Sunday, March 30, 2008

AG Mukasey sheds tears for telecoms & demands new powers

Michael Mukasey’s Tearful Lies by Glenn Greenwald

Michael Mukasey has conclusively proven himself to be an exact replica of Alberto Gonazles — slavishly loyal to every presidential whim and unbound by even the most minimal constraints of truth while serving those whims. Speaking in San Fransisco this week, Mukasey demanded that the President be given new warrantless eavesdropping powers and that lawbreaking telecoms be granted amnesty. To make his case, Mukasey teared up while exploiting the 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11 and said this:

Officials “shouldn’t need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that’s the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that’s the call that we didn’t know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn’t know precisely where it went.” At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America’s anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. “We got three thousand. . . . We’ve got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn’t come home to show for that,” he said, struggling to maintain his composure.

At the time of the attacks, Mr. Mukasey was the chief judge at the federal courthouse a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.

These are multiple falsehoods here, and independently, this whole claim makes no sense. There is also a pretty startling new revelation here about the Bush administration’s pre-9/11 failure that requires a good amount of attention. Even under the “old” FISA, no warrants are required where the targeted person is outside the U.S. (Afghanistan) and calls into the U.S. Thus, if it’s really true, as Mukasey now claims, that the Bush administration knew about a Terrorist in an Afghan safe house making Terrorist-planning calls into the U.S., then they could have — and should have — eavesdropped on that call and didn’t need a warrant to do so. So why didn’t they? Mukasey’s new claim that FISA’s warrant requirements prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans is disgusting and reckless, because it’s all based on the lie that FISA required a warrant for targeting the “Afghan safe house.” It just didn’t. Nor does the House FISA bill require individual warrants when targeting a non-U.S. person outside the U.S.

Independently, even if there had been a warrant requirement for that call — and there unquestionably was not — why didn’t the Bush administration obtain a FISA warrant to listen in on 9/11-planning calls from this “safe house”? Independently, why didn’t the administration invoke FISA’s 72-hour emergency warrantless window to listen in on those calls? If what Muskasey said this week is true — and that’s a big “if” — his revelation about this Afghan call that the administration knew about but didn’t intercept really amounts to one of the most potent indictments yet about the Bush administration’s failure to detect the plot in action. Contrary to his false claims, FISA — for multiple reasons — did not prevent eavesdropping on that call.

Mukasey was even more dishonest in demanding amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms. According to today’s admiring Wall St. Journal Editorial, this is what Mukasey said on that subject:

The AG also addressed why immunity from lawsuits is vital for the telecom companies that cooperated with the surveillance after 9/11. “Forget the liability” the phone companies face, Mr. Mukasey said. “We face the prospect of disclosure in open court of what they did, which is to say the means and the methods by which we collect foreign intelligence against foreign targets.” Al Qaeda would love that.

Mike Mukasey was a long-time federal judge and so I feel perfectly comfortable calling that what it is: a brazen lie. Federal courts hear classified information with great regularity and it is not heard in “open court.” There are numerous options available to any federal judge to hear classified information — closed courtrooms, in camera review (in chambers only), ex parte communications (communications between one party and the judge only). No federal judge — and certainly not Vaughn Walker, the Bush 41 appointee presiding over the telecom cases — is going to allow “disclosure in open court of . . . . the means and the methods by which we collect foreign intelligence.” And Mukasey knows that. Worse, FISA itself (50 USC 1806(f)) explicitly provides that telecoms are permitted to present any evidence in support of their defenses in secret (both in camera and ex parte) to the judge and let the judge decide the case based on it. Just go read 50 USC 1806(f) of FISA; it’s as clear as day. In fact, it doesn’t merely permit, but explicitly requires, the federal judge to review evidence in secret whenever the Attorney General requests that (”the United States district court in the same district . . . shall, notwithstanding any other law, if the Attorney General files an affidavit under oath that disclosure or an adversary hearing would harm the national security of the United States, review in camera and ex parte the application the application, order, and such other materials relating to the surveillance.”).

Beyond that, the key provision of the House’s FISA bill expressly provides that any classified information in the telecom lawsuits shall be submitted in secret to the federal judge. Mukasey’s claims that these lawsuits will result in disclosure of classified information in open court is a complete lie — term used very advisedly.

Worse still, think about what Mukasey is actually saying. His argument means that government officials must be free to break the law in a classified intelligence setting with impunity, because we can’t risk subjecting them to a court of law since, presumably, we can’t trust our country’s federal judges with classified information and so it’s preferable to allow lawbreaking by our highest government officials. That’s a pretty extraordinary — and pretty reprehensible — argument for a former federal judge and current Attorney General to be making. I hope Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer are very proud.

Michael Mukasey can cry all he wants about the 9/11 attacks. But neither he nor the rest of the Bush administration are the proprietors of those attacks. There were millions of New Yorkers in Manhattan on 9/11 other than Michael Mukasey, who lived and worked there for a long time. Neither Mike Mukasey nor his tearful pleas for unchecked government surveillance power and the erosion of the rule of law are representative of them.

To the contrary, the substantial majority of New Yorkers — and huge majorities of Manhattanites — vehemently reject the Bush/Cheney agenda of dismantling our constitutional framework and basic safeguards in the name of these sorts of fear-mongering and manipulative appeals. Unlike Mukasey and other Bush followers, most New Yorkers have ceased quivering in fear long ago — if they ever did — and have had their resolve to defend our basic constitutional liberties strengthened, not obliterated, as a result of the 9/11 attack and the subsequent, self-serving exploitation of it by Mukasey’s White House bosses. And under no circumstances do Mukasey’s tears provide license for this tidal wave of lies in defense of presidential lawlessness, from our nation’s highest “law enforcement

Source: Common Dreams

The illegal warrantless telecom spying began in February 2001, SEVEN months before 9/11.

Which means that the Bush/Cheney Junta not only knew about the upcoming attacks, but were active in ensuring that the attacks were carried out and the cover was kept so the MOSSAD/CIA false-flags ops of 9/11 could proceed without hindrance.

Here's a link to the story in the San Francisco paper:

Greg Bacon's blog


Mukasey gets emotional over retroactive immunity ( 40 sec. video)

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