congress watch

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Senate Appropriations – Apr 10, 2008

April 10th, 2008 by selise

DOJ budget for fiscal year 2009

Senate Committee on Appropriations – April 10, 2008

Witness: Michael Mukasey, United States Attorney General

This morning’s Senate Appropriations committee hearing with Michael Mukasey, USAG, is now available on the subcommittee’s website via a realplayer webstream.

TMP has posted a partial transcript of the exchange between Senator Feinstein and AG Mukasey on the 4th Amendment. However, this was not the only important matter covered during the hearing. The terrorism watch list, the pre-9/11 AQ phone call from Afghanistan that AG Mukasey described in the Q&A period of his March 27th talk and other matters of some (I hope) interest were also discussed.

In order to make the testimony more widely available, here is an mp3 audio rip from the committee’s website:

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4/11/08 – update 1: see below for a rough transcript of about 3 min, beginning about 37 min from the start of the hearing:
4/11/08 – update 2: see Glenn Greenwald for analysis.
4/11/08 – update 3: youtube of segment

Senator Leahy: You gave a speech at the commonwealth club. You made reference to pre-911 phone call from Afghanistan to the United States. Here’s what you said, this was an open meeting, "That’s a call we didn’t know about. We knew there’d been a call from someplace that we know to be a safe house in Afghanistan. We knew it came to the United States, we didn’t know precisely where it went," and you indicated that failure to intercept this was responsible for the deaths of more than 3000 people on September 11th. You also suggested we didn’t intercept it because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prevented it. Now I’ve gone back through all the 911 commission report. Nobody else seems to know about this call you made or that…

Mukasey: I didn’t make the call.

Leahy: hm?

Mukasey: I didn’t make the call. I mentioned…

Leahy: No, you mentioned the call. But nobody else seems to know about this. So, can you tell me what the circumstances were on that and why FISA would have stopped it? Because nobody else seems to know about this call from Afghanistan that you talked about. We do know about the Department of Justice failing to even listen to their own FBI agents who told them about these hijackers who learned to fly, agent Bill Kurtz, among others, and was told, "We’ve got this under control." We do know the Department of Justice wanted to cut the budget on counter terrorism on September 10th. We do know that a lot of those signals were missed, but nobody seems to know about this phone call you talked about.

Mukasey: The phone call I referenced, which by the way was not in the speech, it was in the question and answer session following the speech, relates to an incoming call that is referred to in a letter dated February 22nd of this year from the DNI and me to chairman Reyes of the House Intelligence Committee with copies to the principle members and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The underlying reference is contained in a joint intelligence report of the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. I’m happy to provide you with a copy of that reference.

Leahy: Would you please?

Mukasey: The one thing I got wrong was the geography. It did not come from Afghanistan. I got the country wrong, but other than that it was spot on, and I will be happy to provide you with the page. And the point to be made there was not that we could not have monitored it under FISA, but rather that no FISA application should have been necessary to monitor a foreign target in a foreign country. I was speaking generally to the desirability of getting a bill passed, as you know we’ve been having a lot of trouble with that, but I’d be happy to get you the reference. You’re right it’s not in the 9/11…

Leahy: Then we don’t need FISA to monitor a foreign source.

Mukasey: We shouldn’t need it.

Leahy: We didn’t need it then. And we don’t today.

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