If you don't read Glenn Greenwald's blog at Salon.com regularly.....I highly recommend doing so. I have been reading Greenwald for a few years. He is a constitutional lawyer with a razor sharp writing style that's easy for laypeople, like me, to follow. Of all print media, Greenwald's blog ranks 9th in a list of the most widely read publications.
This morning Greenwald blogs about yesterday's released Inspector General's report on former president Bush's NSA activities.
If you recall, Bush started a secret and illegal program immediately after 9-11 that he eventually called the "Terrorist Surveillance Program"(TSP). Bush's new program directly violated existing wiretapping laws as set forward in the FISA laws passed in 1978.
Bush's secret and illegal program wiretapping Americans without FISA warrants came up for "renewal" in 2004. That was when the whole late night hospital room visit to then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, took place. Andrew Card and Abu Gonzlaes were dispatched to Ashcroft's room to pressure the heavily medicated AG to sign off on Bush's "programs."
The IG report informs us that it was Bush, himself, who badgered Mrs. Ashcroft on the hospital phone insisting that her husband must meet with Card and Gonzales. The reason for this frantic Soprano-like scene was because acting AG, James Comey, would not sign-off renewing the "programs."
Conservative Bushies, James Comey, Jack Goldsmith and eventually, even Ashcroft, himself, threatened to resign rather than sign-off on the renewal of the president's illegal "programs."
From the IG report....
"On March 12, 2004 an interagency working group led by OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) was convened reanalyzing the legality of the PSP. In the days that followed, Goldsmith continued to express doubt that a viable legal rationale could be found for some of the Other Intelligence Activities being conducted under the PSP.
On March 16, 2004 Comey drafted a memorandum to White House Counsel Gonzales setting out his advice to the President. According to the memorandum, Comey advised that DOJ remained unable to find a legal basis to support certain Other Intelligence Activities that had been authorized as part of the program and that such activities should be discontinued immediately."
There's no question here that even loyal Bushies thought the President had violated law.
Here's Gonzales responding on the evening of March 16....
"Your memorandum appears to have been based on a misunderstanding of the President's expectations regarding the conduct of the Department of Justice. While the President was, and remains, interested in any thoughts the DOJ may have on alternative ways to achieve effectively the goals of the activities authorized by the presdiential Authorization of March 11, 2004, the president has addressed definitively for the Executive branch in the Presidential Authorization the interpretation of the law."
You see....Bush didn't care whether his own Justice Department had concluded that the "activities" were illegal and needed to be stopped, "immediately." Bush, alone, had already determined the proper "interpretation" of the law. Bush, through Gonzales, was telling his own supporters in the DOJ to f*ck off.....just sign the renewal like I told you to, nobody asked for your legal opinions.
Even though the illegal wiretapping program was eventually signed off on....the "Other Intelligence Activities" were dropped by Bush. We can only speculate on the nature of these "other", apparently, extremely illegal, "activities." The IG report doesn't tell us anything about them.
Now imagine...loyal conservative Bushies, Comey, Goldsmith, Ashcroft, were willing to resign over the "other activities", rather than sign-off giving their approval.
Just how rogue was the Bush White House?
We'll never know.
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