Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 21, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

EMERGENCIES AND NON-EMERGENCIES....I've been waiting for a conservative to make a reasonable argument about President Bush's secret spying program that isn't just a regurgitation of the usual fatuous talking points (Clinton did it too, the constitution allows the president to do anything he wants, etc.), and Jonah Goldberg has done it:

From what we know, it sounds like the initial decision to be as aggressive as possible in rolling up al Qaeda was completely justified. Recall what it was like in the weeks and months after 9/11, when the death toll was still believed to be much higher than 3,000, anthrax was buzzing through the postal system, and an unknown number of sleeper cells existed on our soil....Speed was of the essence, and the system back then was not speedy.

....There's very little an American president can't do when there's an immediate crisis. But as it became clear this war was going to be a marathon instead of a sprint, Bush should have figured out how to reinsert the rule of law into the process.

I think that's exactly right. With the caveat that we still don't know exactly what this program entails, it appears to be just the kind of thing people have in mind when they say that the executive branch should be given a lot of leeway during wartime because only the executive can act speedily enough when the country is under attack.

"Under attack" describes 9/11, and the president had every reason to suppose that those attacks might continue. If Bush had ordered the NSA to broaden its mandate immediately, and then gone to Congress a few weeks or a month later to get permanent authorization for a change in the law, I'd probably have no problem with it.

But that's not what he did. In fact, he did just the opposite. He deliberately declined to ask the FISA court to authorize his program because he knew they'd turn him down. Likewise, he declined to ask Congress to authorize the program because after consulting with congressional leaders he concluded that Congress would turn him down too. But like it or not, once the initial emergency was past he no longer had the authority to act unilaterally. He's our president, not our king, and even though he likes to style himself a "wartime president" he still has to obey the law. Somebody ought to remind him of that occasionally.

Kevin Drum 8:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

As distressing as it is to admit it, that particular argument from Goldberg DOES sound reasonable.

Fucking sigh.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 21, 2005 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bush claims we have the same legal system as North Korea.

Posted by: Bunny on December 21, 2005 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Just think, if Bush'd done what you suggest, he'd have locked in a search technique he says is important. Now it's likely to be junked by the next president.

Posted by: Ironist on December 21, 2005 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Impeachment is not too kind a word for Mr. Bush. THis latest incident is but another in a long stream of userpations. Imagine what we don't know yet as each revelation gets us closer to recognizing that "1984" must serve as a reference book for this crowd in power.

Posted by: Bruce Anderson on December 21, 2005 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not using my privacy rights anyway. And if you are, you're probably a terrorist. I'd rather they spy on me than be blown up. Terrorists could be anywhere, plotting their next attack, trying to excercise their privacy rights.

Posted by: The Blue Pill on December 21, 2005 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg's argument would be reasonable, except that we can be almost certain that Bush's goons intended to spy on dissenters as well as "terrorists". Why else keep it secret?

Posted by: Bill Rudman on December 21, 2005 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't speedy? How much faster can you be than immediately?

1) hubris. "I don't want to and you can't make me."
2) laziness. "I don't want to expend the effort."
3) politically embarrassing subjects. (Bingo.)

These are the only plausible reasons for Bush ignoring the perfectly reasonable law.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on December 21, 2005 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think this argument works either. The FISA process wouldn't have slowed anything down if he had used it, becuase he is allowed to wiretap before getting a warrant, as long as he does so in three days. Unless he thinks that the court won't give him a warrant (and to not do that in wartime would mean the target was likely really not connected to terrorism), there is no time saved at all here, so the emergency argument goes out the window. Perhaps I am missing something here. I don't understand why you ran this, because I thought I saw this point mentioned on this very site, not to long ago. Blogs are starting to run together at this point though. For a decent argument from a conservative see Orin Kerr's on Volokh.

Posted by: progdem on December 21, 2005 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

We can expect the executive to take extraordinary action during an emergency.

We should also expect the executive to come before congress, the courts and the people to explain what he did and debate how to make (some version of) the extraordinary actions he took under extraordinary circumstances fit our traditional legal constitutional framework.

If in fact we have a new technology which amounts to a supercomputer fishing expedition, - obliterating past concepts of probable cause warrants, lets put the concept on the table and have at the debate.

The wholesale implementation of this technology is not a decision to be made by the executive branch in secret under the guise of permanent war for permament security. (If for no other reason than the government shall spend no money which is not appropriated by congress, and Congress shal receive an accounting of how money is spent, etc.)

Posted by: CurtisE on December 21, 2005 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad "conservatives" are lining up to make the case that the president DOES have the power to do anything he wants. Anything at all, including searches without warrants, arrests without charges, sentences without trial, and even torture.

I hope they really and truly learn to love living in an absolute dictatorship, because that is exactly what they are advocating.

Posted by: Derelict on December 21, 2005 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

I could be wrong, but I don't recall that the constitution authorizes the president to do "anything" he likes, crisis or no crisis. if true he could annoint himself king and suspend the rest of the gov't indefinitely, something the founders didn't care for much.

Posted by: supersaurus on December 21, 2005 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly right, Kevin.

If he came out with this publicly (or at least through official, legal, yet classified and secret) channels in September 2001, he ould have been "preserving, protecting and defending". Then when things calmed down we could have ... I dunno... a rational discussion?

Instead, we get 9/11 as a one-size-fits-all partisan club forevermore ... "just because".

Posted by: tbrosz on December 21, 2005 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

OK Kevin, I'll try to explain to the situtation the President was faced with -- and why any reasonable person in his capacity would have acted as he did.

We now have the technology to monitor (tap if you will) tens of thousands of simultaneous voice and data transmissions in real-time. FISA anticipated a need to tap a SINGLE conversation and required "probable cause" to do so (likely, broadly interpreted). Given this new technology, it would have been irresponsible for the President NOT to eavesdrop on ALL conversations taking place between known likely terrorist havens and domestic points. There really are bad guys out there seeking to initiate coordinated attaks within our borders -- Witness the two coordinated attacks on London's transit system.

A FISA judge will not grant the necessary authority to the executive for this kind of broad surveillance -- but it's obviously needed to keep us safe.

Put yourself in the President's shoes, Kevin. If you had in your hand the capability to monitor ALL communications between Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Arabia, Yemen, etc --- and the domestic numbers they dialed, wouldn't you use it? Wouldn't you be obliged to use it?

This kind of capability wasn't envisioned in FISA. So the President had at least a dozen discussions with Congress about it and on a bipartisan basis -- and they ducked! Both Democrats and Republicans knew this was going on, they gave it tacit approval, and it no doubt kept us safer than if the President did not authorize these efforts.

Now do you get it?

Posted by: Norman on December 21, 2005 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Well it may be a good argument, but it fails to recognise
the sources that say the administration was told that congress would balk at approving this. Immediately after 9/11 congress passed the Patriot Act without even knowing what was in it why wasn't this part of the bill?

Posted by: ogo on December 21, 2005 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

But what if there's a ticking bomb? And the timer on that bomb says "6 years, 7 months, 3 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes,12 seconds"? Then it's an emergency and you have to act as fast as you can, and you may have to torture someone too. Hurry up, we're down to 6 years, 7 months, 3 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes, 8 seconds!

Posted by: SP on December 21, 2005 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

"...the president had every reason to suppose that those attacks might continue"Kevin,

Kevin,

FYI, AQ has never in the past been able to sustain attacks. They have always been sporadic, waiting until the overreaction was dissipated into apathy. Granted the Iraq war, which you supported, has done much to energize the terrorists into killing more reliably, still like any band of rebels rebels they wait for their opportunities.

If you are serious about terrorism, treat it like crime, drain the swamp, then chase the flopping monsters.

Posted by: S Brennan on December 21, 2005 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

This is also the same President who ignored the August 6, 2001, PDB. He lies every time he opens his mouth. He let Americans die in New Orleans because they were poor. One more place they don't have to spy. He wastes our resources like no other President ever.

Where's Howard Beal when we really need him? I, for one, would like to hear what Daniel Schorr is thinking about this. These guys weren't spying on possible terrorists; they are spying on innocent people who do not accept W as King.

Posted by: Mazurka on December 21, 2005 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

I guess my take on Goldberg's argument is not so much that the circumstances immediately after 9/11 actually justified taking these extraordinary measures, but rather that they greatly extenuated taking such actions. Probably there were other ways of getting the same information. But if this was not a situation in which a President might be forgiven if he overreached some, I'm not sure what circumstances might ever do so.

The deep problem with Bush and his WH is that he never readjusted to the realities. He should have himself realized that he must back off from his own overstepping, and that he must return to the role granted him in the Constitution. Instead he insisted for four long years that he was entitled to that which he could only be forgiven for, and only so forgiven for the duration of the immediate emergency created by 9/11.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 21, 2005 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

The link between "9-11 and subsequent events" is broken once the President went to Congress over Iraq.

Congress granted him the option to use force -- but he was not granted the power to wage war without regard the the laws of war, or domestic statutes.

Youngstown specifically states that Executive Orders may not trump either the Constitution or Federal Statute. There's nothing in the Patriot Act or the post-9-11 Congressional language that suspends writ of habeus corpus.

In my view all the arguments defending Bush are based on fiction: More -- link under my name: [ http://tinyurl.com/8a362 ]

Posted by: Constant on December 21, 2005 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

He deliberately declined to ask the FISA court to authorize his program because he knew they'd turn him down. Likewise, he declined to ask Congress to authorize the program because after consulting with congressional leaders he concluded that Congress would turn him down too.

My sample isn't exhaustive so I can't be sure, but this seems to be the minority opinion. The majority opinion seems to be that Congress would have given him the authority he wanted, but he was more afraid of leaks than of breaking the law.

Posted by: papageno on December 21, 2005 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

He isn't king? Oh, what about dictator? Not that either? How inconvenient for him. Does he know?

Posted by: Name on December 21, 2005 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

"With the caveat that we still don't know exactly what this program entails"

while we don't know exactly what it entails, we have a pretty good idea that it something that congress would not approve of. So, obviously King George KNEW it was wrong and did it anyway. I don't see how "wartime" is an excuse here.

Posted by: Rick on December 21, 2005 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

As distressing as it is to admit it, that particular argument from Goldberg DOES sound reasonable.

Fucking sigh.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 21, 2005 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

No, it isn't reasonable because FISA had in it BEFORE 2001 a retroactive capability. The Patriot Act actually lengthened the retroactive period to 15 days.

Do your fucking homework before you validate these assholes!

Posted by: Kennedy on December 21, 2005 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Then when things calmed down we could have ... I dunno... a rational discussion?

No, what we should have in that case is a trial in the Senate, after impeachment by the House.

The Constitution protects the President from criminal prosecution, even for committing even a "high crime or misdemeanor."

In place of this, it provides for an explicitly political process for judging whether the President must leave office for committing such a crime -- the impeachment process.

A Senate trial is proper, Constitutionally-mandated forum in which to make a judgment (a political judgment, rather than legal judgment) about whether the President was justified in breaking the law.

This logic also applies to the current situation. We are having, in case you didn't notice, a Consitutional crisis. The President is breaking the law, and holds that he is not bound by the law.

For the current situation, the Constitution fairly demands impeachment and trial.


Posted by: social democrat on December 21, 2005 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is asserting that his power to wiretap citizens without judicial oversight comes with war powers. Bush contends that the power to suspend the Constitution comes with a nation at war. Bush is declaring martial law.

Bush, by taking the problem of Al Qaeda out of the criminal justice system and putting it in the war system (and further by stopping the hunt for Bin Laden and attacking Iraq) has set up a strawman argument. With "we're fighting them over there instead of over here," Bush has taken the U.S. into a state of perpetual war where the President is free of any Constitutional constraint.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Question:
Are the leaders of our country actually saying that they are incapable of keeping both the Constitution alive and the nation secure from Al Qaeda?

What benefit has come to us by taking it out of the criminal justice system? How has that helped to get Bin Laden?

Posted by: Milt on December 21, 2005 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

If in fact we have a new technology which amounts to a supercomputer fishing expedition, - obliterating past concepts of probable cause warrants, lets put the concept on the table and have at the debate.

If the past is any guide, we'll have the debate and new laws (or court decisions) after everyone agrees that the present danger is over. A case in point was the wait by the US Supreme Court for the civil war to end before overruling Lincoln's wartime excesses.

once the initial emergency was past he no longer had the authority to act unilaterally. If the main issue is how much time elapsed then it isn't going to win votes for Bush's opponents; not everyone believes that the "initial" emergency is past. Since 9/11 we've had riots in Belgium, France and Australia; additional bombings in Turkey, GB, Spain, Pakistan, India and Indonesia; murders and attempted murders in the Netherlands all related to the war between Islamists and the liberal west. Congress has decided to look into this in a few weeks, at the earliest.

Posted by: papageno on December 21, 2005 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

What really concerns me here is that there is absolutely NO discussion as to whether this automated wiretapping capability is of Message Headers or Message Content. The way wiretap laws treat these two components is very different. (read Orin Kerr's paper on the Patriot Act for a good explanation of WHY they're different).

If they're scanning all message content to make the determination of whether to get a FISA request (as James Robertson's resignation statement seems to imply) then this IS on legal shaky ground. If they're determining it from message headers (email addressees, or identification based on telephone pen-register) then I would say we're probably arguing about nothing.

There's a lot of long-established law that applies to message headers as not being protected by the 4th amendment (extended to electronic communication by CALEA and Patriot), but conversely - that body of law specifically states that Message Content is a different animal, and definately needs judicial oversight.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Look. Illegal or not. Would you admit that you have insufficient votes for impeachment?

Posted by: McAristotle on December 21, 2005 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Put yourself in the President's shoes, Kevin. If you had in your hand the capability to monitor ALL communications between Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Arabia, Yemen, etc --- and the domestic numbers they dialed, wouldn't you use it? Wouldn't you be obliged to use it?

Again - were I in the President's shoes, I would have read the August 6 PDBs, and prevented 9/11 by putting proper airline security in force.

But beyond that - if I had this kind of capability, and knowing what a lightning rod for liberal criticism, I, George W Bush was, I would bend over backwards to not only make sure what I was doing was legal, but to also get the smartest lawyers to cook up an explanation for these actions so that if someone found out, I'd have a good public speech prepared to make the nuances of the situation available to the people who would otherwise impeach me.

If FISA didn't cover it. If Patriot Act didn't cover it, I'd damn well have emergency legistlation drafted AND PRONTO - ie. before I took another 6 week vacation - that left no room for doubt about my authority to take this action.

And I'd damn well do whatever it takes to ensure that enough proof or audit trail exists to assure any critics that the technology wasn't being abused.

And not doing any of that - I'd simply consider as "not good enough" a job, for a position no less than President of the United States.

They seem to believe Liberal Criticism is their biggest weakness. They keep telling about how Liberal Criticism will cause us to lose the War on Terror. Yet they do nothing to prevent it. They encourage it. Entice it. They literally BEG for it. If YOU were president, wouldn't you anticipate such criticism, and try to take actions to; not silence the critics through force and secrecy, but through cooperation?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Under attack" describes 9/11, and the president had every reason to suppose that those attacks might continue.

Except the prezident did nothing, except pretend those terrorist attacks weren't happening and then run and hide after the fact. Cheney acted decisively; I have to give him credit for that. Bush? Zero.

But like it or not, once the initial emergency was past he no longer had the authority to act unilaterally. He's our president, not our king, and even though he likes to style himself a "wartime president" he still has to obey the law. Somebody ought to remind him of that occasionally.

Right. I expect the "There ought to be limits to freedom," and "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator" guy should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Or not so much.

Posted by: Monty on December 21, 2005 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg is right in the rest of the article, too. The Democrats are going to shoot their own foot off if they look like they're crippling domestic security.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 21, 2005 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't the warrants issued for specific individuals and numbers? Is the technology in use in this program such that it involes chains of phones or locations that are not individually identifiable. Wouldn't that circumstance require a blanket warrant or something so broad as not to fit into the FISA criteria?

Posted by: TJM on December 21, 2005 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

All speculation on his intent.

Posted by: McAristotle on December 21, 2005 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Look. Illegal or not. Would you admit that you have insufficient votes for impeachment?
Posted by: McAristotle on December 21, 2005 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

That's a no-brainer, Mick.

Even if it can be conclusively shown that not only did the president break the law, but that he also lied, and even if it can be shown that this system had been abused, there's no way in hell that the current legislature would impeach Bush. Joe Lieberman would certainly fight to the death for the privilege of eating the nuts out of Bush's turds.

Would it be possible in '06? If the republican owned mass-media feels it's more profitable to turn on Bush, If the outcome of the Iraqi elections is bad, if the economy (which seems wholly dependent on manipulated energy prices at this moment in history) turns south, if Fitzgerald is able to find hard evidence of wrongdoing, if Abramoff's plea bargain yeilds any "High Value Targets", if the second set of Abu Ghraib photos and videos ever gets released, or if there are any more scandals out there that could gain traction, - then we could get a Democratic majority in both houses in 06. I consider that a high likelyhood. But I also think that there are enough Moderate Democrats that will make Bush's impeachment unlikely. More likely is gridlock. Which is far more constructive than one-party rule.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

From what we know, it sounds like the initial decision to be as aggressive as possible in rolling up al Qaeda was completely justified.

Or rather, it would have been, if that's what he had done.

Tom-Clancy fantasies run afoul of the real world ... again.

Next?

Ah, here's "next"

The Democrats are going to shoot their own foot off if they look like they're crippling domestic security.

While I'm sure the Republican-owned media will bend over backwards to create this illusions, it'll be a tough sell. The preznit's target among America's ... er, Americans, have been innocuous. Hard to sell that as "national security," even to the trailer park.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on December 21, 2005 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Would you admit that you have insufficient votes for impeachment?
Posted by: McAristotle

I would "admit" that we have a sufficient lack of character among the GOP to be able to fail in impeachment, allowing us to hang this filth around the neck of anyone stupid enough to call himself a conservative for the next two generations.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on December 21, 2005 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Crippling domestic security? Is that like leaving the Brookly Bridge vulnerable to the odd sot with a bic lighter and a little time on his hands?

Career intelligence professionals and judges threw themselves on their swords over this issue. Too bad the weak can't honor their sacrifice by putting principles above party, if only for once.

Posted by: The ghost of tbrosz past on December 21, 2005 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

The majority opinion seems to be that Congress would have given him the authority he wanted, but he was more afraid of leaks than of breaking the law.

No. Gonzales' statement was that they asked for this change in the law and were rebuffed.

So they did it anyway.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on December 21, 2005 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh. Whatever happened to the good 'ol "rule of law" republicans we knew and loved?

Oh yah - that was nothing but a lie, intended to hide the fact that the true essence of the republican party is nothing more than racism.

Posted by: cdj on December 21, 2005 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: He's our president, not our king...

In fact the man just declared that he's broken the law, and that he will continue to do so as long as he's in office.

