McCarthy Believed CIA Lied to Congress

The Washington Post tells us that Mary McCarthy had been investigating "allegations of criminal mistreatment by the CIA and its contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan". Last June a "senior CIA official" told Congress in a secure room that no actions of the CIA had violated international treaties for the treatment of prisoners.

When Mary heard this, she was startled, because she considered it a lie.

And it wasn't the only time Mary came across evidence that senior CIA official were lying to Congress about these matters. She had led the investigation into detainee treatment in both Iraq and Afghanistan:

McCarthy's findings are secret. According to a brief CIA statement about the probe in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, investigators set out to examine "the conduct of CIA components and personnel, including DO personnel" during interrogations. Tens of thousands of pages of material were collected, including White House and Justice Department documents, and multiple reports were issued. Some described cases of abuse, involving fewer than a dozen individuals, and were forwarded to the Justice Department, according to government officials.

Another report, completed in 2004, examined the CIA's interrogation policies and techniques, concluded that they might violate international law and made 10 recommendations, which the agency has at least partially adopted. That report jarred some officials, because the Justice Department has contended that the international convention against torture -- barring "cruel, inhumane, and degrading" treatment -- does not apply to U.S. interrogations of foreigners outside the United States.

Little else is known publicly. The CIA inspector general's reports have narrow circulation. When IG inquiries involve covert actions such as foreign interrogations, for example, the agency briefs only the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, instead of the full panels. So only a handful of people in Washington knew what McCarthy knew.
This misconduct may have been her motivation, if so she did, to leak information about the CIA's secret prisons. She was fired last April as if she had done it, and she may yet face proscecution over it.

Let's see: leaking sensitive information as a whistleblower or lying to Congress to hide criminal acts, which would you rather be convicted of?

Was Moussaoui being transported in a white Ford Bronco?

A Weak Defense of the NSA Program

The Right Call on Phone Records

Richard Falkenrath does the politically expedient thing and hangs the NSA program squarely around the neck of General Michael Hayden. With any luck, the two will sink together.

Falkenrath lies right out of the gate. He says that "anonymized domestic telephone records" are "records stripped of individually identifible data." To a point, that's true, but the telephone number remains, and can be linked right back to that individually identifible data by consulting another database. Yet Falkenrath calls attention to his phrase "anonymized data" like it was an amulet against the truth, which it is.

The three companies reported to have supplied telephone records to the NSA also appear to be acting lawfully. The Telecommunications Act of 1934, as amended, generally prohibits the release of "individually identifiable customer proprietary network information" except under force of law or with the approval of the customer. But, according to USA Today, the telephone records voluntarily provided to the NSA had been anonymized.
Liar. Telephone numbers, all by themselves, are not anonymized records. It's the "Joe Wilson's wife" argument all over again.

Falkenrath has a nice little example of how Mohammed Atta calls person A (the pizza guy), who calls person B (the pizza guy's girlfriend), who calls person C (her daddy), who calls Khalid Sheik Mohammed (wrong number). Surely it behooves the government to run all three of these people through Fort Gitmo. It'd be the most effective waste of money imaginable.

As Taking on Goliath points out:
His little ring of contacts scenario could also be achieved by nSA officials going to the FISA court, and limiting their warrant to all people who have contact with a known terrorist, and let's says any person within six degress of those contacts. The FISA court has proved it is willing to assist them in anyway possible, so if it turns out that kind of net would be insufficient, they could go back and ask for 10 degrees out or 15 or 20.

My point here is this: There is no way that mining through millions (if not billions) of anonymous phone records can in any way, shape, or form be more effective and valuable than targeting a select few of non-anonymous contacts that you have a probable cause to believe might be assisting a terrorist.

And watch this argument:
Clearly, there is a compelling national interest in understanding and penetrating such terrorist networks. If the people associated with domestic telephone numbers A, B and C are inside the United States and had facilitated the Sept. 11 attacks, perhaps they are facilitating a terrorist plot now. The American people rightly expect their government to detect and prevent such plots.
Falkenrath makes it sound like only this program is standing between us and another 9/11. That damn well better not be the case, because this program is illegal on grounds stretching back to the founding of this country.

