Thursday, April 03, 2008

Catapulting the propaganda - updated


Attorney General Michael Mukasey gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club this past weekend.
Officials "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that's the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that's the call that we didn't know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went."

The press played up how, at his following comments, the AG got all choked up. Let's skip the emotion, real of faked for effect, and focus on what he said.

If there was a call from an al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan into the US prior to 9/11/2001, then the government did not need a warrant to listen in, according to then current law. So if they knew about such a call and did not act on it, the level of malfeasance is staggering.

If there was such a call, why was it not mentioned at any point in the 9/11 Commission's investigation? It such a call was not mentioned because it never really happened, this would be the worst sort of public lying to achieve a political goal.

Either of these options should be alarming.

And in any case, it hardly touches upon the issues that are actually relevant to FISA law.

But it clearly constitutes highly emotional fearmongering. And is highly misleading.

Again, did anyone in their right mind really believe he would not be a Bush toady once appointed as Attorney General?

To reiterate the issue, in Maddow's words:
MADDOW: The implication of Mukasey‘s story here is that these pesky, restrictive FISA laws kept us from tapping that call from Afghanistan and blocked us stopping 9/11. That‘s complete bull pucky. The laws then, the laws now, the laws since the FISA court has been in existence; the laws have said that you can tap without a warrant that kind of communication from outside the United States into the U.S., particularly if you knew it was an al Qaeda safe house and it had a link in terrorism.

What Mukasey said is either a terrible lie about the law or it‘s terrible admission about the Bush administration leaving us unprotected on 9/11.
Glenn Greenwald encapsulates it this way:
Mukasey's new claim that FISA's warrant requirements prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans is disgusting and reckless, because it's all based on the lie that FISA required a warrant for targeting the "Afghan safe house." It just didn't. Nor does the House FISA bill require individual warrants when targeting a non-U.S. person outside the U.S.

Danger durden has a great post on this up at Daily Kos, including commentary on this issue by Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. There is also information provided (including a very good form letter) for contacting the House Judiciary Committee, urging them to call AG Mukasey in to testify under oath on what he's talking about here.

Did the government have all the tools it needed and still do nothing?
Is the government making shit up to scare us?

The answer may well be "both of the above" but I think it is reasonable to demand answers.

UPDATE:
Glenn Greenwald follows up on this issue. Lee Hamilton, c0-chair of the 9/11 Commission would not comment but Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the commission, responded with this:
Not sure of course what the AG had in mind, although the most important signals intelligence leads related to our report -- that related to the Hazmi-Mihdhar issues of January 2000 or to al Qaeda activities or transits connected to Iran -- was not of this character. If, as he says, the USG didn't know where the call went in the US, neither did we. So unless we had some reason to link this information to the 9/11 story ....

In general, as with several covert action issues for instance, the Commission sought (and succeeded) in publishing details about sensitive intelligence matters where the details were material to the investigative mandate in our law.
Glenn comments:
That's polite Beltway talk for saying that nothing like what Mukasey described actually happened. Does anyone on TV other than Keith Olbermann care that the Attorney General of the United States just invented a critical episode about 9/11 that never actually happened -- tearing up as he did it -- in order to scare Americans into supporting the administration's desired elimination of spying restrictions and blame FISA supporters for the 9/11 attacks? We still ought to hear from Hamilton and/or Kean.
[Emphasis mine]

--the BB

3 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

I guess that no one on the Tee Vee but Olbermann cares that Mukasey lies on a grand scale about 9/11.

BTW, I'm enjoying Rachel Maddow on Countdown. I keep wondering when Keith will get the boot. He gets good ratings, but that may not count for much, if the powers lean hard on MSNBC.

Grandmère Mimi said...

I guess that no one on the Tee Vee but Olbermann cares that Mukasey lies on a grand scale about 9/11.

BTW, I'm enjoying Rachel Maddow on Countdown. I keep wondering when Keith will get the boot. He gets good ratings, but that may not count for much, if the powers lean hard on MSNBC.

Paul said...

I loves me some Rachel, but Keith brings in the ratings like crazy. Huge audience for his special comments. I think his contract was renewed not that long ago, though OCICBW.

Rachel and Keith together are knockouts. And they are both stunningly good looking. I have some serious platonic lust for Dr Maddow.