You're thinking of the old America. Everything's different since, 9/11. And now, moreso than ever.

A man acting as this man has and does even at this very moment functions as king, and cannot by any stretch of the imagination--with his powers to secretly observe, secretly charge, secretly abduct, secretly imprison, and secretly kill--be termed a "president".

If he gets away with this, the American experiment is over. You honestly haven't noticed?

Posted by: jim p on December 21, 2005 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats are going to shoot their own foot off if they look like they're crippling domestic security.
Posted by: tbrosz on December 21, 2005 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

True.

But if there have been any abuses of this wiretapping, and if it can be proven, what's worse?

Abuse of this kind of power can cripple national security far worse than simply asking for oversight of the power could, in anybody's worse bureaucratic socialist nightmares.

Do you suppose Hitler might have actually WON if he had not put so much effort into exterminating Jews and chasing down his domestic political opponents? What about the Soviet Union.

Hell, even the British persecuted one of their greatest intellectual assets (Alan Turing) for homosexuality - had his suicide occurred before he cracked enigma, do you suppose the allies would have been so successful against the German war machine?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush had ordered the NSA to broaden its mandate immediately, and then gone to Congress a few weeks or a month later to get permanent authorization for a change in the law, I'd probably have no problem with it.

Are you stoned? What other conclusion can I reach when an otherwise reasonable person says he he "probably [would] have had not problem with" the president asking Congress to do away with the Bill of Rights indefinitely.

Sorry - that's just plain crazy. And neither you nor Jonah has offered a reason why FISA is insufficient (as about a million people have pointed out, the law allows you to ask for warrants retroactively, so "time is of the essence" really doesn't pull any weight here).

Posted by: chuck on December 21, 2005 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Look. Illegal or not. Would you admit that you have insufficient votes for impeachment?

Glad to finally see a principled argument on this thread....

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 21, 2005 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Could we all give up being shills for the "war on terrorism". Not having national medical insurance, bad prescriptions, industrial accidents, drunk driving, toxics in the water are gonna kill millions more Americans than "terrorism". For god's sakes, can't we grow up and focus on reality. Or, do all of you believe in virgin birth too?

Why are supposedly intelligent people allowing themselves to be dragged by the nose the way the neocons and teh religious nutcases want them dragged.

Posted by: christine on December 21, 2005 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

pleeze!

there may be conservative commentators worth quoting on this blog, but jonah licianne goldberg is not in this list.

please don't diminish your blog by mentioning that idiot's name.

Posted by: lib on December 21, 2005 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

If a "wartime" president has superconstitutional powers then can he on re-nomination in 2008 overrule the two term amendment and effectly declare himself "president for life".

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on December 21, 2005 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

All speculation on his intent.
Posted by: McAristotle on December 21, 2005 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Which is all we CAN do, because Bush never lets the facts out. He keeps everything classified, secret, and uses executive privilege every chance he can, to make sure that everyone has to take him at his word that he has the best intentions.

Yet, everything we DO know about him says otherwise. We know that he's willing to cover for his staffers when they out CIA agents in order to silence a critic through character assassination. So why should we trust him? If all we can do is speculate, based on what we know - and if he's not going to release any facts that prove otherwise, then frankly, trusting his "good intentions" is not a viable option for rational, intelligent human beings.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

there may be conservative commentators worth quoting on this blog, but jonah licianne goldberg is not in this list.

Agreed. Lucianne's crotchfruit should be chained in a corner of the pub and occasionally made to dance for our pleasure.

Actually, that's what he's doing already, but I feel he should be made to KNOW that he's doing it.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on December 21, 2005 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

I've been waiting for a conservative to make a reasonable argument ... and Jonah Goldberg has done it

Does. Not. Compute.

Posted by: Gregory on December 21, 2005 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum spent a year obsessing about a leak to the media about Valerie Plame.

Here we have a leak of classified intelligence information that might have damaged national security - and Kevin Drum doesn't care. Beyond some angle that might damage the president, that is. Any mention that this leak might have damaged our national security? No.

Kevin Drum has lost all credibility on national security, folks.

Posted by: GOPGregory on December 21, 2005 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK
I think that's exactly right. ….—Kevin Drum
How easily you give up the Constitution, the same Constitution that 10's of thousands of Americans died to protect and uphold.

During the attacks of 9-11, Bush ran and hid like a scared rabbit. On returning, as Richard Clarke testified, he wanted to link the attack to Iraq.

We know from the PNAC neo-cons, since 1997, where seeking an opportunity to use to convince the American people to sanction that attack,

One alarming point is the they note, before 9/11, is that the process of transformation to global dominance "is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." PNAC needed an attack on American soil and a subsequent war in order to enact their vision.

This PNAC group was led by such heavy hitters as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, James Woolsey, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, and James Bolton, among others, all of whom held important positions in the Bush administration.

We also know that the Bush Administration did absolutely nothing to prevent the attack despite people running around with "their hair on fire," demanding action.

We also know from the lawsuit that Larry Klaymen filed against Cheney's energy policy meetings that they had a map of Iraq's oil fields in their records.

These people were prepared, better than most, to use such an attack for the furtherance of their plans. Nothing and no one was allowed to stand in their way.

…Would you admit that you have insufficient votes for impeachment?Posted by: McAristotle
It is a given that Republicans value Party, Power, and Politics above law and their country.
…The Democrats are going to shoot their own foot off if they look like they're crippling domestic security. Posted by: tbrosz
It is Bush and the Republican congress that has refused to act on the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission Report.
All speculation on his intent. Posted by: McAristotle
Subsequent actions prove original intent. Posted by: Mike on December 21, 2005 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think that everyone is missing the point. Jonah Goldberg and his sycophants notwithstanding, there is no justification possible for this violation of the First Amendment, but it seems obvious how it came about, why it was secret and why the Bush mob couldn't take it to court.

The NSA has the capability to monitor every aspect of the data-stream that it can touch, and they do. They look at all email, telephone conversations, and faxes. High-speed computers look for key words, phrases, or voiceprints, and then pay attention to data that include them.

After the fact, they know who is speaking to whom about what, but only by sampling all the traffic, innocent and culpable alike. Obviously this technique works great, which is why they love it, but it the equivalent of searching everyone and arresting those who have contraband, a complete contradiction of the First Amendment.

You can't use "after the fact" justifications in a court; Bush et al have already been smacked down on that one. You have to have a reason for tapping the line in the first place, and you even have a three-day window after the fact to figure out a reason that you can sell to the rubber-stamp FISA court. You need a really good reason to ignore a law that flexible and a court that cooperative, and they had one. The real reason, i.e. that they are looking at everybody and cherry-picking the conversations that interest them, won't stand up in court, even one as compliant as the FISA oversight.

So they did it anyway and tried to keep it secret, because they knew they were breaking the law of the land, and Jonah Goldberg is so full of shit that the price of shit is going up because he has cornered the market.

Posted by: Repack Rider on December 21, 2005 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: The Democrats are going to shoot their own foot off if they look like they're crippling domestic security.

And what will make it look like they're crippling domestic security? Criticizing Bush in any way?

An effective criticism is reasonable, accomodating of the circumstances, and damning. The Drum Doctrine (has a nice ring, don't you think) is dead on here. Would that look like "crippling domestic security"?

Posted by: alex on December 21, 2005 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

I have it on the authority of my master that there is no technology which can identify terrorists with any reasonable accuracy by going through millions of conversations and emails everyday.

If anyone claims to have such a technology he is lying. By definition, any such purported technology is worth anything only if you are willing to accept very high false alarm rates, which, in this case, would mean the destruction of lives of many many honest and innocent americans and their families, not to mention the end of the beautiful idea known as america.

Posted by: vapnik's cat on December 21, 2005 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK
"Under attack" describes 9/11, and the president had every reason to suppose that those attacks might continue. If Bush had ordered the NSA to broaden its mandate immediately, and then gone to Congress a few weeks or a month later to get permanent authorization for a change in the law, I'd probably have no problem with it.

FISA gives the President 15 calendar days of essentially unfettered search authority in the event of declared war; its almost certain that there would be no substantial challenge to the President were he to use such authority in the event of an actual attack while a declaration of war was pending in Congress. The 15 calendar day provision allows the President to seek more lasting modifications -- temporary or permanent -- to the FISA requirements tailored to the particular needs of the immediate war, if necessary.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 21, 2005 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

vapnik's cat: authority of my master

You're a fake - no cat has a master.

Posted by: alex on December 21, 2005 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't the warrants issued for specific individuals and numbers?

Since they are secret, its pretty hard to say what they specify. The legal requirements neither specify a limitation to specific names or numbers.

Is the technology in use in this program such that it involes chains of phones or locations that are not individually identifiable.

I've read FISA, and nothing in it seems to prohibit issuing warrants that would target communication channels in this way, and I've seen no coherent argument that anything in it would do so.

Wouldn't that circumstance require a blanket warrant or something so broad as not to fit into the FISA criteria?

No, not if there was a personal or organizational target of the tapping of the channel and there was reasonable ground to believe that target was a "foreign power" as defined in FISA and there were reasonable minimization procedures to prevent gathering extraneous information unrelated to that target.

See 50 USC § 1804 and § 1805.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 21, 2005 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK
Obviously this technique works great, which is why they love it, but it the equivalent of searching everyone and arresting those who have contraband, a complete contradiction of the First Amendment.

Fourth Amendment, actually.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 21, 2005 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Both Democrats and Republicans knew this was going on, they gave it tacit approval, and it no doubt kept us safer than if the President did not authorize these efforts.