Luckily, Americans are waking up. They are voting with their business and their disapproval (come on, Washington Post, give us a fair and honest chance to understand what's happening before you push-poll us). There will be a day of reckoning, and thank goodness it's coming soon.

Rove Informs White House He Will Be Indicted


UPDATE: The only place I can find this story is Truthout, or people linking to Truthout. I really want this story to be true. That's two major reasons for me to doubt this story right now.

OMG: Possible Testimony About Satellites Spying On Citizens

Think Progress

This one is a stemwinder. If this is true, it's a big piece of the puzzle.

The phone call database might have been involved in a program that illegally used satellites to spy on US citizens.

How you ask? Well, you know that cellphones can be tracked by their signal. And now Bush has a great big database of every phone call being made. You take your database, you analyze to find suspicious cellphone numbers, you plug the suspicious numbers into a tracking program. When the cellphone is activated again, a satellite hones in on the call and observes the person making the call.

But something like that doesn't start off being foolproof. Something like that has to be tested. And it could go wrong in so many different ways, so you have different groups of people working on different parts of the project. Say, one group who's working on the analytical algorithms, who coughs up numbers to try out every once in a while.

But the group that's perfecting the "wait for the cellphone and tune the satellite technology" needs more data and work time than that. So they use random numbers. Or they keep the "bad" numbers and work out the kinks that way, while spying on the innocent person.

Or they use numbers of people who are on the opposite political spectrum as the current Administration. And they track them. And they note where they are, and what they're doing and who they are talking to.

But they never ever listen, oh, no. They just practice their lipreading.

Can You Blame Him?

The Republic of T.

Terrance at the Republic of T is no longer a Democrat. He sees a pattern of "degaying "in the recent actions of Howard Dean's Democratic Party, and he's convinced me it's going on.

But I have to be honest and say that this isn't much of a surprise. It's been telegraphed in one way or another for a long time. It started even months before the 2004 election. Voters hadn't yet gone to the poll when EMILY's List supported an anti-gay Democrat for congressional office. Barack Obama, the party's "Great Black Hope" of the moment, also came down against marriage equality.

It got worse after the 2004 election, when Democrats apparently started buying into the "values voter" hype and Hillary Clinton (among others) started leaning further right, with her eyes on a 2008 presidential run. Now she's cozying up to Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Fox network.

Since then we've had the closely-watched candidacy of Tim Kaine in Virginia, who continues to deliver on his earlier promise.

We've seen the DNC's gay & lesbian liaison office sit empty for more than a year, only to then be eliminated, while the party's LGBT fundraising arm remains intact.

We've seen the DCCC forget its own nondiscrimination policy regarding sexual orientation.

We've seen Dean suddenly fire the DNC's gay outreach chair, after the guy's partner had the temerity to suggest that Dems live up to their long declared values when it comes to equality for gay & lesbian Americans.

In my own state, which is relatively progressive on gay issues, the Democrat's front runner for the governor's race can't manage a straight answer on whether he supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state, even though he has a record as mayor of Baltimore of supporting equal protections and benefits for same-sex couples.

Now Dean goes crawling to Pat Robertson, to pander to a demographic that will never give him or the party the time of day, let alone their dollars or their votes.

Let me put it this way. If the Democratic party was a guy that I'd been dating all this time, after everything that I've cataloged above, Dean's quickie with Pat would basically add up to that boyfriend cozying up with my worst enemy and whispering sweet nothings such as "I never really liked him anyway."

At that point, I'd break up with him, lose his phone number, ask for my keys back, and return his gifts too. And if he wanted my trust or support any time in the future, he'd have to earn it.
Personally, I feel more married to the Democratic party than just heavy dating, but Terence is making me reevaluate the marriage. For God's sake, Bush's numbers are in the toilet, scandal after scandal is crashing down around the Republicans in Charge's heads, and Dean still feels the need to kneecap gays and lesbians in order to counteract the gay marriage initiatives coming up on several state ballots this November?

I think that all Americans are diminished when we allow stereotyping to dismiss the worth of fellow Americans. I think that all Americans are stronger, and the nation is stronger, when we judge people by who they are, not what they are.

