One of those came this morning, with my morning radio news.
The United States government has admitted the Department of Defence and the CIA have been spying on the financial dealings of Americans.
The military and the CIA are restricted in their spying activities inside the United States and are barred from conducting traditional domestic law enforcement work in the country.
Vice-President Dick Cheney has confirmed the main outline of the report, and defended the activities as legal. He told Fox News on Sunday the spying is necessary to protect military installations inside the United States.
He called the spying "a perfectly legitimate activity" that the military and CIA had authority to carry out going back "three or four decades" and more recently confirmed in the Patriot Act adopted following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Hmm… So, the first stop is Fox News. Here y’go…
The Pentagon and to a lesser extent the CIA have been using a little-known power to look at the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage within the United States, officials said Saturday.
"It is our understanding that the intelligence community agencies make such requests on a limited basis," said Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the Office of the National Intelligence Director, which oversees all 16 spy agencies in the government.
The national security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terror and spy investigations without a judge's approval or grand jury subpoena.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage, has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The New York Times reported on expanded use of the technique by the Pentagon and CIA in an article posted Saturday on the Internet.
The vast majority of national security letters are issued by the FBI, but in very rare circumstances they have been used by the CIA before and after 9/11, said a U.S. intelligence official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.
None of the officials reached by the AP commented about the extent of use by the Defense Department agencies, but the Times said military intelligence officers have sent the letters in up to 500 investigations.
Now in the side-bar to that article was a link to the video of the interview with Cheney. No mention of the comments and confirmation of the story as stated by the Herald. Another “hmm” perhaps? Nah. Only joking.
Also on the side-bar was the “latest” RealClearPolitics poll averages. No need to comment there other than to observe that FoxNews did not poll in January. Will they in February?
Following the sidebars again led to Tom Bevan. Now he is a columnist who at least writes with a level of cogency even if I disagree with his politik.
It is rather strange to hear Bevan in one of his recent op-ed RCP pieces suggest…
In general, if I sound pessimistic about the president's "new way forward" in Iraq, it's because I am. That being said, Bush's plan does have a chance of succeeding, and we should all cross our fingers and hope that it does.
I think that I can sympathise with Bevan, at least from the point of view that if you are seeking a life of certainty and security, wealth and happiness, then the current international situation - US vis a vis ROW - would leave much to be desired. After all, it is apparent that the enemies at home are as plentiful and as dangerous as those in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Iran.
It gets even worse when, with all of the best intentions in the Middle East, Ms Rice starts talking to the Palestinians - how is THAT for a totally new approach!!. Not worse in that she is ding that, more power to her arm I say. No, when the Administration - in the form of John Bolton - announces to the world that her efforts are not only doomed to fail but are a total waste of time. When a leading member of your diplomatic team is sabotaging the best efforts for some while to break the Israel/Palestine impass then one really does have to wonder at the level of management and control... the enemy within as well. I wonder if the CIA has a "John Bolton" on its lists for a security letter.
Most galling of all, though, must be the knowledge that US foreign policy has been reduced to "cross your fingers and hope it works".