Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 17, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NSA vs. FBI....For what it's worth, I wouldn't get too excited about today's New York Times story suggesting that the NSA's domestic spying program accomplished nothing except sending FBI agents on hundreds of wild goose chases. Aside from the fact that the whole thing smells pretty strongly of a bureaucratic turf war, the effectiveness of the program just isn't a big issue. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. Not every program pans out.

What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

Kevin Drum 1:58 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (220)

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If they were effective though, it would play into the administration's argument that these measures were necessary, regardless of the murkiness of the legality.

That's why this is important.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

You are right it's not important for our argument that they were illegal, and warrants should have been obtained, if even after the fact, but this is devastating in some ways to Bush's own defense and argument, if these assertions of ineffectiveness are true.

And we can both push our own arguments, and undermine Bush Administration arguments, and we should.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

So what? Even the liberal Kevin Drum doesn't think the President's lawbreaking merits impeachment.

Posted by: anonymous on January 17, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Aside from the fact that the whole thing smells pretty strongly of a bureaucratic turf war, the effectiveness of the program just isn't a big issue. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. Not every program pans out.

REALLY?
Number of attacks in America since program started after 9/11? Zero.
People arrested since 9/11 for terrorism using the wiretapping evidence: 94 as listed in this Frontpage article. And liberals are still are against wiretapping ad eavesdropping to stop the terrorists before they can attack again. *Snicker*.

Posted by: Al on January 17, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Al, how many Al Qaeda attacks have their ever been in the U.S.?

On whose watch?

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

is whorowitz's still alive??? haven't heard from him for awhile ... since he embarrassed himself over his bullshit allegations in pennsylvania.

Posted by: Nads on January 17, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

I say IMPEACH.

Posted by: lib on January 17, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Al, how many Al Qaeda attacks have their ever been in the U.S.?

And I do mean Al Qaeda attacks.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

http://gayorbit.net/?p=3208
The issue is that the liberal movement is now actively supporting Iran, a state that hangs gays in public!

And it rapes Canadian citizens!
http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1770

And it hangs women for adultery!
http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5178

You are the company you keep.

Posted by: McAristotle on January 17, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle, isn't the death penalty for adultery prominent in the Old Testament, and the command of God's inspired Word?

Or should we interpret that metaphorically?

As for your weak argument, yawn. Being opposed to bombing Iran back to the Stone Age for wanting nuclear energy (like so many others) does not equal "supporting Iran". It's actually just being opposed to economic apartheid.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

the liberal movement is now actively supporting Iran

I don't support George W. Bush, but that doesn't mean I want to kill him.

Can you "not support" the political structure of Iran, and at the same time realize that going to war with them is not a good idea?

Probably too many things for a right-winger to think of at once.

Posted by: Repack Rider on January 17, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Clearly, Iran is not a liberal democracy, and has an awful human rights record, and if we applied sanctions in this regard consistently and without prejudice (of our own self-interests) then we would be on stronger ground.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, what self-respecting tough guy would get all skirty about the "effectiveness" of a program invading the privacy of thousands of Americans. Heck, if the FISA court'll give 'em a warrant, I say they should tap whoever the fuck they wanna tap.

Meanwhile, there are reams of recordings waiting to be translated, turf warfare and bureaucratic incompetence are making a mockery the domestic end of the alleged terror war, homeland security money is distributed politically, not pragmatically, and humint is a distant memory. But it's this -- oversight-free tapping of American phones -- that is "essential" to the war on terror.

Yes, In the immediate case, the president breaking the law is salient issue.

But a strategy of paranoia and secrecy, even within the bounds of the law, won't ultimately be effective. It's perfectly legitimate to discuss that fact.

Posted by: realish on January 17, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

If Bush is willing to back off his claims to monarchical power, then impeachment will not be necessary or appropriate.

However, if he is not, if he wants to force the issue, then there is no alternative.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 17, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for putting the thread back on track realish, and good stuff.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

Rule of Law? The wingnuts only believe in that on alternate Wednesdays, just like strict constructionism, and states' rights.

Posted by: melior on January 17, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

It's probably too late for Bush to backdown now, in terms of his criminal behavior, though if he doesn't later if Congress actually gets serious about this, than his impeachment will be assured, and not just plausible.

Personally, I'd rather not see Bush impeached, since that would put crazy man in charge. Further, Dick may just retire if it looks like Bush may get impeached, so that Bush can nominate the next vice-president, who will be confirmed by the GOP-controlled Congress, and will then be the front-runner for president in 2008 as sitting vice-president, if not become president when Bush is impeached or resigns.

Think of it as the Gerald Ford scenario, only this time Ford might actually have the chutzpah to run for "reelection".

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle, isn't the death penalty for adultery prominent in the Old Testament, and the command of God's inspired Word?

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

Edited out by that Messiah figure, who liberals don't believe in with "Ye who is without sin cast the first stone".

But that's the question. How is a liberal movement so opposed to the mention of God in schools and domestically in the US, sit so happily
with the stuff that goes on in Iran.

I guess the jew-killing bit, is a deeper bond than your stand against judgemental religion.

Posted by: Mcaristotle on January 17, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

I'd rather see the Democrats batter Bush on this to a 2006 victory, to put some balance back in government, and also to get the GOP to do a little soul-searching and reinvent themselves from the oligarchic crooks they have become.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

It's an interesting thought experiment to wonder if in a few years the NSA develops advanced, mosquito-sized surveillance drones the Bushco Koolaid-drinkers will see nothing wrong with Bush collecting surveillance video inside their houses... you know, just so they can feel safe from terrorists.

Posted by: melior on January 17, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

OT: since there are too many replies to the earlier thread about immigration:

Despite KD's first comment, very few conservatives want to stop "immigration". And, those who are "friendly" towards it are that way for a $ecret rea$on that I've coded into this $entence. They are in effect paid by those companies that profit off illegal immigration.

As for citizenship, "liberals" and corrupt conservatives are trying to water down what it means. There is definite disagreement between pro-American forces (right and left) and anti-American forces (right and left) on that point.

An example of that can be found in the DREAM Act. If you're only capable of thinking about this superficially, it sounds like Sally Struthers' dream come true: giving discounted college educations to illegal alien children who were brought here by their parents.

However, those who think about it in a bit more depth realize just how anti-American and anti-citizenship it is: there are only so many discounted college educations available, so every discount given to an illegal alien represents one less that goes to a citizen.

Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are the sponsors, and it's supported by every leftwing and racial group out there. And, those groups have a great deal of influence on the Democratic Party. I believe even John Kerry supported it during his failed campaign.

So, there's one example of how most of the left don't agree with the likely position of most conservatives.

Then, there's the whole matter of illegal immigration. I've been following these matters on my blog very closely for three years, and I can't recall a single Democratic leader who's effectively opposed to illegal immigration.

"Effectively" is the key word there. For instance, Bill Richardson famously declared a state of emergency. However, he also supports benefits for illegal aliens, and some years ago he issued a call for racial solidarity. (According to "liberals", such calls are A-OK since he was doing so from his Quarter of Color).

And, last week there was a meeting of far-left Chicano activists more or less advocating for building Aztlan, a Chicanos-only homeland in the Southwest. The guest speaker was Rep. Joe Baca Sr. (D-CA).

And, as I pointed out in a comment to that thread, many politicians are former members of the racial separatist MEChA organization, and they're all Democrats.

So, yes, there are quite a few differences.

-- Illegal immigration news
Immigration Reform

Posted by: TLB on January 17, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if some day science will discover a cure for bedwetting fear of Islamofascism?

Posted by: melior on January 17, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Edited out by that Messiah figure, who liberals don't believe in with "Ye who is without sin cast the first stone".

Actually, I very much do believe "cast the first stone", and it is the foundation along with habeas corpus and the limited state for my opposition to the death penalty.

Are you on record Al that we should interpret the Old Testament metaphorically, and also that Jesus has overridden it?

What is your position on the death penalty McAristotle?

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Why do pro-aggressive-war, pro-death-penalty fake Christians always ignore the "turn the other cheek" teachings of Jeebus?

Posted by: melior on January 17, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmmn, state that makes China look liberal with head of state who says nearby state should not exist wants nuclear weapons.

Liberal movement busy impeaching their own President for fun of it to care.

-------------

Being opposed to bombing Iran back to the Stone Age for wanting nuclear energy (like so many others) does not equal "supporting Iran". It's actually just being opposed to economic apartheid.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

You mean nuclear apartheid. For mathematical prettiness, perhaps every state on Earth should have its per capita share of Nukes....It would sound equal but it would get lots of people killed and prop repressives regimes around the world.

Sometimes you have to think, about consequences.

I know being a liberal is about whining and knee-jerk reactions but for some issues it really is necessary.


Posted by: McAristotle on January 17, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

What's your stance on the death penalty melior?

How do you justify it with "turn the other cheek", "cast the first stone", the primacy of habeas corpus as the foundation of our government, and the limited state?

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not a liberal McAristotle, unless you mean classical liberal, and I'm not a Democrat. And this is economic apartheid, as regards energy production, and who is "deemed worthy" to feed their families with nuclear energy.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

My personal position is that we should ban nuclear energy altogether, as not only a pragmatic position but a just one, in view of the "bigger picture".

Still, this thread is not about Iran, or illegal immigration, but the ineffectiveness of Bush's criminal programs, so I'll stop now.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

What is your position on the death penalty McAristotle?

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Reasonable where the 1) Method is not unnecessarily painful, 2) Where the intention is to save lives/prevent horrific acts through deterrance and 3) Where the punishment is carried out by a legitimate nation-state of some kind.

Death penalty for political dissent is bad.

Death penalty for violent rape, murder is less so.

-------------

ignore the "turn the other cheek" teachings of Jeebus?

Posted by: melior on January 17, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

You got to learn the Bible properly, the phrase certainly wasn't used to justify moral nihilism.

-----------------

science will discover a cure for bedwetting fear of Islamofascism?

Posted by: melior on January 17, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Funny how liberals can ignore human rights violations when it fits their political agenda.
But can wax lyrical about warrants and nasty prayer in schools.

There is never a threat to a liberal. Just future opportunities to blame someone else, and whine...

Posted by: McAristotle on January 17, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

who is "deemed worthy" to feed their families with nuclear energy.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

At last check, they were offered nuclear energy as long as enrichment stayed in Russia and China.
They rejected it to research enrichment.

Posted by: McAristotle on January 17, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

melior, my apologies.

McAristotle, the death penalty is not an effective deterrent, and that moral framework is completely contradictory to both Jesus and the Old Testament.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Agreed. However, I'm getting a little annoyed with the lack of details concerning the nature of the NSA wire tapping. The administration keeps framing it as acts that would easily be approved by the FISA court. I still think that makes little sense. Why break the law for no reason.

The more details the better for our understanding of the entire story.

Posted by: B on January 17, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

There is never a threat to a liberal. Just future opportunities to blame someone else, and whine...
Posted by: McAristotle

mca absolutely HAS to be white ... either aussie or brit or some sort of foreign cracker. no one, and I mean NO ONE, has these bullshit persecution compelxes like insecure white men. ... usually with small penises.

Posted by: Nads on January 17, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

The administration keeps framing it as acts that would easily be approved by the FISA court. I still think that makes little sense. Why break the law for no reason.

I posted the reasons they didn't go for warrants in these comments about 2 weeks ago. The NYT story begins to back me up.

The NSA was doing indiscrininate, wide-scale monitoring. Kind of a brute force approach which is exactly what the NSA is good at - but is totally illegal under the Constitution.

Any tips they came up with in this illegal manner could not be used to justify a wiretap warrant.

IOW: They didn't go for warrants because they couldn't have gotten the warrants.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on January 17, 2006 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

The reason we talk about bedwetters, is that our civilization is so widespread and so robust that clans of cave-dwelling terrorists are an insignificant threat compared to our own unimpeded appetites: more oil, more coal, until the mines and the wells run dry; more flesh, more fowl, more fish, until the fields, forests and oceans are empty.

The bedwetters tell us that the first thing we need to worry about are these other angry people who worship the same god our believers worship, although the angriest on either side insist each worships a different god (scarcely credible, given the mutual agreement of the shortage of gods known as monotheism).

We really need to worry most about the burgeoning population of East Plains African Apes and our rapid depletion of this planet's patrimony.

Posted by: bad Jim on January 17, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

Just a gentle reminder: McMao is not an American citizen, does not wish to be an American, and is comfortable with leeching off of the Australian government. His life is so utterly pitiful that he must come here to draw any attention to himself at all. Please ignore the troll.

Any tips they came up with in this illegal manner could not be used to justify a wiretap warrant.

