2005 EPS being projected for the Company.

Wechsler Harwood has taken a leading role in many significant actions on behalf of current and former employees who have suffered losses in their employer-sponsored retirement accounts due to breaches of fiduciary duties owed to them. The firm devotes a large part of its practice to pursuing such claims as well as claims by defrauded investors and consumers. Recently, the firm served as Co-Lead Counsel in an ERISA class action against Royal Dutch/Sell plc which resulted in a recovery of over $90 million for the class. If you wish to discuss this matter with an attorney or have any information or questions concerning this notice or your legal rights as a Plan participant, you may e-mail or call Wechsler Harwood. The Wechsler Harwood website (www.whesq.com) has more information about the firm and detailed information regarding this matter. For more information, please contact the following:


CONTACT:

Wechsler Harwood LLP
Jeffrey M. Norton, Esq.
488 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10022
Toll Free Telephone: (877) 935-7400 (ext. 286)
e-mail to jmn@whesq.com

More information on this and other class actions can be found on the Class Action Newsline at www.primezone.com/ca

CONTACT: Wechsler Harwood LLP
Jeffrey M. Norton, Esq.
(877) 935-7400 (ext. 286)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com |
This article is: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/prn/texas/3537479.html

CONYERS REPORT ALLEGING GROSS MISCONDUCT ON IRAQ

The report is out. You can link to the PDF at the end of the posting below. Thank goodness we have a few souls in Congress who possess a shred of courage and integrity. LS

Found on Raw Story.com

REPORT ALLEGING GROSS CONDUCT ON IRAQ HERE OR READ BELOW

House Judiciary Democrats issue report alleging gross misconduct by Bush over Iraq
12/20/2005 @ 12:18 pm
Filed by RAW STORY

In order to expedite getting the story out, RAW STORY has reproduced the executive summary of the report here. Following the executive summary there is a link to the full report.

Executive Summary

This Minority Report has been produced at the request of Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. He made this request in the wake of the President’s failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of this year asking him whether the assertions set forth in the Downing Street Minutes were accurate. Mr. Conyers asked staff, by year end 2005, to review the available information concerning possible misconduct by the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War and post-invasion statements and actions, and to develop legal conclusions and make legislative and other recommendations to him.

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.

There is at least a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violate a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters or responding to these charges, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses.

In addition, we believe the failure of the President, Vice President and others in the Bush Administration to respond to a myriad requests for information concerning these charges, or to otherwise account for explain a number of specific misstatements they have made in the run up to War and other actions warrants, at minimum, the introduction and Congress’ approval of Resolutions of Censure against Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.

Further, we recommend that Ranking Member Conyers and others consider referring the potential violations of federal criminal law detailed in this Report to the Department of Justice for investigation; Congress should pass legislation to limit government secrecy, enhance oversight of the Executive Branch, request notification and justification of presidential pardons of Administration officials, ban abusive treatment of detainees, ban the use of chemical weapons, and ban the practice of paying foreign media outlets to publish news stories prepared by or for the Pentagon; and the House should amend its Rules to permit Ranking Members of Committees to schedule official Committee hearings and call witnesses to investigate Executive Branch misconduct.

The Report rejects the frequent contention by the Bush Administration that there pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they have been exonerated. No entity has ever considered whether the Administration misled Americans about the decision to go to War, and the Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review of pre-war intelligence information, while the Silberman-Robb report specifically cautioned, that intelligence manipulation “was not part of our inquiry.” There has also not been any independent inquiry concerning torture and other legal violations in Iraq; nor has there been an independent review of the pattern of cover-ups and political retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald.

While the scope of this Report is largely limited to Iraq, it also holds lessons for our Nation at a time of entrenched one-party rule and abuse of power in Washington. If the present Administration is willing to flaunt, if not break, the law in order to achieve its political objectives in Iraq, and Congress is unwilling to confront or challenge their hegemony, many of our cherished democratic principles are in jeopardy. This is true not only with respect to the Iraq War, but also other areas of foreign policy, privacy and civil liberties, and matters of economic and social justice. Indeed as this Report is being finalized, we have just learned of another potential significant abuse of executive power by the President, ordering the National Security Agency to engage in domestic spying and wiretapping without obtaining court approval in possible violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

It is tragic that our Nation has invaded another sovereign nation because “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” as stated in the Downing Street Minutes. It is equally tragic that the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress have been unwilling to examine these facts or take action to prevent this scenario from occurring again. Since they appear unwilling to act, it is incumbent on individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to protect our constitutional form of government.

READ THE FULL CONYERS REPORT (PDF)

PDF HERE

ON SPYING AND LYING

Below are a series of pieces on Bush's spy gate.

This is an extraordinary piece by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. Bush was so desperate to keep his wiretapping out of the paper that he summoned the publisher and editor of the NYT to the Oval Office. Bush wasn't worried about national security issues. He was worried about being exposed for having committed a crime against the American people.

NEWSWEEK ON "BUSH'S SNOOPGATE" HERE OR READ BELOW

Bush’s Snoopgate

WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Jonathan Alter
Newsweek
Updated: 6:17 p.m. ET Dec. 19, 2005


Dec. 19, 2005 - Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting,
but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.

The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone, which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties to Muslim extremists—in fact, all American Muslims, period—have long since suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations. Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so. And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

What is especially perplexing about this story is that the 1978 law set up a special court to approve eavesdropping in hours, even minutes, if necessary. In fact, the law allows the government to eavesdrop on its own, then retroactively justify it to the court, essentially obtaining a warrant after the fact. Since 1979, the FISA court has approved tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests and rejected only four. There was no indication the existing system was slow—as the president seemed to claim in his press conference—or in any way required extra-constitutional action.

This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

In the meantime, it is unlikely that Bush will echo President Kennedy in 1961. After JFK managed to tone down a New York Times story by Tad Szulc on the Bay of Pigs invasion, he confided to Times editor Turner Catledge that he wished the paper had printed the whole story because it might have spared him such a stunning defeat in Cuba.

This time, the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security—that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

© 2005 MSNBC.com

SPYING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS, CATHOLIC WORKER GROUPS, VEGANS, PEACE ACTIVISTS AND OTHERS IN THE NAME OF OUR NATIONAL SECURITY

Stunning piece in the NYT. Feel any safer? Spying on these groups is so appalling that it almost funny.

