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If You Haven't Done So Lately, Please Read It...It May Suprise You...
And Happy 4th...
By Brad Friedman on 7/4/2006 12:10pm PT  
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Tony Snow's Denial May Haunt Him As First Lie While Press Secretary
By David Edwards on 5/18/2006 8:22am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Audio in MP3 format...

This video provides some background to a special story posted on THE BRAD BLOG yesterday, by White House Correspondent Eric Brewer of BTC News. During a White House press conference, Eric Brewer asked about reports of the Patriot Act being used to spy on journalists. The video is an interview with ABC's Brian Ross who first reported that the Patriot Act is being used to spy on journalists.

White House Press Secretary issued a rather weak denial. Snow denied that National Security Letters, enabled by the Patriot Act, were being used to spy on journalists. He then said that National Security Letters were only concerned with Foreign to Domestic calls so "the pieces just don't add up." (see: Eric Brewer's article for Snow's full response.)

Snow's answer was misleading and possibly wrong. The FBI can issue National Security Letters (NSL) to collect personal records for a target and all of that target's contacts. In this way, a single NSL can collect records for a social network of hundreds of people. Organizations that are ordered to hand over their customer's information via an NSL are immediately gagged from revealing the NSL to anyone. Last year, the FBI targeted about 3500 Americans using NSL's without a warrant or the approval of any court. The FBI investigates domestic crimes; NSL's issued by the FBI are certainly being used to spy on Americans.

In this video, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow! interviews ABC's Brian Ross who was first to report that the federal government was spying on ABC News and other media organizations. Some of what Ross says is truly shocking and should give every American pause.

The video consists of about 7 minutes of clips from the Brian Ross interview. The entire 16 minute interview is available at DemocracyNow!.

Keep reading for a few selected quotes from the Ross interview...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Tony Snow gets his first tough question from BRAD BLOG's WH correspondent...
By Winter Patriot on 5/17/2006 2:25pm PT  

Special to BRAD BLOG by BTC News White House Correspondent Eric Brewer

Today during the White House briefing I asked Tony Snow this question:

There have been news reports this week that the FBI is using the Patriot Act to obtain phone records of journalists without their knowledge and without judicial oversight. As a former journalist, are you at all concerned about this sort of intrusion on press freedom?

Tony denied the allegation, saying:

I would be concerned if there was grounding to it. There have been reports, but once again, what it has referred to, the NSF [sic] program, which is strictly concerned with foreign, international terrorism. I'm sorry, the pieces just don't add up.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




BONUS VIDEO - Bush Prefers to Promote Inner-Circle of Criminals
By David Edwards on 5/12/2006 7:43am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Jonathan Turley is a Law Professor at George Washington University. He is an expert on Constitutional Law and legal ethics. He also specializes in legal services for defendants in cases involving classified material. Turley appeared as guest on MSNBC's Countdown to help explain the legal issues with the NSA's ongoing collection of "billions of phone calls" of "tens of millions of Americans."

The Communications Act of 1934 states that phone companies can not give out information on its' customers calling habits. Examining the possible legality of the NSA program, Jonathan Turley says, "If what was reported in USA TODAY is true... it seems to me, once again to violate Federal Law." Turley concludes, "I've spent a day now looking for the possible authority that they would use for this operation and I've come up with nothing."

BONUS VIDEO - Turley: Bush Prefers to Promote Inner-Circle of Criminals


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The night before USA TODAY broke the NSA Call Database story, Jonathan Turley made another appearance on MSNBC's Countdown. In this interview, Turley uses the nomination of General Hayden as CIA Director to point out a pattern in the types of activities and people that President Bush prefers to promote.

Turley notes the large number of people in Bush's inner-circle that have been accused of criminals activities, a lack of legal ethics and even indicted/convicted crimnals. General Hayden's creation and subsequent defense of NSA programs that violate civil rights and FISA laws is the latest visible example in this pattern.

Jonathan Turley makes a serious comparison between the HBO's fictional crime family and the Bush's inner-circle. There is an obvious comparison between the loyalty and obedience required to be "made" in the Soprano family and the people allowed in Bush's bubble. Turley also wonders if criminal activity benefiting the Bush's goals is an attribute that accelerates a person's initiation into the "Bush Crime Family".




By David Edwards on 5/11/2006 9:15am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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This morning, USA TODAY is reporting that their sources confirm that the National Security Agency is secretly building a massive database of American's phone calls. The database has been called the "largest database ever assembled in the world."

The source said that the NSA's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the borders of the United States. This particular program does not actually monitor conversations but is used for data mining along with data collected by other secret NSA program such as the warrantless domestic spying program and numerous other sources. Data collected by U.S. companies such as credit history, buying patterns and mailing lists are used along with data collected by the intelligence community. NSA whistleblower Russell Tice has said (60 Minutes video clip here) that there may be many other secret programs which spy on "millions of Americans". The phone call database alone is said to collect information on "tens of millions of Americans." Combining and analyzing all of these sources of data amount to an appalling and possibly illegal invasion into the private lives of Americans.

