A number of Senators came to the floor prior to the Fourth of July recess to debate the FISA legislation, and more debate has occurred this week. We have heard arguments for and against the legislation, and Senators have cited a variety of reasons for their positions.
Several have defended the bill by arguing that the legislation includes improvements compared to the Senate bill we passed earlier this year. I was not surprised to hear that line of argument. I agree that there are some improvements to the Senate bill contained in the legislation that we are now considering. But those changes are not nearly enough to justify supporting the bill, as I will explain in a few moments.
I was surprised to hear, however, several Senators still defending the legality of the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and still arguing that Congress had somehow signed off on this program years ago because the Gang of Eight was notified. Mr. President, I thought we were well past these arguments. Two and a half years after this illegal program became public, I cannot believe that we are still debating the legality of this program on the Senate floor, and that anyone seriously believes that merely notifying the Gang of Eight – while keeping the full intelligence committees in the dark -- somehow represents congressional approval.
Mr. President, it could not be clearer that this program broke the law, and this President broke the law. Not only that, but this administration affirmatively misled Congress and the American people about it for years before it finally became public. So if we are going to go back and discuss these issues that I thought had long since been put to rest, let’s cover the full history.
Here is the part of the story that some seem to have forgotten. In January 2005, eleven months before the New York Times broke the story of the illegal wiretapping program, I asked then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales at his confirmation hearing to be Attorney General whether the President had the power to authorize warrantless wiretaps in violation of the criminal law. Neither I nor the vast majority of my colleagues knew it then, but the President had authorized the NSA program three years before, and Mr. Gonzales was directly involved in that issue as White House Counsel. At his confirmation hearing, he first tried to dismiss my question as “hypothetical.” He then testified that “it’s not the policy or the agenda of this President to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.”
Well, Mr. President, the President’s wiretapping program was in direct contravention of our criminal statutes. Mr. Gonzales knew that, but he wanted the Senate and the American people to think that the President had not acted on the extreme legal theory that the President has the power as Commander in Chief to disobey the criminal laws of this country.
The President, too, misled Congress and the American public. In 2004 and 2005, when Congress was considering the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, the President went out of his way to assure us that his administration was getting court orders for wiretaps, all the while knowing full well that his warrantless wiretapping program was ongoing.
Here’s what the President said on April 20, 2004: “Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”
And again, on July 14, 2004: “The government can’t move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order.”
And listen to what the President said on June 9, 2005: “Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, a federal judge’s permission to track his calls, or a federal judge’s permission to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of these tools. And these standards are fully consistent with the Constitution of the U.S.”
So please, let’s not pretend that the highly classified notification to the Gang of Eight, delivered while the President himself was repeatedly presenting a completely different picture to the public, suggests that Congress somehow acquiesced to this program. As the members of this body well know, several members of the Gang of Eight at the time raised concerns when they were told about this, and several have since said they were not told the full story. And of course all of them were instructed not to share what they had learned with a single other person.
Mr. President, I also cannot leave unanswered the arguments mounted in defense of the legality of the NSA program.
I will not spend much time on the argument that the Authorization for Use of Military Force that Congress passed on September 18, 2001, authorized this program. That argument has been thoroughly discredited. In the AUMF, Congress authorized the President to use military force against those who attacked us on 9/11, a necessary and justified response to the attacks. We did not authorize him to wiretap American citizens on American soil without going through the judicial process that was set up nearly three decades ago precisely to facilitate the domestic surveillance of spies and terrorists.
Senators have also dragged out the same old tired arguments about the President’s supposed inherent executive authority to violate FISA. They argue that a law passed by Congress can’t trump the President’s power under the Constitution. That argument may sound good, but it assumes what it is trying to prove – that the Constitution gives the President the power to authorize warrantless wiretaps in certain cases. You can’t simply say that any claim of executive power prevails over a statute – at least, not if you are serious about the rule of law, and about how to interpret the Constitution. The real question is, when a claim of executive power and a statute arguably conflict, how do you resolve that conflict?
Fortunately, the Supreme Court has told us how to answer that question. We are talking here about the President acting in direct violation of a criminal statute. That means his power was, as Justice Jackson said in his famous and influential concurrence in the Steel Seizure cases half a century ago, “at its lowest ebb.” In other words, when a President argues that he has the power to violate a specific law, he is on shaky ground. That’s not just my opinion – it’s what the Supreme Court has made clear. No less an authority than the current Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, repeatedly recognized in his confirmation hearings that Justice Jackson’s three-part test is the appropriate framework for analyzing questions of executive power. In early 2006, a distinguished group of law professors and former executive branch officials wrote a letter pointing out that “every time the Supreme Court has confronted a statute limiting the Commander-in-Chief’s authority, it has upheld the statute.”