SPYING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS, CATHOLICS, VEGANS AND OTHERS

LEGAL OPINION ON BUSH'S SPYING

(Bottom line - Bush broke the law. Gonzales is full of beans. LS)

By David Cole of Salon.com

Excerpt:

Attorney General Gonzales contends that the authorization by Congress to use military force somehow implicitly gave the president power to wiretap Americans at home. But nothing in the authorization even mentions wiretaps. And that claim is directly contrary to the express language in FISA limiting any such authority. While intercepting the enemy's communications on the battlefield may well be an incident of the war power, wiretapping hundreds of people inside the United States who are not known to be members of al-Qaida in no way qualifies as an incidental wartime authority.

"BUSH'S ILLEGAL SPYING"

ON THE ABUSE OF POWER

No commentary tonight folks, just raw reporting of stories found on hard realities. I know you will get it without any input from me.

FROM RAW STORY.COM: BOXER ON BUSH IMPEACHMENT

BOXER ON BUSH IMPEACHMENT

ROCKEFELLER HAD BEEN INSTRUCTED BY CHENEY TO KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT ON THE DIRTY SECRET OF WIRETAPPING

ROCKEFELLER'S MEMO TO CHENEY ON JULY 17, 2003

I said I would not comment, but, I can't help it! One tiny observation.....why do I sense the puppet master extraordinaire Cheney's chief motivation is to play Democrats for suckers and fools by instructing certain members to keep mum on Bush's filthy secret of wiretapping, supposedly because of issues of "NATIONAL SECURITY"? My apologies in advance for stating the obvious....in my view…..Cheney created a trap...i.e. he wanted to be able to insist that Democrats were brought into the wiretapping info loop so he could blame them when/if the practice blew apart, as it has indeed. The Bush/Cheney message: insist Dems knew all about it… and pin the nightmare on them.

But Democrats, of course, were not truly informed. They were manipulated and double dealed as the rest of America has been for the past 5 years, starting with the now known and obvious voter fraud fiascos of 2000 and 2004. Where Bush and Cheney are concerned, one has to take the most cynical and almost twisted and paranoid view, most unfortunately. Truth is not truth. Lies are not lies. Make believe is not make believe. Fake is not fake. Black is white. White is black Lies are truth, truth is a lie, and on and on and on and on…….LS

ROCKEFELLER'S MEMO TO CHENEY HERE

BUSH APPOINTED POLITICAL HACK AND SUPPOSED LAWYER GONZALES SAYS ITS AOK TO WIRETAP AMERICAN CITIZENS WITHOUT A WARRANT

GONZALES SAYS ITS OK TO WIRETAP AMERICAN CITIZENS

CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER TEAMS RESPOND TO BUSH

CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS RESPOND TO BUSH

ON SPENDING CUTS: ANNIHILATE THE MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASSES.

ARE WE HOMEGROWING OUR OWN POOR TO BECOME RADICAL EXTREMISTS WHILE CATERING TO THE COUNTRY CLUB SET?

I think Bush and Co. is trying to win over the less fortunate and poor by simplistic and the systematic dumbed down rhetoric of clich├ęs and empty promises, much of which is religious in tone. The Bush message is being reinforced, almost on cue, by the fanatical religious right. Ironically, Bush and Co. vent about Islamic extremists who are recruiting the poor and disenfranchised to become fighters and martyrs against the evil West.

Interesting to think about. Extraordinary abuse of power and disenfranchisement of certain groups results in what? History holds the answer.

INCREASING THE DEFENSE BUDGET AND SLASHING AVERAGE JOE AND JANE BENEFITS

We are in very dire straits ladies and gentlemen. Turn off your TV, enter the blogosphere and get active in whatever way you can. Our future depends upon our ability to cut through the spin, fake statements and speeches, propaganda, and stupid, dumbed down messages and news that is not news but mindless entertainment. LS

Monday, December 19, 2005

ASTOUNDING: THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS

CONYERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATS WRITE SCATHING REPORT ON THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S FAKE INTEL ON IRAQ, TORTURE, COVERUP, DECEPTION AND A HOST OF OTHER REPREHENSIBLE ACTS.

I know most of us are just reeling after learning from the New York Times that the Bush Administration has been illegally spying on American citizens. We also learned the Pentagon is spying upon peace groups (like the Quakers for crying out loud!). Though this is not a complete surprise to most of us, the fact that not only are we being spied upon by our government, but our president is convinced he is doing the RIGHT thing, is devastatingly disturbing and frightening. It is sick, evil and twisted.

Conyer’s report is coming out in the nick of time. The Bush people need full exposure and an exhausting accounting on who they truly are and what they intend to do.

Speaking of fright, devastation, exposure and corruption check out the movie Syriana to learn the real low down on the unifying dynamics, all greed driven, of business (oil in this case), law, politics, government agencies and individuals. This film couldn’t have made its debut at a more appropriate time. Throughout the movie I could envision Cheney’s magic hand moving behind the black curtain.....Not another word.....See it! LS

The Conyers' report will be available to the public on Tuesday.

FOUND ON RAW STORY.COM

DEM'S REPORT ON FAKE INTEL HERE OR READ BELOW


Democrats plan sharp rebuke of pre-war intelligence, Iraq war in massive new congressional report
12/19/2005 @ 12:25 pm
Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna and John Byrne


House Judiciary Committee Democrats, spearheaded by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), are set to release possibly the sharpest congressional critique to date surrounding Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.

The report, titled "The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War," is slotted to be made available to the public Tuesday. RAW STORY acquired a copy of the book’s cover and some additional information about the document today.

According to Democratic aides, the report will focus on alleged manipulation of pre-war intelligence by the White House, specifically covering such topics as the Downing Street Minutes as well as the White House position on the Geneva Conventions and international law as regards its policies toward prisoners of war. Sources say the report is slated to be published as a book.

The ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Conyers had previously pushed for an inquiry into the Downing Street Minutes, official minutes of a 2002 meeting among British Prime Minister Tony Blair, members of British intelligence MI-6, as well as Bush administration advisers. Most notably, the minutes included a comment from British intelligence director Richard Dearlove, who was quoted in a secret meeting before the war as saying "intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."

The Downing Street Minutes were first reported in the British press by the Sunday London Times, and then carried across the Atlantic by RAW STORY. This site obtained copies from British sources, which along with a push from activists, subsequently spawned a flurry of stories in major U.S. newspapers and on U.S. television networks.

Public outcry resulted in a resolution of inquiry filing with close to half a million citizen signatories, as well as a hearing chaired by Conyers and attended by other Democratic members on the Judiciary Committee. The Republican members of the Committee would neither attend nor support efforts to investigate the documents.

