Friday, January 20, 2006

Justice Department Offers Official Leap Of Logic On Warrantless Domestic Spying Program

The Department of Justice yesterday released a 42-page defense of President Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program.

But the defense is really just a formal and expanded version of answers Attorney General Alberto Gonzales provided at a press conference last month . And no doubt, it will be the backbone of Gonzales' testimony before the Senate next month.

Senators should be prepared -- the administration is using significant leaps in logic to justify the their circumvension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which says that the National Security Agency must obtain a warrant before conducting surveillance.

Want to understand the hoops Gonzales has to jump through to justify the illegal program? Here's the administration's arguments, in his own words:

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

The administration is well aware of FISA.

GONZALES: (T)he Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides -- requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I've just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow -- there is -- unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That's what the law requires.

So then ...

ADMINISTRATION LEAP OF LOGIC

GONZALES: Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.

Gonzales admits that "there's nothing in the authorization to use force that specifically mentions electronic surveillance." He also admits: "We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be -- that was not something we could likely get."

Seems pretty cut and dry. Gonzales builds a convincing case against the administration's program. But Gonzales -- who President Bush said personally approved the surveillance program, when Gonzales was White House Counsel -- isn't relying on facts.

Instead, we get a leap of logic:

GONZALES: (T)he United States government took the position that Congress had authorized that detention in the authorization to use force, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word "detention." And the Supreme Court, a plurality written by Justice O'Connor agreed. ... For the same reason, we believe signals intelligence is even more a fundamental incident of war, and we believe has been authorized by the Congress. And even though signals intelligence is not mentioned in the authorization to use force, we believe that the Court would apply the same reasoning to recognize the authorization by Congress to engage in this kind of electronic surveillance.

What's the difference? The administration sought Supreme Court approval on its use of detention. It never sought any court's approval with surveillance.

In other words, just because one administration leap of logic was justified before, doesn't mean a second leap of logic will be justified now.

Why? Perhaps because it knew -- as it did when it polled members of Congress -- that the courts would not allow the administration to violate FISA.

Will senators be satisfied with the administration's case? Let's remember that various senators have said that they were either misinformed at the time about what the administration wanted to do, or not given a chance to express disapproval with the plan.

Nothing Gonzales has said -- including yesterday's Justice Department defense -- should change that.

46 Comments:

Anonymous ash said...

Leap of logic: you got that right. Otherwise known as interpreting beyond the words themselves, a concept conservatives claim consitutes the dreaded "activism." Hypocrisy, thy name is Gonzales.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Hello, ash. Are you officially done with the "Audience Growing For Radio Clown Mark Levin" topic? If not, the ball is in your court.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

David R. Mark said...
"In other words, just because one administration leap of logic was justified before, doesn't mean a second leap of logic will be justified now.

Why? Perhaps because it knew -- as it did when it polled members of Congress -- that the courts would not allow the administration to violate FISA."


Well, I guess this pretty much answers the question that some here have raised about why President Bush didn't "simply" go and have the FISA amended, doesn't it? I figured if it was as uncomplicated as that, someone in the administration might have thought of it on their own. DUH! Guess it wasn't as "simple" as some have suggested.

Another thing...if Congress sincerely believes that this administration's surveillance policy is "illegal" as so many critics keep insisting, then let them for once have the courage of their convictions and move to cut off spending for this "illegal" program! Just stop the damn demagoguery already! If it's illegal, then put a stop to it!

But they would never do that, would they? No, because they're just a bunch of whining, disingenuous windbags who are out to discredit President Bush, any way they can. If anyone is being hypocritical, it's the Democrats, and it's getting very old.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trinity,
That is the most asinine and stupid argument I have ever heard.
You're argument is not even relevant. Consider.
If you don't think something is legal, just stop the funding at once and put an end to it.
The Republicans don't think abortions are legal. Hell, why don't they just cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, which receives about a third of its budget from the government, while performing and consulting on abortions. Hell, let the teenager who gets pregnant hire a quack doctor to perform an abortion with a coat hanger.
Bush doesn't like the way the present Social Security program. Hell, why doesn't he just kill the program. Throw the senior citizens on the street to look into garbage cans for their food.
My wife got an outrageously high bill for a brief treatment she received in the hospital recently. I don't think it's legal. Hell, I don't think I'm just don't think I'm going to pay it, never mind the hospital imposes a lien on my house and destroys my credit.
Is that the best you can do, Trinity? Perhaps so.
On another JABBS blog your arguments sticking up for Bush's warrantless spying program were exposed as baseless Republican National Committee talking points.
Just please don't resort to name calling, "whiny disingenous," etc.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Trinity, FISA is not illegal. It was used illegally by the Bush Administration. Gonzales admits that the administration didn't follow the law, but believed that they could interpret an expanded version of the law, just as they did once before.

So, cutting off FISA is not the answer. Firing Gonzales for allowing the illegal use of the program is.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

First off, under "old business", wouldn't anyone care to concede that perhaps President Bush did attempt to do what you guys suggested in your following posts?.........

Anonymous said...
"...Bush could have acted to change the law or seek authority from Congress if the FISA laws weren't adequate...."

rob of wilmington, del. said...
"Trinity, the other option Bush had available to him was to amend the Patriot Act to allow for this sort of data mining without a FISA approval.

