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Filtered news 12/1

#0000ff" size="4">Bertolt Brecht ">presaging/satirizing the Bush shills 50 years ahead of time ....

... the people Had forfeited the confidence of the government And could win it back only By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier In that case for the government To dissolve the people And elect another?
#0000ff" size="4">Our President Actually Said This "" size="3">I think any time you murder somebody, you&;re a criminal.#0000ff" size="3">" #0000ff" size="4">My favorite example of stupidity for 2006 The more the Conservative movement has Dennis Prager speaking for them, the more they will shrink in the minds of Americans. Well, do ya think? On Hannity & Colmes, he tried to make sense out of his ">insane rant against Keith Ellison, D-Minn—who&;s only offense is to want to use the Koran when he gets sworn in. Hannity proclaims that this could lead some other Rep-elect to be sworn in with Hitler&;s "Mein Kampf." "Where does this stop?" asks Hannity—I kid you not. Oh—and he says it&;s not about politics…Scratching my head I ask what is it about? ">Video-WMP ">Video-QT Mr. Shabazz called Prager narrow minded and ignorant. He then reminds Hannity that Foley and Delay committed acts of corruption after swearing on a bible and Hannity interrupts the thought and says once again that it&;s not about politics… Bloggers on the left and right — including ">Taylor Marsh, ">Steven Bennen, ">Eugene Volokh, ">Stephen Bainbridge — have torn apart Prager’s argument on constitutional grounds. But Prager’s column is based on one other glaring error: #ff0000">the swearing-in ceremony for the House of Representatives never includes a religious book. The ">Office of the House Clerk confirmed to ThinkProgress that the swearing-in ceremony consists only of the Members ">raising their right hands and swearing to uphold the Constitution. The Clerk spokesperson said neither the Christian Bible, nor any other religious text, had ever been used in an official capacity during the ceremony. (Occassionally, Members ">pose for symbolic photo-ops with their hand on a Bible.) #0000ff" size="4">Marching orders from Dubya&;s Saudi masters Nawaf Obaid is "an adviser to the Saudi government," but his opinions "are his own and do not reflect official Saudi policy." Roger that. With that boilerplate warning out of the way, Obaid takes to the pages of the Washington Post to warn us in no uncertain terms that if we try to withdraw from Iraq, ">the Saudi monarchy will make us very, very sorry:

Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance — funding, arms and logistical support — that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years. Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias.....Remaining on the sidelines would be unacceptable to Saudi Arabia. To turn a blind eye to the massacre of Iraqi Sunnis would be to abandon the principles upon which the kingdom was founded. It would undermine Saudi Arabia&;s credibility in the Sunni world and would be a capitulation to Iran&;s militarist actions in the region. To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks — it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.

And while he&;s at it, Obaid tosses out a warning to Iran the American oil industry that Saudi Arabia might also try to drive oil prices into the ground by increasing production and cutting its own prices in half. Now, as far as I know, Saudi Arabia doesn&;t actually have much in the way of spare capacity at the moment, so this seems like a bit of an empty threat. For that matter, I have my doubts that the Saudis actually have the capacity to intervene all that effectively with military assistance to Iraq&;s Sunni community either. But who knows? They can certainly make things worse if they put their minds to it.

In any case, I wouldn&;t be surprised if this was the lecture the House of Saud delivered to Dick Cheney after they summoned him to Riyadh last week. Not that Cheney was an unwilling listener or anything. Just one more excuse to stay the course, after all.

#0000ff" size="4">First Bush was infallible, now it&;s Gonzales Today on CNN’s Situation Room, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked if he could think of a single mistake he’s made during his service to President Bush during the last six years. He couldn’t do it. Gonzales told Wolf Blitzer, “I think that you and I would — I’d have to spend some time thinking about that.” He added, “Obviously I’ve made some recommendations to my client. Some of those recommendations have not been supported in the courts. In hindsight, you sometimes wonder, well, perhaps, perhaps the recommendation should have been something different.” A man of such low character is unworthy to clean my basement.

