BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Holidays

Originally uploaded by blacksab67.

Due to the obvious "holiday decrease" in traffic, me gonna shut down the ol' blog until January the 3rd.

2006, that is.

Please check back after the vacation.

BIG THANKS to all those who've made the blog a part of their daily reading: You have my eternal gratitude.

Have a very Jerry Xmas and a Grateful New Weir.

Up the Irons,

Saturday, December 24, 2005

December 2004


Good take a trip in the time machine today: Setting the dials to "December, 2004."

Here's where we were --

Hey now.

Great NPR piece on the creation of "Rudolph" this morning...and a brief reference to a "GE Executive's" demand for "content change" after the original (1964) broadcast.

"Say what?"

NPR did not "elaborate" on that point, so me looked into the story a bit further. Here are the details:

Y'all know the classic "Misfit" song, sung by our very dear friends Rudolph and "Herm." The acceptable lyrics from the acceptable scene go like this:

Why am I such a misfit?
I am not just a nit wit!
You can fire me
I quit!
Seems I don't fit in.

Why am I such a misfit?
I am not just a nit wit!
Just because my nose glows
Why don't I fit in?

Fine. No problems there. Simple message. Helps set up the story. Herm is bummed out, Rudolph is bummed out, they're both "misfits," blah blah blah.

Well...there was another scene. A cute, little reprise of the "Misfit" song. In the original show. Went like this:

Cut To:

(Rudolph, Hermey)

Rudy and Hermey are strolling through the forest...and singing the following tune:

We're a couple of misfits
We're a couple of misfits
What's the matter with misfits
That's where we fit in!

We're not daffy and dilly
Don't go 'round willy nilly
Seems to us kinda silly
That we don't fit in.

We may be different from the rest
Who decides the test
Of what is really best?

We're a couple of misfits
We're a couple of misfits
What's the matter with misfits
That's where we fit in!

Okay. No problems, right?


Apparently, the GE dude (ie, the show's SPONSOR) had some trouble with this song. Maybe some trouble with the music. Maybe some trouble with the lyrics. Maybe some trouble with the message. Dunno. Regardless, dude made a phone call or three. And demanded a change. And a new song. In place of this one.

And it was done.

The replacement (a part of every broadcast since 1965)? The now classic tune..."Fame & Fortune."

The "F&F" lyrics:

Fame and fortune, fame and fortune
We're off to seek them now
Anyone can have them both
It just takes the right know-how
We put on our traveling shoes today
We won't stop until we find the way to
Fame and fortune, fame and fortune
They will be ours some day

Fame and fortune, fame and fortune
They will be ours some day!


God, where to start with this one?

Let's see. Think, think, think.

What's the matter with misfits VS anyone can have (fame and fortune).


Big, big difference between the two songs, don't ya think?

"Oh, you have no idea. There were a lot of 'misfits' floating around in the 60's. Thinkin' they had rights and stuff. They didn't need to be reminded of that."


"Plus, the 'Fame & Fortune' message is so much more...positive."


"Anyone can have them both. It just takes the right know-how."

Of course.

"Anyone can have them both. It just takes the right know-how."

"Anyone can have them both. It just takes the right know-how."

"Anyone, daddy?"

"Anyone, son."

"Even me, daddy?"

"Even you, son. It just takes the right know-how. And some decent connections. Heh heh."

", daddy?"

"I do run a Fortune 500 company, son."

"Even...gays and black people, daddy?"

"Well, let's be reasonable, son."


Great bit from re: the Rev Jerry Falwell.

For those of you who missed it...Jer was the "guest-host" of Crossfire on Thursday. Along with James Carville.

As soon as the program started, Carville and Falwell launched into a quick discussion re: W's "decision" to add 12,000 more troops to the, uh, situationin Iraq. And what this "meant."

Here's the exchange:
CARVILLE: Why are we already there for so long and we need more and more troops if it's going so well?

FALWELL: Well, it's going -- it's going -- I think it is going well. You know, CNN does not always get it right, but it goes pretty well if you watch it on Fox.
Yes, Reverend, the war goes "pretty well" if you watch it on Fox.



MANDATORY Bill Moyers...and a recent speech on the Religious Right, the environment and the Middle East.

The Cliffs Notes version? Our friends on the Uber-Right do not care about the above mentioned thingees. In fact, they're psyched; planet decay and political unrest in the Middle East suggest...The Rapture.

You can read the whole speech here.

A few excerpts:
These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the Messiah will return for the rapture.

True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts, and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man."

A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed – an essential conflagration on the road to redemption.
Wait. Who are the angels gonna slay?! The third part of who?

Wasn't aware that angels were in the business of slaying. What the f*ck?

Onward Christian soldiers:
A 2002 TIME/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks.
And two-thirds of those polled think that "American Idol" is "the best freaking show ever."

The "Big Story" of the week?

"Ukrainian candidate was poisoned"

Not just a candidate. The real president.

If you haven't read this can do so here.

Some great excerpts:
Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin, doctors said Saturday, adding that the highly toxic chemical could have been put in the opposition leader's soup, producing the severe disfigurement and partial paralysis of his face.

The massive quantities of dioxin in Yushchenko's system caused chloracne, a type of adult acne produced by exposure to toxic chemicals, said hospital dermatologist Hubert Pehmberger.
Not the Clearasil kind of acne, either. The dude's face looks like it was carved up with a light saber.
Dioxins are chemical by-products from factories that use chlorine, or from incinerators. Low doses accumulate in the body, mostly through food. High doses can be fatal.

Yushchenko, who faces Viktor Yanukovych on Dec. 26 in a rerun of a disputed presidential runoff, has claimed that he was poisoned by Ukrainian authorities, who deny the charges.
You're kidding me. Really?

Yushchenko's people claim that their man was poisoned...via a bowl of soup.


Big Daddy Don Rumsfeld is in Kuwait. Had a scheduled "pep rally" with some troops this morn. Said pep rally became interesting...when some of the troops started to ASK QUESTIONS.