In June, Conyers and 51 other House members filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the White House, Defense Department and State Department seeking any and all documents concerning the Downing Street documents. Aides say they have been stonewalled and have received nothing in response.

They also asked the House Committees on Judiciary, Armed Services, International Relations, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to hold hearings; the request was blocked by Republicans along party lines.

RAW STORY has copies of all the Downing Street documents and other pre-war British correspondence documents here. Those pushing for inquiries into the Downing Street Minutes maintain a website at AfterDowningStreet.org.

Friday, December 16, 2005

VOTER FRAUD IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE U.S

While the Bush people and their crooked cheerleaders and hired hacks wax lyrical about a "Democracy" in Iraq, our own is hanging by threads, thanks to corrupt corporate leaders, shady, greedy and cynical politicians and a dishonest and no longer relevant media. I gagged when I watched Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour of CNN gush over the Iraqis' new right to vote the other night. For me, their coverage was the straw that broke the mule’s back in the realm of credibility. I have therefore moved Anderson and Christiane into my “No Longer Relevant, Whores, Liars and Crooks” files.

Where were Christiane and Anderson when Ohio election officials were denying the right to vote to thousands of its citizens? Where were they when the Texas Killers Task Force, or whatever the hell it was called, sent its people to intimidate voters in Ohio? Where were they when Blackwell ordered machines removed from largely Democratic and minority neighborhoods and sent instead to white suburban ones, in areas known to be largely Republican? Where were they when minorities, college students and a host of other voters stood in line for hours and hours in freezing rain because a sufficient number of machines were not provided for their precinct? Where were they when a software guy meddled with a tabulator in Ohio? Where the hell were they? Please don't tell me our media is unbiased, fair, ethical or even courageous. They are pathetic, uncurious, lack critical thinking skills, and most are brainless idiots who merely read Teleprompters. Any moron can read a Teleprompter. Bush does it just about every day.

Ken sent this piece today. You will not be shocked, it's nothing new, but reading the article will rekindle your outrage over the 2004 "election." Below Ken's piece is one from Sarah on the very same topic. Bottom line - Diebold machines can be hacked by an 8th grader. LS

This is from a Florida NBC affiliate. You can, and should, see the video of the report at this link. http://www.wesh.com/news/5542983/detail.html

PIECE HERE OR READ BELOW


The thing is, this is about the 2000 election, where we know that Al Gore received 80,000 uncounted votes. The Diebold machines in this story also produced paper trails which is how it became clear that they were adding lots of votes to Bush's total. At the end of the story the reporter points out that the newest machines do not produce a paper trail.

Do you find it hard to believe that the Diebold design team was specifically told to create a machine with no paper trail - so that the hacks couldn't be caught? -K


Elections Official: Some Voting Machines Could Be Hacked
UPDATED: 7:44 pm EST December 15, 2005

Voting machines used in four Central Florida counties might be flawed.

There's new evidence that computer hackers could change election results without anyone knowing about it, WESH 2 News reported.

The supervisor of elections in Tallahassee tested voting machines several times over the last several months, and on Monday, his workers were able to hack into a voting machine and change the outcome. He said that same thing might have happened in Volusia County in 2000.

The big controversy revolves around a little black computer card that is smaller than a floppy disk and bigger than a flash drive. The card is inserted into voting machines that scan paper ballots. The card serves as the machine's electronic brain.

But when Ion Sancho, Leon County's Supervisor of Elections, tested the Diebold system and allowed experts to manipulate the card electronically, he could change the outcome of a mock election without leaving any kind of trail. In other words, someone could fix an election and no one would know.

"The expert that we used simply programmed it on his laptop in his hotel room," Sancho said.

Sancho began investigating the problem after watching the votes come in during the infamous 2000 presidential election. In Volusia County precinct 216, a memory card added more than 200 votes to George W. Bush's total and subtracted 16,000 votes from Al Gore. The mistake was later corrected during a hand count.

After watching his computer expert change vote totals this week, Sancho said that he now believes someone on the inside did the same think in Volusia County in 2000.

"Someone with access to the vote center in Volusia County put it on a memory card and uploaded it into the main system," Sancho said.

Sancho has been raising red flags about the system for months after other hackers were able to change votes during earlier tests. But Sancho said he's gotten nowhere with the company or with the Florida secretary of state's office, which oversees elections.

"This raises serious questions as to the state of Florida's certification program," Sancho said.

Acting Secretary of State David Mann defended the security of the machines.

"Right now, we are confident that those machines will carry on an election when they're used within the context of the security parameters that all supervisors follow," he said.

Michael Ertel, Seminole County's supervisor of elections, uses the exact same Diebold system, and he said he doubts such a security breach could happen without a lot of inside help.

"It's not the machine that is the process. The process is the security procedures set up by each individual supervisor of elections," Ertel said.

Diebold representatives don't think much of the Leon County test. Spokesman David Bear told the WESH 2 I-Team, "If you leave the keys in your car, the window open and the door unlocked, someone is going to drive off in it."

The concerns come on the heels of the resignation of Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell, a Republican fundraiser and staunch Bush supporter. Diebolds were used in Florida and Ohio in 2004, and skeptics are raising a lot of questions.

The same Diebold voting machines are still being used in Volusia, Brevard, Seminole and Osceola counties. They are also used in 26 other counties across the state.

The old machines do have a paper trail but the new electronic touch-screen machines do not. And if there's no paper trail, elections officials have to rely on the accuracy of the machines.
Copyright 2005 by WESH.COM.

FROM SARAH

this comes as no shock... and I quote...

From there, Thompson said, he typed five lines of computer code - and switched 5,000 votes from one candidate to another. "I am positive an eighth grader could do this," Thompson said.

PIECE HERE OR READ BELOW

By Marc Caputo and Gary Fineout
The Miami Herald

Thursday 15 December 2005

A top election official and computer experts say computer hackers could easily change election results, after they found numerous flaws with a state-approved voting-machine in Tallahassee.
Tallahassee - A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines - and possibly other new voting systems in Florida - according to the state capital's election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests.

Ion Sancho, Leon County's election chief, said tests by two computer experts, completed this week, showed that an insider could surreptitiously change vote results and the number of ballots cast on Diebold's optical-scan machines.

After receiving county commission approval Tuesday, Sancho scrapped Diebold's system for one made by Elections Systems and Software, the same provider used by Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The difference between the systems: Sancho's machines use a fill-in- the-blank paper ballot that allows for after-the-fact manual recounts, while Broward and Miami-Dade use ATM-like touchscreens that leave no paper trail.

"That's kind of scary. If there's no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint," said Sancho, who once headed the state's elections supervisors association.

