FISA Update (And Why Is John Boehner Crying Again?)

The week starts off with Main Core, Glen Fine’s much anticipated IG Report has been released, today is another state election (Kentucky) in the most hotly, and closely, contested primary that many of us can remember, and, now, the tragic and deflating news that Senator Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor. Oh yeah, and an extended holiday weekend and Congressional recess is at hand in a couple of days. This type of situation can mean only one thing – FISA is bubbling back to the surface. Heck, the only thing missing from this equation is a terror alert; but then again, the week is still young.

First off, where we stand. The news is not all bad, but it sure isn’t all good either. From the National Journal (subscription required-sorry):

House Majority Leader Hoyer had previously said he wanted to reach a compromise on FISA by the Memorial Day recess. GOP and Democratic aides cited several reasons why that has not happened. Late last week, Hoyer sent Senate Republicans a list of provisions that House Democrats want included in a final bill, aides said. Hoyer’s proposal took Senate Republicans by surprise. A Republican aide called the proposal "a step backward."

Before Hoyer’s proposal, Senate Republicans believed that only two main issues needed to be resolved, and that they were close to reaching an agreement on them with House Democrats. One issue dealt with having the secret FISA court determine if the telecom firms should be granted retroactive immunity from lawsuits for their role in the administration’s warrantless electronic surveillance activities since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The second issue centered on allowing the FISA court to review the administration’s procedures and certifications for surveillance operations. "We’re basically there on those two," an aide said.

But Hoyer’s proposal included other provisions, some of which had already been defeated during votes in the Senate, aides said. One provision, for example, would allow the FISA court to assess if the government is complying with so-called minimization procedures, which limit the amount of information collected and stored on Americans incidental to the surveillance target. Another provision contains language making FISA the exclusive means under which the government can conduct electronic surveillance.

The good news is that it appears that there is little chance that anything is going to be attempted before the Memorial Day recess. The other good news, and I will be very pleasantly surprised if it maintains truth, is that Hoyer is really pressing minimization and exclusivity. These are critical concepts above and beyond the retroactive immunity part that we standardly focus on, see Marcy’s discussions, among others, here and here. These are important concerns, and Hoyer and his working crew are to be commended for keeping these concepts part of the bargain.

The bad news, however, is, as I have long feared, that the compromise involves allowing retroactive immunity, but submitting the determination on it to the jurisdiction of the FISA Court. And Pelosi is firmly on board for this:

She told several leading House liberals — including House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., — in a closed-door meeting that included Blue Dogs that a compromise would likely be needed on the issue of granting immunity to the telecoms.

Pelosi is said to have argued this was needed to get a guarantee that the regulation of electronic eavesdropping would be the exclusive purview of the FISA court. Leadership and Blue Dog sources said Pelosi has made it clear that exclusivity is the most important issue for her in negotiations heading forward.

There is no question but that minimization and exclusivity are critical elements going forward, and Pelosi is surely correct that they are more important on FISA itself going forward. But it is weak, shameless and traitorous leadership that is willing to sanction and ratify the most breathtakingly egregious and widespread lawbreaking and mass violation of the citizen’s rights to privacy in the history of the Union in order to get it. Especially when they don’t have to, and are doing so out of raw electoral political concerns. Let’s face it, the status quo is more than functional for the next seven months until a new Congress and, hopefully, a new administration takes office. There is no reason in the world that the House should not do what they have recently done, pass a good bill and, if the Senate Republicans block it or Bush vetoes it, so be it; then tar and feather the Republicans for the act.

The FISC is too much of a rubber stamp for Administration requests, the whole application to, and determination by, the FISC would undoubtedly be done ex-parte and the whole thing classified and secret (thus protecting Administration duplicity). This is no way to go. And here is one more thing to chew on in this regard. In over 25 years of existence, the FISC has outright denied a Government application a grand total of 4 times. In many of those 25 years, the FISC was more liberal and protective of privacy rights than it is now. And here is the clincher. By my estimation, two FISC Judges, James Carr and Nathanial Gorton, had their terms expire last Sunday, and we have no idea who Chief Justice John Roberts is appointing to replace them. It is a pretty safe bet that it will be Bush compliant judges though, which certainly doesn’t augur well for immunity determinations. Giving the FISC the authority to impose retroactive immunity is a very bad move and should be fought with every ounce of intensity we have mustered in the past on this subject.

