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February 28, 2008

Comments

We've (South Florida) been saturated with commercials lately telling us how irresponsible the House has been for not passing the TeleCom bill, allowing terrorists to peacefully plot against Mom, God, and Apple Pie. They even helpfully list the phone numbers of our Reps so we can call and blast them for not protecting America by knuckling under.

Your post reminded me to use the televised numbers to call my Rep and tell him to keep up the good work.

Thanx!

:)

Actually, I think it's pretty good news to hear that Republicans are getting cheesed at Big Comm for their failure to fork over: the more press the issue gets, the more the public will realize that the retroactive-immunity provisions really are All About The Benjamins - and not the OMG Dire Heinous Scary Emergency That Will Kill Us All!!! if not enacted yesterday!

And as a bonus: the more the focus becomes about the money: the less credibility accrues to Preznit Dubya's ooga-booga scaremongering. He was still at it in his press conference today - apparently still parroting the same-old same-old distortions and excuses. Fortunately, even the servile White House Press Corps seems to be -finally - catching on.

hilzoy,

I can't tell when this was originally published, but I saw a report on Harry in Afghanistan on the BBC on Monday or Tuesday, complete with an interview in which he said things like "I can walk around here, no one knows who I am," &c.

SEK, see this:

[...] Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, who is head of the British Army, said he was disappointed the news had leaked.

In a statement, he said: "I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us.

"This is in stark contrast to the highly responsible attitude that the whole of the UK print and broadcast media, along with a small number overseas, who have entered into an understanding with us over the coverage of Prince Harry on operations."

This gives more, actually.

And also, today's Times of London (never the "London Times," incidentally!):

His four-month deployment had been kept secret because of a Ministry of Defence agreement with news organisations, including The Times, but the details can now be made public after the news leaked out overseas and on the internet.

One Australian news magazine, New Idea, reported Harry's deployment a month ago, but it was not until it was carried today on the Drudge Report, a major American website, that the news embargo was lifted.

Defence officials confirmed this evening that Harry, 23, a lieutenant in the Blues and Royals, was still in Afghanistan.

[...]

General Dannatt said he was "very disappointed" that the story had leaked out. The Ministry of Defence said that no decision had been made on whether it was safe for Harry to remain in Afghanistan now the news has broken. A spokesman said: "The operational chain of command is now looking at a variety of options."

So.

Gary, my point was that Drudge linked to it today, whereas the BBC reported it a few days earlier. That's why I specified that I can't tell when the BBC stories were "updated" and when they'd first been published. The BBC scooping Drudge on this means something different than Drudge running the story. I doubt he'd contact the BBC or the British brass and inform them of his plans.

In short, I don't know exactly what happened here, but the BBC did preempt Drudge; whether that was their intent, or whether they knew the information had leaked to another venue is something I don't know.

And let's not even get started on their failure to exercise any oversight at all over mortgages and their derivatives.

It is not fair to blame the ‘credit crunch’ on the Republicans. The meltdown began in 1977 with the Community Redevelopment Act (Jimmy Carter and the Democrats). The CRA opened up banks applying for any sort of government approval, to ‘activists’, who were successful in obtaining loans for unworthy borrowers:

Federal Reserve:
(b) Performance criteria. The Board evaluates a bank's lending performance pursuant to the following criteria:

(iii) The number and amount of loans in low-, moderate-, middle-, and upper-income geographies in the bank's assessment area(s);

(3) Borrower characteristics. The distribution, particularly in the bank's assessment area(s), of the bank's home mortgage, small business, small farm, and consumer loans, if applicable, based on borrower characteristics, including the number and amount of:
(i) Home mortgage loans to low-, moderate-, middle-, and upper-income individuals;


(iv) Consumer loans, if applicable, to low-, moderate-, middle-, and upper-income individuals;

The CRA got the ball rolling and greed took it from there. There is plenty of greed in both political parties as well as the private sector that caused the ball to get bigger. I blame corruption in the credit rating agencies first and foremost. Financial markets regulate themselves if left alone.

"Gary, my point was that Drudge linked to it today, whereas the BBC reported it a few days earlier."

Not to gainsay your experience, but the news stories seem to explicitly contradict this, and seem to clearly state that the news wasn't published or broadcast in Britain until Tuesday.

it was not until it was carried today on the Drudge Report, a major American website, that the news embargo was lifted.
(Keep in mind that British time is between 5 and 8 hours later than yours if you're in the U.S., so early Tuesday morning there would be your late Monday, if you're in the U.S.)