The Senate reports issued when FISA was enacted confirm the understanding that FISA overrode any pre-existing inherent authority of the President. The 1978 Senate Judiciary Committee report stated that FISA “recognizes no inherent power of the president in this area.” And “Congress has declared that this statute, not any claimed presidential power, controls.”
And contrary to what has been said on this floor, no court has ever approved warrantless surveillance in violation of FISA based on some theory of Article II authority. The Truong case that so often gets hauled out to make this argument was a Vietnam-era case based on surveillance that occurred before FISA was enacted, so it could not have decided this issue. And the issue before the FISA Court of Review in 2002 had nothing to do with inherent presidential authorities. Yet these cases are repeatedly cited by supporters of the President, complete with large charts of the supposedly relevant quotations. The fact is that not a single court – not the Supreme Court or any other court – has considered whether, after FISA was enacted, the President nonetheless had the authority to bypass it and authorize warrantless wiretaps.
In fact, Mr. President, as the Senator from Pennsylvania and I discussed on the floor yesterday, just last week a federal district court strongly indicated that were it to reach that issue, it would find that the President must in fact follow FISA. The court was considering whether the state secrets privilege applies to claims brought under the FISA civil liability provisions, and found that it does not. Its reasoning was based on the conclusion that Congress had spoken clearly that it intended FISA and the criminal wiretap laws to be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance is conducted, and had fully occupied the field in this area, replacing any otherwise applicable common law. Here is what the court said: “Congress appears clearly to have intended to – and did – establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence surveillance activities to be conducted. Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities...”
And a district court in Michigan also has held that the President’s wiretapping program was unconstitutional, although that decision was reversed on procedural grounds by the Sixth Circuit. So to the extent there is any case law that actually addresses this issue, it undercuts the administration’s arguments. It certainly does not support those arguments.
Mr. President, we also have heard that past American presidents have cited executive authority to order warrantless surveillance. But of course those past presidents – Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt are often cited – were acting before the Supreme Court decided in 1967 that our communications are protected by the Fourth Amendment, and before Congress decided in 1978 that the executive branch can no longer unilaterally decide which Americans to wiretap. So those examples are simply not relevant.
In sum, the arguments that the President has inherent executive authority to violate the law are baseless. It’s not even a close case. And the repeated efforts here in the Senate to pretend otherwise are very discouraging.
Mr. President, it may seem that I am going over ancient history because this program is no longer operating outside the law. But this is directly relevant to the current debate. The bill the Senate is considering would grant retroactive immunity to any companies that cooperated with a blatantly illegal program that went on for more than five years – and that the administration repeatedly misled Congress about.
If Congress short-circuits these lawsuits, we will have lost a prime opportunity to finally achieve accountability for these years of law-breaking. That’s why the administration has been fighting so hard for this immunity. It knows that the cases that have been brought directly against the government face much more difficult procedural barriers, and are unlikely to result in rulings on the merits.
These lawsuits may be the last chance to obtain a judicial ruling on the lawfulness of the warrantless wiretapping program. It’s bad enough that Congress abdicated its responsibility to hold the President accountable for breaking the law. Now it is trying to absolve those who allegedly participated in his lawlessness. Mr. President, this body should be condemning this administration for its law-breaking – not letting the companies that allegedly cooperated off the hook.
And this body certainly should not grant the government new, over-expansive surveillance authorities, which brings me to the part of the bill that in some ways concerns me even more than the immunity provision. Let me explain why I am so concerned about the new surveillance powers granted in this bill, and why the modest improvements made to this part of the bill don’t go nearly far enough.
First, the FISA Amendments Act would authorize the government to collect all communications between the U.S. and the rest of the world. That could mean millions upon millions of communications between innocent Americans and their friends, families, or business associates overseas could legally be collected. Parents calling their kids studying abroad, emails to friends serving in Iraq – all of these communications could be collected, with absolutely no suspicion of any wrongdoing, under this legislation.
