What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 20, 2005

The Real Reason Why Bush Broke the Law (Like he needs a reason)

Many have wondered why, when FISA Courts approve nearly every wiretap and when you can ask for a wiretap retroactively, Bush went to the extraordinary lengths of just breaking the law and subverting the Constitution that he swore to uphold.

Looks like a little digging by Shock at Daily KOS has come up with the answer in an old article in the Washington Post.

Apparently the courts had already rebuffed Ashcroft about bad wiretaps in 2002:

The secretive federal court that approves spying on terror suspects in the United States has refused to give the Justice Department broad new powers, saying the government had misused the law and misled the court dozens of times, according to an extraordinary legal ruling released yesterday.

A May 17 opinion by the court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials supplied erroneous information to the court in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by then-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.

Authorities also improperly shared intelligence information with agents and prosecutors handling criminal cases in New York on at least four occasions, the judges said.


The documents released yesterday also provide a rare glimpse into the workings of the almost entirely secret FISA court, composed of a rotating panel of federal judges from around the United States and, until yesterday, had never jointly approved the release of one of its opinions. Ironically, the Justice Department itself had opposed the release.

Stewart Baker, former general counsel of the National Security Agency, called the opinion a "a public rebuke. ...

Read the entire story here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Senator Rockefeller's 2003 Letter on Domestic Spying

December 19, 2005 at 05:37 PM

Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

The record needs to be set clear that the Administration never afforded members briefed on the program an

opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program. The limited members who were told of the program

were prohibited by the Administration from sharing any information about it with our colleagues, including other

members of the Intelligence Committees.
At the time, I expressed my concerns to Vice President Cheney that the limited information provided to Congress was

so overly restricted that it prevented members of Congress from conducting meaningful oversight of the legal and

operational aspects of the program.

These concerns were never addressed, and I was prohibited from sharing my views with my colleagues.

Senator Rockefeller, much like Congresswoman Pelosi, expressed serious concerns about the domestic spy program;

he even did so in a hand-written letter to the Vice President the very day he learned of it.

Senator Rockefeller's Hand-Written Letter to Vice President Cheney (.pdf)

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


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