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December 17, 2005

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Comments

kim

On the wall or off the wall, I can't see behind the wall.
==================================================

SteveMG

You're damn right I ordered the Code Red.

I'm not sure you really want to keep quoting from a movie script that was written from someone who ingested hallucinogenic mushrooms (among other mind altering substances).

Although if it works for you, who am I to say differently?

Pass the blue and purple salt in that wild looking shaker please.

SMG

kim

Say can I have some of your purple berries?
===========================================

j.foster

What a crew. Oil can rockefeller , harry the hat reid and skelator pelosi ! Bush is right , attack these posers and marginalize them. If the act is illegal than the frauds can take it to the courts. Of course Sen. John (and then there were the strawberries) Mccain is busy securing rights for those who would see us dead. Truly a confederacy of swine.

Tollhouse

What hilarious is that they rush to quote a Senator that sits on none of the committees that would have dealt with the NSA and would have known nothing beyond what you or I would know about this matter.

Jeff

Hey Tom, I've got a few "unspecified activities" planned for your house. There, feel adequately briefed?

If the Dems authorized this, Bush may consider himself only partly guilty of trampling on our rights and I'll hold Pelosi responsible. But "unspecified activities" seems a very long way from actual briefing.

Travis

TM-

I'm confused...You're not suggesting that Rockafeller, who is the Vice Chairman of the SSIC, should have willingly disclosed classified information the moment he heard of the NSA program simply because he thought it was "outrageous"? Isn't that a violation of federal law?

maryrose

The proper elected officials were made aware of what was occurring and if they can't handle the truth and the reality of this war on terror perhaps people like Nancy Pelosi need to be replaced with the second in command democrat who also wanted her job. If she gets the vapors when the topic of terrorism comes upmaybe she is not ready for prime time.

Bill Arnold

I have a hard time interpreting what was ordered by GWB and done by the NSA as anything but a violation of the relevant law, Congressional oversight or not. How exactly was this law interpreted to allow for warrantless interceptions of domestic (partly domestic) communications?

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/usc_sup_01_50_10_36_20_I.html

When exactly was it that US conservatives started believing that the executive branch could do no wrong? (The recent fight over Harriet Miers being the only recent obvious exception.)

I'm not particularly concerned by this particular case, which is probably quite narrow and probably directly mainly at very bad people, but the legal reasoning is worrying.

boris

When exactly was it that US conservatives started believing that the executive branch could do no wrong?

Your interpretation of law will mean squat the very day all scholars agree on the meaning of the 2nd amendment.

Neuro-conservative

It's nice to see the liberals employing their finest reasoning skills yet again. Can someone please tell me how horribly we have been impacted by these activities the last few years? I mean, other than all those Jews who have been sent to the ovens by BusHitler.

Terrye

I used to be a Democrat, but since it seems that the only time Democrats can get fired up is when they can defend terrorists and trash Republicans I guess I will have to change parties.

I remember after 9/11 all these people getting outraged because Bush did not stop the attacks. They could not beleive that people could come to the United States, live here and not be caught. Why weren't we watching them? That was what people wanted to know. If someone had been listening to Atta to talk to the homeboys back in Afghanistan from his cell here in the US think how different history might have been.

Bush had the legal authority to spy on terrorists, based on several executive orders, one of which dates back to the Reagan years. Not even the NYT said it was illegal to spy on terrorists.

The Court knew it, members of Congress knew it, the FISA knew it.

The people involved were not soccer moms, they were people already identified as terrorists or terrorist contacts.

seneca has a post at the above url, Flares, with more details if you really want some backgroud.

But if you just want to tell Maguire to fuck himself because he is not sufficiently sensitive to the need of terrorists for privacy so that they can plan mass murder without being annoyed, maybe you should not bother.

r flanagan

It's embarrassing to read these comments.
There's absolutely no need for any of
us not just to use this bar room language
but even more to let ourselves think that
way. If we were in a room together we
wouldn't behave that way or God knows I
hope we wouldn't.

As it happens I agree with Feingold
which will be no surprise to anyone
who has happened to read my earlier comments.
That doesn't mean that I consider those
who disagree with him to be any less
intelligent or patriotic than I am. Or more.

Get a hold of yourselves and stop
this unseemly performance.

SteveMG

Bill:
How exactly was this law interpreted to allow for warrantless interceptions of domestic (partly domestic) communications?

Well, they're international calls and not domestic, partial or otherwise, i.e., calls from the US to other countries or calls from outside the US to here.

Most important, it appears that the President does have the authority to authorize monitoring for up to one year when one of the parties in the communication is a known agent of a foreign power.

FISA states in part, that:
The President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year... 50 U.S.C. 802

The statute also says that people identified to be involved with terrorist organizations are considered agents of a foreign power.

So, apparently the President may authorize monitoring of communications - that is acquire foreign intelligence - without a court order if the party is known to be engaging in terrorist operations or are considered agents of a foreign power.

However, the President and AG must provide updated information to the FISA court re the status of the monitoring.

So, if an American is working as a foreign agent (or as a terrorist), his communications may be monitored for intelligence purposes for up to one year without a warrant.

If my reading is correct, this looks legal.

SMG

Sue

You mean the same Feingold who had no problem trampling on our rights with his limiting free speech during an election? For some reason, the thought of Feingold defending my rights doesn't seem to flow...

Dwilkers

By all means Libs, raise hell about this. Its a great way for you to start an election year.

Filibuster the PA, call for immediate unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, have your party chairman declare the war unwinnable, have your last presidential candidate call US soldiers terrorists, get a former Dem Attorney General to defend Saddam, raise hell about Bush authorizing the NSA to spy on terrorists. This should position you guys really well as a serious national security party for the 2006 elections.

