Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured, according to medical examinations detailed in a report released Wednesday by a human rights group.
The Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights reached that conclusion after two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees, who had been held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.
The detainees were never charged with crimes.
“We found clear physical and psychological evidence of torture and abuse, often causing lasting suffering,” said Dr. Allen Keller, a medical evaluator for the study.
In a 121-page report, the doctors’ group said that it uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses.
The report is prefaced by retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003.
“There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes,” Taguba says. “The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”
Over the years, reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib and allegations of torture at Guantanamo prompted the Bush administration to deny that the U.S. military tortures detainees.
Since only 11 detainees were examined “the findings of this assessment cannot be generalized to the treatment of all detainees in U.S. custody,” the report says.
However, the incidents documented are consistent with findings of other investigations into government treatment, “making it reasonable to conclude that these detainees were not the only ones abused, but are representative of a much larger number of detainees subjected to torture and ill treatment while in U.S. custody.”
Four of the men evaluated were arrested in or taken to Afghanistan between late 2001 and early 2003 and later were sent to Guantanamo Bay, where they were held for an average of three years before being released without charge, the report says. The other seven were detained in Iraq in 2003 and released within a year, the report says.
All the subjects told examiners that they were subjected to multiple forms of torture or ill treatment that “often occurred in combination over a long period of time,” the report says.
While the report presents synopses of the detainees’ backgrounds based on interviews with them, the authors did not have access to the detainees’ medical histories. Therefore, there’s no way to know whether any of the inmates may have had medical or mental problems before being detained.
Among the ex-detainees was an Iraqi in his mid-40s, identified only as Laith, whom U.S. soldiers took into custody in October 2003 and who was released from Abu Ghraib in June 2004. According to the report, Laith was subjected to sleep deprivation, electric shocks and threats of sexual abuse to himself and his family.
“They took off even my underwear. They asked me to do some movements that make me look in a very bad way so they can take photographs. … They were trying to make me look like an animal,” Laith told examiners, according to the report.
According to the report, Laith said the most “painful” experiences involved threats to his family: “And they asked me, ‘Have you ever heard voices of women in this prison?’ I answered, ‘Yes.’ They were saying, ‘Then you will hear your mothers and sisters when we are raping them.’ ”
The examiners concluded in the report that “Laith appears to have suffered severe and lasting physical and psychological injuries as a result of his arrest and incarceration at Abu Ghraib prison.”
Another detainee, Youssef, was detained by U.S. soldiers nearly seven years ago when he tried to enter Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan without a passport, the report says. He initially was held in an Afghan prison, where he describes “being stripped naked, being intimidated by dogs, being hooded and being thrown against the wall on repeated occasions,” the report says.
A few months later, he was taken to the Guantanamo Bay facility, where he was subjected to interrogators who would enter his cell and force him to lie on the floor with his hands tied behind his back to his feet, the report says.
Youssef said the interrogators wanted him to confess of involvement with the Taliban, the report says.
Based on its investigation, the report calls on the U.S. government to issue a formal apology to detainees subject to torture and ill treatment by the military since fall 2001 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
The rights group also demands that the Bush administration:
• “Repudiate all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”;
• Establish an independent commission to investigate and report publicly the circumstances of detention and interrogation at U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay;
• Hold individuals involved in torturing detainees accountable through criminal and civil processes; and
• Monitor thoroughly the conditions at U.S.-run prisons all over the world.
Keith Olbermann – ‘Countdown’
President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.
Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.” This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came during a May 13 interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo.
The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the doomsday scenario?”
The president replied: “Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. The biggest issue we face is, it’s bigger than Iraq, it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”
Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes “cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?” They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.
Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives? “This ideological struggle,” Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.
It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else’s, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.
But wait, there’s more: You also said “Iraq is the place where al-Qaida and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated.” They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir, you allowed them to assemble there!
As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of “they’ll greet us as liberators.” And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.
Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!
It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.
“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were misled on Iraq?”
“I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction,” the president said. “You know, ‘mislead’ is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don’t think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”
You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.
You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, fast.
You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”
You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn’t agree it was really chicken salad.
And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus, all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country’s policy in lieu of, say, common sense.
The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.
You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Of course if there is one overriding theme to this president’s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.
“And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”
“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction …”
People? What people? The insane informant “Curveball?” The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi? The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?
“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
“And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”
Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress’s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation’s throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply resubmitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon.
You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” only with the stakes — as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it — being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”
And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes” — while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect — dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”
Then came Mr. Bush’s final blow to our nation’s solar plexus, his last reopening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.
“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans on our history. “It really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died, to see the Commander in Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
Golf, sir? Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq? Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf? Do you think, sir, they care about you?
You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn’t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.
Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn’t even give up talking about Iraq a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?
Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn’t give up your presidency? In your own words “solidarity as best as I can” is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can do?
Four thousand Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf! Golf. Not “Gulf” — golf.
