Friday, January 13, 2006

Should Bush Have Allowed Warrantless Domestic Surveillance? "Maybe That's Part Of The Job," Says Matthews

During the Jan. 12 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews seemed not to understand why President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program is illegal.

Matthews was speaking with Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency employee who has stated he is one of the sources for the Dec. 16 New York Times article that revealed the program.

Perhaps Matthews' questions were meant to be thought-provoking, but it seems -- on multiple occasions -- that he is actually trying to justify the illegal program.

Here are key parts of the interview:

MATTHEWS: What‘s wrong with the United States spooking, spying, tapping al Qaeda contacts, people on the telephone with al Qaeda around the world?

TICE: Nothing is wrong with that and the mechanism to do that is the FISA court. You know, once you have an associated number and you can pin it with a name or a number here in the states, it‘s easy to find out the name and address and pretty much all the billing information.

MATTHEWS: Why is it wrong to do global data mining and say anybody who is talking to somebody in the Emirates, for example, or anybody in Saudi is on the phone talking about physical targets in New York, like the Holland Tunnel or the Lincoln Tunnel, words like that jump off the electronic wires. What‘s wrong with trying to figure out what those people are talking about?

TICE: If it‘s being conducted over overseas, there‘s nothing wrong with that. That‘s perfectly normal.

MATTHEWS: ... Do you have any evidence that we‘re spying on regular, you know, just regular political Americans, who may have views on all kinds of things? Or are we limiting it to people who are actually engaged in conversations or e-mailing with people in highly-suspicious situations in the Mideast?

TICE: I can‘t say one way or the other and I can‘t go into the details of how NSA does their business, it would be classified. But the question arises, why would you do this beyond the FISA Court?

After this line of questioning, Matthews offers how, as president, he would rationalize the illegal program.

MATTHEWS: ... We‘re under attack on 9/11. A couple of days after that, if I were president of the United States and somebody said we had the ability to check on all the conversations going on between here and Hamburg, Germany, where all the al Qaeda people are or somewhere in Saudi, where they came from and their parents are, and we could mine some of that information by just looking for some key words like World Trade Center or Pentagon, I‘d do it.

TICE: Well, you‘d be breaking the law.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, maybe that‘s part of the job.

After this startling revelation, Matthews repeats the administration spin that Bush did nothing wrong, and that the real problem lies with people like Tice, who exposed the surveillance program. Tice, thankfully, doesn't mince words in his response:

MATTHEWS: ... The president of the United States did not want the American people to know what he was doing. And he‘s saying that those people exposed what he was doing are shameful.

TICE: It‘s shameful for people to report a crime? Ultimately that‘s what happened. A crime was committed, it was reported. You know, you can put a blanket security clearance on anything or call it super top-secret, but nonetheless, a crime is a crime and that‘s what was reported here.

32 Comments:

Anonymous trinity said...

David R. Mark said...
"During the Jan. 12 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews seemed not to understand why President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program is illegal."


Now come on, David. We do not know that what Bush did, and continues to do, btw, is illegal at all. In fact, there are many very informed and knowledgeable individuals who thoroughly reject any allegation of illegality.

Perhaps Matthews' questions were meant to be thought-provoking, but it seems -- on multiple occasions -- that he is actually trying to justify the illegal program.

Again with that word. What Matthews was doing, David, and I don't agree with Matthews all that often, but what he was being here, was truthful. He does not know that anything illegal was done, and he's looking at the situation realistically, asking himself what he would do, if he were in the President's position.

Instinctively, he knows that he would do all in his power to prevent another 9-11 from occurring. He may be a lib, but he's one with common sense, which it seems is not all that common really, in people on the political left.

And before anyone responds with the "King George" nonsense, I'm warning you, I get apoplectic when I hear that, and it won't be pretty! ;)

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The law says you need a warrant. Bush chose not to get a warrant. Case closed.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"The law says you need a warrant. Bush chose not to get a warrant. Case closed."


Anon, I think if it were as clear cut as that, there would be less debate going on. Obviously there are constitutional scholars on both sides of the argument, so it is far from being "case closed". Opinions vary greatly.

Do you think that other wartime presidents had to get a warrant before they surveilled every wire communication that came from the enemy? They didn't.

Those who are against everything this president has ever done or tried to do are looking pretty silly when they push to confer all the rights of a U.S. citizen upon dangerous enemies who would cut our throats, or that of our children and grandkids', in a heartbeat.

