Domestic Spying To Hit A New Low

Tim Shorrock, in a very well written, detailed article for CorpWatch, is reporting on a new ‘intelligence institution’ soon to be inaugurated by the Bush administration that will allow government agencies to conduct broad surveillance and reconnaissance inside the United States. (The cartoon that goes along with the article sums it all up nicely, stating “We have found the enemy and he is us” as paranoia and delusion have become insecurity with this administration).

A proposal currently under review by Congress would establish a National Applications Office (NAO) to coordinate how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and domestic law enforcement and rescue agencies use imagery and communications intelligence picked up by U.S. spy satellites.

If the proposed plan goes forward, the NAO will create the legal mechanism for an unprecedented degree of domestic intelligence gathering that would make the U.S. one of the world’s most closely monitored nations. Domestic use of electronic intelligence from spy satellites has until now been limited to scientific agencies with no responsibility for national security or law enforcement.

The ‘intelligence-sharing’ system managed by the NAO would rely heavily on private contractors, including Boeing, BAE Systems, L-3 Communications and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), to name a few, who already provide technology and personnel to U.S. agencies involved in foreign intelligence. The NAO would greatly expand their markets. These contractors lobbied intelligence officials to buy products specifically designed for domestic surveillance at an intelligence conference held in San Antonio, Texas last month.

NAO To Oversee Classified Information Collected

In May 2007 Michael McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence tentatively approved the NAO plan. The NAO will oversee classified information collected by the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and other key agencies used with the U.S. during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other events affecting national security. The NSA and the NGA will supply the most critical ‘intelligence’ since they’re often referred to as the “eyes” and “ears” of the intelligence community.

Through a global network of listening posts, surveillance planes and satellites, the NSA captures signals from phone calls, e-mail and internet traffic, then translates and analyzes them for U.S. military and national intelligence officials.

The NGA provides overhead imagery and mapping tools that allow intelligence and military analysts to monitor events from the skies and space.

The NSA and the NGA have close relationships with the ‘super-secret’ National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) which builds and maintains the fleet of U.S. spy satellites and operates ground stations where the signals and imagery are processed and analyzed. By law, their collection efforts are supposed to be confined to foreign countries and battlefields.

The NAO was conceived in 2005 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Under the guise that the legal framework for U.S. intelligence operations had not been updated for the “global war on terror,” the ODNI turned to Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Virginia — one of the largest contractors in the spy business, also the company where McConnell was the former executive vice president before becoming the Director of National Intelligence — which studied how intelligence from spy satellites and photoreconnaissance planes could be better used domestically to track potential threats to security within the U.S.

Charles Allen will head the new program, which was announced days after President Bush signed a new law approved by Congress (the FISA act, approved with a six month deadline by Congress last August just before their summer recess), to expand the abilities of the NSA to eavesdrop, without warrants, on telephone calls, e-mails and faxes passing through telecommunications hubs in the U.S. when the government “suspects agents of a foreign power may be involved.”

Laying The Bricks For a Police State

For U.S. citizens, the combination of NGA imagery and NSA signals intelligence in domestic situations threatens important constitutional safeguards against unwarranted searches and seizures — not that this administration ever paid attention to the constitution.

Kate Marin, director of the Center for National Security Studies likened the NAO plan to “Big Brother in the sky.” She told the Washington Post that the Bush administration is “laying the bricks one at a time for a police state.” No one notified the House Homeland Security Committee of the NAO plans before they were revealed by the Wall Street Journal.

No briefings. No hearings. No phone calls from anyone to any member of the committee mentioned above as to why, how or when satellite imagery would be shared with law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Civil Liberties Would Be Destroyed

Civil liberties in America would be destroyed if this plan was passed — knowing this administrations previous record with spying on Americans, it’s possible the plan is already in use, just not officially and in usual Bush administration fashion, not legally.

A lot more details on all the contractors involved, the civil liberties issues and the people of the Bush Administration responsible for leading this mess can be found in the original article. I’ve only highlighted some of the major points, but the article does a great job of explaining everything in detail and is well worth the read.

With all the already detailed illegal misuse of self-conceived powers by this presidential administration, this article explains some of the short comings and personal freedom infringements made possible by this program in the name of fighting “the global war on terror,” better known as the war on Americans civil liberties and democracy since fraudulently fixing two elections and being appointed as president by the ‘Supreme Court.’

