War Records, Bush Education, Bush's Work History, Bush White House Scandals and Presidential Accomplishments of President George W. Bush

Basic Bush facts and figures for your consideration

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Personal Note from George Dubya: Some unscrouplous heathens have compared my IQ to that of a monkey.
Now, I don't know how these rumoured notions get started, but I have a full staff on it and we'll get the bottom of this!

typical monkey business PRESIDENTIAL RESUME chimps never drink booze!

George W. Bush

A Big White House, USA


bush and chimps related? LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORD Bush almost busted for drugs?
** I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. There's been reports ala gossip of cocaine usage back in them days but nothing substanciated that either confirms nor denies the actual existence of cocaine in my life at that time. Sadly, all records have been lost or sealed. And shux dab burnit anyhow, my Texas driving record has also been "lost" and is therefore not available for review as well.

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country." - Quote verbatim - George W. Bush

Bush a pilot? MILITARY SERVICE RECORD George Bush's Air Force National Guard service records
** I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL.

** I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard,
I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam. No other records can be found.

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls." verbatim quote - President GW Bush
Bush did drugs? UNIVERSITY - COLLEGE - SKOOLIN' George Bush's education plan
** I graduated from Yale University with a low C average.

** I was a cheerleader. "yes, really"

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'." verbatim quote - Governor George W. Bush
Bush and the church of God RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONs George Bush religious values and morals
"Listen, I want to thank leaders of the—in the faith—faith-based and community-based community for being here."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 6, 2005.

** At age 40, after many years of partying hardy, and other various meanderings of the party animal scene, I inexplicably found
my Lord God and his kid J.C. At that time, I (hi dad) decided to get into politics. One can find God upon my sleeve to this very day.

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job." ~ George W. Bush, 2004-07-16, to a group of Amish he met with privately. First reported in the local papers, including the Intelligencer Journal and the Lancaster New Era.

"I am carrying out divine commands." ~ George W. Bush In front of the astonished Canadian prime minister Paul Martin Reported in The Toronto Globe and Mail

Previous Bush Jobs PAST WORK EXPERIENCE Bush loses congessional bid, news at eleven
"For NASA, space is still a high priority." verbatim quote - George Bush ** I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

** I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

** I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

** With the help of my father and our right-wing friends in the oil industry ( including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world." - verbatim quote - George Bush Jr
chimps never drink booze! ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS Texas government
** I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

** I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money. I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
- verbatim quote - Governor George W. Bush
pollution stastics COMMANDER AND CHIEF Bush right to life by killing prisoners?
** With the help of Florida's Governor Jeb (Hi bro!), Bush and my Pa's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became your President after losing by over 500,000 votes. Now that's power! "ah heh heh heh"

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.." verbatim quote - Governor George W. Bush
“No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.” ~ George W. Bush
Which includes Lincoln freeing the slaves, LBJ and the end of segregation, Truman and stopping Japan and the Nazis - reported by New Yorker writer Ken Auletta

chimps never drink booze!
  • I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
  • I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.
  • I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.
  • I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.
  • I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
  • I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
  • I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.
  • In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.
  • I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
  • I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by an U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.
  • My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.
  • My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.
  • I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.
  • I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. Oddly, Oil companies posted record profits at the same time. Hmmm
  • I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
  • I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history. I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.
  • Update - My entire understaff is currently under indictment or investigation for criminal fraud. I can assure ya however, the trail stops at Dick and Don's doorstep cuz I'm not even sure what indictment means.
  • Update - It's been proven that Dick and Don concocted and planted the story written by the New York Times that effectively took us to war. Course, I don't read newspapers so I don't even know what story everyone keeps talking bout.
  • I've broken more international treaties than any President has in U.S. history.
  • I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I also withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.
  • I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.
  • I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).
  • I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.
  • I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
  • I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.
  • I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.
  • I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. Citizens, and the world community.
  • I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in wartime, mind you.
  • In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, and then blamed the lies on our British friends. I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.
  • I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.
  • I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.
"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system." - GWB
the monkey ate the damn records!
All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. All records or minutes from meetings that my Vice-President, or I attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law."- George Walker Bush

Are these the really moral values of the Republican Party?

  • 37 million people now live below the poverty line -- 12.9 million of those are children.
  • The official poverty line is an income of $19,157/yr for a family of four.
  • A single parent working full-time for minimum wage makes $10,712/yr.
  • 3.9 million families had at least one member go hungry because they couldn't afford enough food.
  • 1,600,000 jobs lost in the private sector since Dubya took office.
  • 45.8 million people lack health coverage.
  • 1.7 million VETERANS -- including most Iraq War Veterans -- have no health insurance.
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George W. Bush White House Scandal Watch

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."- President George Bush

Enron? What's that? Once upon a time - about five years ago - conservative pundits often talked about "scandal fatigue." Remember scandal fatigue? It was an affliction supposedly either turning voters against Democrats or, alternatively, a weariness in the body politic preventing Republicans from pursuing even more grievances against Bill Clinton. By any objective measure, however, after four years of George W. Bush's presidency, the entire nation should be suffering from utter scandal exhaustion.

    Consider the raw materials of scandal that this administration has produced: False claims about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Torture in Abu Ghraib. The virtually treasonous exposure of a CIA agent by White House officials. And those are just the best-known examples.

    After all, how many citizens can name all the ongoing investigations of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm? Who remembers that the administration illicitly diverted $700 million from Afghanistan to Iraq? Or that, on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans stole strategy memos from Democrats, while a House Republican said he was offered a bribe during a crucial vote? Even a conscientious citizen cannot be expected to keep score, so Salon has compiled a list.

    If the next four years of Bush and the GOP running the federal government are anything like the previous four, however, potential scandals will lead to few political consequences for the Republicans. Bush opponents will likely be disappointed if they are waiting for a renewal of the supposed "second-term scandal jinx" dogging Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Clinton.

    After all, Washington Republicans are insulated by a rabidly partisan Congress with no interest in investigating the executive branch (and little taste for disciplining itself). By contrast, presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton each faced an adversarial Congress. As the late Senate Watergate Committee counsel Sam Dash noted in 2003 about congressional oversight: "Although it worked then, it doesn't mean it would work now."

