Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NSA SPYING UPDATE....General Michael Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence, defended the NSA's domestic spying program today:

Hayden stressed that the program "is not a drift net over Dearborn or Lackawanna or Freemont, grabbing conversations that we then sort out by these alleged keyword searches or data-mining tools or other devices that so-called experts keep talking about. This is targeted and focused."

Unless I've missed something along the way, this is important news. Hayden is saying that the NSA program isn't some kind of large-scale data mining operation that the authors of the FISA act never could have foreseen. Rather, it's "targeted and focused" and involves "only international calls and only those we have a reasonable basis to believe involve al Qaeda or one of its affiliates."

In other words, it's precisely the kind of monitoring that the FISA court already approves routinely and in large volumes. Another few hundred requests wouldn't faze them in the least.

So if (a) NSA's lawyers are allegedly convinced that the program is legal, and (b) we're talking about monitoring a specific and limited number of conversations, why not get FISA warrants? Because they knew FISA wouldn't approve them:

The standard laid out by General Hayden a "reasonable basis to believe" is lower than "probable cause," the standard used by the special court created by Congress to handle surveillance involving foreign intelligence.

....General Hayden said that the difference in the legal standards...played an important role in determining whether to go to the FISA court or not.

The 1978 law allows the agency to seek a warrant up to 72 hours after wiretapping begins when speed is of the essence. But even in an emergency, General Hayden said, the law required that the attorney general approve a wiretap before it could begin. But "the attorney general's standard," he said, "is a body of evidence equal to that which he would present to the court," meaning that an emergency application would also have to show probable cause.

So what do you do if the FISA court won't approve a lowered standard, Congress won't change the law, and even the attorney general refuses to play ball? Answer: You go ahead and do what you want anyway.

Hayden seems to think this is fine. Hopefully there are some honest Republicans left in Congress who disagree.

Kevin Drum 3:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (264)

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Comments

Generals as political hacks. We are in trouble.

Posted by: bubba on January 23, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

remember, though. the wingnuts (suddenly) think FISA is unconstitutional. that's what Georgy Porgy's little signing statement was all about, and that's what all Alito's softball answers were about: the President doesn't have to obey unconstitutional laws.

of course the president can't just declare that laws are unconstitutional, either. but who's gonna call him on it ?

Posted by: cleek on January 23, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I did find it "amusing" that ABC played the 1998 move "Enemy of the State" Saturday Night.

Of course, in that movie the upstanding Navy General in charge of the NSA was majorly against domestic spying.

Posted by: Robert on January 23, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm... so when the admin said earlier that they went with the warrantless taps because the FISA courts were "too slow" to approve things, that was yet another bald-faced lie, no?

Posted by: legion on January 23, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

"t-rex to Nut Central, t-rex to Nut Central:"

"Conspiracy Nut, do you read?"

"NSA was not data mining, was tapping phones without warrants -- I repeat, NSA was tapping phone conversations of American citizens without warrants. Intelligence says this was not just a case of "lefties hyperventilating."

"Do you copy? Over."

Posted by: trex on January 23, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Translation:

"I thought she was just playing hard to get, officer. I knew she might say 'no', but she wouldn't really mean it. So I just figured I'd save her the trouble of putting up a fight by slipping some roofies in her drink and having a go at her. We all know she wanted it. Just look at that dress she was wearing."

Posted by: Violet on January 23, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I could see how they might say that 72 hours is insufficient to document a case of 'probably cause' - but they still should have worked to fix the process, not go around it.

What the General didn't deny is that the program works like Able Danger, monitoring all calls 2-3 degrees of separation away from suspected terrorists. Which always reminds me that Osama -> Saud family -> Bush family.

Posted by: tinfoil on January 23, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'm genuinely confused here. Aren't these statements contradictory, or am I mis-reading something?

The 1978 law allows the agency to seek a warrant up to 72 hours after wiretapping begins when speed is of the essence. But even in an emergency, General Hayden said, the law required that the attorney general approve a wiretap before it could begin.

So can they legally begin 72 hours prior to a request or not? Is Hayden lying, or just incompetent, or have we been mislead re: the 72 hour provision up until this point?

Posted by: drjimcooper on January 23, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

drjimcooper: When talking about wiretaps that go through FISA, the AG has to sign off on it originally -- then he has 72 hours to get FISA to approve it.

And the AG seems to have the strangely (for the Bush administration!) reasonable requirement that if you want a wirtetap under FISA, you have to have enough for him to try to sell it to FISA.

It's the sort of ass-covering that amounts to "checks and balances" these days. Ashcroft didn't want to be sitting in front of a FISA court, with absolutely NOTHING to say about why they should grant a wiretap.

Posted by: Morat20 on January 23, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

So can they legally begin 72 hours prior to a request or not?

yes, they can.

    he may authorize the emergency employment of electronic surveillance if a judge having jurisdiction under section 1803 of this title is informed by the Attorney General or his designee at the time of such authorization that the decision has been made to employ emergency electronic surveillance and if an application in accordance with this subchapter is made to that judge as soon as practicable, but not more than 72 hours after the Attorney General authorizes such surveillance. If the Attorney General authorizes such emergency employment of electronic surveillance, he shall require that the minimization procedures required by this subchapter for the issuance of a judicial order be followed. In the absence of a judicial order approving such electronic surveillance, the surveillance shall terminate when the information sought is obtained, when the application for the order is denied, or after the expiration of 72 hours from the time of authorization by the Attorney General, whichever is earliest.
Posted by: cleek on January 23, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Although this issue is going to kill Democrats politically in the next election (largely because Republicans will misrepresent it as opposing the tapping terrorists' phone calls), it is a battle worth fighting. Warrantless searches are a clear infringement of the fourth amendment. Let's hope we get credit in the long run for fighting the good fight.

Posted by: NeilS on January 23, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I agree, Morat. I think Ashcroft may have had enough remnants of (dignity? ethics? fear?) to want something reasonably probable-causey for his FISA applications. I sincerely doubt the same holds true for Abu Gonzales. Which basically means the sh*tstorm has only worsened since Ashcroft's "retirement".

Posted by: KG on January 23, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

So can they legally begin 72 hours prior to a request or not? Is Hayden lying, or just incompetent, or have we been mislead re: the 72 hour provision up until this point?

The AGs approval is not the same as the FISA approval. They can start 72 hours before FISA, but perhaps the AG stills needs to approve.

Posted by: tinfoil on January 23, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't think I was that out of touch with other Americans. This stuff scares me to death. Yet gopers keep taunting democrats with polls that say Americans want this, and appreciate what Bush is doing - even if he has to go around the constitution.

This is crazy. Don't people know that this isn't just about brown men with funny names? Once bureaucrats begin pawing through our phone and internet records, listening to our phone conversations - this will become routine - and the applications will become broader.

Governemt workers are not saints - and this kind of snooping will begin to be used by Treasury, Interior, Commerce -- anybody who wants to snoop -- even on personal enemies and ex spouses.

Government workers are the dregs! They are the hard core unemployable... just look at the losers at the airport! Post office?

We want these people snoopin on us?

Americans aren't thinking straight. This needs to stop.

Posted by: thomsen on January 23, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK
Unless I've missed something along the way, this is important news. Hayden is saying that the NSA program isn't some kind of large-scale data mining operation that the authors of the FISA act never could have foreseen.

This isn't "news", this is what they've been saying from the beginning. The large-scale data-mining excuse has been offered by a lot of talking heads as the explanation, but has never been consistent with anything the Administration said about the program.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Where is tbroz to say, "Fuck the law. (and fuck the stock market and my investments / retirement). Give me my tax break!"

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 23, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Newsflash: The "domestic spying program" is now the "terrorist surveillance program," as per Our Leader's speech today.

You may now return to your duties, comrades. Mr. Orwell, please pipe down.

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why did the New York Times report that the vast majority of these are dead-ends, if this is all so focused?

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 23, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I am confused, so the AG is standing in the AG's way of approving wire taps when going to FISA?

Posted by: Jeremy on January 23, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK
The standard laid out by General Hayden a "reasonable basis to believe" is lower than "probable cause," the standard used by the special court created by Congress to handle surveillance involving foreign intelligence.

Which is, incidentally, also the Constitutional requirement for any warrant (which is why the statute specifies it; and, in addition, arguably the implicit constitutional requirement for a reasonable search of any kind even where not required to be supported by a warrant.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"(S)ome honest Republicans left in Congress?"

That is the funniest joke I have hear in months.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 23, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't imagine they could establish probable cause for monitoring 'a friend of a neighbor of a cousin of a suspected terrorist'. And it would explain the dead ends.

Though I wonder why they are going on the offensive on this, when it had almost dropped out of the news. Are they scared??

Posted by: tinfoil on January 23, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

When Nixon threw down this same gauntlet, Republicans in Congress informed him he'd gone too far, and Nixon resigned rather than face his inevitable impeachment.

Will today's Republican leaders do their patriotic duty and check the power of an overreaching President, or will they give Bush a free pass?

Posted by: Gregory on January 23, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessin' free pass?

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

You all realize that the government's progrma would not lead to "actionable intelligence" without the ability to designate an American an "enemy combatant." If they were to catch somebody on the basis of a search authorized on less than probable cause they would not be permitted to use the information it produced in a real courtroom with a real judge. As a result people caught under Bush's program would have to simply disappear as "enemy combatants." Didn't the Argentines have something like this programs a couple of governments ago?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 23, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessin' free pass?

free pass with Happy Ending and lollipops for the kids.

Posted by: cleek on January 23, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

What you, and every other blogger, is missing, is this: it's not just that it's illegal; it's that all we have to assure us that the Bush administration is only spying on terrorists is the word of the Bush administration. Tie Rove's despicable comments to the fact that the administration won't release any information in any fashion to anyone not involved in the program.

What we should be driving home is, given the previous lies of this administration, it's utter ruthlessness in attacking political opponents and stifling dissent, and its pathological need for secrecy, it's more likely than not that they are spying on American citizens with no connection to Al Quaeda or terrorism whatsoever.

And I think we should continue to accuse them of spying on innocent Americans until they prove otherwise.

Posted by: brewmn on January 23, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

John Ashcroft won't play ball with King George to approve taps? Bullshit!

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on January 23, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still curious about the non-coverage of the briefing about the NSA program the FISA court judges received.

That briefing occured well over a week ago...

Posted by: anotherpawn on January 23, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely's right: this stance isn't news. They've maintained it's focused on a few "terrorists" ever since the story broke.

Which, of course, almost makes it a certainty that in fact it's a widespread.

And having worked with a lot of military people you learn a few things quickly:
1) They don't view constraints kindly,
2) They are great at coming up with rationales about why anything they want to do is patriotic, and
3) They spend money like water.

All of the above were known to the founders, which is why they tried to put constraints on military justifications in the Constitution.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 23, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Bush discovered "God told me to wiretap Person X" wasn't a high enough legal standard.

Who knew?

Posted by: ckelly on January 23, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is quite clearly and obviously unconstitutional, to use a lower standard than "reasonable doubt" on American citizens.

In an earlier thread, I challenged anyone to explain to me how the 4th amendment could possibly be limited by Article II, since the 4th amendment was passed after the Constitution and as a condition for approving the Constitution in the first place (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights), does not make a distinction between peacetime and wartime, and since the onus of the framers was to limit the power of the president based upon our previously unpleasant experiences with the British monarchy.

Also, cmdicely made a very interesting observation in that thread, in that the 5th amendment very clearly talks about the distinction between peacetime and wartime, as does the 3rd amendment, which seems to beggar belief that the amendment passed between them made any distinction between peacetime and wartime.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

NielS,
Although this issue is going to kill Democrats politically in the next election (largely because Republicans will misrepresent it as opposing the tapping terrorists' phone calls),...
This is a 50 percent issue; the American populace is evenly split on it. I'm surprised Karl Rove took the bait (or challenge). Posed the way the President posed it, as conversations with known AQ suspects, the government could get a warrant in a heartbeat. In other words, they are flat out lying about the democratic/libertarian/real-conservative position, which is that they need to do surveillance legally (i.e. without breaking the law :-).

General Hayden is (I suspect) being fairly bluntly honest here about the scope of the program although there are troubling parsings possible of his statements. The point is that the executive branch has no business being the final judicial arbiter of the legality of its actions, which is the role they've tried to usurp (from the judicial branch).

It will be a "battle of the frames". Rove will not win this one IMO.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on January 23, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm the standard is "probable cause" not "beyond a reasonable doubt." As I recall from high school history only a few years before the constitution the founders had fought and won a revolutionary war. They had suffered greatly at the hands of British troops who would break into houses under any pretext and often with no pretexts at all. They didn't want that to happen anymore. They had wartime in the forefront of their minds when they drafted the fourth amendment.

Of course, maybe my memory of high school history is wrong.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 23, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm the standard is "probable cause" not "beyond a reasonable doubt."

