Saturday, December 31, 2005

Book of 2005: Dave Zirin's What's My Name Fool?

This is a joint entry by Mike (Mikey Likes It!) and Wally (The Daily Jot). You will see the entry at both sites. We thank C.I. for scanning the cover of Dave Zirin's What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States which, in our opinion, is the best book of 2005.

Martha and Shirley did a summary of books that spoke to The Common Ills community in 2005. We enjoyed reading about them. We were flattered that some members singled us out.
If our antics ("For the hour!" "For the hour!" in Larry King bluster mode) made Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People stand out for West or anyone else, we're flattered. We're also glad that we helped What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States stand out for a few people. But Zirin's book is our pick for the best of 2005.

Here's why. If you're a sports fan, you'll enjoy it. "But I hate sports!" some may say. We say, "Let us finish." If you like to read about politics and activisim, you'll enjoy it. If you like to read about both, you'll be floating on a cloud smiling. But this really is a book for everyone.

So if you buy books for yourself or as gifts, we'd urge to think about this one. If you check out books at the library, we'd urge you to consider checking this one out. If you do neither, we'd urge you to be aware of the book and of Dave Zirin because the book's an important one and Zirin's an important writer.

In his introduction, Zirin writes:

Sports as a whole do not represent black and white, good or bad, red state or blue state issues. Sports are neighter to be defended nor vilified. Instead we need to look at sports for what they are, so we can take apart the disgusting, the beautiful, the ridiculous, and even the radical.
This book aims to recall moments of resistance past and rescue the underreported shows of struggle and humanity by atheletes of the present, so we can appreciate the beauty of sports, independent of the muck and fight for a future where skill, art, glory, and the joy of play belong to us all.

If you need more information, you can check out the book discussion on this book at The Third Estate Sunday Review. You can also check out an interview that Amy Goodman did with Dave Zirin for Democracy Now!

But this is a book you should be aware of and Zirin is a writer you should check out. That's our recommendation for book of the year.

Since it's early in the morning, we'll note that the following sites plan to have new content later tomorrow:

The Common Ills
Like Maria Said Paz
Mikey Likes It!

Other community sites may also have new content but those are confirmed.

In addition, Sunday, check out The Third Estate Sunday Review for the latest edition. It may post later than usual (that's still up in the air) but it will post.

And, in case you missed it, there was new content Friday at the following sites:

The Common Ills
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Cedric's Big Mix
The Daily Jot
Mikey Likes It!
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude

Friday, December 30, 2005

Blogging later tonight

Just a note to anyone expecting to see something up at the usual time. I'm going to be blogging later tonight.

C.I.'s going to scan something for me. I'd mentioned in an entry here earlier this week that I'd like it if Rebecca or C.I. would scan a cover for me. C.I. just called and asked if Rebecca had done it. Then C.I. said she may have thought C.I. was doing it since -- "you didn't ask either of us." My bad. C.I. wouldn't have even thought of it but Jess was going through the e-mails and found Isaiah's latest and had to tell C.I. about it. That's when C.I. asked Jess if there was ever an e-mail from me about that because I hadn't called about it.

It was a public notice here. :D I did mean to ask them both but I know everyone's busy so I kept putting it off. Jess said Kat's posting tonight so she'll probably have something up before me.

Be sure to check out The Common Ills and Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. My shameless plugs after I forgot to ask them C.I. and Rebecca for a favor.

So Nina and me are going to head out and get an early start on our Friday evening.

She just reminded me to tell everyone to check out Wally's latest at The Daily Jot. He and his grandfather have picked ten important people for the year. They count the Manning brothers as one person. :D I called Wally about that and he said they wanted all the people on the list so they counted the Mannings as one. :D

Nina just said to note that Rebecca has a "huge picture" of Jake Gyllenhaal who "is not as sexy" as me Nina says but "still pretty hot."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Courage to Resist the Bully Boy's Monster Cookie and war criminals

Good evening, we'll get started right off with Democracy Now! but before we start with headlines, remember that tomorrow is a their year review for 2005 so be sure to check that out.

NSA Website Capable of Tracking Web Activity of Visitors
In other news, the Associated Press is reporting the National Security Agency has been using files that can track the web surfing activity of visitors to its website. The NSA says the tracking files -- known as "cookies" -- were a mistake and have been removed. Under federal law, government agencies are forbidden from using "cookie" files unless a senior official authorizes them and their use is disclosed in the agency's written privacy policy. The news comes as the Bush administration continues to defend its authoritization of an NSA program to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals without court-approved warrants.

Bully Boy as the Cookie Monster? Nah, I always liked the Cookie Monster. I remember in kindergarten or first grade, we were all taken to an auditorium and divided up into groups. Some people got Big Bird stickers to put on their shirts and some got other Sesame Street characters. Whatever you got was the group you stuck with and, it turned out, your class. I got Cookie Monster who wasn't my first choice. When they were passing out stickers, I was hoping for someone else. Don't even know who now. Maybe it was Elmo if he was around then.

But I got a Cookie Monster sticker. Which was pretty cool because I could go "Cookie!" just like Cookie Monster. Everyone in my class and my teacher thought that was cool. But I bet the teacher was just being nice. But I would do it all day and all the kids would laugh. I bet the teacher really hated it, come to think of it. :D

So Bully Boy isn't Cookie Monster, he's the Monster Cookie, spying on anything we do because he thinks it's entitled. He's a lot like other bullies. In fact, here's one.

Pinochet Photographed For First Mug Shot
And in Chile, after years of charges and investigations into human rights abuses under his rule, former dictator Augusto Pinochet has been fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken for the first time. Police are investigating his involvement in the deaths of hundreds of political opponents in the 1970s. Pinochet ruled the country until 1990 after seizing power in a US-backed coup in 1973. Over 3,000 people went missing and 28,000 were tortured under his regime. Pinochet, who is 90 years old, is currently living under house arrest over separate allegations of human rights abuses. His mug shot has not been released.

Augusto Pinochet got his mug shot yesterday. A little hard work and maybe we'll see the day when Bully Boy, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld get their mug shots taken. Well, Bully Boy will get his taken again cause he's been arrested at least once already. But they are criminals who are out to destroy the country and they have allowed torture (and probably encouraged it) and bombed innocent civilians and all that blood is on their hands. It may not come until St. Peter's taking them over to God, but they will be judged and it won't be pretty. Hopefully though judgement day will come a lot sooner for them and it will come in a court of law.

