I am writing to demand that you appoint a special counsel to investigate the Bush Administration's use of
domestic NSA wiretaps without FISA court authorization.
Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 to balance national security with civil
liberties by requiring judicial authorization of domestic wiretaps. FISA even gives the President a 72-hour grace period
to start a wiretap before coming back for retroactive judicial approval - to ensure that law enforcement can react quickly
to imminent threats.
FISA is the only legal process for obtaining secret domestic wiretaps. Yet President Bush apparently
believes he is above the law, even though this carefully constructed surveillance review process was good enough for 4 Presidents
It's time to thoroughly investigate the Bush Administration's practice of authorizing secret, warrant-less
domestic wiretaps outside of the FISA process.
If you, as the nation's highest ranking law enforcement officer, insist on defending this illegal policy,
then it's time to step aside and allow an independent investigation to move forward without you. It's time to end this
clear conflict of interest and authorize a special counsel.
The American people are watching. I urge you to act.
Three weeks after I took the oath of office in the Senate in 1975, then-Majority Leader Mike Mansfield appointed me to
a newly created committee -- the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities,
which soon came to be known as the "Church Committee," after its chairman, the late Sen. Frank Church of Idaho. Out of 11
members, I was by far the youngest.
The Senate had impaneled the committee because of increasing reports of abuse of authority by the country's myriad intelligence
agencies under the Nixon administration as well as previous administrations. For two years, the committee investigated broadly
-- the CIA, FBI, DIA and NSA were all within its purview -- and finally, in 1976, it issued a series of recommendations designed
to prevent future abuses.
Today, one has only to consider the behavior of the Bush administration during the Iraq war to appreciate how soon we forget,
how little we learn and how pervasive is the tendency to violate civil and constitutional liberties in the name of war. Virtually
all of the reforms recommended by the Church Committee -- many of which were passed into law -- have been evaded, ignored
or violated in the name of the "war on terrorism."
It is often said that the first victim of war is the truth. In fact, the first victim of American war is the liberty of
During our investigations of intelligence abuse, we discovered that the government had engaged in widespread surveillance
of a very large number of American citizens. Civil rights leaders were monitored. Antiwar groups were under surveillance.
Domestic phones were tapped. Mail was opened. The FBI conducted warrantless "black bag" break-ins of private residences and
offices. We wrote an entire report on warrantless electronic surveillance by the FBI -- exactly what the NSA has now been
authorized to do by the president.
One particularly egregious program, code-named COINTELPRO, went beyond the mere collection of intelligence on domestic
groups to actually trying to "disrupt" or "neutralize" target groups. The excuse given by the FBI and others was, "We are
at war, and we need to do everything we can to defeat our enemy." Sound familiar?
In some cases, the intelligence services even turned violent. The CIA, for instance, conducted the infamous Phoenix program
that resulted in the systematic assassination of thousands of Vietnamese villagers accused of collaborating with the Viet
Cong. This was the 1970s version of Abu Ghraib. During the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations we tried (with obsessive
insistence in the case of Fidel Castro) to assassinate at least six foreign leaders. Too bad we didn't have the Predator then.
It would have been much simpler.
Our committee's work resulted in many reforms. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 required special intelligence
courts to approve national security wiretaps. The Bush administration, however, has found that statute inconvenient and, predictably,
has ignored it.
Our committee also recommended presidential "findings" before extraordinary covert operations were undertaken. This was
not designed to undermine the CIA but to protect it; until then it had been left dangling in the wind when misused by presidents
who wished to claim "plausible deniability."
That reform surfaced during another period of political abuse -- the infamous Iran-Contra affair, involving Bible-shaped
cakes, trading with the enemy, lying to Congress and avoidance of accountability. It turns out that President Reagan, contrary
to his own memory, had signed a "finding" authorizing the whole bizarre episode.
Again to support the CIA, our panel laid the groundwork for the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act that prevented
identification of CIA operatives. This was the act that now appears to have been violated by at least half of the Bush White
House in its demented efforts to punish Ambassador Joe Wilson by "outing" his undercover wife.