Given the post-9/11 situation, Congress probably would have given him anything he wanted. But he didn't want this, apparently."


It appears now that Bush did indeed make a preliminary move in this direction but was informed by members of Congress that he should not waste his time.

I just thought that in fairness, one of you would have commented on that fact. You know, give the man a modicum of credit for at least trying to do what he needed to do in a way that his critics would find more palatable, even though he believes that the Constitution, together with the resolution passed by Congress already empowered him with the authority to do what is necessary to protect this country.

I know. I'm asking a lot.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"Trinity,
That is the most asinine and stupid argument I have ever heard.


Really? I've heard far, far worse from your side. :)

But regardless of how asinine and stupid you think it is, Anon, it's still a fact that it is within Congress' power to do it. FYI, they could also cut off funding for the Iraq War if they wanted to.

Obviously, even though the fringe element of your party would love it, Democrats will do neither, because it would be political suicide for anyone who voted that way. I was simply making the point that a lot of this brouhaha is pure politics and demagoguery.

On another JABBS blog your arguments sticking up for Bush's warrantless spying program were exposed as baseless Republican National Committee talking points.

I'm an independent thinker, Anon. I do a lot of reading from both sides of the argument, and then I decide which one makes more sense to me.

Of course, none of your own arguments sound a bit like DNC talking points. :rolleyes:

3:21 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

rob of wilmington, del. said...
"Trinity, FISA is not illegal. It was used illegally by the Bush Administration. Gonzales admits that the administration didn't follow the law, but believed that they could interpret an expanded version of the law, just as they did once before."


Rob, I understand all that. FISA, by definition, being the law, is obviously not illegal. What it may be, however, is unconstitutional, in the sense that it is an example of Congress doing what Congress does, i.e. making themselves more relevant by grabbing power that constitutionally belongs to the Executive Branch. As I said, maybe the time has come for SCOTUS to take a look at the FISA to see if it passes muster as good law.

So, cutting off FISA is not the answer. Firing Gonzales for allowing the illegal use of the program is.

In two words.....I disagree.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

In fact, here is an article by Gary Schmitt, (the director of the program on advanced strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute and former executive director of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board) which calls for just that, abolishing FISA. Here's an excerpt....

"Some critics of the president's actions have argued that he should have asked Congress to amend FISA to meet these new circumstances. Leave aside the practicalities of getting legislation of this sort passed in a timely manner, and without the underlying rationale leaking. This president (or any president worth his salt) would only accept legislation that either confirmed his discretionary authority, or reduced the standard for getting a warrant to some minimal requirement that the collection be "reasonably" connected to the country's foreign intelligence needs.

But if legislation of that type were passed, what role would the FISA court actually play? Either it really would become a rubber stamp, or it would become a surrogate executive confirming or denying a warrant based on reasoning that isn't, at bottom, judicial. Do we really want judges to play the role of second--guessers of executive branch decisions, substituting their own judgment on matters of national security for that of the president and his duly appointed subordinates?

So, then, what is to be done? Well, to start, we should have a serious debate about abolishing FISA and restoring the president's inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes. And no, this wouldn't return us to the bad old days of a snooping J. Edgar Hoover. Within the executive branch there are now reams of guidelines and teams of inspector generals that make renegade operations improbable or, at least, difficult to keep hidden very long."

4:48 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

Hi, Trin. Yup, I'm always done with threads that disappear into the archives. Too many websites, too little time, it may be arbitrary but that's where I draw my line.

Independent or not, distract, confuse, take a tangent down some winding road that never winds back tactics don't appeal to me. The law was as simple as it was flexible. The administration bypassed it out of arrogance and fear of being rejected. That simple, no matter how complicated anyone might be tempted to make it. As for the idiot son of the king, as far as I'm concerned, if you support him, it's for one of 2 reasons. Either you personally reap the benefits - ie are motivated by pure self-interest - or you're too dumb to know better than the patently obvious fraud of a leader. One or the other. Those are your choices.

In fact, the only question, tho it's probably not worth answering, is whether Bush is too stupid to deserve being despised, or if such sentiments are reserved for the true evil geniuses.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

ash said....
"As for the idiot son of the king,"


Careful there, ash, or Anonymous will surely get on your case for resorting to name calling. Right? I mean, won't he?

"...as far as I'm concerned, if you support him, it's for one of 2 reasons. Either you personally reap the benefits - ie are motivated by pure self-interest - or you're too dumb to know better than the patently obvious fraud of a leader.

Well, since I do not personally reap any benefits from supporting GWB, (other than it gives me more peace of mind than I would have had Gore or Kerry won their respective campaigns) then I'm guessing that you think I'm simply much too dumb to know any better.

Hmmm, that's unfortunate. Such an elitist attitude, and so typical of some of you libs. Not only is that view very intolerant and dismissive of the opinion of others, ash, but it's also just so damn arrogant and pompous, and I suspect, a little juvenile as well.