"Say what?!"

It's true. Read the full AP article here.

Some excerpts:
Some of soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own - not of the war itself but of how it is being fought.

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, which is made up mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the war started.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A BIG CHEER arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.
Rumsfeld then flew across the room and bit the soldier's face off.

Sorry. Back to the article.
Rumsfeld replied that, "You go to war with the Army you have," not the one you might want, and that the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.
You go to war with the army that you have. Wow.

Subtext: Fuck you , soldier.

Man of the Year.

Who's it gonna be? Lots of great candidates out there.

Bush. Kerry. Scott Peterson. Boston Rob, the guy who married Amber Brkich from "Survivor."

I could go on and on and on.

But in the end, there can be only one man. And that man is...


Because he's looking out for you...and his former producer, Andrea Mackris.

From the Smoking Gun:
"Well, if I took you (down to the Carribean) then I'd want to take a shower with you, that would be the first think (sic) I’d do… yeah, we’d check you into the room, and we could order up some room service and uh and you’d definitely get two wines into you as quickly as I could get into you I would get ‘em into you… maybe intravenously, get those glasses of wine into you…

You would basically be in the shower and the I would come in and I’d join you and you would have your back to me and I would take that little loofa thing and kinda’ soap up your back… rub it all over you, get you to relax, hot water… and um… you know, you’d feel the tension drain out of you and uh you still would be with your back to me then I would kinda’ put my arm - it’s one of those mitts, those loofa mitts you know, so i got my hands in it… and I would put it around front, kinda’ rub your tummy a little bit with it, and then with my other hand I would start to massage your boobs, get your nipples really hard… ‘cuz I like that and you really have spectacular boobs…

So anyway, I’d be rubbing your bog boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda’ kissing your neck from behind… and then I would take the other hand with the falafel (sic) thing and I’d put it on your pussy, but you’d have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business."

Congratulations, Bill.

I'll send you a signed copy of your own book, and a Premium Membership to!


More later...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Xmas

Originally uploaded by blacksab67.
You want proof of the War on Xmas?

How about "Eddie" chopping Santa's head off with an freaking axe?!

No blog today: check back tomorrow, people. Gonna break down '05.

Up the Irons,

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Feel Safer?

Happy Thursday.

New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies

NY's finest have been gettin' jiggy with us commiepinkofaggots:
Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.

In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator."

What, their "wardrobe dept" couldn't put together a decent, jet-black "WTO-protester/smelly anarchist" outfit? And what lefty-org is selling the "I am a shameless agitator" button?!

Cop humour.
She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events.
That's old school.

So Nixon.
At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.


Provided with images from the tape, the Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, did not dispute that they showed officers at work but said that disguised officers had always attended such gatherings - not to investigate political activities but to keep order and protect free speech.

Activists, however, say that police officers masquerading as protesters and bicycle riders distort their messages and provoke trouble.

The pictures of the undercover officers were culled from an unofficial archive of civilian and police videotapes by Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst who is critical of the tactics. She gave the tapes to The New York Times. Based on what the individuals said, the equipment they carried and their almost immediate release after they had been arrested amid protesters or bicycle riders, The Times concluded that at least 10 officers were incognito at the events.


After the 2001 terrorist attacks, officials at all levels of government considered major changes in various police powers. President Bush acknowledged last Saturday that he has secretly permitted the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a warrant on international telephone calls and e-mail messages in terror investigations.

In New York, the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg persuaded a federal judge in 2003 to enlarge the Police Department's authority to conduct investigations of political, social and religious groups.

"We live in a more dangerous, constantly changing world," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.
So you say.

Big babies.

Remember when the "bicycle riders" sacked Williamsburg?

God, that was horrible.

Thank god for Superman.
In a tape made at the April 29 Critical Mass ride, a man in a football jersey is seen riding along West 19th Street with a group of bicycle riders to a police blockade at 10th Avenue.

As the police begin to handcuff the bicyclists, the man in the jersey drops to one knee. He tells a uniformed officer, "I'm on the job." The officer in uniform calls to a colleague, "Louie - he's under."

A second officer arrives and leads the man in the jersey - hands clasped behind his back - one block away, where the man gets back on his bicycle and rides off.

That videotape was made by a police officer and was recently turned over by prosecutors to Gideon Oliver, a lawyer representing bicycle riders arrested that night.

Another arrest that appeared to be a sham changed the dynamics of a demonstration. On Aug. 30, 2004, during the Republican National Convention, a man with vivid blond hair was filmed as he stood on 23rd Street, holding a sign at a march of homeless and poor people. A police lieutenant suddenly moved to arrest him. Onlookers protested, shouting, "Let him go." In response, police officers in helmets and with batons pushed against the crowd, and at least two other people were arrested.

The videotape shows the blond-haired man speaking calmly with the lieutenant. When the lieutenant unzipped the man's backpack, a two-way radio could be seen. Then the man was briskly escorted away, unlike others who were put on the ground, plastic restraints around their wrists. And while the blond-haired man kept his hands clasped behind his back, the tape shows that he was not handcuffed or restrained.

The same man was videotaped a day earlier, observing the actress Rosario Dawson as she and others were arrested on 35th Street and Eighth Avenue as they filmed "This Revolution," a movie that used actual street demonstrations as a backdrop. At one point, the blond-haired man seemed to try to rile bystanders.

After Ms. Dawson and another actress were placed into a police van, the blond-haired man can be seen peering in the window. According to Charles Maol, who was working on the film, the blond-haired man is the source of a voice that is heard calling: "Hey, that's my brother in there. What do you got my brother in there for?"

After Mr. Browne was sent photographs of the people involved in the convention incidents and the bicycle arrests, he said, "I am not commenting on descriptions of purported or imagined officers."