And still it gets worse. Because it proves that the president’s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.
“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”
“I remember when [diplomat Sergio Vieira] de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf, I think I was in central Texas, and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it any more to do.”
Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn’t even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, 4,000 of their brothers and sisters lose their lives — and you lose golf, and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?
If it’s even true.
Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U.N. and interrupted your round of golf was on Aug. 19, 2003.
Yet CBS News has records of you playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.
Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you 6 1/2 years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain, succeeds you.
The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game! And, sir, if you have any hopes that next Jan. 20 will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:
When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at …
When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation …
When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abdicating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead.
This advice, Mr. Bush: Shut the hell up!
Please take the time to watch these videos – it’s what’s necessary for all of this to change.
By Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen in Washington
Reports of unacceptable interrogation techniques led to a shake up in policy and staff at the Justice Department in 2004. After Alberto Gonzales’ arrival, the public started hearing things had changed, but new reports claim that things remained the same — or worsened.
When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.
Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.
Read the rest of the article at Spiegel Online
And if you still think “they” don’t like us because of our freedoms and lifestyle, we think you need to open your eyes and look at what your government is doing in your name.
It’s our observation that as the United States government continues its current foreign policy and its push to bring our form of government to countries that may not want it, the status of the U.S. as the arbiter of world affairs is diminishing. We can no longer announce that we are “the deciders” of world policy and not expect repercussions.
Other governments will take a page from the handbook the U.S. has been using and turn our treatment of them back on us.
We are on a steep and slippery slope here – and, after watching “the debates,” there appears to be no hope that the frontrunners in the 2008 campaign offer anything different. A different approach needs to be put forth – and we’re the ones who need to demand it. No more “lesser of two evils” – it’s time for NO evil!
The Iranian parliament on Saturday voted to designate the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army as terrorist organizations, IRNA, the country’s state-run news agency, reported.
The CIA and the U.S. Army “trained terrorists and supported terrorism, and they themselves are terrorists,” the parliament said, according to IRNA.
The Iranian parliament said the condemnation was based on “known and accepted” standards of terrorism from international regulations, including the U.N. charter.
The parliament said it condemns the “aggressions by the U.S. Army, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan” and calls on the United Nations to “intervene in the global problem of U.S. prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret jails in other countries,” IRNA reported, quoting a statement from Iranian lawmakers.
The Iranian parliament also decried the CIA’s and U.S. Army’s involvement in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, U.S. involvement in the Balkans, Vietnam and the U.S. support of Israel.
Of the condemnation, Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, said, “There are some things that don’t even deserve comment. This is one.”
National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said he declined to comment “on non-binding resolutions passed by parliaments in countries with dubious records on human rights, democracy and that are state sponsors of terror.”
There was no immediate response from the U.S. State Department.
Washington and U.S. military leaders have long accused Iran of training and equipping insurgents in Iraq. The United States and Iran have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1980 after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days.
The Iranian lawmakers’ condemnation was in apparent retaliation for the U.S. Senate’s resolution Wednesday requesting that the United States designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Quds Force, as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Senate resolution passed a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the U.N. General Assembly that an agreement reached last month between his country and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its disputed nuclear program has, in the Iranian view, settled the matter.
Iran says its nuclear program is necessary for civilian energy production. The United States and other Western nations have accused Tehran of trying to build a nuclear weapon.
If you’re not scared or angry at the thought of a human brain being controlled remotely, then it could be this prototype of mine is finally starting to work.
John Alejandro King, My War On Terror!
We will not be posting Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. We are participating in the STRIKE FOR PEACE.
If you’ve had enough, you need to say “When.” Say-when.org
From The Village Voice:
Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trial
by Nat Hentoff
August 28th, 2007 6:30 PM
If and when there’s the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA’s secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament—as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey’s Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin’s Press) and Charlie Savage’s just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown).
While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world—or else governments wouldn’t let them in.
But The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer has sources who have seen accounts of the Red Cross interviews with inmates formerly held in CIA secret prisons. In “The Black Sites” (August 13, The New Yorker), Mayer also reveals the effect on our torturers of what they do—on the orders of the president—to “protect American values.”
She quotes a former CIA officer: “When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but . . . you can’t go back to that dark a place without it changing you.”
Few average Americans have been changed, however, by what the CIA does in our name. Blame that on the tight official secrecy that continues over how the CIA extracts information. On July 20, the Bush administration issued a new executive order authorizing the CIA to continue using these techniques—without disclosing anything about them.
If we, the people, are ultimately condemned by a world court for our complicity and silence in these war crimes, we can always try to echo those Germans who claimed not to know what Hitler and his enforcers were doing. But in Nazi Germany, people had no way of insisting on finding out what happened to their disappeared neighbors.
We, however, have the right and the power to insist that Congress discover and reveal the details of the torture and other brutalities that the CIA has been inflicting in our name on terrorism suspects.