So what goes around, comes around. Here we are again, 30 years later, in yet another unwise war, no wiser and once again
willing to sacrifice constitutional liberties for security expediency. If there was one lesson all of us who served on the
Church Committee learned, it was that there are no secrets, that everything comes out and that the sacrifice of liberty is
almost never justified by improved security.
If the U.S. is to prevail, it must grow up. It must learn from its mistakes, and not repeat them. It must finally understand
that our security cannot be ensured by sacrifice of our own liberties.
JUNE 15 2006
KNOCKING NOT REQUIRED BY
POLICE WITH A WARRANT
Top Court Upholds
No-Knock police search
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 15, 7:05 PM ET
Supreme Court made it easier Thursday for police to barge into homes and seize evidence without knocking or waiting, a sign
of the court's new conservatism with Samuel Alito on board.
court, on a 5-4 vote, said judges cannot throw out evidence collected by police who have search warrants but do not properly
announce their arrival.
a significant rollback of earlier rulings protective of homeowners, even unsympathetic homeowners like Booker Hudson, who
had a loaded gun next to him and cocaine rocks in his pocket when Detroit police entered his unlocked home in 1998 without
court's five-member conservative majority, anchored by new Chief Justice John Roberts and Alito, said that police blunders
should not result in "a get-out-of-jail-free card" for defendants.
justices predicted that police will now feel free to ignore previous court rulings requiring officers with search warrants
to knock and announce themselves to avoid running afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.
knock-and-announce rule is dead in the United States," said David Moran,
professor who represented Hudson. "There are going to be a
lot more doors knocked down. There are going to be a lot more people terrified and humiliated."
said the ruling will help police do their jobs.
who are caught red-handed with evidence of guilt have one less weapon to get off," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of
the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
case provides the clearest sign yet of the court without Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Hudson had lost his case in
a Michigan appeals court. Justices agreed to hear his appeal
last June, four days before O'Connor's surprise announcement that she was retiring.
was still on the bench in January when his case was first argued, and she seemed ready to vote with Hudson. "Is there no policy of protecting the home owner a little bit and the sanctity of
the home from this immediate entry?" she asked.
retired before the case was decided, and a new argument was held this spring so that Alito could participate, apparently to
break a 4-4 tie.
justices, including Alito and Roberts, would have given prosecutors a more sweeping victory but did not have the vote of Justice
Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate conservative.
Allen, a Northwestern University Law professor, said the ruling "suggests those four would be happy to consider overturning"
a 1961 Supreme Court opinion that said evidence collected in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used in trials. "It
would be a significant change," he said.
joined in most of the ruling but wrote to explain that he did not support ending the knock requirement. "It bears repeating
that it is a serious matter if law enforcement officers violate the sanctity of the home by ignoring the requisites of lawful
entry," he said.
said that legislatures can intervene if police officers do not "act competently and lawfully." He also said that people whose
homes are wrongly searched can file a civil rights lawsuit.
Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that there are public-interest law firms and attorneys who specialize in civil
Detroit police acknowledge violating
the knock-and-announce rule when they called out their presence at Hudson's
door, failed to knock, then went inside three seconds to five seconds later. The court has endorsed longer waits, of 15 seconds
to 20 seconds. Hudson was convicted of drug possession.
that preliminary misstep had occurred or not, the police would have executed the warrant they had obtained, and would have
discovered the gun and drugs inside the house," Scalia wrote.
justices complained in the dissent that the decision erases more than 90 years of Supreme Court precedent.
weakens, perhaps destroys, much of the practical value of the Constitution's knock-and-announce protection," Justice Stephen
Breyer wrote for himself and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
said that while police departments can be sued, there is no evidence of anyone collecting much money in such cases.
SAN FRANCISCO--A federal district judge on Friday rejected the Bush administration's request to halt
a lawsuit that alleges AT&T unlawfully cooperated with a broad and unconstitutional government surveillance program.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the lawsuit could continue while a portion of it was being appealed, despite the
U.S. Justice Department's arguments that further hearings and other proceedings would consequently endanger national security.