If you use AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth --- the three largest phone companies --- then your phone calls are being collected by the NSA. These three companies alone provide service to over over 200 million customers. Like the warrantless domestic spying program, the NSA has not obtained warrants or notified the FISA court about collecting phone calls. Qwest was the only phone company that refused to hand over phone call records until the NSA obtained a FISA warrant. (You can thank Qwest right here.) The NSA refused to go the FISA court. But customers with Qwest accounts are not immune to the NSA's violation of privacy. Many customers who have Qwest also use AT&T or Verizon for long distance service. The NSA can also cross-reference other databases to build a nearly complete profile for an individual.

George W. Bush has said that the program is lawful and necessary for fighting terrorism. He also says that the private lives of Americans are not being violated.

In this video clip, NBC's Today Show reports on the NSA's ongoing collection of domestic phone calls.




By David Edwards on 5/5/2006 7:50am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Ex-CIA Analyst Ray McGovern smackdowned of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld during an event in Atlanta yesterday. During a Q&A period, McGovern demanded answers for a few of Rumsfeld's more specious claims.

Almost certainly, you have already seen or heard highlights of this clip. This version from MSNBC's Countdown contains the full 4 minute exchange between Rumsfeld and McGovern as well various other protesters being roughly handled and removed from the venue. Richard Wolffe of Newsweek provides analysis of the political fallout for Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration.

UPDATE: Text transcript here...

FURTHER UPDATE: Brad conducted an hourlong interview McGovern on The BRAD SHOW in June of 2005 just prior to his congressional testimony on the Downing Street Memos. It was a fascinating interview, if we may say so ourselves. Audio archive [MP3] or text transcript of the interview.




By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2006 11:58pm PT  

From Charlie Savage in today's Boston Globe...

Bush challenges hundreds of laws
President cites powers of his office

WASHINGTON --- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

I began to try and pick and choose a few grafs to highlight from this extensive article. Upon reading it in full, however, I was generally so sickened I had no idea where to start.

Suffice to say, that --- unless someone can offer some alternative view to the situation about which Savage adeptly reports --- those so-called "Bush Haters" who've been saying for years that we are on a clear trajectory, hurling towards full-blown tyranny and/or fascism and/or dictatorship, were far more correct than I'd ever given them credit for.

Without some mitigating information in reply to Savage's work, the article suggests we are in a gravely serious Constitutional Crisis in this country. Far above and beyond what I believe has generally been understood. At least by me.

Please read the full article...

(A non-registration-required version here.)




By David Edwards on 4/15/2006 10:37am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Tavis Smiley interviews former White House Council for the Nixon Administration John Dean. Dean focuses on the moral and legal failings of the current Administration.

Dean recalls his experiences as an insider during a Watergate and is amazed that Bush Administration has ignored those lessons. Dean expands on his March 31, 2006 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee censure hearing where he said,

No president that I can find in the history of our country has really ever adopted a policy of expanding presidential powers for the sake of expanding presidential powers. And I think that's what we have going on here in this presidency.

Dean says that the Bush inner-circle has had a policy of expanding presidential powers from "the day they took office." Secrecy was one of the symptoms of a now obvious campaign to create a presidency unchecked by government or the people. Dean says the actions of the Bush Administration have gone far beyond Nixon's "Imperial Presidency".

Dean goes on to give an ominous warning about slipping into a dictatorship:

The Congress... has lost its' institutional pride. For some reason it doesn't try to check this president.

I've seen the system how it's supposed to work and it's not working that way. When you get it lopsided and one branch is so dominating, it's something other than our founders really designed.

And, of course, the worse case is that if you go on to something that we really don't want to get to and that's a dictatorship. That can happen much more easily than one thinks.

This clip plays for about 10 minutes and was originally broadcast on Wednesday, April 10, 2006.




By David Edwards on 2/27/2006 7:51am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Thanks to a heads-up from Larisa at The Raw Story, we were able to captured this broadcast of CNBC's Tim Russert show. Russert interviewed James Risen and Robert O'Harrow, Jr. The video contains about 24 minutes of clips from CNBC's Saturday broadcast.

James Risen broke the NSA warrantless domestic spying story for the New York Times. He also has a new book out, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA And The Bush Administration. Risen is known to have sources within various intelligence agencies and has recieved information from several NSA whistleblowers. One of those whistleblowers, Russell Tice, recently testified before congress that NSA domestic surveillance programs may be much more widespread than the "limited" program that the Bush Administration has admitted. Tice has said that some programs could be monitoring "millions of Americans".

Robert O'Harrow, Jr. is an award-winning reporter for the Washingon Post with an expertise data mining and privacy issues. His recent book, No Place to Hide: Behind the Scenes of Our Emerging Surveillance Society, describes "a surveillance society that's less centralized and more a joint public/private venture".

Together, Risen and O'Harrow paint a picture of an enormous partnership between U.S. intelligence agencies and private data collection firms. Spying agencies like the NSA can leverage its' massive computing power to mine data collected by these private firms. The result is a mind-boggling domestic surveillance capability with access to nearly any information imaginable. Phone calls, email, video as well as financial, criminal and other personal records can all be searched at the same time. The NSA's powerful computers can mine the data to find otherwise imperceptible links for profiling groups and individuals.