The Leon County test results are likely to further fuel suspicions that the new electronic voting systems in Florida, in place since the 2002 elections, are susceptible to manipulation.

When the debate hit fever pitch before last year's presidential election, many conservatives said questions about the machinery were a liberal ploy to undermine confidence in the voting system.

Elections chiefs in Broward and Miami-Dade said Wednesday they have good security and are not particularly concerned - though both have had "glitches" that have been tough to explain.

Sancho agrees that good security is key, but said he's not sure he won't also have problems with the $1.3 million ES&S system, which he'll also test.

Diebold Users

Twenty-nine counties, including Monroe, use different versions of paper-ballot voting systems manufactured by Diebold, a leading manufacturer of security systems and voting machines. One county uses Diebold touchscreens.

A spokesman for Diebold Election Systems Inc. could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sancho said Diebold isn't the only one to blame for hacker-prone equipment. The Florida secretary of state's office should have caught these problems early on, he said, and the Legislature should scrap a law severely restricting recounts on touch-screen machines and equip them with the means of producing a paper trail.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office said any faults Sancho found were between him and Diebold.

"If Ion Sancho has security concerns with his system, he needs to discuss them with Diebold," spokeswoman Jenny Nash said.

Sancho first clashed with Diebold in May, when he teamed up with a nonprofit election-monitoring group called BlackBoxVoting.org, which has made a crusade of showing that electronic voting machines are subject to fraud. BlackBox hired Herbert Thompson, a computer- science professor and strategist at Security Innovation, which tests software for companies such as Google and Microsoft.

Thompson couldn't hack into the system from the outside. So Sancho gave him access to the central machine that tabulates votes and to the last school election at Leon County High.

Thompson told The Herald he was "shocked" at how easy it was to get in, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace. The machine asked for a user name and password, but didn't require it, he said. That meant it had not just a "front door, but a back door as big as a garage," Thompson said.

From there, Thompson said, he typed five lines of computer code
- and switched 5,000 votes from one candidate to another.

"I am positive an eighth grader could do this," Thompson said.

After BlackBox and Sancho announced the results, Diebold's senior lawyer, Michael Lindroos, wrote Sancho, Leon County and the state of Florida questioning the results and calling the test "a very foolish and irresponsible act" that may have violated licensing agreements.

Over the past few months, computer expert Harri Hursti tried to manipulate election results with the memory card inserted into each Diebold voting machine. The card records votes during an election, then at the end of the day is taken to a central location where results are totaled.

Hursti figured out how to hack into the memory card by using an agricultural scanning device easily available on the Internet, said BlackBox founder Bev Harris. He learned how to hide votes, make losers out of winners and leave no trace, she said.

Hursti couldn't be reached for comment.

With some variation, both Miami-Dade and Broward use these cartridge-like cards to record votes and report election results.
Experts like Thompson say they believe the counties could be subject to electronic ballot-rigging - which would be hard to detect and correct without a paper trail.

Final Test

Sancho said he tried to discuss the problems with Diebold, but met with resistance. On Monday, he did one final test with Hursti at the Leon County supervisor's office, Hursti hacked the memory card to spit out seven "yes" votes on an issue and one "no" vote.

Then, six "no" votes and two "yes" votes were cast into the machine the same way voters would. Those results didn't show up in the final tally - just the ones hacked into the card.

Officials for ES&S, which makes the systems used in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Seth Kaplan, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade elections office, said officials continually monitor the quality and security of their machines.

"The problem of election fraud predates current technology by hundreds of years. We have people we trust and in our case we have checks to reconcile the results," Kaplan said.

But Broward's election supervisor, Brenda Snipes, said she's at least intrigued. She, too, vouches for her office's security, but says there's a need to remain vigilant.

"Is hacking possible? We think we have a secure system. With technology, those people who have that level of expertise, I guess that could be possible," Snipes said. "We need to see what Ion did.
He tries a lot of things. He's always analyzing things."

But Sancho said the time for passive monitoring is over. The Diebold problems show that simple tests haven't been done on at least one major voting system, he said.

"These were sold as safe systems. They passed tests as safe systems," Sancho said. "But even in the so-called safe system, if you don't follow the paper ballots, there is a way to rig the election.
Except it's not a bunch of guys stuffing ballots in a precinct. It's possibly one person acting in secret changing thousands of votes in a second."

BUSH WITHHELD INFORMATION FROM CONGRESS

MEMO HERE OR READ BELOW

Memorandum December 14, 2005

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TO: Sen. Dianne Feinstein
FROM:
Alfred Cumming
Specialist in Intelligence and National Security
Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division
SUBJECT: Congress as a Consumer of Intelligence Information



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This responds to your request for a discussion of Congress and its role as a consumer of national intelligence, and for a listing and a description of some of the U.S. Intelligence Community's principal intelligence products, including an identification of those which the executive branch routinely shares with Congress, and those which it does not.

Limitations on Congressional Access to Certain National Intelligence

By virtue of his constitutional role as commander-and-in-chief and head of the executive branch, the President has access to all national intelligence collected, analyzed and produced by the Intelligence Community. The President's position also affords him the authority - which, at certain times, has been aggressively asserted (1) - to restrict the flow of intelligence information to Congress and its two intelligence committees, which are charged with providing legislative oversight of the Intelligence Community. (2) As a result, the President, and a small number of presidentially-designated Cabinet-level officials, including the Vice President (3) - in contrast to Members of Congress (4) - have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods. They, unlike Members of Congress, also have the authority to more extensively task the Intelligence Community, and its extensive cadre of analysts, for follow-up information. As a result, the President and his most senior advisors arguably are better positioned to assess the quality of the Community's intelligence more accurately than is Congress. (5)

In addition to their greater access to intelligence, the President and his senior advisors also are better equipped than is Congress to assess intelligence information by virtue of the primacy of their roles in formulating U.S. foreign policy. Their foreign policy responsibilities often require active, sustained, and often personal interaction, with senior officials of many of the same countries targeted for intelligence collection by the Intelligence Community. Thus the President and his senior advisors are uniquely positioned to glean additional information and impressions - information that, like certain sensitive intelligence information, is generally unavailable to Congress - that can provide them with an important additional perspective with which to judge the quality of intelligence.

Authorities Governing Executive Branch Control Over National Intelligence

The President is able to control dissemination of intelligence information to Congress because the Intelligence Community is part of the executive branch. It was created by law and executive order principally to serve that branch of government in the execution of its responsibilities. (6) Thus, as the head of the executive branch, the President generally is acknowledged to be "the owner" of national intelligence.