The federal courts have long held that undercover officers can monitor political activities for a "legitimate law enforcement purpose." While the police routinely conduct undercover operations in plainly criminal circumstances - the illegal sale of weapons, for example - surveillance at political events is laden with ambiguity. To retain cover in those settings, officers might take part in public dialogue, debate and demonstration, at the risk of influencing others to alter opinions or behavior.

The authority of the police to conduct surveillance of First Amendment activities has been shaped over the years not only by the law but also by the politics of the moment and the perception of public safety needs.
Feel safer?

What's happening in your town?

"On September the 11th, the world...blah blah f*cking blah."

I'm sorry, but I'm sick of that mantra.

When it's my time, it's my time. Period: I'm gonna live my life like it's Septemeber 10th.




Here's your "Whatthefuckareyoutalkingabout" moment from yesterday's WH press conference. The topic? Senate Dems and Reps who've been messing with the Patriot Act.

(McClellan addressed the corp before the 6-month extension.):
Q: You have been critical of Democrats in the Senate, but now eight Republicans have joined them in wanting this extension, and it was only four a couple of days ago.

There's clearly movement to more Republicans standing in opposition to the President on this. Why not --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think -- let's make it clear. Almost all Republicans in the Senate support this. This legislation was passed 251 to I think it's 174, or something like that, in the House. You had some 44 Democrats support it in the House. It was worked out in conference committee. It's a good piece of legislation, and it's a -- the Senate Democrats are the ones who are pushing -- or playing politics with this issue.

Q: And the Republicans are also saying they would support an extension.

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't seen the comments from those Republicans.

But a majority of the United States Senate supports getting this legislation passed. And I think it's clear what Democrats are up to.
God, is he good: He won't criticize the "pesky" Senate Republicans in front of the press corp.
Q: Isn't it a false premise to say that America would be less safe after December 31st if lawmakers say, we're happy to extend it?

MR. McCLELLAN: It would be taking away vital tools. Well, I just talked to you about that. The House has completed their work, they're out. And this legislation was thoroughly debated in the Congress over the course of the last year, one of the most thoroughly debated pieces of legislation.

It's nothing but politics the Democrats are playing right now.

Q: What political goal do they get by "weakening" the Patriot Act?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q: What goal --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they've talked about some of the civil liberties in there. This law has found the right balance. It has saved lives and it has protected people's civil liberties. And there are some Democrats who are playing to certain special interests within their party that want to see authorities within this legislation killed. That's clearly what's happening here.

Q: And those Republicans, the eight that Kelly mentioned, they're playing the same politics?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I'm not sure about the number eight; I know that there are few --

Q There are eight.

MR. McCLELLAN: I mean, I know that there are a few that had expressed their reservations about the bill.

But, no, I wouldn't say that.

Translation: Democrats, always bad; Republicans, never wrong.
Q You suggested that those who are seeking an extension are putting politics above security. That now includes eight Republicans. Are you including them in that accusation?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it's the Senate Democrats. Most Republicans -- almost all Republicans support reauthorizing this legislation. And, again, I don't think you can lump those eight in. I think there are an additional few that were talking about an extension, but those are ones that have also supported this legislation.

So let's be clear on that.
You are.

Who's playing politics?

More later...

Prof. McClellan

Good morning, kiddos.

Here's today's "civics lesson," courtesy of WH spokesdude...Scott McClellan:
MR. McCLELLAN: We cannot afford to be without (the Patriot Act) for a single moment in the war on terrorism.

It is set to expire, but the terrorist threat will not expire.

And it has accomplished exactly what it was set out to do, which is to protect our liberties and save lives. And we urge the Senate to move forward and get this legislation done.

And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions. Terry Hunt.

Q: Scott, the Vice President said today that Vietnam and Watergate had eroded presidential powers, and that he thinks that the world we live in demands strong, robust executive authority.

Where would the President like to see his authority expanded?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't know -- I haven't had a chance to see the Vice President's comments, so I can't really get into discussing exactly what he was talking about, but certainly stand by what he said. In terms of the President's authority, I don't know if you're talking about a specific issue, but the President --

Q: No, in general.

MR. McCLELLAN: There are three branches of government, they all have an important role to play: the congressional -- the legislative, and the judicial, and then the executive.

Got that? "There are three branches of government, they all have an important role to play: the congressional -- the legislative, and the judicial, and then the executive."

There will be a quiz.

"There are three branches of government."

Do the Bushies know that?
Q: Congress defines oversight as "the authority to conduct inquiries or investigations, to have access to records or materials, or to issue subpoenas or testimony from the executive."

Which of these powers were members of Congress granted with regard to the NSA surveillance program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you just pointed out, Congress is an independent branch of government, and they're elected by their constituents.
Again, dude is dropping some wicked knowledge: "Congress is an independent branch of government, and they're elected by their constituents."

MR. McCLELLAN: We briefed and informed members of Congress about this program going back to 2001; more than a dozen times since then we've briefed members of Congress --

Q: But briefing isn't power to investigate or issue subpoenas to ask questions. And I'm asking you, which of the powers of oversight were they granted?

MR. McCLELLAN: Congress is an independent branch of government. That's what I just pointed out, Jessica.

Q: Which has the right to check the functions of the executive. And these are --

MR. McCLELLAN: They have an oversight role, that's right.

Q Okay, so in what way --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why we thought it was important to brief members of Congress about this vital tool that we're using to save lives and to protect the American people, and why we talked to them about how it is limited in nature and limited in scope.

Q: But as you know, members of Congress who were briefed said that they were informed -- yes, briefed, but given absolutely no recourse to formally object, to push back and say, this is not acceptable.

MR. McCLELLAN: They're an independent branch of government.

Q: So in what way were they given oversight?

MR. McCLELLAN: They were briefed. And we believe it's important to brief members of Congress, the relevant leaders --
Whoa, whoa, whoa!

"The relevant leaders?!"

I think we can safely assume that "relevant leaders" - in Bushworld - means "Republican leaders."
Q: Would you also say they were given full oversight?

MR. McCLELLAN: They're an independent branch of government. Yes, they have --

Q: Were they given oversight?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, they have oversight roles to play.
What a dick: He's being cheeky and not answering her DIRECT question, which is - "Were they given oversight" on this SPECIFIC issue?

And the answer is "no."

God, is he good.

I mean bad.

I mean good.

You know what I'm saying.
Q: So they have oversight. So, in what way could they have acted on that oversight?

MR. McCLELLAN: You should ask members of Congress that question.



Let's just CUT TO Scott's latest battle with the Grand Dame of the WH Press Corp, Helen Thomas.

It's awesome:
HT: The President has publicly acknowledged that we went to war under false information, mistaken information. Why does he insist on staying there if we were there falsely, and continue to kill Iraqis?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, maybe you missed some of his recent speeches and his remarks, but the President said it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power --

HT: And a right decision to move in and to tell the people, the American people, that it was all a mistake, and stay there?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think he said that. He said that Saddam Hussein was a destabilizing force in a dangerous region of the world --

HT: That isn't true. We had a choke-hold on him.

MR. McCLELLAN: It is true. He was a threat. And the threat has been removed.

HT: We had sanctions, we had satellites, we were bombing.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's talk about why it's so important, what we're working to accomplish in Iraq --

HT: I want to know why we're still there killing people, when we went in by mistake.

MR. McCLELLAN: We are liberating people and freeing people to live in a democracy. And why we're still there --

HT: Do you think we're spreading democracy when you spy and put out disinformation and do all the things that -- secret prisons, and torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: I reject your characterizations wholly. I reject your characterizations wholly.
He can't stand her, BTW.
MR. McCLELLAN: The United States is helping to advance freedom in a dangerous region of the world.

HT: -- recognize this kind of --

MR. McCLELLAN: For too long we thought we had stability by ignoring freedom in the Middle East. Well, we showed -- we saw on September 11th --

HT -- 30,000 plus?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, we can have a debate, or you can let me respond to your questions. I think this is an important subject for the American people to talk about. By advancing freedom and democracy in the Middle East we're helping to protect our own security. It's a dangerous region --

HT: By killing people in their own country?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I reject that. We're liberating and freeing people and we're targeting the enemy. We're killing the terrorists and we're going after the Saddam loyalists.

HT: The President said 30,000, more or less.

MR. McCLELLAN: And you know who is responsible for most of that? It's the terrorists and the Saddam loyalists who want to turn back to the past.

HT: We didn't kill anybody there?

MR. McCLELLAN: Our military goes out of the way to minimize civilian casualties. They target the enemy --

HT: You admit they kill?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've got a lot of technology that we can use to target the enemy without going after -- without collateral damage of civilians. And that's what our military does.


MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I'm going to stand up for our military. Our military goes out of the way to protect civilians. In fact --

HT: Fallujah, we didn't kill any civilians?

MR. McCLELLAN: We freed some 25 million people in Iraq that were living under a brutal regime.
Good times.

I have a headache.


Great article on Tom Delay:

Donors Underwrite DeLay's Deluxe Lifestyle

Over the past six years, the former House majority leader or his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.

Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.

The meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to a top spot in Congress.

Put them together and a picture of an opulent lifestyle emerges.
A good gig if you can get it.

Read the whole thing, people.

More later...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Letter!


Gonna cover a weird angle in this whole "Snoop-gate" thing. Specifically, Jay Rockefeller's reference to JOHN POINDEXTER in his letter to Dick Cheney.

Trust me: We're really dealing with some bad b-movie stuff.

But first...

Democrats Say They Didn't Back Wiretapping

WASHINGTON - Some Democrats say they never approved a domestic wiretapping program, undermining suggestions by President Bush and his senior advisers that the plan was fully vetted in a series of congressional briefings.
I said this on Saturday, but I'll say it again.

You know how that meeting went down:
OUR KID - We're doin' all we can to...protect Americans.

DEMOCRATS - Can you be more specific?

OUR KID - We're doin' all we can.

DEMOCRATS - Okay then.
Back to the first article:
"I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse, these activities," West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, said in a handwritten letter to Vice President Dick Cheney in July 2003.

"As you know, I am neither a technician nor an attorney."
Here's that HANDWRITTEN letter, courtesy of the Daily Kos:
July 17, 2003

Dear Mr. Vice President,

I am writing to reiterate my concern regarding the sensitive intelligence issues we discussed today with the DCI, DIRNSA, and Chairman Roberts and our House Intelligence Committee counterparts.

Clearly the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues.

As you know, I am neither a technician or an attorney. Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities.

As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveiliance.

Without more information and the ability to draw on any independent legal or techical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.

I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure that I have a record of this communication.

I appreciate your consideration of my views.

Most respectfully,

Jay Rockefeller
Chilling. Absolutely chilling.

Sen. Rockefeller was obviously covering his butt because he knew that something about the Neo-Con plan was, uh, not quite right. Something that reminded him of John Poindexter's "Total Information Awareness" project.

Because Sen. Rockefeller - the great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller and nephew of former U.S. Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller - knows a thing or two about the machinations of power.




(I'll come back to John Poindexter in a bit.)
Rockefeller is among a small group of congressional leaders who have received briefings on the administration's four-year-old program to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and e-mails of Americans and others inside the United States with suspected ties to al-Qaida.

The government still would seek court approval to snoop on purely domestic communications, such as calls between New York and Los Angeles.

Some legal experts described the program as groundbreaking. And until the highly classified program was disclosed last week, those in Congress with concerns about the National Security Agency spying on Americans raised them only privately.
DEMOCRATS - Some of us are...concerned about this.

CHENEY - I'm sorry. Did you just say something?

