Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cheney Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project: Holder Considers Opening “Limited Token” Torture Investigation.

Cheney Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project: Holder Considers Opening “Limited Token” Torture Investigation.

Cheney Is Linked To Concealment Of C.I.A. Project

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By SCOTT SHANE | Published: July 11, 2009

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director,Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

Efforts to reach Mr. Cheney through relatives and associates were unsuccessful.

The question of how completely the C.I.A. informed Congress about sensitive programs has been hotly disputed by Democrats and Republicans since May, when SpeakerNancy Pelosi accused the agency of failing to reveal in 2002 that it was waterboarding a terrorism suspect, a claim Mr. Panetta rejected.

The law requires the president to make sure the intelligence committees “are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.” But the language of the statute, the amended National Security Act of 1947, leaves some leeway for judgment, saying such briefings should be done “to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters.”

In addition, for covert action programs, a particularly secret category in which the role of the United States is hidden, the law says that briefings can be limited to the so-called Gang of Eight, consisting of the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress and of their intelligence committees.

The disclosure about Mr. Cheney’s role in the unidentified C.I.A. program comes a day after an inspector general’s report underscored the central role of the former vice president’s office in restricting to a small circle of officials knowledge of the National Security Agency’s program of eavesdropping without warrants, a degree of secrecy that the report concluded had hurt the effectiveness of the counterterrorism surveillance effort.

An intelligence agency spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, declined on Saturday to comment on the report of Mr. Cheney’s role.

“It’s not agency practice to discuss what may or may not have been said in a classified briefing,” Mr. Gimigliano said. “When a C.I.A. unit brought this matter to Director Panetta’s attention, it was with the recommendation that it be shared appropriately with Congress. That was also his view, and he took swift, decisive action to put it into effect.”

Members of Congress have differed on the significance of the program, whose details remained secret and which even some Democrats have said was properly classified. Most of those interviewed, however, have said that it was an important activity that should have been disclosed to the intelligence committees.

Intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the C.I.A. interrogation program and did not involve domestic intelligence activities. They have said the program was started by the counterterrorism center at the C.I.A. shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year.

In the tense months after Sept. 11, when Bush administration officials believed new Qaeda attacks could occur at any moment, intelligence officials brainstormed about radical countermeasures. It was in that atmosphere that the unidentified program was devised and deliberately concealed from Congress, officials said.

Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, said last week that he believed Congress would have approved of the program only in the angry and panicky days after 9/11, on 9/12, he said, but not later, after fears and tempers had begun to cool.

One intelligence official, who would speak about the classified program only on condition of anonymity, said there was no resistance inside the C.I.A. to Mr. Panetta’s decision to end the program last month.

“Because this program never went fully operational and hadn’t been briefed as Panetta thought it should have been, his decision to kill it was neither difficult nor controversial,” the official said. “That’s worth remembering amid all the drama.”

Bill Harlow, a spokesman for George J. Tenet, who was the C.I.A. director when the unidentified program began, declined to comment on Saturday, noting that the program remained classified.

In the eight years of his vice presidency, Mr. Cheney was the Bush administration’s most vehement defender of the secrecy of government activities, particularly in the intelligence arena. He went to the Supreme Court to keep secret the advisers to his task force on energy, and won.

A report released on Friday by the inspectors general of five agencies about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program makes clear that Mr. Cheney’s legal adviser, David S. Addington, had to approve personally every government official who was told about the program. The report said “the exceptionally compartmented nature of the program” frustrated F.B.I. agents who were assigned to follow up on tips it had turned up.

Mr. Addington could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Questions over the adequacy and the truthfulness of the C.I.A.’s briefings for Congress date to the creation of the intelligence oversight committees in the 1970s after disclosures of agency assassination and mind-control programs and other abuses. But complaints increased in the Bush years, when the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies took the major role in pursuing Al Qaeda.

The use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, for instance, was first described to a handful of lawmakers for the first time in September 2002. Ms. Pelosi and the C.I.A. have disagreed about what she was told, but in any case, the briefing occurred only after a terrorism suspect, Abu Zubaydah, had been waterboarded 83 times.

Democrats in Congress, who contend that the Bush administration improperly limited Congressional briefings on intelligence, are seeking to change the National Security Act to permit the full intelligence committees to be briefed on more matters. President Obama, however, has threatened to veto the intelligence authorization bill if the changes go too far, and the proposal is now being negotiated by the White House and the intelligence committees.

Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat of Illinois on the House committee, wrote on Friday to the chairman, Representative Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat of Texas, to demand an investigation of the unidentified program and why Congress was not told of it. Aides said Mr. Reyes was reviewing the matter.

“There’s been a history of difficulty in getting the C.I.A. to tell us what they should,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Democrat of Washington. “We will absolutely be held accountable for anything the agency does.”

Mr. Hoekstra, the intelligence committee’s ranking Republican, said he would not judge the agency harshly in the case of the unidentified program, because it was not fully operational. But he said that in general, the agency had not been as forthcoming as the law required.

“We have to pull the information out of them to get what we need,” Mr. Hoekstra said.

Democrats Call For Full Investigation Of CIA Allegations : Some Accuse The CIA Of Misleading Congress Multiple Times Over The Past 8 Years

By Queenie Wong | Posted July 10, 2009

Democrats on the House Intelligence panel are calling for a full-scale investigation into allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency misled Congress multiple times over the past eight years.

Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois said in a recent letter to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that the CIA's actions were inexcusable and called for lawmakers to launch an immediate investigation into the agency's alleged deception.

Democrats say that CIA Director Leon Panetta informed Congress in late June that his agency had been withholding important information about a secret program, begun after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Schakowsky announced today that the director has terminated the "very serious" covert program without the knowledge of Congress.

In response, Panetta is also launching an internal probe at his agency to determine why Congress was not told about the program.

Earlier this week, another recently publicized letter sent from seven Democrats on the Intelligence Committee to the director asked him to publicly admit that his agency had deceived Congress for several years. The release of the letter Wednesday reignited a continuing dispute between the spy agency and congressional Democrats.

"Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIAofficials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," the letter said.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, wrote in a separate letter that the committee "has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to."

But some Republicans are accusing Democrats of using the matter as a diversion tactic to quiet controversy surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was criticized for not being forthcoming about when she received information on the agency's enhanced interrogation techniques.

She accused the CIA in May of misleading Congress in a 2002 briefing about the use of waterboarding against a terrorism suspect.

"I do not believe that the CIA lied to Congress," Minority Leader John Boehner told reporters on Thursday. "I'm still waiting for Speaker Pelosi to put up the facts or retract her statement and apologize."

The letters did not include any details about what information the CIA officials allegedly concealed or how they misled members of Congress.

