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December 24, 2005



If the first quote's thinking leads to the release of the terrorist planning to take down NY bridges, then can you still claim that national security has not been harmed by reveailing this program?

This is fairly breathtaking, the first quote being a reference to a federal judge's concern about how the governement may have tainted evidence which is intended to put terrorists behind bars. Your implication is that the problem is not the incompetence of the government but letting people find out about it, that we should not interfere with our government's plan to lie to us. You make poor friends when you make an enemy of the truth. What a servile notion you have of the American people.

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake." --A Man For All Seasons


So what about this dangerable datamining, Rider, the ability to sense all dangers. Is our opponent going to be more alert than you would allow us to be?


Your error there, Dear Sad Rider, is to assume that leaving laws in place will stop the Devil.



Yes, the effect on National Security is grave because of the ensuing hysteria. The hysterical overreaction to past abuses led directly to laws which harmed us as a nation. Remember the Wall? The hysterical over-reaction to this illegal disclosure will likely have the same effect.

And the problem with the impeachment proposition is a lack of definition of 'wiretap' for one, and the conflation of intercepts of foreign communications with purely domestic ones. Intercepting foreign communications no matter if one leg is domestic has long been regarded as within Presidential powers.


Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States (July 20):

"Fourth, to protect the homeland, we've got to give our law enforcement better tools to track and stop terrorists before they strike. And one of the most important tools is the U.S.A. Patriot Act. The Patriot Act closed dangerous gaps in America's law enforcement and intelligence capabilities, gap that terrorists exploited when they attacked us on September the 11th.

The Patriot Act allowed investigators to pursue terrorists with the same tools they use against other criminals. Think about that statement. We had people that could use certain tools against drug dealers, but couldn't against terrorists. Before the Patriot Act, it was easier to track the phone contacts of a drug dealer than the phone contacts of a terrorist. Before the Patriot Act it was easier to get the credit card receipts of a tax cheat than that of an al Qaeda bank-roller. Before the Patriot Act agents could use wire taps to investigate a person committing mail fraud, but not specifically to investigate a foreign terrorist carrying deadly weapons. Before the Patriot Act, investigators could follow the calls of mobsters who switched cell phones, but not terrorists who switched cell phones. That didn't make any sense. The Patriot Act ended all these double standards.

If we have good tools to fight street crime and fraud, then our law enforcement ought to have the same tools to fight terrorism. The Patriot Act also has updated the law to meet high-tech threats like computer espionage and cyber-terrorism. Terrorists are using every advantage of the 21st century technology, and we've got to make sure our law enforcement has got the tools to fight off that advantage. The Patriot Act helps us defeat our enemies while safeguarding civil liberties for all Americans. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we're talking about. And they are fully consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

Congress also oversees the use of the Patriot Act. Our Attorney General, Al Gonzales, delivers regular reports on the Patriot Act to the House and the Senate. The Department of Justice has answered hundreds of questions from members of the Congress. In other words, there is a strong oversight role.

Over the past three-and-a-half years, our law enforcement and intelligence personnel have put the Patriot Act to effective use. In other words, it's working, because we've got good people using the tools within the Patriot Act. They've used the law to break up terrorist cells in New York and Oregon and Virginia and Florida. We prosecuted terrorist operatives and supporters from California to Texas and New Jersey to Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. In other words, we're making progress. It's one thing to have the tools; it's another thing to use them effectively within the guidelines of the United States Constitution.

The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. The problem is, at the end of this year 16 critical provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to expire. All 16 provisions are practical, effective and constitutional, and they are vital to defending our freedom."

There you go. FISA and the Patriot Act. Vital tools for fighting terrorism. Safe. Effective. Legal.



Furthermore, your own hysteria over this issue turns people completely off and thus disallows valid concerns to be aired and discussed.

It's phrases such as 'incompetence of the government' and 'government's plan to lie to us' that show you to be an unserious opponent in this debate.



There you go. FISA and the Patriot Act. Vital tools for fighting terrorism. Safe. Effective. Legal.

Yes. Your point?


Intercepting foreign communications no matter if one leg is domestic has long been regarded as within Presidential powers.

Intercepting any communications has long been within the Presidential powers. All he has to do is get a federal warrant from the secret FISA court, either before or within 72 hours after. He can intercept foreign communications without a warrant. He can intercept domestic communications with a warrant. The court has turned down about four requests out of about 19,000. I am not the one who is refusing to look at facts here. And I am most certainly not talking about taking away any terrorist-fighting capabilities of the President. I am talking about the President obeying the law, the law he is supposed to execute.


Necessary AND sufficient?



A simple matter which YOU are ignoring. How can you get a warrant if you don't have a specific identity to get a warrant for?

Second, are there enough FISA judges to issue 500 warrants a day?

Third, is there sufficient time to fill out all the necessary bureaucratic paperwork by several agencies before a FISA application can be handed to the court?

Fourth, you ignored that warrantless searches when a foreign entity is involved in the communications has long been deemed within presidential powers.

Fifth, how have you been HARMED?

Most of the preliminary opinions by legal scholars were that W does have Constitutional authority to authoize the program and, insofar as FISA may contravene his Constitutional authority, FISA may be unconstitutional.

You've tried that angle in the past with the Boland Ammendment.

I suppose you could have a better outcome this time around, but it's more likely you'll see a repeat of George H. W. Bush pardoning a whole lot of folks for things they didn't do that he didn't know about.

It's phrases such as 'incompetence of the government' and 'government's plan to lie to us' that show you to be an unserious opponent in this debate.

Well, since Osama is still free and Iraq is still a mess I don't think an incompetence claim is hard to make.

And since Bush most certainly lied to us on this very subject in the past I don't see a problem with reaching a conclusion that he planned the lies. If you prefer to consider them just off the kuff lies however that's also a reasonable position.


Your point?

Bush says FISA and the Patriot Act are working, that they are effective, and that they protect Constitutional liberties. He says that these laws give him all the tools he needs to fight terrorists and protect us from further attack. Fine. My point is that I am asking President Bush to obey these same laws. I don't think that's outrageous or hysterical.


Just to be clear regarding the lie.

Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."

-- President Bush, April 2004, nearly three years after he authorized secret domestic surveillance by the NSA without court orders or warrants.



You've tried that angle in the past with the Boland Ammendment.