And according the FBI, boy howdy did they get a lot of tips.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 17, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

Er, expanding on my last point, which I really meant to do:

I still wouldn't put it past the Administration to resurrect the spectre of Tricky Dick and his Enemies' List, but it seems at least from this vantage point that FISA was skipped for expediency. Which is still not a good idea - if FISA was getting in the way, why wasn't expanded powers included in the PATRIOT Act?

My imperial presidency has a first name, it's N-I-X-O-N...

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 17, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

Turf war for sure.
The NSA was essentially created to do the job the FBI did before Hoover's abuses caused it's powers to be curtailed. Now we see the NSA committing the same sort of abuses that got the FBI in trouble. It's payback.
Go! Go! FBI!

Posted by: joe on January 17, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: david on January 17, 2006 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

There is a very practical reason for warrants: fishing expeditions, or search without a particular, relevant focus, are costly, time-consuming and ineffective, just as the article states. Courts have confirmed that over and over, and lawyers have argued it over and over. The same holds true on torture: the practice has been proven over and over to be ineffective. Bad methods reap bad results, so this new story is very relevant and material to the debate.

Posted by: union on January 17, 2006 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

Further, what this whole debate will prove in the end is that terrorism is a crime, and not a war. Terrorism always has been a crime for centuries and centuries, and 9-11 didn't change what terrorism was on Sept 10 and what it is now.

Posted by: union on January 17, 2006 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

he effectiveness of the program just isn't a big issue.

Kevin, you are now top of that perverse class of bloggers that enjoy trolling their own blogs.

Posted by: Boronx on January 17, 2006 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

McMao is not an American citizen, does not wish to be an American, and is comfortable with leeching off of the Australian government.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 17, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

Not wanting to be American is a normal thing for many people in the rest of the world. I am not currently in Australia and can promise you that when I was there my tax payments exceeded any benefit I have got from the state, largely because I haven't taken any.

You have to be a liberal to not realise that there are net contributors to the state's income transfer activities in any society and its not hard to be one if you have a brain and the ability to work.

Posted by: McA on January 17, 2006 at 4:34 AM | PERMALINK

McMao is not an American citizen, does not wish to be an American

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 17, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

And you have to be a liberal hypocrite to condemn American unilateralism, while deep down thinking that 'not wishing to be American' is an insult.


Posted by: McAristotle on January 17, 2006 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK

THE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR./GEORGE W. BUSH NEXIS:

Ironic.

Today we celebrate the life of a man who "broke the law" where he thought it was hindering his and his people's freedom. And yet Mr. Drum would impugn George W. Bush for doing exactly as Martin Luther King, Jr. did, conceptually.

And their signature quote is the same: "Let Freedom Reign."

The Objective Historian

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 17, 2006 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

Seems like I hit a nerve. But I guess a modification is in order:

McMao is not an American citizen, does not wish to be an American citizen, and is comfortable with condemning the American left without having a vested interest in the future of our country. His life is so utterly pitiful that he must come here to draw any attention to himself at all. Please ignore the troll.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 17, 2006 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

Today we celebrate the life of a man who "broke the law" where he thought it was hindering his and his people's freedom. And yet Mr. Drum would impugn George W. Bush for doing exactly as Martin Luther King, Jr. did, conceptually.

"Conceptually" comparing the FISA court statute with Jim Crow. Pitiful. Just pitiful.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 17, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 成都机票查询 on January 17, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

Today we celebrate the life of a man who "broke the law" where he thought it was hindering his and his people's freedom. And yet Mr. Drum would impugn George W. Bush for doing exactly as Martin Luther King, Jr. did, conceptually.

Except of course that whatever lawbreaking MLK or anyone during the civil rights movement did, they were subject to the penalties of the law even when those penalties included the vigilante justice of beatings and death by mob. They submitted themselves to the judgements of the court despite the fact that the courts were clearly stacked against them. Now as Dustbin points out, conceptually equating appropriate federal statutes and the fourth amendment to Jim Crow laws is pathetically low for a "Objective Historian" but hey if George Bush were willing to get beaten and hosed and attacked by German Shepherds and, most importantly of all, arrested to protect his program of spying on Americans then we might have a different discussion.

Posted by: brent on January 17, 2006 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

this "turf war" angle isn't important legally. but it is critical, absolutely critical, for the PR spin war. the bushies' main defense thus far has been that the CIC has to do what is necessary in a time of war to protect us; that bush should be given the benefit of a doubt because of the criticality, the centrality, of the program to our war on terror (tm); and that his motives are pure: protect americans from nasty a-rabs.

if that line of argument is shot down, he has nothing left to fall back on. he is exposed as a power grubbing despot-wannabe.

this story is gold spin for any dem, concerned/principled conservative or scandal monger journalist who wants to use it.

Posted by: dang on January 17, 2006 at 6:28 AM | PERMALINK

ECHELON,

ECHELON


ECHELON


ECHELON

ECHELON,

ECHELON


ECHELON


ECHELON

ECHELON,

ECHELON


ECHELON


ECHELON

ECHELON,

ECHELON


ECHELON


ECHELON

Nuff said...Impeach Gore!

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

Brent squirts one:

""Except of course that whatever lawbreaking MLK or anyone during the civil rights movement did, they were subject to the penalties of the law""

SO WHEN WAS JFK/RFK PROSECUTED FOR ILLEGALLY WIRETAPPING MLK???

LET'S GO EXTINGUISH THAT BLASTED ETERNAL FLAME BECAUSE JFK HAD NO RESPECT FOR OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

You would think one left wing wacko would have enough non-drug adled brain cells left to ask themselves, HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE FOR BUSH TO HAVE THE NSA TAP ALL THESE CALLS IF THE CAPABILITY WASN'T BUILT TO DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

WHO AUTHORIZED FUNDING FOR THIS CAPABILITY?

WHO BUILT IT AND WHEN?

WHY WAS IT BUILT IF IT WAS ILLEGAL?

WHAT IS ECHELON AND WHAT DID THE NEW YORK TIMES
THINK ABOUT IT?

WHERE WAS ALGORE WHEN HIS ADMINSTRATION WAS ROUTINELY SUCKING IN WARRANTLESS WIRE TAPS ON DOMESTIC COMMUNICATIONS.?

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Alice dearie, you really should close the door when you're having a dump.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 17, 2006 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

Al Gore Was In Favor Of Massive NSA Intercepts, Before He Was Against It


Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

Oh and try and get it in the toilet next time.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 17, 2006 at 6:58 AM | PERMALINK

Have You Seen Me?

If So Call, 1-800-THE-LOST

Posted by: Patton's Meds on January 17, 2006 at 7:00 AM | PERMALINK

Gee - can't there be more than one issue? The systematic destruction of the Civil Service, root and branch - of which the FBI and NSA are a part - is a subset of the Shrubbery's effort to destroy the US.

Posted by: GWPDA on January 17, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

Al Gore Was In Favor Of Massive NSA Intercepts, Before He Was Against It

The poor bag lady can't even get her insults right--I thought this was the line they tagged Kerry with.

And, poor dear, Echelon has nothing to do with warrantless wiretaps of US Persons, but do keep trying to keep up with the news. Read the paper whilst taking that dump in your bathtub.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 7:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, after being offline for months, I see that Kev still attracts challenged thinkers and the REGULAR WINGNUT TROLLS.

The more things change...

Shorter McA [or Patton] like a SNL Frankenstein growling: Liberals bad! Bush, gooood!
Tarzan: Line between fantasy and reality blurry for [McA and Patton].

LOL!

Now to Kevin Drum: What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

Indeed it is. And being potentially damaging to Dubya and nervous incumbents with midterms at stake, the Bush Administration has unleashed its dogs to mouth talking points that the president has the inherent authority to warrantless searches because, after all, Clinton did it first!

With Al Gore's rousing speech grabbing CNN air time on the MLK holiday, the WH fired back last night dispatching its legally-challenged waterboy, AG Alberto Gonzales, to fetch attention away from Gore's "conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." Cite

CNN's Larry King began with a question to Gonzales about Al Gore's conclusion. Alberto replied with a sort of faith-based conclusion of his own:

Well, I didn't see the speech of the former vice president. What I can say is that this program from its inception has been carefully reviewed by lawyers throughout the administration, people who are experienced in this area of the law, experienced regarding this technology and we believe the president does have legal authorities to authorize this program. [Emphasis added.]
Yes, they believe! Why, praise the lord and pass the ammunition! They be-lieve!

AG goes on to tell us why:

I would say that with respect to comments by the former vice president it's my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding the physical searches without warrants, Aldrich Ames as an example.
I can also say that it's my understanding that the deputy attorney general [Gorelick] testified before Congress that the president does have the inherent authority under the Constitution to engage in physical searches without a warrant and so those would certainly seem to be inconsistent with what the former vice president was saying today.
What's wrong with AG's reply? It's what he's not saying, the ol' rehearsed truthiness that policians use to avoid pulling back the curtain on the facts. AG parsed his words carefully to follow the party line, I'll give him that. However, he omitted vital information. Later during the same Larry King broadcast, James Risen explained:
There was a -- [Gonzales] mentioned the Aldrich Ames case in I think it was 1994 or '93 while the investigation of Aldrich Ames, who was a Soviet spy, was ongoing. Janet Reno authorized a physical search of Ames' house without a search warrant.
Under the FISA -- under the rules at that time the attorney general could authorize a warrantless physical search of a house. After the Ames case, it's my understanding that Congress changed that and closed that loophole and so that now that kind of search couldn't be done under the law.
Got that? The FISA loophole was closed by Congress. If it isn't perfectly clear, Media Matters illuminates us further disputing another Bushie water carrier, Repub shill Victoria Toensing, who also uses the "Clinton did it" defense:
...Toensing appeared to be responding to [CNN's Jeffrey] Toobin's earlier statement that the authority assumed by the Clinton administration regarding the surveillance of foreign intelligence activities "never went beyond those powers" granted the president by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and that the Clinton administration "followed the FISA law." Toensing retorted:
TOENSING: Well, the Clinton administration did carry out that authority when they went into Aldrich Ames's house without a warrant. And they argued before the House -- Jamie Gorelick did -- that they had the inherent -- the president had the inherent constitutional authority to do so.
Toensing's assertion -- that the physical search of Ames's house and the Gorelick testimony demonstrate that the Clinton administration did not consider itself bound by FISA -- is simply false.
When Gorelick testified before the House Intelligence Committee in 1994 that the president had the "inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches," FISA did not apply to physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes, as Media Matters for America has noted. A year later, Congress -- with Clinton's support -- amended FISA to require court orders for physical searches. The Clinton administration thereafter never argued that any "inherent authority" pre-empted the new warrant requirements for physical searches under FISA.
The Bush administration, on the other hand, has argued that it had the authority to authorize the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on domestic communications without warrants, despite FISA's clear restrictions on warrantless electronic eavesdropping.
Toensing's use of the Aldrich Ames case is similarly misleading. The joint CIA/FBI investigation of Ames, a CIA analyst ultimately convicted of espionage, also took place prior to the 1995 FISA amendment requiring warrants for physical searches. Therefore, when the Clinton administration ordered investigators to go "into Aldrich Ames's house without a warrant," they did not -- as Toensing argued -- "carry out their authority" to bypass the FISA requirements, because FISA did not cover such searches.
At the time of the Ames investigation, FISA did require warrants for wiretaps -- as it does now -- and there is ample evidence that the Clinton administration complied with those requirements....
More details here...

So when the wingnuts start crapping on the threads with "CLINTON DID IT!" Aldrich Ames! Look, over there! It's simply. Bullshit. You hear me, PATTON!?

One last parting shot from Fox News about warrantless searches:

Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew P. Napolitano asked: "Would you feel this way if Hillary [Clinton] were president?" Napolitano then added: "Because then you know the pro-life and the pro-gun will -- they'll be targets of warrantless searches. ... And maybe conservative commentators will be targets of warrantless searches."
[...]
O'REILLY: Not unless we're dealing with Al Qaeda, correct? Aren't I correct?
NAPOLITANO: If she has to go to a judge, like FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], she'd have to demonstrate the connection to Al Qaeda. If she doesn't have to go to a judge, she can pick whoever she wants.
Let that sink in. If IOKIYAR president, then IOKIYAD president.

Another point: Bush says we are only wiretapping terrorists and their connections. Sure... and I believe him [rolls eyes]. Bush also said, " ...a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed... When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." But that doesn't appear to be true according to Bush's admission that he authorized warrantless wiretaps. Oh, and Bush also said Saddam had ties to AQ and also possessed WMDs. Really! He said it, I swear. So we've got the word of the Talking Codpiece to rely upon. Doesn't that make you feel extraordinarily reassured?

