Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 10:39 PM
Number of posts: 60,702
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 10:39 PM
Number of posts: 60,702
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from Ron Fullwood (bigtree), 7/29/2007:
Bush's FISA Duck and Cover
Just like the Torture Bill pardoned his tortures, Bush want(ed) FISA law changed to cover his illegal spying
The recent Sixth Circuit court dismissed an ACLU wiretapping suit on the bizarre, Kafkaesque grounds that the organization couldn't sue because they couldn't prove they had been harmed. Even though the records which could answer the question remain classified, the court ruled that a “reasonable expectation” their organization's name would be found in the domestic warrantless surveillance program's target lists didn't give them enough 'standing' to claim injury and advance their lawsuit.
It's not just the ACLU who has reason to believe their communications were intercepted by the NSA. The intelligence agency was running a 'data-mining' program under the authorization of a presidential order signed by Bush in 2002. For three years, without informing Congress, Bush and the NSA had been monitoring telephone calls and e-mail messages of thousands of United States citizens without warrants.
The sixth Circuit's ruling, while stifling ACLU attempts to crack the domestic spying program open for inspection, did not get as far as deciding the issue of whether the program had actually violated the FISA Act; or ruled on it's constitutionality under the First and Fourth Amendments. The reason Bush is so eager to have Congress pass a series of accommodations to the Justice Dept's questionable exercise of the surveillance law is to preempt any other legal challenge which might force them to end the practice.
More important to the Bush administration is to have Congress join them in codifying their warrantless spying by merely agreeing to modify it; instead of pressing forward with their determination that Bush actually broke the law they already had in place. In his radio address today, Bush complains that the FISA law he ignored for the three years he was sneaking around it, is "out of date," despite his neglect in saying anything at all to Congress in that period about 'updating' it.
He preferred, instead, to hide his actions from Congress and the American people; even today with his continued refusal to provide the public (or Congress) with the knowledge of which of our citizens' private communications was subject to NSA intercepts.
Bush's sudden interest in pressing Congress to pass his FISA revisions "before they leave town," has to also be seen as an attempted insulation of his embattled Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. Repeatedly forced into perjurious contradictions as he's defended Bush's surveillance programs before congressional committees, Congress is demanding Gonzales explain his previous testimony that his late-night dash with the FBI chief into Ashcroft's intensive care ward in 2004 had nothing to do with the data mining operation. Democrats are especially interested in FBI Director Mueller's testimony this week, in which he clearly contradicted Gonzales, saying that the conversation at Ashcroft's bedside was, in fact, all about the "much discussed" surveillance program.
Bush quoted Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, in his address, as he complained of being "significantly burdened" because Congress hasn't given his agency the absolution he demands from the legal restraints FISA provides that he's already ignored. While giving lip-service to 'civil liberties' and 'privacy' interests, one of the provisions Bush mentioned would change the law to allow them to "work more efficiently with private-sector entities like communications providers" -- much like the administration did when they secretly conspired with nation's telecommunications giants to get them to the point where they could manipulate the transmissions so that their intercepts would be technically legal.
Today's report in the NYT, quoting 'current and former officials' who witnessed a near mutiny over the data-mining program in it's inception, suggests a spying effort which was even larger than previously disclosed. Despite the vain, transparent attempt by the paper to provide Gonzales cover by suggesting the existence of some other program Mueller could have been referring to -- parsing the difference between 'eavesdropping' and 'data-mining' -- there should be no question that the entire effort by the administration was to subvert the requirements of the FISA, especially the warrants.
On July 26, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy sent a letter to Gonzales giving him a chance to avoid perjuring himself further, giving him an August 3 deadline to change his tune. But it looks like the WH is intent on standing their ground on their convoluted explanation that Mueller couldn't have contradicted Gonzales because, in doing so, he would have to reveal national security secrets; so desperate to avoid having their their tacky, despicable attempt to steamroll the sedated Ashcroft devolve into a full-blown perjury investigation that they were willing to (partially) reveal yet another one of their illegally operated, domestic spying schemes.
It just makes sense that, before we even consider allowing this administration (or any other) to unravel the protections provided under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act , that we demand and ensure -- through the courts as well as in the legislature -- that there is enough of an incentive to comply by tightening review and enforcement provisions. At the very least, we should continue to demand that this administration be held accountable in court for the FISA laws (and others) they've already admitted breaking.
Relying on 'Reasonable' Beliefs of Bush and Hayden (bigtree article)
The reasonable test. Reasonableness. That's the threshold test Bush and his lawyer Gonzales use to determine whether to spy on Americans. 'Reasonableness' is also the standard that Bush's nominee for the CIA, Gen. Hayden, has used to defend the warrant-less wiretapping and data-mining of U.S. citizens, in blatant disregard for the FISA law set in place by Sen. Kennedy and others in response to unwarranted surveillance in the '60's and the '70's.
