April 11, 2009 archive

Put the pitchforks down, you got the wrong monster.

Wow people. Did anyone actually look up why we are in such mob mode over wiretapping? I see the torches head towards the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice when it should be marching on Capital Hill.

The radical departure the Bush Administration made in regards to intelligence gathering.

was between active and passive wiretapping.

While FISA has been legal since the 1970s, you still had to present probably cause to the FISA court to get issued your search warrant for wiretapping. This even included retroactive warrants, due to time constraints in the modern age and instantaneous global communication, so you could even go back and do the paperwork.

What it did not allow for was passive wiretapping filling up databases to be sifted through over a course of time. If the NSA program under the Bush Administration is still live, then every moment of every day every citizen’s 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures is being violated.

Also, no Warrants shall issue be issued, but upon probable cause. It’s plain as day in the Constitution, no legal opinion by some obscure court required.

The NSA has no probably cause to gather and store information on citizens, it is unconstitutional.

And to equate the passive gathering of personal information of private citizens with that of active investigation associated with FISA is disingenuous at best.

And “trust us” is no longer a valid response.

Which leads us to redress. This is where it gets funny.

The claims made by the DOJ is actually in line with the rule of law. The right to sue was taken away by Congress.

Not the Executive Branch. That is one of the keys here that is often over looked.

Section 223 of the Patriot Act

   *  You can no longer sue the government for “intentional” violations of the law, like you can sue everyone else. Instead, the violation has to be “willful,” a much higher standard.

This is the exact defense the DOJ of the Obama Administration is making, actually based on the laws of the lands passed through Congress.

   * Before, you could get a trial in front of a jury if you sued the government. Now, suits against the government are heard only by a judge.

The next one is particularly grand in a Rubenesque bureaucracy fashion:

   # Unlike with any other defendant, if you want to sue the federal government for illegal wiretapping you have to first go through an administrative procedure with the agency that did the wiretapping. That means, essentially, that you have to politely complain to the illegal wiretappers and tip them off to your legal strategy, and then wait for a while as they decide whether to do anything about it before you can sue them in court.

And last or not least, the legal pickle:

   # Before PATRIOT, in addition to being able to sue for money damages, you could sue for declaratory relief from a judge. For example, an Internet service provider could ask the court to declare that a particular type of wiretapping that the government wants to do on its network is illegal. One could also sue for an injunction from the court, ordering that any illegal wiretapping stop. PATRIOT section 223 signficantly reduced a judge’s ability to remedy unlawful surveillance, making it so you can only sue the government for money damages. This means, for example, that no one could sue the government to stop an ongoing illegal wiretap. At best, one could sue for the government to pay damages while the illegal tap continued!

All this can be found on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s page about Section 223 of the Patriot Act:


If people want to get serious about this, we have to repeal the law first.

All the Obama administration’s DOJ is doing is following the law as they are on the books.

Nancy Pelosi wants them to sunset, end in December as per the law.

I say they get off their duffs and take care of a pressing issue the rabble is all roused about.

But it’s Congress who must repeal this part of the Patriot Act if you want any changes on illegal wiretapping.

Otherwise, you are getting made at the Obama Administration for following the rule of law, while claiming he is doing the exact opposite.

Because the laws on the books, are the law of the land, which is the rule of law.

Harass your congresscritter today.  

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Top cleric rejects changes to Afghan Shi’ite law

By Samar Zwak, Reuters

Sat Apr 11, 5:25 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – A top Shi’ite cleric said on Saturday the Afghan government had no right to change a law for Shi’ite Afghans that was widely condemned by Afghanistan’s Western backers for curbing women’s rights.

The Shi’ite Afghan Personal Status Law was an idea of Ayatollah Mohammad Asef Mohseni, who led the council of leading Muslim clerics which helped draft the legislation.

The law, meant to formalize minority Shi’ite family law which differs from the majority Sunni population, contains articles that some lawmakers have said would legalize marital rape and U.S. President Barack Obama called “abhorrent.”

What motive does the Army have to misdiagnose PTSD?

So asks the two Salon writers, Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna,  following their recent series starting with the incriminating evidence, an audio recording by a Veteran suffering from PTS. Recording his visit because his wife couldn’t be there so he needed a way to remember what took place in his session with his army psychologist.

A reluctance to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder could be about the money, and about the need for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Have the CIA and NSA Beaten Obama and The Rule of Law?

Though perhaps President Obama will have a chance to implement some long term strategy when he cleans up all the other messes the Ruling Class and Bushco have made over the last years, the answer, for now, has to be….yes.

The CIA have taken  Panneta’s initial statement of no prosecutions and run with it. They now feel free to pursue their agenda of controlling foreign policy. Just as when Nancy took Impeachment off of the table, all leverage that could have been used to rein them in has been lost.

The NSA have apparently convinced Obama that the TIA model of information gathering is not only too valuable to shut down over such minor counter arguments as the Constitution. He has been ….apparently…been convinced not just to continue it, but to defend it in court as well.