Remember to check out Elaine's site for her commentary on the above at Like Maria Said Paz.

Now I want to note something C.I. wrote today:

Speaking of Wally, he, Elaine and Mike did note "Support GI Resister Katherine Jashinski Now!" (DC Indymedia) yesterday so be sure to check that out. Ken e-mailed saying he signed up at Courage to Resist but hasn't recieved an automated e-mail to reply to. (You can sign up there for monthly e-mail alerts.) I haven't gotten one either but if you signed up and are waiting, make sure you check your junk mail/bulk mail folders in case it heads there by accident.

I did get an e-mail and it took about seven hours after I'd put my e-mail in. C.I. said to check your junk mail and, for me, it did go into my bulk folder. So be sure to check that. Here's some information about Courage to Resist:

COURAGE TO RESIST is a new group of concerned community members, veterans, and military families organizing support for military objectors to illegalwar, occupation, and the underlying policies of empire. We have adopted a people power strategy to weaken the pillars that support the Iraq war and occupation by supporting GI resistance, which together with counter-recruitment and draft resistance work can remove the supply of obedient troops.
PEOPLE POWER is the strategy that has toppled dictators from Serbia to the Philippines so why not in the United States? People power strategies could not only stop the war in Iraq but also inspire our movements for change by helping us relearn to govern ourselves and be truly free.

And Wally's mother liked a thing Erika highlighted for The Common Ills. I liked it when I read it to. But I was checking out my bud's site this morning and he noted it and noted he was noting it for his mother. I know Wally would do the same for Ma, so let me show his mother the same respect.

This is from the president of NOW and NOW's a really strong group that's always there on important issues like Cedric's pointed out, so here's Kim Gandy's "Holiday Songs in the Key of 'F'" and she's explaining some of the events that NOW was there for this year:

I love this time of year. Although the ice and snow aren't doing my car any favors (or my hair, for that matter!), there is something special about having time to rest and reflect on the year -- take a step back, bask in the warmth of family and friends, and gather strength for the coming battles (which, I promise you, will be numerous).
So before treating you to our holiday songs "in the key of 'F'," I hope you'll join me in looking back over the year at some of the accomplishments that make me so proud to be your NOW President.
- The year started off with a bang with all the furor over Harvard President Larry Summers' ridiculous comments about women's "innate" inferiority in math and science! NOW was the first to call for his resignation, a call that was later seconded by the Harvard faculty. The end result of the public attention was that Harvard has now made a real financial investment in increasing the presence of women in hard sciences at that institution.
- In February we launched our Equal Marriage campaign, and the terrific response from activists across the country, and the ways they have put this campaign to work, has been spectacular to see!
- Through March and April we fought the FDA on risky silicone breast implants and then lobbied furiously on Emergency Contraception (EC) while also mobilizing our activists to save the Senate filibuster from the frightening "nuclear" option that would have threatened our liberties and made it nearly impossible to stop a bad Supreme Court nominee.
- In July came a real turning point. We were all gathered in Nashville for our National Conference when the news of Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation was announced. Never ones to shrink from a fight, we immediately declared a "State of Emergency for Women's Rights", were the first in the nation to hold a press conference, and organized a march and rally in a matter of hours, right there at the Tennessee State House in Bill Frist's "back yard."
- In September we marched with CodePink and hundreds of other groups to call for an end to the Iraq war and invasion. Hundreds of NOW members joined in to help remind the world that "peace is a feminist issue!" We also spoke out against Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, and continue to demand fair treatment for the survivors, who are desperately seeking the aid that was allocated for them, but which hasn't been delivered by the Bush allies who received multi-million-dollar no-bid contracts, like Halliburton.

"Never one to shrink from a fight." Let's all try to catch that NOW spirit in 2006.

Travis wondered if I had a New Year's resolution? Let me think on that and get back to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bully Boy's illegal wiretaps bite him in the butt, Ken Lay still on the loose, support the GI resisters

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Lawyers For Terror Suspects Plan Legal Challenges Over Wiretaps
The New York Times is reporting defense lawyers for several Muslim men detained for alleged ties to Al Qaeda plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the government used illegal wiretaps against them. Two weeks ago, the Times revealed the Bush administration has authorized eavesdropping on Americans and foreign nationals within the United States without court orders.
The challenges would affect some of the biggest terrorism cases in the country. Several lawyers said they intend to press the government on whether prosecutors misled the courts about the origins of their investigations and whether the government may have withheld wiretaps that could prove their clients' innocence. Meanwhile, Justice Department prosecutors told the Times they were concerned the wiretaps could create problems for past and future terrorism cases. One prosecutor said: "If I'm a defense attorney, the first thing I'm going to say in court is, 'This was an illegal wiretap.' "

Wire taps that were illegal, unconstitutional, and a felony for the Bully Boy are now going to hurt their "terror" convictions. Everything he touches turns to crap.

Enron Accountant To Testify Against Former Top Execs
In other news, the former chief accountant for the scandal-plagued energy corporation Enron has reached a plea deal that will see him testify against two of the company’s top former executives. Richard Causey will appear in a Houston court today to plead guilty to at least one of the dozens of criminal charges against him. In return for leniency, Causey will testify against Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling. Causey is the 16th former Enron executive to reach a plea bargain. He was expected to stand trial alongside Lay and Skilling next month. Enron's collapse in 2001 ended the jobs of more than 5,000 workers and decimated the retirement savings of millions of investors.

No wonder they can't catch Osama, it's four years later and they still haven't put Ken Lay behind bars. That's how it goes for all of Bully Boy's friends, the Lays, the bin Ladens, go down the list.

Now be sure to check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz and besides both noting Democracy Now!, we're also both noting something that C.I. passed on from community member Bonnie.