Rest assured, with the incompetence that has defined the leadership of this administration, this kind of power will result in more major cluster you-know-whats. America, it’s time to stand up and regain control of your country. Congress, it’s time for you to put an end to this and do what you were elected to do.

Links to More Information

Links to the information mentioned above as well as numerous other tidbits can be found below:

Domestic Spying, Inc. article from CorpWatch

Cartoon of Homeland Insecurity from Corp. Watch stating “We have found the enemy and he is us.”

CNN expunged “don’t ask, don’t tell” question and answers in rebroadcasts of debate — without disclosure article from Media Matters:

“In rebroadcasts of the November 28 CNN/YouTube debate for Republican presidential candidates, CNN expunged, without disclosure, a segment in which retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr asked the candidates to address “why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.” Kerr is a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Americans for Hillary Clinton steering committee and a co-chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-NY) Veterans and Military Retirees for Hillary Committee. In rebroadcasts of the debate at midnight ET and 3 a.m. ET on November 29, CNN omitted the Kerr question, as well as the candidates’ answers to his question.

University of Southern California professor Marty Kaplan noted the omission in a blog entry on The Huffington Post, writing:

MORNING AFTER PILL UPDATE V: When CNN rebroadcast the debate, according to commenter AdamDek, the don’t-ask-don’t-tell question from Brig. Gen. (ret.) Keith Kerr was edited out of the program. Gone! Just like that.”

CNN: Corrupt News Network article from The Los Angeles Times:

“A self-serving agenda was set for the Republican presidential debates.

THE United States is at war in the Middle East and Central Asia, the economy is writhing like a snake with a broken back, oil prices are relentlessly climbing toward $100 a barrel and an increasing number of Americans just can’t afford to be sick with anything that won’t be treated with aspirin and bed rest.

So, when CNN brought the Republican presidential candidates together this week for what is loosely termed a “debate,” what did the country get but a discussion of immigration, Biblical inerrancy and the propriety of flying the Confederate flag?

In fact, this most recent debacle masquerading as a presidential debate raises serious questions about whether CNN is ethically or professionally suitable to play the political role the Democratic and Republican parties recently have conceded it.”

US says it has right to kidnap British citizens article from The Times Online UK:

“AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.

A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.”

Nonstop Theft and Bribery Are Staggering Iraq article from The New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Dec. 1 — Jobless men pay $500 bribes to join the police. Families build houses illegally on government land, carwashes steal water from public pipes and nearly everything the government buys or sells can now be found on the black market.

Painkillers for cancer (from the Ministry of Health) cost $80 for a few capsules; electricity meters (from the Ministry of Electricity) go for $200 each and even third-grade textbooks (stolen from the Ministry of Education) must be bought at bookstores for three times what schools once charged.

“Everyone is stealing from the state,” said Adel Adel al-Subihawi, a prominent Shiite tribal leader in Sadr City, throwing up his hands in disgust. “It’s a very large meal, and everyone wants to eat.”

Top Spy Pushed Congress For Wider Powers, Citing High Summer Threat Level, Docs Show article from Wired.com:

“The Director of National Intelligence urged powerful members of Congress to rush through legislation this summer that gave the NSA wide powers to install phone and internet wiretaps inside the United States, according to government sunshine documents released Friday.

The 242 pages of documents include letters to DNI Michael McConnell from members of Congress dated after the August 5 passage of the Protect America Act that question whether McConnell negotiated in good faith or followed political orders from the White House.

The documents are the first to be released to the Electronic Frontier Foundation after a federal court judge on Wednesday ordered their prompt release.

In September, the EFF filed an Freedom of Information Act request about contact between the nations’ top spy and telecom companies that want immunity from privacy lawsuits, as well as McConnell’s contact with Congress.”

It’s Even Worse Than We Thought article from Daily Kos

The Huckster Chronicles: Huckabee is a lying crook article from Daily Kos:

“Rudy Giuliani may wish he had Mike Huckabee’s foresight. Huckabee isn’t going to be surprised by information requests about his misuse of state funds, personnel or property. That’s because Huckabee ordered the hard drives in 83 computers and four servers be crushed (destroyed) in his final days in office. This was at a cost to taxpayers of $13,000 for the “service” plus $335,000 to replace the computers.

