Sunday, December 26, 2010

Exposed By WikiLeaks An Arrogant Government Continues To Press For The Right To Spy On American Citizens And Cover Up Warrantless Spying.

Exposed By WikiLeaks An Arrogant Government Continues To Press For The Right To Spy On American Citizens And Cover Up Warrantless Spying.

On December 18, David House, an MIT researcher, visited Bradley Manning at the Quantico, Virginia, military prison where he is being held in solitary confinement. Other than Manning's attorney, House is the rare person allowed to visit him.

House's report is quite thorough in pointing out instances where the military authorities are lying -- or to use philosopher Harry Frankfurt's formulation, "bullshitting" -- about how the 23-year-old Army intelligence worker is being treated.

Here's some of psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Kaye's comment on House's report:

"The human nervous system needs a certain amount of sensory and social stimulation to retain normal brain functioning. ... From what can be ascertained, the effects of solitary confinement are having some effects already on Bradley Manning. His concentration and thinking processes appear somewhat slowed. He avoids certain topics. He has little access to humor. His color is pale, and his musculature is starting to look soft and flabby."

There is, unfortunately, a long and sordid history behind this kind of "slow torture," and the use of it should be a battleground for all Americans still interested in compassion, fairness and justice.

(Iraq infantry veteran Josh Stieber, in the photo above speaking to protesters near the Quantico prison, was a member of the ground unit shown cleaning up after the Apache strike released by WikiLeaks as "Collateral Murder" that showed two Reuters videographers being gunned down, plus two kids being wounded.)

In his book A Question Of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War On Terror, Alfred McCoy connects decades and billions of dollars of "black" US torture research with the current sophisticated techniques Global War On Terror jailers are using to torture human beings without laying a finger on them.

The key is absolute control -- and time. These are clearly the methods now being employed against Manning, who is accused of leaking the WikiLeaks material. The question is, given Manning's high-profile status, do his jailers at the Quantico, Virginia, military facility have the necessary control and time to really scramble young Manning's mind? And what are they after: his mental breakdown and/or his giving up of larger prey like Julian Assange?

House's account from his visit with Manning suggests Manning's jailers, within the limitations they have, are doing their best to break Manning psychologically, Their primary limitation is the publicity surrounding the Manning case and the fact he has a strong, and hopefully growing, support network.

Some of the restrictions House reports would be quite absurd if they didn't make such sense as slow torture tactics.

Guards apparently enter Manning's cell and physically prevent him from doing exercises, which he is permitted to do only for one hour a day -- and that amounts to walking around in a circle in leg irons. He is not permitted any personal items in his cell. His clothes are confiscated at night and he must sleep in boxer shorts under a very heavy, scratchy blanket that causes carpet burns on his skin if he moves too much. A light always shines brightly into his cell, and he is checked on periodically all night by guards, who often enter his cell and wake him. This is his life day-in-day-out.

The fact Manning's jailers are compelled to allow people like House into the prison to talk with Manning makes "slow torture" that much more difficult, since absolute control and the exclusion of human contact are the keys to effective slow torture. Strong advocacy and loud public support can be life-savers.

During the mid-2000s, in the case of American citizen Jose Padilla, an entire wing of the South Carolina military brig he was imprisoned in was expensively re-designed for the special requirements ("theater") of his incarceration/interrogation. From the moment of his arrest for planning a "dirty bomb" attack Padilla was a pariah. He reportedly went three years with absolutely no contact from family, friends or lawyers. His only human contact was his interrogators. By the time of his trial for charges unrelated to those he was arrested for he was a walking zombie.

Here's how Alfred McCoy describes the process:

"(S)ensory deprivation has evolved into a total assault on all sense and sensibilities - auditory, visual, tactile, temporal, temperature, survival, sexual, and cultural. Refined through years of practice, the method relies on simple, even banal procedures -- isolation, standing, heat and cold, light and dark, noise and silence -- for a systematic attack on all human senses."
Over decades, CIA research delved into the ways these techniques create "a synergy of physical and psychological trauma whose sum is a hammer-blow to the fundamentals of personal identity."

McCoy quotes Otto Doerr-Zegers, a psychologist who treated torture victims of the regime of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, where victims suffered "a loss of interest that greatly surpasses anything observed in anxiety disorders." The subject, Doerr-Zegers reported, "does not only react to torture with a tiredness of days, weeks or months, but remains a tired human being, relatively uninterested and unable to concentrate." Doerr-Zegers discovered that "the psychological component of torture becomes a kind of total theater, a constructed unreality of lies and inversion, in a plot that ends inexorably with the victim's self-betrayal and destruction."

Over decades, with their secret, black budget tax resources, the CIA contracted university professors and psychology departments in the US and Canada to analyze and break down the sensory deprivation process. The goal for the CIA was to achieve the psychic destruction Doerr-Zeger spoke about without resorting to the crude and atavistic methods of physical torture. They discovered that parrot's perches and thumb screws were not needed. The goal was a form of "no touch" psychological ju-jitsu in which the victim's own internal make-up could be manipulated and leveraged so that over time the victim effectively destroyed himself or herself.

"Once the CIA completed its research into no-touch torture," McCoy writes, "application of the method was codified in the curiously named Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual in 1963. The agency then set about disseminating the new practices worldwide."

McCoy quotes from the Kubark Manual that effective interrogation involves "methods of inducing regression of the personality to whatever earlier and weaker level is required for the dissolution of resistance and the inculcation of dependence." The effort is to disrupt the normal psychic process. "Such confusion can best be effected by attacking the victim's sense of time, by scrambling the biorhythms fundamental to every human's daily life." The goal is the "creation of existential chaos."

They want "to manipulate the subject's environment, to create unpleasant or intolerable situations, to disrupt patterns of time, space and sensory perception ... to drive him deeper and deeper into himself, until he is no longer able to control his responses in an adult fashion." This last is Kubark thinking from a CIA training manual used in Honduras during the Contra War in the 1980s.

Kubark and this nefarious research is one of America's dirty little secrets. "The American public has only a vague understanding of the scale of the CIA's massive mind-control project," McCoy writes. "There is a willful blindness, a studied avoidance of this deeply troubling topic."

Since the 1960s when the Kubark Manual appeared and the 1980s when its findings surfaced in places like Central America we've had 9/11 and its reactive Global War On Terror which led to an even wider dissemination of "slow torture" ideas and practices into all sorts of places -- to the point elements of it have been standardized and adapted into the day-to-day practices of prisons all over the United States, most especially in the notorious federal supermax prisons.

Since absolute control of inmate visitation and inmate cultural access is difficult in the United States, thanks to things like the Bill Of Rights, the process has become an imperfect back-and-forth struggle. In the case of Bradley Manning and his high-profile status, that struggle is now on-going. Contact and advocacy from outside is critical. In fact, it may not be excessive to say his sanity and the future integrity of his personal identity are at stake.

Once the fog clears, there are two sides to the Bradley Manning/WikiLeaks story, one legal and one moral. The United States government is playing the legal game because it has a lot to hide under its overwhelming regime of secrecy, which of course is all legal. Evidence suggests they are employing nefarious methods to crush a key voice on the moral side of the dialogue.

Concerned US citizens should do all they can to prevent the government from succeeding.

For the original essay, go to THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING at:

Rachel on Right-Wing Bull :Political Passions
By admin
Rachel on Right-Wing Bull. Sunday, December 26th, 2010 at 3:36 pm. Sometimes Rachel says things I wish I had said. This clip is a great summary of recent fake issues, by which the right has attempted to highjack the political debate in ...
Political Passions -

By admin
How did the Right Wing hijack the publicly owned radio airwaves for its Talk Radio machine? Why is radio now a national forum for hate and lies? Watch and learn from this clip from “Broadcast Blues.” And remember, laws can be made, ...Patriotic News -



A seven-year effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to hide its relationship with a Swiss family who once acted as moles inside the world’s most successful atomic black market hit a turning point on Thursday when a Swiss magistrate recommended charging the men with trafficking in technology and information for making nuclear arms.

