Gonzales' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee


PDA






NineseveN
February 8, 2006, 01:46 AM
From Attorney Gonzales' appearance before Senate Judiciary
Committee hearing on Wartime Execuitve Power 2/6/2006



KOHL: If the administration investigates an American for
terrorism using this program and finds nothing -- and, of course,
news reports have indicated that this happens in the vast
majority of the time -- then what is done with the information
collected? Does the administration keep this information on file
somewhere? Is it disposed of? What happens with this information?

GONZALES: Well, let me tell you that every morning I receive an
intelligence briefing out at the FBI. And there are numbers of
possible threats against the United States. Many of them wash
out, thank God.

The fact that they washed out doesn't mean that we should stop
our intelligence collection. Intelligence is not perfect.

In terms of what is actually done with that information, what I
can say is, again, I can't talk about specifics about it, but
information is collected, information is retained and information
is disseminated in a way to protect the privacy interests of all
Americans.

KOHL: So you're saying the information -- even if it turns out to
be without any correctness, the information is retained.

GONZALES: Senator, I can't provide any more of an answer than the
one I just gave, in terms of there are minimization requirements
that exist and we understand that we have an obligation to try to
minimize intrusion into the privacy interests of Americans, and
we endeavor to do that.

...

FEINSTEIN: Can the president suspend the application of the Posse
Comitatus Act legally?

GONZALES: Well, of course, Senator, that is not what is at issue
here.

FEINSTEIN: I understand that.

GONZALES: This is not about law enforcement, it's about foreign
intelligence.

FEINSTEIN: I'm asking a question. You choose not to answer it?

GONZALES: Yes, ma'am.

...

DURBIN: The last thing I'd like to say -- and I only have a
minute to go -- is the greatest fear that we have is that what
this president is now claiming is going to go far beyond what
you've described today.

What you've described today is something we would all join in on
a bipartisan basis to support: Use every wiretap capacity you
have to stop dangerous terrorists from hurting Americans.

If you came to Capitol Hill and asked us to change a law in a
reasonable way to reach that goal, you'd have the same bipartisan
support.

Our concern is that what this president is asking for will allow
this administration to comb through thousands of ordinary
Americans' e-mails and phone calls.

In the audience today is Richard Fleischer (ph) of Willowbrook,
Illinois; I don't know if Mr. Fleischer (ph) is still here. Mr.
Fleischer (ph) wrote to the NSA and asked if he had been
wiretapped because he had had conversations with people overseas.

And after several letters that he sent back and forth, the best
he could get from the National Security Administration is that
they would neither confirm nor deny the existence of records
responsive to his request.

Ordinary Americans wondering if their telephone calls, if their
e-mails overseas have been wiretapped. And there is no safeguard
for their liberty and freedom.

What we have today is your announcement that career professionals
and experts will watch out for the freedoms of America.

Career professionals and experts, sadly, in our nation's history,
have done things in the past that we're not proud of. Career
professionals have made bad decisions: Japanese internment camps,
enemies lists.

What we really rely on is the rule of law and the Constitution:
safeguards we can trust by people we can see. And when it comes
to some person working at NSA, I don't think it gives us much
comfort.

...

LEAHY: Judge Gonzales, I'm not asking about what happens when you
catch somebody on a battlefield and detain them; I'm not asking
about what you do in the battlefield in our failed attempt to
catch Osama bin Laden, what we were actually asking the
administration to do. I'm not asking about what happens on that
battlefield.

I'm asking, why did you feel that -- now, your testimony is that,
virtually immediately, you determined you had the power to do
this warrantless wiretapping because of AUMF.

You didn't ask anybody up here. Did you tell anybody that you
needed something more than FISA?

GONZALES: Sir, I don't recall. Did I tell anyone in Congress or
tell...

LEAHY: Congress. I said Congress first.

GONZALES: Sir, I don't recall having conversations with anyone in
Congress about it.

LEAHY: Do you recall that anybody on this committee, which
actually is the one that would be amending FISA, was told?

GONZALES: Sir, I have no personal knowledge that anyone on this
committee was told.

LEAHY: Apparently then, according to your interpretation,
Congress -- and a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats
disagree with you on this when we voted for the authorization for
military force -- that we were authorizing warrantless
wiretapping.

Did we -- were we authorizing you to go into people's medical
records here in the United States by your interpretation?

GONZALES: Senator, whatever the limits of the president's
authority given under the authorization of the use of military
force and his inherent authority as commander in chief in a time
of war, it clearly includes the electronic surveillance of the
enemy.

LEAHY: Well, just let it be noted that you did not answer my
question. But here you also said, "We've had discussions with the
Congress in the past, certain members of Congress, as to whether
or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with
this kind of threat. We were advised that that would be
difficult, if not impossible."

That's your statement. All right. Who told you that?

GONZALES: Senator, there was discussion with a bipartisan group
of leaders in Congress, leaders of the Intel Committee, to talk
about legislation. And the consensus was that obtaining such
legislation -- the legislative process is such that it could not
be successfully accomplished without compromising...

LEAHY: When did they give you that advice?

GONZALES: Sir, that was some time in 2004.

LEAHY: Oh, three years later. You mean you've been doing this
wiretapping for three years and then suddenly you come up here
and say, "Oh, by the way, guys, could we have a little bit of
authorization for this"? Is that what you're saying?

GONZALES: Sir, it's always been our position that the president
has the authority, under the authorization to use military force
and under the Constitution.

LEAHY: It's always been your position but, frankly, it flies in
the face of the statute, Mr. Attorney General. And I doubt very
much if one single person of Congress would have known that was
your position, had you not known the newspapers were going to
print what you were doing -- not that anybody up here knew it.

When you found out the newspapers were going to bring it, you
came up here.

Did you talk to any member of the Judiciary Committee that would
actually write it?

And let me ask you this: Did any member of this committee, this
Judiciary Committee which has to write the law, did anybody here
tell you we couldn't write a law that would allow you to go after
Al Qaida in the way you're talking about?

GONZALES: Sir, I don't believe there were any discussions with
any members of the Judiciary Committee...

LEAHY: Even though we're the ones that have to write the law, and
you're saying that you were told by members of Congress we
couldn't write a law that would fit it, and now you tell us that
the committee that has to write the law never was asked.

GONZALES: We had...

LEAHY: Does this sound like a CYA on your part? It does to me.

GONZALES: We had discussions with a bipartisan leadership of the
Congress about this program.

LEAHY: But not from this committee. We have both Republicans and
Democrats on this committee, you know?

GONZALES: Yes, sir, I do know that.

LEAHY: And this committee has given you, twice under my
chairmanship, we have given you five amendments to FISA because
you requested it.

But this, you never came to us.

Mr. Attorney General, can you see why I have every reason to
believe we never would have found out about this if the press
hadn't?

LEAHY: Now, there's been talk about, "Well, let's go prosecute
the press." Heavens, thank God we have a press that at least
tells us what the heck you guys are doing because you're
obviously not telling us.

GONZALES: Sir, we have advised bipartisan leadership of the
Congress and the Intel Committees about this program.

LEAHY: Well, did you tell them that before the passage of the USA
Patriot Act?

GONZALES: Sir, I don't recall when the first briefing occurred.
But my recollection is that it was shortly after the program was
initiated.

LEAHY: OK, well, let me ask you this, then.

You say, several years after it started, you came up here and
talked to some group of members of Congress. The press reports
said that the president's program of spying on Americans without
warrants was shut down for some time in 2004. That sounds like
the time you were up here.

If the president believed the program was necessary and legally
justified, why did he shut it down?

GONZALES: Sir, you're asking me about the operations of the
program.

LEAHY: Of course, I'm sorry, Mr. Attorney General, I forgot you
can't answer any questions that might be relevant to this.

...

BIDEN: I guess maybe you all don't have the same problem I have.
If, in fact, there are minimization procedures, and they are
being adhered to, no problem. If, in fact, the people being
intercepted are Al Qaeda folks, and they're talking to American
citizens, no problem.

But how do we know? I mean, doesn't anybody get to look at this,
ever? Doesn't a court, retrospectively get to look at it? Doesn't
the royalty within the Senate get to look at it? You know, this
two, four, or eight people. Doesn't somebody look at it?

Or, you know, the Cold War lasted 40 years. This war is likely to
last 40 years. Is this for 40 years we have so sit here and
assume that every president is, yes, well, we know old Charlie.
He's a good man. We're sure they wouldn't do anything wrong.

And we know no one in the intelligence community would ever do
anything wrong. We have a history of proving that never occurred.
And we know nobody in the FBI will ever do anything wrong. That's
clear. That never occurred.

I mean, is there someplace along the line that somebody other
than an analyst who we don't know, but we know he's asserted to
be an expert on Al Qaida, is there somebody other than that
person who is ever going to know what happened?

And whether or not there is, the next president may be less
scrupulous. Maybe he or she will be engaged in data mining.


There's just something wrong about all of this.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gonzales' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
cosine
February 8, 2006, 01:50 AM
Well, I'll see how long this lasts. (I mean the thread)

I do think it sounds chilling, especially with regard to future presidents who might take precedent such as this to curb civil and human rights.

crashm1
February 8, 2006, 01:57 AM
I listened to parts of the hearings the other day. This administration makes me really cranky.

ReadyontheRight
February 8, 2006, 01:57 AM
There's just something wrong about all of this.

Yeah -- the Senators are wearing makeup and asking these "probing" questions on national T.V. I guess it's all about protecting Liberty :rolleyes: - as Feinstein, Biden, Kohl, Durbin and Leahy have proven they care SO MUCH about in the past.:rolleyes:

NineseveN
February 8, 2006, 01:58 AM
Well, I'll see how long this lasts. (I mean the thread)

I do think it sounds chilling, especially with regard to future presidents who might take precedent such as this to curb civil and human rights.

Well that's the thing, even though the Dems are screaming bloody murder over it, I'll bet the farm they don't give up such power when they get the White House seat sometime in the future. So even if one's Conservative bias won't allow them to see how bad this is, think of Hillary with this much power. Are we getting frosty yet?

The only thing someone with power truly wants is more power.

ReadyontheRight
February 8, 2006, 02:02 AM
Well that's the thing, even though the Dems are screaming bloody murder over it, I'll bet the farm they don't give up such power when they get the White House seat sometime in the future.

Well -- That's it right there, isn't it? Why was there no similar uproar when the Clinton Administration started sifting through Internet traffic? Before 9/11? When the threat-du-jour was DOMESTIC terrorosm?

That was a heck of a lot scarier than Bush monitoring foreign conversations.

NineseveN
February 8, 2006, 02:36 AM
Well -- That's it right there, isn't it? Why was there no similar uproar when the Clinton Administration started sifting through Internet traffic? Before 9/11? When the threat-du-jour was DOMESTIC terrorosm?

That was a heck of a lot scarier than Bush monitoring foreign conversations.

Um, actaully there was an uproar, maybe you weren't listening? Why do some folks insist on bringing up Klintoon every time GW is taken to task for violating his oath and our rights? Clinton was a terrible president, GW is not much better. I fear our next will be even worse...especially if you folks blindly allow GW to continue to assume more power than he should by doing this stupid party line BS where the emporer can do no wrong because Clinton did this or did that and he stained an intern's dress.

Who cares what Clinton did? This is not a history discussion, it is a concern of the right here and now, and the future (which is not as birght as it used to be). Last time I checked, Clinton is not in office, GW is.

Manedwolf
February 8, 2006, 04:46 AM
Who cares what Clinton did? This is not a history discussion, it is a concern of the right here and now, and the future (which is not as birght as it used to be). Last time I checked, Clinton is not in office, GW is.

+1

If a ship runs up on the reef, you don't blame the captain who retired five years ago, you blame the one who was at the helm...especially if they keep going full speed ahead ONTO the reef.

There's been five whole years to go in varying directions, to correct courses. Clinton, whatever someone thinks of him, despite the seeming obsessive anger some people have about him, is now entirely irrelevant to this discussion.

And I still think that when people blindly vote "straight ticket" for either party, without considering the platform of each and every individual listed, they're not being good American citizens at all. It's like grabbing and eating apples in the dark, you can't see which might be rotten till you've bitten into it.

Manedwolf
February 8, 2006, 04:49 AM
Yeah -- the Senators are wearing makeup and asking these "probing" questions on national T.V. I guess it's all about protecting Liberty :rolleyes: - as Feinstein, Biden, Kohl, Durbin and Leahy have proven they care SO MUCH about in the past.:rolleyes:

Y'know, there's some senators on the RIGHT asking questions and being disturbed about the current course of things, too. Shh.

Might wanna take those party blinders off. :rolleyes: Objectivity, in this case, is good. This isn't a partisan issue, it's a core civil liberties issue, an issue that goes right to the paper with "We the people..." on it itself.

striker3
February 8, 2006, 08:19 AM
BIDEN: I guess maybe you all don't have the same problem I have.
If, in fact, there are minimization procedures, and they are
being adhered to, no problem. If, in fact, the people being
intercepted are Al Qaeda folks, and they're talking to American
citizens, no problem.