#0000ff" size="4">The Bush-Webb bout A lot of people think may have overreacted to the #000000"> when he asked about his son Jimmy at a recent White House function. I&;ve gotten a tip on the background to this confrontation, and it appears that Webb may have under reacted. As President Bush is well aware, a couple of weeks before this dinner the tank riding next to Jimmy&;s in Iraq was under fire and three marines died. My sources are telling me that the way President Bush approached Webb with his tone, it appeared he was asking the question of how Jimmy was doing in a mocking manner, while he was certainly aware of the tragedy that had hit his unit a few weeks earlier. Webb has every right to be livid as the Commander in Chief should not be talking about service members in Iraq in a condescending manner like that. I hope everyone can understand what Webb is going through as a parent with death striking Jimmy&;s unit that closely, and President Bush should have been a lot more sympathetic to Jim&;s feelings as a parent. And Jim, thanks for showing the restraint not to knock Bush out when he did that -- although it is a lovely thought.

#0000ff" size="4">Texas bigotry (is that redundant?) ;Residents in Houston, Texas&;">#0000ff">Residents in Houston, Texas using ">pig races to deter the building of a mosque.

#0000ff" size="4">How refreshingly honest Gingrich Prez campaign advisor: ">My guy has no chance.

#0000ff" size="4">Hypocricy, however, grows stale GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney: Keep those damn illegal immigrants out! But as long as they&;re here -- eh, my front lawn could really ">use some tending to. . .

#0000ff" size="4">It&;s not "terra" when it&;s done by a wingnut Imagine, for a moment, what would have happened if a Muslim extremist with an apparent hatred of the American government had been apprehended in, say, Tennessee, and charged with plotting to blow up Congress with a briefcase bomb.

Do you suppose that the case would then be relegated to the back pages of the local papers? Do you suppose it would go unmentioned by the 101st Keyboard Kommandos in their ever-vigilant search for proof that the War on Terror is right here in our midst?

Of course not. You can be certain Fox News would have splashed the case across its broadcasts, and Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs would have been all over it.

Now consider the case of ">Demetrius "Van" Crocker, who just happens to be a white right-wing extremist:

Demetrius "Van" Crocker of McKenzie, convicted in April of attempting to obtain a chemical weapon and possession of stolen explosives, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday by U.S. District Judge James Todd in Jackson.

Crocker, who told undercover FBI agents of his desire to explode a briefcase bomb while Congress was in session, was found guilty by a jury in about 90 minutes in April.

The 40-year-old farmhand and father of two was convicted of accepting what he thought were ingredients to make Sarin nerve gas and a block of C-4 explosive from undercover agents in October 2004.

The maximum penalty Crocker could have faced for the convictions would have been a life sentence. Todd did order lifetime supervised release for Crocker once he gets out of prison.

In all, Crocker was convicted on five charges: one count of attempted possession of a chemical weapon, one count of inducing another person to acquire a chemical weapon, one count of possession of stolen explosives, one count of possession of explosive material with intent to harm an individual or damage or destroy a building, and one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device.

During the trial, prosecutors introduced video- and audio-taped conversations that Crocker had with undercover agents, laced with profanity, racial slurs and Crocker&;s open hatred of all things to do with the government.

Of course, this story is not even on the front page of the Jackson paper, so I wouldn&;t hold my breath waiting for any Fox coverage, either.

" size="4">Military historian says Iraq is "most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC" There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward. It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them." To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know. He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world&;s foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army&;s list of required reading for officers. ">More

#0000ff" size="4">Showing love of Jesus As the world commemorates ">AIDS Day, leading Christian conservatives are pushing Congress to cut U.S. support for President Bush’s AIDS initiative. They are angry over the program’s promotion of condoms and its ">perceived lack of support for faith-based programs.

#0000ff" size="4">In the first revision to the U.S. citizenship test in 20 years, immigrants “will be assessed on their grasp of the nation’s ideals.” But civil rights advocates note that some of the questions are ">“just off the wall,” “unusual,” or “odd.” One sample question requires applicants to know the amount of the federal minimum wage (">$5.15/hour).

#0000ff" size="4">Exxon wants its tax cuts. “Proposals by congressional Democrats to eliminate oil industry tax breaks and subsidies ">would set a bad example overseas and discourage new industry investments, Exxon Mobil’s top executive said Thursday.” You remember Exxon, right? The company that set world history records for profit margins while bleeding you at the gas pump...

#0000ff" size="4">Big Brother watch “Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists. … [C]ivil liberties lawyers, congressional aides and even law enforcement officers said they thought this system had been ">applied only to cargo.”

#0000ff" size="4">One more sign of Dubya&;s incompetent government “The State Department uses diplomacy to connect and link the objectives and priorities of various countries.” ">Except on their website. “At the State Department’s ‘">Web Site and E-Mail Addresses of Embassies,’ the following links are broken, expired or nonexistent: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Denmark, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, India, Italy, Korea, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkmenistan and Uruguay.”