Bush Administration Had Huge Program To Gather Data, Team Of Investigators Say

The Bush administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of five federal inspectors general (IG) reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they're still too secret to reveal.

By The Associated Press and The Washington Post

Attorney General Holder Considering Opening Torture Investigation-- Like the Failed Abu Ghraib Lynddie England Coverup?

There's lots of talk of the possibility of AG Holder investigating torture-- but only the worst,-rogue agents who went beyond "legal" torture. It's starting to smell like it will be an Abu Ghraib re-run, with only the bottom of the pecking order pursued.

Limited investigations of the worst torture abuse could be opened by AG Holder, but probably not investigations into John Yoo and torture policy and decision makers.

Politico reported: Holder told
Newsweek, which broke the story on Saturday, "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda, But that can't be a part of my decision."

The Washington Post also reported, on Saturday,- that Holder was considering opening investigations.

Although President Obama had said he wanted to move forward, continued revelations have put added pressure on AG Holder. Later on Saturday, an unidentified Justice Department staffer added some information, as the NY Times reports,

"The Department of Justice will follow the facts and the law with respect to any matter," the department said in a statement released Saturday. "We have made no decisions on investigations or prosecutions, including whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct further inquiry. As the attorney general has made clear, it would be unfair to prosecute any official who acted in good faith based on legal guidance from the Justice Department."

The department is expected to complete an ethics report about Bush administration officials who drafted memos, since discredited, granting leeway for harsh interrogation standards. Mr. Holder's decision on a possible criminal inquiry could come around the same time.

The Washington Post reported that any investigation will be limited.

Any criminal inquiry could face challenges, including potent legal defenses by CIA employees who could argue that attorneys in the Bush Justice Department authorized a wide range of harsh conduct. But the sources said an inquiry would apply only to activities by interrogators, working in bad faith, that fell outside the "four corners" of the legal memos. Some incidents that might go beyond interrogation techniques that were permitted involve detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are described in the secret 2004 CIA inspector general report, set for release Aug. 31.

Among the unauthorized techniques allegedly used, as described in the report and Red Cross accounts, were shackling, punching and beating of suspects, as well as the waterboarding of at least two detainees using more liquid and for longer periods than the Justice Department had approved. That conduct could violate ordinary criminal laws, as well as the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which the United States signed more than a decade ago.

One has to wonder-- if the investigations only go after rogue actors, they will follow in the path of the investigations as they were done at Abu Ghraib-- ignoring higher up decision makers, only punishing those at the bottom, like
Lynddie England .- Torture was permitted and decided as a policy by leaders, in a top-down manner. Failure by Obama and the Justice Department to pursue the facts at all levels will be a failure of justice. It will send a message to the rest of the world that the US condones torture.

It will send a message to radical Muslims that they are justified in capturing and torturing, even beheading western prisoners. It will send a message that the America the rest of the world loved and appreciated died during the Bush years.

It will send a message that the American people and culture, beloved by much of the world, has allowed the US to become an ugly place where despots can order torture, even murder (some of the tortured died) secret interrogation operations and more.

It will send a message that a lobbyist corrupted congress does not have the spine or inclination to stand up to presidents reaching for ever more executive power.

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and site architect of, President ofFuturehealth, Inc, more...)

Jan Schakowsky: Dick Cheney's Program Validates Nancy Pelosi
Politico - Washington,DC,USA

A top Democrat on theHouseIntelligence Committee says that the charge leveled on Saturday that then Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the concealment of an eight-year covert spy program from Congress offered validation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“It certainly confirms her characterization of the level of openness the intelligence community and the CIA have given to Congress,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Saturday evening.

Pelosi has come under fire from critics after asserting earlier this year that the CIA had misled her on its use of controversial water-boarding practices.

In an article posted to its websiteon Saturday, the New York Times reports that CIA Director Leon Panetta notified House and Senate intelligence committee members that Cheney ordered the concealment of a surveillance program from Congress.

The article, which sources the claim to "two people with direct knowledge of the matter," follows on the heels of reports this week that Panetta had told House intelligence committee members that the CIA had misled Congress for eight years about the program.

Lawmakers declined to offer any details about the covert program, citing the sensitivity of intelligence information. Intelligence officials told POLITICO that the program was "on-again, off-again over the years," and that it "never went fully operational."

Asked if Panetta's charge – which does not seem to directly relate to the question of what the CIA Pelosi about waterboarding – offered validation to the Speaker's complaint of being misled by the agency, Schakowsky responded: “Absolutely.”

Schakowsky, who chairs the House Intelligence Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, would not confirm the accuracy of the New York Times report, but said that the New York Times report only reinforced the need for the launch of formal investigation into the CIA’s practices.

“What it does is really propel a prompt investigation,” Schakowsky said. “An explicit decision was made at the highest levels not to report this program.”

The Times article also reported that "High-level N.S.A. officials who were responsible for ensuring that the surveillance program was legal, including the agency’s inspector general and general counsel, were not permitted by Mr. Cheney’s office to read the Justice Department opinion that found the eavesdropping legal, several officials said" — a charge that had previously been leveled in New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals."

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano declined to comment on the New York Times report Saturday evening, saying, “It’s not agency practice to discuss what may or may not have been said in a classified briefing."

“When a C.I.A. unit brought this matter to Director Panetta’s attention, it was with the recommendation that it be shared appropriately with Congress. That was also his view, and he took swift, decisive action to put it into effect,” Gimigliano said.

Yoo Gave Bush White House Retroactive Legal Cover to Spy on Americans | Saturday, 11 July 2009 07:07

A sweeping investigation into the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program has concluded that former Justice Department attorney John Yoo provided the White House with retroactive legal cover for covert intelligence activities and that the legal opinion he drafted authorizing the program failed to cite an historic Supreme Court case on the "distribution of government powers."

A 38-page declassified report prepared by inspectors general of the CIA, National Security Agency, Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the Office of National Intelligence released Friday said that the first legal opinion "explicitly addressing the legality of the [President's Surveillance Program] was not drafted [by Yoo] until [Nov. 2, 2001] after the program had been formally authorized by President Bush in October 2001" by executive order.

The President's Surveillance Program (PSP) was far more expansive than the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), the report said, while the TSP allowed the NSA to spy on Americans' telephone calls without a warrant. The PSP went much further and remains classified and Yoo worked directly with White House officials on the PSP as he was the only official in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel who was aware of the program.

But Yoo's Nov. 2, 2001 memo "focused almost exclusively on the activity that [Bush] later publicly confirmed as the Terrorist Surveillance Program," the report said. But it also supported the legality of intelligence collection activities covered under the PSP.

In September and October of 2001 Yoo, now a UC Berkeley law professor, "prepared several preliminary opinions relating to hypothetical random domestic electronic surveillance activities..."