Now do you get it? - Norman

What I get, Norman, is that you have no evidence that it did indeed keep us any safer. This spying was classified and you did not have access to any of the results, you can't get them now, and the only people that can are unable to tell us ANYTHING about the program. So no doubt you are just talking out of your ass.

IF it can be proved that both Democrats and Republicans gave it TACIT approval (Meaning of tacit (adjective) - not voiced or expressed; communicated wordlessly) then he is a bigger idiot than I could have imagined. He should have held out for spoken and/or written approval because a wink and a nod won't hold any water in a courtroom. He may as well have imagined approval, and for all we know that is all president super secret secret squirrel has! How do we know? It's a secret.

Now if there are any provable links, ones that are real and can be seen, then any Democrat or Republican douchebag that ACTUALLY approved the spying should be planning on their impeachment right behind Bush and Cheney!

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on December 21, 2005 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly it's wrong. Period. End of story. Against the law. I'm sorry, 9/11 was bad but on the other hand it wasn't like thousand of foreign troops were storming the beaches. I'm totally sick of 9/11 getting blown out of proportion. A nation of laws, not of men.

Posted by: padcrasher on December 21, 2005 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

So they did it anyway and tried to keep it secret, because they knew they were breaking the law of the land, and Jonah Goldberg is so full of shit that the price of shit is going up because he has cornered the market.

Posted by: Repack Rider

You can't possibly be that stupid! They kept it a secret so the bad guys would not know what we are doing to intercept them. Also they apparently don't think they are breaking the law. Pretty basic stuff even for a rabid lefty. I love it!

Posted by: Fat White Guy on December 21, 2005 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah's argument is only reasonable on the surface. The reality is that we had more than sufficient capabilities to handle the crisis pre-9-11. The administration chose to ignore those capabilities, and tune out the professionals of various agencies that could have helped them use them effectively. Infact they actively dismantled everyone and everything that was in the way of their pre-planned decision sequence.

There's alot the president could have done, but the reality is he did nothing admirable and fought viciously for his right to do the wrong thing, oover and over again. It's past time for excuses or justifications. Team Bush got their pass in 2003 (to go to war) and then again in 2004 (abu ghraib). Enough is Enough.

We don't need any more Larry Wilkersons and Richard Clarkes to tell us that things are SERIOUSLY wrong inside the highest levels of this administration. It's time to fix what should have been fixed and put the adults back in charge of government. These guys are demonstratably dangerous to both the rule of law and the safety of the republic.

Kevin you're wasting your time trying to rationalize a post-modernistic decision making framework. When attempting this type of projection all you succeed in doing is giving yourself a mental framework which the administration spin doctors will use to cage you. It's exactly this process of trying to create an intellectual defence for the adversary that hamstrings democrats when they try to defend themselves.

Let Team Bush come up with the reasons they did this, don't do it for them. Jonah is just part of the right wing echo chamber, he is rearranging words in a frantic attempt to come up with a combination that will cool the angry heat of the left. He doesn't care about meaning or logic or anything else a rational argument would offer. He's just rolling dice. Don't mistake this for rational discourse.

Posted by: patience on December 21, 2005 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

We watch the birth of the next Republican talking point, courtesy of Kevin Drum:

At first, despite the FISA court, it wasn't illegal.

The GOP now only needs to revise and extend: Even the liberal Kevin Drum admits this wasn't illegal. How can it BECOME illegal without an act of COngress?

Good move, Kevin.

Foot feeling any better?

Posted by: sixteenwords on December 21, 2005 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK
I've been waiting for a conservative to make a reasonable argument about President Bush's secret spying program that isn't just a regurgitation of the usual fatuous talking points (Clinton did it too, the constitution allows the president to do anything he wants, etc.), and Jonah Goldberg has done it:

No, Jonah has made a coherent argument for why the President should have sought an explicit declaration of war, utilized the FISA powers available at the outset of declared war, and, if necessary, sought further, though probably temporary and narrow in purpose, authorization for expanded searches for Congress. He has provided no coherent argument for the persistent, ongoing illegal searches. Nor has even tried to. He admits that the Administration should have, whatever the emergency need at the outset, found a way to "reinsert" the rule of law into the process. (Though, how minor he treats this fundamental element of popular sovereignty -- that the government is limited by law in its actions -- is typical of the authoritarian conservatives in power now.)

His suggestion that the Democratic minority would have -- indeed, could have -- prevented the majority from creating the appropriate legal strictures is also fairly typical of the Right's incessant habit of pretending the Democratic Party, despite controlling none of the three branches of government, somehow control everything except the actions of the Administration.

Jonah's argument is essentially that the President wrongly failed to obey his oath to the Constitution, because he was afraid of the elected representatives of the people, but the people will forgive him because he had good intention, so he will escape accountability.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 21, 2005 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Kevin Drum,

Hopefully, I can show you why Jonah Goldberg is completely wrong. There is no case to make that the current crisis was necessary, nor was there a case to make immediately after 9/11.

In the 24 hours after 9/11, the US military arrested hundreds of known al Qaeda members all over the world. Many were arrested in the Balkans and in the Middle East. Except for Afghanistan, virtually every al Qaeda member throughout the world was 'rolled up.' In particular, during the arrests in the Balkans, US troops earned the eternal goodwill of the local population by removing the bad guys and destroying their homes.

Just to go a little deeper into the whole story, I would encourage you and other people to get to know LTG Hayden a little better. He is the man who served as DIRNSA through a large part of the transformation of that agency into what it is now.

In the wake of 9/11 and also during the Iraq war, Hayden had broad powers to realign the collection capability of NSA and move large sums of money around. At the time of both events, he was under the SEC DEF and the Director of CIA but had wide latitude to move the agency in various directions. As the technology has involved, so did NSA. This means cell phones, wireless internet connections, large fixed wireless access networks, Third Generation cellular networks, VOIP--all of it. Everything in use to communicate with is in their wheelhouse, even those cheap little radios you buy at sporting goods stores that only have a range of a few hundred yards.

Hayden was DIRNSA during the entire dot com bubble, the expansion of the Internet from what it was in the late 1990s through the current period. Add to that the understanding that he is Negroponte's number two man right now.

Jonah Goldberg's assertion that the government wasn't speedy is ludicrous--LTG Hayden stayed on top of the trends and kept the agency moving. He severed legacy programs and threw out hundreds of dead wood employees, from the civilian through the contractor and military ranks. He survived as long as he did in that position because he was ahead of the trends and focused on good intel collection. I tried to make this case earlier about encryption, about so-called secure communication methods--this government simply buys the stuff, secures the code in order to decrypt it, and files it away. There is no need to spend years trying to find the key to a 128 bit encrypted message--the creator and the vendor sold the government the key before the product hit the market.

To say that the government wasn't able to keep up is to say that our intelligence apparatus was incompetent. It wasn't. It was being transformed, it was ahead of most technological developments but it found itself undermanned--that's why NSA intercepts that might have prevented 9/11 went without translation and processing.

Guess where LTG Hayden moved vast sums of money...people. The number of contractors employed by this government has exploded.

There is no reason to give Bush a pass on failing to obtain the FISA warrants. They were collecting on US persons for political gain, not to defend this country. They need to put John Bolton under oath or give him immununity and get him to explain what US persons were being collected on and why was he given unfettered access to the intercepts.

Again, there is no reason to give Jonah Goldberg the benefit of the doubt. He has not made his case.

Posted by: Pale Rider on December 21, 2005 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Not enough votes now for impeachment? Most likely not.

But this has not played itself out. Congress will look into this. They will grudgingly come to the conclusion that this is illegal. They will grudgingly tell Bush to stop. Being the stubborn ignaramous he is, he will blow them off. The illegality of this will be apparent to most Americans. It will turn into a battle between the two Branches. Then just then he may get impeached.

Posted by: padcrasher on December 21, 2005 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

That Jonah Goldberg is so dreamy. A tip o' my fedora to that pudgy little cutie pie. I wish my little blue dress would get soiled by that studhorse. Ooooh....

By the way, I am so jealous of Sir Elton and his bitch. Why can't I take it in the cheeks from old Reg Dwight? Yum-yum.

Matt

Posted by: Matt Drudge on December 21, 2005 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

They kept it a secret so the bad guys would not know what we are doing to intercept them.
Posted by: Fat White Guy on December 21, 2005 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Now who's speculating? You have ZERO idea of the legal or technical requirements and ramifications of this program. Nor do you have a shred of insight into what terrorists do or do not suspect. You are taking Bush at his word that these facts are true - with absolutely zero proof.

Also they apparently don't think they are breaking the law.

Yes. They apparently don't. Hitler's generals didn't think they were breaking the law either. They were just following orders.

Again, because we don't have any details of exactly what this program entails, we can't judge whether it was legal or not.

But we do know that some of the assertions made by those on the right, that Bush has absolute power to do whatever the hell he wants to defend this country are absolute bullshit. There are specific things law permits him to do. I'm interested in hearing facts about how this NSA program fits within that framework, as you seem to be claiming. But bottom line is, you don't have any more facts than any of the rest of us outside the NSA, or the Senate Intelligence committee.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Some people wonder why there hasn't been another attack in the last four years. The answer is very simple - if at first you succeed, you don't have to try again.

President Bush was right - we hate(d) you for your freedom. But on 9/11/01 we not only killed over 3000 Americans, we got an hysteria running that is destroying your freedoms.

So as long as Jonah Goldberg and his like don't start to make sense on a regular basis, we've accomplished our mission.