DEMOCRATS - What? Oh, no, no. We were just...thinking out loud. Dinner plans.
Bush, accused of acting above the law, on Monday issued a forceful defense of the program he first authorized shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

His senior aides have stressed the program was narrowly targeted at individuals with a suspected link to al-Qaida or affiliated extremist groups.
Here's the deal on that point: The Bushies "suspect" that EVERYONE "NOT THEM" has a link to Al-Qaeda.

Including PETA and the Catholic Workers.

From today's NY Times:

F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show

Feel safer?
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.


After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving the bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public entities in developing terrorism leads.

The bureau has used that authority to investigate not only groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists, but also protest groups suspected of having links to violent or disruptive activities.

But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project."

Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology."

A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
No snarky comments. Draw your own conclusions.

Time to return to the first article:
(Bush's) senior aides have stressed the program was narrowly targeted at individuals with a suspected link to al-Qaida or affiliated extremist groups.

And Bush said it was "a shameful act" for someone to have leaked details to the media.
Got that?!

That's a key Republican talking point: It was "a shameful act" for someone to have leaked details to the media...because the evildoers now know that we're, uh, spying on them.


PLEASE! They've seen "True Lies!"


As promised, a quick note on John Poindexter and the "TIA."

This is really cheap, but I'm just gonna post the Wikipedia line on a guy who knows some things about "intelligence":
Admiral John Marlan Poindexter (born August 12, 1936 in Odon, Indiana) is best known as a prominent United States Department of Defense official.

He was a controversial figure in his high profile roles as Deputy National Security Advisor and National Security Advisor for the Reagan administration.

More recently, he served a brief stint as the Director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office for the administration of George W. Bush.


Poindexter was convicted on multiple felony counts on April 7, 1990 for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair.

The convictions were reversed in 1991 on the grounds that the prosecution's evidence may have been tainted by exposure to Poindexter's testimony before the joint House-Senate committee investigating the matter, in which Poindexter's testimony was compelled by a grant of 'use immunity'.

The prosecution was not able to re-try the case.
After that episode, Poindexter joined the "private sector," and went to work on a number of defense related projects.

Like "data collecting" and "information gathering."
From December, 2002, to August, 2003, Poindexter served as the Director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office (IAO).

The controversial mission of the IAO was to imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components, and prototype closed-loop information systems that will counter asymmetric threats (most notably, terrorist threats) by achieving total information awareness: enabling preemption; national security warning; and, national security decision making.
More Wikipedia fun regarding Pondexter, the IAO & the TIA (briefly mentioned in Rockefeller's letter):
The IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralized location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) Internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.

In essence, the IAO’s goal is to develop the capacity to recreate a life history of thoughts and movements for any individual on the planet on demand, which some deem necessary to counter the threat of terrorism. Critics claim the very existence of the IAO completely disregards the concept of individual privacy and liberties.

They see the organization as far too invasive and prone to abuse.


The integrity of Poindexter as head of the IAO also came under scrutiny, given his conviction on five felony charges for lying to Congress and deliberately altering and destroying documents pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair, although those convictions were later overturned.


DARPA changed the name of the "Total Information Awareness" program to "Terrorist Information Awareness" on May 20, 2003, emphasizing in its report to Congress that the program is not designed to compile dossiers on US citizens, but rather to gather information on terrorist networks.

Despite this name change and reassurance, the description of the program's activities remained essentially the same in the report, and critics continue to see the system as prone to massive Orwellian abuses.


A Senate defense appropriations bill passed unanimously on July 18, 2003 explicitly denies any funding to Terrorist Information Awareness research, which will effectively kill the program if implemented.

The Pentagon office that was developing a vast computerized terrorism surveillance system would be closed and no money could be spent to use those high-tech spying tools against Americans on U.S. soil, House and Senate negotiators have agreed on September 25, 2003.

But they left open the possibility that some or all of the high-powered software under development might be employed by different government offices to gather intelligence from U.S. citizens and others abroad or from foreigners in this country.
Some would say that the, uh, "high-powered software" has been used.

Josh Marshall:
I've been suggesting that what's in play here in this NSA matter is a NEW TECHNOLOGY of some sort -- one which conducts searches in ways that you just can't get warrants for.
Money making new technology, methinks.
And here Kevin Drum pulls together several threads of information that point in what figure is likely the correct direction.

He concludes by writing: "It seems clear that there's something involved here that goes far beyond ordinary wiretaps, regardless of the technology used. Perhaps some kind of massive data mining, which makes it impossible to get individual warrants? Stay tuned."

Like I said, a bunch of information I've heard over the last 48 hours tells me he's on the mark here.

Not precisely, perhaps. I'm not sure it's data-mining precisely. Perhaps they're doing searches for certain patterns of words or numbers, perhaps something as simple as a phone number.

But unlike 'traditional' wiretapping, in which you're catching the conversations of a relatively small and defined group of people, this may involve listening in on a big slice of the email or phone communications in the country looking for a particular phone number or code or perhaps a reference to a particular name.

From a technological point of view there's not really much outlandish about this at all.

This is just the sort of thing the NSA is in the business of doing overseas.

But you can see how this would just be a non-starter for getting a warrant.

It is the definition of a fishing expedition.
We'll see.

Data-mining: A very LUCRATIVE gig if you can get it.


THIS IS A BIG RABBIT HOLE, and getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous.

More later...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cash & Carry


Methinks the Bushies have a new "enemy"...and the Wal-Martians have a new "boogey-man": Anti-US leftist clinches Bolivia election

But first...

Presidential Pipeline: Bush's top fund-raisers see spoils of victory

President Bush's corporate champions see the spoils of his administration in coal. And timber. And credit-card payments, Afghan electric lines, Japanese bank transfers and fake crab.

America's business leaders supplied more than $75 million to return Mr. Bush to the White House last year -- and he has paid dividends.

Bush administration policies, grand and obscure, have financially benefited companies or lobbying clients tied to at least 200 of the president's largest campaign fund-raisers, a Toledo Blade investigation has found. Dozens more stand to gain from Bush-backed initiatives that recently passed or await congressional approval.
What did YOU get?