    Moreover, Congress allowed the independent-counsel statute, the law that brought us Ken Starr, to expire as Bush assumed office. And the right-wing media - cable news, talk radio, several newspapers - are not about to replicate the drumbeat of scandal they pounded out while Clinton held office. Thus scandals are not a defining part of the GOP's current identity.

    The Democrats, terminally cautious even in the minority, seem unlikely to change this dynamic - although Harry Reid, the Democrats' new Senate leader, has announced his party will hold monthly oversight hearings, beginning this January, on "unasked and unanswered questions" about the Bush administration. Reid's project, however, is an uphill battle. The Democrats cannot compel anyone to testify, unlike standard congressional committees, and memorable rhetoric is not a party strength. "This is about honesty and accountability and reforming our federal government," Reid said in the prepared statement the Democratic Policy Committee released about its oversight plans.

    Just think: Someone prepared that quote. To put it more bluntly than Reid did: This is about the dozens of scandals occurring while the Republican Party has enjoyed almost complete control over the federal government. This is about the GOP's utter disrespect for the laws of the United States. This is about stopping greed, bribery and influence-peddling.

    Indeed, here are 34 Republican scandals worthy of further attention, gathered into one place. The list focuses on scandals involving apparently illegal activity or violations of ethics codes. Not everything that is politically, legally or ethically scandalous constitutes a scandal. It is scandalous, for instance, that House Republicans have further weakened their own ethics committee. But that is not, properly speaking, a political scandal. It is just contemptible governance.

    This list is also limited to events of the past four years, or those coming to light in that time. It covers both the executive branch and the Congress, since the latter, especially the Senate, is increasingly a mere adjunct to the White House. However, the items are not arranged in terms of moral or historical gravity. Abu Ghraib might create years of anti-American hatred abroad, but it and some other headline-generating events appear near the end of the list, to help familiarize readers first with lesser-known or now-overlooked scandals. Recall how John Ashcroft broke the law? Know why Dick Cheney wants to keep those energy task force documents secret? Read on. You too, Harry Reid. I think I see it!

  1. Memogate: The Senate Computer Theft

    The scandal: From 2001 to 2003, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee illicitly accessed nearly 5,000 computer files containing confidential Democratic strategy memos about President Bush's judicial nominees. The GOP used the memos to shape their own plans and leaked some to the media.

    The problem: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act states it is illegal to obtain confidential information from a government computer.

    The outcome: Unresolved. The Justice Department has assigned a prosecutor to the case. The staff member at the heart of the matter, Manuel Miranda, has attempted to brazen it out, filing suit in September 2004 against the DOJ to end the investigation. "A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich," Miranda complained. Some jokes just write themselves.

  2. Doctor Detroit: The DOJ's Bungled Terrorism Case

    The scandal: The Department of Justice completely botched the nation's first post-9/11 terrorism trial, as seen when the convictions of three Detroit men allegedly linked to al-Qaida were overturned in September 2004. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had claimed their June 2003 sentencing sent "a clear message" that the government would "detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells."

    The problem: The DOJ's lead prosecutor in the case, Richard Convertino, withheld key information from the defense and distorted supposed pieces of evidence - like a Las Vegas vacation video purported to be a surveillance tape. But that's not the half of it. Convertino says he was unfairly scapegoated because he testified before the Senate, against DOJ wishes, about terrorist financing. Justice's reconsideration of the case began soon thereafter. Convertino has since sued the DOJ, which has also placed him under investigation.

    The outcome: Let's see: Overturned convictions, lawsuits and feuding about a Kafkaesque case. Nobody looks good here.

  3. Dark Matter: The Energy Task Force

    The scandal: A lawsuit has claimed it is illegal for Dick Cheney to keep the composition of his 2001 energy-policy task force secret. What's the big deal? The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has suggested an explosive aspect of the story, citing a National Security Council memo from February 2001, which "directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of ... 'operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'" In short, the task force's activities could shed light on the administration's pre-9/11 Iraq aims.

    The problem: The Federal Advisory Committee Act says the government must disclose the work of groups that include non-federal employees; the suit claims energy industry executives were effectively task force members. Oh, and the Bush administration has portrayed the Iraq war as a response to 9/11, not something it was already considering.

    The outcome: Unresolved. In June 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to an appellate court.

  4. The Indian Gaming Scandal

    The scandal: Potential influence peddling to the tune of $82 million, for starters. Jack Abramoff, a GOP lobbyist and major Bush fundraiser, and Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), received that amount from several Indian tribes, while offering access to lawmakers. For instance, Texas' Tigua tribe, which wanted its closed El Paso casino reopened, gave millions to the pair and $33,000 to Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio) in hopes of favorable legislation (Ney came up empty). And get this: The Tiguas were unaware that Abramoff, Scanlon and conservative activist Ralph Reed had earned millions lobbying to have the same casino shut in 2002.

    The problem: Federal officials want to know if Abramoff and Scanlon provided real services for the $82 million, and if they broke laws while backing candidates in numerous Indian tribe elections.

    The outcome: Everybody into the cesspool! The Senate Indian Affairs Committee and five federal agencies, including the FBI, IRS, and Justice Department, are investigating.

  5. Halliburton's No-Bid Bonanza

    The scandal: In February 2003, Halliburton received a five-year, $7 billion no-bid contract for services in Iraq.

    The problem: The Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting officer, Bunnatine Greenhouse, objected to the deal, saying the contract should be the standard one-year length, and that a Halliburton official should not have been present during the discussions.

    The outcome: The FBI is investigating. The $7 billion contract was halved and Halliburton won one of the parts in a public bid. For her troubles, Greenhouse has been forced into whistle-blower protection.

  6. Halliburton: Pumping Up Prices

    The scandal: In 2003, Halliburton overcharged the army for fuel in Iraq. Specifically, Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root hired a Kuwaiti company, Altanmia, to supply fuel at about twice the going rate, then added a markup, for an overcharge of at least $61 million, according to a December 2003 Pentagon audit.

    The problem: That's not the government's $61 million, it's our $61 million.

    The outcome: The FBI is investigating.

