Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 13, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NATIONAL SECURITY....John Dickerson says in Slate that the president's sudden enthusiasm for a congressional investigation into the NSA's surveillance program is probably bad for the country:

But that's precisely why George Bush wants hearings on domestic spying. He's inviting Democrats to another round of self-immolation. In 2002, the Republican Party used the debate over the Department of Homeland Security to attack Democrats in the off-year election by arguing the party was soft on terror. The president and his aides hope the NSA hearings will offer the same opportunity in 2006.

That's exactly right. Marshall Wittman, who I think is dangerously complacent about George Bush's apparent belief that he has emergency war powers forever, nonetheless provides the obvious explanation:

One can question the legal rationale that was employed by President, but there is absolutely no evidence that he was attempting to do anything else but protect America. It might be satisfying for partisans to cast around comparisons to Nixon or Harding, but this was a program to thwart terrorists not for political aggrandizement.

Politically, this is almost certainly how a majority of Americans will see it, especially after a few friendly rounds of traitor-mongering and mushroom-cloud-alarmism to soften up the crowd. What's more, there's another looming national security issue on the near horizon as well: Iran. Martin Walker lays out the issue succinctly:

The only question now is whether the world is prepared to put up with a nuclear-armed Iran, which is currently led by a religious zealot who declares publicly that the Holocaust never took place and Israel should be wiped off the map.

....If Iran, as an oil-rich sovereign state, is determined to become a nuclear power there are no obvious steps short of all-out war and occupation that could prevent it eventually from doing so. So just as the world has learned to live with the Soviet-American nuclear balance, and with the Indo-Pakistani nuclear balance, it may soon start to accept that it will probably have to live with the balance of nuclear terror between Tehran and Tel Aviv.

Sometime this summer and fall we can probably expect yet another marketing campaign from the White House, this time aimed in the direction of Iran, and before long the alternatives are going to get pretty stark: do we recommend continuing sanctions and multilateral opprobrium, or do we support air strikes? Do we "live with" Iran's nuclear program or do we do something about it? Yes or no?

All this is by way of saying that although Democrats would like the 2006 election to be about Jack Abramoff and Republican corruption, the White House still has something to say about that. George Bush is going to do his best to keep national security front and center, and Democrats had better have a more crowd-pleasing answer on this subject than they did in 2002 and 2004. Just saying.

Kevin Drum 1:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (294)

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Comments

O.K., once and for all for the record then, no investigations into the leaks of classified information?

Nope. None that I can see.

Posted by: Al on January 13, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats had better have a more crowd-pleasing answer on this subject than they did in 2002 and 2004

they won't.

Posted by: cleek on January 13, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush is going to do his best to keep national security front and center...

Looks like Iran is certainly doing its part in this too. For the record.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

But it turns out the White House OK'd NSA domestic wiretapping immediately upon taking office. 9/11 had nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Steven Jong on January 13, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hear, hear Kevin. Sage advice and it should be taken seriously by all.

Posted by: Josh on January 13, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I would be careful about anything Bushall Wittman has to say, as he is a Radical plant.

But in any case, Fitzgerald will also have some say in this. An indictement of, say, Rove and 2 or 3 top WH aides in May would change the focus of the fall campaign a bit I should think.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 13, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Two points.
1. If a majority of Americans are so cowardly that they'd let the president break the law so they'll feel better about the brown-skinned boogeyman under the bed, this country deserves its catastrophic fate.
2. There will NOT be airstrikes on Iran, not while we've got 130,000 American troops hostages to Shiite goodwill in Iraq.

Posted by: JMG on January 13, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and Wittman are exactly right: We should do nothing whatsoever to curb Bush's ever-expanding powers. No hearings, no investigations, nothing. After all, it would be a political loser.

Bush already has the following powers (and no Democrat has ever disputed them):

1. He can arrest any citizen without charges.

2. He can have any citizen held indefinitely without charges and without access to a lawyer.

3. He can have any citizen sent to a secret prison to be tortured or killed.

4. He can ignore any law passed by Congress or any order issued by any court, including the Supreme Court.

So, the only way for Democrats to win in 2006 and beyond is to simply allow Bush to spy on any citizen he wants whenever he wants without cause or warrant. After all, it is only when Bush has ALL the powers of a supreme dictator that Democrats have a prayer of winning even local elections.

Provided, of course, there actually are any more elections--this being wartime and all.

Posted by: Derelict on January 13, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Condi was all over TV this morning doing her "And the beat goes on" and "These boots were meant for stompin'" - The new movie "Thirty Seconds over Tehran" is already in the can.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 13, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Politically, this is almost certainly how a majority of Americans will see it, "

No, dummy, Americans right now see it as a power grab and unwaranted intrusion on the live of americans. they see it as big government fishing expeditions. Polls show that any sort of question framing around "should the executive be able to wire tap US citizens without enough evidence to get a warrant" strongly goes against the president. People like you who amplify the republican spin and make it appear bipartison are teh ones who are going to fuck us again.

"George Bush is going to do his best to keep national security front and center, and Democrats had better have a more crowd-pleasing answer on this subject than they did in 2002 and 2004. Just saying"

Don't you mean Kevin Drum is going to do his best to keep national security front and center? Are you going to stab us in the back again for the 2006 elections, just like you did for 2004 and the run up to the war?

Could we PLEASE get the washington monthly to get a non-bedwetting blogger, instad of leaving this forum to Kevin "I think there's a terrorist under my bed, and don't you dare tell me there isn't, now SAVE ME" Drum?

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 13, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin-- Did you read this Truthout piece titled "Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11"?:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011306Z.shtml

If Bush *came into* office skirting the constitution, even before 9/11, that's a different story, isn't it?

Posted by: Jon on January 13, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Leaders can always get their people to do their bidding, be it a democracy or a dictatorship. Just beat the drums, point out the enemy, rally people around God and Country, and off we go. In the case of Iran and Iraq, however, the Democrats had best figure out what indeed IS best for the United States. We need Democrat Hawks much like Henry Jackson (D-Senate, Washington State) to stand up and tell it like it is. The Defeatists and "peace above all" crowd that is part of the Democratic Party needs to realize that we are indeed involved in the Fourth World War, and we can win it, or we can lose it. rarely is there a draw. Iran is much more dangerous than even North Korea: Iran has decided that Persians, much like Arabs, are mortally threatened by Israel. Both of those countries have strong extremist views, and are not known to back down. Democrats in this country are not prepared for that. They will not win the 2006 midterms.

Posted by: Chris on January 13, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush is going to do his best to keep national security front and center,

Don't you mean "national insecurity"?

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Spot on. and also from The Economist January 7th 2006:

...the prospect of having to defend Mr. Bush against the charge that he went a tad too far trying to avert a terrorist attack is the sort of thing that Karl Rove salivates about.

The focus should not be on "going too far" rather the 2,000+ fallen soldiers and climbing; the budding Civil war in Iraq; and the consequent inability to to take action versus the REAL THREAT* of Iranian nuclear weaponry.

*No false intelligence this time.

That's a pretty piss-poor job of making America more secure, and Bush and his ilk should be thrown out of office.

Posted by: Jon Karak on January 13, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

It is time to give up and embrace crony capitalism before it is too late. The country has embarked on a literal scorched earth program in order to protect the hysterical American people from the boogy man. You better secure your financial freedom now, by cashing in on the Republicans' defense spending boondogles, so you can escape to Sweden or Venezuela before the doors close and we all become servants to Moloch.

Posted by: Hostile on January 13, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, I don't see anything in Kevin's post about not holding hearings. The point is that they have to make them about the rule of law, not villifying in principle wiretapping that would have passed court scrutiny had the administration bothered to follow the law (if an investigation does turn up a clear example of abuse of power, like bugging domestic opponents, that's another story entirely, of course).

Posted by: Viserys on January 13, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Polls show that any sort of question framing around "should the executive be able to wire tap US citizens without enough evidence to get a warrant" strongly goes against the president.
Depends on the wording of the question. When you start adding in "foreign calls", you get a different picture.

30. Do you think the president should or should not have the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor electronic communications of suspected terrorists without getting warrants, even if one end of the communication is in the United States?

Should: 58%
Should not: 36%
Not sure: 6%

31. In an effort to identify terrorist activity, do you think the president should or should not have the power to authorize the National Security Agency to do computer searches of large numbers of international phone calls coming in and out of the United States without getting warrants?

Should: 60%
Should not: 34%
Not sure: 7%

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 13, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest problems with the NSA wiretapping program are:

1) All the review was conducted within the administration, so if the extent of the wiretapping exceeds the narrow anti-terrorism mandate that is claimed for it, there is no independent agency in a position to put the brakes on it. Briefing (and from all the accounts we have heard so far, they were very brief briefs) the chief judge of the FISA court and the heads of the congressional intelligence committees is not the same thing as having meaningful outside oversight.

2) The entire program was conducted with a high level of secrecy, which is being maintained even now. We still don't know more than bits and pieces of exactly what the NSA was authorized to do or who ended up being targetted. Not only does this make engaging in meaningful oversight even more difficult as noted in 1), it eliminates any chance to debate whether this is a proper direction for the country to be taking. Even if it is eventually determined that the program was innappropriate or illegal or even simply worthless and it gets shut down, there is little or no remedy for the 4 years it has already been in place.

Even if it is decided that this program was appropriate and necessary, people should be concerned about the process by which it was implemented and the precedent it sets for more extensive and troubling intrusions into domestic spying.

Posted by: tanj on January 13, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares what opinion polls say? opinion polls are useless when it comes to the law, to the Constitution. opinion polls merely point out that the tyray of the majority is well established in this country.

Posted by: Chris on January 13, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Now add "in direct violation of Federal law" to those questions and see how that changes things.

Posted by: Viserys on January 13, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

The poll CN quotes from can be found here, and there's a lot of good stuff in it.

Can I assume question 30 is specific enough for you all now?

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Timid idiocy! If the Democrats continue to fold on every hand, waiting to be dealt 4 aces, they will continue to lose. They must call Bush's bluff and raise the stakes. Bush has nothing at this point but the willingness of the Democrats and the conventional media to back down and roll over. And if the Democrats lead, I believe part of the CW and the public will follow.

The Dems hold the better framing cards -- unconstitional, illegal, King George, etc. They just have to play them and not make the fatal assumption that Bush has a "national security" ace up his sleeve. Now's the time for the Dems to go all in.

Posted by: Bragan on January 13, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we have a wealth of other wrong-doing by George W. Bush to put before the American people:

- His rape of a 15 year-old girl when he was 22;
- His two decade dalliance with cocaine;
- His extramarital affair with Tammy Phillips;
- His insider trading of Harken Energy stock;
- His leveraging of government subsidy to make a killing off the Texas Rangers;
- Him going AWOL from the TANG;
- His failure to find the anthrax killer or Osama bin Laden;

Let's take out a full page ad in the USA Today and urge the media to - Bring 'em on!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 13, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care how many of my other rights they take away as long as I can still have my guns.

Posted by: Buck on January 13, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, maybe it's time we democrats just take what the GOP has given us and run with it, presidential authority outside of any law because the president can declare war and define war?

Sure. Then we can start wiretapping the dangerous radical right and dangerous religious zealots that pop up every few years and blow up a building. The republicans and conservatives are going to pissing into the wind when the democrats retake the whitehouse.

Posted by: ChrisS on January 13, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Now add "in direct violation of Federal law" to those questions and see how that changes things.

Posted by: Viserys

That would be adding a false assumption to the question. Since it is doubtful that monitoring calls from terrorists overseas to someone in the US is illegal. There is the support of executive orders from two previous administrations and court rulings. So until you lefties can overcome that you have nothing but rabid Bush hating to go on. That is one of the reasons Bush welcomes a congressional investigation. He will be vindicated and the Democrats will be shown as weakass partisans looking for political advantage at the expense of our national secrity. I love it!

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 13, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator...
Well, we have a wealth of other wrong-doing by George W. Bush to put before the American people...(stuff deleted)...Let's take out a full page ad in the USA Today and urge the media to - Bring 'em on!!!

Damn, with stuff like that, GW doesn't stand a chance of being reelected in 2008.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Now add "in direct violation of Federal law" to those questions and see how that changes things.
I don't think it's been decided that the NSA program is clearly in violation of Federal law. You might not remember the Eschelon bruhaha.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 13, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK
One can question the legal rationale that was employed by President, but there is absolutely no evidence that he was attempting to do anything else but protect America.

Really? How does Marshall Wittman know this? Without an investigation being done, how the hell does he know what evidence there is and what it will show. But, even based on the evidence publicly available now that's not true: Dick Cheney has explicitly admitted that an overwhelming motive was centralization of executive power for its own sake.

Politically, this is almost certainly how a majority of Americans will see it, especially after a few friendly rounds of traitor-mongering and mushroom-cloud-alarmism to soften up the crowd.

Well, certainly notional liberals like you pushing this spin before any investigation occurs makes this more likely, but I don't see why before we know what evidence will come out, your willing to make predictions like this about how the American public will see the process.

What's more, there's another looming national security issue on the near horizon as well: Iran.

In what specific way is Iran an issue for the security of our nation?

Sometime this summer and fall we can probably expect yet another marketing campaign from the White House, this time aimed in the direction of Iran, and before long the alternatives are going to get pretty stark: do we recommend continuing sanctions and multilateral opprobrium, or do we support air strikes? Do we "live with" Iran's nuclear program or do we do something about it? Yes or no?

Our presence in Iraq leaves us little choice but to live with it. Even were airstrikes practical, opening up any kind of war with Iran makes the loss in Iraq vastly more costly, and any military action short of nuclear annihilation that would be likely to derail Iran's nuclear ambitions -- such as invasion and occupation with wide multilateral support -- while only a distant possibility in any imaginable circumstances has been rendered completely unacheivable by our policy in Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Just freakin' tell the truth: we can't do anything about Iran because Bush screwed up Iraq. Whether or not this is portrayed as weak-kneed defeatism, I don't care. Stop with the political calculations and framing and tell the truth.

Posted by: M.A. on January 13, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Democrats had better have a more crowd-pleasing answer on this subject than they did in 2002 and 2004. Just saying.

You're just saying, eh?. But you won't say what that answer should be because, in fact, it (your answer) would be more of the same 2002 and 2004 rounds of Republican-lite regarding national security; and you know that won't please any crowds, save mocking Republicans. So, yeah, you're just saying. Just saying nothing.

The only proper course for the Democrats is to call for Bush's impeachment. They need to unify their declaration of his administration being entirely corrupt. They must not fear asserting the truth: Bush lies, he cheats, he steals, he kills. No euphemisms: not misleads, not obfuscates, not mendacious -- Bush LIES, period. For the good of the country, he must be impeached.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 13, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I feel so weary of fighting the GOP. Nothing sticks, they are clever and in power and will beat us up again on NS using Iran in the midterms. Plame, Abramoff, Scalito, Delay, Iraq, WMD...all this crap and still the House is and will be filled with repugs. That fact has to tell you something. The people want what the GOP is selling.

I am sinking fast... Maybe they are right, maybe Bush is a good President and wants only to protect us. Maybe its time to succomb to Jesus Think and all the rest.

Reading the Note today and the Daou post from Eschton yesterday, seems like we are dead in the water and most of Amer wants these crooks to lead them. We've got no traction anywhere. And Kevin and Armondo and the rest are just a bunch of crazy liberal bloggers.

feeling very hopeless.

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on January 13, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

'Damn, with stuff like that, GW doesn't stand a chance of being reelected in 2008.'
--red ass mike

Who cares about elections? I only want impeachment, imprisonment for George W. and utter and complete humiliation for the rest of the Bush crime family.....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 13, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

In what specific way is Iran an issue for the security of our nation?

See? This is why we don't want the liberals driving the car.

You honestly can't figure out where crazed mullahs with nuclear weapons in the Middle East figures into our national interest?

Here's a clue: It matters a lot more than Bosnia did.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11

Posted by: Rethuglican Mouthpiece on January 13, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

You honestly can't figure out where crazed mullahs with nuclear weapons in the Middle East figures into our national interest?

Yeah--and George W Bush is just the man for the job. At least he has credibility, right?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 13, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Damn right Bragan. Bush is restructuring America to be a dictatorship and we dont want one, regardless of party.
As far as Iran goes, tell them we will monitor them like Winona Ryder in a jewelry store and if we catch any nuclear weapons leaving their country in a truck, in the air, whatever we will vaporize them. The only assured destruction will be theirs.

Posted by: Michael7843853 GO in 08! on January 13, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, Georgie knows how to run a war. He's proven he's the man to protect us from the nasty mullahs in Iran.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, posted on wrong thread:)

i don't think he wants hearings, this is just the spin now that hearings are inevitable.
10 days ago Bush said any hearings would "aid the enemy" or some such ...
and there is evidence of Abuses, already. Russ Tice said he witnessed "abuses" of the program, and Andrea Mitchell still hasn't explained her question about Amanpour being spied on.
Whatever the political fallout, Bring on the hearings, judiciary, intel and even in the house thanks to Conyers.
Let's find out what this program really is.

Posted by: warbly on January 13, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, go suck your thumb, Kevin.

If it's politically bad for the Democrats - too bad. This is about polical liberty.

Posted by: Thinker on January 13, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney/Charlie/Chuckles will shut down the thread if you provoke him.