I have a huge amount of blog reading to do to catch up. Anyone heard anymore about the wiretap on Christianne Amanpour/Democrat James Rubin? To paraphrase Fox News Napolitano, if Bush doesn't have to go to a judge, he can pick whoever he wants to eavesdrop on including reporters, Democrats, their associates, etc. Maybe even someone such as Patrick Fitzgerald since he has prosecuted terrorists, I mean, that's kinda close to the WH stance of only wiretapping people with ties to terrorists, right?

I bet Dubya is in a hurry to get Strip Search Sammy confirmed.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 17, 2006 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

AL GORE (AND KEVIN, SEE NO DEMOCRAT EVIL DRUM) FORGET HOW MUCH THEY JUST LOVED SPYING ON AMERICANS DURING THE CLINTON YEARS.

AL GORE WAS FOR SPYING ON AMERICANS , BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST IT!

In the February, 2000 60 Minutes story, former spy Mike Frost made clear that Echelon monitored practically every conversation no matter how seemingly innocent during the Clinton years.

A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a-a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, Oh, Danny really bombed last night, just like that. The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation w-was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.

This is not urban legend youre talking about. This actually happened? Kroft asked.

Factual. Absolutely fact. No legend here.

Even as the Times defended Echelon as a necessity in 1999, evidence already existed that electronic surveillance had previously been misused by the Clinton Administration for political purposes. Intelligence officials told Insight Magazine in 1997 that a 1993 conference of Asian and Pacific world leaders hosted by Clinton in Seattle had been spied on by U.S. intelligence agencies. Further, the magazine reported that information obtained by the spying had been passed on to big Democrat corporate donors to use against their competitors. The Insight story added that the mis-use of the surveillance for political reasons caused the intelligence sources to reveal the operation.

The only reason it has come to light is because of concerns raised by high-level sources within federal law-enforcement and intelligence circles that the operation was compromised by politiciansincludingmid- and senior-level White House aideseither on behalf of or in support of President Clinton and major donor-friends who helped him and the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, raise money.

So, during the Clinton Administration, evidence existed (all of the information used in this article was available at the time) that:

-an invasive, extensive domestic eavesdropping program was aimed at every U.S. citizen;

-intelligence agencies were using allies to circumvent constitutional restrictions;

-and the administration was selling at least some secret intelligence for political donations.

These revelations were met by the New York Times and others in the mainstream media by the sound of one hand clapping. Now, reports that the Bush Administration approved electronic eavesdropping, strictly limited to international communications, of a relative handful of suspected terrorists have created a media frenzy in the Times and elsewhere.


GORE EVEN PASSED NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DATA TO BIG WIG DEMOCRAT DONORS AND THE DNC.

SHOULDN'T WE REALLY BE IMPEACHING AL GORE???


Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

See! The R-Noise Machine has faxed/emailed the tirade du jour for the feeble-minded to cut and paste.

Impeach Al Gore is priceless!

ROTF...!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 17, 2006 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

former spy Mike Frost

Oh, the Canadian spy, Mike Frost? You wingnuts love to denigrate Canada, but when you can trot out this tired old story and claim it as something new, well, kudos to you.

The problem with your mention of Echelon is easy to answer. Echelon is a method, not a program. Echelon search methods have always been subject to FISA court requests. How many of the Clinton era FISA court requests were denied?

Zero.

What else are you planning to regurgitate?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

By all means, impeach Al Gore! Remove him from office!

Other people who need to be impeached:

Spiro Agnew
Mahatma Gandhi
Bobby Fischer
The Tooth Fairy
Batman
Alex Rodriguez

I'm particularly upset about Batman. I've been shining the batlight out my window for the past week, and - no Batman! Who's going to fight crime now? The Joker and the Penguin have been assembling Weapons of Hilarious Destruction, but Batman is hiding in the Fortress of Solitude*! This cannot be tolerated!

*Please don't bother to tell me that's Superman's hideout. Just think Brokeback Mountain. 'Nuff said, eh?

Posted by: Rick on January 17, 2006 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Hey there McAristotle! How's things down there in Malaysia? It sure is great to see a little Malaysian guy like you with such BIG opinions, and so many of them, too! You keep it coming there, McAristotle. We Americans welcome you here on a website about our politics. Isn't the Internet we invented great? Lands sakes! Malaysia, of all places.

Posted by: Pat on January 17, 2006 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

CAPS LOCK
CAPS LOCK
PENISES AND GAYS AND LIBERALS
CAPITTY CAPS
CAPPITY
SEE? I'M SHOUTING!
SEE? I'M NOT GAY! I'M A MILITARY MAN! CAPS,

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the House of Representatives could name Batman as one of the Impeachment Managers when they decide to impeach Al Gore and remove him from his position as the former Vice President of the United States?

After being impeached from his position as the former Vice President of the United States, I believe that would then make Al Gore the CURRENT Vice President of the United States.

I support it entirely. Excellent post, Alice.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yup, that Internet. Lordy! Giving Malaysians a "window on the world." Years ago, the opinions of people in Malaysia might have stayed right there among the few people who live near each other in huts. Certainly not beyond the village itself. And Malaysians would have to get pen pals to practice their English. Not now!! Because of the Internet, people jillions of miles away can hear from McAristotle and learn about all of his opinions. You keep it coming there, McAristotle! We want to know everything you think about America and our politics. Our huts are right next door now thanks to the INTERNET!

Posted by: Pat on January 17, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

ou will be able to play some great table games all for free! Click for a preview and youll find a host of poker and more fun games of chance and skill available for free, that you can play right on your desktop.

Posted by: annie on January 17, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Alice/Patton,

Dear, we've taken up a collection. ThethirdPaul kicked in a dollar bill and we combined that with the proceeds of our Washington Monthly snack fund to buy you a certain product that will help us find you when the weather gets bad.

It's called:

The WanderCARE 100T
For Alzheimer's Residents,
Developmentally Disabled,
Dementia sufferers and
their Families.

Your Choice of Transmitter:
Wrist /Ankle or Special Fanny Pack.

You wear the product and we can then use a tracking device to find you when you wander off, howling about Al Gore or the liberal conspiracy to lock all the dumpsters behind Safeway to keep you from gorging yourself on three day-old birthday cakes.

From your caring friends...


Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes, 1000s and 1000s of false positives and some guy with a blowtorch. That program should have been killed long ago not only for it's lack of legality but also because it's useless and counter productive to actual FBI investigations. If the trigger on this is several degrees of separation from a phone call to Afganistan, it easy to see how this balloons to a large number of people. If this is true, our electronic intelligence capabilities are proving to be useless with this kind of threat. It may be so, since al Qaeda is not likely to leave a trail of crime scenes prior to the big op. It's surprising that this went on for a month or two much less several years. I guess the Bush admin only screws up in Texas sized quantities.

Posted by: chris on January 17, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

From a political point of view, the clear ineffectiveness -- indeed, counterproductiveness -- of the program is, sad to relate, absolutely key.

Just ask our trolls here how important they think it is to protect ourselves from even the most absurd little creep who wants to fancy himself a big bad MF'ing terrorist. If a program like this had actually put behind bars someone who could legitimately be called a terrorist, that would be boogeyman enough for the right to go into hysterical cries of fear and spook the American public into accepting the program.

The best objective sign that the program is hugely ineffective is the terribly poor quality of the touted successes. The biggest catch so far claimed for the program is the guy who "planned" to take down the Brooklyn Bridge by blowtorches (only to give it up himself as not feasible). Now a number of law enforcement officers have disputed that he was caught by means of the program.

But the amusing part to me is that this guy was, according to the article, a direct friend of the very mastermind of the 9/11 event. I mean, seriously, if someone is the FRIEND of the mastermind of the 9/11 event, do you REALLY imagine that you need a data mining program to realize that he might be a person worth keeping careful track of? Would it possibly be hard to get a wiretap on such a person, on the slightest further evidence? Does any of this make ANY sense?

Isn't the claim that the program was the real driver behind the arrest of this man simply absurd on its face?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 17, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

It's only the issue if we keep saying it is (like Gore yesterday)...and, of course, the commentators and pundits, who so cutely have to characterize any Democrat who speaks, will distract from the message at every opportunity...and REMEMBER it's all about Clinton! Despite positive leanings towards Hillary on many issues I so want another, strong candidate to appear because otherwise the entire 08 election will be about rehashing the Clinton years...that's all the Republicans have NOW! With the cost of the war...the mess of Medicare part D...the scandals...the "lawbreaking" to keep the TERROR THREAT front and center...we should be able to BURY THEM!!! I fell on the floor laughing at Bass (R-NH) on WJ this morning bemoaning the 527s that the Democrats couldn't do without all the while forgetting to mention the corporate ownership of every damn media outlet that scews all information to the right!

Posted by: Dancer on January 17, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

I've heard the argument that the wire taps are on terrorist comunications. Terrorists do not enjoy protections under our constitution so it's not illegal.
OK but my questions are:
1) how do we KNOW this that ONLY terrorists are being tapped?
2) where are the controls here?
3) What happened to checks and balances?

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

hey patton, give it a rest. Apollo 13 shot down every cut and paste Drudge talking point you are in here spamming.
No President since Nixon has violated the 4th amendment by conducting warrantless searches or wiretaps. What Clinton did was legal and in cooperation with the FISA court.

Do you remember section 2 of impeachment article II against Nixon?
"2. He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance."
Get ready to see another Fascist hero resign in disgrace.

Posted by: warbly on January 17, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Terrorists do not enjoy protections under our constitution so it's not illegal.

If by 'terrorists' you mean people who are not US citizens, you're correct. If by 'terrorists' you mean US citizens, regardless of how heinous their crime, they are still US citizens. The Padilla case has established that they will be given due process.

OK but my questions are:
1) how do we KNOW this that ONLY terrorists are being tapped?

If they were, the FISA court would have had no problem granting the Bush Administration's requests. Because they balked, and because the administration started going around the FISA court, one would think something was wrong with the target selection.

2) where are the controls here?

The FISA court, which the Bush Administration avoided and circumvented, in clear violation of the law. The War Powers of the President do not apply.

3) What happened to checks and balances?

Ask the Republican controlled Congress, which significantly altered the structure of various oversight committees and which has marginalized the ability of the minority to have its views heard.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes, 1000s and 1000s of false positives and some guy with a blowtorch. That program should have been killed long ago not only for it's lack of legality but also because it's useless and counter productive to actual FBI investigations.
Posted by: chris
----
The program was killed, by congress in 2003. It was stripped of funding and its pentagon office was closed.
The bushies didn't like that answer so they took it even deeper underground.

Posted by: warbly on January 17, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Aside from the fact that the whole thing smells pretty strongly of a bureaucratic turf war, the effectiveness of the program just isn't a big issue. ...What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

I agree with your second point, Kevin, but given that the program's alleged effectiveness is being touted by Bush as his excuse for breaking the law, I'd say it'd definitely be a minus for him, public-perception-wise, if his program was not only illegal but also ineffective -- "sending FBI agents on hundreds of wild goose chases," and against innocent American citizens to boot.

As I like to say, why wonder whether Bush's mendacity or incompetence is worse? He has both in spades.

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes, 1000s and 1000s of false positives and some guy with a blowtorch.

And, also amusing, is the fact reported by the article that the guy himself abandoned his "plan" to blowtorch the Brooklyn Bridge because he himself realized it just wouldn't work.

And yet to listen to our trolls here, and sundry Republicans, the whole blowtorch thing was a very serious threat, that could easily have taken down the bridge.

Laugh or cry? Laugh or cry?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 17, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

...which point, of course, Jimm made in the very first comment. But he's absolutely right -- we can both push our own arguments, and undermine the Bush Administration arguments, and we should.

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for an actual answer Pale Rider. I was expecting a barage of I hate Bush answers. LOL.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for an actual answer Pale Rider. I was expecting a barage of I hate Bush answers. LOL.

The actual answers sort of hit home, don't they?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Conceptually" comparing the FISA court statute with Jim Crow. Pitiful. Just pitiful.

And what's more, conflating King's acts of civil disobedience with the criminal activities of a sitting President. Pitiful. Just pitiful.

I have to say, it's endlessly comforting to read the feeble bullshit the Right has thrown up to defend Dear Leader, especially since things started to unravel around the Terri Schaivo debacle. Even tbrosz has lately taken not so much to defending Bush but to muttering that the Democrats are unlikely to reap much political windfall from the increasing perception of his administration's mendacity and incomepetence.

And maybe so, maybe so, but I consider it far more patriotic to hope that a mendacious, incompetent and thoroughly corrupt government be held accountable for its misdeeds than to celebrate them getting away with them.

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes, 1000s and 1000s of false positives and some guy with a blowtorch. That program should have been killed long ago not only for it's lack of legality but also because it's useless and counter productive to actual FBI investigations.

It's a standard REPUKELIMORON approach. Try the first thing that comes up, don't even try to think of something actually useful.

REPUKELISCUM are not only stupid, criminal and incompetent, they are also idiotic, mendatious and absolutely without competence.