  7. Halliburton's Vanishing Iraq Money

    The scandal: In mid-2004, Pentagon auditors determined that $1.8 billion of Halliburton's charges to the government, about 40 percent of the total, had not been adequately documented.

    The problem: That's not the government's $1.8 billion, it's our $1.8 billion.

    The outcome: The Defense Contract Audit Agency has "strongly" asked the Army to withhold about $60 million a month from its Halliburton payments until the documentation is provided.

  8. The Halliburton Bribe-Apalooza

    The scandal: This may not surprise you, but an international consortium of companies, including Halliburton, is alleged to have paid more than $100 million in bribes to Nigerian officials, from 1995 to 2002, to facilitate a natural-gas-plant deal. (Cheney was Halliburton's CEO from 1995 to 2000.)

    The problem: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.

    The outcome: A veritable coalition of the willing is investigating the deal, including the Justice Department, the SEC, the Nigerian government and a French magistrate. In June, Halliburton fired two implicated executives.

  9. Halliburton: One Fine Company

    The scandal: In 1998 and 1999, Halliburton counted money recovered from project overruns as revenue, before settling the charges with clients.

    The problem: Doing so made the company's income appear larger, but Halliburton did not explain this to investors. The SEC ruled this accounting practice was "materially misleading."

    The outcome: In August 2004, Halliburton agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle SEC charges. One Halliburton executive has paid a fine and another is settling civil charges. Now imagine the right-wing rhetoric if, say, Al Gore had once headed a firm fined for fudging income statements.

  10. Halliburton's Iran End Run

    The scandal: Halliburton may have been doing business with Iran while Cheney was CEO.

    The problem: Federal sanctions have banned U.S. companies from dealing directly with Iran. To operate in Iran legally, U.S. companies have been required to set up independent subsidiaries registered abroad. Halliburton thus set up a new entity, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., to do business in Iran, but while the subsidiary was registered in the Cayman Islands, it may not have had operations totally independent of the parent company.

    The outcome: Unresolved. The Treasury Department has referred the case to the U.S. attorney in Houston, who convened a grand jury in July 2004.

  11. Money Order: Afghanistan's Missing $700 Million Turns Up in Iraq

    The scandal: According to Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," the Bush administration diverted $700 million in funds from the war in Afghanistan, among other places, to prepare for the Iraq invasion.

    The problem: Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power "to raise and support armies." And the emergency spending bill passed after Sept. 11, 2001, requires the administration to notify Congress before changing war spending plans. That did not happen.

    The outcome: Congress declined to investigate. The administration's main justification for its decision has been to claim the funds were still used for, one might say, Middle East anti-tyrant-related program activities.

  12. Iraq: More Loose Change

    The scandal: The inspector general of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq released a series of reports in July 2004 finding that a significant portion of CPA assets had gone missing - 34 percent of the materiel controlled by Kellogg, Brown & Root - and that the CPA's method of disbursing $600 million in Iraq reconstruction funds "did not establish effective controls and left accountability open to fraud, waste and abuse."

    The problem: As much as $50 million of that money was disbursed without proper receipts.

    The outcome: The CPA has disbanded, but individual government investigations into the handling of Iraq's reconstruction continue.

  13. The Pentagon-Israel Spy Case

    The scandal: A Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, may have passed classified United States documents about Iran to Israel, possibly via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Washington lobbying group.

    The problem: To do so could be espionage or could constitute the mishandling of classified documents.

    The outcome: A grand jury is investigating. In December 2004, the FBI searched AIPAC's offices. A Senate committee has also been investigating the apparently unauthorized activities of the Near East and South Asia Affairs group in the Pentagon, where Franklin works.

  14. Gone to Taiwan

    The scandal: Missed this one? A high-ranking State Department official, Donald Keyser, was arrested and charged in September with making a secret trip to Taiwan and was observed by the FBI passing documents to Taiwanese intelligence agents in Washington-area meetings.

    The problem: Such unauthorized trips are illegal. And we don't have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

    The outcome: The case is in the courts.

  15. Wiretapping the United Nations

    The scandal: Before the United Nations' vote on the Iraq war, the United States and Great Britain developed an eavesdropping operation targeting diplomats from several countries.

    The problem: U.N. officials say the practice is illegal and undermines honest diplomacy, although some observers claim it is business as usual on East 42nd Street.

    The outcome: Little fuss here, but a major British scandal erupted after U.K. intelligence translator Katherine Gun leaked a U.S. National Security Agency memo requesting British help in the spying scheme, in early 2003. Initially charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for leaking classified information, Gun was cleared in 2004 - seemingly to avoid hearings questioning the legality of Britain's war participation.

  16. The Boeing Boondoggle

    The scandal: In 2003, the Air Force contracted with Boeing to lease a fleet of refueling tanker planes at an inflated price: $23 billion.

    The problem: The deal was put together by a government procurement official, Darleen Druyun, who promptly joined Boeing. Beats using a headhunter.

    The outcome: In November 2003, Boeing fired both Druyun and CFO Michael Sears. In April 2004, Druyun pled guilty to a conspiracy charge in the case. In November 2004, Sears copped to a conflict-of-interest charge, and company CEO Phil Condit resigned. The government is reviewing its need for the tankers.

  17. The Medicare Bribe Scandal

    The scandal: According to former Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.), on Nov. 21, 2003, with the vote on the administration's Medicare bill hanging in the balance, someone offered to contribute $100,000 to his son's forthcoming congressional campaign, if Smith would support the bill.

    The problem: Federal law prohibits the bribery of elected officials.

    The outcome: In September 2004, the House Ethics Committee concluded an inquiry by fingering House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), saying he deserved "public admonishment" for offering to endorse Smith's son in return for Smith's vote. DeLay has claimed Smith initiated talks about a quid pro quo. The matter of the $100,000 is unresolved; soon after his original allegations, Smith suddenly claimed he had not been offered any money. Smith's son Brad lost his GOP primary in August 2004.

  18. Tom DeLay's PAC Problems

    The scandal: One of DeLay's political action committees, Texans for a Republican Majority, apparently reaped illegal corporate contributions for the campaigns of Republicans running for the Texas Legislature in 2002. Given a Republican majority, the Legislature then re-drew Texas' U.S. congressional districts to help the GOP.

