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Monday, March 05, 2007

President, Attorney General Linked With Illegal NSA Use For Political Intelligence Gathering

NSA Domestic Surveillance Illegalities Against Political Targets

The President and Attorney General have been linked with illegal use of NSA and DOJ resources to target politicians. Contrary to DoJ assertions that these were for public corruption cases, DoJ emphasis under the Hobbes Act was declining.

Abraxas Corp, one of the firms providing translation and transcription service, is allegedly involved. Illegally captured data was presented for transcription, which translators downloaded, converted from electronic format, then forward to the Government and GOP for non-official objectives unrelated to a bonafide purpose Congress intended. Illegally captured data was allegedly used to support Boeing scheduling of rendition aircraft, then transport personnel for illegal abuse, which White House counsel Brad Berenson is alleged to have known, but failed to prevent.

The activities was never lawfully classified. DoJ Staff knew, or should have known, that the illegal activity was not lawfully classified; and that the court could not legally recognize classification of illegal data. This was not pre-decisional information related to privilege; but post-decisional, illegal activity which no court could reasonably recognize as being lawfully shielded by privilege.

Without FISA court oversight, the President and GOP granted themselves free reign to engage in political surveillance, then worked through the GOP and Members of Congress to pressure US Attorneys to use this illegally captured data.

The activity started before Sept 2001. Had the US intelligence system for the supposed counter-terrorism objectives been real, the US would not have had this many setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The real NSA focus was not on military objectives, but on illegal political surveillance which the GOP attempted to use to maintain control of Congress.

* * *

Ref FBI agent contents that the surveillance was a cover for public corruption.

No way. When the FBI was supposedly handling this -- using a wiretap to "cover" for a political corruption issue -- recall what was really going on:

1. FBI agents were not taking information related to corruption

2. FBI SACs were not disciplining agents who had been involved with disciplinary problems

3. The FBI Supervisory Special Agents in Charges didn't know the rules of evidence

To content that the wiretaps were a ruse to cover for political corruption makes no sense.

It's more likely that "cover" was for something else: FBI wiretaps for non-lawful political coverage.

* * *

As a check you can look for the following:

A. Consider the SAIC data management contract: What types of data were they unable to mange;

B. Look at the Brady requests

C. Consider the FOIA process

D. Look at the President's blocking of the DOJ OPR

E. Consider the supposed reviews of the FISA warrants which the President was not submitting to the FISA court as required.

* * *

For someone to say that the "bad warrants" were for a legitimate purpose defies reason. All the available information suggests the opposite: Contractors weren’t being managed, the management structures inside DoJ weren't working, and the required procedures weren't being followed.

They were making every excuse to not only ignore the process, but explain away the violations and deviations as acceptable. With this level of problem relative to FBI MAOP standards, it doesn't make sense that the "bad warrant" was a "cover" for a "good purpose." No, it's more like the "bad warrant" was "cover" for a "bad purpose."

The above may be true, but it's more sinister:
“It is the complainant’s reasonable belief that the request for ELSUR [electronic surveillance] coverage was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters.”Ref

This makes no sense. Putting aside the electronic warrants for public corruption, DoJ was actively rebuffing information when we are led to believe that the activity was expanding. They may have called it public corruption, but that's not what they were really interested in. Surely, if "public corruption" was a "real objective," DoJ would have bothered to spend time training their FBI agents about the Hobbes Act.

___ If there was "concern" with public corruption, why was the Department of Justice rebuffing information related to just that?

___ Why were the FBI agents not familiar with the rules of evidence related to public corruption?

___ If this "concern" with "public corruption" was real, and the "basis" for the warrants, why were the agents working the "public corruption" cases not aware of the rules of evidence related to the Hobbes Act?

___ Surely, if someone in the FBI was really "concerned" with the public corruption angle, they would be in a position to not try to dismiss information for non-sense reasons.

___ How often do DoJ Staff counsel, working in concern with their "concern" for public corruption, rebuff information using non-sense excuses?

___ Why are DoJ Personnel, who supposedly are working on a "high profile concern of corruption" unable to intelligently understand: [1] This is what the Hobbes Act is; [2] these are the white collar crime auditing indicators; and [3] the information I am getting is related to the statute and valid indicators; and I , as an FBI agent, should not [4] rebuff this information as it may be valuable.

NO way. Had there been a bonafide "concern" with corruption -- as a basis to explain, justify, or account for this electronic surveillance -- DoJ's actions, training, supervision, and ability to process raw evidence was going in the opposite direction.

This doesn't add up. If there was a "true concern" within DoJ about this, then we would see more US Attorney Training on the Hobbes Act; this training is run out of the US Attorney education in the Executive Office. You can check the videos, checkouts, and the training plans to see whether the supposed training that would confirm/not confirm this conclusion.

Even if the training were there, the results were not matching, especially notable in that personnel assigned to DoJ OPR would have known a bout the problem, but apparently didn't do something, or it wasn't looked into.

___ Where was the DOJ OPR in all this issue with the electronic surveillance, US Attorney Graining, and the issue with the public corruption?

They were getting a stonewall from the President: Is there more to the story?