In fairness though, I am aware that there are others who share your ideology who are not quite as foolish or full of hubris as yourself. I know, because I've met them.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

ash said...
"Hi, Trin. Yup, I'm always done with threads that disappear into the archives. Too many websites, too little time, it may be arbitrary but that's where I draw my line."


Seriously? How convenient for you. On the "Levin" thread, you had stated that you "vehemently" disagreed with Mark Levin's stance on activist judges, and then when I repeatedly asked you specifically what it was about his opinion that you so "vehemently" disagreed with, it became immediately apparent that you hadn't the slightest clue in the universe what his views actually were. Nor did you even have a grasp of what an activist judge is really. Or if you did, your definition was poorly articulated.

Then there was that other thread where you had that knee-jerk anti-Bush reaction to the attack we made on that al Qaeda safe house in Pakistan. You were derisive of our failed attempt to take out al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, and declared that it should have been a "simple" thing to do. Of course, anyone with even half a brain would know that doing something like that is anything but simple.

In any case, if you followed the story, you would know that we did indeed come very close to killing al-Zawahiri that time, and although even a near miss is as good as a mile, Pakistani authorities tell us there were at least four al-Qaida operatives killed in that attack, including Midhat Mursi, one of Osama's top bombmakers. So all in all, a good result was attained, at least for those of us who are rooting for our side. The Pakistanis even arrested a local al Qaeda sympathizer for removing and concealing the bodies of the extremists who were killed in the strike.

http://newsfromrussia.com/world/2006/01/22/71561.html

So ash, I guess from your perspective, I can understand your reluctance to continue posting on those particular threads since you definitely, for all your self-professed intelligence, were at a distinct disadvantage in the debate, and looked rather silly. :)

12:14 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

Last things first. Yes, convenient. Also, time saving. It's not nice not to take me at my word. I ran that @#$ thing ragged checking for new comments, responding to them as I saw fit - if I'm not mistaken, that thread had a record breaking # of posts, at least since I've been trafficking here- until it disappeared off the page. That's my cutoff, an arbitrary line I draw on all of the many websites I visit. Whatever you said, I'm sure you can say it elsewhere. If, of course, that's what you're concerned about, that it went unread there, since once they're gone, I don't read them further.

Bush supporters either blind authoritarian types or hoping to cash in big? Yes, absolutely, though to what extent it's a fully conscious calculation is as individual as the number of supporters he maintains. Why do you suppose Jeb isn't President? The answer to that one says it all.

Oh, Lord. Just read your last paragraph. Children, children, children, who will protect you when we are gone?

6:08 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

Oh, yeah. A link. I'll check it out when you read the renown Vincent Bugliosi's "Outrage." And I'm not talking the OJ verdict.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me Trinity, you simply move from one argument to the next once your initial arguments have been proven factually baseless (see the recent JABBS discussion on Matthews for evidence).
You're likely one of these Republicans who cried "Constitutional Tragedy" when Clinton lied about a blow job, but now don't have a problem with Bush's clear-cut lying to the American people about his warrantless spying, (Oh, I suppose you say, lying is okay when well-intentioned) and the strong possibility he engaged in the very kinds of abuses of the Executive Branch that the Constitution was written ESPECIALLY to prevent.
I suppose you don't have a problem with the Bush Administration seeking permission to study Google search engines as well. Where would it end if allowed to go unchecked? Will it become so that we will start to fear expressing our "political" opinions on blogs such as this one?
You've clearly already brought the Bush spin that the spying was limited and only targeted known Al Quada operatives, despite all the reported evidences from NSA insiders suggesting otherwise.
There is no evidence that illegally dodging the FISA court proved more effective in finding Al Quada. Nada. None. The New York Times investigative series offers plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.
This president simply does not have a good track record for telling the truth, performing due diligence or seeking out dissenting opinions for us to trust him.
Even Gonzales himself stated in his confirmation hearings "not even the president is above the law."
We have laws in this country. If Bush did not believe he would have won support from Congress for his warrantless spying, then the idea probably just wasn't a good one in the first place.
That is a matter appropriately for our government -- our Constitutional system of checks and balances -- to decide.
AND NOT BUSH.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

ash said...
"Whatever you said, I'm sure you can say it elsewhere."


I already did, in the first paragraph of my 12:14 PM post, but it appears you have no intention of addressing the point. In fact, your posts were pretty much unresponsive to anything I said regarding the topics we were discussing.

ash said...
"Oh, yeah. A link. I'll check it out when you read the renown Vincent Bugliosi's "Outrage." "


Right. I should take a person seriously who has the ill-conceived notion that the 2000 Election was stolen by SCOTUS, when in fact, they were only trying to correct the misguided and/or partisan activism of some on the Florida Supreme Court.

Thanks to Gore refusing to accept the fact that GWB won the presidency, the Supreme Court of the State of Florida was completely undermining the election by rewriting the Florida State election laws right smack in the middle of an ongoing election in an effort to throw the election to Gore.

I might agree that the whole mess would have been better resolved by the Florida legislature, rather than the SCOTUS, but all they were trying to do was to reign in a rogue state Supreme Court.

