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.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Secret prisons -- ABC propaganda film -- FISA matters

Various matters:

(1) I have an article at Salon today on the implications of President Bush's admission that the U.S. has been hiding and interrogating detainees at secret prisons in Eastern Europe, along with his announcement that those "black site" prisoners would be transferred to Guantanamo for a "trial" before a military commission.

Dana Priest (deservedly) won a Pulitzer Prize for her November, 2005 article disclosing the existence of these secret prisons, which led to some Bush supporters, such as Bill Bennett, calling for her imprisonment. In April of this year, it was announced that the CIA found and fired the analyst who was Priest's source, Mary McCarthy, although that story turned out to be completely overblown. Typically, at the time, numerous Bush supporting bloggers speculated that there really were no secret prisons at all, that it was all just a big scam to catch leaking CIA agents like McCarthy. Here's one illustrative example:

Interestingly, the leak was about the “Secret Prisons” being run by the CIA overseas. You remember the “secret prisons” don’t you? You know, the ones no one
seems to be able to find: . . .

Can you say “sting?”

The President admitted today that Priest was right, that we were holding detainees in secret prisons. These bloggers were completely wrong, entertaining base conspiracy theories and denying unpleasant realities. And the sun came up today.

(2) A new blog -- Open Letter to ABC -- has been created for the purpose of centralizing commentary, objections and action concerning ABC's 9/11 propaganda film. It was just begun today and already has excellent resources for protesting this film. One of the most astonishing and incriminating facts -- and it's a hefty competition -- is that ABC has freely distributed copies of the film for pre-screening to the likes of Rush Limbaugh along with all sorts of blogospheric versions of him, but refuses to furnish copies to those it smears, such as Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger, and also refused to provide copies to any bloggers unlikely to endorse its biases.

Having written that, I now see a new item which competes for the title, from Judd at Think Progress (which is doing a truly superb journalistic job on this story) , which reports that ABC is claiming, as part of a puff piece run by Fox, that the film was “based solely and completely on the 9/11 Commission Report.”

(3) There are two significant FISA developments worth noting:

(a) This article, from The Washington Post (by Jonathan Weisman), reports that Republicans are in disarray over the Specter bill, because there are so many competing proposals and some key House Republicans, such as Heather Wilson, are insisting on more oversight than the Specter bill provides; and,

(b) Oral argument was heard yesterday by District Court Judge Gerard Lynch of the Southern District of New York, a widely respected federal judge, in the NSA/FISA case brought against the Bush administration by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The case is similar in most key respects to the ACLU case presided over by Judge Taylor. A synopsis of the case, along with relevant legal documents, can be found here.

According to this article from The New York Times, Judge Lynch expressed serious scepticism over the administration's arguments regarding their substantive defenses to their FISA violations (i.e., their Article II/Yoo theory claim and especially their AUMF defense). His views on the standing and state secrets issues appeared unclear, but he clearly found the administration's claimed right to violate the law highly problematic, to put it mildly.


(4) FDL is starting a book imprint, and the first book will be one on the Valerie Plame affair, by Marcy Wheeler (a/k/a Emptywheel). Jennifer Nix is involved in the project, and as I've explained many times before, I think that there is great value in being able to publish timely books quickly and without a cumbersome process weighing it down. That seems to be what Jane Hamsher is attempting to built. You can read all about it here.


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