Thursday, May 11, 2006


Not to be missed

A few stories not to be missed:

(1) Lawyer's Home Searched without a Warrant.

In this eerie article from Alternet, new evidence surfaces that "An Oregon attorney may have proof of Bush's domestic spying operation." The summary goes on to predice that "the illegal program's days may be numbered" but how many times have we misunderestimated these people's willingness to break the law and even defend this act? The story of the FBI's detention of lawyer Brandon Mayfield is scary enough, but the story of Mayfield's "close friend," Thomas Nelson, is even more shocking. An example...

Thomas Nelson has been practicing administrative law for most of his professional life, but after Sept. 11 he first began offering pro bono work for immigrants detained in broad FBI terrorism sweeps.[...]

Nelson officially started representing al-Buthi in September 2004 ...
A few months later, Nelson observed inconsistencies when he came to his office: His computer would be left on, disks still in the drive, materials shifted...
The Oregonian reported that attorney Jonathan Norling "was sleeping on a couch at their practice early one morning last May, when a man dressed as a custodian tried to enter Nelson's office. Norling startled the man twice one night in July, when he caught the man trying to enter the locked office." The man in question had what appeared to be a valid badge for the building. But Norling notes, "This person wasn't a cleaning crew. I know the cleaning crew. I've worked here seven years, and I've worked a lot of nights, and I never experienced anything like that until Tom was working (on this case)."

Though Nelson approached the security people at the building, they wouldn't talk to him. "They were very blunt," he told AlterNet in a phone interview. He then took his concerns to the building manager. "It was all very disconcerting and inconclusive," says Nelson. "There was no direct denial. At the end, I said, 'You probably couldn't tell me if something was going on anyway.' He said, 'That's probably right.'"

After these incidents, Nelson brought the al-Buthi files to his house. That's when he and his wife experienced lapses in his home alarm that the company monitors refused to explain. "They basically stonewalled us," says Nelson. "We kept calling people and they kept referring us around and saying 'We'll call you back,' but no one would ever call back."

Sensing that he may be experiencing the same kinds of searches as the FBI performed in Brandon Mayfield's case, Nelson wrote a letter [PDF] to Karin Immergut, U.S. attorney for Oregon in September 2005, requesting she "look into the matter and to inform me if representatives … have engaged in these searches." Immergut said she was not aware of any warrantless searches. After the New York Times broke the NSA story, Nelson wrote Immergut again, stating that, based upon the report, he may be the target of searches outside of the scope of FISA. Immergut responded, "I was completely unaware of any NSA surveillance program until I read about it in the media," and suggested Nelson contact the NSA directly.

I'm sure they'll be forthcoming and upfront. Hopefully this line of questioning will come out in Hayden's confirmation hearings, but I'm not holding my breath after reading the Democrats are already voicing their support for the former head of the NSA. Illegal warrantless spying inside attorney's homes, a President who justifies breaking the law, and a weak opposition party whose every move seems geared towards not appearing soft on national security. A terrifying combination.

(2) Here is a link to Glenn Greenwald's latest post on the real risks of the Bush administration ignoring the Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold. An excerpt:
This continuous evasion of judicial review by the administration is much more serious and disturbing than has been discussed and realized. By proclaiming the power to ignore Congressional law and to do whatever it wants in the area of national security, it is seizing the powers of the legislative branch. But by blocking courts from ruling on the multiple claims of illegality which have been made against it, the administration is essentially seizing the judicial power as well. It becomes the creator, the executor, and the interpreter of the law. And with that, the powers of all three branches become consolidated in The President, the single greatest nightmare of the founders. As Madison warned in Federalist 47:

From these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be inferred that, in saying "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates," or, "if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers," he did not mean that these departments ought to have no partial agency in, or no control over, the acts of each other.

As I've reported before Glenn's upcoming book is revolutionizing net publishing and the book's development and success look to be as big of a story as it's contents. You can pre-order the book, How Would a Patriot Act? here.

(3) According to today's Washington Post, "NSA Stymies Justice Dept. Spying Probe"
According to the article,
"The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., on Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers' role in the program."

The news just keeps getting better, doesn't it? Steve Earle has a point when he says, "It just keeps getting tougher every day, to sit around and watch it while it slips away."

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