The SCOTUS intervened in the 2000 election to put an end to the unprecedented gut-wrenching chaos that Gore and the Florida Supreme Court had created. But understand one thing. Constitutionally, there was no legitimate way that Al Gore would have come out the winner of that election. Bush had won every recount. Gore was, in fact, the one who was trying to execute a coup, and the U.S. Supreme Court simply prevented that from happening. How sad that you guys have never (1) gotten over it, and (2) even half understood it for that matter, because a lot of the anger and bitterness so many of you demonstrate dates back to that very election.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"....but now don't have a problem with Bush's clear-cut lying to the American people about his warrantless spying,..."


Where did the President lie about warrantless spying, Anon? As far as I could research, he didn't lie. The question he was asked by a reporter was...

"In 2004, when you were doing an event about the Patriot Act, in your remarks you had said that any wiretapping required a court order, and that nothing had changed. Given that we now know you had prior approval for this NSA program, were you in any way misleading?"

And the President responded...

"I was talking about roving wire taps, I believe, involved in the Patriot Act. This is different from the NSA program."

And that was where all you guys got all bent out of shape, believing that you caught Bush in a lie. If you would go back to find the speech that the reporter was referring to, you would see that what President Bush said was accurate. He was discussing the Patriot Act. Here are some of his comments, in context, from his speech in Buffalo on April 20, 2004:

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

But a roving wiretap means -- it was primarily used for drug lords. A guy, a pretty intelligence drug lord would have a phone, and in old days they could just get a tap on that phone. So guess what he'd do? He'd get him another phone, particularly with the advent of the cell phones. And so he'd start changing cell phones, which made it hard for our DEA types to listen, to run down these guys polluting our streets. And that changed, the law changed on -- roving wiretaps were available for chasing down drug lords. They weren't available for chasing down terrorists, see? And that didn't make any sense in the post-9/11 era. If we couldn't use a tool that we're using against mobsters on terrorists, something needed to happen.

The Patriot Act changed that. So with court order, law enforcement officials can now use what's called roving wiretaps, which will prevent a terrorist from switching cell phones in order to get a message out to one of his buddies."


http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040420-2.html

9:04 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anon said...
"If Bush did not believe he would have won support from Congress for his warrantless spying, then the idea probably just wasn't a good one in the first place."


Yeah. Right. Whatever.

Just want to point out once again that your party is going to have a long wait getting back to power if it doesn't embrace more serious safeguards against terrorism. The naive, cavalier mindset that prevails in those on the Left is not trusted by the majority of American people.

And Hillary can pretend all she wants, but she is as anti-military as anyone on your side. A dove in hawk's feathers, you might say. I don't think people will buy her act.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Just curious. Has anybody here ever seen the piece that "60 Minutes" did on Echelon back on February 27, 2000? You know, when President Clinton was in office? Because, really, you guys crack me up!

http://cryptome.org/echelon-60min.htm

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By your own admission, Trinity, your argument has a bigger hole than a monster truck tire.
Bush said in his initial speech, roving wiretaps come "with court order."
That is his exact words by your own attribution.
Also in proper context, Bush said in that speech "anytime you hear the U.S. government talking about a wiretap...it requires a court order."
The key word is "anytime."
Your argument and Bushie argument stand as a a poor attempt to mince words to confuse the unwary and raise a smokescreen for conservatives.
Of course the only time the mincing of words is not acceptable is when a Democrat plays with the meaning of "is" or whatever that frivolous nonsense was over Monica.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just want to point out once again that your party is going to have a long wait getting back to power if it doesn't embrace more serious safeguards against terrorism. The naive, cavalier mindset that prevails in those on the Left is not trusted by the majority of American people."

If media reports are correct, no less than 10 Republicans are also questioning Bush's use of warrantless spying.
The "naive, cavalier" mindset can be extended to your own party, Trinity.
It is a Republican talking point to try to frame this debate into a Democratic verses Republican issue.
The truth just ain't buying it.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to be clear. I meant above 10 Republicans in congress are questioning the use of warrantless spying.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

Anyone who seriously believes Bush "won" in 2000 (or is lying to defend the indefensible) has been responded to by me for the very last time. Bait or no bait. It's the point of departure from which there is no return.

Period. All the time in the world is not enough time for that atrocity.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sympathize with your frustration, Ash.
I was reading the New York Joke, I mean Post, this morning and there were letters to the editors from conservatives bringing up Gore's "loss" in 2000 to diminish his credibility in calling for an independent investigation of Bush warrantless spying.
And Trinity is both factually and historically wrong in stating "every poll" recount shows Gore would have lost.
It's like trying argue a position that 2+2=4 against a conservative who insists 2+2=5.
Arrggghhh.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anon said...
"And Trinity is both factually and historically wrong in stating "every poll" recount shows Gore would have lost."


No I'm not wrong, Anon. You had newspapers going down to Florida doing the recounts. Gore was never ahead in any of them.

Of course, that is why they wanted to keep them going, and in only the heavily Democratic precincts, because they were result-oriented, and weren't going to stop until they birthed every pregnant chad they could find, or create and count it as a "vote" for Gore.

It was sheer chaos, Anon, and could not be permitted to go on. The greatest, most powerful nation in the world, and the entire world was watching video of all these bespectacled and monocled bureaucrats holding up ballots to see if they could discern any light coming through.