I'm inclined to think that the entire British media would be aware if the story had been broadcast on the BBC prior to that, and would be mentioning it in the many news stories. No offense. But if you think they're all wrong, I'd be interested in any explanation you might have as to how that would work.

Current Grauniad:

Defence officials confirmed this evening [...] Prince Harry has been secretly serving on the front line in Afghanistan with British troops since December, it emerged today.

[...]

The news of the operational posting leaked out following the breakdown of a blackout agreement with the media, when the story was posted this afternoon on the US-based Drudge Report website.

The Drudge Report initially said it had taken the information from a story last month in an Australian women's magazine, New Idea, although it later claimed a "world exclusive".

The front page has this story as "Breaking news."

I could keep going through the British media, but it seems redundant.

Are they all lying?

But retroactive telecom immunity is _not_ all about the money; it's about protecting Bush and his capos, by forestalling Congressional investigation into the Bush 43 Misadministration's lawbreaking, and private lawsuits by the spied-upon parties, after the elections when the current stonewall comes down.

If the telcos are made retroactively immune, such investigations will die stillborn or go nowhere. But if the telcos must defend themselves in court, and are therefore subject to to discovery and subpoena, we have some chance of learning the extent of BushCo's violations of the law and Constitution. That's the prize: evidence that leads after Jan 2009 to prosecution of criminals within the Bush administration. This is made obvious by the intensity with which Bush himself has fought for retroactive immunity.

The (no doubt substantial) fees that the telcos are demanding as compensation for continuing to break the law are best viewed as hush money; the telcos won't bite the hand that's enriching them as long as the bucks continue to flow.


More: How the Prince Harry in Afghanistan story was kept secret:

UK broadcast and online media today ran the story that Prince Harry is on frontline duty with the British Army in Afghanistan, after the US news website the Drudge Report broke an unprecedented two-month news blackout on his deployment.

The surprise in media circles, where the deal brokered between media organisations and the Ministry of Defence not to report Prince Harry's frontline role in Afghanistan in return for access to the prince during his deployment has been known about since mid December, will be that the story did not leak out earlier.

And although UK media only ran with the story today after it appeared on the Drudge Report, Australian women's magazine New Idea actually broke the news on January 7. German newspaper Bild is also reported to have run the story.

The Ministry of Defence held a series of meetings with British media representatives in advance of the 23-year-old prince's departure to Afghanistan in December, reaching an agreement that his deployment would be kept secret.

Under the news blackout deal media organisations that signed up were given access to a series of pooled interviews, pictures and footage of the prince in Afghanistan, on condition that nothing would run until his six-month tour ended in April.

Footage of Harry in action in Afghanistan and interviews with the prince about his deployment have run on outlets including BBC News 24, Sky News and the BBC1 Six O'Clock News.

All the major UK news broadcasters, newspaper publishers and news agencies signed up for the MoD deal.

It is also understood that the first of a series of three "embeds" have taken place with Harry with TV news and press reporters getting footage and pictures of the prince, who has called in a number of air strikes in his role commanding a tactical air control unit.

Under the news blackout deal the plan was for Harry to return to the UK on a Friday to give daily and weekend national newspapers as well as broadcasters a fair crack at the story.

Pooled material was planned to be released in "two or three waves" to give all media a chance to get in on the act.

Under the agreement, if the embargo was broken by British media Prince Harry was expected to leave the war-torn nation.

In the case that the story was broken by foreign media first, as has happened today, British media were "implored to resist diving in" at least until he has been taken to safety.

It must've been on last night's BBC World News then, Gary. Gordon Brown had already thanked Harry for his service 21 hours ago from the present moment (1:08 PST), which would've been around 6 p.m. London time yesterday. I don't know, though, what time BBC World News airs in London. (Yes, I know they say it at the beginning of every show, it's just never anything I thought to pay attention to before.)

Financial markets regulate themselves if left alone.


Riiiiight. Because they have such a stellar track record of regulating themselves already.

Financial markets regulate themselves if left alone.

Good one! Maybe you SHOULD give up your day job...

I am assuming that if there are ever effective investigations into the extent and particulars of this administration’s wiretapping, we will find that even before 9/11 Bush and Cheney and Rove and their lieutenants issued orders to wiretap and spy on their political opponents. Not on terrorists, or suspected terrorists, but on Democrats. Environmentalists. The ACLU.

And that’s why this issue is so important to George W. Bush that he is personally fighting for retroactive telecom immunity: because if the authorizing documents and search target lists held by the telcos are ever subpoenaed, a whole lot of grand juries are going to have the opportunity to issue a whole lot of indictments naming an all-star list of the top people in the current Executive Branch. And Admiral Poindexter and his hench.

I got tulips for sale! Who wants to buy my tulips?! There's a great future in investing in my tulips! Big profits in the unregulated market!

Buy while you can!

Gary,

You're offering actual objects for sale - how primitive! Now *I* am offering tulip futures which will mean mega-payouts to investors when I finish development of my revolutionary black tulip, as well as the chance to short daffodils (not to be confused with the chance of short daffodils).

Tulips? Don't be ridiculous. Flowers have little intrinsic value.

However, I am offering shares in my company that has exclusive rights to trade in Spanish South America. That, my friends, has real value. Mind you, I haven't actually traded anything yet, but think of the future profits!

What Joel Hanes said:

retroactive telecom immunity is _not_ all about the money; it's about protecting Bush and his capos, by forestalling Congressional investigation into the ...administration's lawbreaking, and private lawsuits by the spied-upon parties, after the elections when the current stonewall comes down.

If the telcos are made retroactively immune, such investigations will die stillborn or go nowhere. But if the telcos must defend themselves in court, and are therefore subject to to discovery and subpoena, we have some chance of learning the extent of BushCo's violations of the law and Constitution.

I live in Britain, and today is the first it's been reported here. Yesterday our news was consumed by an earthquake, and the takeover of the roof of parliament by Greenpeace protestors. (I won't go so far as to say they actually SEIZED Parliament.)

I am offering shares in my company that has exclusive rights to trade in Spanish South America.

Piddly stuff! I'm selling access to Finance Minister Carmen of Burananana-Fusco! Get your hands on millions and millions of US DOLLARS just by helping move some funds. Nothing dodgy -- nothing at all! Why would you ask!

1) Telecom immunity is the right thing to do. The telecoms were acting in good faith. The government had good reason to request wiretaps on calls originating from outside the US. There is no good reason to punish the telecoms for following government orders. So the House should pass the Senate bill and get it over with.

2) CTV is sticking by their story that Obama assured the Canadian government that his NAFTA rhetoric was just for the campaign and not to take it seriously. Obama is lying again when he denies this ever happened.

I can top all of you with your tulips and promises to trade with the Americas.

I'm actually holding in my hand a Reichsbanknote for FIVE HUNDRED MILLION MARKS. Really! True, it was issued in September 1923. That just means I have to figure out what the current exchange rate would be with the dollar. I'm thinking of buying a castle in Thuringia, or maybe a fleet of Maybachs.

"1) Telecom immunity is the right thing to do. The telecoms were acting in good faith. The government had good reason to request wiretaps on calls originating from outside the US. There is no good reason to punish the telecoms for following government orders."

As has been pointed out many times, the way justice works in the U.S. is that first we investigate. Then we determine if any laws were broken. Then, if it seems so, we have a trial.

If someone is found guilty, they can be given a pardon.

But meanwhile, we don't even know who may or may not have broken any laws. Obviously there needs to be an investigation, and there's no reason whatever, other than to cover-up wrongdoing, why such an investigation shouldn't take place.

If wrongdoing is found, then we can discuss immunity. There's no reason whatever to treat this case any differently than any other case of suspected criminal behavior. If it turns out to be criminal behavior that we want to forgive, we have legal mechanisms to do that.

"There is no good reason to punish the telecoms for following government orders."

Unless they were illegal orders for the companies to engage in criminal acts.

That's why there needs to be an investigation before we determine the verdict.

"Verdict first, investigate never" isn't the way we consider justice to be done, is it, ken?

And you don't think that the government in power should have the right to order companies or people to violate laws at will, do you?

Let's go for the best of both worlds: Telecom immunity only for illegal information transfers they voluntarily report to investigators. Beat the investigators to it, you're home free. Keep a lid on it, and you're on the hook for the crime.

Sure, they got bad advice from the administration, but we WANT industry suspicious of government legal advice of a dubious nature.

Ahh, a truth and reconciliation forum for telecoms. Telecom executives in their suits sobbing on the stand saying 'forgive me... for what I did, I know it was wrong'

(not snark directed at Brett, it's an interesting outside the box idea, but I just just can't help doing a riff off of the idea of voluntarily reporting)

How about amnesty for telcoms and illegal aliens. Fair is fair.

Brett, the government already has in its possession all the wiretap information provided by the telecoms. You can presume it all legal or illegal, it doesn't matter, the investigators already have access to all of it. The telecoms are not holding anything back. And if they did hold something back then by definition it would not have been an illegal wiretap as the government would never have recieved it.

Gary, investigate what? The government already has all the wiretaps in its possession. Presume they are all illegal if you want. The telecoms still ought to have immunity from lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

Prince Harry rocks. Say what you will about those Brits (hi Jes) – they know how to raise leaders. That is what a leader does – no privilege, humble, and leads from the front lines.

"Brett, the government already has in its possession all the wiretap information provided by the telecoms. You can presume it all legal or illegal, it doesn't matter, the investigators already have access to all of it."

Can it be, someone commenting here who is actually more trusting of the Bush administration than I am? I'd never have expected that.

"The government" is not a single entity, it's a very large collection of people, and it's quite common for one hand not to know what the other has been doing, especially when it doesn't WANT the other to know. Records get lost or destroyed, people mysteriously suffer failures of memory...

The notion that the investigators are guaranteed to receive complete and well organized records of all illegal wiretaps is remarkable. It's possible, I'll grant you, but I sure wouldn't count on it.

ken, if I hear you correctly, you are saying that if the government comes to me and says that my neighbor is a bad person and they tell me it is legal for me to kill him/her because it would be self defense pre-emptively, it is okay for me to shoot my neighbor.

That makes no sense.

Telecom immunity is the right thing to do. The telecoms were acting in good faith.

This is of course absolute nonsense, and you're other trolling or dangerously uninformed. Telcos -- like all big corporations, but especially like all corporations whose business practices bump up against privacy and other Constitutional rights -- have in-house legal counsel with big staffs to keep them apprised of what is and is not legal. And I can promise you that every single one of these companies knew damned well that what they were doing was illegal, but were promised by the Bush administration that they'd either never get caught, or would be protected if they were caught. And if not for Mark Klein, they probably wouldn't have been caught. So now they have to shoot for Plan B, protection from liability.

The government had good reason to request wiretaps on calls originating from outside the US.

And they could have gotten them via the existing mechanism for doing so, the rubber-stamp FISA warrant program, but chose not to.

There is no good reason to punish the telecoms for following government orders.

OK, this is one that needs to be nipped in the bud with a quickness. I know it's all the rage among the faux soldiers of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to refer to His Presidentialness as "our Commander-in-Chief," but he's not. He's not mine, he's not yours, and he sure as hell isn't AT&T's or Sprint's or Verizon's. Telcos are required by law to comply with all lawful, properly warranted wiretapping requests. They are under absolutely no obligation to comply with illegal requests -- in fact, are obligated not to comply with them -- and Teh Preznit has no power, and I mean NONE, to give them orders of any kind.

"Gary, investigate what?"

What laws have been broken, if any, and by whom.

"The telecoms still ought to have immunity from lawsuits and criminal prosecution."

Why? Can I have immunity, too?

Should President Hillary Clinton be able to ask anyone to break the law, and then if there are news reports about it, get Congress to give blanket immunity to anyone she asked, without there even being an investigation? Is that what you want? Why?

Why should anyone have immunity from criminal prosecution when we don't even know what they've done? Why shouldn't there be an investigation, Ken? What principle are you suggesting?

"And I can promise you that every single one of these companies knew damned well that what they were doing was illegal,"

Of course they did; that's why Qwest refused.

Coincidentally, Joe Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest who withstood NSA pressure, is now in jail.

What reasonable person might possibly imagine that the two things could have anything whatever to do with each other? These things just happen. And politically motivated acts by the Department of Justice are just unheard of.

The idea that the Bush Justice Department, the one led by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, could possibly engage in a politically motivated prosecution is just too far fetched to even imagine. I'm sure we all agree on that.

What Phil, and others, said to Ken.

And to Magistra: tulip futures? Unimaginative. I offer a smorgasbord of complex floral futures derivatives, in which hedged bets on the future prices of various specific pieces of different plants -- the second inch on every root of a rose bush, every third daisy petal, a particular snippet of the stamen of a salvia, and so forth -- are combined into a risk-free financial instrument of unparalleled power.

Ken is suggesting that the telcos who complied with illegal wiretap orders from BushCo were merely following orders. They were Good Germans. In Ken's mind this is a compelling defense.

Hilzoy, your offering makes me laugh and laugh, only to keep from crying.

Unparalleled power, indeed.

sometimes i can't tell if a person wants to lick the jackboot or wear the jackboot - the jackboot itself dominates the scene.

Holy. Crap.

There's some people I ain't about to give immunity to.

I live in Britain, and today is the first it's been reported here.

Well then, I stand corrected. I must've seen it this morning, but for want of sleep, thought it days ago. I blame insomnia, and apologize for wasting Gary's time.

Don't listen to the flowery petal-pushers. Everyone knows that plants can just grow and grow - which means that your investment in flowers today will quickly be swamped by tomorrow's crop. Invest in something that is real - and that flowers need - dirt!. The best part is that the supply is limited - have you ever heard of anyone making more dirt?. I thought not! Best to get in on the [cough] ground floor - before the price of dirt is beyond your reach.

Don't have room for a big pile of dirt in your yard? Live in an apartment or condo? No problem! I can sell you Collateralized Dirt Obligations. These are just as good as real dirt without the mess. You'll be guaranteed the income stream produced by an actual pile of dirt somewhere - technically from something we call a trench of dirt, which is sort of a promise as to who is first in line to get the best dirt (the prime topsoil) when we get around to hiring a bunch of winos with shovels to dig up your dirt. The winos come rated by the AAA as reliable, but some of them can be kind of Moody.

Act quickly! Don't sit there on yur Fannie Mae! You have nothing to lose but your shirt!

Financial markets regulate themselves if left alone.
We have a winner. —Assuming nominations for Outrageous Egregious Absurdity were still open. And it happened here!
Perhaps it could be used here at OW as a tag line, to be unholstered whenever some one says something really silly.“Henry Kissinger is a moral/humanitarian hero.” “And: ‘Financial markets regulate themselves if left alone.”’
I question the wisdom of confining our responses to plant matter and its surrogates though. Just because the South Seas is a more diffuse entity is no reason to neglect it.
A new avenue for speculative investment suggests itself, if anyone has the spare capital and time. Bubble™ Gum, whose twist is lacing with a tranquilizer, with the slogan “For those bad-credit days”. Begin the advertising campaign in the WSJ to grab all those influential market leaders; it’ll be bigger than vibrating cock rings.

CTV has always been a determinedly right wing operation and advocate. Thirty-five years ago I was interviewing there for an internship, and the manager showing me around pointed with aggressive pride at how their technicians at sports events wore blazers and ties, unlike the slovenly sort at CBC.

I recall seeing mention at the Beeb some months ago about Prince Harry in Afghanistan. Perhaps pertinent. I’ll see if I can traxk it down,

I blame corruption in the credit rating agencies first and foremost. Financial markets regulate themselves if left alone.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a bit of a contradiction in these two statements?

Thanks -

"I recall seeing mention at the Beeb some months ago about Prince Harry in Afghanistan."

He's only been there since late December:

[...] Until now, the media had agreed to a blackout on reporting that the 23-year-old Household Cavalry officer has been in Afghanistan since just before Christmas.
"Perhaps pertinent."

To what?

Ahem [cough] I've just been told by the legal department here at the Dirty Investment Fund that I forgot to mention one very minor, really rather inconsequential detail regarding our Collateralized Dirt Obligations. Namely, that in the very unlikely to ever happen event that our crew of AAA rated winos were to dig too deeply into one of those trenches, there is a very small, teensie-weensy, really nothing to worry about risk that we might hit some buried power or utility lines, which would cause a really big mess and ruin a lot of other wise perfectly good dirt, especially the subsoil below the prime stuff.

Not that you should worry about this, because we would never be so greedy or reckless as to do something like this. Plus your dirt will be only the prime stuff. Yup! Uh-huh. Yessiree-bob! Nothing to see here. Move along please. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Geez Gary.
Sorry (for whatever ticked you off).

There was a story from April 26 2006 that spoke of his intended deployment to Afghanistan. It may be what I was trying to recall.

Pertinent to the question of older stories on the same topic, and as it turns out, my constitutional confusion on perpetual display.

As Mr. Vonnegut said, “So it goes,”

Beeb costs 1.1 billion a year.

The liberals won't vote out the government over Afghanistan and has found over a billion extra for everyone. We were counting on the vote over Afghanistan, so I guess we can do what we want now that the Liberals ran with the cash again. Harry's question was?

The NAFTA attack was poorly timed. The liberals just made a deal to help NATO exist and all the NORAD radars or whatever in Europe and the new places is okay.

Obama and Hillary would have been fools not to renegotiate. It's just the beginning.

The Q West thing makes no sense. If it's NSA they have to comply. No warrants or nothin. I think it was only half the building but no one really noticed they were gone.

Plame's dad was Air Force, NSA and she did allot of domestic intelligence work on domestic political groups. Someone complained and was covered under No Fear. The CIA analysts have moved over to NSA/DIA and the Director was NSA.

"Sorry (for whatever ticked you off)"

Why would you think I'm "ticked off"? At what?

I stated seven words of relevant fact -- "He's only been there since late December" -- and asked a two word question, "[t]o what?"

Any emotional content or connotation you're reading into that is pure projection.

(Ditto if you read any emotion on my part into this comment, beyond interest in how people can imagine emotional connotation that is non-existent, simply because the blanks aren't filled in for them.)

If you reread the nine words you're responding to, you'll note that there's no actual emotional denotation whatever.

"To what?" isn't usually taken to express anger or give offense, in my experience. YMMV.

BTW, did anyone else think that the video on Hilzoy’s TPM link shows a Prez who was giving a press conference while high? The —call it joviality, call it being unable to keep a straight face— almost stand-up routine?
What’s going on here?

And in another vein:“My judgment happens to be the will of the people,” Just depends on whether the stress is on the first or last phrase, and of course we know what he wanted us to understand he was saying, but the necessary emphasis was lacking in his delivery. A Freudian slip, perhaps.

"The Q West thing makes no sense. If it's NSA they have to comply. No warrants or nothin. "

You're completely wrong. There's no "NSA gets an exception" clause to the Constitution, and no one has ever claimed there is. Not even the Bush administration has made up this particular claim. (They assert that various restrictions don't apply to the president, but they've never made any such claims about the NSA, as opposed to any other agency; you're just hallucinating that.)

"The liberals just made a deal to help NATO exist and all the NORAD radars or whatever in Europe and the new places is okay."

Um, what? We're venturing towards this territory.

Gary: Thanks.
Projection distorting perception,
One of my specialties.
Onward.

BTW, anyone want to address Bill's comments about CRA upthread, or are the implications behind it too ludicrous to bother with? Because I've seen the same kind of comments made by, not to put to fine a point on it, a lot of crypto-racists essentially saying, "If the government had made banks let all those poor (read: black) people buy houses, none of this would have happened."

As if treating all qualified borrowers at all income levels and in all geographic areas served by the bank the same -- which was the goal of CRA -- was the same thing as making loans you knew damned well you weren't going to get paid back, massaging the numbers to get them approved, lying to your borrowers about what they could afford, and planning to sell the whole thing off long before it was your problem anyway, are the same thing.

@Tulips: yeah, we were capitalists before the US was officially discovered. We've done that Republic thing too, and the overspending/overstretching war on Muslim Country (Atjeh in our case). Maybe you will keep following our lead and go for universal healthcare & gay marriage next :D

We will all hopefully be more restrictive about wiretaps. Unfortunately that is an area where the Netherlands has a baaaaad record. I have a dutch link to our digital ACLU, but we tap more and more easily than you do, have hardly any checks and all telco's are required to give access.

@Harry: He wanted to go to Iraq earlier, but that wasn't permitted. That story ran earlier (year ago or so).

February 19th, the US Supreme Court,ACLU V NSA, 07-468, upheld a ruling of the Sixth US Court of Appeals which in turn upheld a 11/18th,2002 ruling by the FISA Review Court that the NSA Surveillance program, also know as the Spying On Americans Before they Are Transported In Boxcars to Unknown Camps In the American Desert Program, is legal.

This leads me to suspect that the telecoms are not breaking the law, at least not with impunity. Well, maybe with a little impunity.

It also leads me to suspect that the US Supreme Court is in fact in the back pocket of the telecoms and in league with fat cat Republicans bent on destroying cherished civil liberties.

With roughly nine months to go before the election will the Republic survive? Will Barack bring "change", allowing lawyers to attempt to eviscerate the illegal monstrosity now sanctioned by three different courts wallowing in corruption?

Stay tuned, say your prayers, and donate to the DNC.
If you don't hear from me it's because I've skipped the country and am traveling abroad with Cindy Sheehan. Good luck to all and keep your doors double locked.

And while I'm posting, let me just say that Matt Drudge is a jerk for posting that Prince Harry is serving on the front lines in Afghanistan. I refuse to link to his story, which has to set some sort of horrible new record for irresponsibility.

*shrug*

Apparently it was one of those things: according to The Age, the Australian magazine New Idea published a story in January: a German newspaper ran a piece: the Drudge report picked it up.

If Harry's presence in a military unit is going to cause the other people in the unit to be under special threat, he shouldn't have been deployed in the first place, no matter what he or the Queen said about it. (Apparently the Queen was all for it, which doesn't surprise me. This is a win-win situation for the Royal Family, whether Harry lives, dies, or is injured.)

Oh, I'm being horribly cynical. I'm sure the Queen has ordinary grandmotherly feelings for Harry.

Well, almost sure.

BTW, anyone want to address Bill's comments about CRA upthread

Actually, Phil, I think you've nailed it, but I'll join in the chorus as well.

The current credit crisis is due to a bunch of greedy SOBs misrepresenting the risk profile of the financial instruments they were selling.

It has virtually nothing to do with the CRA. In fact, unless you equate the terms "lower income" and "unqualified", there is nothing relevant in the sections of the CRA that Bill cites.

Thanks -

For what it's worth, as a US citizen who spends lots of time in Canada, I'd be a lot more impressed if CBC came out with the story on Obama rather than CTV. CTV always struck me as the Fox-lite of Canada, or maybe the National Enquirer.

February 19th, the US Supreme Court,ACLU V NSA, 07-468, upheld a ruling of the Sixth US Court of Appeals which in turn upheld a 11/18th,2002 ruling by the FISA Review Court that the NSA Surveillance program, also know as the Spying On Americans Before they Are Transported In Boxcars to Unknown Camps In the American Desert Program, is legal.

Well, no.

The Supreme Court denied cert, which axiomatically is not an expression of opinion on the merits of the lower court's decision.

And the 6th Circuit did not hold that the program was legal--it held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue.

February 19th, the US Supreme Court,ACLU V NSA, 07-468, upheld a ruling of the Sixth US Court of Appeals which in turn upheld a 11/18th,2002 ruling by the FISA Review Court that the NSA Surveillance program, also know as the Spying On Americans Before they Are Transported In Boxcars to Unknown Camps In the American Desert Program, is legal.

Well, no.

The Supreme Court denied cert, which axiomatically is not an expression of opinion on the merits of the lower court's decision.

And the 6th Circuit did not hold that the program was legal--it held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue.

CTV is naming names and there seems to be no response from the campaign.

However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama's senior economic adviser -- Austan Goolsbee -- and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago.

But on Wednesday, one of the primary sources of the story, a high-ranking member of the Canadian embassy, gave CTV more details of the call. He even provided a timeline. He has since suggested it was perhaps a miscommunication.

Sources at the highest levels of the Canadian government -- who first told CTV that a call was made from the Obama camp -- have reconfirmed their position.

I’ll bet Mr. Goolsbee falls on his sword before Monday and claims Obama never authorized it.

"CTV is naming names and there seems to be no response from the campaign."

Other than over nine hours ago. This five hours ago.

From Talking Points Memo:
Late Update: Another round of denials from the Obama camp, more strenuous this time, including a denial from Goolsbee himself.

Note: I have not followed the links in the TPM post. This, like many other deep-in-the-weeds-of-the-campaign stories, is not something on which I'm going to spend mental energy. But I ran into it while trying to find FISA info at TPM, and it seemed to be a direct response to the points you raise. Enjoy.

And of course I should have figured Gary would get to it before I finished posting.

'I read that story over a minute ago and there is still no response! It has to be true!' ;^)

Fine – let’s give it a week and we’ll see who is right. I have no problem saying I was totally wrong.

I've been waiting for this one to sort itself out; I hate posting on things before it's reasonably clear what, exactly, happened. As best I can tell, Goolsbee has denied everything, as has the Canadian Embassy, and it has to be at least true that the original CTV story had details wrong. (Iirc, they first said that it was an Obama staffer, which I don't think Goolsbee is, who had contacted the Ambassador, which no one did.

There are two things that make me wonder whether anything happened at all. First, I'm assuming no campaign would say something that is demonstrably false, since then they might risk getting in trouble when that was exposed. The campaign has denied being in contact, and Goolsbee has said “I did not call these people and I direct you to the press office.” Second, the original report said that both the Clinton and Obama campaigns had made contact with the Canadians. Since that part of the story seems to have faded away, I'm guessing no one has found anything there, which would call their source's reliability into question.

That said, suppose something did happen. If I had to absolutely and totally guess, on the basis of absolutely nothing, what could have happened on the assumption that something did, I'd guess as follows:

(1) At least in Obama's case (I've been listening more carefully to him), he says: we need stronger labor and environmental standards, which is more or less standard for Democrats, and usually adds: but we absolutely shouldn't be protectionist; we can't roll back globalization, nor should we try. (Personally, I think this is absolutely right. I am for trade, but I think you absolutely must, must, must set its terms properly. The devil is in the details.)

