NSA Hearing: Gonzalez confirms he was breathing in the White House
It's one thing to play stupid. Quite another to use an NSA communication system to confirm this stupidity.
[ For your convenience, there is an NSA Hearing Archive; Click here to read other content in the NSA Hearing Archive.]
The President and Joint Staff rely on NSA not just for collection, but transmission. Within fractions of a minute, the President, Secretary of Defense, and Joint Staff can communicate to anyone in the world using the NSA.
NSA is not simply a collection tool. It's also a mechanism for the President, Secretary of Defense, and Joint Staff to communicate.
Several issues arise:
The Secretary of Defense has confirmed in writing his review of the torture/abuse guidance for Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. What's unclear is which specific DoD personnel -- well versed in the laws of war -- have joined in this rebellion, and have unlawfully failed to report a violation of the laws of war.
Someone inside the NSA and GCHQ knows the names of those DoD personnel who have a lawful duty to make a report, but have supported this rebellion.
Gonzalez is well aware of this.
Failure to use system to communicate pre-9-11 information
Pre 9-11, NSA was engaging in unlawful domestic surveillance. The issue is what prompted this change – and what the President ordered, and should have told Congress, but apparently didn’t – and who knew of the change, reason for change, and was told using the NSA communication systems.
Prior to 9-11 during the NSA monitoring, not only did the FAA issue 52 warnings, but the President cannot explain why he did not use his communication system to ready the forces. Again, something prior to 9-11 prompted the President to order NSA to engage in unlawful domestic surveillance; it does not follow that he would ignore 52 FAA warnings, and not use his communication system.
Failure to use system to comply with laws of war
Bluntly, not only did the President know something prior to 9-11, but despite reminders of the laws of war, neither the Secretary of Defense nor Joint Staff provided timely guidance or reminders of 5100.77 to the field. These issues would have reasonably related to the laws of war, UCMJ, and treatment of prisoners.]
Once the President, Secretary of Defense, and Joint Staff were aware through 170th Military Company and 6th Police Group of the Guantanamo Abuses, they had the means to relay guidance to the troops within minutes. Clearly, they chose not to use this system. There’s no excuse for the abuses to have continued – even started for that matter – once there was a first report of a problem. It remains to be understood how many reports were ignored; and what orders were issued to not take an action to timely follow-up on the initial reports of war crimes.
Gonzalez was in a position to advise the President on need to use tools to enforce the law
Gonzalez while White House Counsel and Bolton while with the UN knew of this communication system, but cannot explain why they received information, but failed to use the lawful system to mitigate the unlawful conduct: Domestic surveillance.
We judge the reason for Gonzalez absurd legal arguments is that he isn’t simply protecting the President. He has other motivations, suggesting he’s put his personal loyalties before those of the Constitution:
The Joint Intelligence Committee has been stonewalled.
Each of the NSA read messages is initialed, and copies maintained outside NSA control. These read files have not been compared with the 9-11 Commission conclusions.
There is also a record of the transmission, test, and receipt of the communications to the White House; and a verification that appropriate notifications are made on issues of war crimes. Again, there's been no adequate explanation why the incoming reports did not trigger an immediate report as required under statute; and why military personnel aware of this reporting requirement did not timely make a report to the Congress.
The issue is: Which messages -- prompting the White House to start unlawful monitoring prior to 9-11 -- did not trigger a follow-up message, and confirmation from the Executive Agencies to confirm receipt. Indeed, NSA receives information, but there's no adequate explanation why the incoming information did not prompt a speedy response. The technology is there. Someone chose to not use it. That is not lawful over issues of Article IV Section 4 -- guaranteeing a system of checks and balances, and protection from rebellion or invasion.
The United States has had a military coup and the President and Joint Staff remain in rebellion against the Constitution. Gonzalez problem -- why he noticeably lost his cool -- is he knows his oath is to the very document he has defied. His loyalty is to the President’s rebellion, not the Constitution. He is a torn man, unfit to be believed. It remains to be understood what information he provides to the President on ongoing NSA programs designed to do one thing: Protect the President from accountability for war crimes, and violations of the law.
We judge this is another of the “classified Presidential programs” which the NSA fully knows about, and is taking great pains to hide. Small problem: GCHQ has penetrated NSA and the CIA, using technology the NSA cannot detect or decrypt. The White House knows this, and has established another system which has also been compromised.
When I read about Plame, I think of Bolton, Iraq WMD, and the NSA: There was a public story, and the "real story" -- whatever that means.
But lost in this is the other NSA function: Not only does the NSA collect information, its there as a communication tool. Within Seconds the President, Secretary of Defense, and Joint Staff can communicate to anyone within the world.
Once the Joint Staff knew -- as did Ambassador Wilson -- that there was no case for war, they should have known that the ongoing combat operations were unlawful.
When I hear "Plame," I wonder:
- Where's the DoD message traffic saying, "Hay, we shouldn't do this -- invade Iraq or Iran -- there's no evidence" and
- We've been told by the President -- before 9-11 occurred -- to engage in unlawful surveillance -- when are we going to come clean with what we knew, but failed to do?
- We are aware of the prisoner abuse reports from Guantanamo and Afghanistan, but we're not going to use this NSA communication system to remind the troops on the laws of war.
NSA collects these answers.
The issue of the NSA and Gonzalez got me thinking about the NSA from a different perspective.
Also, Glenn's piece made me realize I needed to focus my overview, so I've done that: What the real issues are -- criteria to evaluate the leadership in the White House and Congress Ref
I also reviewed the Gonzalez hearing notes:Ref
. . . and thought more about what the NSA does. It's got another role. Think back to Pearl harbor. The problem wasn't simply detection [incoming signals] -- but in warning [fast communications to the troops and government].
Congressoinal conspiracy with President
Then I realized the "other President's program" was going on before 9-11. This means that the "NSA communication function" had the government on alert prior to 9-11. So what hasn't the Congressional committee and 9-11 Commission been told; or what has the Senior Congressional leadership been told – about violations of the law – but they have refused to distance themselves from this President’s unlawful conduct?.
Then I thought about the abuse reports, and NSA information saying there was no WMD: If this NSA system exists -- fast communication to the government -- once the Joint Staff and White House knew there was no evidence supporting war or abuse, why didn't the White House, Secretary of Defense, and Joint Staff order a stand down, not invade Iraq?
Rather, the decision to keep going -- despite the NSA monitoring capability -- tells us one thing, as does the Downing Street Memo over Iraq -- they knew the rules, had the means to do the right thing, but chose to violate the law, and not end the misconduct. That shows mens rea.
This is Nuremburg Stuff, and at the heart of Gonzalez non-sense: He's protecting himself from a war crimes indictment for advising the President to commit war crimes, abuse, and unlawfully violate the US Constitution.