Saturday, May 13, 2006

And the hits just keep on coming!

It's not surprising that the NSA spying scandal is growing, with revelations of broader spying programs bobbing to the surface. Attorney General Gonzales was questioned about the wiretapping of international calls of suspected Al Qaeda operatives during his confirmation hearing in January. Feingold's comments suggest to me that he believed (as I did) there was likely more to the story, more the program beyond what was leaked in the memo about warrantless wiretaps.

SEN. FEINGOLD: Finally, will you commit to notify Congress if the president makes this type of decision and not wait two years until a memo is leaked about it?

MR. GONZALES: I will to advise the Congress as soon as I reasonably can, yes, sir.

Of course, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! has been covering news about spying on activists. before the USA Today article came out. Last week she had a journalist on her show who says he was the target of an FBI surveillance operation. And yesterday she had another show about the USA Today revelation. We know also that Halliburton has been building detention centers to hold "illegal immigrants," and that news was commented on and on several sites, including ZNet and Now we find out that Telecos are helping the government collect call and email data on Americans (interesting that these are the same business interests that have their sticky paws all over the attempt to regulate Internet use to their benefit. Coincidence? You decide). Law makers are standing there with their jaws dropped like this is a big suprise, but apparently some of them, both Dems and Repubs, were aware of it. They are even threatening to make General Hayden, the newly nominated head of the CIA, who was head of the NSA when the wiretapping was authorized, answer some questions about the program during his confirmation hearing next week. Boy, that's reassuring.

But, this may be the one that finally opens the eyes of the sleeping masses. On today I found an article that begins this way:

A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency said he plans to tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the agency under the supervision of Gen. Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens.

Russell Tice, who worked on what are known as "special access programs," has wanted to meet in a closed session with members of Congress and their staff since President Bush announced in December that he had secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without a court order. In an interview late Thursday, Tice said the Senate Armed Services Committee finally asked him to meet next week in a secure facility on Capitol Hill.

Tice was fired from the NSA last May. He said he plans to tell the committee staffers the NSA conducted illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of U.S. citizens while he was there with the knowledge of Hayden, who has been nominated to become director of the CIA. Tice said one of his co-workers personally informed Hayden that illegal and unconstitutional activity was occurring.

The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to hold Hayden's confirmation hearing next week. "I think the people I talk to next week are going to be shocked when I tell them what I have to tell them. It's pretty hard to believe," Tice said. "I hope that they'll clean up the abuses and have some oversight into these programs, which doesn't exist right now."

The investigation that was started on the program had been shut down, but maybe this testimony can get the ball rolling again.

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