#0000ff" size="4">Keith destroys Newt Keith took on Newt Gingrich&;s ">controversial remarks from earlier this week where he ">suggested we re-think free speech as we know it in order to effectively combat the threat of terrorism. Needless to say, Keith — like any true American — took offense to this and didn&;t hold back. ">Video WMP | ">Video MOV (still uploading the video) Olbermann: "What a dark place your world must be, Mr Gingrich. Where the way to save America is to destroy America. I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place. And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it. And that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea lurks there and what a cynical mind. And that you entitled to do all that thanks to the very freedoms you seek to suffocate." -12449">#0000ff">(Read the rest of this story…)

#0000ff" size="4">Repug corruption watch Yet another dodgy Bush appointee with conflicts of interest. ">Harpers: Three months ago, the Bush Administration appointed retired Air Force General Joseph Ralston to be U.S. "">Special Envoy for Countering the PKK," or Kurdistan Workers Party. Ralston&;s job, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, was to work with the governments in Ankara and Baghdad "to eliminate the terrorist threat of the PKK and other terrorist groups operating in northern Iraq and across the Turkey-Iraq border." But it appears that Ralston is representing the interests of the shareholders of Lockheed Martin rather than the interests of the American people. ">Read full article here

#0000ff" size="4">The 80% solution Yesterday, George W. Bush once again said that leaving Iraq "before the job was done" would be wrong " face="Times New Roman" size="3">because of: "...the 12 million people who voted in the Iraqi election. They want to live in a free society." Apparently Bush might have to adjust his purple-fingered prose downward, because today&;s " face="Times New Roman" size="3">Washington Post is reporting that the administration is giving consideration to a State Department proposal to abandon their efforts at reconciliation with Sunni factions because:

U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq

So as the carnage in Iraq continues to " face="Times New Roman" size="3">mount, the talk of Shia, Sunnis and Kurds governing together in unity may give way to what some are calling the "80% solution," a reference to Sunnis making up 20% of Iraq&;s population. In essence, the Bush administration is considering cutting and running from the Sunnis. And of course, one must ask if this alienated Shiite majority is actually named Moqtada al-Sadr, the man who has been hanging the " face="Times New Roman" size="3">Sword of Damocles over the heads of Prime Minister Maliki and George W. Bush for months.

In the end, what happens in Iraq will be up to the Iraqis and they will no doubt pay a heavy price for years to come. Publicly, the administration continues to deny that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, but with the imminent release of the Iraq Study Group report and the desertion of even their staunchest allies, it seems that Bush has finally decided on an exit strategy:

...leave leadership of the thorny task of reconciliation to the Iraqis.

Another way to put it might be, we broke it, the Sunnis bought it.

#0000ff" size="4">Dem corruption watch Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is set to head up the panel that " face="Times New Roman" size="3">controls the purse strings for the FBI -- which is investigating him for his earmarking habits. Does anybody see that as a problem?

#0000ff" size="4">DC pundits gone wild It really does seem as though the cardinals of DC punditry are constitutionally incapable of believing that George W. Bush has ever -- in the real sense -- gotten anything wrong or that they, the Washington establishment, has gotten anything wrong over the last six years. I don&;t like to use such words but I can only think to call the denial and buck-passing sickening. I can&;t think of another word that captures the gut reaction. Here&;s the lede to Mort Kondracke&;s new " face="Times New Roman" size="3">column in Roll Call (emphasis added) ...

All over the world, scoundrels are ascendant, rising on a tide of American weakness. It makes for a perilous future.

President Bush bet his presidency — and America’s world leadership — on the war in Iraq. Tragically, it looks as though he bit off more than the American people were willing to chew.

The U.S. is failing in Iraq. Bush’s policy was repudiated by the American people in the last election. And now America’s enemies and rivals are pressing their advantage, including Iran, Syria, the Taliban, Sudan, Russia and Venezuela. We have yet to hear from al-Qaida.

Let&;s first take note that the &;blame the American people for Bush&;s screw-ups&; meme has definitely hit the big time. It&;s not Bush who bit off more than he could chew or did something incredibly stupid or screwed things up in a way that defies all imagining. Bush&;s &;error&; here is not realizing in advance that the American people would betray him as he was marching into history. The &;tragedy&; is that Bush "bit off more than the American people were willing to chew." That just takes my breath away.