(More on that below.)
The investigation included targeted tax breaks, regulatory changes, pro-business legislation, high-profile salaried appointments, and federal contracts.

Mr. Bush's policies often followed specific requests from his 548 "Pioneers" and "Rangers," who each raised at least $100,000 or $200,000 for his 2004 re-election.

The help to business fund-raisers sometimes came at the expense of consumers or public health concerns.
You're kidding.

Key example:
Executives of defense contractors United Technologies and The Washington Group, which won contracts potentially totaling more than $6 billion to supply American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and rebuild both countries' infrastructure. The same contractors won far less government work under President Bill Clinton.
Defense contracting: A good gig if you can get it!

And, remember, if you're in the business of need war for business.
When MBNA's customers filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, courts wiped their credit balances away. MBNA wrote off $4.1 billion in unpaid credit-card bills last year.

To stem the losses, the company worked to change the rules. It spent nearly $20 million from 1998 to 2004 to lobby Congress on issues including bankruptcy reform. Even before Mr. Clinton killed a reform bill late in his second term, MBNA had turned to George W. Bush.

MBNA employees gave the Bush campaign more than $200,000 in 2000, the most of any company, and allowed the campaign to use an MBNA corporate jet. The new president pushed bankruptcy reform in his first term, but an unrelated congressional dispute scuttled it.

The company worked hard for Mr. Bush again last year. Former MBNA CEO Charles Cawley and Vice Chairman Lance Loring Weaver both qualified as Rangers, each raising at least $200,000 for the president's re-election.

MBNA surpassed Enron last year to become the largest corporate patron of Mr. Bush's career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.

The eight-year struggle for bankruptcy reform ended within 90 days of Mr. Bush's second inaugural address. The 500-page law, initially crafted by a financial services lobbyist, mandates credit counseling for prospective filers and makes it harder to escape credit-card debt.
Take a very close look at the columns in your monthly statements, people: The numbers they are a changin.'

More on what YOU get.

House Passes Deficit Cuts to End Year

Actually, more on what they want to give you:
WASHINGTON - House lawmakers opened the way for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and approved $29 billion for hurricane relief during an all-night session Monday bringing their legislative year to a close.

The House also narrowly passed a plan to cut deficits by almost $40 billion over five years in legislation hailed by GOP conservatives as fiscal discipline and assailed by Democrats as victimizing medical and education programs for the poor.

The ANWR provision was attached to a major defense bill, forcing many opponents of oil and gas exploration in the barren northern Alaska range to vote for it.
Brilliant: That's how it works.

Forget about reforming the system: That move has beneffited both sides...since day one.
While House lawmakers were heading for the exits, the end was not in sight for the Senate, which can't leave for Christmas until it deals with spending bills and the deficit-cutting package and overcomes a filibuster on renewing the Patriot Act. A Senate vote on the deficit reduction bill could come Monday.

A $453 billion defense spending bill became the flypaper for issues that have eluded congressional compromise.

Those included, along with the ANWR provision, $29 billion in federal aid for victims of Katrina and other storms; an additional $2 billion to help low-income families with home heating costs; and $3.8 billion to prepare for a possible bird flu pandemic. Of the defense money, $50 billion is for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Democrats and moderate Republicans have for years blocked drilling in ANWR, and its inclusion in the defense bill exposed that bill to a possible filibuster in the Senate that can only be broken with a 60-vote majority.
Don't hold your breath.

The rest of the country has gone into HYPER-XMAS MODE, so this stuff might slip by without notice.

That's what they're hopin,' leastways.

(The Grove was out of control yesterday, BTW.)
Planned spending on Medicare was estimated to fall by $6.4 billion and Medicaid by $4.8 billion. Another $13 billion would be saved from student loan programs, in part by establishing a fixed 6.8 percent interest rate instead of maintaining lower variable rates.

The largest single savings in Medicare would reduce anticipated federal funding for the private HMOs established under 2003 Medicare legislation.

Officials said the changes to Medicaid include an attempt to make it harder for the elderly to transfer their assets to children or others in order to qualify for federal nursing home benefits.

I have a headache.


Finally, a look toward the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Evo Morales.

Bolivia's President-elect...and your new boogey-man.

Anti-US leftist clinches Bolivia election

Wait. What?

Anti-US leftist?!


How about, "New Bolivian leader elected?"

"That kind of headline does not tell the true story, you libtard."

LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Evo Morales, a leftist former coca leaf farmer vowing to be a "nightmare for the U.S.," was poised to become Bolivia's first indigenous president on Sunday after likely clinching one of the biggest electoral victories in the country's history.
Okay, why not, "Bolivia elects first indigenous president?"

"How about, 'Bolivia elects...drug dealer as president?!"

Morales appeared certain to take office in January when his rivals conceded defeat and results tabulated by local media showed him garnering slightly more than 50 percent of the vote, much higher than predicted.
Evo's first mistakes?
A high-school dropout who herded llamas as a boy, Morales has vowed to nationalize Bolivia's natural gas industry and roll back a U.S.-backed eradication program of coca, a key ingredient used to make cocaine but also prized by Indians for traditional medicinal uses.
Dude hasn't even moved into his new offices and he's already f*cking up.
Washington considers Morales an enemy in its anti-drug fight in Bolivia, the third biggest cocaine producer after Colombia and Peru.
They also consider him an enemy in their FIGHT for NATURAL GAS.
His critics fear a Morales government could jeopardize the country's flow of multi-million dollar economic aid from Washington.
You can "bank" on that.

Like you, dear credit card user, Bolivia's "APR" just went through the roof.

Morales often invoked racial imagery on his campaign, feeding hopes among the impoverished Indian majority that one of its own could help reverse what most saw as more than 500 years of discrimination under leaders of European descent, which began with slavery in Spanish colonial silver mines.