* * *

Mark Levey smells a rat and wants more information, outlining for us the steps that doesn't square with the DoJ version of what was or wasn't happening. Ref. The "public corruption" matter would have relied on a lawful a warrant; there's no reason to go through the "FISA process" when the President was self monitoring.

It looks more like the NSA "surveillance" had nothing to do with "simply" avoiding FISA rules in re surveillance, but in actively avoiding the judicial oversight required that would have flagged the political targeting.

The war on terror was an excuse to expand the political monitoring prior to Sept 2001; and Sept 2001 sent a green light to the President: "We have a way to conduct political surveillance outside the FISA court, and can self-monitor this domestic surveillance activity."

* * *

Further supporting this, the DoJ view during budget cuts:
I strive every day to make sure that the Fourth Amendment rights of even the worst criminals are scrupulously observed, only to learn that the folks I work for view those rights as disposable, inconvenient anachronisms Ref

It makes no sense for the FBI agent to suggest the "cover" story was legitimate, when the public corruption cases budgets were falling; while the New Mexico US Attorney was having problems getting people to respond.

* * *

Again, it makes no sense to argue that the FBI agent wire tapes were "covered" by the public corruption unit, when the budgets were getting cut. [ Ref ]

___ Who was really paying for these wiretaps?

___ What NSA money used to pay for the political targeting?

___ Or was there another pot of money possibly linked to Rove, Cheney, Libby etc and Office of Special Plans that, while they were preparing for war, they were funneling political intelligence to target people like the RNC demonstrations?

It's possible the political intelligence gathering was couched as "anti-terrorism" and put under a DoD-Counter Intelligence Field Activity fund: Essentially using DoD funds through NSA to engage in political intelligence gathering.

* * *

Another route, and this is the more cynical one: How much money did the US government promise to DoD lobbyists – by way of contracts for this surveillance – in exchange for the Lobbyists providing funds to the RNC, in the Jack Abramoff-like shell game with funds?

Here’s the approach: In exchange for funds from an NSA defense contractor-lobbyists, the RNC may have directed funds to a particular organization; and those funds were backfilled to the contractor to fund the political surveillance.

NSA monitoring is not a government-run activity; but something that is done by contractors. With the money flowing around, lack of progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, the real question: How much money did it take for the Contractors to ignore the FISA process; and assent to DoJ direction to engage in surveillance?

It appears Verizon was one of the contractors working with Boeing and Lockheed Martin to:

1. Accept funding for non-lawful purposes;
2. Provided funding to the GOP
3. In exchange for contractors, the NSA contractor agreed to provide political intelligence to the GOP

Based on what we know about how the NSA surveillance was managed and running under FISA and this President, it appears the FISA court would never know; and there was a political machine in place that would exploit this secrecy.

___ How much money did Abramoff and others like him channel to various firms/NSA contractors in exchange for political intelligence?

___ What contracts were awarded to which GOP lobbyists/NSA-connected contractors who would cooperate with the GOP and DOJ in exchanging information?

___ Without FISA court oversight, was here anything that would have blocked the intermediaries (contractors) from exchanging information based on bogus warrants which the Attorney General was self monitoring?

Answer: we know the Attorney General, when he said to Congress that the DoJ Staff was “too buy” to get warrants s a lie: The time clocks from inside the DOJ Staff, as you can see on the contracts, plus the data from the IT Department shows that the staff was working a particular hours, what they were doing, and which websites they were visiting that were not for official business.

As with the GOP explanations with the issues with the pressure on the US Attorneys in New Mexico, none of the explanations add up; and at best, every possible reason that might have been prevent to have confidence that this exchange of information was not working does not add up, or convincingly explain away the real possibility that this was what was going on.

Recall SAIC was with ThinThread.

___ Where was the NSA and DoD IG in all this; and what was up with the DOJ IG?

___ Do the IG’s have an explanation why, despite this apparent possibility of this happening, there’s nothing to explain away why it was impossible?

___ What was the real reason the DOJ OPR was blocked from looking at the NSA issue?

___ How much of the intelligence gathered was political, and use to target Americans?

___ When there were errors, did the DoJ Staff know that the errors resulted in US civilians being placed on Boeing-scheduled aircraft for rendition to Syria for abuse?

___ What was Brad Berenson’s view of this information when he was in the White House counsel’s office?

___ Did the DOJ Staff bother to think that someone within the Department of Justice – one of the US Attorneys – might voluntarily cooperate with a subpoena on this subject?

___ What can the US Attorneys shed light on the NSA monitoring, and the information flowed between contractors, DoJ, the GOP; and how the US Attorneys had confidence that the information was bonafde?

Consider what we know about the Walter Reed: DoD IG and/or Veteran’s Affairs IG were clearly out to lunch.

___ How many of the NSA-issues would DoD IG have also ignored to let this type of non-sense continue unchecked, and Members of Congress doing nothing?

___ What elese are we going to find that the GOP Members of Congress didn't act on, and are attempting to blame on the DNC?