Second, like the earlier Senate version, this bill fails to effectively prohibit the practice of reverse targeting – namely, wiretapping a person overseas when what the government is really interested in is listening to an American here at home with whom the foreigner is communicating. The bill does have a provision that purports to address this issue. It prohibits intentionally targeting a person outside the U.S. without an individualized court order if, quote, “the purpose” is to target someone reasonably believed to be in the U.S. At best, this prevents the government from targeting a person overseas as a complete pretext for getting information on someone in the U.S. But this language would permit intentional and possibly unconstitutional warrantless surveillance of an American so long as the government has any interest, no matter how small, in the person overseas with whom the American is communicating. The bill does not include language that had the support of the House and the vast majority of the Senate’s Democratic caucus, to require the government to obtain a court order whenever a significant purpose of the surveillance is to acquire the communications of an American in the U.S. The administration’s refusal to accept that reasonable restriction on its power is telling.
Third, the bill before us imposes no meaningful consequences if the government initiates surveillance using procedures that have not been approved by the FISA Court, and the FISA Court later finds that those procedures were unlawful. Say, for example, the FISA Court determines that the procedures were not even reasonably designed to wiretap foreigners outside the U.S., rather than Americans here at home. Under the bill, all that illegally obtained information on Americans can be retained and used. Once again, there are no consequences for illegal behavior.
Now, unlike the Senate bill, this new bill does generally provide for FISA Court review of surveillance procedures before surveillance begins, and that is one of the changes that has been touted by supporters of the bill. But the bill also says that if the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence certify that they don’t have time to get a court order and that intelligence important to national security may be lost or not timely acquired, then they can go forward without judicial approval. This is a far cry from allowing an exception to FISA Court review in a true emergency, because arguably all intelligence is important to national security and any delay at all might cause some intelligence to be lost. So I am concerned that this ‘exigency’ exception could very well swallow the rule and undermine any presumption of prior judicial approval.
Fourth, this bill doesn’t protect the privacy of Americans whose communications will be collected in vast new quantities. The Administration’s mantra has been: “don’t worry, we have minimization procedures.” But, Mr. President, minimization procedures are nothing more than unchecked executive branch decisions about what information on Americans constitutes “foreign intelligence.” That is why on the Senate floor, I joined with Senator Webb and Senator Tester earlier this year to offer an amendment to provide real protections for the privacy of Americans, while also giving the government the flexibility it needs to wiretap terrorists overseas. This bill relies solely on inadequate minimization procedures to protect innocent Americans. They are simply not enough.
Mr. President, as I said at the outset, some supporters of the bill have pointed to improvements made since the Senate passed its bill earlier this year. I appreciate that changes have been made. But those changes are either inadequate, or they do not go to the core privacy issues raised by this bill. In fact, as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said just yesterday, the bill before us is “basically the Senate bill all over again” with only “cosmetic fixes.”
For example, I am pleased that the bill provides for FISA Court review of targeting and minimization procedures. But as I mentioned, there is a potentially gaping loophole allowing the executive branch to go forward with surveillance without court review – an exception that could swallow the rule. The bill also now explicitly directs the FISA Court to consider whether the government’s procedures comply with the Fourth Amendment – but that is an authority it should have had anyway.
The bill includes an Inspector General review of the illegal program, which is a positive change, but it does not make up for the lawsuits that are going to be dismissed as a result of this legislation. And I strongly support the strengthened exclusivity language, which may deter a future administration from engaging in lawless behavior. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that FISA as originally enacted clearly stated that it and the criminal wiretap laws were the exclusive means for conducting electronic surveillance. This was confirmed in the strongest terms possible by a federal district court just last week. Only under the unprecedented legal theories of this administration could that clear language be ignored, requiring Congress to pass language that effectively says – No, we really meant it. And, if this bill is enacted, I am by no means reassured that this Administration, which repeatedly broke the law and misled the public over the past seven years, will now respect the exclusivity of FISA.
Now, the bill does contain a key protection for Americans traveling overseas. It says that if the government wants to intentionally target Americans while they are outside the country, it has to get an individualized FISA court order based on probable cause. That is a great victory, and one we should be proud of. But it does not override the greatly expanded authorities in this bill to collect other types of communications involving Americans.
In sum, these improvements are not enough. They are nowhere close. And so, Mr. President, I must strongly oppose this bill.
When you consider how we got here, this legislation is particularly discouraging. We discovered in late 2005 that the President had authorized an illegal program in blatant violation of a statute, and that Congress and the public had been misled in a variety of ways leading up to this public revelation. Congress, to its credit, held hearings on the program, but was largely stonewalled by the administration for many months until the administration grudgingly agreed to brief the intelligence committees, and more recently the judiciary committees. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the House and Senate have never been told what happened. In 2006, when the Republicans tried to push through legislation to grant massive new surveillance authorities to the executive branch, we stopped it. But now, in a Democratic-controlled Congress, not only did we pass the Protect America Act, but we are now about to extend for more than four years these expansive surveillance powers – and we are about to grant immunity to companies that are alleged to have participated in the administration’s lawlessness.