This is from DC Indymedia, "Support GI Resister Katherine Jashinski Now!:"

Pablo Paredes:
"…if there's anything I could be guilty of, it is my beliefs. I am guilty of believing this war is illegal. I'm guilty of believing war in all forms is immoral and useless, and I am guilty of believing that as a service member I have a duty to refuse to participate in this war because it is illegal,"
On December 6, 2004, Pablo Paredes refused to board the war-bound USS Bonhomme Richard leaving from San Diego,CA. Facing charges of "Missing Movement" and "Unauthorized Absence" Pablo was court martialed on May 11, 2005 for refusing to fight in a war, he challenged, was illegal.

Pablo Paredes' court martial on May 11th, 2005 at the San Diego, California Naval Base was one of the motivations for a nationwide Day of Action to Support GI Resisters called for by Courage to Resist on May 10th and taken up by dozens of groups across the nation!
Pablo's court martial in San Diego turned out to be an enormous political victory for Pablo and his supporters. Many creative actions in and outside the courtroom were mounted in Pablo's defense. From brilliant testimony in court by witnesses and attorneys, to nightly political and cultural events, the mobilization around Pablo's case was truly inspirational! Photos
Due the strong legal case put forward as well as nationwide political pressure, Pablo Paredes was sentenced to no jail time for his act of courageous resistance. He was convicted of "Missing Movement" for failure to board ship with his unit, and sentenced to two months restriction, three months hard labor without confinement, and reduction in rank to E-1. In early October, ten months to the day after he refused to board the war-bound USS Bonhomme Richard, and some 9 months before the scheduled expiration of his active duty obligation, Pablo Paredes is once again a civilian! On October 4, he completed his court martial sentence, and on October 6, he was discharged. Pablo is continuing his legal battle with the Armed Services, and his lawyers are currently challenging the Navy's rejection of Pablo's request for Conscientious Objector status in the Federal Court system.
For more information on Pablo Paredes and the history of his case

Here's a thought I had, you know how you see people wearing t-shirts of Che? Maybe we should be wearing some t-shirts of our modern heroes? Like we could wear a t-shirt with Pablo's picture on it. Or maybe a t-shirt of Camilo Mejia? Or maybe Medea Benjamin or Naomi Klein or anybody making a difference today like Amy Goodman?

That's not to take anything away from Che but I got lots of t-shirts, I don't just wear one, you know?

Pablo Paredes stood up to the Bully Boy's war machine and the propaganda. C.I. noted the DC Indymedia story this morning. (And Wally saw it and beat me to noting it! Burn! :D) Right now you got someone else taking a brave stand, Katherine Jashinski. She's got the Courage to Resist and you can have it to by signing up for alerts. They do a monthly newsletter by e-mail. There's no charge for it. So go sign up because you know ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox and PBS won't be telling you anything about it. It's real easy, you just put in your e-mail address and you get a confirmation e-mail and you reply. It's as easy as that. So think about doing it and if you can't think of a good reason for not doing it, then do it. (I did.)

And did you see C.I. this morning? Talking about Timothy Egan's "Police Forces, Their Ranks Thin, Offer Bonuses, Bounties and More"? Police departments need recruits and guess what?
Guess who won't let them recruit?

At some military bases, commanders will not even allow police recruiters on the grounds, for fear that they will steal troops who might otherwise re-enlist, said Lt. Mike Barletta of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

That's interesting, isn't it? They're suing universities for not letting them recuirt and they won't let police recruiters come on some military bases? Hypocrisy, that's what Bully Boy has brought America.

Betty's finished her latest chapter. It's about Thomas Friedman's imposed vacation and it's called "The Prig of Paxil." So check that out. And Tony asked me to note Danny Schechter's "The News About the News: More Media Decline in 2005:"

Perhaps it's just me-but news seems to be coming our way faster and with a greater fury than ever before. A tsunami of "Breaking News" bulletins courses through the veins and ganglia of what passes for an information system. A corporate news system pumps it on more platforms dedicated to "more news in less time" on the web, on TV, on the radio, and now on the phone. It's hard to escape the deluge.
Before we have time to digest it, or understand any story's implications, it's on to the next, making it more and more difficult to focus on any one item or connect it with another. The author Larry Beinhart of "Wag the Dog" fame speaks of the proliferation of "fog facts" in which important information systematically disappears from view.
No wonder a paralysis of analysis has set in with "on message" spin machines making it harder and harder for us to assess trends objectively, construct meaning or let us think for ourselves. Rather than inform, much of the news often disinforms distorts and deceives. Rather than strengthen our society by talking truth to power, our media system increasingly undermines democracy by making a civil discourse harder and harder to practice. The loud-mouthed partisans in the punditocracy turn substantive debate into noise. Heat, not light, proliferates.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Barrons wonders if Bully Boy should be impeached, Dave Zirin talks Cuba and more

Good evening. Hope everyone had a happy holiday this month or, as Cedric pointed out, that they're in the midst of a happy holiday. And I hope Saturday is a good night for everyone celebrating New Year's Eve. Let's get started with Democracy Now!

Student Admits to Book Watch List Hoax
And in Massachusetts a college student has admitted he fabricated a story about being questioned by federal agents for seeking to borrow a book by written by Mao. The report first appeared in the Standard-Times in New Bedford Massachusetts and was picked up around the world. The student initially told his professors about the visit and claimed Mao's Little Red Book was on a watch list of books.

Elaine and I are including three tonight to include this one. We saw that C.I. noted it at The Common Ills and we figured we should as well to be sure that everyone knows that it was a hoax. We talked about this and I was pretty pissed at the dude but Elaine offered some reasons on how it could have happened so I'll just say he should have known better.

Telcoms Reportedly Aided NSA in Domestic Surveillance
Meanwhile new questions are being raised about the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance program inside the United States. Both the New York Times and Boston Globe have run a series of articles suggesting the extent of unchecked domestic surveillance is far greater than previously reported. The White House has admitted the NSA has monitored the calls of individuals with suspected ties to Al Qaeda but the Globe is reporting that in fact the NSA has been using computers to monitor and datamine all international phone and Internet communications by Americans. The Times also revealed that the U.S. telecom companies agreed to give the NSA "backdoor access" to all of their networks.

Are you getting scared? You should be. You should be thinking, "Well where do they draw the line now?" Because they've pretty much crossed every line there is to cross. It's really like we're living in the film The Minority Report where people aren't guilty for anything they've done but are guilty for what they might do.