"I do think these are matters we can proceed on," Walker said toward the end of the status conference here, which began
at 11 a.m. PST and was attended by around 50 attorneys from the government, nonprofit groups, class action law firms and major
Friday's ruling represents another preliminary victory for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed its lawsuit against AT&T in January. In its suit, the EFF charged that AT&T has opened its telecommunications facilities up to
the National Security Agency and continues to "to assist the government in its secret surveillance of millions of ordinary
The ruling is also a win for attorneys in 47 other cases against numerous large telecommunications providers. The cases
are in the process of being consolidated into one mammoth lawsuit in the northern district of California.
Last week, the Justice Department filed a 27-page request (click for PDF) saying at the least, the court should halt the AT&T case because any proceeding would "indirectly confirm or deny classified
facts and cause harm to the national security."
In July, Walker rejected the Justice Department's attempt to have the suit against AT&T dismissed. That prompted federal prosecutors to appeal to the 9th Circuit a few days later. Along with AT&T, Verizon Communications, BellSouth and Comcast, they urged Walker to delay the case
in front of him until the appeals courts reached a decision, which could take years, if it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The "entire process is fraught with risk," a Justice Department attorney said Friday. Bruce Ericson, an attorney for AT&T
at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said that more proceedings would be useless because all his client could put in "a public
answer" would be "a general denial."
After EFF's lawsuit was filed, reports of a secret room in an AT&T building in San Francisco surfaced and have become
central to the nonprofit group's litigation.
A former AT&T employee, Mark Klein, has released documents alleging the company spliced its fiber optic cables and
ran a duplicate set of cables to Room 641A at its 611 Folsom St. building. Improperly-redacted documents seen by CNET News.com show that AT&T has tried to offer benign reasons for the existence of such a room. (AT&T has publicly neither confirmed
nor denied cooperating with the National Security Agency.)
A second wave of suits
Another twist at Friday's status conference was what might happen if a second wave of lawsuits is added to the ones already
before Judge Walker.
A handful of state utility commissioners, including Vermont and Missouri, have tried to investigate whether the telecommunications
companies they regulate have illegally cooperated with the NSA.
In September, for instance, Vermont's Public Service Board said (PDF) Verizon could be ordered to disclose whether it has "provided local calling records to the NSA, whether Verizon provided
information to the NSA before February, 2006, and the conditions under which Verizon provides others with access to its customer
The Bush administration has taken legal action to halt those proceedings, once again invoking its "state secrets" authority
and claiming that information harmful to national security could be disclosed.
That second wave of cases "raises the same issues," a Justice Department lawyer said Friday, arguing it provided an additional
reason for delay so the court wouldn't have to hear the same issues twice.
But Walker let the cases proceed, setting a December 21 date to hear additional arguments including one from media organizations
for more openness, and a second one on January 11 to return to the question of whether to postpone proceedings during the
click for slide show of Gonzo
AP Photo: U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks about the warrantless surveillance program during a lecture series...
By CHASE SQUIRES, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 1 minute ago
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales contended Saturday that some critics of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance
program were defining freedom in a way that poses a "grave threat" to U.S. security.
Gonzales was the second administration official in two days to attack a federal judge's ruling last August that the program
was unconstitutional. Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday called the ruling "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."
Gonzales told about 400 cadets from the Air Force Academy's political science and law classes that some see the program
as on the verge of stifling freedom rather that protecting the country.
"But this view is shortsighted," he said. "Its definition of freedom — one utterly divorced from civic responsibility
— is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people."
Gonzales and Cheney's attacks on the court order came as the administration was urging the lame-duck Congress to approve
legislation authorizing the warrantless surveillance. The bill's chances are in doubt, however, because of Democratic opposition
in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to end debate and vote.
At a news conference, Gonzales would not speculate how the administration would react if Congress did not authorize warrantless
"We're optimistic because of the importance of this program, the success of the program, the stated commitment of the Democratic
leadership to work with us in protection of America, and that we're going to have a good discussion and dialogue about the
program," he said.
"We believe the president has the authority under the authorization of military force and inherent authority of the constitution
to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority," he said.
