Thursday, July 13, 2006
In the laboratory of conservatism, George W. Bush and Dennis Hastert try to conjure up some winning strategy for the midterm elections.
Valerie Plame Sues Dick Chenney
Former CIA Officer Sues Cheney Over Leak
WASHINGTON -- The CIA officer whose identity was leaked to reporters sued Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide and presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of revealing Plame's CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq.
Several news organizations wrote about Plame after syndicated columnist Robert Novak named her in a column on July 14, 2003. Novak's column appeared eight days after Wilson alleged in an opinion piece in The New York Times that the administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq to justify going to war.
The CIA had sent Wilson to Niger in early 2002 to determine whether there was any truth to reports that Saddam Hussein's government had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon. Wilson discounted the reports, but the allegation nevertheless wound up in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.
The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children's lives at risk by exposing Plame.
"This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of ... (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country," the Wilsons' lawyers said in the lawsuit.
In that she could no longer continue in here career, she may have a case.
Monday, July 10, 2006
June Allyson, 'perfect wife,' dies at 88
Sunday, July 09, 2006
My Brush With The Past
I’ve seen him there before, but this time I said hello and shook his hand.
I live just across the street from Studio City and can see minor celebrities from time to time, normally I leave them alone, but I had to say hi this ocne to Mr. Checkov.
Friday, July 07, 2006
That Pesky Flag Amdnement
Luckily the flag amendment failed to pass the Senate so now Mr. Bush can cut that cake.
It's a good thing because CNN reports that text of the amendment as:
"The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
I imagine that cutting and eating a flag cake could be taken as "physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
Not by anyone sane mind you, but hey, it's what the amendment says.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Shutting Down The Bin Laden Unit
I’ll reprint the whole story since it’s not too long and seeing that one can’t read the stories from the New York Times after a certain period of time has elapsed without paying for it....reprinting it seems to be the way to go.
C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden
WASHINGTON, July 3 — The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.
The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.
The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice "dead or alive."
The realignment reflects a view that Al Qaeda is no longer as hierarchical as it once was, intelligence officials said, and a growing concern about Qaeda-inspired groups that have begun carrying out attacks independent of Mr. bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Agency officials said that tracking Mr. bin Laden and his deputies remained a high priority, and that the decision to disband the unit was not a sign that the effort had slackened. Instead, the officials said, it reflects a belief that the agency can better deal with high-level threats by focusing on regional trends rather than on specific organizations or individuals.
"The efforts to find Osama bin Laden are as strong as ever," said Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, a C.I.A. spokeswoman. "This is an agile agency, and the decision was made to ensure greater reach and focus."
The decision to close the unit was first reported Monday by National Public Radio.
Michael Scheuer, a former senior C.I.A. official who was the first head of the unit, said the move reflected a view within the agency that Mr. bin Laden was no longer the threat he once was.
Mr. Scheuer said that view was mistaken.
"This will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda," he said. "These days at the agency, bin Laden and Al Qaeda appear to be treated merely as first among equals."
In recent years, the war in Iraq has stretched the resources of the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, generating new priorities for American officials. For instance, much of the military's counterterrorism units, like the Army's Delta Force, had been redirected from the hunt for Mr. bin Laden to the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in Iraq.
An intelligence official who was granted anonymity to discuss classified information said the closing of the bin Laden unit reflected a greater grasp of the organization. "Our understanding of Al Qaeda has greatly evolved from where it was in the late 1990's," the official said, but added, "There are still people who wake up every day with the job of trying to find bin Laden."
Established in 1996, when Mr. bin Laden's calls for global jihad were a source of increasing concern for officials in Washington, Alec Station operated in a similar fashion to that of other agency stations around the globe.
The two dozen staff members who worked at the station, which was named after Mr. Scheuer's son and was housed in leased offices near agency headquarters in northern Virginia, issued regular cables to the agency about Mr. bin Laden's growing abilities and his desire to strike American targets throughout the world.
In his book "Ghost Wars," which chronicles the agency's efforts to hunt Mr. bin Laden in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks, Steve Coll wrote that some inside the agency likened Alec Station to a cult that became obsessed with Al Qaeda.
"The bin Laden unit's analysts were so intense about their work that they made some of their C.I.A. colleagues uncomfortable," Mr. Coll wrote. Members of Alec Station "called themselves 'the Manson Family' because they had acquired a reputation for crazed alarmism about the rising Al Qaeda threat."
Intelligence officials said Alec Station was disbanded after Robert Grenier, who until February was in charge of the Counterterrorist Center, decided the agency needed to reorganize to better address constant changes in terrorist organizations.
Some people may recall this exchange from 17 September 2001:
Q Do you want bin Laden dead?
THE PRESIDENT: I want justice. There's an old poster out west, as I recall, that said, "Wanted: Dead or Alive."
Q Do you see this being long-term? You were saying it's long-term, do you see an end, at all?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that this is a long-term battle, war. There will be battles. But this is long-term. After all, our mission is not just Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda organization. Our mission is to battle terrorism and to join with freedom loving people.
It would seem that things have changed a bit.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
More On Domestic Surveillance
Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.
The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.
"The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11," plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. "This undermines that assertion."
The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.
"The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that AT&T may neither confirm nor deny AT&T's participation in the alleged NSA program because doing so would cause 'exceptionally grave harm to national security' and would violate both civil and criminal statutes," AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk said in an e-mail.
U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller and NSA spokesman Don Weber declined to comment.
One wonders why they needed to do this seven months before 9/11.