Here's his response to that claim:

I never spammed the Howard Dean thread, but I did post in direct response to someone's challenge to prove Bush never said "imminent threat" - I doubt me posting here 1/2 hour per year is going to kill anyone (unlike the number of abortions in the past 1/2 hour).

He spammed the thread. The vast majority of those posts which bear the Cheney handle on the thread were transcripts from the White House archives of speeches given by the President. When asked to stop Spamming, he continued. He even boasted about it, and made threats later in the week to continue doing that to close debate.

HOWARD DEAN'S TRACK RECORD....Kevin Drum 12:42 PM Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (753)

Here is the Permalink:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_12/007726.php

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 13, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"One can question the legal rationale that was employed by President, but there is absolutely no evidence that he was attempting to do anything else but protect America. It might be satisfying for partisans to cast around comparisons to Nixon or Harding, but this was a program to thwart terrorists not for political aggrandizement."

I don't know what political aggrandizement means but not so unlke Mr Nixon the President believes that nothing is above using for political purpose (i.e. maintaining his power and control), including the war, 9-11, Homeland Security, and now warrentless searches.

This is not about protecting us, it is about protecting himself politically. Everything he is doing now...and I mean EVERYTHING....he could be doing legal if only he had done the proper thing. Police and DA's get search warants everyday that often do not pass the smell test, but we as a society have sort of said that is ok because the rules can not always address every need. Along the way when they go too far a court with the help of a defense attorney serves as a check on just how far over the line they have gone. What this administration has done, with the help of weak congressional oversight, is to take away that safeguard and replaced it with just trust me and I am doing it for your own good. This is not a partisan issue this is about the framework in which this society holds together. SHAME on anyone who tries to make political hay out of this including the press. SHAME.

Just for the record I am a card carrying independent with 22 years service in the US Army. I am not weak on National Security but I am very strong on checks and balances and this Congress and President and it seems now the courts have just thrown that out the window.

Posted by: jonwash on January 13, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

One of Risen's sources has identified himself and appeared on Hardball last night. He is a former official at the NSA. I say 'former' because after the leak the government made him take a psych test and they say the results show he is a paranoid schizophrenic. Sounds like old gulag USSR stuff. He has no recourse to the protections of the Whistleblower Act because it doesn't cover the intelligence agencies. Anyway, he seemed perfectly sane to me, Chris Matthews and Risen. Chris's questions to him about whether this program was being used to spy on US political groups, etc. was not directly answered. His reply was that if the program were being used only for 'terrorist' related surveillance then why didn't Bush seek FISA approval. So, my sense after listening to him was that he knew a lot more than he was telling. He also seemed to be quite conscientious about not revealing national security info by describing anything in specific detail. Today he talks to members of the Senate Intel Committee.

In my view, Dems need to push this investigation to the hilt. Dems have to risk their political backsides for once.

Posted by: nepeta on January 13, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, Georgie knows how to run a war. He's proven he's the man to protect us from the nasty mullahs in Iran

Sure, if Iran gets the bomb Indonesia is toast baby!

Posted by: LW Phil on January 13, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

And again the trolls show that they don't have the slightest clue what Bush is doing. Bush UNDENIABLY violated Congressional statutes when he authorized NSA wiretapping within the US without seeking warrants. He has not even bothered to deny this. His defense is that the commander-in-chief clause of Article II gives him the authority to break the law, Congress' Article I powers to regulate the military be damned. Therefore, the question is not whether the President should be allowed to order those wiretaps, but whether he should be able to order them whether or not he's allowed.

Posted by: Viserys on January 13, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK
You say that like it's a bad thing...

While it is a bad thing, that's not my immediate point. Since Dick Cheney has explicitly stated a motive aside from national security it is eminently clear that the claim that there is no evidence of any such alternative motive is false.

...most Americans want the President of the United States to protect them agaisnt terrorists...

No doubt. Accountability is a means of assuring effectiveness, consolidation of power in the executive makes it less, not more, likely that the President will protect them against terrorists.

if some future Chief Executive abuses that power, that will be the appropriate time for impeachment.

Impeachment after the fact is a poor remedy for failure to protect against terrorists by abusing the power for other purposes. Applying safeguards to keep the power focussed where it belongs -- as the US Congress did in the wake of demonstrated abuses through FISA -- is a means of preventing such abuse and ensuring that the foreign intelligence resources of the US government are properly used to protect the American people. Deliberate evasion of those restrictions in order to consolidate personal or institutional power is, in and of itself, significant abuse, and the time to address it is immediately when it occurs, rather than waiting for the smoking gun to be, e.g., a mushroom cloud.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Two points.
1. If a majority of Americans are so cowardly that they'd let the president break the law so they'll feel better about the brown-skinned boogeyman under the bed, this country deserves its catastrophic fate.
2. There will NOT be airstrikes on Iran, not while we've got 130,000 American troops hostages to Shiite goodwill in Iraq.

Two very good points. We've backed ourselves into a corner in Iran. The best we can hope for is that all global energy companies will buy into sanctions of their oil (LOL). But the bigger point is that foreign policy is not as important for midtern elections. Among other things, keeping the executive branch in check will be important. Let the hearings begin. I want to know exactly how much internet communication, phone communication, and other data is being snooped on.

Posted by: thehim on January 13, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

the democratic position is very simple: we do not support presidential lawbreaking, no matter what the worthiness of the cause.

in fact, the dems should go one step further: we invite george bush to submit the necessary legislation to authorize his actions.

with the exception of his paid retainers, everyone who has looked carefully at this issue has concluded that bush's arguments as to why this is ok are, in a word, abysmal. dems need not fear pointing this out.

but on the broader context, kevin is right. the democratic task is to bring some rationality to the national security debate. As iran proceeds down the nuclear weapon path, it's worth remembering that terrorism is only one of a series of national security issues: nuclear proliferation, the orphan generation in Africa, the looming collapse of North Korea, managing our relations with emerging economic forces china and india - all of these are every bit as important to day-to-day life in the united states as the threat of another terrorist attack.

The problem the dems will have to face up to, though, is that as long as we are bogged down in iraq, chasing phantoms, we can't do much about either terrorists or the other looming problems. Bush and the republicans are stuck, and they're going to stay with their line: iraq is the central front, and terrorism is the only issue.

dems aren't going to win in a direct encounter on those terms.

instead, dems need to say iraq is a diversion, a massive problem created by george bush and the republican party, that has reduced, not increased, our security, and until we reduce the scale of that diversion, we can't address the other problems.

I mean - if you can't, at this stage, make stick that bush and the republican party combine bad judgement and no ethics....

Posted by: howard on January 13, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's what so depressing to me about the Iraq invasion & occupation. Here was a country we didn't need to fight because they posed us no threat but while we focused on this needless battle real dangers such as South Korea & Iran were allowed to gain further strength. I still think those three little words, "Axis of evil" did us more harm than good. Bush's rhetoric helped push to the side & isolate Iran's growing moderate faction while the politics of the invasion & occupation helped usher in Iran's current hardline leader.

Posted by: Nathan on January 13, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I wish we had a president who wasn't soft on democracy.

Posted by: DanM on January 13, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a clue: It matters a lot more than Bosnia did.

What about Japan?

Posted by: Stefan on January 13, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Message: Democrats must never challenge the Republicans on any issue that the Republicans will lie about.

More gutless "triangulating" from "sensible liberals", a.k.a. Bush's enablers.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

The FISA permits warrantless wiretaps, as long as the Court is notified within 72 hours. The more important point, however, is that neither the Judicial nor Legislative branch can infringe on the war powers of the Commander in Chief.

Posted by: Fred on January 13, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the record I am a card carrying independent with 22 years service in the US Army.
Yes, but the NSA program can't possibly get warrants. They are sifting through databases of overseas calls that occurred in the past.

The talking point about tapping phones without a warrant isn't an accurate description.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 13, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Marshall Wittman is a Republican.

Posted by: sedated on January 13, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I expect to be flamed, and maybe as a whiny liberal I deserve it, but I see a difference between computerized data mining of telephone traffic and a "wiretap," which I always thought of as listening in on a specific line.

IF (and I admit it's a big if) the data mining is limited to national security issues, and IF (and I don't think the NSA was doing this) the data mining is used to support a request for a warrant for specific lines, I would maybe be OK with the data mining.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 13, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is only the second time Ive pimped a somewhat off-topic blog here, but I think this is worth reading. Peter Daou writes about Bloggers in the Wilderness

This, then, is the reality: progressive bloggers and online activists - positioned on the front lines of a cold civil war - face a thankless and daunting task: battle the Bush administration and its legions of online and offline apologists, battle the so-called "liberal" media and its tireless weaving of pro-GOP narratives, battle the ineffectual Democratic leadership, and battle the demoralization and frustration that comes with a long, steep uphill struggle.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 13, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Some Democrats are trying to develop a strong progressive national security strategy and image over at blogs like the new Blue Force or Democracy Arsenal.

Posted by: Nick Schwellenbach on January 13, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Dems cannot be afraid to fight Bush on his outrageous warrantless eavsdropping. Most people think it is outrageous that this President beleives he has authority to listen in on any telephone or internet communication he pleases. It's not a question of national security at all; that's what Bush and Rove will try to make it but that argument is pure bullshit. Bush thinks no law applies to him, and he is surrounded by syncophants and ideologues who just enable this criminality. And that's what it is--criminality.

It's no longer 2002. Most Americans now realize Bush will lie repeatedly to get his way. They also know now he does not know what he is doing and his team is full of incompetents. In 2002, Americans were still shaken by the 9/11 attacks, and trusted Bush to protect them. The majority of Americans now realize Bush's course isn't working.

Posted by: Bob C on January 13, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

In what specific way is Iran an issue for the security of our nation?

It is filled with brown-skinned men with thick black beards, and they might get a nuke or two. Obviously an existential threat to the U.S.A.

On the larger issue of warantless wiretapping despite specific federal statutes prohibiting it, the country is at a crossroads. Are we a constitutional republic or a fascist state? If the consensus is to do nothing about this, then we've picked the latter option. Democrats can run on this issue and lose, or they can silently acquiesce, but in either case the end result is the same.

If there is to be any hope of rescuing the old, small-d democratic U.S. of A., then this notion of the President being above the law cannot stand. The only way it won't stand is if the President's opposition (that would be us) fights tooth and nail. Time to break out all that dry powder we keep hearing about.

Posted by: jimBOB on January 13, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, Georgie knows how to run a war. He's proven he's the man to protect us from the nasty mullahs in Iran.

True. Rove can gear up his marketing campaign all he wants but, with regard to Iran all it will ever remain is marketing. Bush is absolutely powerless to prevent Iran from going down the nuclear path, and his regime's increasing bluster and ranting will be designed to hide that fact. The real target of his continuing grab of dictatorial powers will be, as always, the Republicans' domestic enemies rather than America's foreign ones.

Posted by: Stefan on January 13, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

The basic gap in this issue is that some people believe that Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than international radical Islamism and the terrorists it produces. Others believe the opposite.

If most Americans agree with the first group, the Democrats will do just fine. If not...

One of Risen's sources was Russell Tice. There's a story on him here. In defending his actions he talks about the views of the people in the intelligence community:

"The mentality was we need to get these guys, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get them."

If, like Tice, most Americans agree that this kind of thinking is just wrong, the Democrats will do just fine. If most Americans have the idea that "whatever it takes" in response to 9/11 is not a bad way to go about it, then the Democrats need to worry.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the "Axis of Evil" speech. Bush pressured Iran into a national defense posture just like he did North Korea. Air attacks on Iran by the US are a forgone conclusion unless the Israelis' do it first. Bush has all ready attempted to gain support from Turkey to use airports from which to attack Iran. So far they have declined. Bush's remaining work is to decide when to attack based upon political gain from it and whether to use nuclear bombs or not. It's a matter of when not whether to or not. 2006 elections play heavily with respect to timing. Use of fear to retain power worked for Nazi's and will always work if an enemy can be developed but somehow the enemy can never be defeated somehow and can be used over and over. Whenever the opponent seems to gain popularity then fear is used to beat them back down. It's really quite effective and these guys no how to work it. They have no interest in national security, no their interest is in their own political security. Bush and repugs are doing more for liberal agenda advancement than liberals could ever do for themselves. People will remember, just as Germans remember now, who ran the train off the tracks. Bombing in Iran has the potential to cause Pakistan/India war as well as Chinese/American war. Drifting nuclear fallout from Iran could also cause Russian/American war. Boy, are we going to have some fun now. Bush, the republicans, and the rich power structure that helps them govern haven't the intelligence to determine that all out war will destroy them also.

Posted by: MRB on January 13, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

but but Tbrosz, if we were going to do whatever it takes to get them, and by them I assume you mean Osama and his boys, why oh why aren't we doing that?

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I guess one difference between Democrats and republicans is that Democrats actually want to punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Thankfully, the first stop on the new Bush Administration film The Runup to War II: Electric Boogaloo, is the United Nations.

Didn't we send a guy to the UN who was particularly interested in NSA wiretaps???


TEHRAN, Iran - President Bush said Friday that the issue of Irans nuclear program should go before the U.N. Security Council, challenging Iran just hours after it threatened to block inspections of its nuclear sites if confronted by the council.

It is logical that a country which has rejected diplomatic entreaties be sent to the United Nations Security Council, the president said at a White House press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The United States, Germany and other nations need to send a common message to the Iranians ... to not have a nuclear weapon to blackmail or threaten the world, Bush said.

Cue rdw, that's "old Europe" riding into town to save our ass on this one...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 13, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

The counter to this argument is to attack. Frame it as "Americans do not cower in fear of terrorists, and Americans certainly do not fear death over loss of liberty".

Posted by: Citizen80203 on January 13, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

What did Bush know about the murder of Gus Boulis and when did he know it?

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2006/010706a.html

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 13, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Time for us all to find that old bumper sticker and apply it to every surface we can find? You know the one I'm talking about...

I Love My Country, but I Fear My Government

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The basic gap in this issue is that some people believe that Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than international radical Islamism and the terrorists it produces.

Who are these people? Some factual evidence please. Links, reference, bibiliography, anything, would be welcome.

Posted by: lib on January 13, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"The basic gap in this issue is that some people believe that Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than international radical Islamism and the terrorists it produces. Others believe the opposite."

And most people believe something between the two, as usual.

What's the implication here? That those who believe Bush is a constitutional danger must, by definition, plan on ignoring international terrorism, rogue states, et al? That doesn't seem to be a neccessary or reasonable conclusion.

I'd rather not put words in anyone's mouth, but I'm trying to read between the lines a little bit. Feel free to clarify.

Posted by: booger on January 13, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

The issue where there should be traction to be had is how to best phrase the following thoughts:

1. Replace the "cadillac driving welfare queen" meme with the "S-Class Mercedes Driving military contractor" meme. Where the hell is Dwight Eisenhower when you need him? Sometimes you have to have enough guts to simply live your life. Right now the fraidy-cats are in charge. Don't like nuclear bombs? Well, that particular ship saild quite a while ago. Not only that, but if you want to persuade another country to forego nuclear development, it might be a good idea to not publicly lable them as a member of the axis of evil.

2. We're isolationists at heart, not wannabe colonialists. I almost spit my coffee all of the desk every time someone posits that the Iraq invasion is "all about the oil." All about the oil? Here's what's going to happen. We'll spend hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and then we are going to hand the government over to some form of barely democratic Israel-hating religious theocracy, then, we will contract to pay for the oil. The odds are that we aren't going to get a whole bunch of great permanent bases out of this, and even if we did, so what? We're proving beyond doubt that we have neither the will nor the manpower to actually occupy Iraq. How stupid to you think the Iranians are? The French, who so many are eager to diss, would have skipped the hundreds of billions and thousands of lives and simply contracted for the damn oil directly.

cmdicely is right, until the Democrats can point out that it takes more than "saying" you are tough on terrorism (what a friggen joke "a war" on a concept! Every time Bush said he would win the "war on terrorism" Kerry should have said that in contrast, if elected he would declare "war on sloppy reasoning and dumb policy." At least it would have been entertaining.) to actually protect the country's citizens it will cost votes.

Posted by: hank on January 13, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

While Kevin's probably right that the country can be suckered into accepting the NSA wiretapping them without a warrant, and the bloggers he links may be right in terms of Turd Bottom's evil plan, the key thing for the Dems to do is start throwing punches. A big part of the reason people don't trust the Dems on national security is the perception that "they won't fight the bad guys". How the hell can a party be trusted to fight bad guys if they won't fight their own political opponents? The only way to look like you stand for something is to stand for something. Bush can almost always be backed into a corner by his unwillignness to admit error, but that requires pushing back.

The Dems have nothing to lose at this point - not the presidency, the Congress, or the Supreme court. Pick a strategy, articulate it loud and clear, and fight for it. I'd personally prefer pushing for a real investigation over demanding impeachment, but hell I'll take either over asking for nothing. The long term path to victory involves breaking the frame of "terrorists everywhere, danger, stern father, protection", but that requires a more advanced message machine that we possess right now, and as near as I can tell "we're tought too" is about as well as we can presently hope to do on that front.

Posted by: Eric E on January 13, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

lib:

Who are these people? Some factual evidence please. Links, reference, bibiliography, anything, would be welcome.

Are we reading the same things on this board and others? I sincerely hope you're just pretending to be this thick just to get my goat.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The basic gap in this issue is that some people believe that Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than international radical Islamism and the terrorists it produces.

Once again tbrosz speaking out of his ass.

Posted by: nut on January 13, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, what a lily-livered post. Who cares if we are right, Kevin asks, because the Republicans have spin! Fear their spin!

