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Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity
(Walter Pincus, Washington Post, November 27, 2005)
The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world. . . . The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. . . . The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies . . . The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public. . . . "We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview. . . . Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the data-sharing amendment would still give the Pentagon much greater access to the FBI's massive collection of data, including information on citizens not connected to terrorism or espionage. . . . The measure, she said, "removes one of the few existing privacy protections against the creation of secret dossiers on Americans by government intelligence agencies." She said the Pentagon's "intelligence agencies are quietly expanding their domestic presence without any public debate." . . . The Marine Corps has expanded its domestic intelligence operations and developed internal policies in 2004 to govern oversight of the "collection, retention and dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons," according to a Marine Corps order approved on April 30, 2004. . . . The order recognizes that in the post-9/11 era, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity will be "increasingly required to perform domestic missions," . . . Perhaps the prime illustration of the Pentagon's intelligence growth is CIFA, which remains one of its least publicized intelligence agencies. Neither the size of its staff, said to be more than 1,000, nor its budget is public, said Conway, the Pentagon spokesman. . . . One CIFA activity, threat assessments, involves using "leading edge information technologies and data harvesting," according to a February 2004 Pentagon budget document. This involves "exploiting commercial data" with the help of outside contractors including White Oak Technologies Inc. of Silver Spring, and MZM Inc., a Washington-based research organization, according to the Pentagon document. . . . CIFA's abilities would increase considerably under the proposal being reviewed by the White House . . . The commission urged that CIFA be given authority to carry out domestic criminal investigations and clandestine operations against potential threats inside the United States. . . . The commission's proposal would change that, giving CIFA "new counterespionage and law enforcement authorities," covering treason, espionage, foreign or terrorist sabotage, and even economic espionage. . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: This means using the military as a tool to enforce copyright laws, etc. Better be careful with that next music download, or the Marines may come calling at your door!] That step, the panel said, could be taken by presidential order and Pentagon directive without congressional approval.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:49 AM
Democrats Have Proof Pre-War Intel Was Manipulated
(Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report, 17 November 2005)
Senate Democrats have dug up additional explosive evidence over the past week that they say will help prove the Bush administration deliberately manipulated pre-war Iraq intelligence that was used to convince Congress and the public to support a pre-emptive strike against the Middle East country in March of 2003. . . . Specifically, Carl Levin, the senior Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is interested in permanently debunking the administration's assertion that it "mistakenly" included the 16-word reference in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address claiming that Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake uranium - the key component to building an atomic bomb - from Niger. Levin's aides said the administration knew months before that the veracity of the allegations was dubious because it was based on forged documents. . . . Many critics of the war cite those 16 words in the State of the Union address as the silver bullet that convinced Congress and the American public to back the war against Iraq. The Niger uranium allegations are also at the heart of a federal probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson . . . Since Libby's indictment, the Bush administration has launched a full-scale public relations campaign to shore up Bush's sagging poll numbers. In doing so, senior officials at the White House and the National Security Council have publicly attacked Democratic critics of the war, as well as the bipartisan investigation into pre-war intelligence, claiming Democrats saw the exact same intelligence as those in the White House and voted in favor of military action. . . . On Wednesday, Cheney called critics of the war "dishonest" and "reprehensible" and said Democrats accusing the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence were "opportunists." . . . But aides to Sen. Levin rebutted that, saying they have smoking-gun proof that they were lied to by Bush and Cheney about not only the existence of weapons of mass destruction but also claims that Iraq had tried to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger. . . . In building their case against the administration, Levin, with the help of Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has obtained the December 2002 letter sent to the White House and the National Security Council by Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warning that the Niger claims were bogus and should not be cited by the administration as evidence that Iraq was actively trying to obtain WMDs. . . . ElBaradei said, when the Niger claims were included in the State Department fact sheet on the Iraqi threat in December 2002, "the IAEA asked the U.S. Government, through its Mission in Vienna, to provide any actionable information that would allow it to follow up with the countries involved, viz Niger and Iraq." ElBaradei said he was assured that his letter was forwarded to the White House and to the National Security Council. ElBaradei added that he and his staff were suspicious about the Niger documents because it had long been rumored that documents pertaining to Iraq's attempt to obtain uranium from Niger had been doctored. . . . ElBaradei had said he repeatedly requested copies of the Niger documents prior to Bush's State of the Union address but never received