A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.
The concerns prompted two of President Bush's most senior aides -- Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general -- to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.
The unusual meeting was prompted because Mr. Ashcroft's top deputy, James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in his absence, had indicated he was unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects of the program, as required under the White House procedures set up to oversee it.
The above is from Eric Lichtblau and James Risen's front page article, "Justice Deputy Resisted Parts Of Spy Program," on the front page of this morning's New York Times. (Prime spot on the front page goes to Warren Hoge's article on the UN, or rather, on his attack of the UN's Human Rights Commission: "a persistent embarrassment because participation has been open to countries like Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe, current members who are themselves accused of gross rights abuses." Apparently Hoge's been out of the loop on extraordinary rendention and the torture policies of the Bully Boy's administration.) So, back to Lichtblau and Risen, did Ashcroft approve the program? Neither he nor the White House is talking. But apparently the administration expects America will take comfort in the fact that they have a system in place to determine who will be spied upon: "The decision on whether someone is believed to be linked to Al Qaeda and should be monitored is left to a shift supervisor at the agency, the White House said." 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?
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts that posted earlier this morning is already a big hit judging by the e-mails. Susan wonders if it's a take on the famous Mama Cass/Cass Eliott photo where she's nude among daisies and sniffing one? I thought that when Jess told me about it as well. (Jess was the first to find it in the e-mails. I belive that was Friday.) If you've missed it, Bully Boy's in a field of blood and bones.
You'll see it again in our year-in-review which will not be going up shortly. I've been up all night. As soon as this posts, I'll post Isaiah's latest (yes, you get two The World Today Just Nuts this morning) and then go to bed. Be sure to check out The Third Estate Sunday Review.
There you'll find a feature on movies with New Year's themes, a "feature on what we're thankful for in 2005 and what our hopes for 2006," an essay refuting the "we were all wrong" nonsense, an editorial (Susan and Julie will especially enjoy that) and Ava and my TV review which focuses on what's coming to your small screens shortly.
Elaine said earlier this morning that she'd be posting today (she wasn't sure when) at Like Maria Said Paz. Mike has either just posted or is about to so check out Mikey Likes It!
We will have entries this evening here. Remember that Monday's scheduled topic for Democracy Now! is part two of their review of the year 2005.
And Hank e-mailed to note that Dahr Jamail has posted "Open Letter From an Iraqi" (Iraq Dispatches):
While there is deep concern about the possibility of civil war, the common talk between all groups now in Iraq is the poor infrastructure, poor electricity, deficiency of fuels, bad drinking water, poor health services, poor education and extensive unemployment.
Unemployment doesn't mean that young men don’t have jobs, because you can hardly find a young man who sits in his house. Instead, they will sell cigarettes, for example, or they work as taxi drivers or in the weapons trade, etc. This kind of way of living will not improve Iraq.
I want to ask Mr. Bush...do you think that Iran is a democratic country? With freedom and liberty? Do you?
If your answer is yes, then we can understand what is going in our country.
But if your answer is no, then let me ask you again...are you insane? (pardon me)
Because now you have let those people and their followers have the power and drag us 100's of years backwards.
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