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Archive for May 16th, 2008

Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

Quote of the Day
“I think John Edwards is obviously someone who would be on anybody’s short list.”

— Sen. Barack Obama, quoted by Time, on whether he would consider John Edwards for a role in his administration.

GOP Insiders See Loss of 20 House Seats
“Many House GOP operatives are privately predicting that the party could easily lose up to 20 seats this fall,” according to The Politico.

“Combined with the 30 seats that the GOP lost in 2006, that would leave the party facing a 70-vote deficit against Democrats in the House — a state of powerlessness reminiscent of Republicans’ long wilderness years in the 1960s and ’70s.”

CQ Politics notes the Republican House leadership team “met in crisis mode” yesterday after losing a third special election this year.

For a snapshot of the key races, see CQ‘s Balance of Power Scorecard.


FDL Book Salon Welcomes Tim Shorrock, Author of Spies for Hire

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Tim Shorrock, Author of Spies for Hire
Tim Shorrock’s book, Spies for Hire, provides a necessary primer on the Intelligence-Industrial Complex. Shorrock’s book shows that the push for telecom immunity is not just about shielding Bush and Cheney’s legal wrong-doing, it’s also about ensuring the growing, and increasingly seamless, relationship between our intelligence services and its contractors remains opaque to citizens.

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(Please welcome author Tim Shorrock in the comments — jh)

As I read Tim Shorrock’s Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, I kept wishing (as a blogger) that the whole thing was online. Want background on which companies–in addition to Mitch Wade’s bribery-assisted MZM–spied on Americans in the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) program? Go to Spies for Hire. Want background on CACI, the company whose interrogators directed torture at Abu Ghraib? Go to Spies for Hire. Want to learn how indicted Congressman Rick Renzi and his late father have been gaming intelligence contracts for years? Go to Spies for Hire.

In many ways, Shorrock’s book offers the untold background to a lot of the stories about corrupt politics that bloggers tell every day: he exposes the companies bloating themselves–and some politicians–by taking over our intelligence function.

That’s particularly true as we gear up for another fight on FISA. Bloggers have focused attention on Jello Jay’s big donations from telecom companies. We’ve talked about key Bush Administration figures with a long history of lobbying for telecoms. We’ve analyzed the records showing communications between Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Congress, and between the telecoms and McConnell.

But Shorrock tells the important story we’ve neglected by comparison, McConnell’s central role in making government and private intelligence organizations one seamless organization.

Shorrock describes, for example, McConnell’s key role in the formation of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a trade organization that serves as a bridge between large intelligence contractors (like Booz Allen, SAIC, Computer Sciences Corporation, and ManTech) and the officers from CIA, NSA, and DHS who join them on the board of the organization. “INSA,” Shorrock explains, “is one of the only business associations in Washington that include current government officials on their board of directors.” Shorrock describes how INSA worked with the DNI (back when John Negroponte was DNI and McConnell was head of INSA and a VP at Booz Allen) to foster information sharing in the intelligence community–including with contractors. He reports that, for the first time in 2006, INSA’s contractors were consulted on the DNI’s strategic plans for the next decade. And Shorrock describes one intelligence veteran wondering “if INSA has become a way for contractors and intelligence officials to create policy in secret, without oversight from Congress.”

McConnell, after nurturing this enhanced relationship between contractors and government intelligence services, ascended to serve as DNI. He was, Shorrock points out, “the first contractor ever to be named to lead the Intelligence Community.” Once confirmed, McConnell immediately buried a report assessing the practice of outsourcing intelligence. And he worked to further expand the ties between government spying and its contractors.

Is it any wonder telecom immunity has since become the Administration’s primary concern with regard to FISA? I’ve been covering FISA for a long time. But Shorrock’s book made me realize something I hadn’t before: that the push for immunity is not just about shielding Bush and Cheney’s legal wrong-doing, it’s also about ensuring the growing, and increasingly seamless, relationship between our intelligence services and its contractors remains opaque to citizens.

Shorrock’s book informs the ongoing FISA fight in other ways. It includes a general chapter on data mining in response to 9/11 (focusing especially on the contracts that made up Total Information Awareness) and one focused specifically on the warrantless wiretap program. He includes some new insights into that program, such as this comment from an industry insider.

