Monday, February 06, 2006

Snooping docs during Ford's administration released

WASHINGTON (AP) - An intense debate erupted during former U.S. president Gerald Ford's administration over the president's powers to eavesdrop without warrants to gather foreign intelligence, newly disclosed government documents revealed.

Former president George Bush, current Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney are cited in the documents. The roughly 200 pages of historic records reflect a remarkably similar dispute between the White House and Congress fully three decades before President George W. Bush's acknowledgment he authorized wiretaps without warrants of some Americans in terrorism investigations.

"Yogi Berra was right: it's deja vu all over again," said Tom Blanton, executive director for the U.S. National Security Archives, a private research group that compiles collections of sensitive government documents.

"It's the same debate."

Senate judiciary committee hearings are scheduled to begin Monday on the question of Bush's authority to approve such wiretaps by the ultra-secretive National Security Agency without a judge's approval. A focus of the hearings is to determine whether the Bush administration's eavesdropping program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a 1978 law with origins during Ford's presidency.

(Which shall consist of "testimony" by Little Alberto, who will, in essence, tell Congress that it is none of their damn business, and no, they cannot see any of the documents requested by the Judiciary committee or any other committee, for that matter. Bush is King, and if we don't like it, too bad.)

"We strongly believe it is unwise for the president to concede any lack of constitutional power to authorize electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes," wrote Robert Ingersoll, then deputy secretary of state, in a 1976 memorandum to Ford about the proposed bill on electronic surveillance.

(Wonder if they will all feel the same way when there is a Democrat in the White House?)

Former president Bush, then director of the CIA, wanted to ensure "no unnecessary diminution of collection of important foreign intelligence" under the proposal to require judges to approve terror wiretaps, said a March 1976 memorandum he wrote to the Justice Department. Bush also complained some major communications companies were unwilling to install government wiretaps without a judge's approval. Such a refusal "seriously affects the capabilities of the intelligence community," Bush wrote.

In another document, Jack Marsh, a White House adviser, outlined options for Ford over the wiretap legislation. Marsh alerted Ford to objections by Bush as CIA director and Rumsfeld, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft over the scope of a provision to require judicial oversight of wiretaps. At the time, Rumsfeld was defence secretary, Kissinger was secretary of state and Scowcroft was the White House national security adviser.

Some experts weren't surprised the cast of characters in this national debate remained largely unchanged over 30 years.

Read On one is surprised.... at least not anyone who has, even half-assed, been paying attention over the years.

Check out the cast of characters and you will find that many of them, especially the ones in the Ford administration, helped limit the damage of Watergate and Nixon; not to the country, but to their political party.

Colin Powell helped limit the chain-of-command damage during the My Lai investigation, helping make sure that the fall-out went no further than the scapegoat, Lt. Calley.

Now, take a shorter trip down memory-lane, to the Reagan/ Bush years. The Bush people worked more behind the scenes during Reagan, but just look who was on hand, once Poppy was elected for his White House tour. The same cast of characters; or, as you please, the usual suspects.

It is way past time to come down hard on these people. They have never really paid for any of their multiple crimes against this nation, which have only become worse and more bizarre under Bush, the son.

The accountability should not stop there either. The crimes they have committed against the global community, especially Iraq, demand justice.


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