Seriously, I really have to wonder where your brains are at that you cannot see this.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

You know, Anon, after 9-11 occurred, everyone was going around asking how on earth our intelligence agencies didn't connect the dots. Well, for several reasons, including the infamous wall that Jamie Gorelick erected between our agencies, vital information that could have prevented 9-11, didn't get shared.

Check out this profile on Atta, which includes the complete time-line up to and including the morning of 9-11. It's a pretty incredible collection of facts.

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/entity.jsp?id=1521846767-2295

My only point is that now that we have a clear understanding of exactly what type of enemy we are dealing with, it would be irresponsible and even suicidal as a nation, not to take every precaution we possibly can to flush out these terrorists BEFORE they can hit us again.

I think if you poll the American people in a fair and honest way, i.e., no biased push polls, the vast majority of them will overwhelmingly support surveilling phone calls etc. from al Qaeda types.

As the president said, you get a call from OBL, we want to know about it. And you know what, Anon? You get a call from OBL, or anyone connected to al Qaeda types, and I want to know about it.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would argue that there are two groups of constitutional scholars -- one group that read the law and accepts it as is, and one group that is interpreting the law and suggesting that an exception should be made because of 9/11.

Furthermore, Trinity, how does it make you feel to know your president lied on at least three occasions last year? (See the Gonzales article on JABBS, immediately below this one.)

He didn't have to bring up the need for a warrant, or the FISA court, on the campaign trail. But he did. This is not a case of misleading by omission. It's a case of the president of the United States saying the law says one thing, and then doing the exact opposite. Even conservatives should be ashamed -- if you have to resort to lying, how strong is your policy?

Frankly, I'm surprised the MSM -- which I'm sure you think is quite liberal -- isn't running daily stories analyzing whether Bush can escape this fracas without being impeached. Certainly, this is a far greater crime, and far more important to the nation, than anything Clinton said about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"I would argue that there are two groups of constitutional scholars -- one group that read the law and accepts it as is, and one group that is interpreting the law and suggesting that an exception should be made because of9/11."


I hear what you're saying, Anon, but I still believe that this is not as unambiguous as you are making it out to be. To me, it appears that there are good arguments to make that what President Bush has done is entirely Constitutional, and he has taken a number of steps along the way to review and even scrutinize this authority on a regular basis, to ensure there were no abuses.

Anon said...
"Furthermore, Trinity, how does it make you feel to know your president lied on at least three occasions last year?"


Okay, I've read the Gonzales article, and as one of your fellow posters has already pointed out, conservatives like myself are not the sharpest tools in the shed, so please spell it out for me exactly how you think this president lied about the warrants. If he has stated that, where there was a need for warrants, he got them, and where he believed they were not needed, he didn't, how is that a lie?

I understood that if, for example, a phone call was made in Afghanistan by someone we were monitoring with al Qaeda connections, to say, someone in Brooklyn, NY, no warrant was needed. Are you saying that is incorrect?

As far as impeachment is concerned, I'd be more in support of impeaching this president if he were negligent and NOT doing enough to prevent us from being attacked.

Still, no way would I condone this or any president lying to us, nor abusing our laws. I think President Bush has done his best to both protect us, AND abide by our Constitution. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Washington Post that you may not have seen...

"The Department of Justice believes -- and the case law supports -- that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the president may, as he has done, delegate this authority to the attorney general,"
Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick said in 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
"That same authority, she added, pertains to electronic surveillance such as wiretaps."


And from that same article, (I've been searching for this quote for an hour)....

"In a 2002 opinion about the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA Patriot Act, the court wrote: "We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power." "

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20051222-122610-7772r.htm

Anyhow, as I've said more than once already, this whole thing is a lot more nebulous than some would have us believe. Furthermore, if there is anyone I'd like to see impeached, it would be those FISC judges who thought nothing of leaking information on the most classified of materials while we are fighting this war on terror. I do not hear enough coverage of that aspect of this case, but I hope all of this will come out in the hearings.

http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy200601051559.asp

6:55 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

Actually, it is clear cut, as explained by Mr. Tice. The fact that there is a debate is not indicative of this being complicated or ambiguous. Rather, it reflects an administration which consistently and defiantly refuses to concede to any mistakes, including - particularly - lawbreaking as obvious as this instance, and proceeds to create a debate by resorting to such tactics as making the whistleblower the bad guy, or attemting to.

As for Bush, the mere figurehead, does it come as a revelation to anyone that if he had been the 2nd son as opposed to the first, we'd be referring to President Jeb Bush? That reeks of a kingdom and I am deterred in no way by threats of a meltdown upon calling George what he is - a king in his own mind.

And as for Matthews, thank you David for reinforcing my decision to fire him from my TV screen on 11 28 05, the date of the program on which he declared that everyone short of a few crazies on the left liked our "President."

7:53 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

As further evidence of just how desperate the administration has become to paint Iraq - and thus itself - in rosy colors, it seems that Mr. #2 was not even at the location where he was allegedly killed. This kind of misleading information is what makes complicated what should be simple. Hence (as Will would say) the debate.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

ash said...
"Actually, it is clear cut, as explained by Mr. Tice.


If you want to know the truth, Mr. Tice comes away from this interview sounding rather lame, imo. Did you read the entire transcript, ash?

Tice as much as acknowledges that, although it would be a desirable thing have the ability to prevent an attack by picking up on keywords in phone conversations, he admits that it would be virtually impossible for the President to obtain a warrant for such surveillance because it's too vague and unspecific to "warrant" a warrant. (where's that little roll eyes icon when you need it?)

In effect, Tice creates a nice little catch 22 for this administration, which is really nothing new for Bush's critics. They engage in this sophistry all the time. He's damned if he does, and he's damned if he doesn't, and the Left likes it that way.

Here's the exchange to which I'm referring:

MATTHEWS: So people have a mixed view of this. They don‘t like it if it‘s about regular Americans, but if you say it‘s about al Qaeda contacts, they‘ll say, of course. What‘s wrong with the United States spooking, spying, tapping al Qaeda contacts, people on the telephone with al Qaeda around the world?

TICE: Nothing is wrong with that and the mechanism to do that is the FISA Court. You know, once you have an associated number and you can pin it with a name or a number here in the states, it‘s easy to find out the name and address and pretty much all the billing information.

MATTHEWS: Why is it wrong to do global data mining and say anybody who is talking to somebody in the Emirates, for example, or anybody in Saudi is on the phone talking about physical targets in New York, like the Holland Tunnel or the Lincoln Tunnel, words like that jump off the electronic wires. What‘s wrong with trying to figure out what those people are talking about?

TICE: If it‘s being conducted over overseas, there‘s nothing wrong with that. That‘s perfectly normal.

MATTHEWS: But what‘s wrong with somebody—if somebody‘s on the phone from Newark and they‘re calling from some cab stand and they‘re talking to somebody over in Saudi and all of the sudden you hear they‘re talking about different geographic targets, shouldn‘t we know that?

TICE: Well absolutely. If you—from the one end of that conversation, being the Emirates end of that conversation, you‘ll be able to make a link to a number in the United States. If they‘re mentioning things like bombs and blowing up bridges or whatever, certainly that should be...

MATTHEWS: ... So what‘s your complaint then?

TICE: Well the complaint is ultimately that American citizens are being spied on without the...

MATTHEWS: ... But they‘re not just citizens. Aren‘t they—haven‘t

look, you know this, I don‘t. Haven‘t they limited the eavesdropping program to people with contacts that are dangerous to us?

TICE: That‘s what we‘ve been told. Is that the truth?

MATTHEWS: Well, do you know something—well is it?

TICE: Well, you have to ask the question, why was the FISA Court...

MATTHEWS: ... I‘m asking you, you‘re our guest here. You‘re from NSA, you‘ve been there. Do you have any evidence that we‘re spying on regular, you know, just regular political Americans, who may have views on all kinds of things? Or are we limiting it to people who are actually engaged in conversations or e-mailing with people in highly-suspicious situations in the Mideast?

TICE: I can‘t say one way or the other and I can‘t go into the details of how NSA does their business, it would be classified. But the question arises, why would you do this beyond the FISA Court?

MATTHEWS: Because apparently when you want to do this mining, by going by topic rather than by who‘s on the phone, you would never get a court order.

TICE: That‘s true.

MATTHEWS: Well then how can you do it?

TICE: Well, I—all the Middle East—a large broad-brush approach could be used where you—you know, if you have a haystack of information, you suck it all in to try to find the needle.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Sorry for the length of that post, folks, but seriously, please take the time to read it all, if you haven't yet, and then tell me with a straight face that it's not a load of horse manure. I just re-read that exchange, and I burst out laughing. How can any of you take this man seriously after that?

ash said...
"And as for Matthews, thank you David for reinforcing my decision to fire him from my TV screen..."