I was told by a prominent industry consultant who founded one of the companies suspected of cooperating with NSA that the NSA’s ability to tap into these [telecom] databases was the most significant part of the NSA’s surveillance program. “These are the big market research databases,” said the consultant, who asked not to be identified. “It’s the scale and the scope of this they don’t want to disclose. They’re looking at every single phone call record they can get their hands on for historical perspective, and looking for patterns and also in real time for intercepts.”

And for those who haven’t been living and breathing the FISA fight, the chapter collects everything else we know in one place.

Just as importantly, though, he places that all in the larger context. It’s not just about Bush and Cheney ignoring laws and spying on citizens (though it is that). It’s that, in the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush Administration is creating a monstrous new Intelligence-Industrial Complex in which intelligence contractors and the government collaborate–with little oversight–to snoop at home and abroad.

This is not an easy book. As a book focusing on corporations, it often reads like a mind-numbing list of mergers and acquisitions, revolving doors, and interlocking boards. That, and when I contemplated the implications of the book, it made me sick to my stomach.

But it is an important book.


State Of The Race: OR And KY

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

State Of The Race: OR And KY

The RCP OR and KY polling info. Tell me what it means.

This is an Open Thread.

Comments now closed.


Another Dose

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Another Dose
of late night relief.

Brooklyn Goth

Type O Negative


Dire Consequences with a McCain Supreme Court?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Dire Consequences with a McCain Supreme Court?
Imagine the dire consequences if McCain appoints a fifth radical Supreme Court justice who believes in an all-powerful Executive Branch.

Vandana Shiva: Why We Face Both Food and Water Crises
The world renown activist reminds people that corporation-friendly economic schemes got us into this mess in the first place.


Eli Lilly Edits Disclosure Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

Eli Lilly Edits Disclosure Bill
Senators Grassley and Kohl have introduced legislation that would require disclosure of all gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors over $500. That sounds like good news, except, according to this report, Grassley’s staff worked closely with Eli Lilly to re-write…


Marriage in California

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

Marriage in California
E.J. Graff with some context for today’s California Supreme Court decision….


O’Donnell: Clinton conceded

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:31 am by HL

O’Donnell: Clinton conceded
O’Donnell: Clinton conceded

Jackson demands file after ‘sick’ email
Jackson demands file after ‘sick’ email


In Speech Before Israeli Parliament, Bush Compares Democrats To Nazi-Appeasers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:30 am by HL

In Speech Before Israeli Parliament, Bush Compares Democrats To Nazi-Appeasers
While delivering an address before the Israeli parliament commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel, President Bush said that Sen. Barack Obama and Democrats favor a policy of appeasement toward terrorists. CNN reports that Bush was comparing Obama to “other U.S. leaders back in the run-up to World War II who appeased the Nazis.” In his speech, […]

While delivering an address before the Israeli parliament commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel, President Bush said that Sen. Barack Obama and Democrats favor a policy of appeasement toward terrorists. CNN reports that Bush was comparing Obama to “other U.S. leaders back in the run-up to World War II who appeased the Nazis.”

In his speech, Bush said, “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

CNN’s Ed Henry reported that, while “President Bush never uttered the words Barack Obama,” his White House sources tell him it was clearly intended to be a partisan shot:

White House aides are acknowledging that this was a reference to the fact that Sen. Obama and other Democrats have publicly said that it would be ok for the U.S. President to meet with leaders like the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

Watch it:

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President Bush may want to take up his head-in-the-sand views with his own Defense Secretary. Just yesterday, Robert Gates said the U.S. needs to “sit down and talk with” Iran:

“We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage…and then sit down and talk with them,” Gates said. “If there is going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can’t go to a discussion and be completely the demander, with them not feeling that they need anything from us.”

Bush’s cross-continental partisan assault upends the traditional notion that U.S. politics should stop “at the water’s edge.” Reacting to Bush’s comments, Obama issued this statement: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel.”

Digg It!


McCain Sees U.S. Troops Leaving Iraq by 2013

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2008 4:29 am by HL

McCain Sees U.S. Troops Leaving Iraq by 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 15 — Sen. John McCain on Thursday offered for the first time what he hopes will be an end date for the war in Iraq, part of a vision he presented in which his policies lead to peace and prosperity at home and abroad by 2013, the end of what would be his first term as president.

AP NewsAlert
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar government says military-backed constitution has been overwhelmingly approved by voters