Posted by: OBL on December 21, 2005 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, one caveat regarding my post above:

When I said 'any Democrat or Republican douchebag that ACTUALLY approved the spying' I meant the ILLEGAL spying (American to American) that Bush authorized the NSA to engage in, not the marginally more reasonable Foreign to American spying. Anyone who follows the WMD report story knows Bush lies compulsively, so why should we believe a word he is saying now?

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on December 21, 2005 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Did Karl Rove use domestic spying to help Bush win in 04?

Lets see, 911 was four years ago, the program has been going for a while, and you don't think Karl hasn't had is eye on it for a while? Imagine the power of knowing exactly what the Dems were doing for 04? I think its all gonna unraval in the next three years. The President has lost the "Initiative" as they said in Black Hawk Down. He is never going to get off the mat and might even get Oked.

The MSM have figured out a way to help ratings, find the "next thing" on Bush.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Wait for that Abrams cat to sign.

Americans hate arrogance.

Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: The fake Fake Al on December 21, 2005 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

It was really conspicuous, and really suspicious, that they never wanted to put anything they did on any kind of statutory basis. Nor even clue in anybody in Congress.

Instead they threw out 400 pages of Patriot Act, a pile of proposals that nobody had been willing to accept before, and then somehow the entire Capitol got stampeded by the anthrax scare. Which still remains not only unsolved, but apparently forgotten.

The panic atmosphere it created is one of the most important things that contributed to this new imperial presidency. Nice bit of rat-fucking? Or just coincidence. Most likely.

You have to ask yourself what you would do in bush's shoes. Me, I *might* order this kind of intelligence sweep, but I'd be talking to a good, non-sycophant lawyer first. (Of course, as someone said up-thread, I'd be reading my PDBs as they came out.)

And then I'd bend heaven and earth to get everything I did on a statutory basis. It seems to work pretty well in places where they don't boil people.

Posted by: Altoid on December 21, 2005 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that George W. Bush is really a nine-foot alien reptile.

Posted by: Earthworm Jim on December 21, 2005 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Earthworm Jim: I believe that George W. Bush is really a nine-foot alien reptile.

As a fellow Homo Sapien I appreciate your attempt, but that implausible claim isn't going to help our species save face.

Posted by: alex on December 21, 2005 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Now who's speculating? You have ZERO idea of the legal or technical requirements and ramifications of this program. Nor do you have a shred of insight into what terrorists do or do not suspect. You are taking Bush at his word that these facts are true - with absolutely zero proof.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten

It is not speculation. It is basically what was said by the administration after the story broke. Bush was angry because revealing it told the enenmy what we were up too.

I like your typical lefty Hitler reference.

They have some precedent on their side with Clinton and Carter issueing executive orders to do basically the same thing. They also informed congress , FISA and senior NSA officials about what they were doing. Nobody was puking blood over the program and they claim that they are constantly reviewing everything that is being done. So Bush has good reason to think he is on good legal ground.

Posted by: Fat White Guy on December 21, 2005 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Guess where LTG Hayden moved vast sums of money...people. The number of contractors employed by this government has exploded.
Posted by: Pale Rider on December 21, 2005 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

I can attest to that. From what I've heard, if you live in Virginia, and have a clearance, entry-level is 80k, independent of what your skills may or may not be. Skills aren't important. Only clearance is important. Clearance is also becoming very difficult, costly, and time-consuming to get, because they have a shortage of manpower to do the investigations.


The illegality of this will be apparent to most Americans. It will turn into a battle between the two Branches. Then just then he may get impeached.
Posted by: padcrasher on December 21, 2005 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

You're dreaming. It's Party uber alles. Only when Bush is perceived as a liability to the Republican Party will impeachment even be a realistic dream. We already know he outs CIA agents. We already know he's associated with Iranian spies. We already know he trusts Saudi royals with information he wouldn't trust his own cabinet with. We already know that he puts what the oil company ceo's say at a higher priority than catching bin Laden. We already know that spending money like water on the CPA (such that 9 Billion dollars was "spilled") was more important than body armor for the troops. Party loyalty is more important to these people than that. You couldn't get him impeached if you PROVED that he sold Osama bin Laden a nuclear warhead. I've talked to some wingnuts who believe that even if Bush/PNAC had orchestrated 9/11 like the conspiracy theorists say, that it was for America's own good, because now Republican rule is cemented, and that's more important than anything we lost on 9/11. These same wingnuts even believe that maybe the Republicans DID rig the elections through Diebold - and that it was necessary to protect the country from the divisiveness of the Liberals. That's party loyalty. If you think Bush will ever get impeached, you don't understand the concept. Republicans would have to lose HUGE in '06. And it would have to be a suprise.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

i think the gravity of this as a constitutional crisis has not yet fully sunk in, but it will, it will.

at this stage, according to the bush administration, there is quite literally nothing to stop them from proceeding with this program. They believe, as Fat White Guy rather accurately noted, that it's legal.

To sue them and get it to the supreme court, you'd need someone with standing, like a victim of a lawless wiretap, but i don't know that anyone knows that they have been the victim (i don't believe we know any names, only general numbers), and even so, it would take a while, while the program continues.

The Dems can file FOIA requests for documents, but the administration will fight them, and while they'll ultimately lose, that would be some ways down the road, while the program continues.

A sense of the senate resolution could call for the program to be ended, the afghani force authorization could be rewritten, you name it, and while they go on (and even, perhaps, beyond) the program cotinues.

indeed, why would anyone believe them if they said they were stopping the program?

Bush believes that he's had his last accountability moment, the 2004 elections. He feels unconstrained: indeed, his pugnacity on this matter is remarkable. we get, for one of the rare occassions, the real bush that his handlers try so hard to hide, and you can see why: it's not a pretty site to watch the guy lie or misrepresent in his every discussion of the matter.

So there could be no way of forcing the program to stop without impeaching and convicting Bush, forcing Cheney to resign, and not allowing Hastert to take office without a pledge in writing that he will end the program and move to ammend the law as required - and i don't see that happening.

so i don't know how this plays out, to tell ya the truth, but i know that from a constitutional perspective, this could get very ugly....

Posted by: howard on December 21, 2005 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

The Clinton and Carter orders did not make the argument that the President's Constitutional powers trumped US law. There were gaps in the law back then and these orders filled void. NOW UNLIKE THEN we have a specific laws that make wiretapping Americans illegal without Judicial oversight. ....Apples and Oranges.

Posted by: padcrasher on December 21, 2005 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

oh, fat white guy, i was just going to ignore you until you babbled on at 11:05.

That is, just because George Bush is all upset doesn't mean shit. This is a guy who is making a big deal about the buy, use, and throwaway cell phone gambit as though it had just been invented, rather than a decade ago by drug dealers whom we do a reasonable job of pursuing constitutionally.

That is, no, there is no frickin' precedent in what Carter and Clinton did. This is a complete fabrication by the right-wing propaganda machine and not worthy of adult conversation.

That is, no, they didn't inform "Congress." They held a handful of thin briefings, under heavy classification, and received at least two letters expressing concerns about the program, such as they heard about it. This is not a constitutional methodology anyhow: a handful of members of congress informed well after the fact do not justify law-breaking, particularly 4th ammendment law-breaking.

That is, no, you really don't know anything other than right-wing propaganda robot talking points, do you?

Posted by: howard on December 21, 2005 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

I do not see why Kevin is impressed with the Goldberg statements. "Speed was of the essence, and the system back then was not speedy."

Somebody will have to explain to me exactly what system was not speedy enough. The whole idea, to me, looks like it was for the purpose of avoiding any kind of accountability.

I will keep my mind open. It's true we still don't "know exactly what this program entails".

However, I'm VERY skeptical based on what I know so far. If there were a good reason, my guess is that we would already have heard it.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on December 21, 2005 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

FWG: They also informed congress , FISA and senior NSA officials about what they were doing.

Congress - with rules about them not being able to say or do anything

FISA - you mean the court with the recent resignation over the news

NSA officials - that's a laugh...people that worked for the president, and even then were the ones who ultimately leaked the news because of their concerns

Posted by: tinfoil on December 21, 2005 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

That is, no, you really don't know anything other than right-wing propaganda robot talking points, do you?

Posted by: howard

Apparently you know even less. Since the hard facts are that Clinton and Carter both issued executive orders covering pretty much the same thing as Bush is doing now. If you ever read the news other the lefty talking points that you seem to eat for breakfast. You would have seen where Bush said it was wrong to leak classified info that tip of the enemy to what we were doing. So pick the shit out of your ears and pay attention. You might learn something.

Posted by: Fat White Guy on December 21, 2005 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Don't think Bush is going to come out of this undamaged. He is on the Liberatarian shit list now. These folks are prone to be big conspiracy nuts, hard core free speechers, ain't gonna get my gun kinda nuts. Not a big faction by any means but were talking a battle between 51% and 48% here.

Posted by: padcrasher on December 21, 2005 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

It is not speculation. It is basically what was said by the administration after the story broke. Bush was angry because revealing it told the enenmy what we were up too.Posted by: Fat White Guy on December 21, 2005 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah - that's what I would say too if I were him and wanted to silence critics. It's still wild speculation. Show me the proof or shut the fuck up.

They have some precedent on their side with Clinton and Carter issueing executive orders to do basically the same thing.

You're making an apples and oranges comparison. Clinton and Carter didn't have this technology. It was likely not even some hotshot computer PhD's wet dream during the Carter years.

...and they claim that they are constantly reviewing everything that is being done.