The administration has maintained that its warrantless surveillance program focuses on international calls involving suspected
terrorists, and dismisses charges that it is illegal because it bypasses federal law requiring a judge-issued warrant for
"It's absolutely essential that we maintain the tool," he told reporters. "It's been very, very important in protecting
America, and we look forward to working with Congress to find a way that we can supplement the president's authority, and
continue to maintain this as a valuable tool for the American people."
In August, the program was struck down by U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit, who said it violated the rights
to free speech and privacy and the constitutional separation of powers. She was the first judge to rule on the legality of
the program, which is operated by the National Security Agency.
The government has appealed. Bush and other administration officials argue that the program is legal under the president's
constitutional powers and has saved lives by helping to disrupt terrorist plots.
Speaking to the cadets, Gonzales dismissed as "myth" the charge that civil liberties were being sacrificed in the fight
against terrorism. He defended the Patriot Act and the handling of detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay,
"To achieve victory at the cost of eroding civil liberties would not really be a victory. We cannot change the core identity
of our nation and claim success," said Gonzales, an Air Force veteran who attended the Air Force Academy from 1975 to 1977.
LAST August, a federal judge found that the president
of the United States broke the law, committed a serious felony and violated the Constitution.
Had the president been an ordinary citizen — someone charged with bank robbery or income tax evasion — the wheels
of justice would have immediately begun to turn. The F.B.I. would have conducted an investigation, a United States attorney’s office would have impaneled a grand jury and charges
would have been brought.
But under the Bush Justice
Department, no F.B.I. agents were ever dispatched to padlock White House files or knock on doors and no federal prosecutors
ever opened a case.
The ruling was the result
of a suit, in which I am one of the plaintiffs, brought against the National Security Agency by the American Civil Liberties
Union. It was a response to revelations by this newspaper in December 2005 that the agency had been monitoring the phone calls
and e-mail messages of Americans for more than four years without first obtaining warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
In the past, even presidents
were not above the law. When the F.B.I. turned up evidence during Watergate that Richard Nixon had obstructed justice by trying
to cover up his involvement, a special prosecutor was named and a House committee recommended that the president be impeached.
And when an independent
counsel found evidence that President Bill Clinton had committed perjury in the Monica Lewinsky case, the impeachment machinery
again cranked into gear, with the spectacle of a Senate trial (which ended in acquittal).
Laws are broken, the
federal government investigates, and the individuals involved — even if they’re presidents — are tried and,
if found guilty, punished. That is the way it is supposed to work under our system of government. But not this time.
Last Aug. 17, Judge Anna
Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit
issued her ruling in the A.C.L.U. case. The president, she wrote, had “undisputedly violated” not only the First
and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, but also statutory law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Enacted by a
bipartisan Congress in 1978, the FISA statute was a response to revelations that the National Security Agency had conducted
warrantless eavesdropping on Americans. To deter future administrations from similar actions, the law made a violation a felony
punishable by a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.
Yet despite this ruling,
the Bush Justice Department never opened an F.B.I. investigation, no special prosecutor was named, and there was no talk of
impeachment in the Republican-controlled Congress.
Justice Department lawyers
argued last June that warrants were not required for what they called the administration’s “terrorist surveillance
program” because of the president’s “inherent powers” to order eavesdropping and because of the Congressional
authorization to use military force against those responsible for 9/11. But Judge Taylor rejected both arguments, ruling that
even presidents must obey statutory law and the Constitution.
On Jan. 17, Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales unexpectedly declared that President Bush had ended the program, deciding to again seek warrants
in all cases. Exactly what kind of warrants — individual, as is required by the law, or broad-based, which would probably
still be illegal — is as yet unknown.
The action may have been
designed to forestall a potentially adverse ruling by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati,
which had scheduled oral arguments on the case for today. At that hearing, the administration is now expected to argue that
the case is moot and should be thrown out — while reserving the right to restart the program at any time.
But that’s a bit
like a bank robber coming into court and arguing that, although he has been sticking up banks for the past half-decade, he
has agreed to a temporary halt and therefore he shouldn’t be prosecuted. Independent of the A.C.L.U. case, a criminal
investigation by the F.B.I. and a special prosecutor should begin immediately. The question that must finally be answered
is whether the president is guilty of committing a felony by continuously reauthorizing the warrantless eavesdropping program
for the past five years. And if so, what action must be taken?