The prospect of a prosecution, and a public trial, threatens to expose some of the C.I.A.’s deepest secrets if defense lawyers try to protect their clients by revealing how they operated on the agency’s behalf. It could also tarnish what the Bush administration once hailed as a resounding victory in breaking up the nuclear arms network by laying bare how much of it remained intact.
“It’s like a puzzle,” Andreas Müller, the Swiss magistrate, said at a news conference in Bern on Thursday. “If you put the puzzle together you get the whole picture.” (More…)

[JURIST] A Swiss judge on Thursday called for the prosecution of three engineers who have links to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] for allegedly smuggling nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan. After six years of investigation, Swiss federal magistrate Andreas Mueller recommended [The Independent report] that the three engineers be tried for providing weapons-related technology to a Pakistani smuggling ring run by Abdul Qadeer Khan [BBC profile]. Brothers Urs and Marco Tinner, along with their father Friedrich, were arrested in 2004 on suspicion of smuggling, but were eventually released. The Tinners said that had been informants for the CIA [official website] since 2003. Khan has confessed to giving nuclear technology to Iran and Libya.

In September, an American scientist and his wife were indicted [JURIST report] for conspiring to sell nuclear weapons information to an individual they believed worked for the Venezuelan government. Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Mascheroni, were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation [official website] and appeared before the US District Court for the District of New Mexico. The defendants used to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and possessed classified nuclear weapons knowledge. According to the indictment, between March 2008 and August 2009, Pedro Mascheroni, who is a naturalized US citizen, negotiated a deal with an undercover FBI agent he believed to be a Venezuelan official in which he would help the country develop a nuclear weapon in exchange for over $700,000.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 24, 2010; 11:32 PM
Even as the Justice Department reports a two-year decline in the number of wiretap applications approved by a secret U.S. intelligence court, the workload of Justice Department lawyers assigned to request and oversee such sensitive surveillance activities appears to be growing.

The activity by the department's National Security Division, which is responsible for obtaining authorization from a secret court to tap Americans' telephone calls and e-mails and conduct other surveillance, was a prominent factor cited by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in a campaign this month to prod the Senate into confirming President Obama's nomination of James M. Cole to serve as Holder's deputy.

The deputy attorney general oversees the division "and is called upon to make crucial time-sensitive decisions to protect the American people" in counterterrorism investigations, eight former deputies wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Dec. 1, urging a vote for Cole.

In the absence of a Senate-confirmed deputy, the group noted, "There is at least one critical statutory responsibility that an Acting Deputy cannot perform - signing applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."
By law, only the attorney general or his assistant for national security, David W. Kris, may sign off on wiretap applications for the court. If neither is available, a designated acting attorney general - for now, usually Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perelli - may approve them, but he or she must be Senate-confirmed.

They face a critical task. In fiscal 2009 alone, the FISA court approved 1,320 applications, documents that a former chief judge of the court said in 2007 "usually run 40 to 50 pages."

If those trends continued, in the 10 months since former deputy David W. Ogden stepped down in February, 1,000 terrorism-related wiretap requests would have had to go before two sets of eyes, Kris or Holder's - applications totaling perhaps 50,000 pages.

Even assuming that Kris reviewed 99 percent of them, having Cole on board would provide some relief and an extra pair of eyes, people close to the process said.

"The attorney general is feeling oppressed," said one associate with whom Holder spoke recently about the urgent need for a Senate vote. "He is in a bind. I think he's feeling that undertow."

Spokesmen for Holder declined to comment. In public and private, Justice officials say that the department's leadership has handled the heavier workload without difficulty, and that acting deputy Gary G. Grindler has the trust and respect of Holder and other senior officials.

