Thursday, November 8, 2007

Uncle Sam on the Line

to the Editor: In his column "Uncle Sam on the Line", November 5, 2007,
John Ashcroft labors mightily to obscure what is clear. The FISA statute requires a search warrant for a domestic wiretap. The phone company employees who were asked to participate in tapping lines without warrants were asked to break the law. Their responsibility was to respect the law, and to notify authorities that there was criminal activity afoot. His assertion that "...a corporation will typically not know enough about the underlying circumstances and operations to make informed judgements about legality." is incompatible with democracy. The statue is known, and both citizens and corporations are bound by it. The alternative--in which an act is legal or illegal at the mere assertion of the Executive--is tyranny.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AveLafayette, CA 94549

CIA techniques

Debate Erupts on Techniques Used by C.I.A.
to the editor:
I can no longer be surprised that the Whitehouse press secretary offers coy and ambiguous "clarifications". When ms. Perino characterizes C.I.A. interrogations procedures as "lawful", does she mean that they were enacted by our legislature and interpreted by our judiciary? Does she mean "lawful" as in "when the president does it, that means it's not illegal"? As a citizen, the state's sins are my own. It is my responsibility,through my representatives in the Congress, to oversee and investigate the workings of our system of government. Perhaps the Whitehouse press secretary will give us a second, better effort at communicating.
Barry Levine1142 brown ave lafayette, CA 94549


to the editor:re: Bush Moves to Save Mukasey Nomination
Judge Mukasey's apparent concern to protect American agents who may have been torturing detainees from prosecution in the future is misplaced. If Americans have been torturing, we should be the first to charge and try them for it. Torture not only shocks the conscience;it is a violation of our statutes, of our constitution and of our treaty obligations. As the highest law-enforcement officer in the land, I would look to our Attorney General to enforce these laws,rather than to seek loopholes.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AveLafayette, CA 94549

Cops of the World

to the editor: After four years of fanciful arguments that the U.S. can remakeIraqi society through force, Thomas Friedman has come around.
"It has to come from them" he writes. With those six words, he has rejoined the reality-based community. Welcome back Tom; we've missed you.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AvenueLafayette, CA 94549

Moktada al-Sadr

Mr. Bull
seeks a leader with whom Americans can work, and ignores the need for a leader acceptable to the Iraqis. Moktada al-Sadr still needs to be charged and tried in the murder of his rival Abdul Majidal-Khoei in the wake of our invasion. As long as the Iraqi government treats him as untouchable, it will be viewed by Iraq's Shiite majority as weak and pliable, and byIraq's Kurds and Sunnis as an untrustworthy tool. As long as the U.S.persists in trying to foist such a leadership on the Iraqis, we perpetuate strife, misery and death in Iraq.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AveLafayette, CA 94549

Iran arrests Grandma

to the editor: Am I alone in detecting the taint of sexism in mr. Friedman's rhetoric?
We have elected grandfathers (as recently as 1988) to thepresidency of the United States. Does ms. Esfandiari's gender make hersomehow less competent? I presume that all three of these American citizens are innocent and deserve to be released here. I also presumethat gender is irrelevant to their innocence, to their competence, and to their human worth. I look forward to a newspaper that reflects this.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AvenueLafayette, CA 94549

Vulcan Utopia 5/29/07

to the editor: Three year ago, Howard Dean was labelled "shrill". Now, mr. Brooks tells us
that Al Gore is "pompous". If American Democrats are meek enough to accept the spin from the Right, they deserve any candidate that the RNC deigns to name for them.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AveLafayette, CA 94549
re: "Two Parties, One Law"
barry levine to letters May 3 2007

to the editor:
Arnold Burns asserts
that "Congress's oversight would ensure that no political hack or crony of the president would be handed the job" [of U.S. AttorneyGeneral]. Alas, even the American Electorate can remember that just such a crony now sits in that office because our own Congress failed in just that oversight capacity.
Barry Levine1142 brown ave lafayette, CA 94549

murder of Abdul Majid al-Khoei

to the editor: Moktada al-Sadr's influence in modern Iraq surged four years agowhen he murdered his rival Abdul Majid al-Khoei and got away with it.Mr. Maliki's government will not have any credibility at home orabroad until and unless it levels and pursues charges against for the murder of al-Khoei. Until that happens, Kurds andSunnis would be naive to expect justice from such a government andShiites will treat mr. Maliki as a tool to be used and discarded atconvenience.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AveLafayette, CA 94549 18 April 2007

FISA permits retroactive warrants

to the editor: Re: "Senators Cite F.B.I. Failures As Chief Promises Change"
Your article relates without comment mr. Mueller's assertion that the "[national security] letters were a critical tool in fighting terrorism, because they permitted investigators to check out contacts of suspected militants swiftly". As has already been reported in this paper, the Carter-era FISA statute already permits search warrants to be issued retroactively in case of urgent investigations. There was therefore never any legitimate need to circumvent the FISA court. These national security letters were and remain a cynical effort to evade proper judicial oversight. It is proper that mr. Mueller accepts responsibility for these abuses. It is overdue that he were replaced, and these abuses ended.
Barry Levine1142 Brown AvenueLafayette, CA 94549