Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Democracy Now: Roundtable on NYPD surveillance (includes NYT's Jim Dwyer); Ruth Conniff, Ralph Nader and Katrina vanden Heuvel

Editors of Barrons Suggests Bush Committed Impeachable Offenses
The latest call for the possible impeachment of President Bush is coming from an unexpected quarter -- the prominent business publication Barrons. The editors of Barrons have criticized Bush for authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without court warrants. The editors wrote "Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. ... Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later."

U.S. Airstikes In Iraq Up Fivefold This Year
In news on Iraq -- the Washington Post is reporting the number of airstrikes carried out each month by U.S. has increased almost fivefold this year, from roughly 25 in January to 120 last month. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in the airstrikes is unknown. Medical workers recorded 97 civilians died from U.S. airstrikes around the city of Qaim in early November.

Student Admits to Book Watch List Hoax
And in Massachusetts a college student has admitted he fabricated a story about being questioned by federal agents for seeking to borrow a book by written by Mao. The report first appeared in the Standard-Times in New Bedford Massachusetts and was picked up around the world. The student initially told his professors about the visit and claimed Mao's Little Red Book was on a watch list of books.

Telcoms Reportedly Aided NSA in Domestic Surveillance
Meanwhile new questions are being raised about the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance program inside the United States. Both the New York Times and Boston Globe have run a series of articles suggesting the extent of unchecked domestic surveillance is far greater than previously reported. The White House has admitted the NSA has monitored the calls of individuals with suspected ties to Al Qaeda but the Globe is reporting that in fact the NSA has been using computers to monitor and datamine all international phone and Internet communications by Americans. The Times also revealed that the U.S. telecom companies agreed to give the NSA "backdoor access" to all of their networks.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Megan, Sam, myself and Lucy. "Myself." I selected the third item, re: student's false testimony to the press (and the college and his parents). (Or today it's 'false.')
I know we linked to one column about it but that may have been all. (Mainly because Rebecca had a "little black dress" joke she was planning to do re: the news story -- now "news" story -- so I don't think we stressed it at this site.) But as of this moment, the student has recanted his statements. And you heard, watched or read that the student has admitted to false claims on Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for December 27, 2005

- Memorials Mark South Asian Tsunami of 2004
- Oxfam: 300,000 New Houses Still Need to Be Built in Region
- Report: Fed Agents Monitored Muslim Site in D.C. Area
- Telcoms Reportedly Aided NSA in Domestic Surveillance
- Bush Pressured WPost and NYTimes to Not Run Articles
- Editors of Barrons Suggests Bush Committed Impeachable Offenses
- U.S. Airstrikes In Iraq Up Fivefold This Year
- Families Seek Release of Christian Peacemaker Team Activists

Critical Mass Bike Rides Face Police Crackdown

Cycling advocates have faced targeted surveillance and policing over the past year. We bring you excerpts from the documentary "Still We Ride," which traces the police crackdown on Critical Mass bike rides in New York City since the Republican National Convention. [includes rush transcript]

New Video Evidence Shows NYPD Covert Surveillance of Cyclists and Protests

We host a roundtable discussion on covert police surveillance of demonstrations in New York City. Newly released video tape shows what the New York Times describes as "the robust presence of disguised officers" since the Republican National Convention in August 2004. We speak with the New York Police Department, I-Witness video, and The New York Times.

"It's An Excellent Relationship": NYPD on Police - CIA Links

New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Paul Browne, described the ties between the NYPD and the the CIA as "an excellent relationship" on today's edition of Democracy Now!

Brent wondered if there were a lot of e-mails about stories in the Times this morning. (I made a comment about that being all we were focusing on in "Other Items" this morning)? No. There was just KeShawn's. There were e-mails for Kat (remember, she did three days in a row of contributions starting Friday -- commenting on Carly Simon's No Secrets, James Blunt's Back to Bedlam and Bright Eyes' Motion Sickness) and for Martha & Shirley. Those e-mails were forwarded on. Other topics in the e-mails? The hope that we'll continue to focus on the spying. (We'll try to hit hard on it at least until the mainstream media comes off their winter break on January 2nd or 3rd next week.) Let me leave parenthetical on that for a moment.

Let's say you're famous. Let's say you're married. Let's say it's over. When do you announce it? One of the best times is Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone's on holiday so it won't get as much traction as it would otherwise. Another good time is the period we're in now due to so many in the mainstream press being on vacation.

So we'll continue to note the spying and other things may fall through the cracks for now. But that's why we were all hitting on the topic last week (Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Elaine and myself).

Other big topic in the morning e-mail was Folding Star with some noting you miss A Winding Road and some newer members asking who Folding Star is?

