In doing more research after last night’s article, I have a slight correction: There are actually two separate court cases going on here that may be forcing the hand of the Bush administration. First, there’s Hepting v. AT&T. That’s the case brought by the Electronic Freedom Foundation and Mark Klein.
There is also a separate case in which five states, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Missouri and Connecticut, are seeking information about telephone company involvement in the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping, which the Protect America Act seeks to deal with.
It’s the 5 state case, not Hepting v. AT&T, that there was a decision for on July 24. It is the Hepting v. AT&T case, and not the 5 state case, that there will be a hearing for on August 15.
The two cases are intricately related, however. One judge, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, is involved with both cases. Both cases are based upon the revelations by Mark Klein of a superspying supercomputer used by the NSA to monitor Internet traffic. Both cases are seeking the same information from the government, and were putting renewed simultaneous pressure on the Bush Administration at the very moment that George W. Bush announced a sudden need to get the Protect America Act pushed through Congress before the August congressional recess.
Both cases were going to be pushed forward, with information on the Internet spying program brought into the light, in the August 15 hearing. Judge Walker had made rejection of the government’s state secrets argument conditional upon what would be found at the August 15 hearing.
In short, everything hinged on the August 15 hearing, the process of which is now in jeopardy because of the provisions of the Protect America Act.
The more I look at this, the more convinced I am that the Protect America Act has very little to do with terrorism, very little to do with telephone calls made outside the country, and has an awful lot to do with something like the Total Information Awareness program proposed by John Poindexter back in the early days of the Bush Administration.
There’s a program to use supercomputers to route huge amounts of Internet activity, including emails, financial transactions, and who knows what else, into National Security Agency databases. The Protect America Act was rushed through Congress just when that program was about to be exposed – during the August recess.
Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe. There’s too much of an overlap, however, for further investigation not to be pursued, by Congress and in the courts.
Please help me connect the dots. There’s a lot of information to look through in this matter, and a lot of secrecy clouding the central issue. If you can find more information to help clarify the issue, I’d love to hear what you’ve got.
Update on the update: According to a New York Times article about the July 24 judgment, there are yet more lawsuits going through the courts, targeting the same information about the same gigantic espionage program, all threatening to bring the house of cards down around the heads of George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales. How many cases? The article refers to “about two dozen”.