Posted by: Khepera | Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Report: Bush-era surveillance went beyond wiretaps


I have asserted for months now that one of the single most compelling things Pres. Obama can do to leverage support from all sectors of the public is to hold rigorously accountable all those of the preceding administration — especially those giving the orders or making policy — and simply let things shake out as truth and facts are gathered & revealed. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the president has adopted an apparent ‘let bygones be bygones’ attitude to all this.  If he has any hope of restoring or rebuilding this nation’s stature internationally, in a moral, ethical or even political context, if we just ignore all that, or blindly sweep it under the rug — actually & symbolically — then the new administration, and the public as well will be hard pressed to effectively distance themselves from a clearly self-righteous and demented small group of old white men.

Below is an excerpt from an article printed yesterday in the LA Times.  There is also a link to a PDF file of the Unclassified Report on the President’s Surveillance Program, as commissioned by Congress, and dated 10 July 2009.  Be sure to get yourself a copy before it…..  Much of what is reported was suggested, discussed, even accepted by many in the midst of the events in question, under the emotional mushroom shroud of post-9/11 manic depression.  Nonetheless, the article and report bear review, since we know/knew, and it has been confirmed, that many of the domestic surveillance policies strong-armed under that shroud still remain in place today, though likely in the guise of some other program or directive.


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For the rest of the article


A government report raises new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice officials in the dark about the post-Sept. 11 program.

By Josh Meyer
July 11, 2009

Reporting from Washington — The Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 surveillance efforts went beyond the widely publicized warrantless wiretapping program, a government report disclosed Friday, encompassing additional secretive activities that created “unprecedented” spying powers.

The report also raised new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice Department officials in the dark as it launched the surveillance program.

In a move that it described as “extraordinary and inappropriate,” the report said the White House relied on a single, lower-level attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel for assessments about the programs’ legality.

The attorney, John Yoo, a young George W. Bush appointee with close ties to the president’s inner circle, wrote a series of memos legally blessing the program even though his superiors and most top officials were uninformed about it.

The report was compiled at the request of Congress by five government agency watchdogs: the inspectors general of the Justice Department, Pentagon, CIA, Directorate of National Intelligence and National Security Agency.

It represents the most detailed public disclosure of the existence of secret surveillance efforts beyond the warrantless wiretapping program, saying the overall package of efforts came to be known in the Bush administration as the “President’s Surveillance Program.”

However, the report did not describe the other programs or explain how they worked.

“All of these activities were authorized in a single presidential authorization,” the report said, referring to the warrantless wiretapping as a “terrorist surveillance program” and the undisclosed efforts as “other intelligence activities.”

“The specific details of the other intelligence activities remain highly classified,” the report said.

The inspectors general interviewed more than 200 top officials and front-line agents in defense and intelligence agencies, and said views of the effectiveness of the warrantless wiretapping and other still- secret activities were mixed.

While many agents thought the efforts filled a gap in intelligence efforts, others “had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the President’s Surveillance Program to counter-terrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many.”

The inspectors general concluded that, even though Congress has adopted changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legalizing some of the activities, the information they produce “should be carefully monitored.”

The report also provided a comprehensive and official narrative concerning the selective and often confrontational way in which the Bush administration sought and procured legal authorization for its post-Sept. 11 programs.

Eventually, the surveillance program and the Justice Department’s role in it were so controversial that the deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III both threatened to resign in 2004 because they believed the program was illegal.

The dispute resulted in an infamous showdown that year in the hospital room of then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, when Comey raced up the hospital steps to prevent White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. from persuading the heavily medicated attorney general to sign off on an extension of the program.

Legal experts and lawmakers said the latest findings raised disturbing questions about the actions of the Bush administration and pointed to the need for ways to hold participants accountable.

“I am glad the American people can finally see for themselves what happens when a handful of senior officials — who think they know better than the courts, the U.S. Justice Department and Congress — decide to rewrite the law in secret,” said Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “This report allows the American people to see how senior Bush administration officials concocted the program first and came up with its creative legal justifications later.”

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Responses

  1. >simply let things shake out as truth and facts are gathered & revealed

    Is it really that simple? He’s had his hands full keeping the economy from imploding with almost no Republican support in congress while Democrats haven’t rallied across the board on healthcare. What evidence is there that the “support” is there to fight and win this battle which won’t put food on anyone’s table? Why aren’t the elected officials leading the charge? Where’s the demand for this to be the top priority from the citizens?

    Obama is past the stage of hoping since America’s image abroad seems to be growing in the right direction …

    http://www.thegrio.com/2009/07/poll-us-image-abroad-surges-under-obama.php

    I think because people understand he’s pulled off some significant things just getting the ship moving in the right direction in just a half year in office in the midst of a MAJOR economic crisis. If you want more done wrt Bush era accountability why not light a fire under congress?


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