Cass Sunstein, Bill Clinton, Jamie Gorelick, John Schmidt, Jimmy Carter all "tried that angle" with the Boland Amendment?

Well, no. What they all did was argue that the president has the inherent constitutional power to order warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.

In fact, Clinton actually ordered warrantless searches for foreign intelligence gathering. And Gorelick and Schmidt followed through. This was way back in 1999.

And the Republicans didn't cry "dictator" or accuse him of violating FISA. Because they recognized that the executive did indeed have that authority.

Eventually, one hopes, that if one repeats the above history long and often enough that eventually it will maybe even osmotically be absorbed.

Of course, with sufferers of the Bush Derangement Syndrome, this is the triumph of hope over (long) experience.


r flanagan

We don't have to choose between what Justice O.W. Holmes called a "suicide pact" or having the executive unconstitutionally assume unchecked powers. Bush was right to employ NSA as he did and wrong doing it without arranging for appropriate oversight . Smart guys like Yoo and Gonzalez could have drafted appropriate legislation and Congress debated it relying on a select group privy to the classified details . As it was Rockefeller , Harmon etc. were briefed but not as part of creating a constitutionally appropriate check.


SteveMG, I think you are a bit confused as to the historic implications of the Boland Ammendment.

As to you claim that Clinton did the same thing. Do we really have to rehash this myth?

Is a warrant required to spy on foriegn communications? And did Clinton proclaim in secret he had that power without consulting the judicial branch?

If you read this GOP press release one might agree with you.


But as has been pointed out over and over, it's pure bullshit. And not suprisingly, the pull it off in the Al Mivaesque way by leaving out critical words that totally change the meaning.


It's called lying. See my previous post for more examples.

Or not, I have no doubt that many here will buy into it.


I'd say this really says it all, though probably not the way Steve intended.

sufferers of the Bush Derangement Syndrome

1) As soon as you are listening in to a conversation, you have a specific individual.

2) Are you telling me there are 500 additional Americans every day "with known links to Al Qaeda"?

3) The applications can be made within 72 hours after an emergency wiretap.

4) It doesn't need to be stated. The president has the power to wiretap foreign persons without warrant. That's the whole legal basis of foreign espionage.

5) Neither you nor I nor anyone else knows whether we have been harmed or not. That's the point. Hell, we don't even know if we've been surveilled. How would we know if we've been harmed? And if you think there is no potential for harm, you have a very poor imagination. We are expected to trust that we have not been. The rest is on a needs-to-know basis. "Sit down and shut up. We'll let you know if you've been harmed, sister."

If you're not a terrorist you've got nothing to worry about, right? 'Cause the government never makes mistakes. Just wait.

You do realize we are not just talking about cell phones and emails and faxes? We are also talking about "black bag jobs." They come into your house and bug your bedroom and you never know they were there. No warrant. After 500 hours, they know more about you than you do.

In any event, the laws were put in place to protect us from harm. People have been grievously harmed in the past. It's not all right with me if the President breaks the law.


Syl - Well, here's what FISA says about the President's authority to conduct wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without a warrant:


(1) 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 periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title


As to you claim that Clinton did the same thing

I made no such claim. I did not say that Clinton did the same thing as Bush.

I pointed out - as the evidence clearly shows - that several presidents (Carter and Clinton specifically) after FISA had been passed in 1978 claimed that they had the inherent power to order warrantless searches for foreign intelligence gathering. There was nothing that Congress could do outside of a amendment to the Constitution to limit this authority.

This is not a new or novel claim that originated from the Bush W.H. It has a long, documented pedigree. Bush doesn't need to openly declare he has this authority; especially since the claim had been made before by presidents and had been upheld by the courts (lower and not admittedly SCOTUS).

Second, in United States of America v. Usama bin Laden (the Kenyan embassy bombing case), the Clinton Justice Department argued that they had this same inherent right.

Moreover, they actually used this power when they conducted a search of a Kenyan-American living in Kenya.

The presiding magistrate (Jude Sand) upheld that authority in his ruling.

As to the Boland Amendment. You brought up that irrelevancy. Has nothing to do with the topic at hand.


Bill in AZ

Rider: "Why do I want the President to follow the law? Because without separation of powers, we are living under a totalitarian regime. This tendency toward fascist police states seems to be a hallmark of Republican administrations. It's in your ideological genes."

You have some pretty confused notions - understandable since much of your rhetoric smacks of DU or Kos - it's caused by a most likely incurable case of BDS.

Fascism in Republican ideological genes??! heh heh... common misconception too easily tossed around by libs. Fascism is deeply rooted in Socialism/Marxism - you need to go back and study some history. Since the driving iseology for libs is socialism/marxism, I reckon that makes it in your ideological genes.

'Course the problem with this is I can't conjure up an image of jackbooted patchoulli smelling libs...

Now, just why is it that you want to hamstring constitutionally legal intelligence gathering by forcing it through certain channels that appear to be rife with leakers, maybe even spies?


D, Osama bin Laden is certainly not free, and Iraq is less of a mess evry day. It was a mess in Saddam's hands.

Rider, why are you dancing around and not addressing datamining and Able Danger? Should they be used? Have they been used? Have your representatives in Congress kept up with the technology? How do you propose we use datamining constitutionally, or is this a weapon you prefer to leave only in the hands of the enemy?

richard mcenroe

Dammit, I demand the federal gummint keep its hands off my emissions!

Does medicare cover tinfoil?


Somehow I cannot picture President Madison being told, as the British were landing onshore and assembling to attack, that he needed warrants to send out spies to check on what the invaders were doing.

Granted, this was before the FISA laws were enacted. But the principle still remains; since constitutional powers cannot be taken away by legislative acts.

In times of war, the president has to had the authority to spy on the enemy. It's absurd to think that he has to get approval from a judge to listen - simply listen - to what the enemy is doing.

It can be argued, with some merit, that this is too dangerous a power. And one can cite previous cases or history to document the abuses of this power.

But the constitutional question is the one that needs to be addressed. And in that case, the evidence is pretty strong that whether one thinks this is a good idea or a bad one, the president - whether its Bush or Clinton or Madison or Hillary Clinton - has this power.