And why is that, ash? Sounds as though you are having a little problem with cognitive dissonance when you make statements like that, in view of what Tice said there.

Now I have this picture of "ash" in my head, red-faced, fingers in both ears, stamping her feet and screaming at the time of her lungs, "I won't listen! You can't make me listen!"

The truth is out there, ash. Don't be afraid to examine it. :)

1:43 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

ash said...
"This kind of misleading information is what makes complicated what should be simple."


What should be simple, you say? I find that statement quite stunning, and it only convinces me of what I think I already knew. And that is that some, not all, on your side of this debate have absolutely no clue of how incredibly difficult and hazardous it must be to track down these terrorists in the immensely vast and remote mountain regions of countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Talk about a simplistic mindset. I really can't even muster the energy to debate a point like this when you seem to lack even the most basic understanding of what it is we are dealing with.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit I have not yet taken the time to more closely study the debate on this page between Trinity and the others. Just a few comments in the interim:
Trinity why don't you address allegations that the FISA spying program was more than the "limited" program described by Bush? FISA is alleged to have been spying on some 500 Americans per day. The spying also appears to have extended beyond alleged communications between Al Quada members.
I am troubled by almost daily reports stating that the spying included groups opposed to the Iraq War, including members of the Quakers church.
Hearings are definitely warranted to learn of the extent of the program. Based on the evidences, we cannot yet trust Bush's ascertions of the extremely limited scope of the warrantless spying.
If all the spying was on the up and up, then why didn't he simply follow the rules and obtain the retroactive warrants?
II. The claim that Carter and Clinton had engaged in similar warrantless spying has been officially debunked.
III. Bush had earlier made it clear that he would not conduct warrantless spying. He advised us of the Constitution, the laws and the courts to protect the people against such an infringement on our rights.
The fact he was later caught red-handed in warrantless spying indicates that HE LIED. End of story.
Can you imagine if a Democratic president had been caught in such a flip-flop?
IV. You say, Trinity, Bush is doing everything to prevent the U.S. from another attack.
Does that include the incident at Tora Bora? Does that include taking the focus away from Al Quada to Iraq? Does that include authoritative sources in the Bush Administration acknowledging Bush's screw-up of the the ouster of Saddam in Iraq and as a result actually creating the insurgency (read http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-1985737,00.html) in addition to creating a new birthing ground for international terrorism? Evidence shows the terrorism attacks in Italy and Britain came as retaliation of the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, and most every international terrorism expert in buried newsreports has stated the Iraq escapade has increased the U.S. and global risk of terrorism, not decreased the threat.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"Trinity why don't you address allegations that the FISA spying program was more than the "limited" program described by Bush?"


Anon, the more I read on this, the more involved it gets. From what I can see, when there is a specific, known target that needs to be monitored, the Bush Administration obtained a warrant from FISC. But when it's a broader type of surveillence, the type of data-mining that the NSA program uses, it's impossible to obtain those warrants. Check my 1:27 pm post where Tice admits that getting a court order for these intercepts would be impossible, so why then does everybody keep insisting that he should have gotten one?

In other words, before FISA will issue a warrant, they demand that a target be named, and a reason given for spying on it. What we're talking about is a different type of technology, one that's designed to intercept selected conversations in real time from among an enormous number relayed at any moment through satellites. I believe it's more like the Carnivore and Echelon programs that search for key words, such as attack, bomb, Brooklyn Bridge, jihad, Osama bin Laden, etc.

From what I understand, since 1979, the FISA court approved at least 18,740 applications for electronic surveillance or physical searches from five different presidential administrations, and only modified two search warrants during all those years.

Since 2001, however, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for court-ordered surveillance by the Bush administration. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" occurred in 2003 and 2004.

Also, for the first time in the court's history, the FISC outright rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years, which was apparently what led to President Bush to authorize NSA surveillance of overseas communications by U.S.-based terror suspects in the first place.

As far as you or I debating the legality of any of this, Anon, I know I'm not qualified to answer these questions. I'm only repeating what I hear from people who I think are more knowledgeable in these matters. I have no idea if you are more qualified than I am to address this, or if you are only repeating what others have said as well. Let it all be straightened out during the hearings.

