USA, Bush spying on his own citizens, new book


Bush's domestic spying scandal, cartoon

USA, Bush spying on his own citizens. 10 January 2007.

By Joe Kay:

More revelations of illegal spying by US government

7 January 2006

Over the past week, several new reports have emerged casting additional light on the vast extent of illegal spying carried out by the US government.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the government has initiated a major project to collect and database the communications of US citizens and non-citizens, including opponents of the war in Iraq and other policies of the Bush administration.

Moves to initiate the program began before September 11, 2001.

However, as with all the policies pursued by the government since then, the terrorist attacks have been used to justify the spying under the overarching pretext of the “war on terrorism.”

James Risen, one of the authors of the original New York Times article exposing a broad program of spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) without legally required court-issued warrants, has published a book entitled State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.

The book elaborates on what has already become clear from Risen’s own articles and other reports that have emerged in the press: that the spying program is much broader than the administration has been forced to acknowledge, and includes surveillance on purely domestic communications as well as communications entering and leaving the United States.

Spying including apparently on Christiane Amanpour of CNN News, married to an ex high level government official.

If that happens to such an out and out Establishment person as Amanpour, one can imagine what happens to non Establishment “regular” citizens.

8 thoughts on “USA, Bush spying on his own citizens, new book

  1. *Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.*
    Posted by: “hapi22” hapi22@earthlink.net robinsegg
    Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:12 pm (PST)

    If this does NOT worry you, you are not paying attention.

    When the Bush gang tells you it is just spying on terrorists in this
    warrantless manner, don’t believe it . They are spying on anyone they
    want to — and usually for partisan political advantage.

    Do you think the Bush gang is NOT spying on YOU?

    Ha.

    ———————————————————-

    *Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.*

    by ERIC LICHTBLAU and MARK MAZZETTI
    The New York Times
    January 14, 2007

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The Pentagon has been using a little-known
    power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and
    others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States,
    part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic
    intelligence gathering.

    The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security
    letters to gain access to financial records from American companies,
    though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

    Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving
    the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing
    investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of
    American military personnel and civilians, officials say.

    The F.B.I., the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage,
    has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of
    Sept. 11, 2001, provoking criticism and court challenges from civil
    liberties advocates who see them as unjustified intrusions into
    Americans’ private lives.

    But it was not previously known, even to some senior counterterrorism
    officials, that the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have
    been using their own “noncompulsory” versions of the letters. Congress
    has rejected several attempts by the two agencies since 2001 for
    authority to issue mandatory letters, in part because of concerns about
    the dangers of expanding their role in domestic spying.

    The military and the C.I.A. have long been restricted in their domestic
    intelligence operations, and both are barred from conducting traditional
    domestic law enforcement work. The C.I.A.’s role within the United
    States has been largely limited to recruiting people to spy on foreign
    countries.

    Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, said
    intelligence agencies like the C.I.A. used the letters on only a
    “limited basis.”

    Pentagon officials defended the letters as valuable tools and said they
    were part of a broader strategy since the Sept. 11 attacks to use more
    aggressive intelligence-gathering tactics — a priority of former Defense
    Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. The letters “provide tremendous leads to
    follow and often with which to corroborate other evidence in the context
    of counterespionage and counterterrorism,” said Maj. Patrick Ryder, a
    Pentagon spokesman.

    Government lawyers say the legal authority for the Pentagon and the
    C.I.A. to use national security letters in gathering domestic records
    dates back nearly three decades and, by their reading, was strengthened
    by the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act.

    Pentagon officials said they used the letters to follow up on a variety
    of intelligence tips or leads. While they would not provide details
    about specific cases, military intelligence officials with knowledge of
    them said the military had issued the letters to collect financial
    records regarding a government contractor with unexplained wealth, for
    example, and a chaplain at Guantánamo Bay erroneously suspected of
    aiding prisoners at the facility.

    Usually, the financial documents collected through the letters do not
    establish any links to espionage or terrorism and have seldom led to
    criminal charges, military officials say. Instead, the letters often
    help eliminate suspects.

    “We may find out this person has unexplained wealth for reasons that
    have nothing to do with being a spy, in which case we’re out of it,”
    said Thomas A. Gandy, a senior Army counterintelligence official.

    But even when the initial suspicions are unproven, the documents have
    intelligence value, military officials say. In the next year, they plan
    to incorporate the records into a database at the Counterintelligence
    Field Activity office at the Pentagon to track possible threats against
    the military, Pentagon officials said. Like others interviewed, they
    would speak only on the condition of anonymity.