Preliminary official results were expected to be released on Monday. Should Morales gain more than 50 percent of the vote he would avoid having to face a congressional choice between and him and his leading rival, rightist Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga.

Quiroga, a U.S.-educated engineer who served as president from 2001-2002, had vowed to keep Bolivia on a free-market path and implement U.S. coca eradication policies. Most of the country's coca leaves are processed into cocaine.
Hugo Chavez - Castro supporter. Evo Morales - cocaine dealer.

You have your talking points.

"Profits from the sale of Bolivian cocaine have...funded terrorist organizations around the world, including groups...inspired by Al-Qaeda."

Don't know when we'll read that sentence, but I'm thinking it'll be sometime in '06.

Peace out: Go Steelers.

More later...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Steelers V. Vikes

Dear Jesus,

Need a Steeler victory today.


(P.S. Appreciate you helping the Giants defeat the Chiefs: That really helped our cause.)



For some "silly reason," the LA Times has decided to bust out a piece on Tom Cruise and Scientology (At Inland Base, Scientologists Trained Top Gun).

ARE YOU PEOPLE CRAZY?! Your phone is gonna ring 'til January!

It's a pretty awesome story, though, and includes some interesting info on Scientology and their compound near Hemet, CA.

But first, "Our Kid" is gonna adress "the nation" this evening re: all things Iraq.

Just another battle in the War on the War on the War on Terror.

"We're doin' all we can!"

No need to tune in to the speech - I've got an advance copy:
"On September the 11th, 2001 terrorists brutal attack Saddam Iraq terrorists Saddam I'm fighting a war on terror making progress September the 11th brutal attack Iraq freedom democracy Iraq terrorists attack doin' everything we can Saddam safer war on terror September the 11th terrorists September the 11th war on terror central front war on terror Saddam they hate our freedom Iraq September the 11th brutal attack terrorists evildoers safer September the 11th terrorists brutal attack we're doing all we can since September the 11th evildoers hate Saddam safer brutal this is no time to cut and run terrorists terrorists hate our September the 11th, September the 11th, September the 11th."
Got that?

Back to the Cruise-expose.

Methinks the LA Times just bought themselves a massive headache.
The vast majority of Scientologists train at the church's better-known facilities, including those in Hollywood and Clearwater, Fla. Cruise also has trained at those locations, but for much of his studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he headed to Gilman Hot Springs (CA).

He stayed for weeks at a time, arriving by car or helicopter, according to ex-Scientologists who saw him there on repeated occasions.

The former resort, 90 miles east of Los Angeles, was an ideal place for Cruise to get out of the spotlight while focusing on his Scientology training, ex-members say.

Described by ex-members as the church's international nerve center, the property is largely concealed from outsiders by tall hedges and high walls. The complex's barbed-wired perimeter and driveways are monitored by video cameras, and motion sensors are placed around the property to detect intruders, ex-members say.

Some also remember a perch high in the hills, dubbed "Eagle," where staffers with telescopes jotted down license plate numbers of any vehicle that lingered too long near the compound.
Behind the compound's guarded gates, Cruise had a personal supervisor to oversee his studies in a private course room, ex-members say.

He was unique among celebrities in the amount of time he spent at the base. Others visited, they said, but only Cruise took up temporary residence.


Maureen Bolstad, who was at the base for 17 years and left after a falling-out with the church, recalled a rainy night 15 years ago when a couple of dozen Scientologists scrambled to deal with "an all-hands situation" that kept them working through dawn.

The emergency, she said: planting a meadow of wildflowers for Cruise to romp through with his new love, Kidman.

This makes me SO happy.

We should all be so lucky.
"We were told that we needed to plant a field and that it was to help Tom impress Nicole," said Bolstad, who said she spent the night pulling up sod so the ground could be seeded in the morning.
God, I hope this story is true.
The flowers eventually bloomed, Bolstad said, "but for some mysterious reason it wasn't considered acceptable by Mr. Miscavige. So the project was rejected and they redid it."
"Mr. Miscavige" is the head of the "Church."

Burrito numero uno.
Cruise has made no extended visits to the complex since the early 1990s and has done 95% of his religious training elsewhere, Rinder said. Miscavige, he said, spends only a fraction of his time there and divides the rest of his time among offices in Los Angeles, Clearwater and Britain. He also stays aboard the Freewinds, Scientology's 440-foot ship based in Curacao in the Caribbean, Rinder said.


In his own spiritual life, Cruise has continued to climb the "Bridge to Total Freedom," Scientology's path to enlightenment. International Scientology News, a church magazine, reported last year that the actor had embarked on one of the highest levels of training, "OT VII" — for Operating Thetan VII.

At these higher levels — and at a potential cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars — Scientologists learn Hubbard's secret theory of human suffering, which he traces to a galactic battle waged 75 million years ago by an evil tyrant named Xenu.
HUGE info.

Be careful, people: Your untrained wog-brain is supposed to...kinda...melt with exposure to this knowledge.

Or something like that.
According to court documents made public by The Times in the 1980s, Hubbard espoused the belief that Xenu captured the souls, or thetans, of enemies and electronically implanted false concepts in them to keep them confused about his dirty work. The goal of these advanced courses is to become aware of the trauma and free of its effects.
Pretty good run-down of the program: Sign up if you want the rest.
The most striking building is a mansion that sits on a hill — uninhabited. Dubbed "Bonnie View," ex-members say, it was built for the church founder, who died in secrecy on a ranch near San Luis Obispo amid a federal tax investigation that was dropped after his death.

The mansion has a lap pool and a movie theater and was completed in 2000 at a cost of nearly $9.4 million, property records show.

Former members say they were told the mansion was built for Hubbard's return.

"The whole theory of that house was that before Hubbard died in 1986, David Miscavige told us, Hubbard told him he was going to come back and make himself visible within 13 years," (Karen) Schless Pressley said.
Don't know if LRH "made it back," but I do know that his "Winter Wonderland" is open for business.

