ABC's Nightline Aids Bill Clinton's Revisionism on NSA Spying
by Jim Kouri, CPP
For eight years, Bill Clinton saturated the news media with his exploits in the White House. And now that he's no longer president -- and unlike most former presidents -- he's still getting major press coverage on a daily basis. It's understandable since without the adulation and love poured on the man known as Slick Willie, he'd be left alone with himself. And the reality would set in that beneath all the bluster and verbal gymnastics lay a man who's basically an empty suit. But for now, that is a non-problem for Clinton.
For example, Thursday night Bill appeared on ABC's Nightline on which he was interviewed by newsman Terry Moran. When Moran asked Clinton questions regarding what the media calls domestic spying by the National Security Agency, Mr. Clinton said that President Bush may have broken the law when he authorized the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance on US-based terrorists.
Asked if he thought Bush had gone too far by circumventing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap terrorists, Clinton told ABC's Nightline audience, "As a legal proposition, I don't know."
He claims it would have been better if his successor had followed established legal guidelines and that "it seems to me that unless there's a reason not to, we ought to use that surveillance court."
Then without batting an eye, Clinton told viewers yet another whopper and was given yet another pass by the media. He said that when he was president, he always tried to work within the constraints of the law.
When asked if the president should have constitutional authority to order domestic surveillance without a warrant during wartime, Clinton said it is "a decision the Supreme Court would have to resolve." So under a Clinton presidency, a bunch of blackrobed lawyers would run the war. One doubts that would ever occur because during his administration the cigar-touting Clinton conducted eavesdropping on Americans with no warrants, no judicial oversight and no congressional oversight to speak of.
Clinton continued his fabrication: "My attitude was that once the Congress had spoken on it and given us the tools that we needed, we used it," he said. "We used the law. We either went there and asked for the approval or, if there was an emergency and we had to do it beforehand, then we filed within three days afterward and gave them a chance to second guess it, because I thought it was a good — I think in the country you always have to try to balance these things out, so that's what we did."
So in brief, Clinton would have performed better as Commander-in Chief than George Bush, while being sensitive to Americans' civil liberties. This from a man who contracted or had his minions contract private eyes -- some of whom used illegal wiretaps -- to dig up dirt on those deemed "a threat." This from a man whose contracted flunkies slashed the tires of Kathleen Willey when she came out and told Americans what a sleazebag they elected as President of the United States.
More importantly, newsman Terry Moran did not ask Clinton one question with regard to his own top secret NSA surveillance of Americans. The former president wasn't asked about projects Echelon and Carnivore, two programs that monitored the electronic
communications of millions of Americans during his administration without authorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
In arguably the greatest electronic surveillance program ever created, during the Clinton Administration the National Security Agency employed a global spy system, code named Echelon, which surveilled just about every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world.
The program was controlled by the NSA and operated in cooperation with the Government Communications Headquarters of England, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, the Australian Defense Security Directorate, and the General Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand. These organizations were bound together under a secret 1948 agreement, UKUSA, whose terms and text remain under wraps even today, according to intelligence expert and former professor of government Patrick Poole.
The Echelon system was fairly simple in design: position intercept stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition programs. The system would look for code words or phrases (known as the Echelon “Dictionary”) that will prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis.
In other words, if I'm discussing terrorism with a colleague, the words "terrorist," "explosives," "weapons," "training," would all be flagged for further surveillance.
Intelligence analysts at each of the respective “listening stations” maintain separate keyword lists for them to analyze any conversation or document flagged by the system, which is then forwarded to the respective intelligence agency headquarters that requested the intercept.
But apart from directing their ears towards terrorists and rogue states, Echelon was also used for purposes well outside its original mission. This regular domestic surveillance targeted American civilians, according to Mr. Poole.
In a May 27, 1999 story in the New York Times, Americans first heard about Echelon. Two congressmen, Republicans Bob Barr and Porter Goss, who now serves as director of Central Intelligence, demanded information on a program they weren't sure even existed. However, Democrats defended Clinton's spying on Americans as a "necessary evil."
Immediately after coming to office in January 1993, President Clinton added to the corporate espionage machine by creating the National Economic Council, which feeds intelligence to “select” companies to enhance US competitiveness. The capabilities of Echelon to spy on foreign companies is nothing new, but the Clinton administration raised its use to an art, says Patrick Poole.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.