First off, I'd ask Dickerson what, precisely, would prevent the Republicans from portraying the Democrats as soft on terror? Precisely. Nothing. That's a canard they will continue to use ad infinitum and the only way to counter it is directly. We are, in fact, more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and we have less freedom, all thanks to Bush and his Republican cronies. Just look at DHS and port security; look at all the new terrorists they've created. If they couldn't save New Orleans, how the hell can you expect them to save New York?

Second, Wittman is being an idiot by saying that "there is no evidence that [Bush] was attempting to do anything else but protect America." So? That's not the goddamn point. The point is that no one knows what he was doing. The point is the President is not above the law. It is absolutely wrong to allow the president to break the law. I daresay you ask that poll question and you'll see only Republicans disagreeing.

And to Martin Walker I'll direct one thing: who the hell is letting Iran have a bomb? George W. Bush - by stupidly invading a country we had already kept from the bomb and thereby tying down and chewing up our military. Not to mention creating the huge incentive to get a bomb in the first place. Thanks, "Axis of Evil" Bush!

What a gutless series of positions.

It seems that Kevin feels that Democrats should simply give up the "framing" battle - because Republicans are going to play against them.

The Republican noise machine may be better at spinning, and they may have a lot more control over the media, but folding like a house of cards won't save this country.

Posted by: S Ra on January 13, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Who are these people? Some factual evidence please. Links, reference, bibiliography, anything, would be welcome.

You are stupid and ignorant and evil. What little brain you every had to begin with has putrefied into jelly from listening to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. You are the real enemy of America, not the insurgent fighters of Iraq [source] [emphasis added]

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 13, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

he counter to this argument is to attack. Frame it as "Americans do not cower in fear of terrorists, and Americans certainly do not fear death over loss of liberty".

Absolutely correct! Give me liberty or give me death.

Posted by: Edo on January 13, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Crowd Pleasing answer? WHO THE FUCK CARES ABOUT PLEASING THE CROWD?! This is about fucking rule of law, and the president and his cronies claiming absolute rule! Who the fuck cares if it's not 'politically smart' to go after this. What do we stand for if we DON'T?! And why are you listening to Marshall Wittman, someone who as proven time and time again to be riding W's jock and asking for more?

No, screw thinking ahead to the elections on this. This, and Alito, need to be taken care of in the NOW. Not by thinking ahead to November and worrying about how it's going to be painted. If we don't stand up for it now, what the fuck is left in America but one man, ruling above all, one of the very goddamn things this country was created to PREVENT?

Posted by: Kryptik on January 13, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Who are these people? Some factual evidence please. Links, reference, bibiliography, anything, would be welcome.

You are stupid and ignorant and evil. What little brain you every had to begin with has putrefied into jelly from listening to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. You are the real enemy of America, not the insurgent fighters of Iraq [source] [emphasis added]

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 13, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK"

that's our empirical demographic analysis? a blog comment? color me unconvinced.

Posted by: booger on January 13, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Gimme a break. In late 2002 it was only a year after 9/11, we weren't currently waging a war in another country (a war which is not going that well), and the Bush administration had still not demonstrated clearly where it lay as regards competence and ideology. That isn't a stealthy way of saying everything they do is bad and partisan, just that as of 11/2002 the administration was more of a blank slate than it is now. People were more willing to say, "I guess so, Let's try it," etc. than they would be now.

Posted by: Martin on January 13, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, got it. Politicians need to reach for a message to please millions of frightened, under-educated, misinformed citizens who have already been hyped up into war fever by rabid religious fundamentalists. Otherwise those politicians will certainly not get elected.

Yeah, that's the situation over in Iran, all right. So, Kevin, what about those running for office here in the U.S.?

Posted by: Ralph on January 13, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I have to say that between your AMERIKA post today and your NATIONAL SECURITY post today it seems as though you napped to closely to one of those Republican pods. You seem to be able to foresee the shape that the Republican straw men arguments will take and immediately capitulate the real debate.

In your AMERIKA post your statement that:

"we're still pretty distant from being the fascist state some seem to think we are"

is a completely false description of the efforts by some Americans to maintain our current liberties. I will admit though that your false argument will no doubt make a powerful straw man for the opposition.

And in your NATIONAL SECURITY post you again immediately capitulate the NSA surveillance argument to the Republicans based on their future straw man that:

"there is absolutely no evidence that he was attempting to do anything else but protect America"

The real debate is: If the president saw a legal impediment to his ability to fight terrorism then why (after being aware of this problem for 4 years) wasn't he attempting to fix this problem within the constitutional checks and balances that define American democracy?

My suggesting to Democrats (you included) would be to stop reacting to all of their arguments (present and future) and start framing your own arguments. In other words speak first and carry a big stick.

Posted by: Jim on January 13, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Watching these blogs, I'm reminded of the college professor who found himself at a professional wrestling event - he did not cry out "this stuff is fake." He instead made for the exit saying, "Excuse me, fine sirs and ladies. I must access the arena's tobacconist, as my can o' snuff appears to have run empty. Back in a jiff."

This country is majority-ruled by the intellectually checked products of underfunded idiot-factory schools (or not, but Diebold will make this moot).

Expecting abstract thought and deliberation from the audience at a roller derby event? Think again. As you delude each other that you're making a difference, I recommend you spend at least a little of your energy getting used to the fact that this country is eff-double-ucked.

Carry on.

Posted by: Stew on January 13, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

but let us, in fact, give tbrosz some credit here. his initial phrasing was poor, but his follow-on is correct: to the extent that americans believe that doing "whatever it takes," regardless of legality, is essential to our survival, then the republicans win.

to the extent that americans recognize we won the second world war and the cold war against enemies far more heinous and dangerous than islamic jihadists without feeling like we had to shake in our boots all day long and without feeling like the president got to do whatever he wanted, then the democrats win.

this is why i said earlier, the response to kevin's point is that dems need to elevate the discussion: the dimwits in the white house and their enablers now have us in a bind where little iraq is the central obsession of american national security policy. that's wrong. until we get that clear, it's hard for democrats to gain traction....

Posted by: howard on January 13, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: The basic gap in this issue is that some people believe that Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than international radical Islamism and the terrorists it produces. Others believe the opposite.

You're creating a false dichotomy. Bush and his congressional ilk (not all Republicans) are not only a threat because of their disdain for the Constitution, but because they're so bad at fighting terrorism and other threats. We have the worst of both worlds.

They ignored pre-9/11 warnings.

They let OBL walk out of Tora Bora rather than let the Marines take a crack at him.

They invaded a country that posed no credible threat to the US. In the process they squandered America's credibility and stretched our military to the point where it can't handle anything else.

Get rid of this pretender and his cronies. Save us from them and the terrorists.

Posted by: alex on January 13, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz

I will give you $100 if you show me one post that says what you claim.

Posted by: lib on January 13, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Howard
Given what happened to Japanese-Americans during WWII, maybe you'd better stick to the Cold War. And given the response to Eschelon (I was reading an old NYT clip today praising that program), it could be an uphill fight.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 13, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The appeasement of the radical right-wing takeover of the country has to stop, particularly when they're reckless enough to agree to hearings.

Their spin on events does not always prevail, contrary to Conventional Wisdom. The Plame Affair and Katrina are but two notable examples.

We just have to organize better to fight smarter -- the real story here is not warrantless wiretapping; after all, that is permitted by FISA for up to 72 hours.

The real story is that this administration does not have a clue about how to fight terrorists. You don't fight terrorists by indulging in wiretapping that can render the key evidence in criminal cases against them and their co-conspirators inadmissable. You don't fight terrorists by engaging in police state behavior that undermines the willingness of people the world over to cooperate with our efforts. You don't fight terrorists by beating questionable at best and counterproductive at worst information out of suspects.

We should be raring to fight these guys on the national security issue. If we can just manage to tone down the outraged liberal pieties and go for the jugular of their incompetence, we won't go far wrong.

Posted by: DeWitt Grey on January 13, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Martin:

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I tend to agree with you. Bush had his second bite of the 9/11 apple in 2004, and I don't think he's going to get a third.

And bush's tough talk looks increasingly impotent in the face of the Iraq insurgency and the Iran nuclear program. The American people are stupid, but they are not so stupid that they are going to keep giving this bunch of liars, thieves and dolts new opportunities to screw this country.

Posted by: brewmn on January 13, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Scary poll tbroz,

If that stuff is accurate, it is a Fox News poll after all, then we are on a downward spiral towards giving George the crown. That is what you supposed repubs want, right? King George for life?

Would he be called George II or just George? Perhaps we can call him "The Supreme Commader of all that is moral". Or a tough name like "Bunker Buster W" or a cute name like "Imspyingonyoubecauseiloveyou Man"

Freedom can never be equally traded for security.

Posted by: MyPetGoat on January 13, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Martin Walker seems to have a somewhat relaxed attitude about a nuclear-armed Iran.

A couple of points:

--Jerusalem and its mosques are not the only populated targets in Israel

--An Iranian leader is already on record as more or less declaring that riding out a retaliation would be worth it if Israel was destroyed.

--Deterrence only works if the one you are deterring is nuts, thinks he's beyond retaliation somehow, or is convinced you won't retaliate. Obviously, our nuclear arsenal didn't impress the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

U.S.A.
July 2, 1776-Jan 20, 2001

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on January 13, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Does GW Bush have an honorary doctorate? If he does we will be able to call him Dr. George W. Bush, President for Life

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

So, when Iran or N. Korea drops a bomb, are we going to invade Venezuela?

Good ol' Georgie

Posted by: MyPetGoat on January 13, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to see how, on balance, the national security issue raised by the NSA wiretaps could really directly help the Republicans. At worst, Democrats could beat them back to a stalemate on the issue, given the illegality of the program, a point of view even some Republicans endorse.

The Iran issue is certainly much more of a wild card here.

But I think the real danger of the NSA and Iran issue is in the amount of distraction it might allow. An issue the Republicans can draw to even is far, far better for them to talk about than all the other truly ugly issues facing them.

What Democrats absolutely must do is to figure out how to get out the issues THEY want to talk about, and in way people will truly hear.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

GreatCan I assume question 30 is specific enough for you all now?

Actually, I'd have to examine the methodology for the poll before I gave it any credence.

If there's some secret poll out there that phrases the question in a meaningful way, I haven't seen it.

Posted by: tbrosz' past back to haunt him on January 13, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Before anyone else jumps on Kevin, I think his basic point is that the Democrats must address the question of how they will better protect the country than the President.

Until they do that, they will not be able to get the debate shifted in their favor. They avoided the subject in 2002 and got clobbered despite scandals and a sorta recession, and got beat in 2004 despite a souring war and no net job growth.

And it's a huge opportunity, because the Democrats can make the case that the President has damaged severely the national security of the US. (and yes, the Moose's prescription is idiotic and the worst of the lot, but heh, he's not a Democrat..)

BUT they must address the question - and quickly say why they would better protect americans than would the republicans. Until they do, the GOP will go to National Defense every time.

But the opportunity is huge, because if the Democrats knock out that issue - there ain't much but cheating that the GOP has left.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 13, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

We'd be in a better position to deal with Iran if Bush hadn't tied us down in Iraq.

On the NSA issue: Dems aren't against wiretapping, we're against doing it without legal oversight - as should every American.

Posted by: ExBrit on January 13, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Lib
I will give you $100 if you show me one post that says what you claim.

You'll have to send your money to Conspiracy Nut. He already quoted SecularAnimist stating just what tbrosz said.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

As far as Iran goes, I think the answer Democrats should make with regard to it is that Bush has objectively made it HARDER for us to deal with Iran PRECISELY BECAUSE of the huge miscalculation and general incompetence he has demonstrated in Iraq.

Iran does NOT fear that we will invade them, when our military is already at the breaking point. That fact is the clear responsiblity of Bush himself, and his conduct in Iraq.

In short, Bush has essentially inspired defiance by Iran. They know we are already utterly stretched; what better time to thumb their noses at us and pursue nuclear ambitions?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Can we bet on other things, too?

Who's got the Pats this weekend?

Posted by: booger on January 13, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should commence NOW pointing out how Bush has weakened our stance with regard to Iran. NOW is the time to get that idea out there, not post facto.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with Kevin's original post-if the Dems drop this issue now, that leads to 2 things: First, we fail in our responsibility to point out, and work to change, policy that runs counter to our tradition of liberty. Secondly, while Kevin may be right about GW's game plan next fall, you could just as reasonably argue that if the Dems shut up about this, the Repub argument will be something like, "the Dems raised a big public stink about a sensitive area of national security, then dropped it when they saw they werent getting the political gain they wanted. Another example of putting politics ahead of keeping the people safe."

Screw the politics, do the right thing.

Posted by: Chris Thorpe on January 13, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Timestamped 2:54pm, conspiracy nut posted an excerpt from a comment that I addressed to him on this site on 8/26/2005. Here is my original comment in its entirety:

conspiracy nut, you are the one who wants to turn America into a totalitarian dictatorship under the jackbooted heel of your little fake god-king George W. Bush. You express your hatred of all that is good and just about America with every comment you post.

You are stupid and ignorant and evil. What little brain you every had to begin with has putrefied into jelly from listening to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. You are the real enemy of America, not the insurgent fighters of Iraq, and the real "war" to protect America from its real enemies is the "war" to eliminate evil, sick, stupid, neo-fascist, treasonous Bush-bootlicker idiots like yourself.

Fortunately the public is gradually coming around to the realization that the war in Iraq is a criminal, gangster enterprise, a corrupt use of America's military for the private gain of the Bush and Cheney crime families, their cronies and financial backers, and has nothing whatever to do with protecting America from anything.

And the public is also gradually awakening to the fact that has been obvious since 2002, which the Bush-loving corporate-owned mass media has refused to report or discuss, that the illegal war of unprovoked aggression against Iraq was based entirely on repeated, deliberate, carefully crafted, and sickening lies told by George Bush, Dick Cheney, and other members of the Bush administration to the American people, the US Congress, the United Nations, and the entire world.

George W. Bush is guilty of treason against the United States of America, and corrupt use of the US military for personal gain, not to mention crimes against humanity including the wrongful deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and hundreds of American troops, and the maiming and mutilation of tens of thousands more.

You support and endorse his treason and corruption. That makes you an enemy of America.

Take your brain-dead, Limbaugh-scripted babble about "leftists" and shove it up your ass, you cowardly traitor.

I stand by that. conspiracy nut and his anti-American fifth column filth support treason and corruption -- indeed, they revel and glory in treason and corruption -- and seek to destroy everything that is good and admirable about this country. They and their leader, George W. Bush, are a far graver danger to America than any foreign terrorists. They are a cancer that is destroying America from within.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

We'd be in a better position to deal with Iran if Bush hadn't tied us down in Iraq.

I've seen that meme floated a bunch of times, but I'm having a hard time seeing how being on both sides of Iran (Afghanistan and Iraq) is a huge negative. And I'm also wondering if the meme implies you'd have supported an invasion of Iran in the first place. And why.

Invading Iran? Never an option. They haven't been weakened like Iraq was with a previous ass-whupping and continued sanctions and no-fly zone.

I still think we should sit back and let Europe deal with this one. They're the ones that have a real non-war stick to use, i.e., sanctions. We don't.

Did you read Rafsanjani's quote linked to by tbrosz?

One of Irans most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only". "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.
Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

On another point, it'll be mighty interesting if, as truthout is arguing, Bush actually implemented the NSA program well before 9/11, toward the very beginning of his Presidency.

Most obvious question: what value is a program like this, if it provided zero helpful information before an actual terrorist event?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Before anyone else jumps on Kevin, I think his basic point is that the Democrats must address the question of how they will better protect the country than the President."

Huh? You mean the My Pet Goat argument won't seal it? That shit's golden...

Posted by: peanut on January 13, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK
I still think we should sit back and let Europe deal with this one. They're the ones that have a real non-war stick to use, i.e., sanctions. We don't.

So, you were against the invasion of Iraq? Considering that more Americans have been killed by Bush's unprovoked invasion than by Hussein's entire reign?

Posted by: on January 13, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to see how, on balance, the national security issue raised by the NSA wiretaps could really directly help the Republicans.

Posted by: frankly0

The Democrats are setting themselves up for a fall by aggressively pursuing this. Calling Bush's actions illegal, using the impeachment word and claiming he violated the civil rights of millions of Americans are losers for the Democrats. It just shows them as weak on terror and Bush haters.

Bush seems pretty confident of his position since he has the constitutional war powers, legal precedent and the executive orders of the two previous presidents on his side. So he is more than happy for there to be hearings and let the Democrats crawl out on a limb and cut it off behind themselves. I love it,too!

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 13, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote: some people believe that Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than international radical Islamism and the terrorists it produces.

I am one of those people. Bush and the Republicans are a greater threat to America than any foreign enemy.

While tbrosz surely disagrees with me on the substance of this, I can see no reason why he should find the principle involved to be objectionable. After all, some people of tbrosz's political persuasion fifty years ago believed that the influence of domestic Communists within the US government was at least as great a threat, if not a greater threat, to this country than the external military threat from the Soviet Union.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"If a majority of Americans are so cowardly that they'd let the president break the law so they'll feel better about the brown-skinned boogeyman under the bed, this country deserves its catastrophic fate."

Cool. Someone translated the "New Dem" platform:

1. Americans are cowards and stupid. Plus racist.
2. The USA deserves only bad things.
3. Vote for us!

Good luck in November, guys.

