"Addington’s behavior with the NSA auditors was "a wake-up call for me," Goldsmith said. Cheney and Addington, he came to believe, were gaming the system, using secrecy and intimidation to prevent potential dissenters from conducting an independent review.
"They were geniuses at this," Goldsmith said. "They could divide up all these problems in the bureaucracy, ask different people to decide things in their lanes, control the facts they gave them, and then put the answers together to get the result they want." " Gellman
"Comey found Frances Townsend, an old friend, waiting just outside the Oval Office, standing by the appointment secretary’s desk. She was Bush’s deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. Comey had known her since their days as New York mob prosecutors in the 1980s. Since then, Townsend had run the Justice Department’s intelligence office. She lived and breathed surveillance law.
Comey took a chance. He pulled her back out to the hallway between the Roosevelt Room and the Cabinet Room.
"If I say a word, would you tell me whether you recognize it?" he asked quietly.
He did. She didn’t. The program’s classified code name left her blank. Comey tried to talk around the subject.
"I think this is something I am not a part of," Townsend said. "I can’t have this conversation." Like John Gordon and deputy national security adviser Steven J. Hadley and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, she was out of the loop." " Gellman
I wrote recently against the de facto recent elevation of the position of vice-president of the United States. This story in today’s Washington Post reinforces my position.
Gellman makes it clear in his piece that the weakness of George W. Bush and his apparent preference for conspiratorial action within his own government enabled a more or less silent putsch within his administration against the principle of the legal assignment of function and powers. Cheney and Addington, the true "evil doers," were allowed by the president to "game the system." Instead of seeking to do their duty to the Constitution, these men sought to use the good nature and gullibility of most Americans against them to seize a degree of usurped control over the intelligence community that is reminiscent of the way in which totalitarian regimes sought unlimited power throughout the 20th Century.
Addington wrote the key presidential directives for the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" (TSP), kept them in his private office safe, got them agreed to by Yoo, his stooge at the department of Justice, and then fought savagely to conceal the program of internal surveillance by confining key government officials to "their lanes" (his words) believing that they could thus be prevented from understanding the scope of its illegality.
For those who will respond that internal (in the US) communications surveillance was necessary after 9/11, I would agree, but the means for doing that already existed in the mechanism of the FISA court. That means was not good enough for these men. They now make a silly argument that these courts do not function fast enough. Nonsense. Under the FISA law they were allowed to begin surveillance operations while waiting for a writ from the FISA courts. That was not good enough. They wanted to have unfettered access to every American’s telephone calls, e-mail, etc. They wanted to own their fellow citizens in the way that autocrats always want to own everyone and everything. The vice-president’s office did all this and concealed what they were doing from nearly everyone in the White House except GW Bush himself.
According to Bob Woodward in "The War Within," the same group conspired with GW Bush to bypass the statutory chain of military command in dealing with Petraeus over the head of Secretary Gates.
The irony lies in the bald fact that the vice-president of the United States has virtually no legal power at all except that which the president loans to him/her. On Fox New Sunday today, a nameless woman interviewed about Palin, described the office of vice-president as "the second most powerful job in the world." Some have said that the public now expects the vice-president to be a kind of deputy president… Absolute balderdash. Again! The vice prsident has NO functions or constitutional or statutory power other than as presiding officer of the senate. Biden or Palin will have what power the president bestows.
Let us be warned by what has passed the last eight years. The next president should put the VP back into the box. pl