Now come down to the third graf. Bush gets repudiated in the mid-term election ... "And now ..." In standard English the import of this phrasing is pretty clear: it&;s the repudiation of Bush&;s tough policies that have led to the international axis of evil states rising against us. Is he serious? The world has gone to hell in a hand basket since the election? In the last three weeks? The whole column is an open war on cause and effect.

This is noxious, risible, fetid thinking. But there it is. That&;s the story they want to tell. The whole place is rotten down to the very core.

#0000ff" size="4">Dem corruption watch II It&;s a great line, but will it fit on a bumper sticker? Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) in " face="Times New Roman" size="3">a new TV ad: "I have never taken a bribe from anyone."

#0000ff" size="4">It&;s really kinda funny Given the vitriol that Jim Webb has gotten from the Beltway Gasbags today, I&;m cracking up at the fact that just three weeks ago, they were pointing to him as an example of how Americans were "still conservative".

Remember? Webb was supposed to be a "conservative Democrat" because, well, just because they said so. After all, didn&;t he serve in Reagan&;s Pentagon? And he&;s a Marine! And it&;s Virginia! And apparently that&;s all they needed to make their sage proclamations about Webb&;s victory.

Then he went on Lou Dobbs and waxed populist and wrote that fiery WSJ op-ed, and you could almost picture the gasbags looking at each other nervously. He was supposed to be "conservative"! They had SAID SO!

And now? He&;s a "boor."

Whether they&;re nodding sagely about how obvious it is that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, or yammering on about a guy they didn&;t know existed two months ago (and didn&;t take seriously until he won his election), this is just more evidence that those idiots don&;t know the first thing about the crap they&;re yammering about.

#0000ff" size="4">Don&;t bet on Hillary Chuck Todd finally writes the obvious -- the Democratic nomination " face="Times New Roman" size="3">is not Hillary&;s for the taking. But he still doesn&;t say the most obvious reason Hillary can&;t win -- she tops out in the early polls, a popularity contest, at 35-ish percent. Now, money is good to build name ID and to brand. But who doesn&;t have an opinion well-formed about Hillary already? She&;s only been around 14 high-profile years. She&;s got one direction to go -- down. Her chance for the nomination is a crowded field, where 30 percent nets her wins. And being the only woman in the field would help her out. But I just don&;t see Hillary as being a foregone conclusion. She&;ll be competitive, but so will lots others.

#0000ff" size="4">Don&;t bet on anybody yet Fox News claims that Hillary " face="Times New Roman" size="3">won&;t run because of Obama. And the Hotline thinks " face="Times New Roman" size="3">Obama is in. Biden thinks " face="Times New Roman" size="3">Obama won&;t run: Senator Joe Biden visited NECN studios for an interview with Chet Curtis. In the two-part show that starts tonight, Biden said: "I&;ve decided I am going to run [for president]." Biden said he&;d be surprised if Senator Barack Obama seeks the presidency. Then again, Biden thinks he&;s a serious candidate, so what the heck does he know?

" face="Times New Roman" size="4">Security of" face="Times New Roman" size="4"> Electronic Voting Is Condemned "Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country &;cannot be made secure,&; according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government&;s premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency. In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine&;s software. The recommendations endorse &;optical-scan&; systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts." (WaPo)

#0000ff" size="4">More fun at O&;Reilly&;s expense (he brings it on himself) After this " face="Times New Roman" size="3">teaser the other day, you knew Bill O&;Reillys interview with Rep. Barney Frank was going to be fun. Frank succinctly breaks down why he called Chris Wallace out on his " face="Times New Roman" size="3">"odd view of balance" saying that the interview was promoted as a chance for the Democrats to talk about their agenda yet began with Wallace nitpicking points of controversy while all but ignoring the positive Democratic agenda the incoming Chairmen were prepared to discuss. Frank made his case so persuasively that O&;Reilly — who claimed he&;s been "sabotaged" before too — conceded he had a point. " face="Times New Roman" size="3">Video WMP | " face="Times New Roman" size="3">Video MOV Sparks began to fly when O&;Reilly brought up the topic of " face="Times New Roman" size="3">income redistribution and freaked out when Frank gave him an answer he didn&;t like. This prompted the Congressman to tell Bill to "stop being a silly would-be district attorney" when he demanded an answer "for the record" and told him to "go to law school" if he wanted to do that. O&;Reilly couldn&;t resist the urge to fire back accusing Frank of thinking he was the "czar of the interview." Good times. Newshounds " face="Times New Roman" size="3">has more…