Editors of Barrons Suggests Bush Committed Impeachable Offenses
The latest call for the possible impeachment of President Bush is coming from an unexpected quarter - the prominent business publication Barrons. The editors of Barrons have criticized Bush for authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without court warrants. The editors wrote "Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. ... Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later."

And if you think it's just me shooting off my mouth before, read the thing above about Barrons because they get it. What Bully Boy did is impeachable. It is a crime.

Martha and Shirley did a really cool thing for The Common Ills Sunday. If you missed it, you should check it out. They're talking about books and stuff. And they mention me and Wally because Zach and West ended up reading two books because me and Wally were talking about them, just yabbering on nonstop. So let's note the author of one of the books, Dave Zirin, and his
"The Bray of Pigs:"

This March's "World Series of Baseball" was supposed to celebrate the explosion of diversity that has forever altered the Major Leagues. Teams from the Dominican Republic, Japan, Puerto Rico, and the little seen but highly regarded Cuban national team were going to play the United States in an unprecedented contest to redefine the slogan "America's Pastime."
But then the Bush administration, yearning for more reasons to be internationally despised, decided to destroy it. In a beautiful act of small government at work, the White House Gang, through the Treasury Department, has denied the Cuban team entry into the United States, effectively gutting the harmless exhibition. As one Cuban citizen told The New York Times, "Enough already! It's unbelievable. This is about sports, not politics. In Cuba, baseball is our culture. Everyone was so anxious to see these games."
But the White House disagrees. "I think our policy regarding Cuba is pretty well known," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. "We want people in Cuba to participate in freedom." That is, the freedom to not be a constant source of irritation and embarrassment. The freedom not to criticize neoliberalism. The freedom not to have higher literacy rates and better health care than the United States. Of course, the lack of certain political freedoms in Cuba is very real. But to hear the Bush gang lecture any nation about freedom -- given the fact that they are currently engineering two occupations and defending domestic spying -- is like hearing Hugh Hefner pontificate about abstinence. In reality, this is
consistent with a U.S. policy toward Cuba that began under Bill Clinton with the passage of the Helms-Burton Act. The U.S. wants Cuba to be a pariah nation, its life choked out by an embargo.

Dave Zirin is the author of What's My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States
and I'm going to see if C.I. or Rebecca can scan the cover for me and I'll put up a picture of it and put some comments on it.

I hope everyone enjoyed the news roundup we did last night/this morning. I had an e-mail about why it went up at The Common Ills first? It was C.I.'s idea. But C.I. was saying let's put it up at Wally's or Betty's or Cedric's. They all go no, it should be up at The Common Ills and that's what the rest of us felt. I mean if Wally, Betty or Cedric has said, "Okay, cool" that would have been fine. But since they didn't want to take it, it made more sense to put it up at The Common Ills. It was a chance for all of us -- "Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I" -- to work together and it was a way to make sure we all had something for our sites.

Now Kat did three album reviews over the weekend so be sure to check out her reviews of Carly Simon's No Secrets, James Blunt's Back to Bedlam and Bright Eyes' Motion Sickness.

Remember to check out Elaine's site -- Like Maria Said Paz -- for her commentary on Democracy Now!

Motto: The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

Pyle says Bully Boy broke the law that is "punishable by up to five years in prison"

I hope everyone caught Democracy Now! today with the reading from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. We'd agreed Saturday that we'd all work on a feature together and that's how you've got the news roundup below. You'll see it at all of our sites because it's a joint effort.

"News roundup including did Bully Boy break the law?"
Did Bully Boy break the law by authorizing spying on American citizens and circumventing the FISA courts? If so, how many years can someone be sentenced to for that crime? We'll highlight a radio discussion on that issue, but first, news on Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Russia, Chile, Israel, activism and more.
As reported on The Daily Iraq Wire, December 25th wasn't a day of peace in Iraq. Two bombs went off in Iraq injuring seven Iraqis. In addition, a reported al Qaeda group in Iraq announced Sunday that they had kidnapped and killed four Arabs who had been "working with the US authorities and the Iraqi government in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad."
Monday violence and unrest continued. Deepa Babington, reporting for the Irish Examiner, notes that Baghdad saw five explosions today killing eight and wounding thirty-eight. Outside of Baghdad, there were attacks in Falluja where a suicide bomber killed himself and two police recruits. In Dhabab, five Iraqi soldiers were killed.

Reporting for IPS, Gareth Porter reports today a "looming confrontation" between Shi'ites in Iraq and the American officials who are urging the disbanding of Shi'ite paramilitary groups. American officials fear groups may have close ties to Iran. The "looming confrontation" emerged when American officials decided to make an issue of the "torture houses" run by Shi'ites. "Decided?" Major R. John Stukey and others first reported the existance of "torture houses" in June of 2005. From June to November, US officials remained silent.

As of Monday, US military fatalities in Iraq stand at 2169, official count with 56 of those fatalities for the month of December. Iraq Body Count, which gathers totals by following media reports, estimates that as few as 27,592 and as many as 31,115 Iraqis have died thus far since the invasion.

In other war news, Agence France-Presse reports the American military is claiming that "very soon" the number of troops serving in Iraq will drop from 19,000 to 2, 5000.

In activism news, NOW is calling for action on Samuel Alito, Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination:

There is work to be done, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. As a part of Freedom Winter 2006, NOW and Feminist Majority Foundation are working together to bring grassroots activists to DC between January 3 and January 20. We're also encouraging activists to organize in their communities.

More information can be found online at NOW as well as online at the Feminist Majority Foundation. In related news, Ms. Magazine has compiled "the top ten news stories for women in 2005." Topping the list, Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she will step down from the Supreme Court bench. Planned Parenthood has also compiled a look back at the year 2005. Their look back begins with a listing of the five best and five worst places to get birth control prescriptions filled:

Brooks/Eckerd Corporation
Rite Aid

In international news, Al Jazeera reports that Augusto Pinochet will finally stand trial for the deaths and disappearances carried out under his dictator regime as the head of Chile. Chile's Supreme Court, in a three to two vote, ruled that Pinochet is fit to stand trial. The BBC reports that charges will be filed Tuesday against four US marines for rape. The four are currently at the US embassy in Manila and "it is unclear whether it will hand over the marines." Abdul Rahman Khuzairan reports, for Islam.Online. net, that on Sunday a sit in was staged in Casablanca by Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Forum "to protest the mass grave found recently with the remains of 82 people." Canada's Star Phoenix reports that Monday in St. Petersburg, shoppers in one store were exposed to a mysterious gas: "Boxes containing timers wired to glass vials were discovered at the scene of the attack and three other stores in the same chain in Russia's second-largest city." And in Tut-tut Tuttle news, the Finanical Times reports that car dealer and contributor of $70,000 worth of donations to the GOP in 2004, Robert Tuttle continues to stumble in his post as US ambassador to England. For the second time, Tuttle has been forced to issue a correction to the BBC following an interview. Embassy work, not as easy as moving cars off a lot.