Posted by bigtree | Mon Jul 29, 2013, 02:19 PM (6 replies)
. . . Marian Anderson, MLK . . . not to mention the myriads of other protests, marches, and rallies in my lifetime that I participated in on those grounds.
Then there's Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address etched majestically on the wall adjacent to that towering statue of Abe. Reading those words; standing there, you can actually guage the depths of our nation's tumultuous history and revel in the changes which our democracy has brought about since those immortal words were spoken.
This is just a shame . . .
tweeted by, Stephanie Cutter @stefcutter 5m
This is so unbelievably sad and disgusting. Wash Post: Lincoln Memorial shuts down after vandals splash paint on it. http://wapo.st/14gc6Dm
Posted by bigtree | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 02:03 PM (3 replies)
. . . here's one that hit me right between the eyes (from a really nice guy, at that).
. . . I dunno, maybe that response to me isn't as interesting as I think, but, the thing is, DU, I'm just a dedicated Democrat who will advocate as forcefully and as diligently as I am able for our Democratic candidates in these elections. It should have been obvious, but most folks couldn't see beyond the advocacy of their own candidate in that primary to imagine that I might, eventually, support theirs.
I'm just a fellow who stocks shelves at night, not a political operative, by any means. I 'belong' to DU, and I 'belong' to the Democratic Party. Outside of that, I'm just a working class slob living paycheck to paycheck. I make some strident defenses of our Democrats, no doubt, but, I've never felt I've done any big harm in posting here. All of the talk about how relevant DU can be ignores the fact that the bulk of our discussions; most of our venomous back and forth; doesn't usually amount to spit outside of this board. It has mattered, to me, though.
Hillary Clinton was my third choice in that campaign, I believe, followed by Barack Obama, when he got the nomination.
I hope we can keep sight of the fact that, while we may well disagree on issues and candidates here, most of us will continue to be strong advocates for our Democratic party and principles long after the votes are cast and the choice is made by the electorate.
Yes, I read more than a few of my own insults and accusations and I've found more than a few that were directed toward folks who I consider strong allies on this board today. There needn't have been a divide with some of my fellow DUers, on my part, if I'd kept that eventuality in mind during the heat of the campaign.
I'm looking forward to the congressional midterms with excitement and enthusiasm for the fight to regain the House and retain the Senate. I'm also mindful that the next presidential election is already being prepared for by folks who intend to make a serious run. I hope we can continue to find ways to elevate the issues and concerns that are important to us - and, to eventually unify in these upcoming elections; for the good our party - and for the good of the nation.
And, . . . that should just about do it. ('by the word' )
Posted by bigtree | Thu Jul 11, 2013, 09:32 AM (3 replies)
tweeted by, Doug Mills @dougmillsnyt 1h
Obama makes some moves with Aviwe Mtongana, aka Katmeister, a rapper at the Desmond Tutu HIV Youth Centre #Katmeister pic.twitter.com/0G6fogvUlN
Retweeted by Team Barack Obama
Posted by bigtree | Sun Jun 30, 2013, 02:37 PM (6 replies)
BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking 2m
President Obama says "we are all more free" in reaction to historic US ruling on gay marriage http://bbc.in/11NxErt
The Caucus @thecaucus 4m
President Obama's statement on the #SCOTUS gay marriage rulings http://nyti.ms/17Cumiw
Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka
President @BarackObama's statement on the #SCOTUS ruling #DOMA unconstitutional.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Jun 26, 2013, 10:59 AM (1 replies)
BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking 5h
Nato-led troops hand over full control of combat operations in #Afghanistan to Afghan forces http://bbc.in/18UybA6
BuzzFeed News @BuzzFeedNews 5h
BREAKING: Afghan president says his armed forces now taking the lead for security around the country, @AP reports
The Associated Press @AP 5h
BREAKING: Afghan president says his armed forces now taking the lead for security around the country.
. . . the symbolic impact is profound. For the first time since the departure of Soviet forces in 1989 and the years of civil war that followed, security across the whole of Afghanistan is now the responsibility of forces led by the Afghan government.
Posted by bigtree | Tue Jun 18, 2013, 07:02 AM (5 replies)
The New York Times @nytimes 36m
Iran’s President-Elect Says He Wants Better U.S. Ties http://nyti.ms/11tn090
"To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq," Obama said . . . regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat . . .
Posted by bigtree | Mon Jun 17, 2013, 02:00 PM (2 replies)
Looking out this year at the magnificence of my garden yard, it's tempting to take an undue share of the credit for its vigorous and unprecedented growth. It's lushness that's developed over the 13 years I've been working on it betrays very little of the trials and deaths of countless would-be companions and allies I tried to mesh with this glad and busy assortment of perennials, shrubs, trees, vines and other volunteers gathered so close together in this well-established 'woodland' habitat.
Gone forever, from the front of the house, is that marvelously perfect lawn that I had maintained with pride at the highest height that I could set my favorite lawnmower. It was a gratuitous and patronizing notice in the mail from the neighborhood association that my lawn needed cutting (my favorite lawnmower had died) which gave me the resolve to eliminate it altogether; and fill the space with anything but the short, butchered grass which so improbably makes up the vast majority of the flora which is grown on the long, sloping front yards in our nature-filled community and is polluting our signature lakes like they were farmlands- with their excesses of nitrogen, potassium, and other grass-growing chemicals.
In place of my vanquished trophy lawn is a refuge of plants of like and different varieties; daylilies; hostas; iris; campamula; black-eyed susans; Asian lilies; snakeroot; sundrops; loosestrife; euonymous; lamium; strawflower; butterfly bushes; ferns; clematis; lirope; trumpet vine; oakleaf hydrangeas; climbing hydrangeas; hydranga-hydrangeas; kerria; Japanese maple; forest-pansy redbud; witch-hazel; Harry-Lauder walking stick; diverse assortment of viburnums; astilbe; virginia creeper; phlox; poppy; ajuga; sweet flag; sunflowers; monarda; comphrey; mint; perennial geraniums; vinca; sedum; mondo grasses; other ornamental grasses of various sizes; peonies; barberry; bayberry; beautyberry; oxalis; assortment of perennial hibiscus; chinese lantern; crepe myrtle; azaleas; firebushes; goldenrod; ballonflower; hechuera; dianthus; lobelia; and the rest of my rescued annuals which were fortunate enough (or, not) to spend the winter inside - all of this suburban habitat opportunistically assembled for my big and little animal friends to congregate and propagate amongst the tangle of leaf, flower, berry, and branch.
My new neighbor asked me how much water his yard would need to grow and prosper. I told him that plants will send up new growth to match the nourishment and sustenance you're able to provide. More water and food means more growth, so, you're then obliged to continue to nurture that growth at the risk of withdrawing that support and abandoning your sprouts to the ravages of the elements.
Are we actually caretakers in this menagerie, or, are we merely antagonists bent on shuffling and scrambling nature about for our own edification? In mostly all of the natural world, we find most species adapted to an almost routine pattern of survival which advantages itself of every other instinct and expression of the environment - taking a bit of nature for themselves, here and there; giving another bit back, in return.
Does that nature manifest itself in the fox who found refuge for the majority of the day last winter (and warmth) on top of the pile of composting leaves at the back of my yard?
Or is that nature the providence of the family of rabbits who live (and, presumably, are killed) in the burrows under the bank of day lilies facing our driveway - the rabbit family that was the subject of the fox's intense hunt that I witnessed one night from an upstairs window; the garden predator weaving back and forth through the dense growth of foliage to find his innocent quarry?
Are the deer who also time-shared the same cramped but accommodating space of refuge during the winter days - who now migrate through the yard and forage on every bit of nutritious foliage and flower they can find - friends or ultimate enemies of this arranged habitat?
Is the hawk less welcome atop the heights of the dead pine in back than the chipmunks who perform their death-defying feats of seeming mischief and frivolity with little visible worry or fear of the threat from above?
Would that we could all be as enthusiastic and grateful for nature as the lowly caterpillar which has suddenly been transformed from a grub into a fluttering butterfly - able, at last, to explore and take advantage of the riches of nature from one garden to the next.
Maybe the ephemeral life of a butterfly wouldn't be such a smart trade-off. There's nothing at all which will ever completely ingratiate the former leaf-eater on a forced, slimmed-down diet with his nurtured, pollinated hosts. Yet, nature, by its own design, attracts and invites the obliging butterfly to become a vital and integral partner in the perpetuation of an important bit of what we call life on this planet.
Poet, John Ashbery ('Some Trees'), describes the accommodating mix of menagerie and flora as an arrangement of chance and opportunity:
These are amazing: each
It is hard, but, not impossible, to imagine that all of this magnificence around us would occur without some hand in singling out new sprouts and nurturing, protecting, refereeing among their neighbors, and helping them take full advantage of the light, water, and nourishment that nature obligingly provides. Caretaking and nurturing them is as intimate as we humans can be with these miracles of nature, unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper like they do; plant our own feet that firmly in the ground and we would surely rot away with time.