The issue is not original.
Among the charges approved by the House Judiciary Committee when it recommended its articles of impeachment against President
Nixon was “illegal wiretaps.” President Nixon, the bill charged, “caused wiretaps to be placed on the telephones
of 17 persons without having obtained a court order authorizing the tap, as required by federal law; in violation of Sections
241, 371 and 2510-11 of the Criminal Code.”
Under his program, President
Bush could probably be charged with wiretapping not 17 but thousands of people without having obtained a court order authorizing
the taps as required by federal law, in violation of FISA.
It is not only the federal
court but also many in Congress who believe that a violation of law has taken place. In a hearing on Jan. 18, the chairman
of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont,
said, “For years, this administration has engaged in warrantless wiretapping of Americans contrary to the law.”
His view was shared by
the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia,
who said of Mr. Bush, “For five years he has been operating an illegal program.”
And Senator Arlen Specter,
the Pennsylvania Republican who is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, noted that much of the public was opposed
to the program and that it both hurt the country at home and damaged its image abroad. “The heavy criticism which the
president took on the program,” he said, “I think was very harmful in the political process and for the reputation
of the country.”
To allow a president
to break the law and commit a felony for more than five years without even a formal independent investigation would be the
ultimate subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law. As Judge Taylor warned in her decision, “There are no hereditary
kings in America.”
Electronic Frontier Foundation
news alert posted on 2/15/2008
. : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : *
Civil Liberties Groups Sue Homeland Security for Records on Intrusive Questioning and Searches of U.S. Travelers Information Sought in Response to Growing Complaints of Harassment at U.S. Borders San Francisco - The Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF) filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for denying access to public records on the
questioning and searches of travelers at U.S. borders. Filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the suit responds
to growing complaints by U.S. citizens and immigrants of excessive or repeated screenings by U.S. Customs and Border
Protection agents. ALC, a San Francisco-based civil rights organization, received
more than 20 complaints from Northern California residents last year who said they were grilled about their families,
religious practices, volunteer activities, political beliefs, or associations when returning to the United States from
travels abroad. In addition, customs agents examined travelers' books, business cards collected from friends and colleagues,
handwritten notes, personal photos, laptop computer files, and cell phone directories, and sometimes made copies of
this information. When individuals complained, they were told, "This is the border, and you have no rights." "When the government searches your books, peers into your computer, and demands
to know your political views, it sends the message that free expression and privacy disappear at our nation's doorstep,"
said Shirin Sinnar, staff attorney at ALC. "The fact that so many people face these searches and questioning every time
they return to the United States, not knowing why and unable to clear their names, violates basic notions of fairness
and due process." ALC and EFF asked DHS to disclose its policies on questioning
travelers on First Amendment-protected activities, photocopying individuals' personal papers, and searching laptop computers
and other electronic devices. The agency failed to meet the 20-day time limit that Congress has set for responding to
public information requests, prompting the lawsuit. "The public has
the right to know what the government's standards are for border searches," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.
"Laptops, phones, and other gadgets include vast amounts of personal information. When will agents read your email?
When do they copy data, where is it stored, and for how long? How will this information follow you throughout your life?