As a parting shot, there is a bit of humorous irony of the John Boehner "Crying Lame" variety. Chris Frates at Politico has a timely article up today on the hypocrisy of the GOP’s leading wailer:

When a federal judge ordered Rep. Jim McDermott to pay House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and his attorneys more than $1 million in damages and legal fees for leaking an illegally taped phone call to the media, Boehner said he pursued the case because “no one — including members of Congress — is above the law.”

Why, then, is the Ohio Republican trying to squash similar lawsuits against telecommunications companies who cooperated with the government in warrantless electronic surveillance, ask the attorneys behind the class action suits.

“Mr. Boehner is trying to kick millions of Americans out of court in a wiretapping case while collecting more than $1 million in his own wiretapping case. It’s the height of hypocrisy and seems to indicate that members of Congress are entitled to their day in court but the average American is not,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the consumer rights nonprofit the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Bankston said he found it insulting that Boehner would attack the attorneys representing millions of Americans as money-grubbers while he and his attorneys were “lining their own pockets.”

Boehner screams and cries to get immunity for Bush, Cheney and the telcos while denying citizens the very rights he brandishes like a peacock. Insulting money grubbers lining their own pockets indeed. Pretty much summarizes the whole Bush/Cheney regime. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are wrong to permit these people to slip off the hook; let’s make sure they know what we think of that.

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63 replies
  1. Hugh says:

    Boehner is a Republican hence a hypocrite. What’s hard to understand about that?

    As for Pelosi and Hoyer, they are merely pursuing the time honored Democratic strategy of pre-emptive surrender.

  2. MadDog says:

    More and more, Nancy “I watch things with my eyes closed” Pelosi seems to find any spurious rationale to avoid actually doing her job.

    Impeachment? Hmmmm…off the table!
    Oversight? Hmmmm…too busy. Maybe next year.
    Protecting our 4th Amendment rights? Hmmmm…too busy protecting her own complicit ass. Maybe next Administration.

    Selling out your base for 30 pieces of Telco silver? Sure, why not! Priceless!

    • Rayne says:

      You know why impeachment’s off the table?

      Because nearly every one of the folks who’ve been in Congress have been compromised in some way — and they are terrified it will come and bite them before the November elections.

      Could be very minor stuff, but if they’re compromised, their credibility can be undercut with their constituents. Worse, the dirtier opponents can argue that the prosecution of such efforts are political in nature and not equitable.

      We’re going to have to find a way to get this out in the open air and sunshine, or we will never be able to get impeachment and other corrective measures on the bloody table.

      • Hugh says:

        You know why impeachment’s off the table?

        Because nearly every one of the folks who’ve been in Congress have been compromised in some way

        I think the truth is simpler. The Democrats for the first 6 years of the Bush Administration did nothing. We have seen in a single year from the Republicans what kind of opposition a minority party can mount if they are so inclined. This simply didn’t happen under the Democrats. They weren’t compromised they were paralyzed. They are still paralyzed. I often ask myself what it would take for the Democrats to really stand up to Bush and the Republicans. So far I got nothing.

        • PetePierce says:

          Amen brother. Well said and of course you’ve documented it well. I have stabbed at saying the same thing over a hundred times.

  3. Peterr says:

    But it is weak, shameless and traitorous leadership that is willing to sanction and ratify the most breathtakingly egregious and widespread lawbreaking and mass violation of the citizen’s rights to privacy in the history of the Union in order to get it. Especially when they don’t have to, and are doing so out of raw electoral political concerns.

    bmaz, don’t hold back or anything. Tell us how you really feel.

  4. TeddySanFran says:

    I am confused. Why do anything at all?

    Can’t we just get the Congress to declare this issue won, and move on?

    Or are Nancy and her krewe so in love with telecom money that they can’t stop touching this bill?

  5. rundown says:

    Ugh, why can’t Hoyer/Pelosi just leave well enough alone? The house dems did a great thing by outmaneuvering the repubs to effectively kill this issue. Plus it hasn’t hurt them politically, and probably has even helped. They should just sit on it and keep pointing out every day that we aren’t getting attacked and our intelligence folks are doing their jobs just fine without telcom amnesty thank you very much.

