Friday, May 19, 2006

A Nation of Suspects

by Eric Alterman
May 18, 2006

Back in January, while NBC’s Andrea Mitchell was interviewing New York Times reporter James Risen about his story that blew the lid off the National Security Agency’s secret wiretapping program, she asked a strange question.

In an interview that never actually ran on any NBC affiliate and which the network quickly scrubbed from its Web site, Mitchell asked Risen if he knew anything about reporters being swept up in the NSA’s domestic surveillance operation. He said he didn’t know.

She pressed harder, asking pointedly if he had any information showing that CNN’s Christiane Amanpour had been eavesdropped upon by the Feds. Risen again claimed ignorance. But the questions, and the fact that NBC pulled the transcript from their Web site, ignited a small storm of controversy in the blogosphere that ended up fading from public view almost as fast as it had erupted.

A few days later, an unnamed “senior U.S. intelligence official” would tell CNN that the “National Security Agency did not target CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour or any other CNN journalist for surveillance.” And that seemed to be good enough for the rest of the mainstream media.

At least until last week, when USA Today exposed what appears to be a massive internal eavesdropping program directed at American citizens. On Monday, only days after the USA Today’s scoop, ABC News’ Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported that a "senior federal law enforcement official" had informed them that "the government is tracking the phone numbers [the two reporters] call in an effort to root out confidential sources."

... A nation of sheep inevitably begets a government of wolves -- Edward R. Murrow

Monday, May 15, 2006

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket

Another buried story deserving of resurrection...

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket: "The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket

The agency is withholding a damning report that points at senior officials.

Robert Scheer

10/19/04 'ICH' -- 'Los Angeles Times' -- It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

'It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed,' an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that 'the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward.'

When I asked about the report, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) sent a letter 14 days ago asking for it to be delivered. 'We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report,' she said. 'We are very concerned.'

According to the intelligence official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, release of the report, which represents an exhaustive 17-month investigation by an 11-member team within the agency, has been 'stalled.' First by acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and now by Porter J. Goss, the former Republican House member (and chairman of the Intelligence Committee) who recently was appointed CIA chief by President Bush.

The offici"