The reason Huckabee destroyed these records was likely to conceal massive misuse of state funds during his administration.  He and his family used the state police, and state funds in much the same way as Rudy, except that the Church was Huckabee’s expensive mistress.

Then there is Huckabee’s Willy Horton, but this one makes Mike Dukakis look like George Bush on crime.”

Karl Rove Blames Tom Daschle for 2002 Iraq Resolutions article and video from Crooks and Liars:

Another one where Karl Rove tries to spread more lies to cover up his lies and deceptions.

The Two Biggest Public Secrets, and How Bush Just Signing Statemented Iraq article from The Smirking Chimp:

“As noted by the uniquely vigilant Charlie Savage in the Boston Globe, President Bush in November issued a signing statement unconstitutionally overturning 10 sections of H.R. 3222, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008.” Among the little technical details Bush just erased was the requirement that he not take funds appropriated to the Pentagon for one thing and use them for something else.

So, for example, were Congress to stop passing bills to fund the occupation of Iraq, or never pass a bill to fund an attack on Iran, it wouldn’t matter to Bush and Cheney. (Cheney’s lawyer writes the signing statements.)

On January 31, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Bush’s signing statements at which John Elwood, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, testified that signing statements carry no more force than press releases. Then in June 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that in a sample of Bush signing statements the office had studied, for 30 percent of them the Bush administration had already proceeded to violate the laws the statements claimed the right to violate. So, the signing statements may carry no force, but they offer good predictions of future crimes. And someone should let our Supreme Court justices know that the statements have no force, so they stop citing them. Someone should also inform recent victims of U.S. torture.”

White House blocking congressional Plame probe, chairman says article from The Raw Story:

“President Bush is doing everything possible to delay, obfuscate and obstruct a congressional investigation of his possible role in exposing an undercover CIA agent, a Congressional chairman alleges.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight Committee, has challenged new Attorney General Michael Mukasey to demonstrate his independence from the White House, just as Clinton-era AG Janet Reno did in handing over documents related to the president and vice president.

The California Democrat is asking for Mukasey’s help in obtaining records of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s interviews with Bush, Cheney and other senior administration officials regarding the unmasking of former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.”

The Mayor of Salt Lake City Stands Up For America! We Won’t Take it Anymore article from OpEdNews

Henry Thoreau and the Patrons of Virtue article from The Smirking Chimp:

“The form of government we have is anything but the democratic republic it purports to be. The more access to wealth a person has the more responsive to his or her needs the government is. Justice and equality cannot follow where access is denied or restricted. Far from a government of the people, for the people and by the people, we now have a government that is the exclusive domain of the rich and powerful and has the same level of exclusivity as an expensive country club or resort. The poor and disenfranchised are barred from entry and are thus marginalized.

Capital government is the equivalent of a bank’s automatic teller machine. Corporate lobbyists put their money into it and the machine prints out the legislation they paid for. It is a system in which the creator of the machines is no longer their master. We have become, as Thoreau said, “the tools of our tools.”

The people should not, and must not lend their material support to a government that so obviously works in the private corporate interest at the expense of the public well being. To do so is an exercise in self-deception and futility.”

Flashback: Bush Warns of World War III: The Knew Iran had stopped all along! article and video from Crooks and Liars

Jordan’s Spy Agency: Holding Cell for the CIA article from The Washington Post

9/11 mystery plane flies over Washington video from CNN:

Why was the doomsday plane, designed to keep the country running in the event of a nuclear emergency flying over Washington on 9/11? The Pentagon denies it, but it’s very obvious in the video.

Weird science From the White House article from KansasCity.com

Doomsday Plane Spurs 9/11 Conspiracy article from Wired.com Danger Room

Bushco Takes a Leak video from BraveNewFilms.org

FCC commissioner Michael Copps vs. “Big Media” article from Salon News:

“Michael Copps doesn’t want to be called a crusader. But as one of the two Democrats on the five-member Federal Communications Commission, he’s not shy about sounding biblical. He says he’s “blowing a loud trumpet” for a “call to battle” to stop the FCC from giving big media a generous Christmas present.