(2) Like most positions that have an 'on the one hand... but on the other...' structure, it is possible to play up one side or the other, as circumstances require. I have been not been entirely happy with Obama's emphasis on NAFTA in Ohio, but I have been glad that he has not, in any of the appearances I've seen, left out the "but we can't roll back globalization" part.

(3) Goolsbee is an econ. advisor, not a staffer. He's an academic. I can easily imagine him talking to this embassy guy, whom he apparently knows anyways, and saying something like: look, all this NAFTA stuff sounds worse than it is -- just in an offhand way, and meaning: he's going to emphasize the anti-NAFTA part more than he might in idle conversation. I have a much harder time imagining anything like this happening with the approval of the campaign, simply because it's just too stupid, and this campaign as not been stupid. (And it's not as though Canadians are ignorant of US politics, or anything, so it wouldn't just be stupid; it would be stupid and unnecessary.)

(4) In this case, the following could be true:

* Goolsbee did, in fact, say something reassuring to the Canadian.

* That something was not, however, what the Obama campaign denies: "There was no one at any level of our campaign, at any point, anywhere, who said or otherwise implied Obama was backing away from his consistent position on trade." On my reading, Obama is not backing away from his consistent position on trade; he has merely been playing up one side of that consistent position, without leaving the other side out, and the reassuring thing that Goolsbee said was not "he doesn't believe what he's saying", but "he's putting more emphasis on the anti-NAFTA side of his views than on the pro-trade side."

* This wasn't done on orders from the campaign. Being an academic, I know us. We talk a lot. We are hard to keep on message. We say dumb things sometimes.

* Just for good measure: Goolsbee did not call the Canadian. The Canadian called him. (One reason I don't buy this whole story: that seems like a pretty dumb distinction for the Obama campaign to rest their denial on.)

Still, I'm not sure anything is behind this, for the reasons I gave above.

Oh, Nell and Gary:

Given Jes’s refusal to even acknowledge the legitimacy of a video just because it is hosted at FOX, I certainly do not acknowledge TPM as a reliable source on anything

As always, I yield to hilzoy as the sanest person on any topic…

"I can easily imagine him talking to this embassy guy, whom he apparently knows anyways"

Chicago consultate. Not "embassy."

I would assume that a prominent U. of Chicago economist like Goolsbee running into people from the Canadian consultate in Chicago at social and trade-related functions isn't a rare event.

Gary: right.

One other thing: I think Russert's question about withdrawing from NAFTA was incredibly stupid. Asking whether you'll withdraw from NAFTA if you can't renegotiate it is silly if you don't specify what it is that has to be renegotiated. And it's easy to say "yes, I will" while thinking: "but the likelihood that I won't be able to get any improvements at all is vanishingly small". (Compare: "would you, hilzoy, be prepared to withdraw from the entire world of lawful driving if you can't successfully negotiate a license renewal from the DMV?" So long as I thought it was overwhelmingly likely that I would in fact be able to renew my license, I could easily say "yes".)

My sense is that Obama was not prepared for this question, and was working out whether he could honestly agree (which is to say: whether he could commit to renegotiating something.) But what he actually committed to is next to nothing. (And agreeing to it would depend on things like: what are the Canadians and Mexicans likely to require in return? Is it likely to be onerous and unwelcome, or (like Canadians' insisting on our doing more about global warming, say, or Mexicans demanding an end to some agricultural subsidies) something that it might be good to be pressured on? What bargains are you likely to find yourself presented with, and how likely is it that none of them will beat withdrawing from NAFTA altogether?)

I just want to make sure that my tweak of OCSteve wasn't taken as anything other than a tweak. With the speed of news on the internet, it's very easy to go overboard on the notion of immediate response, which I was trying to make more of than I was tweaking OCSteve. Apologies.

I'm amused at this latest tidbit on the Harry story:

[...] Given the prince’s reputation, the wily British press had built a special condition into the deal: the embargo would apply only to the prince’s military role.

“If Prince Harry had managed to find a nightclub in Kabul, that news would have been acceptable to report,” Mr. Satchwell said.

rea, read the FISA Review Court's decision of 11/18/02, the one where the Court refers to the President's "inherent right" to conduct the NSA program as practiced.
Then sort the rest out for yourself.

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