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Blog of Mass Destruction

Advice For Beacon Editors

By The Reverend Published: June 24, 2008

I have no idea why Beacon editors don't know much of anything about the illegal spying done on Americans by the Bush/Cheney administration, or the FISA laws.

Baffling, really. Irresponsible would be another word that comes to mind.

Today's Beacon editorial opens by stating, falsely, that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, "dates to the late 1970's. Much has happened since in communications technology, requiring intelligence agencies to keep pace, especially in the wake of the Sept.11 attacks."

That is a false statement. Either the Beacon editors are ignorant of the truth or, worse, simply don't care about spreading falsehood. FISA was updated many times over the three decades since it's passage....it's original passage required because of J. Edgar Hoover, and Richard Nixon's CIA driven, reign of spying over the American people back in the 60's and 70's.

Here's the Beacon's favorite Commander Guy, George W. Bush, saying that the Beacon's opening paragraph today is not true....


October 2001

"The bill before me takes account of the new realities and dangers posed by modern terrorists."

"The existing law was written in the era of rotary telephones. This new law I sign today will allow surveillance of all communications used by terrorists, including e-mails, the Internet, and cell phones."
Link

The Beacon, pitifully mistaken in the opening paragraph of it's lead editorial, continues on tying rambling, uninformed, paragraph after paragraph together.....

"What do those rightly concerned about executive overreach get in return? The immunity isn't a certainty. A federal judge would determine whether the firms received a legitimate request from the federal government directing their participation.

That essential dose of checks and balances appears elsewhere in the compromise." Link

Five words..."the immunity isn't a certainty". How totally out of touch for the Beacon to not recognize that ALL the "federal judge" is allowed to examine in determining immunity for lawbreaking telcos is the authorization letter the telco received from the White House ASSERTING that what the president requested is legal. That's it. The judge cannot examine the actual spying evidence or telco evidence of participation.

That's a "dose" alright.....a "dose" of doubletalking bullsh?t. "Checks and balances" like the ones the Beacon admires, would have saved Nixon's and Hoover's spying behinds, in the same way they are intended today to save another spying president's behind.

Russ Feingold makes it clear and uncomplicated.....the Beacon even quotes Feingold....without context, naturally, but at least they quoted him.....stating that the new "get out of jail free" FISA re-write is not a "compromise" at all, only a "capitulation" to the participating lawbreakers themselves.

The Beacon has been, for whatever reason, wilfully ignorant on the Plame/Libby case, the act of naked imperialism in Iraq, and now the FISA imbroglio. What the hell is wrong here? Seven years and counting of Bush/Cheney lawlessness and the timid editors at the Beacon can only muster this pitiful comment....

"The president opted on his own to bypass secretly the legal framework for eavesdropping on the communications of Americans with suspected ties to terrorists. When word of the president acting outside the law surfaced in news accounts, a colossal legal and political argument ensued,"

That isn't reporting and evaluating the facts or evidence.....that is advocacy. The Beacon has no idea who Bush was eavesdropping on....it's all conveniently classified. Bask in the bold words "bypass secretly the legal framework"......my goodness.....those words are weiner words that should have read ...."openly violated existing federal laws". But the Beacon, cowed in fear or smitten by Commander Codpiece, can't call the Dear Leader a lawbreaker.....they just don't have the fortitude to do it.

The ACLU specializes, unlike the Akron Beacon Journal, in calling out violations and threats to the Constitution of the United States. Here's what they say about H.R. 6304, the bill just passed in the House to award campaign contributing telcos immunity from federal lawbreaking while also covering up the Bush administrations' lawlessness.....

H.R. 6304 permits the government to conduct mass, untargeted surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States, without any individualized review, and without any finding of wrongdoing.

• H.R. 6304 permits only minimal court oversight. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) only reviews general procedures for targeting and minimizing the use of information that is collected. The court may not know who, what or where will actually be tapped.

• H.R. 6304 contains a general ban on reverse targeting. However, it lacks stronger language that was contained in prior House bills that included clear statutory directives about when the government should return to the FISA court and obtain an individualized order if it wants to continue listening to a US person’s communications.

• H.R.6304 contains an “exigent” circumstance loophole that thwarts the prior judicial review requirement. The bill permits the government to start a spying program and wait to go to court for up to 7 days every time “intelligence important to the national security of the US may be lost or not timely acquired.” By definition, court applications take time and will delay the collection of information. It is highly unlikely there is a situation where this exception doesn’t swallow the rule.

• H.R. 6304 further trivializes court review by explicitly permitting the government to continue surveillance programs even if the application is denied by the court. The government has the authority to wiretap through the entire appeals process, and then keep and use whatever it gathered in the meantime.

• H.R. 6304 ensures the dismissal of all cases pending against the telecommunication companies that facilitated the warrantless wiretapping programs over the last 7 years. The test in the bill is not whether the government certifications were actually legal – only whether they were issued. Because it is public knowledge that they were, all the cases seeking to find out what these companies and the government did with our communications will be killed.

• Members of Congress not on Judiciary or Intelligence Committees are NOT guaranteed access to reports from the Attorney General, Director of National Intelligence, and Inspector General. Link

Why the Beacon insists on spreading falsehoods and half-truths is for their editors to determine. Why the Beacon insists on coddling and excusing the most criminal administration in America's history through spreading misinformation concerning open and defiant Constitutional violations.....and then falsifying the explanation concerning the "remedy" to all those violations the Beacon spreads misinformation about.....is inexcusable.

ADVICE TO BEACON:

I know you are interested in selling newspapers and stopping the bleeding of lost subscribers. It's business, after all. Your readers, because you are trying to serve both sides of any national political argument....would be better served if you simply stayed away from national issues altogether. Your editorial writers, on the most important issues, cannot, or will not, see the forest for the trees.

End your string of embarassments and stick to state and local news. Your readers don't deserve to be misled any longer.

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