The secrecy surrounding border search policies means that DHS has no accountability to America's travelers." When Nabila Mango, an American citizen and San Francisco therapist, returned
from a trip to the Middle East in December, customs agents at San Francisco International Airport asked her to name
every person she had met and every place she had slept during her travels. They also searched her Arabic music books,
business cards, and cell phone, and may have photocopied some of her papers. "In
my 40 years in this country, I have never felt as vulnerable as I did during that interrogation," Mango said. "I want
to find out whether my government is keeping files on me and other Americans based on our associations and ideas." Amir Khan, an IT consultant from Fremont, California, and a U.S. citizen, is
stopped each time he returns to the country. Customs officials have questioned him for a total of more than 20 hours
and have searched his laptop computer, books, personal notebooks, and cell phone. Despite filing several complaints,
Khan has yet to receive an explanation of why he is repeatedly singled out. "One
customs officer even told me that no matter what I do, nothing would improve," said Khan. "Why do I have to part with
my civil liberties each time I return home?" For a copy of the
complaint: http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/alc/alc-complaint.pdf For this release: http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2008/02/07
Angry Customers Boycott AT&T
After Congress Grants Telecom Immunity
Debbie Morgan, August 29, 2008
I am not sure people really understand
just what took place in Congress this summer with regard to the NSA illegal wiretapping program.Simply put, AT&T, Verizon, and the other telecom companies that, according to articles in the USA Today
and the Washington Post, participated in an ongoing illegal spy network, will now receive retroactive immunity back to 2001
for breaking the law at the Bush Administration’s request.HR 6304 is a
treasonous and outright assault on our Fourth Amendment right to privacy; yet our Congress voted for this legislation with
almost 70 percent of the members having never been briefed on the President’s illegal data-mining program to begin with.
United States citizens found out
about the seditious actions of the Bush Administration and the Telecoms in a December 2005 article by The New York Times.Surprisingly, it seems, many people missed that article until the administration started
spouting off about acquiring immunity for the lawbreaking Telecoms.The administration
says they needed the aggressive program to combat terrorism.And, while the Bush
Administration and AT&T, specifically, claim they did nothing illegal, one has to wonder why it was that close to a dozen
“former and current government officials” were concerned “about the operation's legality and oversight,”
according to the NY Times article.
“Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky
because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds…” states the article.You would think that people who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution
against all enemies, foreign and domestic would have realized the illegality of their actions!With the blessings of President Bush, senior administration lawyers, and others, they chose to blatantly attack a fundamental
right of being an American; our right to privacy.
USA Today reported in May 2006 that President Bush did authorize the NSA’s
warrantless wiretapping program and that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth were “working under contract” soon after
the “terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” according to their source.However, in a Washington Post and a Los Angeles Times article about the insider trading conviction of Qwest CEO Joseph
Nacchio, we find out that Qwest (one of the only large telecoms to deny the government spy request) was approached about the
program in February of 2001, over six months BEFORE the September 11, 2001 tragedy.If, as these articles state, the much-needed illegal program to combat terrorism started PRIOR TO the attacks, why
weren’t these attacks prevented, and, since they weren’t, why was the unlawful program continued?
Outraged at the fact that my family has been a loyal AT&T customer for decades, we decided to take a stand:we are canceling our service.Having
had many elongated conversations with the courteous people in Customer Service at AT&T, it has come to our attention just
how many people in this huge company, have no idea or understanding of what their employer has done.In talking with many of my own family and friends, it is clear that very few people, in fact, comprehend
the egregiousness of the past several years of abuses by the NSA and the telecoms.
While conversing with AT&T about
our desire to be released from our contracts, we were told they had no intentions of releasing us from our contracts, because
they did nothing wrong, they did not release any of our information and they had read the “stories” on the internet,
too.Internet rumor, is it?Then
why, I asked, did Congress have to pass HR 6304, giving the telecoms retroactive immunity for the program, if the telecoms
did nothing wrong!And you know, the AT&T representative said something that
I could actually agree with…“Congress passes laws all the time that
Okay.So if as you say, AT&T did nothing wrong, address the following, please:
1) Why did Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s ruling find the program illegal
and specifically state that the secret program was acknowledged by the Bush Administration, “undisputedly inaugurated
by the National Security Agency” and “without benefit of warrant or other judicial approval?”
2) Why didn’t Judge Vaughn Walker dismiss the Tash Hepting v AT&T
case altogether?Why did Judge Walker, in the same case affirm “AT&T
and the government have for all practical purposes already disclosed that AT&T assists the government in monitoring communication
3) Why does the Hepting v AT&T ruling state, in official court documents,
that “Considering the ubiquity of AT&T telecommunications services, it is unclear whether this program could even
exist without AT&T’s acquiescence and cooperation” and “AT&T’s history of cooperating with
the government on such matters is well known.”