    The problem: Texas law bans the use of corporate money for political purposes.

    The outcome: Unresolved. Three DeLay aides and associates - Jim Ellis, John Colyandro and Warren RoBold - were charged in September 2004 with crimes including money laundering and unlawful acceptance of corporate contributions.

  19. Tom DeLay's FAA: Following Americans Anywhere

    The scandal: In May 2003, DeLay's office persuaded the Federal Aviation Administration to find the plane carrying a Texas Democratic legislator, who was leaving the state in an attempt to thwart the GOP's nearly unprecedented congressional redistricting plan.

    The problem: According to the House Ethics Committee, the "invocation of federal executive branch resources in a partisan dispute before a state legislative body" is wrong.

    The outcome: In October 2004, the committee rebuked DeLay for his actions.

  20. In the Rough: Tom DeLay's Golf Fundraiser

    The scandal: DeLay appeared at a golf fundraiser that Westar Energy held for one of his political action committees, Americans for a Republican Majority, while energy legislation was pending in the House.

    The problem: It's one of these "appearance of impropriety" situations.

    The outcome: The House Ethics Committee tossed the matter into its Oct. 6 rebuke. "Take a lap, Tom."

  21. Busy, Busy, Busy in New Hampshire

    The scandal: In 2002, with a tight Senate race in New Hampshire, Republican Party officials paid a Virginia-based firm, GOP Marketplace, to enact an Election Day scheme meant to depress Democratic turnout by "jamming" the Democratic Party phone bank with continuous calls for 90 minutes.

    The problem: Federal law prohibits the use of telephones to "annoy or harass" anyone.

    The outcome: Chuck McGee, the former executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, pleaded guilty in July 2004 to a felony charge, while Allen Raymond, former head of GOP Marketplace, pleaded guilty to a similar charge in June. In December, James Tobin, former New England campaign chairman of Bush-Cheney '04, was indicted for conspiracy in the case.

  22. The Medicare Money Scandal

    The scandal: Thomas Scully, Medicare's former administrator, supposedly threatened to fire chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster to prevent him from disclosing the true cost of the 2003 Medicare bill.

    The problem: Congress voted on the bill believing it would cost $400 billion over 10 years. The program is more likely to cost $550 billion.

    The outcome: Scully denies threatening to fire Foster, as Foster has charged, but admits telling Foster to withhold the higher estimate from Congress. In September 2004, the Government Accountability Office recommended Scully return half his salary from 2003. Inevitably, Scully is now a lobbyist for drug companies helped by the bill.

  23. The Bogus Medicare "Video News Release"

    The scandal: To promote its Medicare bill, the Bush administration produced imitation news-report videos touting the legislation. About 40 television stations aired the videos. More recently, similar videos promoting the administration's education policy have come to light.

    The problem: The administration broke two laws: One forbidding the use of federal money for propaganda, and another forbidding the unauthorized use of federal funds.

    The outcome: In May 2004, the GAO concluded the administration acted illegally, but the agency lacks enforcement power.

  24. Pundits on the Payroll: The Armstrong Williams Case

    The scandal: The Department of Education paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote its educational law, No Child Left Behind.

    The problem: Williams did not disclose that his support was government funded until the deal was exposed in January 2005.

    The outcome: The House and FCC are considering inquiries, while Williams' syndicated newspaper column has been terminated.

  25. Ground Zero's Unsafe Air

    The scandal: Government officials publicly minimized the health risks stemming from the World Trade Center attack. In September 2001, for example, Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman said New York's "air is safe to breathe and [the] water is safe to drink."

    The problem: Research showed serious dangers or was incomplete. The EPA used outdated techniques that failed to detect tiny asbestos particles. EPA data also showed high levels of lead and benzene, which causes cancer. A Sierra Club report claims the government ignored alarming data. A GAO report says no adequate study of 9/11's health effects has been organized.

    The outcome: The long-term health effects of the disaster will likely not be apparent for years or decades and may never be definitively known. Already, hundreds of 9/11 rescue workers have quit their jobs because of acute illnesses.

  26. John Ashcroft's Illegal Campaign Contributions

    The scandal: Ashcroft's exploratory committee for his short-lived 2000 presidential bid transferred $110,000 to his unsuccessful 2000 reelection campaign for the Senate.

    The problem: The maximum for such a transfer is $10,000.

    The outcome: The Federal Election Commission fined Ashcroft's campaign treasurer, Garrett Lott, $37,000 for the transgression.

  27. Intel Inside ... The White House

    The scandal: In early 2001, chief White House political strategist Karl Rove held meetings with numerous companies while maintaining six-figure holdings of their stock - including Intel, whose executives were seeking government approval of a merger. "Washington hadn't seen a clearer example of a conflict of interest in years," wrote Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly.

    The problem: The Code of Federal Regulations says government employees should not participate in matters in which they have a personal financial interest.

    The outcome: Then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, spurning precedent, did not refer the case to the Justice Department.

  28. Duck! Antonin Scalia's Legal Conflicts

    The scandal: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused to recuse himself from the Cheney energy task force case, despite taking a duck-hunting trip with the vice president after the court agreed to weigh the matter.

    The problem: Federal law requires a justice to "disqualify himself from any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

    The outcome: Scalia stayed on, arguing no conflict existed because Cheney was party to the case in a professional, not personal, capacity. Nothing new for Scalia, who in 2002 was part of a Mississippi redistricting ruling favorable to GOP Rep. Chip Pickering - son of Judge Charles Pickering, a Scalia turkey-hunting pal. In 2001, Scalia went pheasant hunting with Kansas Gov. Bill Graves when that state had cases pending before the Supreme Court.

  29. AWOL

    The scandal: George W. Bush, self-described "war president," did not fulfill his National Guard duty, and Bush and his aides have made misleading statements about it. Salon's Eric Boehlert wrote the best recent summary of the issue.

    The problem: Military absenteeism is a punishable offense, although Bush received an honorable discharge.

    The outcome: No longer a campaign issue. But what was Bush doing in 1972?

  30. Iraq: The Case for War

    The scandal: Bush and many officials in his administration made false statements about Iraq's military capabilities, in the months before the United States' March 2003 invasion of the country.