Although the report does not go into details about the "hypothetical" scenarios, an investigation based on previously released government documents showed that 11 days after 9/11 Yoo drafted a 20-page memorandum that offered up theories on how the Bush administration could sidestep Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in the event the U.S. military used "deadly force in a manner that endangered the lives of United States citizens."

Yoo came up with a number of different scenarios. He suggested shooting down a jetliner hijacked by terrorists; setting up military checkpoints inside a U.S. city; implementing surveillance methods far more superior than those available to law enforcement; or using military forces "to raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed or injured by exchanges of fire," says a copy of the little known Sept. 21, 2001 memo.

The Sept. 21, 2001 memo was drafted in response to a question posed by Timothy E. Flanigan, the former deputy White House counsel, who wanted to know "the legality of the use of military force to prevent or deter terrorist activity inside the United States,'' according to a copy of Flanigan's memo.

Yoo wrote that his ideas would likely be seen as violating the Fourth Amendment. But he said the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the prospect that future attacks would require the military to be deployed inside the U.S. meant President Bush would "be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."

"We think that the Fourth Amendment should be no more relevant than it would be in cases of invasion or insurrection," Yoo's memo stated.

Yoo also wrote in the Sept. 21, 2001 memo that domestic surveillance activities, such as monitoring telephone calls and without a court's permission, might be proper notwithstanding the ban in the Fourth Amendment on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Early references to the surveillance program were also included in a 37-page legal opinion Yoo wrote that was one of nine the Obama administration released in April. That memo, titled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States," concluded "that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations."

Yoo based his opinion on the 1990 drug case US v. Verdugo-Urquidez in which the Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit brought against the United States by a Mexican citizen whose home was searched by federal agents without a search warrant.

In rejecting the Fourth Amendment claim, the High Court said aliens could not claim the benefit of the Constitution for conduct outside the United States-such aliens were not part of the "we the people" who benefited from the Fourth Amendment.

Further, the Supreme Court found that allowing such claims would have significant and deleterious consequences for the United States in conducting activities beyond its boundaries, not just in drug cases...but in the use of armed forces abroad "for the protection of American citizens or national security." (More:
1 | 2 | 3 )

Demonizing Panetta’s CIA

The letter signed by seven members of the House Intelligence Committee is at once blatant lobbying for an amendment that would expand Congressional access to classified intelligence and a potent example of its dangers. When the majority of Democrats on the most sensitive committee in Congress are disposed to leak a briefing in order to stigmatize the CIA, it is a harbinger of more dangerous leaks to come. Should the amendment pass, among those with access to state secrets are a congressman who went on a high-profile propaganda trip arranged by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Intelligence Service, a former federal judge impeached for bribery, and a Democratic Socialist whose husband spent time in prison for check-kiting.

The Left’s assault on the intelligence is both the cause and effect of this letter. Defending himself from Pelosi’s allegation that the CIA lies to Congress “all the time,” CIA Director Leon Panetta issued a statement May 15 declaring, “It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.” The newly leaked letter, which was not sent on official letterhead, claims Panetta told the committee on June 24 that “top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week.” It enjoins the director, “In light of your testimony, we ask you publicly correct your statement of May 15, 2009.”

Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes went further in a separate letter to Republican colleague Pete Hoekstra, insisting the CIA“affirmatively lied” to him and he is considering an investigation.

The CIA and the committee’s Republicans moved to shoot down the story. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported on Wednesday, “The CIA and Leon Panetta are not acknowledging, in any fashion, that he testified that there was any misleading of Congress. That is not true.” CIA spokesman George Little said any assertion of lies is “completely wrong.” On Thursday, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-TX, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, denied the letter accurately represents Panetta’s June 24 briefing. Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Rep. Darrell Issa of California said Panetta merely told them the CIA failed to adequately inform them about a classified program that never became active. Rogers insisted, “There was not this pattern of not telling us things.”

An Entreaty for Institutional Hara-kiri

After spending six years accusing the president and the CIA of lying, one can hardly be surprised by the Democrats cynically twisted Panetta’s words. Treating the CIA as a pariah has been de riguer since the days when Democrats stopped following the Church Committee hearings long enough to watch Three Days of the Condor. Rep. Rush Holt, the New Jersey Democrat who leaked the letter according to the New York Times, confessed on Countdown with Keith Olbermann Thursday, “The point we are trying to make was there was a pattern of denial and deception, a pattern that ultimately affects the security of Americans…over not just the months but the years and the decades.” He generously allowed that “many” CIA agents “are patriotic” – presumably Valerie Plame and Mary McCarthy.

However, the letter demands something at once absurd and perilous. In response to an incomplete briefing (concerning a program about which Panetta himself had just learned), the Democratic majority did not demand an apology, or full briefings in the future; they asked the director of the CIA to tell the world it is CIA policy to mislead Congress. The letter is an entreaty for institutional hara-kiri. The political benefits, particularly to Nancy Pelosi, are as obvious as the damage it would do to CIA morale, citizens’ confidence in their government, and America’s prestige and trustworthiness around the world. The Left’s anti-CIA mania is underscored by the hardball these members are willing to play with a former Democratic Congressman appointed by a leftist Democratic president.

Scapegoating, Blame-Shifting, Conspiracy-Mongering

The political motivation and desire to vindicate Nancy Pelosi’s tarring of the CIA have been lost on no one. Andrea Mitchell observed the signatories “are very close allies of Speaker Pelosi.” Holt seemed to admit the connection. “If people are saying, ‘Heaven forbid the speaker said the CIA deceived Congress’ – anyone who has served any time on these committees and is straightforward will say, ‘Yes, of course.’”

Others prefer to see Bush-era machinations at work. Lanny Davisasked if Dick Cheney (who else?) were involved, calling his baseless rumination “an important subject for a 9/11-type bipartisan commission.” Jack Rice, a commentator for Air America, agreed.

However the breach came about, everyone acknowledges it concerned neither waterboarding nor interrogations – leaving the left-wing imagination free to till its most fertile fields: imagining the evils of the United States. The Huffington Post speculated the program in question was an “Executive Assassination Ring,” a program whose existence is predicated on the reporting of Seymour Hersh. Since no one can legally identify the classified program, the ill-advised letter has touched off waves of speculation – and if it succeeds in its larger design, it will be the first of many.

The Shape of Leaks to Come

The letter’s deeper goal was to bolster the amendment pending before the House to open CIA briefings to all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, expanding the hearings to 40 people instead of eight. Andrea Mitchell called the letter little more than “a lot of posturing” on the eve of the vote.

