Last week, Michael Mukasey, speaking in San Francisco, made some startling comments about alleged pre-9/11 intelligence. He exploited the deaths of some 3,000 Americans to make political points in the FISA fight. Despite the fact that the media has been prepared to allow him to get away with those comments, there are those who have decided to expose what he said and actually hold the Attorney General accountable for his words.
What a concept!
I was listening to the Rachel Maddow show this evening on Air America, when she interviewed Glenn Greenwald, who has challenged Mukasey in a column at salon.com.
"Speaking in San Francisco this week, Mukasey demanded that the President be given new warrantless eavesdropping powers and that lawbreaking telecoms be granted amnesty. To make his case, Mukasey teared up while exploiting the 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11 and said this:Greenwald asks the questions and makes the points that the corporate-owned media has chosen to ignore.
"Officials "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that's the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that's the call that we didn't know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went."
"At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America's anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. "We got three thousand. . . . We've got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn't come home to show for that," he said, struggling to maintain his composure.
"At the time of the attacks, Mr. Mukasey was the chief judge at the federal courthouse a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.
"These are multiple falsehoods here, and independently, this whole claim makes no sense. There is also a pretty startling new revelation here about the Bush administration's pre-9/11 failure that requires a good amount of attention."
Among them are the fact that warrants were not required under the old FISA law to monitor a call that originated in Afghanistan. Additionally, in a worst-case scenario, the government would have been allowed to monitor suspected terrorists for 72 hours without pursuing a warrant. So, Greenwald wonders, "why didn't they" eavesdrop on that alleged call.
If Mukasey was speaking metaphorically, he needs to come clean, and quick. Otherwise, the charge that the White House had pre-9/11 intelligence and refused to follow-up, needs to be investigated for sheer incompetence.
Greenwald also catches Mukasey in yet another lie. The Attorney General has repeated the untruth that the telecoms cannot face trial or our national secret methods of tracking down terrorists would be compromised.
"Mike Mukasey was a long-time federal judge and so I feel perfectly comfortable calling that what it is: a brazen lie. Federal courts hear classified information with great regularity and it is not heard in "open court." There are numerous options available to any federal judge to hear classified information -- closed courtrooms, in camera review (in chambers only), ex parte communications (communications between one party and the judge only). No federal judge -- and certainly not Vaughn Walker, the Bush 41 appointee presiding over the telecom cases -- is going to allow "disclosure in open court of . . . . the means and the methods by which we collect foreign intelligence." And Mukasey knows that."Greenwald goes farther than this and I urge you to check out the entire column here.
After familiarizing yourself with the story it would be a good idea to demand that our local politicians and media outlets actually start asking questions to get to the bottom of this.