anything. When he finally did receive the documents - six weeks later - on February 4, 2003, a week after Bush's State of the Union address, his suspicions turned out to be on the money. He was the person who first revealed that the Niger documents cited by the Bush administration to win support for the war were crude forgeries. . . . In conversations and correspondence with Waxman, ElBaradei said he personally had tried to contact Stephen Hadley, then Deputy National Security Adviser, and aides to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, warning them not to rely on the Niger documents as evidence of the Iraqi threat, but was continuously rebuffed. He said the White House officials pledged to cooperate with United Nations inspectors but repeatedly withheld evidence from them. . . . Cheney did the rounds on the cable news outlets, and tried to discredit ElBaradei's conclusion that the documents were forged. . . . "I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney said. "[The IAEA] has consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past." . . . Four months later, Hadley, as well as former CIA Director George Tenet, took responsibility for allowing the Niger uranium claims to be included in Bush's speech. Aides to Levin said that when the bipartisan investigation is complete there will be ample proof that the Bush administration, specifically, Hadley, Cheney, and other top officials, knowingly manipulated intelligence to fit their agenda in launching a war.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:00 PM
Republicans hope for new terror attack to reverse party's decline
(Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, November 10, 2005)
A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and "restore his image as a leader of the American people." . . . The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could "validate" the President's war on terror and allow Bush to "unite the country" in a "time of national shock and sorrow." . . . The memo says such a reversal in the President's fortunes could keep the party from losing control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. . . . The memo outlines other scenarios, including: --Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is dead); --A drastic turnaround in the economy; --A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war. . . . GOP memos no longer talk of “victory” in Iraq but use the term "successful resolution." . . . "A successful resolution would be us getting out intact and civil war not breaking out until after the midterm elections," says one insider. . . . The memo circulates as Tuesday's disastrous election defeats have left an already dysfunctional White House in chaos, West Wing insiders say, with shouting matches commonplace and the blame game escalating into open warfare. . . . "This place is like a high-school football locker room after the team lost the big game," grumbles one Bush administration aide. "Everybody’s pissed and pointing the finger at blame at everybody else." . . . Republican gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey deepened rifts between the Bush administration and Republicans who find the President radioactive. . . . "Most knew an appearance by the President would hurt Kilgore rather than help him but (Karl) Rove rammed it through, convincing Bush that he had enough popularity left to make a difference." . . . Bush didn't have any popularity left. Overnight tracking polls showed Kilgore dropped three percentage points after the President’s appearance and Democrat Tim Kaine won on Tuesday. . . . Conservative Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum told radio talk show host Don Imus Wednesday that he does not want the President's help and will stay away from a Bush rally in his state on Friday. . . . As Republican political strategists scramble to find a message – any message – that will ring true with voters, GOP leaders in Congress admit privately that control of their party by right-wing extremists makes their recovery all but impossible. . . . "We’ve made our bed with these people," admits an aide to House Speaker Denny Hastert. "Now it’s the morning after and the hangover hurts like hell."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:37 PM
Democrats say Republican's covering up White House crimes
(Liz Sidoti, Associated Press, November 1, 2005)
Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, questioning intelligence that President Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq and accusing Republicans of ignoring the issue. . . . "They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why," Democratic leader Harry Reid said. . . . Democrats sought assurances that Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas would complete the second phase of an investigation of the administration's prewar intelligence. . . . After about two hours, senators returned to open session having appointed a six-member task force -- three members from each party -- to review the committee's progress and report back to their respective caucuses by Nov. 14. . . . n mid-afternoon Tuesday, Reid demanded the Senate go into closed session. The public was ordered out of the chamber, the lights were dimmed, and the doors were closed. No vote is required in such circumstances. . . . Reid's move shone a spotlight on the continuing controversy over prewar intelligence. Despite administration claims, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and some Democrats have accused the White House of manipulating the information. . . . "The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions," Reid said before invoking Senate rules that led to the closed session. . . . Libby resigned from his White House post after being indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury. . . . Democrats contend that the unmasking of Valerie Plame was retribution for her husband, Joseph Wilson, publicly challenging the Bush administration's contention that Iraq was seeking to purchase uranium from Africa. That claim was part of the White House's justification for going to war. . . . As Reid spoke, Frist met in the back of the chamber with a half-dozen senior GOP senators, including Roberts, who bore the brunt of Reid's criticism. Reid said Roberts reneged on a promise to fully investigate whether the administration exaggerated and manipulated intelligence leading up to the war.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:55 PM