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Originally published in the May/June 2008 Radar magazine.
by Christopher Ketcham - April 29, 2008
For decades the federal government has been developing a highly classified plan that would override the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it also compiling a secret enemies list of citizens who could face detention under martial law?
In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president’s henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.
The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft’s second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush’s first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration’s various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn’t allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush’s men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.
Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program’s authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey’s words, “to take advantage of a very sick man,” sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft’s sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and “literally ran” up the hospital stairs to beat them there.
Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. “I’m not the attorney general,” Ashcroft told Bush’s men. “There”—he pointed weakly to Comey—“is the attorney general.” Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey’s presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—“without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality,” he testified.
A US campaign watchdog has accused presumptive Republican president nominee John McCain of violating election laws by accepting campaign contributions from two prominent Londoners.
At issue is a fundraising luncheon held in March at London's Spencer House, during McCain's swing through the United Kingdom. An invitation to the event lists Lord Rothschild and Nathaniel Rothschild as hosts, and indicates the event was made possible with their "kind permission".
Judicial Watch, a Washington organisation instrumental in the March release of Hillary Clinton's White House schedules, has asked US election monitors to investigate whether the Rothschilds improperly sponsored the fundraiser. US political campaigns are forbidden from accepting contributions from foreign nationals.
"The question is whether or not the Rothschilds paid for the event, the venue, the catering, or any other related costs," said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.
And then they came for . . . all of us . . . Betsy
How Daniel Pipes Destroyed a New York City Principal
Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 05:43:24 AM PDT
The New York Times has a cautionary tale of how mainstream hate masquerading as patriotism can destroy projects designed to promote peace and understanding. The front-page article - Her Dream, Branded as a Threat - is a sad tale of an idealistic educator whose vision of a school for teaching NY City kids Arabic was ruined by a hate campaign organized by the well-known neoconservative "scholar" Daniel Pipes.
Debbie Almontaser dreamed of starting a public school like no other in New York City. Children of Arab descent would join students of other ethnicities, learning Arabic together. By graduation, they would be fluent in the language and groomed for the country’s elite colleges. They would be ready, in Ms. Almontaser’s words, to become "ambassadors of peace and hope."