Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who Is George Really Spying On?

Well, seems that Arlen Specter has qualified that sudden spine-growing spurt I jumped the gun in awarding him.

In recent days he's pushed through not only his own bill on NSA warrantless spying (exactly & in as ludricous form as Bushco directed), but also a bill by Ms. Feinstein which makes Bush obey the law we've had in place since 1978--with the effect that they'd cancel each other out. Seems impossible to predict for sure (title bar), but it may come up for a vote this week.

If you haven't already done something to register your views on it with Congress, now would be the time to do so. A link to an action alert courtesy the ACLU is at the very bottom of this post.

By way of reminder, three civic-spirited organizations have so far challenged Bushco's outrageously broad extrajudical trolling for info. Now Bushco seeks permission retroactively. If that isn't a dirty trick rising to a fraud upon the American public & an outrage upon the Constitution, I don't know what is.

True to form, if & when they suddenly perceive the need to get anyone else's input, they wait until the very last minute so as to make it a (manufactured) crisis needing immediate attention, make a show of presenting the legislation they'd prefer, stack the deck with canned testimony & strongly suggested talking points, & present us a false choice: "you're either with us or for the terrorists!" Slam the brakes on the hyperbole, Bush--when were you first warned that this was an issue?

The Center for Constitutional Rights ("CCR"), which has been active in defending detainees, including the Canadian kidnapped & sent to Syria, where he was tortured (since exonerated of terrorist connections by the Canadian government), has also filed suit challenging the supersecret NSA warrantless spying program, as have the Electronic Frontier Foundation & the ACLU (the latter of which won a judgment in a lower court case involving journalists & academics, among others) has this to say on its website regarding its pending case, CCR v. Bush:

Docket: CCR v. Bush Center for Constitutional Rights Believes Privileged Attorney-Client Communications Were Intercepted by NSA without Warrants

..Thus far, seven amicus briefs have been filed in support of our case. On May 11, 2006 72 members of the House of Representatives filed an amicus brief in support of our motion for summary judgment, arguing that the surveillance program was not authorized under FISA nor Congress' Authorization for Use of Military Force, and is flatly illegal.

"In their own brief, a group of business leaders described how fear of surveillance has a deleterious effect on the economy. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York argued in its brief that illegal surveillance is particularly threatening to the work of attorneys, citing its danger to attorney-client privileged communications. A coalition of organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) argued together that surveillance has historically been used as a tool of repression in the US, citing its use against leaders of the civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [Emphasis added.]

"A number of experts in legal ethics filed a brief concerning the ethical obligations of attorneys to avoid surveillance of privileged conversations, an important issue with respect to plaintiffs' standing in this case. Finally, briefs concerning the state secrets privilege were submitted, one by the City Bar and the other by two noted historians, William Weaver and Louis Fisher. [Emphasis added.]

.."Since we filed for summary judgment more damning evidence about the program has emerged. On March 24, 2006 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed that no safeguards have been put in place to protect attorney-client privileged communications. In a letter to the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee, Gonzales stated that 'Although the program does not specifically target the communications of attorneys or physicians, calls involving such persons would not be categorically excluded from interception.'

"This was confirmed when a group of NLG attorneys in Oregon filed Al Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush, alleging that they possessed a classified document, inadvertently released by the government, that showed that NSA was eavesdropping on conversations between the charity in Oregon and its attorneys in Washington, DC.

"The Oregon case also implies that the NSA is carrying out domestic surveillance, something initially denied vehemently by the administration, which claims the warrantless surveillance was confined to international calls and targeted at terrorists. [Emphasis added.]

"But shortly after CCR v. Bush was filed, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit for injunctive relief plus damages against AT&T for its alleged complicity in the NSA Program. EFF claims to have documentary proof (turned over by a retired AT&T technician turned whistleblower, Mark Klein) that AT&T set up a secret interception room in its main switching station in San Francisco (and other cities as well), allowing the NSA to copy every email and record every phone call moving through those circuits. [Emphasis added]

"If true, the allegations give reason to question the idea that the NSA is in fact targeting specific communications of individuals it has reason to suspect are linked with terror, and make it more likely that NSA is conducting "data mining": computerized searching of every call and email made by every American.

"The idea that NSA was conducting data mining, discussed in media reports since December and hinted at by the AT&T case, was confirmed by a recent bombshell: USA Today reported on May 11 that several major telephone companies have been helping the NSA create a massive database tracking "every phone call ever made" in the US. Warrantless collection of calling records is prohibited by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act.

"CCR attorney Shayana Kadidal, who has been working on this issue for months, says of these developments: 'This is the Bush Administration's surveillance program exposed. It's not about terrorists. It's not about security. And it's definitely not about that Constitution that administrations are supposed to follow. It's about massive, big brother surveillance of law abiding American citizens." Kadidal is posting updates about the NSA Program every week on huffingtonpost.com."

ACLU Action Alert link: http://action.aclu.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AP_action_homepage

And remember: "Bush is listening. Use big words."


Blogger dusty said...

I get all the ACLU's alerts..hope your not working too hard m'dear.

3:37 PM  

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