Posted by: cranky on January 13, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

We'd be in a better position to deal with Iran if Bush hadn't tied us down in Iraq.

HOW???

Posted by: Al on January 13, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist -

"After all, some people of tbrosz's political persuasion fifty years ago believed that the influence of domestic Communists within the US government was at least as great a threat, if not a greater threat, to this country than the external military threat from the Soviet Union."

Care to name anyone SA? Or are you just blowing smoke as usual?

Posted by: peanut on January 13, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Education.

Posted by: Karmakin on January 13, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

So, you were against the invasion of Iraq?

Uh, no.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

From the Truthout article:

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

In its "Transition 2001" report, the NSA said that the ever-changing world of global communication means that "American communication and targeted adversary communication will coexist."

"Make no mistake, NSA can and will perform its missions consistent with the Fourth Amendment and all applicable laws," the document says.

However, it adds that "senior leadership must understand that the NSA's mission will demand a 'powerful, permanent presence' on global telecommunications networks that host both 'protected' communications of Americans and the communications of adversaries the agency wants to target."

What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.

But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.

James Risen, author of the book State of War and credited with first breaking the story about the NSA's domestic surveillance operations, said President Bush personally authorized a change in the agency's long-standing policies shortly after he was sworn in in 2001.

"The president personally and directly authorized new operations, like the NSA's domestic surveillance program, that almost certainly would never have been approved under normal circumstances and that raised serious legal or political questions," Risen wrote in the book. "Because of the fevered climate created throughout the government by the president and his senior advisers, Bush sent signals of what he wanted done, without explicit presidential orders" and "the most ambitious got the message."

The NSA's domestic surveillance activities that began in early 2001 reached a boiling point shortly after 9/11, when senior administration officials and top intelligence officials asked the NSA to share that data with other intelligence officials who worked for the FBI and the CIA to hunt down terrorists that might be in the United States. However the NSA, on advice from its lawyers, destroyed the records, fearing the agency could be subjected to lawsuits by American citizens identified in the agency's raw intelligence reports.

The declassified report says that the "Director of the National Security Agency is obligated by law to keep Congress fully and currently formed of intelligence activities." But that didn't happen. When news of the NSA's clandestine domestic spying operation, which President Bush said he had authorized in 2002, was uncovered last month by the New York Times, Democratic and Republican members of Congress appeared outraged, claiming that they were never informed of the covert surveillance operation. It's unclear whether the executive order signed by Bush removes the NSA Director from his duty to brief members of Congress about the agency's intelligence gathering programs.

Eavesdropping on Americans required intelligence officials to obtain a surveillance warrant from a special court and show probable cause that the person they wanted to monitor was communicating with suspected terrorists overseas. But Bush said that the process for obtaining such warrants under the 1978 Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act was, at times, "cumbersome."

In a December 22, letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella wrote that the "President determined it was necessary following September 11 to create an early warning detection system. FISA could not have provided the speed and agility required for the early warning detection system."

However, what remains murky about that line of reasoning is that after 9/11, former Attorney General John Ashcroft undertook a full-fledged lobbying campaign to loosen the rules and the laws governing FISA to make it easier for the intelligence community to obtain warrants for wiretaps to spy on Americans who might have ties to terrorists. Since the legislative change, more than 4,000 surveillance warrants have been approved by the FISA court, leading many to wonder why Bush selectively chose to bypass the court for what he said were a select number of individuals.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

um... we'd have 130,000 more troops available, i believe.

give or take about 2,000.

Posted by: General Booger on January 13, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

And I'm also wondering if the meme implies you'd have supported an invasion of Iran in the first place. And why. Invading Iran? Never an option. They haven't been weakened like Iraq was with a previous ass-whupping and continued sanctions and no-fly zone.

Would I have supported the actual invasion of Iran? Under most scenarios. on balance, most likely not. But I certainly would have supported strongly a credible THREAT of invading Iran, just as, along with most Democratic politicians, I would supported a credible THREAT of invading Iraq.

The problem is, we no longer can pose a credible threat, because of the damage Bush has done to our current military capabilities. We simply CAN'T invade another country, and Iran knows it.

THAT is why Iran feels comfortable thumbing its nose at us.

And of what value is it that we are on "both sides" of Iran, if we are already overwhelmed by what's going on in Iraq? Exactly zero, I'd say. By any rational reckoning, going into Iraq has damaged our ability to threaten Iran effectively, despite the fact that it has ALWAYS been Iran that has posed the greater threat.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, yeah, of course Americans will see it as security vs. freedom if people like you concede the issue before it's even fought.

Facts are on our side and support the argument that the warrants aren't there to stop George Bush from spying on terrorists, they're to stop him from spying on everyone else from Democratic headquarters to the media to Aunt Maime who called her friend from Germany that she met on a cruise.


It's not about national security. It's about refusing to let national security be used for political ends.

Just becasue you're too chickenshit to make this argument doesn't mean it's not true.

Posted by: theorajones on January 13, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I was, Mike.

I opposed it because I saw it for the false-argument it was (no Iraqi's among the 9/11 hi-jackers, no trace of WMD per the inspectors, the apparent rush to war...My apparently justified fear that an Iraqi Civil War would result...)

Why did you support it?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

FWG...
The Democrats are setting themselves up for a fall by aggressively pursuing this. Calling Bush's actions illegal, using the impeachment word and claiming he violated the civil rights of millions of Americans are losers for the Democrats. It just shows them as weak on terror and Bush haters.

I agree. You'd be overplaying your hand right into the Repubs. If you turn it into an either Bush Must Be Impeached or What Was Going On is OK argument, guess which one will win? There are hard questions to be asked, and better monitoring to be done (or stop what they are doing). That's what I want.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

"George Bush is going to do his best to keep national security front and center, and Democrats had better have a more crowd-pleasing answer on this subject than they did in 2002 and 2004. Just saying."

But W has made America less safe and hated allover the world, while the Dems want to provide armor and save American service people's lives. Seems like the Dems should be the one pushing National Security front and center... it's almost as if you are afraid the public won't trust you guys.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 13, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Sometime this summer and fall we can probably expect yet another marketing campaign from the White House, this time aimed in the direction of Iran"

We may not have to wait that long. I've heard that an attack on Iran could happen as early as this March.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 13, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I am betting right before 2006 elections, Karl Rove will thoughtfully time a mushroom cloud over a majority blue city, in which women, minorities, and gays will be disproportionally affected to drive the voters into the GOP kkkamp, inaugurating the beginning of the Bush Dynasty.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 13, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why did you support it?

Loooonnggg argument that has been hashed out here in exhaustio in other threads. Short answer is I fall into the Tom Friedman camp.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

The, um, elephant in the room here is that everyone seems to be biting on the idea that this is all about intercepting communications with "suspected terrorists" (a phrase which, btw, seems to trump all rational judgement in americans).

But I think the chances that all this illegal wiretapping and data sifting has been confined to foreign communications is zero. The more likely truth is that the White House has been listening to all kinds of people, so that it can win the one game it values most of all - staying in power. Bush is effectively saying "As president I declare us to be at war. Now that we are at war, I can do any goddamn thing I want, and no laws apply. So let's start listening to what Fitzgerald is up to, and Hillary, and various anti-war protesters, and anyone else we feel threatened by."

That's the real scandal here - and nobody seems to be mentioning it.

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, given that no one is proud of interning the japanese during world war ii, i'm not at all concerned about bringing up both world war ii and the cold war as examples.

and no, the response to eschelon tells us nothing about how the american public feels about presidential lawbreaking by george bush.

red state mike shows exactly who are the people that bush should be worrying about: he is a bush supporter who is actually willing to note that this is wrong behavior and must be corrected.

Posted by: howard on January 13, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Would I have supported the actual invasion of Iran? Under most scenarios. on balance, most likely not. But I certainly would have supported strongly a credible THREAT of invading Iran, just as, along with most Democratic politicians, I would supported a credible THREAT of invading Iraq.

You do realize this doesn't make a lot of sense, right? How do you define a "credible" threat of doing something you've said you won't do?

It's like pointing a gun at someone after you've pulled out and thrown away the clip in front of them.

Part of the reason for 9/11 is that the terrorists convinced themselves we were all talk and no action.

Also, as far as Iraq goes, Saddam seemed to be convinced until almost the last minute that we'd never go through with it.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

We don't think the President has the authority to Crush the testicles of innocent children.

How does that grab you ?

The NSA issue can be framed as a question of civil liberties vs anti terrorism. This would not be good for the Democrats. It can also be framed as a question of whether the President is above the law or whether he has absolute authority to do anything he sees fit.

Fortunately for the Democrats, the Bush administration has chosen to frame the debate in the second way. In particular, John Yoo did a whole lot of the framing. More recently, when asked if the President had the authority to order the crushing of a child's testicles in order to make his father talk he replied, and I quote "it depends ..."

In the hearings a Democrat, any Democrat, can ask each and every Republican witness if he agrees with Yoo on this. There is likely to be a long long discussion of how Yoo doesn't work there anymore (true) was taken out of context (false) and has nothing to do with the issue at hand (totally false). Then the administration witness can try to explain exactly what limits on the President they accept. Since their position must be that he is allowed to order things which are explicitly declared to be felonies in FISA (not to mention detain Padilla indefinately without trial and define torture as he pleases) but that there is some limit somewhere.

I recall reading the phrase "no atriculable limit...." Inviting administration witnesses to articulate one until one of them succeeds would I think protect the Democrats from self immolation. This does not mean no self immolation will occur. It seems to me that the Bush administrations house lawyers have been trying to immolate themselves for 4 years and haven't quite managed yet. The Democrats just have to offer them a light.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on January 13, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats ARE setting themselves up for a fall on the wire-tapping issue IF they don't address the basic question of why the President's policies are weakening the security of the country.

Here are some points that the Democrats could (but almost certainly won't) make:

1) The country is more secure when competent managers are in charge. Rumsfeld and others who brought disaster must be fired. And no more inexperienced hacks should be hired.
2) We must promise to not build permanent bases Iraq and fire the people who created Abu Gharib, allowed looting and generally blew the management of Iraq. We have to deal with reality there - not fantasy.
3) Democrats would listen to warnings that major terrorists organizations are about to strike. And Democrats shouldn't hesitate to remind people that the Bush had been President for 8 months when the biggest foreign terrorist strike in US history occurred (you could argue that the Klan was the biggest domestic terrorist blow, hence "foreign".)
4) Democrats would fiscally manage the country - a bankrupt country can't do much.
etc.

And yes, invading Iraq DID harm the US ability to do anything with Iran. First, no-one in the rest of the world believes a word the US says. Second, no politician in the rest of the world wants to be associated with President Bush. Third, having our troops pinned down in neighbouring countries doesn't mean that they can do anything to Iran. In fact they are hostages to an Iranian counter-attack. (Remember what the Chinese did in the Korean War?)

So yes the Democrats need to push forward on the hearings but they must also address head-on how they would better protect Americans.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 13, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

At the close of the constitutional convention...

A lady asked Dr. Franklin "Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy."

"A republic," replied the Doctor, "if you can keep it."

The American people have kept it through worse times than this. Maybe the Democrats should give us the chance to keep it a while longer.

Posted by: Boronx on January 13, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"We don't think the President has the authority to Crush the testicles of innocent children."

- Innocent of what?

Posted by: cecce on January 13, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

You do realize this doesn't make a lot of sense, right? How do you define a "credible" threat of doing something you've said you won't do?

Jesus, tbrosz, you really WERE born yesterday, weren't you?

Obivously you don't say beforehand that of course you'd never invade. Is that point hard to get?

I mean, have you ever played poker?

Ever won?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

But I think the chances that all this illegal wiretapping and data sifting has been confined to foreign communications is zero. The more likely truth is that the White House has been listening to all kinds of people, so that it can win the one game it values most of all - staying in power. Bush is effectively saying "As president I declare us to be at war. Now that we are at war, I can do any goddamn thing I want, and no laws apply. So let's start listening to what Fitzgerald is up to, and Hillary, and various anti-war protesters, and anyone else we feel threatened by."

That's the real scandal here - and nobody seems to be mentioning it.

That's because you made it up. "The more likely truth is..." isn't going to hold up very well as evidence in a hearing.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is, we no longer can pose a credible threat, because of the damage Bush has done to our current military capabilities. We simply CAN'T invade another country, and Iran knows it.

First, I don't see why we'd ever want to invade Iran. Second, we don't have to invade anybody to pose a credible threat. Did we invade Bosnia? Or Iraq in 1998 when we bombed Baghdad? Or was the no-fly zone an invasion? Or an embargo on the high seas?

Lots of ways to pressure them without boots on the ground.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

But craigie, where is the proof, the beef, the deep throat on your speculation? I suspect you are right but until there is evidence, its just "more crazy liberal blog stuff."

But if evidence comes to light, then the rubber finally meets the road on this issue and we get traction.

But who knows, maybe bush did simply monitor phones calls going to suspicious intls. And apparntly, although illegal, Amer is all right with this.

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on January 13, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"In fact they are hostages to an Iranian counter-attack."

Where does this idea come from? Hostages in what sense? They couldn't defend them selves and fight back if attacked from Iran? How would the Iranians get there? Fight their way through open terrain and be slaughtered from the air? Get the always-ineffectual Crazy As-Sadr to do his litle dance? This makes no sense.

Persia delenda est

Posted by: peanut on January 13, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Just to repeat a point I made earlier, the single most important thing Democrats can do with the Iran issue is to get in front of it, right now.

They should be all over the TV, explaining to the public how Bush has already damaged our potential control over what happens in Iran.

THAT is how we demonstrate our superior ability to deal with national security.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I am betting right before 2006 elections, Karl Rove will thoughtfully time a mushroom cloud over a majority blue city

WTF ? if you're serious, get a grip. if you're a freeper troll, go check the mail - the latest Victoria's Secret catalog is out this week!

Posted by: cleek on January 13, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK


The right-wing nuts are whistling past the graveyard. Bush and the GOP are toast, if the Dems find the balls to run these television ads:

- Show pictures of Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri and the Twin Towers falling, with question marks on the TV screen and text that asks, "Why won't Bush and the Republicans do what it takes to find the men who attacked America?"
- Show the newspaper headlines about the anthrax inhalation deaths and run a slow scroll that asks "Why can't Bush and the Republicans do what it takes to find biological weapons?"
- Show water pouring over the New Orleans levees and bodies floating in the post-Katrina muck and ask "Why can't Bush and the Republicans do what it takes to protect our citizens from natural disasters?"
- Show the charred corpses hanging from the bridge outside Fallujah and ask "Why can't Bush and the Republicans keep our troops safe?"
- Then, show the national debt clock in Times Square, with the massive numbers rolling up and in big letters on the screen say, "Because they have bankrupted the United States!"

Piece of cake. These clowns have nothing going for them. We just have to fight fire with fire...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 13, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK
Loooonnggg argument that has been hashed out here in exhaustio in other threads. Short answer is I fall into the Tom Friedman camp.Loooonnggg argument that has been hashed out here in exhaustio in other threads. Short answer is I fall into the Tom Friedman camp..

Which is to say: go, kill foreigners because we can and if we are lucky it might be better than in the bad old days when we just used the CIA to install the dictators we liked.

So the use of the military as a nation building organization is just ducky with you RSM? What other nations should we remake in our image? Specifically, since Iran is a real potential danger, and since we already have troops in the area, why not just build our empire?

Posted by: on January 13, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight
The Democrats ARE setting themselves up for a fall on the wire-tapping issue IF they don't address the basic question of why the President's policies are weakening the security of the country.

Here are some points that the Democrats could (but almost certainly won't) make:

1) The country is more secure when competent managers are in charge. Rumsfeld and others who brought disaster must be fired. And no more inexperienced hacks should be hired.
2) We must promise to not build permanent bases Iraq and fire the people who created Abu Gharib, allowed looting and generally blew the management of Iraq. We have to deal with reality there - not fantasy.
3) Democrats would listen to warnings that major terrorists organizations are about to strike. And Democrats shouldn't hesitate to remind people that the Bush had been President for 8 months when the biggest foreign terrorist strike in US history occurred (you could argue that the Klan was the biggest domestic terrorist blow, hence "foreign".)
4) Democrats would fiscally manage the country - a bankrupt country can't do much.
etc.

Lord, if you use hearings on the NSA wiretappings to make those politically charged but irrelevant to wiretapping points, you might as well just have all of your seats in congress turned over to the republicans right now.

duh

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic message on Iran:

Bush pissed away any potential military response to Iran on his mind bogglingly stupid adventure in Iraq.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Oh For the Moose,

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that the President's men looked at more than just "terrorist" communications. First piece of evidence: they're Nixon guys. They did it then, they sure as heck would do it now.

Second, that weird mention of Amanpour (sp?)

Third, because a massive listening system would work much more easily if it were set up just to listen everywhere. And these guys tend to be direct.

Fourth, because they've never explicitly denied. A lot of weasel word non-denial denials.

So, let's put it another way: would most posters vote yes, they did it? or no they didn't if there were cash at stake (be honest now...)

I'll bet even the Moose would put his cash on - they did it.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 13, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, Al, cleek and RSM are all bed-wetters. They're so terrified of big bad al Qaeda that they are willing to give up any and all civil liberties to ensure that their asses don't get burned.

Cowards.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on January 13, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Which is to say: go, kill foreigners because we can and if we are lucky it might be better than in the bad old days when we just used the CIA to install the dictators we liked.