Scream. SCREAM! Beat your fists on the walls and floors.

Rove's mind ray is obviously up and running just fine.

Clash

We've become the nation of ultimate cowards. We've let Al Queda and all the "enemies of freedom" win. We're so afraid of some nebulous, ill defined threat that we will gladly trash our own Constitution and negate our own American Revolution - who needs a democracy when we can just let our King make up the laws as he goes along? A good system for terrified ninnies.

Good job, Republicans. Keep doing Al Queda's work for them. Where once we only burned villages to save them, now we've stooped to destroying our own country to ...um, "save" it.

I'm ashamed of the infantile cowardice of any of my fellow citizens who are tripping over their own feet to defend this - or any other - administration outrage. As long as it's got a Republican stamp on it. Party before country. Cowards.

SteveMG

We're so afraid of some nebulous, ill defined threat that we will gladly trash our own Constitution and negate our own American Revolution

The FISA law apparently says that the government may monitor communications of agents of a foreign power (including terrorists) for intelligence purposes for up to one year without a court order.

It requires that the president and AG keep the FISA court up on the status of the monitoring (among other requirements).

But the key part here is that the purpose is for intelligence gathering of the activities of foreign agents. None of the information may be used in a court of law or to punish the person in any way.

In this case, the Bush Administration is reportedly monitoring the communications of al-Qaeda operative operating here.

Personally, I would like greater oversight of this activity - i.e., warrants. But if the statute specifically allows this type of intelligence gathering (with limits) then clearly the White House isn't breaking laws.

SMG

Bill Arnold

SteveMG,
I didn't notice the 1801 Foreign Power can be "a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor;"

Since we've given the executive branch the authority to declare a group (how big is a group? N>=1? ) to be a terrorist group, the executive branch does appear to have the authority (excepting a 4th amendment challenge), if they keep the FISA court updated. Ugh. Thanks for the correction.

Specter

Personally I think that Joe and Howlin' Howie would make a good team for the Democratic presidential run.....

SteveMG

Bill:
I didn't notice the 1801 Foreign Power can be "a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor;"

Don't quote me on any of this (as if that disclaimer is needed anyway).

It also appears (this is tough sledding; no wonder lawyers get paid $500 a hour) that the foreign agent (or member of a terrorist groups) must not also be a US citizen.

If he's a US citizen, even if he is an agent of a foreign power, a warrant must be issued before the monitoring may start.

It's completely unclear to me that if one foreign agent is not a US citizen and he calls another agent who is a US citizen, whether a warrant is required.

I believe Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy noted that the laws regulating this stuff is both very complex but also very sparse on many matters. Very unsettled law.

SMG

Bill Arnold

SteveMG, I take that back. The 1 year exception is only for Foreign Powers as defined in 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3). Not "(4) a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor;
I'll shut up now before embarrassing myself further. :-)

SteveMG

The 1 year exception is only for Foreign Powers as defined in 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3

Why the Administration didn't follow the usual procedures - court approval - mystifies me.

Even assuming that they're completely evil, they're not completely dumb. Using the standard procedures would have prevented this stink.

SMG

noah

Ping...pong...ping...with oneself is sort of like playing checkers with oneself.

Seven Machos

If there was congressional oversight, what's the problem? Shouldn't Democrats who want Rive put in jail wnt the leakers of this classified information be put in jail?

r flanagan

Sue , yeah the same Senator Feingold who was
part of the majority of Congress which
voted for campaign finance reform. Unlike his stance in 2001when he was the ONLY senator who voted against the Patriot Act.

I think he was wrong both then and when he broke ranks with the Democrats during the Clinton impeachment.

I think he's right now.

Terrye

Steve:

Chances are they know a little more about this than you do.

Neo

This is very disturbing.

I'm not quite sure which is true, but either nothing (or almost nothing) was illegal or .. the President should be impeached and multiple members of the House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle should resign, as they let this continue unabated.

My best guess is that this will be passed on to the conspiracy theory nuts.

SteveMG

Chances are they know a little more about this than you do.

Let's hope the hell so.

Although we all know (or have read about) very smart people who have done very dumb things.

SMG

Bob in Pacifica

Let me guess. Bush ordered the NSA to spy on Americans without required judicial review for what reason? Perhaps because he didn't want judicial review.

And, of course, from now on, every time that Bush tells them a smidgen of what he may be doing for "national security" Dems should complain in public. Have I got your backing on that? Because I would bet that he didn't spell out to Reid or any other Senator that he was intending to violate the law because he didn't think his spying would withstand judicial review.

99% of the sins committed in the name of national security or homeland security are just bogus spy ops done to keep an eye on suspected enemies of the state (labor groups, anti-war groups, etc.).

Seven Machos

Bob -- I got news for you, pal. Nobody cares about labor groups or anti-war groups, unless those labor groups or anti-war groups are fronts for organizations that want to destroy the United States. You'll note that this kind of scheme has been perpetrated in the past, hence the need to observe them.

Right now, we are talking about people in the United States who want to destroy the United States. Many of them are, or are connected with, Muslims and Arabs. The government is observing them surreptitiously because overt observation is impossible.

Again, though: the unions are safe. Trust me. Pipefitters Local #181 in Scranton isn't who anyone is after. Unless it's run out of a radical mosque with an imam who is preaching that young men should bomb financial centers.