But how do we know? I mean, doesn't anybody get to look at this,
ever? Doesn't a court, retrospectively get to look at it? Doesn't
the royalty within the Senate get to look at it? You know, this
two, four, or eight people. Doesn't somebody look at it?



I view that as the most damning statement in the whole thing. I thought we were supposed to have gotten rid of the royalty in the 1700s...

If this is how the so-called leaders view themselves, there is not much that we can do within the system itself to make changes.

RealGun
February 8, 2006, 08:55 AM
If a ship runs up on the reef, you don't blame the captain who retired five years ago, you blame the one who was at the helm...especially if they keep going full speed ahead ONTO the reef.

I don't know about Clinton, but if a future President does it, is there any doubt that George Bush's name will come up? I am calling double standard here, accusing this argument of clearing the way to rag on George Bush.

Part of the argument is protecting Presidential powers and limiting Congress' desire to do everything of an executive nature by committee or rules they establish. There really is such a thing as "inherent powers".

If there was martial law, suspension of habeus corpus, and all that, I suspect we wouldn't like that either. The real question here is the possibility, even likelihood of corruption and abuse. Laws are too frequently allowed to be applied beyond the scope of their original intent. RICO comes to mind as an example...a law applied in cases having nothing to do with organized crime.

As we have seen with gun control case law, give a lawyer and a judge an inch, and they will take a mile...the end justifies the means.

It is possible that FISA is unconstitutional and that the administration is right in ignoring its provisions in some instances. The question remains whether exercising power in extraordinary ways is proper and appropriate.

Republicans like Lindsay Graham (SC), one of my Senators, may be questioning along with Democrats, but what may happen is that he will support explicitly granting such powers to the President, updating FISA. I think his concern is that it be legal and that Congress will have had their say more than the President's motives be opposed.

Personally, I think it is a stretch to say that the 9/11 resolution granted war powers to the President, but Congress should have thought that through before voting on it. If there was trust inherent in that vote, then there will be discretion granted. Currently, I believe the President's motives are good, but that is often how abuse begins.

Of course, another problem is the President's willingness to brief Congress. That means alerting bitterly partisan minority leaders of committees. If they see no need for confidentiality, an opportunity to create controversy is seized and somehow the word gets out. There then is actually a need to keep secrets from Congress. At that point, I think we're done. Partisanship is the real problem, a higher priority than doing the right thing. The proof of partisanship, both offensive and defensive, is in the hearings.

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 09:05 AM
There's just something wrong about all of this. About a liberal Senator trying to make partisan points by questioning the manner in which an Attorney General determines the law? Yup... that's wrong!

Here's another opinion (reference)
Domestic' abuse
Feb 7, 2006
David Limbaugh
http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/davidlimbaugh/2006/02/07/185466.html

Mr. Limbaugh makes the important point:
"Let's be clear what we're talking about here. The NSA surveillance program involves intelligence of a foreign enemy during war. None of the interceptions of communications is for the purpose of criminal law enforcement but instead for the detection and prevention of terrorist attacks against the United States."

In short: Dear NSA: Please Listen to my Phone Calls. Precisely! If you are a terrorist! Exactly... That's the point that Senator Leahy misses. Completely! There is something fundamentally wrong with a liberal Senator not wanting the administration to guarantee domestic security...

Biker
February 8, 2006, 09:09 AM
It's not possible to "guarantee domestic security". In counties with much less personal freedom than ours, terror attacks still occur. Keeping that in mind, why give up more of our liberty for for a false promise?
Biker

RealGun
February 8, 2006, 09:14 AM
About a liberal Senator trying to make partisan points by questioning the manner in which an Attorney General determines the law? Yup... that's wrong!

There is something fundamentally wrong with a liberal Senator not wanting the administration to guarantee domestic security...

Again I think liberal is being misused as a pejorative when what is intended is "Democrat". The opposition does not come from a liberal philosophy. It comes from being a member of the opposition party.

Lobotomy Boy
February 8, 2006, 09:34 AM
Yeah -- the Senators are wearing makeup and asking these "probing" questions on national T.V. I guess it's all about protecting Liberty - as Feinstein, Biden, Kohl, Durbin and Leahy have proven they care SO MUCH about in the past.

Four posts. It took four posts for someone to totally disregard what is perhaps the most chilling excerpt I have ever read and resort to a reactionary ad hominum response that is totally irrelevant to the original post.

Striker3, Biden was being sarcastic. That's what he does. That whistling sound you heard was Biden's caustic irony sailing past your cranium.

Of course, another problem is the President's willingness to brief Congress. That means alerting bitterly partisan minority leaders of committees. If they see no need for confidentiality, an opportunity to create controversy is seized and somehow the word gets out. There then is actually a need to keep secrets from Congress.

First, the administration did not brief Congress until it got caught violating the Bill of Rights red handed:

GONZALES: Senator, there was discussion with a bipartisan group
of leaders in Congress, leaders of the Intel Committee, to talk
about legislation. And the consensus was that obtaining such
legislation -- the legislative process is such that it could not
be successfully accomplished without compromising...

LEAHY: When did they give you that advice?

GONZALES: Sir, that was some time in 2004.

LEAHY: Oh, three years later. You mean you've been doing this
wiretapping for three years and then suddenly you come up here
and say, "Oh, by the way, guys, could we have a little bit of
authorization for this"? Is that what you're saying?

GONZALES: Sir, it's always been our position that the president
has the authority, under the authorization to use military force
and under the Constitution.

LEAHY: It's always been your position but, frankly, it flies in
the face of the statute, Mr. Attorney General. And I doubt very
much if one single person of Congress would have known that was
your position, had you not known the newspapers were going to
print what you were doing -- not that anybody up here knew it.

When you found out the newspapers were going to bring it, you
came up here.

Did you talk to any member of the Judiciary Committee that would
actually write it?

And let me ask you this: Did any member of this committee, this
Judiciary Committee which has to write the law, did anybody here
tell you we couldn't write a law that would allow you to go after
Al Qaida in the way you're talking about?

GONZALES: Sir, I don't believe there were any discussions with
any members of the Judiciary Committee...



Second, the statement that members of Congress are any less trustworthy with secrets than members of the administration or NSA employees is ridiculous. What on earth makes some nameless NSA "carreer professional" any more capable of making decisions concerning the Constitution than our highest elected officials?

