Monday, February 20, 2006

UAE Protecting Our Ports?

On February 11, a story broke regarding the White House okaying the United Arab Emirates state owned Dubai Ports World's $6.8 billion take over of British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.. British P&O provides security for six major ports in the Untied States. Those ports are New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Yahoo! News
February 11, 2006
UAE Co. Poised to Oversee Six U.S. Ports

A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.

The Bush administration considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings and is not objecting to Dubai Ports World's purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

Considering that two years ago to the Month, George W. Bush was speaking about how the US needs to increase the security at its major ports.

White House

February 4, 2004

President Bush Focuses on Seaport and Cargo Security in South Carolina

I appreciate my friend, Tom Ridge, for becoming the first Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He's got a big job, and he's doing it well.


Part of doing our duty in the war on terror is to protect the homeland. That's part of our solemn responsibility. And we are taking unprecedented steps to protect the homeland. In the 2005 budget, as the Secretary mentioned, we proposed increases in homeland security spending. And some of those increases are measures to protect our seaports. And that's why I've come to this vital seaport, to remind people -- to remind the American people, as they pay attention to the debates in the halls of Congress, that we have a solemn duty to protect our homeland, including the seaports of America.

Was Bush only talking about increasing security at the Port of Charleston and not New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia? He did say seaports with an "s" at the end.

The Bush administration defended the P& O sale to the UAE stating that they are an important ally in the fight against terror.

Washington Post

February 17, 2006

White House Defends Port Sale to Arab Co.

The most important information from this article is in these two paragraphs:

The Homeland Security Department said it was legally impossible under the committee's rules to reconsider its approval without evidence that DP World gave false information or withheld vital details from U.S. officials. The 30-day window for the committee to voice objections has ended, the department said.


The Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States received an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said.

While the White House and the UAE consider each other to be allies in the Global War on Terror, according to the 9/11 Commission's report, the UAE played an important role in 9/11, but as a enabler. The 9/11 Commisssion also recommended stregthening our ports.

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

July 22, 2004

The 9/11 Commission Report

This backlash from this sale sent both the Democrats and the Republicans into action. On February 16, the bi-partisan group sent a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury John D. Snow.

The letter was signed by the follwing Congressmen:

Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT)

Senator Tom A. Coburn M.D. (R-OK)

Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT)

Representative Mark Foley (R-FL)

Representative Vito Fossella (R-NY)

Other Congressional members that have spoken out against this sale:

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Governor George Pataki (R-NY)

Governor Robert Ehrlich (R-MD)

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist M.D. (R-TN)

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY)

Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton (D-NY)

Mayor Martin O'Malley (D-Baltimore, MD)

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC)

Sunday on CNN's Late Edition, when asked about the port security issue Michael Chertoff claimed that the sale was classified. Think Progress has more on this topic.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff

CNN Late Edition

February 19, 2006

The discussions are classified. I can’t get into the specifics
…As far as my agency is concerned, port security really rests
principally with the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.

But, even Chertoff's predecessor as Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridgw has a problem with the UAE taking over security for these ports.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

February 20, 2006

Ridge: White House should explain port deal

The Bush administration needs to show Congress why national security won't be hurt by a deal that gives a company based in the United Arab Emirates management of six major U.S. ports, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday.

Ridge, appearing on CNN's "American Morning," said, "I think the anxiety and the concern [over the deal] that has been expressed by congressmen and senators and elsewhere is legitimate."

And then we find out that this is nothing more than a little bit of cronyism. It would appear that George W. Bush just gave an appointment to one of DP Worlds senior executives, less than a month ago.

DP World Website

Januray 24, 2006

Dp World Executive Nominated For Presitigous Us Govt Position

Global ports operator DP World today welcomed news that one of its senior executives, Dave Sanborn, has been nominated by US President George W. Bush to serve as Maritime Administrator a key transportation appointment reporting directly to Norman Mineta the Secretary of Transportation and Cabinet Member.

Bush and his cronies really screwed the pooch on this one. You can't scream one day about terrorist this and terror that, all the while blaming Arab countries for these terrorists, plus combine that with the fact that two of the ninteen 9/11 highjackers were from Dubai UAE and then expect people to want them to run the security for our ports.

The UAE didn't discover the terrorist plot inside their own country to blow up the WTC, so how are we supposed to beleive they would stop the next one.

Looking into the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 currently.

The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation

June 9, 2004

Hearing on Implementation of the Maritime Transportation Security Act

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rockefeller Wiretap Inquiry Motion May Pass

The Washington Post on Monday will run a story (Hat Tip: Marie) reporting that Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) would support Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (R-W.Va.) motion to start a broad inquiry into the warrantless NSA wiretapping program.

