After 9 years of the Patriot Act and Fisa We Should be Grateful That Somebody Actually Started a 4th Amendment Conversation in This Country

The Fourth Amendment, With Friends Like These
innocent bystander — 11/25/10 11:47am

That corporate thugs will not seek to exploit for their own ends . . . so do we just shut up and take it? do we refrain from criticizing food safety regulations because it would open the door for attacks on government workers and the obama administration? do we not aggressively criticize the wars in iraq and afghanistan because they can be construed as attacks on our military and, again, the obama administration? do we publicly discredit those who, on principle, criticize food safety, war policy, and yes, airline passenger inspections, because their voices are being co-opted? it seems to me that the koch brothers would love to see the principled voices delegitimized, so that the left disengages and the tea party crowd can completely turn the discussion to their purposes, like their desire to institute racial profiling

After 9 years of the patriot act and fisa, we should be grateful that SOMEBODY actually started a 4th amendment conversation in this country . . . but the nation threw the tyner baby out with the tea party bath water, and when Greenwald and Scahill came to his defense, you piled on . . . so now progressives will be wary of supporting any scrutiny of the tsa and its violations of our civil rights . . . but the tea partiers won’t back off until they have milked this one for all it is worth . . . once again, they will be the loudest voices

Obama One-Ups G.W. Bush With Assasinations of Americans; Using "State Secrets" Once Again Last Night

Anwar Awlaki, Assassination

GLENN GREENWALD

SALON


At this point, I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record.  In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims.  That’s not surprising:  both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality.  But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”:  in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

A Key British Official Reminds Us of the Forgotten Anthrax Attack

Iraq

By Glenn Greenwald

S A L O N

Britain is currently engulfed by a probing, controversial investigation into how their Government came to support the invasion of Iraq, replete with evidence that much of what was said at the time by both British and American officials was knowingly false, particularly regarding the unequivocal intention of the Bush administration to attack Iraq for months when they were pretending otherwise.  Yesterday, the British Ambassador to the U.S. in 2002 and 2003, Sir Christopher Meyer (who favored the war), testified before the investigative tribunal and said this:

Meyer said attitudes towards Iraq were influenced to an extent not appreciated by him at the time by the anthrax scare in the US soon after 9/11. US senators and others were sent anthrax spores in the post, a crime that led to the death of five people, prompting policymakers to claim links to Saddam Hussein. . . .

On 9/11 Condoleezza Rice, then the US national security adviser, told Meyer she was in “no doubt: it was an al-Qaida operation” . . . It seemed that Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy, argued for retaliation to include Iraq, Meyer said. . . .

But the anthrax scare had “steamed up” policy makers in Bush’s administration and helped swing attitudes against Saddam, who the administration believed had been the last person to use anthrax.

I’ve written many times before about how the anthrax attack played at least as large of a role as the 9/11 attack itself, if not larger, in creating the general climate of fear that prevailed for years in the U.S. and specifically how the anthrax episode was exploited by leading media and political figures to gin up intense hostility towards Iraq (a few othersflushed this terrorist attack down the memory hole as though it doesn’t exist.  When Dana Perino boasted this week on Fox News that “we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term,” most of the resulting derision focused on the 9/11 attack while ignoring — as always — the anthrax attack. have argued the same).  That’s why it’s so striking how we’ve collectively

What makes this particularly significant is that the anthrax attack is unresolved and uninvestigated. The FBI claimed last year that it had identified the sole perpetrator, Bruce Ivins, but because Ivins is dead, they never had the opportunity — or the obligation — to prove their accusations in any meaningful tribunal.  The case against Ivins is so riddled with logical and evidentiary holes that it has generated extreme doubts not merely from typical government skeptics but from the most mainstream, establishment-revering, and ideologically disparate sources.  Just consider some of the outlets and individuals who have stated unequivocally that the FBI’s case against Ivinis is unpersausive and requires a meaningful investigation:  The Washington Post Editorial Page; The New York Times Editorial Page; The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page; the science journal Nature; Senators Pat Leahy, Arlen Specter and Charles Grassley; physicist and Congressman Rush Holt, whose New Jersey district was where the anthrax letters were sent; Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; and a vast array of scientific and legal experts in the field.

Here we have one of the most consequential political events of the last decade at least — a lethal biological terrorist attack aimed at key U.S. Senators and media figures, which even the FBI claims originated from a U.S. military lab.  The then-British Ambassador to the U.S. is now testifying what has long been clear:  that this episode played a huge role in enabling the attack on Iraq.  Even our leading mainstream, establishment-serving media outlets — and countless bio-weapons experts — believe that we do not have real answers about who perpetrated this attack and how.  And there is little apparent interest in investigating in order to find out.  Evidently, this is just another one of those things that we’ll relegate to “the irrelevant past,” and therefore deem it unworthy of attention from our future-gazing, always-distracted minds.