Huh? Is that what Tom Friedman wrote? No. So the rest of what you wrote is of course BS.

It must be so relaxing not to have to think.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0 - you would never win in poker if I was at the table. I'd call your bluff each time.

So, with that out of the way, what do you do if you pose a "credible" threat of invasion, your opponent calls your bluff, and then...

What then, brainiac?

Posted by: peanut on January 13, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, Al, cleek and RSM are all bed-wetters. They're so terrified of big bad al Qaeda that they are willing to give up any and all civil liberties to ensure that their asses don't get burned.

Yea, that's why I fought in GW-I and Bosnia (for Clinton). To protect this country so morons like you could practice you moronicity.

Cowards.

Moron

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

So, no one has demonstrated that these wiretaps have done any good. No one has demonstrated that the invasion of Iraq has done any positive good for American security. No one has demonstrated that the Republicans have, in fact, done anything to enhance our national security. In fact, as Katrina reminded us, they aren't even competent to address predicted disasters. Why would anyone vote for Republicans based on national security? Why would anyone vote for incompetence in national security? But I repeat myself.

Posted by: on January 13, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Of course you don't make these statements in the hearings. There are lots of other venues to do that.

But what you can say at the hearings is: Do you have the capacity to use what you're listening to now? Do you have enough translators, for example.

And the answer is no we don't. And we got rid of bunch because they were, gasp!, gay!

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 13, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

"THAT is how we demonstrate our superior ability to deal with national security."

That has got to be the funniest post of all time. I almost fell out of my chair, I was laughing so hard.

Posted by: cecce on January 13, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

So, with that out of the way, what do you do if you pose a "credible" threat of invasion, your opponent calls your bluff, and then...

Red herring. We don't have to pose a credible threat of invasion to pose a credible threat.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO:

Bush pissed away any potential military response to Iran on his mind bogglingly stupid adventure in Iraq.

Just out of curiosity, at what point would you, or a wise Democratic president, consider Iran to be enough of a threat to attack?

Have you considered what the current situation with Iran's nuclear ambitions would be if Saddam were still in power? What our options would be then? Keep in mind Iran was chasing the Bomb long before we invaded Iraq.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

LIBERALS CAN STEW WITH THIS NEWS:

WHY DIDN'T YOU OBJECT WHEN CLINTON WAS SHOVING A MICROPHONE UP YOUR ASS AND TELLING YOU TO PUT SOME ICE ON IT IF YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT.

ALL THE WHILE THE NEW YORK TIMES WAS HELPING HIM GREASE THE MIC AND TELL YOU IT DOESN'T HURT:

Under Clinton, NY Times called surveillance "a necessity"
January 12th, 2006

The controversy following revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored suspected terrorist related communications since 9/11 reflects a severe case of selective amnesia by the New York Times and other media opponents of President Bush. They certainly didnt show the same outrage when a much more invasive and indiscriminate domestic surveillance program came to light during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. At that time, the Times called the surveillance a necessity.

If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, theres a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the countrys largest intelligence agency. (Steve Kroft, CBS 60 Minutes)

Those words were aired on February 27, 2000 to describe the National Security Agency and an electronic surveillance program called Echelon whose mission, according to Kroft,

is to eavesdrop on enemies of the state: foreign countries, terrorist groups and drug cartels. But in the process, Echelons computers capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world.

Echelon was, or is (its existence has been under-reported in the American media), an electronic eavesdropping program conducted by the United States and a few select allies such as the United Kingdom.

Tellingly, the existence of the program was confirmed not by the New York Times or the Washington Post or by any other American media outlet these were the Clinton years, after all, and the American media generally treats Democrat administrations far more gently than Republican administrations but by an Australian government official in a statement made to an Australian television news show.

The Times actually defended the existence of Echelon when it reported on the program following the Australians revelations.

Few dispute the necessity of a system like Echelon to apprehend foreign spies, drug traffickers and terrorists.

And the Times article quoted an N.S.A. official in assuring readers

...that all Agency activities are conducted in accordance with the highest constitutional, legal and ethical standards.

Posted by: Patton on January 13, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

RSM, your playing at soldier has nothing to do with your cowardice. You obviously have no concern for the nation built by our Founding Fathers or you wouldn't support the gutting of the protections they built into our Constitution.

As to thinking, I look forward to your first thoughtful post.

Posted by: on January 13, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

We already know there where listening in on the Kerry camp before the election,How do we know Carl Camren from fox news gave it away.

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Moron

Republican fellating bedwetter

Posted by: Blue State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I am sure I will now be attacked personnaly for daring to point out that Clinton was twice as bad as Bush and the NYT cheered him on -- and so did all the lefties here who are now outraged we dare tap Al Queda.

Posted by: Patton on January 13, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, for the record, none of the reason for 9/11 was that terrorists had convinced themselves that we wouldn't do anything. what kind of silliness is that?

you've got a small but determined group of people who hate modernity and see the united states as part of the desecration of sacred islamic lands and who believe certain kinds of acts of murder guarantee them eternal happiness, and you think they give a good god-damn about whether we "respond."

give us a break: were that the case, AQ would have said, post-afghani invasion, shucks, i guess they're responding, let's go home....

Posted by: howard on January 13, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind Iran was chasing the Bomb long before we invaded Iraq.

Yeah, maybe your wise Republican president should have dealt with the real threat. Duh.

Posted by: Blue State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

"none of the reason for 9/11 was that terrorists had convinced themselves that we wouldn't do anything. "

And your evidence for that is?

Posted by: cecce on January 13, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

You think Kevin will now admit Clinton should have been impeached for Echelon alone:

Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005 10:10 p.m. EST
Clinton NSA Eavesdropped on U.S. Call

During the 1990's under President Clinton, the National Security Agency monitored millions of private phone calls placed by U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries under a super secret program code-named Echelon.

The NSA had been monitoring private domestic telephone conversations on a much larger scale throughout the Clinton 1990s - all of it done without a court order, let alone a catalyst like the 9/11 attacks.

In February 2000, for instance, CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft introduced a report on the Clinton-era spy program by noting:

"If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, there's a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the country's largest intelligence agency. The top-secret Global Surveillance Network is called Echelon, and it's run by the National Security Agency."
NSA computers, said Kroft, "capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world."

Echelon expert Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told "60 Minutes" that the agency was monitoring "everything from data transfers to cell phones to portable phones to baby monitors to ATMs."

Mr. Frost detailed activities at one unidentified NSA installation, telling "60 Minutes" that agency operators "can listen in to just about anything" - while Echelon computers screen phone calls for key words that might indicate a terrorist threat.

The "60 Minutes" report also spotlighted Echelon critic, then-Rep. Bob Barr, who complained that the project as it was being implemented under Clinton "engages in the interception of literally millions of communications involving United States citizens."


MAYBE THE NEW YORK TIMES CAN EXPLAIN WHY THEY WERE SO LOVING OF THE CLINTON SPYING ON AMERICANS BUT BELIEVE BUSH WAS BREAKING THE LAW..

PERHAPS KEVIN DRUM CAN EXPLAIN THE SAME...BUT HE WON'T, BECAUSE HE HAS NO CHARACTER, SIMPLY BASHING FOR THE SAKE OF BASHING.

Posted by: Patton on January 13, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Republican fellating bedwetter

Democrat mongoloid snotsucker

Moron wrote:
You obviously have no concern for the nation built by our Founding Fathers or you wouldn't support the gutting of the protections they built into our Constitution.

If you had read what I wrote in this thread above, you'd see that I am calling for hearings and want to know what's going on. At a minimum I want better oversight by the people via the legislative branch. My concern is that the democrats will f$%^# it up by overreaching and turn it into a referendum on impeachment, which guarantees nothing will change.

But then, knowing this would require you to actually read and think, and you're a moron who can't.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Patton - cut&paste AND caps-lock in the same post?

Posted by: peanut on January 13, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

shush patton, the adults are talking now.

Posted by: cleek on January 13, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

An attack on Iran would be from the air only, the US doesn't have the soldiers or support to handle another invasion like Iraq. The air attack would be mostly meaningless with respect to Iranian nuclear facilities unless the air attacks were nuclear in nature. Nuclear bombs risk nuclear fallout over Padistan and India. Hardening of nuclear facilities in Iran probably dictates nuclear attacks to actually accomplish any real diminished nuclear abilities for Iran. However, Bush wouldn't attack Iran to reduce the threat from there, he would attack to insure a republican majority in congress.

For those that seem to be intellectually challenged, if Bush began wire-tapping prior to 9/11 then it would appear that wire-tapping was unable to stop 9/11 from occurring. In other words, for 9/11, wire-tapping was ineffective. But, of course, Bush had everything to gain from the success of 9/11. If he'd known of it beyond all doubt would he have done anything to stop it? So far I haven't seen anything that would make me believe that Bush is competent enough to actually excell in being a traitor. Stupid enough, yes, but way to incompetent. The man can't even keep his lies straight.

Posted by: MRB on January 13, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Patton, your caps lock is on.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

And Clintons Echelon is listening......

Posted by: Patton on January 13, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

That's because you made it up. "The more likely truth is..." isn't going to hold up very well as evidence in a hearing.

Well, I didn't make it all up. I intuited it from 5 years of watching these guys. Please show me the evidence for assuming reasonable behavior from this administration.

It'a all either totally malevalent (lies and misdirection to go into Iraq, K Street project, etc) or incompetent (Iraq, Katrina, Medicare, pretty much everything else they've touched). Even "petty" things like watching the cars of people attending Bush rallies and then impersonating Secret Service officers to eject them - it's all of a piece.

So I look at that and I think "If people like that believed they were allowed to do anything they want, what would they want to do?"

And the answers are obvious and disturbing.

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

whoa, snotsucker is going overboard there RSM!

Posted by: on January 13, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes Patton and with no help from your side Clinton was out front going after the terrorists,All we got from you guys then was what terrorists,Wag the dog,Fire a missle for Monica.Fact is Clinton was going after these guys and Bush did nothing untill it was to late.

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: "Part of the reason for 9/11 is that the terrorists convinced themselves we were all talk and no action."

This, I think, profoundly misunderstands terrorist motivations. I would even venture to say that the actions we've taken thus far satisfy them enormously. It's difficult to imagine how anything we've done in the wake of 9/11 has disabused any terrorists of ideas about attacking us.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on January 13, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Patton - cut&paste AND caps-lock in the same post?

Dear me, you must be new here. When Alice's meds run out she trolls the boards as a pseudonymous tank commander. It's best to ignore her until her thorazine gets back to a therapeutic level.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 13, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how time changes people's memories. I seem to recall Chimpy whining and smirking and digging his heels in and having to be dragged by the Dems into agreeing to support a Homeland Security dept. Months later, he reluctantly changed his tune. But go ahead, don't let me get in the way of a good story.

Posted by: melior on January 13, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK
I've seen that meme floated a bunch of times, but I'm having a hard time seeing how being on both sides of Iran (Afghanistan and Iraq) is a huge negative.

It wouldn't be, if those places (Iraq, particularly) were stable, friendly countries from which we could base operations.

Having most of the US military's land combat power deployed trying to hold a lid on a cauldron of internal violence in Iraq, OTOH, is a big negative to the ability to credibility threaten Iran.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

"PERHAPS KEVIN DRUM CAN EXPLAIN THE SAME...BUT HE WON'T, BECAUSE HE HAS NO CHARACTER, SIMPLY BASHING FOR THE SAKE OF BASHING."

Why should there be any justification for bashing Bush? Do we need justification to bash Hitler? Hitler at least won his elections.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 13, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

whoa, snotsucker is going overboard there RSM!

Following current trends, I've outsourced my insulting...

Arabian Insult Generator

May three bazillion violent voters consummate the marriage of Satan after pledging allegiance to your political party.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter wingnuts: "Eeek! terrorists are scary, help save me daddy!"

The smell of fear-urine is thick on them.

Posted by: melior on January 13, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Democrat mongoloid snotsucker

See, that's the problem with you inbred goatfucking Republicans--you don't even know the difference between a noun and an adjective, and you wonder why we all think you're such dipshits.

Posted by: Blue State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

howard:

tbrosz, for the record, none of the reason for 9/11 was that terrorists had convinced themselves that we wouldn't do anything. what kind of silliness is that?

Few days ago the news agencies had reported that the Defence Secretary of the Crusading Americans had said that "the explosion at Riyadh and Al-Khobar had taught him one lesson: that is not to withdraw when attacked by coward terrorists".

We say to the Defence Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you all. Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 mainly marines solders were killed. And where was this courage of yours when two explosions made you to leave Aden in lees than twenty four hours!

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.

That's from bin Laden's 1996 fatwa.

Our recent history of standing up to serious opposition from radical Islamists and others has not been the greatest under either party. Only Clinton is mentioned by name, but don't forget Beirut was Reagan's. I could probably also add the first Bush leaving Saddam in power to massacre at will.

That being said, I tend to agree that there are those among our enemies who would not be deterred even if they knew we would retaliate.

I'm not sure bin Laden is among them. He sure didn't seem like he was expecting the invasion of Afghanistan, particularly one aimed at complete regime change.

I'm still hoping Iran can be deterred by Israel's military, but what I've been seeing of the leadership worries me on that account.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

...at what point would you,... consider Iran to be enough of a threat to attack?

When they land troops on continental (N. America) US soil. Not a moment sooner.

When would a wise Republican consider Iran to be a threat?

When it looks like Republicans may lose elections because of corruption investigations/indictments.

If you consider Iran to be a threat simply because they develop a nuclear weapon, think how they feel having thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at them right now by the US. tbrosz is unable to think, being able only to mimic the president's hysterical fear.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 13, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton on wiretapping:

Clinton, in an interview broadcast Thursday on the ABC News program ''Nightline,'' said his administration either received court approval before authorizing a wiretap or went to court within three days after to get permission, as required by law.

''We either went there and asked for the approval or, if there was an emergency and we had to do it beforehand, then we filed within three days afterward and gave them a chance to second guess it,'' Clinton told ABC.

...''I felt that the court and the setup was more than enough to do what we needed to do.''

http://www.sltrib.com/nationworld/ci_3398375

Posted by: Jon on January 13, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: Part of the reason for 9/11 is that the terrorists convinced themselves we were all talk and no action.

Every account I have ever heard of Osama bin Laden's motivations for the 9/11 attacks, including his own audio and video recordings, indicates that the exact opposite is true: he expected and hoped for "action" by the US in response to the attacks. Specifically, he hoped that the US would attack one or more Arab and/or Islamic countries in response, beginning the religious world war between "the West" and "Islam" that he believes he and his kind will win. So far, Bush has more than fulfilled bin Laden's wildest dreams.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

The smell of fear-urine is thick on them.

yeah, Patton smells like a latrine that hasn't been cleaned for several years. Someone tell his mommy to change his Huggies.

Posted by: Blue State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK
Bush and his congressional ilk (not all Republicans) are not only a threat because of their disdain for the Constitution, but because they're so bad at fighting terrorism and other threats.

Their disdain for the ideals of freedom embodied in the Constitution are a key part of why they are so bad at fighting terrorism and other threats.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"or incompetent (Iraq, Katrina, Medicare, pretty much everything else they've touched)."

I thought with Katrina, Bush didn't help black folks on purpose, because he hates blacks? I'd move Katrina into the malevolent category.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 13, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Poor RSM, afraid of his own shadow and left resorting to name-calling. Is it because you know that the correct response to an executive who has contravened our laws isn't merely an investigation but is, in fact, impeachment? Or perhaps because real oversight shouldn't come from the Republicans in Congress but from the Judicial Branch? Or is it just because I called you on the fact that your service had nothing to do with defending America? What national security issues were involved in either Iraq or Bosnia?

Here's a clue, RSM, there hasn't been a soldier killed in defense of this nation since the bulk of what are now red states rose up in mass treason.

Posted by: on January 13, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

fwg: Bush seems pretty confident of his position since he has the constitutional war powers, legal precedent and the executive orders of the two previous presidents on his side.


every bully does.....before someone takes a swing at them...

as for gwb being confident....

his actions wreak of confidence....(saracsm off)

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 13, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why should there be any justification for bashing Bush? Do we need justification to bash Hitler?

F.F., knock it off

Posted by: cleek on January 13, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty simple, try reading it slowly: The FISA amendment hadn't been passed yet when Clinton sought approval for surveillance.

Not even a nice try there, really, just juvenile regurgitation of long-discredited Rove talking points.

Smarter trolls, please, prefarably smart enough to figure out how Caps Lock works.

Posted by: melior on January 13, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this cause the "Democratic Party to look like bullies?"

It doesn't make sense.

Jeebus Kevin - would Bush talk about mushroom clouds again - know how much this was a lie - most Americans would react negatively to repeated alarmism in light of Iraq war BS.

There is no f**king way Bush is going do that Kevin.

Why not just take Bush at his word and say fine, lets do a independent investigation - BECAUSE BUSH said HE wanted it - WELCOMED IT. So NONE of the usually monkey buisness that Bush used against the 9/11 commissioners. Bush doesn't get to choose anyone - only congress - no holds bar. Bush said he wanted to be investigate - so just what is Bush's word worth?

Why did Bush NOT consult the FISA court and break the law? THERE was no need for it.

For Democrats to continue listening to centrist Dems tell congress members prepeatedly NOT to react to ANYTHING Bush is doing because it's a political trick is the real problem with today's congressional Dems - the reason why they have a total lack of leadership and all mind numb fear of Bush - it's costing Dems sets in office. This is why I would have fired Al From for saying "that's now how everyone feels" (about Bush) - AND now when MOST Americans DO feel that way about Bush, and that Bush is in the wrong - that the country is headed in wrong direct - it's deadly for Dems to continue doing nothing in the face of it all.

To continue to ask the Democrats to do nothing becaues it's political not safe undercuts the guys at NSA or the DoJ who were the whistleblowers of this act. It serves politican fine - but doesn't serve the people of the US. If Bush has nothing to hide, fine - increase the size of the FISA court to accomdate Bush's wiretapping needs because EVERY president needs some oversight in a democracy - that is what most American want and not a doing nothing congressional party that Kevin is now suggesting the Dems get used too.

Bush has so fucked up Iraq, so categorically lied to the UN, caused great disturst of the US that NO American has the stomach for air strikes with Iran, no matter how alarmed Bush tells Americans to be - any mushroom cloud talk is NOT the ticket to winning seats in 2006.

It'll just remind the public that Bush lies. That certainly isn't going to be Bush's winning hand in 2006 - talking about Iran when we can't even get out of Iraq without losing it utterly.

Bush has made the US less safe, not more safe - and most Americas know this very well. NATO won't help the US anymore. Bushs isolation policies have the left the US in a very dangerous place. Only a Democat like Howard Dean could put the American diplomacy back to working the way it was before Bush told the UN it was irrelevant. NATO wouldn't even help Wes Clark anymore than they helped Bush. Mostly because the UN knows that Bill Clinton lied just as badly as did George Bush.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 13, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

. . . the U.S. government repeated a previous Bush administration claim -- that Chavez, while democratically elected, uses his country's democratic institutions to impose authoritarian rule.

Pretty much like George Bush and the GOP do in America.

I guess it takes one to know one.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 13, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter tbrosz: "Eek, Iranians! Please help keep me safe Israel!"

Posted by: melior on January 13, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

So, with that out of the way, what do you do if you pose a "credible" threat of invasion, your opponent calls your bluff, and then...

Is this too hard for you guys to understand?

Look, you don't SAY that you're going to invade, OK, unless you outline clear guidelines for that invasion, which you commit to if they are satisfied. Ordinarily you DON'T have to do that -- you simply say, we're keeping all military options on the table, WITHOUT making a commitment to the precise circumstances under which those options might be used.

But what has Bush done? Made it 100% obvious that some of those potential options, including anything involving a substantial number of ground troops ARE OFF THE TABLE. We can't do that, because we don't have the personnel -- it's as simple as that. And EVERYONE knows it, including the Iranians (not to mention the North Koreans).

Bush has put our ability to defend ourselves properly against Iran in serious jeopardy.

Look, guys, even if you're Bush colored glasses won't allow you to understand this point, I guarantee that most Americans can grasp this simple game playing strategy.

It's not hard to get.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Never heard this of this one before, how about a reference:

...His rape of a 15 year-old girl when he was 22;...

The Conservative Deflator

Posted by: JA on January 13, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

holy crap! this thread is all over the place.

Posted by: General Booger on January 13, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cheryl:

Exactly.

If the Dems don't grow a spine on this, the GOP will just call them flip-flopping johnny-come-latelys to the seriousness of the GWOT and the Iranian threat.

So WTF are we letting fear of *their* reaction dictate *our* strategy?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

A little analogy for the position Bush has put us in.

Suppose you want to defend yourself against a bad guy by putting your figure in your coat pocket, pretending it's a gun, and threatening to shoot him if he doesn't leave you alone.

Well, Bush has put us in a position in which we would have to that, but without any coat pocket, just with our bare hand and finger. Bad guy response? Mucho laughter in our face.

And everybody KNOWS the threat of ground troops against Iran is empty; they don't exist.

And THAT is why Bush has damaged our national security.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 13, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican campaign for 2006 will consist of fear-mongering, lying, cheating and stealing no matter what the Democrats do or don't do.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Secular:

Yep. Shorter Cheryl :)

And the goddamned truth.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

My sense is that Kevin is too chicken. Depending on how you ask the questions, lots of people don't much like unsupervised wiretapping. They'll give lots of leeway in "emergencies," of course, but my guess is that sober consideration of what's going will show that it's not an "emergency" operation. It's business as usual, 24/7, without much regard for who's getting spied on. All certified by John Yoo, of course. Now, this ought to be investigated. Some, and maybe a lot, of it need not however, be castigated. And due deference can be given the president, as FISA does, if the mushroom cloud is in sight.

Congress certainly ought to know what's going on, whatever it is. And I don't exactly see how it's politically bad for the Democrats if they try to find out. And maybe, contrary to what Kevin surmises, it's really out of control. So I say, go ahead.

Anyway, won't a lot of this have to be secret or something?

Posted by: David in NY on January 13, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

holy crap! this thread is all over the place.

Yes, trolls get nervous & create chaos whenever we're discussing something they hope MSM doesn't get a hold of...

Posted by: Jon on January 13, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK
The Republican campaign for 2006 will consist of fear-mongering, lying, cheating and stealing no matter what the Democrats do or don't do.

Right. And just in case that's not clear enough, the corollary is that for Democratic "leaders" to cower and be afraid to stand up for what's right just because it might provoke Republican fear-mongering, lying, and cheating is, in addition to being craven, also futile and counterproductive.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist:

Every account I have ever heard of Osama bin Laden's motivations for the 9/11 attacks, including his own audio and video recordings, indicates that the exact opposite is true: he expected and hoped for "action" by the US in response to the attacks.

I put in a quote, with a link. I'd be glad to look at any bin Laden quotes supporting your views on his motivations.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

holy crap! this thread is all over the place.

Yes, trolls get nervous & create chaos whenever we're discussing something they hope MSM doesn't get a hold of...

(Like Bush's pre-911 warrantless wiretapping in case that wasn't clear)

Posted by: Jon on January 13, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK
I put in a quote, with a link. I'd be glad to look at any bin Laden quotes supporting your views on his motivations.

So, your implicit premise, is that terrorists are honest in their public statements, so we should take them at face value as to motives?

Well, I'm so glad you trust the terrorists so much.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0
A little analogy for the position Bush has put us in.

Suppose you want to defend yourself against a bad guy by putting your figure in your coat pocket, pretending it's a gun, and threatening to shoot him if he doesn't leave you alone.

Well, Bush has put us in a position in which we would have to that, but without any coat pocket, just with our bare hand and finger. Bad guy response? Mucho laughter in our face.

I don't have the slightest idea why you think we have an empty pocket. We've got B-2 bombers and cruise missiles out the wazoo, and bunker busters designed just for a trip to nuke facilityland. The idea that we can't invade Iran and therefore are not a threat is a non-starter because we wouldn't want to in the first place. Invasion is not the threat.

If we attack Iran, it'll be an Air Force-Navy show. And they're not overextended in Iraq by any means.

I'd pick a different analogy. Seen the Godfather III? The scene where the character tells bad guy #1 holding a hostage to hold real still, than blows bad guy #2's head off? Bad guy #2 would be Iraq. And Afghanistan. Bad guy #1 is Iran, who having watched Afghanistan and Iraq get there's, has no doubt they are in the crosshairs.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

The, um, elephant in the room here is that everyone seems to be biting on the idea that this is all about intercepting communications with "suspected terrorists" (a phrase which, btw, seems to trump all rational judgement in americans). Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 4:09 PM

Bingo! It's up to the executive branch to PROVE to the Judicial branch that what they are doing is in accordance to their Constitutional duties.

I will note to the trollitariat here that the Founders didn't leave all war powers exclusively with the President. You might want to note that the power to declare war is delegated to Congress, not the President.

And since Congress has not declared any "War on Terrorism" Bush cannot claim any special powers "due to war".

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 13, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike:

Nice macho movie imagery.

Only one little problem. Nobody -- including Mossad -- knows where their nuke facilities are.

We *do* have a good surmise, though, that they're duplicated and spread all around the country, many of the probably smack-dab in civilian neighborhoods.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: Iran, who having watched Afghanistan and Iraq get there's, has no doubt they are in the crosshairs.

And Iran, having watched nuclear-armed Pakistan and North Korea not "get theirs", has no doubt that they need to get nuclear-armed in a hurry.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Look, you don't SAY that you're going to invade, OK, unless you outline clear guidelines for that invasion, which you commit to if they are satisfied. Ordinarily you DON'T have to do that -- you simply say, we're keeping all military options on the table, WITHOUT making a commitment to the precise circumstances under which those options might be used."

If frankly0 was prez, the mullahs would be quaking in their boots.

Posted by: cecce on January 13, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Add to the TV ads:

Why did we send 130,000 troops to do a job the Pentagon and Paul Bremer said would take at least twice that many? Because Bush and the Republicans won't do what it takes to keep America safe.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on January 13, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

cecce, this is why the dems are doing so well in convincing people they should be in the driver's seat.

Posted by: peanut on January 13, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Let see,The reason for attacking Clinton was out of fear of Monica.Yes you can smell the urine.

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: "I'm not sure bin Laden is among them. He sure didn't seem like he was expecting the invasion of Afghanistan, particularly one aimed at complete regime change."

The idea that, by invading either Afghanistan or Iraq, we've somehow thwarted the ambitions of bin Laden just isn't persuasive. Whether or not he was surprised by an invasion of Afghanistan (and it's difficult to imagine that he was), it's unlikely that he was disappointed it happened. I would imagine that continued attacks - like Al Qaeda's throughout the '80s & '90's, then continuing in this century - would be orchestrated to elicit the kinds of responses he's gotten. This isn't to say we should have done nothing. Afghanistan was justified & even necessary. You can't say that so easily about the other things we've been pursuing & talking about here.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on January 13, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

red state mike,

We've got B-2 bombers and cruise missiles out the wazoo, and bunker busters designed just for a trip to nuke facilityland.

If this is such a feasible option for Iran, why wasn't it for Iraq?

Posted by: Edo on January 13, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK
I don't have the slightest idea why you think we have an empty pocket. We've got B-2 bombers and cruise missiles out the wazoo, and bunker busters designed just for a trip to nuke facilityland.

Now, if only we had "secret nuke facility location seeking" bunker busters, that might be worth something (if, of course, we weren't in Iraq.)

The idea that we can't invade Iran and therefore are not a threat is a non-starter because we wouldn't want to in the first place. Invasion is not the threat.

The presence of our troops in Iraq, subject to various threats well within Iran's power, make any threat of US force, even if it would be practical and effective otherwise, less credible.


I'd pick a different analogy. Seen the Godfather III? The scene where the character tells bad guy #1 holding a hostage to hold real still, than blows bad guy #2's head off? Bad guy #2 would be Iraq. And Afghanistan. Bad guy #1 is Iran, who having watched Afghanistan and Iraq get there's, has no doubt they are in the crosshairs.

And having seen Iraq be attacked even when they were substantively complying, while North Korea and Pakistan (the latter a major state sponsor of al-Qaeda, who, I should remind you, actually attacked the United States on 9/11) either get off scott free or (in the latter case) be awarded the status of "major ally" of the United States, where do you think their incentives are? Certainly not complying with disarmanent requests. Arming themselves as well and as rapidly as possible. Because, as we've shown, its the only way to be safe from senseless invasion by the US, and, hey, if you are a rogue nuclear power and sponsor terrorists who attack the United States and trade nuclear technology to other rogue states, so that you have something to make a show of stopping when the US gets attacked by one of your partners, you may even get to be a major US ally, with great access to US made weapons.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

We *do* have a good surmise, though, that they're duplicated and spread all around the country, many of the probably smack-dab in civilian neighborhoods.

Undoubtedly. Martyrdom being a sure fire ticket to heaven in Islam collateral damage doesn't quite carry the same onus there as it does here. Remember the "human wave" attacks of the Iran/Iraq war? Mike, your analogy may be stirring, but real life is a lot more complicated than cinematic artifice. Bombing Iran had better be a last resort.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 13, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK
If this is such a feasible option for Iran, why wasn't it for Iraq?

Apparently, RSM thinks that bombers can strike targets whose locations are not known, but not ones that do not exist.

Which, I suppose, has a bit of truth -- the latter is much harder to do. Though you could just bomb randomly and claim you destroyed the nonexistent WMD facilities.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 13, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> Because, as we've shown, its the only way to be safe
> from senseless invasion by the US, and, hey, if you
> are a rogue nuclear power and sponsor terrorists who
> attack the United States and trade nuclear technology
> to other rogue states, so that you have something to
> make a show of stopping when the US gets attacked
> by one of your partners, you may even get to be a
> major US ally, with great access to US made weapons.

LOL! Hey, it worked for old Pervez, didn't it.

Sheesh. One gnat's moustache away from a coup that would land
the Islamic Bomb in the hands of some dobandis and salafis who
make the Iranian mullahs look as threatening as Bolivian peasants.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats have a deep down death wish--they don't want to be the party in power. Let me list the reasons why:

1-the Republicans have so screwed up the country with their hatred of governance, huge debt, disaster of a war in Iraq that the Dems feel it's crazy to take on such a wounded country.

and...

2. They'll get shit from the Republicans no matter what they do: weak on defense, friends of terrorists, haters of business, etc.

So we have really a one party state..kind of a kleptocratic monarchy actually.

This is not good.

Anyone see a way out?


Posted by: Rootless Cosmopolitan on January 13, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone see a way out?

I'm thinking of moving in with tbrosz. Apparently, it's all gravy where he lives.

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's clear that those who are making outrageous claims against the critics of the Bush administration know very well that their beloved leader of the cult known as the First Holy Order Of George Walker Bush has broken the law and the only way for them to defend him is to duck the issue by questioning the patriotism of the critics.

Posted by: lib on January 13, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

That is the issue. Bombing could achieve victory in 2006 within the US and basically nothing with respect to Iran and their nuclear capabilities. Which is all republicans are concerned about anyway. The dog and pony show would then be considered effective.

Posted by: MRB on January 13, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking of moving in with tbrosz. Apparently, it's all gravy where he lives.

Except for the helmet law.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 13, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Just to beat up on poor RSM a bit more, what do you suppose the reaction of the Iraqi Shiites would be if the US attacked Iran? Right now we're only hanging on in Iraq by our fingernails because the Shiites are allowing us to stay -- but once they turn against us and rise up we won't be able to hold the country anymore.

Posted by: Stefan on January 13, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Except for the helmet law.

Bwa!

Posted by: shortstop on January 13, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking of moving in with tbrosz. Apparently, it's all gravy where he lives.

Now I'm occupied with visions of craigie and Flanders perched side-by-side in Ned's garage, fighting over the computer. Ned thinks he should get to use it first because he spends more time on it. craigie argues, correctly, that though his contributions are fewer in number, they represent a far higher standard of quality. Tom blathers on in a teaching tone. craigie raises his eyebrows sardonically, saying nothing, conveying everything, and goes inside to get the beer he's going to need to get through this evening.

Posted by: shortstop on January 13, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: "Now I'm occupied with visions of craigie and Flanders perched side-by-side in Ned's garage, fighting over the computer. Ned thinks he should get to use it first because he spends more time on it. craigie argues, correctly, that though his contributions are fewer in number, they represent a far higher standard of quality. Tom blathers on in a teaching tone. craigie raises his eyebrows sardonically, saying nothing, conveying everything, and goes inside to get the beer he's going to need to get through this evening."

I think I saw that piloted on ABC. Right after the show about the fat, dopey guy with the hot wife.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on January 13, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Did I mention that after craigie goes beer hunting Tom continues to pontificate, oblivious to craigie's absence?

Posted by: shortstop on January 13, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

does tbrosz live anywhere? and will we find gravy there?

it seems he lives only in this blog. and he seems to spend all his time here.

Posted by: Dr Wu -I'm just an ordinary guy on January 13, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

FYI ...

Gore to Address "Constitutional Crisis"
By John Nichols
The Nation
Friday 13 January 2006

It sounds as if Al Gore is about to deliver what could be not just one of the more significant speeches of his political career but an essential challenge to the embattled presidency of George W. Bush.

In a major address slated for delivery Monday in Washington, the former Vice President is expected to argue that the Bush administration has created a "Constitutional crisis" by acting without the authorization of the Congress and the courts to spy on Americans and otherwise abuse basic liberties.

Aides who are familiar with the preparations for the address say that Gore will frame his remarks in Constitutional language. The Democrat who beat Bush by more than 500,000 votes in the 2000 presidential election has agreed to deliver his remarks in a symbolically powerful location: the historic Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. But this will not be the sort of cautious, bureaucratic speech for which Gore was frequently criticized during his years in the Senate and the White House.

Indeed, his aides and allies are framing it as a "call to arms" in defense of the Bill of Rights and the rule of law in a time of executive excess.

The vice president will, according to the groups that have arranged for his appearance - the bipartisan Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy - address "the threat posed by policies of the Bush Administration to the Constitution and the checks and balances it created. The speech will specifically point to domestic wiretapping and torture as examples of the administration's efforts to extend executive power beyond Congressional direction and judicial review."

Coming only a few weeks after US Representative John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, introduced resolutions to censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and to explore the issue of impeachment, Gore in expected to "make the case that the country - including the legislative and judicial branches and all Americans - must act now to defend the systems put into place by the country's founders to curb executive power or risk permanent and irreversible damage to the Constitution."