But, anyway, Bob: what's wrong with what has happened? Congress and the president have legitimated spying on, yes, enemies of the state. Whoever told you about judicial supremacy doesn't understand our federal system.

dblaiseb

The power of the executive to prosecute war under Article II, Section 2 is plenary. Congress passed a resolution with a further plenary grant regarding the waging of the WoT which is subsequent to the surveillance statute. The President, by Executive Order, authorizes a new NSA snoop policy on communications "half" overseas with US persons, but not wholly domestic. The formulation and implementation of this policy is conducted in consultation with Congress.

In my search for legal guidance on this issue, I've looked for the answer to whether an EO by Roosevelt authorizing peeks into mail from overseas during WWII came up for a court challenge, but have been unsuccessful.

From what little I've read about the NSA policy, and the safeguards supposedly built into it, the search of the email or phone conversation seems somewhat reasonable from a basic probable cause standpoint. Aren't we dealing with communications which originate from or are placed to an overseas correspondent, other facts which implicate national security and a policy providing for a form of judicial review after the fact?

The NYT report yesterday stated that the policy was suspended after concerns were voiced by the chief FISA judge. Isn't that evidence on good faith on the part of the administration?

It seems to me that if Congressional opponents want to curtail this policy, they'd better belly up the legislation. Without a party challenging the submission of evidence garnered by these means in a criminal prosecution, the issue remains a policy question.

And the leak itself? Any thread analysis on whether this leak violated the Espionage Act?

Seven Machos

Typical leftist thinking:

About 2002

Why didn't President Bush stop the 9/11 terrorist attacks? That's what I don't understand. His administration did nothing to stop the perpetrators. They were operating in our own backyard. They were communicating with Osama's lackeys abroad, getting money, etc., and the administration did NOTHING!!!!!!

Bush did nothing. People died.

Today


Why is President Bush being a fascist and trying to eavesdrop on terrorists? That's what I don't understand. His administration is illegally spying on people IN THE UNITED STATES. These innocent people have committed no crimes. They are merely communicating. This is a police-state violation of privacy!!!!!!

We must stop Bush from creating a police state.

Charlie (Colorado)

dblaiseb, with the proviso that I'm a logician, not a lawyer, if you follow the link to the YARGB blog I did some analysis and it sure looks to me like the Times is violating 18 USC 793, a/k/a the "Espionage Act". Along with whoever leaked it.

Jim Rockford

Terrorist apologists:

1. The calls monitored were those TO known terrorist contact numbers (and IMs and such). This is eminently sensible and the 9/11 Commission's recommendation (recall the 9/11 Hijackers used IM to contact controllers in Pakistan using Public Libraries specifically with the knowledge of the inability of the authorities to monitor said communications).

There are about 3,000 families who would gladly trade the civil liberties of Mohammed Atta to communicate with bin Laden in security for their loved ones back.

2. The numbers monitored INGOING from abroad were to known contacts seized from Al Qaeda leaders caught in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If say Khalid Sheik Mohammed has someone's number in the US don't you think this monitoring of overseas calls is a very good idea? I mean given that KSM put together both the 1993 WTC attack and 9/11?

So what you're saying is you are perfectly OK with having perhaps 14,000 dead or more (death toll if the planes struck an hour later) as long as whoever was in KSM's phonebook/dayplanner suffers no inconvenience by having Feds listen in?

ALL elements of this program were reviewed every 45 days including by appropriate members of the Democratic Party (Ranking minority members of the Senate Intelligence Committee). Sen Rockefeller had concerns that led to a temporary suspension and modification. So it's hardly Bushitler McHaliburton.

Dems have two positions on terrorism. Surrender and Apologize NOW! to terrorists then surrender. Yes Howlin Howie and the "we can't fight terrorism we're just as evil" will look real good once we get hit again.

BTW, while it takes only a day or two for a FISA court to approve a warrant, it takes SIX MONTHS to get to FISA due to various oversight issues and documentation required by both Congress and FISA before going to court as set out in the FISA law itself. According to both current and Clinton Admin folks. Dems are arguing we should wait six months before listening in on people talking to terrorists or who pop up in terrorist materials. No wonder 9/11 wasn't stopped.

Given that the nature of the challenge (stop terrorism attacks) required swift action; this seems reasonable. It's not like the policy was hidden and if Rockefeller had reservations he could have disclosed on the Senate Floor. That he did not shows you what this is: a reflexive desire by Dems to surrender to terrorists.

noah

Late night dark thoughts about the Presidents planned address: I am wondering whether he is planning to resign. This nation has become ungovernable. The traitors seem to outnumber the patriots and "if treason be popular then none dare call it treason". I would be longing to get back to the ranch in Crawford..."far from the madding crowd".

Jim Rockford

You can find the FISA LAw including it's process for getting Warrants

Jon H

"That's why she was asking for Congressional hearings,"

She couldn't. The matter was secret, after all.

If they wanted to do anything it'd have to go through classified channels. So you wouldn't have heard about it.

Jim Rockford

Hmm that did not post well.

Suffice it to say you can google the FISA Law (Cornell has it online). The process for getting a warrant (what you have to do BEFORE you go to a judge) consists of 11 major steps all of them extremely detailed and cumbersome.

Among the cumbersome processes:

Certification in mind-numbing detail by the National Security advisor that's foreign intelligence that can be gotten no other way including normal investigative techniques and ...

Same certification by the Attorney General.

Plus there's restrictions and much documentation requirements for each person, means, or facility targeted, and extensive minimization requirements.

FISA is a fiasco. Trust me just read the whole thing. READ IT. It's online. It's pretty straightforward. An utter, utter fiasco. No wonder Bush went for info first to save lives not legalism.

Syl

Thanks for the FISA info, Jim.

