Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jay Exposes Administration Lies About Domestic Spying

The Charleston Gazette
December 20, 2005

Jay expressed concerns in 2003
Paul J. NydenStaff writer

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., released a letter Monday that he wrote to Vice President Dick Cheney in the summer of 2003, expressing concern over the domestic eavesdropping program conducted by the National Security Agency at the behest of the Bush administration.

In a press release accompanying the letter, Rockefeller said, “For the last few days, I have witnessed the president, the vice president, the secretary of state and the attorney general repeatedly misrepresent the facts.

“The record needs to be set clear that the [Bush] administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program.”
In the two-page handwritten letter, dated July 17, 2003, Rockefeller told Cheney he was writing “to reiterate my concerns regarding the sensitive intelligence issues,” which he had first learned about earlier that day.

During a private briefing with a handful of top Senate and House intelligence committee members, Bush administration officials had revealed the National Security Agency was spying on American citizens without asking for, or obtaining, court-ordered warrants.

The program was revealed last week in a New York Times story, which identified Rockefeller as one of the people who expressed reservations about the program. Rockefeller is the vice chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He had declined to comment on the program before Monday.

“Clearly, the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues,” Rockefeller wrote in the letter to Cheney.

“Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities,” Rockefeller wrote.

“Without more information and the ability to draw on any legal, independent legal or technical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.”
In the letter, Rockefeller also told the vice president he was keeping a copy of the letter in a sealed envelope in the “secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee,” to keep a safe record of the correspondence.

Rockefeller said in the press release Monday that the few members of Congress who were briefed on the program were prohibited from talking about it with anyone else, including other members of the Senate or House intelligence committees.


Monday, December 19, 2005

No President Is Above the Law - by Senator Robert C. Byrd

On the floor of the Senate today.Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country’s law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.

We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the Administration’s flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this Administration as “domestic terrorists.”

We now know that the F.B.I.’s use of National Security Letters on American citizens has increased one hundred fold, requiring tens of thousands of individuals to turn over personal information and records. These letters are issued without prior judicial review, and provide no real means for an individual to challenge a permanent gag order.

Through news reports, we have been shocked to learn of the CIA’s practice of rendition, and the so-called “black sites,” secret locations in foreign countries, where abuse and interrogation have been exported, to escape the reach of U.S. laws protecting against human rights abuses.

We know that Vice President Dick Cheney has asked for exemptions for the CIA from the language contained in the McCain torture amendment banning cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. Thank God his pleas have been rejected by this Congress.

Read the rest here: http://byrd.senate.gov/newsroom/news_dec/law_for_all.html