Obama Doesn’t Trust These People…

President Obama, a leftist committed to national security “openness,” has threatened to veto the measure if it passes, saying it would run “afoul of tradition by restricting an important established means by which the President protects the most sensitive intelligence activities that are carried out in the Nation’s vital national security interests.” The media report the White House also worries “briefing more lawmakers might compromise the most sensitive U.S. intelligence operations.”

Why is that? The House is Democrat-controlled. As head of the party, Barack Obama knows those who would be briefed better than anyone else. And that is why he is restricting their access to material that could get Americans killed.

The cavalier attitude the Gang of Seven took toward releasing this letter about a classified CIA briefing is an argument they should not be entrusted with national security. Holt told Politico,“It seemed to us that we weren’t getting the response to the letter that it deserved…After weeks of no response and no action, what were we going to do?” Holt, et. al., argue that since the Director of the CIA did not throw the entire national security apparatus under the bus within nine days, it justified leaking the letter and touching off endless speculation. Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democratic signatory, has toldThe Huffington Post the seven released the letter because their lawyers “made a determination recently that it did not need to be classified so we made it public.”

This begs the question: what else will their unelected staffers determine “need not be classified” if they receive regular CIA briefings?

…Would You?

If the amendment passes, classified CIA briefings will be open to all House Intelligence Committee members. Examining the records of but a few of the letter’s signatories chills the reader at the prospect.

Mike Thompson, D-CA. If allowed to sit in on CIA briefings, Thompson would be the first Congressman to my knowledge to receive classified information after having been manipulated by the intelligence agency of a foreign government. Thompson went to Iraq with Rep. Jim McDermott and former Congressman David Bonior in September 2002, on the eve of war. Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) reportedly bribed Muslim activist and former Michigan CAIR organizer Muthanna al-Hanooti to arrange the trip. As intended, the trio toured carefully selected areas of the nation – the mass graves of children were not among them – then recycled Iraqi propaganda on U.S. television. Thompson insists he did not know he was being manipulated, which is itself an argument he has not business receiving classified information.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL. In addition to being a member of the House Progressive Caucus, Schakowsky was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Socialists of America’s 46thannual Debs-Thomas-Harrington dinner and an early outspoken supporter of Cindy Sheehan (she who met with Iraqi parliamentarians who supported killing American GIs in battle). Schakowsky’s husband, Robert Creamer, was convicted of check-kiting in 2006 as head of the Illinois Public Action Council, on whose board Schakowsky sat. (He is now a blogger for The Huffington Post.) Such material would provide blackmail to foreign intelligence agents, if her extremist ideology did not place her in their orbit. Now that Roland Burris has declared he will not run for election, Schakowky is a likely candidatefor Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL. Pelosi’s original choice to chair the House Intelligence Committee was impeached for bribery as a federal judge. More lucrative funds could come his way after a CIA briefing. Hastings has already shown his unwillingness to get serious about his role in leaking intelligence. When Darrell Issa suggested those who drafted the letter take polygraph tests, Hastings, replied, “Cut me some slack.” (National security by J.R. “Bob” Dobbs.)

In the Senate, the amendment would open the doors to far-leftistsRuss Feingold, D-WI; Ron Wyden, D-OR; Barbara Mikulski, D-MD; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI. It was a staffer of Chairman Jay Rockefeller who produced an infamous memo suggesting Senate Democratspoliticize the committees investigations. Rockefeller has testified to his loose lips abroad, saying, “I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.”

Increasing the number of people who have classified intelligence inevitably invites greater leaks – especially in a party that glorifies “white-blowers” and justified the media’s destruction of Homeland Security programs after 9/11.

This widening of the net affects the intelligence services of our allies, as well. In the post-Church Committee CIA, foreign nations declined to share information with us for fear of leaks. William F. Buckley Jr.noted, “they did not wish to risk their own assets by letting the CIA, whose secret information, post-Church, was available to as many as 36 U.S. legislators, have knowledge of them.” Among the members of the House Intelligence Committee at one point was Castroite Ron Dellums. The current letter demonizing the CIA is intended to open the gates to as many as 40 Congressmen, some of whom have proven themselves Dellums’ worthy successors.

Obama Admin: No Grounds To Probe Afghan War Crimes
By The Huffington Post News Editors

Once again ,Barack The same Obama covers the Bush-Cheney-CIA tracks. What do they have on this president? Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 11:24 AM on 07/11/2009. - + kingbuzz I'm a Fan of kingbuzz I'm a fan of this user permalink. obummer. Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted ... Agree or disagree with him, no allegations of law breaking -- which, in case you didn't know it, is whatimpeachment is about. Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 10:45 AM on 07/11/2009 ...The Full Feed from -

The Washington Monthly
By Hilzoy
So March 2004 is the actual date of the "Watergate break-in" -- the smoking gun of the treasonous activities and attitudes of George
Bush and Dick Cheney. Pity we look forward as barack wants, or 'walk on by" as the gin-swillin' Nooners ... and CREEP to do their thing today, they would have no problem remaining in office - and not a single Republican in Congress woud do anything but call Democratic investigations "partisan witch hunts," and obstruct any effort to impeach. ...
Political Animal -

Docudharma:: Holder May Probe Bush-era Torture Anyway? By Edger

We should be able to impeach retroactively Bush/Cheney. They are guilty of War Crimes, High Crimes and breaches of their Oaths of Office. No worse crimes have any Americans every committed to the nation or the Union, other than the ...
Docudharma - Front Page -

Obama Claims Right To Imprison “Combatants” Acquitted At Trial

By Bill Van Auken | 10 July 2009

In testimony before the US Senate Tuesday, legal representatives of the Obama administration not only defended the system of kangaroo military tribunals set up under Bush, but affirmed the government’s right to continue imprisoning detainees indefinitely, even if they are tried and acquitted on allegations of terror-related crimes.

This assertion of sweeping, extra-constitutional powers is only the latest in a long series of decisions by the Democratic administration demonstrating its essential continuity with the Bush White House on questions of militarism and attacks on democratic rights.

The testimony, given to the Senate Armed Services Committee by the top lawyer for the Pentagon and the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, came in the context of a congressional bid to reconfigure the military tribunal system set up under the Bush administration.

In 2006, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act in an attempt to lend legal cover to the system of drumhead courts set up to try so-called “enemy combatants,” which had been found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. The high court subsequently ruled against the congressionally revised system as well.

This latest effort, like the one carried out three years ago, is aimed at fending off successful court challenges to the system. The Senate Armed Services Committee introduced new military commission legislation last month as part of the 2010 military spending bill.

As the committee’s Democratic chairman, Carl Levin of Michigan, put it, the aim was to “substitute new procedures and language” that would “restore confidence in military commissions.”