Mr. President, I sit on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and I am one of the few members of this body who has been fully briefed on the warrantless wiretapping program. And, based on what I know, I can promise that if more information is declassified about the program in the future, as is likely to happen either due to the Inspector General report, the election of a new President, or simply the passage of time, members of this body will regret that we passed this legislation. I am also familiar with the collection activities that have been conducted under the Protect America Act and will continue under this bill. I invite any of my colleagues who wish to know more about those activities to come speak to me in a classified setting. Publicly, all I can say is that I have serious concerns about how those activities may have impacted the civil liberties of Americans. If we grant these new powers to the government and the effects become known to the American people, we will realize what a mistake it was, of that I am sure.
So I hope my colleagues will think long and hard about their votes on this bill, and consider how they, and their constituents, will feel about this vote five, ten or twenty years from now. I am confident that history will not judge this Senate kindly if it endorses this tragic retreat from the principles that have governed government conduct in this sensitive area for 30 years. I urge my colleagues to stand up for the rule of law and defeat this bill.russ feingold stood up. (if you've been a reader for any length of time, you know i generally like russ' politics and i also think he's the hottest man in the senate.) barbara boxer, to no surprise, also stood up. the big surprise to me was that harry reid did. good for him. i guess he'd gotten his spine back from the dry cleaners. the democratic primary, in the end, came down to 2 candidates: hillary clinton and barack obama. 1 stood up, 1 sold out. here is the 'Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008:'
One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty. As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today’s vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form.
The legislation would overhaul the law that governs the administration’s surveillance activities. Some of the legislation’s provisions place guidelines and restrictions on the operational details of the surveillance activities, others increase judicial and legislative oversight of those activities, and still others relate to immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the administration’s surveillance activities.
While this legislation does strengthen oversight of the administration’s surveillance activities over previous drafts, in many respects, the oversight in the bill continues to come up short. For instance, while the bill nominally calls for increased oversight by the FISA Court, its ability to serve as a meaningful check on the President’s power is debatable. The clearest example of this is the limited power given to the FISA Court to review the government’s targeting and minimization procedures.
But the legislation has other significant shortcomings. The legislation makes no meaningful change to the immunity provisions. There is little disagreement that the legislation effectively grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies. In my judgment, immunity under these circumstances has the practical effect of shutting down a critical avenue for holding the administration accountable for its conduct. It is precisely why I have supported efforts in the Senate to strip the bill of these provisions, both today and during previous debates on this subject. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful.
What is more, even as we considered this legislation, the administration refused to allow the overwhelming majority of Senators to examine the warrantless wiretapping program. This made it exceedingly difficult for those Senators who are not on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees to assess the need for the operational details of the legislation, and whether greater protections are necessary. The same can be said for an assessment of the telecom immunity provisions. On an issue of such tremendous importance to our citizens – and in particular to New Yorkers – all Senators should have been entitled to receive briefings that would have enabled them to make an informed decision about the merits of this legislation. I cannot support this legislation when we know neither the nature of the surveillance activities authorized nor the role played by telecommunications companies granted immunity.
Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart. And that is what is vital to ensuring that any tool designed to protect us is used – and used within the law – for that purpose and that purpose alone. I believe my responsibility requires that I vote against this compromise, and I will continue to pursue reforms that will improve our ability to collect intelligence in our efforts to combat terror and to oversee that authority in Congress.
hillary stood up. so you can probably guess that barack didn't. in a change of habit for him, he showed up for the vote and actually voted - with the republicans (and other losers). the bill passed. spying is expanded. do you get that?
we're not pushing back on the spying of american citizens, we're expanding it. and guess who supported it? barack.
what has he had, 2 weeks, 3 weeks of pressure from his fan base? and he ignored it. where was the holding his feet to the fire? where was that mythical 'movement' that was going to hold him accountable and move mountains?
there was never a 'movement' behind barack. just a lot of astro-turf.
barack will sell out any 1 and every 1 he can. he slammed moveon recently. in a speech. publicly. when the republicans in the senate were pushing to censure moveon over the general betray-us ad last year, if you forgot, barack voted to censure. hillary? she stood up for moveon. moveon 'thanked' her by endorsing barack. now barack slapped them down again.
and moveon also started a campaign to make barack vote 'no' on today's bill. didn't work, did it? he blew them off. only a surprise if you didn't realize he voted with republicans last year to censure moveon.
moveon and all the other psuedo-grassroots are ineffective.
they've wasted your time and their own.
and they've given the democratic party barack as a nominee for president.
it really is the death of the 'netroots.'
with hillary, you knew what you were getting. with barack, as bill clinton pointed out, you were rolling the dice. they rolled the dice, the 'netroots' and panhandle media, and we all lost.
how's that feeling?
the left never gets anywhere because you have too many liars in positions of power. you have 'fair' which isn't fair and refused to critique the media during the primary. with a weekly radio program they only noted sexism once (and hillary had to be called a 'bitch' on tv for them to object - for 1 sentence where they didn't even name the program).
bi-racial barack, portrayed as 'black,' gave them 'salvation.' they never gave a damn about worrying some 1 might see them as sexist but they were oh-so-worried some 1 might call them a racist.
it's like that ridiculous amy goodman who is whiter than white but tries so hard to be 'down' and 'hip.' and reduces racial discussions (just like her hero, old man moyers) to black and white. as if no 1 else populates the u.s.
barack made them feel good.
that was all that mattered. not whether he stood for anything or not (he didn't). not whether he had a record (he didn't). not whether he was electable (currently it doesn't look like he is).
they went with him for the reason ralph nader pointed out, white liberal guilt.
they should have all gone into therapy. it would have cost the country far less.
how's it feel, robert parry?
i used to think the sun rose and fell on robert parry. then he went nutso. he couldn't hide his sexism. he pulled it out of his pants and waived it in your faces. he'd spent how many years defending bill clinton from right wing smears? but he shows up repeating them. he shows up attacking hillary for everything in the world.
his supposed great nemesis was lee hamilton. who is a barack supporter.
robert parry got in bed with barack and woke up in the arms of lee hamilton.
how does that feel, robert parry?
you were once a journalist but instead wanted to go into nutso maureen dowd world.
so many reputations now in tatters.
maybe they can purge their archives? that's really their only hope. that and mass amnesia.
no 1 is forgetting what robert parry, robert scheer, danny schechter, fair, counterspin, janine jackson, sharon smith and all the others did.
or what they didn't do.
they refused to call out sexism.
they refused to apply a fair standard.
they just wanted to marvel in their own goodness for supporitng a 'black' candidate. didn't matter who he was or what he stood for. didn't matter that he wasn't black. he was black the way they like. translation, not really black. half-black, half-white, they could pour dreams onto. and their dreams and fantasies were so much 'better' than the truth so they went with the fantasies and made themselves into a sick joke.
how's it feel?
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Wednesday, July 9, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Barack Obama revists his sexist notion about women 'feeling blue,' and more.
Starting with war resistance. "But in the meantime, these people need sancturay whether it's in Canada, in Europe or even in our own communities -- because increasingly there are AWOL GIs living right amongst us and the progressive community is providing them refuge in the United States," Gerry Condon explained today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Aimee Allison (Allison co-hosts with Philip Maldari).
Aimee Allison: This week we've covered the latest on Americans who have left the US military, deserted the US military, and are awaiting refugee status in Canada. There have been some victories of late and we covered one just yesterday
Aimee Allison: Give us the latest on Robin Long.
Aimee Allison: Now Robin Long and Corey Glass are just two former military members who have gone with their families to Canada and are applying for refugee status. Robin Long was in the application process still?
Gerry Condon: Yes, he had been denied his refugee status but then he was in what's called the pre-removal risk assessment phase which is prior to possible deportation and he was not informed that they had ruled against him on that. So he and his lawyer were not allowed to their legal right to appeal it. So this has happened several times now that the Canadian Border Services Agency in British Columbia has . . . made some very, very questionable arrests of US war resisters. Actually, Robin Long was arrested once before under similar circumstances and it seems like somebody in the chain of command there really has an axe to grind against US war resisters and perhaps some people in the Conservative government eager to set the precedent of finally actually deporting one of these guys .
Aimee Allison: Well let's talk about that because have any US war resisters been deported in this era -- the Iraq War era to date?
Gerry Condon: No, none have been deported yet. There have been -- Although Corey Glass was given until tomorrow -- Thursday -- to leave Canada or face deportation and that's really sparked a political crisis in Canada over this issue. But so far, no, there have been no deportations. And we intend to keep it that way. Nobody should be punished for refusing to participate in an illegal, immoral war and that's the bottom line.
[. . .]
Aimee Allison: Let's talk about how many people are in Canada in Robin Long's situation.
Gerry Condon: Right. There are about 200 estimated to be in Canada at this time. And that includes men and women from all four branches of the US military and many of them are Iraq veterans. About 50 of them have applied for refugee status and generally they are being turned down and then appealing. And this has, you know, come to a point now where, like I said, we have the support of the large majority of Canadians -- from 70% in Quebec to 52% in Alberta -- and we have the Parliament behind us. Looks like the courts are starting to turn our direction finally because this decision last week by the Federal Court in Canada to . . . order the refugee board to redo the hearing for Iraq veteran Joshua Key is very significant.
Aimee Allison: Well today there are actions at Canadian consulates in 14 US cities and then in Germany as well. Can you tell me a little bit about what you hope to accomplish and some of the logistics.
Gerry Condon: Well we believe that pressure from people in the US has been very helpful. Courage to Resist, based in the Bay Area there, of course, has managed to organize 10,000 people in this country to send letters to the Canadian government and political leaders and I think that really helped actually tip the balance toward the Parliament's decision finally to formally call for the government to allow US war resisters to immigrate. One concern that some Canadians have is that by allowing US war resisters to remain in Canada, they may be offending the United States and we're here to tell them that, you know, just like in Canada, the majority of people in this country, the large majority are against the war in Iraq. want to see the occupation -- US occupation of Iraq -- come to an end. And we are happy that Canadians are providing sanctuary for our war resisters and we're thanking the Canadian people for this and urging their government to follow the will of the people to do the right thing and allow US war resisters to remain in Canada.
Aimee Allison: That's Gerry Condon, director of Project Safe Haven, who is organizing support efforts for US war resisters seeking refugee status in Canada.
Allison, co-author of Army Of None with David Solnit, interviewed US war resister Joshua Key and Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist on yesterday's The Morning Show -- the broadcast and today's are archived. Key's interview was noted in yesterday's snapshot as was Robin Long's arrest. Travis Lupick (Georgia Straight) reports the CBSA informed Robin "he would be deported to the U.S. by as early as Monday (July 14)". The Canadian Press quotes Bob Ages (War Resisters Support Campaign) stating, "This is quite a bombshell in what we thought was a pretty routine administration hearing." Rod Mickleburgh (Globe & Mail) notes, "There had been no warning to Mr. Long that he was in danger of being sent back to the United States so quickly, and it came as a particular shock to his lawyer, Shepherd Moss, in light of last week's court decision upholding deserter Joshua Key's appeal of his failed refugee application." Allison Cross (Vancouver Sun) explains Robin took part in yesterday's hearing via "phone from Nelson" and that "he was told officials had decided in May Long wouldn't be at risk to torture or punishment if he was returned to the US". The War Resisters Support Campaign issues a press release which includes the following:
"The actions of the CBSA amounts to harassment," says Lee Zaslofsky, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. "This young man has complied with his requirements and his whereabouts were well-known. The Harper government is ignoring the will of the House of Commons and the Canadian people. It is doing the bidding of the Bush administration in seeking to remove these soldiers of conscience to face persecution in the US."
Oxford Review notes US war resister Rich Droste took part in the Port Dover Canada Day parade by providing information and raising awareness on the issue and the urgency: "Supporters of war resisters are rallying across Canada this Thursday July 10, the date when resister Corey Glass has been ordered to leave Canada." Meanwhile Straight Goods joins New Catholic Times in running the Appeal from Canada's faith communities to the Government of Canada."