I cannot blame Obama for this.

The network of 16 acknowledged Intelligence Agencies, which Bush combined (to some extent) after 9/11 into one vast Intelligence Entity, with the power to spy on everyone in the world now, and massive amounts of information at their disposal, and 50 years of studying and practicing information and disinformation manipulation, has…..considering all that….unsurprisingly convinced the President of the United States that they are too valuable to fuck with.

Or too powerful to fuck with.

Iow, more powerful, in at least some ways, than the President.

After all, what CAN Obama do to fight against them? Especially since they obviously suckered him into making promises during the chaos of the transition. promises which have now muddied and lessened his ability to control them.

So let me stray far into what would have been tin foil territory before all of these new developments that have taken place in semi-plain view are assembled in to some kind of tapestry of what is happening to all of Obama’s campaign promises and principles in this area.

The CIA and NSA are now running America. Or have a VERY unhealthy level of power in influencing how….and for who…it is run.

At least the foreign policy. But given the new reach and powers of law enforcement and intel agencies under the Patriot act, Telcomm immunity, and the indemnification of the CIA and NSA, they also have vast powers domestically.

From the ACLU:

A new institution is emerging in American life: Fusion Centers. These state, local and regional institutions were originally created to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. Though they developed independently and remain quite different from one another, for many the scope of their mission has quickly expanded – with the support and encouragement of the federal government – to cover “all crimes and all hazards.” The types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector.

These new fusion centers, over 40 of which have been established around the country, raise very serious privacy issues at a time when new technology, government powers and zeal in the “war on terrorism” are combining to threaten Americans’ privacy at an unprecedented level.

Due to the increase of power and reach of these agencies and their melding with domestic ‘Law Enforcement’ agencies, and the steady stripping of our Rights…We are now at the mercy of a giant entity that apparently even the President of the United States has no, or very little at best, control over.

The decisions of what, where and how to use the vast power of information and enforcement they now possess are now made by faceless bureaucrats with no real accountability (since indemnification) to the Constitution or the American People. And you can no longer sue for redress for being spied on. How long before THAT indemnification spreads to other areas as well?

Who will, as has become obvious, do anything to protect their power.

Game over?

Or is their some way to curtail this power?

I mean, REALLY? Teabagging?

Tea Bag. Pictures, Images and PhotosWe need to fight fire with a blow torch. (pun thoroughly intended) If they think that they can get the common schmucks to giggle and send their pathetic tea bags in order to promote more giveaways in tax cuts for the rich vampires already sucking us dry… I say we give them something to suck on.

Is this the best they’ve GOT?

Rancid pictures of green eyed, chipmunk-cheeked porn stars with preternaturally huge sacs stuffed in their mouths aside; we need to rub their faces in something far less pleasant than a friendly ol’ lick and nibble of a testicle.

Teabagging of Biblical Proportions.

No, wait, there has to be something BETTER!

Yes, yes. I’m talking about douchebagging them. PERFECT!

Lets DOUCHEBAG Faux News, lets DOUCHEBAG the RNC, lets DOUCHEBAG Wall Street, lets DOUCHEBAG the Banks, lets DOUCHEBAG Congress.

If you are unable to purchase even a douchebag, because the douchebags already have all your assets, a Ziplock of good old vinegar and water will suffice. Any brand’ll do ya!

Lets give America a “Fresh” feeling that lasts all Year!

Docudharma Times Saturday April 11

Tea Bagged In Tokyo

Wednesday: Green Tea For All

Music By: Glen Beck And The Fearmongers


Saturday’s Headlines:

Palin and the Wolves

At least 128 reported dead in Sri Lanka’s ‘no-fire zone’

Tibetans refuse to sow spring crops in protest against Beijing

Violence in Congo worsens as international reinforcements fail to show up

French sailor killed in gun battle as special forces storm hijacked yacht

Italy buries earthquake victims in Good Friday procession of the dead

How to escape kidnappers: French business managers urged to defy captors

Suicide blast kills 5 US soldiers, 2 Iraqi police

Arborist Not About to Offer an Olive Branch

In Mexico, a distant link in a chain of tragedy

Showdown Seen Between Banks and Regulators


Published: April 10, 2009

WASHINGTON – As the Obama administration completes its examinations of the nation’s largest banks, industry executives are bracing for fights with the government over repayment of bailout money and forced sales of bad mortgages.

President Obama emerged from a meeting with his senior economic advisers on Friday to say “what you’re starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy.” But there were also signs of growing tensions between the White House and the nation’s banks over the next phase of the financial rescue.

Some of the healthier banks want to pay back their bailout loans to avoid executive pay and other restrictions that come with the money. But the banks are balking at the hefty premium they agreed to pay when they took the money.