It remains to be seen if that claim can be backed up with any sort of evidence. I expect that if it's true that appropriate oversight and review is taking place, that Pelosi, and that incompetent fuckup Rockefeller, will quietly drop this, or at least (I would hope) they would do the decent thing, and come forward and say that they now have information that reassures them that this program is legitimate and that rights are being protected.

If they don't, Bush has every opportunity to selectively declassify whatever the hell he wants to, if he needs to justify it. But that's not Bush's style. He'd rather cause controversey by asserting unchallengable authority. Which is not constructive, and is dividing this nation, and doing more harm than good to our efforts in the War on Terror.


So Bush has good reason to think he is on good legal ground.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Fourth Amendment. Of course.

Posted by: Repack Rider on December 21, 2005 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

... Since the hard facts are that Clinton and Carter...blah blah blah...
Posted by: Fat White Guy on December 21, 2005 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's already been explained here and elsewhere that this talking point is not valid. Yet you persist in using it. Focus! Jeez what a dumb fat fuck you are.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 21, 2005 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

If a "wartime" president has superconstitutional powers then can he on re-nomination in 2008 overrule the two term amendment and effectly declare himself "president for life".

And I think it's only 2-1 against that he will do just this.

The Democrats are going to shoot their own foot off if they look like they're crippling domestic security.

Sadly, there's probably something to this. The single point of agreement I have with my libertarian uncle (a real libertarian, not the tbrosz ersatz kind) is that for at least a generation, Americans have been willing to give up a little bit of freedom each day for the illusion of more security. This is a frightened, panicky country, and in that sense Bush is a great representative of the Great Unwashed - clueless and afraid of the dark.

It is telling, as others have pointed out, that the populations furthest from any real chance of any terrorist action voted for Bush, while those actually at risk voted overwhelmingly against him. People living in real life get it, and want Bush gone. People living a frightened fantasy life want to cling to the illusion that if we just lock everything down, we'll be safe. We won't be, and we won't be free either.

Posted by: craigie on December 21, 2005 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

"He's our president, not our king"

You silly, silly man...

Posted by: clyde tolson on December 22, 2005 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK
To sue them and get it to the supreme court, you'd need someone with standing, like a victim of a lawless wiretap, but i don't know that anyone knows that they have been the victim (i don't believe we know any names, only general numbers), and even so, it would take a while, while the program continues.

Its fairly well accepted that Congress as a body can sue the President over something like this and would have standing. Of course, if Congress gets upset enough to do that, they are just as likely to impeach first.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 22, 2005 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

"it became clear this war was going to be a marathon"

marathon hell...this administration is rewriting the first & second laws of thermodynamics with this *war*...the second law was always pure junk science fuzzy mathimacation...

Posted by: clyde tolson on December 22, 2005 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

As certain Bushites are claiming and as Derilict notes, if the US President "does have the power to do anything he wants" then the US President has the power to get blowjobs in the Oval Office and lie about it aftwards.

Posted by: Carl Jarrett on December 22, 2005 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

I second the blowjob motion...especially if it's miss beazley in a blue dress.

Posted by: clyde tolson on December 22, 2005 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

That's it. I'm running for President.

And no - with Miss Lewinsky, I would not, could not, with that woman.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 22, 2005 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

"A FISA judge will not grant the necessary authority to the executive for this kind of broad surveillance -- but it's obviously needed to keep us safe.

Why would FISA judges not comprehend that broad detection/surveillance techniques were necessary and urgent in order to protect Americans? Every conservative on the internet seems to have figured it out. Why do FISA judges hate America?

craigie: "People living a frightened fantasy life want to cling to the illusion that if we just lock everything down, we'll be safe"

An interesting point! The WOT as paranoid delusion.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 22, 2005 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, for a reasonably smart man you are being quite disingenuous.

Mr. Bush is our president not the King or dictator. 9/11 does not change that fact. Either we are a nation or laws or we are not. Mr. Joshua Marshall has a very good post on this topic and how President Jefferson felt about this issue. The constitution is the constitution even in wartime.

Posted by: ppk on December 22, 2005 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

It's worse than you think, Kevin. He's not even really our president. Al Gore is. No shit. Bush stole the 2000 election.

Posted by: The Fool on December 22, 2005 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Such gaiety. Such frivolity and wit.

Such beautiful violin music in such a warm and flickering light.

Thankyou for furthering a point I attempted to make in another topic Kevin.

The USA you hold in your hearts is an artifact of history.

The real time, real politik USA is now transformed into the embodiment of the darkest paranoid fantasies of the crudest anti-American factions on the planet.

The road back to the nation you have loved is barricaded. You don't yet have the tools to break down those barricades. Most Americans can't see the barricades and even for those that can there is no sign that enough of your countrymen and women have either the will or the desire to acquire the tools or conduct the campaign to begin to return the USA to it's former condition. If that's even possible.

You are swimming in a medium you are incapable of recognizing. Like a fish that is unaware of water.

Posted by: Banquos ghost on December 22, 2005 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

I would so love to write in the name: Osama Been Forgotten on a ballot. I'd probably be hauled off to Gitmo by the Diebold people before I exited the ballot booth...it's called Operation Diebold Exit Polling.

Posted by: clyde tolson on December 22, 2005 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

"He's our president, not our king"

Actually, not even a KING has that kind of power:
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/england.htm

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 22, 2005 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

"There's very little a president can do..."? Excuse me? What nonsense.

Posted by: baba durag on December 22, 2005 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

No one here, at least that I've been able to find, has mentioned the John Bolton/NSA intercept
fiasco during his confirmation hearings. It has been suggested that NM Governor Bill Richardson was one of the US officials of interest to Bolton. Bolton was accused of requesting NSA intercepts of several US officials. The anger that was expressed by Dem senators, it seemed to me, was more about Bolton's privileged access to NSA intercepts rather than one concerning the fact that the NSA was spying on American government officials. As we know, the administration would not release the intercepts or allow any compromise in order for senators to receive information about these intercepts. In light of the recent revelations about NSA spying, this Bolton question should be pursued further.

See for a short refresher:

The Washington Note

"Part of the problem with the NSA intercepts is that the NSA is NOT SUPPOSED to eavesdrop on domestic calls and electronic transmissions. If Bill Richardson was in fact eavesdropped on by the NSA, then this provides some concern that the NSA was monitoring Richardson's conversations with Colin Powell about the North Korea diplomatic effort. Everyone I know who has connections to the NSA world tells me that this would be extraordinary and would shatter trust in the NSA's methods and objectives.

On another front, some were speculating that Bolton's real target of interest was American Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea Jack Pritchard. There seem to have been a number of other officials who interested him as well. The issue with Pritchard, however, is that Bolton was requesting names of officials that were scrubbed out in intercept transcripts. It would have been clear to Bolton or anyone else reading the NSA reports who the official was if it was Pritchard -- so the request for a name seems either redundant or silly."

Posted by: nepeta on December 22, 2005 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

The more I read this board and others like it, the more I am reminded of the huge divide between rhetoric and truth-seeking argument, and the differences between a moral and legal ethic.

While there may be some legal foundation for Bush's call to spy on civilians, that doesn't make it right or just. In my view, it does more harm than good. The weaselly sometimes-but-not arguments disseminating the torture of human beings is a horrible illustration. No: torture is always wrong. I'm not given to absolutes, but this really is one that I have no problem with.

Consider the death penalty. I'm against it on moral grounds, but also on logical grounds: the state can't make a logical argument that murder is wrong to support state-sanctioned murder. Its a paradox...fueled in no small part by the silly sentiment that "we are a nation of laws, not of men." We are a nation of both. And while not inviting anarchy, laws aren't perfect; they are certainly not sacrosanct. Slavery was once lawful, ditto prohibition.

Not sure if I have a point beyond an impassioned plea for reason and reason's morality. Oh and not wanting the US to become a pseudo-Stalinesque police state. Everyone desires both safety and freedom; but economics and politics (more precisely, the politics of economics) have corrupted these sentiments to something more protean...a flexible means, rather than an agreed social ends.

Posted by: Monty on December 22, 2005 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

I would so love to write in the name: Osama Been Forgotten on a ballot. I'd probably be hauled off to Gitmo by the Diebold people before I exited the ballot booth...it's called Operation Diebold Exit Polling.
Posted by: clyde tolson on December 22, 2005 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. One wonders whether Diebold ballotting records make their way into NSA databases on the way across the aether from the voting machine to the diebold collection center.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 22, 2005 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

The fact is that the resolution passed by the House and Senate gives Bush the power to monitor terrorists. Here is the resolution:

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) IN GENERAL- That 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.

In fact, I would say that the President could make a good argument for using EOs to drill in ANWR while also keeping the current Patriot Act as the law of the land. Reducing dependence on foreign oil is one way to use force against the people who caused 9/11, as the people behind 9/11 make a lot of money from Arab Oil.

Posted by: Fred Eper on December 22, 2005 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Just a small point regarding Democrats shooting themselves in the foot.

In that CNN/USA Today poll that got a lot of press recently, this question didn't get quite as much air play:

14. As you may know, shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a law called the Patriot Act was passed. That law deals with the ways the federal government can obtain private information on people living in the U.S. who are suspected of having ties with terrorists. Based on what you have read or heard, do you think the Patriot Act goes too far, is about right, or does not go far enough in restricting people's civil liberties in order to investigate suspected terrorism?

Goes too far: 30 percent

About right: 41 percent

Not far enough: 21 percent.

Interestingly, the "not far enough" is up three points since last year's poll.