How is it possible to keep supporting these people? Can you not see the implications? Imagine this same conversation, only with a Democratic administration, and the subject is unwarranted wiretapping of gun owners.

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 09:36 AM
It's not possible to "guarantee domestic security".
Fair criticism there Biker, but this Administration's attempts to do just that have been quite successful so far... that is the point I was trying to amplify!

In counties with much less personal freedom than ours, terror attacks still occur. Keeping that in mind, why give up more of our liberty for for a false promise? For safety? You might think the threat is "false" but that is hardly what Al Qaeda is saying... correct?

Lobotomy Boy
February 8, 2006, 09:43 AM
CD, you can't really prove something in the negative. You could make as legitimate an argument that the administrations efforts to curtail terrorism have been successful as you could argue that these same efforts have resulted in the sky being bluer.

The fact is that you need a positive example to legitimately make such a claim. Osama Bin Laden's head on a pike would be a good start.

Manedwolf
February 8, 2006, 09:46 AM
Mr. Limbaugh makes the important point:
"Let's be clear what we're talking about here. The NSA surveillance program involves intelligence of a foreign enemy during war. None of the interceptions of communications is for the purpose of criminal law enforcement but instead for the detection and prevention of terrorist attacks against the United States."

In short: Dear NSA: Please Listen to my Phone Calls. Precisely! If you are a terrorist! Exactly... That's the point that Senator Leahy misses. Completely! There is something fundamentally wrong with a liberal Senator not wanting the administration to guarantee domestic security...

Guarantee Domestic Security.

And you realize the only way to do THAT is a police state, right? And not just that, but an ironfisted one?

I've about had it with SCARED people wanting thumbsucking security over liberty. What happened to America the Brave?

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 09:48 AM
CD, you can't really prove something in the negative...Lobotomy Boy=>Nor can you prove the obverse; i.e., in this case, that such signals intelligence has not stopped terrorism. I believe that was precisely the point the Attorney General was making....

Manedwolf
February 8, 2006, 09:50 AM
Fair criticism there Biker, but this Administration's attempts to do just that have been quite successful so far... that is the point I was trying to amplify!

For safety? You might think the threat is "false" but that is hardly what Al Qaeda is saying... correct?

If you personally are so frightened and want "safety" so badly, you may hide under your bed, put training wheels on your bike, wear a giant helmet whenever you step outside your door and a surgical mask when people might breathe on you.

But what's left of the true America is unwilling to trade our liberties to be babied..that's right..babied and tucked in all snug and paranoid with scary bedtime stories of boogeyman terrorists and promises of "security" from an ever-more-bloated, ever-more-invasive Big Government.

bogie
February 8, 2006, 09:52 AM
All I know is that this woulda been buried on the back page if we'd had Kerry in office.

And forgotten after a week, except by the folks who're also worried about black helicopters.

Tell y'all what... If you're getting phone calls from "insurgents" in Iraq or Afghanistan, that goes a LONG way toward convincing me that you're a terrorist. I'll be more than happy to push the plunger on you after you're convicted of spying/treason.

If you're getting phone calls from the above-mentioned person, are you planning something? I wanna know about it.

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 10:00 AM
...stories of boogeyman terrorists...Do you really believe that the terrorist attacks on Spain transit, English subways, and French infrastructure facilities in 2005 (last year) were from boogeymen Manedwolf? I can document each with photos if you wish...

benEzra
February 8, 2006, 10:16 AM
Tell y'all what... If you're getting phone calls from "insurgents" in Iraq or Afghanistan, that goes a LONG way toward convincing me that you're a terrorist. I'll be more than happy to push the plunger on you after you're convicted of spying/treason.
If you are getting phone calls from insurgents, it would be a simple matter to start a wiretap on you and get a FISA search warrant within 72 hours, as required by law. If the government thinks you are talking to a terrorist, they don't need to do a warrantless wiretap on you; they can easily get a FISA warrant.

We are NOT talking about tapping the phones of suspected terrorists here; that's covered under FISA. What we're talking about is wiretapping the phones of people living in the U.S. who are NOT suspected of being terrorists, but who "might" be one because they are making an international phone call, so let's listen in and see.

WHY did the administration secretly avoid the FISA process, unless it's because they wanted to do taps that even the FISA court wouldn't authorize? That strongly implies fishing--tapping as many calls as you can, with no probable cause whatsoever, in hopes that you will happen upon someone talking to a terrorist.

Warrantless fishing expeditions specifically prohibited by statute, and are inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment.

Lone_Gunman
February 8, 2006, 10:19 AM
If we can save the life of one American child from a terrorist attack, then giving up our rights is worth it.

Why don't you people get that?!

RealGun
February 8, 2006, 10:20 AM
Of course, another problem is the President's willingness to brief Congress. That means alerting bitterly partisan minority leaders of committees. If they see no need for confidentiality, an opportunity to create controversy is seized and somehow the word gets out. There then is actually a need to keep secrets from Congress.

First, the administration did not brief Congress until it got caught violating the Bill of Rights red handed:

No, what happened is that the administration recognized that knowledge of the practice would become public. It needed to be a secret. FISA cannot be updated without public debate in Congress. Committee members do not have the authority to approve exceptions to existing law. Briefing them is merely political so they won't move to impeach.

It seems quite clear that the administration didn't open the issue for discussion because they didn't want any disapproval. They found a rationale not to make it anyone's business. I like their motives if not their methods. It will all work out for the best. A little sunshine is good.

bogie
February 8, 2006, 10:22 AM
The more people involved = the more likely folks hear about it. If they keep the whole dang thing in the NSA, no leaks.

By now, it's a moot point anyway. Do you think that they're still using cell phones? Heck, some of the troll-crap I've been reading may even be coded messages...

When there's another large-scale coordinated attack, y'all are going to be asking why we didn't know about it beforehand. Sheesh.

Manedwolf
February 8, 2006, 10:24 AM
Do you really believe that the terrorist attacks on Spain transit, English subways, and French infrastructure facilities in 2005 (last year) were from boogeymen Manedwolf? I can document each with photos if you wish...

Of course they happened. But you know what? The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are close to that of winning the lottery.

I am not scared. If you are, that's your deal.

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 10:40 AM
Of course they happened. But you know what? The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are close to that of winning the lottery.

I am not scared. If you are, that's your deal. If you wish to resort to sarcasm, that's your deal! But for many in the world today, dealing with terrorism is hardly a "winning the lottery" consideration. In regions of the world terrorism strikes daily. Efforts domestically are framed to prevent such a threat from happening here... The president's first responsibility is defending the homeland. He is trying to do that, with reluctlance by many that such a threat exists... As I am sure you know, for those that died in 09/11/01, terrorism was probably furthest from their minds when it occurred. Don't we owe it to them, the fallen, their families, and the remaining Americans, to take the steps to assure that it never happens again?

I am not scared, as you allege, that causes me to strongly support the process to address a foreign threat... you might say, however, I am rightly concerned that my country fulfills its primary Constitutional obligation to protect its citizenry from a demostrated threat to the populace! Terrorism.

crashm1
February 8, 2006, 11:23 AM
So CD one terrorist attack in 200+ years is a reason enough to toss out the 4th amendment? I don't think so.

NineseveN
February 8, 2006, 11:23 AM
Again I think liberal is being misused as a pejorative when what is intended is "Democrat". The opposition does not come from a liberal philosophy. It comes from being a member of the opposition party.

Except the Repubs are asking the same questions and have the same concerns...did you not get the memo? Democrat is being misused when it means "just about everyone but blind supporters of GWB's office and people who just don't care".

NineseveN
February 8, 2006, 11:28 AM
Fair criticism there Biker, but this Administration's attempts to do just that have been quite successful so far... that is the point I was trying to amplify!

For safety? You might think the threat is "false" but that is hardly what Al Qaeda is saying... correct?


They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Gotta love that Ben Franklin guy.

WT
February 8, 2006, 11:54 AM
Gonzalez sounded like John Gotti or Jimmy Hoffa.

I don't trust Gonzo.

As the one senator said, "Thank God for the newspapers telling us (Congress) what you are doing because you surely aren't."

carlrodd
February 8, 2006, 11:57 AM
Yeah -- the Senators are wearing makeup and asking these "probing" questions on national T.V. I guess it's all about protecting Liberty :rolleyes: - as Feinstein, Biden, Kohl, Durbin and Leahy have proven they care SO MUCH about in the past.:rolleyes:


+1 as much as i am fed up with all the double-speak from the administration, it is an absolute laugh that people like these are the ones probing. here you have the cream of the crap. i am ashamed that joe biden "represents" me.

fourays2
February 8, 2006, 12:37 PM
If you wish to resort to sarcasm, that's your deal! But for many in the world today, dealing with terrorism is hardly a "winning the lottery" consideration. In regions of the world terrorism strikes daily. Efforts domestically are framed to prevent such a threat from happening here... The president's first responsibility is defending the homeland. He is trying to do that, with reluctlance by many that such a threat exists... As I am sure you know, for those that died in 09/11/01, terrorism was probably furthest from their minds when it occurred. Don't we owe it to them, the fallen, their families, and the remaining Americans, to take the steps to assure that it never happens again?

I am not scared, as you allege, that causes me to strongly support the process to address a foreign threat... you might say, however, I am rightly concerned that my country fulfills its primary Constitutional obligation to protect its citizenry from a demostrated threat to the populace! Terrorism.

If he cares so much then why are the borders wide open? why are citizens who try to prototect the borders labeled "vigilantes"?

Master Blaster
February 8, 2006, 12:43 PM
i am ashamed that joe biden "represents" me.

+1 I have been voting against him for the last 25 years.
One only has to look at his campaign contributors to know whose interest he represents in Washington. It sure aint the people of Delaware.

Hint: American Trial Lawyers Assoc members from across the country $3.5 million. Thats for his opposition to any tort reform bill.

Then there are the big credit card banks, he was the original author of the bankruptcy reform bill about 12 years ago, every year he pushed it, and then this year when it passed , His name was not on it!!! Tom Carper (our other senator was the sponsor), and get this the day of the vote he was one of two senators absent.

My guess is that this was intentional, and gives him the opportunity to deny his involvement with this "terrible bill" when he runs for president in 2008, that makes him a liar and a hypocrit.:fire:

Lone_Gunman
February 8, 2006, 12:49 PM
The president's first responsibility is defending the homeland.

That is not correct. The president's first responsibility is to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

If you don't believe me, re-read the Presidential Oath of Office, which says:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

His job is to protect the Constitution. He should not protect the homeland by weakening the Constitution. In fact, to compromise the Constitution over homeland security would seem to me to be clearly against his oath, a dereliction of duty, and an impeachable offense.

Hawkmoon
February 8, 2006, 12:51 PM
Who cares what Clinton did? This is not a history discussion, it is a concern of the right here and now, and the future (which is not as birght as it used to be). Last time I checked, Clinton is not in office, GW is.
10-4

What I find increasingly irritating about this administration is their constant use of the word "war" to justify their illegal and unconstitutional actions. We are not at war against anyone. The Congress has not enacted a declaration of war (and I'm not at all persuaded that the Congress even can declare "war" against a non-government entity such as al-Qaida, or against an individual such as Osama bin-Laden (or, for that matter, against a noun, as in "War on Terror").

In short, I do not accept the rationale that GWB is entitled to invoke any supposed "war powers," for the simple reason that we are not at war. It doesn't surprise me when GWB says it, but it DOES surprise me when the AG says it, because he certainly should know better.

Hawkmoon
February 8, 2006, 12:54 PM
I am not scared, as you allege, that causes me to strongly support the process to address a foreign threat... you might say, however, I am rightly concerned that my country fulfills its primary Constitutional obligation to protect its citizenry from a demostrated threat to the populace! Terrorism.
The President's oath of office does not mention the populace, nor does it mention terrorism. It does, however, affirmatively bind him to protect and defend the Constitution. Ergo, that's his primary duty. After he's done defending the Constitution he can go full-tilt after terrorists ... but not by ignoring and emasculating the Constitution that he is sworn to protect and defend.

See the difference?

NineseveN
February 8, 2006, 01:13 PM
Well said Lone Gunman and Hawkmoon.

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 01:55 PM
The President's oath of office does not mention the populace, nor does it mention terrorism. It does, however, affirmatively bind him to protect and defend the Constitution. Ergo, that's his primary duty. After he's done defending the Constitution he can go full-tilt after terrorists ... but not by ignoring and emasculating the Constitution that he is sworn to protect and defend.

Hawkmoon; You see... I am in a bit of a bind... when one goes marching to support of our President folks herein mistakenly believe that that person is somehow against the Second Amendment. I am not. I am, however, in full support of the administration's proposals and actions toward terrorism... Important distinction.

Insofar as your statement above, the President's Oath of Office, as you correctly state, charges the Chief Executive to safeguard the Constitution. Chief among its provisions, in the preamble, "...insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence..." are maintained. Certainly you can see that foreign-born terrorism plots against this nation and its citizenry are well within the scope of providing for the "common defense". However, if you indeed feel that the president has "emasculated" the Constitutionally-given freedoms, you are well within your rights to so assume. I would ask, however, that you cite which freedoms you believe you personally have been denied and date of occurence?