------

I just realized another reason why the Dems should hope this goes away soon. They are sure that the issue for the 2006 election will be Iraq. This NSA stuff has broadened that considerably to include the entire venue of national security.

And if the 2006 elections are based on national security rather than Iraq, the subset, the Dems will lose..again.

I say we keep this in the news for the next eleven months.

Clash

Warrants from the FISA can be obtained 'post facto'. Meaning even if circumstances required the government to proceed without a warrant due to time constraints, they were under an obligation to obtain one after the fact.

I would also like to see Jim Rockford's evidence about WHO was being monitored. I haven't seen this published, yet in his rush to apologize for his president's contempt for our Constitution, he seems to have acquired access to even more classified information than the N Y Times.

It is entirely possible that the American people, after years of having the boogeyman shaken at them like terrified children, will decide they want an all powerful King to protect them like the daddy they long for. It is possible they will decide that a nation of laws is too much of a responsibility. Since conservatives now seem willing to endorse any outrage against our Constitution -instantaneously - as long as it is perpetrated by a Republican, perhaps they can explain what it is that makes our nation great. It isn't our laws, or our constitution, since we'll gladly cede them out of our cowering before Al Queda. It must be our wide screen TVs that let us shut this whole thing out and pretend we are the greatest heroes mankind ever produced. Fantasy is a lovely place for cowards to live.

r flanagan

Like TM I think Admiral Bobby Inman's
comments are persuasive. Altho he was too much of a team player to make it public ,he resigned as Reagen's head of the NSA precisely because he thought it was being misused by Casey. It's also relevant that Inman withdrew as the candidate for Secretary of Defense because of his disgust at the attacks on other Clinton candidates.

It's quite likely all Bush's (shorthand for "the administration's") wiretaps were justified. But that nevertheless he was wrong in not scrupulously following the rules (once the Patriot Act had become law) because of the "slippery slope" argument which is particularly persuasive with respect to the government's powers to act secretely - an example being Nixon's direction to the IRS to audit the returns of his political opponents.

Given the unfortunate ability we all have to convince ourselves that our political opponents are bad people , the NSA's ability to eavesdrop is a temptation for any administration that would like to know the plans of those opponents. Or to obtain information to smear them.

Bush's claim that the Senate Dems endanger the country by letting the Patriot
Act lapse is just normal political rhetoric
given their offer to extend it for 3 months while considering proposed revisions.

Cecil Turner

It's quite likely all Bush's (shorthand for "the administration's") wiretaps were justified. But that nevertheless he was wrong in not scrupulously following the rules . . .

The rules change in wartime. And a Joint Resolution for use of armed forces amounts to a declaration of war per paragraph 5.b of the War Powers Resolution. It directly affects the application of US law in this particular case, and further, authorized the President to do precisely this sort of thing:

the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons. [emphasis added]
This isn't a matter of rounding up families of Middle Eastern origin and shipping them off to relocation centers . . . or anything close. From the news reports, it appears the consultation requirements of the War Powers Act were complied with. I'm having a hard time seeing the outrage over the program, or the legitimacy of the leak.

Clash

So you're cool then with just ditching the Constitution, Mr. Turner. All we need is an undeclared war and a compliant, derelict Congress ... and voila! We have ourselves a nice little kingdom going on here. We'll just rely on the almighty wisdom of ONE MAN to decide who is a threat and why and we'll just give him a blanket authorization to do whatever he - in his proven infinite wisdom - decides needs to be done.

Is this still the United States? Did we fight that stupid American Revolution for nothing? And all that foolishness about swearing to uphold the Constitution? That's only when it's convenient for King George?

Is this the same conservative Republican party that claims to hold the Constitution so sacred that they've all but erected a church to the Second Amendment? That Fourth Amendment - that silly one about unreasonable search and seizure, that trivial protection of the rights of the innocent citizens of a free nation - that's just a facade, I see. As long as we can appeal to the cowardice and ignorance of an infantile populace, as long as we can say "we're not as bad as....(insert your favorite strawman argument,i.e. no internment camps, no beheadings)..." then we really should all just get back to our Christmas shopping. After all, every good American knows the real measure of your patriotism is whether or not you say "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays". Let's keep the focus on what's truly important.

BTW, what's the latest on Natalie Holloway?

Cecil Turner

It is entirely possible that the American people, after years of having the boogeyman shaken at them like terrified children, will decide they want an all powerful King to protect them like the daddy they long for.

There's also the possibility that various lefty commenters will grow up and start discussing issues like adults. But I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

So you're cool then with just ditching the Constitution . . .

What part of the Constitution are you quoting? Because I'm missing the part that says the President can't intercept international phone calls in wartime.

That Fourth Amendment - that silly one about unreasonable search and seizure, that trivial protection of the rights of the innocent citizens of a free nation - that's just a facade, I see.

Oh, that part:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Again, I don't see anything in there about international communications, nor does eavesdropping on that sort of thing in wartime seem "unreasonable" to me.

Sue

Clash,

I keep thinking I wish someone with your passion had been around when King Franklin turned our constitution on its ear and fed us socialism. It might have been prevented. Tell me something, what is your alternative plan for staying one step ahead of the terrorists? I'm sure you have one.

kim

We know there is a conflict between privacy and public order. I nominate Clash to chair the discussion of the clash between these two laudable goals. His wisdom will see us through to a just conclusion.

What? Don't want the job? Don't you think this is an important discussion? Don't you want to see a just resolution? Isn't this worth having a serious, and forthright discussion about? So c'mon, join in. Lobbing grenades is bullshit and makes us think you are not serious.
=============================================

Gabriel Sutherland

The President using the Jackson Defense, founder of the modern day Democrat Party?