Senator Olympia J. Snowe

Senator Chuck Hagel

Washington Post
February 20, 2006
White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe

[Sen. Olympia J.] Snowe contacted fellow committee Republican
Chuck Hagel (Neb.), who also had voiced concerns about the program. They arranged a three-way phone conversation with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Until then, Roberts apparently thought he had the votes to defeat Rockefeller's motion in the committee, which Republicans control nine to seven, the sources said. But Snowe and Hagel told the chairman that if [John D. Rockefeller] called up the motion, they would support it, assuring its passage, the sources said.

As you are probably aware, a big news story went around Saturday morning about Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) "breaking ranks" with the Bush administration by joining Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) in wanting to amend FISA, but Pat Roberts also wanted the warrantless wiretapping program installed under FISA for oversight.

Then Roberts change his tune and stated the following.

Senator Pat Roberts


February 17, 2006

Senate plans no probe of NSA spy program

For now, the Senate Intelligence Committee won't investigate the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program, its chairman said.

"An investigation at this point basically would be detrimental to this highly classified program and our efforts to reach some accommodation with the administration," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.

Well Pat, looks like your attempt to shred the Constitution is not going to work this time. How do you make sure there is a complete investigation? By contacting John D. Rockefeller and letting him know that he needs to put his motion forward.

Senator John D. 'Jay' Rockefeller IV

Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV

531 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Phone: 202.224.6472

Fax: 202-224-7665

Web Site

E-mail Form

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Anthrax Used To Intimidate Democrats?

Just going through some stuff today and came across some info about the Anthrax scare in late 2001. The Anthrax laced letters started showing up in late 2001.

Anybody remember who was exposed?

Senator Tom Daschle

Senator Russ Feingold

PBS Newshour
October 17, 2001
House To Shut Down After Senate Staffers Exposed To Anthrax

Speaker Dennis Hastert said the House of Representatives
will shut down at the end of business today after 31 people on Capitol Hill tested positive for anthrax exposure.

The response comes after 29 staffers working for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), two members of the Capitol police force and three people who work for Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) tested positive for exposure to the bacteria.

Yes, the Senate Minority (Majority at the time) Leader Senator Tom Daschle and Senator Russ Feingold.

Then there was the New Work Post and NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw


October 21, 2001

FBI: Letter in Post mailroom contains anthrax

A letter found by police in the mailroom of the New York Post newspaper has tested positive for anthrax, and has the same postmark as anthrax-laced letters sent to Sen. Tom Daschle and NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, an FBI official said Saturday.

Senator Patrick Leahy

November 26, 2001
Leahy says anthrax letter could have killed 100,000

Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary
, said Sunday that an anthrax-laced letter mailed to his
office may contain enough spores "to kill well over a 100,000 people," but he said the tainted missive had not yet been opened by investigators.

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, appeared to be basing his comments on the letter from an initial analysis of its exterior. Sources have said some spores seeped through the sealed envelope.

Yes, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.

Was anthrax used to intimidate democrats and liberals for support of the Bush administration's policies? Well, I was reading through James A. Baker III's letter to the Senate Select Comittee on Intellegence

James A. Baker III

Statement from James A. Baker
July 31, 2002
Concerning Proposals to Amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveilance Act of 1978

Moreover, a single international terrorist -- with or without the support of an international terrorist group -- can cause grave damage: One person can plant a bomb on an airplane; one person can send anthrax through the mail; one person can assassinate our political leaders; and one person can attack and kill U.S. intelligence officers.

Hmmm, does Mr. Baker know something about Anthrax?

The second part of the quote is missing from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The second part of the quote reads:

For example, in 1993, Mir Aimal Kasi, apparently acting alone, killed two CIA officers and wounded three others in 1993 outside the gates of CIA at Langley.

Side note: This portion of the letter, that was removed before it was entered into record, is clearly aimed at a President Bill Clinton's adminstrations failure to stop Mir Aimal Kasi. Further feeding the false notion that Democrats are weak on security. A warrantless NSA wiretap would not have stopped Kasi. He was not talking to anybody about his plot online, on the phone or other. He was working alone.

Then I found this gem:

CIA Logo


December 16, 2001

Official: CIA uses anthrax, but no link to letters

The CIA uses anthrax in its bio-warfare program but the bacteria did not make it into tainted letters sent to two U.S. senators and several news organizations, an agency official said Sunday.

The confirmation that the CIA has anthrax comes less than a week after the U.S. Army admitted it has produced small amounts of the potentially deadly bacteria for years.

What what what what!!!!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wiretapping Legal, After The Crime?

Today, in a White House Gaggle aboard Air Force One, Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy was asked, by an unnamed reporter, about whether or not the Bush administration would back legislation put forth by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), which would exclude George Bush's warrantless NSA wiretapping program from the Foriegn Intellegence Surveilence Act.

Air Force One

Aboard Air Force One
En route Tampa, Florida
Press Gaggle by Trent Duffy

Q Actually, can I ask one more? I'm sorry. On the NSA program, apparently the White House is agreeing to actually look at legislation. Do you know if the White House would agree to legislation that would specifically authorize the NSA program under FISA, and bring it under FISA rules?

MR. DUFFY: Well, I'll decline to get into the specifics about the discussions, but the White House does look forward to working on legislation to further codify the President's authority. I believe that Senator DeWine has offered some good legislative principles in this area, and we look forward to working with the Congress on that. The President believes that he has the authority necessary, but of course we're willing to work with the Congress if they feel that further codification of that would be necessary.

The legislation being put forth from Senator DeWine calls for the rewording of FISA from using the term "probable cause" to use the more watered down "reasonable doubt."

I will post the legislation as soon as I can find it.

This would not be the first time that DeWine has tried to have FISA ammended to better serve the Bush administrations warrantless NSA wiretapping program. On June 20, 2002 the Senate rejected his bill aimed at taking the legs out from under FISA.

Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)

Congressional Record

June 20, 2002

Page S5852-S5859

A bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to modify the standard of proof for issuance of orders regarding non-United States persons from probable cause to reasonable suspicion; to the Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Senate rejected DeWine's FISA ammendment on the advice of James Baker III. Glenn Greenwald has some great commentary on this at Unclaimed Territory on why the Senate rejected DeWine the first time he tried to hinder FISA.

In short James A. Baker III, then Council for Intellegence Policy and the person who ran the Office of Intellegence Policy and Review, submitted a letter to The Senate Select Committee on Intellegence, which stated that DeWine's FISA amendment was 'not supported' by the Bush administration.

James A Baker III

Statement from James A. Baker

July 31, 2002

Concerning Proposals to Amend The Foriegn Intellengence Surveilence Act of 1978

The Department of Justice has been studying Sen. DeWine's proposed legislation. Because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues, the Administration at this time is not prepared to support it.

It would appear that there is a second version of Baker's letter to the Intellegence Committee. The second letter uses the following wording. (Hat Tip: mr ho)

Statement from James A. Baker
July 31, 2002

Concerning Proposals to Amend The Foriegn Intellengence
Surveilence Act of 1978

The Department of Justice has been studying Sen. DeWine's proposed legislation. Because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues, the Administration is still in the process of evaluating this legislation.

Why did the Bush administration have James A. Baker send a letter to Congress stating that they did not support changing "reasonable doubt" to "probable cause" on July 31, 202, when George Bush himself admitted that he authorized his warrantless NSA wiretapping program in "the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation." Not months, weeks. This means that the Bush administrations warrantless NSA wiretapping program was already underway.

Radio Address 12/17/05

White House

December 17, 2005

President's Radio Address

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations.

The irony is that the DeWine FISA amendment probably would have passed the Senate if the James A. Baker letter wouldn't have been sent. Just because the Bush administration wants "reasonable cause" now doesn't mean their warrantless NSA wrietapping program wasn't against the law then.

Senator Mike DeWine appeared on Fox News and described how he doesn't think there should be a debate about whether the warrantless NSA wiretapping program is legal or not. Faiz Shakir over at Think Progress has more on this.

Fox News

February 17, 2006

Mike DeWine On His Legislation to Amend FISA

You know, there’s been some controversy about whether or not this program is legal or is not legal. I think we need to get beyond that. And the vast majority of American people believe these calls need to be listened to. But we don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional. So I think we need to put that beyond us.

Of coourse Mike DeWine doesn't want a debte about the Consititutionallity of his legislation, becase as Baker's letter states in both forms, "the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Why Gonzales Was Not Sworn In

On December 15, 2005 the New York Times reported on a secret NSA program, authorized by the Bush administration, in which the NSA was instructed to wiretap Americans without obtaining a FISA warrant.

National Security Agency Building Fort Meade, MD

New York Times
December 15, 2005

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11,
Officials Say

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

Two days later in his Radio Address from the Roosevelt Room, in the White House, on December 17, 2005, president Bush admitted to authorizing the warrantless NSA wiretapping program.

White House

December 17, 2005

President's Radio Address

To fight the war on terror, I am using authority vested in me by Congress, including the Joint Authorization for Use of Military Force, which passed overwhelmingly in the first week after September the 11th. I'm also using constitutional authority vested in me as Commander-in-Chief.

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

George Bush's arguement for why he was authorized to order the warrantless wiretapping of Americans was that he feels that Congress gave him that power, by signing the Joint Authorization to use military force and his Constitutional powers as Commander-in-Chief. But, as late as June 9, 2005 (see June 9, 2005 quote below) George Bush was telling the country that warrants were being obtained.

