Senate Democrats on Thursday angrily accused the Bush administration of mounting a public relations campaign to defend the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program while withholding details of the secret eavesdropping from Congressional oversight committees.
An annual hearing on national security threats, led for the first time by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, was overtaken by acrimonious partisan debate about the program. In response to the Democrats' complaints, Republicans and top administration intelligence officials said the real problem was leaks about N.S.A. eavesdropping and other classified matters.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Senate Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, compared the administration's public disclosures of limited information about the N.S.A. program in the six weeks since it was first disclosed to what he described as a similarly misleading use of intelligence before the war in Iraq.
"I am deeply troubled by what I see as the administration's continued effort to selectively release intelligence information that supports its policy or political agenda while withholding equally pertinent information that does not do that," Mr. Rockefeller said.
The above is from Scott Shane's "Senate Session on Security Erupts in Spying Debate" in this morning's New York Times.
Remember that Pacifica will air the hearings live:
Next Week: Live Coverage of Senate Hearings on NSA
Join host Verna Avery Brown Monday, February 6 at 9:00 am, for an all-day broadcast of Senate hearings probing the National Security Agency's Domestic Spying Program.
9:00am-5:00pm: Gavel to Gavel Coverage with interviews and guest analysts during breaks.
5:00pm-6:00pm: Stand-alone wrap-up show with recordings of highlights and guests. Listener call-ins may be possible.
NPR? Now do you really think their corporate sponsors are going to support live coverage of any news event? A sports event, maybe, but not a news event.
Brad notes that "the reporters at NYT know Coretta Scott King died" and steers us to Brenda Goodman's "King Funeral Has Surprise in Site Choice:"
Coretta Scott King's funeral will be held not at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her husband once preached, but at a much larger suburban megachurch where her youngest daughter is an elder, funeral planners said Thursday.
Thousands of people, including world leaders and celebrities, are expected to attend the service at noon on Tuesday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the funeral director, Willie A. Watkins said.
The news surprised many people who had assumed that the funeral would be held at Ebenezer Baptist, the historic chapel in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father and grandfather preached, and where Mrs. King was a board member until she died on Monday at age 78.
And the editorials? Nothing on King again today. Op-eds? Two guest op-eds on the Pope. Coretta Scott King? Still not a word. (If you're new to this discussion, check out this entry from yesterday on how the Times editorial pages have yet to find King's death a topic worth devoting serious attention to.)
Rachel notes Julia Preston's "Public Misled on Air Quality After 9/11 Attack, Judge Says:"
Christie Whitman, when she led the Environmental Protection Agency, made "misleading statements of safety" about the air quality near the World Trade Center in the days after the Sept. 11 attack and may have put the public in danger, a federal judge found yesterday.
The pointed criticism of Mrs. Whitman came in a ruling by the judge, Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan, in a 2004 class action lawsuit on behalf of residents and schoolchildren from downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn who say they were exposed to air contamination inside buildings near the trade center.
The suit, against Mrs. Whitman, other former and current E.P.A. officials and the agency itself, charges that they failed to warn people of dangerous materials in the air and then failed to carry out an adequate cleanup. The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and want the judge to order a thorough cleaning.
Misleading statements? From Christie Todd Whitman? The 'reasonable Republican' set on taking back 'her party, too' (cry if she wants to, cry if she wants to) who found time in her non-busy schedule to show up at the Judiciary Committee hearings on Alito and lecture the senators on why they should support Alito? Christie Todd Whitman make misleading statements? Which is also known, in the real world, as "lying." Imagine that. It's 'her party, too' and she can lie if she wants to, lie if she wants to. She demonstrated that (and much more) when she put New Yorkers lives in danger with her lies about air quality.