"Have we made poverty history?" asks The Independent of London? The debt relief in 2008 will go not to Africa but to Iraq and Nigeria. In addition the United States is backing off from it's earlier committments. Also reporting for The Independent, Maxine Frith notes that charities and aid workers believe that Live 8, and those involved in the concerts, "hijacked" the effort and gave the world a false sense of resolution when the problems of world poverty contine. Meera Selva reports from Africa that the people supposed to benefit from the concerts in London's Hyde Park have seen little difference in their lives. One woman tells Selva, "We have problems in Africa, big problems. What can plastic bracelets and pop concerts do to solve them?"

Reuters reports Israeli helicopters firing three missiles into Gaza. This comes as Al Jazeera reports that the Israeli government has announced intentions to build an additional 200 homes on the West Bank. The BBC reports, in other news from the region, that Ariel Sharon has been urged to "curb his appetite" by doctors as he awaits sugery "to close a small hole which doctors found in his heart after he had a minor stroke."

For The KPFA Evening News Anthony Fest spoke Monday evening to Christopher Pyle, "a consultant to Congress in the drafting of the surveillance act, today he teaches political science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusettes." (What follows is a rough transcript, use the link to listen to the archived broadcast.)

Pyle: The Church Committee was set up because during the Watergate era we had discovered extensive domestic surveillance operations by a number of agencies including the FBI, military intelligence, the CIA and, the largest intelligence agency of all, the National Security Agency. It does electronic intercepts worldwide. It has stations around the world. It picks up communications off of statellites. It picks them off of landlines and it searches them with a dictionary of watch words. And during the 1970s, we discovered that the National Security Agency had maintained files on about 75,000 Americans and they particularly targeted political activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, the folk singer Joan Baez, and the anti-war protestor Dr. Benjamin Spock. We sought to end that massive surveillance, which had no judicial authority what so ever, by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That law said that if the government, when the government wanted to monitor electronic communications it had to go to a special court to gain a national security authorization, a speciall warrant. And for a number of years, it appears that the government did go to the special court and was able to conduct its monitoring with special warrants. But three years ago, the Bush administration decided that this was inconveinent for some reason that's not fully understood. And they just ignored the court and began collecting, uh, information rather broadly. The law itself says that it's the exclusive method by which monitoring may take place and that anybody who violates the law is guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fast: So there's no leeway for interpretation here, it's uh, it's black and white that if you don't go through the FISA court, you are in violation of the law?
Pyle: Exactly. So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.
Fast: Doubtless the techonology of surveillance is incrompably more powerful today than it was in the 1960s. Is there any indication yet exactly how wide, how wide a net the NSA was casting or how many people had been surveilled?
Pyle: No. The initial reports by the New York Times were that up to 500 people at a time had been targeted but perhaps thousands had been intercepted. And if they were, let's say, monitoring all e-mails and searching all e-mails in the United States for certain code words or phrases then it would be probably hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would have been monitored, not simply 500 people targeted at any given time. But we really don't know. But what we know is that the judges on the FISA court are extremely upset. One of them has already resigned because of this. The others want to know particularly whether this warrant-less spying was being used to then produce probable cause for specific warranted spying. In other words, infecting the very process with illegaly obtained information.
Fast: Since the administration was apparently conducting surveillance that was more in the nature of data mining then watching individuals is there any legal grounds under which they could conduct that kind of operation?
Pyle: No, that is what was known in the common law as a general search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids general searches. The second clause of the Fourth Amendment says that the warrants must be obtained that specify the place to be searched and and the things to be seized. The FISA warrants specify the persons who are the targets of the intercepts. There has to be specifity. There can't be a great dragnet collecting everything and then sorting it by computer and putting everybody under suspicion.

Did Bully Boy break the law? Better question, after trotting out Vicky Toe-Jam in print and on TV to put forward false claims about the Congessional act passed in the 80s to prevent the outing of CIA agents, why has the mainstream media been so reluctant to pursue people who helped with the drafting of the FISA act?

The above is news you may have missed and was compiled by Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Run down of the week's news via Democracy Now!

Happy holidays. We're all going to midnight mass shortly so I'm providing a quick post tonight. Let's start with Democracy Now!

Federal Judge Calls Gitmo Detentions "Unlawful"
This news on Guantanamo Bay: the Washington Post is reporting a federal judge has ruled the detention of two ethnic Uighurs at the U.S. prison is "unlawful", but says he does not have the authority to release them. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the government has taken too long to release Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Hakim -- who have been jailed for four years. The two have been cleared for release, but not returned to China where they would likely face torture or execution.. The two men are among nine detainees that remain at Guantanamo despite having been declared "no longer enemy combatants." In his ruling, Judge Robertson wrote: "The government's use of the Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants' deliberately begs the question of whether these petitioners ever were enemy combatants."

Judge Robertson is the same guy who just stepped down from the FISA court in
objection to the Bully Boy using the NSA to spy on American citizens without a court order of any kind.

A pissed off federal judge is not a good thing for the Bully Boy but it just might be a great thing for the American people. Consider it a cause for hope.

Justice Dept. Admits Spy Program Does Not Comply With FISA
The disclosure comes as the Justice Department has admitted that the President's eavesdropping program does not comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Along with another wiretapping statute, FISA defines itself as: "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted." The admission came in a letter to Congress Thursday.

Spy Program doesn't comply with FISA which means? It's breaking the law. Our Justice Department doesn't uphold the law, it circumvents it and it breaks it.

Now come Monday Democracy Now! has a special broadcast which is a reading of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States featuring readings by people like Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen and Marisa Tomei. So be sure to check that out.