Currently. Near Hollywood & McCadden.

Just a few yards away from Micelli's (Hollywood's oldest Italian restaurant) and the Pig & Whistle.


Military knew of propaganda blitz

Old story, new twist:
WASHINGTON — U.S. military officials in Iraq were aware that a Pentagon contractor paid Iraqi newspapers to publish positive stories about the war and made it clear that none of the stories should be traced to the United States, according to several current and former employees of Lincoln Group, the Washington-based contractor.

In contrast to assertions by military officials in Baghdad, Iraq and Washington, interviews and Lincoln Group documents show that the information campaign waged in the past year was designed to cloak any connection to the U.S. military.

"In clandestine parlance, Lincoln Group was a 'cut-out' — a third party — that would provide the military with plausible deniability," said a former Lincoln Group employee who worked on the operation.

"To attribute products to (the military) would defeat the entire purpose. Hence, no product by Lincoln Group ever said 'Made in the U.S.A.' "


Disclosures that the military used a private company to plant stories written by U.S. troops in Iraqi newspapers have drawn widespread criticism.

The Pentagon has ordered an investigation, led by Navy Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk.

On Friday, Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said he expects a report "in a week or so."
I think we can assume that Rear Adm. Buskirk will find "no evidence of wrongdoing," but will take steps to "make sure" that something "like this never happens again."

Septeber the 11th terrorists freedom safer brutal attack Saddam September the 11th.

We're doing all we can and we're making good progress.


September the 11th.

"Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma!"
"The church's belief in the power of celebrity to promote Scientology dates to its earliest days when, in 1955, the church issued "Project Celebrity," a call to arms for Scientologists to recruit show business "quarry" such as Walt Disney, Liberace and Greta Garbo to help expand the religion's reach.

Although the church failed to enlist those famous figures, it has been successful in attracting many others in addition to Cruise, including John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Juliette Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Anne Archer, Jenna Elfman, Beck and Chick Corea."
If they promise to give me my own sitcom (as an EP, not an actor) within the next few years? I'm ready to go.

More later...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"We're doin' all we can"

(Hey, people: Please pass this blog on to one person today.)

Our Kid is in a heap o' trouble this morning.

Washington's all abuzz re: his secret eavesdropping program.

According to The Huffington Post --
The (government official familiar with the NSA order) said that then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and top officials in the Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review first briefed a few key officials on the plans to change the 25-year prohibition on most domestic surveillance.

In a series of meetings, officials also answered (U.S. District Judge Royce C.) Lamberth's questions about what some informally called "the president's program," and they asserted that no information gained through warrantless surveillance would be used to gain the court's authorization for secret wiretaps and warrants.

This goes without saying, but if this story ("the president's program") had broken during the Clinton Administration?

THE WHITE HOUSE WOULD BE ON FIRE RIGHT NOW, and Messrs. DeLay, Hastert, Frist, and Dobson (et al) would be out front...holding the torches.


Standing there demanding that the cops shoot the Clintons before they "escaped."

I mean, can you imagine?!

It'll be interesting to see how the Dems respond:

Bush is taken to task on spying

"Congress demands answers on NSA's eavesdropping in U.S."

Well, it's a start:
WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress demanded Friday that President Bush and his administration explain his decision to permit the country's most secretive intelligence agency to spy on American citizens in the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks without first obtaining warrants.

Democrats and some Republicans denounced the administration's action, describing it as another example of Bush's use of the threat of terrorism to assume new legal and intelligence powers and limit civil liberties.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would call congressional hearings. Warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens is "wrong, and it can't be condoned at all," he said.
Well, it's a start:
Trying to quickly contain the controversy, Vice President Dick Cheney went to Capitol Hill to confer with the leaders of both chambers as well as the chairman and top Democrat on the intelligence committees. Those present refused to discuss the session.
I think we know how that meeting went down.



The camera pans around this gorgeous conference room, hidden deep within the bowels of Capitol Hill. DICK CHENEY, the Vice President of the United States, is surrounded by a number of leaders from the House & Senate.

He has an AK-47 in his hand, and is pointing the weapon at the Democrats.

CHENEY - You wanna f*ck with me?! Meet my little friend!
Federal law requires the president to keep Congress "fully and currently informed" of all significant intelligence activities.
Legal experts and congressional officials said a program monitoring the electronic communications of Americans would be considered the type of program that would require immediate congressional notification.

But some pointed to a loophole in the law that allows a president to withhold information under extreme circumstances. In comments to reporters, Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales said the administration had followed the law, including briefing lawmakers as proxies for the public.

"I certainly respect and understand the need for the American people to understand what their government is doing," Gonzales said. " . . . But we also have a corresponding duty to ensure that national security is protected."
That's where they're gonna play ball.

They're gonna scream and yell about doing everything they can to "protect Americans."

On that note...

Bush Acknowledges Approving Eavesdropping

Our Kid is swinging back:
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday he personally has authorized a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks and he lashed out at those involved in publicly revealing the program.

"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.

"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.
Even if it means, uh, breaking federal law.
Defending the program, Bush said in his address that it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al- Qaida or related terrorist organizations.

He said the program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice Department, White House counsel and others, and information from previous activities under the program.
The program is the the Justice Department, White House counsel and "others."

Meaning...the Bushies: They review their own program.

Kinda like letting the Captains of Industry review the "Clear Skies Act."
Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said congressional leaders have been briefed more than a dozen times on the program's activities.
Here's out those meetings went down.

OUR KID - We're doin' all we can to...protect Americans.

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS - Can you be more specific?

OUR KID - We're doin' all we can.



Like every other term in Bushworld, "protect Americans" means something else.

It means "defeat the rabble."
Appearing angry at times during his eight-minute address, Bush left no doubt that he will continue authorizing the program.

"I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al-Qaida and related groups," he said.
And if the powers that be have their way? That's a mighty long time.

Remember, the Cold War only lasted 40 years.

More later...