As the administration’s lawyers made clear, however, any changes will amount to mere window dressing in an Orwellian system where the government decides who is entitled to trial, whether defendants are brought before military or civilian courts, and even whether or not to free those who are found not guilty.

The Justice Department attorney, David Kris, told the Senate panel that civilian and military prosecutors are still debating whether scores of detainees who have been marked for trial will be brought before a military tribunal or a civilian court.

“This is a fact-intensive judgment that requires a careful assessment of all the evidence,” Kris said. He acknowledged that some form of trial was preferable to simply continuing to hold the detainees as “unlawful combatants.”

What is clear, however, is that this “fact intensive” process is aimed at determining which detainees can be convicted in a civilian court, which of them must be sent to military tribunals because of the weakness of the evidence against them, and which will simply be held without trial because there is no evidence that would stand up in either venue. In such a system, all must be found guilty—the only question is by what means.

Undoubtedly another major concern is keeping out of open court cases which could make public the heinous crimes carried out by the US military and intelligence apparatus in the “war on terror,” including acts of “extraordinary rendition,” torture and murder.

The Obama White House has repeatedly demonstrated its determination to cover up these crimes, including by defying a court order to release Pentagon torture photos and the Justice Department’s attempts to quash legal challenges to the criminal practices of the Bush administration, including rendition, torture and illegal domestic spying.

Appearing with Kris was Jeh Johnson, the chief lawyer of the Defense Department, who made the case for the president’s supposed power to continue holding detainees without bringing them before any court and to throw men acquitted back into prison without new charges or trials.

“There will be at the end of this review a category of people that we in the administration believe must be retained for reasons of public safety and national security,” Johnson said. “And they’re not necessarily people that we’ll prosecute.”

He continued: “The question of what happens if there’s an acquittal is an interesting question—we talk about that often within the administration. If, for some reason, he’s not convicted for a lengthy prison sentence, then, as a matter of legal authority, I think it’s our view that we would have the ability to detain that person.”

Johnson indicated that such extraordinary powers—which continue the Bush administration’s repudiation of habeas corpus, the bedrock right to challenge unlawful imprisonment—stemmed from the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. This is the same all-purpose legal pretext used by the Bush administration to justify unconstitutional measures.

One member of Congress accurately described as “show trials” a system in which prosecutions are carried out in civilian or military courts based on where they are assured convictions, and, in the unlikely event that a defendant manages to escape conviction, he can be sent back to jail anyway.

“What bothers me is that they seem to be saying, ‘Some people we have good enough evidence against, so we’ll give them a fair trial,’” Representative Jerrold Nadler (Democrat of New York) told the Wall Street Journal. He continued: “Some people the evidence is not so good, so we’ll give them a less fair trial. We’ll give them just enough due process to ensure a conviction because we know they’re guilty. That’s not a fair trial, that’s a show trial.” Nadler chairs a House Judiciary subcommittee which held a hearing Wednesday on military commissions.

In his testimony, Kris of the Justice Department acknowledged that there are “serious questions” about whether charges of “material support for terrorism” can be brought before a military tribunal, which, according to Obama, will exist solely to prosecute violations of the laws of war.

But Kris made it clear that the administration’s lawyers had determined that the “material support” charge could be brought before military commissions, and, in most cases, lumped together with conspiracy charges that would help convictions stand up on appeal.

The point was a significant one, as the great majority of those held at the US Navy prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba—as well as the thousands more who have been thrown into military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as CIA “black sites” around the world—have not been accused of any specific terrorist act. Rather, with little or no evidence, they are charged with support for or association with terrorists.

“Material support for terrorism” has also been the principal charge figuring in a succession of frame-up trials in the US itself, where dozens of individuals have been ensnared by government agent provocateurs in FBI “terror plot” sting operations.

The Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers claimed that both the administration and the Senate panel were on the same page in barring the use of confessions extracted under torture to convict those brought before military tribunals. However, differences emerged between the Justice Department lawyer Kris and a top uniformed legal official who also testified.

While Kris warned that the use of “involuntary” confessions could lead to convictions being overturned on appeal, Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, the navy’s judge advocate general, argued that a military judge should be able to evaluate the “reliability” of “coerced statements” in deciding whether they can be introduced as evidence.

The administration’s lawyers also backed the provision in the legislation passed by the Senate panel that allows the use of hearsay evidence, which would be excluded from a civilian court. As Kris put it, the use of such evidence is necessary “given the unique circumstances of military and intelligence operations.”

The testimony of the Pentagon lawyer, Jeh Johnson, also further called into question Obama’s pledge to close down the Guantanamo prison by January 22, 2010. He allowed that many of the cases would not be ready by next January and declined to state where the military tribunals would be held, saying the administration was considering “various options.” Earlier this year, Congress blocked funding for transferring detainees to the US.

Testifying before a House panel Wednesday, a former Guantanamo prosecutor delivered a scathing indictment of the military tribunal system, including in the revamped form proposed by the Obama administration.

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, appearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee, said that he was the seventh Guantanamo military prosecutor to resign because he could not “ethically or legally prosecute the defendant within the military commission system.”

The Senate legislation, he charged, left in place a system that is “illegal and unconstitutional,” serving to “undermine the fundamental values of justice and liberty.”

Describing himself as having gone to Guantanamo as a “true believer,” Vandeveld said his view was radically changed by the case of the young Afghan he was assigned to prosecute, Mohammed Jawad.

He described the basic elements of the case brought against Jawad, who may have been as young as 12 when captured by US troops in Afghanistan: “a confession obtained through torture, two suicide attempts by the accused, abusive interrogations, the withholding of exculpatory evidence from the defense, judicial incompetence, and ugly attempts to cover up the failures of an irretrievably broken system.”

The Obama administration continues to hold the youth, who has faced imprisonment, torture and abuse for nearly seven years, on the basis of the confession extracted under torture.

What becomes increasingly evident is that the current administration is maintaining and expanding the police-state infrastructure created by its predecessor, with the phony claims of revived “due process” serving only to give this extra-legal system a veneer of legitimacy.

This system will not only affect the 229 detainees held at Guantanamo—though this is no small question, given that innocent men have been imprisoned and tortured there for seven years. It will be in place to deal with future detainees abducted by the US military and the CIA around the world, as well as anyone whom the president of the United States—whether Obama or his successors—deems a threat to national security, including American citizens.

Should such an “enemy combatant” prove his innocence in court, no matter! The all-powerful president can simply ignore the verdict and continue imprisoning him anyway. This is a textbook definition of dictatorship.