With regard to all of your anti-Iraq War bullets, do you expect me to rehash the entire war with you, Anon? We obviously disagree on the issue, and see the overall big picture very differently.

You sound like most of the rest of your party. Bottom line is, we are there now, and our military needs to finish their mission. I support the mission. You don't. I get it. You want to bring up every aspect of the war that didn't go perfectly as planned. Well, guess what? War is hell, and things rarely go as planned during war. Our troops need to adapt as they go, and they do.

Please don't start attacking every single thing this President has done, because then you'll only get me started attacking every single thing our last President didn't do, that in great part led us to where we are today. Your side has lots and lots of criticism, but you're extremely light on the "solution" side of things. How high up is "appeasement" on your list of answers I wonder?

6:51 PM  
Anonymous 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.

And, answering another earlier point, Bush three times last year talked about how no one should be worried, because the administration was getting the warrants from the FISA court? Why say that if he knew that he was going around the court at least some of the time?

Seems to me there is a disconnect between what the man says and what the man does. And the "debate" is whether we will follow the law, or ignore it.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

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."


Rob, I agree with you, and others, that this would have been a good thing for the President to do. I'm just not all that sure that he didn't already try to do it that way, and found he didn't have enough support for it.

In any case, I still think that since he vetted this program with his DOJ and it's reviewed every 45 days, I'm not especially worried that there have been abuses committed. I agree with Charles Krauthammer that this whole thing is a classic separation-of-powers dispute, and it will have to be fought out in one forum or another, probably hearings.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/22/AR2005122201102.html

In any case, if in fact it is found, as many believe, that the President has acted within the authority given to him by the Constitution, I'm confident that will undoubtedly trump the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. As Krauthammer reminds us, no president since FISA's passage in 1978 has ever relinquished his "inherent" power to go beyond the act's terms. FISA is only one tool at the President's disposal, but it is not his only tool.

Another excellent article is this one, written by Joe Klein, no rightwinger he. Here's an excerpt about why he thinks the Left is weak on this issue....

"At the very least, the Administration should have acted, with alacrity, to update the federal intelligence laws to include the powerful new technologies developed by the NSA.

But these concerns pale before the importance of the program. It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations."


http://www.time.com/time/columnist/klein/article/0,9565,1147137,00.html

9:50 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Just a post script on that attack in Pakistan that killed 17 or so people, supposedly civilians. DNA tests are still being done on some of the bodies, but according to two Pakistani intelligence officials, al-Zawahiri had been invited to a dinner in the village of Damadola, but ended up sending some aides in his stead, which means that there indeed was a foreign presence in the region.

Also, it's been reported that there were eleven Islamist extremists among the dead. In a televised speech on Sunday, President Musharraf "warned his countrymen not to harbor militants, saying it would only increase violence inside Pakistan.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

David R. Mark said...
"Here are key parts of the interview:


Except for the fact that you only showcased part of Tice's half of the interview, David. To Matthews' credit, there was another guest on to provide the balance that you, yourself, neglected to, except for the link you gave, which I'm sure very few people made use of. :P

In any case, the other guest Matthews had on to discuss this subject was Ed Meese, Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, and here is a portion of that transcript....for balance. ;)

MEESE: "It's not really spying on Americans, it's intercepting international communications dealing with terrorists at the present time, or enemies in those days, in which, on occasion, some—one of the links would be to telephones within the United States, but it's not wiretapping. It's not bugging. The news media is almost totally getting it wrong.

MATTHEWS: But why—what's the difference if I'm on the phone with somebody in Saudi Arabia and I'm being tapped?

MEESE: Well you're not being tapped. The tapping is a particular technique of connecting into the wires of a particular phone or into—plugging into a particular wireless phone. This is intercepting communications that are going overseas. There's a lot of technology to it that I can't go into right now.

MATTHEWS: But it's still eavesdropping, isn't it?

MEESE: It is surveillance. It's surveillance, under certain circumstances and it's justifiable in a wartime situation or in—when you're dealing with enemies of the country."

11:36 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Trinity, don't pan JABBS for only providing part of the Tice interview (and a link), when you only seem to quote conservative sites -- Krauthammer, Washington Times, Meese.

This is the conservative "media" way of proving something -- showing a bunch of conservatives who agree on the subject and saying "look at all this research."