To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail email@example.com -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Moving to Japan where (US) White House spokesperson Dana Perino declread today that
"we don't have timetables for troop withdrawals, we don't have timetables for negotiations." Perino was responding to questions about the treaty the White House wants with Nouri al-Maliki and al-Maliki's floating of the notion that timetables for US withdrawal may be included in the treaty. Perino and other White House staff arrived with the Bully Boy in Japan on July 6th. Asked when Bully Boy had last spoken to al-Maliki, Perino declared this morning, "he just spoke to him right before we left. I can't remember what day we left, but the President had a secure videoteleconfrence" with al-Maliki and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker "checks in with the president daily. Almost." Perino attempted to spin talk of withdrawal as a positive in a sort of 'And before the US invasion, no one ever talked in Iraq!' manner. As though an eviction notice would ever be seen as a sign of progress? In this morning's New York Times, Campbell Robertson became the first to get the White House on record regarding al-Maliki's withdrawal statements. Robertson quoted the White House's Gordon D. Johndroe stating, "Negotiations and discussions are ongoing every day. It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for withdrawal, but are discussions on a security horizion that reflects the Iraqis' increasing capacity, as well as improved conditions on the ground that should allow for a further reduction of U.S. forces." Meanwhile Ernesto Londono and Dan Eggan (Washington Post) quote Mowaffak al-Rubaie (the National Security Advisor of Iraq) stating, "There should not be any permanent bases in Iraq unless these bases are under Iraqi control." Londono and Eggan go on to state that the White House maintains recent statements by Iraqi officials are "aimed at local and regional audiences and do not reflect fundamental disagreements with the Bush administration." Reuters offers two theories for al-Maliki's floating of the idea. 1) Local elections are supposed to take place in October (which would go along with the White House's call that the remarks are aimed at local populations -- Iraqis want all foreign troops out of their country). 2) "Iraq's Arab neighbours -- sensitive to any U.S. military presence on Middle Eastern soil -- have long been reluctant to extend full legitimacy to Maliki's Shi'ite-led government partly because of its heavy reliance on American soldiers."
Meanwhile 38 year-old AP camera journalist Ahmed Nouri Raziak has been held by the US military since last month and AP has been informed he will be held for at least six weeks. He has worked for AP Television for five years and was stopped by the US military (or rounded up, let's be honest) in Tikrit. I can't find a link for this but will get one for the next entry. AP notes: "The decision came as a surprise to the AP, which had earlier been led to believe that the cameraman, Ahmed Nouri Raziak, was likely to be released because of lack of any evidence against him."
Today one Mosul bombing (there were others) gets some attention from the press. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) explains of the bombing that claimed at least 14 lives with thirty-five wounded, it was "a suicide car bomb that targetedd Nineveh Operations Command Major General Riyadh Jalal Tawfeeq." AFP quotes Tauffiq stating, "The bomber drove his car into my convoy in the Al-Faisaliya neighbourhood of east Mosul. When my guards tried to arrest him, he detonated his car." Al Jazeera reports, "General Riyadh Jalal Tauffiq, the head of the security operations in Mosul and the surrounding province of Ninawa, escaped unharmed when the suicide bomber drove his car into the convoy on Wednesday." BBC explains, "The victims were his bodyguards and civilians in the area." Al Bawaba offers this perspective, "The violence came as Iraqi officials issued data showing attacks have declined sharply over the past year."
In some of today's other reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Falluja bombing (fifteen minutes apart) which claimed 5 lives and left seventeen people wounded, a Mosul car bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, another Mosul bombing wounded one member of the Iraqi military and a Kirkuk bombing in Kirkuk resulted in "destroying a tower for Atheer cell phone net company". On the Falluja bombings, RTT adds, "The incident occurred outside a bank when police and a crowd gathered in the area after an explosion at 6:30 a.m. local time."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi police and military shot dead 1 person during a raid, 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul, one member of the Iraqi military was injured in a Mosul shooting.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad and 11 in Ramadi. CBS and AP up the corpse count by 11, noting that twenty-two corpses were discovered in Ramadi "most of them under concrete in a playing field." Reuters notes 1 corpse ("young girl" was discovered in Kut and 1 in Tuz Khumato.
Today the US military announced: "A Coalition force Soldier was killed in an explosion while conducting operations in Salah ad-Din July 9. Additionally, two other Soldiers were wounded in the explosion." The announcement brought the total number of US service members who have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4116.
Turning to the US presidential race. Team Nader announces that the "ten states by July 6" target was reache and the new goal is "15 states by July 20." Ralph Nader is an independent candidate for president. As such he has to fight for ballot access. The five that they are going for next are Arkansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Rhode Island and South Carolina. "And to get there, we need to raise $60,000. In eleven days. Here is what we propose. Donate now - in whatever denomination suits you - $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.
And if you choose, your name will pop up on our fundraising widget - which shows every dollar we raise as we approach our $60,000 goal." And Ralph Nader notes:
This is Ralph Nader.
Today is Wednesday July 9, 2008.
And I'm listening now to the debate on the Senate floor over legislation that will give President Bush new warrantless eavesdropping powers.
The bill will also grant immunity to telecom companies for cooperating with Mr. Bush in his illegal warrantless wiretapping on Americans - on any one of you.
We were taught as young children that in our democracy, under our system of justice, nobody is above the law - nobody.
But this bill puts the President and the telecom companies above the law.