Howard Dean used to think that too.

Tony Snow's First Gaggle


Have to say, the Snowster was on top of his game. It seems the gaggles aren't the same thing as a full press briefing, so not a lot of holding his feet to the fire. But what I read seemed crisp and cogent. He's not about the full truth, but the truth as the Administration wants it to be seen. So far, so good. We'll see what happens in the weeks ahead.

Just saw I'm on the blogroll at ProPolitics - sweet!

You know what I hate about newspaper websites? They never have links in their stories. Not even to stories in their own archives that might be relevant. Yeah, sometimes there's a little sidebar. But I mean in the story, the way God intended HTML to be used. Just saying...

Hammer Down


Tom Delay has given his resignation from the House, effective June 9, 2006. That's a 30 day notice.

So how should we celebrate the last thirty days of Delay? How about a retrospective, covering the life of this scoundrel, catching us up to date on everything?

Sounds like fun.

Bush: I am not a troll

Had to get this headline from ZD Net - it's a winner.

Cafferty: NSA Database Amounts To Dictatorship

Crooks and Liars

Not just the recent revelation about the NSA's database containing every phone call being made, but Cafferty was also hacked off about the Justice Department's inability to investigate the NSA.

This some bullshit, my friends. And Bush sailing out to sputter "9/11, 9/11, ollie ollie oxen free" is really getting my goat. I've listened to radio reports all day that has Bush talking about wanting to know what Al-Qaeda is saying. Well, fine, Mr. Bush. Go listen to Al-Qaeda. What do fully domestic phone records have to do with somebody in Afghanistan or Pakistan? Get the hell out of our personal records without a warrant.

If You Didn't Fix It, It Ain't Fixed

Cool Tool: Debugging

I'm getting this link into the blogroll as soon as possible. It highlights cool tools. Simple. Beautiful.

Today's post is about a book you need to buy. It's called Debugging. It's about fixing software or hardware, but the blogger points out that the rules apply to a lot of different situations.

The rules are:

Understand the system
Make it fail
Quit thinking and look
Divide and conquer
Change one thing at a time
Keep an audit trail
Check the plug
Get a fresh view
If you didn't fix it, it ain't fixed
I pass them along to you.

Missing File on Chief Justice Still Missing

Washington Post

Well. Apparently a file of John Robert's work papers went missing recently:

The file, compiled during Roberts's tenure as an associate counsel in the Reagan White House, vanished in July when lawyers from the Bush administration were reviewing the materials at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., as part of a vetting process before Roberts's formal nomination to the Supreme Court.

"This investigation is unresolved and the file is still missing," says the 64-page IG report, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from a Washington area researcher and posted Tuesday on the Web site Memory Hole. ". . . The OIG was unable to determine whether the missing file was taken intentionally, unintentionally, or lost."
Turns out that Archives policies were not followed as the Bush Administration researchers (names, anyone? The White House refuses to release them) looked at all the paperwork. They were given a private room. They were left unsupervised. They were allowed to bring in personal belongings (read: briefcases). So nice of the Ronald Reagan librarians to accommodate the Bushistas so lovingly, don't you think?

The White House, true to form, is pointing to this review and saying that it points to no evidence of wrongdoing. I just wish this administration didn't relish the appearance of evil so much.

I'm Blogging Here Again

eXTReMe Tracking - Science - Politics

If you click on the link you'll see stats for this page. I find it incredible that this page - to which I have not blogged for quite sometime - is still getting over 20 hits a day.

Most of them these days are from one single thing - the freaky little Jesus with a Gun clock jpg down below. People are googling like mad for a image of Jesus with a gun, and my little jpeg is coming up second on that search. Crazy, no?

So people who want that graphic sound like my target audience. So Bolo lives again. I don't think I'll play nice this time. If you want nice me, check out Inner Cog over on Otherwise, stick around. I'll blog until I can't. That's all I can promise.

The Thing About Richard Cohen

Maybe you don't think Stephen Colbert wasn't funny. Fine. But there's something else he wasn't.


Iranian Letter: Using Religion to Lecture Bush

New York Times

This wrapup is right on target concerning the Amhadinejad letter. I just finished typing it up from the hard-to-read PDF file.

