This is definitely true. If you’re working for a presidential campaign, you’d be well advised to very strictly avoid blogging unless you’re putting the campaign’s official message out.
The FBI is seeking $12 million for the [National Security Branch Analysis Center] in FY2008, which will include 90,000 square feet of office space and a total of 59 staff, including 23 contractors and five FBI agents. Documents predict the NSAC will include six billion records by FY2012. This amounts to 20 separate “records” for each man, woman and child in the United States. The “universe of subjects will expand exponentially” with the expanded role of the NSAC, the Justice Department documents assert.
Concerned about the potential for abuse, House Science and Technology Committee members Brad Miller (D-NC) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) requested last week that the Government Accountability Office investigate the proposal.
What information will be contained in the “records” it collects, whether the “records” of U.S. citizens will be included in its database, how this data will be employed and how the FBI plans to ensure that the data is not misused or abused in any way.
The congressmen’s concerns are justified. In 2005, the GAO found that the FBI’s Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force did not comply with all privacy and security laws. Earlier this year, an Inspector General’s report found that the FBI had repeatedly violated regulations while using National Security Letters to “obtain the personal records of U.S. residents or visitors.”
Furthermore, data mining has yet to be proven effective in counter-terrorism. Jeff Jonas, a world renowned data mining expert and IBM Distinguished Engineer, wrote in a recent Cato Institute study on “predictive” data mining that because it is extremely difficult to distinguish between ordinary behavior and terrorist behavior, programs similar to NSAC are likely to “flood the national security system with false positives — suspects who are truly innocent.”
A lawyer representing freshly subpoenaed Sara Taylor, the former Rove deputy and White House political director, said today he “would accept the subpoena issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.”
But that doesn’t mean Taylor will testify. The White House appears likely to assert executive privilege try to block the subpoena. That would set up a court fight. [...]
It’s thought to be unlikely that Taylor would seek any kind of immunity, as former Justice Department official Monica Goodling did.
The right wing is celebrating a newly YouTubed video of Al Gore in 1992 arguing that the policies of Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush had actually strengthened Saddam Hussein. One conservative blogger claims this shows that Gore “flip-flopped” and was a “warmonger.” Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report sets them straight.
Good to know. Rudy Giuliani says he doesn’t need an Iraq policy because “that’s in the hands of other people.” This as part of his response to the question of why he didn’t include anything about Iraq in his “twelve commitments.” Greg Sargent correctly wonders if the media really intends “to let Rudy skate by with such answers?”
The answer is: probably! Giuliani has, for example, tended to get a free pass on his effort to position himself as an immigration restrictionist. He’s achieved that positioning by opposing the immigration compromise and saying his opposition is grounded in the fact that its ID measures are insufficiently stringent. Be that as it may, when he was mayor of New York City he went as far as legally possible to create a citywide amnesty zone and even went to court to push the legal boundaries further. The press, however, doesn’t seem to care about this.
And, of course, for years now they’ve been pushing the idea that Giuliani has credibility on national security issues even though he has no experience with foreign policy or military issues. So from his perspective, why shouldn’t he get away with not having answers to Iraq questions.
Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey yesterday told a congressional committee that approximately 18,000 members of the U.S.-trained Iraqi police “had been lost from the newly trained force of 188,000 in the 18 months before January. … Between eight to 10,000 are believed killed in action and six to 8,000 more have been wounded severely enough so they cannot serve. Dempsey also says possibly 13,000 more have deserted or are unaccounted for.”
The one blemish on Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) environmental stance had been his support for coal-to-liquid (CTL). Now he has clarified his position:
Yet, even if you capture all the carbon dioxide from the process, pure coal-to-liquids have 4% higher lifecycle carbon emissions than conventional fuels, as previously noted. The only way to get a 20% reduction in emissions is by blending in a lot of biomass (see page 25 here).
Yet in practice, that blending would add tremendous cost and complexity to a system that already costs a stunning $4.5 billion dollars just for a 50,000-barrel-a-day facility without CO2 storage and without biomass blending. And we would need more than 200 such facilities to replace all imported oil today. Not gonna happen.
Further, Obama’s clarification contains another commitment that is all-but-fatal to CTL:
In today’s House oversight committee hearing with GSA administrator Lurita Doan, chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) told Doan that she should resign:
I have to say, this is my opinion, but it’s unusual for me to ever call for the resignation of a federal official. But in your case, I don’t see any other course of action that will protect the interests of your agency and the federal taxpayer. No one can be an effective leader who has abused the trust of her employees, and threatened to deny promotions and bonuses to employees for telling the truth. And no one can be an effective leader who has lost the public’s confidence, politicizing the agency and violating the federal Hatch Act, yet that is exactly what you have done.
I give you my opinion, just as others have given you their opinion. It will be up to the President of the United States who appointed you to decide what to do with the recommendation of this Office of Special Counsel that recommends the President remove you from this office. I would urge you to resign.
More highlights HERE.
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“The House Wednesday passed what could become the first major federal gun control law in over a decade, spurred by the Virginia Tech campus killings and buttressed by National Rifle Association help. The bill, which was passed on a voice vote, would improve state reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to stop gun purchases by people, including criminals and those adjudicated as mentally ill, who are prohibited from possessing firearms.” Statements from Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and more are HERE.
Last night on Fox News, former mayor Rudy Giuliani repeated the myth that President Clinton failed to respond adequately to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, claiming that Clinton’s response to the terrorist attack was “let things go.”
During an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity to promote his new “12 Commitments” to America, Giuliani said that Americans are being lured by the “very appealing” idea that the U.S. should “kind of act the way Clinton did in the ’90s.” Giuliani described this mentality as “don’t react, let things go,” and charged, “You know, we get attacked on the Cole. We don’t do anything about it.”
In fact, President Clinton was eager — at the recommendation of his counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke — to retaliate against al Qaeda for the U.S.S. Cole. But that attack took place in October 2000. As Clinton explained in a 2006 interview, both the CIA and FBI “refused to certify that it was Bin Laden was responsible” for the attack on the Cole until early 2001 which foreclosed on the possibility of a full response during the Clinton administration.
Further, while Giuliani asserted that “America needs leadership to remain on the offense,” on national security issues, his “12 Commitments” to America doesn’t contain a single reference to the war in Iraq. Giuliani defended the omission, claiming “the fluid situation there makes it hard to speak in specifics about the war.”
“Iraq may get better; Iraq may get worse. We may be successful in Iraq; we may not be. I don’t know the answer to that. That’s in the hands of other people.”
Guiliani’s comments demonstrate exactly how far out of touch with the American people he truly is. As a spokesman for American Against Escalation in Iraq said, “The notion that the war in Iraq does not need to be addressed by presidential candidates because it is ‘in the hands of other people’ is simply preposterous.”
Transcript: Read more