"Only a Senate-confirmed deputy can sign FISA applications to wiretap suspected terrorists," Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachappelle said in a statement. "Unfortunately, some on the other side of the aisle have chosen to stall and delay a vote on this nomination, putting our national security at risk."

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said Senate Democrats could call for a vote to bring up Cole's nomination at any time but have chosen not to. "They filed cloture motions on 'don't ask, don't tell.' They've filed cloture on a lot of things, but not this one. I don't know why they've prioritized that way."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has cited concerns about Cole's views on terrorism and work as a monitor from 2005 through 2009 of insurance company American International Group, a recipient of taxpayer bailout funds.

The Senate adjourned before Christmas without acting on Cole's nomination, more than five months after he was approved by the committee, the longest wait ever for a deputy attorney general.

The number of intelligence-related wiretaps of Americans approved by the 11-judge Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court doubled from 1992 to 2000, and doubled again by 2005. After hitting a record 2,370 in 2007, approvals by the court, based in Washington, fell to 2,083 in 2008 and 1,320 in 2009.
By comparison, the total number of all criminal wiretap applications approved by all federal and state courts in 2005 was 1,774 - of which 625 were submitted to federal courts, less than half of the FISA total.

However, authorities cautioned not to conclude from a decline in applications that fewer communications are being monitored.

A single application can now cover thousands of phone numbers and e-mail or other accounts. Justice officials also say a two-year drop in requests is due to "significant changes" in what a 2008 law requires them to apply for, and "does not in any way reflect a change in coverage."

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the government has reported the total number of FISA applications for 30 years, but the information is less and less meaningful "because of changes that Congress has made and changes in technology available to the government."

If anything, Justice Department data show that work once reserved for a handful of specialized lawyers in the 1990s continues to multiply, with more than 100 doing such checks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Overall, the division has added 45 lawyer positions since it was created in 2007, growing more than 20 percent, to a total of 247, DOJ budget documents show.

The sub-group assigned to work on FISA operations and intelligence grew even faster, adding 36 lawyers from 2006 to 2008, or 30 percent, for a total of 151, according to department budget justification documents sent to Congress.

After 2008, DOJ relabeled the subgroup "Office of Intelligence," and appeared to reorganize some activities. But the division this year asked for funds to add five more lawyers.

Justice officials say much of the work involves expanded oversight requirements, as well as increased use of FISA-collected material by federal agencies, which requires added legal vetting by the department.

Judge Orders Feds To Pay $2.5M In Wiretapping Case

12/22/10:  The Miami Herald reports that a federal judge on Tuesday in al-Haramain v. Bush/Obama ordered the US government to pay more than $2.5 million in attorney fees and damages after he concluded investigators wiretapped the phones of a suspected terrorist organization without a warrant.  US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said the attorneys for the Ashland, Oregon, chapter of the now-defunct Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation should receive $2.5 million for waging its nearly five-year legal challenge to the Bush administration's so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program.  Walker also awarded $20,400 each to Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, two of the foundation's Washington DC-based lawyers. They had their phone conversations with Al-Haramain principals monitored, the judge said.

07/09/10: Wired reports that a team of eight lawyers is demanding $2.63 million from the government after proving their clients were illegally wiretapped under a once-secret National Security Agency spy program adopted in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The hourly rates range from $506 an hour to $296, and are based on generally accepted billing schedules. The legal fee request Wednesday came three months after US District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco ruled the former administration wiretapped phone calls between a Saudi charity and its US lawyers without a warrant, in violation of federal law.

04/22/10: Newsweek reports that all things being equal, DoJ would love nothing more than to let stand a federal judge's recent decision that President Bush's warrantless-wiretapping program was illegal, thereby avoiding further legal skirmishes over one of the Bush administration's most divisive legacies. But unless they appeal last month's landmark decision by Judge Vaughan Walker, the US government may be forced to pay damages into the bank account of one of the plaintiffs in the case: an Islamic charity that has been formally declared a global terrorist organization.