#0000ff" size="4">More lies from Kinda Sleazy Rice Last night on CBS, Katie Couric asked Condoleezza Rice if she believes “the civil war in Iraq is likely to deteriorate significantly over the next few months.” Rice responded that Iraq is not a civil war because “the Iraqis don’t see it that way.” Rice added, “it really doesn’t help to speak about their circumstance as a civil war, in terms that they don’t speak about their circumstances. Actually, top Iraqi military officials believe Iraq is in a civil war. From McClatchy, " face="Times New Roman" size="3">8/04/06:

“This is a civil war,” said a senior adviser to the commander of the Iraqi Army’s 6th Division, which oversees much of Baghdad. “The problem between Sunnis and Shiites is a religious one, and it gets worse every time they attack each other’s mosques,” said the adviser, who gave only his rank and first name, Col. Ahmed, because of security concerns. “Iraq is now caught in hell.”

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi says Iraq is in a civil war. From the BBC, " face="Times New Roman" size="3">3/19/06:

It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.

Average Iraqis appear to " face="Times New Roman" size="3">share this view:

The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, told Congress on Thursday that the violence in Baghdad “is probably as bad as I have ever seen it,” and went on to say that the country could be headed toward civil war. Nearly all of the dozen Iraqis who work for McClatchy Newspapers’ Baghdad bureau — evenly split between Shiite and Sunni Muslims — reached that conclusion long ago. Their observations have trickled out day by day in the scores of conversations colleagues have with one another about their lives and difficulties. Their experiences of the last month reveal a capital city that’s disintegrating into chaos.

Prime Minister Maliki, of course, agrees with the administration that Iraq is not in a civil war. But his beliefs should not be conflated with the entire Iraqi people.

;Pat Boone’s America.&;">#0000ff" face="Times New Roman" size="4">Pat Boone’s America. The right-wing Heritage Foundation held an event this week with “soul singer turned conservative evangelist” Pat Boone. Boone warned of the “new order of Armageddon,” and spoke of the “malaise and apathy of today’s youth. Tears began to fall as Boone lamented: ‘It grieves me the way young entertainers are deriding our leaders.’” He also announced he has written an anthem for the National Guard since “" face="Times New Roman" size="3">Nelly, Eminem and Diddy and Piddy and Poopy and whoever the other rappers are” had not.

#0000ff" size="4">Whither Ollie? Anniversary stories are the journalistic equivalent of strawberry Pop-Tarts; a steady diet won&;t do, but in a pinch, they make for reliable, easily prepared filler. Editors start off the year with a lengthy calendar that reads like a high school history final crib sheet, where the moon landing bumps up against the Battle of Bull Run, and the Reichstag fire shares real estate with the Gulf War. That kind of news predictability is otherwise in fairly short supply, which is why journalists tend to find anniversary pieces pretty addictive. For logical reasons, a good political scandal can generally make the grade in this town, especially on a slow news day: there&;s usually a lengthy paper trail, and some sort of big-picture morality play at work. So over at Slate, Timothy Noah has an interesting, obvious " face="Times New Roman" size="3">query: Where, exactly, is the coverage of Iran-Contra&;s 20th birthday? ">Continue reading...

;Things are tough in Iraq,&;">#0000ff" face="Times New Roman" size="4">Things are tough in Iraq, but life at the White House holiday reception is good. Check out " face="Times New Roman" size="3">the menu.

#0000ff" size="4">Freedom of speech for a select few If you host a talk radio show for Disney, you can say pretty much ANY violent or disgusting thing on the air with full management support ">Spocko&; s Brain:

#0000ff" size="4">Unleash the hounds! When the prey is hunted by this made bloodhounds, the vermin will be caught. When the Justice Department&;s Inspector General decided recently to " face="Times New Roman" size="3">investigate his department&;s use of intelligence provided by the NSA&;s domestic eavesdropping program, " face="Times New Roman" size="3">some " face="Times New Roman" size="3">wondered if it will be an aggressive attempt to get answers or part of an administration whitewash.

There&;s no doubt the administration has tried to keep the program under wraps, even as calls for information about its operations mount. But the war over the NSA program is far from over, and demands for answers are only going to increase in the new year, from all sides: at least three other executive-branch reviews into the NSA program have already been attempted or completed, scores of federal lawsuits have been filed, over a dozen administrative attacks have been launched by public groups, and congressional investigators are priming their subpoena powers.

