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Is Protect America Act About Hepting v. AT&T?

total informaton awareness hepting nsaWhy was there such a sudden rush by the Bush White House to pass the Protect America Act to legalize warrantless wiretapping of telephone, email… and perhaps more? Why would September be too late for George W. Bush? What would it be too late for?

Folks, the official explanations for this just don’t make sense. Why couldn’t the Bush Administration wait three weeks before getting this legal issue settled? Why was George W. Bush prepared to call an emergency session of Congress to deal with the issue?

They say it’s to protect us from terrorism this summer, but the federal intelligence agencies have already reported that there is no credible indication of any plan by terrorists to attack targets within the United States. There was no particular need to rush anything for the sake of security.

What about for the sake of covering up a surveillance program that’s much broader than has yet been revealed?

What about a legal protection for the Bush White House in dealing with an upcoming court date?

Put the pieces together:

Piece 1: Read the Frontline Interview with Mark Klein, who worked for AT&T and says he saw technology in place that was copying massive amounts of Internet traffic and re-routing it into National Security Agency computers – where it could be searched without a warrant.

Piece 2: On July 25, the ACLU Reports that the class action lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T, brought by the EFF on the basis of Mark Klein’s notes about the apparently active program to suck huge amounts of Internet activity into an NSA database, will not be dismissed. On July 24, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker refused to accept the government argument that state secrets required that the case be halted.

Piece 3: On August 15, there is a hearing scheduled in the Hepting v. AT&T court case. The government had lost the argument that its supposed state secrets could be kept out of the court. So, what was to be learned in this August 15 hearing?

That August 15 date is smack dab right in the middle of the August recess.

I can see two possibilities:

1. The clause in the Protect America Act that gives Alberto Gonzales the power to order all people involved in electronic espionage to keep quiet about the spying is going to keep Mark Klein from testifying, and will shut down the case, keeping information about this mysterious effort to dump huge amounts of Internet traffic into an NSA database (suspiciously like the one proposed for the Total Information Awareness program at DARPA) secret.

2. Information about this resurrected Total Information Awareness project done at the NSA with the help of AT&T will be released at the August 15th hearing, and the Bush White House knows it, so the Protect America Act is passed in order to provide everyone involved in the Bush Administration with legal amnesty, and the program can continue unhindered.

Maybe there are other possible scenarios. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. I’m not an information technology specialist, and I’m not a lawyer. However, the official explanations for the sudden panicky push for the Protect America Act just don’t pass my bullshit meter.

Think back now – did anyone hear about this emergency push by Bush to get the Protect America Act passed before the July 24th court ruling?

I’ve got an increasingly strong suspicion that this new law is about an awful lot more than just wiretapping a few foreign telephone calls.

I think we’re looking at the all-seeing eye of Total Information Awareness, in action, out of prototype. Of course, I could be wrong. This stuff is, after all, top secret.

Anyone care to help me out with my thinking on this?

Check out the update for a clarification on the lawsuits – there are two, not one.

8 comments to Is Protect America Act About Hepting v. AT&T?

  • SpankyTuTone

    This is a very good post, jclifford. I hope you can find out more about it.

    I’ll keep my eyes peeled for anything helpful.

  • I’m going to be up the night working on it actually. I don’t see anybody else who is checking out this angle out yet, but I’m hoping that we can get a team of people to research this out.

    Please do keep your eyes peeled, and let me know if you find anything.

  • What I find interesting is the “news” getting out now about a possible
    imminent attack on America in the next 90 days. Is this a ploy to make
    the “Protect America Act” more palitable, or is it a knee jerk reaction
    to blogs like this that expose the genitalia of big brother for the
    Cialis hungry screw everyone mentality run amuck?

    http://www.rb59.com/prophecy-news/2007/08/possible-attack-on-us-within-ninety_09.html

  • In other words, this news about a new threat of attack is total bull – notice how there’s no official confirmation of it, just some independent, non-governmental henny penny?

  • S.M.R.

    wasn’t Hepting decided in 2006? and the PAA was introducted in July 2007? so the YEAR in between is kind of a problem for your theory, no?

  • Jim

    Hepting was filed in 2006. It is (or was until the passage in Summer 2008 of the FISA Amendments Act that removed its standing) pending before the 9th Circuit Court.

  • S.M.R.

    First, Jim you are my hero because I was trying to connect the dots for a paper and that gives me a perfect explanation,

    Second, although its probably a moot point, the way the post was phrased made it seem like (at least to me) the court refused to dismiss the case, then days later Bush and Co. drafted and tried to pass the PAA. Was I the only one to see it that way?

    Either way, thanks… I thought this post was dead

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