Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Conservatives Spin That Bush Circumvented FISA Because Of Arduous Paperwork. The Facts Suggest Otherwise

Why did President Bush circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)?

National Review columnist Byron York defended the president as keeping the nation's best interests in mind, describing the process of receiving a warrant from FISA court as arduous.

York writes:

"In 2002, when the president made his decision, there was widespread, bipartisan frustration with the slowness and inefficiency of the bureaucracy involved in seeking warrants from the special intelligence court, known as the FISA court.

'It takes days, sometimes weeks, to get the application for FISA together,' says one source. 'It's not so much that the court doesn't grant them quickly, it's that it takes a long time to get to the court.'"

But York forgets something:

In the case of national emergencies, it's permitted to get a search warrant 72 hours after surveillance is conducted. (In the link, see Section F, Item 2.) The argument for speed doesn't make much sense when warrants can be issued after the surveillance operations have taken place.

David Sirota, writing yesterday on the Huffington Post website, wondered aloud about this spin: "There really is only one explanation that a sane, rational person could come up with: The surveillance operations Bush is ordering are so outrageous, so unrelated to the War on Terror and such an unconstitutional breach of authority that he knows that even a court that has rejected just 4 warrant requests in 25 years will reject what he's doing."

Merging Sirota comments with York's, one would have to assume that a Homeland Security team wouldn't be able to quickly put together the paperwork to gain a retroactive warrant from a lax court. It's a hard sell.

***

If the "arduous paperwork" defense sounds familiar, it's because the Bush Administration used it just a few weeks ago.

According to an Oct. 30 Associated Press report, the administration often has failed to meet homeland security deadlines. Why? The official spin at the time was that there are too many deadlines.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke told the AP that the department goes to great lengths to work with Congress. But, he said, "there is an extraordinarily high number of reporting requirements." The department has to submit 256 reports to Congress every year, Knocke said.

***

How do you get around arduous paperwork? Change the rules.

With control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, Bush could have changed the FISA rules in 2001, when Congress overwhelming supported the USA Patriot Act.

Similarly, rules regarding the number of reports Homeland Security has to file could have been dealt with when the department was created, again with overwhelming Congressional support, in 2002.

But neither of those things happened. Circumventing the rules now, after the fact, isn't the answer.

19 Comments:

Anonymous texpatriot2004 said...

It's ANOTHER * LIE FISA warrants are fast and easy to get.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous C_U_L8R said...

but it's HARD WORK

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Spinzonner said...

Just take a few of those lawyers who are making up illegal acts and rationalizations and writing federal regulations that contravene various laws and assign them to the job.

It will keep them out of trouble.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous mcctatas said...

What more can you expect when a rabidly anti-intellectual C student is in the WH?! Maybe we can get him a tutor to help with his homework.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous kaygore said...

Bush zombies just want some excuse, no matter how wrong

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Canuckistanian said...

Gonzales probably worked for months on his torture memo

Not to mention the time AshKKKroft worked on his NO prostitution case. Or the time needed to create the "unlawful combatant" designation.

Seems to me they have problems prioritizing their time.

Their supervisors should be properly pissed.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is absolutely amazing how full of shit the National Review is.. such a den of hackery. Not a shred of credibility in them. Even when something like this is glaring them in the face, the tow the party line. It makes you wonder about some of the behind the scenes connections between our leaders and these (in my opinion) propaganda outlets like National Review. Enough about propaganda in Iraq, we have it here and it just goes on and on and on..

It would be one thing if they actually were truthful and had an opinion. That would have some merit. But these rags lie constantly to make their points.

It's as much a story that this continually lying goes on by the right wingers, they should just as well make the lying itself a story. Come on Katie Couric, here's your chance to prove your worth.

In my dreams.

2:18 AM  
Blogger wackyrascal said...

Dear Citizens of the World:

It's been a bad year, what with terrorism, a war, high fuel costs, lousy weather, and countless natural catastrophes. It would be great if we could all end it on a high note. But it seems that's not possible. Not if Christmas is close to your heart.

There's been a terrible chain of events that affects us all, especially those with big wish lists. If you haven't already heard, Santa Claus is in dire straights. To be fair, you can't say we didn't see it coming, you know, a lonely guy who lives with elves in the middle of nowhere. Yep, destiny, finally, has caught up to jolly St. Nick.

It all started with the Homeland Security laws and the Presidentially approved wiretapping. Since June 4, 2005, when U.S. intelligence agents began monitoring Mr. Claus, the world's most infamous gifter was contacted by 568,201 individuals on the list of Suspects Without Proof list, violating law # 37,091,435, paragraph 5, section 3, by-law #36 of the Homeland Security Act. This included postcards, cell phone calls, written letters, and forms filled out in malls all over the globe. That wasn't bad enough. A C.I.A. report also claims Mr. Claus was manufacturing aluminum tubes for a nuclear operation in Iran. Responding to the allegations, Santa said they were for a young Iranian boy who wanted to
build a grain elevator for the family farm.

That charge allowed the issuance of a Search and Seizure warrant for the North Pole headquarters. On December 11, 2005, a swat team converged on the property and ransacked the entire operation. Needless to say, there were chemistry sets that could be used to make bombs, packages of fertilizer that were requested by farmers, rifles intended for hunters, books critical of the Administration that were seen as treasonous and many other items, including sharp kitchen utensils, that were confiscated by the zealous team of investigators.

Advocates from around the world, hoping to keep the Christmas spirit alive, appealed to the Supreme Court on December 15, 2005. Chief Justice Roberts responded: "Mr. Claus, a bearded, unkempt man in a red suit - a color reminiscent of Communism - is not excluded from the Homeland Security Act simply because he hands out gifts indiscriminately to both the rich and the poor, liberal and conservative. If the Court allows this man to violate the laws of this great nation then we've allowed an onerous precedent for others who won't be so giving. Consequently, a Cease and Desist Order has been issued to halt this man from continuing his affairs. The Court recommends to those dependent upon this rotund fellow's unwarranted benevolence to secure for themselves, through their own efforts - the way I did when I put myself through Harvard by serving lattes in Starbucks - the sundry gifts that they so recklessly requested from the North Pole."

This opened the door for more legal entanglements. The I.N.S. paid a visit to the site and discovered that more than half of the elves were illegal immigrants from Mexico working off the books. Officials from the organization cited Mrs. Claus with fraudulent book keeping and threatened her with an indictment of having carnal relations with a minor if she protested the charge (three of the elves were under 18). The team also found "gray" items, i.e. fake or secondary market products, ranging from athletic shoes to XBox knockoffs. That is being investigated further.

Once the doors were opened Santa's enterprise was an open book. Fundamentalists accused him of gifting individuals who refused to use the word Christmas in their holiday cards. And then the scope of the gifts was attacked by groups from around the world. Pat Robertson claimed, "This Godless figure who kids are suppose to look up to has actually been distributing violent video games, DVD porn to atheists, Robertson's a Wacko t-shirts to left wing nuts, Victoria's Secret undergarments to people having premarital sex, condoms to boys in high school. The list goes on and on. And I say, let's hang this man before he does any more harm to our God-fearing country."

Once the hero became the heel, people came out of the woodwork to pile on. Environmentalists insisted that Christmas shopping, as well as all the waste produced by ribbons and wrappings, accelerated global warming by 1.3%. They also stated that the North Pole operations were in part responsible for the melting of the polar ice caps. Animal rights advocates petitioned to have the reindeers set free in the wild, claiming that they were needlessly abused for the sake of unfettered materialism. They also criticized the fur collar and trim on Santa's outfit, which he has always said was synthethic. Madeline Hubright, President of Furless Living, said, "It doesn't matter whether or not the fur is synthethic, it sets the wrong tone because some people will think it's real. Our objective is no fur of any kind; only Gortex and wool. We don't mind a few sheep catching cold once in a while, but we condemn the stealing of animal fur."

American toy makers then accused Mr. Claus of contracting with huge Chinese firms willing to undercut prices. Stanley Geplitz, Grand Steward of Toy Makers USA, reported, "There's been a disturbing movement afoot these past few years given the fact that far too many American kids have been receiving Chinese toys when, in fact, American toy manufacturers are fully capable of providing wonderful gifts too. Santa looked the other way for too long and now, well, he's going to pay."

So far Abdul Hossein Mohammed, a former Saddam Hussien attorney who recently abandoned the case, has offered to represent Mr. Claus in what now appears to be an endless string of court cases that will keep the gifter so busy that in all likelihood he wouldn't be able to return to his operation even if he was cleared of the multitude of charges any time in the forseeable future.

And so it is, the end of a miserable year made even more miserable. Yes Virginia there's a Santa Claus, but he's too tied up in the courts to bring you that new Barbie you crave. In fact, if you have a spare dollar please send it to him. It's now his turn to be gifted.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha. Ha. Ha. Good story above. All too real.
Why are the Bushies stammering on this issue. Simple. They don't want it to get out they've actually been spying on their Republican enemies, i.e. activist groups against the Bush agenda, or at least innocent groups like Charity organizations (See New York Times piece today Dec. 20).
Legal Counsel for the White House John Dean said that Bush admitted to an "impeachable act" in acknowledgement of the wiretapping abuses.
Is anyone in the MSM going to run with this critically important story, please. Can you hear me MSM. Can you help us. Hellooooooooo. Hellooooooo.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

And as Jonathan Alter points out, if BushCo were so confident of the legality (not to mention righteousness) of its tactics, why beg the NYT NOT to run its story?

'Splain that, York.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Ric Rude said...

Why did Bush circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Because anything with the word "Foreign" in it needs to be either ignored or arrested. Understand!

1:18 PM  
Blogger OTTMANN said...

First the libs wanted to know why the dots weren't connected prior to 9/11. Now they don't want them connected at all because they feel somehow their precious civil rights are being absused! How, they can't say, but they just know it because Bush is so terrible for protecting their hypocritial asses.

They'd better be careful or they'll get what they want... another attack worse than 9/11 in NYC and/or CA! Then their won't be anymore libs to listen to, which might actually be a good thing?

War and Peace Lincoln and Bush on vigilance and responsibility.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Ric, you're a moron. FISA is part of the Department of Justice.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

First the libs wanted to know why the dots weren't connected prior to 9/11. Now they don't want them connected at all because they feel somehow their precious civil rights are being absused!>>

Ottmann, wrong on both counts.

Liberals were upset that President Bush ignored the August 6 PDB, that the anti-terrorism team met once before 9/11, that Condi Rice's speech on the top threats (scheduled for 9/11/01) wasn't going to mention Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden, that in spite of a boatload of warnings, the Bush Administration did nothing in their first nine months to stop 9/11 from occurring.

If Bush had done everything in his power, would 9/11 have occurred? Possibly. But by doing nothing -- and he did absolutely nothing -- he guaranteed it would happen.

As for FISA, it's a simple equation. There is a law on the books. Bush broke it. His excuses for why he broke it may provide justification, but they don't change the fact that he broke it.

Now, maybe you don't care that your president breaks the law. Some of us do. FISA has rejected four warrant requests in 25 years. The president can authorize the surveillance before retroactively getting the warrant. Even Republicans like Lindsay Graham and Arlen Specter say that the president doesn't have a reasonable excuse.

The question is: would you accept such activity from a Democratic president? I doubt it.

Stop being so blindly partisan. Consider the possibility that Bush did something wrong, and that his reasoning doesn't add up, given the facts.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OTT just doesn't get it. People like him may be a significant part of the problems facing our country today. Sad, ignorant, mis-informed, with a pure hatred of anyone that disagrees. Fueled by a paranoia that restricts rational thought, he is incapable of seeing the big picture. This is the result of years of Rush O'Hannity indoctrination. We are creating new Osamas in Iraq and new McVeighs here in the West.

OTTMAN, we know the infamous pre-9/11 PDB (what was it called?...) did not have the flight numbers listed and thus 'there was nothing at all we could have done to prevented the attacks on DC and NYC. But let me ask you a not-so-rhetorical question (that means there is an answer and you can respond). Who was the President two months after Al Queada attacked the USS Cole?

Who knows what motivates these extreme wingnuts... maybe this guy was sodomized by a donkey.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous doublethink said...

By that logic ......
A bank robber could use the excuse that it's too arduous to get a job because of the paperwork involved. He was just circumventing the 'rules' of society in an attempt to get paid quicker. Uhhhh no, Bush broke 'the law', and he's no more above the law then the bank robber and should be tried accordingly. Peace.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous PatrioticOhioLiberal said...

Precisely what this cabal doesn't want. No paperwork, no ability for "we the people" to get a true picture of their evil.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Prag said...

Yeah, that Constitution paperwork is kind of hard to get around. I guess he shouldn't have sworn to protect and uphold it.

11:33 PM  

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