Which efforts will likely shed light on the dark recesses of the secret program? Here&;s how we handicap the many assaults on the NSA&;s domestic spying:

Congress Under GOP control, Congress was unwilling to investigate or even hold significant hearings on the NSA program. With Democrats at the helm, it&;s all but assured the Bush administration will face investigations from the Hill into its domestic spying program. Some " face="Times New Roman" size="3">doubt they&;ll have much luck.

Senate Judiciary Committee: Incoming chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has repeatedly voiced concern over the program, and fought GOP attempts to legalize it. Likely to hold insightful hearings on the matter; may investigate.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: To date, Incoming chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller&;s (D-WV) greatest act of outrage over the program came in the form of a secret letter, one copy of which he mailed to Dick Cheney and another which he locked away in a safe. (You can " face="Times New Roman" size="3">read the letter here.) He has since publicly expressed frustration at being unable to learn details of the program&;s effectiveness, and has called for "full access" to information about the program.

House Judiciary Committee: Incoming chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has made harsh statements about the program. Expect to see hearings and/or full-fledged investigations in the new year.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: Unclear; leadership is in question.

The Courts At least five major federal suits opposing the program have been filed against the NSA, the White House, or telco partners like AT&T. In addition, dozens of class-action suits for damages have been filed against the telcos, although many are expected to be consolidated into a single suit.

Northern Dist. of Calif. (Hepting v. AT&T): The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed the suit against AT&T, but government lawyers have intervened in the case, attempting to get it dismissed by claiming the "state secrets" privilege -- national security would be compromised if the case moved forward. The judge rejected the motion; the government is appealing. Hearing won&;t happen before April 2007. (Note: Many of the class-action suits filed against telcos, including an ACLU case filed in Illinois, were transferred to the judge in this case, and are expected to eventually consolidate.)

Eastern Dist. of Mich. (ACLU v. NSA): - The advocacy group sued to stop the NSA program. This case prompted the historic ruling that the program is unconstitutional. The government has appealed that decision, and the judge has allowed the program to continue until the appeal is heard and decided. Oral arguments in appeal expected in January or February 2007.

Southern Dist. of Manhattan (CCR v. Bush): Advocacy group sues administration to stop NSA program. The judge has heard arguments heard on all preliminary motions, however the government is asking the case be consolidated with others. Judge appears to be holding up the suit until that issue is settled.

District of Oregon (Al-Haramain v. Bush): U.S. branch of Islamic charity suspects NSA improperly tapped its conversations via secret program. Government attempted to use state secrets privilege to get case dismissed. Judge rejected.

All over the place: Dozens of class-action suits have been filed against telcos all over the country. Over 30 have been transferred from their original courts to the Northern District of California. In over a dozen other cases, however, the plaintiffs are said to have opposed the transfer.

Executive Branch Three probes have already been underway within its own executive branch -- varying by degree of intensity, although none have yet shown much for their efforts.

Justice Department - Office of Professional Responsibility: Earlier this year attempted to probe how top Justice officials, including attorney general Alberto Gonzales, reviewed, approved and monitored the NSA program. Stonewalled by President Bush, who refused to grant necessary security clearances to OPR investigators. OPR closed the investigation.

Justice Department - Inspector General: On Monday, announced an investigation into Justice officials&; handling and application of intelligence gathered by the program. Appears targeted at possible wrongdoing by U.S. attorneys and lower-level officials, not senior executives and appointed officials. White House granted clearances to investigators. Ongoing.

NSA - Inspector General: Confirmed in January 2006 that the office had opened an audit into the program. In August, the IG handling the probe was promoted to Negroponte&;s staff, where he will oversee all counterespionage efforts in the intelligence community. There has been no word on the probe since it was announced in January.

White House - Privacy/Civil Liberties Oversight Board: This panel, chosen by the president and lacking investigative powers, nonetheless reviewed the NSA program and " face="Times New Roman" size="3">pronounced it all right with them.

Finally, public utility boards in about 20 states have taken action against the program. The boards -- state-level entities which oversee phone companies and other utilities -- have filed administrative complaints against the companies in some cases, and lawsuits in others. Even if the federal government isn&;t named in these matters, Justice lawyers have intervened in many to get them dismissed.


December 1, 2006 - 1:50pm