Chalmers Johnson: “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic”

In his new book, CIA analyst, distinguished scholar, and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson argues that US military and economic overreach may actually lead to the nation’s collapse as a constitutional republic. It’s the last volume in his Blowback trilogy, following the best-selling “Blowback” and “The Sorrows of Empire.” In those two, Johnson argued American clandestine and military activity has led to un-intended, but direct disaster here in the United States. [includes rush transcript]

Lawmaker Won't Deny Secret CIA Program Was 'Cheney Assassination Ring'
By admin

“Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on,.... A rogue CIA assassination unit, secret to even the CIA Director, operating outside of CIA channels and reporting only to the Vice President of the United States. If true how can we not impeach Cheney? Reply. Graham Berry Says: July 10th, 2009 at 12:35 pm ...
Alex Jones' Prison -

Lawmaker Won’t Deny Secret CIA Program Was ‘Cheney Assassination Ring’

Early Friday morning, MSNBC followed up on a theory posted Thursday on the Huffington Post which alleged that a secret CIA program shut down in June by director Leon Panetta could have been related to a purported effort led by Vice President Dick Cheney to assassinate intelligence targets abroad.

This past March, as RAW STORY reported, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh dropped a bombshell when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that the Bush Administration was running an “executive assassination ring” which reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

“It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on,” Hersh stated. “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.”

“The revelation from seven Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee that they were misled about a critical CIA program has sparked a debate that touches on the most sensitive areas of national security policy,” Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wondered Thursday. “What program, exactly, was being kept secret?”

Panetta admitted that the CIA had been “concealing significant actions” from Congress since 2001.

Stein wrote that one “theory being bandied about concerns an ‘executive assassination ring’ that was allegedly set up and answered to former Vice President Dick Cheney,” although his article didn’t cite sources for the claim. The reporter spoke to Rep. Anna Eshoo, (D-Calif.), a signatory to the CIA letter, about the theory.

Asked if this was the basis of her letter to Panetta, Eshoo said she could not discuss what was a “highly classified program.” She did, however, note that when Panetta told House Intelligence Committee members what it was that had been kept secret, “the whole committee was stunned, even Republicans.” A Republican committee member told Who Runs Gov’s Greg Sargent it was something they hadn’t heard before.

MSNBC took another shot at asking Eshoo about it on Friday morning.

After correspondent Contessa Brewer summed up the “Cheney assassination ring” backstory, MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan remarked, “That’s one of those ‘it’s horrifying and not surprising’ in the same sentence for a lot of folks I know.”

Ratigan asked Eshoo, “Can you comment at all on Contessa’s report about a possible private army reporting to Dick Cheney being the thing about which you and others were misled?”

“No, I can’t,” Eshoo responded, “it’s highly classified and I can’t discuss it.”

Ratigan shot back, “Right, cause my theory is we were about to invade Canada, we were going to pick up St. Bart’s from the French, or Cheney had a private army.”

Eshoo held firm, and wouldn’t divulge details about the program. She did, however, drop some clues.

Some of my colleagues have, in many ways, pooh-poohed it and said it wasn’t this and it wasn’t that. I believe that’s a complete mischaracterization of what director Leon Panetta informed the committee.

Now, I give him credit for coming up to the Hill the day after he was informed about this program. I also think it’s quite curious that his own people didn’t brief him when he first became director after he was confirmed.

But what I can tell you is that people were instructed not to inform the Congress. Now, that’s in direct violation of the law. The National Security Act… When the committee was informed by Director Panetta, everyone was stunned across the board, Republicans and Democrats. As well as we should be in terms of having something absolutely concealed from all members of Congress. The top leadership of the Congress didn’t know. So this is serious.

A report in Friday’s Washington Post, however, seemed to throw water on the “secret CIA program may be an assassination ring” theory.

Paul Kane and Ben Pershing penned:

The program remains classified, and those knowledgeable about it would describe it only vaguely yesterday. Several current and former administration officials called it an “on-again, off-again” attempt to create a new intelligence capability and said it was related to the collection of information on suspected terrorists that was instituted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Congressional Republicans said no briefing about the program was required because it was not a major tool used against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They accused Democrats of using the matter to divert attention away from Pelosi’s accusation that CIA officials intentionally misled her in 2002 about the agency’s interrogations of suspected terrorists.

But Democrats waved away such claims and said they may open a congressional investigation of the concealment of the program.

“Current and former administration officials familiar with the program said it was not directly related to previously disclosed high-priority programs such as detainee interrogations or the warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil,” the Post reporters added. “It was a intelligence-collection activity run by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, officials said. It was not a covert action, which by law would have required a presidential finding and a report to Congress.”

A “former top Bush administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the issue,” told the Post, “This characterization of something that began in 2001 and continued uninterrupted for eight years is just wrong. Honest men would question that characterization. It was more off and on.”

The paper adds, “The official said he was certain that, if the nature of the program could be revealed, it would be seen as ‘no big deal.’”

Another report out late Thursday also seemed to rule out the “Cheney’s private army” theory.

Newsweek reports that “Panetta has ordered an internal inquiry into the agency’s handling of a contentious and still highly classified intelligence program that has caused a heated dispute between the CIA and Democrats on the House intelligence committee. The move by Panetta appears to be an implicit acknowledgment by the agency that it should have disclosed information about the post-9/11 secret program to Congress much earlier than it did.”

More from Newsweek:

One question Congressional Democrats still want answered: was the program an idea CIA officials had just talked about as a possibility, or had they actually put it into operation? If it was just talk, as some in the intelligence community insist, the argument could be made that there was no requirement to notify Congress. “This program came in post-9/11, and it was indeed on-again, off-again,” the official said. “You could argue that it never really took shape.” The implication is that whatever the details of the program, it carried risks that some officials at the agency strongly felt might not be worth taking.

“You’ve got a lot of people [at the agency] who, after September 11, were thinking of creative ways of doing things,” said one former senior CIA official. “That doesn’t mean you have to run up and tell Congress about it.”

Three officials familiar with still-secret details of the dispute said Panetta was not himself complicit in authorizing or covering up the program. One of the officials described the CIA director as a good guy for having voluntarily informed Congress about the information. Two officials also said there was no reason to believe that information about the secret program was about to come out in the media; rather, they give Panetta credit for finding out about it and quickly reporting what he knew to the Hill.

The New Report On Illegal Spying Is Not A Real Investigation

The Bush-era torture regime might have been that administration's most flamboyant act of criminality, but its illegal NSA warrantless eavesdropping program (and other still-unknown surveillance programs) has always been the clearest. We had a law in place for 30 years that made it a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense to do exactly that which Bush got caught doing: eavesdropping on the communications of American citizens without warrants from the FISA court. TheInspectors General report (.pdf) on Bush's NSA activities released on Friday afternoon -- one that was mandated by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 in lieu of a real investigation -- highlights how rampant and blatant was the lawlessness that pervaded the Bush administration.