Don't expect a direct call for impeachment from the former vice president. But do expect Gore to make reference to Richard Nixon, whose abuses of executive authority led to calls for his impeachment - a fate the 37th president avoided by resigning in 1974.

Gore's speech will add fuel to the fire that was ignited when it was revealed that Bush had secretly authorized National Security Agency to monitor communications in the United States without warrants. Gore will argue that the domestic wiretapping policy is only the latest example of the administration exceeding its authority under the Constitution.

With a Congressional inquiry into Bush's repeated violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act scheduled to begin in February - and with Bush already preparing to pitch an Nixon-style defense that suggests it is appropriate for the executive branch to violate the law when national security matters are involved - Gore will articulate the more traditional view that reasonable checks and balances are required even in a time of war. And he will do so in a bipartisan context that will make it tougher for Republican critics to dismiss the former vice president's assertion that the Constitution is still the law of the land.

Former US Representative Bob Barr, the Georgia Republican who served as one of the most conservative members of the House, plans to introduce Gore. Barr, an outspoken critic of the abuses of civil liberties contained in the USA Patriot Act critic who has devoted his post-Congressional years to defending the Bill of Rights, refers to the president's secret authorization of domestic wiretapping as "an egregious violation of the electronic surveillance laws."

Count on Gore, who has pulled few punches in the speeches he has delivered in recent months, to be at least as caustic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 13, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop, you are wasted as a baseball player. You should be out here pitching sitcoms. I'm still giggling.

So, Flanders as Cliff Clavin, is that it?

All I ask is that I be allowed to portray myself in this thing; I am so looking forward to peering at Tom with my eyebrows raised sardonically. It may be what I do best!

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

"It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently."

- Jack A. Abramoff

Sound like the words of a guy who would make massive contributions to the Dems?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone see a way out?

Getting a job in Canada isn't easy. But if there isn't an anschluss before then, I know where I'm going when I retire.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 13, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

this is why the dems are doing so well in convincing people they should be in the driver's seat

Look. I'd like somebody in the driver's seat who doesn't have Dry Drunk Syndrome.

Posted by: SED on January 13, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

does tbrosz live anywhere? and will we find gravy there? - Dr Wu -I'm just an ordinary guy

More to the point, what color is the sky where tbrosz lives? Oh, and if you FIND gravy there for christs sake don't touch it!

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on January 13, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

How can people be considering war with Iran when we have troops in Iraq that are running on empty? They don't have adequate equipment, most have done two or more tours, and there's the deep debt the U.S. has. What makes any one think a war with Iran would be run any better than this one? Are all the Al's, Jonah Goldbergs, Limbaughs, Hannitys, and Coulters going to enlist? I doubt it. It, of course, could give W a chance to finish his National Guard service; and, with stop/loss, once he was sent over, he would stay forever.

Posted by: Mazurka on January 13, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

By all means, let's not argue what we stand for. Americans love any party that put politics ahead of principles.

Posted by: BrainDeadDemocrats on January 13, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Attacking Iran is a neocon fantasy that was killed by the reality of Iraq. The public won't rally behind the issue because the president no longer has any credibility on the WMD issue and Iraq is now seen as a fiasco even by many of his supporters. The Republicans are already in enough trouble without the president giving people yet another reason to vote for a congressional check on his power.

Posted by: MFF on January 13, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wittman does indeed have baffling rocks in his head on this issue. The relevant points, which of course the Dems should emphasize, are simply that:

(1) We don't yet know for certain that Bush WAS using warrantless wiretaps just to spy on possible terrorists; and

(2) Without some kind of semi-independent observers incorporated in the system, a la FISA, there is absolutely nothing to keep him, or any future President (Hillary, maybe?) from using them to spy on political enemies a la Nixon.

While most of the pollsters stubbornly and stupidly insist on just asking the voters whether they think the President should ALWAYS be forced to get a warrant BEFORE he spies on possible terrorists -- which, of course, isn't the case even under FISA -- the recent Zogby poll showing about a 70-30 belief that this should be done only in "rare cases" indicates that the voters are willing to listen to sense on this subject if the Dems are willing to talk it.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 13, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Attacking Iran is a neocon fantasy that was killed by the reality of Iraq. The public won't rally

I have no idea what to expect, but I do believe that Bush, Rove, and Cheney are crazy enough to try anything.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 13, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz: "Have you considered what the current situation with Iran's nuclear ambitions would be if Saddam were still in power? What our options would be then? Keep in mind Iran was chasing the Bomb long before we invaded Iraq."

Well, John Keegan -- who, to put it mildly, is not a dove -- has suggested one obvious possibility: we could have once again allied with the less dangerous enemy (Saddam) against the more dangerous one (Iran):
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=FZS5BCQPJUKDLQFIQMGCFFWAVCBQUIV0?xml=/opinion/2006/01/12/do1202.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/01/12/ixportal.html

Regardless of whether we were ever willing to do that, however, the fact remains that every observer I've read says that the Administration has now ruled out any military strike against Iran because -- and solely because -- we're tied down militarily in Iraq (and that, for the same reason, we're also helpless if the Dear Leader decides to tear himself away from his Daffy Duck cartoons long enough to make serious trouble on the Korean Peninsula).

The one option we may have left to keep Iran from going nuclear at this point is a flat-out threat to nuke the country if it tries to do so -- and, at the risk of being stripped of my liberal Brownie badge, I think we may very well have to make just such a threat, and even follow through on it if need be. Before you accuse me of playing Dr. Strangelove, consider the likely results of NOT doing so. Clinton's failure to keep North Korea from getting the Bomb by any means necessary -- including, again, a believable threat of a last-ditch nuclear strike -- was his worst mistake in office, thanks to the fact that dictatorships which are desperate to prevent internal revolts are likely to do very dangerous things with their Bombs to try to acquire enough money to stay in power, and that when a tyranny finally DOES collapse violently its Bombs can easily end up going God knows where.


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 13, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

re: attacking Iran;

Bush, Condi, Cheney and, you know, What Army!?!?!?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

LOL I guess Bruce Moomaw is also crazy enough to try anything. If we nuked Iran, how high would the price of oil go? How deep and how long would the global recession be? What would the rest of the world do to contain us? I don't know. But to me, it sounds a lot worse than living with a nuclear Iran.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 13, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

With US and UK troops in southern Iraq, and Iran probably 5-10 years away from nukes, any military option is probably off the table for a few years. Rove and the like probably consider it a 2008 issue.

Until then the only likely option is multilateral sanctions. Something that the Democrats should be pushing the Bush administration towards.

Posted by: Renwick on January 13, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Digby is right, you really are an asshole, Drum.

It's hard to believe that you're not a paid operative of the GOP.

Folks, there are much better, more satisfying blogs out there by democrats....REAL democrats. I know, I've been out there discovering them and feeling more connected and optimistic about getting the dead wood out of the Democratic machine. It wasn't until digby mentioned Drum that I'd remembered that I hadn't been here at Political Animal in over a month! From daily to monthly!

If you want to become the majority ever again, leave this faint hearted blog and hook up with people who are moving and making it happen.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/
http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2006/01/fight-or-lose.html
http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/
http://www.thinkprogress.org/
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com
http://www.huffingtonpost.com
http://uggabugga.blogspot.com/
http://corrente.blogspot.com/
http://www.theleftcoaster.com/
http://www.myleftwing.com/frontPage.do

Posted by: Free At Last! on January 13, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Free at Last! - you forgot AmericaBLOG

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

"there's another looming national security issue on the near horizon as well: Iran." -- Kevin Drum


I wonder if the outing of Valerie Plame destroyed so much of the anti-nuclear-proliferation operation she ran that Iran was MORE able to get nuclear technology and materials than before Bush took office. Of course, I also wonder if Bush intentionally allowed the nuclear scientist A Q Khan of Pakistan to sell stuff to Libya, knowing it was happening, so as to have a rationale for taking Libya -- another oil producer.

Can we ever take anything at face value while Dubya is preznit?

Is it possible Dubya is the biggest aide to terrorists and the biggest danger to America that we face?

Posted by: MarkH on January 13, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

I have no idea what to expect, but I do believe that Bush, Rove, and Cheney are crazy enough to try anything

Okay, I agree about our esteemed president, who, IMHO, is trapped in the spiritual delusion know in the Eastern Orthodox church as prelest - he thinks the Almighty returns his calls. Cheney may be going senile so I half agree there, but Rove is Iago incarnate, and won't let his little flyboy get away with another frickin' disaster. BTW for anyone still interested in Kevin's original topic (as opposed to the perhaps more interesting saga of craigie and the Flanders - will Ned force craigie to give up Belgian "surrender monkey" ale for good old Coors light - low in carbs and benefiting the American Way despite its unsuitable for familytime advertising? Stay tuned) digby has an interesting rejoinder to Kevin's perspective that illustrates my viewpoint in a far more trenchant, though not quite so polite fashion than I could have myself.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 13, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

franky0:

On another point, it'll be mighty interesting if, as truthout is arguing, Bush actually implemented the NSA program well before 9/11, toward the very beginning of his Presidency.

It may be both true and coincidental with the technology arriving around 2000 and being deployed.

Posted by: chris on January 13, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote:

"If, like Tice, most Americans agree that this kind of thinking is just wrong, the Democrats will do just fine. If most Americans have the idea that "whatever it takes" in response to 9/11 is not a bad way to go about it, then the Democrats need to worry."

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK


Gov. Dean's supporters tried to do just that during the 2004 primary presidential campaign, arguing we had to go after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda rather than diverting to Iraq. The public were once again taken in by Republican lies, so here we are in Iraq with no victory in sight.

BTW, I'm glad to hear you now support Dean.

Posted by: MarkH on January 13, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

patton:

MAYBE THE NEW YORK TIMES CAN EXPLAIN WHY THEY WERE SO LOVING OF THE CLINTON SPYING ON AMERICANS BUT BELIEVE BUSH WAS BREAKING THE LAW..

Important point, irregardless of what you think of Bush, you must assume that Nixon is up for election and will have the same access to NSA intelligence that Bush does.

"You have to imagine this power in the hands of the person you most don't want to see as president, whether it be Dick Cheney or Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael Moore or Ann Coulter."
-- Bruce Schneier

Posted by: chris on January 13, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Patton wrote:

"...these were the Clinton years, after all, and the American media generally treats Democrat administrations far more gently than Republican administrations ..."

Posted by: Patton on January 13, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK


Were you on drugs during the Clinton years? Remember all the "scandals" and investigations and Kenneth Starr? Whazza mattuh wit' you boy?

Posted by: MarkH on January 13, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike:

"Nice macho movie imagery.

Only one little problem. Nobody -- including Mossad -- knows where their nuke facilities are."


rmck1 "Bob" wrote:

"We *do* have a good surmise, though, that they're duplicated and spread all around the country, many of the probably smack-dab in civilian neighborhoods."

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK


We *do not* have a good surmise. We have Dubya's word. Don't be fooled again.

Doesn't it strike you as strange that a country would distribute it's nuclear facilities all over the place and in civilian neighborhoods? Would you do such a dumbass thing? Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of trying to do such a thing?

Doesn't it sound just like the typical Republican propaganda which makes it sound oh so reasonable for us to bomb the Hell out of their whole country on the basis that it's for our self-defense?

Isn't it amazing what people will believe if they lock in on trusting a particular information source?

Posted by: MarkH on January 13, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

We know exactly where the Iran nuke facilities are. They are located to the east and west and south of Tehran. And, maybe on a few subs in the Caspian Sea.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the nuclear situation in Iran, Kevin Drum writes as if it will be a growing concern for quite some time, with nothing done until this summer or fall. However, I've read more than a few news items mentioning that Israel may act on this matter much sooner -- say by March. The pre-emptive air strikes are expected to involve cruise missiles and F15E bombers.

What's scary is assuming it happens, what will happen after such a strike? What other nations will be sucked in and which side will they take? Will nuclear weapons eventually be employed? Bush playing the bully vs. hapless Iraq is one thing, but could this eventual conflict be WAY out of his league?

Posted by: Angry on January 13, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Back from dinner out. Glad to see the arguing continues.

Stefan...
Just to beat up on poor RSM a bit more, what do you suppose the reaction of the Iraqi Shiites would be if the US attacked Iran? Right now we're only hanging on in Iraq by our fingernails because the Shiites are allowing us to stay -- but once they turn against us and rise up we won't be able to hold the country anymore.

That's the only intelligent argument I've heard here on why we possibly can't threaten Iran, from you and someone else who suggested it upthread.

To return to my previous statement, I'd like to leave this one in Europe's lap. They've been happily ensconced as trading partners with the mullahs while we've been playing bad cop. Let them do some heavy lifting for a spell. Sanctions. Sabre rattling. Etc.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 13, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

jonwash: Just for the record I am a card carrying independent with 22 years service in the US Army. I am not weak on National Security but I am very strong on checks and balances and this Congress and President and it seems now the courts have just thrown that out the window.

Fair enough, though I think "thrown that out the window" is indefensibly extreme. But the question is: what should the Democrats pose as a policy toward the nuclear arming of Iran? At least, that's the question that Kevin Drum has posed for Democrats. We are likely to face "Iraq all over again", with Iran continually in defiance of the UN Security Council and IAEA, while obtaining assistance surreptitiously from China and Russia. At minimum, the Democrats have to act and speak as though it is a serious problem originating in the Iranian political powers.

It isn't an easy win for Republicans by any means, but if the Democrats merely campaign on a slogan like "We are not weak on defence, we just don't have policies" or "Iran deserves nuclear power because the CIA overthrew Mossadegh" or something like those caricatures, then the Republicans will win by default.

Among other things, the Bush administration is building stronger military ties with both Pakistan and India, and did (with Democratic support) liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban, and did (with Democratic support) remove Saddam Hussein from power. The Clinton administration withdrew from Somalia, and led the NATO forces in Bosnia and Kosovo. the Democratic party is going to have to decide, among other things, whether it feels a nuclear armed Iran is as serious a foreign policy concern as were Kosovo and Iraq. I think that's Kevin's main point, and (except for the supercilious "crowd-pleasing") I agree.

Posted by: contentious on January 13, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

contentious: the Bush administration is building stronger military ties with both Pakistan and India

That sounds great. Pakistan is "Nukes 'R' Us" and has happily given China peeks at the military hardware we've sold them (eg F-16's).

India, along with China, is happily investing in Iran.

Why don't we cut out the middleman, ally ourselves with Iran, and sell them nukes for oil. Really we should have done that before the Iraq invasion - Iran would've made a dandy coalition partner.

Posted by: alex on January 13, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I know this has already been commented to death and I'm late to the game, but I have to say this is yet another example of the tendency of Democrats and liberals to overthink things. I think we all know that Bush will do what he can to portray those who question his decision on the NSA domestic surveillance issue as being unpatriotic, soft on terror, weak on national security, etc., etc. But it's clear that enough of the public is troubled about this that the story stays in the media; it's not just the "MSM" or the "liberal" media pushing the story, and the evidence of it's strength is the ferocity with which this administration's apologists seek to rationalize Bush's decision. It would be the worst of all possible decisions for Democrats to merely say "Well, we'll get portrayed as weak again" and then actually do something that IS weak by retreating from a fight on this issue. Controlling the perception of this program and Bush in general CANNOT be done by a party that is unwilling to attack Bush on his supposed strengths when given obvious openings. That is the tactic of a Democratic party that doesn't deserve the votes of American citizens.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on January 13, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

More details on how our entanglement in the red herring of Iraq has crippled our ability to deal with Iran's and North Korea's nuclear aspirations from Noam Scheiber at http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank?pid=5802 .

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 14, 2006 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

"We are not weak on defence, we just don't have policies"

Yeah, that's a lot worse than "We aren't just weak on defense, we also invade nations that don't pose any threat to us and get thousands of our soldiers killed for no reason. Vote Republican; we guaranty dead soldiers."

Posted by: on January 14, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I should apologize, by the way, I said no soldiers had died defending our nation since the bulk of what are now red states were committing treason. That wasn't entirely true.

Those who fought in WWII were defending our nation from those who had declared war against us. Not that those aggressor nations were likely to actually hit American soil, but at least then those soldiers were fighting a declared enemy of the United States. The same cannot be said for those whose entire career was devoted to being a world policeman. A noble deed, no doubt, but not really one involving the national security of the United States.

Too bad some of those people have moved from policing the world and slapping down aggressor nations and individuals to being cheerleaders for aggressor nations pummeling the weak in some vague hope that something good might come of it.

Posted by: on January 14, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Really RSM, you are quite a tool.

What you seem to be desperate to believe is that, despite our OBVIOUS incapability in launching any kind of GROUND attack against Iran, we have every bit as many options to threaten Iran with as we ever had.

On what grounds can a reasonable person believe that?

We can't credibly threaten to take out the leadership of Iran. We can't credibly threaten to invade Iran's potential nuclear facilities, and, on the ground, determine what the real threats are. We can't force them to accept inspectors who will determine where the real threats are, because, again we can't threaten the leadership.

In fact, every last thing that made it important for us to threaten Iraq with invasion applies to Iran as well. You, and your rightie friends, were all over the idea that an actual invasion was unavoidable to stop the threat which IRAQ posed, but are now asserting, ridiculously, that it's not even important to have a credible THREAT of such an invasion in Iran!

Again, this would be because you are a tool, pure and simple. You're a Bush shill, and can't stop yourself from finding some way to support him, however absurdly desperate it might be.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2006 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Just one further point.

