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Inquiry into leak of NSA spying program launched

Friday, December 30, 2005; Posted: 11:53 a.m. EST (16:53 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department has opened an investigation into leaks to the media about the classified domestic National Security Agency surveillance program.

The New York Times was the first to report the story on December 16th and then officials confirmed the existence of it to CNN and other organizations. "The Justice Department has opened an investigation of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information related to the NSA," a Justice Department official tells CNN. The secret eavesdropping program, which President Bush authorized shortly after the September 11 attacks, allows the NSA to intercept domestic communications without a warrant, as long as one party is outside the United States. Bush, who confirmed the program's existence earlier this month, says it is essential to help counterterrorism agents quickly trace the communications of terror suspects. (Full story) "We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to al Qaeda here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives," Bush said during a December 19 news conference. "To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks." "It has been effective in disrupting the enemy while safeguarding our civil liberties," the president added. Bush, who first authorized the program in early 2002, said he has renewed the program over 30 times since its inception and reviews it every 45 days. But Democrats and some Republicans have questioned the legality of the program, and some lawmakers have called for an independent investigation or congressional hearings. Many lawmakers question why the the president did not get authorization for the wiretaps from a secret court established by the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). "FISA says it's the exclusive law to authorize wiretaps," Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin told CNN. "This administration is playing fast and loose with the law in national security. The issue here is whether the president of the United States is putting himself above the law, and I believe he has done so." Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said the president could have gone back to a FISA court to get approval even after the wiretaps started if he was concerned about speed. "I'm just stunned by the president's rationales with respect to the illegal wiretapping," Reed said. "There are two points that have to be emphasized with respect to the FISA procedure: They're secret and they're retroactive. "There is no situation where time is of such an essence they can't use the FISA proceedings. And so the president's justification, I think, is without merit." But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the president's authorization of the program was within his legal authority. "There were many people, many lawyers within the administration who advised the president that he had an inherent authority as commander-in-chief under the Constitution to engage in these kind of signals, intelligence of our enemy," Gonzales said. (Read Attorney General Gonzales' defense of the secret wiretaps) However, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who negotiated the congressional resolution with the White House, disputes the claim that the authorization to use force permitted Bush to launch the secret wiretaps without court authorization. (Full Story) The defense attorneys for several terror suspects prosecuted by the Justice Department said Wednesday they might file court motions questioning the legality of the NSA surveillance project. (Full Story) Kevin Bohn of CNN's Washington Bureau contributed to this report. - Story

   
       
 

IRAQ WAR VETERANS COMING BACK TO RUN AS DEMOCRATS

Vets get in races to fight GOP War experience touted for Dems. Veterans for a Secure America fields candidates for Congress nationwide, including two in Colorado. By Jim Hughes Denver Post Staff Writer More than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority. In Colorado, two former military men, Jay Fawcett and Bill Winter, are vying for the House seats of two strong, entrenched Republicans: Rep. Joel Hefley of the 5th Congressional District and Rep. Tom Tancredo of the 6th Congressional District, respectively. "Do we understand military and foreign affairs? You bet," Fawcett said. "Most of us have been to the point where you get a direct dose of military and foreign affairs, mostly in the category of small-caliber weapons. But we understand that that is just one aspect of national policy." On Dec. 20, Fawcett and Winter joined 35 Democratic veterans running for Congress at a strategy session in Washington, D.C. The veterans voted on a name for their emerging caucuslike campaign coalition: Veterans for a Secure America. They also agreed that their military backgrounds should be promoted as credentials for leadership across the full spectrum of public policy, said Fawcett, an Air Force veteran of the 1991 Gulf War who has taught at the Air Force Academy and now works as a consultant to Northern Command in Colorado Springs. The group will reconvene in Washington in February to respond to President Bush's State of the Union address in a news conference on the steps of the Capitol, Winter said. An attorney and the former president of the grassroots liberal organizing group Be The Change, Winter spent 10 peacetime years in the Marine Corps and the Navy. Fawcett said the group is not anti-war but is concerned about what appears to be a lack of a solid plan for the war in Iraq. He said the group's military experience could be crucial in providing better leadership. The war in Iraq, which polls show is now unpopular with most Americans, is a growing political weakness for Bush and for Republican lawmakers, Democratic strategists say. As proof, they point to the experience last summer of Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran who narrowly lost a congressional bid in a solidly Republican district in Ohio. Hackett now is running for Senate. "Iraq is in the eye of the beholder in many ways, but increasingly, the public is viewing it negatively," said Rick Ridder, a Democratic consultant in Denver. "I certainly think there is a greater momentum now among (Democratic) veterans, after Hackett did so well in a predominantly Republican district." But Republicans are confident they can maintain their traditional strength among voters focused on the military and veterans' issues, said Carl Forti of the National Republican Congressional which recruits Republican candidates across the country. "People may not like the war, but they still believe that Republicans will do a better job of protecting them than Democrats," Forti said. "And if Democrats want to try to make an issue of the war and security, especially Democrats who have a voting record - they have an abysmal voting record on defense spending." At least two military veterans have entered congressional races as Republicans, one of them a veteran of the Iraq war, Forti said. If Democrats think they can create a winning election-year theme with veterans as candidates, they are wrong, Forti said. "They have two major problems: Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean," he said. Pelosi, the Democratic House minority leader from California, wants the U.S. to pull out of Iraq. Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently said the U.S. would not prevail there. Both are unpopular positions, Forti said. "These are Democrats who happen to be military veterans who are running for Congress," he said of Veterans for Security. "It's one résumé item. Just because you are a military guy doesn't make you a congressman." Forti's counterparts at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are not actively recruiting military veterans, spokeswoman Sarah Steinberg said. "They absolutely serve a very good contrast against Republicans," she said. "But in every district, our goal is to recruit the best possible candidate we can." In Colorado, both Fawcett and Winter are likely to face uphill battles against the Republican incumbents. Hefley, who has not said yet whether he will seek re-election, has been elected to represent his heavily Republican district nine times before. And Tancredo is on a roll, Winter acknowledged, having emerged as a national conservative leader in the push to change immigration laws. Staff writer Jim Hughes can be reached at 303-820-1244 or jhughes@denverpost.com.

- Story

   
       
 

NSA Tracked Your Surfing Activity

Spy Agency Removes Illegal Tracking Files

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: December 29, 2005

The New York Times reports that the National Security Agency has been placing cookies onto the computers of anyone who visits their website. The cookies were tracking the online activity of those users. Two cookie files were not set to expire until 2035. An NSA spokesman said the files were an unintentional result of a software upgrade that was recently completed. The cookies are now disabled. In 2000, federal agencies were given specific guidelines for acceptable use of cookie files. In 2003, an additional White House mandate said that if an agency is using cookies, they must describe how the information will be used and seek approval from a senior official. In 2002, the CIA removed cookies from one of its websites after a privacy group discovered them.

Story

   
       
 

Bush Administration Allegedly Had Secret Meetings With News Editors

December 27, 2005 2:01 p.m. EST Ayinde O. Chase - All Headline News Staff Writer Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors in recent weeks in an effort to prevent publication of stories the administration deems damaging to national security. The muffling efforts have failed with editors opting to publish stories they see fit with few if any concessions. Rare White House meetings with executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times lead some to believe how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics and interrogation measures. Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, would not confirm the meeting with Bush before publishing reporter Dana Priest's Nov. 2 article disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe used to interrogate terror suspects. However, Downie does say, “When senior administration officials raised national security questions about details in Dana's story during her reporting, at their request we met with them on more than one occasion." He goes on to say, "The meetings were off the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her story." Allegedly at least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss. Intelligence officials remaining unnamed say, "This was a matter of concern for intelligence officials, and they sought to address their concerns.” While some are grateful for the initial story uncovering the supposed secret prisons, some readers criticized The Post for withholding the location of the prisons at the administration's request. - Story

   
       
 

Defense Department calls South Florida peace groups `threats'

Anti-war activists under watch

By Robert Nolin and Sean Gardiner Staff Writers

Posted December 15 2005

South Florida's anti-war activists are few in number. Many are retirees, veterans or students. They carry puppets, wave placards or hand out pamphlets to potential military recruits. But these activities have been labeled a "threat" by the Defense Department. Local peace-mongers, like many around the country, have come under surveillance by the Pentagon. "I'm disabled, I'm 59 and if I'm a credible threat to the government of the United States, then either the government is terribly paranoid or terribly weak," said Rich Hersh of Boca Raton, whose group, the Truth Project, has come under federal scrutiny. The military's domestic surveillance was disclosed this week in a report on NBC Nightly News, which obtained a 400-page Department of Defense document outlining the surveillance of peace groups. Acting on a complaint from the Truth Project, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson posted a letter Wednesday to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, demanding an accounting. "I am very concerned that the military's apparent expansion of domestic intelligence gathering could lead to unprecedented invasions of privacy of lawful citizens simply for exercising their right of free speech," the Democratic senator wrote, citing the NBC report as well as "other major media services" as the source for his concern. The Defense Department's chief spokesman, Gregory Hicks, initially promised to make a statement. By Wednesday night, however, none had been issued. Word of the military surveillance spread quickly Wednesday among the area's various anti-war groups. "It's a major buzz," said Ray Del Papa of Fort Lauderdale, with the Broward Anti-War Coalition. South Florida's dedicated peace activists, who arguably number fewer than 500, greeted the news with dismay, anger and even pride. No one was surprised. "We suspected for a long time that the group was being watched, but we don't really care. We have nothing to hide," said Hersh, whose group counts about eight members, most over 50 and many who are Quakers. "I always felt this was going to happen," said Del Papa, 52. "You have paranoid leadership, and they're afraid of everything." Del Papa said his group, which for two years has organized monthly, then weekly, protests outside the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale, has attracted government agents to meetings in private homes. Though the agents were disguised as anarchists, Del Papa said their footwear gave them away: Nike or Reebok running shoes, which to anarchists represent corporate greed. "No anarchist is going to wear Nikes or Reeboks to a protest," Del Papa said. The Truth Project, which gathers in the Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, engages in "counter-recruiting" efforts at Palm Beach County high schools. With the permission of school officials, members distribute materials to students to counteract claims by military recruiters. "We're not in there to disturb the school or anything like that," Hersh said. "To see us as a threat is kind of ludicrous." Michael Foley, associate professor of politics at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., said the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, made it possible for the military to engage in domestic surveillance. The practice hearkens to the 1960s and 1970s, when the government monitored many peaceful protest groups. Foley, who specializes in internal security and politics, said spying on groups like the Truth Project can be an inefficient use of government time and money. "There's a lot of retirees, a lot of older people who are involved in protesting," he said. "There's not much alarming here. What do you expect Quakers to do?" Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco said government surveillance could -- intentionally or otherwise -- deter people from expressing their views. "It's intimidating to those who want to exercise their constitutional rights," said Zunes, a professor of politics and expert on nonviolent social movements. The Defense Department monitored a protest last April during the Air & Sea Show in Fort Lauderdale, the NBC report said, but labeled the 15 or so protesters as a "US group exercising constitutional rights." One of that rally's organizers, Peter Ackerman, a Fort Lauderdale Quaker, was saddened to learn of the surveillance. "We become the enemy, we become the suspicious, we become the guilty," he said. "This is a good indication that the government cannot be trusted with the powers that the Patriot Act grants." Domestic surveillance is conducted by federal, state and local authorities, said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. "We're going to have to fight this at all levels," he said. Marie Zwicker of Lake Worth, a member of the Truth Project, said her group will continue to invite the public to their meetings, despite the chance of government surveillance. "I guess they view us as a credible threat because we tell the truth," she said.

Robert Nolin can be reached at rnolin@sun-sentinel.com

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Bush is Using the NSA to attack Newspaper Editors - Yeah, they're damaging alright. Damaging to his presidency.

Bush Presses Editors on Security

President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security. The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics. Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, would not confirm the meeting with Bush before publishing reporter Dana Priest's Nov. 2 article disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe used to interrogate terror suspects. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, would not confirm that he, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman had an Oval Office sit-down with the president on Dec. 5, 11 days before reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed that Bush had authorized eavesdropping on Americans and others within the United States without court orders. But the meetings were confirmed by sources who have been briefed on them but are not authorized to comment because both sides had agreed to keep the sessions off the record. The White House had no comment. "When senior administration officials raised national security questions about details in Dana's story during her reporting, at their request we met with them on more than one occasion," Downie says. "The meetings were off the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her story." At least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss, the sources said. "This was a matter of concern for intelligence officials, and they sought to address their concerns," an intelligence official said. Some liberals criticized The Post for withholding the location of the prisons at the administration's request. After Bush's meeting with the Times executives, first reported by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, the president assailed the paper's piece on domestic spying, calling the leak of classified information "shameful." Some liberals, meanwhile, attacked the paper for holding the story for more than a year after earlier meetings with administration officials. "The decision to hold the story last year was mine," Keller says. "The decision to run the story last week was mine. I'm comfortable with both decisions. Beyond that, there's just no way to have a full discussion of the internal procedural twists that media writers find so fascinating without talking about what we knew, when, and how -- and that I can't do." Some Times staffers say the story was revived in part because of concerns that Risen is publishing a book on the CIA next month that will include the disclosures. But Keller told the Los Angeles Times: "The publication was not timed to the Iraqi election, the Patriot Act debate, Jim's forthcoming book or any other event." Bought Off? The admission by two columnists that they accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be the tip of a large and rather dirty iceberg. Copley News Service last week dropped Doug Bandow -- who also resigned as a Cato Institute scholar -- after he acknowledged taking as much as $2,000 a pop from Abramoff for up to two dozen columns favorable to the lobbyist's clients. "I am fully responsible and I won't play victim," Bandow said in a statement after Business Week broke the story. "Obviously, I regret stupidly calling to question my record of activism and writing that extends over 20 years. . . . For that I deeply apologize." Peter Ferrara of the Institute for Policy Innovation has acknowledged taking payments years ago from a half-dozen lobbyists, including Abramoff. Two of his papers, the Washington Times and Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, have now dropped him. But Ferrara is unapologetic, saying: "There is nothing unethical about taking money from someone and writing an article." Readers might disagree on grounds that they have no way of knowing about such undisclosed payments, which seem to be an increasingly common tactic for companies trying to influence public debate through ostensibly neutral third parties. When he was a Washington lawyer several years ago, says law professor Glenn Reynolds, a telecommunications carrier offered him a fat paycheck -- up to $20,000, he believes -- to write an opinion piece favorable to its position. He declined. In the case of Bandow's columns, says Reynolds, who now writes the InstaPundit blog, "one argument is, it's probably something he thought anyway, but it doesn't pass the smell test to me. I wouldn't necessarily call it criminal, but it seems wrong. People want to craft a rule, but what you really need is a sense of shame." Rest of Story

   
       
 

Anti War Activists on the NSA Spy List

Spied on by government, S. Florida activist group demands congressional inquiry Pentagon scrutiny may lead to lawsuit

By Mike Clary Staff Writer

Posted December 21 2005

A Palm Beach County group known to have been spied on under a secret Pentagon program has launched a campaign to seek a congressional investigation of what members allege are blatant infringements of civil liberties. Attorneys for the Truth Project Inc., formed last year to counter military recruitment in high schools, say they also are exploring a lawsuit that could put the Lake Worth-based group at the center of a wider effort to reveal a pattern of Bush administration surveillance of anti-war and activist organizations in South Florida and elsewhere. The group plans a news conference at 5 p.m. today in front of the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach, where members intend to discuss their legal strategy. "We expect this to be a springboard for litigation with a national impact," attorney Rob Ross said. The efforts of the Truth Project comes at a time of growing furor over President Bush's assertion that he has the authorization to order the National Security Agency to carry out domestic eavesdropping, without a court order, in pursuit of terrorists. Adding to the concerns of civil libertarians were revelations, published by The New York Times on Tuesday, that the FBI had conducted many secret intelligence-gathering efforts directed at groups as diverse as animal rights organizations and poverty agencies. There have been no indications that the members of the Truth Project were being monitored for any links to terrorism or al-Qaida, or would have been the focus of any of the domestic spying efforts Bush said he has approved on more than 30 occasions since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Yet members of the Truth Project and other South Florida groups, many of them veterans of the local protest scene, seemed convinced they still are under surreptitious scrutiny by the government. At an organizing meeting Monday at a member's home in Lake Clarke Shores, several people reported hearing mysterious clicks and echoes during recent telephone conversations and noticing cars they considered suspicious pass by during meetings. During one outdoor gathering by a Lake Worth canal, Marie Zwicker said she had seen men in a Boston Whaler cruise by, posing, unconvincingly, she added, as fishermen. "It was the wrong time of day," she said. More than one person at Monday's meeting, including host Bonnie Redding, recalled a one-liner popular during the Nixon era: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that someone isn't out to get you." "They may try to silence us, to intimidate us, but it just makes me feel more committed," said Redding, 55. Also at the meeting were representatives from Coral Springs for Peace and the Broward Antiwar Coalition. The Truth Project gained national attention Dec. 13 when NBC News reported that a Pentagon agency had monitored and infiltrated the group when about eight of its board members met in November 2004 in a Quaker meeting house in Lake Worth. The 400-page document obtained by NBC described the group as both a "threat" and "credible." U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, on Tuesday released a letter from Undersecretary of Defense Stephen A. Cambone in which he directed the military's counterintelligence arm to review its policies regarding "receipt and retention of information about U.S. persons." Nelson is a member of the Armed Services Committee. Cambone, in the letter to Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John Warner, said he also ordered intelligence officers to "receive immediate refresher training" on handling information about U.S. citizens and residents. Truth Project board member Rich Hersh of Boca Raton said the group would file several Freedom of Information Requests to obtain more information about government monitoring. "We really want to know the extent of the spying that has been going on, and want Congress to do something about the misbehaviors by the executive branch," said Hersh, 59. "They are out of control," said Allen Taylor, a Delray Beach attorney and Truth Project board member. "Some people are afraid. It is absurd to think that anything we're doing is against the U.S. There is no reason to investigate us." Constitutional scholar Bruce Rogow, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, said, "Everybody has reason to be alarmed by the government's actions." The Pentagon's spy efforts were conducted by the 902nd Military Intelligence Unit, based at Fort Meade, Md. That also is the home of the NSA.

   
       
 

YEAH BABY TOM DELAY PIMPIN' IT UP!!!!

Donors funding DeLay's jet-setting, luxury travel

Larry Margasak and Sharon Theimer Associated Press


Dec. 25, 2005 12:00 AM WASHINGTON -

As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fund-raising, he lived like one, too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants, all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire. Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests. Public documents reviewed by the Associated Press tell the story: At least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two. advertisement Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress. His lawyer says the expenses are part of DeLay's effort to raise money from Republicans and to spread the GOP message. Put them together and a lifestyle emerges. "A life to enjoy. The excuse to escape," Palmas del Mar, an oceanside Puerto Rican resort visited by DeLay, promised in a summer ad on its Web site as a golf ball bounced into a hole and an image of a sunset appeared. The Caribbean vacation spot has casino gambling, horseback riding, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and private beaches. "He was very friendly. We always see the relaxed side of politicians," said Daniel Vassi, owner of the French bistro Chez Daniel at Palmas del Mar. Vassi said DeLay has eaten at his restaurant every year for the past three and was last there in April with about 20 other people, including the resort's owners. The restaurant is a cozy and popular place on the yacht-lined marina at Palmas del Mar. Dishes include bouillabaisse for about $35.50, Dover sole for $37.50 and filet mignon for $28.50. Palmas del Mar is also a DeLay donor, giving $5,000 to DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC in 2000. Since he joined the House leadership as majority whip in 1995, DeLay has raised at least $35 million for his campaign, PACs, foundation and legal defense fund. He hasn't faced a serious re-election threat in recent years, giving him more leeway than candidates in close races to spend campaign money. AP's review found DeLay's various organizations spent at least $1 million over the past six years on hotels, restaurants, golf resorts and corporate jet flights for their boss and his associates. Although it's illegal for a lawmaker to tap political donations for a family vacation, it is perfectly legal to spend it in luxury if the stated purpose is raising more money or talking politics. Until his recent indictment in Texas on political money-laundering charges, DeLay was the second-most-powerful lawmaker in the House and as such could command an audience of donors wherever he went. DeLay attorney Don McGahn declined to identify which trips listed in the reports were taken by DeLay and which by his associates. But he said all the travel was legal and not done for DeLay's benefit. "Raising political money costs money," he said. "Mr. DeLay has done extensive fund-raising and traveled far and wide to do so, but you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has raised more for others, whether for candidates or political parties." Some say DeLay pushes the limits and risks alienating donors. "I don't think the people that contributed to me would believe it was a good expenditure of their hard-earned dollars for me to go and play golf and enjoy life anywhere," said former Rep. Charlie Stenholm, a fiscally conservative Texas Democrat who lost his House seat after DeLay-led redistricting. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., a Republican author of legislation that reformed campaign finance, was just as critical of DeLay's spending habits. "It's excessive, it's obscene, it distorts someone's ability to have good judgment," said Shays, a longtime critic of DeLay. "It's an abuse of campaign-finance law and of our ethics law. It's harmful to Congress in general and the Republican Party in particular. We need a new leader." DeLay's travels with recently indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff are now under criminal investigation. But those trips were paid by special interests directly under the banner of congressional fact-finding. DeLay's own political empire has underwritten far more travel. The destinations for DeLay or his political team include a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Jamaica; the Prince Hotel in Hapuna Beach, Hawaii; the Michelangelo Hotel in New York; the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico; and the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, built by Charles Keating before he became the most public face of the savings and loan scandal in the early 1990s. There's also the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla., offering "dazzling views of the Gulf of Mexico, warm golden sunsets and three miles of pristine beach" plus golf, a spa, goose-down comforters, marble bathrooms and private, ocean-view balconies. Rooms run from about $389 to more than $3,000 a night in December, the month DeLay's PAC spent $4,570 on lodging there in 2004. "He liked to talk to people," said Pedro Muriel, a waiter at Puerto Rico's El Conquistador Resort. Muriel recalled DeLay staying in an enclave of privately owned red tile-roofed villas. The villas have up to three bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and French doors that open onto terraces or balconies facing the Caribbean. Prices average about $1,300 a night. DeLay's donors have also financed visits to country clubs and tournament-quality golf courses, including the exclusive Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., site of this summer's PGA Championship; Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa., home of another PGA event; and Harbour Town Golf Links, a course on Hilton Head Island, S.C., that was designed in consultation with Jack Nicklaus. "World class. Dynamic. Luxury resort. Spend a day, spend a week, spend a lifetime," another DeLay fund-raising spot, the ChampionsGate golf resort near Orlando, invites on its Web site. The resort, where a round of golf costs $70 to $80 per player on top of lodging, has two top-notch courses designed by pro golfer Greg Norman. Dining at fine restaurants also is routine. The stops for DeLay and his associates include Morton's of Chicago, where the average dinner for two goes for about $170 before tax and tip, and "21" in Manhattan, a longtime glamour spot where American caviar goes for $38 for a taste. When DeLay wants to head somewhere without the hassle of commercial travel, he often asks a company for its jet and uses donations to pay for it. Dozens of businesses have loaned DeLay their planes, from tobacco giants UST, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris to energy companies like El Paso, Panda, Reliant and Dynegy. R.J. Reynolds let DeLay use a company plane at least nine times since 1999, once joining Philip Morris in making jets available for a DeLay PAC fund-raiser at a Puerto Rican resort in winter 2002. R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said planes are loaned usually at lawmakers' request and only if jets aren't needed for company business.

Mike Clary can be reached at mwclary@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6629.

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12-26-06 - Here is an article from the New York Times, which shows that with this administration, there is no such thing as privacy on the internet anymore.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said. As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said. - Rest of Story

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

Judge Alito supports Illegal peeping Toms -We can kiss the rights protecting power of the Supreme Court goodbye when Samuel Alito gets called onto the Bench. According to this article it looks like Judge Alito gave immunity to people who obtained evidence through illegal wiretapping.

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Look out for the Glowing Green Mosques - Apparently, if you are a Muslim you must be harboring nukes in your Mosque. Without a warrant, Govenment officials would test the radiation levels of Mosques to see if they were hiding nukes. Do you think that maybe they needed to have thier microwaves ovens overhauled? - Story

   
       
 

Scary Survey - According to the latest Zogby poll, it seems that nearly half of the American public is anesthetized to believe that Bush's wiretaps are legal and making the country safer while the other half does not. Although it is only half, it is still too many. Americans are spoiled and did not have to live through the days of having your house bugged by the Soviet KGB, getting turned into the Government by Nazi secret police, and we are fighting in Iraq to supposedly give those people the same freedoms that we are losing here. The Zogby poll states that 50% of people believe that the nation is safer due to these illegal Soviet Style wiretaps, but let me ask this question - Wasn't the streets in Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy safer (provided you weren't a Jew?). Weren't their Countries well protected at the height of thier power, being that if you were on the brunt end of their wiretaps, you can end up swinging from a meat hook? Isn't it frustrating to see that generation after generation, people don't learn from history but are easily swayed by a dumb speech from a baboon with an IQ of 4? Isn't it sad that our leaders can't be pressured into making policy changes because the masses are so easily swayable? We need to wake up and heed the words of our Founding Father Benjamin Frankin where he summed this all up in one statement:

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

   
 
   
 
Election In Iraq Brings a Greater Danger to the US - We need to congratulate dumbass and the US oil elite for ushering an age of Iran style Shiite theocracy in Iraq. We spilled the blood of over 2,000 American soldiers and 30,000 Iraqi cilivilians to build a sister country to the nation listed on our "Axis of Evil". Do you remember the hostage crisis in the late 70s? Don't you see that wacko that Iran just elected for themselves? Maybe the Bush administration wants a fundamentalist Islamic country in Iraq because he wants a fundamentalist country here in United States. Maybe the Shiite, Taliban, and the US fundamentalist conservatives here in the States aren't so different. Iran is building a nuclear reactor and now will have it's hand in the Iraqi government as well. Nice going George!
   
       
 
It looks like Bush is grapping power that was denied to him by Congress when they passed the Patriot Act. - According to this article, Jackass actually requested power from Congress to be able to Eavesdrop on American Citizens within a court order and it was denied to him, so what he is doing is in essence -- illegal.
   
 
 
   
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