    Military intelligence officers have sent letters in up to 500
    investigations over the last five years, two officials estimated. The
    number of letters is likely to be well into the thousands, the officials
    said, because a single case often generates letters to multiple
    financial institutions. For its part, the C.I.A. issues a handful of
    national security letters each year, agency officials said.
    Congressional officials said members of the House and Senate
    Intelligence Committees had been briefed on the use of the letters by
    the military and the C.I.A.

    Some national security experts and civil liberties advocates are
    troubled by the C.I.A. and military taking on domestic intelligence
    activities, particularly in light of recent disclosures that the
    Counterintelligence Field Activity office had maintained files on Iraq
    war protesters in the United States in violation of the military’s own
    guidelines. Some experts say the Pentagon has adopted an overly
    expansive view of its domestic role under the guise of “force
    protection,” or efforts to guard military installations.

    “There’s a strong tradition of not using our military for domestic law
    enforcement,” said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel
    at both the National Security Agency and the C.I.A. who is the dean at
    the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific. “They’re
    moving into territory where historically they have not been authorized
    or presumed to be operating.”

    Similarly, John Radsan, an assistant general counsel at the C.I.A. from
    2002 to 2004 and now a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law
    in St. Paul, said, “The C.I.A. is not supposed to have any law
    enforcement powers, or internal security functions, so if they’ve been
    issuing their own national security letters, they better be able to
    explain how they don’t cross the line.”

    The Pentagon’s expanded intelligence-gathering role, in particular, has
    created occasional conflicts with other federal agencies. Pentagon
    efforts to post American military officers at embassies overseas to
    gather intelligence for counterterrorism operations or future war plans
    has rankled some State Department and C.I.A. officials, who see the
    military teams as duplicating and potentially interfering with the
    intelligence agency.

    In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has complained
    about military officials dealing directly with local police — rather
    than through the bureau — for assistance in responding to possible
    terrorist threats against a military base. F.B.I. officials say the
    threats have often turned out to be uncorroborated and, at times, have
    stirred needless anxiety.

    The military’s frequent use of national security letters has sometimes
    caused concerns from the businesses receiving them, a counterterrorism
    official said. Lawyers at financial institutions, which routinely
    provide records to the F.B.I. in law enforcement investigations, have
    contacted bureau officials to say they were confused by the scope of the
    military’s requests and whether they were obligated to turn the records
    over, the official said.

    Companies are not eager to turn over sensitive financial data about
    customers to the government, the official said, “so the more this is
    done, and the more poorly it’s done, the more pushback there is for the
    F.B.I.”

    The bureau has frequently relied on the letters in recent years to
    gather telephone and Internet logs, financial information and other
    records in terrorism investigations, serving more than 9,000 letters in
    2005, according to a Justice Department tally. As an investigative tool,
    the letters present relatively few hurdles; they can be authorized by
    supervisors rather than a court. Passage of the Patriot Act in October
    2001 lowered the standard for issuing the letters, requiring only that
    the documents sought be “relevant” to an investigation and allowing
    records requests for more peripheral figures, not just targets of an
    inquiry.

    Some Democrats have accused the F.B.I. of using the letters for fishing
    expeditions, and the American Civil Liberties Union won court challenges
    in two cases, one for library records in Connecticut and the other for
    Internet records in Manhattan. Concerned about possible abuses, Congress
    imposed new safeguards in extending the Patriot Act last year, in part
    by making clear that recipients of national security letters could
    contact a lawyer and seek court review. Congress also directed the
    Justice Department inspector general to study the F.B.I.’s use of the
    letters, a review that is continuing.

    Unlike the F.B.I., the military and the C.I.A. do not have wide-ranging
    authority to seek records on Americans in intelligence investigations.
    But the expanded use of national security letters has allowed the
    Pentagon and the intelligence agency to collect records on their own.
    Sometimes, military or C.I.A. officials work with the F.B.I. to seek
    records, as occurred with an American translator who had worked for the
    military in Iraq and was suspected of having ties to insurgents.

    After the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Rumsfeld directed military lawyers and
    intelligence officials to examine their legal authorities to collect
    intelligence both inside the United States and abroad. They concluded
    that the Pentagon had “way more” legal tools than it had been using, a
    senior Defense Department official said.

    Military officials say the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978, which
    establishes procedures for government access to sensitive banking data,
    first authorized them to issue national security letters. The military
    had used the letters sporadically for years, officials say, but the pace
    accelerated in late 2001, when lawyers and intelligence officials
    concluded that the Patriot Act strengthened their ability to use the
    letters to seek financial records on a voluntary basis and to issue
    mandatory letters to obtain credit ratings, the officials said.

    The Patriot Act does not specifically mention military intelligence or
    C.I.A. officials in connection with the national security letters.