UPDATE:  Marcy Wheeler notes that the FBI has become increasingly defiant towards requests that its claims be reviewed by an independent panel; of course, that couldn’t happen unless the White House and Congress permitted it to.

Glenn Greenwald Waterboards Chuckie Todd

Chuck Todd, Glenn Greenwald, NBC, Salon, Torture, White House Press Corpse, Wiretapping

S A L O N

Glenn Greenwald


roveyYesterday, I voiced several criticisms of comments made earlier this week by NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd regarding potential torture investigations by the Obama Justice Department.  Shortly thereafter, he emailed me to say that he wished I had contacted him before posting.  In response, I invited him to participate in a podcast discussion with me of the issues raised by his remarks and my analysis of them, and, to his credit, he accepted.

This morning, I spoke with Todd for roughly 30 minutes about the relative significance of torture investigations, the implications of failing to prosecute high-level political officials when they break the law, the role of the media in these matters, and whether Todd was expressing his own views or merely repeating what the White House believes (the polling data I reference, along with the media’s routine distortion of it, is documented here and here).  The discussion can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below (it can be also downloaded by MP3 here or by ITunes here).  A transcript will be posted later today.

UPDATE:  The transcript is now available here.

The Newly Released Secret Laws of the Bush Administration

administration, Bush, Greenwald, Justice Department, laws, Military, Salon, secret
Tuesday March 3, 2009 06:31 EST

The newly released secret laws of the Bush administration

(updated below – Update II – Update III)

Reviewing yesterday’s front page of the print edition of The New York Times prompted this observation from Digby:

I looked at the front page of the paper this morning and wondered for a moment if I was looking at one of those historical documents about which scholars would wonder if those who read it in real time had a clue about the scale of what was happening.

There’s a run on the banks in Ukraine, the world’s biggest insurer suffered the highest quarterly losses in corporate history, Europe is starting to come apart — with Germany being the lead player. Major change seems to be rumbling in a bunch of different ways right now — with echoes of the past overlaid with things we’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s just a blip.  But maybe not.

Various universal perception biases always make it difficult to assess how genuinely consequential contemporary events are:  events in the present always seem more important than ones in the past; those that affect us directly appear more significant than those that are abstract, etc. (though powers of denial — e.g.: all of those bad things I’ve read about in history can’t happen to me and my country and my time — undercut those biases).  Whatever else is true, it seems undeniably clear, at the very least, that the extreme decay and instabilities left in the wake of the Bush presidency will alter many aspects of the social order in radical and irrevocable (albeit presently unknowable) ways.

One of the central facts that we, collectively, have not yet come to terms with is how extremist and radical were the people running the country for the last eight years.  That condition, by itself, made it virtually inevitable that the resulting damage would be severe and fundamental, even irreversible in some sense.  It’s just not possible to have a rotting, bloated, deeply corrupt and completely insular political ruling class — operating behind impenetrable walls of secrecy — and avoid the devastation that is now becoming so manifest.  It’s just a matter of basic cause and effect.

Yet those who have spent the last several years pointing out how unprecedentedly extremist and radical was our political leadership (and how meek and complicit were our other key institutions) were invariably dismissed as shrill hysterics.  As but one of countless highly illustrative examples, here is a November, 2004 David Broder column scoffing at the notion that there was anything radical or unusual taking place in the U.S., dismissively deriding the claim that there was anything resembling an erosion of basic checks and safeguards in the United States:

Bush won, but he will have to work within the system for whatever he gets. Checks and balances are still there. The nation does not face “another dark age,” unless you consider politics with all its tradeoffs and bargaining a black art.

That was (and still is) the prevailing attitude among our political and media elites:  it was those who were sounding alarm bells about the radicalism and damage of the Bush administration — not Bush officials themselves — who were the real radicals and, worst of all, were deeply Unserious.

* * * * *

Kicking Ass and Taking Names: Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald Call Bullshit on the White House Stenographers

Barack Obama, David Addington, Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith, Glenn Greenwald, Illegal Wiretapping, Jane Hamsher, John Ashcroft, John Hannah, John Yoo, Justice Department, Rendition, State Secrets, The Atlantic, Torture, White House Stenographers

jandg

The Grand Dame of Blogs, Jane Hamsher and the Tough, Smart Glenn Greenwald Are Getting it Done

Access Journalism — Business As Usual?