On the scent of another disgraced Republican (do they come in any other flavor?), Neil A. Lewis tells readers that Scooter's raised two million dollars already for his defense in the charges brought against him for his role in the outing of now former-CIA agent Valerie Plame. Of particular interest should be Fred Thompson's sitting on the steering committee for the Free Scooter So He Can Compromise National Security Again! Why is that? Well NBC brass went into a freak-fest over Martin Sheen's political activities. Should a Law & Order star really be helping to raise money for someone involved in the outing of a CIA agent? Thompson has the right to do whatever he wants. That's not the point. The point is NBC won't even blink an eye at this but they freaked over Martin Sheen's activities. I'm glad Thompson's so public. He was always a creep and now it's out there for all to see. Might Tim Russert now stop having Thompson on to address "national security"? Fat Tim. ("Fat Tim" equals "fat chance.")
Continuing to own the Abel Danger story, Rory O'Connor's latest should please many members because he breaks down the basics to the complicated story in an easy to follow manner. From
O'Connor's "Able Danger Twenty Questions" (Media Is Plural, MediaChannel.org):
Everything you always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask, or the answers were classifiedŠ) about the controversial Able Danger data mining project, which identified four 9/11 hijackers a year before the terror attacks.
1. Did Anthony Shaffer, or anyone on the Able Danger team, obtain a photo of Mohamed Atta from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as Shaffer's interview with Government Security News (GSN) states?
The photo of Atta came from an information broker who provided it and others. Shaffer's comments were made to GSN based on his knowledge at the time, which came from his knowledge of what the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) operations center had access to. Shaffer's interview with GSN took place before civilian analyst JD Smith came forward and clarified the issue. Shaffer did not know in 1999-2000 all the specifics of how Smith and company were doing the detailed data mining - it was Shaffer's belief at the time that the photo had come from INS records. LIWA did have access to INS documents - and a Defense Department intelligence program called the Foreign Visitor Program, in which not only photos of foreign nationals but also their entire visa application were provided - but Shaffer was not aware of LIWA's use of information brokers.
2. If Atta was identified as early as January or February of 2000 - as Captain Scott Phillpott has said - when were the other three hijackers (Shehhi, Mihdhar, and Hamzi) identified by Able Danger?
Within the same timeframe, since the missing chart contained the names of all four of the then-future hijackers. They were all listed in what Phillpott had called "the Brooklyn Cell" - not that they were all in Brooklyn, but they met the search criteria that linked them to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
3. Did anyone on the Able Danger team know that any of these four were ever in the US? If so, when did they find out and how?
They did not know, as it was not Able Danger's job to track individuals in the U.S. (based on legal restrictions.) Once it was determined by Defense Department (DOD) lawyers that the "Brooklyn Cell" information could not be used for offensive planning by the Able Danger planners, the Able Danger team then attempted to pass the information to the FBI for its use. At any given time, there was no specific knowledge of where the terrorists were regarding the continental United States. The Able Danger effort, and targeting of specific individuals, was focused on overseas locations.
4. By early June 2000, these four were the only ones to have entered the US. Most of the hijackers entered the US after May 2001. Is it reasonable to predict that Able Danger could have identified the others, had it not been shut down by then?
When the 2.5 terabytes of data were destroyed by LIWA in the summer of 2000, all information relating to the terrorists was destroyed as well. However, Able Danger II, which started from scratch (i.e. a 90 day full time search of the open Internet and open data sources to re-create the data base), did detect the same basic information about the Brooklyn Cell - and in addition discovered the Al Qaeda activity in the Port of Aden in Yemen.
The entry on the Church Committee finally was completed and posted late last night, "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy."
Again, Democracy Now! "continues its special broadcast from Doha, Qatar." Make sure to check it out (listen, watch or read transcripts) today. We're almost on schedule. (I'll try to get the entry on the former Blanketta done this weekend.) However, finishing it meant dropping indymedia roundup (among other things). I swore I would take this evening off but I'm looking at several items that were e-mailed in and I'm thinking we need it this evening. So . . . looks like we're doing it.
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neil a. lewis