    Some F.B.I. officials said they were surprised by the Pentagon’s
    interpretation of the law when military officials first informed them of
    it. “It was a very broad reading of the law,” a former counterterrorism
    official said.

    While the letters typically have been used to trace the financial
    transactions of military personnel, they also have been used to
    investigate civilian contractors and people with no military ties who
    may pose a threat to the military, officials said. Military officials
    say they regard the letters as one of the least intrusive means to
    gather evidence. When a full investigation is opened, one official said,
    it has now become “standard practice” to issue such letters.

    One prominent case in which letters were used to obtain financial
    records, according to two military officials, was that of a Muslim
    chaplain at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who was suspected in 2003 of aiding
    terror suspects imprisoned at the facility. The espionage case against
    the chaplain, James J. Yee, soon collapsed.

    Eugene Fidell, a defense lawyer for the former chaplain and a military
    law expert, said he was unaware that military investigators may have
    used national security letters to obtain financial information about Mr.
    Yee, nor was he aware that the military had ever claimed the authority
    to issue the letters.

    Mr. Fidell said he found the practice “disturbing,” in part because the
    military does not have the same checks and balances when it comes to
    Americans’ civil rights as does the F.B.I. “Where is the
    accountability?” he asked. “That’s the evil of it — it doesn’t leave
    fingerprints.”

    Even when a case is closed, military officials said they generally
    maintain the records for years because they may be relevant to future
    intelligence inquiries. Officials at the Pentagon’s counterintelligence
    unit say they plan to incorporate those records into a database, called
    Portico, on intelligence leads. The financial documents will not be
    widely disseminated, but limited to investigators, an intelligence
    official said.

    “You don’t want to destroy something only to find out that the same guy
    comes up in another report and you don’t know that he was investigated
    before,” the official said.

    The Counterintelligence Field Activity office, created in 2002 to better
    coordinate the military’s efforts to combat foreign intelligence
    services, has drawn criticism for some domestic intelligence activities.

    The agency houses an antiterrorist database of intelligence tips and
    threat reports, known as Talon, which had been collecting information on
    antiwar planning meetings at churches, libraries and other locations.
    The Defense Department has since tightened its procedures for what kind
    of information is allowed into the Talon database, and the
    counterintelligence office also purged more than 250 incident reports
    from the database that officials determined should never have been
    included because they centered on lawful political protests by people
    opposed to the war in Iraq.

    Read this at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/washington/14spy.html

    Like

  2. Texas liberal political wit Ivins silenced by cancer
    Posted by: “Jack” miscStonecutter@earthlink.net bongo_fury2004
    Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:45 pm (PST)

    Texas liberal political wit Ivins silenced by cancer

    By Bruce Nichols

    Molly Ivins, the best-selling author and columnist who aimed her razor-sharp barbs at politicians and dubbed President George W. Bush “Shrub,” died on Wednesday. She was 62.

    Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, Ivins had been undergoing her third series of treatments when she died at home.

    Ivins was one of the most prominent critics of Bush in print — her columns ran in 400 newspapers twice weekly — and on the speaking circuit.

    “She was sort of a modern Mark Twain,” said Jake Bernstein, editor of the liberal journal Texas Observer.

    Ivins, a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, tempered her strong liberal views with humor.

    “I never saw her angry, ‘kicking the dog’ angry,” said longtime friend and writer Kaye Northcott. “She could always find something funny and that was her salvation. She stayed optimistic.”

    Her newspaper columns and essays were turned into four books, and she co-authored two others about Bush, whom she knew from the time they were both teenagers in Houston.

    “Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush” was published in 2000. “Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America” in 2003.

    Born in California, Ivins moved with her family to Houston as a child and grew up in a wealthy neighborhood, though she rejected her high-toned Republican upbringing.

    Ivins graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts, earned a masters degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York and studied politics in Paris.

    She started her journalism career in the complaint department at the Houston Chronicle, worked as a police reporter at the Minneapolis Tribune in Minnesota and was Denver bureau chief for The New York Times.

    But her voice as a writer and speaker was Texan, a physically imposing, salty-tongued but genteel Southerner who could punctuate her sharpest jabs with a sudden smile.

    “She always had a love affair with Texas,” Bernstein said.

    Ivins co-edited the Texas Observer with Northcott from 1970 to 1976, winning the job with a witty letter that complained that Minnesota was short on scandals.

    She attained fame at The Dallas Times-Herald and, when that paper folded, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But she hit her stride at the Observer, a cheeky, muckraking periodical.

    “That’s when she … developed her voice,” Bernstein said. “We like to joke Texas is the strangest state and Molly really channeled that.”

    Like

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