Come on, admit it, Anon. It was a circus, and a disgrace. It was "sore-loser" syndrome, plain and simple. I was embarrassed for Gore and for all Democrats who went along with what they were trying to do.

As for ash not wanting to respond to me any longer, that's her choice, and it's no great loss. I can't say that I found her very responsive anyway. All she did was dodge my direct questions.

Anon said...
"Also in proper context, Bush said in that speech "anytime you hear the U.S. government talking about a wiretap...it requires a court order." "


Anon, the media has been entirely inaccurate in the way they've characterized this issue. First, they call this domestic spying. It is not domestic spying, it's international surveillance. Probable cause doesn't even enter into the equation.

Secondly, you keep saying wiretaps. As Meese said in the "Hardball" interview that nobody read, these are NOT wiretaps. Nobody is tapping anyone's phone. If and when they do that, they do get a warrant.

What this is, is surveillance. They are intercepting communications from cell phones and e-mails, that either originate outside the U.S., or are being sent outside the U.S. It's different. I don't know how else to explain this.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slate in its Nov. 13, 2001 issue summarized the various findings:

"And inflate them all the newspapers did, at least in their Page One headlines and ledes yesterday, assertively giving the election to George W. Bush under the most restrictive recount standards but to Al Gore under the less rigorous ones. All, that is, except for the Tribune Co., whose flagship newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, undersold the whole project with its wishy-washy headline, "Still Too Close To Call," and wishy-washier still subhead, "Conclusion Not Clear Even If Recount Allowed."

Slate was being objective. Many stories in CNN and elsewhere played up the Bush winning angle.
And again, you are merely mincing words in an attempt to support your fact-challenged angle on Bush's outright
lie to the American people about warrantless spying.
You're applying a technique I was taught to abandon while on my elementary school debate team, something to do with "explaining away."
What the hell difference does it make where the emails are being originated or sent? I myself send personal and work related emails outside the country each day?
And for what reason should anyone believe the Bush spin anyway based on all the evidences available and Bush's demonstrably weak legal arguments I won't get into here but all thoroughly discussed on JABBS that all the spied on emails truely were sent outside the U.S.?
It's not a matter of security verses personal privacy. It's a matter of LEGAL VERSES ILLEGAL.
Got it?

8:29 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"I myself send personal and work related emails outside the country each day?"


So what? As long as you are not sending them to al Qaeda or their affiliates, nobody really cares.

It's not a matter of security verses personal privacy. It's a matter of LEGAL VERSES ILLEGAL.

Well, in fact, to many it IS a matter of security vs. privacy, and to them I say that if you're killed in the next terrorist attack on this country, you should know that your civil rights will be terminated right along with you.

As far as legal vs. illegal goes, Article II, Section II of the Constitution makes the President, and only the President, Commander-in-Chief, and he can use that power to do whatever he needs to do to insure the nation's safety during wartime.

If Congress is as eager as McCain and others say they are to "give" him their approval by amending the FISA to include all of the new communication technology, then let them go and do it. It's not necessary, but if they're feeling neglected or unimportant or something, then let them pass some more laws.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

And I wonder how many of you have ever even bothered to take a look at what the FISA actually requires.

Take a gander at this section of the law that deals with that oft-mentioned 72 provision, and then tell me if you think that it's even an option.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012770.php

1:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As far as legal vs. illegal goes, Article II, Section II of the Constitution makes the President, and only the President, Commander-in-Chief, and he can use that power to do whatever he needs to do to insure the nation's safety during wartime."

I'm sure Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini EVEN SADAAM used a similar defense.

I don't see a need to revisit my junior high school lessons and teach you the reasons behind the constitution working to prevent leaders who have historically wreaked havoc upon inserting THEIR OWN definition of what constitutes keeping the people safe and THEIR OWN definition what justifies war and against whom.
It is useless arguing with an idiot who openly admits he would favor a dictatorship over a Democracy.
Dictators love people like yourself whom they can easily keep in line through fear.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"I'm sure Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini EVEN SADAAM used a similar defense."


Yes, I know you believe that GWB is evil personified, as is obvious from your typical Leftist rhetoric. That is truly a disgraceful, unwarranted analogy you made there, although I guess I shouldn't expect you to be above such partisan hyperbole.

You know what you and some others here have in common, Anon? Besides being pretty much ignorant of our Constitution, I mean? You are very juvenile in your need to constantly put down the intelligence and viewpoints of those who do not agree with you.

You are not accepting of the idea that intelligent and informed people can often times come to different conclusions, and you think that by trying to insult me by calling me an idiot, you somehow come out looking bright or something. Trust me, you do not.

You really should get out of your little comfort zone once in a while and see what more conservative Americans think about issues, and the reasoning behind their views, because their views more often than not are based on truth and common sense, and not on the knee-jerk emotion and groupthink that I've witnessed here.

I think that when this all gets sorted out in the courts, or wherever it will be resolved, you will find that your histrionics were unnecessary and misguided. President Bush is not the enemy. There is a real enemy out there, and as I've often said, your side's unwillingness or inability to take it seriously and support Bush's proactive efforts to protect us, will only prolong your party's minority status.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Prolong our party's minority status" you say.
Every major recent poll shows the public by a comfortable margin would support Democrats in control of Congress over Republicans. If you can come up with a recent poll showing something else, be my guest.
Two recent polls showed the majority of Americans believed Bush should get a warrant for spying.
Most recent major polls show the majority of Americans rejecting Bush policies on Iraq, the economy, unwarranted spying, social security, etc. and the man himself as president, i.e. approval rating hovering about 40 percent.
Support on his one strong suit, national security, has also been fading. Terrorism has been Bush's only friend and it is truely terrifying that the only time his approval perks up is when Osama Bin Laden, whose family unquestionably does or has done business with the Bush family in the past, rears his ugly head.
Despite all this information, conservatives still bask in the baseless ascertion that somehow Democrats are "desparate" and struggling.
Follow realclearpolitics.com for enough proof of this.
You may trust Bush in all your ignorance and denial of the harm his administration has caused this country and his threats to individual liberty and the constitution. It is a weak argument Bush is such a good man the U.S. should blindly trust everything he does as the right thing to do.
Even if it were true, and it's not, who's to say Bush wouldn't set a precedent for the next president who might actually be "evil personified."

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Bush wants to "be proactive" in saving us from terrorists, then he shouldn't be advocating policies increasing the risk of U.S. and global terrorism which include:
1. showing a mysterious incompetence to capture Osama Bin Laden more than four years after 9-11. I saw a top U.S. Military colonel on Charlie Rose last night, his name escapes me at the moment, conveniently evade the question of whether Iraq has taken the focus off of Al Quada.
2. Waging a war on and occupation of Iraq that has created an insurgency killing U.S. soldiers and a training ground for Al Quada.
3. Continuing to provide financial and diplomatic support to Saudi Arabia, whose citizens constituted most of the 9-11 hijackers and a country human rights groups characterize as one of the largest global sponsors of terrorism. See a recent JABBS posting.
4. Arresting people without due process and sending them to foreign, secret gestapo-like prisons to be tortured.
Further, he should not be engaged in illegal spying on hundreds of innocent U.S. citizens daily in the quest to capture Al Quada operatives in investigations that have turned up absolutely nothing, according to NSA insiders, behind Americans' and Congress' back and then lying to the American public to cover up his activities.
There's nothing in this president's record warranting anyone to turn over his or her complete faith in him to competently conduct a global "war on terror" in violation of constitutional protections.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My analogy of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Saddaam was entirely appropriate to the extent that all four leaders believed they were acting in the overall best interests of their citizens and their country, and all three believed they were acting within their powers under law.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous, surely someone as super smart as yourself must know that polls can give you whatever result you would like them to, depending upon how you ask the questions.

If you ask people "would they have a problem with President Bush intercepting phone calls and e-mails (even without a warrant) from an overseas al Qaeda member or affiliate to another party in the U.S., or from a person in the U.S. to an al Qaeda type overseas", most Americans would undoubtedly say it's fine with them.

On the other hand, if you deliberately mislead them by asking them "if President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment?", then the majority of them would certainly agree that it was wrong.

Needless to say, the latter was the slanted wording used in the latest Zogby poll which had these results:

52% agreed
43% disagreed
6% didn't know

Interesting to note that even with the dishonest way Zogby worded the poll, the results were not exactly overwhelmingly against President Bush. Imagine if the question were worded correctly. ;-)

5:17 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

BTW, Anon, did you ever even take a minute to check out that URL I provided, to get an idea of how extremely difficult, if not impossible it would be to obtain a warrant for these intercepts of international communications? It doesn't take any time at all to take a look.

I feel like I'm posting in a vacuum without feedback. Just bombast without substance. One attack after another. Enough with the left-wing talking points. I can get them anywhere. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the issue.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012770.php

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're analysis, my friend, is wrong.
Zogby more honestly phrased the question than did the earlier poll you reference and therefore obtained the more honest result.
You say "If you ask people "would they have a problem with President Bush intercepting phone calls and e-mails (even without a warrant) from an overseas al Qaeda member or affiliate to another party in the U.S., or from a person in the U.S. to an al Qaeda type overseas", most Americans would undoubtedly say it's fine with them."
You're right an earlier poll did find I believe it was something like 76% of Americans agreeing with the question. HOWEVER, THE PART YOU HAVE IN PARENTHESIS (EVEN WITHOUT A WARRANT) was not in the survey. The question read something like: Do you think Bush should intercept overseas communications between Al Quada members?
Of course, who would say no that that question. If the question had included, something to the effect without a warrant or without limitations, it would have gotten a different result. No one wants to prevent Bush from spying on Al Quada, but MOST people believe he should do it via the constitutional safeguards to protect innocent people who may get caught up in the activity, or safeguard against Bush utilizing the spying for other purposes.
It all goes back to my initial argument that we have reason believe the president has been overstepping his bounds with his illegal spying.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave it to a Conservative to describe the universally accepted spirit, motivation and logic behind the Constitution and Bill of Rights as "left wing talking points" and "without substance."
What garbage.
What bullshit.
That does it. I'm through here.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked out your link.
If this Republican interpretation of the FISA law demonstrates the FISA law is too lumbersome to be practical in fighting terror, then Bush should work with Congress and the American people to change it in short order.
This presents two problems:
A. Bush is the most divisive and dividing president in history. The promise of a "uniter not a divider" just another proven falsehood.
B. He knows he could not get approval regardless because he is spying inappropriately, either beyond any reasonable bounds or for purposes not related to Al Quada.
Consider this piece from columnist Bob Herbert in the New York Times yesterday making claims so obvious they could hardly be construed as liberal.
"The ostensible aim of the president's domestic surveillance program, conducted by the supersecret National Security Agency, is to home in on communications into and out of the United States that involve individuals or organizations suspected of some sort of terror connection.
The Times reported last week, F.B.I. officials have repeatedly complained that the N.S.A. has bombarded them with thousands upon thousands of unsubstantiated tips - names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and so forth - that have either led nowhere, or to completely innocent individuals.
Whatever its stated goals, the N.S.A. seems to be operating the greatest fishing expedition in the history of the world."
The piece went on to discuss a true-life story of college professor who was terrified because he was receiving emails from an unidentified source who praised Al Quada.
He wondered whether he would become a subject of interrogation or arrest, or at the very least have his personal affairs spied upon by the government, merely because he was the unknowing recipient of these emails.
Let's pretend Trinity for a second that you were a news researcher or a member of Congress in innocent communications with Middle Eastern figures for educational purposes.
ALL BUSH'S SPYING PROGRAM CAN ACCOMPLISH IS TO STIFLE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"You're analysis, my friend, is wrong.
Zogby more honestly phrased the question than did the earlier poll you reference and therefore obtained the more honest result."


Anonymous, it is you who is mistaken here. First of all, you didn't really provide me with specific polls, so I had to go find that Zogby poll that would, more or less, support your claim that Americans did not support this surveillance.

Then, although I was aware that I had heard some other poll cited that differed from the Zogby poll, I could not find it at the time I posted, so that first question was comprised of my own words, as I thought the question should be asked.

In any case, I have since come across the actual poll that I was searching for, and again, I have to point out that you are mistaken about the way you characterized the way they framed the question. Here it is....

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,003 adults found that 50 percent of those polled believe it's OK to forgo warrants when ordering electronic surveillance of people suspected of having ties to terrorists abroad.

Another 46 percent said the policy is wrong, and 4 percent said they had no opinion. (View some of the poll results)

The poll, conducted Friday through Sunday, has a sampling error of 3 percentage points.


http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/01/10/poll.wiretaps/index.html

As you can see, the persons responding to this poll clearly were made aware that the question referred to "warrantless" surveillance.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"Leave it to a Conservative to describe the universally accepted spirit, motivation and logic behind the Constitution and Bill of Rights as "left wing talking points" and "without substance." "


Anon, please stop with the personal attacks and the self-righteousness and melodrama.
Nobody is more concerned with the preservation of our Constitution than I, and my fellow-conservatives, are. That's precisely why we want originalist justices confirmed to our courts, to protect the Constitution.

Can't we just have a debate based upon facts, rather than on baseless, vague and misguided claims that the President is engaging in illegal spying on American citizens? Just lay out exactly what part of the Constitution you believe the President is violating, because the FISA judges themselves have said that they do not have the authority to prevent the President from exercising his powers as Commander-in-chief.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"I checked out your link.
If this Republican interpretation of the FISA law...."


(BUZZER SOUND) Nice try, Anon, but that is NOT the Republican interpretation of the FISA law. It was the actual text of provision 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1805(f) of the FISA law.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was not mistaken.
As you yourself pointed out there was a Zogby poll that worded the question the way I stated and found 52% of Americans found the spying wrong.
So you found another poll. In your initial argument as I also earlier stated you referred to that oft cited by conservatives poll that asked the question if they thought it was okay for Bush to spy on Al Quada -- without throwing into the question without a warrant.
And what I meant by Republican interpretation, is that it was a Republican interpretation that the FISA requirements outlined in the law we both cited were lumbersome.
You nitpick at my minor arguments, distort or ignore, mostly ignore, my best supported arguments.
Let's face it. MOST biparison groups AND 11 Republicans in Congress have a problem with Bush's warrantless spying. It is only dyed in the wool conservatives/Republicans and the Bush Administration, which lacks credibility, that find it okay.
She JABBS latest posting above for a nice summary of the Bush/McClellan lies, distortions and ever-changing justifications for the spying program.
The fact that Bush and people like yourself conveniently shift to new arguments when your initial arguments are shown to be baseless itself suggests the lack of justification, legal or otherwise, for the ILLEGAL spying.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anon, it would be helpful if, when referring to a poll, that you at least give a source for it, because otherwise, things tend to become confusing.

For instance, I had to find both the source for YOUR poll, as well as the one I wanted to cite, and I'm not following what you are saying about polls which do not specify the question of whether or not "warrents" are mentioned. Please give me a source for polls which have left out that very important detail.

And speaking of polls, there is a NYT/CBS News poll that I just heard about today that might interest you.

"New Poll Finds Mixed Support for Wiretaps"

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/politics/27poll.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5094&en=b93f38e07b4d88d0&hp&ex=1138424400&partner=homepage

Here are a couple of excerpts from the article....

"Americans are willing to tolerate eavesdropping without warrants to fight terrorism, but are concerned that the aggressive antiterrorism programs championed by the Bush administration are encroaching on civil liberties, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."

"Fifty-three percent of the respondents said they supported eavesdropping without warrants "in order to reduce the threat of terrorism." "


Also, I'm sorry if you feel that I am nitpicking your posts. I try to address the substance (or lack thereof) of your arguments, but most of the things you say are simply baseless attacks that are being made by other libs such as yourself, and are not really valid criticisms based on real facts.

For instance, you keep insisting on using words like "illegal", when you have no clue as to whether it even applies. You simply repeat the mantra of the far-left wing of your party leadership, which you willingly and blindly accept as gospel.

Actually, I do not put someone like yourself in the same category as the leadership of your party, because they, in all probability, do know that there is nothing illegal about the intercept program with which the Bush Administration is targeting terrorists. They are deliberately distorting the facts in order to hurt Bush and to rile up their base, i.e., you guys.

Libs like you and others who post here, on the other hand, actually BELIEVE the crap that they are telling you, and are therefore going around with righteous anger and indignation directed at any and everything that this president does. So I don't accuse or blame you for duplicity. Your leaders, yes. You, no. I just don't think you are well enough informed to understand that you are being used and/or duped.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"You nitpick at my minor arguments, distort or ignore, mostly ignore, my best supported arguments."


WOW! How Bizarro Worldish! I could have written that myself, about you! It's exactly what you do.

You refer to all of the knowledge you acquired of the Constitution during your "junior high school lessons", yet you are seemingly unable to cite for me exactly what part of the Constitution you think the President is violating. I'm still waiting for you to address that, but you have ignored the question.

I challenge you, Anon, right here and now, to present a cogent and convincing argument as to why you believe that President Bush is overstepping his Constitutional authority. And while making this argument, I would love for you to use references to show that you have even half an inkling as to how "separation of powers" is supposed to work in this, our representative republic.

Care to respond? Yes or no? I'm rather tired of the baseless attacks. You seem to really believe that President Bush is out of control, so make your case, based on the U.S. Constitution, which you so thoroughly studied back in your JRHS days.

Kindly explain to me where it states that the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief, needs to go to Congress or the courts to ask their permission to take action necessary to protect this nation during war.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trinity, I want you to listen to my post very very carefully because you just demonstrated you do not even understand the argument you are trying to defend.
Shocking. I almost fell over read your above post.
It is a scary, shocking thought indeed that some conservatives do not even recognize the constitutional issues in jeopardy here.
The president is specifically violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which the courts have repeatedly interpreted to include spying on American citizens which MUST be accompanied by a warrant supported by probable cause.
The Fourth Amendment reads:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
There is another part of the constitution that reads "Congress has authority over the president in all matters, including (his or her) role as Commander in Chief" as part of checks and balances between the executive branch and congress. This encompasses even issues of war and security or, for example, Bush would not have needed to win congressional approval to attack Afghanistan and Iraq.
THE PRESIDENT HAS HIMSELF CITED THE POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION IN THE SPYING ISSUE.
We both had cited in our past posts Bush's 2004 affirmation that he would not conduct warrantless spying because it would violate people's "constitutional rights" (under the Fourth Amendment).
And The Bush Administration refused a proposed law by Senator Ben DeWine in 2002 to expand the presidential power to include warrantless spying saying specifically that such a law would be "unconstitutional."
(I think JABBS has already covered the naked hypocrisy of the past Bush positions here as well as other weak defenses Here is some background for you .http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/this-is-huge-in-2002-bush.html)
Okay, you demanded the poll leaving warrantless spying out of the question where the majority of the citizens, 62 percent to be exact, said they would approve spying on Al Quada. It was a poll conducted by Rasmussen in the first week of January.
Look it up for yourself.
Do your homework on the constitutional info I've addressed as well if you like.
I refuse to go back and forth nitpicking at the polls, including three more released within these last two days. I think we can agree no matter how you read them about half the country opposes warrantless spying, and in most of the polls it's either a slight majority or a just under half, depending on the way the question is worded.
So that leaves the conservative spin that Bush has authority under the constitution to conduct warrantless spying during wartime is hotly debated and completely unproven.
JABBS and other blog, media and congressional sources have repeatedly pointed out the weaknesses and hypocrisy of the administration in forwarding the argument.
And such sources have also repeatedly as far as I'm concerned completely debunked the Bushie claim that other Administrations had conducted warrantless spying.
However, an interpretation of the president's executive branch powers during wartime appears to be the only wiggle room for a defense of the warrantless spying.
You are just evading the issues or just plain ignorant to try to pretend the predominant checks and balances and Fourth Amendment constitutional issues are entirely irrelevant here.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, did I forget. On top of a rape of U.S. citizens' rights under the 14th Amendment of the constitution, and treading upon additional constitutional rights under the right to privacy and freedom of speech without interference from the government, the warrantless spying program is a violation of the National Security Act of 1947 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

11:13 AM  

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