4) Where are the official certifications required to prove that what you did
was legal?After all, you could have saved time in court and the cost of your
lawyers by just producing these certifications.
5) Judge Walker, citing the Keith Decision, said the Supreme Court made it perfectly
clear that the “Fourth Amendment does not permit warrantless wiretaps to track domestic threats to national security.
This article van be found on this "original link below:
Now, AT&T, you were saying something about an Internet rumor?While the Congress voted to give AT&T retroactive immunity for their “alleged” illegal
actions, I do not.It is time to fess up and take responsibility for your actions
in this assault on our Right to Privacy.
Russel Tice, who has worked for more than 20 years for the National Security Agency (NSA),
recently admitted being the informer that enabled the New York Times to disclose the case of secret tapping.
Russel Tice, who specialized for long time in this type of service, told ABC
news that several espionage operations conducted by the NSA were against the law. He further indicated that they had the
technological means to tap private and international calls in US soil, contrary to what President Bush might say.
“The idea was to say that we had resorted to all means to stop the terrorists
and we would do whatever it takes to achieve that”, he told the US television network.
Today, he is willing to tell Congress everything he knows regarding secret tapping, and
programs organized by the Defence Department on the heels of the September 11 attacks.
A federal judge is dismissing lawsuits accusing the government of teaming with the nation’s telcos to funnel Americans’
electronic communications to the National Security Agency without warrants.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision was a major blow to the two suits testing warrantless eavesdropping
and executive branch powers implemented following the 2001 terror attacks. The San Francisco judge said the courts are not
available to the public to mount that challenge.
He noted that the plaintiffs include most every American connected to the internet or to have used a telephone —
meaning the lawsuits boil down to a “general grievance” and are barred. The decision came days after a government
audit showed the telecom companies and FBI collaborated for four years, between 2003 and 2007, to violate federal wiretapping laws.
Judge Walker said that the lawsuits, in essence, cannot be brought because they are “citizen suits seeking to employ
judicial remedies to punish and bring to heel high-level government officials for the allegedly illegal and unconstitutional
warrantless electronic surveillance program or programs now widely, if incompletely, aired in the public forum.”
Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation that brought one of the cases, said the decision means
“when you’re trying to stop the government from doing something illegal, and if the government does it to enough
people, the courts can’t fix it.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which said it would appeal Walker’s order, and others originally brought suit
against AT&T and other telecommunication companies in 2006. That was a month after President George W. Bush acknowledged
a Terror Surveillance Program after it was disclosed in The New York Times.
The EFF, based on a former AT&T’s documentation, claims the program was, and continues to be a dragnet where carriers funnel customer communications to the National Security Agency without warrants. Bush, however, acknowledged the program as one in which his war powers
granted him the authority to monitor American’s telecommunications without warrants if the subject was communicating
with somebody overseas and was suspected of terrorism
Walker tossed the case against the telecommunication carriers (.pdf) in June, after Congress — with then-Sen. Barack Obama’s vote — immunized the carriers from being
sued for their alleged conduct. The 2008 legislation also authorized the Terror Surveillance Program as outlined by Bush.
That decision by Walker, which is on appeal, gave new focus to the two lawsuits targeting the government that Walker tossed
The Obama administration argued that the case decided Thursday should be dismissed on grounds it threatened to expose government
secrets, a legal privilege judges routinely rubber stamp. The government also asserted “sovereign immunity,” a
principle in which the government cannot be sued unless it has given consent.
Walker declined to rule on those arguments.
The ruling also elevates the importance of another lawsuit testing the president’s authority to spy on Americans
That suit involves two American lawyers accidentally given a “top secret” document showing they were eavesdropped
on by the government when working for a now-defunct Islamic charity in 2004. That case is pending before Walker.
About the Freedom of Information Act The Freedom of Information Act establishes a legal right for individuals to obtain records in the possession of government
agencies. The FOIA is critical for the functioning of democratic government because it helps ensure that the public is fully
informed about matters of public concern. The FOIA has helped uncover fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal government. It has become particularly important in the last few years as the government has tried to
keep more of its activities secret.