Russert calls it a "sobering" discussion. The interview only scratches the surface of how extensive the scope of Big Brother's monitoring of Americans may be. The surveillance programs are a dramatic departure from what the public has come to believe. It's easy to see why the Bush Administration has avoided legislation and oversight.

It's quite possible that the American people would not stand for Bush's spying policies if they had a sense of the true nature of the government's surveillance.

UPDATE 5/8/06: Luke has now posted a text transcript of this Russert/Risen/O'Harrow interview.




Eavesdropping Programs Monitoring 'Millions of Americans'
By David Edwards on 2/16/2006 10:49am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards


Video in Streaming Flash format...

On Tuesday, a former NSA employee, Russell Tice, testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Tice told the committee that he was concerned that undisclosed domestic spying programs were far more widespread than the recently exposed Bush/NSA warrantless wiretap program.

One or more still classified "Special Access" surveillance program may be monitoring the communications of "millions of Americans". While Tice could not share classified details of the program(s), he believes that the Constitution and FISA laws are being violated.

An article published by UPI has more information about the widespread domestic surveillance programs.

The hearings focused on protection for whistleblowers and a pattern of retaliations by the Bush Administration. This article from the Christian Science Monitor provides an excellent summary of testimony from whistleblowers appearing before the committee.




By David Edwards on 1/16/2006 9:42am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

Washington, D.C.
August 28, 1963






DoJ Attempts to 'Gag Order' Him as They Have Sibel Edmonds
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2006 6:41pm PT  

As you may know by now, on last night's Nightline, whistleblower Russel Tice admitted to being one of the sources for the New York Times story on the NSA's warrantless wire-tapping of U.S. citizens, as admittedly approved time and again by George W. Bush. He was one of a dozen, apparently.

Tice clarified that the program in question was not simply one of the government "listening in on a few calls made to al-Qaeda," as many have tried to minimize it, but an enormous effort that resulted in "millions" of Americans having their conversations listened to in violation of the law and the Constitution. At least in Tice's opinion.

He added that "millions" of Americans have most likely been spied upon, as anyone that placed a call from the U.S. to another country has a good chance of having had the call monitored. This is not a "limited" program as Bush has been attempting to color it.

Tice has written a letter asking Congress to allow him to testify on the laws that he feels have been broken by the NSA, where, until recently, the rules were always made very clear at the agency that you don't spy on American citizens inside the country without a court order to do so first.

And now, the Justice Department is attempting to "gag order" Tice under the same "state secrets" act that they've used to gag FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds, in turn, has helped found the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition to support patriotic Americans like Tice, herself, and about 50 others in similar situations --- from both political parties.

ABC covered the Tice story at their website (with a link to Tice's letter) here.

The video of Nightline's complete report and interview with Tice is available in full here:


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NOTE: Folks like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and the other Administration apologists have been hard at work trying to conflate the cases of disclosure of classified information (Tice said he hasn't done any such thing, by the way) with that in the Valerie Plame case. Regular BRAD BLOG readers likely don't need this explained to them, but apparently O'Reilly and Rush and their trolling millions don't understand the difference in the two cases.

So to be clear --- Tice is reporting a crime being committed by a national security agency. Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, on the other hand, revealed classified material not to uncover a crime, but as a political weapon against someone they perceived as an opponent. Their crime was their revelation of the material itself. Period.

As James Risen, the author of the original Times piece pointed out recently to Jon Stewart (video available here from Crooks & Liars), the NSA matter is as "pure a case of whistleblowing" as one is likely to find, and the two different cases couldn't be more polar opposite to each other. No matter how much the wingnuts are trying to conflate the two.

Got it? Good! We'd rather not have to explain it again in the future. Though we have a feeling we'll have to anyway.




By David Edwards on 11/5/2005 12:34pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

A year after the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, Ed Helms investigates to find out if the critics' worst fears have come true. Has gay marriage ruined Massachusetts?

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4th Country to Legalize Gay Unions...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2005 9:05pm PT  

Oh, Canada! Way to go!

Thank you for setting the standards for how elections should be counted (by hand), wars should be fought (only when necessary) and how human beings who wish to wed should be treated by the state.

As reported by AP, the bill which became law today "gives homosexual couples the same rights as those in traditional unions between a man and a woman."

Imagine that.




By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2004 11:40am PT  


STEPHEN COLBERT: Eleven states approved anti-Gay Marriage ballot initiatives yesterday. Clearly our deep national fear of hot man on man monogamy...drove turnout among the nation's so called "value voters". And here's what's interesting...these voters see the connection between terrorism and what I'll call...homo-ism.
...
JON STEWART: If those are the two major issues concerning voters --- and again, uh --- why would New York City --- which really has the most significant gay population in the country...and has already had the most significant terror attack in the country...vote overwhelmingly for Kerry?

STEPHEN COLBERT: Well, here's the thing, John. We in New York are too close to the terrorism and the gay people. Only the red states, with the advantage of a safe distance, can take in the whole picture...and clearly see what we should do about those issues...And so, on behalf of everyone living in the blue states, I'd like to thank the red states...for saving us...from ourselves. John?




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