SMG, historically the president can escalate his ArtII powers to meet the severity of a threat to the country. It is quite apparent to Republicans that W has not gone beyond an appropriate level in the NSA program. The problem from the other side stems from underestimation of the threat and exaggeration of W's response.

r flanagan

Judge Posner's assessment of the President's inherent right when pressed by Andrea Mitchell was to reply " that's why I said it was "arguable".

Should the President have hesitated on
Sept 12 ? Give me a break. Should he have
continued for 3 years . No , he should
have changed arguable to "clear". His obligation to the present generation is
to wage this war successfully . His obligation to future generations is to pass on our particular system of checks and balances in at least as good shape as he
found it.


he should have changed arguable to "clear"

One of the strengths of our democracy is that many things are arguably UNclear. Once they are made black and white, we lose the powers of persuasion and the flexibility to meet new challenges.

Oh, and political correctness is not only totalitarian (thought police), it is also unAmerican (violates free speech).


And why aren't the Lefties in here furious about our radiation sniffing of mosques? Or is it just themselves they are concerned about?


Plans to 'top' 9/11 strikes

Rome - Three Algerians arrested in an anti-terrorist operation in southern Italy are suspected of being linked to a planned new series of attacks in the United States, interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu said Friday.

The attacks would have targeted ships, stadiums or railway stations in a bid to outdo the September 11 2001 strikes by al-Qaeda in New York and Washington which killed about 2 700 people, Pisanu said.


So howsabout we all just shutup and sing.


Hope you all are as stuffed by your Christmas Eve meal as I am.


In times of war, the president has to have the authority to spy on the enemy.

OK, you can put away your false dilemmas and your straw men arguments for the night, Steve. The president has the authority to spy on the enemy anytime he wants. He doesn't even need a warrant for that. Duh.

What a bunch of red state fascists. The jolly lot of you. I had never seen it before. Your deepest and strongest instincts really are toward creating a police state where America used to be. Anybody that questions the authority of the Reich is a traitor, a leaker, a spy. Shut up and stay in line. Don't ask questions. Don't flinch in your worship of the Führer. That's the kind of America where you feel cozy and at home, isn't it? You don't even realize it, of course, like Bill in AZ. Wouldn't know a police state if it jumped up and bit him in the ass. Somehow got it all mixed up in his head that marxists and fascists are the same thing. Anybody says otherwise is a hippy fag. The law is whatever George W. Flim-Flam sez it is and that's good enough for Bill and Steve. Fool me twice. The Constitution? That's just a roll of paper. Whatever! Sweet Baby Jaysus. Will there be any of America left when our soldiers finally come home from fighting to save it? What in the hell have you fascists done with our dear country?

Don't Tread On Me! Live Free Or Die!


Rider said: "What a bunch of red state fascists."

Yes, like Professor Sunstein, Judge Posner, Professor Kerr & Professor Volokh.


OK, you can put away your false dilemmas and your straw men arguments for the night, Steve. The president has the authority to spy on the enemy anytime he wants. He doesn't even need a warrant for that. Duh.

Well, now your arguments make no sense at all. Arguments mind you, not you. I leave personal attacks to others.

You've just used about a half dozen posts arguing that the president must get a warrant before monitoring foreign agents. That if there isn't judicial oversight over his actions, then he's little more than a dictator exercising unlimited powers over the nation.

Then you say here, approvingly I guess, that he can do this "anytime he wants."

Which is it? Must he get judicial approval to spy on foreign agents' communications or can he do it "anytime he wants" without a warrant?

And please, leave out the "fascist" silliness. It really doesn't scare or intimidate anyone. We're all out of college now; we're in the real world where such statements are dismissed as false bravado.



Somehow got it all mixed up in his head that marxists and fascists are the same thing.

Hey Rider --

Part 2 of our free history lesson:
"Nazi" is short for "Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei," which translates to National Socialist German Workers Party. While certainly not the same as Marxism (international socialism), there were many similarities in practice.

All of which has absolutely nothing to do with GW Bush, the NSA, or anything that we are actually talking about here. I'm just curious, how old are you?


"Sorry again. Please don't let me prevent you from saying what you wish."

No problem, SMG. My comments were a little "off" -- they did sound dumb.


Why would Bush need a warrant to cast a net when all the little fish swim away before hauling it in and are never even identified? All this hysteria just does not make any sense to me.

There's no way you can get a warrant for the little fish who swims away, unharmed AND unidentified!

r flanagan

The question is not whether the president needs a warrant before casting
his net , it's whether he needs a law which
authorizes him to cast his net without a warrant ? Or better :Who is entitled to decide whether he needs a law which authorizes him etc etc ?


George W. Bush violated his oath of office by authorizing the NSA spying in contravention of legislation and the constitution. It's that simple. He should be impeached. Anyone who disagrees hates America, despite their claims to the contrary. They may love a nation, but it is not the United States of America. When will Dubya's apologists speak up for the constitution for a change rather than Dim Leader?


What the President did may be a grey area but what the NY Times has done is not a grey area at all. They should be prosecuted. Revealing secrets that can help our enemies in a time of war is not a grey area.

Les Nessman


"Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States (July 20):

..Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, or to track his calls,.."

I didn't know we had 'law enforcement officers' working the signal intercept department at NSA. You mean Joe Friday is a spook?

Well, I'm sure the Prez is right. Cops do indeed need a judge's permission.

But we're not talking about 'law enforcement officers' are we? We're talking about spooks and spies and the NSA. I guess the secret info they get from the terrorists phone calls can't be used in a criminal trial. Oh, well.

Good thing we are no longer interested in pursuing the failed 'treat-terrorists-as-criminals' fiasco. From now on we are treating the terrorists with a 'Kill them. This is war' strategy.

Gary Maxwell

He should be impeached

Please pursue this. Please


"What in the hell have you fascists done with our dear country?"

Sounds like the NSA found out about Rider's extensive porno collection.

Seven Machos

Pradhaha --

Where in the Constitution is it illegal to spy, particularly when the spying is related to war? Further, since the president acted in concert with the Congress, how can you possibly say that anything illegal has occurred? How can Congress act illegally when it legislates?Finally, here's a tip: when Cass Sunstein agrees that a Republican has done the Right Thing, arguing the other side is hopeless.

You are obviously super-duper intelligent, so please give a cogent and precise argument. I wait with baited breath.

