Some issues of outrage are going undiscussed concerning the wiretaps and FISA. It points to a primary flaw in the GWoT and concern for privacy or security. I agree that impeachment should be pursued but it should be for the right reasons.
The idea of pursuing investigations based on improperly obtained evidence is more than just a violation of rights or the constitution. It’s covered in the discussion – Jurist Quits; Senators, Constitutional Experts Demand Inquiries
Robertson indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been used to obtain FISA warrants. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who had been briefed on the spying program by the administration, raised the same concern in 2004, and insisted that the Justice Department certify in writing that it was not occurring.
“They just don’t know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants — to kind of cleanse the information,” said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. “What I’ve heard some of the judges say is they feel they’ve participated in a Potemkin court.” …
I have mentioned in several comments that evidence of an Islamic jihadist threat, in the BushCo era primarily, is not present in the claims and cases they make. Regardless of the forces behind this deception, it’s crucial to at least acknowledge it’s presence to correct the problem. Without doubt, it’s a problem worthy of far more outrage than simple violations of privacy. It’s the issue that embodies the spirit of law and the Constitution and it’s been completely lost in all of this.
The Courts and the War on Terror
f note also is the failure of DOJ prosecutors to tie many of these cases directly to terrorism. In the Portland case, for instance, seven men were arrested on material support charges. Two of the men, Patrice Lumumba Ford and Jeffrey Leon Battle, were the main focus of the government’s indictments. “Evidence” came largely from secret FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants. FISA and its secret courts were originally designed to regulate the FBI’s spying by distinguishing between counterintelligence operations and persecution of the government’s political opponents.
The Patriot Act and post-9/11 court decisions have, in effect, eliminated the requirement that FISA surveillance – wiretapping, searches, and otherwise – be primarily for intelligence-gathering as opposed to criminal investigatory purposes. By jettisoning that standard, Congress and the courts now permit the government to avoid the strictures of the Fourth Amendment and ordinary wiretap statutes by simply declaring anything, no matter how flimsy or marginal, is for intelligence purposes. Indeed, under the new standards, FISA warrants have mushroomed at an alarming rate; and the public sees only the tip of the iceberg, since FISA warrants and their fruits never see the light of day unless they are used in a criminal prosecution – which represent only an infinitesimal fraction of the total number of FISA wiretaps and searches.
Nonetheless, government prosecutors, evidently worried that new post-9/11 Bush administration rules extending FISA requests to terrorism cases might sooner or later be challenged as unconstitutional, again offered plea bargains. The defendants agreed. Terrorism-related charges against Battle and Ford were dropped and each was sentenced not to life for “terrorism,” but to 18 years for “treason”; the other five defendants pled on lesser charges. Despite the convictions, the administration failed, as it had failed in the Lackawanna case, to link the accused directly to a terrorist conspiracy.
The United States v. Yahya Goba, Sahim Alwan, Shafal Mosed, Yasein Taher, Faysal Galab; The United States v. Mukhtar Al-Bakri. In September 2002, federal prosecutors in Lackawanna, New York, charged six young American men of Yemeni descent with providing material support to terrorists. The men, all American citizens, had traveled to a military-type training camp in Afghanistan in April of 2001, where they were trained to assemble and fire rifles and heard anti-American lectures by Osama bin Laden and others.
Although they undertook no terrorism-related actions upon their return to the United States, all six defendants pled guilty to charges of providing material support to terrorists or of contributing services to terrorist, and agreed to provide assistance in other terrorism investigations. In December 2003, each was sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison.
Dr Rice, others in the administration and most of the MainStreamMedia all agreed that these actions were making us safer and were justified. I didn’t think so then and I don’t think so now.
Sun Nov 10, 1:16 PM ET
By Todd Eastham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush (news – web sites) has given broad authority to “a variety of people” in his administration to launch attacks like the missile strike that killed six suspected al Qaeda operatives in Yemen last week, his national security adviser said on Sunday.
“The president has given broad authority to a variety of people to do what they have to do to protect this country,” national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news – web sites) told the television show Fox News Sunday. “It’s a new kind of war. We’re fighting on a lot of different fronts.”
A report in Newsweek magazine made public on Sunday suggests the Yemen attack was a precursor of more to come. Several other al Qaeda operatives are being tracked and targeted for such strikes in Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia, Newsweek said, citing an “informed source.”
He was killed along with five other suspected Muslim extremists when the car they were traveling in was obliterated by a missile fired by an unmanned “Predator” drone operated by the CIA (news – web sites). A U.S. citizen was also killed in the attack.
Human rights group Amnesty International wrote to Bush on Friday to question Washington’s role in the attack.
“If this was the deliberate killing of suspects in lieu of arrest, in circumstances in which they did not pose an immediate threat, the killings would be extra-judicial executions in violation of international human rights law,” the London-based rights group in a statement.