Massive Stimulus Packages Add to Japan’s Pile of Debt

Spending Plans Balloon to $270 Billion, Mostly Borrowed

By Blaine Harden

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, April 11, 2009; Page A09

TOKYO, April 10 — Japan, which soothed the pain of its ruptured bubble economy in the 1990s with massive government borrowing, is again swallowing giant doses of deficit medicine.

To recover from a global downtown that has hurt Japan more than any industrialized nation, Prime Minister Taro Aso announced on Friday his third and largest stimulus package since coming to power last September. At a cost of $150 billion, it brings the total amount of new spending to $270 billion, about 5 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.


America wants to see Ruth Madoff behind bars

The jets and boats have been seized, her jewels may be next and she is ostracised by her high-society friends. But America wants more: to see Ruth Madoff behind bars

By Stephen Foley in New York

 Saturday, 11 April 2009

For once, there is no one camped on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 64th Street. No television camera crew. No breathless newspaper reporters. Not even a lone paparazzo. For more than three months, 64th and Lex were the co-ordinates for an extraordinary media scrum, and even for some public protests, while a certain Bernard and Ruth Madoff looked down from their penthouse above.

But Bernard Madoff is in jail now, guilty pleas entered to all 11 of the fraud and perjury charges laid on him. His wife and companion of 50 years? She still has the $7m (£4.8m) apartment – for now – and the services of the security guards she hired to protect it after she and her husband shot to infamy.

Late Night Karaoke

All M All Night

NOM, NOM, NOM. Fibbers extraordinaire

Also posted on Daily Kos. I figured I would share here, too.

First, I know that I am preaching to the proverbial choir on this. Please comment, but this diary is as much for lurkers, trolls, and freepers as it is for this community.

Second, I am an entrenched GLBT ally. I have no direct and solely personal interest in same sex marriage, but I have family, friends, and online friends who are. That’s more than enough for me to get involved.

Third, and this will come as the shocker of the week, but it turns out that the National Organization for Marriage is a bunch of liars.

Fourth, I haven’t gone off on a good rant in a while and I don’t have a date this Friday evening (or most Friday evenings for that matter). So this is my outlet for righteous indignation.

Fifth: I am the sort of person who reads methodology sections in academic papers. I actually enjoy this sort of thing.


It`s Friday night again & maybe these might help distract you from this past weeks troubles or remind you of it`s joys.

The images are of things you feel, soft or harsh to the touch, but never too hot, I hope.

Happy Easter, Passover, or Week-end.



Random Japan

Whatever floats your boat

It is estimated that of the $20 billion spent on adult films each year in Japan, the “elderly porn” market, which features aged actors and actresses, accounts for a share of 20-30 percent.

It was reported that some universities whose attendance has been hit by Japan’s falling birthrate are seeking to increase revenue by developing offbeat foodstuffs like “ice cream made with pickles seasoned in sake lees” and “rice cooked using deep-sea water.”

Kanagawa became the first prefecture in Japan to ban smoking in private establishments like banks and restaurants. The law goes into effect next April after a “public-awareness period.”

The chairman of the committee handling Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics said that the city has about $4 billion of Games-related funds at its disposal.

Howard Zinn On Creating A Movement To Pressure Obama

Crossposted from Antemedius

Particularly relevant following the recent revelations of President Obama’s DOJ under Eric Holder betraying Obama’s campaign promises to instead embrace the Bush administrations claims for immunity and “states secrets” in the case of clear FISA violations and illegal wiretapping, in part three of a series of interviews historian, political scientist, social critic, activist, author and playwright Professor Howard Zinn talks with Real News CEO Paul Jay about why so many people seem to be convinced that Obama is anything more than what he appears to be given his actions and policies implemented since inauguration, and about how to create a mass popular movement to pressure Obama for progressive results in a supportive way, and concludes that social turmoil is not only not bad but necessary if it leads to something good in the sense of creating real change.

Real News – April 10, 2009

Send a message to Obama

Howard Zinn: Social turmoil is not bad if it leads to something good

Does Torture “Work”?

I’ve been asked to write about this subject for some time, and by happenstance, I came to write this today…

Nell Lancaster had a very good posting at her blog the other day, Torture: It’s not about “intelligence gathering”:

One of the most persistent and discouraging themes that crops up in discussions of torture is the question of whether it “works” or not. The people engaging this question make a fatally wrong assumption: that the goal of torturers is the same as that of legitimate interrogators — to get reliable information useful for active, circumscribed military operations or police investigations.

But torture does something else altogether, and is designed to do so: it extracts false confessions. These confessions, along with the agony of the torture itself, serve the goals of limitless, lawless “war”: to humiliate and break opponents, to divide them from supporters, to terrify those not actively in opposition into staying inactive, and, most importantly, to justify the operations of the dirty war within which torture takes place: commando raids, assassinations, spying, kidnapping, secret and/or indefinite (and unreviewable) detention, and further torture.

I think Nell makes some very good points, and they are especially applicable to the use of U.S. torture during the period we have lived and still living through, beginning with the large-scale revival of the U.S. torture program after 9/11.

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