Johan Amedeus Metesky

I'm not a Republican and in the 32 years that I've been voting, I've voted for way more Democrats so I'm hardly a partisan. I supported GWB in '04 but split my ticket then as well. In addition to all the partisan lawyers working in the White House and DOJ, there are plenty of career lawyers there, as well as legal experts at the NSA, Defense Intelligence and God knows who else who have vetted this secret (doh!) program.

So I can say this with some confidence. When the POTUS gets up in front of a press conference, and I don't care if it's George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter or Harry S. Truman, and says essentially:

"Yeah. I did it. I'm the flipping president of the US of flipping A and the constitution gives me not only the authority but the obligation to do this. And I'm going to continue to do this."

Well, I suppose when the POTUS dares his enemies to create a constitutional crisis that he thinks he's on solid legal and, more important, political grounds.

If the Democrats embrace this latest leftist lunacy, they are suicidal. The vast majority of Americans have no problem with the government spying on our enemies. That majority includes many Democrats and liberals, and maybe even the odd socialist and libertarian as well.

That those on the political left here now wrap themselves in the flag of patriotism and dedication to the Constitution and liberty is humorous. Nah. It's side splittingly funny.

This entire debate is absurd. When someone can make a constitutional truism, that the president has the authority to spy on enemies of the United States, and that remark is derided as an invitation to totalitarianism, well, the debate has left rational discourse.

I wonder what the lefties here would say about the wartime actions of Lincoln, Wilson, Rosevelt and Kennedy.

There are only two ways to interpret the actions of the American left (and the Democrats if they insist on riding the leftist bus off a cliff). Either it is more important for them to be in power than for the United States to defeat its enemies, or they are genuinely opposed to this country and want to see our enemies prevail. I'm no constitutional scholar, but I'm pretty sure that either one is treacherous behavior whether or not it fits the legal definition of treason.


The irony is that leftists are illustrating an indirect argument for a king. Were there one, they could be loyal to king and country and be a loyal opposition. As it is, to whom or what is their loyalty? It certainly can't really be to living free or dying. Living free requires a stout defense. Sometimes guns.

The discussion we, and all our polity, needs to have is about the balance between public order and privacy. This is not an easy thing to do, either to balance the two, or apparently, to talk about it. Hysterical, insensate, screams about lawbreaking and phony appeals to pretend patriotism isn't advancing the dialogue. If Able Danger style intelligence is ultimately allowed(foolish not to, someone will do it legally or not) this brouhaha at the outset of the technology will be seen for what it is; the friction of new realities scraping established law, especially if datamining is shown to be essential to protecting us(slam-dunk).

So join in the important dialogue abrupted in Semptember by the cancellation of the Able Danger hearings. Are you able to do so, or are your maunderings dangerous red herrings?


You've just used about a half dozen posts arguing that the president must get a warrant before monitoring foreign agents.

You kids are not only fascists but thick as bricks. If you will stop long enough to actually read my posts before frothing at the mouth, gnashing your teeth, and chewing up the rugs, you will see that I said exactly the opposite of what you claim here. In fact I quoted FISA subsection 1802 which says the President does NOT need a warrant before monitoring foreign agents. That is the legal basis for foreign espionage, Sherlock. NO ONE thinks the President needs a warrant for that. NO ONE is arguing that. NO ONE is that stupid.

If you dolts want to know my position, read the damned FISA law for yourself. I think it's simple enough even for you, but you will have to read it. I'm done with trying to explain it to you. Read the assignment class, and don't bother coming back until you are able to answer the following questions when called upon. You're wasting my time as well as yours.



1) What must the President do in order to conduct electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes on agents of foreign powers?

2) What must the President do in order to conduct electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes on U.S. persons? (i.e., if there is "the likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party").

3) What is "electronic surveillance," "international terrorism," and "U.S. persons" according to FISA?

4) What are "minimization procedures" required by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (google it yourself)?

5) What part of U.S. Law governs the operation of the National Security Agency? (Hint: Abbreviation is USSID 18)

6) What does the law require be done with intelligence gathered by accident against U.S. persons while in the course of conducting electronic surveillance against agents of foreign powers?

7) What is "Echelon"? (google it yourself)For how long has the existence of Echelon been known to the public? What book first raised concern among the reading public that Echelon was being used to gather intelligence against U.S. persons? Why would using Echelon against American citizens by definition be unconstitutional?

8) Explain how the revelation in the NYT could possibly harm national security or cause any harm other than political damage to the President.(If you were a foreign agent or terrorist residing in the U.S. and assumed like most of us that Echelon has been monitoring suspicious electronic communications of Americans for decades, wouldn't you have purchased scrambling software for about $200 for secure communications long, long before the NYT published the story finally confirming to the rest of us that Echelon is being used domestically?)

Since it's Christmas, you can do this tomorrow. Go play with your presents.


Since you are ABLLE to get so DANGERously angry this fine morning why don't you direct your energy at those endangering your life, today.

In the aftermath of 9/11, before the bin Laden's had even evacuated, my remark was "What America needs now is a few good extremists. Any volunteers? You seem to have gotten extremely upset by this. Would you volunteer for the sort of mission necessary to prevail in this assymetric, undeclarable, war?

r flanagan

As someone who actually volunteered for a war
I think I'm entitled to say.......

Merry Christmas


You had Geneva Convention protection. The victims of 9/11 did not. Let us be festive for them.


How sad this kerfuffle makes the Dims look...Bush undertakes an apolitical surveilance of our enemies while they excused a political accretion of FBI files during Clinton. Whine, whine whine. SOS!!


Kiss my ass rflanagn...I served as well...I have no more moral superiority than you do.


Here's a special bonus question for the New Year for you Rider, inspired by Echelon and your question #7. Reconcile the US Constitution with that of any supranational government, particularly the UN Charter. For extra credit, reconcile the UN Charter with its present reality. Is there any way you would allow co-operative agreements with other countries?

Oh wait a minute, you're the 'Live Free or Die' guy. Who watches your borders, by the way? Pillboxes, or boxes of pills? Sorry, I couldn't resist the abuse, or rather, I did; yours just bounced off of me.


Would you volunteer for the sort of mission necessary to prevail in this assymetric, undeclarable, war?

Of course. You are assuming that I have am not already so engaged.

BTW, by repeatedly using the term "Able Danger" you have very likely flagged this thread for surveillance.