    • TeddySanFran says:

      A Democrat got elected in Hastert’s old district running against the PAA! What more evidence do hardworking local grassroots activists have to produce for the National Democrats in order for them to start doing the people’s business instead of their donors’?

    • Praedor says:

      Well, that’s the point. The Dems, by mistake (it HAS to be a mistake because they are, as a party, incompetent), won on the FISA/illegal spying/illegal Telco complicity thing. They just can’t have that. They hate and fear the responsibility that comes with that winning: investigations, impeachment, CEOs going to jail, companies (hopefully) going bankrupt, etc. They MUST snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and totally undo their inadvertant “win”.

      See, Pelosi, Hoyer, et al, simply thought they were playing clever political games. They were certain that their firm stand against the illegality and immunity would go down, ultimately, to defeat but they would still be able to garner the benefits of having tried, but failing, to stand up for liberty, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

      Oops! Their game backfired on them because their win is actually and ultimately a real win! With such a win comes responsibilities. With such a win comes work. But that is NOT why these criminals (Pelosi, Hoyer, Emmanuel, etc, etc, etc) are in D.C. They are not there to work, they are there to rub shoulders, scratch backs and get their own backs scratched, and further gild the rich (themselves and their patrons) at the expense of the little people (the only actual human beings in this whole country). Pelosi will NOT be put into a position where she must WORK for her wealth. She will NOT be put into a position of real responsibility. She merely wants to circulate in the social strata of D.C. and the corporatocracy without unpleasant strings attached. Actually have to investigate, prosecute, hold out accountability, punish, stop all the abuses and legal violations is too hard and endangers her bottom line.

      Immunity must come back and the whole deal must be quietly eliminated in the illegitimately (and unAmerianly and unconstitutionally) secret FISC.

      If there must be an unconstitutional FISC then I demand that it no longer be a rubberstamp. Judges must be nominated to be on the FISC and they must be approved by 3/4s of the Senate. They must go through a vetting just as if they were up for their original judicial appointment, only more thorough since they are already permanently seated in their illegitimate judicial seats. No more SCROTUS Chief “Justice” making the decision.

  6. Petrocelli says:

    I am thoroughly disgusted that Pelosi/Hoyer/Reid & Co. have, time and again, lined up against the principles they swore to defend. They ought to be ashamed of themselves and more importantly, be made to defend their actions during the coming months.

    • Leen says:

      “height of hypocrisy” When will it end?

      Thanks Bmaz for another incredibly informative post.

  7. john in sacramento says:

    Bmaz:

    it is weak, shameless and traitorous leadership that is willing to sanction and ratify the most breathtakingly egregious and widespread lawbreaking and mass violation of the citizen’s rights to privacy in the history of the Union

    FBI Recorded 27 Million FISA ‘Sessions’ in 2006

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstrok…..ed-27.html

  8. PetePierce says:

    I have always maintained that allowing the FISC to determine minimization features or anything else for that matter is a complee farce and anyone who thinks the FISA court does anything fairly–throw in that towel because you have really capitulated your rights.

    I want to see anyone refute this premise:

    When any AUSA goes to any federal judge for any type of warrant they get it. Period. No Question and even more so now that the collective ethos is that people who don’t dress like the judges, who don’t travel in their circles, whom they wouldn’t want to live in sin with their daughters are in the terrorist spectrum.

    The vast majority of federal judges come from the ranks of former federal prosecutors.

    The FISA court has turned down about 4-5 depending on whose figures applications for a wire-tap in the years preceeding 2006 and 2007 for which figures don’t seem to be available but you’d be nuts to think there has been a paradigm shift.

    Marcy’s previous post on Main Core lists with the links ought to convince everyone that there is so much secrecy, there are so many fucking acronymn agencies or quasie agencies that the average lawyer (and Bmaz has a consciousness on these things that makes him far more aware than the average lawyer) has never heard of. I talk to plenty of average lawyers–they haven’t 95% of the important issues Marcy blogs on–should they have? Yep. But they haven’t and they won’t. So you can imagine what the general public knows about Main Core and its related components.

    The FISA or FISC isn’t dealing with any of the wiretapping implied in Marcy and Digby and Radar’s articles. That ought to be enough to jar you into not trusting the FISA court to do jack shit to put it eloquently and if you think that having anything vetted by the FISA court shjould make you think your rights are protected you are frigging dreaming.

  9. JimWhite says:

    Hmmm. He’s deleted the conversation because the negotiations with the Carney camp are confidential, but in comments on his current post, Glenn just floated an interesting hypothetical on a new position for Carney to take. Since Glenn deleted the references to it, I won’t disclose it here, but I will say that it represents a very interesting way forward. I know, I weasled here. If anyone is dying to know, I can provide my email for offline discussion.

  10. bmaz says:

    Hi folks; have a bit of a problem under way in my day job, so my participation here will be in and out for a bit.

    One thing I would like to clarify a little is the part about the importance of minimization and exclusivity. They are both important, but not necessarily equally so. For starters, as EFF and the ACLU have repeatedly pointed out, exclusivity is already in FISA (not that it mattered to Bush and Cheney), and always has been. So, for Pelosi and the leadership (also Feinstein historically) to make their top negotiating point be to ask for something that they already have is is just the type of false victory, compromise window-dressing, that we shouldn’t encourage or accept. Now, minimization, as Marcy has pointed out previously, is a different matter, and we DO need intelligent legislation on that.

    • PetePierce says:

      And this window dressing facade points to the most odious principal of American politics–that the Congress and many politicians think you and I are so fucking stupid that we swallow the fucking window dressing.

      Kinda like the gas tax holiday that is crazy and never would pass Congress isn’t it?

      • selise says:

        And this window dressing facade points to the most odious principal of American politics–that the Congress and many politicians think you and I are so fucking stupid that we swallow the fucking window dressing.

        well, i confess to having bought a lot of their lies in the past. but i’m working at putting that behind me.

    • Leen says:

      many Americans are sick of this “window dressing”, they want to witness some real elbow grease being applied. They may not know the details but they know that there is a stench coming out of d.c. that stinks to high heaven. No retroactive immunity

      What do Pelosi, Hoyer and Reid not get about the lack of confidence in our leaders
      ” The percentage of Americans with a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress is at 14%, the lowest in Gallup’s history of this measure — and the lowest of any of the 16 institutions tested in this year’s Confidence in Institutions survey. It is also one of the lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested over the last three decades.

      Gallup’s annual update on Americans’ confidence in institutions shows that confidence ratings are generally down across the board compared with last year. The public’s confidence ratings in several institutions, including Congress, are now at all-time low points in Gallup’s history of
      this measure. These low ratings reflect the generally sour mood of the public at this time.”

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/279…..e-Low.aspx

    • emptywheel says:

      Actually, we know there’s an OLC opinion that interprets the exclusivity that’s there as being more pixie dust. So exclusivity absolutely must be in it (and had the support of almost sixty back when it was voted on–we were short Hillary, Ben Nelson (IIRC), and Norm Coleman or John McCain as one more “moderate” Republican.

  11. Loo Hoo. says:

    Wow! Visit ACLU’s new Blog of Rights.

    On the blog you can hear from writers and bloggers like Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com blogger and author of two New York Times bestselling books on constitutional rights. Glenn and others like Joan (McJoan) McCarter from DailyKos will post on Blog of Rights to help spread truth and analysis on pressing civil liberties issues and events.

    • john in sacramento says:

      There’s this too

      Tomorrow, look for contributions to our Torture and American Symposium from Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake, Nicole Belle of Crooks & Liars, Digby of Hullabaloo, author Paul Verhaeghen, and ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Chris Anders.

      But ya gotta click on the blog *g*

      http://blog.aclu.org/

      • Loo Hoo. says:

        Racing through the inbox, John! That’s fantastic news. And leen, thanks for the link.

  12. PetePierce says:

    I would just like to stress one more point when it comes to trusting the FISC for anything. I often use the term “cowed and conservative” for post 911 federal court opinions in nearly every circuit although there have been a few and I mean few exceptions.

    We have all watched key opinions and they have been highlighted by headlines by Marcy, Bmaz, LHP, and Christy off and on on ACLU cases, the Plame case, Sybel Edwards, and the parade of Alice and Wonderlandesque State Secrets cases.

    To me the key cert. denial was in a recent state secrecy case, El-Masri where there was clear evidence someone was completely innocent, picked up, rendered, tortured and not allowed counsel. This is symbolic, metaphorical, representative of cowed and compliant federal courts because the S. Ct. couldn’t muster 4 cert. votes to hear argument on not only a State Secrets case, but one where an innocent individual was rendered, denied an attorney for a good part of the time, and tortured and it goes to the heart of the deterioration of criminal defense in this country on the most basic level.

    And that last principle, not allowed counsel is systemically creaping into the equation courtesy of Mukasey DOJ more and more. I know that for a fact from local attorneys who are very experienced and capable who have volunteered to represent Gitmo defendants, and they have pending litigation against the government because they have been wiretapped and prevented from access to counsel.

    From Scotus blog–and if you haven’t tried Scotus’ wiki on cases and you want access to all the relevant petitions you should.

    The Supreme Court granted no new cases Tuesday and, in a major action, refused to reopen the question of the government’s power to limit or scuttle lawsuits by claiming that “state secrets” have to be protected. The Court denied review of an attempt to challenge the Central Intelligence Agency’s program of capturing individuals abroad and sending them to other countries for aggressive interrogation — the so-called “extraordinary renditions” program. There were no noted dissents from the denial order in El-Masri v. U.S. (06-1613).

  13. yellowsnapdragon says:

    There is no reason in the world that the House should not do what they have recently done, pass a good bill and, if the Senate Republicans block it or Bush vetoes it, so be it; then tar and feather the Republicans for the act.

    Yet they are trying to craft a compromise that includes giving up retroactive immunity for exclusivity that they already have and minimization. Why?

    It sounds like the argument for exclusivity is a canard since it already exists in FISA (although clearly ignored by Bush and Cheney).

    Why are they not fighting against retroactive immunity? I suspect that there are just so many twisting connections between lobbyists, congress, and spooks that the congress doesn’t have an interest in having their relationships exposed.

    It also seems like they don’t want to have huge databases full of information on us, or more importantly them.

  14. yellowsnapdragon says:

    that includes allowing retroactive immunity in exchange for exclusivity. ack.

  15. Hugh says:

    I have difficulty seeing Bush sign off on anything that would have real minimization requirements in it. As for exclusivity, he would probably blow it off with a signing statement. Telecom immunity remains the key. As bmaz has pointed out in the past, this is not about protecting the telecoms they don’t need it. It’s about covering up the criminality of this Administration.

    • yellowsnapdragon says:

      It’s about covering up the criminality of this Administration.

      Yeah. For the R’s. But what about the D leadership that appears to be sabotaging the effort to expose all that graft? What is their interest in shutting down public exposure of R misdeeds?

    • bmaz says:

      Thank you Hugh. As you know, I usually put that line in every one of these posts; somehow, I neglected to do so today. It is the absolute truth.

  16. bobschacht says:

    bmaz,
    Thanks for this update on FISA. I’d been wondering what was up.

    I am grateful for the attention on exclusivity and minimization.
    Those are two exotic concepts that may elude mainstream understanding, but we need to keep talking those points front and center.

    Bob in HI

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is the Nancy & Steny Show really so afraid that the Blue Dogs are going to cancel them that they are orchestrating a capitulation on FISA? The one thing that will most protect the Bush regime from paying a consequence for its serial lawbreaking.

    Or is the Democratic leadership so corrupted by prior complicity in illegal domestic spying that Nancy has to steamroll FISA immunity approval before the fall elections return more progressives and fewer Blue Dogs to Congress?

    If this is Nancy acknowledging that Blue Dogs are united and are joining forces, a la Kneepads Lieberman, to demand immunity for Bush, then it’s time not to cave to their regressive policy choices, but to encourage the return of more progressive and fewer Blue Dogs in November. Giving the rubber-stamp FISA court power to determine the legality of these rules – its judges are hand-picked by Roberts, on a rotating basis – is not a compromise. It’s a bait-n-switch on the American public.

    Who has more about the word on the street in DC?

    • MadDog says:

      Or is the Democratic leadership so corrupted by prior complicity in illegal domestic spying that Nancy has to steamroll FISA immunity approval before the fall elections return more progressives and fewer Blue Dogs to Congress?

      Based upon the advice from the predominant Beltway Village-worshiping DNC-type consultants that the Democratic leadership of Nancy/Steny/Rahm are beholden to, one might alternately conclude that the only political advice these folks are hearing says that far more Blue Dogs (like Mississippi’s recent Special Election) will be elected this fall than Progressives, and therefore, it makes sense to start wagging their tails and currying favor with the DINOs.

      And the fact that our Speaker herself has been complicit for almost 8 years in giving approving winks and nods to Junya and Deadeye’s trashing of the Constitution, means the Kabuki will only get worse as November 08 gets closer.

      • strider7 says:

        What I don’t understand is why in the hell is’nt corporate america screaming about this? You’d think they would want to protect their corporate secrets.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good point about minimization. As was suggested by the thread about Main Core, this administration is hell bent on collecting everything it can sweep up and pay an outsourced intel/IT provider to collect, store and analyze.

    It has certainly had several programs going, some since before 9/11, a number of which must be wildly outside the law. FISA immunity will shield those permanently from the public eye. As for Congress performing adequate oversight, I don’t think there’s been a Congress since the days of Sam Ervin and the Church Committee that would do an adequate job at that.

    Oversight is hard unglamorous work, the bureaucracy obstructs it, and dozens of corporations that form the $200 billion a year intel industry would interrupt Congressional fundraising efforts if they look too hard or long at what they do.

  19. Hmmm says:

    Maybe it’s Main Core. D leaders must have secretly signed off on Main Core/TIA, probably in September 2001, while scared shitless, so now they’re compromised on minimization and retroactive telco immunity. Pelosi in particular must be terrified it’ll get out, and so will do anything to bury it, including a bad FISA for the next 9 months, because she knows that until January, the caucus she leads is the only real bulwark we have against BushCheneyCo.

      • masaccio says:

        Well, I’m reading along, thinking about the redactions, and what we can learn about specific techniques and the justifications offered for the behavior.

    • pdaly says:

      I haven’t read too far, but this caught my eye on page xvi:

      Following the September 11 attacks, the FBI announced a change in priorities from evidence collection for prosecution to intelligence collection for terrorism prevention.

      What struck me was how much it reflected Ashcroft’s September 12, 2001 response in stark contrast to Mueller’s let’s follow the rule book. Did FBI announce these changes after being ordered to be Ashcroft or Bush/Cheney?

      I tried to find the Newsweek or Time article for this topic, but this Cooperative Research summary of Woodward will have to do for now. Not the similarities to what becomes the above new direction for the FBI:

      During a National Security Council meeting, FBI Director Robert Mueller begins to describe the investigation under way to identify the 9/11 hijackers. According to journalist Bob Woodward, “He said it was essential not to taint any evidence so that if accomplices were arrested, they could be convicted.” But Attorney General John Ashcroft interrupts. Woodward will paraphrase Ashcroft saying, “The chief mission of US law enforcement… is to stop another attack and apprehend any accomplices or terrorists before they hit us again. If we can’t bring them to trial, so be it.” Woodward will comment, “Now, Ashcroft was saying, the focus of the FBI and the Justice Department should change from prosecution to prevention, a radical shift in priorities.” President Bush is at the meeting and apparently does not challenge Ashcroft’s suggestion. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 42-43]

  20. masaccio says:

    Two more things. It is a real pain to work with scanned documents as opposed to the .pdf versions. Second, this is pretty well written, even the executive summary is interesting.

  21. pdaly says:

    Sad news today about Sen. Ted Kennedy.
    I’m glad his family is there to support him and that he heard from so many well wishers around the world.

    Not sure which type of glioma he has, but it sounds like it could be a high grade glioma if surgery is not mentioned as a treatment option.
    Here is a link to high grade gliomas describing various diagnostic tests and treatment options.

    • PetePierce says:

      After reviewing a lot of med lit on cell phone as an etiologic agent of malignant glioblastomas the jury is still not in. It’s hard to get clean data in multicenter series since the cell phone or the Blackberry or the Iphone or some similar device is so ubiquitous although the Iphone hasn’t been in circulation enough.

      Fortunately, those people I see with the cell glued to the angle of their mandible probably don’t have to worry about osteogenic sarcomas or they would have them by now. I’m not sure what the long term sequelae are of those people staring dreamily into their cell phone for hours is either–but I see a lot of them.

      I don’t know the tissue type of Senator Kennedy’s tumor, but if he has GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme) is the most aggressive brain tumor and it’s unfortunately the most common. It sounds like he has a high grade malignant tumor rather than something in the benign end of the spectrum for sure–like a menigioma, neuroma, adenoma, or pituitary adenoma.

      7.3 new cases of primary malignant tumors of the CNS are diagnosed per 100,000 person-years. In 2005, there were 21,690 new cases of primary brain tumors, with 12,760 deaths recorded in the annual report of the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the US (2005–2006).[18] Gliomas account for 42% of all primary CNS tumors and 77% of all malignant primary CNS tumors. Gliomas develop from diverse histological lineages, including but not restricted to oligodendroglioma, astrocytoma, and mixed oligoastrocytoma. Of these, low-grade and high-grade variants occur, but all have the potential to become highly malignant neoplasms that are recalcitrant to treatment, with GBM (World Health Organization Grade IV astrocytoma) being the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults.

      GBM is quite anaplastic under the scope–meaning it’s in the meanest and most aggressive spectrum to expand and metastasize–the cells are very embryonic and very prone to growth, and often they are huge before they give symptom one.

      It’s important to emphasize that almost all of them recur, even after surgery, radiation, and chemo.

      Unfortunately, the prognosis for GBM hasn’t improved in 20 years to date. Few patients survive longer than 3 years, and less survive 5 years. The handful of long term survivors were probably misdiagnosed many years ago.

      I wish Senator Kennedy and his family the best possible outcome, and note that we lose many many patients to this disease and a multitude of others who present because they had no insurance and even with symptoms are afraid or embarassed to come to hospitals with symptoms because they have no insurance and we have a very indifferent bastard running for President called McCain and a lot of indifferent bastards in the West Wing and the Senate when it came to health care legislation.

      Neither Democratic candidate’s health plan is yet very specific, and neither of them have a way to pay for their plans, and they both know they would never get through Congress even when they fleshed them out. But you always have to keep chipping away, and when you’re running for President, it’s always a premier issue. I’ve watched candidate after candidate outline plans and promises with respect to health care that were never heard of beyond the primary.

      I challenge anyone to tell me what the plan was in the White House from the Clintons in the early ’90’s because they won’t reveal it. I don’t know why Hillary thinks it should be secret but she does. I can fill your arms full of medical journals asking what the hell her plan was and why she won’t say.

      I think it’s for the same reason the library contributions are withheld and the 2007 Clinton tax returns, like Cindy McCain’s have been witheld.

      • pdaly says:

        I challenge anyone to tell me what the plan was in the White House from the Clintons in the early ’90’s because they won’t reveal it. I don’t know why Hillary thinks it should be secret but she does. I can fill your arms full of medical journals asking what the hell her plan was and why she won’t say.

        I had always assumed the Clinton plan was written up in the 1990s. I was at Georgetown at the time, and I recall walking into a photocopy shop somewhere near Foggy Bottom (I believe). The guy running the copy presses was in the middle of a big job and asked me to come back in an hour or two. He told me he was making copies of the preliminary proposal of the Clinton health plan. He also said I could have a copy. I declined when I learned he intended to charge me (on a student budget). Not sure what happened to all those paper packets after the proposal was shot down.

        • PetePierce says:

          Pdlay–

          Sorry to get back so late. When you’re in the beltway at Georgetown, I respect that you have access to an atmosphere that’s very “plugged in” to agencies, federal think tanks, and gossip and discussions about who’s doing what with whom are an everyday sport.

          And there was lots of vague general paper that went out from the usual lobbyists, people with vested interests, insurance companies, etc. Yes Bill Clinton made a speech in 1993 before a joint session of Congress. But when people wanted to know the details of the very secret Health Care Task Force with Clinton leading it with Ira Magaziner, flesh on those bones was sparse.

          In fact, there was litigation in the D.C. Circuit that challenged the secrecy’s comporting with the openess required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act FACA). From wikipedia on this litigation:

          The Clinton White House argued that the Recommendation Clause in Article II of the U.S. Constitution would make it unconstitutional to apply the procedural requirements of FACA to Hillary’s participation in the meetings of the Task Force. Some constitutional experts argued to the court that such a legal theory was not supported by the text, history, or structure of the Constitution.[13] Ultimately, Hillary Clinton won the litigation when the D.C. Circuit ruled narrowly that the First Lady of the United States can be deemed a government official (and not a mere private citizen) for purposes of not having to comply with the procedural requirements of FACA.

          This narrow ruling was taken apart by a number of people in law reviews, and I soundly disagree with the way the panel found for Clinton to win.

          And paradoxically while Clinton has a vague health care plan now, resembling some of the skeletal material that the Clintons would let out in 1993, she and Bill have hidden behind this narrow ruling for 15 years.

          In 1993, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, along with several other groups, filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and Donna Shalala‎ over closed-door meetings related to the health care plan. The AAPS sued to gain access to the list of members of the task force. Judge Royce C. Lamberth found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $285,864 to the AAPS for legal costs; Lamberth also harshly criticized the Clinton administration and Clinton aide Ira Magaziner in his ruling.[15] Subsequently, a federal appeals court overturned the award and the initial findings on the basis that Magaziner and the administration had not acted in bad faith.

          So after the motions flew in two district court cases, and briefs and reply briefs were filed in the D.C. Circuit, no lawyer or doctor or anyone who is both can tell you what the hell that secret task force was cooking.

          You see, the litigation was about the proposition “we don’t have to fucking tell you.”

          That didn’t sit well with the physicians who are charged with providing the medical care, although I understand that yesterday one state Supreme Courts heard arguments on vaccine liability and the adverse impact of Thimerosal. thimerosal has never been proven in any medical study to cause autism or neurological adverse effects, and thimerosal(a preservative containing mercury) was removed from all vaccines except for a few flu vaccines in 2001 after the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended its removal while both organizations have cited and sponsered serial study after study that has not shown a causal relationship between thimerosal containing vaccines and autism. Of course, far from research labs and clinical pediatric departments, this case has shaped up as a federalism/pre-emption case centering around the National Childhood Vaccine Injry Compensation Act of 1986and whether Congressional intent in the act was to prevent defect claims against the vaccine makers.

          While it’s important and interesting to follow federalism cases including the major one Printz v. United States), 521 U.S. 898 (1997) I always like to think of cause and effect of preservatives in vaccines on kids in terms of pediatric research studies, but there you are, welcome to the USA. We does like to litigate.

          So with every bit of respect due, I wasn’t in that photocopy store near Foggy Bottom, but if you get hold of whatever they were copying, I don’t believe it’s going to tell you very much however voluminous it might be. Washington D.C. kills a lot of trees with a lot of pomp and cricumstance full of sound and fury but the substance of its documents often signifies not a whole helluva lot.

          UpToDate> is a great resource and the M.D. version that currently goes for $495 per year is a superlative resource with continually updated hyperlinks throughout the articles and updated hyperlinked bibliography. It puts about 60,000 pages of excellent articles on a pocket wireless device as I’m sure you know. They review 375 journals and much of the main staff is made up of the physicians on the staffs of the Boston Mass General connected hospitals with 40% of the content updated every quarter.

  22. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Boehner screams and cries to get immunity for Bush, Cheney and the telcos while denying citizens the very rights he brandishes like a peacock.

    Well, Boehner’s probably trying to distract himself from the most recent three elections — all of which were in ‘red’ districts, and all of which were won by Dems.

    No wonder its tantrum time for Boehner.

  23. prostratedragon says:

    You might hear the name Moody’s in the news today. I think we could soon be speaking of the firm in the same hushed tones reserved for the likes of Arthur Anderson.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Uh oh.
      Disaster.

      Quick! Blame the developers!
      The management thus washes its hands of financial Frankensteins, constructed per its specs at its request.

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