Posted by bigtree | Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:56 PM (22 replies)
Connie Picciotto has kept vigil near the White House for 32 years. Why, and at what cost?
____ The historic vigil began officially on June 3, 1981, when Connie joined William Thomas, a protester who had positioned himself outside the White House gates with a hand-lettered sign: “Wanted — Wisdom and Honesty.”
Connie, a former embassy secretary in New York who was working as a part-time nanny for a local family, had come to Washington to plead for the government’s help with a family crisis. Thomas (he was known to everyone by his last name) was a self-described philosopher, a wanderer who had dropped out of high school, pilgrimaged overseas and held odd jobs in New York and New Jersey before winding up in Washington . . .
She sat down beside him. Within hours, they were arrested for illegally camping in Lafayette Square. When they were released, Thomas told her, “Since we are both seeking peace and justice, we should become a team.” So they did.
William Thomas in 2006. (Kevin Clark)
Connie had read about nuclear issues and had been horrified by photographs of the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. She adopted Thomas’s message as her own: They were pro-peace, anti-nuclear proliferation and anti-government deception. They dedicated their lives to their cause, which mostly meant that they would sit across the street from one of the most powerful buildings in the free world and talk to the visitors who came by, hand out literature and display their signs. They would do this night and day, in freezing cold and scorching heat, through rains that soaked their clothes and winds that scattered their pamphlets across the pavement. They had only their flimsy umbrella-shelter for protection; actual tents had been banned in the park___
Connie and Thomas believed that changing even a handful of minds through their signs, their words was enough. Their endurance alone would be a powerful testament, an ever-present symbol of the need for change . . .
read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/feature/wp/2013/05/02/connie-picciotto-has-kept-vigil-near-the-white-house-for-32-years-why-and-at-what-cost/?tid=ts_carousel
Connie in her basement apartment at Peace House. (Bill O’Leary)
( . . . I was just a naive and idealistic teen when I first saw Connie out in front of the WH waking up protestors who, at that time, had their protest signs arranged as a lean-to shelter against the White House gates - offering them coffee and food that she had brought. I was in awe of this incredible lady then; in awe of her throughout every WH protest that I bothered to go down and attend; and very proud to see her still standing there. Thanks, Connie, for all you do!)
Posted by bigtree | Sat May 4, 2013, 08:24 AM (12 replies)
Democratic principles need to dominate the political arena, not sidle up beside republicans looking for some reciprocal grope. Republicanism is not just an opposition party, it is a dangerous and destructive philosophy. Put into practice, it is naked corporatism, unquenchable militarism, unashamed discrimination, and anti-democratic tyranny. This republican class who is in power right now is the worst in my lifetime; nothing but a front for their corporate masters.
They are putting our nation at risk and threatening the health of the earth itself. This shouldn't be just a battle to just sit a couple of rungs above them. They need to be disenfranchised from successfully promoting and furthering their agenda.
"Reaching out" to them will be regarded by these thugs as acceptance and acquiescence. They need to be taken down, and their supporters need to understand we're not willing to subject the nation, any more, to the consequences of the republican party's elaborate con job masquerading as policy.
We shouldn't pretend that there aren't specific issues which form a dividing line. Most of these, on the Democratic side, are long standing efforts to provide basic needs and to uphold or establish basic rights which the republicans obstruct with whatever position or strategy suits the moment, often completely running over their previous philosophy, like their former objections to 'nation-building', or conservatives' former support of privacy rights.
What the President seems to be unaware of, is that many of the compromises he's seeking may well make sense in the political arena - like clearing some untidy backlog of unfinished business. Yet, most of those compromises threaten divide many in the country from the Democratic party which has pledged, and fought to support and defend these opportunistically-discarded initiatives in the past. That 'partisanship' was a NECESSARY response to republican obstructionism.
These days, our party doesn't have a progressive agenda; it has a timid and defensive one in the face of an extreme republican opposition, and I reject any implication that our Democratic politics has EVER been unnecessarily confrontational. These 'lifelong republicans' need to be CHALLENGED and discredited when they try and push their obstructionist, industry enabling agenda, not mollycoddled.
bigtree in 2008:
I can see the republicans standing with President Obama . . .
. . . granted, I was just supporting another insider pol (Clinton) at the time, against Barack Obama, but, she had pledged to fight republicans, if she became president. Who knows if that would have been the better political choice?
Who cares? Here we are. This President is still pledging to keep on 'reaching out' to this oblivious republican opposition; still insisting that the worst of them is, somehow, 'concerned about all people in America.'
Obama promised to continue his charm offensive aimed at Republicans
Posted by bigtree | Thu Apr 25, 2013, 08:30 AM (22 replies)