Even more interestingly, compare that answer to this one:

15. Which comes closer to your view: the government should take all steps necessary to prevent additional acts of terrorism in the U.S. even if it means your basic civil liberties would be violated, (or) the government should take steps to prevent additional acts of terrorism but not if those steps would violate your basic civil liberties]?

Okay to violate civil liberties: 31 percent

Take steps without violating civil liberties: 65 percent.

What I get from this is that people in the abstract do not want their civil liberties violated, but are a bit fuzzy on the details of the actual methodology. Obviously, they don't think the Patriot Act is such a violation for the most part.

"We killed the Patriot Act" --Harry Reid

If there's a poll specifically on the NSA issue, I haven't seen it yet.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 22, 2005 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

That poll is actually rather encouraging. At least most people preferred keeping their liberties.

Posted by: bad Jim on December 22, 2005 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Eper, an energy tax or raising fuel economy standards for cars and trucks would do more to reduce our demand for oil, and faster, than drilling in ANWR, not that the oil pushers are honestly concerned about oil demand as a security issue.

Posted by: bad Jim on December 22, 2005 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, they don't think the Patriot Act is such a violation for the most part.
Posted by: tbrosz on December 22, 2005 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, those people are misinformed.

Look - for the most part, the Patriot Act is a good law, it has a lot of important provisions. It boggles my mind as to why Republicans refuse to compromise on the bad ones, thus allowing the good ones to be thrown out with the bathwater.

Kinda reminds me of their stance re: abortion. They could have long ago succeeded in banning all abortions in this country if they'd agree to exceptions to cover rape, incest, and to protect the health of the mother. But they won't compromise - so even when they've got absolute control of all three branches, they still can't get a ban fired up.

One wonders at how the Dems ended up with the Donkey as their mascott.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 22, 2005 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Wiretaps according to Bush.....

Link

Posted by: Costanza on December 22, 2005 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Howard and Osama_Been_Forgotten,

I hate that you're right. On everything that you've been saying.

There are two points that I don't think you're aware of:

FISA Judge Robertson indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been used to obtain FISA warrants. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who had been briefed on the spying program by the administration, raised the same concern in 2004 and insisted that the Justice Department certify in writing that it was not occurring.
"They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants - to kind of cleanse the information," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. "What I've heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin court."

Despite Bush's assurances that no solely domestic taps occurred (and a secret audit last year concurred), apparently domestic taps did take place (mistakenly, they now say), so so much for the audit.

Oh, and fat boy? Clinton and Carter didn't spy on Americans, and the proof (for you; I only need the law to know it) is that if Clinton and Carter had? Bush, Cheney, Scott McClellan and everybody from inside that White Building would be buttonholing reporters and saying "Clinton and Carter did it."

Read the law for yourself, read some commentary. Or don't:
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/usc_sec_50_00001822----000-.html
ttp://thinkprogress.org/2005/12/21/york-clinging/

Posted by: Jean on December 22, 2005 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

What I get from this is that people in the abstract do not want their civil liberties violated, but are a bit fuzzy on the details of the actual methodology. Obviously, they don't think the Patriot Act is such a violation for the most part.

Unfortunately, what I get from this is that people are inconsistent and badly informed. These are presumably the same people who want more free money from the government and want their taxes to go down. Or who think Congress sucks but their guy is just fine.

Posted by: craigie on December 22, 2005 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

There are two points that I don't think you're aware of:

This is what I don't get - what Judge Robertson and Judge Kollar-Kotelly seem to be saying, is that the NSA wiretaps led to FISA warrants.

I keep trying to wrack my brains to imagine a scenario where such a thing would be operationally necessary. I keep falling back on what the limits of automated processing must be, and every time, I conclude; no way.

Unless they're doing mulit-stage automated selection, to narrow down the material they have to search with successively more "expensive" (computationally) measures - starting with pen-register/header information, to narrow down to transmittors and recipients who are on a watchlist (presumably without probable cause - if they had probable cause, they could get a FISA warrant). It sounds like they get these watchlists from captured cell phones, computers, hell, they could probably cull email address-lists from Internet Service Providers, or from MS Outlook using a trojan macro virus. Then their machine probably records everything in that channel (probably the best method of eliminating unwanted volume) then looks at the content of the messages, and uses some method of determining whether this content is of interest. Does it cross-reference it with other information? Suspicious financial records linked to the identity in the pen-register? (since McVeigh, any terrorist would have to be fucking stupid to be mass-purchasing fertilizer with a credit card). Maybe some kind of pattern-recognition is used for certain words, or even patterns of language that indicate use of code-words, or voice-stress analysis for phone conversations, signal processing to do ID matches for voices of known terrorists against recorded samples - Then, when the computer has flagged channels of interest and narrowed things down, or maybe there's even a human element at this stage, they take that to get a FISA warrant, either for more close analysis - or, what it seems Robertson and Kollar-Kotelly suspect, to legitimize the surveillance. Perhaps this stage, computationally, takes longer than 72 hours, and perhaps it's being done in a volume (tens of thousands of channels) that makes it impractical to take in front of the court - or perhaps their false-positive rate is so high, they're either too embarrassed to make it public, or they don't want to bog down the FISA court with all these requests for what turn out to be false-positives.

In any of these cases, I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask for modification to FISA to permit such a system to be used.

Unless (and we keep coming back to this) they're afraid that the information will be politically embarrassing; or they believe that some FISA judges are in league with terrorists.

I'm getting to the point where I've got my technical concerns separated from my political concerns - and I'm definately concerned at the way righties are selling this whole deal. Bush hasn't made the case to justify this program at all, aside from a blind authoritarian standpoint. And it's really crap. The American People deserve better than this. These excuses just don't wash.

Maybe there's a technical scenario that I'm not imagining yet. Maybe that scenario is based on information that, if known by the public, would create a vulnerabiliy, or expose a countermeasure (as if a countermeasure isn't already obvious: don't use any electronic communications).

But it seems that if Bush wanted to erase all the doubts about it in our minds, he could give us an excuse other than "because I said so". Either he (and his appointees) is not skilled enough to do so, or there is a reason for it - it could be Political (typical Rovian plot: get the Liberals spun up, then lambast them on FoxNews for being "shrill"), and it could be technical. But nobody's making the technical case.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on December 22, 2005 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

It is not speculation. It is basically what was said by the administration after the story broke.

Do you remember any claims made about WMD in Iraq?

Considering the administration's track record of being wrong in every single claim they have made, how many times in a row would they have to lie to you before you asked for confirmation?

Posted by: Repack Rider on December 22, 2005 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

"
There's very little an American president can't do when there's an immediate crisis. But as it became clear this war was going to be a marathon instead of a sprint, Bush should have figured out how to reinsert the rule of law into the process.
"

Funny how Bush's excuse, trumpeted to the skies by his admirers, was that the reason his handling of Katrina was such a botchup was because he was hamstrung by laws and regulations. This line of argument (he's a great man who cuts through red tape when necessary to save his nation) would be a whole lot more convincing if he had done something, anything, useful when a slightly different crisis, one that didn't immediately lend itself to a massive power grab, arose.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on December 22, 2005 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Good point. But maybe even now they are wiretapping the ex-residents of New Orleans, trying to find the bastards that started the hurricane.

Posted by: craigie on December 22, 2005 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

He does NOT like to call himself a "wartime president" Too many sylables. Listen to recordings of him. He always says he's a "war presdent". When he says it he has that self-satified punk look to him, like he should be wearing a general's hat or something. It's "war presdent". As in a president that makes war and that's about it. He's very proud if that. Punk bastard.

Posted by: nameless bob on December 22, 2005 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

Goldberg is only correct in that there was a sense of urgency in the days after 9/11.

The rest of this is a bunch of crap. Kevin, your teaser is brutal... you actually made me read another Goldberg column.

Nice of him to bring up the anthrax attacks... too bad he doesn't seem to give a damn that no one has ever been brought to justice for them.

Michael Moore? Barbara Streisand? Screw you, Goldberg.

"...indistinguishable from the stance taken by the Clinton administration?" Kevin, I thought you said there wasn't any of this crap in there.

"...publicity voluptuary John Dean?" Nothing is more annoying than people who get paid to tell everybody what they think, complaining about people who talk about what they think.

People who are enraged by what the administration has done will only look soft on terror if they allow the debate to be framed in that dishonest way. Let's spend less time discussing the hackery of Goldberg and more on the right way to keep us safe.

Posted by: DB on December 22, 2005 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

All of you - both liberal and conservative are so wrapped up in FISA, Fourth Amendment,
Section 1802 you are overlooking the obvious. Section 2 of the XXVIII Amendment. Originally proposed March 31, 1981 Ratified September 18, 2001 in camera


SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF DOUCHEBAGGERY IN FIGHTING THE WAR ON THE BELIEVES OF DOROTHY DAY AND OTHER UN-AMERICANS

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate douchebaggery in all its forms and devices against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the opposition to His glorious revolution that began January 20, 1981 and resumed once the supplicant put down the book and changed his wears on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of informed citizenship, peaceful protest or democratic activism against our Pater Patriae, the Chosen Few and their charges the United Sheeple by such nations, organizations or persons.

Inter arma silent leges

Posted by: Deus vult on December 22, 2005 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

Way to bury the lede, Kevin. First you say Goldberg has a reasonable argument justifying Bush's secret and illegal spying, then you conclude that Bush's secret and illegal spying was still wrong and illegal. What kind of justification is that?

If the situation was so urgent that al Qaeda had to be tracked down immediately after 9/11, even if FISA would not have approved, a reasonable argument would present evidence that FISA actually would turn down spying on al Qaeda. Neither you nor Goldberg present such evidence.