Copps is trying to defeat FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin’s last-minute proposal to loosen media ownership rules, which will be voted on by Dec. 18. As it stands now, a company can’t own both a daily newspaper and a broadcast outlet — a radio or TV station — in the same market without a waiver. In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on Nov. 13, Martin wrote that media companies in the 20 largest markets should be allowed to own both in the same market to bolster journalism. “If we don’t act to improve the health of the … industry,” he wrote, “we will see newspapers wither and die … and have fewer outlets for the expression of independent thinking and diversity of viewpoints.”

Michael Collins: Mike Huckabee – Minister of Death article from Scoop Independent News

Iraq Has Only Militants, No Civilians article from Mother Jones:

“Acts matter. Here’s how Dahr Jamail, a young mountain guide and volunteer rescue ranger in Alaska (who did freelance writing in the “off-season”) describes his rash decision, back in 2003, to cover George W. Bush’s Iraq War in person: “I decided that the one thing I could do was go to Baghdad to report on the occupation myself. I saved some money, bought a laptop, a camera, and a plane ticket, and, armed with information gleaned via some connections made over the Internet, headed for the Middle East.” That was it. The next thing he knew he was driving through the Iraqi desert from Amman, Jordan, toward Baghdad and directly into the unknown. He had few contacts; no media organization to back him; no hotel/office with private guards to return to at night; no embedded place among American forces for protection; not even, on arrival in Baghdad, any place to write for.

Call that a shot in the dark. The result? A singularly remarkable running account of what Iraq actually felt like, of what life for Iraqi civilians actually was like after the shock-and-awe onslaught of March 2003 devolved into the endless occupation/catastrophe we all know so well. Jamail, who has written regularly for Tomdispatch these last years, has now published a book on his time on (and always very close to) the ground in Iraq, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. Unnerving as it is to come, once again, upon the real face of the American occupation, largely seen through Iraqi eyes, Jamail’s new book is also a gripping adventure to read, the odyssey of a neophyte becoming a journalist under the pressure of events.”

Ex-Italian President: Intel Agencies Know 9/11 An Inside Job article from Prison Planet:

“Man who blew the whistle on Gladio tells Italy’s largest newspaper attacks were run by CIA, Mossad.

Former Italian President and the man who revealed the existence of Operation Gladio Francesco Cossiga has gone public on 9/11, telling Italy’s most respected newspaper that the attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad and that this was common knowledge amongst global intelligence agencies.

Cossiga was elected President of Italian Senate in July 1983 before being winning a landslide 1985 election to become President of the country in 1985.

Cossiga gained respect from opposition parties as one of a rare breed – an honest politician – and led the country for seven years until April 1992.

Cossiga’s tendency to be outspoken upset the Italian political establishment and he was forced to resign after revealing the existence of, and his part in setting up, Operation Gladio – a rogue intelligence network under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.”

Huckabee could face hurdles from the past article from The Boston Globe:

“Parole of rapist haunts campaign.”

Now and Forever article from The New York Times:

“Most of the time we pretend it’s not there: The staggering financial cost of the war in Iraq, which continues to soar, unchecked, like a rocket headed toward the moon and beyond.

Early last year, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated that the “true” cost of the war would ultimately exceed $1 trillion, and maybe even $2 trillion.

Incredibly, that estimate may have been low.”

“A Crude War Of Revenge” article from The Smirking Chimp

Talking Points Memo – After Blackwater Controversy, State Dep’t Gave Bonuses to Contracting Officials article from TPMmuckraker:

“According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State’s relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.

In late October, Richard Griffin, head of the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, resigned after an internal State Department review of contractor relationships implicitly rebuked the office for insufficient oversight. That lack of oversight contributed to the September shooting deaths of over a dozen Iraqi civilians by Blackwater security guards at Nisour Square, and has inflamed Iraqis, who view State Department guards Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp as having a license to kill without legal consequence. Yet shortly after Griffin’s resignation, ABC News reported that two key deputies who worked closely with the security contractors, Kevin Barry and Justine Sincavage, received quiet promotions. One outraged State official told ABC, “What does it say when State promotes the two people into DS’ most senior positions, when if they had properly managed the programs under the responsibility, we wouldn’t be in this mess?”

That question could also be asked of their recent pay bonuses.”

The United States of Hypochondria article from TruthDig

More evidence that “the surge is working:”

Sunnis fear for their lives in Iraqi Hospitals because of death squads article and video from Crooks and Liars

How Misguided Spirituality is Informing the Religious Right + Fascist Politics article from OpEdNews:

“By telling you a little piece of my personal story, I hope to shed light on the misguided teachings which I believe inform the politics of the religious right. And in so doing, based on personal experiences while living next door to the Iron Curtain, I also hope to shed light on how fascism operates. Especially, where some religious misconceptions may be influential, and used as a leveraging tool. And the parallels to authoritarian government practices, as legislated into post-911 law, are staggering.

“A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it.” — John Stuart Mill, Representative Government, 1861.”

ACLU official alleges racial profiling at airport article from MSNBC News

Cheney’s office advocated for Iran attacks ‘on a daily basis’ article from Think Progress

Supreme Court Allows Warrantless Searches of Welfare Applicant’s Homes article from AlterNet:

“With their refusal to hear a San Diego County case yesterday regarding unannounced searching of homes of public assistance applicants, the Supreme Court once again turned noted English jurist William Blackstone on his head. In the view of the Roberts court, it is better that ten truly needy people suffer than one potential fraudster escape.

Back in the mid-1980’s, when big companies started requiring employees to submit to random drug and alcohol screenings, it was quite apparent that privacy and fourth amendment constitutional protections were under serious attack. There were two lines of reasoning that courts eventually approved of the screenings — workplace safety and, hey, if someone didn’t want to submit to the testing, they were free to quit the job.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decline to hear a fourth amendment case from San Diego County, California that seems almost nazi-ish in nature:

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday to a county’s practice of routinely searching welfare applicants’ homes without warrants and ruling out assistance for those who refuse to let them in.”

The Planned Collapse of America article from OpEdNews

Commentary – Melanie Scarborough: Somebody is lying about FISA article from The San Francisco Examiner

Bill O’Reilly Owes Helen Thomas an Apology article and video from Crooks and Liars:

“Monday night on his show, Billo called White House correspondent Helen Thomas a “pinhead” for saying something she didn’t.

This was a complete fabrication, aided in no small part by White House spokesperson Dana Perino’s twisting of Helen’s words at the podium. Notice how O’Reilly purposefully began his clip not with Helen’s question, but with Perino’s response to it:”

950 youths, 2,000 Qaeda members held in Iraq: US general article from Yahoo! News:

“BAGHDAD (AFP) – More and more youths, some only 10, are being influenced by Al-Qaeda to join the insurgency in Iraq, US generals said Monday, adding that 2,000 members of the jihadi group are being held in Iraqi prisons.

The number of juveniles in detention had jumped from 100 in January to about 950 now, many of them roped into the anti-American insurgency by the Iraqi affiliate of Al-Qaeda, the officers said.

Al-Qaeda is targeting the “young and the most impressionable. I equate them with drug dealers,” said Major General Douglas Stone, head of the US military’s detention operations in Iraq.”

Cafferty: If Iraq Is So Corrupt, Why Does U.S. Still Drop Billions Into It? article and video from Crooks and Liars

Congress Has a Way of Making Witnesses Speak: Its Own Jail article from The New York Times:

“Congress and the White House appear to be headed for a constitutional showdown. The House of Representatives is poised to hold Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, a former White House counsel, in contempt for failing to comply with subpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal. If the Justice Department refuses to enforce the subpoenas, as seems likely, Congress will have to decide whether to do so. Washington lawyers are dusting off an old but apparently sturdy doctrine called “inherent contempt” that gives Congress the power to bring the recalcitrant witnesses in – by force, if necessary.

What we know that Congress has learned in its investigation of the purge of nine top federal prosecutors is disturbing. Cases appear to have been brought against Democrats and blocked against Republicans to help Republicans win elections. The stakes have grown steadily: it now seems that innocent people, like Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin civil servant, may have been jailed for political reasons. Congress has a duty to find out what happened.”

Bush Blames Intel Agencies for His Claim That Iran Could Launch World War III article from Pensito Review:

“Is Bush Lying Or Is He the Head of an Intelligence Service So Incompetent That U.S. Security Is in Jeopardy?”

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