In Retrospect: Who is Really Un-American??

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

You know, one thing I get so sick of hearing from all the right-wing loons is how Progressives like myself and many of you are un-American. We have our patriotism questioned on a daily basis. Right-Wing idiots on the radio rail about how we do not believe in the Constitution and the values this country was founded on. Well, details that have emerged in the last couple of days show that the Bush Administration and their shameless enablers in the Republican Party and the former Republican Congress are the ones who really do not believe in the Constitution, or the freedoms granted by it.

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The N.S.A.'s "Overcollection"

The New York Times reports today that the National Security Agency intercepted the private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans on a scale that exceeded the broad limits set by Congress last year. Several intelligence officials speaking as lawyers only can noted that the N.S.A. had engaged in an "overcollection" of domestic communications of Americans. Officials further characterized the practices by the N.S.A. as "significant and systemic" but "unintentional."

The legal and operational problems surrounding the N.S.A.'s surveillance activities have come under scrutiny from the Obama administration, Congressional intelligence committees and a secret national security court, said the intelligence officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because N.S.A. activities are classified. Classified government briefings have been held in recent weeks in response to a brewing controversy that some officials worry could damage the credibility of legitimate intelligence-gathering efforts.

The Justice Department, in response to inquiries from The New York Times, acknowledged Wednesday night that there had been problems with the N.S.A. surveillance operation, but said they had been resolved.

As part of a periodic review of the agency's activities, the department "detected issues that raised concerns," it said. Justice Department officials then "took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance" with the law and court orders, the statement said. It added that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. went to the national security court to seek a renewal of the surveillance program only after new safeguards were put in place.

In a statement on Wednesday night, the N.S.A. said that its "intelligence operations, including programs for collection and analysis, are in strict accordance with U.S. laws and regulations." The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the intelligence community, did not address specific aspects of the surveillance problems but said in a statement that "when inadvertent mistakes are made, we take it very seriously and work immediately to correct them."

I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you. Massive domestic spying without meaningful oversight in the United States. No limits on surveillance power, what a grand idea.

If there's good news in all this it is that the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant. No word on who that was but perhaps members of Congress will be as outraged as we are at the thought of having our private communications "overcollected" without cause or warrant.

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FISA News: Not What The Media Thinks

Recently, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review released a decision related to wiretapping - but outlets like the Wall Street Journal ed board either didn't read the decision or didn't care what it said (via Media Matters):

"Ever since the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program was exposed in 2005, critics have denounced it as illegal and unconstitutional. Those allegations rested solely on the fact that the Administration did not first get permission from the special court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]. Well, as it happens, the same FISA court would beg to differ."

Wrong. The court's decision only examined wiretapping after the 2007 "Protect America Act," a bill passed specifically to bring the Bush Administration's program back under the law by amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The ruling is narrow - it did not rule on the legality of Bush's secret program from the point of its inception (likely 2002) until the PAA passed.

A little backstory:

Before the PAA, Bush had relied the Congressional war authorization to justify his expansion of Executive power (and to disregard the limits in FISA). But after the Supreme Court's Hamdan ruling in 2006, this reliance on executive power became legally suspect (if only formally). Glenn Greenwald spotted the problem 2 1/2 years ago.

Which brings us to the PAA - a bill the administration pushed as a fix for their clearly illegal behavior. Congress, in effect, passed a law to make what Bush was doing legal.

So no news, really.

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Understanding why the dems folded on FISA

Sometimes a picture just says it all (if you squint you can see the words democratic national convention at the top but you'd think they were a bit ashamed)

The Denver Convention brought to you by the democratic national committee , the democratic majority in the house and Obama. Bought (cheap) and paid for by the telecom community with the money they save from not having to defend themselves from lawsuits. And please start holding your breath now for Obama to withdraw that immunity should he become president.

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Pelosi Passes the Buck; Gore Let Off the Hook at Netroots Nation

From today's Beyond Chron.

It's no surprise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got a tough reception at Netroots Nation - as bloggers asked about the Iraq War, impeachment and (of course) FISA.  Pelosi passed the buck on all of these issues - saying that she's let House Judiciary Chair John Conyers handle executive contempt, blamed Senate Democrats for selling out on FISA and said that only electing Barack Obama will get us out of Iraq.  When Al Gore popped in to make a surprise appearance, the crowd gave a hero's welcome to the ex-Vice President - posing a sharp contrast with Pelosi.  Bloggers cheered Gore's ambitious environmental agenda to make the United States 100% free of fossil fuel energy by 2019.  But nobody bothered to ask Gore why he didn't push for this 15 years ago when he could have done something about it.  Meanwhile, Pelosi's excuses frustrated the audience - but they each have an element of truth to them.  On the other hand, if Pelosi says she "doesn't have the votes" in Congress to get what we want, she should start being more supportive of primary challenges that bloggers wage against bad Democrats.

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