* * *

Criminal Intent, Recklessness: GOP and White House Attitude

Here’s the bad news:
I strive every day to make sure that the Fourth Amendment rights of even the worst criminals are scrupulously observed, only to learn that the folks I work for view those rights as disposable, inconvenient anachronisms.Ref

Given this known attitude from Addington, Gonzalez, and the Vice President for the Constitution, why should anyone believe that with the right funds, NSA contractors were not doing this; and the intermediaries were not doing exactly what many have suspected, but been unable to prove, until now: The President and Attorney General blocked DOJ OPR from reviewing the NSA issues because they did not want the Congress to review the real surveillance; or how that data was being used.

* * *


GOP did two end runs around the Constitution:

1. Using the "war on terror" to circumvent FISA and did political surveillance; where the President did self-reviews on things he knew, or should have known had nothing to do with terrorism, but political intelligence gathering;

2. Then put pressure on US Attorneys to use that information to target political opponents; coordinated GOP efforts to put pressure on Members of Congress, who then called the US Attorney and Law enforcement to apply this NSA-collect information to the cases.

Questions For the US Attorneys

___ Did they every wonder where this information was coming from?

___ How did they know the warrants they were relying on were real?

___ Is there a possibly that the US Attorneys knew, in some cases, about the political intelligence gathering?

___ When the US Attorneys were confronted with the President’s NSA "self monitoring" under FISA, did they think that there could be a problem with enforcing those warrants, or using the information in curt a against the DNC?

___ What did the US Attorneys plan to do once, as it appears, the information as not bonafide intelligence, but political intelligence -- how were they going to address the Brady requests that would have asked for warrants, and information that the evidence was a real intelligence activity, not a pseudo-excuse to cover for the illegal political intelligence gathering?

* * *


___ Who inside DOJ would know about the evidence collection methods, not reveal them to the defendants, but know enough to direct someone inside the GOP to put pressure on the NM delegation;

___ Who would know about the illegal surveillance method, but to provide this to the court for the Brady requests?

___ What was the real data that SAIC was on contract to manage; were the political data-collection-files so large that the SAIC contract for the FBI couldn't mange the funds?

* * *

Bottom Line

Judiciary Committee per Title 28 and Title 50 needs to memorialize their conclusions and concerns to NSA-DoD-DOJ IGs, and comment the following:

___ Direct the IGs to review the procedures of NSA, DoD, and DoJ to review whether there was any internal control or oversight

___ Get form the FBI a status of any additional information they have gleaned from Abramoff which might shed light on which NSA contractors the GOP was sending money to

___ Identify the things within the FISA Court process that the President, in avoiding, would have permitted him to gather this political intelligence, then use it to target DNC Members of Congress

___ Meet with the GOP General Counsel to identify which personnel inside the Republican party were in a position to facilitate this transfer of illegally captured data from NSA-DoJ into the Republican Party; and how this information was used by other people to then get injected into the JTTF process, then to US Attorneys

___ How did the GOP use the “no fly list” to target DNC Members of Congress based on this bogus information?

___ Is there something within the Verizon-NSA agreement that would have imposed on Verizon a duty to ensure the data collection was only being used for a bonafide purpose?

___ If there had been collection of political intelligence, what systems within the DOD-NSA contractors would have ensured the minimization procedure were used; and that these “training” exercises were bonafide?

* * *

Makes No Sense To Hide “Good” things

Something that was supposedly a ‘good thing” and ‘evidence the GOP was leading the charge to do the right thing” would have been open to Members of congress to review, understand, feel comfortable with, and say, “Yes, this is great leadership.” But the GOP didn’t do that with the Intelligence Committee: Actively blocked them from having legal counsel to review what the NSA activity was all about.

___ If the NSA surveillance was for a bonafide reason – foreign intelligence – why weren’t the Members of Congress allowed to review this activity with legal counsel presence?

* * *

It does seems strange that the President and Attorney General are spending more time covering up the NSA activity – with secret oversight, blocking DoJ OPR – that they can point to for legitimate purposes for combat support. The results of Afghanistan and Iraq suggest the NSA monitoring produced not real military intelligence; but that the funds expended were shifted around to hide the apparent larger body of worthless information: Political intelligence.

___ Which NSA contractors were party of the translation service?

___ Did the DoJ Small Business division have anything to do with this translation service?

___ How were the transcription service – that of using a DoJ court “transcriber” used to cover for the illegal monitoring?

___ When the US government issues a recording to an NSA-DoJ Contractors, does the contractor know that the information is really a deposition; or could the transcript be of something that was actually an NSA intercept; cold a phone call that was illegally captured be presented to the DoJ Contract as something that it was not: Pretending that it was evidence?

___ Would a firm like Abraxas, that has a DoJ contract to do translation and transcription, necessarily know or not know, that the data was form a real interrogation; could they not be in tacit agreement to provide that transcript of the phone call, but they were led to believe, or it was wink-wink/nod-nod known to be a phone call that was illegal captured and related to political intelligence?

___ How much of the “national security argument” related to Rendition – to hide illegal activity – was intended to hide the civilian contractor connection with this illegal activity and use the court ruling (of its refusal to do anything) as a “green light” to the Contractors to continue doing what the court would have prevented had the truth been known?