Posted by: POed Liberal on January 17, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I'm astounded that Kevin would just dismiss the whole incompetence / useless issue. If the administration had found useful information while breaking the law - yes the law would have been broken - but one could make the argument that there's a trade - off.

But here's a story saying that there was NO trade-off. They broke the law - got nothing.

That's pretty important. another example of breaking the law and screwing up. Abu Gharib, warrantless spying, lying about getting into a war, etc. This is a pattern - ignore the law, talk tough and screw up.

And yes, people do tend to want to be Dirty Harry and act tough. So, it's an enormous story that it was all BS.

And BTW - that's the ACLU's point: these laws don't really hamper our security. Law enforcement tends to jump to false conclusions and dead ends all the time. Forcing them to explain why they want to do something actually clarifies their thinking and results in more effective law enforcement.

Let's take the anthrax case - FBI was sure that they "knew" who had done. Trailed the guy, harrassed the heck out of him to make him break - and didn't pursue anyone else. Well guess what? It was someone else and while the FBI was busy with the wrong guy, they let the real killer's trail go cold.

And they did the same thing in the Atlanta Olympic bombing - chasing the poor security guard rather than Eric Rudolph.

Talk to anyone who's worked in security or law enforcement - once you get past the bluster - it's a pretty common error.

And that's the key - these laws are there both to protect our security and our privacy.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 17, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Why is anyone surprised when fascists behave like fascists? This Administration isn't the least little bit concerned about terrorism. In fact, history shows the Bush family has always supported terrorism, when it serves their purposes (e.g. the contras, selling missiles to Iran, Carlos Letelier, etc). Until we get the balls to call a fascist a fascist openly, these clowns will continue to thumb their noses at the Constitution.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 17, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with all except the idea that the anthrax was from"some other guy" than the FBI identified. I don't think we know that.

Posted by: Pat on January 17, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Terrorists do not enjoy protections under our constitution so it's not illegal.

Well, that's largely incorrect, because there is no legal category of "terrorists" to whom the Constitution is not considered to apply. The Constitution applies to all persons inside the United States (with some differences in applicatiion and protection depending on whether that person is an American citizen or not). That's rather like saying "murderers and rapists and pedophiles do not enjoy protections under our constitution" when of course they do, including the right to a fair trial, to due process, to the presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings, and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"The actual answers sort of hit home, don't they?"

Well like the cops using the patriot act to bust child porno rings, (I'm all for busting child porno rings but..)it is a misuse of the patriot act. That tells me that the govt. can't be trusted with these measures.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

And yet to listen to our trolls here, and sundry Republicans, the whole blowtorch thing was a very serious threat, that could easily have taken down the bridge.

Well, actually, it could have, if you had several dozen men, some heavy construction equipment, and a few months to do it -- but perhaps the NYPD might notice something amiss at some point....

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

Yes.

It is vital that we focus.

We will NOT be distracted from the main issue and get bogged down debating technicalities or whether Clinton's penis did it, or whether Bush has the right to do it, or whether we need to give Bush that right because we're frightened of terrorists, or whether the practical magnitude of these activities is small.


Like with Memogate.
Like with Plamegate.
Like with Iraq.
Like with 9/11.
Like with the no-bid contracts.
Like with the torture.
Like with the energy meeting.
Like with the corporate fraud.
LIke we have with every other single issue that, had Clinton done it, would have led to screaming and yelling by the MSM, and an independent investigation, and impeachment.

We MUST STAY FOCUSSED.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 17, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Terrorists do not enjoy protections under our constitution so it's not illegal.

Pale Rider: If by 'terrorists' you mean people who are not US citizens, you're correct. If by 'terrorists' you mean US citizens, regardless of how heinous their crime, they are still US citizens. The Padilla case has established that they will be given due process.

Stefan: Well, that's largely incorrect, because there is no legal category of "terrorists" to whom the Constitution is not considered to apply. The Constitution applies to all persons inside the United States (with some differences in applicatiion and protection depending on whether that person is an American citizen or not).

And if a guy who works in a bottle washing factory can give the same answer as a New York City lawyer, I think you can safely assume this country is going to give Bush a little more scrutiny than he's used to.

This is what happens when you let a political hack like Rove run the country. The country gets into trouble, thousands of Americans die in a needless war, and civil liberties are reduced to an afterthought.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Well like the cops using the patriot act to bust child porno rings, (I'm all for busting child porno rings but..)it is a misuse of the patriot act. That tells me that the govt. can't be trusted with these measures.

Absolutely, Lurker. If you give any large organization, no matter how well-meaning, virtually unlimited powers it will have the temptation to use them. That's why we have (or used to have) a system of checks and balances, including getting warrants from courts, to prevent this sort of abuse.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

A new Constitutional principle: "A government action that would be a violation of the Bill of Rights, is not, if the government action is in itself ineffective."

We can call this the Republican "No Harm, No Foul" civil rights theory.

Let's give the Republican Spin Machine a hand for this moral and principled argument.

I suggest that all the Republican leaderships' financial history be examined for....no reason whatsoever, and since all Republicans' are good and moral people I am sure we will not find any illegal much less unethical issues.

"No Harm, No Foul"

Posted by: j swift on January 17, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: And if a guy who works in a bottle washing factory can give the same answer as a New York City lawyer, I think you can safely assume this country is going to give Bush a little more scrutiny than he's used to.

Yeah, but I cribbed my answer from the bottle-washing guy...;-)

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

"NSA's domestic spying program accomplished nothing ...the effectiveness of the program just isn't a big issue."

Wrong, it is an issue and equally important to the issue of Bush43's assertion of his authority to order warrantless telecommunication spying for 4 years and avoid the FISA approval process.

Last night on Chris Matthews show on CNBC Matthews interviewed one of people who WROTE the FISA law in 1978.

That person said the current dodge/excuse/lie/spin being floated by this Administration and its supporters that the Bush43 Adminisration avoided the FISA court because they were mass INTERCEPTS used for "Data Mining" is totally false because "Data Mining" was written into the FISA law in 1978 AND "Data Mining" has been going on SINCE 1978 legally.

Another Bush43 and Bush43 Administration lie exposed.

I thought Chris Matthews would have really bore down on that revelation repeating it 5 or 10 times as talking heads do on Cable TV but no, Matthews closed the interview in one segment and got the guy off AIR in about 30 seconds.

The stink from the Potomac has reached outside the Beltway via CNBC cable: The people inside the Beltway are not what they play on TV and are as corrupt and rotten to the core as those we elected and sent to D.C. in 2000 and 2004 on BOTH sides of the Aisle, imo.

Putting all that aside, whenever a nations leader decides to act like he/she's not subject to the laws of the land that nation is not safer but doubly at RISK.

Posted by: im1dc on January 17, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but I cribbed my answer from the bottle-washing guy...;-)

Shh! You'll expose me as a fraud and I might have to admit what my real occupation really is.

Besides, fifty of my lame jokes equals one of your offhand remarks...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Pat - you're right that we can't know for sure that it was another guy in the anthrax case, but I'd venture to say that we know with 99% certainty. They were all over this one guy for over a year - they'd have found it in that time span. They didn't.

But more importantly - I don't think it's losing "our" focus by talking about how these efforts don't work. Because that's a huge point - giving police unfettered powers doesn't work. It didn't work now, it didn't work for the British against the IRA, etc.

Most people want security and liberty, and understand that there are murky trade-offs. But this isn't a murky trade-off. There was a pretty clear law, with a clear exception for emergencies, and they administration just ignored it. And they had no good reason, and got nothing.

That's a very salient point.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 17, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13,

Welcome back - Sorely missed - I caught some flack a few months back when I listed you as one of our best posters in the category of "Who happen to be women" - The flack was that everyone said that you were male - Whatever, again welcome back.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 17, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

McAnustotle: The issue is that the liberal movement is now actively supporting Iran, a state that hangs gays in public!

McAnustotle proves once again he is a liar through and through.

You are the company you keep.

And since American conservatives kept company with Saddam Hussein, Noriega, Pinochet, Rios Montt, the Shah, and a host of other brutal dictators and since McAnustotle keeps company with American conservatives . . .

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 17, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Who fucking cares if it was effective or not? If anything that is a strong argument against it.

But aside from effectivity, its ILLEGAL.

Posted by: marblex on January 17, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you have never been so wrong in your life.

What was needed was some way to separate the good from the bad data, and it seems from the amazing number of bad leads given to the FBI, that whatever they were using didn't work.

They were tying up FBI resources that could have been used in more productive ways.

I am glad you're not in government, because it would be even more inefficient than it is now.

Posted by: Michele on January 17, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

"People arrested since 9/11 for terrorism using the wiretapping evidence: 94 as listed in this Frontpage article."

Al, you illiterate liar, you obviously did not even read the article you linked to.

"You are the company you keep."

If that were true, we could conclude that McAsshole was a female sheep.

Posted by: solar on January 17, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo13 cracks one:
"""Now to Kevin Drum: What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.""""

PLEASE CITE THE COURT CASE WHICH STATES THAT THE EXECUTIVE MUST GET A WARRANT TO PERFORM SURVEILANCE ON AMERICAS WARTIME ENEMIES.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

echelon had warrants, and so renders much of patton's ravings moot.

Posted by: Nads on January 17, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13, what part of this don't you understand?

In 2002, that FISA review court upheld the president's warrantless search powers, referencing a 1980 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. That court held that "the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the presidents constitutional power," wrote the court.


FISA could not encroach on the presidents constitutional power," wrote the court.


FISA could not encroach on the presidents constitutional power," wrote the court.


FISA could not encroach on the presidents constitutional power," wrote the court.


THAT IS THE ACTUAL APPEALS COURT AND THE FISA COURT, NOT SILLY LITTLE AL GORE OR MOVEON.ORG.

NOW, CAN YOU REFERENCE A SUPREME COURT DECISION THAT REVERSES THESE TWO COURTS FINDINGS?

NO....THEN SHUT UP! AND MOVE ON!

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

NADS....CHOKES ON IT: "echelon had warrants, and so renders much of patton's ravings moot"

Now that's funny.....so I guess the ACLU and the European courts are all liars.


Echelon cannot possibly have used warrants because Echelon collected all data and then used computers to find key words in conversations. You couldn't possibly know ahead of time who you would pick up on what phone/satellite etc.


Echelon attempts to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications worldwide, including communications to and from North America. Computers then use sophisticated filtering technology to sort through conversations, faxes and emails searching for keywords or other flags. Communications that include the flags are then forwarded to the intelligence agency that requested them. The report to the European Parliament charged that Echelon had been used in the United Kingdom to spy on charities such as Amnesty International and Christian Aid.


So, Clinton would write one warrant..."I want to see all conversations that include, Monica, Hillary, plant"

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

UPDATING my earlier post with Quotes from yesterday's CNBC program Hardball transcript with Chris Matthews:

Last night on Chris Matthews show on CNBC Matthews interviewed KENNETH BASS, FMR. FISA COURT COUNSEL one of people who helped WRITE the FISA law in 1978.

EXCERPT:
MATTHEWS: So the court would have permitted data mining for particular phrases?
BASS: It didnt get into the business of data mining phrases?
MATTHEWS: But if it had been asked, it could have said yes?
BASS: It was all prized under the statute and its been done for decades.
MATTHEWS: Youre the first person to say it, because some people say the reason that this administration didnt go to the FISA courts to get approval to intercept key phrases that might have to do with the targeting of U.S. iconic facilities, buildings, is because you cant get approval for such a broad scope.
BASS: You cant get the approval, but Chris I can assure you, because I worked on the issue when FISA was enacted, that we consciously knew about data mining at that time and we knew that searching for phrases was not to be covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and
its covered through a process of minimizing use of the information.

The difference is youre not targeting individuals.

So Ken Bass said the current dodge/excuse/lie/spin being floated by this Administration and its supporters that the Bush43 Adminisration avoided the FISA court because they were mass INTERCEPTS used for "Data Mining" is totally false because "Data Mining" was written into the FISA law in 1978 AND "Data Mining" has been going on SINCE 1978 legally.

That's another Bush43, Bush43 Administration and Bush43 supporter lie exposed.

Posted by: im1dc on January 17, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

referencing a 1980 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

That court held that "the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. ...

Well, more insane dishonesty. The FISA court was talking about the FBI, not the NSA.

In 1980, the Fourth Circuit decided United States v. Truong, another criminal prosecution that arose out of the defendants spying on behalf of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The case squarely presented the issue of the executive branchs inherent power to conduct warrantless surveillance for national security purposes:

The defendants raise a substantial challenge to their convictions by arguing that the surveillance conducted by the FBI violated the Fourth Amendment and that all the evidence uncovered through that surveillance must consequently be suppressed. As has been stated, the government did not seek a warrant for the eavesdropping on Truongs phone conversations or the bugging of his apartment. Instead, it relied upon a foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendments warrant requirement. In the area of foreign intelligence, the government contends, the President may authorize surveillance without seeking a judicial warrant because of his constitutional prerogatives in the area of foreign affairs.