Clearly, there are a lot of conservatives who want this action to be legal. But the law itself is clear cut. It says you need a warrant for domestic surveillance. It allows for that warrant to be sought 72 hours after the surveillance is completed. Bush chose to go around this. There's no disputing it -- in fact, if you listen to Bush himself, he doesn't dispute the fact that he went around the existing law. All he does is try to suggest that, because of 9/11, his actions were in the national interest.

Other conservative writers, like Byron York, have been quoted on JABBS making excuses for why Bush did what he did, but those excuses don't stand up under scrutiny. Similarly, Cheney's suggestion that 9/11 could have prevented, blah, blah, is ridiculous and shameful revisionism. Just like Bush went around the law after 9/11, he could have gone around the law before 9/11. But Al Qaeda wasn't a high priority for the administration before 9/11.

Now, the excuse might be the FISA court wouldn't have allowed the breadth of surveillance Bush was seeking, but that calls into question whether such breadth was necessary. FISA had approved something like 98% of FISA requests over the past 27 years, and allowing that a warrant could be sought after the fact, it again calls into question the Bush program, and how it fits into a democracy that in theory requires checks and balances.

Another point to consider: there are still thousands of hours (if not tens of thousands) of "chatter" collected but not yet translated. If indeed Bush's program used surveillance on some 500 individuals, how many of those people spoke a language other than English? How many of those conversations have been translated?

I think there is this image of the NSA and code crackers working around the clock, listening to various people, looking for keywords, and then thwarting plots to save the U.S. from another 9/11. It doesn't work that way. Data mining means collecting additional tens of thousands of hours of surveillance, and then having those conversations sit, awaiting translation from a too small group of people (you may remember that back in 2002, the military -- violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," fired several translators who happened to be gay. Clearly, national security took a back seat to a poltical agenda.)

Also consider that any information collected as a result of data mining -- outside the FISA law -- won't likely be admissible in court. So if we capture an Al Qaeda threat as a result of the data mining, will we be able to prosecute? The FISA judges themselves -- as JABBS has written -- have questioned whether FISA warrants were sought based on information obtained from data mining. But again, bring someone to court as a result of this poisoned fruit, and the U.S. may see its terror threats go without conviction.

I'm sure there are some who think that we should just shoot every terror threat mentioned on the surveillance tapes. That may work in Hollywood, but it's very unworkable as a (covert or otherwise) policy.

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Trinity.
Nice way to dance around my concerns.
You still haven't answered as to allegations the spying went beyond Al Quada, and the fact Bush lied to the American people about the FISA program.
Bush could have acted to change the law or seek authority from Congress if the FISA laws weren't adequate.
And you took my Iraq argument out of context. I brought up the Iraq situation in the context of your suggestion Bush is doing everything to protect the country from terrorism. Then you went into what the Clinton administration "didn't do". It has been convincingly demonstrated the Bush Administration entirely deemphasized and downsized the Al Quada counter-terrorism program that had been a priority in the Clinton Administration in the eight months leading up to 9-11.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"The claim that Carter and Clinton had engaged in similar warrantless spying has been officially debunked."


Really? Where? On Democratic Underground or MoveOn.org? Or perhaps on MotherJones, or the NYT?

What about the Aldrich Ames case? Weren't there secret searches and wiretaps of his home and office conducted during the Clinton Administration, all without obtaining a federal warrant?

I thought officials at the time claimed that no warrant was needed because the searches were being conducted in the interest of obtaining "foreign intelligence".

Is that incorrect, Anonymous? Didn't they arrest Ames, and drag him out of his house, all without benefit of a warrant? I'm just asking.

I thought Clinton, in 1995, said that "The Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order."

And what about Jimmy Carter? Didn't he sign an Executive Order
in 1979 which stated that the "Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order"?

How can all of you be so positive that what President Bush did was illegal? And if it was, why then wasn't Clinton impeached for the Ames case? Why this double standard when a Republican is involved?

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To demonstrate your claim about the Ames case is nothing more than an inaccurate Republican talking point: I have support in the form of an objective AP story of today,
in a story about Bush flack McClellan's rebuttal to Gore's speech.
Read it and weep.

"McClellan said the Clinton-Gore administration had engaged in warrantless physical searches, and he cited an FBI search of the home of CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames without permission from a judge. He said Clinton's deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, had testified before Congress that the president had the inherent authority to engage in physical searches without warrants.
"I think his hypocrisy knows no bounds," McClellan said of Gore.
But at the time that of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed."
You say Clinton should have been impeached over the Ames case?

