Thursday, January 12, 2006

NYT: "F.B.I. Tries to Dispel Surveillance Concerns" (Lynette Clemetson)

John Pistole, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and John Miller, the bureau's assistant director of public affairs, tried to reassure those at the session that the surveillance of mosques and Muslim businesses and homes had been based on intelligence leads. "There was intelligence that talked about the desire to use a dirty bomb in the U.S.; there were statements from bin Laden indicating that he had those materials and that there were cells in the U.S. trained to blend into Muslim communities," Mr. Miller said after the meeting. "We explained how we work with intelligence and that we did what we did based on the patterns of Al Qaeda, not because of the patterns or activities of any mosque or Muslim neighborhood."
F.B.I. officials struck a conciliatory tone, several attendees said, and acknowledged that the bureau could have responded to their concerns more quickly. But Mr. Pistole offered few details on the monitoring, they said, and he emphasized that the program, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and lasted through 2003, remained classified.

The above is from Lynette Clemetson's "F.B.I. Tries to Dispel Surveillance Concerns" in this morning's New York Times.

FBI's position: "We spied on you, but don't worry, we had solid leads, like, apparently, we had on Jose Padilla. As with that case, you'll just have to take our word for it."

Nolanda notes that the Times website has a headline for an article entitled "Bush Is Resigned to Hearings on Domestic Spying" but clicking on it takes you to an article on the Gulf Coast region. The link is probably supposed to take you to an AP article like this version entitled "Bush Open to Hearings on Domestic Spying:"

Bush was initially opposed to having the program investigated in a public format, but made it clear that he is resigned to open hearings that are scheduled to begin in coming weeks.
Bush's decision to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor -- without warrants --people inside the United States has sparked a flurry of questions about the program's legal justification.

Lloyd notes Ruth's Conniff's "We Need to Hear More From Alito on Executive Power" (Ruth Conniff's Online Column, The Progressive):

We have heard a lot from Judge Sam Alito this week on various troubling issues in his record: his assertions in the 1980s that he was a proud opponent of Roe v. Wade, and a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton--a group then-famous for its opposition to female and minority enrollment.
Senator Leahy made a good point on the CAP issue. Perhaps it's believable that Alito was, as he said, an inactive member of the group not well acquainted with its activities when he joined. But thirty years later, when he mentioned his "proud membership" in the group on his job application to the Reagan Justice Department, there is no way he could have missed the news that other prominent alumni, including Bill Frist, had denounced CAP's retrograde positions. "You are a very careful and cautious person," Leahy said. Alito must surely have taken great care with that job application, and knew the implications of everything he put on it. Lindsey Graham had the best line on that and other instances of Alito's faulty memory: "I hope you'll understand if some of us come before a court and we can't remember Abramoff, you'll tend to believe us."
Ted Kennedy brought out Alito's record as a federal judge upholding abusive law-enforcement officers' behavior: strip-searching a ten-year-old girl, and pointing loaded guns at an unarmed family, after breaking into a home to enforce an eviction order.
But we have still not heard Alito provide a satisfactory answer to a direct question about the most important issue hovering over these hearings: executive power.
Alito backpedaled on a phrase in his 1985 job application to the Justice Department when Kennedy quoted it to him: "I believe very strongly in the supremacy of the elected branches of government."

Rod passes on the heads up to today's scheduled topic for Democarcy Now!:

Day Three of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

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