The President's otherwise exclusive control over national intelligence, however, is tempered by a statutory obligation to keep Congress, through its two congressional intelligence committees, "fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities..." (7) Current law also prevents the executive branch from withholding intelligence information from the committees on the grounds that providing the information to the congressional intelligence committees would constitute the unauthorized disclosure of classified information or information relating to intelligence sources and methods. (8)

In 2004, Congress further strengthened its claim to access to national intelligence when in approving legislation reforming the intelligence community it directed that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) provide the legislative branch access to national intelligence. (9) Previously, the head of the Intelligence Community was legally charged with providing the legislative branch national intelligence, but only "where appropriate." (10) Congress never defined, either in statute, report language or during debate, what it considered to be "appropriate," essentially leaving the executive branch free to adopt its own interpretation of congressional intent in this instance. The impact of the newly enacted, and unqualified directive, is dependent, as is generally the case, upon how aggressively Congress asserts it statutory prerogative.

Despite conflicting legal authorities governing congressional access to national intelligence, the U.S. Judicial Branch has not addressed the issue, since no case involving an executive-legislative branch dispute over access to intelligence has reached the U.S. courts. (11) Absent a court ruling more clearly defining executive and legislative branch authorities in this area, which most observers view as unlikely, the executive branch has contended that it is under no legal obligation to provide Congress access to all national intelligence. By contrast, Congress, through its congressional intelligence oversight committees, has asserted in principle a legal authority for unrestricted access to intelligence information. The Committees, historically, have interpreted the law as allowing room to decide how, rather than whether, they will have access to intelligence information, provided that such access is consistent with the protection of sources and methods. In practice, however, Congress has not sought all national intelligence information. (12) Unless there has been a compelling need, the intelligence committees generally have not routinely sought access to such sensitive intelligence information as intelligence sources and methods. When they have cited such compelling need for access, the committees generally have reach an accommodation with the executive branch usually, but not always.

Perhaps, in part, because of these differing legal views, the executive and legislative branches apparently have not agreed to a set of formal written rules that would govern the sharing and handling of national intelligence. (13) Rather, according to one observer:

The current system is entirely the product of experience, shaped by the needs and concerns of both branches over the last 20 years. While some aspects of current practice appear to have achieved the status of mutually accepted "policy," few represent hard- and-fast rules. "Policy" will give way when it has to. (14)

In 2001, and again in 2002, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) directed that the Director of Central Intelligence (15) prepare a comprehensive report that would examine the role of Congress as a consumer of intelligence, and explore the development of mechanisms that would provide Members tailored intelligence products in support of their policymaking responsibilities. (16) The Director never produced such a report.

More recently, the SSCI included language in its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2006 intelligence authorization bill (S. 1803) requiring that the Intelligence Community, upon the request of the either the chairman or ranking member of either of the congressional intelligence committees, provide "any intelligence assessment, report, estimate, legal opinion, or other intelligence information," within 15 days of the request being made, unless the President certifies that the document or information is not being provided because the President is asserting "a privilege pursuant to the Constitution of the United States." (17)

Congressional Access to Intelligence Information Not Routinely Provided in Four Areas

The executive branch generally does not routinely share with Congress four general types of intelligence information:


the identities of intelligence sources;

the "methods" employed by the Intelligence Community in collecting and analyzing intelligence;

"raw" intelligence, which can be unevaluated or "lightly" evaluated intelligence, (18) which in the case of human intelligence (19) sometimes is provided by a single source, but which also could consist of intelligence derived from multiple sources when signals (20) and imagery (21) collection methods are employed; and,

certain written intelligence products tailored to the specific needs of the President and other high-level executive branch policymakers. Included in the last category is the President's Daily Brief (PDB), a written intelligence product which is briefed daily to the President, and which consists of six to eight relatively short articles or briefs covering a broad array of topics. (22) The PDB emphasizes current intelligence (23) and is viewed as highly sensitive, in part, because it can contain intelligence source and operational information. Its dissemination is thus limited to the President and a small number of presidentially-designated senior administration policymakers. (24)
Reasons for Congress Not Receiving Routine Access to Certain Intelligence.


In not providing Congress routine access to source identities, executive branch officials cite the need to protect against "leaks" or unauthorized disclosure of information that the Intelligence Community generally considers to be the most sensitive in its possession. As more individuals are briefed about sources, it is contended, the greater is the risk that this information will be disclosed, inadvertently or otherwise. Such leaks could jeopardize current or future access to possibly valuable intelligence, and endanger the lives of intelligence sources providing the information.

Executive branch officials similarly point to security-related concerns in explaining why Congress is not routinely provided intelligence methods, particularly collection methods. As in the case of source protection, officials argue that effective intelligence collection demands that the methods - human and technical -- used to collect the intelligence be protected by limiting the number of individuals witting of those methods.

Officials, in part, also cite security concerns in withholding raw intelligence. Because raw intelligence sometimes is derived from a single source, the source is arguably more vulnerable to identification and ultimate exposure. Even when intelligence is collected from multiple sources, as is sometimes the case when signals and imagery intelligence collection efforts are employed, knowledge of those collection methods can sometimes be determined from the underlying raw intelligence.

They cite two additional reasons for restricting congressional access to raw intelligence. First, they contend that it would be "dangerous" if a Member of Congress were to gain access to, and possibly make policy decisions based upon, raw, unevaluated intelligence that has not been placed in context. Second, they argue that as a practical matter Congress lacks the physical capacity to securely store the volume of raw intelligence the Intelligence Community generates. (25)

Finally, executive branch officials restrict congressional access to written intelligence products - including the PDB - that are tailored to the needs of individual policymakers. They assert that it would be inappropriate to provide these products to Congress because they are tailored to the specific needs of individual policymakers, and often include information about the policymaker's contacts with foreign counterparts, as well as the reactions of those counterparts. (26)

Although PDB consumers have access to all such intelligence, it should be noted that intelligence sources, methods and operational information historically have been tightly restricted within the executive branch, as well. Intelligence Community analysts, for example, have rarely if ever have had access to such information. To the limited extent that they have, their access has been based largely upon their need to know the information for the purposes of conducting analysis. (27)

While congressional intelligence officials have not routinely requested access to the types of intelligence information discussed above, they have questioned the executive branch's security concerns with regard to certain raw intelligence, noting that it generally is more widely available to executive branch officials. (28) Their comments suggest that they dispute whether Congress is less capable than is the Executive in its ability to evaluate and safeguard sensitive intelligence. (29)

Exceptions to The Practice of Not Routinely Sharing Certain Intelligence With Congress

Although Congress generally has not had access to information pertaining to intelligence sources and methods, raw intelligence or intelligence products tailored to high-level policymakers - including PDBs - it is noteworthy that Congress occasionally has sought and obtained such intelligence information from the executive branch.