Atta boy Clarence.

Furthermore, read a CIA memoir or two. You can readily find citations from officers that made requests of the Australia, the UK, or Canada to spy on Americans when they needed information they wouldn't even go to the FBI to obtain. In exchange, the CIA would return the favor via having the NSA spy on Australians for Australia. However, the Aussies are much more compatible with the UK and their domestic spying practices than they are with the United States.

boris

War fighting is the domain of the executive branch and congress, not the judicial branch. During that time precedence goes to those branches for dealing with all aspects of war. As a matter of self preservation and the intent of the constitution judicial oversight of national security issues can be and should be bypassed during war.

There is notihing "unconstitutional" about the executive and congress, acting together, altering procedures to protect American security and promote victory.

Clash

Let's make this clear:

* FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law government agents engaged in official duties conducting “surveillance authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order.” [50 U.S.C. § 1809]

In other words, this is a CRIME. Our nation was founded on the principle that NO man, not even the President, was above the law. The fact that this President has had his attorneys cobble together memoes declaring him a de facto king, because "9/11 changed everything", must not be allowed to undermine and destroy the foundation of our existence as the United States of America.

I understand that conservatives, at least when it comes to defending their almighty party, have become abject cowards in the face of Al Queda. I understand they are willing to buy the argument that Islamic terrorists pose the greatest threat to our nation in all of its history. We could survive our own Revolution, our own Civil War, World War II, Mutually Assured Nuclear Destruction - but we cannot survive the threat from boxcutter carrying religious fanatics unless we allow this one president to be above the law.

Historians are going to be shaking their heads for centuries over how this great nation bowed down before Islamic terrorism and willingly abdicated its freedoms and heritage the very first time they were seriously attacked. For your edification, we HAVE legal mechanisms in place to intercept international communications such as these. If Bush is claiming that there are thousands of "proven Al Queda sympathizers" chattering away right here in the USA, constantly planning attacks, and that this is such a constant, imminent threat that his government cannot legally obtain secret warrants...then they had damn well better produce some arrests and convictions of this incredible volume of domestic terrorists.

There is one explanation for this activity, boys and girls. Even WITH the Patriot Act, the president was unwilling to abide by the law and explain the cause for wiretaps and interceptions to a secret court. Why? Because they didn't want to have to explain TO ANYONE why they were doing what they were doing. They wanted to be completely FREE of any oversight, no matter how confidential.

If you all are willing to destroy your country to save it, just say so, for Christs sake. I think all of us should never leave our beds. The world is far too scary a place. We can't use our rights if we're dead, so let's just get rid of them and be done with it.

Sue

Clash,

Still lots of passion but no alternative plan.

Rick Ballard

Clash has apparently inherited the Faux Outrage portfolio from the Kosslandian Minister of Silly Walks. He should check with the Minister of Hypocrisy for some tips on how not to appear so foolish when advancing his buffoonery. Jeff could give him some great tips on Faux Outrage - they should work together. Jeff can do the faux outrage bit over the Plame matter while clash works on the NSA. The Minister of Hypocrisy could coordinate their statements to minimize the appearance of idiocy. It's impossible to eliminate it of course, but a little foresight would aid in keeping them from being totally contradictory on a daily basis.

Dwilkers

"I understand that conservatives, at least when it comes to defending their almighty party, have become abject cowards in the face of Al Queda."

You are nothing but a troll. Go post your drivel on DU.

Dwilkers

"Hey Tom, I've got a few "unspecified activities" planned for your house. There, feel adequately briefed?"

Perilously close to what people get banned for posting there Jeff. You've also achieved troll status.

ahem

Dianne Feinstein's comments answer your bullshit question, Maguire.

Now you can go fuck yourself.

kim

Clash has no historical vision. I quote: "the very first time they were seriously attacked'. C'mon, clash, this is important stuff, you can't be serious with claptrap like that.
==============================================

boris

Because Republicans control both the executive and congress, they can effectively run the war as they see fit. If the oversight committee just rubberstamps the executive surveillance proposals, that still satisfies the constitution. This seems to bother Defeatocrats who want to use the judicial branch, the MSM, their fellow travelers in the CIA, state dept, to undermine the war effort.

kim

By all means, ahem, let's hear this bullshit. Don't be coy.

Also, that number screen below is supposed to prove that there is a cortex connected to fingertips. How did you bypass Mr. Maguire's system?
===============================================

r flanagan

Cecil, to understand the outrage think about a "War President" Hillary Clinton inheriting Bush's NSA policy. Does that bother you ?

hrtshpdbox

"Historians are going to be shaking their heads for centuries over how this great nation bowed down before Islamic terrorism and willingly abdicated its freedoms and heritage the very first time they were seriously attacked. "

Gosh, it's nice to think that might be the case, as opposed to the much more likely head-shaking over how some Americans (and most Europeans) refused to acknowledge just how serious Islamic terrorism was, despite attacks on their homelands. Of course, something like this ersatz "news" story, where the President takes tough measures in extreme times, is so trivial that historians likely won't comment on it at all.

kim

If you are arguing about criminality, the standard of proof for torts is lower, so anyone feeling damaged may sue. In fact, I'm on the line overseas right now in hopes of being included in the class.
============================================

Bill Arnold

Sue,
clearly following the letter of the FISA law would be a start (fixing the responsiveness of the FISA court if indeed it is/was a problem as suggested in an earlier comment).

