Another bulls eye from the indefatigable Glenn Greenwald. I've mercilessly cut out the bulk of his blog entry for space reasons. So all that is left is some notion of his focus and enough for me to emphasize or bring up an issue or three.
For Greenwald's complete blog entry, visit: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/index.html
I've kept his reference to "the strange criminal prosecution of former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, who refused to comply with several government requests to enable warrantless spying, after which he was prosecuted."
Why haven't we heard more about this? Has Democracy Now covered this case? Is anyone in Congress interested in finding out more about what would seem to be the political prosecution of the only CEO apparently who has stood up to Bush-Cheney on warranties spying of all our telephone and internet communications?
I've included the issue of Harry Reid making sure that the telecoms get their amnesty. Greenwald doesn't tackle the question of why Reid is abetting Bush-Cheney on this issue. Like the whole "war on terror" could it be the government's choice of victims?
[As I write, the Senate is "debating" as per Harry Reid's cave-in -- which means that the administration will get the retroactive amnesty it desires.]
Also, Greenwald's last sentence in the selection below caught my eye.
As but the latest example, read Mark Benjamin's superb though now-numbingly-familiar account of how we tortured Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah for 19 months and then just let him go once we realized that -- like so many others we've detained and tortured -- he was guilty of nothing.
What's my quibble? Regular readers will have guessed. If the State is responsible for virtually all the high profile (and a great deal of the low profile) terror actions of the last decade or so such as 9/11, London, Madrid, Jordan Hotel bombing, Oklahoma City bombing, African Embassy bombings, Tel Aviv Disco bombing and on and on, then the detention and torture of its victims like Mohamed Bashmilah was done with the full knowledge that he was guilty only of being chosen as a patsy, one more victim.
December 16, 2007
The Lawless Surveillance State
There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that "the N.S.A.'s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before" and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation's domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy -- with no oversight and no notion of legal limits -- to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.
That's precisely why our political class is about to bestow amnesty on telecoms which broke multiple laws in how they enabled the government to spy on us, even though what the telecoms did -- on purpose and for years -- is unquestionably illegal. Our political leaders in both parties plainly want this limitless surveillance to continue, and they don't think that telecoms do anything wrong even when they work with the government in spying on Americans in ways that are against the law.
And they're saying that explicitly. The legislation jointly created and about to be enacted by Jay Rockefeller, Dick Cheney, Congressional Republicans and Harry Reid -- with a vital assist from the Jane-Harman-led "Blue Dogs" in the House -- is all designed to conceal and protect this state of affairs and to enable it to grow.
In mid-October, numerous documents were made publicly available in the strange criminal prosecution of former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, who refused to comply with several government requests to enable warrantless spying, after which he was prosecuted. Those documents detailed the unbelievably extensive and secret cooperation between the federal government and large telecoms in creating domestic spying programs. [snip]...
It's the same process that led our political class to decide astoundingly that it would do nothing upon learning that the President also broke the law for years in how he ordered spying on American citizens. The Washington Post's Congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman recognized on Friday the indispensable role the Senate Majority Leader is playing in all of this:
San Francisco: Why is Harry Reid ignoring the Judiciary Committee's FISA bill and bringing up the SSCI bill? Is telecom amnesty that important to Sen. Reid? If so, why?
Jonathan Weisman: A very good question. Reid has said he will bring up the Intel Committee bill, then allow advocates of the Judiciary Committee bill to bring up theirs as a substitute. That's a big blow, since it will take 60 votes even to consider a vote on the Judiciary version.
Reid says he opposes retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies, but he seems to be stacking the decks for it.
Ultimately, what is most significant about all of this is how the most consequential steps our government takes -- such as endless expansion of its domestic spying programs with literally no oversight and constraints of law -- occur with virtually no public debate or awareness.
The very nature of our country and our government fundamentally transforms step by step, with little opposition. We all were inculcated with the notion that what distinguished our free country from those horrendous authoritarian tyrannies, both right and left, of the Soviet bloc, Latin America and the Middle East were things like executive detentions, torture, secret prisons, spying on their own citizens, unprovoked invasions of sovereign countries, and exemptions from the law for the most powerful -- precisely the abuses which increasingly characterize our government and shape our political values. As but the latest example, read Mark Benjamin's superb though now-numbingly-familiar account of how we tortured Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah for 19 months and then just let him go once we realized that -- like so many others we've detained and tortured -- he was guilty of nothing.
For more, visit: