The Data Mining Secrets and al-Haramain

There’s a footnote in the latest al-Haramain filing that deserves further attention. It suggests the government continues to try to shield information on its larger wiretapping program by treating different aspects of it as separate programs entirely.

The Filing Refers to "TSP" Surveillance and Surveillance "Pursuant to Other Authorities"

Amidst the passage complaining (rightly, to a point) that al-Haramain’s proposed protection order would give it access to "all information" the government held on the charity, it footnotes a discussion of the submissions included as part of its state secrets assertion.

Similarly, paragraph 25 of plaintiffs’ proposed protective order, which addresses counsel’s “need to know” classified information, is also fundamentally flawed. This proposed provision states: “A plaintiff’s counsel is presumed to have a ‘need to know’ all the information in the government’s possession concerning the plaintiffs whom that counsel represents.” See Pls. Proposed Order ¶ 25. Not only is this among the central issues in dispute in this case, as noted above, but, under this provision, plaintiffs would be presumed to have a “need to know” any and all classified information “concerning” plaintiffs. This could include all information concerning the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation of Oregon—a designated global terrorist organization—as well as the information at issue in the Government’s state secrets privilege assertion filed in this case, to the extent those submissions are deemed to “concern” the plaintiffs.6/ Plaintiffs would thus transform the inadvertent disclosure of a single document—which itself was subsequently excluded in this case by the Ninth Circuit—into a presumption entitling them to all information that may exist concerning them. Plaintiffs’ response below does not recede from this sweeping demand for access. [my emphasis]

The footnote reads,

6. The Government’s state secrets privilege assertion applies to a range of information beyond the sealed document, including whether or not the plaintiffs were subject to alleged surveillance not only on the Terrorist Surveillance Program challenged in this case, but pursuant to any other authority not at issue here, as well as information concerning the TSP, and the al Qaeda threat. See Public Declaration of John D. Negroponte. [my emphasis]

The Government Doesn’t Want to Hand Over the New Filings

These two passages suggest several things. First, from a very practical perspective, they show the government is panicking over having to release the classified submissions the government itself submitted in this case, much more than they’re panicking over having to (re)release the wiretap log that, after all, al-Haramain has already seen. I’ll remind you that these submissions are probably the same submissions that the Obama administration had to correct. So what appears to have happened is that the Obama DOJ went back and provided a full description of the surveillance program at issue (after Bush’s DOJ had presumably hidden key aspects of it). But now, they’re trying to make sure those newly accurate submissions remain hidden from al-Haramain. Which is consistent with my explanation for the panicked Cheneyesque filing Obama submitted. They seem to be worried about revealing details of the fuller program, not the wiretap log.

Now, this is where my sympathy for their objection to the al-Haramain demand for "all information" ends. While I think it unrealistic for al-Haramain to expect to get access to every piece of information the government holds on the charity, I do think it ought to have some description of the larger program of illegal wiretapping.

But then look at the content of these two passages: It objects to the release of the state secrets submissions (suggesting, unrealistically, that they might not "concern" al-Haramain), and then implies the submissions include information on whether al-Haramain was wiretapped under the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," whether it was surveilled under "any other authority not at issue here," and on the "TSP" and al Qaeda. 

Jeppesen May Give the Circuit Reason to Consider State Secrets WRT the New Filings

That formula is key for two reasons. One, the government maintains that, in spite of the Jeppesen ruling, the 9th Circuit’s ruling that state secrets had been properly invoked in this case continues to apply to all of the material submitted in the case, even though four declarations pertaining to that material weren’t submitted until after the state secrets ruling! It said,

the Government’s state secrets privilege assertion in this case has already been upheld. The question of what is “a secret” for purposes of the state secrets at issue in this case has been resolved by the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Al-Haramain.

The government wants to effectively grandfather in the state secrets declaration to apply to information submitted after the 9th Circuit’s ruling. And they also want to make sure that none of the new information can be discussed by al-Haramain’s lawyers, even if that information is now in the public domain. 

That’s particularly bogus considering the way they’re making a distinction between the "TSP" and surveillance "pursuant to any other authority not at issue here." If the government wants to treat "TSP" as distinct from (say) the data mining aspect of the program, and if they never bothered to admit to the data mining aspect of the program in their first go-around with the 9th (and in fact made false representations to the Courts in order to hide that), then can they really claim the earlier affirmation of their state secrets invocation extends to the other parts of the program? Particularly given the public description of the program Russell Tice has since given?

Call me crazy, but these two passages seem like a bad attempt to prevent any review of the data mining (say) aspect of the program they failed to reveal to the 9th the last time they had it review state secrets. (No wonder they’re panicked about the Jeppesen decision).

They’re Gaming the Multiple Authorities in This Case

The other reason the distinction between "TSP" and surveillance "pursuant to other authority" they’re making here is important is because of something that the FISCR ruling made available earlier this year revealed. The larger surveillance program, at least under the Protect America Act and (given Sheldon Whitehouse’s focus on 12333 wrt Pixie Dust) almost certainly during the program’s earlier incarnation, consists of wiretapping authorized under one part of the law and other things (probably including data mining) authorized under other aspects of the law.

As I showed in this post, at least under PAA, the government claimed it fulfilled probable cause under the Fourth Amendment not through PAA itself, but through a provision in EO 12333 which states,

The Attorney General hereby is delegated the power to approve the use for intelligence purposes, within the United States or against a United States person abroad, of any technique for which a warrant would be required if undertaken for law enforcement purposes, provided that such techniques shall not be undertaken unless the Attorney General has determined in each case that there is probable cause to believe that the technique is directed against a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.

In other words, the only thing the government used to overcome Fourth Amendment protections was to have the Attorney General say surveillance was directed against "an agent of a foreign power" (which, given the government’s claim that al-Haramain is a terrorist organization, would be an easy bar to pass in the al-Haramain case). 

Then, the government fulfilled the particularity required under the Fourth Amendment through other means–means which, in the FISCR ruling, remain entirely and extensively redacted. I believe (though it’s a wildarsed guess) those redactions hide discussion of data mining.

So FISCR ruled that PAA, plus an AG certification under 12333 that the targets of wiretapping were an agent of a foreign power, plus these redacted procedures which may or may not be data mining to select particular targets, did not violate the Fourth Amendment. 

But we know that PAA was designed to make TSP legal. Which suggests that if the government is making a distinction in the latest al-Haramain filing between TSP and other surveillance, it is probably trying to cordon off what I suspect is the data mining they used to select Al-Haramain as a target. 

Which, if I’m right, means they’re trying to do in the al-Haramain case what they did in the case reviewed by FISCR–completely shielding the data mining aspects which are the really illegal and capricious parts of the program, so that the litigation in al-Haramain moving forward will rule solely on whether the wiretap itself was legal, not on the underlying selection process. 

My Wildarsed Summary

So here’s my wildarsed summary of what is going on. Remember–this is all a guess (albeit an educated one).

  1. When Bush’s DOJ submitted declarations describing this program in 2006, they did not describe the underlying process by which they picked targets, significantly, data mining.
  2. Their invocation of state secrets covers only the aspects of the program they admitted to in 2006.
  3. Obama’s DOJ was no longer willing to present a less than honest description of what the program was to the Court, so they submitted four new declarations describing these other aspects of the program (and started making crazy claims about how much they control this information).
  4. They thought they’d get away with it until Jeppesen (taken in tandem with Russell Tice’s recent declarations) made it possible that their older state secrets ruling might not apply to this new information.
  5. Now, they’re simultaneously arguing that their earlier state secrets invocation applies to everything at issue here, and that al-Haramain can’t have the now-accurate submissions because they don’t pertain to the narrowly-defined wiretapping at issue in this case. 

Obviously, I don’t think they can get away with it (but then, I’m a DFH blogger, NAL). Furthermore, if al-Haramain pursues one obvious route–challenging the state secrets claim over the newly submitted declarations–it might give the panel that originally ruled on the state secrets issue cause to review these new declarations, which might, in turn, cause them to recall how inaccurate those first declarations were (though keep in mind, they don’t have those declarations any more, they’ve been withdrawn, so they’d be working from memory).

Like I said, no wonder they’re panicking.

65 replies
  1. NMvoiceofreason says:

    It would be silly to say that a filing, which was submitted to the court as classified, is no longer classified because somebody else said something else. A classified submission remains so, even if the entire contents have been revealed elsewhere. I think that the mixed messages – not being forthcoming with the court – is a far greater problem.

    Jeppesen is problematic only to the extent that third parties are not subject to state secret immunity. In this case, DOD, DOJ, DOT, etc acted in concert, not through a third party. The State secret invocation applies whether a document is listed or not, if it is marked classified when given to the court. Jeppesen then asks for another stupid “balancing test” for the needs of the many over the needs of the few (or the one). The “grave damage” and “exceptionally grave damage” to national security interests regaring TSP, FISA, etc will be the final decision of the court.

    • emptywheel says:

      There’s a difference between a classified filing and a state secrets filing. From Jeppesen:

      The state secrets privilege operates according to no
      such assumption—in fact, Reynolds makes clear that “classified”
      cannot be equated with “secret” within the meaning of
      the doctrine. If the simple fact that information is classified
      were enough to bring evidence containing that information
      within the scope of the privilege, then the entire state secrets
      inquiry—from determining which matters are secret to which
      disclosures pose a threat to national security—would fall
      exclusively to the Executive Branch, in plain contravention of
      the Supreme Court’s admonition that “[j]udicial control over
      the evidence in a case cannot be abdicated to the caprice of
      executive officers” without “lead[ing] to intolerable abuses.”

      As of right now, there is evidence in al-Haramain over which the Court has affirmed the govt’s state secret invocation as proper, and evidence over which no ruling on state secrets has been made (indeed, the govt has not invoked state secrets over the new filings at all).

      So that leaves open the question of what to do with it.

      If Walker rules and is upheld that, since FISA trumps state secrets, then the govt can try to invoke state secrets with these new filings, saying they’re not pertinent to FISA directly. Good luck with that.

      But even if the Circuit reverses Walker on the FISA trumps state secrets issue, then it leaves open the possibility that al-H woudl have recourse to using these documents until the govt claimed state secrets over them. Furthermore, if al-H got standing based on Walker’s review of the wiretap log, then it would open the way to litigate the wider question of why it had been wiretapped in the first place–the particularity that is probably not in the TSP itself.

      The point is though, with Jeppesen requiring an item by item review of whehter evidence is covered by state secrets, and these filings have never been even claimed under state secrets, then they can’t well be excluded from such an item by item review.

      • NMvoiceofreason says:

        The state secret inquiry is a determination made by a court, where the classification status is determined by the executive branch. Initially the classification as determined by the executive is dispositive, see CIPA. Things may be classified that are not state secrets, for instance a photocopy of a driver’s license or a credit card receipt. This could be the second page of a TS/ORCON SCI document which identifies the attached person as being a member of an Al-Qaeda cell who was in the room next to other known cell members for an entire weekend. The DVL and CC info are both unclassified, and needed no warrant to be obtained. The relationship (i.e. page 1) is what makes the information a state secret.

        Jeppesen makes the process easier, since it makes third party information jmore easily admissible, but the underlying presumption remains: What the government says is classified is a state secret until a court determines otherwise.

        BTW, thank you for all your hard work in these areas. You truly are a National Treasure.

  2. bobschacht says:

    Again, EW, thanks for your close reading of these documents, and your memory for details, and your analysis of the significant parts, even if you’re NAL. You give our A-team plenty of good meat (or leafy green veggies) to chew on!

    Bob in HI

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Stupid Question: Why doesn’t the government just settle, without admitting any wrongdoing? It wouldn’t cost them nearly as much as they’ll have to spend to get fight this in court…plus, they’re likely to lose.

    Even if Al-H refuses to settle, can’t the government just plead no contest and let al-H try to prove damages?

    Boxturtle (If I were holding the Governments cards, I’d fold)

  4. greenbird4751 says:

    are you certain you weren’t at pimlico yesterday…for about a minute, with a mr. borel?…wearing gold and black?…

  5. bmaz says:

    Which, if I’m right, means they’re trying to do in the al-Haramain case what they did in the case reviewed by FISCR–completely shielding the data mining aspects which are the really illegal and capricious parts of the program, so that the litigation in al-Haramain moving forward will rule solely on whether the wiretap itself was legal, not on the underlying selection process.

    Yes, but if the case hits active discovery, they are screwed. That is the whole ball of wax, because once the plaintiffs start attacking the affidavits (and once Seda does in the crim case as well I might add), the questions you are raising get asked. And they will be germane.

    • emptywheel says:

      So how do you use the govt’s (improper) invocation of state secrets to get the panel that ruled in 2007 to review the new filings?

      • bmaz says:

        It’s gonna happen already. They are fucked and in a Catch-22 here. The question you ask is already starting to play out by the govt. trying to put the new filings under the penumbra of the old ruling. As you noted in the last post, this IS going to go back to the 9th sooner or later (sooner is my guess; but that depends on how crafty Walker is in the next substantive ruling); when it does if i were al-Haramain, I make the argument that thw wlole kit-n-kaboodle has to be reevaluated under Jeppesen and that even the earlier material be opened back up to evaluation under the Jeppesen guidelines. And it will be I think. I will bet that Walker frames this question right nicely for them too.

  6. sojourner says:

    OT question and I apologize! Why in the hell is Liz Cheney appearing on network television to answer questions about torture? What does she purport to know that she should not? Supposedly, her father — the former VP — was supposed to hold all that information in great confidence as “state secrets.”

    Is this more selective declassification? Does Liz Cheney really know anything?

      • prostratedragon says:

        (And sojourner)

        Cheney is trying to deploy a swarm to fill the media with his talking points to soften us up for the kill his big Thursday speech defending the torture policy, as the prop shop did from about mid-2002 till Powell’s UN speech to sell the Iraq War. It’s really their only media strategy, but hard to implement with authority when you’re no longer the b.s.d. in town. More like starting a small business where about the only employees you can get to make a big committment on spec are family.

  7. pseudonymousinnc says:

    It was always a plural, EW. That extra ’s’ after ‘program’ always made the intel-committee senators a bit skittish.

    When Bush’s DOJ submitted declarations describing this program in 2006, they did not describe the underlying process by which they picked targets, significantly, data mining.

    DomECHELON. We have a good idea of the hardware, we know where it was plugged in, we know the antecedents.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, yes and no. They invented the narrow subset TSP after the NYT scoop to try to close off the rest of this. So while it was always more than just the wiretapping, the TSP only extends back to December 16, 2005.

        • pseudonymousinnc says:

          Yes, my favorite was “The Program The President Has Confirmed” as blathered by AGAG.

          Retroactively “programming” a set of activities after the fact leads to all sorts of odd grammatical twists — I just looked back at the Comey hearing in May 2007, where he was careful (unlike Scottish Haggis) to avoid backdating definitions:

          SPECTER: So the president backed you up. And it was necessary to make changes in the terrorist surveillance program to get the requisite certification by the acting attorney general — that is you?

          COMEY: And I may be being overly cautious, but I’m not comfortable confirming what program it was that this related to

          Of course, if you’re defining something retrospectively, and really just pulling its limits out of your arras to cover the extent of the NYT scoop but attempt to neutralise any further reach, then it’s easier to create legal cleanup for the spillage without turning up the carpet to address where it’s coming from. One has to wonder whether there were contingency plans to “programmatize” and neutralise other elements of Secret Surveillance Stuff, had details leaked out. Or whether cases and filings like this are actually elements of that divide-and-conceal strategy.

          But I also remember a hearing in which DiFi raised the idea of “other programs”, albeit in a passing way. All old news to the ‘wheel gang with google-esque recall, but they do sometimes blur into one long bit of kabuki for me.

          • skdadl says:

            Post-Comey, AGAG had a matched set of sleazy evasions ready for SJC hearings: he would switch from “the program that the president has confirmed” to “other intelligence activities” and back again as needed (by him), and you’re right — when asked a direct question about whether there was more than one program, he never gave a direct answer, just kept juggling those two lines. I remember Schumer in particular getting very wound up one day over those transparent tricks, Leahy and Whitehouse as well.

            It was hard to believe that he would keep it up as long as he did, with that silly grin on his face the whole time. Ah, the classics.

          • NMvoiceofreason says:

            It is common practice to move one program’s content into another program. This is sometimes little more than a name change. Let’s say the you have a program “Easy Listener”. One of the people on EL authorization list leaves for another job. All of EL’s documents get moved and re-labeled into a new program “Listen Up”. When requests come in for EL’s documents, they don’t exist. Also let’s you know who isn’t in the know, or who is after you.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Although, if you read the transcript of the briefings they’ve given, especially that first one with Gonzales and Hayden, they gave away a lot more than just the TSP.

        Q And who determined that these targets were al Qaeda? Did you wiretap them?

        GENERAL HAYDEN: The judgment is made by the operational work force at the National Security Agency using the information available to them at the time, and the standard that they apply — and it’s a two-person standard that must be signed off by a shift supervisor, and carefully recorded as to what created the operational imperative to cover any target, but particularly with regard to those inside the United States.

        Q So a shift supervisor is now making decisions that a FISA judge would normally make? I just want to make sure I understand. Is that what you’re saying?

        GENERAL HAYDEN: What we’re trying to do is to use the approach we have used globally against al Qaeda, the operational necessity to cover targets. And the reason I emphasize that this is done at the operational level is to remove any question in your mind that this is in any way politically influenced. This is done to chase those who would do harm to the United States.

        However you slice it, any information available to the NSA operator “at the time” is illegal surveillance under FISA. Once one person breaches the states secrets veil, the whole program will be exposed.

        • NMvoiceofreason says:

          Information available at the time may include phone books, credit cards, drivers licenses, marriage licenses, passport records; i.e. anything the Total Information Awareness databases can suck up. This would also include Traffic Master and Contact Master lists of known communications and identified contacts (pen register or header information does not require a warrant). Included therefore is anything except the CONTENT of a conversation (which may have been obtained separately under a real FISA warrant, or under shift supervisor permission). None of this violates any law or privilege under existing law, and even if one part is revealed, it does not operate to declassify the entire program.

  8. emptywheel says:

    Here’s what Negroponte’s declaration says he is asserting privilege wrt:

    (i) … the disclosure of information regarding the specific nature of the al Qaeda threat.
    (ii) …information regarding the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
    (iii) …information that would tend to cofirm or deny whether Plaintiffs in this action have been subject to surveillance under the Terrorist Surveillance Program or under any other government program, specifically including information responsive to Plaintiff’s interrogatory requests numbers 1 to 20
    (iv) …information pertaining to a sealed document before the Court

    So it’s true Negroponte did affirm state secrets over the other programs.

    But here’s what the Circuit court ruled was privileged:

    We are satisfied that the basis for the privilege is exceptionally well documented. Detailed statements underscore that disclosure of information concerning the Sealed Document and the means, sources and methods of intelligence gathering in the context of this case

    Obviously, this is slightly incompatible with Jeppsen, though Jeppesen’s requirement of an item by item review would seem to open this back up, particularly since they are asserting state secrets over particular filings.

    • bmaz says:

      Exactly. I have no illusion that everything will be set free, but it looks to me like it may force a reevaluation of everything, which it should in light of what we reasonably believe the “corrections” to be. The “corrections” are key because, if anywhere close to what we think, they indicate disingenuousness, if not downright bad faith, in the earlier fact base underlying the original state secrets determination. Once you open that door, I think the edicts of Jeppesen could put some extra material (though not all) back in play. But that is back in play in front of Walker, who isn’t a happy camper and he is meticulous about supporting his actions and determinations, which makes it hard for the appellate court to go behind them.

  9. JimWhite says:

    I’m wondering if there ever will be any attempt to identify how the false filings were prepared and submitted. Shouldn’t there be some jail time and disbarment looming for someone?

        • bmaz says:

          It it occurred before the court, the court has the power. Would be touchy though, and I doubt it would be a public process.

          • marksb says:

            Not a public process might be ideal, actually, provided it was done reasonably quickly. Less blowharding and/or frightened/compromised politicians if there’s nothing to aim at until the indictments are handed down. Something might get done.

      • phred says:

        Nice piece over at Salon EW. I’m just wondering, how soon will you be ready to issue a deck of cards? I assume the first group of 13 will comprise the suit of clubs. ; )

        • Petrocelli says:

          I rilly, rilly need to know … who will be the two Jokers – Beckster, O’Falafel or Rushbo?

  10. FrankProbst says:

    Question for Marcy, on the Torture 13: My understanding of the timeline is that the vast majority of the torture took place between 2002 and 2004. Cheney and Addington are #1 and #2 on the list. But one name I’ve NEVER seen associated with torture is Scooter Libby, and I’ve never really understood why. He was willing to betray Valerie Plame, so I have a hard time believing he had any sort of moral objection to torture. And he seemed to be involved in everything Cheney did. So why aren’t his fingerprints on anything to do with torture?

    • bobschacht says:

      Not just the Veep’s office. I’m glad that EW in her top post drags Negroponte into this mess. He’s a smooth enough operator to leave as few fingerprints as possible, but he has associations with Honduran death squads and (I suppose) the infamous School of the Americas (see also here). In fact, allegations that “John Negroponte is an expert at covering up for torture” have been around for years. At the time of his appointment to Baghdad, I even wondered if this was the principal reason for his appointment.

      Bob in HI

      • bmaz says:

        By definition almost, the ODNI is involved in all the states secrets cases as certifying that whatever at issue is claimed to be indeed a state secret. Many instances it is Negroponte or McConnell, the ODNIs themselves, others it is their designate. But they are almost always central in this type of case for that reason.

        • bobschacht says:

          So, did Marcy miss out by failing to include Negroponte as one of her 13, or did he just get hired after the notorious 13 had done their dirty deeds to help with the cover-up?

          Bob in HI

    • emptywheel says:

      Addington’s are bc he was always consulting with Haynes and Yoo on this stuff, and because we know he had a hand in writing some of the opinions.

      But there are surprisingly few fingerprints of what Cheney and Addington did, largely bc WH escaped any oversight like the SASC or DOJ IG bring. So while Scooter might have had a role (though I think he was too busy drumming up bad WMD intell), we can’t say now he’s a central part of it.

      In the same way, I didn’t include Jessen, bc he’s one step removed from what we can pin on someone at this point.

  11. ChuckinDenton says:

    New lurker here. Shout out to EW and the heavy hitters here. Quite an education and keep it coming.


  12. JohnLopresti says:

    Still beginning to look at the government’s objections. Section One (I) footnote2.p.12, relying on Ellsberg state secrets issue, Halkin case which has interesting echos at PWolf* site v. History subPage about cointellpro, many links one is Halkin case vintage around the time Fisa became a new institution. Section Two (II) government relies principally upon torture victim habeas disputes at Gitmo**.
    *WA DC, atty, international human rights issues, homepage has difficult graphic, rest of site has helpful links.
    **vcf. Vladek new article re Scotus’ Boumediene opinion as strengthening judicial branch.

  13. bobschacht says:

    EW, your Salon piece is awesome! And it is so nicely packaged for MSM consumption! I hope you get some more NYT and WaPo cites for this.

    Bob in HI

  14. Loo Hoo. says:

    Marcy, what an excellent article in Salon. Congratulations to you and to the world that your work is getting out there further!

  15. fatster says: article is brilliant and shines like a precision-cut diamond. Brava! Brava!

  16. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    OT, but ix-nay on the ‘eny-Chay aking-may us afer-say”…


    Members of Congress have been told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal even while racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program….Inside the Obama administration, some officials say, Pakistan’s drive to spend heavily on new nuclear arms has been a source of growing concern, because the country is producing more nuclear material at a time when Washington is increasingly focused on trying to assure the security of an arsenal of 80 to 100 weapons so that they will never fall into the hands of Islamic insurgents…. [more scariness at the link]

    But big election news out of India; looking like PM Manmohan Singh has a mandate, to the surprise even of his own political party:

    NEW DELHI — The governing coalition led by the Indian National Congress sailed to a surprisingly decisive victory in India’s grueling parliamentary elections, vaulting Manmohan Singh, a soft-spoken economic reformer, to a second term as prime minister, and sweeping away the prospect of political instability in the world’s most populous democracy.
    Mr. Singh, 77, called the victory “a massive mandate” on Saturday afternoon, hours after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party conceded defeat.

    And at the Guardian:

    The party defied exit polls and analysts’ predictions, which had indicated a much closer result. With more than 70% of the vote counted the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was set to take more than 250 seats and the opposition alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) forecast to take 160.

    Almost as if there’s a global fed-upness with dysfunctional, non-productive politics.

    The Pakistan link was in case Mary swings by, in view of her stupendous triple-hitter on a prior thread last night.

    Thanks for indulging the OT.

  17. SparklestheIguana says:

    OT but this is just weird.

    Biblical Quotes Said to Adorn Pentagon Reports


    WASHINGTON — A series of cover sheets for intelligence reports written for Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials during the early days of the war in Iraq in 2003 were adorned with biblical quotations, and appeared Sunday, six years later, on the Web site of GQ magazine.

    The daily briefings were called the “Worldwide Intelligence Update,” one of several intelligence reports compiled overnight and presented in a folder for Mr. Rumsfeld and other officials as they came to work.

    In the selection of the cover sheets that GQ placed on its Web site, photographs of soldiers praying or in action on the sands of Iraq were overlaid with quotations like this one from Isaiah: “Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.”

    Another, showing a tank at sunset, had this quotation from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”…..=1&hp

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Geez, I could only take 1/3 of that. When I got to the part about the kids I had to take a break.

      Monsters. Absolute evil.

  18. SparklestheIguana says:

    Congrats on the Salon article.

    Too bad it came out too late for the Sunday gasbags to incorporate it into their sad tired platitudes. HAHAHA.

    Good God, if Jon Meacham got any more oleaginous we’d be able to spread him on toast.

    • Petrocelli says:

      LOL … if I ever suffer from insomnia, I’ve kept a recording of Meacham’s voice to cure me of it.

  19. chrisc says:

    Wow, Marcy, awesome article in Salon.
    It is like a torture deck of cards (OK- just one suit, spades, I think) for the mainstream media.

  20. SparklestheIguana says:

    Again OT, but is it the AG’s job to keep America safe? As America’s lawyer? Because Holder is saying it is:

    It is something that I wake up every morning trying to determine, what do we have to worry about? What do I have to do today? It is the primary responsibility I have as attorney general of the United States, to keep the American people safe.

    (to Gwen Ifill on May 13)

    Makes me nervous when every single government department thinks it’s their job to keep me safe….

    • bmaz says:

      In a broad sense, as the nation’s chief law enforcement official, it could be part of the AG’s duty; although it is not specifically enumerated on the official website:

      The position of Attorney General was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In June 1870 Congress enacted a law entitled “An Act to Establish the Department of Justice.” This Act established the Attorney General as head of the Department of Justice and gave the Attorney General direction and control of U.S. Attorneys and all other counsel employed on behalf of the United States. The Act also vested in the Attorney General supervisory power over the accounts of U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.

      The mission of the Office of the Attorney General is to supervise and direct the administration and operation of the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Bureau of Prisons, Office of Justice Programs, and the U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals Service, which are all within the Department of Justice.

      The principal duties of the Attorney General are to:

      *Represent the United States in legal matters.

      *Supervise and direct the administration and operation of the offices, boards, divisions, and bureaus that comprise the Department.

      *Furnish advice and opinions, formal and informal, on legal matters to the President and the Cabinet and to the heads of the executive departments and agencies of the government, as provided by law.

      *Make recommendations to the President concerning appointments to federal judicial positions and to positions within the Department, including U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.

      *Represent or supervise the representation of the United States Government in the Supreme Court of the United States and all other courts, foreign and domestic, in which the United States is a party or has an interest as may be deemed appropriate.

      *Perform or supervise the performance of other duties required by statute or Executive Order.

  21. Loo Hoo. says:

    Well here’s a Toobin article on John Roberts always going against the average Joe if anyone still has the energy to read it tonight.

    And this, ultimately, was the source of Roberts’s frustration—and not just in this case. In a series of decisions in the past four years, the Chief Justice has expressed the view that the time has now passed when the Court should allow systemic remedies for racial discrimination. The previous week, the Court heard a challenge by a group of white firefighters in New Haven who were denied promotions even though they had scored better than black applicants on a test. Roberts was, if anything, even more belligerent in questioning the lawyer defending the city. “Now, why is this not intentional discrimination?” he asked. “You are going to have to explain that to me again, because there are particular individuals here,” he said. “And they say they didn’t get their jobs because of intentional racial action by the city.”

  22. SparklestheIguana says:


    At Geithner’s Treasury, Key Decisions on Hold

    By David Cho
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Seven weeks after the Treasury Department announced that it was ousting General Motors chief G. Richard Wagoner Jr. in the federal bailout of the company, he is still technically on GM’s payroll.

    Wagoner’s removal has been held up because senior Treasury officials have yet to decide whether he should get the $20 million severance package that the company had promised him.

  23. freepatriot says:

    first they ignore you

    then they plagiarizer you

    then they …uhm, wait a minute …

    I screwed up. let me start again

    uhm, I forgot what I was trying to say

    let me check my notes …

    Anybody who thinks that pot makes you lose your memory, YOU’RE ALL FUCKED

    /Cheech & Chong routine

    congrats, you know ya made it when the villagers are stealin from you

    the cocktail wienies are not far away now

    remember to resist the dark side, when it comes up …

  24. skdadl says:

    Congratulations, EW — I’ve just started the Salon article, but I had to come back to cheer and clap. My first thought also was

    The Book has gotta be next.

    And my second was to start making notes.

  25. ondelette says:

    I still believe that one component of this program actually runs in the other direction. The U.S. started busting people from Al Harrimain in March 2002, at least, and busted a bunch of them in early 2003 as well. Many al Harrimain people, including the Algerian-German Khaled al Masri, were detained into U.S. control and tortured, and focus on the Bosnian chapter coincided with an increase in information about Khaled Sheikh Mohammad, possibly from Abu Zubaydah, in March 2002.

    The declaration of “Terrorist Organization” enabling a lot of warrants and searches, was joint between the Treasury Department and the government of Saudi Arabia in 2004.

    Given how close in the information compiled on Al Harrimain is to other methods of obtaining information, data mining non-financial information like web traffic and phone calls, not to mention what seems like a fairly clear link in time to torture information, the banking connection seems like it is datamined as a means of turning an otherwise illegal information gathering program legal. Get the information with a little waterboarding and illegal surveillance, mine the financial database for irregularities, use them to have Treasury designate a terrorist organization, and then march in with above board warrants based solely on financial data.

    pow wow, on Glenn Greenwald’s blog, pointed to the recording of the arguments in the Brandon Mayfield case, in which Scott Macintosh makes pretty clear that people, through any use or misuse of the law or of information gathering methods necessary, are regarded in all this as storage devices for surveillance information. This is all consistent, and there is no reason for believing that in order to decipher the FISA-breaking surveillance programs one wouldn’t need to delve into the information being obtained by other illegal means — especially torture.

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