My bad. I rushed that one out because I'm at work and should have proofed that.

Thanks for the correction.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, your memory is correct. Property was the primary right for many of the Founders (not all of them), as were experiences of plunder by the king.

The real issue is that the 4th amendment requires "reasonable doubt", does not make a distinction between peacetime and wartime, and was passed after the Constitution and as a condition for ratifying the Articles of the Constitution (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Since the 3rd amendment explicitly makes a distinction between peacetime and wartime, as does the 5th amendment, it's impossible to rationally argue that the 4th amendment meant to make such a distinction (but neglected to do so).

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The real issue is that the 4th amendment requires "reasonable doubt", does not make a distinction between peacetime and wartime, and was passed after the Constitution and as a condition for ratifying the Articles of the Constitution (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights).

Of course I mean "probably cause". I am completely brain dead today...thanks to the late night celebration last night after watching Kobe score 81!

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Conspiracy Nut, do you read?"
Just did, as a matter of fact. I see in the article that one set of lawyers has already determined this legal. Naturally I expect the left to shop around until they find lawyers that claim is was not legal. In the end, the fight over whether or not this is legal will fizzle since it will come down to the power of one branch over another. Having a hard determination of powers is not something our branches of gov't have been eager to do. (And also, it looks like Alito will be confirmed in time for this fight. Sorry about that.)

Or, it may come down to this wording in the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq
But at the end of the day, if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck. And good luck convincing the public at large that this is a bad thing.

Now if you can just figure out how to do this without looking soft on national defense...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Probable cause.

I quit for today...good day everyone.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

How will this issue play electorally?

I'd have to agree that most likely the Democrats will get rolled on this issue. The cacophany of noise has meant the GOP is succeeding in framing the debate as "security vs. a few rights".

It worked in 2002, worked in 2004. In 2002 distracted from Enron, 2004 from Iraq. So who's to say that it won't work again?

But, there does seem to be some major Democrats Gore, Kerry, Dean and Reid who seem to be pushing back on this - signalling that maybe they've learned you have to push back.

Even money, anyone?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 23, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

So, basically the Bush administration wants to unilaterally amend the Constitution in an extra-constitutional manner.

So, it's not constitutional executive power that Bush is arguing he has, but the devine right of kings (the executive).

Unfortunately, impeaching him would leave us with several substitutes who also believe that this devine right of kings applies to the executive of the United States of America.

Conservatives never really liked the Constitution and now we have the proof - they wanted Washington to be a king and they still want the executive to be a king, answerable to no one, no institution, and no law.

We have met the enemy and they are sitting in the seats of power in Washington, D.C., and their name is "Republican".

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 23, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

What you, and every other blogger, is missing, is this: it's not just that it's illegal; it's that all we have to assure us that the Bush administration is only spying on terrorists is the word of the Bush administration.

Er, I would guess that's an underlying concern *many* folks are aware of where this story is concerned. I've certainly discussed it with people and have seen other posters mention it here.

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Even for me, this is outrageous.

I am rendered speechless by this wanton attack on our constitution and all that our country was founded upon.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 23, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone is expressing concern for the fourth ammendment, but I am extending my concern to the first ammendment as well.

Think about it - think about the last time you and a significant other had a phone conversation that was a little risque. Now imagine Cheney and his minions pleasuring themselves to your little word-game. Chilling, ain't it?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why don'y we all go get an I.D. chip implanted and all crimes would stop.The right should be pushing this one hard.I mean where at war, We need to protect people and what better way to keep everyone safe than to have a I.D. chip implanted in your head.

Posted by: scott on January 23, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I like the part about "only people receiving international calls" the best. So if you get a call from a telemarketer in India (like who hasn't) you're suspect. These people are monsters.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 23, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody seriously proposes that, Scott, there will be a lot of people heading for the hills and the economy in traded pelts will boom!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Arnold - "the government could get a warrant in a heartbeat." Absolutely correct. One of the things that pisses me off about the way the administration pursues Al Qaeda is that they implicitly argue that they are the only ones who care about stopping these B***ards. As though the FISA court is intentionally trying to protect terrorists!!?? Consequently, the executive branch has to break the law in order to protect us from the traiterous behavior of the other branches of government, and of course anyone else who gets in the way.

But I think that you are wrong about who will win the framing war. They will parrot simple statements about protecting the american people from terrorists. We will answer 'yes, but...' Its a slam dunk for them, but unfortunately not in the George Tenant meaning of the phrase

Posted by: NeilS on January 23, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Wanton?" Ewwww.

Don't suppose posting the surveys on this would make any more impression than it did last time.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 23, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

As Advocate of God points out, not to burst any bubbles, but here's the current order of Presidential Succession

The Vice President Richard Cheney
Speaker of the House John Dennis Hastert
President pro tempore of the Senate1 Ted Stevens
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of the Treasury John Snow
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez - ineligible
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao - ineligibile
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson
Secretary of Transportation Norman Yoshio Mineta
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff

See any names there you really wanna throw a President in front of?

I say vote 'em out in 2008. Sadly, it's what we get for not kickin' 'em out in 04.

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else see the speech?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

But at the end of the day, if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck

So much blind faith. So much deaf loyalty.

Posted by: ckelly on January 23, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: But at the end of the day, if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck.

At the end of the day, I expect you to robotically regurgitate brain-dead, scripted, programmed, right-wing bullshit like the stupid, ignorant mental slave you are.

It's all you ever do, you pathetic bootlicker.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 23, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I've been arguing in another forum with a wingnut about this issue, and posed the following hypothetical: "What if President Hillary decreed that for national security all guns held in civilian hands be confiscated?"

The wingnut's answer was that no one would obey such an order, because it would be unconstitutional. (Implicitly, the warrantless wiretaps must be OK because the NSA did it.)

Sigh... Tautology, anyone?

Posted by: Steven Jong on January 23, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

re: the first comment on the thread:

Bubba, I have met a lot of Generals and Admirals over the last 40+ years, and every last fucking one of them, to a person, has been a political hack. Unless you are a political hack, your career stops at Major or Lieutenant Colonel. It's only a meritocracy in the enlisted ranks and up throu the mid-level officer ranks. After that, they have to play politics. That's just the nature of the beast. No one ever got a pair of stars just because they were competent. Hell, that isn't even a requirement!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Don't suppose posting the surveys on this would make any more impression than it did last time.

What you mean those poorly worded survey questions that have been thoroughly deconstructed each time you neocons bring 'em to the table? Bor-ring!

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

But at the end of the day, if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck

But at the end of the day, if you're asking me to trust this President with my tender bits in his hands, good luck.

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone interested in the thing I found strangest about the speech?

Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker and Howard Baker were nowhere to be found. When the dignitaries were introduced and Bush started to "speak" I made that observation in the Officers Club where those of us who couldn't pass muster to see the master were watching. Everyone got quiet then started repeating me..."Hey! Yeah! Where are Nancy and Howard?"

The Landon Lecture Series at K-State, in case anyone doesn't know, is named after Nancy's father, Alf Landon. To the best of my knowledge, she has never missed a Landon Lecture before this.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Like everyone else this perspective "But at the end of the day, if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck" is crucial in guessing what's really going on.

Because if the program were limited - it's almost certain that the would have gotten approval retroactively for all the monitoring they wanted. I agree that the General is making a looser distinction - but in the end this court has approved just about everything.

So back we are again: why didn't they want to get approval?

Because they're hiding something.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 23, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

So much blind faith.
It's hardly blind faith. Think for a moment about all the phone calls, emails, etc sent in the US in a given day (the mind reels). Now consider the number of personnel required to review all those, even with a computer doing the upfront sorting.

And for what purpose? To catch all the soccer moms talking about how their child's school play performance "bombed"? No. The only thing that makes any sense is looking at a targeted set of calls, and according to the NSA dude that targeted set of calls is

communications entering or leaving America involving someone we believe is associated with al Qaeda
Doing anything else is a waste of effort. But please, get out there and explain to the US public that monitoring the phone calls of al Qaeda is a bad thing. In fact, you can start with me: why is monitoring phone calls of al Qaeda members a bad thing?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

But I think that you are wrong about who will win the framing war. They will parrot simple statements about protecting the american people from terrorists. We will answer 'yes, but...' Its a slam dunk for them, but unfortunately not in the George Tenant meaning of the phrase

I disagree. This is a big loser issue for the GOP, especially in a cocktail with all of the other failures and lawbreaking we can throw at them. Rove is scared stiff about this, which is why he's bragging openly about it now to scare Democrats off.

Don't let him. This is not a hard issue to understand, and it needs to be pushed to the zenith, if only to protect our rights.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

So back we are again: why didn't they want to get approval?
You could read the article, the NSA dude explained that. And if you did read the article, why the hell did you bother since you're obviously not going to believe anything you're told.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Because they're hiding something.

Of course. All the more reason to not let Rove scare the Democrats off the track. Karl has a vacation coming up...

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

why is monitoring phone calls of al Qaeda members a bad thing?

straw man

no one is arguing that al Qaeda phone calls shouldn't be monitored - this has been explained again and again and again and again - pay attention!!!

the question is whether the President should be able to make these decisions in secret without judicial attention - and, for me, whether ANY administration can be trusted to do this

it's about accountability

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Well if they know who the target is then get a warrant If not,like the Whitehouse says, They are data mining and everyone gets monitored. Anyone see saturday night live?

Posted by: scott on January 23, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

All you folks in such a big flippin hurry to get rid of your pesky civil rights, North Korea is absolutely breathtaking this time of year!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut -- monitoring phone calls of al Qaeda members NOT a bad thing. Its a good thing. I'm a card carrying member of the ACLU and I support it. However, monitoring phone calls of AMERICAN CITIZENS WITHOUT A WARRANT IS NOT ONLY a bad thing, IT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. At least that is how I read the fourth amendment.

Posted by: NeilS on January 23, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect the requirement that the Attorney General approve is a regulation, not a requirement of the FISA Act. And therefore it could be changed by the Justice Department without going to Congress, although it's possible that a public comment period would be required.

Either way, is anybody else baffled that John Ashcroft is being painted as the obstacle to the war on terror? I hadn't been accustomed to thinking of him as a liberal wuss..

Posted by: Dan Ryan on January 23, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

The question is: "[W]hy is monitoring phone calls of al Qaeda members a bad thing?"

It really should be: "Why does George Bush have to break the law to protect us from what he should have protected us against on 9/11 (or simply to monitor the phone calls of al Qaeda [sic] members)?"

Or, "Why can't Bush change the law to do the 'targeted and focused' survelliance he ostesibly needs to do?"

Why didn't Bush catch bin Laden in Tora Bora?

Why do we have to give up our liberties to protect our freedoms?

Why are the American people putting up with this crap?

Posted by: a_retrogrouch on January 23, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

I say we just drop it.Think about this when we get a Dem Pres. they will being entering office with war time powers WOW how fun will that be watching these trolls explain how the pres. doesn't have all these powers anymore.So much fun can't wait.

Posted by: scott on January 23, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

All you folks in such a big flippin hurry to get rid of your pesky civil rights, North Korea is absolutely breathtaking this time of year!

Yeah, monitoring phones in the U.S. that have connections to terrorist communications in other countries is exactly the same as North Korea.

And I get yelled at for strawmen.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 23, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: . . . why is monitoring phone calls of al Qaeda members a bad thing?

Because, you dishonest asshole:

(1) It is "believed" to be Al Queda, not "known" to be Al Queda, and as this administration has shown, it will believe anything it wants and that is convenient for it to believe, just like you, cn; and

(2) This administration lies. Period. Over and over. About everything, both big and small. Therefore, they cannot be trusted to restrict their surveillance to what they say they are restricting it to, even if that in itself was legal or even made sense; and

(3) This administration has proved time and again that it will commit and condone criminal acts, unethical acts, immoral acts, and hypocritical acts in furtherance of its partisan agendas.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 23, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Just do like we on the right do.OPEN MOUTH INSERT BUSH'S PENIS SUCK TILL HE SAYS HECK OF A JOB THERE TBONE.

Posted by: Tbroz on January 23, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

The assumption by the administration that Congress would not accommodate changes in the FISA law is baseless. A judge, or a panel of judges, could be assigned to hands-on supervise whatever datamining processes are being undertaken.

Meanwhile the President relies on the opinion of administration lawyers to justify his conduct. Does anyone see the circular reasoning here? Can I, as a citizen, go out and perpetrate crimes because I get the go-ahead from my attorney?

Posted by: chuck on January 23, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: And I get yelled at for strawmen.

Rightly so. Rightly so.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 23, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind that this issue of violating the 4th amendment and Constitution is not only a big issue with independents and liberals, but in some ways even more so within the Republican Party, at least a few of their factions.