By: Jane Hamsher Wednesday February 11
F I R E D O G L A K E

Glenn Greenwald has been rightfully indignant about the Obama DoJ’s use of Bush’s “state secrets” argument to cover up charges of rendition and torture.  The NY Times this morning says “It was as if last month’s inauguration had never occurred…..Voters have good reason to feel betrayed if they took Mr. Obama seriously on the campaign trail when he criticized the Bush administration’s tactic of stretching the state-secrets privilege to get lawsuits tossed out of court.”

But Bush’s “state secrets” claims aren’t the only White House holdovers. Glenn also singles out Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic today for being a DC stenographer whose idea of “reporting” is calling up administration sources, granting them anonymity without cause, and then writing it up mindlessly without critique or context:

What possible justification is there for granting administration officials anonymity to explain why they are embracing a Bush-era weapon that they have long criticized?  And why does an administration swearing great levels of transparency and accountability — and vowing to use secrecy only when absolutely necessary — need to hide behind a wall of anonymity in order to explain why they did what they did here?  Why can’t they attach their names to this explanation, so that they can be questioned about it and held accountable?

Why would he do that?  Well, possibly because that’s the only way they’ll talk to him — or anyone else.  New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston has also written about this “business as usual” quality of White House press relations:

My questions to LaBolt and Singh prompted a return phone call the next day from Nick Shapiro, who spelled his name, but had to be prodded several times to give his job title: assistant press secretary.

During our brief conversation, Shapiro, like LaBolt (whose name Shapiro did not recognize), started one sentence with “off the record.” Told that the journalist grants the privilege, and that none would be granted here, Shapiro expressed surprise. His surprise was double-barreled, at both the idea that the reporter issues any privilege and that any reporter would decline to talk “off the record.”

The reportorial practice of letting government officials speak without taking responsibility for their words has been an issue with the public and is being questioned now by some journalists, as shown by this article from Slate’s Jack Shafer.

Questions about whether Shapiro knows the difference between off-the-record, background, deep background, and on-the-record did not get asked, because Shapiro made it clear he had no interest in answering anything about how the Obama press secretary’s office is operating and what its tone will be. He said questions should be submitted in writing by e-mail to nshapiro@who.eop.gov. I sent Shapiro an e-mail outlining the contours of what would be covered in an interview, but have not received a response as of this writing, the following day.

Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter whose book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense [and Stick You with the Bill] is indispensible for anyone wanting to understand how the taxation and legislative system has been gamed to favor the rich.  He’s a superb journalist and sometimes it’s hard to believe he’s still employed at the Times(note:  Johnston has left the NYT.) An administration interested in transparency should be ecstatic about working with him.

But what is going on right now in the world of DC journalism finds its most naked expression in Ambinder’s piece, though I’ve seen other glaring examples of late — journalists are scrambling for who gets “access” to the White House.  So there’s no end to the bullshit they’ll write to ingratiate themselves to potential sources, or the inconvenient facts they’ll edit out in order to be the new Bob Woodward. (Though Ambinder does deserve some praise on this front — he wrote what everyone else knows but isn’t saying about White House plans:   “encouragement of moderate Democrats,” “entitlement reform” and “standing up to Speaker Pelosi.”)

You can see it in the horror with which the traditional media is responding to Sam Stein getting called on at the President’s press conference — there are rules, there is a pecking order, and This Is Not How It’s Done. While it’s great Sam got recognized — he’s a really good journalist and he asked a critical question — it’s not much more than “window dressing” if the day-to-day interaction with the press stays the same as it did during the Bush years.  And with Rahm managing the relations between the White House and the media these days, it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.

Update: And the stenography continues: Ambinder calls back his “administration sources” so they can respond to Glenn but neither names him nor links to him.  “They’re sensitive to the politics of the case, but they’re not motivated by what civil libertarians may write on their blogs.”  The administration people don’t want you at the slumber party Glenn Greenwald, and they don’t give anonymous quotes to you, Glenn Greenwald, and they certainly aren’t going to RESPOND to you, Glenn Greenwald, well okay they DID and Ambinder just wrote PARAGRAPHS about it but they are going to just turn their backs and pretend you’re not there.  Feh.

Time magazine refused to publish responses to Klein's false smears

Stories

wpitw.jpg

Joe Klein is Losing it…..

(updated below)The disgraceful behavior of Time Magazine in the Joe Klein scandal has been well-documented. But new facts have emerged that reveal that Time‘s behavior was far worse than previously thought.

First, Sen. Russ Feingold submitted a letter to Time protesting the false statements in Klein’s article. But Time refused to publish it. Sen. Feingold’s spokesman said that the letter “was submitted to TIME very shortly after Klein’s column ran but the letters department was about as responsive as the column was accurate.”