Only one congressman, Oregon’s Democratic senator Ron Wyden, has insisted on probing the legality of the CIA’s techniques—so much so that Wyden has blocked the appointment of Bush’s nominee, John Rizzo, from becoming the CIA’s top lawyer. Rizzo, a CIA official since 2002, has said publicly that he didn’t object to the Justice Department’s 2002 “torture” memos, which allowed the infliction of pain unless it caused such injuries as “organ failure . . . or even death.” (Any infliction of pain up to that point was deemed not un-American.) Mr. Rizzo would make a key witness in any future Nuremberg trial.
As Jane Mayer told National Public Radio on August 6, what she found in the leaked Red Cross report, and through her own extensive research on our interrogators (who are cheered on by the commander in chief), is “a top-down-controlled, mechanistic, regimented program of abuse that was signed off on—at the White House, really—and then implemented at the CIA from the top levels all the way down. . . . They would put people naked for up to 40 days in cells where they were deprived of any kind of light. They would cut them off from any sense of what time it was or . . . anything that would give them a sense of where they were.”
She also told of the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was not only waterboarded (a technique in which he was made to feel that he was about to be drowned) but also “kept in . . . a small cage, about one meter [39.7 inches] by one meter, in which he couldn’t stand up for a long period of time. [The CIA] called it the dog box.”
Whether or not there is another Nuremberg trial—and Congress continues to stay asleep—future historians of the Bush administration will surely also refer to Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality, the July report by Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The report emphasizes that the president’s July executive order on CIA interrogations—which, though it is classified, was widely hailed as banning “torture and cruel and inhuman treatment”—”fails explicitly to rule out the use of the ‘enhanced’ techniques that the CIA authorized in March, 2002, “with the president’s approval (emphasis added).
In 2002, then–Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced the “torture” memos and other interrogation techniques in internal reports that reached the White House. It’s a pity he didn’t also tell us. But Powell’s objections should keep him out of the defendants’ dock in any future international trial.
From the Leave No Marks report, here are some of the American statutes that the CIA, the Defense Department, and the Justice Department have utterly violated:
In the 1994 Torture Convention Implementation Act, we put into U.S. law what we had signed in Article 5 of the UN Convention Against Torture, which is defined as “an act ‘committed by an [officially authorized] person’ . . . specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control.”
The 1997 U.S. War Crimes Act “criminalizes . . . specifically enumerated war crimes that the legislation refers to as ‘grave breaches’ of Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions], including the war crimes of torture and ‘cruel or inhuman treatment.'”
The Leave No Marks report very valuably brings the Supreme Court— before Chief Justice John Roberts took over—into the war-crimes record of this administration. I strongly suggest that Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility send their report—with the following section underlined—to every current member of the Supreme Court and Congress:
“The Supreme Court has long considered prisoner treatment to violate substantive due process if the treatment ‘shocks the conscience,’ is bound to offend even hardened sensibilities, or offends ‘a principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.'”
Among those fundamental rights cited by past Supreme Courts, the report continues, are “the rights to bodily integrity [and] the right to have [one’s] basic needs met; and the right to basic human dignity” (emphasis added).
If the conscience of a majority on the Roberts Court isn’t shocked by what we’ve done to our prisoners, then it will be up to the next president and the next Congress—and, therefore, up to us—to alter, in some respects, how history will judge us. But do you see any considerable signs, among average Americans, of the conscience being shocked? How about the presidential candidates of both parties?
A new law expanding the government’s spying powers gives the Bush Administration a six-month window to install possibly permanent back doors in the nation’s communication networks. The legislation was passed hurriedly by Congress over the weekend and signed into law Sunday by President Bush.The bill, known as the Protect America Act, removes the prohibition on warrantless spying on Americans abroad and gives the government wide powers to order communication service providers such as cell phone companies and ISPs to make their networks available to government eavesdroppers.
The Administration pushed for passage of the changes to close what it called a “surveillance gap,” referring to a long-standing feature of the nation’s surveillance laws that required the government to get court approval to capture communications inside the United States.
While the nation’s spy laws have been continually loosened since 9/11, the Administration never pushed for the right to tap the nation’s domestic communication networks until a secret court recently struck down a key pillar of the government’s secret spying program.
The Administration argues that the world’s communication networks now route many foreign to foreign calls and emails through switches in the United States.
Prior to the law’s passage, the nation’s spy agencies, such as the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, didn’t need any court approval to spy on foreigners so long as the wiretaps were outside the United States.
Now, those agencies are free to order services like Skype, cell phone companies and arguably even search engines to comply with secret spy orders to create back doors in domestic communication networks for the nation’s spooks. While it’s unclear whether the wiretapping can be used for domestic purposes, the law only requires that the programs that give rise to such orders have a “significant purpose” of foreign intelligence gathering.
Read it at Threat Level – Wired Blogs