Amnesty called on the United States to issue a clear and unequivocal statement that it does not sanction extra-judicial executions. Rice seemed to reject that call on Sunday.
“I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here,” she said when asked if such killings violated U.S. or international law. The president is “well within the bounds of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority,” Rice said.
“We have a lot of allies in this war,” she added.
The United States views al Qaeda militants as enemy combatants in its war on terror and fair game for military strikes anywhere in the world. While Washington says it sought permission from Yemen for last week’s strike, it has offered no assurances it would always do so in the future.
Newsweek asked Sen. Robert Graham of Florida, outgoing chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, if other such strikes were planned. “I hope so,” was Graham’s reply.
Citing “informed sources,” Newsweek said Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave the United States permission for such attacks but was angered when the hit was leaked to the press.
CIA officials were also angry and concerned that the leak, which they traced to the Pentagon (news – web sites), would discourage other countries from allowing such strikes within their borders, Newsweek reported.
There were no qualms about pursuing the war on terror in this manner.
Nobody listened to the ones looking behind the curtain.
Mueller On Frontline
You say sharing information. But what you were doing was using, if you will, the secret court, intelligence wiretaps. There’s no way for us to monitor what you were doing. There’s no way for the defendants, for instance, in this case, to get access to the information. Is that why you were doing it?
Well, no, no, no, that’s not why we were doing it. It’s because we need to determine who in this country is poised, positioned to commit terrorist acts. Often it’s before a crime has been committed. But the potential for an attack on our security is such that a court, the FISA Court, determines that we’ve established the requisite probable cause to utilize that technique. We used it in this case, as we’d used it in years past, and will use it in the future.
So you could’ve done it with the FISA Court with this procedure in the past. You could have done it in this case, as well.
Yes. With that information, if we’d gotten information from that particular technique, we could not have shared it with the criminal investigators. We couldn’t have shared it necessarily with those who were developing a criminal case. So you could not put together all the information you have on these individuals, on this group, on this group of individuals, along with the information in the United States, along with the information that you have overseas.
All I’m getting at is that there appeared to have been some controversy about how imminent the threat was from this group in Lackawanna in the summer, that the analysts at the agency presented a perspective. They interpreted some of the e-mails as saying there might be an imminent attack. But no one had checked with the office in Buffalo, to find out, for example, that there had been a wedding, and the wedding didn’t necessarily mean attack.
I would hesitate to make conclusions on partial facts that you may be picking up. As I said before, there are often disagreements as to what a particular set of facts mean. That is not at all unusual, and one shouldn’t read into it more than is there.
Well, enlighten me, because, I mean, in fact, I’m at a disadvantage. The investigations take place in, necessarily to a certain extent, in secret, or in some in camera form. We’re trying to figure out what happened.
All I’m going to tell you is investigations, whether it be this and others, where you have partial facts, analysts, agents are always trying to interpret what those facts mean, extrapolate from them what they mean. There are differences of opinion. You can have a set of facts that changes daily, because you got new facts in, based on the investigation. It may be urgent one day and not so urgent the next day as you get more facts. It’s not unusual. It’s not something that, in my mind, is tremendously controversial. …
Unclear Danger: Inside the Lackawanna Terror Case
The concept of how easily any one of us could be taken as one of them is based on the policy that some are more deserving of outrage than others.
Clearly, the view of the government is that the end justifies the means and without accountability there is no justifiable outrage.
Our society has condoned the illegal and unjust actions that have already included improper procedures resulting in assasination. So many have been forced into confessing to crimes that didn’t commit that they are then used to justify the next injustice.
Though identified in the national media and later in President George W. Bush’s now-infamous 2003 State of the Union speech as a “terrorist cell,” the Justice Department only charged the men under an ambiguous provision of the 1996 anti-terrorism law for “providing material support or resources to designated terrorist organizations.” The passive-voice term designated, in this case, means an organization that the U.S. Secretary of State designates as fitting the State Department’s description of terrorist. Organizations such as the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, and the El Salvadoran opposition party FMLN have in the past enjoyed such politically motivated State Department designations.
And then there’s the case of Lackawanna resident and U.S. citizen Kamal Derwish. A potential codefendant of the Lackawanna Six, he was summarily executed without trial in Yemen by a Central Intelligence Agency missile that incinerated the car he was traveling in. In Derwish’s case, there were no pretenses of either a trial or indefinite detention. His execution made legal history with the federal government squishing its toes into the mud of a postconstitutional United States. No doubt Derwish’s death also served to intimidate the remaining men into pleading guilty–and remaining in the world of the living.
Impeachment will only change the names and faces if we don’t correct the underlying disaster.
After writing this diary earlier today, I found a piece posted by Truthout’s W R Pitt. It’s a detailed article that highlights the hard work of Rep Conyers and summarises much of what I’ve attempted to say here
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 21 December 2005
“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.
full article at link above.