    The problem: For one thing, it is a crime to lie to Congress, although Bush backers claim the president did not knowingly make false assertions.

    The outcome: A war spun out of control with unknowable long-term consequences. The Iraq Survey Group has stopped looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

  31. Niger Forgeries: Whodunit?

    The scandal: In his January 2003 State of the Union address, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

    The problem: The statement was untrue. By March 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency showed the claim, that Iraq sought materials from Niger, was based on easily discernible forgeries.

    The outcome: The identity of the forger(s) remains under wraps. Journalist Josh Marshall has implied the FBI is oddly uninterested in interviewing Rocco Martino, the former Italian intelligence agent who apparently first shopped the documents in intelligence and journalistic circles and would presumably be able to shed light on their origin.

  32. In Plame Sight

    The scandal: In July 2003, administration officials disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative working on counterterrorism efforts, to multiple journalists, and columnist Robert Novak made Plame's identity public. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had just written a New York Times opinion piece stating he had investigated the Niger uranium-production allegations, at the CIA's behest, and reported them to be untrue, before Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

    The problem: Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act it is illegal to disclose, knowingly, the name of an undercover agent.

    The outcome: Unresolved. The Justice Department appointed special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to the case in December 2003. While this might seem a simple matter, Fitzgerald could be unable to prove the leakers knew Plame was a covert agent.

  33. Abu Ghraib

    The scandal: American soldiers physically tortured prisoners in Iraq and kept undocumented "ghost detainees" in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    The problem: The United States is party to the Geneva Conventions, which state that "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever."

    The outcome: Unresolved. A Pentagon internal inquiry found a lack of oversight at Abu Ghraib, while independent inquiries have linked the events to the administration's desire to use aggressive interrogation methods globally. Notoriously, Gonzales has advocated an approach which "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." More recently, Gonzales issued qualified support for the Geneva Conventions in January 2005 Senate testimony after being nominated for attorney general. Army reservist Charles Graner was convicted in January 2005 for abusing prisoners, while a few other soldiers await trial.

  34. Guantánamo Bay Torture?

    The scandal: The U.S. military is also alleged to have abused prisoners at the U.S. Navy's base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. FBI agents witnessing interrogations there have reported use of growling dogs to frighten prisoners and the chaining of prisoners in the fetal position while depriving them of food or water for extended periods.

    The problem: More potential violations of the Geneva Conventions.

    The outcome: An internal military investigation was launched in January 2005.
Bush true colors

Cool Bushy Type Linkage

BuckFush.com Ha ha! You'll love it!

Economics 101 Lesson

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.

The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells, the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.

The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.

Sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.

No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull. :)

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

You have two cows.
You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat
once a month, and milk themselves.

You have two cows.
Both are rumored to be mad.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You break for lunch cuz mama wants you home.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka, the true soviet milk

You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you.
You charge others for storing them.
You steal a little milk and butter for chocolate.

You have two cows.
You worship them both.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.
You can reproduce fake copies of cows that resemble real cows and sell them for tens american bucks each on the streets of big cities.
Cow have names like Long Moo Ching.
Top of Page

More Bush White House Scandalisms

As The New York Times first revealed on December 16, President Bush issued a secret presidential order shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on international phone and email communications that originate from or are received within the United States, and to do so without the court approval normally required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Facing increasing scrutiny, the Bush administration and its conservative allies in the media have defended the secret spying operation with false and misleading claims that have subsequently been reported without challenge across the media. So, just in time for the holidays, Media Matters for America presents the top myths and falsehoods promoted by the media on the Bush administration's spying scandal.

1: Timeliness necessitated bypassing the FISA court

Various media outlets have uncritically relayed President Bush's claim that the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance is justified because "we must be able to act fast ... so we can prevent new [terrorist] attacks." But these reports have ignored emergency provisions in the current law governing such surveillance -- FISA -- that allow the administration to apply to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a search warrant up to 72 hours after the government begins monitoring suspects' phone conversations. The existence of this 72-hour window debunks the argument that the administration had to bypass the law to avoid delay in obtaining a warrant. The fact that the administration never retroactively sought a warrant from the FISA court for its surveillance activities suggests that it was not the need to act quickly that prevented the administration from complying with the FISA statute, but, rather, the fear of being denied the warrant.

2: Congress was adequately informed of -- and approved -- the administration's actions

Conservatives have sought to defend the secret spying operation by falsely suggesting that the Bush administration adequately informed Congress of its actions and that Congress raised no objections. For example, on the December 19 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that the NSA's domestic surveillance "wasn't a secret program" because "the Bush administration did keep key congressional people informed they were doing this." The claim was also featured in a December 21 press release by the Republican National Committee (RNC).

In fact, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have said that the administration likely did not inform them of the operation to the extent required by the National Security Act of 1947, as amended in 2001. Members of both parties have also said that the objections they did have were ignored by the administration and couldn't be aired because the program's existence was highly classified.

As The New York Times reported on December 21, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have stated that they did not receive written reports from the White House on the surveillance operation, as required by the National Security Act:

The demand for written reports was added to the National Security Act of 1947 by Congress in 2001, as part of an effort to compel the executive branch to provide more specificity and clarity in its briefings about continuing activities. President Bush signed the measure into law on Dec. 28, 2001, but only after raising an objection to the new provision, with the stipulation that he would interpret it "in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority" to withhold information for national-security or foreign-policy reasons.


[I]n interviews, Mr. Hoekstra, Mr. Graham and aides to Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Reid all said they understood that while the briefings provided by [Vice President Dick] Cheney might have been accompanied by charts, they did not constitute written reports. The 2001 addition to the law requires that such reports always be in written form, and include a concise statement of facts and explanation of an activity's significance.

Further, Rockefeller recently released a copy of a letter he wrote to Cheney on July 17, 2003, raising objections to the secret surveillance operation. As the Times reported on December 20, Rockefeller said on December 19 that his concerns "were never addressed, and I was prohibited from sharing my views with my colleagues" because the briefings were classified. The December 21 Times report noted that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she too sent a letter to the Bush administration objecting to the secret surveillance operation, and that Graham alleged that he was never informed "that the program would involve eavesdropping on American citizens."

