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U.S. District Judge James Robertson Resigns From
FISA Court in Protest Against Bush's Domestic Spying

     On December 19, 2005, U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned from the FISA court, sending a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation. Two associates familiar with Robertson said that he had privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable.

      Judge Robertson had been appointed to the federal bench in Washington by President Clinton in 1994 and was later selected by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist to serve on the FISA court.

     Judge Robertson's courageous resignation was doubtless a response to Bush's continued lying about the domestic spying program. In 2004, Bush told an audience--well after he had authorized the secret surveillance program--that the government didn't engage in eavesdropping without court approval.

"Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires--a wiretap requires a court order," Bush said in a speech promoting the Patriot Act. "When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."
     The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court is an eleven member special court that oversees the government's surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists. Robertson's resignation added to a political firestorm over President Bush's secret domestic spying program that bypasses the court.

     At a time when the entire Department of Defense is a tool of the Bush junta and many judges at the federal, district, and state level are in the cabal's pocket, it is encouraging to see a highly-appointed judge go up against the corruption being perpetrated by the White House and its cronies.

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold Attempts to
Filibuster the Extension of the Patriot Act

     Along with Carl Levin (D) of Michigan and Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island, Democratic senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has called for the suspension of the Patriot Act program until Congress can consider its legality. As reported in this site last week, the Republican Party strategy was to have Congress revise the relevant legislation to make Bush's now illegal spying legal, using the fake whistleblower Heather Wilson. This ex-post-facto revision of legislation to make Bush's crimes legal occurred on February 16, 2006.

     Even though Feingold's effort at filibuster was futile--since the Republicans control the Senate as well as the House (and the executive and judicial branches likewise)--he displayed the kind of courage that other Democratic leaders in Congress ought to be showing. Feingold, you may recall, cast the single opposing vote in the Senate against the USA Patriot Act in 2001.

     "We need to preserve liberty while heightening security. My first reaction to 9/11 was a solemn resolve to get the terrorists," he said, stating that the USA Patriot Act bill had "very troubling language" in it. In 2001, when the provisions drafted by the Justice Department were ramrodded through Congress, Feingold strongly condemned both Republican and Democratic Party leaders in Congress for preventing a revised bill with wide support from being considered.


Fake Courage

Former CIA Manager of U.S. Secret Intelligence Assessments on Iraq
Says the Bush Administration Chose War First and Then Cooked the Data

     As we saw, in last week's edition of Celebrating Courage, we have to keep our wits about us to honor bravery effectively. Unless we examine precisely what's now going on, it might appear that we have a genuine anti-cabal "whistleblower," when in actuality all that's happening is a turf war. 1

     Paul Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Middle East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, says the Bush administration played on the nation's fears after 9/11, falsely linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein's regime even though intelligence agencies had not produced a single analysis supporting "the notion of an alliance" between the two.

Fake Whistleblower?      Pillar appears to be leveling a vicious blow, saying that the Bush White House made connections between the terrorists and Iraq because "the administration wanted to hitch the Iraq expedition to the 'war on terror' and the threat the American public feared most, thereby capitalizing on the country's militant post-9/11 mood." As we read that report, we're tempted to think that Mr. Pillar has sustained a political conversion experience and now sees what an evil administration he had been working for. We might indeed, commend him as a whistleblower--if we didn't look carefully at precisely what he's saying--and where he's saying it.

     Mr. Pillar's supposed critique is really old news--if we examine it carefully. We all know that Bush and Cheney ramped up the fear factor after 9/11 and made a false connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam as part of their plan to start an unprovoked, preemptive war on Iraq. So none of what he's saying--if we look at it critically--is astounding or even surprising. So what are we to make of all this?

     We can get some idea of what's likely going on if we look at precisely where Mr. Pillar is going to publish his "whistleblowing" expose? In the Nation, the New York Times, or Salon on the Internet? To what liberal audience is Pillar directing his diatribe against Bush and his administration? Hold your breath, the answer is coming up, and it might give the whole game away. Paul Pillar is publishing his seemingly devastating critique in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs!


Notes:

1 The current turf war is between some Council on Foreign Relations insiders, who control the publication of the Foreign Affairs journal, and that bastion of the Neocons, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Some ex-intelligence officers from the CIA and other agencies resent Cheney and Rumsfeld usurping their power and want their independent strength restored. One of the first returning salvos against the ex-spooks has been fired by Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the AEI in her article in the Los Angeles Times on February 21, 2006, entitled "It's no secret: the CIA plays politics," in which she takes Pillar to task for saying that Iraq will have no value as a "democratic exemplar." In other words, there's a turf war going on between one group of cabal thugs and another, though neither group disagrees whatsoever with the militaristic, imperialistic policies of the cabal.


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