Intel Pros Seeking Clarity On FISA

The battle over telecom immunity continues. Today a few major newspapers and other political hacks for the President published — knowingly and inaccurately — articles spreading misinformation regarding the expiration of the Protect America Act, while using the usual fear tactics to make us believe we are in grave danger. The blatant lies and BS continue to be slung as the president attempts to cover his ass.

Four former senior level intelligence officials, who have all worked with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell in the past, sent a letter to McConnell seeking clarification on statements made by him and President Bush over FISA and telecom immunity.

The letter — which notes that it’s wrong to make telecom immunity “an immovable impediment to Congress passing strong legislation to protect the American people” — was published on the National Security Network Org. web site.

It was signed by former Senior Director for Combating Terrorism at the National Security Council Rand Beers, former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council Richard A. Clarke, former Deputy National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick and former assistant general counsel at the CIA Suzanne Spaulding. Text of the letter can be found between the lines below followed by a handful of other links.


Intel Officials Send Letter To DNI McConnell Seeking Clarity On FISA, Telecom Immunity article from The National Security Network:

February 25, 2008

The Honorable Mike McConnell
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511

Dear Director McConnell,

Each of us has worked professionally with you in the past. We are writing you today to express our concerns over the recent debate on terrorist surveillance. We appreciate your willingness to engage Congress and the Executive Branch in an active conversation about the tools needed by the intelligence community to protect America from foreign enemies. We are concerned, however, that recent comments have distorted rather than enhanced this conversation.

Collectively, as you know well, we have spent decades in government working on these critical issues, including directly dealing with the FISA process. In our opinion, the following issues are in much need of clarification to ensure an educated debate by Congress and the general public.

The sunset of the Protect America Act (PAA) does not put America at greater risk. Despite claims that have been made, surveillance currently occurring under the PAA is authorized for up to a year. New surveillance requests can be filed through current FISA law. As you have stated, “Unlike last summer, there is no backlog of cases to slow down getting surveillance approvals from the FISA court. We’re caught up to all of it now.” As court orders are received, telecom companies are required to comply. Also, existing NSA authority allows surveillance to be conducted abroad on any known or suspected terrorist without a warrant. It is unclear to us that the immunity debate will affect our surveillance capabilities.

You stated on Fox News Sunday February 17 “the entire issue here is liability protection for the carriers” and that with the expiration of the Protect America Act, the telecom companies “are less inclined to help us.” As mentioned above, the authorizations of surveillance under the sunset PAA still run for a year and they provide clear legal protection to any cooperating communications carrier. For new targets that are somehow not covered by the existing authorizations, the FISA court can issue an order, which the telecom companies are legally obliged to follow. Telecommunications companies will continue to cooperate with lawful government requests, particularly since FISA orders legally compel cooperation with the government. Again, it is unclear to us that the immunity debate will affect our surveillance capabilities.

The intelligence community currently has the tools it needs to acquire surveillance of new targets and methods of communication. As in the past, applications for new targets that are not already authorized by the broad orders already in place under the PAA can be filed through the FISA courts, including the ability to seek warrants up to 72 hours retroactively. Despite this fact, the President claimed on February 16 that as a result of PAA not being extended by Congress “the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will be stripped of their power to authorize new surveillance against terrorist threats abroad.” It remains unclear-in light of the law-how the President believes surveillance capabilities have changed.

Both the House and Senate have legislatively revisited FISA whenever requested by the Executive Branch and have diligently engaged in oversight of the process. In fact, FISA has been modernized nearly a dozen times since 9/11. The Administration has made it clear it believes this entire debate hinges on liability protection. As previously stated, it is unclear that liability protection would significantly improve our surveillance capabilities. It is wrong to make this one issue an immovable impediment to Congress passing strong legislation to protect the American people.

Then as now, what remains paramount is that differences in any legislation be amicably and methodically reconciled in order to ensure our intelligence community has the tools it needs to monitor those who seek to harm us without upending civil liberties. It is the duty of the Executive Branch to inform this process. America’s security cannot be captive to partisan bickering and distortions.

It is our hope that as this debate moves forward, your comments and clarity on this issue will best represent the men and women who employ these tools every day to keep America safe.

We appreciate your leadership and your consideration of our views.



Links to More Information

Links to a handful of other interesting tidbits can be found below:

Intel Officials Send Letter To DNI McConnell Seeking Clarity On FISA, Telecom Immunity article from The National Security Network

National Security Experts Call Out Bush FISA Falsehoods article from FireDogLake:

“We’ve picked apart dozens of the Bush Administration’s fear-mongering inaccuracies and highlighted any number of scare tactics on FISA.  What they want is more executive power at the expense of civil liberties and the rule of law.  None of it has a thing to do with actual national security concerns. None.