For example, while investigating Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert action operations in Nicaragua in the 1980s, the intelligence committees requested and were provided the identities of certain intelligence sources. The committees also sought and obtained access to certain raw intelligence. On other occasions, committee members have requested and obtained raw intelligence in order to verify certain Intelligence Community judgements contained in various National Intelligence Estimates (NIE). (30)

Intelligence committee staffers, occasionally, have successfully obtained access to PDBs, and PDB articles, during the course of conducting investigations and general oversight. (31) The Bush Administration, however, appears to have been more reluctant to share such information than have some of its predecessors. In 2002, for example, President Bush rejected a request by the Congressional Joint Inquiry investigating the September 11th terrorist attacks to review the August 6, 2001, PDB, which contained an article titled Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in U.S. (32) The Bush Administration also denied a request by the SSCI to review PDBs relevant only to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities and links to terrorists as part of the Committee's review of the Intelligence Community's prewar intelligence assessments on Iraq. (33)

While denying Congress access to certain PDB articles, the Bush Administration has provided such access - albeit limited - to two commissions: the 9/11 Commission (34) and the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (hereafter, cited as the WMD Commission). (35)

Congress Generally Has Routine Access to Most "Finished Intelligence"

Congress generally receives access to most finished intelligence products that are published for general circulation within the executive branch. (36) A finished intelligence product is one in which an analyst evaluates, interprets, integrates and places into context raw intelligence. (37)

Although congressional access is limited to such finished products, the volume of such products provided to Congress has increased over time. (38) Between 1947, when the National Security Act establishing the CIA was enacted, and the mid-1970s, the executive branch shared relatively little intelligence with Congress, and access to it was quite limited. But after two special congressional investigative committees headed by former Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis Pike launched investigations of the Intelligence Community in the mid-1970s, the executive branch permitted the Community to increase the volume of intelligence information it provided to Congress. (39)

Congress Also Has Access to Intelligence Information Through Briefings

Although Congress receives numerous written intelligence products, it receives the preponderance of its intelligence information through briefings, which generally are initiated at the request of congressional committees, individual members or staff. (40)

Such briefings can include a discussion of more sensitive information pertaining to intelligence sources and methods, particularly when the briefings involve the congressional intelligence committees. But even then, if the intelligence analyst determines that such information is particularly sensitive, he may choose to brief only the chairmen and ranking members of the two intelligence committees, or in lieu of the committee leadership, the committees' majority and minority staff directors. (41) Or, based upon the executive branch's perspective that it is not legally obligated to provide Congress access to all intelligence, the analyst could choose not to share the sensitive information with anyone in Congress.

Classified Intelligence Products Which Generally Are Routinely Shared With Congress

National Intelligence Community (NIC).(42)

National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) express the coordinated judgments of the Intelligence Community, and thus represent the most authoritative assessment of the DNI with respect to a particular national security issue. NIEs are considered to be "estimative" intelligence products, in that they present what intelligence analysts estimate (not predict) may be the course of future events. Coordination of NIEs involves not only trying to resolve any interagency differences, but also assigning confidence levels to the key judgments and rigorously evaluating the sourcing for them. Each NIE is reviewed and approved for dissemination by the National Intelligence Board (NIB), which is comprised of the DNI and other senior Intelligence Community leaders within the Intelligence Community.


Intelligence Community Assessments (ICAs) are research papers 20-30-pages or more in length that provide a detailed data logic trail on key national security issues. They differ from NIEs in that they are less "estimative." National Intelligence Officers are expected to coordinate ICAs with other Community analysts, noting any disagreements in analytic judgements. Thus, ICAs are Community-coordinated, and are disseminated only after NIC Chairman approval.


Intelligence Community Briefs (ICBs) are estimative intelligence products that are formatted as six-page, quick-turn-around, analytic papers focusing on particular issues. Before ICBs are disseminated to intelligence consumers, National Intelligence Officers overseeing their drafting and coordination are expected either to resolve any analytic disagreements or note any such continuing disagreement between Intelligence Community analysts. Thus this product is classified to be "Community-coordinated."


Sense of Community Memos are one-page memoranda that evaluate current or day-to-day events. They are Community-coordinated and approved by the NIC chairman for dissemination.

Conference Reports are memoranda-for-the-record of conferences that the NIC sponsors on various topics. In addition to Intelligence Community personnel, participants can include experts from outside the Community.


CIA Directorate of Intelligence. (43)


The Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB), known for decades as the National Intelligence Daily and viewed by the CIA as one of its flagship products, (44) is a daily publication containing six to eight relatively short articles or briefs covering an array of topics. The SEIB's format and content, although generally similar to that of the President's Daily Brief, usually contains less information in order to protect intelligence sources and methods. (45) It is disseminated to several hundred senior executive branch policymakers and to the congressional oversight committees, and although prepared by the CIA, the SEIB is produced in coordination with other Intelligence Community producers. It is viewed as a current intelligence product in that it focuses on the events of the past day or two, or on issues expected to arise over the next few days. (46)

Serial Fliers (SFs) are short and concise memorandum-style products, generally a few pages in length, on a discrete topic of current relevance. SFs generally do not contain summaries, but may contain graphics or maps.

Intelligence Assessments (IAs) are the primary vehicle for in-depth research, and can focus on larger analytic questions or provide great detail on a more narrow, but complex issue. IAs generally are from 5 to 25 pages or more in length; they always contain a "Key Findings" or "Summary" section and often include graphics, maps and other supporting material.

Strategic Perspective Series (SPSs), like IAs, are based on extensive research, but are focused on a key strategic issue - frequently at the direction of the Directorate of Intelligence leadership. SPS papers often cut across analytic disciplines or regions. Examples include Muslims in the EU: Reshaping Islam and Transforming Europe, and China's Global Strategic Ambitions. SPSs use an IA format, but carry the SPS moniker. SPS papers a "Key Findings" or "Summary," and may include graphics, maps and other supporting material.

Research Projects/Papers (RPs) are the primary vehicle used to explore new analytic research areas and to develop the Directorate of Intelligence's corporate knowledge of a given issue. A research project may culminate in a SF, IA or SPS - or, depending upon the results, may be disseminated only within the Intelligence Directorate and Intelligence Community, serving as a "capital-building" research paper.