See the slight difference? This was the FBI doing the surveillance, not the NSA. Big difference. The FBI is a law enforcement agency; the NSA is an agency that collects intelligence on foreign entities. There is a huge difference between the laws governing the activities of these two separate and distinct agencies, and citing the FBI case from 1980 to conceal the illegality of the modern NSA's actions is a fraud and charade of ridiculous proportions.

Again--the case cited centered around FBI activities, not the NSA.

Nice try.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

"Terrorists do not enjoy protections under our constitution so it's not illegal."

"If by 'terrorists' you mean people who are not US citizens, you're correct. If by 'terrorists' you mean US citizens, regardless of how heinous their crime, they are still US citizens. The Padilla case has established that they will be given due process."

What about legal immigrants, regardless of their nationality? Do these constitutional restraints and protections apply to them as well? I'm curious, as I'm not American.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Completely off thread, but we, the citizens of Oregon, finally won the assisted suicide argument - The Supremes have just upheld our law 6-3 with little Johnny Robot dissenting.

After 9/11, I flew the US flag every day for over a month. However, Ashcroft in his feverish efforts to nail any terrorist immediately threw his weight into overturning the Oregon Assisted Suicide Initiative. This had been passed by the public twice in elections and had been upheld in the Oregon Supreme Court. I, immediately, took the flag down and I only fly it in distress on Memorial Day, Flag Day and July 4. When the Twiggies are gone, I will fly it rightside up daily.

If only Chick Hearn had lived to learn that his "No Harm, No Foul" would be used politically, I'm sure he would be amused. Now, if we can "fake the Twiggies into the Popcorn Machine" and prevail, say Hal-A-LOOO!

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 17, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

What about legal immigrants, regardless of their nationality? Do these constitutional restraints and protections apply to them as well? I'm curious, as I'm not American.

Generally the constitutional protections regarding the criminal justice system (i.e. the right to a fair trial, to due process, to the presumption of innocence, etc. etc.) apply to all persons present in the United States, citizen or not. So anyone arrested when in the US, whether citizen, legal resident, illegal immigrant or just a tourist is subject to the state and federal justice systems, with all the advantages (and disadvantages) that that implies.

Unless, of course, you ask the Bush regime, whose position is that Bush is King and has God-given powers to do anything to anyone.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

What about legal immigrants, regardless of their nationality? Do these constitutional restraints and protections apply to them as well? I'm curious, as I'm not American.

Legal immigrants, yes. And only because this is a great country do we grant those freedoms and safeguard them.

Let's remember the words of Al Gore:

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

Pale Rider says:

"Republicans: Just a bunch of pussies who can't be trusted to defend America."


Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall nails it: the incompetence and secrecy are direclty related. The incompetence issue is salient. That's one of the main things that they're trying to hide.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 17, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans: Just a bunch of lying cheating and bribery taking pussies who send our kids to die in wars on false pretenses can't be trusted to defend America.

With due apologies to Pale Rider.

Posted by: lib on January 17, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

No apologies necessary: everyone else, take up the thought, if you want.

Republicans: Just a bunch of...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

In 2002, that FISA review court upheld the president's warrantless search powers, referencing a 1980 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision

Wow, that sounds like something lifted straight out of FOX News.

But the clever use of ellipses sort of changes the meaning of Fox's selective quote, dontcha think?

"It will be recalled that the case that set forth the primary purpose test as constitutionally required was Truong. The Fourth Circuit thought that Keiths balancing standard implied the adoption of the primary purpose test. We reiterate that Truong dealt with a pre-FISA surveillance based on the Presidents constitutional responsibility to conduct the foreign affairs of the United States. 629 F.2d at 914. Although Truong suggested the line it drew was a constitutional minimum that would apply to a FISA surveillance, see id. at 914 n.4, it had no occasion to consider the application of the statute carefully. The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. (FN 26) It was incumbent upon the court, therefore, to determine the boundaries of that constitutional authority in the case before it. We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the Presidents constitutional power. The question before us is the reverse, does FISA amplify the Presidents power by providing a mechanism that at least approaches a classic warrant and which therefore supports the governments contention that FISA searches are constitutionally reasonable."

In re: Sealed Case No. 02-001

Posted by: Dobby on January 17, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious story Democrats need to tell is that NSA spying is an example in a pattern: Bush wasting our nation's manpower and brainpower chasing will-o-the-wisps in fruitless searches for evidence of terrorism. Where have I seen that before? Oh, that's right. Iraq.

This kind of program isn't just fruitless. It's counterproductive. We created a terrorist problem in Iraq where there was none before, and we've created legal defenses ("fruit of the poisoned tree") for suspected terrorists where none existed before.

The connection is that once again, questions of fact (is this legal? is this effective?) were taken up against a backdrop of partisan neocon ideology. The President's advisors made sure to tell him that if the NSA program was ever discovered, it would be greeted as a liberator, not an occupier, that the wiretapping program would pay for itself, and history would uphold his judgment. They made sure to ignore the lawyers, career servants, and experts who said it was a huge mistake.

So is anyone surprised that no terrorists were hiding under the rock?

These Republicans are making bad decisions about our national security. They are disconnected from reality. That is an important story, almost as important as the fact that Arlen Specter said if GW broke the law, impeachment is a remedy, which is in turn almost as important as the fact that an American President turned the world's most powerful ELINT outfit against his own people.

Posted by: Dan Lewis on January 17, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Patton is so dumb he doesn't realize his caps lock is on,What a Idiot.

Posted by: patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan can't get his lies staight:

""Unless, of course, you ask the Bush regime, whose position is that Bush is King and has God-given powers to do anything to anyone. """

No, that was FDR who seized, tried by military tibunal and EXECUTED US and German citizens caught planning terrorist acts in the United States.
NOTE: They hadn't even conducted a terrorist attack, they were just planning them.

FDR didn't even give then a chance to call home before he strung em' up. that's right, DEAD, dead...they didn't even get a chance to be interned like the left did to the Americans of Japanese descent.

So you are lucky to live under George Bush and not another Hitler-like FDR.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

So, why hasn't any liberals gone to court yet to get a cease and desist order aginst Bush and the Al Queda wiretaps??

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Patton: PLEASE CITE THE COURT CASE WHICH STATES THAT THE EXECUTIVE MUST GET A WARRANT TO PERFORM SURVEILANCE ON AMERICAS WARTIME ENEMIES.

Rarely do I respond to trolls...but I must say...

Patton, have you lost your mind????? (You may not want to answer that)

Apparently, in Patton's World O' Dictator, for a law passed by Congress to be valid, there must be a court case??? Otherwise, the exectutive branch is free to do as it pleases without any regard to the laws passed by Congress, and signed into law by the Executive branch.

Please, stop the insanity!!! If Patton is not a troll being paid to write talking points, and he/she actually believes this nonsense, I am truly afraid of where this road is leading.

Posted by: justmy2 on January 17, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

No, that was FDR who seized, tried by military tibunal and EXECUTED US and German citizens caught planning terrorist acts in the United States.

The ones that I know about were brought here by U-boat and came ashore in little inflatable rafts. They were rightly executed for their crimes. See, that's what it looks like when a wartime President defends the American mainland against threats. I realize no one on the Republican side of the house recognizes what it looks like to defend America, but there you go.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

JUSTMY2.

You of course are wrong...a law is a law, BUT...BUT a law may also not apply to the Executive due to the separation of powers until the Supreme court rules that it does apply.

There are many instances where Congress passes laws and Presidents sign them where the President tells Congress he will still retain his Executive Powers under the Constitution.
Which is exactly what Presidents have told Congress with regard to FISA.

The Constitution is SUPREME and it is the court that decides. Congress and the President can make laws, and the court can turn arouind and strike them down as unconstitutional no matter if one President agreed to it.

GIVEN YOUR POSITION, CONGRESS COULD WRITE A LAW ABOLISHING THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT AND A PRESIDENT COULD SIGN IT AND THE JUDICIARY WOULD NO LONGER EXIST.

EXCEPT THE SUPREME COURT WOULD STRIKE IT DOWN AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

If you don't mind a different perspective on this issue:

On the one hand, we don't have much specific fear for terrorism in Brazil - no history of such actions neither geopolitical importance to merit it, so I can't really relate to americans or israelis or europeans or asians on that. On the other hand, we have serious internal violence issues to contend with, especially in Sao Paulo, which is where I live. So sometimes we do get into heated debates the like of which you are experiencing now in this NSA thing.

One interesting example is what happened in So Paulo in 1992. We had a rebellion in one of our biggest prisons in the city - a rebellion that was effectively quenched after the police went in and killed 111 inmates. There are a lot of unanswered questions about what happened inside the prison, and the police officers involved in the operation were eventually convicted of criminal charges of all sorts. They are also revered by a good part of the population now, including very enlightened and educated persons. This is because we genuinely fear violence (which is decreasing in SP, by the way), and a lot of people see all inmates are criminals (which is largely true) and thus not deserving of civil or even human rights (which I believe is an absurd). So they support actions like that, which are completelly illegal. This is the sign of a traumatized society, and this is very dangerous.

I believe this is similar to your discussion. I'll use a radical example to relate our situations. There is no safer way to reduce criminality than having the police rounding up all known criminals and spray then with bullets now and them. This is no deterrence or retribution - it's just pragmatism: dead is dead; no need to worry about recividism. Considerations about who is innocent in the sprayable bunch are practical matters that, theoretically, can be worked out so that we end up gunning down only the effectively guilty.

Will that make us safer? Absolutely. You can argue as much as you like about how criminals expect not to be caught, and how others will take their place, but these kind of swift and deadly retribution schemes would terrify everybody, and I predict would effectively end with the violence threat eventually. The real question, then, is: is it worth it? Nay, that's the rub. I don't know, and I don't think so.

First of all, this is currently illegal, so this renders, in my opinion, the discussion moot. Mr. Drum is correct: this is an important point, regardless of the effectiveness of the program. But such effectiveness is also an important issue, because, if the NSA surveillance had worked - if it had thwarted at least one important terrorist plot - significant pressure would be applied to actually make this thing legal. You could discuss Bush's impeachment until you all turned blue, but I bet the next president wouldn't need to worry about that; you'd effectively get over FISA and legalize it, probably as part of that Patriot Act of yours.

So I repeat the question, both for your NSA vs. FISA thing and for my 'let's kill them all and let God sort them out' solution for violence in SP. Is it worth it? Do I need to accept my society as an insensitive killing machine (even if only the guilty) so I can feel safer at traffic lights? Do you, Americans, need to abandon everything that makes America so envied and so admired - in a nutshell, your freedom - to feel safer? I always saw America, to call up a clich, as a beacon of freedom and hope. I live in a country that is midway there - it's not China, but I'm certain my government does not care for my freedom and citizenship as much as yours do. The problem is, the way things seem to be going on the US - apparently wanton disregard for civil rights, growing influence of religion on political matters, depredation of educational standards to refer to religious preferences - I fear I will be forced to change this last 'do' to 'used to'. I don't intend by this to add to the absurd anti-american sentiment I see everywhere - I say these words as a true admirer of what America managed to accomplish in the world and also as someone who understands all the good you can still do - and currently do - although I do believe that you sometimes screw things up, as all nations are prone to. I genuinely fear that, as you increasingly resort to the loss of your freedom to make your country safer, you might validate yet another clich: the one that says you should beware to not become what you fight against.

My sister was a victim this week of what we call 'sequestro relmpago', which literally translates as 'lightning-quick kidnapping'. Criminals got into her car and forced her, at gun-point, to roam some streets getting money from ATMs, just to release here (sans car) 50 minutes later. This is a very traumatic experience, one which will mark her (and us) for some time. And it's quite easy for me, in this traumatized state of mind, to advocate for "let's kill them all already". But, if I am to believe myself to be an enlightened citizen, I must resist this urge, lest I start believing that anything goes to make me and my family safer.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Like i said AL-Q hates us for our freedoms,so Bush will take our freedoms away, presto no more terror attacks.

Posted by: patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Congress and the President can make laws

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! News to me!

Dear Alice, eating birthday cakes out of the dumpster behind Safeway isn't good for your last remaining tooth. Be a sweetie and stop posting after a sugar rush.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

SHOW ME WHERE IT WAS LEGAL TO SPY ON JOHN KERRY DURING THE ELECTIONS.