Rove is trying to scare the Democrats off the scent, because there's no way they want to have to campaign on violating the 4th amendment and Constitution, which is sure to fire up or at least jade a sizable portion of their base, along with independents.

Any gun-toting NRA member is going to have a problem with eroding the Bill of Rights, especially one as iron-clad as the 4th amendment, which is about our property. If the 4th amendment can be eroded, your right to carry a gun is far more at risk.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Scott. Next time you argue with a conservatives about warrantless searches just say the words 'President Hillary Clinton'.

Posted by: NeilS on January 23, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

no one is arguing that al Qaeda phone calls shouldn't be monitored
I know, it's a topic that gets avoided like the plague around here. And it's the reason that the left is going to lose this argument.

You know, after the NYT came out in support of the Echelon program, I'm thinking you guys have a hard uphill pull here. Because it's not like you can even stand on your whether the President should be able to make these decisions in secret without judicial attention. After rolling over and letting Clinton do exactly that.

You can, and will, find a narrow path about how "this is different"; and you can, and will, explain that civilization as we know it will come to an end because of that difference. But I don't think that narrow distinction will be enough to overcome my question of why shouldn't we monitor the phone calls of al Qaeda members.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

See any names there you really wanna throw a President in front of?

President Norman Mineta sounds a lot better than all the others. Not great, mind you, but certainly better than any of the other ones.

President Ted Stevens is actually the scariest in my mind. Not because he is more evil than Cheney or Rumsfeld (talk about a tall order), but because he is so clearly insane.

Posted by: Edo on January 23, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

You can, and will, find a narrow path about how "this is different"; and you can, and will, explain that civilization as we know it will come to an end because of that difference.

If all else fails, the wingnuts fall back on the "end of civilization" canard, as if the vision of American civilization isn't liberal democracy, rights doctrine, and human dignity, but rather is all the cool toys, technological breakthroughs, and luxury suburban living.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: After rolling over and letting Clinton do exactly that.

Translation: Clinton did it, so it must be okay, even though I and every other conservative lemming said that Clinton was the most immoral, most criminal, most incompetent president ever.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 23, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

I am not willing to give up a single dram of civil rights, because the slow erosion would gain speed, and one morning we could wake up in a NorK type environment, and start scratching our heds asking "What the hell happened?"

What I was saying wasn't introducing a straw man, I was just suggesting that if your civil liberties aren't all that important to you, then cut to the chase and go where you wouldn't have to be bothered by them.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Translation: Clinton did it, so it must be okay, even though I and every other conservative lemming said that Clinton was the most immoral, most criminal, most incompetent president ever.

That's the funniest thing...because in liberal and Democratic circles there is plenty of healthy skepticism of party leaders and even the party itself, and much less of a tendency to hero worship and blind fealty to authority, whereas this seems common with the Right, so this recurring argument of theirs really is just comical, since it only applies to them, but they assume it applies to everyone (all sides).

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm,

I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds that ironic and humorous.

Posted by: Edo on January 23, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly, A for G. conspiracy's tactic is simply to ingore the argument and say "Dems did it, too." He then has the hide to ask the already answered question again. The issue isn't about monitoring Al Qaeda phone calls, which the gov't can and already has been doing. The question is whether ANY administration should be trusted to spy on who it wants to in secret, without judicial review and to make Kingly pronouncements where this issue is concerned. Whether or not you think this particular president can be trusted is ENTIRELY irrelevent conspiracy nut.

Posted by: Bob on January 23, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

I should add that with a lot of libertarians (classical liberals), who I mix with frequently and sympathize with immensely (afterall, classical liberalism is the philosophy of our Framers, for the most part, and the foundation of our government), there is also not this blind tendency to follow authority and hero worship power.

You can always discern the wise from the foolish by their position to (and skepticism towards) power. If they get on their knees and bow their heads to power, they are foolish, at least in believing they care about liberty and human dignity.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what it may.

Daniel Webster might have called GWB a despot.

Posted by: lib on January 23, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

That's the funniest thing...because in liberal and Democratic circles there is plenty of healthy skepticism of party leaders and even the party itself, and much less of a tendency to hero worship and blind fealty to authority, whereas this seems common with the Right, so this recurring argument of theirs really is just comical, since it only applies to them, but they assume it applies to everyone (all sides).

Who are the real relativists, and who the pragmatists (realists)?

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

President Hilary Clinton with all the war time powers she can muster.Does that scare you cons.

Posted by: pssst on January 23, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Whether or not you think this particular president can be trusted is ENTIRELY irrelevent conspiracy nut.
I agree. I also see you didn't read my 5:44 too closely, there was a viewpoint there that takes reading the whole thing, and not just AfG's outtakes.

Ditto Jimm.

The short answer is: it's not a matter of "the Dems did it too".

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Har har.
They can't convince FISA judges that they've got probable cause to listen to Howard Dean's phone.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 23, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

President Hilary Clinton with all the war time powers she can muster.Does that scare you cons.

Yes, and isn't that the real relativism? Blind fealty to this power, but blind opposition to that power. Even worse, the philosophical distinction they'll usually make in defending this power over the other is the very principle that the current president is running roughshod over.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

This idea that we should discuss the NSA program without knowing what it is is ridiculous.

If we were to debate, say, whether we should nuke Tehran with cruise missles, we all would know, in general terms, how a nuclear warhead works, what it is, and what a cruise missle is. Yes, there's all sorts of technical info that is properly classified and beyond our general technical expertise anyhow. Nevertheless, we would know what would be involved.

It is preposerous that this NSA discussion cannot be equally well grounded.

Posted by: Thinker on January 23, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing new under the sun.

The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first.... The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: "It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war. Then the few will shout even louder.... Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it...

Next, the statesmen will invent cheap lies...and each man will be glad of these lies and will study them because they soothe his conscience; and thus he will bye and bye convince himself that the war is just and he will thank God for a better sleep he enjoys by his self-deception.

Mark Twain observing how wars that are at first seen as unnecessary by the mass of the people become converted into "just" wars

Posted by: lib on January 23, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

No principles. Where's Allan Bloom?

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

"if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck."

No, conspiracy nut, we're not expecting you to get excited that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, we expect you to get excited that conversations that had nothing to do with al Qaeda were being monitored under guise of the War on Terra. I expect you get excited, too, that the guvmit wants to know everying you Google, too, in the guise of protecting "the children" from pornography. Do your constitutionally protected freedoms mean nothing to you in the face of one (count it, one) terrorist attack on US soil?

Sheesh.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 23, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Can you write legislation which says the NSA doesn't need to pay attention to the part of fourth amendment concerning "warrants" and "probable cause"?

Well, I know you could write it, but it doesn't seem like it would get anywhere without a bunch of recess appointment freeper judges.

Posted by: B on January 23, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Does that scare you cons.
Not a bit, Tradesports has Repubs to hold the House and Senate, both running around 70% last I checked; so she'll have more opposition than Bush has faced. And given that renewed Clinton-hate will be fanned into full force long before the general election takes place, I expect every move Hillary! makes will be as well watched as every move Bush makes. And all this protecting of people that leak information the left is doing will serve nicely in that event.

All in all, it'll make an entertaining presidency. I'm actually considering voting for her if she is on the ballot and it looks like Congress will stay Repub. If it weren't for HillaryCare I'd definitely be voting for her.

Posted by: conspiracy on January 23, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Can you write legislation which says the NSA doesn't need to pay attention to the part of fourth amendment concerning "warrants" and "probable cause"?

Actually, you cannot and have it stand with a sober and sane court.

This should require an amendment to the Constitution explicitly stating that the president may suspend whatever part of the Constitution he so desires during "wartime". Of course, wartime would have to be strictly defined.

Good luck with that wingnuts.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

How does getting a phone call from a known Al Qaeda member not constitute probable cause? WTF? Either the FISA judges suddently magically started being really uncooperative, or the secret DARPA project to endow cow feces with the power of flight has had a dramatic success!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 23, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

If they will stop invading my privacy, I promise I will call the authorities if al Qaeda happens to give me a jingle.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK
Unfortunately, impeaching him would leave us with several substitutes who also believe that this devine right of kings applies to the executive of the United States of America.

Impeaching him would, in and of itself, demonstrate that acting in accord with such beliefs has a cost.

I am more concerned with how a President acts than with what a President believes.

Impeachment is not a substitute for winning elections, it is -- like criminal punishments -- a tool for disabling a specific wrongdoer and discouraging other potential wrongdoers through demonstrating a cost to wrongdoing.

Yeah, impeachment would still leave us with a bad President with bad views on the role of government. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be useful.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Besides, CMDicely, it would sure take the wind out of their sails, too, wouldn't it?

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

How does getting a phone call from a known Al Qaeda member not constitute probable cause?

If the majority of phone calls made by al-Qaeda members are not to other al-Qaeda members, then it doesn't provide probable cause that the US person is a foreign agent.

If the majority of phone calls made by al-Qaeda members do not, in and of themselves, contain evidence of a crime, it doesn't provide probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found by surveilling the call.

And, then, of course, there is the question of how the "known" al-Qaeda member is "known". Being believed to be an al-Qaeda member by the operational staff of the NSA is not the same as being "known" anything.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Do your constitutionally protected freedoms mean nothing to you in the face of one (count it, one) terrorist attack on US soil?
Sure they do. And as soon you guys (that's "guys" in the genderless sense) find any evidence that has happened, I'll pay attention.

Until then, I suspect that NSA has its own way of monitoring conversations, and I can easily believe that method doesn't lend itself to court warrants. Further, I'm no more concerned about this than I was Echelon, because we simply don't have the moxie to monitor for the jollies of it. If there isn't a reason, there won't be any monitoring.

What I'm not jumping on is the "Bush did it so it must be bad" bandwagon.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK
Until then, I suspect that NSA has its own way of monitoring conversations, and I can easily believe that method doesn't lend itself to court warrants.

Since the mechanism is entirely irrelevant to the warrant process, it is completely impossible for your belief to be accurate.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

...think about the last time you and a significant other had a phone conversation that was a little risque.

Ahh, memories. But you do understand that for this to matter to the wingers here they would first have to be blessed with significant others, which even with my own naively high estimation of the capacity of the human race for compassion is doubtful, and then these significant others would want to actually get risque with them (ick!) in a sort of mercy yuck (Ja, sprichst mir, meine kleine Konspiracie Nsse!).

The sad thing in all this is the thought that some poor NSA operative might happen to listen in on one of our trolls engaged in telephonic pontification, and proceed to bore themselves to death. Another tragic but valiant loss in the War on Terror.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on January 23, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

it is completely impossible for your belief to be accurate.
Ah yes, no sense in letting reality intrude.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

a couple of thoughts (anyone who reads these as indicating a final opinion on this matter is jumping the gun):

1. anyone who has an expectation of privacy for their phone calls (especially cellular and international calls) and e-mails is pretty naive (and I'm not talking about the U.S. government here).

2. I think finding "evidence of a crime" is the foremost NSA priority...its pretty clearly prevention that they're aiming for.

3. Some here have an overly grandiose perception of their own importance....the NSA doesn't have the manpower to be interested in Global Citizen's phone calls.

4. This isn't the "administration" conducting the intercepts...this is the NSA...these are career employees, many most going back to the 90's and 80's. I wonder what people would say if they realized that probably the majority of people involved with this program were Kerry voters.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK
This isn't the "administration" conducting the intercepts...this is the NSA

The NSA are the soldiers (often literally) executing the policy. The Administration is directing the policy. But its funny how the Republicans are the party of personal responsibility -- except when it comes to Republican elected officials.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: "Since the mechanism is entirely irrelevant to the warrant process, it is completely impossible for your belief to be accurate."

This is completely absurd (which you're usually not). It is possible that the mechanism is simply not covered by FISA (unlikely but possible -- see the footnote in the brief released on Friday). Alternatively, it is also possible that a technological method is being utilized which yields clearly relevant information but without such identifying characteristics that even a "John Doe" warrant could be obtained.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

SAVE ME FROM THE BIG BAD TEWWOWISTS!

I'M SO SCARED I JUST WET MYSELF!!


WAHHHHHH!

Posted by: GOPShill on January 23, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Some here have an overly grandiose perception of their own importance....the NSA doesn't have the manpower to be interested in Global Citizen's phone calls.

Sure they do. They may not have the manpower to listen in on those calls and the calls they should be listening in on, but that's one reason why we have accountability provisions like those in FISA (and the Fourth Amendment itself) -- they are tools for ensuring that limited government resources are used in the most appropriate way.

Evading those rules ought to be regarded as prima facie, though not conclusive, evidence of ineffective use of resources, in addition to Constitutional, civil liberties, criminal, or other issues raised.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

3. Some here have an overly grandiose perception of their own importance....the NSA doesn't have the manpower to be interested in Global Citizen's phone calls.

This type of reasoning can be used to justify all sorts of government intrusion into privacy of the citizens.

I am sure that even modern day Stalin would not feel the need to monitor each and every citizen, given that the technologies that are available to sift out only the ones that are perceieved as potential threat to the government.

Posted by: lib on January 23, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

that should read: "I don't think finding "evidence of a crime" is the foremost NSA priority"

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, they just might. My husband is a retired Nuke guy, and our son teaches ESL in Japan and the middle east. I have friends in Turkey with whom I exchange emails and phone calls, and I have friends from college in places like Syria and jordan, also with whom I exchange emails and phone calls.

Of course, the FBI and NSA has had a dossier on me since I married my husband. After our wedding his security clearance was suspended until I was cleared. Everyone I had contact with any time in my life was contacted, right down to my junior prom date and the cop who wrote me my first and only speeding ticket.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

THE ONLY TERRORISM WE HAVE TO FEAR IS THE FEAR OF TERRORISM ITS SELF ! ! FDR

Posted by: FDR on January 23, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Keven, you're assuming that Congress would have refused to amend the law to permit this lower standard for surveillance when one end of the call was outside the US. I don't believe they would have after 9/11 and I don't believe they would even today. This action by the administration still looks to me, as does Rumsfeld's refusal to commit more troops to Iraq during and after the invasion, like a willful act aimed at proving a point: viz., that they don't need permission.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 23, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

"Actually, they just might. My husband is a retired Nuke guy, and our son teaches ESL in Japan and the middle east. I have friends in Turkey with whom I exchange emails and phone calls, and I have friends from college in places like Syria and jordan, also with whom I exchange emails and phone calls."

At least a portion of the foregoing applies to literally millions of Americans, including yours truly (and the nuke part applies to many thousands).

"Of course, the FBI and NSA has had a dossier on me since I married my husband. After our wedding his security clearance was suspended until I was cleared. Everyone I had contact with any time in my life was contacted, right down to my junior prom date and the cop who wrote me my first and only speeding ticket."

Quite frankly, I don't believe you. I don't believe they contacted the cop or your junior prom date. In fact, I'm sure of it. I also don't believe that you have an NSA file because of your husband's work...DOD related clearances isn't their field.

But then you already established yourself as somewhat deranged when you claimed that the military is hiding the deaths of thousands of Americans in Iraq.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK
This is completely absurd (which you're usually not).

I disagree.

It is possible that the mechanism is simply not covered by FISA (unlikely but possible -- see the footnote in the brief released on Friday).

It is, at least, logically possible, sure. But that is irrelevant to the claim that its not amenable to warrant, which was the issue.

Alternatively, it is also possible that a technological method is being utilized which yields clearly relevant information but without such identifying characteristics that even a "John Doe" warrant could be obtained.

No, I don't think that's even theoretically possible when it comes to FISA warrants. It may be that the type of surveillance is so general that it is impossible to meet the requirement of 50 USC 1801(a)(4)(B) for exclusive use by foreign powers for a FISA warrant, but that doesn't make the mechanism less amenable to warrant, it just makes it outside of the scope for which Congress has chosen to allow surveillance even with a warrant. 1801(a)(4)(B) is clearly not a Constitutional requirement for a warrant to be issued, but a policy limitation imposed by Congress.

Especially if the AUMF had the effect of a declaration of war, in which case the President could have engaged in any surveillance for a 15-day period while proposing new measures, there is no excuse for violating the law by doing unauthorized surveillance beyond that point merely because existing statutes didn't have a provision under which the searches could be authorized properly, and certainly the argument that the mechanism is not amendable to warrant is without any merit. There is no even abstractly possible mechanism for which their could be probable cause to expect relevant information to be produced that could fail to be amenable to warrant, though it might take a change in law to allow warrants for a truly novel method.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

"There is no even abstractly possible mechanism for which their could be probable cause to expect relevant information to be produced that could fail to be amenable to warrant, though it might take a change in law to allow warrants for a truly novel method."

We may agree...and what you write doesn't contradict my post.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
Your response interests me more than Nathan's objections.

Nathan posits that the information is so vague as to not know who the sender/receiver was. And you don't think that's even theoretically possible when it comes to FISA warrants?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK
We may agree...and what you write doesn't contradict my post.

It certainly contradicts the part of your post where you claimed that that exact point was "completely absurd".

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Hopefully there are some honest Republicans left in Congress who disagree."
Honest republicans! get real kevin, that is as silly as hoping that there is an honest democrat in washington!
with our present system, any honest polititian is defeated long before they have a chance at getting to washington!

Posted by: Rick on January 23, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK
Nathan posits that the information is so vague as to not know who the sender/receiver was.

No, he claims that the information is so vague as to not be specific enough to justify a warrant, even the kind of warrant that can be issued without the identity of the target. As the identity of the target doesn't need to be known for a FISA warrant, the level of vagueness you refer to here is inadequate.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

So FISA allows warrants for unknown senders/receivers, speaking on issues so vague that no one knows what is going on.

I'm not sure that FISA isn't a bigger problem than the NSA program...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 23, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, Nathan, I couldn't give a fuck less whether or not you believe me. Who the fuck are you, anyway? I certainly won't lose any sleep because the likes of you doubts my veracity.

By the way, I did not say that "American deaths were being concealed" (good memory, that was months ago). What I asked was IF deaths stateside from wounds sustained in the theatre of war were included in the casualty numbers. Big difference, but spin away, Maytag.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

either you revised your statement (see your statement that "Since the mechanism is entirely irrelevant to the warrant process" which is contradicted by your later statement that it is "logically possible" that the mechanism is such as to put the method outside of FISA) or I completely misunderstood you.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

a. you're lying or misremembering about your statement months ago.

b. for the record, stateside deaths are included.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Find the post. I was asking a question about something I heard speculated on (Yes!) "Air America." It was later clarified.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully there are some honest Republicans left in Congress who disagree.

Honest Republicans == jumbo shrimp

Posted by: craigie on January 23, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK
So FISA allows warrants for unknown senders/receivers, speaking on issues so vague that no one knows what is going on.

Well, sure.

As long as their is probable cause to believe a whole list of things specified in FISA are true, despite that vagueness.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Number Of Iraqi Civilians Slaughtered In America's War: 100,000+

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Slaughtered (Officially acknowledged) In America's War: 2229

Cost of America's War in Iraq: $235,757,263,105


Feel better yet, wingnuts? Feel any safer? More manly?

(http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/)

Posted by: a_retrogrouch on January 23, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone I had contact with any time in my life was contacted, right down to my junior prom date and the cop who wrote me my first and only speeding ticket.

You had me laughing at my own experiences when getting a security clearance GC (though probably not as top secret), but they're not actually this thorough, since they're so far behind (and understaffed) in doing these things, and tend to just follow a trail where it goes. They don't have the time or the knowledge to contact "everyone you've ever contacted", but I'm laughing because it sure seems that way (they are good at finding "official" contacts, like junior prom dates and officers of record on tickets). They had a heck of time with me, I'm sure, because I've dropped off the radar completely several times, with no clear thread from one to the next, and I have a policy (unintended) of never leaving official forwarding addresses.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK
either you revised your statement (see your statement that "Since the mechanism is entirely irrelevant to the warrant process" which is contradicted by your later statement that it is "logically possible" that the mechanism is such as to put the method outside of FISA) or I completely misunderstood you.

You completely misunderstood. The first comment was not specific to FISA but general to the Fourth Amendment and to whether a mechanism was amenable to supervision via warrant; the second comment was, clearly, about the specific provisions of FISA.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan,
where do you get your information that stateside deaths are included?

Posted by: Rick on January 23, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

It was wasy to find the Cop, he was a reservist (aren't they all) and they didn't have any trouble finding my prom date either, because he was regular army. No of course they didn't contact everyone, but a lot of people sent me notes in holiday cards that I hadn't heard from in years telling me they had been contacted by the FBI, and they were asking questions about me.

This was the height of the cold war (Brezhnev was still alive and kickin') and even though my dad retired from the Navy, that Slavic last name raised some flags...

By the way, I definge "deranged" as anyone who believes everything the government says, and doesn't ask questions.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

I've heard that only deaths that occur in Iraq are included.

Posted by: cq on January 23, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

In case it is still unclear to Kevin or his many readers, the General explained today, that the NSA does not simply start listening and get the warrant later, the atty gen must approve before listening, and he bases his approval on probable cause.

What Kevin is arguing, explicitly now, is that unless we have probable cause to assume someone in the US is acting on behalf of al qaeda, we should not listen to a phone call that person receives from a terrorist. Even if the information gleaned would never be used in court!

Let's flesh out kevin's 'logic' with a real-world scenario. (It's fun and this actually happened!)

An Al qaeda agent in Afghanistan contacts a member of a sleeper cell here in the US to instruct him to kill thousands of Americans. The US doesn't listen in on the call - no probable cause. Thousands of Americans are killed when the terrorist plan is hatched.

If this program had been in place, we might have listened to the call, we might have acted, we might have disrupted the plan. Assuming Kevin's preferences, the atty gen would never have approved a 72 hour window of warrantless spying because there would not have been probable cause(here on legal student visas, hadn't been in trouble with the law, going to school, taking flying lessons - just harmless students). Kevin seems to prefer that there would have been no chance to disrupt this plan at all.

Kevin would allow these folks to plan the deaths of thousands simply to preserve their right to speak with terrorists without being listened to, unless there was probable cause to believe they were up to no good. Absent probable cause, Kevin would not permit spying on people who speak with terrorists in an effort to disrupt their plans.

Bush, on the other hand, apparently, wants to fix what was wrong pre-911. Sometimes people in the US talk to terrorists but there is not probable cause to spy on them. Sometimes the atty gen will not approve warrantless spying for 72 hours because he feels there is no probable cause.

Sometimes those kinds of decisions lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

Bush is trying to prevent this from happening again. Thank God he is our President.

I'm not sure why the liberals and dems don't realize they are playing a losing hand. The Gen hit a grand slam today that just about (just about) anyone can understand.

The President and his evil minions crafted a plan to protect us. Some people just don't understand that when you are dead you have no civil liberties. It really is true what Rove says, the democrats are living in a pre-911 world.

Astonishing.

Posted by: jerry on January 23, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Hopefully there are some honest Republicans left in Congress who disagree."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Honest Republican...That's rich.

Kevin that is by far the funniest thing you've said in a long, LONG time.

Posted by: zoot on January 23, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

This Iraq casualty web site seperately lists people who die outside of Iraq but also claims they are included in the total counts.

Posted by: cq on January 23, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Global:

I've never read a single post of yours that could be remotely considered "deranged."

Passionate? At times, sure. Infuriated? Ditto.

In fact, I'd be on the sunny side of rather ticked myself if I just had some pompous-ass pedantic lawyer who fucking doesn't know me from Tarzan's Jane just flatly contradict my personal experiences ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the link, cq.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

And thank you, Bob.

Seems to me that when the board started handing him back his ass a cheek at a time he went silent. Go Figger!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

And as much as I like playing "poke the bear" it's dinner time. See you all tomorrow. Drive the trolls back under the bridge, guys.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 23, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the Bush Administration keeps trying to minimize the number of people involved in the wiretapping.

But there are already reports that the NSA wiretaps were giving the FBI thousands of useless tips a month that the FBI was asked to check. Multiply thousands times 48 months and you're somewhere in the ballpark of 150,000. There are signs the spying could be on a much larger scale. I've read that there's a spider web technology that can follow the overseas call to A who let's say makes calls to B, C and D who in turn make calls to E, F and G, then H, I and J, and finally K, L and M for three apiece or whatever number of calls the spider web selects and so on. It's exponential and the numbers grow very fast.

It's doubtful FISA would approve a fishing expedition, with few signs of proper oversight. General Hayden is not describing what I call a targeted and focused program.

Posted by: Craig on January 23, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

jerry:

We already *had* intelligence information that Atta & Co. were taking flying lessons without learning how to land and that Osama was planning a major strike real soon.

The August '01 PDB.

You know -- the one that KindaSleezy called "historical" when grilled about it by Congress.

We don't need a new surveillance program to avoid grotesque negligence.

Just better leaders.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry, since these are legally "searches", the point is to get a constitutional amendment if a new breed of modern terror requires a lesser standard than "probable cause" for certain seizures. If it's such a no-brainer, there should be no problem getting the amendment enacted. If it's not such a no-brainer, then your argument falls apart.

Until then, the law is the law, and the constitution is the Constitution, and we have to abide by it. If the president chooses not to abide by it, he should do so openly, and explain his reasons, without necessarily going into particular, and hope most everyone agrees with him.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK
In case it is still unclear to Kevin or his many readers, the General explained today, that the NSA does not simply start listening and get the warrant later, the atty gen must approve before listening, and he bases his approval on probable cause.

Well, that certainly undermines the argument that the mechanism is not amenable to warrant, if it ever had any credibility. Because if the A-G can find probable cause, so could a judge. The only concern, then, must be evading accountability for its own sake.

What Kevin is arguing, explicitly now, is that unless we have probable cause to assume someone in the US is acting on behalf of al qaeda, we should not listen to a phone call that person receives from a terrorist.

Very strange use of "explicitly" since Kevin did not, in fact, "explicitly" say that.

An Al qaeda agent in Afghanistan contacts a member of a sleeper cell here in the US to instruct him to kill thousands of Americans. The US doesn't listen in on the call - no probable cause.

If someone is an al-Qaeda agent in Afghanistan, or there is probable cause to believe they are, what piece of the probable cause required under FISA would be difficult to establish? A warrant could easily be obtained for all communications originating from that source.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm depressed as hell. There is a basic admission that they violated the law and nothing is going to come of it. Americans are willing to give up the liberties our Founding Fathers fought and risked their lives for for a tiny bit of extra security. The 9/11 card that the Bush Adminstration and its cohorts throw out reminds me of the Bloody Shirt that was waved during the second half of the 19th Century. Then it was the Civil War that was used to sanction a political belief, now the Bushies' incompetence and law breaking gets exposed and they whip out their 9/11 Card to justify everything. What a sad excuse for a country we're becoming.

Posted by: Jim on January 23, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Until then, the law is the law, and the constitution is the Constitution, and we have to abide by it. If the president chooses not to abide by it, he should do so openly, and explain his reasons, without necessarily going into particular, and hope most everyone agrees with him.

Even then, he should be pushing for official changes to enacted law, or to the Constitution, so he can at least show a little good faith.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

And for what purpose? To catch all the soccer moms talking about how their child's school play performance "bombed"?

you'd make a fucking outstanding North Korean, especially since it's clear that you hate the very principles this country was founded upon.

Posted by: cleek on January 23, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Jim, don't get depressed, get mad, or get active, get involved. It's hardly a given that Americans really are willing to give up our rights. If we really were, Cheney/Rove would have figured this out in polling research and not hid the program at all. The fact they hid the program, rather than be balls-out about it, is the best evidence they know it's not generally acceptable, as these guys are nothing but thorough when it comes to polling research, whether "push" or otherwise.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The administration is advancing the idea of Probable Cause into Probably Probable Cause.

Posted by: cld on January 23, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: "If someone is an al-Qaeda agent in Afghanistan, or there is probable cause to believe they are, what piece of the probable cause required under FISA would be difficult to establish? A warrant could easily be obtained for all communications originating from that source."

What about a particular payphone in Afghanistan? This is why there's a distinction between "reasonable basis" and "probable cause".

Global Citizen: I should revise what I said before...I don't believe they tracked down your junior prom date because he was your junior prom date....

oh, and when I leave here it's because I have work to do.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan:

There were payphones in Taliban Afghanistan?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm:

Not to mention the fact that Asscroft himself balked at it ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan--
With all due respect to the fine men and women of the NSA, obviously they have every incentive to claim that their searches have been "narrow". As for the supposed "bipartisan" nature of the NSA staff: what bureaucracy doesn't band together and forget petty partisan labels when it is under legal attack?

The whole thrust of your argument seems to be, "Well, we can never know what the NSA has been doing, so let's just assume everything is on the up and up because they're such nice and brave people".

Notice also how you claim that knowledge of the technical details of the wire-tapping procedures is (for reasons of national security) beyond our grasp, while at the same time you assure us that there is "no way" the NSA has enough "manpower" to monitor the calls of a very large number of people.

You can't have it both ways. If you admit to not understanding the collection method, then you can't say whether or not they have enough "manpower" to do such and such a thing. I am not an expert on surveillance by any means, but there are of course many technical systems that would make the monitoring of numerous phone calls fairly easy. It's not like you have to have one "operator" listening in on each individual phone call in real time.

The legal problem for the administration is exactly what Kevin describes. It's a classic double-bind: the more "narrow" the admin claims the program was, the more puzzling their neglect of the FISA process is (since procuring the the warrants would have been so easy). But of course, the admin cannot turn around and say that it was too difficult to get warrants without raising understandable suspicions that the program must have been fairly large.

Posted by: kokblok on January 23, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

yes there were. in fact, the September 10, 2001 intercepts appear to have been from payphone conversations made from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Hopefully there are some honest Republicans left in Congress who disagree."

Someone has probably already pointed this out upthread but I'd like to note that the term "honest Republican" is an oxymoron.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 23, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Does Kevin remember that the FISA court had turned down Bush Administration requests for this activity in the past, and at a much higher percentage than any previous administration, which was probably one reason the court was bypassed. Also, It took a leak to bring the Democrats around to critisizing the President for his actions even though they had been informed and approved of themn from the beginning. They say the President should ask congress to change the law if he think he needs more athority, well why don't they do it themselves if they are so willing to comply.

Posted by: berlins on January 23, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry,

Some people just don't understand that when you are dead you have no civil liberties.

I sure am glad that our forefathers weren't frightened little people like you and the people who vote like you are. Ever heard of the phrase "Give me Liberty or give me death"?

I thank all the curageous patriots (both those who faught and those who supported them morally and materially) who believed that Liberty was as, if not more, important than life and revolted against the tyranny of England.

Posted by: Edo on January 23, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

"With all due respect to the fine men and women of the NSA, obviously they have every incentive to claim that their searches have been "narrow". As for the supposed "bipartisan" nature of the NSA staff: what bureaucracy doesn't band together and forget petty partisan labels when it is under legal attack?"

True.

"The whole thrust of your argument seems to be, "Well, we can never know what the NSA has been doing, so let's just assume everything is on the up and up because they're such nice and brave people"."

I have made no such argument.

"You can't have it both ways. If you admit to not understanding the collection method, then you can't say whether or not they have enough "manpower" to do such and such a thing. I am not an expert on surveillance by any means, but there are of course many technical systems that would make the monitoring of numerous phone calls fairly easy. It's not like you have to have one "operator" listening in on each individual phone call in real time."

This is true. But this also goes to my false expectation of privacy point...that they could electronically search many phone calls and e-mail messages without any human being actually taking part is true...it's also not what is thought of as an "intercept" in common parlance. As well, they could analyze call patterns without actually recording or listening to the calls, they could word-search message headers, etc.

What they don't have is the manpower to actually listen to GC's risque phone calls or to every person with a family member overseas.

"The legal problem for the administration is exactly what Kevin describes. It's a classic double-bind: the more "narrow" the admin claims the program was, the more puzzling their neglect of the FISA process is (since procuring the the warrants would have been so easy). But of course, the admin cannot turn around and say that it was too difficult to get warrants without raising understandable suspicions that the program must have been fairly large."

Unless we're talking about things like particular payphones in Afghanistan...what Kevin and others fail to recognize is that it is highly conceivable that there could be a reasonable basis for intercepting certain messages/calls without it being possible to meet a probable cause standard. Now, you can (and perhaps rightfully) argue that for legal and long-term political reasons we should eschew certain intelligence advantages...I'm pretty open to that argument; but what seems absurd to me is to confuse a legal standard (probable cause) with utility...that's a fetish worthy of a lawyer.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

drjimcooper: When talking about wiretaps that go through FISA, the AG has to sign off on it originally -- then he has 72 hours to get FISA to approve it.

And the AG seems to have the strangely (for the Bush administration!) reasonable requirement that if you want a wirtetap under FISA, you have to have enough for him to try to sell it to FISA.

If you don't have the goods up front, maybe you shouldn't be listening.

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on January 23, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK
What about a particular payphone in Afghanistan?

What about it? Yes, its quite possible to establish the probable cause required under FISA for a particular payphone in Afghanistan, particularly if the surveillance procedures involve not continuing monitoring unless there is some confirmation (whether voice match or otherwise) that the calling party is, in fact, someone for whom there is at least probable cause to believe is an al-Qaeda operative.

Maybe you ought to familiarize yourself with what FISA requires the judge to find probable cause to believe. Its at 50 USC § 1805 (and the application requirements, which are more extensive, are at 50 USC § 1804).

We'll wait while you read and then point to the particular requirement where probable cause would be difficult in your hypothetical.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

The administration is advancing the idea of Probable Cause into Probably Probable Cause.

LMAO. Best. Comment. Ever.

Posted by: Edo on January 23, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Unless I've missed something along the way

Yes, Kevin, you have. You write: Congress won't change the law.

It isn't that Congress WON'T change the law, it's that Congress CAN'T change the law. In particular, amending FISA to provide for a lower standard than "probable cause" would likely make FISA unconstitutional.

The probable cause standard is a constitutional standard for searches under FISA that constitutionally require warrants (such as entirely domestic surveillance; I think it is fairly clear that the searches involved in the presently discussed NSA program - which are NOT domestic, but rather international - do not constitutionally require a warrant). It cannot be lowered by a simple Act of Congress.

Thus, your objection that Congress WON'T change the law is unfounded; Congress CAN'T change the law.

Posted by: Al on January 23, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

But at the end of the day, if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck.

Haven't been reading the papers, have ya? The NYT reported than there was lots of dead ends, I mean lots, and the FBI was spending a lot of resources perhaps best employed elsewhere running 'em down just to find there was no "there" there....

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on January 23, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck. And good luck convincing the public at large that this is a bad thing.

Nut, I was expecting you to be upset only because you told us you would be upset if it were found out that citizens were being wiretapped without warrants:

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

But I guess that when you said you'd be objective on this issue you didn't mean it, and instead have fallen back on reporting administration talking points.

And Democrats don't need to shop around looking for lawyers to say that this program is illegal -- the non-partisan Congressional Research Service issued just such a conclusion over a month ago.


Posted by: trex on January 23, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK
...what Kevin and others fail to recognize is that it is highly conceivable that there could be a reasonable basis for intercepting certain messages/calls without it being possible to meet a probable cause standard

No, its quite clear to Kevin, I would guess, as well as everyone else that you could have "reasonable basis to believe" something without having "probable cause".

What is less clear is that it is proper for the President to disregard the law designed to assure that government resources devoted to national security are being used for appropriate purposes merely because he lacks the evidence required to demonstrate that they are being appropriately used, rather than, you know, making the argument that the law is wrong and getting it changed if it is, in fact, wrong. Especially when the law contains a grace period provision for the initiation of declared war which is designed specifically to allow the President to make any necessary arguments for tailored changes to the law necessitated by war, and when the President's staff has argued that the legal equivalent of a declaration of war has been issued.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: take a payphone situated near a known al-quaeda camp...assume that it's the only payphone in the area. I can certainly see why one might want to monitor all calls made from that payphone (especially ones made to the U.S.)...even though one may not know the identities of people at either ends of the line. as you full well know, one could not establish probable cause under that scenario.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Some people just don't understand that when you are dead you have no civil liberties.

Some people don't understand that when you have no civil liberties you are in the Soviet Union.

Whatever happened to "better red than dead"? Apparently the present day conservatives are such frightened little bedwetters they want to throw us back into the bad old days of the "security state", i.e. the U.S.S.R.

Posted by: Another Bruce on January 23, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

"What is less clear is that it is proper for the President to disregard the law designed to assure that government resources devoted to national security are being used for appropriate purposes merely because he lacks the evidence required to demonstrate that they are being appropriately used, rather than, you know, making the argument that the law is wrong and getting it changed if it is, in fact, wrong. Especially when the law contains a grace period provision for the initiation of declared war which is designed specifically to allow the President to make any necessary arguments for tailored changes to the law necessitated by war, and when the President's staff has argued that the legal equivalent of a declaration of war has been issued."

This is a reasonable argument and as I noted above, one I may end up agreeing with.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK
It isn't that Congress WON'T change the law, it's that Congress CAN'T change the law. In particular, amending FISA to provide for a lower standard than "probable cause" would likely make FISA unconstitutional.

If that's correct -- and I agree that it is quite clearly correct -- then it is clear that the searches the President has ordered are clearly, by the admission of the NSA of the lower standard, not only outside the President's statutory authority (in which case the standard right wing recourse to Article II powers is a sensible kind of argument, ignoring that it is pretty weakly grounded in the text) but outside the Constitutional power of the US government as restricted by the Fourth Amendment, which nullifies any recourse to Article II even if it supported the view of executive power the right wing wants to argue for.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: take a payphone situated near a known al-quaeda camp...assume that it's the only payphone in the area

Considering all the phone calls made by terrorists, that sounds like a severely underserved customer base. That's the problem with these people - no entrepreneurial spirit. What a great business opportunity! And you could make extra money selling the stuff to the NSA.

Posted by: alex on January 23, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Unless we're talking about things like particular payphones in Afghanistan

I don't think we're talking about particular payphones in Afghanistan. What we're talking about is situations like the following: We capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He is carrying a laptop. In that laptop, there are a bunch of phone numbers, including some US phone numbers. We have no idea who the phone numbers are for - maybe they are for his grandmother in Dearborn, maybe they are for Mohammed Atta the 2nd. Who knows.

In that case, there is CERTAINLY NOT any probable cause. Is there a "reasonable basis to believe"? Perhaps.

And THAT is the genesis of the NSA program. We get the phone numbers from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's laptop, and surveil the international calls made by all of them (including any in the United States). If something comes up that gives us probable cause to believe that the phone number is associated with an agent of a foreign power here in the US, we get a FISA warrant and monitor ALL calls from that person, including all the domestic calls (which are excluded from the NSA program).

Posted by: Al on January 23, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

trex: the Congressional Research Service is indeed non-partisan. however, it solely serves Congress and therefore inevitably takes Congress' side in any dispute between the branches (which is why we have bipartisan supporters of the program (former Clinton staffers and counsel) and bipartisan opponents in Congress)...one amusing thing about presidential history is how members of Congress who sought to limit presidential power but eventually became president would always seek to extend presidential power. don't miss the turf war dimension of this issue.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK
but outside the Constitutional power of the US government as restricted by the Fourth Amendment, which nullifies any recourse to Article II even if it supported the view of executive power the right wing wants to argue for.

And, thus, Al's head explodes.

Posted by: Edo on January 23, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thus, your objection that Congress WON'T change the law is unfounded; Congress CAN'T change the law.

Well, Al, if they can't change the law 'cause what the Administration is asking for would be unconstitutional, what does that say about the Administration going ahead and breaking the law anyway?

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 23, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK
take a payphone situated near a known al-quaeda camp...assume that it's the only payphone in the area. I can certainly see why one might want to monitor all calls made from that payphone (especially ones made to the U.S.)...even though one may not know the identities of people at either ends of the line. as you full well know, one could not establish probable cause under that scenario.

Of what requiremetn of 18 USC § 1805 do you think it would be difficult to establish probable cause?

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God that Al-Qaeda's understanding of us is even more limited than our nonexistent understanding of them. A shrewd enemy would legally acquire a few dozen automatic weapons, walk into a few dozen malls around the US and start shooting during the State of the Union address. Would Bush's supporters call for suspending the terror-enabling Second Amendment as well as the Fourth? Not bloody likely.
What would the president do? My guess is curl into a fetal ball and cry. Then invade Venezuela or Lichtenstein.

Posted by: JMG on January 23, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK
the Congressional Research Service is indeed non-partisan. however, it solely serves Congress and therefore inevitably takes Congress' side in any dispute between the branches

If, as argued, Congress intended for the AUMF to provide this power to the President, Congress and the President would be on the same side. There only is a conflict between Congress and the President on this issue if you assume that the arguments offered by the President and his staff and underlings to defend the legality of the program are false. Which, I agree, is a reasonable assumption, but it kind of defeats your purpose to make it.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

but outside the Constitutional power of the US government as restricted by the Fourth Amendment, which nullifies any recourse to Article II even if it supported the view of executive power the right wing wants to argue for

No, that's incorrect.

The problem is that FISA applies to surveillance of both calls for which there is a constitutional warrant requirement AND calls for which there is not a constitutional warrant requirement. The calls monitored by the NSA program are in the latter category. But if you lowered the standard for obtaining a FISA warrant, you would be lowering the standard for BOTH categories. And it is lowering the standard for former category - i.e., where there is a constitutional warrant requirement - that causes a problem.

Posted by: Al on January 23, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

take a payphone situated near a known al-quaeda camp...

Yeah, just one of the the hundreds of payphones up in the highlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 23, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Except that, if possible, a court would seek to read Article II and the 4th Amendment as not in conflict. One way to do that (and the obvious way) would be to determine that war-related signals intelligence is presumed reasonable for 4th Amendment purposes...this, to me, was the implied argument in Friday's administration brief...and it was by far the most compelling argument in that brief.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

We heartily endorse the lack of oversight of government wiretapping programs.

Sincerely,
J. Edgar Hoover
Richard M. Nixon
(and just to be evenhanded) Janet Reno

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 23, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK
We get the phone numbers from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's laptop, and surveil the international calls made by all of them (including any in the United States).

Al! Stop helping the terrorists! Now they know that they should only have phone numbers on their laptops of terrorists who never make international calls (call it the "Do Not Call International List"). D'oh! You are helping the terrorists Al! Why do you hate America? Go turn yourself in.

Posted by: Edo on January 23, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

re: the CRS...or to borrow a concept from Contracts...there was no meeting of the minds between the branches.

Dustbin of History: I would suggest that you do some third world traveling.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

I would suggest that you do some third world traveling.

I live in Cleveland, it's close enough.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 23, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

JMG: A shrewd enemy would legally acquire a few dozen automatic weapons, walk into a few dozen malls around the US and start shooting

Don't forget that they'll come over the Mexican border. The problem is that the titles of Clancy novels are like the titles of Marx Bros. movies - no mnemonic value at all. Which one was that?

I do remember "Debt of Honor" though, with the airliner being flown into the Capitol during the SOTU address.

Let's face it, 9/11 was all Tom Clancy's fault. If he hadn't come up with that idea the it never would have happened (and if Clancy was a leftie the righties really would be saying that).

What would the president do? My guess is curl into a fetal ball and cry. Then invade Venezuela or Lichtenstein.

Liechtenstein, yeah! I hate those damn Liechtensteinians even more than Canadians. I think they hate us for our ketchup or something.

Posted by: alex on January 23, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

1805 (a)(3)(B) and (c)(1)(A).

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

I am rendered speechless by this wanton attack on our constitution and all that our country was founded upon.

Now that is a fake Tbrosz if I ever saw one.

Posted by: benjoya on January 23, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

If, as argued, Congress intended for the AUMF to provide this power to the President, Congress and the President would be on the same side.

No, that's not correct either. An important part of the argument made by the CRS report is that it is IRRELEVANT what the meaning of the AUMF is, because (it is argued) FISA purports to be the "exclusive" method by which electronic surveillance may be implemented. CRS continues to argue that, regardless of the intent of the AUMF, the there is no loophole in FISA permitting a statute (such as AUMF) to authorize the surveillance absent an amendment to FISA.

Interestingly, CRS really doesn't take any position on what the AUMF means. The clash between the legislative branch and the executive branch described by CRS would not be about the AUMF, but rather about FISA.

Posted by: Al on January 23, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

trex: the Congressional Research Service is indeed non-partisan. however, it solely serves Congress and therefore inevitably takes Congress' side in any dispute between the branches (which is why we have bipartisan supporters of the program (former Clinton staffers and counsel) and bipartisan opponents in Congress)...one amusing thing about presidential history is how members of Congress who sought to limit presidential power but eventually became president would always seek to extend presidential power. don't miss the turf war dimension of this issue.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK


Uh. Aside from you saying it, what evidence do you have that CRS always takes the Legislative Branch's side? The CBO and GAO also work solely for Congress. Does your "logic" apply to them as well? Do GAO and CBO always take the Legislative Branch's side in any interbranch policy question?

Posted by: Pat on January 23, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, just one of the the hundreds of payphones up in the highlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dustbin of History

I would suggest that you do some third world traveling. Nathan

I live in Cleveland, it's close enough. Dustbin of History

What, you don't have public phones in Cleveland?

Who knew?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 23, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

McAristotle,

Turn out the lights and knock off that racket! You have school tomorrow, Mister.

Posted by: Pokahautus on January 23, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Except that, if possible, a court would seek to read Article II and the 4th Amendment as not in conflict. One way to do that (and the obvious way) would be to determine that war-related signals intelligence is presumed reasonable for 4th Amendment purposes...this, to me, was the implied argument in Friday's administration brief...and it was by far the most compelling argument in that brief.

This seems like a very sketchy argument, since both the 3rd and 5th amendments make distinctions between peacetime and wartime, and the 4th amendment does not. Even if it somehow passed muster, presumably the war-related signals intelligence would be limited to actual enemy combatants and not fishing expeditions with American citizens. Otherwise, one could argue that the 4th amendment is null and void in wartime, when it comes to signals intelligence, since it's okay to seize citizens for this purpose without probable cause, and this seems obviously contrary to the intent of the Framers when it comes to the actual passage of the Bill of Rights, the historical context, and the fact that the Bill of Rights was passed immediately after the passing of the Articles of the Constitution as a condition of such passage.

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

For a complete collection of NSA spying scandal news, memos, key documents and other essential materials, see:
"The NSA Scandal Resource Center."

Posted by: AvengingAngel on January 23, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's blatantly unconstitutional, no matter what kind of weasel argument they come up with to paint two conditions as not in conflict when they obviously are.

There is not a history book in the world that would support that interpretation of the actual intent of the citizens who passed the Constitution (as well as the intent of the Framers).

Posted by: Jimm on January 23, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well. Now that we know what people in Malaysia think, the debate is really informed.

Posted by: Pat on January 23, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

For those worried that Americans will give the Repuglicans a free pass on domestic spying, check out the new poll results announced on CNN this afternoon. Up five points among people who disapprove of this type of spying, so now the majority disapproves,while only 46% approve. Guess the more people learn about this, the more they reject these Orwellian tactics!

Posted by: marvc on January 23, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

What do you do if you want to spy on your political enemies, or maybe Patrick Fitzgerald? You do what Bush did.

Posted by: bebimbob on January 23, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Otherwise, one could argue that the 4th amendment is null and void in wartime

Actually it is null and void in wartime especially when the war is against the terrorists. When fighting the terrorists Article I gives George W Bush as Commander in Chief the power to engage in wiretapping and also any other plenary power to protect the national security. This plenary power is also implicit in his duty to execute the law faithfully because the most important law to execute faithfully is the law to do everything possible to stop the terrorists.

Posted by: Al on January 23, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Retract the last statement. Checked info and poll was not about domestic spying but about Alito confirmation. Sorry for momentary false hope. Will check data closer next time B4 posting. Was delighted when heard the "good news" from a friend. Mea culpa!

Posted by: marvc on January 23, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

floopmeister: What, you don't have public phones in Cleveland? Who knew?

Sounds like it's time for you to do some first world traveling. There are even some folks here who speak English (not sure about Cleveland).

While you're here you'll definitely want to check out the exotic wildlife (forget Cleveland). Get this - we have animals that run on four legs and give birth to live young!

Posted by: alex on January 23, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

While you're here you'll definitely want to check out the exotic wildlife (forget Cleveland). Get this - we have animals that run on four legs and give birth to live young!

LOL!

Touche.

Oh, and McPeranakan?

Go home before we force you to squat naked in a cell somewhere...

Posted by: floopmeister on January 23, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

I violated my own rule again: Never argue with the other side here or present facts and arguments. There is no honest exhange possible. Invading a country on a pretext that tunrs out to be 100 percent wrong, torturing prisoners, having bigger government than Democrats ever did, spending like a drunken sailor and earmarking more pork than "tax and spend liberals" every dreamed, failing to respond when a whole segment of the US is destroyed by a natural disaster, picking and choosing which laws the executive wants to follow: They will defend everything and anything. EVERYTHING. Always attack. Never defend. Nope. Not no more.

Posted by: Pat on January 23, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

I still don't understand the labeling of the program by you folks here as "domestic" spying. If a call originates from the U.S. to an overseas number or email address, or conversely originates from overseas address to an American address, how is labeled domestic? It's International, correct? If the NSA intercepts are targeting overseas addresses gleamed from captured intelligence, doesn't the president have a duty to have those communications intercepted and analyzed as part of his duties as CIC?
In the court cases I have read, the courts either have taken no action in regards to determining the requirements of obtaining a warrant before initiating surveillance of a foreign source or, as in Sealed Case No. 02-001, the FISA court decided that the President does have the authority to conduct warrantless searches in an effort to obtain foreign intelligence.
So where is the problem with the NSA warrantless intercepts of foreign communications? The FISA court has said it is legal. Where are there any indications that there are warrantless intercepts of completely domestic communications, those that originate and terminate soley in the US?

Posted by: meatss on January 23, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Where are there any indications that there are warrantless intercepts of completely domestic communications, those that originate and terminate soley in the US?

Ever called a call centre in India?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 23, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Well. Plenty of people think what Bush is doing is reasonable and FICA is meaningless unless they stick it in the constitution.
Nya-nya.
Including Clinton.
Nya-nya-nyaah!
Posted by: McAristotle

fiSa dipshit ... fica is social secirity and medicare.

smarter malaysians requested.

Posted by: Nads on January 23, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

C. Nut had a comment that had me head scratching ...authorization of powers to counter the threat of Iraq. If one was to be as literal as Rove, WTF is the applicability of threat of Iraq (today ?) with wiretaps ?

Posted by: opit on January 23, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just want to weigh in with some telecom technology information.

People in Afghanistan primarily rely on the cellular services that were started up AFTER the Taliban were overthrown. It's Global System for Mobiles (GSM) technology that you'll find throughout that part of the world. There are older analog systems but GSM is the primary technology.

GSM is big in Europe and the Middle East, not so big here.

The services are overwhelmingly prepaid and there is quite a black market for selling and reselling phones for 'privacy' reasons.

So in Pakistan and Afghanistan, you have wireless services, then you get satellite based services like Thuraya. Thuraya can give you a dual band phone that can work with the satellite and/or roam onto the GSM network. Thuraya can also give you access to your Internet via a satellite modem.

The other way of making a call is to use a public call office. You go into a little shack, give the dude your money, then you make a call on any of the systems I just mentioned.

Anybody who has 'travelled' through the region will be able to tell you about these services as well as a few more I'm not going to go into.

But if Nathan and the Republican shills want to think it's just like going to the local phone stand, fine. They have those too. But it's a little more complicated than people realize. It's a very daunting task to get any of this information.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 23, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

c nut is a coward, and is afraid of all arabs. a common enough trait among the wingnuts, to be sure.

Posted by: Nads on January 23, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: sounds a lot like India. Or the India of a few years ago, anyway.

Nowadays there are more mobile phones than landlines in India.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 23, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

floop,

Yes, you're exactly right. India is overwhelmingly GSM, prepaid, and is exploding as a wireless market.

3G, or Third Generation wireless is primarily a rich man's game. These phones have the MP3s, the streaming video, the ability to watch soccer matches from your mobile, etc.

Now, when you figure that several hundred million people have phones, and they're talking all at once, how daunting is that?

I think that the Republicans are desperately trying to change the subject with regards to this country--the Bush administration broke the law, they stepped into a mess, they're trying to use patriotism and jingoism to confuse some pretty basic and simple issues.

The intelligence agencies need to follow the law. Every time they follow the law, America is stronger, not weaker.

Of course, what no one will admit and what no one will talk about is that, regardless of how good the intelligence is, we won't stop the next attack, unless someone stumbles onto it by accident. The Republicans want everyone to think that they're the only ones who can stop the next attack--wrong. Nobody's gonna stop it unless they get lucky. And lucky doesn't pay the bills.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 23, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan is a scumwad bastard.

Thinking his comic-book hypotheticals are more valid than Global Citizen's real-world hypotheticals and then ridiculing her.

And for his childish, cowardly beliefs the nation is supposed to roll over for a concept of governance that relies on violence, deceit, greed and secrecy.

Posted by: exasperanto on January 23, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wroted Dubya's general:

"Rather, it's "targeted and focused" and involves "only international calls and only those we have a reasonable basis to believe involve al Qaeda or one of its affiliates.""


Like the Quakers? And other anti-war protestors?

Posted by: MarkH on January 23, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

floop,

Did you see the story we were posting the other day about the Malaysian Chinese males and their obsession with wearing red underwear with 'strong' and 'manly' characters on them?

Hilarious. Love your squatting story.

Except McAristotle is the one swinging the bamboo pole and using Vaseline on the end of his thumb to straighten out the hooligans.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 23, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: and we haven't even begun to factor in the language issue, yet. How many Urdu or Hindi speakers are working at these agencies - let alone Marati, Gujarati, Oriya, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi, Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, and the myriad of tribal languages?

India has hundreds of officially recognised languages - most people on the subcontinent can speak two or three of those (plus English). I mean, people can switch between them like switching radio channels.

Have fun following those conversations, NSA guys...

Posted by: floopmeister on January 23, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

if you're expecting me to get upset that al Qaeda conversations are being monitored, good luck.

How about the monitoring of Quakers, who have been committed to non-violence for a few hundred years now and are literally the last people on the planet to conspire with al-Qaeda?

Does that upset you?

It should. If the NSA is spying on a group whose members have gone to jail rather than serve in the military because of their profound conviction that any violence is impermissible -- then why the hell should we as citizens take seriously the claim from Bush that this program is being used only to "spy on al-Qaeda"???

Obviously we should not, as it is clear from this example and that of other groups who've been spied upon that Bush's assertion is just the usual pantload meant to assuage the concerns of the masses and give him political cover.

So if the least likely group to do harm to this country is being spied on, and if spying is routinely happening without either judicial or congressional oversight...what does that say about the chances of the average person being deprived of his or her rights? Of falling prey to mistaken analysis? Or of such untrammelled power being used in unethical ways?

And for the record, I'm not interested in discussions about whether or not Democrats can or can't win on this issue, which is frankly irrelevant. Democrats could have all the issues gift-wrapped and handed to them with fail-safe instructions on how to win and they'd still find a way to screw it up. That is just a leadership and discipline problem within the party.

What is relevant for ourselves and our posterity is to ensure that the law is being followed and that Constitutional limits are safeguarded. If you see that this is wrong then you're obligated by civic duty to do your part to remedy it. That doesn't mean siding with Democrats, but at the very minimum it means doing your part to get your own party to take responsibility for fixing it.

They are the presently the ones with the power to do it, after all.

[cue McAristotle making some impossibly stupid claim about Quakers that only he thinks is funny....]

Posted by: trex on January 23, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is as innocent as a newborn baby rat, to paraphrase Bugs Bunny. What I really admire is how the administration stonewalls when it comes to Plame (can't talk about an open investigation), but tries to make the case for spying in the court of public opinion before hearings even begin. Can't a judge prohibit him from this kind of grandstanding?

And if he really is in the right why is he trying so hard to convince us of that fact? Won't the facts bear him out? He didn't care about convincing anyone about WMDs before he invaded Iraq (they don't govern by opinion poll) so why care now? Where's the old Georgie "tight lips" Bush we have come to know and love?

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on January 23, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq

Nice try. It would appear that Congress fully intended FISA to be followed during war time as well:

From FISA:
1811. Authorization during time of war
Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.

*****

Or are you going to argue that an AUMF with no mention of electronic surveillance trumps the FISA law which specifially addresses its own application during wartime?

Posted by: Kilgore Trout on January 23, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect the requirement that the Attorney General approve is a regulation, not a requirement of the FISA Act. And therefore it could be changed by the Justice Department without going to Congress, although it's possible that a public comment period would be required.

No, that's a requirement of FISA
*****
(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and
if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/usc_sec_50_00001802----000-.html

Posted by: Kilgore Trout on January 24, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Basically, they're saying that whatever methodology is being used to determine whether to begin spying on someone, the information is so vague that the attorney general can't even begin to make a case for it - i.e. no probable cause, and probably not even plausible cause. More likely, merely possible cause. And, aside from "possible" being the engine that drives all paranoid minds, it's clear that this standard is unconstitutional.

Posted by: Jimm on January 24, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: dfdfdfd on January 24, 2006 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

Nut, I was expecting you to be upset only because you told us you would be upset if it were found out that citizens were being wiretapped without warrants
And if it happens, I will be. NSA sifting through calls that have one end in the US has been known all along, this is not what was referred to.

What was referred to is: if a potential lead is developed through the sifting, and a hard wiretap is put on, that definitely needs a warrant. The NSA can sift to their heart's content as far as I'm concerned.

See, NSA doesn't need that bank of supercomputers so they can play PacMan while they aurally listen to all the calls in the frigging world. I draw the distinction when you make the swap from computerized sifting of everything they can snoop to actual wholesale listening and recording of a targeted person.

Did you catch the Bush quote at K-State?

Its amazing that people say to me, Well, hes just breaking the law. If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Otherwise, one could argue that the 4th amendment is null and void in wartime
You might want to check with FDR on that one...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

How about the monitoring of Quakers, who have been committed to non-violence for a few hundred years now and are literally the last people on the planet to conspire with al-Qaeda?
Got any article about, I don't know, maybe Quakers being monitored? The group in your article is the "not in our name" goofs.

And before you bother bringing up that they (may) have Quaker members, they also have loony members.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Or are you going to argue that an AUMF with no mention of electronic surveillance trumps the FISA law which specifially addresses its own application during wartime?
I'm not going to argue anything, there isn't enough information available to argue with. I merely pointed it out.

Sorry, there is one thing I'll argue. It is my position that I have no problem monitoring overseas communications of suspected al Qaeda members even if one end of that call is in the US. Monitoring al Qaeda communications sounds like a good thing to me.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

they also have loony members.

Yeah--and there's no lunacy whatsoever amongst Christian conservatives, who are led by the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Last time I checked, the Quakers weren't calling for the assassination of foreign leaders. But, hey--keep using that Karl Rove tactic of questioning the mental capacity of anyone opposed to your grip on power. Don't forget--Karl likes to accuse people of homosexuality, too.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK
If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?

Because it was a 'briefing' in name only. Because the members briefed were forbidden from sharing any information with other members. Because there was NOTHING any briefed member could do about it if he/she had any objections.

Posted by: Poot Smootley on January 24, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Its amazing that people say to me, Well, hes just breaking the law. If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?

Yeah. Bush lied again. He wasn't briefing Congress. At least not fully. He was lying to them by leaving out important details about the program he was allegedly briefing them on, just like he left out important details in the intelligence on Iraq that he presented to Congress before the war began.

Still lying and misrepresenting, I see, conspiracy nut.

Clearly, you will never dispense with your mendacity.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 24, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

C nut as the dishonest, mendacious hack you are. You have never addressed the concerns spelled out throughout this thread by others that this Administration cannot be trusted to monitor just Al Qaeda. Or for that matter to be competent enough to know the phone calls are Al Qaeda. Or why it is necessary to ignore the warrant procedure.

Posted by: ckelly on January 24, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

You have never addressed the concerns spelled out throughout this thread by others that this Administration cannot be trusted to monitor just Al Qaeda.
This administration, huh? This is your problem, Bush did it? Here's a hint: I can't argue you out of Bush hatred, because it's irrational.

You just get to live with it. I hope it makes you happy.

As for defending the irrational part, that's why I keep bringing up Echelon; the Dems have no problem with warrantless searches. They have a problem with Bush.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

He was lying to them by leaving out important details
Damn, you were in those briefings? I'm impressed.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

As for defending the irrational part, that's why I keep bringing up Echelon; the Dems have no problem with warrantless searches. They have a problem with Bush.

You keep bringing up Echelon because you don't have your facts straight. Echelon is the legal application of data mining, which isn't the issue here.

Specific, targeted warrantless wiretaps of US persons that the FISA court was not approached with--that's the issue.

Echelon - legal
Warrantless wiretaps of US persons - not legal

Echelon - data mining
Warrantless wiretaps of US persons - not data mining

As for clouding the issue in an irrational air of 'Bush hating,' come on. There are Republicans and Democrats who can figure this out. I for one would NEVER want a Democrat to have this kind of power. We need to stop this right now.

I believe it was you, Conspiracy Nut, who said that the government can never be trusted. I completely agree--the government cannot be trusted to break the law and conduct these warrantless wiretaps of US persons.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

which isn't the issue here
That is what you haven't shown. I've found no indication that this isn't data mining (and the fact that NSA is doing it is a strong indication that it is data mining), and you have provided none.

Don't be claiming a difference when you can't show a difference.

I believe it was you, Conspiracy Nut, who said that the government can never be trusted
I don't trust politicians. Here are my 2 mitigating factors:
1) Spying will necessarily involve unpleasant aspects. Our military men back to Geo Washington recognized this. Military men in general back to at least Sun Tzu. It's like making bologna.
2) The job of NSA is to monitor. As such, they are working people, not politicians. They're people, too. Plus, they have lots of resources, but they don't have enough to monitor every friggin thing. When someone asks them for updates, they aren't going to be caught just being able to explain how the Friday night bridge club in Nowhere Nebraska is getting along. They are going to concentrate their efforts on al Qaeda.

As for Bush hatred clouding the issue, I'm aware you can't see it. But I ask you, when every damn thing that Bush does is wrong; don't you see a pattern developing?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

You guys are of a dying breed Bush's approval rating is 36% that says he losing base.The rest of the world has about the same view of him,I'm thinking you guys CN,Tbroz,Al are on the wrong side of history,Sorry.

Posted by: pssst on January 24, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: I'm not sure why your (accurate) description of regional telecommunications hurts my point...actually it supports it.

Kilgore Trout: FISA specifically states that its provisions don't apply if otherwise provided by law....the administration's argument is that the AUMF is such a law.

Jimm: you're kind of in over your head on legal matters but here's a rough summary as to why your rhetoric doesn't work: the 4th Amendment doesn't trump Article II. there is no "last in time" assumption in Constitutional law. neither does there have to be a formal distinction between peace and war. if you actually read the 4th Amendment you'll notice that the probable cause requirement only applies to "unreasonable searches and seizures"...in other words, if the search is reasonable no warrant is required. (this is how we end up with things like "hot pursuit" -- a phrase expressly used yesterday by Hayden)...the definition of reasonableness is context-dependent....war is different than a criminal investigation.


Posted by: Nathan on January 24, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I see a pattern,So does 65% of the american people and 90% of the world.But keep in mind what ever you let out of the pandora box will be used by the next president and it could be Hilary Clinton.I don't see the next R canidate running on I'm just like G.W. stay the course,Moral of the story "carful what you ask for you might just get it.

Posted by: pssst on January 24, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure why your (accurate) description of regional telecommunications hurts my point...actually it supports it.

Accurately describing something you cannot grasp does not support your position. Feel free to live with delusions of adequacy.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

C-Nut:

That is what you haven't shown. I've found no indication that this isn't data mining (and the fact that NSA is doing it is a strong indication that it is data mining), and you have provided none.

Right, well, if it was data mining, no harm and no foul. If this was simple data mining, there is no scandal and Bush has done nothing wrong.

To conduct data mining, one does not have to go to the FISA court. To specifically wiretap a US person, one must obtain a warrant from the FISA court. There either is, or there is not, a problem here. Bush hating has nothing to do with, nor is this a simple matter of he said, she said. Once we get to the bottom of it, let's just say for the sake of argument that it shouldn't be allowed and that no President should have the authority to circumvent the FISA court.

Don't be claiming a difference when you can't show a difference.

I can't make it any clearer than I already have, so that's why I will step back, no insults delivered and no accusations levelled, none of that. We'll see where this goes and hopefully we'll have a better understanding of it when all of the facts come out.

Right now, it doesn't look good.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

So, Mr. Rightie, you think phone calls from Al-Qaeda should be monitored through any means, legal or not. Fine. (for the purpose of pointing out how stupid that is). Now, define Al-Qaeda and how you will determine wether someone is Al-Qaeda or not. Just pull up the Al-Qaeda website and check their membership directory? Al-Qaeda is not some Rotary Club where you can pull out a membership card.

This is very similar to the BS about 'fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them here'. What a crock. They are here. Anyone could decide to become a terrorist at the drop of a hat. Tim McVeigh ring a bell? He was an ex-military American. And he pulled off the 2nd largest episode of terrorism in the US. Mabey we should monitor the phone calls of all ex-military? No, I know, lets just monitor ALL Americans, cause one of 'em could be a terrorist like McVeigh.

Oooohhhh Al-Qaeda is the boogyman. Ooooohhhh, a pipe bomb on the city bus is scarier than fighter jets and missles capable of reaching the US. Al-Qaeda are not a government. They have no military. They have no ability to achieve their goals. But Holy Crap, terrorists require the complete destruction of our Constitution and American way of life because they got one good punch in. How come we didn't give up all our civil liberties when Russia (who actually HAD the means to accomplish their goals) had nuclear missles pointed at us?

Some guy in a cave issuing video tapes is more of a threat than anything else faced in the history of our country. Ri i i i ght.

A poster above made a good point: anyone: American, forigner, Muslim, satanist, Rotary Clubber or even Al-Qaeda in bad standing for forgetting to re-up his membership dues could "legally acquire a few dozen automatic weapons, walk into a few dozen malls around the US and start shooting during the State of the Union address." Then the brainless concept of 'fighting them over there' will leave no one left to fight them over here.

Posted by: Walrus Gumboot on January 24, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Here's a hint: I can't argue you out of Bush hatred, because it's irrational.

Hatred of lying, criminality, and immorality is irrational?

Well, we obviously can't argue you out of your idiocy.

You just get to live with it. I hope it makes you happy.

It does. Thanks. Hope your actually irrational hatred of Clinton and the Left makes you happy.

As for defending the irrational part, that's why I keep bringing up Echelon; the Dems have no problem with warrantless searches. They have a problem with Bush.

Again with the Clinton did it too so it must be okay.

Even though you tried to deny you ever made that argument, you repeat it here.

Damn, you were in those briefings? I'm impressed.

No, but the Dems and some Repubs were and they say they weren't told all the details. Lying weasel that you are you already know that.

And the Dems and Repubs that are contradicting the administration all have better credibility than Bush or "Torture-is-okay" Gonzales.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 24, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Right now, it doesn't look good.
As I said earlier, what I'm expecting is this to fizzle out. Between national security, methods, and the question of balance of power, we'll be lucky to ever learn anything of substance and no one with any authority is going to want to get close to this.

It's good the questions are being asked, though, keeps the DC critters in line.

I'm interested in hearing your take on one thing: NSA is doing this monitoring. Taking into account the nature of NSA, isn't data mining the most logical alternative to what's happening?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hope your actually irrational hatred of Clinton and the Left makes you happy.
Hey, I'm a recovered Clinton hater. Some of the left (probably not you) will wake up one of these days and realize how stupid they've been. Been there, done that.

And I love the left; a man can't get entertainment like you guys just everywhere. See, in order for me to hate the left like you hate Bush, I'd have to believe you were capable of getting anything done. You're not, and therefore harmless. That classes you as humor.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

CN stick to the RNC talking points, You do a terrible job on your own,Go back and read your last post---------Yea not great work is it, it boils down to, I know you are but what am I.playground stuff.oh and bush is 36% and still dropping.Good Luck CN

Posted by: pssst on January 24, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Taking into account the nature of NSA, isn't data mining the most logical alternative to what's happening?

Not really. Specific targets are so much easier. Less busywork.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Specific targets are so much easier
Well OK, but any kid with access to radio shack can do specific targets. I'd have thought they used the NSA because they needed something a little beefier.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Heres a conspiracy theory for you. I think tbroz is actually a lefty democrat sent by Howard Dean to save us from ourselves.

Let me explain

As a long time observer of Political Animal and even Kevins original blog, Ive noticed that Democratic Message control out in the Real World has gotten much more focused since Tbroz arrived on this blog. I believe hes been sent to hone our debating skills against rabid partisan hacks, when we meet them at the so called water coolers of life. He is a sort of drill sergeant, who brings us partisan talking points from across the isle, daily, so that we are constantly prepared for the next time we meet our opponents on the rhetorical field. And by that I mean, at the water cooler.

Considering this, I have to thank Howard Dean for this particular recruit that hes found. Since Tbroz has arrived at Political Animal, Georgy Porgys approval ratings have tanked. Every scandal Ive been following for the last two years suddenly has gotten deep political legs, (Abrimoff, Delay, Plame, Frist To name a few). And so, I must salute Dean for his wisdom and cunning in choosing this brilliant political face opponent to harden our mettle and rhetorical skills for the fight we face every day, (drooling boot lickers with shit for brains loitering at the water cooler.) For now, it seems keeping Americans free from Illegal Wiretaps is a good place to get started learning some message control lefties.

Posted by: troll on January 24, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well OK, but any kid with access to radio shack can do specific targets. I'd have thought they used the NSA because they needed something a little beefier.

Not really. First, you'd need to acquire from Radio Shack the proper kind of spectrum scanning hardware--preferably a top of the line police scanner that can be programmed to scan between 790-900 MHz if you want to pick up a cell phone/mobile phone. Then, you'll need to route that signal through a PC and download some decryption software--not too difficult but to separate the signal, you'll need to modify what you collect. We use CDMA and iDEN technology in this country--the transmission is sent in packets to save spectrum, and those packets need to be put back together on the listening end in the proper order.

Better yet, target 900 MHz cordless phones--much easier.

With your Radio Shack scanner, you can tune in 140-150 MHz and pick handheld radios, trunked radio networks to include Police, Fire and EMS, and a couple of other things.

But be prepared to run into some resistance when you try to tap into someone's landline phone--unless you're picking them up on their 900 MHz cordless or their 2.4/5 GHz cordless handsets, you're not going to have much luck hooking up to the local phone switch with a handset.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

What makes anyone think Michael Hayden is telling the truth any more than anyone else in the W Administration?

Posted by: anonymous on January 24, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Hey, I'm a recovered Clinton hater.

Your comments belie your claim.

But, again, that's your SOP mendacity still at work.

Some of the left (probably not you) will wake up one of these days and realize how stupid they've been.

We're already awake and rational.

You might try joining us sometime.

Sleeping through the worst presidency ever with mumbling support based on a dream-state vision of the administration is not useful, except for conservatives in denial and unwilling to face reality.

And I love the left; a man can't get entertainment like you guys just everywhere.

Well, you can get it watching Bush butchering logic principles, the truth, and the English language and his administration is more than a dark comedy, it's immorality wrapped inside criminality and surrounded by incompetence.

See, in order for me to hate the left like you hate Bush . . .

Filled with presumptions not in evidence.

. . . I'd have to believe you were capable of getting anything done.

Reality and your belief do not mix, which is the cause for your lack of belief in this department.

You're not, and therefore harmless.

I guess that's why the GOP is running scared.

LOL.

That classes you as humor.

This classes you as an idiot living in a fantasy world disconnected from reality and dependent upon mendacity to maintain that state.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 24, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

As to approving a lower standard than probable cause -- perhaps they haven't done so because that's the exact wording guaranteed in the Constitution.

Posted by: RuthAlice Anderson on January 24, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

AfG
Thanks for another laugh. I do have to stop here, though

surrounded by incompetence
Let's see, the Dems were rolled by the Swifties, came up short on AWOL, caught Scooter lying with no underlying crime (this just in: Rove still at White House), we went to war in Iraq, Bush was re-elected, Repubs gained seats during the mid-term, the list goes on. How come you Dems keep getting your asses handed to you by an incompetent?

Like I said, if you were capable of getting anything done...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 24, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

They are spying on political opponents. Why else would they object to oversight? There is no other reason to reject oversight. They can't prove they haven't engaged in spying because they have no independent oversight to back them up. Anyone who believes that the Bush administration would not jump at a chance to spy on their political opponents is naive. They are spying on political opponents. Believe it.

Posted by: bakho on January 24, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well this guy may be a chief spook but he knows dipstick about our Fourth Amendment rights. Its exactly the "focused and specific searches" that require a warrant.

They still can't explain why the FISA court was not good enough for them. If they had minimal probably cause they would have gotten a warrant-even retroactively. The court has granted nearly all applications in the 22,000 cases heard since it was started.

Warrants? we doan nee no stinkin' warrants...Sam Alito: telcon w/ POTUS 1/24/06 12:46pm EST

Inherent power, inherent power, inherent power,
Raaaaawwkkk...
Alberto Gonzales: Senate hearing 12:50am EST

Posted by: US PERSON on January 24, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy nut continues to either intentionally avoid or miss the central point of the issue: All we have to verify that the only calls being monitored are foreign calls from "known Al Qaeda operatives" is the word of the President and his appointees. Be honest neo-cons, if President Bill Clinton made such a claim, you would not accept it. Is there any rational person who beleives that the Fisa Court would reject warrant applications to continuously monitor phone calls from "known Al Qaeda operatives"? Give us all a break. We're not that stupid.

Posted by: Bob Peura on January 24, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

I draw the distinction when you make the swap from computerized sifting of everything they can snoop to actual wholesale listening and recording of a targeted person. -- conspiracy nut

This is what I don't understand. CNut is only one of apparently millions of Americans who don't care much if a computer violates their privacy -- only care if a human does it.

Why the hell don't they care? If a computer is listening for you to say a particular word or phrase -- which if you say it would trigger a human to start listening -- why isn't that just as much of a violation of your 4th amendment rights as if a human listened for the trigger words?

Good grief.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on January 24, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why the hell don't they care?
Common sense. That's a commodity in short supply on the left.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 25, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

That's a commodity in short supply on the left.

Yeah, what with the abundant supply being hoarded by the right.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 25, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

A small point about Congressional briefings, C-nut: it is a time-honored tradition in the give and take between the executive and legislative that a briefing SHUTS UP CRITICS, because they are provided with classified information about a classified subject. Therefore, they can no longer discuss or debate it.

If you actually knew WTF you were talking about, you'd know that members who are serious critics of a given policy, e.g., Democrats over Reagan's contras in the early 1980s, Republicans over Clinton in the Balkans, will often refuse to go to classified briefings so as to be more free and, oddly, knowledgeable in debate, since they are protected against the claim they breached security. (You ever held a clearance, bub?)

What Bush is doing is asserting, across the board, that as a co-equal branch of government he can take all the authority Congress gives him to 'take care the laws are faithfully executed', without ANY of the responsibility that Congress assigns him to, you know, actually carry out the law.

Pretending to respect Congress by "briefing" them is crap, and sensible people know it.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 25, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, what with the abundant supply being hoarded by the right.
Hoarded! Hoarded you say! I don't think so, I keep coming out here, from the goodness of my heart, trying to spread some common sense around. And what do I get? I get some fully unmemorable personal abuse.

But do I give up? No I don't give up, because I am dedicated to the task of spreading some common sense to my compadres on the port side of the ship of state.

Ya, ya ... that's my story. And it's a good one!

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 25, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

will often refuse to go to classified briefings so as to be more free and, oddly, knowledgeable in debate, since they are protected against the claim they breached security
Ah, staying willfully stupid so they can spout off without recriminations. That'd definitely be our politicians.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 25, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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