04/17/10: The Miami Herald reports that lawyers for a now-defunct Islamic charity on Friday asked a judge for more than $600,000 in damages from the federal government after a judge ruled that authorities illegally wiretapped the charity's phone calls. US District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled last month that the Terrorist Surveillance Program authorized by President George W. Bush was illegal because it allowed investigators to eavesdrop on electronic communications without warrants. Walker concluded that the Ashland, Ore., arm of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation was subject to warrantless wiretaps in 2004.

04/02/10: The New York Times reports that the ruling on Wednesday by a federal judge that one instance of warrantless wiretapping had been “unlawful electronic surveillance” may force onto the table a discussion of how aggressively the Obama administration should continue to defend from judicial review the contentious Bush-era counterterrorism policy.

04/02/10: The Atlantic has an opinion by Marc Ambinder arguing that the Obama administration should not appeal Judge Walker's opinion in favor of El-Hamarain in El Hamarain v. Obama because If they do, and lose, not only will the opinion will serve as appeals-court precedent, but the administration will be embracing the Bush version of the State Secrets Doctrine, and will embrace by proxy the Bush version of executive power and everything else that implies, including torture, detention, black sites, renditions and who knows what else.

03/31/10: Wired reports that a federal judge on Wednesday said the George W. Bush administration illegally eavesdropped on the telephone conversations of two American lawyers who represented a now-defunct Saudi charity. The lawyers alleged some of their 2004 telephone conversations to Saudi Arabia were siphoned to the National Security Agency without warrants. The allegations were initially based on a classified document the government accidentally mailed to the former Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation lawyers.

11/09/09: The Blog of Legal Times reports that a group of litigants, including the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, who are suing the government are urging the federal district court in Washington to keep in place a series of rulings in a high-profile state secrets case that recently settled for $3 million.  They argue that the court's rulings are important for application in other cases. DOJ attorneys want Lamberth to vacate the rulings, saying that they have no precedential value.

11/09/2008: The Jurist reports that Judge King of the District of Oregon has ruled that the government's freezing of assets of al-Haramain Islamic foundation violated due process rights because it failed to provide any evidence that it was a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" group. Judge King said that definition of providing "material support" to terrorism under the designation was unconstitutionally vague.

10/12/09: The Miami Herald reports that recent court filings in a criminal case against the operator of a defunct Oregon charity reveal that federal prosecutors traveled to Russia in an attempt to find proof that the organization had been involved in terrorism. Federal prosecutors Charles Gorder and Chris Cardani met with agents from Russia's Federal Security Service and gave them copies of computer hard drives from Al Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. The Federal Security Service was looking for information about Russian soldiers killed in Chechnya. Pete Seda, who founded the Ashland charity 10 years ago, is charged with conspiracy and tax fraud, accused of diverting money overseas for foreign Islamic fighters.

09/15/09: Politico reports that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair is weighing in with a federal court about a misstatement the federal government made in legal papers filed in connection with what is now the most viable lawsuit over the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama. Blair filed a declaration which is vague about the nature of the error in a prior filing, but it appears to refer to a declassification review about information related to the warrantless wiretapping program.

08/21/09: Wired reports that the Obama administration is urging a federal judge to dismiss Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, a lawsuit weighing whether a sitting US president may lawfully create a spying program to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without warrants or congressional authorization.

07/10/09: Jurist reports that The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation on Wednesday filed a request for partial summary judgment concluding that the National Security Agency illegally wiretapped several conversations between the charity and its lawyers. The organization is suing the government for the wiretapping and is seeking both disclosure of what was intercepted and monetary damages.

05/31/09: SCOTUSblog has additional coverage of the Al-Haramain warrantless wiretapping suit. The DOJ, facing an impatient federal judge’s threat to rule summarily that the federal government has engaged in illegal electronic wiretrapping on a Muslim organization within the US, asked the judge Friday night to issue a direct order to disclose secret data over the government’s objections that would then set the stage for an appeal on issues “of extraordinary constitutional significance.” Among those issues is whether a court has any authority to order disclosure of “state secrets” for use by a private party in a damages lawsuit, whether a law allowing such damages lawsuits overrides the government’s claim of a “state secrets” privilege against disclosing classified information, and whether a judge, not the government, can decide what a private party “needs to know” from secret government data for use in a lawsuit.

05/30/09: Wired blog reports that the Obama administration refused to budge late Friday and agree to reveal state secrets in the warrantless wiretapping lawsuit pending before District Judge Walker in California. The DOJ responded to the judges inquiry on whether the administration should be sanctioned for “failing to obey the court’s orders”. The government, as it has repeatedly, urged the judge to allow the government to appeal his January 5 order requiring the government to develop a plan – a so-called “protective order” – that would pave the way to the release of state secrets to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

05/23/09: reports that government lawyers now face sanctions and the possibility of a judgment that the United States committed illegal surveillance, following an order filed on Friday by Northern District of California Chief Judge Vaughn Walker. Walker ordered Justice Department lawyers to explain why he should not essentially enter a default judgment against the government for violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by spying on the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.

05/16/09: Wiredblog reports that the Obama administration urged US District Judge Vaughn Walker to order disclosure in a 3-year-old lawsuit weighing whether a sitting US president may bypass Congress and adopt a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. Such an order could force the Court of Appeals to weigh in on the hotly contested issue. The classified data in question shows that two American lawyers for the al Haramain charity were illegally intercepted without warrants. Judge Walker has twice ordered the parties to craft a protective order that would permit the plaintiff's lawyers to view the evidence without disclosure to the public, but the government refuses.

04/27/09: Secrecy News reports that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) reintroduced three bills last week that he said were needed to limit presidential power and to restore the proper constitutional balance among the three branches of government. The first bill (S.876) would substitute the United States as the defendant in place of telecommunications companies in pending lawsuits alleging unlawful surveillance pending before Judge Walker. The second bill (S.877) would require the Supreme Court to review certain cases concerning the constitutionality of intelligence surveillance, statutory immunity for telecommunications providers, and would eliminate the Court’s discretion as to whether to grant certiorari.The other bill deals with presidential signing statements.

04/18/09: The Atlantic reports that on Friday US District Judge for the District of Northern California Vaughn Walker on Friday dealt a blow to the Obama administration's state secrets defense in the case of Al-Haramain v. Bush. Walker ordered the government to produce a plan by May 8th for safeguarding classified information it claimed it could not share at trial because it was a state secret.  The Muslim charity Al-Haramain had sued the Bush administration for allegedly subjecting the charity to illegal NSA surveillance. Walker reasoned in his narrowly tailored opinion that the Obama administration could share the evidence at trial because Al-Haramain's attorneys are cleared to the TS/SCI level, and the evidence was classified at the TS/SCI level.

04/07/09: On Counterterrorism Blog, Victor Comras argues that US District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker's decision in the Al-Haramain Oregon NSA wiretapping case epitomizes the tension between the state secrets doctrine and due process in terrorism cases.

03/25/09: The Washington Post reports that civil liberties advocates are accusing the Obama administration of forsaking campaign rhetoric and adopting the same expansive arguments that his predecessor used to cloak some of the most sensitive intelligence-gathering programs of the Bush White House.The al-Haramain case, challenging the use of warrantless wiretaps, is pending decision by Judge Walker in San Francisco, is a case where the Obama administration has followed the Bush administration's invocation of the State Secrets privilege. Last month, a bipartisan Senate group introduced legislation that would require judges to look at the classified evidence when the government makes the state-secrets claim, rather than rely only on its account of the sensitivity of the materials.

03/03/09: The Washington Independent has a detailed recap of the separation of powers controversy that is developing between the Obama administration and Judge Walker, the California district court judge presiding over the warrantless wiretapping suit, Al-Haramain v. Obama. On Friday the DOJ filed a brief challenging Judge Walker's power to carry out an order requiring the government to give Al-Haramain's attorneys the opportunity to view a document showing that its clients and two of its lawyer had been subject to warrantless wiretapping. Additionally, the DOJ wrote the Court that if the Court planned to show opposing counsel the document, the DOJ should be permitted to withdraw it from a previous submission to the court.