(Is there anyone who does not have something stored on their computer they have written that they would prefer to keep private from neighbors, employer, co-worker, relatives, or even spouse?)

I think what bothers me is the realization that there are Americans who are genuinely uncomfortable with the whole idea of a free press. Hence my use of the term "fascists."

It sounds like some of you would really prefer that we had something roughly like Al-Hurra (TV) or Sawa (Radio) operating here in place of the New York Times or Washington Post, a U.S. government owned "news" operation controlled by the secret police as in Egypt:


Merry Christmas. Best Wishes for the New Year.


Dangling particple here waiting for tongue.

Merry Christmas!

Ric Locke

Rider, I may tackle your civics lesson later on. It's an interesting one.

In the meantime I have one for you. You seem puzzled (to say the least!) that anyone could support what you see as activity that's not only illegal but vile. This will help.

Background: it is clear that you, and others who think like you, don't think that Islamist terrorism represents any kind of real threat. I, personally, don't understand how you arrive at that conclusion, but that doesn't matter -- I do understand where your arguments come from. So I'd like you to do the following mental exercise:

Assume that the President does actually believe that Islamic terrorism constitutes a real and present danger. Forget the justifications for it; make the assumption.

Based on that assumption, what sort of measures might a President who truly believed that take?

I ask you to do that because it's also clear that the whole set of accusations of villainy come from elitist chauvinism descending to bigotry. You not only don't believe in the threat, you don't believe that the President actually takes it seriously -- which is to say, you assume that George Bush believes as you do, and takes action despite that belief from vile motives. Which is bullshit, a blatant lie, and the assumption leads you to insert things in your arguments that make it impossible for you to "get any traction".



Merry Christmas everyone!

(or, for the Christmas challenged, Merry Happy Days, or whatever)


Your mother hosts Kofi Klatches at low joints, but my mother can't be an enemy of the state because she's American?

And actually, Rider, it is obvious that you are so engaged. And on whose side. Dangerably so.


Well I guess that it was only a matter of time before the NY Times and others started to press for the "human" and "civil" rights of machines. The Times is now standing up for the rights of "(a)merican-based telephonic switches" and claiming that they supercede the rights of the US Executive branch. Will the mother who left her children at the Times newplant tour please return and pick them up.
btw, the FISA legislation and court have never claimed to take powers that already rested in the Executive branch.


These leaks and their publication are treasonous. Someone please explain to me why this doesn't deserve a firing squad?


I've been highlighting ABLE DANGER not to tease your paranoia, Rider, but to accentuate the fact that you have failed to address datamining in this discussion, which is like screaming about the mouse turd in the corner which is oppressing you as if an elephant were monkeying around on your back listening with his big ears to your thoughts.

What do you think of Kroger's cards, or the depth of understanding that Amazon.com has of your tastes, literary and otherwise. Datamining is here and now, and it wasn't not so very long ago.

What do you think about datamining? How do you balance public order, and privacy? Real thoughts here, I'm curious. Stop your damn caterwauling and pouting.


Ric - Read the assignment, son.

"...it is clear that you, and others who think like you, don't think that Islamist terrorism represents any kind of real threat."

I am tired of the straw man arguments, particularly when they are made by people who haven't read my posts.

I am more concerned than you know about the threat of Islamist terrorism. In fact, I do not believe the President is concerned enough about that threat. So you can drop that line of argument. When you have actually read the assignment, you will see that FISA was written to give the President the legal tools necessary to fight Islamic terrorism (or any other kind). The President is on record as saying FISA and the Patriot Act provided him what he needed to fight terrorism. FISA was not written by people who think terrorism is not a real threat. You are a dolt if you take us for fools such as that. Get serious, man.

I want the President to fight Islamic terrorism with every tool he has. I want him to do far more than he has, in fact. But I do insist that he obey the laws that were written for that purpose. Read USSID 18, for example, and find out what it says about NSA rules and what NSA must do whenever it develops information against USPERS.

Go read.


Noah, make a merry the Jesus mess of, and marry off and on the arc those coupled points of life.


As Santa said, "Oy, what's going on here??"

People actually think that if the NSA is monitoring (warrantless search) a foreign agent and he's either a US citizen or that foreign agent calls an American citizen, that somehow that American citizen's rights are being violated by the surveillance.

Santa thinks some folks need to trade in that new Ipod they got for some good medicine.

Quick scenario:
Mohammed Atta is being watched by the NSA/FBI. He's a foreign agent (a spy) and the President doesn't need a warrant to monitor Atta's communications.

[Yes, there's the question of whether the President can name anyone he wants a foreign agent - e.g., Howard Dean or Bill Keller - and then spy on them; good question but let's set it aside for this quick post]

Atta calls Tom Maguire or Tom, for some reason, calls Atta (either way is fine). The NSA is listening.

Some folks actually think - if we can call it that - that the NSA is violating Tom's rights by listening to his call. Somehow, Tom has the constitutional right to communicate (even unknowingly) with a foreign agent.

The NSA, of course, doesn't know why Atta called Maguire (or vice versa). They don't know whether Maguire is also a foreign agent.

That's why they're spying on Atta. To find out about other agents or find out what he is up to.

It's an absurdity piled on top of a stupidity topped off by insanity to argue that the President can indeed spy on terrorists here but once those terrorists talk to an American, that the spying must stop.

Goofy? Yes, but some people still believe in fairies and leprechauns (elves is a different matter).

Second, Santa says that these folks need to understand that an inherent power of the President (or Congress or the Judiciary) cannot be overriden by a legislative act.

You cannot take away a power granted by the Constitution except by Amendment.



DATAMINING, R, ABLE DANGER. Those things didn't exist when FISA was written. Echelon was rudimentary. Get with the **Christmas** day. Bush is allowed to detect and pursue the enemy of the state, with at least the tools available to the enemy. Otherwise, the only reason we might not see your point is that you couldn't articulate it.

And I really like the way Jay is articulating it now. He must be one of the 'serious' ones.


Kim - my last response to you till you've read about Echelon and are able to answer question #5, 6, and 7.

Datamining is here and now, and it wasn't not so very long ago.

NSA is legally entitled to do all the data mining it likes, as long as it doesn't turn Echelon on the American people. Until Bush's secret directive, that was something NSA people were trained must never, never, never be done. It's a violation of USSID 18. A career-ender.

