UT Documents


I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, March 28, 2008

McCain and Bush

U.S. must prevent tyranny, spread freedom:

McCain: "We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people. This is not just idealism. It is the truest kind of realism. It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace.

Bush: "This status quo of despotism and anger cannot be ignored or appeased, kept in a box or bought off, because we have witnessed how the violence in that region can reach easily across borders and oceans. The entire world has an urgent interest in the progress, and hope, and freedom in the broader Middle East. . . .Our strategy to keep the peace in the longer term is to help change the conditions that give rise to extremism and terror, especially in the broader Middle East. Parts of that region have been caught for generations in a cycle of tyranny and despair and radicalism."

Stop supporting authoritarian regimes:

McCain: "For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability. We relied on the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam Hussein. We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-dated autocracies is the safest bet. They no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it."

Bush: "The advance of hope in the Middle East requires new thinking in the region. By now it should be clear that authoritarian rule is not the wave of the future; it is the last gasp of a discredited past. . . .The advance of hope in the Middle East also requires new thinking in the capitals of great democracies -- including Washington, D.C. By now it should be clear that decades of excusing and accommodating tyranny, in the pursuit of stability, have only led to injustice and instability and tragedy."

Must spread democracy to create peace:

McCain: "We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people. This is not just idealism. It is the truest kind of realism. It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace."

Bush: "It should be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors. It should be clear that the best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies. And our duty is now clear: For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East. . . . . . We're also determined to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

Democracy, love and peace are sprouting in the Middle East:

McCain: "If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and Indonesia. Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region."

Bush: "For all these reasons, the chances of democratic progress in the broader Middle East have seemed frozen in place for decades. Yet at last, clearly and suddenly, the thaw has begun . . . . Across the Middle East, a critical mass of events is taking that region in a hopeful new direction."

Work with allies key to stopping Iranian proliferation:

McCain: "We also share an obligation with the world's other great powers to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The United States and the international community must work together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North Korea's nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran -- a nation whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the face of the earth -- from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Bush: "Like al Qaeda and the Sunni extremists, the Iranian regime has clear aims: They want to drive America out of the region, to destroy Israel, and to dominate the broader Middle East. . . . It's time for Iran's leader to make a different choice. And we've made our choice. We'll continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution. The world's free nations will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."

Things are going well in Iraq:

McCain: "The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi. People are going back to work. Markets are open. Oil revenues are climbing. Inflation is down. Iraq's economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008. Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and provincial grassroots level. Sunni and Shi'a chased from their homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning. Political progress at the national level has been far too slow, but there is progress."

Bush: "Iraq's democracy, in the long run, must also be defended by Iraqis, themselves. Our goal is to help Iraqi security forces move toward self-reliance, and they are making daily progress. Iraqi forces were the main providers of security at about 5,000 polling places in the January elections. Our coalition is providing equipment and training to the new Iraqi military, yet they bring a spirit all of their own."

Fighting Terrorism requires much more than military force:

McCain: "Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military force. It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities."

Bush: "This objective will not be achieved easily, or all at once, or primarily by force of arms. We know that freedom, by definition, must be chosen, and that the democratic institutions of other nations will not look like our own."

Win hearts and minds by changing the Middle East:

McCain: "I have called for major changes in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic extremism by much greater resources for and integration of civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict challenges. Our goal must be to win the "hearts and minds" of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists. In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs."

Bush: "We're working to deny terrorists new recruits, by defeating their hateful ideology and spreading the hope of freedom -- by spreading the hope of freedom across the Middle East. . . .The experience of September the 11th made clear, in the long run, the only way to secure our nation is to change the course of the Middle East. So America has committed its influence in the world to advancing freedom and liberty and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism."

"Victory" in Iraq:

McCain: "Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists."

Bush: "Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down the terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. . . .The combination of political and military reform will lay a solid foundation for a free and stable Iraq. . . .The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder, and make our nation safer."

Nothing new -- just an extension of what American has always done -- WW2, Cold War:

McCain: "President Harry Truman once said of America, 'God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose.' In his time, that purpose was to contain Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that could provide safe passage through the Cold War. Now it is our turn."

