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What Were They Up To?

It’s fairly obvious that AG the AG has been working harder than a cat on a tile floor to cover up something, but what. We already know about the TSP [Terrorist Surveillance Program], even the Shrubbery has blabbed about that, so what is the point?

The attempt would seem to indicate that there is more than one program involved, and he is attempting to hide that fact.

Steve Bates at Yellow Doggerel Democrat looks at the New York Times reporting in the issue, and Ellroon at Rants from the Rookery covers what Josh Marshall is thinking.

I’m beginning to think they did what I suspected they might do long ago, and Noah Shachtman at Danger Room comes to the same conclusion: Total Information Awareness.

This was another fabulous idea by John Poindexter, the man who gave us Iran-Contra and was brought back to head the Information Awareness Office. It was such a great idea that the Republican Congress said “No, Hell, No, Not In This Lifetime!” and proceeded to de-fund the entire operation. This happened in the Fall of 2003.

Some of the “research” portions were sent to the National Security Agency, but if they resurrected the program, something that Congress specifically said they couldn’t do, that would explain why all of the senior people in the Justice Department were threatening resignations. It’s one thing to work around the broad language of the Constitution, but entirely different to directly violate a law that was just passed by Congress.


1 Fallenmonk { 07.30.07 at 6:42 am }

I would be terribly surprised if this administration took the rejection of the TIA program by the Congress and just said “Oh, OK”, no problem we will just drop all activity. I would think that their track record of publicly snubbing the Congress would indicate that they would do the same secretly. I think we have to assume the TIA just went underground until we have evidence otherwise. Occam;s Razor as it were.

2 Jim Bales { 07.30.07 at 9:48 am }

I think that Atrios summed it up quite nicely:

Look, all the parsing of statements is a waste of time. They were eavesdropping on whoever they wanted to without any warrants or oversight. Whether or not “whoever they wanted to” included, say, the John Kerry campaign or Markos Moulitsas is still an open question. They obviously claimed the power to do so, it just isn’t clear if they did it.

Now, does Atrios have definitive proof that “They were eavesdropping on whoever they wanted to without any warrants or oversight”? No.

However, given the track record of the Bush administration, it is a reasonable assumption.

3 Steve Bates { 07.30.07 at 11:13 am }

With Poindexter involved, I simply assume that laws passed by Congress will be ignored and directly violated.

Iran-Contra marked the beginning of my (partial information) awareness that the Nixon affair was not an isolated incident, but merely the establishment of the GOP as a criminal conspiracy. Despite the horrors of the Nixon era, that conspiracy revived itself in Iran-Contra (under a president who was arguably undergoing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at the time) and continues to this very day. “GOP… it’s not just a political party.™”

Of course TIA continued after Congress abolished and de-funded it. Scorpions sting, and Republican high officials ignore laws they find inconvenient.

4 Bryan { 07.30.07 at 12:04 pm }

I suspect that this is also related to all of the bogus National Security Letters, and “cooperation” by the telecoms. Much of what was being mined wasn’t “technically” collected by the government, it was “made available” to the government. Like all of the airline information that was used for “testing purposes.”

They cannot tell the truth or follow the law, even when it would be easier – they are Scorpions.

5 Jim Bales { 07.30.07 at 10:22 pm }

Bryan notes:

They cannot tell the truth or follow the law, even when it would be easier – they are Scorpions.

Perhaps Bush et al. are covering up out of reflex, or perhaps they have some nasty skeletons they need to hide, or perhaps both. It strikes me that we really can’t say for sure.

However, it seems hard to over-estimate the Bush administration’s implacable need to exploit every possible advantage of their position of power, so my bet is on the nasty, nasty skeletons in this particular closet.

Frankly, I hope I am wrong.

6 Bryan { 07.30.07 at 10:36 pm }

You know, when all of the sudden, out of the blue, the Shrubbery starts harping on essential changes needed in the FISA law, after all kinds of changes were made in the USA PATRIOT act, you really have to suspect that they are attempting to make something legal that they are doing, but is now illegal.

From the standpoint of a former intelligence analyst I can say that we currently are collecting too much data to be useful. The current state of data mining can’t handle the volume in a timely fashion, so, after the fact we are going to find all of the bits and pieces that would have prevented the next attack if analysts weren’t buried under all of the the irrelevant chaff they are gathering.

Picking up a thread and following is the fastest way to figuring out what is going on. I’m not talking about missing the forest because you’re looking at trees, I’m saying if you don’t see any trees, you can’t have a forest.