Once again, I am a supporter of the Second Amendment freedoms we all hold dear. Additionally, I am a supporter of the current administration and its War on Terror.

TequilaMockingbird
February 8, 2006, 03:12 PM
Team Bush constantly invoke "freedom" as the justification for concentrating power in the executive branch.

What does Bush mean by "freedom"? Check out the remarks he made before the Australian Parliment in 2003.

Bush:
We see a China that is stable and prosperous, a nation that respects the peace of its neighbors and works to secure the freedom of its own people. Source: "Remarks as Delivered by President George W. Bush to the Australian Parliament," Federal news Service, October 23, 2003.

The president praised the Chinese communist dictatorship for its committment to "freedom.":barf:

Lone_Gunman
February 8, 2006, 04:11 PM
I would ask, however, that you cite which freedoms you believe you personally have been denied and date of occurence?


Campaign Finance Reform, although not related to the President's anti-terrorism plan, clearly is in violation of the First Amendment. The President himself said so, prior to signing it into law. The fact that he would be willing to sign things he think are un-constitutional makes me think he probably would take liberties with our rights in other areas.

The parts of the Patriot Act that grant the government the power to look at your library records without cause violates the 4th Amendment, and has a chilling effect on the 1st Amendment.

The extra powers we give Bush today will be Hillary's powers in 2008. Are you comfortable giving extra power to Hillary? The Republicans will eventually come to realize that increasing federal and executive authority was a bad idea, but it will take a Democrat in the White House before they realize it, and then it will be too late to stop.

Coronach
February 8, 2006, 04:11 PM
Well, I'll see how long this lasts. (I mean the thread)It is topical. It will stay open as long as it remains civil (it has), and the issues being discussed are legitimate civil liberty issues (they are). If it descends into merely being post after post of competing sound bytes for the three sides (Reps, Dems, and They Both Suck), it will be closed. ;)

Mike

roo_ster
February 8, 2006, 04:22 PM
First, the administration did not brief Congress until it got caught violating the Bill of Rights red handed
Incorrect. The charmen & ranking (opposition) members of the Intel committees as well the leadership of both parties in Congress were briefed repeatedly to include Jay Rockefeller, the likeliest source for the NYT article. If he was the source, he committed a felony that has had deleterious effects on our security and operations. Leaking such information truly is treason. Whoever did it ought to fry.

My take:
We have no expectation of privacy on calls that go outside the USA. We might want privacy there, but we can not realistically or legally expect it. Getting all excited about it is a waste of time and energy, as even if it was double-super-dooper illegal for us.gov to listen in, the destination country can do so and do not have to follow our laws.

Tell me, do any of y'all expect unencrypted email sent to be private? If you do, you might need to get a grasp on how email works.

Until strong encryption is ubiquitous on email and similar encryption is used in wired & wireless telephony, expecting privacy through those media is unrealistic. Even then, the source & destination will have to be out in the open.

It doesn't matter how arrogant GWB & his boy Alberto are. Reality is what bites us in the tuckus here, not their conniving. It would be nice to see the fallout bring strong encryption to the fore; but I suspect that the Dems, the MSM, and the misinformed will think this a political & constitutional issue, rather than a technical one.

benEzra
February 8, 2006, 04:39 PM
Hawkmoon; You see... I am in a bit of a bind... when one goes marching to support of our President folks herein mistakenly believe that that person is somehow against the Second Amendment. I am not. I am, however, in full support of the administration's proposals and actions toward terrorism... Important distinction.
The problem is, the Second Amendment is only one of the Bill of Rights (albeit a very important one). The Fourth Amendment is also important, and that's where the warrantless domestic wiretaps run afoul of the Bill of Rights, IMHO.

Malone LaVeigh
February 8, 2006, 04:47 PM
Well, there's the issue of privacy in a technical sense, and there is the issue of the powers of the government in exploiting whatever lack of privacy we have and being able to use it against us. I wouldn'y expect privacy if I set up a soapbox on Main Street and started ranting, but I would be very disturbed to hear that the government was recording me and preserving the recordings until such a time as someone in this or some future administration wants to use it. Just because I exercise my free speech, doesn't mean I want to give the government the power to use it against me.

Put another way, it's none of the government's business, unless I actually am a threat, and if I am a threat, there are ample ways for the government to get the information legally, e.g., FISA.

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 04:48 PM
The problem is, the Second Amendment is only one of the Bill of Rights (albeit a very important one). The Fourth Amendment is also important, and that's where the warrantless domestic wiretaps run afoul of the Bill of Rights, IMHO.

Not to make another "sound bite" and pollute the thread, however I believe (my opinion) there is a significant difference between the 2nd and 4th Amendments and that neither is being abridged by this administration, as I am sure you'd agree; and the word you used above; i.e., "warrantless" is more the domain of the Chief Executive to determine than you or I.

Stepping back off my soapboax....

Manedwolf
February 8, 2006, 05:14 PM
and the word you used above; i.e., "warrantless" is more the domain of the Chief Executive to determine than you or I.


No, it is NOT. The "chief executive" is the SERVANT of the PEOPLE. He is NOT an effing KING!

seeker_two
February 8, 2006, 08:27 PM
The Bush Administration needs to answer one question to this committee before I can give them any leeway....

What kinds of wiretaps do you need to do (or have already done) that are so important and vital to national security that you believe the FISA court (which has approved 99% of all requests made since its inception) would prohibit you from doing?

Answer me this....:scrutiny:

Biker
February 8, 2006, 08:52 PM
I will indeed ditto that, Seeker.
Biker

Hawkmoon
February 8, 2006, 09:42 PM
Personally, I think it is a stretch to say that the 9/11 resolution granted war powers to the President, ...
That isn't a stretch, that's a fabrication.

Hawkmoon
February 8, 2006, 09:57 PM
I would ask, however, that you cite which freedoms you believe you personally have been denied and date of occurence?
There you go again. To the best of my knowledge, information and belief, I personally have not been denied any freedoms by the so-called "war on terror." However, as has been pointed out to you on numerous prior occasions, other American citizens HAVE BEEN deprived of fundamental and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Jose Padilla and the Muslim attorney in Oregon, the one who was incarcerated for several months without being charged because the FBI chose to ignore the fact that Spain told them he could not be the suspect, are two prime examples.