Nonetheless, because the Obama administration is actively blocking any real investigation -- Obama opposes all Congressional investigations into Bush-era crimes and, worse, is engaged inextraordinary efforts to block courts from adjudicating the legality of Bush's surveillance activities by claiming that even long-obsolete and clearly criminal programs are "state secrets" -- it is quite likely, despite how blatant is the lawbreaking, that there will be no consequences for any of it. In a Look-to-the-Future-Not-the-Past political culture, it's irrelevant how severe is the lawbreaking by high government officials. They know they will face no consequences even when, as here, they deliberately commit felonies -- which is precisely why criminality is so rampant in our political class.

Several others have detailed some of the key facts revealed by the IG Report. I want to highlight some other points that emerge:

(1) The IG Report is more notable for what it fails to address than for what it discloses, but that's the nature of IG Reports. Most of the key players who authorized the illegal domestic spying -- David Addington, John Yoo, Dick Cheney, Andrew Card, John Ashcroft, George Tenet -- simply refused to talk to the IGs or, in many cases, didn't even bother responding to their request. The IG's have no power at all to compel them to do so; it's entirely optional. That -- aside from the fact that they work within the Executive Branch and for the very agencies they are supposed to investigate -- is what makes IGs such an inadequate substitute for real oversight: no matter how much integrity and independence they might have, they are extremely limited in what they can achieve.

As any litigator will tell you, the lack of power to compel key witnesses to answer questions and produce documents severely hampers any ability to conduct a real investigation. Yet, when they passed the FISA Amendments Act -- which legalized Bush's spying programs and immunized lawbreaking telecoms -- Democratic leaders kept pointing to the requirement of an IG Report to placate those complaining that they were whitewashing and legalizing Bush abuses. But IGs are simply incapable, given their very limited powers and their institutional allegiances, of any real investigation of this sort. What they were unable to disclose in this Report underscores how limited are their investigative abilities.

(2) Though there are a few new facts disclosed by the IG Report, most of the key facts remain concealed -- including in cases where ongoing concealment is plainly unjustified. Ever since February, 2006 -- when Alberto Gonzales used conspicuously strained phraseology when testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- it has been crystal clear that the NSA program famously disclosed by The New York Times in December, 2005 (which involved "only" international calls placed or received by Americans) was just one of many illegal surveillance programs Bush had ordered. This is how I described that clear fact all the way back in February, 2006:

As the exchange with Schumer demonstrates, Gonzales was very meticulous in pointing out that Comey (and Goldsmith) had no objections to the current incarnation of the program, which means they did have objections either to: (a) some prior incarnation or otherwise proposed version of the program and/or (b) some other eavesdropping programs.

And ever since James Comey testified in May, 2007 that he was willing to give legal approval to the illegal program that the NYTdisclosed, but had threatened to resign if a whole slew of other blatantly criminal surveillance activities did not cease, it has been publicly known that there are still many illegal surveillance programs which remain concealed. In the wake of the Comey testimony in 2007, current OLC official Marty Lederman noted thateven the right-wing radicals who approved of the program revealed by the NYT (Comey, Goldsmith, Ashcroft) were so disturbed by the blatant criminality of these other programs that they were going to resign en masse if they did not cease. As Lederman put it:

If [what the NYT revealed] is the narrow version of the NSA program, just how broad and indiscriminate was the surveillance under the program that Ashcroft, et al. would not approve? . . . . This is the real heart of the Comey story -- What happened between September 2001 and October 2003, before Comey and Goldmsith came aboard? Just how radical were the Administration's legal judgments? How extreme were the programs they implemented? How egregious was the lawbreaking?

Amazingly, that key question goes completely unanswered in the IG Report. We still have absolutely no idea what the Government was doing regarding domestic spying ("Other Intelligence Activities") that -- even in the eyes of Far Right, Bush-appointed legal theorists who approved of the program the NYT revealed -- were so blatantly illegal that they would quit if they did not cease. Given that these programs allegedly stopped in 2004 once the DOJ refused to certify their legality, what possible justification is there for continuing to conceal blatantly criminal acts by our high government officials? While the IG Report fails to identify what these "Other Intelligence Activities" were, it does make crystal clear -- on pp. 28-29 -- just how blatantly illegal they were (click on images to enlarge them):


To say that "a viable legal rationale could not be found" and that there is no "legal basis to support" these Other Intelligence Activities is to say that they are criminal. And even DOJ lawyers so extreme that they were willing to approve the illegal NSA program we know about concluded this was so. Nonetheless, they went on for two years at least, and Bush ordered them to continue even after his own DOJ concluded they were criminal. Revealingly, Alberto Gonzales explicitly told top DOJ lawyers that the White House didn't care about their views that what Bush was doing was illegal because that renowned legal scholar -- George W. Bush himself -- declared that they were legal:

So here we have proof of clear presidential criminality as blatant as can be imagined: knowing his own DOJ believed these surveillance activities were criminal, Bush ordered them to continue anyway (and then only ordered them to cease once the entire top-level of his DOJ, in an election year, was on the verge of resigning in protest). Yet we still have no idea what these illegal activities were. The IG Report does nothing to illuminate this central question. And President Obama continues to actively impede the only meaningful avenues for disclosure and accountability: a Congressional investigation armed with subpoena power and/or a judicial adjudication of the legality of these acts.

(3) When the Democratic-led Congress -- with Barack Obama on board -- responded to the NSA scandal by enacting a law (the FISA Amendments Act of 2008) to legalize ush's criminal surveillance programs and retroactively immunize the private-sector

elecom lawbreakers, many of us wrote at the time that the law Obama supported actually authorized even broader eavesdropping powers than the illegal Bush program itself asserted. The IG Report confirmed this to be the case:

That, for me, remains the single most compelling evidence of how ludicrously broken and corrupt our political class is on a very bipartisan basis. George Bush gets caught red-handed breaking long-standing laws in how he spies on Americans. The "opposition party" which controls the Congress not only blocks any investigations and attempts to impose accountability. Far worse, they proceed to legalize the very criminal programs that were exposed and to vest even greater surveillance powers in the very administration that got caught deliberately breaking the law.

(4) The IG Report makes very clear that John Yoo's legal opinions authorizing these surveillance programs were not merely wrong, but were something much worse: radically flawed and fundamentally inaccurate. The IG Report accuses Yoo of simply misstating the spying activities he was authorizing. His opinions steadfastly ignored the parts of FISA which made clear how illegal the administration's conduct was (Yoo, for instance, claimed that FISA did not apply to wartime but then ignored the provision of FISA that explicitly defined the President's eavesdropping powers during war). Yoo never once mentioned the key Supreme Court opinion -- Youngstown -- that defined presidential and Congressional powers in the modern era and made clear how invalid was Bush's claim that he had the right to break the law.