Clinton did not engage in illegal spying. The quote you cited was taken out of context.
I will find where I read proof of that as well as find where I read proof that the Carter administration did not engage in warrantless spying.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Trinity, I think you're confused on what was legal when. Without being revisionist -- which is what McClellan and Alberto Gonzales (on CNN) were doing -- here are some key facts:

1. Prior to 1995, FISA did not cover physical searches. (With Clinton’s signature, the law was expanded to cover physical searches in 1995.) The search of Aldrich Ames home occurred in 1993. It did not violate FISA.

2. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified in 1994 that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches, before FISA required physical searches to be conducted pursuant to a warrant. Gorelick was arguing that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches in the absence of Congressional action. At no time did she suggest that, after Congress required the President to obtain a warrant, the executive branch could ignore the law, nor is there any evidence the Clinton administration failed to comply with FISA.

I hope this clarifies things.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a recent report from Media Matters debunking the Clinton and Carter-conducted-warrantless- spying Republican talking point. I know you will say MM is liberal biased etc. I believe MM supports its argument with solid facts.
Got any more conservative misinformation? Bring it on.

Clinton, Carter also authorized warrantless searches of U.S. citizens

Another tactic conservatives have used to defend the Bush administration has been to claim that it is not unusual for a president to authorize secret surveillance of U.S. citizens without a court order, asserting that Democratic presidents have also done so. For example, on the December 21 edition of Fox News's Special Report, host Brit Hume claimed that former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton issued executive orders "to perform wiretaps and searches of American citizens without a warrant."

But as the ThinkProgress weblog noted on December 20, executive orders on the topic by Clinton and Carter were merely explaining the rules established by FISA, which do not allow for warrantless searches on "United States persons." Subsequent reports by NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and The Washington Post also debunked the conservative talking point while noting that the claim was highlighted in the December 21 RNC press release.

From ThinkProgress, which documented how internet gossip Matt Drudge selectively cited from the Clinton and Carter executive orders to falsely suggest they authorized secret surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-obtained warrants:

What Drudge says:

Clinton, February 9, 1995: "The Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order"

What Clinton actually signed:

Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section.

That section requires the Attorney General to certify is the search will not involve "the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person." That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States.

The entire controversy about Bush's program is that, for the first time ever, allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens and other people inside of the United States. Clinton's 1995 executive order did not authorize that.

Drudge pulls the same trick with Carter.

What Drudge says:

Jimmy Carter Signed Executive Order on May 23, 1979: "Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order."

What Carter's executive order actually says:

1-101. Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order, but only if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that Section.

What the Attorney General has to certify under that section is that the surveillance will not contain "the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." So again, no U.S. persons are involved.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it appears this debate has ended. Where are you Trinity? Pretty quiet all of a sudden.
It's unforgiveable the MSM does not give the American people an equal chance to confront Republican organized spin with the facts.
Let it be known that Russell Tice, one of the many NSA members who outed the spying, is a Republican and voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004.
For anyone interested, this link from American Progress does a nice job in summarizing and debunking all the Bushie spin on the warrantless spy program using the New York Times Reports and other evidences
http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/apps/nl/newsletter2.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=917053

9:36 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
Well it appears this debate has ended. Where are you Trinity? Pretty quiet all of a sudden.


Do try not to be obnoxious, Anon! Ash didn't immediately respond to my comments on the Levin thread, and I didn't go accusing her of being MIA or something.

Since this is the first time I've even logged on in over a day or so, I don't even know if she's yet gotten to it, but like Ash and the rest of you guys, I do have a real life, and sometimes there are just things I have to do.

I'll jump back into the debate when time allows. For now, I just wanted to catch up on the comments that were made in the last day or two. I'll see you around!

1:02 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

rob of wilmington, del. said...
Trinity, don't pan JABBS for only providing part of the Tice interview (and a link), when you only seem to quote conservative sites -- Krauthammer, Washington Times, Meese.

This is the conservative "media" way of proving something -- showing a bunch of conservatives who agree on the subject and saying "look at all this research."


Completely untrue, rob. You are incorrect about the sources I used. I used Meese, yes, because he was in the original "Hardball" interview, and deserved at least a mention, don't you think?

I used Krauthammer, a conservative, because I admire him, and respect his opinion, and I used Joe Klein, because he was a liberal who was breaking away from the blatant "gotcha" partisanship to speak some truth and common sense. God knows there's precious little of that coming from your side.