I've got a few more things to say about it, but I tired. Maybe tomorrow...

Possible Out for Hayden 4th Flap?

White House Briefing

I wrote in yesterday's column that Hayden had misinterpreted the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution during a January speech , when he asserted that the standard for searches was "reasonableness," not "probable cause."

Several readers wrote in to say that Hayden was technically correct -- and that reasonableness is the standard for searches, while probable cause is the standard for warrants for such searches.

But my understanding is that the traditional reading of the amendment is that it is the obtaining of a warrant (which requires probable cause) that determines whether a search is reasonable or not.

There are some specified exceptions to the warrant requirement -- but historically they've been identified by the courts.

Having unilaterally decided they didn't need warrants, I'm assuming Hayden and his lawyers felt they could then take it upon themselves to decide what was reasonable or not. But that's not how it's supposed to work.

So I guess it's conceivable that Hayden's view is not an out-and-out misinterpretation of the Fourth Amendment. But at the very least, it's certainly an activist way of looking at things.

"Having unilaterally decided they didn't need warrants" is the operative phrase.

Here's Findlaw's discussion on electronic surveillance and the Fourth Amendment. You can't skim it, but you should read it. It's a tight description of the relevent opinions from the Olmstead case onward.

Katz v. United States seems to wrap it up.
Unanimously, the Court held that at least in cases of domestic subversive investigations, compliance with the warrant provisions of the Fourth Amendment was required. Whether or not a search was reasonable, wrote Justice Powell for the Court, was a question which derived much of its answer from the warrant clause; except in a few narrowly circumscribed classes of situations, only those searches conducted pursuant to warrants were reasonable. The Government's duty to preserve the national security did not override the gurarantee that before government could invade the privacy of its citizens it must present to a neutral magistrate evidence sufficient to support issuance of a warrant authorizing that invasion of privacy. This protection was even more needed in ''national security cases'' than in cases of ''ordinary'' crime, the Justice continued, inasmuch as the tendency of government so often is to regard opponents of its policies as a threat and hence to tread in areas protected by the First Amendment as well as by the Fourth. Rejected also was the argument that courts could not appreciate the intricacies of investigations in the area of national security nor preserve the secrecy which is required.
So as the courts have determined, only a small subset of searches made unpursuant to warrants are reasonable. Hayden's sidestep of warrants was unwarranted, particularly since the immediate need of wiretapping in the terrorism age is taken care of by the retroactive review allowed under the FISA court.

Short story? He's still a fascist.


The weaselly way this guy said what he said must be noted:
I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.
What we are doing is reasonable. Weasel words. The General is counting on a common understanding of the word reasonable to fudge the issue (much the way a certain President used the term "sexual relations" to fudge another point). He takes the term "reasonable" outside its very legal definition, as already determined by Katz, by his words "and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one". However, since the General is dealing with very murky legal issues, he might want to consult a lawyer pretty damn quickly.

Signs of Humanity


I love things like this. The Bush Administration sent out a talking points memo to a lot of people that shouldn't have gotten it. Tbogg's singing West Side Story over it.

Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.

"The President has requested that all members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq," the May 2 e-mail from USDA speechwriter Heather Vaughn began.

The e-mail, sent to about 60 undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and other political appointees, was also sent to "a few people to whom it should not have gone," said the department's communications director, Terri Teuber . The career people, we are assured, are not being asked to spread the great news on Iraq in their talks to food stamp recipients, disadvantaged farmers, enviros or other folks.

The e-mail provided language "being used by Secretary [Michael O.] Johanns and deputy secretary [Charles F.] Conner in all of their remarks and is being sent to you for inclusion in your speeches."

Another attachment "contains specific examples of GWOT messages within agriculture speeches. Please use these message points as often as possible and send Harry Phillips , USDA's director of speechwriting, a weekly email summarizing the event, date and location of each speech incorporating the attached language. Your responses will be included in a weekly account sent to the White House."
A weekly account sent to the White House? Chortle!

We're the Bush Administration, and we're marching in lockstep. Viva George, wait, that's Spanish. Long live our glorious Emporer!