It also conveniently assures a coverup of Mr. Bush's past crimes in this area - of wiretapping and surveillance.
On the Senate floor, Senator Feingold has just warned his colleagues that the Senate "will regret that we passed this legislation."
As my home state Senator, Christopher Dodd, said:
"If we pass this legislation, the Senate will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the President's hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law."
What does it say that Senators Dodd, Feingold, Harry Reid, and Patrick Leahy have led the valiant fight against this bill, but Senator Obama has said he will vote for it?
Again, this bill gives the President vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and allows the government - for the first time ever - to tap into America's telecommunications networks with no judicial warrant requirement.
President Bush and the Democrats who support him argue that the telecommunications companies were only doing what they were told by the President and were acting as "patriotic corporate citizens."
This is pure hogwash.
First of all, corporations aren't citizens.
Second, the President can't order anyone - citizens or corporations - to break the law.
This legislation, which the Senate is debating right now, sets up a double standard of justice.
Break the law as a citizen, go to jail.
Break the law as a corporation, go to Washington and get immunity.
Remember, there were telecom companies, such as Qwest, that refused to follow President Bush's illegal wiretap orders and chose instead to obey the laws of the land.
The Senate is now poised to bury the rule of law.
What to do?
Join Nader/Gonzalez - the candidacy that will shift the power from the corporations back into the hands of the people.
We strongly oppose the wiretap surveillance legislation that Obama and McCain support.
We stand strongly with the American people and for the Constitution.
The Nader/Gonzalez campaign is now at six percent in the most recent CNN poll.
We're in the middle of a fundraising drive right now to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 45 states by September 20.
Help us get there now.
Go to votenader.org.
Donate to your heart's content.
For the Constitution.
For shifting the power from the corporations, back into the hands of the American people.
"We the people" are the first words of the Constitution - we should always remember.
Marcia and Ruth noticed confusion online regarding Nader's appearances Saturday -- there are two and the one in Richmond is in the afternoon. So we'll join them in noting Ralph Nader's upcoming events:
Brian Montopoli (CBS News) examines presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Montopoli explores an interview Barack gave to the Christian outlet Relevant magazine. During the course of the interview, the magazine publisher (Cameron Strang) sums up a position for Barack which includes this opening, "You've said you're personally against abortion . . ." To be really clear, were the person Strang speaking to Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton or any other number of women in Congress, it would be one thing. But when it's the man who refused to vote "yes" or "no" and went with "present" while in the Illinois state legislature, that's a different matter. Equally true is a woman making that statement may or may not have found herself in the position where she had to take the theoretical into practice. Though the press credits the Christ-child with amazing powers, it's highly unlikely that Barack has ever found himself pregnant. The summary (and the fact that Barack doesn't object to it) should (at the very least) raise eyebrows. Roe v. Wade as a scare tactic is not going to work. And one of the main reasons is Barack won't talk to women. He sneers at women. When it's time to talk abortion, why is he running to a 'Christian' magazine and allowing that he is "personally against abortion"? More insulting -- and this is insulting to women, to pro-choice advocates of both genders and to medical professionals (especially those in the mental health field) -- is this remark: "I absolutely can, so please don't believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions." Barack is an IDIOT about the law -- obvious when he didn't grasp who the plantiff and defendent were in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia -- but that series of sentences contains something to offend just about everyone. A) He's talking about banning late-term abortions which isn't really something he campaigned on while pretending to be 'liberal.' B) Barack has no medical degree so he doesn't know the first damn thing about "mental distress." That's insulting to those in the mental health practice as well as women. Repeating, Barack has most likely never been pregnant. He sure seems to think he knows a great deal, doesn't he? Despite being a basically C-average student most of his life. Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) breaks it down:
Obama says that these women should not be able to obtain a late-term abortion, because just "feeling blue" isn't the same as suffering "serious clinical mental health diseases." True enough. And totally infuriating.
During the recent Obama pander tour -- the one in which he spent about a week trying to win over conservative religious voters -- the presumptive Democratic nominee unnecessarily endorsed President Bush's faith-based initiative, a sort of patronage program that rewards religious activists for their political support with public grants. Then in a St. Louis speech, Obama declared that "I let Jesus Christ into my life." That's fine, but we already have a president who believes this was a qualification for the Oval Office, and look where that's gotten us.
Obama's verbal meanderings on the issue of late-term abortion go further. He has muddied his position. Whether this is a mistake or deliberate triangulation, only Obama knows for sure.
One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are "feeling blue."