Do you know why we're failing in Iraq?

Because the original mission -- ridding ourselves of the "threat" posed by Iraq -- was unnecessary, and we, for purposes of politics, had to pretend that we went in their for ANOTHER, far more difficult reason -- establishing a democracy.

If Iraq had been a genuine threat, and we had to invade it to rid us of that threat, then we could have dismantled the WMD threat, deposed the leadership, and more or less count our mission completed. Had that been all that we needed to do in Iraq, we might already be out of Iraq, and count the war as a clear success.

Now, it's obvious we never had to have that war.

But if we had done the same thing in Iran, and had dismantled any nuclear threat by physically invading, finding where the facilities were, and taking them out, and perhaps deposing the rulers who supported nuclear weapons, we could have had a limited ground engagement that would achieve an important end, and then we could have withdrawn.

But you see, this is what we CANNOT do at this time because Bush has SQUANDERED our military resources.

Is this hard to grasp?

Why, yes, if you're a Bush shill like RSM.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

geez, I go do some real work for a while, and look how far behind I get.

cmdicely:

So, your implicit premise, is that terrorists are honest in their public statements, so we should take them at face value as to motives?

Not at all. But at least a quote outranks sheer speculation.

Can we nail something down here? Bob is right about the nature of the nuclear processing targets in Iran. Unless intelligence comes up with something better, a military strike is definitely very low on the list of options. This would still be the case if we had 500,000 troops sitting around with nothing to do.

Unfortunately, the endless blatherings of the U.N. and the rest of the Enlightened are accomplishing zilch. Saddam must be kicking himself to realize that he probably could have just stood up and said, "hell, yes, Hans, I'm building nukes. What are you gonna do about it?"

What's disgusting is we haven't even escalated things to the point of U.N. sanctions, yet. Could we at least take "brinkmanship" that far?

As far as sanctions and oil imports go, we went for at least five years without importing Iraqi oil and gas prices were lower than they are now (we get like 3 or 4 percent from them now). I don't even think the U.S. imports any Iranian oil. I'm a lot more worried about Venezuela in that area, which gives us like 11 percent of our oil. Our biggest oil supplier is Canada (17 percent.)

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

Free at Last! - you forgot AmericaBLOG

And of course, Global Citizen is too modest to mention BlueGirl, RedState. But I don't mind giving it a plug.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

To the fearmongering Republicans, please, please, please make 2006 about Democrats not wanting to take the U.S. into Iran. Really, please do that.

Posted by: Demogenes Arisotphanes on January 14, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

But I don't mind giving it a plug.

Very noble of you Tom. I second the motion.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 14, 2006 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

But that's precisely why George Bush wants hearings on domestic spying. He's inviting Democrats to another round of self-immolation.

That may be true, but why is it bad for the country to learn the details of the secret spying programs of the administrations of both parties? It could potentially ge true that Democratic spying was good and Republican spying was bad, but only a thorough investigation can show it, and the quote suggests fear that the Democrats will be seen to have been as bad as the Republicans.

Posted by: contentious on January 14, 2006 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

alex on January 13, 2006 at 11:28 PM, you make good points. However, India and Pakistan will be involved commercially with Iran whether we "engage" them or not. With Clinton we had no relationships with Pakistan, and that wasn't better than what we have had under Bush.

Demogenes Aristophanes: To the fearmongering Republicans, please, please, please make 2006 about Democrats not wanting to take the U.S. into Iran. Really, please do that. If the Bushies actually propose taking the US into Iran, then Democratic opposition will probably favor the Democrats. However, if the Bush administration merely floats a bunch of options and the Democrats oppose all of them for logically incompatibe reasons, then that isn't a winning strategy for the Democrats. There won't be any more "sanctions" against Iran than there are already: China, Russia, Pakistan, and India will trade all they want to, and so will everybody else. Iran is about as far from building a nuclear bomb as the US was in 1942. If their nuclear facilities are not attacked, they will build nuclear bombs (based on their recent rhetoric.) As Kevin said, commentary from the Democrats better be serious.

Posted by: contentious on January 14, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

Did you ever notice how scared the Repulicons are?
Please, please spy on my neighbors, and torture some Afghani shepherds, and rape some Iraqi boys because that might keep me safe. What a bunch of candyasses. Now they want the cabal who couldn't put 'Bin Laden determined to attack in US,' Saudis taking flying lessons and not learning how to land, the terrorist watch list, and an intercept that said the 'match is on' together to have multiples of more information. Like that will some how help. Given their state of mind, I need to open a beverage warehouse in a red state and buy more Pfizer stock.

Posted by: You, sir, are a sissy on January 14, 2006 at 4:44 AM | PERMALINK

It could potentially ge true that Democratic spying was good and Republican spying was bad, but only a thorough investigation can show it, and the quote suggests fear that the Democrats will be seen to have been as bad as the Republicans.
Posted by: contentious

change "good" and "bad" to "legal" and "illegal" and you would at least be honest.

Posted by: Nads on January 14, 2006 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

here we go ... I knew I'd read this somewhere ... stupid right wing pig fuckers can't stop lying ...

CIA director George Tenet testified to this before Congress on 4/12/00:

Im here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency

There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.

Thanks thinkprogress ...

Posted by: Nads on January 14, 2006 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

Were you on drugs during the Clinton years? Remember all the "scandals" and investigations and Kenneth Starr? Whazza mattuh wit' you boy?

YEAH, I REMEBER...AND I REMEMBER THE LAMESTREAM MEDIA ATTACKER THE INVESTIGATOR RATHER THEN THE PRESIDENT....I HEARD THE MEDIA ATTACK THE REPUBLICANS WHENEVER THEY DARED SAY SOMETHING BAD ABOUT CLINTON OR HIS WANDERING PENIS.

I REMEMBER THE MEDIA EXCUSING EVERY SCANDAL AND COVERING UP FOR THEIR BOY CLINTON.

DID YOU EVER SEE THE LAMESTREAM MEDI DO AN INVESTIGATION INTO ANY CLINTON SCANDAL?

Posted by: Patton on January 14, 2006 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK

Really RSM, you are quite a tool.

Ad hominem, are we? OK...

Geez Frankly0, you are a simpering jelly-kneed defeatist tool of the pussifed left

What you seem to be desperate to believe is that, despite our OBVIOUS incapability in launching any kind of GROUND attack against Iran, we have every bit as many options to threaten Iran with as we ever had.

What you seem desperate to believe is that the idea was that we'd ever do a massive invasion of Iran, and so therefore removal of said invasion removes all options. It was never the plan. It never will be. It's your straw bogeyman that you use to make some kind of point that we now pose NO THREAT WHATSOEVER to Iran. Horseshit.

On what grounds can a reasonable person believe that?

The exact same grounds that lead a person to see that we had no ground invasion in Kosovo, yet influenced matters there. That we never intended to invade the USSR, yet somehow influenced matters there.

You seem to think that aerial bombardment can achieve NOTHING. We don't have to hit the nuke facilities. We can hit the Mullahs. Their industries that feed the facilities. Blockades and embargoes. Or just a few nuke facilities...critical ones.

What would you have done, swept the entire country with a million man army to find their nukes? That seems to be the logical endpoint for your argument that we don't have land forces, that if we did we would have used them for some kind of house-to-house search across the Persia. What a stupid plan.

Iran for years worked slowly and persistently towards the bomb, counting on the west's willingness to simper and arm wave and even sell them the materials. Now that the whimpering is passed and the west isn't going to take it up the ass like you so want us to, they are attempting to rush to completion. I'm surprised you're not over there helping them assemble the warhead.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 14, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans can "direct a marketing campaign" in the direction of Iran all they want to but probably even most red staters realize the only thing they got from buying the last marketing campaign on the big threat from Iraq was disaster and will not be willing to trust Bushie and the Republicans when they begin to spout about "threats", even though they are probably real this time.

Bushie and the republicans shot their wad, used up their war trick, big threat trick and it won't work again for them again if the case can be made republicans cannot be trusted and no longer have any credibility when evaluating and reacting to threats after their WMD lies.

There can't be national security without credibility and accountability. Repubilcans have done away with both. If the issue is turned to "can you really believe the republicans when it comes to national security and wmd after the 'mistakes' of the past 4 years?", "restoring crediblity and accountability" or "dems can be trusted to evaluate and ensure national security issues and threats are REAL' republicans could be up against the wall.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 14, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Good old fashioned "Air Power Uber Alles" from our inhouse fly boy.

And don't forget how the Mullahs are "raping the nuns" ala Belgium in 1917. Perhaps they are getting ready to blow up our "Lusitania" again. "Remember the Maine".

Perhaps RSM dreams of being in the remake of "Thirty Seconds over Tehran". Oops, I forgot, the Twiggies have it in the can already.

Glad to know that when Saddam gassed the Shiites, who rose up because of George I, Cheney called off our intercepting Saddam's helicopters because the Saudis did not want a Shiite neighbor.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 14, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

theThirdPaul
Perhaps RSM dreams of being in the remake of "Thirty Seconds over Tehran". Oops, I forgot, the Twiggies have it in the can already.

Actually if you'd read instead of retching up canned memes, you'd know I'm advocating the Europeans get off of their asses and do some heavy lefting here. They're Iran's trading partners, they have leverage we don't short of war. Which isn't to say Frankly0's blatherings on how our alleged inability to invade Iran in a groundwar tomorrow leaves with ZERO threat is a big, steaming road apple on the intellectual journey to the solution to this problem.

But then, reading would upset you little "Here's what all conservatives think" teacart. Keep your head in the sand. It's easier than thinking.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 14, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

RSM,

Did read your posts about the Europeans. However, I also read your comments about air power. My point is that since the days of Billy Mitchell, many pilots have had the illusion that air power can accomplish everything. Drop a few well placed bombs, fire smart weaponry and everything falls into place. You still need the boots.

Wish the Europeans well, but this is an election year and Rove knows that Twiggie performs best (in polls as well) when he is on the attack.

You know, I rarely comment about your posts as I respect what you have accomplished. Peace.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 14, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

theThirdPaul,
I agree that airpower advocates have continually oversold their efficacy. Bombing of Europe in WWII. The "shock & awe" campaign in Iraq.

But it also has done the job at times. Kosovo. Osirak reactor by Israelis. Firebombing of Japan (and nukes). I agree we need boots to hold ground. I don't think we need to hold ground in Iran. But then, I don't have the slightest idea if we know where to bomb or not.

I honestly don't know what's going to come of this. Not good, is the safest bet. The Iranians have their fingers on the oil "off" button, which is to say they have us (the west) by the nads. To quote myself on another thread, suggesting what the dems ought to do in 2006/2008...

"It's the energy (independence), stupid"

I'd make that my foundation.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 14, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

What you seem desperate to believe is that the idea was that we'd ever do a massive invasion of Iran, and so therefore removal of said invasion removes all options. It was never the plan. It never will be.

Look, like a fool, I'll make my point one more time. I'll type slowly if you read slowly.

Clearly, the Iraq adventure HAS, in fact, removed one large set of options from our arsenal of threats to Iran, namely, any involving a large number of ground troops.

Now, a normal person, hearing this, would think that that is NOT a good thing, because presenting a full set of threats against Iran would be far more "persuasive". And, as I pointed out, precisely that point was made by advocates of the war against Iraq, such as you, and even those who merely supported the Congressional resolution, before we invaded Iraq. Why was that threat crucial? Because it would make the leadership fear for their power and lives, should we follow through with it. Because we would be able to be on the ground locating and destroying nascent WMD facilities. Because, in light of such threats, we might at minimum force them to agree to inspections.

Now, what you've got to argue is that somehow absolutely none of that applies to Iran. I can't even imagine what kind of justification you might have for that belief. You say there are no plans to invade Iran. I find it inconceivable that that possibility has not been entertained, strategized, and to an extent planned. How on earth can you claim to know otherwise? How many of us knew about the detailed plans to invade Iraq well before the war?

I'm not saying we present NO threats to Iran -- obviously we could launch an air attack on them. We could nuke the hell out of them, if we chose to. The problem is, do either of those represent threats Iran's leadership might fear? All of their current behavior makes it clear that they DON'T fear those options. No doubt, they don't fear bombing because they don't believe it will do much damage to them or their power. They don't fear nukes, because they know we would never use them because of the geopolitical consequences.

And again, it's simply breathtaking for YOU in particular to argue that a ground threat is of no import in persuading Iran, when you and your ilk, more than anyone else was absolutely insistent that ONLY an ACTUAL invasion of Iraq could possibly disarm the threat in Iraq -- that not even unfettered weapons inspections could possibly root out the threat posed.

And that, Mike, is why you are a tool. You argue one thing for Iraq, another for Iran, and the only consistency you have is the attachment of your lips to Bush's posterior. You know he's removed the threat of the use of ground troops from the arsenal of threats we can array against Iran, and so you absurdly try to pretend that, suddenly, that type of threat is of no consequence.

How can I respect such obvious inconsistency, done purely in service of a fave politician?

Well, Mike, I can't.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

"It's the energy (independence), stupid"

I'd make that my foundation.

I'll second that.

Posted by: trex on January 14, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Randy "Duke" Cunningham used to think that "Shock and Awe" came from dropping his drawers on K Street.

Posted by: stupid git on January 14, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"If their nuclear facilities are not attacked, they will build nuclear bombs (based on their recent rhetoric.) As Kevin said, commentary from the Democrats better be serious."

contentious - Yeah, well. Cat, meet bag. Cat, get back here!

But seriously, there are three very distinct things to consider here. The first is the reality of Iranian nukes. The second is the reality of American politics. The third is the reality of U.S. standing in the world, or lack thereof. The second make it impossible to deal with the first in a direct, violent fashion. The third makes it increasingly difficult to deal with the first in an indirect, non-violent fashion.

That leaves us grasping for those old tools - diplomacy, containment, carrots-and-sticks, threats of economic punishment, treaties, etc. - to deal with a nuclear Iran.

The thing about that particular suite of tools, is that it's a quintessentially Democratic suite of tools. The Democrats have been serious about using this suite of tools in foreign policy for going on 50+ years now. Why you or Kevin believe they are suddenly going to stop being serious is beyond me.

The Bush administration has painted itself into such a corner vis-a-vis foreign policy that any spin they try to put on Iran is easily attacked:

- It's time for diplomacy and collective pressure. Yeah? Then why have you spent the past five years undermining such an effort and the institutions needed for it?

- It's time to let the Europeans and the UN deal with it. Yeah? Variation of above, only moreso.

- It's time to gear up for a military strike on Iran. Yeah? 2,000+ dead Americans in a questionably-motivated, war of choice for murky purposes with still-hazy victory conditions, not enough for ya?

- It's time to launch "Operation Ignore" on Iran. Yeah? What happened to "with us or against us?" What happened to the "Axis of Evil?" What happened to "we can't allow the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud?"

The Dems really aren't the ones who need to worry about how the talk about Iran, in my opinion.

Posted by: Demogenes Aristophanes on January 14, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, the Iraq adventure HAS, in fact, removed one large set of options from our arsenal of threats to Iran, namely, any involving a large number of ground troops.

Fact is, if we needed to we'd call'em all back up and send them to Iran and do what we needed to do. You're right, in that I am sure lots of people war game attacking Iran all the time. We did when I wa s on active duty. While not never an option, MORON, it is a stupid one because Iran has a real army that would have required far greater callups and prep for war than Iraq ever would.

Our goal would not be to conquer their whole country, it'd be to trash their nuclear capability in one form or another. Of course you didn't bother to address my argument of just how you envision a land army would be employed, or why Iran is so much different from Kosovo and Bosnia.

Stefan made a smart argument for not attacking because it'd piss off the Shia in Iraq. Your argument is stupid.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 14, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, because as Mike knows, no ground troops were used in Kosovo and Bosnia.

Posted by: on January 14, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK
Our goal would not be to conquer their whole country, it'd be to trash their nuclear capability in one form or another.Posted by: Red State Mike
Which is nonsense. Their nuclear facilities are mostly underground like Israel's and it would take a land invasion to make certain those facilities were, in fact, destroyed. Remember how India and Pakistan engaged in tit-for-tat nuclear tests and no one had any idea they were developing the capability? You have no idea about Iran, North Korea, Venezuela or anywhere else except that we knew beyond all doubt, that Iraq had no such capability.

In referring to "our goal", are you now speaking for Cheney?

Posted by: Mike on January 14, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Their nuclear facilities are mostly underground like Israel's and it would take a land invasion to make certain those facilities were, in fact, destroyed.

So are you willing to invade Iran to stop their nuke program? You seem desperate to have it on the table as an option.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 14, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

No RSM, we are pointing out that the unnecessary adventurism Bush engaged in has ensured that no such option is available. Amusingly, when Bush was running for President in 2000 he criticized Clinton for having too many units that would have to respond "not ready" in a crisis. How many are there now?

Posted by: on January 14, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the plug, Tom, Phil. I appreciate it. No advertising over there, either.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the McLaughlin Group They summed it up perfectly. Iran is a diversion from their real problem Iraq......They reported that Iraq has lost over 100,000 lives! The same was true in Vietnam in which over 1.3Million lives were lost.....oh by the way they seemed to be doing just fine. When will we learn that Democracy MUST START within the county and owned by the people. We spent billions training the S. Vietnam forces and in a couple of weeks their back was broken (no will within) is this true with Iraq......

Posted by: Virgil Johnson on January 16, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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