On February 6, 2006 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to the US Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings on the National Security Agency's surveillence program. This was a clear example of the US Attorney General covering-up for George Bush's illegal warrantless domestic surveillence program and is the reason why Republican's blocked Gonzales from having to be sworn in.

Washington Post
February 6, 2006
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Holds a Hearing on Wartime
Executive Power and the National Security Agency’s Surveillance Authority -Transcript of Hearings

FEINGOLD: Mr. Chairman, could I just
ask a quick clarification?

SPECTER: Senator Feingold?

FEINGOLD: Heard your judgment about whether the witness should be sworn.
What would be the distinction between this occasion and the confirmation hearing
where he was sworn?

SPECTER: The distinction is that it is the practice to swear nominees for
attorney general or nominees for the Supreme Court, or nominees for other Cabinet positions, but the attorneys general have appeared here on many occasions in the 25 years that I have been here and their might be a showing, Senator Feingold, to warrant swearing.

Protracted Debate

SPECTER: Let's not engage in protracted debate on this subject. We're not going to swear this witness, and we have the votes to stop it.

Senator Leahy?

LEAHY: Mr. Chairman, I have stated my position why I believe he should be sworn in. But I understand that you have the majority of votes.

Gonzales had two lines of defense at the hearings. First that when George Bush mentioned wiretaps and the fact that a warrant is required, during now famous quote from his speech at Kleinshans Music Hall in Buffalo, New York on April 20, 2004, he was talking about "roving wiretaps" only and that he has Constitutional authority. Here is the original quote:

White House
April 20, 2004

President Bush: Information Sharing, Patriot Act Vital to Homeland Security

“Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

Monday February 6, 2006, in his unsworn “testimony” Alberto Gonzales said that when Bush was talking about getting court orders, he meant roving wiretaps only.
This is the exchange between Senator Diane Fienstein (D-CA) and Alberto Gonzales during the Senate hearings.

Washington Post
February 6, 2006

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Holds a Hearing on Wartime
Executive Power and the National Security Agency’s Surveillance Authority - Transcript of Hearings

FEINSTEIN: Mr. Attorney General, in light of what you and the president have said in the past month, this statement appears to be false. Do you agree?

GONZALES: No, I don’t, Senator. In fact, I take great issue with your suggestion that somehow that president of the United States was not being totally forthcoming with the American people.

I have his statement, and in the sentence immediately before what you’re talking about, he said — he was referring to roving wiretaps.

And so I think anyone…

FEINSTEIN: So you’re saying that statement only relates to roving wiretaps, is that correct?

GONZALES: Senator, that discussion was about the Patriot Act. And right before he uttered those words that you’re referring to, he said, “Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talk about wiretaps, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order.”

GONZALES: So, as you know, the president is not a lawyer, but this was a discussion about the Patriot Act, this was a discussion about roving wiretaps. And I think some people are trying to take part of his statement out of context, and I think that’s unfair.

FEINSTEIN: OK, fair enough. Let me move along.

The following day Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) gave a speech on the Senate floor in which he lambasted the Bush administrations warrantless NSA warrantless wiretapping program as illegal. In this speech, Feingold reminds us of two other times that George Bush spoke about the USA PATRIOT Act, wiretaps, warrants and the Constitution.

But first, here is a link to Senator Feingold's February 7 speech:

Senator Russ Feingold's Web Site
February 7, 2006

Statement of Senator Russ Feingold: On the President’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program

This next quote is from a speech and Q&A Bush gave at Mid-States Aluminum Corporation in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Russ Feingold's state.

White House
July 14, 2004

President’s Remarks at Ask President Bush Event

"A couple of things that are very important for you to understand about the Patriot Act. First of all, any action that takes place by law enforcement requires a court order. In other words, the government can’t move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order.

Now, we’ve used things like roving wiretaps on drug dealers before. Roving wiretaps mean you change your cell phone. And yet, we weren’t able to use roving wiretaps on terrorists. And so what the Patriot Act said is let’s give our law enforcement the tools necessary, without abridging the Constitution of the United States, the tools necessary to defend America."

You can clearly see that Bush states wiretaps and roving wiretaps. He also said that the USA PATRIOT Act gives all the tools needed, without jeopardizing the Constitution.

The third quote is from a speech that George Bush gave at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy regarding the USA PATRIOT Act.

White House
June 9, 2005
President Discusses Patriot Act

“Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, a federal judge’s permission to track his calls, or a federal judge’s permission to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of these tools. And these standards are fully consistent with the Constitution of the U.S."

In this last quote Bush states that a federal judge has to "give
permission" (read warrant) to wiretap a terrorists phone, track his calls or search his property. He goes on to state that those rules are consistent with the Constitution. The federal judge that Bush is talking about is the FISA court.