[I wonder how John Yoo et al would reason about FISA as applied to phone calls using IP phones, where the physical locations of endpoints are not easily identified.]

boris

willingly abdicated its freedoms

(1) privacy is not freedom ... get over yourself

(2) privacy concerns scuttled able danger, the only realistic chance we had to stop 911

kim

I do not like her one bit, but I'm inclined to think Hillary might be a warrior. Given her penchant for secrecy, I'll bet she could use those provisions to good advantage. And much as I despise her, I'm pretty sure she would use those provisions against the enemies of the state as well as the people of the United States. Don't you love the way ambivalence allows you to say things that are always right ?
=============================================

noah

The passionate Bush haters should remember the opinion of a supreme court justice (whose name I cannot recall) that the Constitution is "not a suicide pact".

kim

Robert Jackson, maybe.
======================

Sue

Bill A,

I can't understand then why this was something that could wait an entire year before being reported. Can you?

Dwilkers

"I do not like her one bit, but I'm inclined to think Hillary might be a warrior."

No kidding.

Could you have even imagined 10 years ago that Hilly would be emerging as a serious national security voice in the Dems party? I could not have.

The thing I'm trying to figure out is if its because she's a real national security 'hawk' or if the rest of that party is so damn bad on the issue she just looks good in comparison.

creepy dude

During the American revolution about 1/4-1/3 of the population actually supported the British government. Their historical descendants are alive and well.

Sue

I guess Bush is in one of those situations that McCain was alluding to when he was discussing his anti-torture bill. In the event of a 'ticking bomb' scenario, the president will just have to break the law. And everyone will be understanding and forgiving...right?

Rick Ballard

CD,

I'm rather surprised to see you acknowledge the Defeatocrat wing's objective alliance with al-Queada. When did the epiphany occur? Was it a "road to Damascus experience" or just the cumulative weight of the evidence forcing a semblance of reason into a disordered mind?

Cecil Turner

FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law government agents engaged . . .

Well, perhaps not the only defense. There's also this little exception under Section 1811 (Authorization during time of war):

Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.
Cecil, to understand the outrage think about a "War President" Hillary Clinton inheriting Bush's NSA policy. Does that bother you ?

No. In fact, the main reason I wouldn't vote for Hillary is because I don't think she'd take the necessary precautions for successful prosecution of the war. (I also think it's funny that lefties assume everyone who argues for a robust defense is a partisan Republican . . . rather than a hawk stuck with the GOP because of the Dem's fecklessness at national defense.)

creepy dude

Ballard-Bush is going to surrender on this just like he totally surrendered on the McCain amendment- despite earlier veto threats and Cheney's personal visits to the Hill. In both cases simply because he is wrong.

And when he surrenders you will again find a way to praise him.

CT-can you read? The section you quoted is specifically limited to a fifteen day period following a declaration of war. Try again.

kim

D, the only amusement in a McCain-Clinton battle would be watching the two try to out-hawk each other.

CD, many of the British supporters also removed themselves to the mother country or to Canada, more or less voluntarily, and at greater and lesser sacrifice. I realize I am addressing a refugee, and respect that.
==============================================

Rick Ballard

McCain is going to carry the "Have you hugged your terrorist today" amendment into the primaries (if he's dumb enough to run). The amendment did little to begin with other than give the Senatorial bloviators a feel good opportunity - tell me what Bush is "losing" in this because I believe that time will show that McCain is going to pay the higher political price.

If Bush does back off on the current matter and there is a terrorist strike before his term ends that might have been prevented through intercepts - who will bear the burden? The Defeatocrats who leaked this are the same ones that just successfully filibustered extension of the Patriot Act. Given the Defeatocrat's extraordinary ability to place an incorrect wager, I'd say that the threat probability has risen significantly.

If it occurs, the responsibility for not having done everything possible to prevent it now falls on the Dems. Shrewd politics.

Bob in Pacifica

Steve Machos, In fact there has been a long and steady history of spying on labor groups, anti-war groups, or groups that want corporations to behave ethically. YOU may not care, but the powers that be do. YOU apparently don't know, but the powers that be do.

Take some time to read about spying on people's organizations that are deemed somehow "enemies of the state." that a letter carriers' local, a UAW local, Plumbers and Fitters Local 93, a couple bookstores, the local public television station, an anti-apartheid group against Shell Oil, and other terrorist fronts needed to be spied upon. Those were some of the thousand or so targets in this particular spying operation. (Google "Roy Bullock" "ADL" and "spy")

There are groups that should be monitored as legitimate threats, and there are plenty of laws allowing spying on those groups.

But when the Prez and his ilk go off the books to do that, I would guess that they did it because it wouldn't pass muster under the law. The only rational reason to spy on Americans illegally is because the Administration intended to do illegal spying. Pal.

richard mcenroe

Kim — "I do not like her one bit, but I'm inclined to think Hillary might be a warrior."

The only question is, on whose side? Theirs or hers?

Never ours.

creepy dude

Yeah-you're right Kim. That's why people like Ballard can't scare me with the terrorist threat: If we dont let the President do whatever he needs to protect us-terrorists might attack a whole city, force a massive evacuation, kill lots o' folks, and render 80% of the city uninhabitable. Then what will you say, Mr. ACLU?

That I already been through that in early September, jackass. Al-Katrina. Indeed-since I'm still arguing with the goddamn insurance companies, a car, some clothes, and my inalienable rights which the Constitution forbids the federal government from f'ing with is all I got.

Cecil Turner

CT-can you read? The section you quoted is specifically limited to a fifteen day period following a declaration of war. Try again.