Data mining is of course asymmetric warfare. Islamic terrorists have no capability, interests in, or need to data mine the American people. Anything they want to know about our government, society, or habits is available. And they don't need to know anything about any American citizen in the detail that Echelon provides. Our government is the one spying on our communications.


I think you are probably naive about islamofascist interest in cultural and computer warfare. Don't forget your chore reconciling the US Constitution with The UN Charter. You can add reconciling either with bin Laden's dream for world government if you really want the brownie pet apple award.

Remember, our government is spying on its enemies. If they dwell within our communications, then that's where they'll look. That's where the money is after all, and by the way, that's the trail used, commonly.

So does Echelon never involve Americans?


The NSA, of course, doesn't know why Atta called Maguire (or vice versa). They don't know whether Maguire is also a foreign agent.

This is probably wrong.

I think if Tom calls Atta, then the NSA cannot listen in. Since TM is not connected in any way to al-Qaeda, it would be against the law to listen in.

But clearly, if a known foreign agent calls an American, the NSA can listen without a warrant.

Merry Christmas. I can't believe I'm discussing this on Christmas Day.



So its shuffle and redeal, Rider. I refuse to step into your underengineered house of legal cards and you prefer not to discuss datamining in the context of the ongoing exquisite balance between public order and privacy. Thanks for almost having a conversation.

I'm reminded today of one of my favorite riddles. I tell people that I always know what is in a wrapped present. It's a puzzle.

Ric Locke

No, Rider, you aren't serious. You're still starting out with bigoted assumptions.

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.

Scenario: Person "A" goes to Wal*Mart and purchases a disposable cell phone (cost: $59.95). "A" pays for the phone with a debit card issued to an assumed name against a fat bank account, uses it for a few hours, then tosses it in a trash can.

If some of those calls are to numbers flagged by previous NSA intercepts, can the content of the calls be monitored? If your answer is "yes, with a warrant", upon what basis do you conclude that (1) "A" is a "U.S. person" within the meaning of FISA, (2) what "place" you will "particularly describe" on the warrant, (3) what "person" ditto. And considering that the information necessary to determine any of those things is buried in the logbooks and other data of three different telecommunications companies, a bank that isn't in the United States, and a credit-card issuer ditto, tell me, do, how you would determine any of the answers without a warrant -- and upon what basis such a warrant might issue without knowledge that cannot be obtained without a warrant?

"The law cannot compel an impossibility." Requiring absolute compliance with a thirty-year-old law written under the (then-true) assumption that "telephone" means something attached by a wire to an identifiable user is as stupid as trying to enforce the apocryphal 19th-century Mississippi law setting pi at exactly 3.

And while you're railing at strawmen, please don't bring up "they could have asked to change the law." Would a President acting in good faith ask for a change in the law, in full knowledge that it would set in train an even more vituperative version of this very debate?

No. You aren't serious. You're screaming at bogeymen of your own devising, while committing the same offense you accuse Bush of. (Your ISP does have a spam filter on your email, doesn't it? Thought so.)



To add to the comments above about "fascism," here's an essay about its -real- history by an ardent Bush-hater:

The Mystery of Fascism by David Ramsay Steele


which is based on the research of the Israeli socialist political historian Zeev Sternhell.


Speaking of puzzles, why did Jay Rockefeller surreptitiously write a poison pen letter for posterity instead of DOING SOMETHING, then and there, to make more explicit this apparently necessary tool? Instead, he commits his misgivings and ignorance to paper. And now he's proud of it?

If wishes were horses, dataminers would drive some back broke.


The law cannot compel an impossibility."

Great point.

It appears that some folks think that in order for the NSA to monitor these calls, they first must be sure that every person that the foreign agent calls on his monitored call is also another foreign agent or be sure that they do not monitor conversations between these agents and ordinary Americans.


That, of course, would render meaningless the ability of the President to monitor foreign agents. The idea behind spying on foreign agents is to find out about other foreign agents that they're working with.

Obviously, during the monitoring of foreign agents, when those agents interact with other innocent Americans, some of those innocent Americans will inadvertently be monitored. How can the government guarantee that when monitoring foreign agents that those foreign agents won't interact with ordinary Americans?

The President was given the authority by Congress - an authority that still is valid - to use military force against those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. Military force always has included the ability to spy on the enemy and monitor their activities.

During this monitoring, obviously the President's agents will also monitor Americans who cross the paths of these spys.

When the Clinton Administration monitored Aldrich Ames without a search warrant, they were trying to find out about his contacts, about other possible agents in his cell.

And when the Clinton Administration searched a Kenyan-Americans home (in Kenya) without a search warrant, they were trying to find information about his connections with al-Qaeda.

I'm through for the day with this nonsense. Santa should have brought me a big bottle of aspirin.



EB, it's the authority and strength represented by a bundle of sticks. United We Stand, to parody M. Live Free.

Oh wait, it's Community. How could you make a mistake like that especially on a day such as this, for communal mess. Shall we gayly dance around a cookfire made by setting a bunch of faggots ablaze?

Fasces? That's what's going on in his arm beating the sense out of his brain.

Buddy Larsen

What tickles me is, the more the president's domestic oppo narrows the legal question, the more the great middle of America gets the message that the president is fighting the terror-war any and every which way it turns. I think most will agree, there is a thing under the sun called "sequence", and when in danger, the first thing is to get out of danger.

Later, when sunset provisions come up, we can dump the tight security. But deliberately throwing common sense out of sequence on all this, would be really stupid.

This very propensity on our part, throughout the 90s, undoubtedly was a strong factor in nerving those birds to attack us in the first place.

So, now, we have to show them that we've finally remembered that we, too, can knife-fight in the alley. Unless of course we prefer to see the war last longer rather than end sooner.

And the oppo tactic--the English-speaking oppo, that is--of trussing-up big important exigent matters with myriad dubiously-significant threads (using the phenom of language-abstraction wherein the words 'heavy' and 'light', having equal numbers of glyphs, occupy equal space) is becoming glaringly obvious, and familiar, and a little repulsive.

...and, Merry Christmas to all!


Rider, what legal significance, if any, do you think USSID 18 has? Who has the authority to override it?