3: Warrantless searches of Americans are legal under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Conservatives such as nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh and American Cause president Bay Buchanan have defended the administration by falsely claiming that the administration's authorization of domestic surveillance by the NSA without warrants is legal under FISA. In fact, FISA, which was enacted in 1978, contains provisions that limit such surveillance to communications "exclusively between foreign powers," specifically stating that the president may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order only if there is "no substantial likelihood" that the communications of "a United States person" -- a U.S. citizen or anyone else legally in the United States -- will be intercepted. Such provisions do not allow for the Bush administration's authorization of domestic surveillance of communications between persons inside the United States and parties outside the country.

FISA also allows the president and the attorney general to conduct surveillance without a court order for the purpose of gathering "foreign intelligence information" for "a period" no more than 15 days "following a declaration of war by the Congress." This provision does not permit Bush's conduct either, as he acknowledged that he had reauthorized the program more than 30 times since 2001, and said that the program is "reviewed approximately every 45 days."

4: Clinton, Carter also authorized warrantless searches of U.S. citizens

Another tactic conservatives have used to defend the Bush administration has been to claim that it is not unusual for a president to authorize secret surveillance of U.S. citizens without a court order, asserting that Democratic presidents have also done so. For example, on the December 21 edition of Fox News's Special Report, host Brit Hume claimed that former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton issued executive orders "to perform wiretaps and searches of American citizens without a warrant."

But as the ThinkProgress weblog noted on December 20, executive orders on the topic by Clinton and Carter were merely explaining the rules established by FISA, which do not allow for warrantless searches on "United States persons." Subsequent reports by NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and The Washington Post also debunked the conservative talking point while noting that the claim was highlighted in the December 21 RNC press release.

From ThinkProgress, which documented how internet gossip Matt Drudge selectively cited from the Clinton and Carter executive orders to falsely suggest they authorized secret surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-obtained warrants:

What Drudge says:

Clinton, February 9, 1995: "The Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order"

What Clinton actually signed:

Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section.

That section requires the Attorney General to certify is the search will not involve "the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person." That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States.

The entire controversy about Bush's program is that, for the first time ever, allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens and other people inside of the United States. Clinton's 1995 executive order did not authorize that.

Drudge pulls the same trick with Carter.

What Drudge says:

Jimmy Carter Signed Executive Order on May 23, 1979: "Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order."

What Carter's executive order actually says:

1-101. Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order, but only if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that Section.

What the Attorney General has to certify under that section is that the surveillance will not contain "the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." So again, no U.S. persons are involved.

5: Only Democrats are concerned about the Bush administration's secret surveillance

As part of a larger problem of imprecise reporting, a number of media reports have falsely suggested that the debate over the Bush administration's secret surveillance of domestic communications is purely a partisan dispute between Democrats and Republicans. For example, on the December 22 broadcast of NBC's Today, Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman said: "[W]hile the Bill of Rights is something we all cherish, I think the Democrats politically need to be careful, because the president's going to argue, as he already is, that post-9-11, strong surveillance measures are required."

In fact, several prominent Republicans have expressed concern that the Bush administration's actions might violate the law or otherwise be objectionable. On December 18, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) said that "I don't know of any legal basis to go around" the requirement that the White House formally apply to the FISA court for a warrant to engage in domestic surveillance, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it is a "legitimate question" to ask why "the president chose not to use FISA." After Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales cited executive authority in defending the legality of the administration's actions, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) -- who is in charge of organizing an investigation into the issue -- responded that he was "skeptical of the attorney general's citation of authority."

6: Debate is between those supporting civil liberties and those seeking to prevent terrorism

Many media figures have created a false dichotomy by framing the debate over the Bush administration's actions as one between those who support protecting civil liberties and those who favor protecting America from another deadly terrorist attack. For example, NBC host Katie Couric claimed the debate amounted to "legal analysts and constitutional scholars versus Americans, who say civil liberties are important, but we don't want another September 11," while NBC's Mitchell wondered whether Americans should be more concerned about "[a] terror attack or someone going into their hard drive and intercepting their emails."

Such statements set up exactly the false debate put forth by Cheney and Bush to defend the administration's actions, as Mitchell subsequently noted on the December 21 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MITCHELL: [T]hey set up successfully, the White House, this premise of you're either for security and protecting the American people post-9-11 or you're worried about surveillance. This either-or proposition, when a lot of people say that's a false choice.

7: Bin Laden phone leak demonstrates how leak of spy operation could damage national security

Several media outlets have uncritically cited a 1998 Washington Times report on Osama bin Laden as an example of how leaking information about the Bush administration's domestic spying operation could harm national security. The media have falsely suggested that the Washington Times report revealed that the United States was monitoring bin Laden's conversations on a satellite phone and that bin Laden quickly ceased using the phone after the report surfaced. In fact, the article only noted that bin Laden was using a satellite phone, not that the U.S. was monitoring it; according to a December 22 report by The Washington Post, bin Laden apparently had stopped using the phone by the time any newspaper reported that the U.S. had been monitoring his conversations. Further, the Post noted that another report on bin Laden's phone -- that relied on the Taliban as its source -- preceded the Washington Times article by nearly two years, while another report predating the Times article relied on bin Laden himself.

One example of media misrepresenting the bin Laden incident occurred on the December 17 edition of CNN Live Saturday, when correspondent Brian Todd reported:

TODD: We asked one expert how important it is for the NSA and its methods to be kept so secret. He cited one breach as an example, the damage done when it was made public that intelligence agencies were monitoring Osama bin Laden's cell phone calls.

In a December 19 press conference, Bush also highlighted the purported bin Laden leak as an example of why leaking information about the domestic spying operation was a "shameful act" that is "helping the enemy":

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Are you going to order a leaks investigation into the disclosure of the NSA surveillance program?


BUSH: My personal opinion is it was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war.

The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.


BUSH: Let me give you an example about my concerns about letting the enemy know what may or may not be happening.

In the late 1990s, our government was following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone. And then the fact that we were following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone made it into the press as the result of a leak.

And guess what happened. Osama bin Laden changed his behavior. He began to change how he communicated.

But as the December 22 Post report documented, the August 21, 1998, Washington Times article in question "never said that the United States was listening in on bin Laden"; the article merely reported that bin Laden "keeps in touch with the world via computers and satellite phones." The Post also noted that the Washington Times report was not the first article to note bin Laden's use of a satellite phone: A December 16, 1996, Time magazine report cited the Taliban in reporting that bin Laden "uses satellite phones to contact fellow Islamic militants in Europe, the Middle East and Africa." And the day before the Times article, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen cited a 1997 interview he conducted with bin Laden to report that bin Laden "communicates by satellite phone." Finally, the Post noted that it was not until "after bin Laden apparently stopped using his phone" that the Los Angeles Times first reported on September 7, 1998, that the U.S. had been monitoring his phone conversations. As a follow-up Post article on December 23 noted, bin Laden stopped using the phone "within days of a cruise missile attack on his training camps in Afghanistan."

The false claim that the Washington Times article was responsible for causing bin Laden to stop using the satellite phone apparently originated in the 9-11 Commission report, which asserted: "Worst of all, al Qaeda's senior leadership had stopped using a particular means of communication almost immediately after a leak to the Washington Times."

8: Gorelick testimony proved Clinton asserted "the same authority" as Bush

In a December 20 article headlined "Clinton Claimed Authority to Order No-Warrant Searches," National Review White House correspondent Byron York drew attention to then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick's July 14, 1994, testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, in which she stated that the president has "inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches." While York's article did not explicitly draw a parallel between the Clinton administration's 1994 policy regarding such searches and the current Bush administration controversy regarding unwarranted domestic surveillance, conservative media figures such as National Review editor Rich Lowry and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer have done just that.

But Gorelick's testimony does not prove that the Clinton administration believed it had the authority to bypass FISA regulations, as the Bush administration has argued in the case of the NSA's domestic wiretapping program.

Unlike electronic surveillance, the "physical searches" to which Gorelick referred were not restricted by FISA at the time of her 1994 testimony. Therefore, by asserting the authority to conduct physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes, the Clinton administration was not asserting that it did not have to comply with FISA. In October 1994, Congress passed legislation -- with Clinton's support -- to require FISA warrants for physical searches. Thereafter, the Clinton administration never argued that any "inherent authority" pre-empted FISA. To the contrary, in February 1995 Clinton issued an executive order that implemented the new FISA requirements on physical searches.

By contrast, the Bush administration has argued that it has the authority to authorize surveillance of domestic communications without court orders, despite FISA's clear and longstanding restrictions on warrantless electronic eavesdropping.

9: Aldrich Ames investigation is example of Clinton administration bypassing FISA regulations

Some conservatives have specifically cited the joint CIA/FBI investigation of Aldrich Ames, a CIA analyst ultimately convicted of espionage, as an example of Clinton invoking executive authority to overstep FISA by authorizing a physical search of a suspect without a court order. For example, on the December 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Republican attorney Victoria Toensing falsely claimed that the Clinton administration did "carry out that authority" to bypass the FISA requirements "when they went into Aldrich Ames's house without a warrant."

But as with Gorelick's testimony, the Ames investigation took place before the 1995 FISA amendment requiring warrants for physical searches. In other words, in conducting these searches, the Clinton administration did not bypass FISA because FISA did not address physical searches. Further, there is ample evidence that the Clinton administration complied with the FISA requirements that did exist on wiretapping: U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who previously served on the FISA court, has noted the "key role" the court played in the Ames case to "authorize physical entries to plant eavesdropping devices"; and former deputy assistant attorney general Mark M. Richard established that "the Attorney General was asked to sign as many as nine certifications to the FISA court in support of applications for FISA surveillance" during the Ames investigation.

10: Clinton administration conducted domestic spying

Conservative media figures have claimed that during the Clinton administration, the NSA used a program known as Echelon to monitor the domestic communications of United States citizens without a warrant. While most have offered no evidence to support this assertion, NewsMax, a right-wing news website, cited a February 27, 2000, CBS News 60 Minutes report that correspondent Steve Kroft introduced by asserting: "If you made a phone call today or sent an email to a friend, there's a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the country's largest intelligence agency. The top-secret Global Surveillance Network is called Echelon, and it's run by the National Security Agency." NewsMax used the 60 Minutes segment to call into question The New York Times' December 16 report that Bush's "decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad."

On December 19, Limbaugh read the NewsMax article on his nationally syndicated radio show. Limbaugh told listeners that Bush's surveillance program "started in previous administrations. You've heard of the NSA massive computer-gathering program called Echelon. 60 Minutes did a story on this in February of 2000. Bill Clinton still in office." The Echelon claim has also been repeated by Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund and radio host G. Gordon Liddy.

The 60 Minutes report appears to have been based largely on anecdotal evidence provided by a former Canadian intelligence agent and a former intelligence employee who worked at Menwith Hill, the American spy station in Great Britain, in 1979. In addition, the report contained footage of an assertion by then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) that "Project Echelon engages in the interception of literally millions of communications involving United States citizens." But the report also included comments from then-chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), who, Kroft reported, "still believes ... that the NSA does not eavesdrop on innocent American citizens." Kroft asked Goss: "[H]ow can you be sure that no one is listening to those conversations?" Goss responded, "We do have methods for that, and I am relatively sure that those procedures are working very well."

While Goss did not say in his 60 Minutes interview that the NSA does not spy on the domestic communications of Americans without a warrant, then-director of central intelligence George J. Tenet and then-National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden said exactly that to Goss's committee less than two months later. As ThinkProgress has noted, Tenet testified before the intelligence committee on April 12, 2000. Denying allegations that Echelon was used to spy on Americans in the United States without a warrant, Tenet stated: "We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department." In the same hearing, Hayden testified: "If [an] American person is in the United States of America, I must have a court order before I initiate any collection [of communications] against him or her."

Hayden also denied the "urban myth" that the NSA "ask[s] others to do on our behalf that which we cannot do for ourselves." This appears to have been a response to the allegation -- noted by 60 Minutes -- that the NSA was exchanging information with foreign intelligence services that did monitor the domestic communications of Americans. Hayden stated: "By executive order, it is illegal for us to ask others to do what we cannot do ourselves, and we don't do it."

