Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hayden stonewalls;
Bush reveals new front in terror war

Gen. Hayden just uttered his first public words since news broke in USA Today of the NSA's spying on virtually every American whose phone records it could access -- phone records that now comprise what is described as the largest database in the world.

Emerging from a meeting with Sen. Mitch McConnell, Hayden was asked by an offscreen reporter to speak to "the legality of the measures taken by the NSA" in its domestic spy program. Hayden abruptly shut the reporter down, saying that everything the NSA does is legal -- perhaps, following the Nixon adage, because the president says it is.

Meanwhile, as your blogstress toils over her iBook, President Bush is addressing the graduating class of Biloxi's Gulf Coast Community College. During the course of his speech, Mr. Bush lauded a mother-and-son team who are both graduating today, and who lost a respective son and brother "while fighting terrorists over the Horn of Africa."

Your cybertrix had missed the U.S. war on the Horn of Africa.

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Investing in Qwest

Your blogstress agrees with Matt Stoller that Qwest Communications deserves to be rewarded for its lonely position as the one telecom that refused to provide the National Security Agency (NSA) with the customer information the agency was demanding for the domestic spying program it conducts for the White House.

Qwest is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Here's its latest earnings report. (Do be aware, dear readers that the company is not entirely pristine. The last CEO left after admitting that he had misrepresented earnings.)

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to procure your long-distance service from Qwest, or use them as an ISP.

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Telecoms gave your phone records to NSA

At Americablog, John Aravosis calls our attention to the revelation, unveiled last night by USA Today, that the White House domestic spy program, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA), is worse than most have feared, and its scope stands in direct contradiction to President Bush's assertion that only calls and e-mails that involved one overseas party were targeted.

Non, mes amis, non! Qui est le target de ce programme? Vous, mes amis, vous!

That's right, darlings, there's not an American who's not in the NSA's sights. And it's all been done with the cooperation of telephone service providers -- with one notable exception: Qwest, the Colorado-based telecom. However, if your service is provided by AT&T, Verizon or BellSouth, you're totally screwed.

As part of his post, Mr. Aravosis provides handy links to instructions for encrypting your e-mail. It's really come to that.

Can't wait to find out what Gen. Michael Hayden, who oversaw this transgression of the Bill of Rights while he was NSA chief, has in store for us when he ascends to the helm of the CIA. Will Americans be "disappeared" to Guantanamo? Oh, wait -- I forgot that that's already happened.

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Connecting the dots
Rove implicated in Abramoff, Safavian scandals

The Associated Press (AP) is reporting on some juicy e-mails between the convicted felon Jack Abramoff, once the GOP's uberlobbyist, and the indicted former White House aide David Safavian.

The unprecedented removal of Safavian, by then administrator of federal procurement policy at White House Office of Management and Budget, from his office in handcuffs has received scant attention compared to the sexier Rove and Abramoff stories, but this week the media seem to be connecting the dots to find the three all tied together.

According to the AP, on the very day that the Washington Post broke the Abramoff story, Safavian reached out to the black-hatted-Jack with offers of help:

'Let me know if there is anything I can do to help with damage control,'' David Safavian, who is now under indictment, messaged Abramoff on Feb. 22, 2004.

At the time, Safavian was working at the White House Office of Management and Budget. He later became administrator of federal procurement policy at OMB.
Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that Karl Rove, deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, met with Abramoff regarding the potential hiring of two Abramoff picks at the Department of Interior -- the agency that houses the Bureau of Indian Affairs. You'll recall, mes amis, that Abramoff got snagged in his fraudulent dealings ostensibly on behalf several American Indian tribes. You'll also note that Gail Norton, who headed the agency at the time, left to spend more time with her family just as the feds homed in on Abramoff. From the article, Abramoff Visits in White House Logs Are Linked to Rove and a Budget Aide , by Philip Shenon:
[An administration] official said the visitor logs also referred to a 2004 meeting in which Mr. Abramoff talked with an official at the Office of Management and Budget to discuss his hopes of buying the Old Post Office building in Washington from the federal government.

The proposed purchase, which never occurred, is a focus of criminal charges brought against another former White House budget official, David F. Safavian. Mr. Safavian faces trial this month on charges of lying about his relationship to Mr. Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to charges of seeking to corrupt public officials.

The administration official's comments came several hours after the Secret Service made the visitor logs public in a settlement of a freedom-of-information lawsuit filed by a private legal group.
Now, can anybody tell your blogstress what happened with Gail Norton?

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