Posted by: patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

BY THE WAY, I'D LIKE SOME CHOCOLATE IN MY WASHINGTON MONTHLY. WHERE'S THE CHOCOLATE..GOTS TO HAVE ME SOME OF THAT CHOCOLATE.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

SHOW ME WHERE IT IS ILLEGAL TO GET A BLOWJOB IN THE WHITEHOUSE.

Posted by: patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the fact that the whole thing smells pretty strongly of a bureaucratic turf war, the effectiveness of the program just isn't a big issue. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. Not every program pans out.

And this, "even the liberal Kevin Drum" creates yet another GOP talking point, yet another excuse.

Kevin, how about you leave it to the GOP to explain why this program not panning out is just the breaks, as opposed to every other program Bush has had that hasn't panned out.

Has any of his "anti-terror" agenda panned out?

Are ther eany major initiatives of his, in any realm, that have panned out?

Is this generally par for the course? For example: Was Clinton's panning out percentage this low?

Posted by: sixteenwords on January 17, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

LOOK I AM JUST A PAID WHORE FOR THE RIGHTIES WHAT DO YOU EXPECT.

Posted by: patton on January 17, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Echelon has nothing to do with warrantless wiretaps of US Persons
Neither does the NSA program. They are sifting through databases of foreign communications that they previously recorded. Some of those foreign communications had one end in the US.

Eschelon was actually considerably broader in it's scope.

I'm trying really hard to behave; but when you are ignoring basic facts about what is going on, you make it difficult.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

CN IS ALSO A PAID WHORE WE WALK THE STREETS WITH JEFF GANNON.

Posted by: patton on January 17, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: Echelon has nothing to do with warrantless wiretaps of US Persons

C-Nut: Neither does the NSA program. They are sifting through databases of foreign communications that they previously recorded.

Actually, no and no. Separating the idea of warrantless wiretaps--which target specific persons and their telephone conversations without first being granted a FISA court warrant and data mining are two separate issues. Wiretap collection by NSA without a FISA warrant is illegal; data mining is not illegal. The administration was NOT caught data mining; they were caught wiretapping specific US persons without a FISA warrant, and that's why this story has such resonance and that's why it is such a threat to civil liberties.

Some of those foreign communications had one end in the US.

With a FISA warrant, it is legal to use those intercepts. When data mining reveals terrorist activity by a US person, the NSA is required to get a FISA warrant.

E[s]chelon was actually considerably broader in it's scope.

Echelon was a method of data mining, perfectly legal and irrelevant to this discussion.

I'm trying really hard to behave; but when you are ignoring basic facts about what is going on, you make it difficult.

Why start now? I'm in rare form, in case you missed my exchange with the bag lady Alice/Patton.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Now the real question here is, are the Democratic leadership making effective use of this?

It really doesn't seem like it. But then again, it's hard to tell because the conservative press refuses to report on these issues without boystering the Republican spin machine tales.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 17, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Has any of his "anti-terror" agenda panned out?"

Have we been attacked again?

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a little 60 Minutes piece on Eschelon:

KROFT: (Voiceover) The National Security Agency won't talk about those successes or even confirm that a program called Echelon exists. But it's believed the international terrorist Carlos the Jackal was captured with the assistance of Echelon, and that it helped identify two Libyans the US believes blew up Pan-Am Flight 103.
Is it possible for people like you and I, innocent civilians, to be targeted by Echelon?
Mr. FROST: Not only possible, not only probable, but factual. While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a--a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, 'Oh, Danny really bombed last night,' just like that. The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation w--was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.
[source]
We find that the NYT wasn't too upset over Eschelon
...few dispute the necessity of a system like Echelon to apprehend foreign spies, drug traffickers and terrorists... [source]
But they did raise some of the same concerns we're hearing about the NSA program. And here are some of the current objections to the NSA program from Illegal NSA Wiretapping Program Involved Data-Mining:
First it was revealed that the Administration has been wiretapping the international phone and email communications of people inside the US without getting search warrants.
Now we learn that, according to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, the NSA has gained access to major telecommunications switches inside the US, giving it essentially unchecked access not only to international communications but to purely domestic emails and phone calls as well.
The 2 programs are damn hard to tell apart.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

C-Nut,

Already linked to that, already read it. Data mining is legal, warrantless wiretaps of specific telephone conversations is illegal.

This part:

Now we learn that, according to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, the NSA has gained access to major telecommunications switches inside the US, giving it essentially unchecked access not only to international communications but to purely domestic emails and phone calls as well.

...allows data mining to occur, but once a target is developed, the NSA must get a FISA warrant to continue eavesdropping. Access to the switches is not illegal; using that access to conduct warrantless wiretaps is illegal.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

The ones that I know about were brought here by U-boat and came ashore in little inflatable rafts. They were rightly executed for their crimes. See, that's what it looks like when a wartime President defends the American mainland against threats. I realize no one on the Republican side of the house recognizes what it looks like to defend America, but there you go.

Moreover, PR, if memory serves me right, Congress specifically granted the President war powers to act against saboteurs in such a manner.

Indeed, the Supreme Court upheld the arrest, trial, improsonment and eventual execution of some of the saboteurs as enemy combatants. If memory serves me right, it deferred ruling on whether the "enemy combatant" status could be conferred upon an American citizen, which is of course why the Padilla case was so hot, but it's been a while since I've looked up the relevant precedent (ex patre Quirin, if memory serves me right).

keiser/Alice/Patton is just nuts. FDR was able to catch, try and execute German saboteurs using all legal means and due process. And the fact that the trolls are trying desperately to distract from is that George Bush undertakes flagrantly illegal wiretaps and justifies them under his so-called (and utterly undefined by Congress) "war powers" and necessity, when in reality his program was a net minus in combatting terrorism. All the more reason you just can't trust Republicans with national security.

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Rider
I agree that if the NSA snoops something in the US, and anyone puts a tap on that domestic phone, that anyone would need a warrant for that tap.

But I haven't heard any complaints past the NSA snooping program. (Except mouth breathers twisting the data mining of the NSA into "warrantless wiretaps")

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

FDR was able to catch, try and execute German saboteurs using all legal means and due process And how about that fine treatment that Japanese-Americans got? I don't think you want to hold up FDR as a champion of people's rights in wartime.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

Good catch.

C-Nut,

Most of what I was trying to get across should strike you as being above the level of the so-called 'mouth breathers.' In some areas, the Bush Administration has clearly violated the law; in other areas, they have very clearly not broken any laws. There are distinctions and I was trying make them fairly.

I don't think you want to hold up FDR as a champion of people's rights in wartime.

Yeah, why go with the guy who won the most difficult war in human history, right?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Has any of his "anti-terror" agenda panned out?"

Lurker: Have we been attacked again?

This thinking confuses correlation with causation. While there have been no Al Qaeda attacks in the American mainland since September 11th, there were also none before then during the Clinton years either, before the Bush regime instituted its regime of domestic spying. To date there has been only one single Al Qaeda attack in the US, so the fact that there hasn't been another one is hardly proof of the efficacy of the spying program.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, great post Brazil Connection.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 17, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Has any of his "anti-terror" agenda panned out?"

Have we been attacked again?

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

No, you weren't. However, with the disclosure of this surveillance program, it would be a political imperative for the Bush admin to single out every terrorist plot disrupted by it. They may still do it, but the fact that they didn't so far probably means the thing indeed didn't 'pan out', and you were spared for other reasons.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

And how about that fine treatment that Japanese-Americans got?

What fine treatment? It was a damn shame, no matter what Malkin says. It's also totally irrelevant to keiser/Alice/Patton's little rant.

I don't think you want to hold up FDR as a champion of people's rights in wartime.

I wasn't doing so, of course, but I'm hardly surprised you would make such a disingenuous and dishonest comment, c.n.

The point stands that 1) Congress specifically granted FDR powers to try, convict and execute saboteurs as enemy combatants and 2) FDR's exercise of said powers were upheld by the Supreme Court. Patton's spittle-flected rant accusing FDR of the sort of power grab the Bush Administration seems to desire is the raving of a deeply dishonest and/or misinformed person, and/or a lunatic.

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

In some areas, the Bush Administration has clearly violated the law
Point me at one. I haven't seen any.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

In some areas, the Bush Administration has clearly violated the law

When Bush admitted that he had ordered the NSA to conduct warrantless wiretaps on US persons, that was the violation of the law that I'm referring to.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like you're trying to spin the NSA data mining into warrantless wiretaps. If you have something remotely fact based, however, I would be interested.

Because, I don't completely agree with this:

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."
"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

C-Nut,

I've separated the two from each other and indicated that they are not related. Data mining is legal, specific wiretaps on US persons without a FISA warrant is illegal.

What part of that don't you understand? And citing the Gorelick memo is ridiculous.

The Right/Republicans/wingnuts have conflated any and all case law and legal precendents into one boiling pot of soup that tastes like shit; there are specific roles for each agency of the US intelligence community. Certain provisions granted to the FBI to conduct warrantless physical searches are one thing; we're talking about warrantless wiretaps conducted by NSA. These are two separate issues and no court would cite a ruling regarding the FBI when ruling on a case involving NSA because each of those agencies is governed by completely separate laws and rules.

Don't fall for the Fox News bullshit. Don't be like this idiot:

Jonah Goldberg:

What makes this bout of Saint Vitus' dancing seem so opportunistic is that after 9/11, we heard constantly about the need to be more flexible and creative. The 9/11 commission's chief complaint was that authorities suffered from a lack of imagination when it came to terrorism.

[a lack of imagination should not be confused with 'breaking the law.']

Before 9/11, the system for listening to conversations between terrorists abroad and their accomplices on our soil had all the flexibility and creativity of John Ashcroft at a disco contest.

[completely untrue, the system worked and FISA granted virtually every single request; it was only when the Bush administration started presenting questionable warrant applications that FISA warrants were denied. Hence, the administration started to go around the FISA court and break the law.]

Even with warrants issued by the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, the National Security Agency usually had to erase the "American" side of the conversation between suspected terrorists before handing them over to the FBI.

[also confusing the issue; in matters where a FISA warrant was granted, the NSA would not have to erase anything. In cases where the intelligence collected was allowed to be foreign intercept only, yes, to remain in compliance with the law, the NSA would have to erase the communications intercept of a US person.

Most think that sort of thing is crazy. But, to keep the frenzy alive, we talk about spying on "certain Americans" -- when in reality we're trying to stop barbarians from killing "certain Americans."

Actually, we're spying on peace groups. But I want to thank C-Nut and Jonah Goldberg for being all in a tizzy about something that, were it a DEMOCRATIC president who had done this, they would have pitchforks and torches at the ready to storm Washington DC in order to seize the Republic.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that if the NSA snoops something in the US, and anyone puts a tap on that domestic phone, that anyone would need a warrant for that tap.

For what it's worth, I watched a clip of Bush last night and that's exactly how he described the program -- tapping domestic phone conversations that either originated internationally or were to international destinations.

Posted by: trex on January 17, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Patton obviously had a big bowl of Sugar Frosted Dumb Fuck for breakfast again.

Posted by: Pat on January 17, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for the R majority Congress to pass a Resolution of War, so Bush can legitimately claim those Wartime Presidential Powers the fascist-wannabees have such a hard-on for.

Still waiting ...

Posted by: bangagong on January 17, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I AM GAY.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I AM GAY.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Really, that's not even in the ballpark with clever. Tell mommy and daddy you made an 'uh-oh' with the computer and turn it off.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Homophobe. I AM.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've separated the two from each other and indicated that they are not related. Data mining is legal, specific wiretaps on US persons without a FISA warrant is illegal.
Yes, I know, and I agree with your assessment. What I don't have is any indication that the latter has happened.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."

This has been gone over on these threads again and again, so I find it hard to believe when anyone claims that they don't know this yet, but Gorelick was testifying to the fact that the President can conduct warrantless physical searches before FISA required physical searches to be conducted pursuant to a warrant -- that is to say, the executive can conduct such warrantless physical searches in the absence of Congressional action. FISA, however, established such oversight in 1995 or 1996 (that is, after Gorelick's testimony in 1994), oversight which Bush ignored. Gorelick's testimony does not imply that after Congress required the President to obtain a warrant the President can then ignore such law.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Whether congress can deal with Bushco's usurpation of our Constitution remains to be seen. Given Rethuglican control of the House of Unrepentant and the Seenot it is doubtful.

I therefore have an idea for you: We know that the NSA is conducting an illegal operation to spy on Americans using sophisticated "recognition" software to lock onto calls or emails containing certain key words. Data mining.

The only way any citizen can combat an illegal program such as this is by civil disobedience, SO IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ALL AMERICANS, COUNTRY-WIDE, BEGAN USING TRIGGER WORDS IN EVERY TELEPHONE CALL THEY MAKE OR RECEIVE? The system would soon be overwhelmed by far too many "hits" for them all (or perhaps ANY) of them to be further investigated, potentially destroying the usefulness of the illegal program.

So what if every liberal blog, or any others believing Bushco has gone too far, asked ALL THE VISITORS to their site to include certain trigger words IN EVERY CONVERSATION THEY HAVE WITH ANYONE.

You know, words like: Osama bin Laden, jihad, dirty bomb, nuclear material, anthrax, chemical weapons, Zarqawi, Allah akbar, infidels, Iran mullahs, and everything else the readers could come up with. Perhaps even run a contest for your readers to add to the probable list that would "flag" their number for further investigation. The sheer numbers, if we could pull this off, would render it impossible or impractical for the program to continue.

I am sick of our Imperial President and his constant violations of the law and the erosion of my civil rights. It is time, in my opinion, to demonstrate to Bushco that this IS a government by, for, and of the People. This could perhaps be engineered into the greatest single act of civil disobedience in history.

What do you think? Do we stand by and gripe, or do we take action?

Posted by: Bill Arnett on January 17, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: Actually, we're spying on peace groups. But I want to thank C-Nut and Jonah Goldberg for being all in a tizzy about something that, were it a DEMOCRATIC president who had done this, they would have pitchforks and torches at the ready to storm Washington DC in order to seize the Republic.

That's a filthy lie! Jonah "The White Feather" Goldberg would never storm anywhere with a pitchfork and torch. After all, he's over 35, has a job, a wife and kids to support, etc. The pitchfork and torch wielding, he believes, should always be done by poorer, more in shape people than he, people who don't gorge themselves at fine restaurants and hobnob with the media elite.


Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I know, and I agree with your assessment. What I don't have is any indication that the latter has happened.

Well, Bush said that he authorized wiretaps without a FISA warrant.

But don't fret about it. I don't believe anything Bush says, either.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

It is time, in my opinion, to demonstrate to Bushco that this IS a government by, for, and of the People.
Ya, I've got an idea: Why don't we vote for President, and whoever gets the most votes gets the job! The people would get a say if we do that.

And you know what? We could also vote for other representatives to government! Then, the whole government would have to consider what We the people wanted!

What an idea, how hard would it be to get this implemented?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

This has been gone over on these threads again and again, so I find it hard to believe when anyone claims that they don't know this yet

Well, it isn't this thread, but the GOP spin doctor on Faux News just used precisely that argument.

As I've said, though, it's endlessly comforting to me that the GOP has to resort to such transparently phony lies. Fox is beyond hope, of course, but it's barely possible that the false equivalence will be pointed out and taken as a weakness in the position of the President's apologists.

In short, keiser/Alice/Patton, your parroting of that long-discredited talking point doesn't prove what you think it does.

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

What an idea, how hard would it be to get this implemented

Given that the man who got the most votes in 2000 didn't get the job, I'd say the bugs aren't out of the system yet.

Sheesh, c.n., are you phoning it in today or what?

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't we vote for President, and whoever gets the most votes gets the job! The people would get a say if we do that.

That didn't seem to work in 2000, when the person who didn't get the most votes got the job anyway....

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Bush said that he authorized wiretaps without a FISA warrant.
Ya, our clear speaking President. He must have come fresh off a strategery session. Every description I've seen of the NSA program was as data mining.

Now if he admitted that this was being done without warrants, it is. If he admitted that some ends of the conversation were in the US, they are.

But until someone can come up with some evidence that anything beyond data mining is being done without warrants, I'm chalking this up to more lefty hyperventilating.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Every description I've seen of the NSA program was as data mining.

How dense are you? Data mining is legal. Warrantless wiretaps of US persons are illegal. That's the issue.

But until someone can come up with some evidence that anything beyond data mining is being done without warrants, I'm chalking this up to more lefty hyperventilating.

Light bends as it reaches the proximity of C-nut, then disappears altogether, never to return. He is dense matter, and light cannot escape him.

Shouldn't it be 'moonbat histrionics?'

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

But until someone can come up with some evidence that anything beyond data mining is being done without warrants, I'm chalking this up to more lefty hyperventilating.

As Ernest Hemingway wrote, "isn't it pretty to think so."

Stefan, GMTA. ;)

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sheesh, c.n., are you phoning it in today or what?
What, you haven't noticed the new, improved me?

I caught 3, count 'em 3, times lately that a lefty commenter pounded another lefty commenter for being ill-behaved. Couple that with the fact that Kevin wrote 2, count 'em 2, posts last week that were not pure moonbat bait, and I decided that I would not stir the pot and see if this is a trend.

It's probably not and you'll probably end up with the old me back soon. But I like to give a good opportunity a chance to succeed.

Bill whoeverheis was just too much to pass up, however. Must be time for his meds...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

But until someone can come up with some evidence that anything beyond data mining is being done without warrants, I'm chalking this up to more lefty hyperventilating.

Here's what the career NSA guys told Risen:

Risen: Well, they were doing data mining. They were going thru the entire system looking for patterns of phone numbers and other information. So, there was both the actual eavesdropping on some numbers and a more sophisticated pattern analysis. It's difficult to tell how those two things worked together, but all of this was being done without search warrants which in the past had always been required.

And another has this to say to in an article by Jason Leopold:

One former NSA official said in response to Hayden's 2001 interview, "What do you expect him to say? He's got to deny it. I agree. We weren't targeting specific people, which is what the President's executive order does. However, we did keep tabs on some Americans we caught if there was an interest" by the White House. "That's not legal. And I am very upset that I played a part in it."

It's not the lefties who are hyperventilating -- its the career NSA guys who risked their careers to expose this story.

Damn liberal pussies.

Posted by: trex on January 17, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Light bends as it reaches the proximity of C-nut, then disappears altogether, never to return. He is dense matter, and light cannot escape him.
If requiring an actual instance of illegal activity happening (which you have been unable to provide) before charging that illegal activity took place makes me dense, I'll wear the title proudly.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Because, I don't completely agree with this:

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."
"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't someone posted something in this thread about the FISA law being changed in 1995 in regards to the Aldritch Ames case? If this is the case, maybe in 1994 Gorelick wasn't wrong, as he seems to be now.

I said 'seems to', because this is not a light issue - he does have a point in saying that regular criminal warrant methods may not apply to foreign intelligence. But I'm no expert (hell, I'm not even american), and I believe neither are most of the people posting here.

I do believe, however, that the law is the law. Dura lex, sed lex. Laws that are eminently absurd might claim for disobedience, but I don't believe that a law that says 'a citizen is protected from unreasonable searches from its government' is eminently absurd - in fact, I think is one of the fundamental tenets of your democracy, which is why I simply can't fathom why people might support its violation by your president -, and thus it should be upheld. And that's it.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

"This thinking confuses correlation with causation."

Yeah I know, it was just so easy, I couldn't help myself.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

What, you haven't noticed the new, improved me?

Given the dishonesty I pointed out in your first response to me, what's to notice?

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Ya, I've got an idea: Why don't we vote for President, and whoever gets the most votes gets the job! The people would get a say if we do that.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

But electing a president is not akin to anointing a king. He is the president, he was voted there (frankly, if he got more votes than Gore in 2000 or not is irrelevant - your law allows for a president to lose the popular vote, but that's the law), but he is not Henry V or Palpatine.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

trex
That's it? He gave no, zip, zero, nada, evidence of illegal wiretaps taking place. Risen said

it's difficult to tell how many people and to what degree they were really listening to people.
That's not the words of a man with evidence of anything beyond data mining. But I really liked this part
Mitchell: But isn't this exactly what everyone criticized the administration and Bill Clinton and other administrations for not doing? The president and his administration was criticized for not connecting the dots. Isn't this eavesdropping a very sophisticated way of connecting the dots?
Risen: Yeah, certainly that's part of it. The question really is not whether or not this program could be effective you could listen to all 250 million Americans and that would be a very effective counter-terrorism tool. The question is, where is the balance between security and civil liberties?
I'll grant that he has suspicions, and I'll grant that he has questions. But he's not providing anything of substance.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't someone posted something in this thread about the FISA law being changed in 1995 in regards to the Aldritch Ames case? If this is the case, maybe in 1994 Gorelick wasn't wrong, as he seems to be now.

Someone else might have, but I did too, upthread at 2:41 PM. FISA was amended in 1995 or 1996 (I'm not sure which) to require a warrant in the event of physical searches, so in 1994 Jamie Gorelick's (by the way, Gorelick is a she not a he) was legally correct. Since then, though, the law has changed so her statement no longer applies.

I said 'seems to', because this is not a light issue - he [sic] does have a point in saying that regular criminal warrant methods may not apply to foreign intelligence. But I'm no expert (hell, I'm not even american), and I believe neither are most of the people posting here.

Again there's some confustion, because Gorelick was not testifying to the application of regular (that is, domestic) criminal warrant methods but instead specifically to the regime that governed foreign intelligence collection.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Given the dishonesty I pointed out in your first response to me, what's to notice?
Dishonesty? Oh, so if a president sometimes respects civil liberties, and other times not, then he is a respecter of civil liberties.

Great, I'll go find an example of Bush respecting civil liberties and this discussion will be all over.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 17, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the corrections, Stefan

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Especially the 'Gorelick is a she'. That was embarassing.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on January 17, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you miss the implication of the story. Its been well established by the bushcriminal himself that he proudly did illegal wiretaps. But his meme has been that the illegal program was precise and limited to AL Qeada calls INTO the US.

What the NY Times story makes clear is that bush is lying and trying to deceive again; that it was a massive, uncontrolled program to wiretap anyone and everyone they could think of including no doubt politcal and ideological opponents completely unrelated to Al Qeada (except in the preverse repukelican mind where every who hasn't signed a loyality oath to the Cult of Republicanism and King George is automatically a member of Al Qeada).

Posted by: zoot on January 17, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Especially the 'Gorelick is a she'. That was embarassing.

Not really. "Jamie" can be both a male and female name, so if you'd only read "Jamie Gorelick" you'd have no reason to know her gender.

Posted by: Stefan on January 17, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

3rd Paul,
Hey, thanks for the welcome back. Good to see you, too. I may not post as regularly as I would like for a time depending on Mrs. Apollo's health and business. Two unrelated and unexpected family deaths caused me to take a timeout, reexamine what's most important. Still dealing with the fallout. So no worries about listing me in the category of "women posters." My masculinity isn't threatened one bit. Sheesh, I nearly killed myself trying to prove how tough I was when I was young and stupid. Life is too short for that shit anymore. Besides, you were paying me a compliment. Thanks.

Pale Rider,
Dude, you are still delivering ferocious smackdowns. Thanks for watching my back by taking Alice/Patton to the woodshed. Pitiful Splatton. Still crashing on the boards.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 17, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'll grant that he has suspicions, and I'll grant that he has questions. But he's not providing anything of substance.

Once more:

Risen was contacted surreptitiously by numerous NSA agents who wanted to out the program. This was nothing he was investigating. They told him they were doing wiretaps on individuals. Your standard of evidence seems to be that they produce some actual tapes of phone conversations cross-referenced with lists of wiretaps -- which isn't going to happen in this universe because all of the material is classified.

It's quite likely that there will be evidence presented -- just not to you. The agents are requesting that Congress allow them to testify about the program. The Republicans have been treating this hot potato gingerly because it has the potential to be incredibly damaging to the president and their party. So Orrin Hatch said last night on Larry King what they will probably do is hold hearings in the Intelligence and Judiciary committees which will not only be secret -- they may not even allow all the committee members to attend.

Posted by: trex on January 17, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Dishonesty? Oh, so if a president sometimes respects civil liberties, and other times not, then he is a respecter of civil liberties.

Yes, c.n., dishonesty. Whether FDR was "a respecter of civil liberties" or not was irrelevant, and I certainly never claimed I was.

What I did point out, in refutation of keiser/Alice/Patton's loony implications to the contrary, was that FDR, unlike Bush, was a respecter of due process and the rule of law, at least insofar as the German saboteurs involved in ex parte Quirin were concerned.

Great, I'll go find an example of Bush respecting civil liberties and this discussion will be all over.

Whether Bush respects civili liberties or the rule of law in other cases is, of course, irrelevant to the question of whether he has violated civil liberties and the law in this case. Unfortunately for you, no one is making the argument you seem to want to refute. But then, without straw men, you wouldn't have very much to say, would you?

That you once again dishonestly misrepresent the argument shows that there is indeed no "new improved you." (No surprise there.) Although your departure would certainly be an improvement...

(Cue c.n. harping about the "echo chamber" ... don't worry, nut, we get plenty of right-wing intellectual dishonesty without you.)

As for "this will all be over:" You wish. ;)

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

Belated editor me: Whether FDR was "a respecter of civil liberties" or not was irrelevant, and I certainly never claimed I was should be "Whether FDR was "a respecter of civil liberties" or not was irrelevant, and I certainly never claimed he was."

Posted by: Gregory on January 17, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

...the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

And the fact that Bush lied when he said this only happened on a few occasions.

Posted by: Amit Joshi on January 17, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

The importance of the information from the FBI has very little to do with the effectiveness issue. What's new in the NYT story and relevant to the illegality of Bush's program is the evidence of its scope: the spying was done on thousands of Americans with no connection to terrorist activity.

Posted by: Nell on January 17, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

So it is the lefts contention that Clinton only xphysically searched American citizens HOMES and PROPERTY without a warrant, but didn't listen to their phone calls.

So the left contends a warrant is MORE important for a phone call to Osama Bin Laden, then it is for FBI agents to bust down your door and rampage through your house like Clinton ordered done to Aldrich Ames.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13 says some REAL STUPID STUFF:

""""Under the FISA -- under the rules at that time the attorney general could authorize a warrantless physical search of a house. After the Ames case, it's my understanding that Congress changed that and closed that loophole and so that now that kind of search couldn't be done under the law."""""

SO, COMPLETE IDIOT, YOUR ACTUALLY CLAIMING THAT FISA MODIFIED OUR CONSTITUTION?? HOW COMPLETELY DUMB IS THAT STATEMENT.

Just how can FISA make this invalid:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NOTICE THE AMENDMENT DOES NOT MENTION CONVERSATIONS NOR PHONE CALLS, JUST YOUR HOUSE, PROPERTY (YOU JKNOW THOSE THINGS THAT CLINTON HAD SEARCHED)


Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

So just what was this FISA loophole that made the 4th Amendment non-operative????????

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

As we can see in today's USA rebuttatorial (response to USA Today's editorial lambasting of the Bush Administration), by Robert McCallum of the Justice Department, the crux of the administration argument for warrantless searches in direct defiance of the law is that "Congress itself expressly authorized the use of 'all necessary and appropriate force' against the terrorists."

So, if this program was a huge boondoggle, and a total waste of time and resources, it would be hard to argue that it was "necessary", especially after it became obvious that it was a huge boondoggle wasting time and resources. It becomes even harder to justify as "necessary" when it has never been clear why the FISA courts could not have been consulted, as the law passed by the Republican Congress commands, and Bush could very easily have just gone to Congress and asked for the rules to go back to the way they were when Clinton was president (before the FISA update).

Moving to "appropriate", here is where arguments come in about the constitutionality of warrantless searches, as well as the outright breaking of the law without attempting to modify the law. The president acting above the law, especially a law explicitly and specifically written to apply to his behavior, is not "appropriate". It is especially not "appropriate" when the president claims to have powers granted to him by Congress that he is afraid to ask them to clarify or modify so that he is not obviously breaking the letter and spirit of the law.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

CAPPITTEY, CAPPITTEY WHEE!!!!!

I'M A SCAIFE-BOT WHEE!!!!

LIES, LIES WHEE!!!!

CLINTON, CLENIS WHEE!!!!

FDR IS THE DEVIL WHEE!!!

WHORE, WHORE IS ME WHEE!!!!

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

I love the fake Pattons making fun of me.....it just shows they have no substantive argument to make on the issue and are basically crying Uncle.

Posted by: Patton on January 17, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK
Number of attacks in America since program started after 9/11? Zero.

The program started days after 9/11. Both the anthrax attacks and the LAX attack occurred after that. Your count is, therefore, inaccurate.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 17, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK
For what it's worth, I wouldn't get too excited

Kevin, we knew that already.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 17, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

I love the fake Pattons making fun of me.....it just shows they have no substantive argument to make on the issue and are basically crying Uncle

Dunno Patton. Kinda think it's because you are such a dishonest shit always cutting and pasting new Bircher bullshit as soon as your previous stuff has been debunked and constantly recycling the old stuff on new threads. You're disingenuous and a liar and not worth the attempt to engage (a barren effort in any case) All your expostulations aside, Apollo 13 nailed you completely on this thread.

Nah. All I can see is a mendacious little motherfucker. Certainly not one to be throwing around words like "substantive." Oh, and I have been known to vote conservative. I just don't like lying little fucks like you.

Oh and for a litany of your liies, simply go back through any Washington Monthly thread where you have posted. And no I'm not going to repost the debunkings. They are there for all to see.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 17, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13,

Welcome back--missed having your sane take on things around.

As you can see, everything is still stupid.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK
What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

No, its not. Many of the wiretaps probably were of the kind that don't require a warrant, but are still illegal because there are express provisions governing how surveillance without a warrant for foreign intelligence purposes is to be conducted, and because those procedures, including the aspects enabling oversight, were not complied with. While not getting warrants where required is part of the issue, it is not all of the issue.

The issue is lawlessness. It is not limited to failure to secure warrants.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 17, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

The beginning of the end has commenced. Will you remember where you were, how you reacted, what was important?

Take a moment; take a deep breath, commit to memory.

History is being chiseled in marble.

I remember when the tide turned against Nixon.

Articles of Impeachment were drawn against Nixon.

One of the articles was warrantless wiretaps.

Nixon played it safe, he resigned in disgrace.

Posted by: Sideline on January 17, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Who will be the next Gerald Ford? I can't imagine the GOP is going to let Cheney stick around if there is any chance Bush is going to have to resign, especially since Cheney is the one actually pushing a lot of this.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Could Jeb Bush step in for Cheney?

Posted by: Sideline on January 17, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Term limits has Jeb Bush unemployed as of Nov of 06.

Posted by: Sideline on January 17, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

That would too audacious to imagine that Bush would appoint his own brother. It would have to be someone else...maybe Rudy.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Just in case, the Democrats should probably be prepared to get out on front of this so that they're on the record pushing for a moderate vice-president, as part of an argument that Bush, Cheney, and their cronies shouldn't be able to whitewash all of this and install their preferred person into the presidency. That would not be accountability.

By "prepared" I mean ready for it, should it become more possible, so that they're not surprised by it and are already raising a ruckus about the continuing cronyism of these guys. Of course, the best bet is to win in 2006 so that the vice president must be confirmed by Democrats.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

I should be more clear...I'm not suggesting that anyone in the party make statements about this now, but if in the near future things start to look more bleak, and it's becoming plausible that Cheney might resign for "health reasons", then the Democrats should anticipate it and be the first to pounce, though only if the trouble that Bush is in has progressed to a point where we could plausibly relive the Nixon/Agnew/Ford experience.

Posted by: Jimm on January 17, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I don't understand how you can miss the point on this, you seem to have quite a blind spot about how politics works. You can sit and analyze the law and make the clinical case why the legality of the thing is the important issue, but ultimately it's not. Laws don't mean anything unless people believe in them and Bush has convinced lots of them that the laws just protect the bad guys.

For the last 4 years every former militia member who shook their fists and shouted "from my cold dead hands" at the idea Clinton might make them register their guns, have swapped their jungle fatigues for their VFW uniforms, slapped yellow ribbons on the back of their pickup trucks and saluted every time Bush told them "911 changed everything". They've been willing look aside as he's opened their mail, spied on their conversations even revoked citizenship from "enemy combatents".

Only when they realize they gave it all up for nothing are they going to stop supporting him. And no-one will enforce the law until that happens.

Posted by: mike on January 17, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

What's important is that the intercepts were done without a warrant even though the law expressly requires a warrant. That's the issue.

Kevin Drum 1:58 AM Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (208)

Actually, the question is if Congress has the right to make a law on this sort of thing. But skipping steps and repeating yourself is how to reinforce a lie.

Posted by: McA on January 18, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the question is if Congress has the right to make a law on this sort of thing. But skipping steps and repeating yourself is how to reinforce a lie.
Posted by: McA

I concede that you are likely fairly ignorant of american parliamentary procedure ... but please enlighten me, with your VAST foreigner's expertise, what kind of laws you think the american congress doesn't have a right to make?

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

I concede that you are likely fairly ignorant of american parliamentary procedure ... but please enlighten me, with your VAST foreigner's expertise, what kind of laws you think the american congress doesn't have a right to make?

Unconstitutional laws - i.e. laws that presume power not given to Congress or seek to make legal that which is forbidden in the Constitution and amendments.

Congress and the federal government have no inherent power, but only that granted in the Constitution. Nothing more, nothing less. All else belongs to the people - either to their persons or delegated by them to state constitutions.

Posted by: Jimm on January 18, 2006 at 4:23 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the question is if Congress has the right to make a law on this sort of thing. But skipping steps and repeating yourself is how to reinforce a lie.

A loyal (to Bill of Rights) Supreme Court would invalidate any law that allowed warrantless searches in direct violation of the 4th amendment, in peacetime or wartime (no distinction is made in the 4th amendment, which was passed after Article II and thus should take precedence as limiting what has come before, and which was the reason for the Bill of the Rights in the first place, to limit what was set down initially), but the case seems to be that the loyal Supreme Court (to Article II) has fudged the power of warrantless search as a function of the commander-in-chief during wartime.

Either way, Congress doesn't have the right to pass any law it wants and have it stand after judicial review.

Posted by: Jimm on January 18, 2006 at 4:28 AM | PERMALINK

The real question I'd like answered is how any honest person can interpret the Bill of Rights as not limiting the Constitution that was set down before it, since this was the express purpose of passing the Bill of Rights, as a compromise to get people to sign on to the original document and Articles.

And, that being the case, since no distinction was made in the 4th amendment as to peacetime or wartime, there should be presiding and dominant finding from Article II about wartime searches in violation of the 4th amendment, since Article II does not limit the 4th amendment (impossible and illogical), but instead is limited by all the amendments that have come after it that do not make a distinction relevant to Article II powers.

Otherwise, it's an insult to history to suggest that the Bill of Rights is not an explicit limiting of power laid down in the Articles, since it's quite obvious and accepted history that the Articles of the Constitution were only passed with the explicit promise that the Bill of Rights would be passed immediately afterward.

Posted by: Jimm on January 18, 2006 at 4:34 AM | PERMALINK

And, that being the case, since no distinction was made in the 4th amendment as to peacetime or wartime, there should be presiding and dominant finding from Article II about wartime searches in violation of the 4th amendment, since Article II does not limit the 4th amendment (impossible and illogical), but instead is limited by all the amendments that have come after it that do not make a distinction relevant to Article II powers.

Dammit!

Of course I mean "since no distinction was made in the 4th amendment as to peacetime or wartime, there should be NO presiding or dominant finding from Article II about wartime searches in violation of the 4th amendment, since Article II does not limit the 4th amendment (impossible and illogical), but instead is limited by all the amendments that have come after it that do not make a distinction relevant to Article II powers."

Posted by: Jimm on January 18, 2006 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

In other words, and then I will end this thread hijack, it should require another constitutional amendment to make explicit a distinction between wartime and peacetime in regards to 4th amendment protections. As is, it's all just a load of bullshit, and philosophically unsound to argue otherwise.

Posted by: Jimm on January 18, 2006 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Point me at one. I haven't seen any.

Bush could commit murder in front of your eyes and you wouldn't see it.

It's hard for you to see anything when your whole vision is dominated by a view of Bush's buttocks.

Remove your lips from Bush's behind for a better view.

Then, maybe, you would see it.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 18, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

cnut, can you not tell the difference between the actions of a president when the nation is fighting a declared war and a president doing whatever he pleases?

Posted by: Ace Franze on January 18, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK
Just in case, the Democrats should probably be prepared to get out on front of this so that they're on the record pushing for a moderate vice-president, as part of an argument that Bush, Cheney, and their cronies shouldn't be able to whitewash all of this and install their preferred person into the presidency. That would not be accountability.

Yeah, it would, though it wouldn't be ideal; what the Democrats need to make sure is that if that happens, the next guy is under the microscope from day one.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK
And, that being the case, since no distinction was made in the 4th amendment as to peacetime or wartime, there should be presiding and dominant finding from Article II about wartime searches in violation of the 4th amendment, since Article II does not limit the 4th amendment (impossible and illogical), but instead is limited by all the amendments that have come after it that do not make a distinction relevant to Article II powers.

It is perhaps worth noting, in this context, the contrast with the 3rd Amendment, also part of the Bill of Rights, which shows that the drafters of the Bill of Rights, where they wanted different applicability in wartime and peacetime, would indeed explicitly lay it out.

But, still, I think that the Article II power argument is fatally flawed even ignoring any effect of the 4th Amendment. Vague Article II powers may permit the President to exercise powers that the federal government could otherwise exercise against foreigners in the absence of Congressional lawmaking, but it will not allow the President to engage in foreign relations contrary to Congressional lawmaking. The designation of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the military is not a grant of plenary power, it is a designation of function which gives the supreme command of the military to the President, but does not extend the power of the military (or the President in his militar role) beyond that allowed to the military under Congress' absolute Article I power to regulate the military.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK
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