And be sure to check out Kat's "Kat's Korner: Blunt's got the goods" from today and her "Kat's Korner: Breaking through the 'conventional truths' with No Secrets" from yesterday. She's providing three days worth of musical commentary for The Common Ills and tomorrow you can look for the third one. So far she's addressed Carly Simon's No Secrets and provided historical context on that CD and James Blunt's Back to Bedlam.

A lot of you know that Kat got attacked by Pop Politcs. The fact of the matter while they're still jerking off and can't find a position on the war or anything else going on today (but they can look back on Bob Dylan in a manner that divorces the work from the times then and now), Kat's provided more solid musical commentary that's taken music and looked at in terms of what does it say about the times.

She's not one of those lousy "reviewers" who seems to have just thumbed through their Record Guide five seconds before to grab a few factoids and present themselves as an expert. Kat's writing from the heart and soul and breathing the music, that's why she's such an important voice.

And shame on the woman who trashed Kat and supported the man demanding that Kat correct her opinion.

Now this weekend Francisco offered the run down of headlines for the week from Democracy Now! so read these, Spanish first and then English, and make sure you didn't miss an important development in the government spying story which is his focus.

"Bush aprueba espionaje telefónico a ciudadanos estadounidenses sin orden judicial"
Francisco: Hola mis amigos y amigas. Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo 2006. El jefe "Bully Boy" Bush tuvo una semana muy mala. Aqui estan once "
Democracy Now!" las noticias.

Bush aprueba espionaje telefónico a ciudadanos estadounidenses sin orden judicial
El Presidente Bush admitió que secretamente ordenó a la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional escuchar las conversaciones de los ciudadanos estadounidenses sin siquiera solicitar las órdenes aprobadas por el Poder Judicial que exige la Constitución. Al comienzo, el Presidente se negó a contestar cualquier pregunta sobre el programa secreto, pero el sábado habló abiertamente sobre el asunto y defendió esa práctica.
El Presidente Bush dijo: "Yo autoricé a la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional, consecuentemente con la ley estadounidense y la Constitución, a interceptar las comunicaciones internacionales de personas de las que se sabe que tienen vínculos con al Qaeda y organizaciones terroristas que están relacionadas con ese grupo".Esta revelación surgió solo días después de que NBC News informó que el Pentágono expandió ampliamente sus operaciones de vigilancia en Estados Unidos, entre las que se encontraba la vigilancia de los manifestantes pacíficos en contra de la guerra.

Senador Leahy: No más ordenes secretas, tribunales secretos y tortura secreta
Muchos expertos legales acusaron al Presidente de infringir la ley al ordenar que se realizaran escuchas telefónicas sin la orden judicial requerida por la Ley de Vigilancia de Inteligencia Extranjera.
El Senador demócrata Patrick Leahy de Vermont dijo: "Este programa de espionaje de conversaciones sin una orden no está autorizado por la Ley Patriota, no está autorizado por ninguna ley del Congreso, y no está supervisado por ningún tribunal. Y según informes, fue llevado a cabo por una orden secreta del Presidente, basada en opiniones legales secretas del mismo Departamento de Justicia, de abogados que secretamente argumentaron que el presidente podía ordenar la utilización de la tortura. Señor Presidente, ya es hora de tener algunos controles y contrapesos en este país, somos una democracia. Somos una democracia. Tengamos controles y contrapesos, no órdenes secretas y tribunales secretos y tortura secreta, y así sucesivamente".

El FBI espió a Greenpeace, PETA y Catholic Worker
En Washington, documentos que se dieron a conocer recientemente indican que agentes antiterroristas del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI) han estado vigilando a grupos activistas entre los que se encuentran Greenpeace, Catholic Worker (Trabajador Católico), el Comité Árabe-Estadounidense contra la discriminación y PETA (Gente por el Trato Ético a los Animales). Los documentos indican que el FBI controló las manifestaciones organizadas por estos grupos y utilizo informantes confidenciales dentro de las organizaciones para obtener información. En un caso, registros del gobierno muestran que el FBI lanzó una investigación sobre PETA por terrorismo, en Norfolk, Virginia. Según el "Washington Post", los documentos no ofrecen pruebas sobre la vinculación de PETA con actividades ilegales. Pero más de 100 páginas de expedientes del FBI severamente censuradas indican que la agencia utilizó informantes secretos y vigiló las actividades de este grupo por años. El FBI también controló actividades políticas en los predios universitarios. Un expediente del FBI contenía una lista de contactos de estudiantes y activistas por la paz que asistieron a una conferencia en la Universidad de Stanford en 2002, con el objetivo de terminar con las sanciones que se aplicaban en aquel entonces a Irak. Esta es la tercera gran revelación que se produjo recientemente sobre espionaje en Estados Unidos. La semana pasada, NBC News reveló que el Pentágono ha estado vigilando a activistas pacíficos en contra de la guerra, y el "New York Times" expuso como el Presidente Bush ordenó a la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) espiar las conversaciones de los ciudadanos estadounidenses sin órdenes aprobadas por el Poder Judicial. Ann Beeson, de la Unión Estadounidense por las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por su siglas en inglés) dijo: "Esta claro que este gobierno utilizó todas las agencias posibles, desde el Pentágono hasta la NSA y el FBI, para espiar a los ciudadanos estadounidenses".

Daschle: Al gobierno de Bush se le negó autoridad para conducir espionajes
En Washington, el ex líder de la Minoría del Senado, Tom Daschle, reveló detalles antes desconocidos que ponen en duda las afirmaciones del gobierno de Bush de que tiene autoridad legal para espiar a los ciudadanos estadounidenses y extranjeros en Estados Unidos. La Casa Blanca dice que la autoridad le fue otorgada implícitamente en la resolución conjunta del Congreso que autorizaba la utilización de la fuerza poco después de los atentados del 11 de septiembre. Pero en la edición de hoy del "Washington Post", Daschle asegura que el gobierno de Bush solicitó sin éxito la autoridad que ahora dice que le fue otorgada.
El ex líder de la minoría del Senado, Tom Daschle, dijo: "Literalmente minutos antes de que el Senado votara, el gobierno pidió que se incorporaran las palabras 'en Estados Unidos y' después 'fuerza adecuada' al texto. Este cambio de último momento le hubiera otorgado al presidente gran autoridad para ejercer poderes ampliados no sólo en el extranjero, donde todos entendimos que quería autoridad para actuar, sino también aquí mismo, en Estados Unidos, potencialmente contra ciudadanos estadounidenses. No pude ver ninguna justificación para que el Congreso accediera a ese pedido extraordinario de autoridad adicional. Yo me rehusé".

