Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MIKE MCCONNELL : THE GUY WHO DIDN'T GET THE MEMO?

"Congress should certainly be very skeptical about proposals to give this government greater powers to spy on its own citizens." --Caroline Fredrickson, the Washington legislative office director for the American Civil Liberties Union today. (AP)


wArshiNtuHN--Ret. Admiral Mike McConnell is the Director of all of the sundry intelligence agencies that are under the umbrella of the Executive branch. Today, he appears to have heard his master's voice, and is calling-for--don't laugh--an expansion of surveillance powers for the 16 agencies under his command. What exactly didn't he read about in the New York Times, the entire world press, and the hearings that have only begun in Congress? OK, he's just following-orders from George W. Bush, our ostensible president.

After all, he was appointed by him three-months-ago:

The changes McConnell is seeking mostly affect a cloak-and-dagger category of warrants used to investigate suspected spies, terrorists and other national security threats. The surveillance could include planting listening devices and hidden cameras, searching luggage and breaking into homes to make copies of computer hard drives. McConnell, who took over the 16 U.S. spy agencies and their 100,000 employees less than three months ago, is signaling a more aggressive posture for his office and will lay out his broad priorities on Wednesday as part of a 100-day plan. (AP, 04.10.2007)

Oh, OK, just "suspected terrorists" and just some "cloak-and-dagger" stuff--like spying-on antiwar activists, you political enemies, nothing much. AP should really just admit they're a North American Pravda for this paragraph, and the torrent of others like it.

But back to McConnell. He's being told to do this by the Bush administration, just more of the old bait-and-switch. You have to hand it to them though, since they've given-away every stupid trick that politicians use to manipulate public-opinion and perception. They really have given the game away in-spades, which is fine. We can also thank them and the Clinton administration (for neoliberal policies in Latin America) for making most of the Western Hemisphere go Left. Mexico nearly did, even with their stolen-election, but all of this is going to be good for Americans. That's right: corporations won't have so much of that cheap-labor and all the resources they could simply steal under all the banana dictatorships.

In the context of Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and even the "terrorist-threat," McConnell's "request" is weird and un-American in its tone. The hilarity of all this is that he wants to expand the 1978 FISA statute--the one his boss violated for several-years until the former-GOP majority was washed-out of office in November of 2006 (couldn't steal a landslide). Interestingly, there is a connection with the US Attorney firings:

Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., who unsuccessfully sponsored legislation last year to update FISA, said Congress must act because current court orders bolstering the president's terrorist surveillance program are legally shaky. She wants the law to be rewritten to ensure the NSA can continue the program. Bush has faced months of criticism for his 2001 decision to order the NSA to monitor the international calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when terrorism is suspected. (ibid)

This is the same Heather Wilson (along with GOP Sen. Pete Dominici) who called and pressured one US Attorney David Iglesias to "step-up" the investigation of a former New Mexico Democrat on a construction-site--before the elections in November, part of a smear-campaign perhaps? You think (Ret.) Admiral McConnell will get what his boss wants in "100-days"? Me either. I know, this administration has been so trustworthy, it hurts to tell them "no" to virtually everything.

Oh sure, the FBI, CIA, the NSA--they've never broken any existing-laws, not ever...well, OK, they have. The FBI has even admitted recently to abuses of oversight in their surveillance, but the FBI is well-known for illegal-surveillance and harassment of American citizens anyway. It's what they were designed to do.See the article a few cranks below this one on Fred Hampton. Hey, but don't trust me, check all of the declassified memos courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Mike must have missed this article from the Washington Post just eleven-days-ago:

Angry senators accused FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday of management failures that resulted in the dispatch of hundreds of national security letters and intelligence surveillance warrants containing erroneous information, and Mueller said he accepted that characterization. Both Republicans and Democrats at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing said the abuses have undermined the FBI's reputation and its authority to continue using such letters and warrants under conditions that Congress eased in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The letters allow the FBI to request information from businesses without a warrant, subpoena or judicial review. (Washingtonpost.com, 03.28.2007)

This is what Mike McConnell can expect in his so-called "100-days" that will end with a whimper. Expect his resignation before the end of the Bush administration's. I feel resigned to it myself... If you thought your job sucked, consider the job of Mr. McConnell who puts-in "16-18 hour days," working for a psychopath. OK, so you already know this drill.

It doesn't appear to be an entirely cozy honeymoon for McConnell and the Bush White House either: in the three-months he's been National Director of Intelligence, he hasn't had one of them approved by the Executive. There are a lot of uninteresting reasons why, but they have to have someone who got them into office in the post, right? The Biddles must be fed:

McConnell also suggested that someone currently in a senior intelligence position was not accepted by the White House, according to an administration official, who noted that at least one former senior official had turned down McConnell's appeal. One deterrent for any outside candidate is the short time left in the Bush administration and the possibility that a new administration, even a Republican one, would want to make its own selection. When McConnell's predecessor approached him last year about taking the deputy post, McConnell declined it, opting to stay in the private sector. McConnell changed his mind only when offered the top job. (Washington Post, 04.07.2007)

It's all good, Mikey worked under George H.W. Bush, so it's safe-to-say that dad sent him in to save his and junior's legacies...what little there ever was of them. He was chosen because he's "part of the club."

Mr. McConnell first came to public attention as the top intelligence officer to Gen. Colin L. Powell , then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , during the 1991 war. He conducted daily briefings not only for General Powell but for the defense secretary, Dick Cheney [Ed.- my emphasis.], now the vice president. He had contact with Mr. Gates, Mr. Hayden and Condoleezza Rice , now secretary of state, all of whom worked on the National Security Council in the administration of Mr. Bush’s father. (New York Times, 01.05.2007)

Isn't it nice to have friends? This article is dedicated to phony armchair-soliders like John Byrnes ( a true Spartan soldier in the sense you might think) everywhere.

AP Toadying: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070410/ap_on_go_ot/spy_chief_powers

Washington Post, 03.28.2007: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/27/AR2007032700471.html

Washington Post, 04.07.2007: http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/nation/17040579.htm