Bush: "This advance is a consistent theme of American strategy -- from the Fourteen Points, to the Four Freedoms, to the Marshall Plan, to the Reagan Doctrine. And now, freedom is once again contending with the forces of darkness and tyranny. . . . The road ahead is going to be difficult, and it will require more sacrifice. Yet we can have confidence in the outcome, because we've seen freedom conquer tyranny and terror before. In the 20th century, free nations confronted and defeated Nazi Germany. During the Cold War, we confronted Soviet communism, and today Europe is whole, free and at peace."

Islamic Terrorism supreme, transcendent, overarching struggle of our time:

McCain: "It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This challenge is transcendent not because it is the only one we face. . . .But the threat posed by the terrorists is unique. Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has -- to protect the lives of the American people."

Bush: "We fight for this day, because the security of our own citizens depends on it. This is the great ideological struggle of the 21st century -- and it is the calling of our generation. All civilized nations are bound together in this struggle between moderation and extremism."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Excerpts of interview with Sinan Antoon and Ali Fadhil

This excerpt:

SINAN ANTOON: So, for us, for American citizens to understand, it`s not enough just to go back to 2003 and see what mistakes were committed.

And to answer your questions, the problem we have also in the discourse is all this talk. About mistakes and whatnot. The premise of the entire war is not questioned. It`s not -- even if no mistakes were ever done...


SINAN ANTOON: ... citizens need to understand that human beings, by and large, do not like to be occupied by foreigners, no matter what, and that was the case. So, even if no mistakes would have been done, people would have said in a very short period of time, thank you, bye-bye.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. But I mean, that then raises the question whether you could have done it a way that you did jot create the idea of occupation.

SINAN ANTOON: No, because...

CHARLIE ROSE: You pleaded (ph) the idea of liberation, not occupation. Unless you say that`s not possible at all.

SINAN ANTOON: It would have been impossible because the practices of the United States Army and the Pentagon reflect, also, a certain ideology and a way of looking at the Middle East and a way of looking at the past and its history. So, we don`t have time to go through all of that, but these mistakes are made -- they`re not side mistakes. They reflect the structure and the approach to the Middle East and to Iraq, and to its history. And this amnesia that I`m talking about, how would the people who have been oppressed for 35 years by a dictator that was supported by the United States, in a region where the United States supports dictators, how would they accept that America would come to spread democracy?

Yes, some of them did. Some of them believed the United States. But looking around, you know, if the United States was interested in democracy, it would maybe topple Saudi Arabia. Why go to Iraq?

CHARLIE ROSE: So we have a credibility problem when we talk about...

SINAN ANTOON: The United States has always it, and in the last five years it`s lost any credibility it might have had, I think. And this is -- this is not controversial. This is what people write in the Middle East, and you can read it, and it`s based on sound material and reality. It`s not ideological.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. Projecting forward, what`s necessary for the United States to change that perception and that really?

SINAN ANTOON: Well, we`re assuming that the United States wants to change that perception.

CHARLIE ROSE: All right. Well, let`s assume for the sake of argument they do.

SINAN ANTOON: A recognition. What Iraqis and others in the Middle East need is a recognition of the crime committed against the Iraqis, and of the destruction of their society, the disintegration of everything that was good in Iraq in the last five years.

Or this:
CHARLIE ROSE: So, should the United States not have stopped the Iraqis from pushing -- should not have repelled the Iraqis in Kuwait?

SINAN ANTOON: No, but we always have a conflation.

I was in Iraq. A lot of Iraqis were not for the invasion of Kuwait. But it's one thing to eject Saddam`s army from Kuwait, and it`s another to bomb the power plants, all the bridges. I was living there. All the bridges throughout Iraq, 115 bridges, were bombed. What did that have to do with Kuwait? And for a general to say, "We bombed them back to the preindustrial age" . . . .

Or this:

CHARLIE ROSE: So, are you saying then -- I`m going to get back to you in just a second -- you`re saying that for anybody who is demanding political reconciliation, it`s a fool`s errand?

SINAN ANTOON: But these concepts -- you know, first you need to have a functioning society with electricity and water, and you can walk down the street. And then you have reconciliation...

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. So you can`t have political reconciliation until you have cured problems of sanitation, electricity, security, and...

SINAN ANTOON: Of course. And it's a crime after five years that electricity is not back to prewar levels, because Saddam Hussein, who was a dictator I detested, was able to have electricity back in 45 days. So, why is the United States not having achieved that in five years? It's not just miscalculations.


SINAN ANTOON: It`s a host of complex reasons. But that was never a priority.

The priority was, you know, to make sure that the oil flows. Sorry, but that is true.