Departamento de Justicia admite que programa de espionaje no cumple con FISA
Esa revelación surgió mientras el Departamento de Justicia admitía que el programa de espionaje del Presidente no cumple la Ley de Vigilancia de Inteligencia Extranjera (FISA, por sus siglas en inglés). Junto con otro estatuto de espionaje telefónico, FISA se define a si misma como: "los medios exclusivos mediante los cuales la vigilancia electrónica (...) puede ser llevada a cabo". Esta admisión fue realizada el jueves en una carta al Congreso.

Jueces de Tribunal de Supervisión elaboran documento sobre programa de espionaje
En otras noticias, el Washington Post informa que el juez que preside el Tribunal de Supervisión de Inteligencia en el Extranjero convocó a otros jueces integrantes de ese organismo a una reunión informativa, acerca de la revelación de que el presidente Bush autorizó espionaje interno sin órdenes judiciales, que solamente ese Tribunal puede emitir. La noticia surge luego de que uno de los diez jueces que presiden el Tribunal, James Roberston, presentó su renuncia el lunes como medida de protesta.

Juez del Tribunal de Supervisión renuncia en protesta por el programa de espionaje de Bush
Esta noticia es sobre el programa de espionaje del gobierno de Bush en Estados Unidos. El "Washington Post" informa que un juez renunció al principal tribunal para casos de espionaje del país, en protesta por el programa secreto por el que la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional ha espiado las conversaciones de los ciudadanos estadounidenses sin órdenes aprobadas por el Poder Judicial. El Juez de Distrito estadounidense James Robertson, uno de los once miembros del tribunal secreto de Supervisión de Inteligencia Extranjera (FISC, por sus siglas en inglés) secreto, presentó su renuncia el lunes. Robertson presuntamente pensó que la legalidad del programa era cuestionable y que podía haber perjudicado el trabajo del tribunal, que es considerado la única autoridad competente para autorizar espionajes telefónicos en Estados Unidos.

Bush dijo en 2004 que el espionaje telefónico podía realizarse únicamente con la aprobación del Poder Judicial
El gobierno de Bush argumentó que el programa es legal, en el marco de la autorizaciones para operaciones de vigilancia otorgada por el Congreso al Poder Ejecutivo poco después del los atentados del 11 de septiembre. Pero en abril del año pasado, el Presidente Bush dijo a periodistas que el espionaje telefónico sólo podía realizarse si el Poder Judicial lo aprobaba.El Presidente Bush, 20 de abril de 2004: "Ahora, por cierto, cada vez que escuchen al gobierno de Estados Unidos hablar de espionaje telefónico, esto requiere, el espionaje telefónico requiere, una orden del Poder Judicial. Nada ha cambiado, por cierto. Cuando hablamos de perseguir a los terroristas, hablamos de obtener una orden judicial antes de hacerlo".
La Casa Blanca dice ahora que Bush se refería sólo a las acciones que se realizaran en el marco de la Ley Patriota.

Informe: Espionaje controlaba exclusivamente comunicaciones dentro de Estados Unidos
Mientras tanto, el "New York Times" informa que el programa de espionaje controló comunicaciones que eran exclusivamente nacionales, a pesar de las que altos funcionarios del gobierno afirmaron recientemente que las comunicaciones interceptadas eran con el extranjero. Funcionarios del gobierno dijeron al "Times" que las intercepciones fueron “accidentales”.A principio de esta semana, el General Michael V. Hayden, ex director de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) y actualmente el segundo funcionario al mando en la inteligencia del país, dijo a periodistas: "Puedo asegurarles, por la parte física de la intercepción, por cómo llevamos a cabo nuestras actividades, que estas comunicaciones son siempre con lugares fuera de Estados Unidos".
El Procurador General Alberto R. Gonzales lo reafirmó y dijo: "La gente anda diciendo por ahí que Estados Unidos está de alguna manera espiando a los ciudadanos estadounidenses cuando hablan con sus vecinos. (Es) muy, muy importante entender que las comunicaciones deben ser con alguien fuera de Estados Unidos".

Informe: Departamento de Policía de Nueva York envió agentes encubiertos a protestas, manifestaciones y vigilia
El "New York Times" dice que obtuvo vídeos que muestran al Departamento de Policía de Nueva York realizando vigilancia a través de oficiales de incógnito durante protestas en contra de la guerra, manifestaciones en bicicleta e incluso en una vigilia callejera realizada en honor a un ciclista muerto. Los oficiales sostenían símbolos de protesta, llevaban flores junto a los que estaban de luto, montaban bicicletas, y filmaban a los presentes.En un caso, el arresto simulado de un oficial encubierto durante una manifestación fuera de la Convención Nacional Republicana provocó un grave enfrentamiento entre la policía antidisturbios y transeúntes, que terminó en el arresto de dos personas. Los transeúntes habían gritado "Déjenlo ir". El "Times" dice que las filmaciones muestran a por lo menos 10 agentes encubiertos participando en siete reuniones públicas desde la Convención Republicana de agosto de 2004.

Juez federal dice que detenciones en Guantánamo son "ilícitas"
Esta noticia proviene de Bahía de Guantánamo. El Washington Post informa que un juez federal dictaminó que el arresto de dos personas de la etnia uighur en esa prisión estadounidense es "ilícito", pero dice que no tiene competencia para liberarlos. El jueves, el juez de distrito estadounidense James Roberston dijo que el gobierno ha demorado demasiado en liberar a Abu Bakker Qassim y a Adel Abdu Hakim, que han estado en prisión durante cuatro años. Se dio curso a la liberación de ambos, pero no los enviaron de regreso a China, donde se considera probable que sean torturados o ejecutados. Los dos hombres están entre nueve reclusos que permanecen detenidos en Guantánamo a pesar de que se ha declarado que "ya no son combatientes enemigos". En el fallo, el juez Robertson escribió: "El uso que hace el gobierno del término kafkiano 'ya no son combatientes enemigos' hace surgir deliberadamente la pregunta acerca de si los apelantes alguna vez fueron combatientes enemigos."

