S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Understanding your FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is 100 years old this year. To commemorate the occasion the website features the story of the violent death of Bonnie and Clyde, folks who came from my current neck of the woods. To quote the intro:

Bonnie and Clyde
Seventy-four years ago this month, the hunt for the most notorious crime couple in American history came to a violent end.

Prowling around the FBI website turned up some interesting finds. First was the page for the National Security Branch. National Security Letters made the news last March. Breaking news yesterday regarded the formation of a Northern Virginia Public Corruption/Government Fraud Task Force. Let's hope that they can give us some protection before the big elections in the fall.

Around the Internet -- The search term "fbi" returned 57,600,000 entries, including - of course - Wikipedia's. I feel sure that the FBI has someone assigned to monitor the Wiki site to assure accuracy, given that they had 28,576 employees in 2004. The FBI seems almost ubiquitous. And we are told that every single one of them is out there to protect us in some way.

Just so you can't say you didn't know -- The 2008 Republican National Convention is September 1-4, in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. -- Depending whether you inside or outside of the fence at the Republican Convention, this news will hit you from opposite psychological directions.

If you are a Democrat you need to know from,* (5/26/08) that the "FBI [is] Recruiting Infiltrators for GOP Convention Protesters." To quote:

This gets complicated. According to - City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Moles Wanted, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is recruiting people to infiltrate anti-GOP protest groups in the run-up to the upcoming Republican convention.

The law is clear that police may attend public meetings undercover to see what people are up to. And of course undercover operations in private settings are also legal, although there should be guidelines as to when they are appropriate. And of course it’s good citizenship for private citizens to report crimes when they witness them.

Republicans have been informed,via the Top Ten questions section of the convention website, to quote Number 5, emphasis mine:

How will people who live and work in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area be affected during the week of the convention? Detailed planning for a major event like this is obviously very important - and I want to assure you that we will have comprehensive transportation and security plans in place. We are in the process of hiring a professional transportation management company that will be charged with helping us keep things moving smoothly on area roadways. Most convention guests will be transported to and from official events using mass transit, mainly in the form of buses, which will minimize the number of vehicles using the roadways during the event.

Security plans formulated after September 11, 2001 did not, in my opinion, include nearly enough protections for civil liberties. And that is where the nation lost its way. This story from (5/27) Dissident Voice* on torture makes it clear that torture was known about and condoned at all levels of government, including the FBI, from early on in the Bush administration.

Thank goodness, we are beginning to learn a lot more about the inner workings of the current administration. I hope the nation learns enough to make a difference in the way the voters decide. From my Rojo newsletter we get a couple of progressives' reactions to Scott McClennan's revelations about the Bush White House:

What Happened, the new memoir by former Bush press secretary Scott McLellan, is stirring the usual partisan punditrism. The book contains Scott's post-facto regrets about having to lie for the administration about the Iraq war build-up and the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. . . . ThinkProgress says: "It’s a shame it took McClellan so long to acknowledge that his boss and his colleagues were misleading the country." Glenn Greenwald at asks: "If Bush's own press secretary mocks the American media as excessively "deferential" disseminators of right-wing government propaganda, isn't it time to retire forever the myth of the "liberal media"?

And thank goodness for fierce legislators such as Congressman Wexler. He has a website, at which he can receive campaign contributions, but that is not why I mention the following information. I am sure that some of you got his newsletter, IMPEACHMENT UPDATE / SCOTT MCCLELLAN'S REVELATIONS.

Your commitment to accountability for the Bush/Cheney Administration, and the support of 230,000 other Americans who signed up at, has inspired and motivated me in my effort to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney and Inherent Contempt for Rove and others. During the past months I have been a tireless and dogged advocate of this vitally important cause.

To conclude with one more bit of election news from the Democratic Strategist, "State-by-State General Election Polls" (5/23/08) is by Ed Kilgore. To quote:

. . . general election polls this far out from November were "meaningless."

This point of view is even more prevalent when it comes to state-by-state general election polls. That's why I was interested in Brendan Nyan's recent post summarizing the research on state-by-state polls in 2004, which suggested they are not precise when it comes to predicting close states, but are otherwise pretty much spot-on in terms of broader results.

And that, folks, means they are not "meaningless."

*Hat tip to"betmo" for the *items. I always appreciate that she knows so well what I like.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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