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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Miscellaneous items

A few miscellaneous matters:

(1) Marty Lederman, a former Justice Department official and current Georgetown Law Professor (and current blogger), is an insightful and knowledgeable source for the NSA scandal. He left a Comment to an earlier post here which contains some highly informed speculation as to what this eavesdropping program likely was about and why it was implemented.

(2) A copy of the letter sent yesterday by Sen. Arlen Specter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez can be read here. Specter, whose Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings on the NSA scandal to begin in early February (with Gonzalez to testify on February 6), sent a list of 15 questions he wants Gonzalez to be prepared to answer.

The questions are fine as far as they go, but I have very little faith either in Specter's willingness to pose genuine challenges to the Administration's law-breaking, and even less faith in the ability of the well-intentioned but (mostly) frustratingly lame and broken-down Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to pursue and expose the true nature of the Administration's lawlessness here. That will likely have to be left to some combination of the media, the blogosphere and citizen pressure/anger. There are actually some Republicans on the Committee (Graham, Brownback, even Specter) who have expressed some serious objections to the Administration's law-breaking here but, under the Bush Administration, Republicans like that have always snapped back into line after squawking with little impotent noises of protest. There is little reason to hope for any different behavior here.

(3) I will be on Air America's Majority Report tonight at 8:05 p.m. EST to discuss the NSA scandal. You can find your local listings for Air America or listen to the live stream here.

(4) Crooks and Liars has two video clips which are highly relevant and worth watching - the first is from Richard Nixon, famously declaring that "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal. This really is the closest historic precedent to the activities of the current occupant of the White House.

The second clip is of Gen. Hayden who, after sternly lecturing the media that the NSA is run by experts who know more about privacy issues than any other Americans, proceeded to demonstrate that he has only the vaguest and most passing familiarity with this thing called the "Fourth Amendment."

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