Buddy, here's some evidence to underscore you're point(and I do think it understates the degree of support for the President's aggressive stance):
* 55 percent of all adults believe that rendition (as explained above) is justified either often (14%) or sometimes (41%), when interrogating suspected terrorists.

* 60 percent of adults believe that the use of "secret prison camps in Europe or elsewhere" is justified either often (14%) or sometimes (46%).

* 52 percent of all adults believe that the use of torture is justified either often (12%) or sometimes (40%). Torture , Secret Prisons--Thumbs Up"


your point, that is--


Thanks, BL. You have to hold the knife with blade on the ulnar side of the hand edge pointing distally. That way it can't be turned against you. There is a way to keep ABLE DANGER and DATAMINING pointing away from the innocent. We can find it with good faith and effort. The harmless need not be harmed. The helpless need not fear.

But some would rather RIDE roughshod over sense, thought, and reason, with paranoid possiblities pounding over other points of view. How fierce, how fatal, how fragifascisticalistic.

Cecil Turner

Until Bush's secret directive, that was something NSA people were trained must never, never, never be done. It's a violation of USSID 18. A career-ender.

How about secret orders to bomb a house with someone inside? Because before the current conflict, it was something that would land the perpetrator in jail. Now, of course, it's a rather frequent occurrence. And it's perfectly legal. (In fact, for those so ordered, it's a duty.)

This debate has nicely highlighted the left's cluelessness on the whole concept of warfighting. Acting as if the Executive's constitutional authority for warfighting does not exist flies directly in the face of 200+ years of history. Surely that power is not absolute, but it's interesting to note the court's verbiage on its limitations:

The war power "is a power to wage war successfully, and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation. But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties". [Hamdi quoting Blaisdell, emphasis added]
The contention that the Executive is constrained by a dated interpretation of FISA, especially in light of a novel strategic challenge in a conflict wherein the adversary attempts to capitalize on precisely that aspect of American society, is clearly not on. It might be a different story if Congress had acted to restrain the Executive in this particular case, but they have had the opportunity to do so, and have thus far refrained.


Cecil, There are so many thoughtful posts on this thread, it's impossible to single one any one as the best, but all of yours are in the finalist category.


Cecil, There are so many thoughtful posts on this thread, it's impossible to single out any one as the best, but all of yours are in the finalist category.

Cecil Turner

Thanks, Clarice. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Ric Locke

SteveMG, good points, but peripheral to what I was trying to point out.

Understand, I would really, really like to be able to side with rider and the other absolutists about this. Government monitoring of phone calls makes me nervous (to say the least). But if you're going to grant that a threat exists, and that it's the duty of the President to protect us against it, you simply cannot argue that it's (1) an absolute responsibility that (2) is absolutely against the law for him to discharge.

OK, we begin with a telephone call from number X to number Y. One of those two (it doesn't matter which one) is on a watch list of some kind, so the computer flags the call as being of interest. It doesn't take much to find out that one of the two calls was carred by a US-based cellphone network. If we're to take FISA seriously, that would automatically invoke the presumption that one of the parties is a "U.S. person" and require a warrant to examine that phone call. What would be the basis for such a warrant?

We have to name the "particular place to be searched." In the context of a wiretap, that has to be the instrument being used to make the call. Now, any phone number can be assigned to any instrument, so the phone number is useless for that purpose; the only way to "particularly" describe the instrument is its Unique IDentification. That information isn't in the call or its headers -- it's only found in the routing and billing records of the network where the call originated. So the first thing we need is a subpoena issued against the service provider, requiring disclosure of the UID of the instrument making the call.

We can't have that. No indictment exists, therefore there's no subpoena power available. So what we need is a search warrant, not a subpoena, against the cellphone network. We can, of course, simply ask them -- but that would consitute a "warrantless search" and engender the same hysteria.

Assume a FISA judge signs the warrant. We now have the UID of the phone, so we know it's a Wal*Mart disposable. Now we need to tie the phone to a person, so as to decide whether or not we need a warrant to examine the contents of the call. It's highly likely that no such record exists, or that it's extremely obfuscated; in any case, the first thing we need is a subpoena (which we can't have; see above) or warrant against Wal*Mart, to force disgorgement of the credit card number it was bought with. Once again, the cooperative judge signs off on that, and we get the credit card number. But we still don't have a "particular person" -- only a debit-card account number.

So we need -- surprise! -- another search warrant, this time against the card issuer. By this time even the most credulous pseudo-judge is starting to get grumpy. What the Hell are we fishing for? But once again he signs the thing. The card issuer cooperates by providing the pseudonym under which the card was issued.

Even if it weren't a pseudonym, it's useless -- there's no chain of evidence: can we prove that that particular transaction resulted in a particular person getting hold of that particular phone? Of course not. Wal*Mart doesn't record the UIDs of the phones it sells. So that whole line is useless, a waste of time that does nothing but piss the judge off.

Try it another way: we have the UID of the phone. Let's go find that particular phone and see who has it, eh?

We can do that, provided the phone is on and we can get a(nother) warrant, this time against the maintainers of the cellphone towers and associated switches (which will be distinct from the organization providing the "minutes" used by the phone). Trouble is, the phone got tossed in the trash. It's now at Fresh Kills, under the remnants of a partially-eaten hot dog, and the user is now on his/her third or fourth successive disposable. So we can waste our time doing that -- and still be nowhere near discovering any information that will either (1) allow us to distinguish between a "U.S. Person" and an "agent of a foreign Power" as regards that phone call or (2) give us probable cause to issue a search warrant against the contents of the original call. And if you follow the trees all the way back, the information we need in order to conform to the law is either not available even in principle, so cumbersome to retrieve that it's a practical impossibility given the imminence of the heat death of the Universe, or contained in the call itself -- which we need (by that reasoning) a warrant to examine.

Sorry. Ain't gonna happen.

And frankly, I can't really decide which would scare me worse -- warrantless monitoring of what amounts to computer data, or a (supposed) judge prepared to sit in front of a computer screen reading (?) what amounts to a new EULA every two minutes and clicking "Issue this Warrant? [Approve] [Reject]" each time.

It's stupid absolutism based on hysteria and bigotry. Furthermore, as the polls show it's political suicide -- and runs the risk of having genuinely intrusive crap inserted in the law, as people react to the petulance with the contempt it deserves.