Question: why was al Qaeda not actually rolled up, if this was useful activity? Question: what ever happened to the anthrax case, if it was such a big deal? Question: what do PETA and the Catholic church have to do with al Qaeda?

All the evidence suggests that Bush used 9/11 as an excuse to spy on domestic critics of his administration. Your and Jonah's excuse doesn't address that, and can't possibly justify it.

Posted by: derek on December 22, 2005 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing: if illegal spying was necessary, then, by the definition of "necessary", that means unacceptable consequences would spring from either the failure to illegally spy, or the failure of the illegal spying to achieve its aims.

1) If it succeeded, where is the evidence that it succeeded?

2) If it failed, what were the unacceptable consequences that followed from that failure?

If no unacceptable consequences followed, then it was not necessary.

Posted by: derek on December 22, 2005 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush, please remember that we are a nation of laws and that, you too, are subject to those laws.

Posted by: slanted tom on December 22, 2005 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, what I get from this is that people are inconsistent and badly informed. These are presumably the same people who want more free money from the government and want their taxes to go down. Or who think Congress sucks but their guy is just fine.

Posted by: Wolf on December 22, 2005 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

If the situation was so urgent that al Qaeda had to be tracked down immediately after 9/11, even if FISA would not have approved, a reasonable argument would present evidence that FISA actually would turn down spying on al Qaeda. Neither you nor Goldberg present such evidence.

Posted by: bernard on December 22, 2005 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

KD:But like it or not, once the initial emergency was past he no longer had the authority to act unilaterally.

no, no, no, no, no,
didn't they tell you this yet? the initial emergency is NOT past, it WILL NEVER be past. the fact that the reps get to use (variously) "no attacks since 9/11" or "no attacks on American soil in 4 yrs" when it's to their advantage is completely utterly beside the point. didn't they forcefeed you the koolaid yet?

two diametrically opposed arguments being held in their pretty little heads at the same time, there is always an emergency, therefore the Presnits power should be unchecked, & no attacks in however long so the Preznitts power should be unchecked.

gettit gottit good!

Posted by: e1 on December 22, 2005 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

papgeno writes: The majority opinion seems to be that Congress would have given him the authority he wanted, but he was more afraid of leaks than of breaking the law.


majority of what? dishonest wing nuts?

so its your theory that if you keep saying this enough.....it'll be true?

as i pointed out to you yesterday...


Baker and Charles Babington wrote in Tuesday's Washington Post:

" 'This is not a backdoor approach,' Gonzales said at the White House. 'We believe Congress has authorized this kind of surveillance.' He acknowledged that the administration discussed introducing legislation explicitly permitting such domestic spying but decided against it because it 'would be difficult, if not impossible' to pass."


one more time....

He (the attorney general of the united states) acknowledged that the administration discussed introducing legislation explicitly permitting such domestic spying but decided against it because it 'would be difficult, if not impossible' to pass."

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on December 22, 2005 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK
It's "war presdent". As in a president that makes war and that's about it.

Right. In fact, his longer explanation is "I'm a war president. I make decisions with war on my mind."

Posted by: cmdicely on December 22, 2005 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK
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.
The Slippery Slope.

I wouldn't surprised if the Bush Administartion leaked this story itself. These people know how to soften up the public for new, more drastic measures. Forgotten now is how controversial FISA was when originally proposed. In order to placate dissenters, 'safeguards' were implemented. Now, from Aldrich Ames to al-Qaeda, the restraints are being loosened or abolished altogether. What emerges is a dim - maybe not so dim - outline of a fundamentally different constitutional system than the one we've had. This isn't about fine-tuning a necessary measure, it's about how liberties, once ceded, not only are never gotten back but inevitably embolden authoritarians to embellish their works. At the bottom of this particular slope lies the debris of the Fourth Amendment.

Read.

Posted by: adios on December 22, 2005 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I am not buying this argument.
If we grant his claim that "speed was of the essense", he can only justify the initial spying in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. But the spying continued for years, how is this justified? For by then, the admin. should have procedures in place to streamline such requests.

Posted by: CSR on December 22, 2005 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK


and.....

did bush begin an investigation of the leak to the nyt about the wire taps...

before the story became public this year...

or has he been waiting since the nyt told him they had the story more than a year ago?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on December 22, 2005 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

adult personals
adult personals and adult singles top choice

free adult personals
free adult personals, adult singles and

adult chat rooms

adult dating
adult dating for adult personals and adult singles

free adult dating
free adult dating with free adult web cam and

free adult chat - adult dating free

adult swingers
adult swingers and adult personals use this free

adult web cam and adult chat

free adult swingers
free adult swingers, free adult personals -

adult sex dating

adult chat
adult chat and free adult dating for adult

personals

free adult chat
free adult chat and free adult web cam

adult friend
adult friend and adult personals free adult

dating

adult web cam
adult web cam and free adult chat for sex

personals

adult finder
adult finder for adult personals

free adult web cam
free adult web cam and free adult chat

adult dating service
free adult dating service with free adult

chat

sex dating
sex dating for adult personals and erotic adult

personals

adult sex dating
adult sex dating for adult personals and adult

singles

adult singles
adult singles for adult sex dating

sex adult dating
sex adult dating, adult singles site

adult dating service
adult dating service, sex adult dating

adult models directory
top adult models free directory

adult friend finder
find adult friend for free

adult finder
adults find friends for free!

adult chat
best adult chat available here

best porn stars
best and most famous porn stars

adult dating
top adult dating site

adult dating chat
adult dating chat - any adult welcome!

adult sex dating
adult sex dating portal

free adult dating
free adult dating available here

adult dating online
adult dating online best choice

adult dating personals
find adult dating personals here

adult dating site
best adult dating site

adult xxx dating
adult xxx dating available here

adult singles dating
adult singles dating top site

porn star gallery
most famous porn stars free gallerys

porn star gals
best porn star free gals

famous porn stars
most famous porn stars free photos

katie morgan porn star
porn star Katie Morgan

Free photos

porn stars
porn stars and adult models free photos

free porn stars
free porn stars listings and galleries

top porn stars
top porn stars free listings

online dating service
free online dating

service

dating services
free dating services, online

personals

single dating
singles dating online

christian dating
christians dating

services free

christian dating service

dating service for christians

christian dating services
dating services

for christians

free online dating
free online dating services

online dating Louisville
Louisville online

dating

hispanic dating service
hispanic dating

services

dating lexington online
dating lexington

online singles and personals

Posted by: adult personals on December 24, 2005 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

To qualify for a credit card you must be at least 18 years old and have a regular
source of income. Despite invitations from credit
card issuers
, you will still have to demonstrate that you are a good risk
before they grant you credit.
The proof is in your credit report. Before you submit a credit
card application
, you may want to obtain a copy of your credit
report
to make sure it is accurate. Credit
cards by type
could be following:

0% Intro & Low APR credit cards
- 0% Intro & Low APR credit cards
,

Rewards credit cards
- Rewards credit cards ,

Instant Approval credit cards
- Instant Approval credit cards,

Airline Miles Cards
- Airline Miles Cards,

Business Credit Cards
- Business Credit Cards,

Gas Credit Cards
- Gas Credit Cards,

Student Credit Cards
- Student Credit Cards ,

Low Interest Credit Cards
- Low Interest Credit Cards, ,

American Express credit cards
,

Bank Of America credit cards
- Bank Of America credit cards,

Chase credit cards
- Chase Manhattan credit cards,

CitiBank credit cards
- Citibank credit cards

Columbus Bank credit cards
- Columbus Bank credit cards,

Discover credit cards
- discover credit cards

HSBC Bank credit cards
,

New Millennium Bank credit cards
- Millennium Bank credit cards, and

U.S. Bank credit cards

Calculator
Mortgage
- calculator free mortgage, calculator mortgage rate

Mortgage
Calculator
calculator interest mortgage, mortgage interest calculator, calculator
mortgage
.

Read more about personal
finance
, earnings,
stock
markets
and economy
at online business news. credit cards
offers
. credit cards, rewards
credit cards


Visa credit cards visa credit
cards

Visa gift card visa gift card

Visa platinum visa platinum

Chase visa chase visa

Aspire visa Aspire visa

Aspire visa Card Aspire visa Card

Visa Master card Visa Master card

Royal bank visa Royal bank visa

Capital One Visa Capital One Visa

Prepaid Visa Prepaid Visa

Bank of America Visa Bank of America
Visa

Visa Gold Visa Gold

MBNA visa MBNA visa

Visa student credit card Visa
student credit card

Secured visa Secured visa

Visa credit card application Visa
credit card application

Bank One Visa Bank One Visa

Prepaid visa credit card Prepaid
visa credit card

Chase Visa card Chase Visa card


Worldperks Visa Worldperks Visa

Bad credit visa card Bad credit
visa card

Visa debit card Visa debit card

Master card
Master Cards and Mastercards best offers

Chase master card
Chase master cards offers

Master Card gift card
Master card gif cards listings

Platinum Master Card
Platinum master card listings

Prepaid Master Card
prepaid master card offers

Citibank master card
Citibank master card offers

Master Card credit cards
Master Card credit cards top offers

Citi master card
Citi master card offers

Shell Master Card
Shell master card best offer!

Orchard bank master card
Orchard bank master card - get here!

Gold Master Card
Gold Master Card best offers

Bad Credit Master Card
Bad Credit Master Card offers

HSBC master card
HSBC master card listings

Master credit card
Master credit card listings

Posted by: master card on December 24, 2005 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly