Monday, June 26, 2006

When does the spying stop?

The above is Isaiah's and it ran Sunday ("Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Bully Boy Finds New Ways to Invade Our Privacy'"). It has to do with some of what I'm talking about this evening. (And Mike and I both enjoyed it and were impressed with the likeness of Alberto Gonzales.)

We're doing things a little different this evening. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts especially since we're both posting several items but each only focusing on two stories.

"Secret Bush Admin Program Monitors International Bank Records" (Democracy Now!):
The Bush administration has been secretly monitoring thousands of international bank transactions without court-approval. The secret program was enacted shortly after the 9/11 attacks in what government officials say is a crucial weapon in tracking the financing of terrorist activity. The information has been obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. The organization helps direct trillions of dollars in daily international bank transfers. Officials told the Los Angeles Times the program has been "marginally successful" in tracking the financial activity of al Qaeda. SWIFT executives apparently tried to withdraw from the program after becoming concerned over its legality. The executives were persuaded to continue their cooperation only after the intervention of top government officials, including former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan.

That's from last week and I include it to make sure we're all on the same page. Isaiah's illustration at the top makes the point of exactly where is this illegal spying going to stop? If you need more information, you can check out C.I.'s "Other Items (Nadia McCaffrey discusses the Pentagon lying about her son on Democracy Now! today)." Three papers broke the story last Friday, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Wall St. Journal. Did the Washington Post cover it? C.I. says they covered it noting that the story had already appeared last Thursday on the New York Times' website. So on Friday, three papers broke the story. Others covered it. That's a point I want to be sure we all grasp. You may have read a breaking story in another paper but if it was breaking the story, it was most likely the paper you had in your hands carrying an article from the three.

"Critics: Financial Spying Echoes NSA Wiretapping" (Democracy Now!):
Critics meanwhile say the financial spying echoes the Bush administration’s wiretapping of Americans without court warrants.
Democratic Congressmember Edward Markey of Massachusetts: "Like the domestic surveillance program exposed last December, the Bush government's efforts to tap into the financial records of thousands of Americans appears to rely on justifications concocted without regard to current law or constitutional protection."

It does echo. It's the same thing. As C.I. pointed out Saturday, the administration could have done what they did legally (if they had probable cause as opposed to being on a fishing expedition). The administration acts as if it is above the law and that what it should be bound by can be dismissed. That was true of the NSA, illegal, warrantless spying on Americans and it's true of the financial spying as well.

Remember the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight from Friday? "We've got terrorists! We've caught them!" That was a staged opportunity that attempted to distract from this story.

"Rep. King: Prosecute NYT Under Espionage Act" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for the prosecution of all New York Times staff members who were involved in exposing the financial spying. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, New York Republican Congressmember Peter King said the New York Times should be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act.

Remember, right before this item, I brought up The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight?
I did so for a reason. While Peter King postures (along with Dick Cheney and Bully Boy -- and read Wally's "" for Bully Boy posturing) and attacks the press for doing their job (for once), they argue that now, NOW, the terrorists will know we're looking at bank records! They knew that before. But by that logic, we shouldn't be announcing anything, right?

The reason I ask that is because Alberto Gonzales and others have been trumpeting their 'big' bust. Doesn't that let the cat out of the bag to terrorists? As C.I. wrote:

The tiny, toothless fish that were swept up in the net outed the fact that the FBI is pursuing leads on terrorists! We've just told the terrorists that the FBI will look into leads! They now know! They are watching our corporate press closley to find out what we are up to and how we will "fight" them! Now they know that we are willing to use the FBI! By addressing the press yesterday, Alberto Gonzales exposed 'state secrets' and the terrorists know them!

By Peter King, Cheney, Bully Boy and others' logic, announcing the arrest was hurting the 'battle.'

It's all posturing and it's disgusting. It's enough to make you sick to your stomach (transition). But if you're not sick to your stomach, if you're hungry but want something easy to fix, check out Trina's "Burritos in the Kitchen." (Picture me grinning wildly at a camera as though I were Larry King.) Are you a Marilyn Monroe fan? I am. Didn't realize it until I read Betty's "Thomas Friedman Wants It Hot." She is a big Marilyn fan and will tell you that freely. Pinkie and Some Like It Hot may be her two favorite movies of all time. (Only the latter stars Monroe.) But while I was reading her latest chapter, I found myself noting the movies (The Misfits and Some Like It Hot) mentioned and then thinking about others. Please read it, it's funny.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: David Markus, Max Rameu, Nativo Lopez, Dave Zirin," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue. Bombings continue, kidnappings continue and a corpse was discovered.
In what might get the most attention today, reporting from Baghdad, Nancy A. Youssef (Knight Ritter) breaks the news that the United States now admits to keeping some figures on Iraqis who have died during the illegal war. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli tells Youssef that "the number of civilian dead and wounded" via US troops "is an important measurement." Chiarelli reveals that "he reviews the figures daily." The US government has denied that any figures were being kept.Bombings?
In Baghdad, Reuters reports that a roadside bomb killed one and wounded at least five and that another bomb resulted in two police officers dead and at least four wounded.
Also in Baghdad, the Associated Press reports that the convoy of Adnan al-Dulaimi ("Iraq's most senior Sunni Arab politician") was attacked and at least one of his bodyguards was killed.
Elsewhere, KUNA reports that two "civilians" were killed in Baquba. Reuters notes that, in Mosul, a police officer was killed Monday with six wounded in an attack while another died was wounded, along with a civilian, as a result of a roadside bomb. And in Hilla, Reuters reports that a bomb has taken the lives of at least 30.
The Associated Press estimates today that "nearly 40 people have been killed in the last 24 hours" in Iraq. This as Hiba Moussa and Michael Georgy (Reuters) report that an estimated that at least 130,000 Iraqis have been displaced due to violence across the country.
Ibon Villelabeitia and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) report "10 young men, all students from Sunni towns near Baghdad, from a building in the capital" were kidnapped by unidentified "gunmen." In other kidnapping news, CBS and the AP report that "Russian news agency Interfax" is reporting "that the Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of the Russian hostages in Iraq." In a separate report, the AP notes that "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed doubt Monday over the authenticity of the video" allegedly showing three of the four Russian diplomats (kidnapped June 3rd in Baghdad) being killed. The four are: Fyodor Zaytsev, Rinat Aglyulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedosseyev.
Reuters reports that the corpse of a police officer ("bullet wounds . . . head and chest") was found near Falluja.
Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted that Sunni leaders are stating that the resistance in Iraq will continue until foreign troops are withdrawn. Edwards-Tiekert also noted that Tariq al-Hashimi has noted Nouri al-Maliki's proposed plan (or "plan") falls for short of the needed goals. Ibon Villelabeitia and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) explore some of the Shi'ite criticism and some of the Sunnie criticism of the plan/"plan".
Tomorrow is Tuesday, June 27th and that means? Alex Fryer (Seattle Times) reports: "Atlanta peace activists plan a vigil for him at the Georgia state Capitol. In Charlotte, N.C., an anti-war group will show a film and hold a lecture at the public library. In Cleveland, Ohio, there will be a rally at the federal building. And in New York, protesters will converge at an Army recruiting station, an event billed to 'support Lt. Ehren Watada and other resisters of the war in Iraq.'" This as the Seattle Times editorializes that Watada shouldn't serve time but the military should instead "consider a dishonorable discharge." To sign a petition in support of Watada by clicking here.
More information on tomorrow's national day of action can be found at and Courage to Resist.
And finally, next week, July 4th (Tuesday) CODEPINK will be demonstrating against the war in the form or a hunger strike:
On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.