Francisco: Hello, friends. Season's greetings. Here in English are thirteen headlines from
Democracy Now! Why thirteen? The Spanish headlines lumped three together into one. So there are eleven headlines in Spanish and thirteen in English.

Bush Okd Secret Wiretapping of Americans Without Warrants
President Bush has admitted that he secretly ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without ever seeking constitutionally required court approved warrants. The president initially refused to answer any questions about the secret program but on Saturday he spoke openly about it and defended the practicePresident Bush: "I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations."The admission came just days after NBC News reported the Pentagon has vastly expanded its domestic surveillance operations including the monitoring of peaceful anti-war protesters.

Sen. Leahy: No More Secret Orders, Secret Courts, Secret Torture
Many legal experts have accused the President of breaking the law by ordering the wiretappings without a court warrant as required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT): "This warrant-less eavesdropping program is not authorized by the patriot act, it's not authorized by any act of congress, and it's not overseen by any court. And according to reports it has been conducted under a secret presidential order, based on secret legal opinions by the same justice department, lawyers who argued secretly, that the president could order the use of torture. Mr. President, it is time to have some checks and balances in this country, we are a democracy. We are a democracy. Let's have checks and balances, not secret orders and secret courts and secret torture, and on and on."

FBI Spied on Greenpeace, PETA, Catholic Worker
In Washington, newly released documents show counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring domestic activist groups including Greenpeace, Catholic Worker, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and PETA, the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The documents indicate the F.B.I. monitored protests organized by the groups and used confidential informants inside the organizations to gain intelligence. In one case, government records show the FBI launched a terrorism investigation of PETA in Norfolk, Virginia.

Documents Show FBI Agents Tracked PETA For Years
According to the Washington Post, the documents offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group's events for years. The FBI also monitored political activities on college campuses. One FBI file included a contact list for students and peace activists who attended a 2002 conference at Stanford University aimed at ending sanctions then in place in Iraq.

Reports Expose Growing Domestic Surveillance
This is the third major recent revelation about domestic spying. Last week NBC News revealed the Pentagon has been monitoring peaceful anti-war protesters and the New York Times exposed how President Bush ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without court-approved warrants. Ann Beeson, of the American Civil Liberties Union said "It's clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans."

Daschle: Bush Administration Was Denied Spy Authority
In Washington, former Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle has disclosed previously unknown details that challenge the Bush administration's claim it has legal authority to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals in the US. The White House says the authority was implicitly granted in the joint Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force passed shortly after 9/11. But in today's Washington Post, Daschle claims the Bush administration requested, but was denied, the authority it now claims it was granted.
Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: "Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused."

Justice Dept. Admits Spy Program Does Not Comply With FISA
The disclosure comes as the Justice Department has admitted that the President's eavesdropping program does not comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Along with another wiretapping statute, FISA defines itself as: "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted." The admission came in a letter to Congress Thursday.

Surveillance Court Judges To Hold Briefing on Espionage Program
In other news, the Washington Post is reporting the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has arranged a briefing for fellow judges to address the revelation President Bush authorized domestic-spying without court warrants only they can approve. The news comes as one of the court’s 10 presiding judges, James Robertson, submitted his resignation in protest Monday.

Surveillance Court Judge Resigns in Protest of Bush Spy Program
This news on the Bush administration’s domestic espionage program: the Washington Post is reporting a judge has resigned from the country’s top spy court in protest of the secret program in which the National Security Agency has eavesdropped on Americans without court-approved warrants. U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, submitted his resignation Monday. The court is regarded as the only authority to authorize wire-taps for domestic espionage.

Bush in 2004: "Wiretap Requires A Court Order"
President Bush has argued eavesdropping without court-approved warrants is legal under authority granted by Congress shortly after 9/11. But in April of last year President Bush told reporters wire-taps were only conducted with court approval.President Bush, April 20, 2004: "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."The White House is now claiming Bush was referring only to actions taken under the Patriot Act.

Report: Espionage Monitored Purely Domestic Communications
Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting the espionage program monitored communications that were entirely domestic -- despite recent assurances from top administration officials that one end of the intercepted communications came from abroad. Government officials told the Times the intercepts were "accidental."Earlier this week, former NSA director Gen. Michael V. Hayden, currently the second-ranking intelligence official in the country, told reporters: "I can assure you, by the physics of the intercept, by how we actually conduct our activities, that one end of these communications are always outside the United States."Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales made the same claim: "People are running around saying that the United States is somehow spying on American citizens calling their neighbors. [Its] very, very important to understand that one party to the communication has to be outside the United States."

Report: NYPD Planted Undercover Agents At Protests, Rallies, Vigil
The New York Times says it has obtained videotapes that show the New York Police Department conducting surveillance by planting undercover officers at anti-war protests, bike rallies, and even a street vigil for a dead cyclist. The officers held protest signs, held flowers with mourners, rode their bicycles – and videotaped the people present.In one case, the faked arrest of an undercover officer at a demonstration outside the Republican National Convention led to a serious confrontation between riot police and bystanders that led to the arrest of two people. The bystanders had shouted “Let him go!” The Times says the tapes show at least 10 undercover operatives taking part in seven public gatherings since the Republican Convention in August 2004.

Federal Judge Calls Gitmo Detentions "Unlawful"
This news on Guantanamo Bay: the Washington Post is reporting a federal judge has ruled the detention of two ethnic Uighurs at the U.S. prison is "unlawful", but says he does not have the authority to release them. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the government has taken too long to release Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Hakim -- who have been jailed for four years. The two have been cleared for release, but not returned to China where they would likely face torture or execution.. The two men are among nine detainees that remain at Guantanamo despite having been declared "no longer enemy combatants." In his ruling, Judge Robertson wrote: "The government's use of the Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants' deliberately begs the question of whether these petitioners ever were enemy combatants."

Be sure to check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz and to check out The Third Estate Sunday Review which will have a new edition on Sunday. (We're on a break so I can go to mass.) Happy holidays.