For new members, Folding Star was the first community member to start their own site, A Winding Road. Around the 4th of July, FS closed shop on the site. Via blog spotlights, you can read entries at The Third Estate Sunday Review (such as this one on Barbara Boxer). I also interviewed Folding Star for The Third Estate Sunday Review.
So you can check those things out if you're interested.

Another big topic is where is . . . For instance, Pacifica? All audio programs have been moved under Free Speech Radio News. That includes Law & Disorder (use permalinks on the left) which is a new addition (and a favorite of Ruth's). I have more work to do on the permalinks and will hopefully have that done before the year draws to a close. Thanks to Doug for pointing out that CounterPunch is up twice. CounterPunch, Consortium News and Common Dreams all moved up due to the polling on that in the gina & krista round-robin. In addition, there are new permalinks. So if you use them or if you're just curious, take a look.

Now let's note impeachment (a topic in many e-mails).

First, Lloyd e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's "Impeachment Buzz" (Ruth Conniff's Weekly Column, The Progressive):

What sense does it make that some of the same Washington media and political leaders who countenanced the Clinton impeachment over a semen-stained dress, somberly intoning about the "rule of law," consider impeaching Bush beyond the pale?
No sense at all.
The question about impeaching Bush has nothing to do with legal grounds, and everything to do with politics.
But in the last few weeks, the political climate has been changing, so that more people are seriously considering whether Bush has committed one or more impeachable offenses. The revelations about Bush's spying on Americans through the NSA helped change things a bit.
Representatives Johns Conyers and John Lewis and Senator Barbara Boxer are talking, in public, about impeachment now.

Pam e-mails to note Ralph Nader's "Talkin' About the "I"-Word" (CounterPunch):

An illegal, criminal war means that every related U.S. death and injury, every related Iraqi civilian death and injury, every person tortured, every home and building destroyed become war crimes as a result - under established international law.
There are those on talk radio or cable shows who scoff at international law. They rarely tell their audiences that the United States has played a key role in establishing these treaties, like the Geneva Conventions, and the United Nations Charter. When these treaties are agreed to by the U.S. government, they become as binding as our federal laws.
By these legal standards and by the requirements of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, the war-declaring authority), George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are probably the most impeachable President and Vice President in American history. An illegal war based on lies, deceptions, cover-ups and their repetition even after being told by officials in their own administration -- not to mention critical retired generals, diplomats and security specialists -- of their falsity should have prodded the House of Representatives into initiating impeachment proceedings. But then, Bush did not lie under oath about sex.
A majority of the American people have turned against this war-quagmire, against its intolerable human and economic costs, against the increased danger this war is bringing to our nation's interests. They want the soldiers to return safely home. In increasing numbers they sense what Bush's own CIA Director, Porter Goss, told the U.S. Senate last February. He noted, along with other officials since then, that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are like a magnet attracting and training more terrorists from more countries who will return to their nations and cause trouble. Many national security experts have said, in effect, you do not fight terrorists with policies that produce more terrorists.
Now comes the most recent, blatant impeachable offense -- Bush ordering the spying on Americans in our country by the National Security Agency. This disclosure stunned many N.S.A. staff who themselves view domestic surveillance as anathema, according to Matthew M. Aid, a current historian of the agency.

Brandon notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The I-Word is Gaining Ground" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

In 1998, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, currently under indictment on corruption charges, proclaimed: "This nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law...The other road is the path of least resistance" in which "we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us...[and] close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking...and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system." That arbiter of moral politics was incensed about the possibility of Bill Clinton escaping unpunished for his "crimes."
Fast forward to December 2005. Not one official in the entire Bush Administration has been fired or indicted, not to mention impeached, for the shedding of American blood in Iraq or for the shredding of our Constitution at home. As Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter put it--hours after the New York Times reported that Bush had authorized NSA wiretapping of US citizens without judicial warrants--this President has committed a real transgression that "goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power."
In the last months, several organizations, including AfterDowningStreet, Impeach Central and ImpeachPAC.org, have formed to urge Bush's impeachment. But until very recently, their views were virtually absent in the so-called "liberal" MSM, and could only be found on the Internet and in street protests.
But the times they are a' changin'. The I-word has moved from the marginal to the mainstream--although columnists like Charles "torture-is-fine-by-me" Krauthammer would like us to believe that "only the most brazen and reckless and partisan" could support the idea. In fact, as Michelle Goldberg reports in Salon, "in the past few days, impeachment "has become a topic of considered discussion among constitutional scholars and experts (including a few Republicans), former intelligence officers, and even a few politicians." Even a moderately liberal columnist like Newsweek's Alter sounds like The Nation, observing: "We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator."
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