The only sector that`s working well right now is the oil sector. It`s not the schools, not the hospitals, not the reconstruction. The oil sector is working.

And finally, this:

CHARLIE ROSE: So where do we go from here? Five years after the invasion of Iraq, what is a wise American policy?

ALI FADHIL: Let me start with telling you what is happening right now, what is the American policy right now in Iraq.

It`s so shame to say that America is in Iraq right now, and particularly the State Department and also the Pentagon as well, the U.S. Army in Iraq. They're going back to Saddam`s policies in everything.

If you, you know, name it, name the most successful project of the surge -- outcome of the surge, the (INAUDIBLE) councils. You know, these insurgents, the Sunnis, even Shiites.

CHARLIE ROSE: The so-called awakening.

ALI FADHIL: Awakening council, exactly. They're giving them money to protect their own neighborhoods.

Isn't that the same what happened under Saddam? I mean, I am an Iraq. I remember very well that the Ba`ath Party regimes -- who many of these people, by the way, are there from the Ba`ath Party regime -- they were money from the government to have their night shifts in the neighborhood. You know, going around, making sure if some youth gather at some streets to know exactly what they`re seeing.

It`s the same. This is one thing.

The second policy about the tribes, the U.S. Army is paying for the tribes in the south and the west to guard their own areas. You know, part of the awakening councils. That`s exactly what Saddam did. He was giving...

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. Would you like for the United States` military -- Senator Barack`s proposal is that we make a date certain, within 16 months, withdraw.

Is that a wise policy, in your judgment?

ALI FADHIL: Definitely. Definitely.

CHARLIE ROSE: Just get out of Iraq in some kind of ordered way?

ALI FADHIL: You are -- the Americans in Iraq are like a virus, like a disease. And for us we need to get rid of the Americans, because the Americans just don`t know what they`re doing.

They`re -- anything they do -- probably even in good intentions -- is bad for us, everything they do, everything. There`s nothing they`re doing is right.

And that's what is going to happen. It's just prolonging the diaspora of the Iraqis.We're suffering more and more every day. We need, you know, to start the salvation (ph).

SINAN ANTOON: American citizens have such a long time -- come such a long time to understand that it was an occupation. For three years people would say -- they`d call it an occupation.

The president today said something really obscene to my mind. He said Iraq is witnessing the first Arab uprising against al Qaeda.

We did not have al Qaeda in Iraq before. We had a ruthless dictatorship.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NYT pre-war ad

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Summary of House FISA bill

FISA Amendments Act

Bill Summary

March 11, 2008

The revised House legislation to amend FISA grants new authorities for conducting electronic surveillance against foreign targets while preserving the requirement that the government obtain an individualized FISA court order, based on probable cause, when targeting Americans at home or abroad. The House bill also strongly enhances oversight of the Administration’s surveillance activities. Finally, the House bill does not provide retroactive immunity for telecom companies but allows the courts to determine whether lawsuits should proceed.

Title 1: Surveillance Authorities

· Provides for surveillance of terrorist and other targets overseas who may be communicating with Americans.

· Requires the FISA court to approve targeting and minimization procedures – to ensure that Americans are not targeted and that their inadvertently intercepted communications are not disseminated. These procedures must be approved prior to surveillance beginning – except in an emergency, in which case the government may begin surveillance immediately, and the procedures must be approved by the court within 30 days. (This may be extended if the court determines it needs more time to decide the matter).

· Provides prospective liability protection for telecommunications companies that provide lawful assistance to the government.

· Requires a court order based on probable cause to conduct surveillance targeted at Americans, whether inside the United States or abroad.

· Requires an Inspector General report on the President’s warrantless surveillance program.

· Prohibits “reverse targeting” of Americans.

· Explicitly establishes FISA Exclusivity – that FISA is the exclusive way to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance inside the U.S. Any other means requires an express statutory authorization.

· Sunsets these authorities on December 31, 2009 (same as the PATRIOT Act sunset).

Title 2: Litigation Procedures for Telecommunication Company Liability

· Does not confer retroactive immunity on telecom companies alleged to have assisted in the President’s warrantless surveillance program.

· Provides telecom companies a way to present their defenses in secure proceedings in district court without the Administration using “state secrets” to block those defenses.

Title 3: National Commission on Warrantless Surveillance

· Establishes a bipartisan, National Commission – with subpoena power – to investigate and report to the American people on the Administration’s warrantless surveillance activities, and to recommend procedures and protections for the future.