CD, can you read? The assertion was that the only defense was "for law enforcement agents . . ." Not quite right, was it? As to the 15 day period, I'd note the following from the President's speech (which suggests they're using a 45-day recurring authorization, apparently with congressional knowledge):

I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks . . .
Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization . . .
Is that technically illegal? I don't know. Does the law place unconstitutional constraints on the Executive in wartime? Is the War Powers Act constitutional (especially the untested parts where Congress can force the President to remove troops in some circumstances)? Again, I don't know. But whatever it is, it doesn't appear to be an assault on the Constitution, nor an historical abuse of power.

creepy dude

Forget his going to Congress (or more specifically 8 Congressman-and when he actually told them is unknown)-that's just another dodge. The primary problem is that Bush cut out the relevant co-equal branch of government-the Judicary, not the Legislative.

Every third world hellhole has a strong executive-Saddam was one-it's an independent functioning Judiciary that marks the countries where men are free.

SteveMG

It's interesting that the Clinton Administration agreed (apparently) with the Bush Administration that warrants are not required when the purpose is foreign intelligence collection that targets persons who are agents of a foreign power.

In US v. Bin Laden (a 2000 case)

http://www.law.syr.edu/faculty/banks/terrorism/dummyfl/binladen_12_19_00.pdf

the Clinton Administration argued that court approval is not required when foreign agents are being monitored either when they are overseas or in the US.

One other note from the ruling cited above:

"Circuit courts applying Keith to the foreign intelligence context have affirmed the existence of a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement for searches conducted within the United States which target foreign powers or their agents."

And that "the Surpeme Court has acknowledged but has not resolved this issue."

topsecretk9

we dont let the President do whatever he needs to protect us-terrorists might attack a whole city, force a massive evacuation, kill lots o' folks, and render 80% of the city uninhabitable. Then what will you say, Mr. ACLU?

Are we talking about Karl Rove's Hurricane Machine again? Speaking about politics and priorities, I was impressed with Gov. Blancos elegant but hardworking Liz Claiborne blazers, weren't you?

Jay Rosen

I'm fine with charges that the Dems are apologists for terror and coddle those who want to destroy the United States, and the Times wants to do as much damage as possible to Bush, the country, Christian civilization etc, etc. Standard stuff.

But I don't understand what Tom is saying Pelosi and other Democrats who were briefed should have done if they were alarmed and outraged by what they heard. They were told the program was classified; the legal rationale for it is classified. If they spoke out they would be savaged for revealing secrets the way you are savaging the New York Times for its war on America. So what were they supposed to do?

Tom writes: "If this secret program was so outrageous, the Senate and House Democrats who had been briefed on it should have spoken up." Are you saying that they should have revealed classified information and then stood before the country, and taken the heat? I don't get it.

creepy dude

Fuck you you stupid fucking asshole. Did I mention Karl Rove?? You're a really despicable piece of shit TopSecret.

noah

Part of the FISA problem aside from the time delays may be the difficulty given the nature of the intelligence to establish for a court just exactly who you are attempting to monitor and their location.

For example, suppose you have info that terrorists "meet" in certain chat rooms (or comment sections of certain blogs!) to discuss in code their plans. Where is that chat room? It could be anywhere...its location is in a practical sense is completely irrelevant. And you might have only very framentary evidence to point at a participant that "might" be in communication with the overseas terrorist. You would need an army of bureacrats and judges to approve every jot and tittle of the many fruitless searches that such an endeavor would entail.

Bob in Pacifica

Way at the top of the comments Terrye writes:

"I used to be a Democrat, but since it seems that the only time Democrats can get fired up is when they can defend terrorists and trash Republicans I guess I will have to change parties."

This is an irrational, emotional statement, but it's very telling. Reactionary Republicans' rhetoric for much of the 1990s was predicting the moral destruction of America because of Clinton's sexual appetite, so one party attacking another cannot be the sole basis for Terrye's alleged defection to the Right.

Because this stream is about the President Bush apparently violating the law in order to conduct secret spying on American citizens, Terrye somehow translates opposition to the President violating the law to defending terrorists.

It is clear that a large segment of the Right is emotionally wed to their vision of the State as personified by Bush. This is exactly the same psychological fixation that Germans suffered when the Nazis took over. Homeland equals Fatherland, a preconscious identification to the nation as modeled after one's nuclear family, and the need for a patriarch to rule. There is even some clown saying that it was quite alright for Bush to have illegal spying because he could see no consequence having occurred. Because Daddy's looking out for us.

I am not sure how to accomplish a mass self-examination by the many here who ascribe to reactionary thinking, but I would hope that Terrye would consider what he said, perhaps read about the psychology of fascism, and then maybe reconsider why he gets so emotional when his Great Leader is threatened.

Rick Ballard

Do something constuctive while you sit waiting for things to get better, CD. Volunteer for Mayor Nagin's or Gov. Blanco's reelection campaigns. They could use a little help.

creepy dude

Fuck you too Ballard. You have no idea what you are talking about.

SteveMG

Bob:
is about the President Bush apparently violating the law in order to conduct secret spying on American citizens

But that's not what (apparently) occurred.

The Clinton Administration argued in 2000 (see US v. bin Laden), and lower court rulings apparently supported the argument, that if the government was acquiring foreign intelligence and was monitoring communications of known foreign agents that the warrant requirement was not necessary.

We're not talking solely about US citizens; we're discussing foreign agents of a foreign power (al-Qaeda) who are operating within the country. If the government is monitoring their communications for intelligence gathering only, then apparently a warrant is not required.

It seems that it's completely unsettled law.

Now, I may not like that and you definitely don't, but the legality of the monitoring is apparently shown to be acceptable.

SMG

Cecil Turner

If we dont let the President do whatever he needs to protect us-terrorists might attack a whole city, force a massive evacuation, kill lots o' folks, and render 80% of the city uninhabitable.

