Thursday, January 26, 2006

Democracy Now: Mouin Rabbani & Robert Dreyfuss on Hamas, "Who goes to jail"; Rebecca, Feminist Wire, Betty, Cedric ...

JAMES BAMFORD: Jim Bamford. Good seeing you here in the Press Club, General. It would be good to see more of you here. Just to clarify sort of what's been said, from what I've heard you say here today in an earlier press conference, the change from going around the FISA law was to -- one of them was to lower the standard from what they called for, which is basically probable cause to reasonable basis, and then to take it away from a federal court judge, the FISA court judge, and hand it over to a shift supervisor at N.S.A. Is that what we're talking about here, just for clarification?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Yeah. You got most of it right. The people who make the judgment -- and the one you just referred to, there are only a handful of people at N.S.A. who can make that decision. They're all senior executives. They are all counterterrorism and al-Qaeda experts. So even though I -- you're actually quoting me back, Jim, saying shift supervisor -- to be more precise in what you just described, the person who makes that decision, very small handful, senior executives, so in military terms, a senior colonel or general officer equivalent, and in professional terms, people who know more about this than anyone else.
JAMES BAMFORD: Well, no. That wasn't the real question. The question I was asking, though, was since you lowered the standard, doesn't that decrease the protections of the U.S. citizens. And number two, if you could give us some idea of the genesis of this, did you come up with the idea? Did somebody in the White House come up with the idea? Where did the idea originate from?

The above, noted by Dallas, is from Tuesday's Democracy Now!, "Former NSA Head Gen. Hayden Grilled by Journalists on NSA Eavesdropping on U.S. Citizens."

Dallas wondered if I'd caught that? No. I was in DC Tuesday and missed listening. If I miss something someone in the community will pick it up (thanks to Dallas for the catch today); however, I wish I had known of that.

Wednesday morning, the entries are out of order (on the Times) as some have noticed. The second entry ("NYT: Lichtblau snoozes while Gonzales rewrites history") was supposed to be the "Other Items" which would include highlights and less of a critique. But Eric Lichtblau's "Gonzales Invokes Actions of Other Presidents in Defense of U.S. Spying" bothered me and I focused on the first entry while trying to figure out what it was *about the article that bothered me.* Then I remembered the "shift supervisor" remark, *made by "the White House" in a previous article Lichtblau co-wrote with James Risen,* and that I'd mocked that earlier:

Well, who needs the courts? We've got a shift supervisor! When not determing who can and can't be spied upon, does the shift supervisor also okay checks for large purchases? If the cheese I just purchased has mold on it, can the shift supervisor allow me to do an exchange or do I need to wait until regular business hours and speak to someone higher up?

*So on Wednesday I pointed out the inconsistency in Alberto Gonzales' new spin which was that he made the decision while earlier the talking point had been a "shift supervisor" did.* Since making an obvious point in the second entry on Wednesday the right wingers have been in a tizzy in their e-mails to the public account. So to any visitors still obsessing over it, James Bamford, far more knowledgable than I, had already made that point. It's not been "pulled out of thin air" as many seem to feel. *The White House said the call was made by a "shift supervisor."*

It's an important point and Bamford's the one to make it and make it strongly. Also, and also from Tuesday's Democracy Now!, Bonita highlighted something that we'll note later in another entry.

Report: Gonzales Says Bush Doesn't Need Patriot Act
The Boston Globe is reporting that Bush administration has apparently argued it is free to continue with the broad investigative powers granted by the USA Patriot Act – even if Congress does not extend the act. The Globe says the argument comes in a footnote in Attorney Alberto Gonzales' 42-page legal memo defending the NSA spy program. According to the Globe, Gonzales wrote Congress already gave President Bush the broad investigative authority when it authorized him to use force against Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks. Despite its apparent position, the White House has lobbied intensively for Congress to re-authorize the Patriot Act.

US Delays Decision on Luis Posada Carriles
This news on the case of detained Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles -- the US government has announced it will delay a decision on his extradition until April. In September, a U.S. immigration judge ruled Carriles won't be deported to Cuba or Venezuela, where he is wanted for his role in blowing up a Cuban jetliner in 1976 killing 73 people. A US immigration spokesperson said the government has not ruled out deporting Carriles to a third country. Meanwhile, in Cuba Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of Cubans held a rally outside the US interests section in Havana to protest Carriles' possible release. Venezuela is threatening to cut ties with the United States over its refusal to hand over Carriles.

Republican Sen. Lugar Calls For Release of Jean Juste
In other news, the Republican Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has called for the release of imprisoned Haitian priest Gerard Jean Juste. In a letter to interim Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, Republican Senator Richard Lugar: "I am very concerned that Roman Catholic priest father Gerard Jean-Juste, who is imprisoned in Haiti, is seriously ill". Medical experts are saying that if Father Jean-Juste contracts an infection, then the effects could be fatal. Without appropriate treatment, which is unavailable locally in Haiti, his life could be in jeopardy. Jean-Juste was jailed in July for a murder that occurred while he was out of the country. He's vehemently denied the charges. The Haitian government has failed to provide any evidence. This week, the Haitian government announced it was dropping those charges but keeping Jean Juste on two new charges of illegal weapons possession and criminal conspiracy. Supporters of Jean-Juste have argued the priest is a political prisoner being detained because of his close ties to the ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Keesha, Markus and West. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for January 26, 2006

- Hamas Wins Shocking Upset in Palestinian Elections
- US Delays Decision on Luis Posada Carriles
- GOP Sen. Lugar Calls For Release of Jean Juste
- Haitian Government Announces No Voting Stations for Cite Soleil
- NASA: 2005 Warmed Year On Record
- Study: Global Warming Threatens To Destroy Ocean’s Plankton
- Report: Gonzales Says Bush Doesn't Need Patriot Act
- Wiretapped Suspects Seek Dismissal of Terror Charges
- ACLU Challenges Patriot Act Clause For Barred Muslim Scholar
- US Announces Release of 5 Iraqi Women Prisoners
- Galloway Wins Libel Suit, Loses TV Reality Series

Hamas Wins Sweeping Victory in Palestinian Parliamentary Elections

In the Occupied Territories, unofficial results indicate Hamas has won a sweeping victory in the first Palestinian parliamentary elections in a decade. Israel and the United States have said they would not deal with a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas. We speak with Mouin Rabbani, senior Middle East analyst with the International Crisis Group about the surprise result.

