New Year, Old Outrage

Several political points today:

  • Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff has plead guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, and will be assisting with the corruption investigation on what one source claims is two dozen lawmakers and staff members. This is huge. But of course, every media outlet has shifted the story in favor of the latest in TragiPorn: the trapped West Virginia miners.
  • The burying of the NSA wiretap scandal has been successful — pretty much every media outlet in the US is covering the story as a “trade-off between security and civil liberties”, completely parroting the GOP plan. They try to make it sound like it was neccessary for national security…..bullshit. There is no trade-off. The Bush administration could have gone to the FISA court and secured warrants….FISA has only rejected 5 cases in its history….compared to the 18,761 it approved. The needs of security would be met, and the LAW would have been upheld. But Bush broke the law. It’s not about security. It’s about a crime. The media has already decided though, that is not how the story will be told. The Republicans have succeeded. The story will go away. If there has been any trade-off in this, it’s that we have traded the soul of our nation for this President and his administration.
  • Our Never-Ending War, Part III: Various German news sources are reporting that the US is planning to attack Iran this year. The reports started with a story from the news agency DDP that during CIA Director Porter Goss’ Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. This was followed by the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel, citing NATO intelligence sources claiming that Washington’s western allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. Some American media have quietly covered this as well: last year in the New Yorker, US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that clandestine American commando groups had already infiltrated Iran in order to mark potential military targets. We’ve got mid-term elections coming up in November of this year. What better way to stir up the red-state base than giving them another enemy who threatens America……

What are you gonna do about it?

10 Replies to “New Year, Old Outrage”

  1. It get’s even better. According to self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist Jim Ward on The Stephanie Miller Show, we’re not just going to attack Iran, we’re planning on using tactical nuclear weapons. Now granted, Jim usually is wrong, but what better way for BushCo to prove their assertion that Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons program than for one of those clandestine nuclear weapons to “accidentally” go off.

    Rallying the redneck base is only a convenient side-effect of an attack on Iran. I was reading a story on DailyKos.com about the real reason for attacking Iran. Yeah, oil, of course, but it’s not just a “they have it, we want it” issue. Apparently, the only two places in the world to legally sell oil are through New York (either the NYSE or the Mercantile Exchange; can’t remember which) and London on an exchange that is owned by a US company. Supposedly, Iran is looking to set up its own oil exchange, or bourse as they’re called in the industry.

    That in and of itself is not the problem; the issue that the US oil traders have is that Iran is looking to peg their oil prices to the Euro. Now I’m no economist, but I can’t imagine that such an action would be good for the US dollar or the US commodities industry. The article also asserts that Hussein started selling oil in Euros through the Oil-for-Food Programme and that’s what really sparked the invasion.

  2. Personally I can’t think of a worse time for the US to go and bomb ANYONE, but you might want to read this. It’s a response on my journal to a posting of that Iran report. The poster is a buddy of mine, a political twonk and has worked in the defence department here in Australia in the past. It’s an enlightening take. Something to consider along with the other views expressed here.

  3. I’m not sure your FISA numbers are accurate or strictly complete. It may be that almost all applications for taps eventually go through, but according to Strober and Hoffman’s _A Convenient Spy_, for example, the FBI was turned down multiple times in the course of investigating Wen Ho Lee for the alleged theft of Los Alamos bomb secrets.

  4. I’m not sure your FISA numbers are accurate or strictly complete.

    Bzzt. Wrong answer, sparky. Unlike conservatives, I don’t make this shit up.

    Source: USA Today, December 18th, 2005:

    “Indeed, brief annual reports of the activities of the secret court show that from 1979 through 2004 it granted 18,761 warrants and rejected five.”

  5. Apples and Oranges. FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and governs the role of the NSA which is only supposed to perform surveillance outside the US. Domestic intelligence is performed by the FBI and is governed by different statutes.

  6. “Indeed, brief annual reports of the activities of the secret court show that from 1979 through 2004 it granted 18,761 warrants and rejected five.”

    And here is one of those annual reports, showing that in 1999, 207 orders were granted on only 199 applications.

    In the year when the Wen Ho Lee investigators sought wiretaps (1997), Janet Reno manages to break down 749 applications into 748 granted and one “declined”, with 0 “denied or modified.” That’s clearly spin, to say none were denied, when one failed to be granted on at least two occasions, if Stober and Hoffman are to be believed. (closer reading indivcates ther’s a buffer org called OIPR within the bureau that has to sign off on apps before they go to the FISC.

  7. No, I’m not mistaken, I’m flat out wrong. Completely talking out my rear on that and I’m not even sure why I posted it when I knew I was just making assumptions. My apologies.

    I’m still curious about the numbers concerning FISA being bandied about. Are we to assume that those numbers encompass both NSA and FBI requests for warrants? I haven’t heard any distinctions being made, but I also haven’t been on the look out for it either.

    And now I’m also curious about the requests that are declined. I can only assume that it’s like when the Supreme Court declines to hear a case because there is no Constitutional issue present. Are these requests that outlandish and without merit that they are rejected out of hand or, perhaps, they are requests that were denied by OIPR but still submitted by an agent and that lead to their being declined for a hearing. I would like to see the reasons for declining a hearing and how many have been declined over the years.

  8. I’m still curious about the numbers concerning FISA being bandied about. Are we to assume that those numbers encompass both NSA and FBI requests for warrants? I haven’t heard any distinctions being made, but I also haven’t been on the look out for it either.

    I think that the AG’s reports to congress only reflect the Justice Department’s attempts that have made it to the actual court; this would mean for the most part the FBI, as the NSA is not under the Atty General.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.