Well, that was certainly topical. Not sure if you're trying to claim Katrina had a death toll similar to 9/11 (false), or blame it on Bush (silly), point out natural disasters are generally larger than man-made ones (true--the energy release in one volcanic eruption dwarfs most nuclear arsenals), or make some other point. And hey, while we're adrift, are you also the Cheez-Whiz at dKos (I realize there's a slight difference in spelling, but the couple posts I read also seemed stuck on Katrina)?

The primary problem is that Bush cut out the relevant co-equal branch of government-the Judicary, not the Legislative.

The judiciary is not the relevant branch when it comes to prosecution of a war. Which, despite protestations to the contrary, this is.

F*** you you stupid f***ing a**hole.

Dude, you're losing it.

If they spoke out they would be savaged for revealing secrets the way you are savaging the New York Times for its war on America. So what were they supposed to do?

Why not have one of those closed sessions of Congress? Or, if it's truly a constitutional abomination and needs to be abolished, why not speak out in open session? Surely the electorate will see the need, no?

creepy dude

Good god. I can't believe I logged on here for stress relief. Delete my comments TM-Merry Christmas.

creepy dude

And CT-no I don't post at Dkos. I always felt friendly towards you-but looking at it objectively now-you're an asshole. Ah well. Merry Christmas anyway.

Bill Arnold

SteveMG, It's interesting that the Clinton Administration agreed (apparently) with the Bush Administration that warrants are not required when the purpose is foreign intelligence collection that targets persons who are agents of a foreign power.

The Clinton adminstration was far too enamored with the intelligence agencies. It was one of their main flaws. I often wondered whether it was backmail (in a loose sense of threatened leaks of dirty laundry) of some sort.

Cecil,
there was a week this year when it was the "Struggle against extremist violence", which was at least honest, too bad our president nixed that, perhaps he couldn't stand being teased as a "Struggletime" president. The WoT is a forever war. If it is used to justify supernormal executive branch powers, the justification should be as part of a public debate.

kim

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

You watch, CD, in an hour it will work, your stress will be lower. I maintain my earlier offer. If you need help, I'll send some. It doesn't appear you need help defending your rights. I'd stand on the wall with you.
================================================

r flanagan

Creepy dude. Back off.

I agree with your arguments but I'm beginning to hope Tom will block you
partly because that language undercuts
my own position but more because it's
just wrong.

SteveMG

Bill:
The Clinton adminstration was far too enamored with the intelligence agencies. It was one of their main flaws

Hmm, I'd have to disagree with that one.

Why did they create, among other things, the Gorelick Wall?

Why did Clinton never regularly (or even semi-regularly) meet with the CIA director?

Dick Morris (okay, questionable source) cites in one of his books that Clinton would just not be interested in foreign policy and national security issues. His eyes would glaze over and he would just be uninterested in national security/intelligence briefings.

Anyway, did you have a chance to read that 2000 cases, US v. Bin Laden?

http://www.law.syr.edu/faculty/banks/terrorism/dummyfl/binladen_12_19_00.pdf

Apparently, this whole mess is based on completely unsettled law and that the NSA's actions appear to be permissible (i.e., no court approval needed).

You and I might not like that but that's another debate.

SMG

Clash

It's important to note the realignment that is going on in American politics. The Republican party that laughably claims to support a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution also believes in splitting any hair necessary, even unto implanting legal foundation for a police state and an absolute executive power, so long as it promotes the political viability of a Republican power structure. That is what is being defended here. Change the political party of the president and the very same apologists will be screaming from the other side. So much for "core values".

I'll say it again: IF this president had such a pressing need to bypass our system of law and our Constitution, it's time to show the money. They must be preventing a virtual daily onslaught of terrorist attacks, busting up terror cells within our own borders left and right. We are under constant siege, people!

Or maybe, they're just spying on political enemies and abusing their powers in the time honored tradition of unchecked powermongers throughout human history. Of course, we'll never know because they don't have to account to anyone....and like good little frightened children we'll never ask. That's the new definition of a free citizenry, Republican style.

And to think of all the blood of Americans that has been shed "spreading" the "freedom" that we no longer give a shit about preserving for ourselves. The question isn't why do Islamic fundamentalists "hate our freedom"...the question really is, why do YOU?

Cowards. Hiding behind patriotic jingoism and hypocrisy.

Cecil Turner

I always felt friendly towards you-but looking at it objectively now-you're an asshole.

Well, I was actually curious on that particular point (someone provided a link not too long back, but again, the spelling wasn't quite right). And I've been called an a**hole enough times that I recognize it as a widely-held position, even if I'm not quite willing to acknowledge its legitimacy.

The WoT is a forever war. If it is used to justify supernormal executive branch powers, the justification should be as part of a public debate.

I'm not sure what a joint resolution on use of force is, if not authorization for supernormal executive branch powers. And I don't see why Congress couldn't rescind its resolution. As to "forever war" (good book, BTW), it's only lasted about 4 years so far. Concur that's an argument that'll improve with time.

ahem

Tom writes: "If this secret program was so outrageous, the Senate and House Democrats who had been briefed on it should have spoken up." Are you saying that they should have revealed classified information and then stood before the country, and taken the heat? I don't get it.

Of course that's what Maguire's saying, Jay: he's trying to spin this into a bullshit either-or argument that would allow him to criticise Congressional Democrats either way. That's what he always does.

ahem

I'm not sure what a joint resolution on use of force is, if not authorization for supernormal executive branch powers.

Shorter Cecil: 'I'm not sure what a Granny Smith is, if not a zesty citrus fruit.'

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