Leadership Profiles (LPs) are biographic assessments of foreign leaders, generally 1-2 pages in length. They often are tailored for a particular meeting or event. Whenever possible, LPs contain a photo of the leader being assessed.

Situation Reports are short reports that comment on current, fast-breaking events. Up to two or three situation reports can be issued daily, if warranted.

Department of Defense.


Military Intelligence Digest (MID) is produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency and is seen as a military-oriented counterpart to the SEIB. It is viewed as a current intelligence product in that it focuses on the events of the past day or two, or on issues expected to arise over the next few days. The MID can include analysis of topic covered in the SEIB, but it also includes articles of particular interest to the defense department, and can provide a different analytic perspective. It is principally prepared for the use of defense department policymakers, but is circulated elsewhere in the executive branch and provided to the congressional intelligence committees. (47)

Classified Intelligence Products Which Generally Are Not Routinely Shared With Congress

The President's Daily Brief (PDB) is a written intelligence product which is briefed daily to the President orally by a small cadre of senior Intelligence Community analysts. As previously mentioned, it consists of six to eight relatively short articles or briefs covering a broad array of topics (48) and is viewed as a current intelligence product, in that it focuses on the events of the past day or two, or on issues expected to arise over the next few days. (49) The PDB is viewed as highly sensitive, in part, because it can contain sensitive intelligence source and operational information. Thus its dissemination is limited to the President and a small number of presidentially-designated senior administration policymakers.

Presidential Daily Brief Memoranda are products containing responses to questions posed by the President and any of the small number of designated senior policymakers who receive the PDB. After briefing the handful of designated policymakers, members of the analytic briefing team return to CIA each morning, and task Intelligence Community personnel to provide answers to the various inquiries posed during the each briefing session.

Senior Executive Memoranda are tailored analytic products that also can be produced in response to policymaker questions arising from PDB briefings. (50)

National Terrorism Brief (NTB) is prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, is appended to the daily PDB, and is briefed to the President by the DNI.

The Director's Daily Report is prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is used by the FBI Director to verbally brief the President. (51)

Red Cell analyses are products that are speculative in nature and sometimes take a position at odds with the conventional wisdom. (52)

Raw intelligence is unevaluated intelligence.

TDs (Telephonic Disseminations) are raw intelligence reports disseminated by the CIA's Directorate of Operations. TDs are slightly finished intelligence, in that they contain some commentary as to the credibility of the source providing the intelligence.

Chief of Station (COS) Reports are reports prepared by the CIA's chief representative in a particular country and contain the COS's views of the current situation. The COS can share his reports with the resident ambassador for comment, but is under no obligation to incorporate any comments by the ambassador into his final report.

1. Reportedly "furious" about what he apparently believed to be unauthorized disclosures of classified information by Congress, President Bush on Oct. 5, 2001, ordered that the provision of classified information and sensitive law enforcement information be restricted to the Republican and Democratic leaders of both the Senate and House, and to the chairmen and ranking members of the two congressional intelligence committees. Until the President issued his order, and in keeping with prior practice, all Members of the intelligence committees had access to most such information. Bush agreed to rescind his order after several days, following a personal telephone conversation between the President and Sen. Bob Graham, then-chairman of the Senate's intelligence committee, and after negotiations between White House staff and Graham. See Bob Woodward, Bush at War, pp. 198-199. (Simon and Schuster).

2. The Senate established its intelligence oversight committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), in May 1976. The House of Representatives followed suit in July 1977, creating the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

3. Central Intelligence Agency website [http://www.cia.gov/cia/di/analytica_products_section.html].

4. To the extent that Members of Congress are entitled access to intelligence information, it is by virtue of their elected positions. Members are not subject to background checks, nor are they issued security clearances, as are congressional staff who are provided access to classified information.

5. This memorandum does not directly address the quality of Intelligence Community (IC) collection and analysis, but rather limits its focus to the degree of access to intelligence information enjoyed by federal government policymakers - including Members of Congress - and the degree to which that access enables them to assess its quality.

There exists extensive commentary which does address the quality of the Intelligence Community's collection and analytic capabilities, including more recently that contained in a report issued by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. See WMD Commission, Report to the President of the United States, March 31, 2005 [Hereafter, cited as the WMD Commission Report].

6. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For The Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. 17.

7. Sec. 501 [50 U.S.C. 413] (a)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. [ct (50 U.S.C. 501[a][1]). Some observers have asserted that this language was intended to create an obligation to provide information for oversight purposes rather than establishing a legal requirement that the executive branch provide Congress substantive intelligence information. But they have noted that the congressional intelligence committees have viewed this as a "distinction without a difference," and that the committees have asserted a need for access to substantive intelligence in order to conduct oversight. See L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, February 1997, p. 11.

8. Sec. 501 [50 U.S.C. 413] (a)(2)(e).

9. P.L. 108-458, Sec. 102A.(a)(1)(D) [50 U.S.C. 403-1].

10. In 1992, Congress enacted legislation spelling out the duties of the then-titled position of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), requiring that the DCI provide Congress substantive intelligence information "where appropriate." See Title VII of the FY 2003 Intelligence Authorization Act.

11. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For The Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. 17.

12. Ibid, pp. 17-18.

13. Ibid, p. 23.

14. Ibid, p. 23. With regard to an "experience-based" system and providing the congressional intelligence committees with operational intelligence, the executive branch generally limits the provision of such information to the Committees's Chairmen and Ranking Members. This despite there being in law only one provision - Section 503 of the 1947 National Security Act as amended - permitting the Executive to do so, and only the limited cases pertaining to the notification of covert action activity.

15. In 2004, Congress eliminated the position of Director of Central Intelligence and established a new position, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), to head the Intelligence Community. See P.L. 108-458, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Sec. 1001, Subtitle A, Sec.1011.

16. S.Rept. 107-63, p. 6 (accompanying S. 1428) , and S.Rept. 107-149, p. 10 (accompanying S. 2506).

17. In the 109th Congress, S.1803, Sec.508.

18. Unevaluated raw intelligence consists of intelligence that has not been analyzed; lightly evaluated raw intelligence can include, for example, a brief description of the credibility of the source providing the information.

19. Human intelligence, or "HUMINT," is espionage i.e. spying, which consists largely of sending agents to foreign countries, where they attempt to recruit foreign nationals to spy. See Mark L. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, CQ Press, 2003, p. 74.

20. Signals Intelligence, or "SIGINT," refers to the interception of communications between two parties, but also can refer to the pick-up of data relayed by weapons during tests and electronic emissions from modern weapons and tracking systems. See Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (Second Edition), CQ Press, 2003, p. 71.