It is well past time that the national media start asking what, exactly, the Bush Administration is trying so hard to keep under wraps. Do the telecoms fear being penalized for end-running a written law which contained express penalties for violations thereof? Or is it Bush, Cheney, Addington and pals who fear accountability for petulantly demanding an imperial fiat for obeisance without regard to Congress or the Courts?

Of course, that would require that the national media knew their hind end from a hole in the ground on this issue — Glenn thinks not.  And C&L agrees.  Seems to me if the Bush Administration is publicly lying about a law, that it might be important to understand the law about which they were lying by, um, reading it and asking knowledgeable experts your questions. Apparently, looking like a doofus is the more popular answer. Jeebus.”

Moussaoui Challenges Court Secrecy Rules article from The Washington Post

The Calm Before the Conflagration article from

“The United States is funding and in many cases arming the three ethnic factions in Iraq-the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Arabs. These factions rule over partitioned patches of Iraqi territory and brutally purge rival ethnic groups from their midst. Iraq no longer exists as a unified state. It is a series of heavily armed fiefdoms run by thugs, gangs, militias, radical Islamists and warlords who are often paid wages of $300 a month by the U.S. military. Iraq is Yugoslavia before the storm. It is a caldron of weapons, lawlessness, hate and criminality that is destined to implode. And the current U.S. policy, born of desperation and defeat, means that when Iraq goes up, the U.S. military will have to scurry like rats for cover.”

Survive Martial – A Critique And Second-Opinion article from JustAnotherCoverUp

The Mad, Mad Middle Class article from AlterNet:

Bob McIlvaine: US gov behind 9/11 video from YouTube:

“Father of 9/11 victim Bobby McIlvain talks to Jon Gold of about the 9/11 commission and how he has come to the conclusion that the US government orchestrated 9/11.”

Let’s Be Adults and DECIDE FOR OURSELVES: Are These People Credible or Not? article from George Washington Blogspot

The Myth of the Surge article from Rolling Stone Magazine:

“Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who fought with the insurgents. But it’s already starting to backfire. A report from the front lines of the new Iraq.”

Top psychiatrist concludes liberals clinically nuts article from World Net Daily

Army Denies Access To Its Public Library Of Documents article from BSAlert

False Flag Prospects, 2008 — Top Three US Target Cities article from Global

“The easiest way to carry out a false flag attack is by setting up a military exercise that simulates the very attack you want to carry out. As I’ll detail below, this is exactly how government perpetrators in the US and UK handled the 9/11 and 7/7 “terror” attacks, which were in reality government attacks blamed on “terrorists.”

Although ill health keeps me from working as hard in the area of false flag analysis as I used to, the urging of independent editors and brother intelligence officers has prompted me to write this essay. I’ll keep it short for readers with limited time, but I will include invaluable links for those who want to delve deeper and understand better.

My aim, as a former military intelligence officer who spent five years with the U.S. Army 75th Division conducting military war games, is to convince the American people that the “next 9/11” — constantly promised by officials and the media — is likely to be carried out under the guise of future military exercises. If the American people are aware of pending exercises and the danger they represent, then the exercises cannot “go live” and effect the very terror events that they are supposed to be rehearsing against.”

CBS: More Prosecutorial Misconduct in Siegelman Case article and video from Harper’s Magazine:

“CBS aired its long-awaited feature on the prosecution and imprisonment of former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman this evening at 7:00. In a stunning move of censorship, the transmission was blocked across the northern third of Alabama by CBS affiliate WHNT, which is owned by interests of the Bass Family. Those who were in the zone of censorship or who missed it, can catch the whole segment here.”

Rare TV News report about WTC bombing FBI Foreknowledge video from YouTube

Consumer Vigilantes article from Business Week:

“Memo to Corporate America: Hell now hath no fury like a customer scorned.”

Flight School Drop-Outs Could Not have Pulled Off 9/11 Pentagon Maneuver article from George Washington Blogspot:

“How difficult would it have been to fly a Boeing 757 into the Pentagon in the manner observed on 9/11?

Well, the head of the flight school where the supposed pilot of the planes which crashed into the Pentagon said that neither the hijacker or he himself could have performed such flying feats in a Boeing 757.

Military and aviation professionals tracking the plane on radar had a similar reaction:

The Washington Post states, “The unidentified pilot [at the Pentagon] executed a pivot so tight that it reminded observers of a fighter jet maneuver . . . . Aviation sources said the plane was flown with extraordinary skill.”

Op-Ed: Bush and Cheney Should Be in Handcuffs article from RFKin2008 WordPress:

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. often says that “we need to impeach President Bush as a civics lesson.” Apparently, our Congress does not agree. So if impeachment is “off the table,” what can We The People do to bring these two criminals to justice?

Guest Blogger Jack Mosel suggests in this original Op-Ed piece that it is time to take action at the local level, highlighting the case of one Vermont town which is setting an example as to how it can be done – and calls for other cities around the world to follow suit.”

Emergency Petition to Stop Telecom Immunity from People For the American Way

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