These were not legal opinions in any sense of the word. What happened, instead, is clear: Cheney and Addington knew that Yoo was a hardened ideologue who would authorize anything they wanted. So they purposely chose only him -- a low-level Assistant Attorney General -- to be "read into" the program, and then used his memos to give themselves legal cover. The same thing happened in the realm of torture. This is what reveals how corrupt is the claim that Bush officials cannot be held accountable for the laws they broke because they had DOJ lawyers telling them it was legal. These legal opinions were anything but exercises in good faith. They were nothing more than bureaucratic cover to commit crimes, and -- as the IG Report makes clear -- ones that were as factually inaccurate as they were legally flawed (yet John Yoo remains on the faculty of Berkeley Law).

To accept the central premise of our political class -- it's unfair to prosecute Bush officials for things that DOJ lawyers told them was legal -- is to destroy the rule of law in the United States. Presidents will always be able to find subservient John Yoos in the bowels of the DOJ willing to authorize anything they want to do. There is no such thing as a permission slip from an underling to commit felonies. Yet our political class -- obviously motivated by their own self-interest -- has decided in unison to endorse the principle that the existence of such documents should bar accountability even for clear crimes.

(5) That these surveillance programs were criminal -- no matter the ends to which they were used -- has always been crystal clear. But what has always been uninvestigated is whether these surveillance powers were systematically abused for purely political ends. The IG Report does not answer that because -- lacking subpoena power -- it cannot. All it does is survey various national security officials -- the ones who agreed voluntarily to answer questions -- to find out if they thought the programs were helpful. Even that very limited and unreliable inquiry revealed that most eavesdropping leads had little or nothing to do with Terrorism.

Over the past couple of years, there have been isolated leaks suggesting abuses of these eavesdropping powers, but there has been no real investigation into the ends to which these surveillance powers were used. As a legal question, it matters little: eavesdropping without warrants is a felony no matter the purpose for which it was done. But since FISA's warrant requirement arose from the recognition that widespread surveillance abuses were virtually inevitable if eavesdropping was conducted without judicial oversight, the lack of any investigation into this question reveals the extent to which both parties have been eager to help cover-up the crimes that were committed during the Bush years. The IG Report sheds some light onto what happened, but most of it, as intended, remains in the dark, and real accountability is still as far away as it was before this Report was issued.

-- Glenn Greenwald

Ensign's "C Street House" Owned By Group Touting Plans For Christian World Control

In video, organization behind C Street House details plan for control of seven key sectors of society.

Most recently covered by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (1, 2), Washington D.C.'s "C Street House" has over the past two weeks become the center of a media firestorm. Along with GOP Senator Tom Coburn, sex-scandal embroiled GOP leaders Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford have been tied to the row house, assessed to be worth 1.84 million dollars, which is registered as a church and provides Washington politicians with substantially lower than market rate rent. Coburn and Ensign have lived at the C Street house, while Sanford has participated in its Bible study group.

According to the Washington Post the house is owned by Youth With a Mission D.C. Youth With a Mission is one of the most extensive Christian fundamentalist para-church organizations on Earth, and YWAM founder leader Loren Cunningham has publicly outlined a vision for Christian world-control.

n a 2008 promotional video, "Reclaiming 7 Mountains of Culture", Loren Cunningham describes a vision he shared along with the late Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer, in which Christian fundamentalists could achieve world domination by taking over key sectors of society such as business, government, media, and education.

Francis Schaeffer is widely credited as one of the most influential theologians of the 20th Century Christian right. Among the myriad ministries of Bill Bright's behemoth Campus Crusade For Christ is the Washington D.C. ministry Christian Embassy that targets Pentagon leaders for evangelizing.

The C Street House is run by a secretive Washington ministry known as The Family, or The Fellowship. Over the past year and a half, The Family has gradually come to public attention, mainly due to journalist and Harpers contributing editor Jeff Sharlet's ground breaking bookThe Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The Family runs the yearly National Prayer Breakfast and maintains a network of Capital Hill prayer groups which have enjoyed the participation of both top GOP but also top Democratic Party Congress and Senate members.

The Family runs but does not own the C Street House. According to a June 26th, 2009 Washington Post story, by Manuel Roig-Franzia, "The Political Enclave That Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Sanford and Ensign Scandals Open a Door On Previously Secretive 'C Street' Spiritual Haven", the C Street House is owned by a "little-known organization called Youth With a Mission of Washington DC."

Youth With a Mission is a global Christian evangelical organization founded in 1960 which, declares YWAM, is "currently operating in more than 1000 locations in over 149 countries, with a staff of nearly 16,000."

As Cunningham introduces Reclaim 7 Mountains of Culture, "It was August, 1975... and the Lord had given me, that day a list of things that I had never thought about before. He said, 'This is the way to reach America, and nations, for God.' "

The video continues with a narrator who declares, "In every city of the world, an unseen battle rages for dominion over God's creation and the souls of people. This battle is fought on seven strategic fronts, looming like mountains over the culture, that shape and influence its destiny. Over the years, the church slowly retreated from its place of influence on these mountains, leaving a void now filled with darkness. When we lose our influence, we lose the culture and when we lose the culture we fail to advance the kingdom of God. And now, a generation stands in desperate need. It's time to fight for them and take back these mountains of influence."

Reclaim 7 Mountains of Culture then outlines seven areas of influence for Christian fundamentalists to reclaim:

  • The Mountain of Government, "where evil is either restrained or endorsed",
  • The Mountain of Education, "where truths, or lies, about God and his creation are taught.",
  • The Mountain of Media, "where information is interpreted through the lens of good or evil",
  • The Mountain of Arts and Entertainment, "where values and virtue are celebrated or distorted",
  • The Mountain of Religion, "where people worship God in spirit and truth, or settle for a religious ritual",
  • The Mountain of Family, "where either a blessing or a curse is passed onto successive generations and,
  • The Mountain of Business, "where people build for the glory of God or the glory of man."

The last is the key mountain, proclaims the video: "those who lead this mountain influences what controls our culture."

Youth With a Mission also runs a global Christian evangelism educational ministry headquartered at the University of the Nations 45 acre campus in Kona, Hawaii.

As one example in which organizations such as YWAM are implementing the Reclaiming the 7 Seven Mountains agenda, the university has developed programs to provide its students with real world skills such as media and film production.

One of the graduates from the Kona university is Loren Cunningham's son, David Loren Cunningham, who founded the Film Institute in 2004 with other University of Nations students, to place students in the film industry in order to transform Hollywood from within. Cunningham directed Path to 911, the controversial television film aired on ABC on September 10 and 11, 2006 and covered at The Huffington Post by journalist Max Blumenthal.

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