Just to reveal how corrupt that behavior is, The Chicago Tribune — which previously published the factually false excerpts of Klein’s column and then clearly retracted them — yesterday published Feingold’s letter. As Feingold details — but had to go to the Chicago Tribune‘s Letter section to do it — “Klein calls the Democrats’ position on reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ‘well beyond stupid’ but without getting his facts straight.” Feingold also said that “Klein is also flat out wrong” in his false claims that there was some “bipartisan agreement” on a bill to vest “new surveillance powers” that House Democrats ignored.

Second, Rep. Rush Holt — before he published his response in The Huffington Post detailing Klein’s false claims — asked that he be given the opportunity to respond to Klein’s false column directly on Time‘s Swampland, where Klein was in the process of making all sorts of statements compounding his errors. But Time also denied Rep. Holt the opportunity to bring his response to the attention of Time‘s readers.

According to Zach Goldberg, Rep. Holt’s spokesman: “Rep. Holt had an email exchange with Mr. Klein about FISA and his column. During the exchange, Rep. Holt made a request to respond with a Swampland post to clarify what is really in the RESTORE Act. Mr. Klein noted he already issued a public apology and did not accept the request.”

Let’s just ponder for a second how lowly Time‘s behavior here is. It refused the requests of two sitting members of Congress, both of whom are members of the Intelligence Committees and have played a central role in drafting the pending FISA legislation, to correct Klein’s false statements in Time itself. What kind of magazine smears its targets with patently false statements and then blocks them from responding?

Making matters much worse is the fact that, as we now know, Klein’s false statements about the House Democrats’ FISA bill was basically ghost-written by GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra. Klein never quoted a single Democratic proponent of that bill — either in his original false article, his multiple Swampland posts, nor the three separate “corrections” published by Time.

The whole episode was a GOP-fueled smear on Democrats. Yet Time nonetheless refused to allow Congressional Democrats with the greatest knowledge of this matter to bring to the attention of Time‘s readers how false Klein’s statements were, and how false the subsequent “corrections” were. To describe Time‘s behavior is to illustrate how profoundly unethical it is.

Third, at least 100 individuals wrote letters to Time‘s editors protesting Klein’s article and responding to its claims. I know this because that’s how many people (at least) cc’d me on their letters, forwarded them to me, and/or copied their Letters to the Editor in the Comment section here. Managing Editor Rick Stengel’s voice mail and email box overflowed with responses.

Nonetheless, Time — while publishing 15 separate letters on a whole array of topics in its print edition this week — did not see fit to publish a single letter about the Klein falsehoods. At every step, they sought to hide from their readers — and continue to hide from their readers — just how outrageous and severe were Klein’s false statements by suppressing all responses.

Finally, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post and CNN — who dives head-first into every right-wing blog controversy — has been completely mute about the Klein/Time scandal, even though it was one of the central focuses of blogs for more than a full week and relates directly to the media criticism issues he is ostensibly assigned to cover. Worse, Kurtz has now been asked about this matter by multiple readers in two consecutive weekly Monday chats he hosts at the Post, but has refused to take a single question about it.

Yesterday, at least 15 people submitted questions to Kurtz on the Time/Klein scandal — again, I know this because that’s how many people emailed me their questions or left them in comments — and not a single one was chosen. Kurtz, however, found time to address multiple questions on such pressing matters as the new Don Imus Show and football.

It’s hardly difficult to understand why Kurtz has joined with the Time editors to steadfastly suppress any effort to expose the behavior of Klein and Time:

Time published blatantly false statements from Klein, refused (and refuses) to retract them, and then bolstered those false claims with a further false claim that Klein had a solid basis for making them. Worse still, they refused to allow even a Senator and a Congressman on the Intelligence Committees — who were the targets of Klein’s smears — to defend themselves and explain in Time why Klein’s accusations were false.

And they (and their corporate minions such as Kurtz) are taking every step possible to ensure that their readers never become aware of what happened. Is it time yet to hear more about how dangerous bloggers are because they operate with no standards?

UPDATE: I just learned that in addition to all of the above, a letter was also sent to Time jointly from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes. Although they communicated with Time in advance and advised them that the letter was coming, Time has not published this letter either.

Prior to posting this, I asked Time to comment on these matters and was told they “will get back to [me] as soon as possible.” I wasn’t interested in waiting longer, so I sent the Time PR person a link to this column and advised her that “unlike Time, I’m happy to post a comment in response to this.” If and when I receive a response from Time, I will post it.

— Glenn Greenwald

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