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Mon Sep 21, 2015, 09:09 AM

George W. Bush Made Retroactive N.S.A. ‘Fix’ After Hospital Room Showdown

Source: NYT

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush sought to retroactively authorize portions of the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 surveillance and data collection program after a now-famous incident in 2004 in which his attorney general refused to certify the program as lawful from his hospital bed, according to newly declassified portions of a government investigation.

Mr. Bush’s effort to salvage the surveillance program without changes did not satisfy top Justice Department officials, who threatened to resign. But the newly disclosed passages of a report by inspectors general of six agencies suggest that the confrontation in the hospital room came after the Justice Department identified several problems, including a “gap” between what Mr. Bush had authorized the N.S.A. to collect and what the agency was collecting in practice.

A leak of government documents in 2013 revealed that the fight had been partly about the legality of the N.S.A.’s collection of data about Americans’ emails in bulk. But the latest disclosure shows that the Justice Department had additional concerns.

...

The newly revealed passages in the report show that the fight was about more than that. The passages consist largely of quotations and descriptions of the evolving Stellarwind authorization orders that Mr. Bush periodically signed, and which were drafted by David Addington, the top counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/us/politics/george-w-bush-made-retroactive-nsa-fix-after-hospital-room-showdown.html?_r=0

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Reply George W. Bush Made Retroactive N.S.A. ‘Fix’ After Hospital Room Showdown (Original post)
sabra Sep 2015 OP
FreakinDJ Sep 2015 #1
NewJeffCT Sep 2015 #7
Major Hogwash Sep 2015 #2
awoke_in_2003 Sep 2015 #15
navarth Sep 2015 #3
riderinthestorm Sep 2015 #5
navarth Sep 2015 #6
jalan48 Sep 2015 #4
grasswire Sep 2015 #11
jalan48 Sep 2015 #16
Dont call me Shirley Sep 2015 #8
Demeter Sep 2015 #9
seafan Sep 2015 #10
Javaman Sep 2015 #12
PassingFair Sep 2015 #13
Qutzupalotl Sep 2015 #14
Stargleamer Sep 2015 #17

Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 09:30 AM

1. So they knew what they were doing was Illegal

 

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Response to FreakinDJ (Reply #1)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:57 AM

7. Don't be silly

He's a Republican, so that makes his actions automatically legal and in the best interests of the country. To think otherwise means you are an unpatriotic person who hates America and hates freedom!

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:36 AM

2. Yabbut, it's okay cuz it's the NSA spying on the USA this time!

And they want to know why we hate Dubya so fu*king much!!!!!!!

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Response to Major Hogwash (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:30 PM

15. It's not like it's been scaled back under Obama. nt

 

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:43 AM

3. glad to see this story brought up again

It's not new, but I suspect there's a whole buttload of people that don't know about it.

Addington....what a fucking scumbag.

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Response to navarth (Reply #3)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:47 AM

5. Oh but ya know the NSA has stopped that right?

 

No illegal stuff happening now, no sirree!!11!1

Snowden, boxes, pole dancers....



NSA keepin' us safe from terrah!

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #5)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:50 AM

6. yup. nt

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:44 AM

4. They stole the election in 2000 so what else is new?

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Response to jalan48 (Reply #4)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 01:14 PM

11. I wonder how much the NSA had to do with providing intel to Rove.

Not officially, of course, but someone inside with access to eavesdropping or able to control voting tabulators remotely.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #11)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 07:58 PM

16. Well, George Sr. is the former head of the CIA.

I'm sure his connections didn't stop when he left the Organization.

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 11:32 AM

8. At least the msm is airing the "why it would be bad to [elect] another bush again". The more

stories putting any bush in a bad position, the better.

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 12:05 PM

9. Shut down the NSA!

 

I'm dead serious. Let those wonks find better things to do, things that increase democracy, like detecting vote theft by digital voting machines.

Let their managers learn how to pick up litter by the roadside with those little pointy sticks.

Let my people go!

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 12:45 PM

10. Bush, Cheney, Addington, Gonzales, Woo, Andy Card should be serving time.

Here, here and below, is more on Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital room incident, for those who were too young to be aware of this at the time:

Newsweek: Palace Revolt, February 5, 2006

The chief opponent of the rebels, though by no means the only one, was an equally obscure, but immensely powerful, lawyer-bureaucrat. Intense, workaholic (even by insane White House standards), David Addington, formerly counsel, now chief of staff to the vice president... //snip//...Presidential appointees quail before his volcanic temper, backed by assiduous preparation and acid sarcasm.


The rebels were not whistle-blowers in the traditional sense. They did not want—indeed avoided—publicity. (Jack) Goldsmith confirmed public facts about himself but otherwise declined to comment. Comey also declined to comment.) They were not downtrodden career civil servants. Rather, they were conservative political appointees who had been friends and close colleagues of some of the true believers they were fighting against. They did not see the struggle in terms of black and white but in shades of gray—as painfully close calls with unavoidable pitfalls. They worried deeply about whether their principles might put Americans at home and abroad at risk. Their story has been obscured behind legalisms and the veil of secrecy over the White House. But it is a quietly dramatic profile in courage. (For its part the White House denies any internal strife. "The proposition of internal division in our fight against terrorism isn't based in fact," says Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney. "This administration is united in its commitment to protect Americans, defeat terrorism and grow democracy."


Addington's problems with Goldsmith were just beginning. In the jittery aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration had pushed the top-secret National Security Agency to do a better and more expansive job of electronically eavesdropping on Al Qaeda's global communications. Under existing law—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, adopted in 1978 as a post-Watergate reform—the NSA needed (in the opinion of most legal experts) to get a warrant to eavesdrop on communications coming into or going out of the United States. Reasoning that there was no time to obtain warrants from a secret court set up under FISA (a sometimes cumbersome process), the Bush administration justified going around the law by invoking a post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing use of force against global terror. The eavesdropping program was very closely held, with cryptic briefings for only a few congressional leaders. Once again, Addington and his allies made sure that possible dissenters were cut out of the loop.

There was one catch: the secret program had to be reapproved by the attorney general every 45 days. It was Goldsmith's job to advise the A.G. on the legality of the program. In March 2004, John Ashcroft was in the hospital with a serious pancreatic condition. At Justice, Comey, Ashcroft's No. 2, was acting as attorney general.
The grandson of an Irish cop and a former U.S. attorney from Manhattan, Comey, 45, is a straight arrow. (It was Comey who appointed his friend—the equally straitlaced and dogged Patrick Fitzgerald—to be the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak-investigation case.) Goldsmith raised with Comey serious questions about the secret eavesdropping program, according to two sources familiar with the episode. He was joined by a former OLC lawyer, Patrick Philbin, who had become national-security aide to the deputy attorney general. Comey backed them up. The White House was told: no reauthorization.

The angry reaction bubbled up all the way to the Oval Office. President Bush, with his penchant for put-down nicknames, had begun referring to Comey as "Cuomey" or "Cuomo," apparently after former New York governor Mario Cuomo, who was notorious for his Hamlet-like indecision over whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1980s. A high-level delegation—White House Counsel Gonzales and chief of staff Andy Card—visited Ashcroft in the hospital to appeal Comey's refusal. In pain and on medication, Ashcroft stood by his No. 2.

A compromise was finally worked out. The NSA was not compelled to go to the secret FISA court to get warrants, but Justice imposed tougher legal standards before permitting eavesdropping on communications into the United States. It was a victory for the Justice lawyers, and it drove Addington to new levels of vexation with Goldsmith.



I highly recommend that everyone read that entire 2006 piece at Newsweek, as it describes in great detail the illegalities that Bush, Cheney, Addington, Gonzales, Woo, Andy Card and the rest of that cabal were trying to push through in the chaos of post-911, outside of public knowledge.


Today, September 21, 2015, we are finding out more about what happened.

A sweeping hat tip to sabra for posting this piece from the NYT today, that sheds much more light on what was going on in Ashcroft's hospital room a decade ago:

George W. Bush Made Retroactive N.S.A. ‘Fix’ After Hospital Room Showdown, September 20, 2015

According to this piece, portions of this 2009 report which has been entirely classified since April, were wrested out via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and obtained by the NYT late Friday night.

It sheds more light on Bush's post-911 spying program, codenamed Stellarwind, which not only involved warrentless wiretapping of terrorism suspects' international phone calls and emails, but ALSO the bulk collection of Americans' metadata of phone calls and emails. This Bush program had bypassed established rules set by FISA (The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).

.....

While the public has long known about the March 2004 hospital room fight that resulted from their skepticism, the details of the dispute have remained murky. Two years ago, leaked documents revealed one piece of the dispute: whether a component of Stellarwind that collected bulk data about Americans’ emails was legal.

The newly revealed passages in the report show that the fight was about more than that. The passages consist largely of quotations and descriptions of the evolving Stellarwind authorization orders that Mr. Bush periodically signed, and which were drafted by David Addington, the top counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney.

.....

But the text of Mr. Bush’s authorizations to the N.S.A. directed it “acquire” phone and email metadata only if at least one end of the communications were of foreigners abroad, or if the specific call or email was linked to terrorism. The bulk collection of purely domestic metadata would seem to go beyond the scope of that authority, even if Mr. Yoo’s theory of presidential power was accurate, because Mr. Bush had not explicitly authorized the collection of such data.

This gap was one of several concerns that prompted the Justice Department, led temporarily by Mr. Comey because Mr. Ashcroft was sick, to refuse to recertify that the program was lawful as it was operating at the time. On March 10, 2004, White House officials visited the hospital room of Mr. Ashcroft and asked him to overrule Mr. Comey. Mr. Ashcroft refused, citing Mr. Goldsmith’s analysis.

The next day, Mr. Bush reauthorized the program anyway without Justice Department approval. This time, Mr. Addington drafted additional language as a “fix,” the report said.

.....

This formulation appeared to permit bulk collection of domestic metadata, so long as the N.S.A. searched the database only for records related to terrorism suspects.

Mr. Bush also declared that this newly drafted distinction between obtaining and acquiring data reflected previous N.S.A. conduct that had been “known to and authorized by me.” The new language, Mr. Bush added, would be deemed to have been a part of his previous authorizations as if those words had been included in them when he signed them, so that he was ratifying and confirming the N.S.A.’s prior actions.

Mr. Addington also added language in which Mr. Bush, for the first time, explicitly said that his authorizations were “displacing” specific federal statutes, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and criminal wiretapping laws. The White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, then told Mr. Goldsmith that the president had “made an interpretation of law concerning his authorities” and that the Justice Department could not act in contradiction of Mr. Bush’s determinations.

But Mr. Bush’s willingness to go forward with the program without operational changes prompted a threat of mass resignation by top department officials. To avert that meltdown, Mr. Bush then agreed to accept curbs on the program.



I was hoping to have a non-furious start to today....

This will not be rectified until these people are arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned for treason, war crimes and torture.


This nation's deep, deep fury will not abate until that happens.


Wonder what Jeb! thinks of this?

He doesn't have a #$^&*%@ clue, except he wants to use W's old advisers in his fantasy administration.





Go away, Jeb!.





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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 01:25 PM

12. trying his best to channel that paragon of integrity: richard nixon...

"If the President Does It, That Means It's Not Illegal"

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 01:30 PM

13. Comey was an absolute hero in this scene.

I'm glad he was rewarded for his honesty and ethics, Republican or not!

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #13)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:22 PM

14. Agreed.

There are hardly any honest Republicans left, and next to none in the former W administration, so Comey deserves credit for this.

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Response to sabra (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 08:39 PM

17. This video (featuring James Comey's testimony) is still right on re these power grabs

[link:|

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