National Defense

Peeking Under Cheney's Hood

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Civil libertarian great Nat Hentoff has a newish Village Voice column up demonstrating why he is always among the alt-weekly writers most worth seeking out, especially during Democratic administrations. It's on the intruiging topic of "What Obama Doesn't Know"–especially about the Bush Administration's darker arts. Excerpt:

How many […] shadow sympathizers will remain deep in the CIA, the FBI, Homeland Security—and […] in the omnivorous National Security Agency, with its creatively designed submarine that, on the bottom of the ocean floor, will be tapping into foreign cables carrying overseas communications, including those of Americans?

Will the Obama sleuths be able to peer into plans of the military Special Operations forces around the world, whose SWAT-style moves can quickly inflame even our allies? Covertly authorized four years ago by Donald Rumsfeld, these warriors are empowered to attack secretly any apparent terrorist venture, anywhere. No press allowed.

Will the new president, cognizant of the proliferation of retaliatory nuclear arms, presumably among our enemies, insist on signing off on each of those Special Operations forays?

Back at home, will President Obama order the countermanding of the FBI's return to the unbounded surveillance practices of J. Edgar Hoover? In an order implemented as recently as this December—by FBI Director Robert Mueller (who says he'd like to stay on) and Attorney General Michael Mukasey—the FBI can start an investigation without requiring any evidence of wrongdoing. That is not change we can believe in.

Whole thing, well worth reading, here. Reason on Hentoff here, including a February 2004 interview with Julian Sanchez about the PATRIOT Act.

In related, mostly-under-the-radar news, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that "the Obama team is weighing whether to propose the creation of a domestic intelligence agency."

NEXT: Roger Stone Says "Don't Crown Caroline"

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  1. CAN OBAMA REIGN IN JACK BAUER?!?

    Tune in Sundays, 8/7c

  2. in the omnivorous National Security Agency, with its creatively designed submarine that, on the bottom of the ocean floor, will be tapping into foreign cables carrying overseas communications, including those of Americans?

    Good thing he’s wearing a tinfoil hat. He’s safe.

  3. the Obama team is weighing whether to propose the creation of a domestic intelligence agency

    It’s OK, the right people will be spying on us.

  4. Who said anything about “people?”

  5. It’s OK, the right people aliens machines will be spying on us.

    fixed

  6. The Ministry of Love will be looking out for your best interests; don’t worry your empty little civilian head.

  7. Now I feel nauseous. You people ruined all the spirit of the season I had coming off the Solstice.

  8. the creation of a domestic intelligence agency

    Isn’t that what the FBI is supposed to be?

  9. What the hell do we need yet another domestic intelligence agency for? Isn’t the FBI enough?

    Thank God I didn’t vote for Obama.

  10. The FBI has a full plate already.We need a new intelligence agency to monitor and check counter-hope-and-change thinking and behavior

  11. A lot of this seems overblown (esp from Hentoff – his warnings have always in the past been based on evidence not conjecture)

    Specifically, the allusion that there will be portions of the military that will operate independently of the NCA. SEAL’s, Delta, etc have pretty much always operated ‘no press allowed’ (well before 4 years ago). But they have always got the green light from the potus/secdef and have only acted after, and not until, it’s received. (And before someone says Ollie North – North operated independently of the overall military command structure – but arguably within their ‘benign’ neglect. Nevertheless, he used is own contacts within the office of the National Security Advisor to go directly to the CIA and the like)

  12. “””Isn’t that what the FBI is supposed to be?”””

    No. They are an investigative unit. Domestic spying is not really about investigating. It’s about how you get information that you would use in an investigation or other action. The FBI must follow the Constitution, well in theory and they have, in some form, been held accountable in the past. There is case law to support holding them to the Constitution. I’d bet a domestic spy agency would be allowed to ignore the Constitution and federal law in collecting any information on the citizenry, and any action they take against the citizenry. The British shooting the innocent Brazillian man for example. Since it will be a new agency, probably under the executive, they can argue it is above the law, and no case law to say otherwise.

    They are already laying the ground work to demostrate why we need it.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20081222/pl_bloomberg/aazwa1acdrbc

  13. Black helicopters don’t fly themselves!

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