How Israel and the United States Helped to Bolster Hamas

As Hamas wins an upset victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, we take a look at the little-known rise of the militant group with investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss, author of the new book "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam." In it, Dreyfuss reveals how the U.S. looked the other way when Israel's secret service supported the creation of Hamas.

U.S. Soldier Convicted of Murder Receives No Jail Time While Nonviolent Antiwar Protesters Sentenced to Six Months in Prison

Who goes to jail? While an army interrogator convicted of brutally killing an Iraqi general during receives no jail time, we look at the case of New York peace activists who have been sentenced to six months in jail for protesting war.

A number of e-mails came in asking about the Church Committee. I was wondering how everyone knew I was working on an entry on that and then Melanie noted in her e-mail that Rebecca had mentioned it. If you haven't read "the struggle continues," Wally's called it "an epic." Read it and see why.

Bonita's highlight would fit well in the thing I'm working on. I'd hoped to post something last night but hadn't expected that going through the Church Committee report would take so much time. Rebecca called at some point and said she'd be posting shortly so, a few hours later, when I realized how late it was, I just turned in.

People are supposed to be taking the time they need right now because everyone put a great deal of energy into the last few weeks. However, I had intended to post something last night. My apologies to anyone who was waiting for something to go up.

Stealing from Rebecca, we'll note this from the Feminist Wire:

PA: Anti-Choice Democratic Senate Candidate Casey Supports Alito
Robert Casey, an anti-choice Democrat who is challenging Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) in November, has outraged women's rights supporters by announcing his support for confirming Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
"It's very disturbing and should worry, I think, Pennsylvania women and civil rights advocates and people concerned about unchecked executive power to wiretap and eavesdrop on Americans," Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the Patriot News.

Casey's decision to support Alito shows that women "cannot count on a Senator Casey to protect our liberties," Michelman continued.
On the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito was the lone judge who voted to uphold a spousal notification requirement in Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act, a bill that Casey's father, then-Governor Robert P. Casey, Sr., had signed into law. The case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, was decided by the Supreme Court in 1992, which overturned Pennsylvania's harsh restrictions on abortion.
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP with The Smeal Report and the New Leif blogs at
TAKE ACTION Call your Senators and urge them to oppose Alito
DONATE Make an emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority's Save Roe Campaign. We must be a strong voice in this crucial fight to save Roe and the Supreme Court for women's rights.
Media Resources: Patriot News 1/25/06; Philadelphia Inquirer 1/25/06

By the way, I hope everyone's noted that Cedric and Betty did a joint entry on the church and sexuality. It's posted at both of their sites, "Alito and Inclusion" and "Found in the paper."

Tracey (Ruth's granddaughter) notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Emperor Bush -- As God, Mysterious and Omniscient" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

If NSA spying were really an issue of security, as the all-out media assault by the Bush administration claims it to be, it should accept the deal. But it's not. Rather this is all part of their neocon dream of an American Empire. You see, in a republic the lives of private citizens are private while the workings of public servants are public, but in an empire, Caesar's dealings remains shrouded in secrecy while he spies on citizens looking for threats to the regime. It is up to the Congress to put a stop to this idolatry: the emperor as God, mysterious and omniscient.

Also on the subject of the NSA, Martha notes, Danny Schechter's "Hamas In: What Next for Palestine?" (News Dissector):

Sherri Gosset of Cybercast News Service runs part two day of her investigative exclusive on the National Security Agency's harassment of critcs. Note CNS is a conservative site:
NSA Accused of Psychologically Abusing Whistleblowers
Five current and former National Security Agency employees have told *Cybercast News Service* that the agency frequently retaliates against whistleblowers by falsely labeling them "delusional," "paranoid" or "psychotic." 5Carchive%5C200601%5CSPE20060125a.html
The Washington Post reports today: "Rift Between Parties Over NSA Wiretapping Grows"

Now Rebecca's noted she's going out of town this weekend and she asked me to note this here. She's not going to be able to blog on Friday due to the departure time; however, she says "No boos and hisses! You're getting better than me!" Who?
Betty's going to grab Friday for Rebecca at her site. At Betty's site, Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Betty has to "stay in character" (Betinna is married to Thomas Friedman and the chapters are told from her point of view -- hence, the joint entry Betty did with Cedric makes it onto her site as "Found in the paper.")

So look for that. I think we'll all enjoy it.

The e-mail address for this site is

[C.I. Note: Additional remarks are indicated by "* . . . *" and were added thanks to Mike who called to say the site had disappeared and error message was all that came up when you tried to visit. That sometimes means a Blogger problem and sometimes it just means that we've had a lot of "traffic." Republishing should fix it if it's not a Blogger/Blogspot problem. Thanks to Mike for calling, for adding my additional comments and for republishing. His site is Mikey Likes It! and he should provide links to it in this note.]