Tenet and Hayden's congressional testimony leaves two possibilities: Either they were not telling Congress the truth, or the claim that the NSA used the Echelon program to monitor the domestic communications of Americans is incorrect.

Hayden now serves as principal deputy director of national intelligence and has vigorously defended Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program. At a December 19 press conference, he acknowledged that Bush's program goes beyond what is authorized under FISA. Hayden described it as "a more -- I'll use the word 'aggressive' program than would be traditionally available under FISA."

11: Moussaoui case proved that FISA probable-cause standard impedes terrorism probes

Some of the administration's supporters have attempted to defend the domestic surveillance program by pointing to a purported situation where the cumbersome FISA regulations prevented crucial intelligence gathering. In a December 20 Washington Post op-ed, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Gary Schmitt cited the 2001 case of Zacarias Moussaoui as evidence that the "difficulty with FISA is the standard it imposes for obtaining a warrant aimed at" a domestic target. Kristol and Schmitt claimed that the evidence the FBI had compiled against Moussaoui did not "rise to the level of probable cause under FISA":

Consider the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French Moroccan who came to the FBI's attention before Sept. 11 because he had asked a Minnesota flight school for lessons on how to steer an airliner, but not on how to take off or land. Even with this report, and with information from French intelligence that Moussaoui had been associating with Chechen rebels, the Justice Department decided there was not sufficient evidence to get a FISA warrant to allow the inspection of his computer files. Had they opened his laptop, investigators might have begun to unwrap the Sept. 11 plot. But strange behavior and merely associating with dubious characters don't rise to the level of probable cause under FISA.

But contrary to Kristol and Schmitt's argument that the probable-cause standard established by FISA was too high in this case, a 2003 Senate Judiciary Committee report found that the FBI's evidence against Moussaoui was, in fact, sufficient. The report instead asserted that FBI personnel who handled the warrant application "failed miserably" in their efforts to convince FBI attorneys that the threshold for establishing probable cause that Moussaoui was an "agent of a foreign power" (and therefore subject to surveillance pursuant to FISA) had been met .

The bipartisan report, compiled by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Arlen Specter (R-PA), examined in detail the FBI's handling of the Moussaoui FISA application, which was delivered to FBI headquarters by the Minneapolis field office, handled by a supervisory special agent (SSA) there, and ultimately rejected as insufficient by FBI attorneys. The senators determined that the SSA in charge of the application provided the attorneys with a "truncated" version of the evidence compiled by the Minneapolis agents and failed to search for additional "information relevant to the application." Moreover, the report found that both the SSA and the attorneys had employed an "unnecessarily high standard" for probable cause -- one that exceeded the legal requirements set out by FISA:

In our view, the FBI applied too cramped an interpretation of probable cause and "agent of a foreign power" in making the determination of whether Moussaoui was an agent of a foreign power. FBI Headquarters personnel in charge of reviewing this application focused too much on establishing a nexus between Moussaoui and a "recognized" group, which is not legally required. Without going into the actual evidence in the Moussaoui case, there appears to have been sufficient evidence in the possession of the FBI which satisfied the FISA requirements for the Moussaoui application.

Despite this report's having established that the FBI's misunderstanding of the FISA requirements resulted in the rejection of the Moussaoui application, a December 23 New York Times article reported without challenge the FBI's argument that FISA's "cumbersome submission requirements" were to blame:

Some agents complained that the FISA court's cumbersome submission requirements and insistence on strict adherence to the law had contributed to the impression that the court itself was an obstacle to aggressive investigation of terror cases. As an example, these agents suggested F.B.I. lawyers did not seek a FISA warrant in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested shortly before the 2001 attacks, in part because they believed the court would reject it.

12: A 2002 FISA review court opinion makes clear that Bush acted legally

Recently, conservative media figures have misleadingly cited a 2002 opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) to claim that the president could authorize warrantless domestic electronic surveillance despite FISA's restrictions. They have pointed to the court's reiteration of the president's inherent constitutional authority to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance without a warrant, which FISA cannot encroach upon. Therefore, they argue, Bush could authorize NSA's warrantless monitoring of "U.S. persons," regardless of FISA's restrictions.

But, as Media Matters documented, this argument is a red herring. Their citation of the decision to support the contention that Congress cannot encroach upon the president's constitutional authority ignores constitutional limits on that authority. Of course a law passed in 1978 would not trump the Constitution -- the supreme law of the land. The question is the scope of that presidential authority and whether it extends to acts that would violate the provisions of FISA protecting U.S. persons from excessive government intrusion. Contrary to these media figures' suggestions, the 2002 FISCR opinion does not address that question.

Regardless, media figures have asserted that the FISCR opinion supports the contention that Bush is not bound by FISA.

Most prominent among these has been National Review White House correspondent Byron York, who in a post on the National Review Online's weblog, The Corner, titled "READ THIS IMPORTANT ARTICLE," promoted a Chicago Tribune op-ed by John Schmidt, an associate attorney general under Clinton, supporting the legality of the administration's surveillance program. Schmidt wrote:

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant. In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."


But as the 2002 Court of Review noted, if the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches, "FISA could not encroach on the president's constitutional power."

The Drudge Report website also cited Schmidt's Tribune op-ed with a link captioned "Associate attorney general under Clinton: President had legal authority to OK taps ..."

Similarly, a December 20 Wall Street Journal editorial asserted:

FISA established a process by which certain wiretaps in the context of the Cold War could be approved, not a limit on what wiretaps could ever be allowed.

The courts have been explicit on this point, most recently in In Re: Sealed Case, the 2002 opinion by the special panel of appellate judges established to hear FISA appeals. In its per curiam opinion, the court noted that in a previous FISA case (U.S. v. Truong), a federal "court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue [our emphasis], held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information." And further that, "We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."

Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle made a similar claim on the December 20 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, stating, "In 2002, [FISA's] own court of review upheld the president's powers and pointed to an appeals court decision, noting that it, as did all other courts to have decided the issue, held that the president did have the inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."

Others who have repeated this claim in the media include Bradford Berenson, a former associate White House counsel, who made the assertion on the December 21 broadcast of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Berenson worked in the Bush White House from 2001 to 2003, and after the September 11 attacks "played a significant role in the executive branch's counterterrorism response."

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