02/28/09: Wired reports that Judges Pregerson, Hawkins, and McKeown for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Northern District of California decided Friday to dismiss the government's interlocutory appeal in the case of Al-Haramain v. Obama for lack of jurisdiction. The justices also mooted the government's motion for a stay. The decision dealt a blow to the Obama administration's efforts to uphold the state secrets doctrine adopted by the Bush administration, which had been used to deny the use of a classified government document in the case which suggested that two plaintiffs in the case had their phone conversations tapped without warrant.

02/21/09:  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Obama administration filed an emergency request with the Ninth Circuit to stop Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco from allowing lawyers challenging the government's wiretapping program to see a classified surveillance document.  The document is the central evidence in Al-Haramain, the last remaining lawsuit over the legality of former President George W. Bush's 2001 order for the National Security Administration to intercept phone calls and e-mails between Americans and suspected terrorists in other nations.  HT to How Appealing.

2/14/2009:  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a federal judge tersely denied the Obama administration's request Friday to suspend a challenge to former President Bush's wiretapping program while the administration asks an appellate court to dismiss the case.  Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco said he would not allow the government to appeal his Jan. 5 ruling, which allowed the suit to proceed and required the Justice Department to arrange security clearances which would enable plaintiff lawyers to examine a classified document and determine whether their client, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, had been wiretapped.  HT to How Appealing.

02/13/09: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that for the second time this week, the Obama administration has gone to court in San Francisco to argue for secrecy in defending a terrorism policy crafted under George W. Bush.  In papers filed Wednesday night, the new Justice Department asked Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to suspend action on a suit challenging the wiretapping program, arguing that proceedings would jeopardize national security.

01/26/09: Wired reports that the Obama administration adopted the position of its predecessor administration when it urged U.S. District Judge for the 9th Circuit Vaughn Walker to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. In the same story, Wired also reports that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration's defense of legislation passed in July that immunizes telecommunications companies from lawsuits for complicity in the Bush administration's eavesdropping program. HT to The Lift.

01/06/09: The Miami Herald reports that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has denied the government's third motion to dismiss, reinstating an Islamic charity's lawsuit challenging a Bush administration surveillance program. Judge Walker said that there is enough primary evidence showing the charity might have been the target of government-tapped telephone calls that were done without court approval under the administration's so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program. The case is Al-Haramain v. Bush, and the Judge Walker's opinion is available here. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and The San Francisco Chronicle also cover the story.

12/03/08:  Wired reports here and here about two cases in San Francisco before U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in which the plaintiffs might finally get a ruling on both the constitutionality of the domestic surveillance program allegedly conducted by the National Security Agency as well as the immunity given to the telecom companies who cooperated. 

The first case involves two attorneys representing an Islamic charity on the blacklist who allege that they were victims of the spying.  Judge Walker ruled that pursuing such an allegation would require independent, corroborating evidence, and the government accidentally obliged when it turned over top secret documents alluding to that very thing to the lawyers in discovery. 

11/18/08: The New York Times reports that President-elect Obama's views on domestic spying will face an early test when he replies to motions in legal challenges to the National Security Agency's domestic wiretapping program.  The question is whether President Obama will elect to reject these challenges under the state secrets doctrine, as Bush has, or reveal more information about the program's structure and operation.

07/08/08: The New York Times has an article discussing a recent ruling in Al-Haramain by Judge Vaughn Walker stating that FISA contains the exclusive means for foreign intelligence activities to be conducted.  Threat Level discusses it here and here.

06/20/08: The Treasury Department designated the whole worldwide organization of the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a major Saudi charity, for support for al-Qaeda and international terrorism.  Counterterrorism Blog discusses in significant detail what it calls a "long due" designation here.

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