And just FYI, I got that Joe Klein piece from the online version of "Time" Magazine, so an apology from you would be nice. ;)

Just kidding. I don't need no "stinkin' apology". And again, just for the record, I was being a little tongue-in-cheek when I criticized David for not including the "Meese" portion of Matthews' interview. Didn't you see my playful little "stick-out-tongue" emoticon? :P Trust me, silly, I don't expect to find evenhandedness or fairness on a liberal blog! Truly, I don't.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

rob of wilmington, del. said...
"Clearly, there are a lot of conservatives who want this action to be legal. But the law itself is clear cut. It says you need a warrant for domestic surveillance."


And even more "clearly" there are a number of very radical, angry, bitter, vengeful, and foolish Democrats who are so entrenched in their hatred of GWB that they cannot see straight, and it is negatively affecting their ability to make sound judgements.

Apparently, they choose to jeopardize our ability to protect ourselves, rather than to cooperate in a bipartisan manner with this president on issues of our national security. It's quite sick, actually.

And I don't agree with your premise that what President Bush is doing constitutes "domestic surveillance". It's not domestic spying, as it is being referred to, if someone is outside of the United States. That is defined as an "international" phone call.

Bush chose to go around this. There's no disputing it -- in fact, if you listen to Bush himself, he doesn't dispute the fact that he went around the existing law. All he does is try to suggest that, because of 9/11, his actions were in the national interest.

No, that's not all he asserts, rob. He also asserts that he has the inherent power to do what he did, just as other presidents before him have asserted. Just because Congress and the courts constantly try to usurp power from the Executive Branch, doesn't make it constitutional. This is clearly a "Separation of Powers" issue.

In fact, I don't believe that this issue has ever come before the SCOTUS. Perhaps the time has come for them to examine the constitutionality of the FISA courts.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Given David's post this morning, I think we should move the conversation over.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

rob of wilmington, del. said...
"Now, the excuse might be the FISA court wouldn't have allowed the breadth of surveillance Bush was seeking, but that calls into question whether such breadth was necessary."


Right! Why on earth would our government have even the slightest interest in keeping track of things that al Qaeda members or affiliates might have to say to someone here in the States?

Jeeze Louise, rob!! This is precisely the sort of mentality and naivete that keeps all manner of sensible people up at night worrying. To know that there are people out there who seemingly have no comprehension of the seriousness or the scope of the problem we are facing is indeed, very, scary to the rest of us!

And because this mindset you possess is associated with liberal Democrats, rob, and not moderates or conservative Republicans, I highly doubt that the majority of commonsense American voters will be putting anyone with a similar stance in the White House any time soon.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...
"Given David's post this morning, I think we should move the conversation over."


Haven't seen it yet. Will check it out immediately, thanks!

1:33 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Okay, so it's another thread regarding the same issue more or less. But I'm nowhere near finished with responding to the comments here on this thread, so what do I do, simply abandon this thread? I'd prefer not to, really. Isn't anyone going to return here to tend to unfinished business?

5:23 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...
"At no time did she suggest that, after Congress required the President to obtain a warrant, the executive branch could ignore the law, nor is there any evidence the Clinton administration failed to comply with FISA.

I hope this clarifies things."


Thank you for your comment, alias, and for your respectful tone.

I appreciate what it is you are saying, but I would argue, and it's been argued by many, that what you said above is simply not accurate. It appears that Gorelick was indeed, asserting the Executive's right to ignore the law under the right set of circumstances.

As Krauthammer points out, every president since Nixon has refused to relinquish their inherent right to use force and whatever else that might entail during wartime. The following is from the Krauthammer piece....

"Consider the War Powers Resolution passed over Richard Nixon's veto in 1973. It restricts, with very specific timetables, the president's authority to use force. Every president since Nixon, Democrat and Republican, has regarded himself not bound by this law, declaring it an unconstitutional invasion of his authority as commander in chief.

Nor will it do to argue that the Clinton administration ultimately accepted the strictures of the FISA law after a revision was passed. So what? For the past three decades, presidents have adhered to the War Powers Resolution for reasons of prudence, to avoid a constitutional fight with Congress. But they all maintained the inherent illegitimacy of the law and the right to ignore it. Similarly, Clinton's acquiescence to FISA in no way binds future executives to renounce Clinton's claim of "inherent authority" to conduct warrantless searches for purposes of foreign intelligence."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/22/AR2005122201102.html

4:04 PM  

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