21. Imagery Intelligence, or "IMINT," also referred to as photo intelligence, is generally considered to be a picture produced by an optical system akin to a camera, but can also refer to images that can be produced by infrared imagery and radar. See Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (Second Edition), CQ Press, 2003, pp. 63-64.

22. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, July 22, 2004, p. 254. (Hereafter, cited as the 9/11 Commission Report.) The PDB format does change to suit the preferences each president. See Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, (Second Edition), CQ Press, 2003, p. 48.

23. See the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission,

Report to the President of the United States, March 31, 2005, p. 181. Current intelligence is defined by the Intelligence Community as being that intelligence which; addresses day-to-day events; apprises intelligence consumers of new developments and related background; warns of near-term consequences; and, signals potentially dangerous situations that may occur in the near future. See U.S. Intelligence Community web page [http://www.intelligence.gov/2-business_cycle5.shtml].

24. According to the 9/11 Commission, the exact number of policymakers who receive the PDB varies by administration. In the Clinton administration, up to 25 officials had access to the PDB. By contrast, the Bush administration, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, limited the distribution of the PDB to six officials. See 9/11 Commission Report, p. 254 and p. 533.

25. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For The Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. 26.

26. Ibid, p. 25.

27. In the wake of the Intelligence Community's much-criticized October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the Intelligence Community is now more rigorously evaluating the credibility and authentication of intelligence sources, from whom information is derived and used to form and support NIE judgements. Moreover, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Deputy Director for Intelligence Jami Misick, in a speech to analysts in March, 2004, said, "Analysts can no longer be put in a position of making a judgment on a critical issue without a full and comprehensive understanding of the [intelligence] source's access to the information on which they are reporting...We are not brushing aside the Agency's [CIA] duty to protect sources and methods, but barriers to sharing information must be removed....If you [the analyst] work the issue[,] you need to know the information. Period." She also stated that then- Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet had instructed senior CIA officials to devise a "permanent and lasting" solution to the problem of failing to adequately share intelligence source information with analysts. See [http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/021104miscik.pdf].

28. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For The Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. 26.

29. With regard to protecting classified information, the executive and legislative branches each have criticized the other for failing to adequately guard against unauthorized disclosures of classified information. Neither branch, however, has suggested it is without fault. Rather, the debate, as often as not, has centered, to varying degrees, on the relative number of unauthorized disclosures that can be traced to each branch, the degree of sensitivity of such disclosures, and whether each branch has been sufficiently aggressive in its attempts to identify and penalize the perpetrator.

30. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For The Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. 12. An NIE expresses the coordinated judgments of the Intelligence Community, and thus represents the most authoritative assessment by the Director of National Intelligence with respect to a particular national security issue. It is considered to be an "estimative" intelligence product, in that it addresses what intelligence analysts believe may be the course of future events.

31. Ibid, p. 25.

32. The Joint Congressional Inquiry was known formally as the Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11

, 2001[the Joint Inquiry's full report is available at [http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm]. Leadership of the Joint Inquiry unsuccessfully sought access to the August 6, 2001, PDB. After several days of discussions with executive branch representatives, Members decided not to pursue the request. The 9/11 Commission did gain access to this particular PDB article, and it was later declassified. See 9/11 Commission Report, p. 533 and p. 261 for the declassified text of the article.

33. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,

U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, S.Rept. 108-301, July 9, 2004, p. 3.

34. The 9/11 Commission received access to about four years of articles from the PDB related to Bin Ladin, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and key countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, including all the Commission requested. The White House declined to permit all commissioners to review these documents. The Commission selected four representatives, including its chairman, vice chairman, and executive director to review the documents. The executive director prepared a detailed summary, which was reviewed by the White House for constitutional and especially sensitive classification concerns, and then made available to all commissioners and designated commission staff. See 9/11 Commission Report, p. 533.

35. The WMD Commission was provided limited access to a number of PDB articles relating to Iraq's WMD programs. See WMD Commission Report,

p. 18.

36. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence," Center For Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. 24.

37. U.S. Intelligence Community web page [http://www.intelligence.gov/2-business_cycle5.shtml].

An NIE represents an example of a finished intelligence product.

38. CIA estimates that in 2004 it provided Members of Congress more than 1,000 briefings and 4,000 publications, including finished intelligence, books, maps, etc.

39. L. Britt Snider, "Sharing Secrets With Lawmakers: Congress as a User of Intelligence,"

Center For Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Feb., 1997, p. iii. According to Snider, most of the voluminous number of finished intelligence reports provided to the congressional intelligence committees is read by no one. (p. 25 of Snider's monograph). He cites intelligence members and staff who say they are too busy to read all the finished intelligence reports that provided daily, and some who state that it is not worth their time, or the time of the Member, to do so. Although the context of the comments is not entirely clear, they could, among other possibilities, represent a commentary on the quality of some of the intelligence products received by the two intelligence committees, or simply indicate that the products in every instance simply do not address the particular issues of concern to a Member or staff.

40. Ibid, p. 26.

41. Ibid, p. 27.

42. Congress has access to most intelligence products produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC), a center of strategic thinking within the U.S. Government, reporting to the DNI and providing the President and senior policymakers with the analysis of foreign policy issues that have been reviewed and coordinated throughout the Intelligence Community. The Council is headed by a chairman and is comprised of National Intelligence Officers (NIOs), who are viewed as the Intelligence Community's senior substantive specialists. NIOs are assigned areas of functional or geographic responsibility, and are responsible for producing a variety of written intelligence products, ranging from brief analyses of current issues to "over- the-horizon" estimates of broader global trends.

43. The CIA's Directorate of Intelligence is responsible for analyzing intelligence.

44. CIA web site [http://www.cia.gov/cia/di/analytica_products_section.html].

45. 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 254-255.

46. Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, CQ Press, 2003, p. 48.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid, p. 254.

49. WMD Commission Report, p. 181. The WMD Commission criticized the quality of PDBs, asserting that, "...many of the same problems that occurred with other intelligence products occurred with the PDBs, only in a magnified manner." According to the Commission, PDBs "often failed to explain, or even signal, the uncertainties underlying their judgments..." and "...PDB articles discounted information that appeared to contradict the prevailing analytical view..." The Commission also said that by emphasizing current intelligence, the PDB could "...adversely affect the consumers of intelligence..." by creating over time "...a greater perception of certainty about ...judgements than is warranted."

50. WMD Commission Report, p. 182.

51. Ibid.

52. Ibid, p. 406.