P.S. I have no beef against Wal*Mart; I just didn't want to have to type "that specific retailer" each time.


ia thirty-year-old law

Nice try. FISA was written in 1978, but the Patriot Act was written in 2001. Bush has broken both laws, laws he has sworn to uphold and also to execute.

If it wasn't sufficient, he should have asked Congress to change it. They asked him repeatedly if he had everything he needed. He said he did.


So why didn't he? He doesn't believe in the separation of powers. Like Bill Clinton, he did it for the worst of reasons, because he could. Character counts.


CT picks from the tree of knowledge and wisdom and distills its fruit into clearwater of life. Pinnakapawnee y salud.

Seven Machos

Rider -- Your political views probably color your arguments in such a way as to grossly distort anything cogent you might say. You just don't like Bush, so anything he does is going to look bad to you. But what about when, under Bill Clinton, the United States:

1. Bombed an "aspirin factory"?

2. Bombed a Chinese Embassy?

3. Destroyed the property of and killed people belonging to an obscure religious sect?

4. Spied on communications in exactly the same way spying has occurred under this administration, with no warrant of any kind?

Buddy Larsen

Right on. If you haven't got the constancy, at least deliver the consistency.

Lew Clark

Come on Rider, you've set it up. Drop the big bomb. You keep throwing USSID 18 out as a teaser. Tell all the folks here that the reason your so familiar with USSID 18 is that you are/were a senior NSA officer. But you couldn't take it anymore. That Bushhitler and his brownshirts were collecting data on his political enemies and although the shoe hasn't dropped yet, they will be made to disappear really soon.

And while your at it, post a picture of yourself. I'm sure during my many visits to NSA, I had to bump into you. We can get together and have a beer and talk about old times. On the other hand, nah, we really don't talk about that stuff outside of work, do we?

Unless, just maybe, all your vast knowledge comes from those really neat books you checked out at the school library and you really don't have a clue what your talking about?


Yest another--and I assume perfectly common example.
Earlier this year I received a charge on my visa indicating someone had purchased a phone card in Canada using my visa number. IU successfully contested it and in the process learned only that the calls had been made on that card to Pakistan. See where I'm going, Vern? Identity theft to buy phone cards to call overseas. No warrant system I can imagine can deal with this.

Buddy Larsen

Clarice, the first place I'd look is Hannibal Lector's phone records. \;-D


He eats them with fave beans and a good chianti.


He doesn't believe in the separation of powers. Like Bill Clinton, he did it for the worst of reasons, because he could. Character counts.

Well, that sums it up nicely. It's not about separation of powers, its not about the constitution, or patriotism, or outdated laws vs technological advances, or privacy, or fighting terrorists after all.

It's about Bush's motives.

Why am I not surprised.


Rider, under your theory, the President is essentially Congress's Lap Dog, following the orders of Congress and enforcing all laws, regardless of their constitutionality. What happened to the Constitution & separation of powers? Under the Constitution, we have 3 separate, equal branches of government, all with powers enumerated in the Constitution & limited by the Constitution. Congress can pass laws, but Congress cannot strip the President of powers granted by the Constitution. If Congress attempts to do so, those laws are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ultimately decides whether those laws are unconstitutional. The Court has yet to rule on the War Powers Resolution (which, if I recall correctly, every President since it was enacted has deemed an unconstitutional limitation on Presidential powers) and FISA.


You're right Syl, those things are just excuses. I just responded on another website to the effect that:

It never was about privacy or liberty, those were just excuses. Everybody knows Republicans are racist racist racist and without a nanny judge would waste their time surveiling on the basis of race and religion instead of “probable cause”.
Law regulating war is written by congress and what it means does not require a judge to interpret unless congress and the executive have a difference of opinion. As long as they are in agreement adding a judge who had nothing to do with the creation or execution of a law is unnecessary. It is quite likely that during war congress would just as soon have the president address war regulations with them directly rather than risk a 3rd party misinterpret their intent or the character of the threat.

Since congress is not objecting to the president's legal claims, the default implication is the law makers themselves are willing to accept them, for now. Some apparently feel the danger has passed and now is a good time for the minority party to throw the dice that the public buys the notion that some judge would interpret the law differently than the majority party and the president.



Some apparently feel the danger has passed and now is a good time for the minority party to throw the dice that the public buys the notion that some judge would interpret the law differently than the majority party and the president.

This is so creepy, isn't it?

And why would some feel the danger has passed? Because Bush did what he felt he had to do and we've had no terror attacks here since the anthrax. Remove one of the reasons for our security and we can guess where that will lead.

We can't erase the threat by wishing we were back in the '90's when we weren't aware of it.

Rick Ballard

I'm a bit confused about this. Tomorrow if the NSA picks up a telecon from Waziristan between John Walker Lindh's twin brother and Joel Henry Hinrichs III"s other brother Darryl which contains the phrase "OBL says tomorrow's the big day" is federal action barred or allowed? What type of action would be allowed?

How many splodeyokies constitute a threat to national security sufficient to justify federal action?

JM Hanes


"So why didn't he? He doesn't believe in the separation of powers. Like Bill Clinton, he did it for the worst of reasons, because he could."

LOL! Which Title did you find that one in? So much for the putative benefits of going to school on Cornell's website and sailing through your own self-administered bar exam. Too bad they don't have a page that tells you how to make and win a legal argument. Anybody who can read can quote you chapter & verse, but it's sort of the legal equivalent of monkeys typing.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all (you included, Rider)!


What type of action would be allowed?

NSA would have 72 hours after intercepting the message to apply for a FISA warrant. If for some reason the warrant application were denied (only 4 out of 19,000 have been), it would just mean that that piece of evidence couldn't be used in court. But obviously in a case like that the last thing you're thinking about is using the intel in court. You're taking measures to head off the event, including additional emergency signals intelligence operations.


Non responsive. They could hire a 2bit private I to get the info too.

Answer the question ... Yes or no.


What happened to the Constitution & separation of powers?

My question, exactly!

Congress can pass laws, but Congress cannot strip the President of powers granted by the Constitution.

No president has the "inherent authority" under the Constitution to break the law. U.S. Const., Art. II, Sec. 3: "[the president]shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." If you can explain out how violating the law is taking care that the laws are being faithfully executed, you're an even slicker flim-flam man than George W. (Maybe he reads "executed" as meaning "put to death"?)

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