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BUSH KEPT CONGRESS IN THE DARK? GOOD!

 

 

 

Jim Kouri, CPP
December 19, 2005
NewsWithViews.com

Is it just the cop in me that makes me suspicious of yesterday's New York Times story on Spygate, or are there others who feel this is part of a widespread conspiracy? Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but I smell a rat -- or I should say, I smell a city full of rats.

Ranking members of Congress hyperventilated on Friday when they read in the New York Times and Washington Post that President Bush and his administration decided to permit the country's most secretive intelligence agency, the National Security Agency, to spy on American citizens and foreign nationals in the United States after the September 11 terrorist attacks without first obtaining warrants.

In the days following the death and devastation of 9-11, Bush and his advisors were taking no chances of missing out on communications between terrorist cells in the US and terrorist puppetmasters in the Middle East and Europe. According to the reporters who actual covered the story, President Bush briefed a selected group of congressional leaders about his executive order to use the NSA within the continental US.

Following the Times and Post stories, Democrats and some Republicans condemned the Bush Administration's actions, describing them as an example of Bush's use of the threat of terrorism to assume new legal and intelligence powers and to limit civil liberties.

The chief RINO (Republican in Name Only) on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), said he would call congressional hearings as soon as possible. Warrantless surveillance of US citizens is "wrong, and it can't be condoned at all," he said. Perhaps Bush deserves this from Specter. Afterall, Bush supported Specter against a real conservative during the Pennsylvania Republican primary. Sure, inform the world about how we conduct top secret surveillance operations. Great war strategy, Arlen.

According to former officials familiar NSA eavesdropping operations, Bush signed an executive order in 2002 granting new surveillance powers to the National Security Agency. The NSA is the super-secret branch of the US intelligence community responsible for international eavesdropping. The agency is so secret that for years the government denied it even existed.

"I want to know precisely what they did: how NSA utilized their technical equipment, whose conversations they overheard, how many conversations they overheard, what they did with the material, what purported justification there was and we will go from there," Specter said. Sure Senator, and I want a Porsche for Christmas.

What President in his right mind would divulge top secret intelligence, as well as sources and methods, to a bunch of political hacks who believe their job description includes leaking classified information to the media? The President should take Senator John Kerry into his confidence? Why? So he can have one of his secret luncheons at a French restaurant with leaders from other countries and blab to his heart's content? Or how about Senator Patrick "Leaky" Leahy, who is known in Washington as a pathological leaker? One story has Leahy calling the Food Section editor of the Washington Post and leaking the secret recipe for Laura Bush's meatloaf. Or should Senator John McCain in his quest for good press coverage be told everything? I know he's considered a maverick by some, but one person's maverick is another person's blabber mouth.

I imagine President Bush should have briefed Senator Jay Rockefeller, who admitted on national television that in the days leading up to the Iraq invasion he flew to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to brief leaders on Bush's war plans. Sure, then Rockefeller would have a great story to tell reporters -- besides snitching out Bush on his war plans, Rockefeller could have whined about the NSA monitoring American and international telephone and computer communications.

After the ruthless terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon that saw 3,000 Americans die, the administration sought to ease the restrictions on wiretaps and e-mail surveillance to investigate US citizens suspected of having ties to terrorists. Ordinarily, the government must obtain permission from special courts to turn its surveillance on US citizens, either domestically or overseas.

The surveillance operation was first reported by the New York Times. But the Times decided to put a hold on the story. Conversations between Bush officials and Times reporters were successful in suppressing the story for national security reasons such as tipping off the enemy within (the terrorists not the Democrats and some Republicans) that we were listening to their phone conversations or reading their e-mail. The Times appears at first to be patriotic in their suppression of the story until one examines potential motives suddenly publishing the story:

1) The positive momentum in Iraq as a result of elections called for a story that would distract Americans from this accomplishment.

2) One of the New York Times reporters, according to Fox News, has a book coming out soon on this very subject.

3) The story broke on Friday in the midst of a heated Senate debate on extending soon-to-expire provisions of the Patriot Act. The story provided cover for the Democrats and their RINO allies to vote against the extension without fear of retribution.

Vice President Dick Cheney went to Capitol Hill to confer with the leaders of both chambers as well as the chairman and top Democrat on each of the intelligence panels. Those present refused to discuss the session -- at least until they had time to cover their tracks.

In a TV interview, Bush said he could not talk about the matter. "We do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country, and the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them," he said on PBS' "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer."

Bush told Lehrer that he understands the Americans people are eager to hear about the details of the post-9-11 surveillance operations. But he's "just not going to do it," he said.

The surveillance program was designed to enable the NSA to monitor communications between Americans in the US and people overseas suspected of having ties to terrorist networks. One aim was to take swift advantage of fresh leads collected overseas by the CIA, especially in cases in which an agency raid led to the seizure of a laptop or cellphone containing logs of phone numbers.

As far as notifying the US Congress, the Bush Administration had meetings with congressional leaders at the time and explained the executive order and the reasons for circumventing the judicial process for obtaining warrants. Some of the very same members of the House and Senate who are expressing outrage were apprised of the NSA operation in 2002.

Let's put this in context: On September 11, 2001, America suffered the worst attack in US history. At the time, officials in Washington hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. Have we forgotten how the Patriot Act was hurriedly written and voted on? Many in Congress admitted they never even read the more than 1,500 pages.

A primary concern after September 11, according to intelligence agents with whom this writer spoke, was that obtaining warrants took so long that there was little time to react to fresh intelligence.

Former Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee at the time the eavesdropping program was launched, said in an interview Friday that he was never told about the program during his time on the committee.

However, Senator Graham admitted he attended a meeting in early 2002 in the Vice President's White House office about the NSA. He claims it focused on other operations, such as monitoring overseas e-mail traffic that flowed through Internet service providers based in the US. He was never told about the program? Apparently he was told, but didn't know he was told. Graham, by many accounts, is a few cards short of a full deck.

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"What is concerning me, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, is if eight people, rather than 535 people, can know there is going to be an illegal act and they were told this under an intelligence umbrella and theerefore, their lips are sealed does that make the act any less culppable? I don't think so," Senator Diane Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times. Does one need a better reason for keeping this legal scholar out of the loop?

So did President Bush keep Congress in the dark about top secret counterterrorism operations? If he did, good for him!

2005 Jim Kouri- All Rights Reserved

E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale


Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.

He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores.

E-Mail: COPmagazine@aol.com


 

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So did President Bush keep Congress in the dark about top secret counterterrorism operations? If he did, good for him!