Why do you continue to insist that each person who brings this up be PERSONALLY affected? It doesn't matter which person is affected, the fact is that people are being detained for lengthy periods, in secret, without charges being brought. This is wrong. Do you disagree? If the FBI were to arrive at your house this evening and haul you away to an undisclosed military detention center because for some reason they thought you either are a terrorist or might have information about terrorists ... would you still think what they are doing is right and proper? Remember, when they haul folks away like that the people don't get legal representation, they don't get charged with anything so there's nothing to defend against, they don't get brought before a judge so they can't even argue that what's being done is illegal. They simply ... disappear.

Hawkmoon
February 8, 2006, 10:02 PM
Not to make another "sound bite" and pollute the thread, however I believe (my opinion) there is a significant difference between the 2nd and 4th Amendments and that neither is being abridged by this administration, as I am sure you'd agree; and the word you used above; i.e., "warrantless" is more the domain of the Chief Executive to determine than you or I.
benEzra may (or may not) agree, but I certainly do not.

You honestly do NOT think the 4th amendment is being abridged?

Kodiaz
February 8, 2006, 10:09 PM
If things keep going the way they are we are going to be the "insurgents".

Lobotomy Boy
February 8, 2006, 10:49 PM
I guess it boils down to a matter of how much faith we have in our elected officials. Camp David is clearly an intelligent and rational person--one of the few defenders of the actions of the current administration who fits that description, it seems--and unlike some, he doesn't seem to be motivated by stupid fear, but rather he seems motivated by ideology and a genuine concern for what he believes to be the greater good. Apparently he simply has more faith in the men and women running our country than I do. I don't trust them as far as I could throw them. Personally I don't see how it's possible to have much faith in these people since Watergate, and all the examples of leaders behaving in a fallible and human fashion ever since. That's why I think it critical that we maintain a healthy system of checks and balances and not let one branch of government assume too much authority.

Lone_Gunman
February 8, 2006, 10:57 PM
That's why I think it critical that we maintain a healthy system of checks and balances and not let one branch of government assume too much authority.

You sound dangerously like the insurgents!

(Those working in at Independence Hall in 1787)

Bartholomew Roberts
February 8, 2006, 11:22 PM
Incorrect. The charmen & ranking (opposition) members of the Intel committees as well the leadership of both parties in Congress were briefed repeatedly to include Jay Rockefeller, the likeliest source for the NYT article.

WHEN were they briefed? Were they briefed in 2004 when the administration knew the game was going to be exposed or were they briefed in ~2001 when the program was begun?

No, what happened is that the administration recognized that knowledge of the practice would become public. It needed to be a secret. FISA cannot be updated without public debate in Congress.

As Biden noted, FISA was amended five times since 2001, including twice under a Democrat-majority Senate. How much of that do you recall reading in the papers?

Another thing that bothers me is that recent articles by the Washington Post indicate that as many as 5,000 Americans were targeted by this program and of those only 10 were forwarded to FISA for actual warrants to pursue further intelligence. If 10 out of 5,000 isn't a fishing expedition then I don't know what is.

At the end of the day, I don't have any problems with NSA listening to Americans if it is deemed necessary in order to expose terrorists. I do have a big problem with the administration unilaterally deciding it has that power and only briefing Congress when it becomes apparent the story is going to leak anyway.

Right now it appears the administration ignored both Congress and the Judiciary (FISA court) and ordered surveillance that is at best highly debateable under the 4th Amendment. If such drastic measures are required, then OK; but the Executive branch should not be the sole judge of that and if they have been they need more than a wrist slap if this is going to have any future deterrent value.

JerryM
February 8, 2006, 11:39 PM
I believe that what is being done is legal , necessary and correct to protect the nation.
Citizens have not been spied upon, unlesss they have received calls from potential terrorists. When things like 9/11 occur some modification to what we normally perceive to be privacy rights must take place.

I think that history will show that the President has the authority to do as he has done, and that it was the correct course of action. If the Congress had know what was taking place there would have been much shouting for no reason than to try to gain a political advantage.

GWB is an excellent president, and one of the best during my lifetime. I voted for him twice, and if he could run a third term I would vote for him again.

Jerry

Camp David
February 8, 2006, 11:51 PM
There you go again. To the best of my knowledge, information and belief, I personally have not been denied any freedoms by the so-called "war on terror." However, as has been pointed out to you on numerous prior occasions, other American citizens HAVE BEEN deprived of fundamental and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights...

Thanks for your post... I believe I have stated my position already so there is no point me repeatedly restating it. Suffice it to say that few on the national stage have offered an alternative plan to the president's on addressing terror; instead most criticize his plan yet they neglect to surface a coherent alternative strategy. Since the president's plan has the most success so far in the War on Terror, I am willing to trust him on this 4th Amendment issue you mention and trust him with our rights. He does not have a record of abridging personal freedoms; when he does I might consider changing my support. That explains in a nutshell my belief and the reasoning behind my support of the administration.

Lobotomy Boy
February 9, 2006, 12:00 AM
I think that history will show that the President has the authority to do as he has done, and that it was the correct course of action.

History hasn't been too kind to any president so far, and I see nothing in this president's actions to indicate that it will alter course for his sake. I think the warrantless wiretaps will go down in history about as well as FDR's internment of Japanese Americans and Nixon's wiretapping of the people on his list of personal enemies. But we're going to have to be a little patient before we find out which of us is correct.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 9, 2006, 12:07 AM
Citizens have not been spied upon, unlesss they have received calls from potential terrorists.

Well, if (per Washington Post) we have listened to 5,000 Americans and have only pursued 10 of those, then it would seem by definition that citizens have been spied upon without receiving calls from potential terrorists unless the administration simply felt that the other 4,990 people talking to potential terrorists weren't worth the effort.

When things like 9/11 occur some modification to what we normally perceive to be privacy rights must take place.

I'm amenable to that argument; but it is not the place nor the right of the President to make that decision unilaterally without consulting the other branches. The whole checks and balances thing doesn't work very well when we institute secret programs that bypass the other two branches.

asknight
February 9, 2006, 01:05 AM
I believe that what is being done is legal , necessary and correct to protect the nation.
Citizens have not been spied upon, unlesss they have received calls from potential terrorists. When things like 9/11 occur some modification to what we normally perceive to be privacy rights must take place.

I think that history will show that the President has the authority to do as he has done, and that it was the correct course of action. If the Congress had know what was taking place there would have been much shouting for no reason than to try to gain a political advantage.

GWB is an excellent president, and one of the best during my lifetime. I voted for him twice, and if he could run a third term I would vote for him again.

Jerry

How do you figure out who the "potential" terrorists are? I'll tell you. Each and every single person in the US is a "potential" terrorist. They're using this wiretapping thing to seperate the "definites" from the "potentials." How else do you propose that they "know" who to wiretap and who not to?

Things like 9/11 don't warrant a by-and-large recall of the Bill of Rights, because if we were set up to block any type of 9/11 event, then there would be no Bill of Rights and we wouldn't be a free country.

Less free countries will continue to throws rocks at us in envy, so long as we're the most free and prosperous country in the world. Do you know what it takes to avoid being picked on? Real simple... Don't be the most free and prosperous country, or at least more free and prosperous than your enemies. Are you sure that you're clear on what you're advocating by saying that 9/11 events require a rescinding of rights? When do we get our rights back? There will never be a lack of threats to our country, so by your idea... I don't think we'll ever get more free... only less.

I won't challenge your issue of Bush being the one of the best presidents of your lifetime. That's purely opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own. I will throw out a cliche and say that he was indeed the "lesser of two evils."

BuddyOne
February 9, 2006, 01:08 AM
NSA's been around for a while. Is anyone so naive that they believe that signals intelligence began with President Bush? If the legislative branch hadn't been consulted there would have been no leak of the activity...

Checks and balances work very well when a political party doesn't become an adjunct of the enemy.

Buddy

benEzra
February 9, 2006, 08:40 AM
Originally Posted by Camp David
Not to make another "sound bite" and pollute the thread, however I believe (my opinion) there is a significant difference between the 2nd and 4th Amendments and that neither is being abridged by this administration,
I believe that both are important, and that the 4th is being encroached upon.

as I am sure you'd agree; and the word you used above; i.e., "warrantless" is more the domain of the Chief Executive to determine than you or I.
"Warrantless" means "without a search warrant," not "unwarranted." The 4th Amendment says a search requires a warrant. A secret intelligence court (the FISA court) exists to provide search warrants to allow secret surveillance of suspected terrorists.

What has us all scratching our heads is why the administration secretly avoided getting search warrants via the secret court, choosing instead to conduct surveillance of U.S. citizens inside the United States without search warrants. THAT is the problem. Not whether or not searches were done, but that searches were done without warrants even though warrants are legally required (both by the 4thA and by the text of the FISA law), and a special court exists to issue such warrants 24/7.

Lone_Gunman
February 9, 2006, 08:54 AM
It is my understanding as well that getting a court order from FISA is easy for the government to do. Something like 95+ percent of all requests for surveillance have been granted by FISA, and it takes very little time as well.

Given statistics like that, I don't understand why Bush didn't choose to play by the rules instead of getting himself into a messy Constitutional quandry.

Lobotomy Boy
February 9, 2006, 09:09 AM
It is my understanding as well that getting a court order from FISA is easy for the government to do. Something like 95+ percent of all requests for surveillance have been granted by FISA, and it takes very little time as well.

Given statistics like that, I don't understand why Bush didn't choose to play by the rules instead of getting himself into a messy Constitutional quandry.

The actual number is higher than 99 percent. You raise an excellent question: Why?

The official explanation is that answering that question would compromise national security; those conducting the warrantless wiretaps simply ask that we trust them. The most well-reasoned support of the administration's Constitutionally messy program is the one put forth by Camp David: "Yes, we should trust them."

I wish I could, but there has not been a president in my lifetime that I completely trust. Even Ronald Reagan, in hindsight arguably the best president since Ike, engaged in illegal activity (though to his credit he admitted he had made a mistake in a nationally televised apology). While this president has yet to be caught red-handed committing an impeachable offense, at the very least his administration cynically manipulated questionable intelligence to drum up support for our current war. Whether or not you agree with the decision to go to war you can't legitimately argue that the administration's spin leading us into the war was ethically questionable. That fact enough makes me unwilling to buy into the "trust us" argument, especially when it comes to something as irrevokable as stripping Constitutional rights.

Lobotomy Boy
February 9, 2006, 09:13 AM
Those of you who support the administration's warrantless wiretaps, please reread the transcripts from Gonzales' appearance and engage in the following intellectual exercise:

Imagine this is the AG from a future Democratic administration, and the topic is the warrantless wiretapping of gun owners. Considering gun owners potential terrorists is not so far fetched, since more Americans die of gun violence each year than have ever been killed by terrorists, and if this precedent is allowed to stand, we will see the practice of warrantless wiretaps spread like cancer.

In this scenario, are you still willing to support a program of warrantless wiretapping?

roo_ster
February 9, 2006, 11:29 AM
WHEN were they briefed? Were they briefed in 2004 when the administration knew the game was going to be exposed or were they briefed in ~2001 when the program was begun?
It is my understanding that House & Senate leadership (Rep & Dem) as well as the chairmen (Rep) & ranking members (Dem) of the Intel committees have been in the know from the get-go. In addition, GWB reviewed & re-authorized the operation every 45 days (compared to Clinton's every 180 days for similar operations). In 2004, the GWB admin spoke with the entire Intel committees to discuss the matter of changing FISA to make it amendable to the operation.

No one who knows definitely what the NSA is doing is willing to talk in detail, but a likely scenario is as follows:
1. All phone numbers are being captured & sifted through, coming & leaving USA, against numbers suspected to be used by terrorists. (FWIW, US Gov't has never needed a warrant to get phone number information from the telcos, even in domestic to domestic calls, as that information is in the open. I don't agree with the practice, but that is my understanding. It isn't just the NSA that does this.)
2. When a match is made, the domestic number is noted for more scrutiny.
3. Then a sampling of the audio of those sifted numbers is later captured and sifted against word lists, algorythms, etc. to try to detect terroist communications.
4. If the automated system gets a hit, it is them shunted off to humans for more scrutiny.

A similar regimen would likely do similar analysis of email in & out of the USA.

It is a logical reduction of data that is in the realm of the do-able, given current tech. Similar such reductions occur in analysis every day in operations research outfits in industry & gov't.

It is not perfect and can be thwarted by use of encryption, steganography, etc. Luckily for us (until the operation was revealed), most of the bad guys get lazy. I suspect they have been given more motivation to maintain better communications security from now on. More's the pity.

I suspect several two reasons FISA was shunted aside by GWB & the NSA:
1. No president has acknowledged the authority of FISA/Congress to restrict the executive branch's Constitutional power to perform foreign surveillance or commo going into or out of the USA. Not Carter, Reagan, GHWB, Clinton, or GWB; since FISA. Not any president before FISA. The principle is that Congress can not take away power given to another branch by the US Constitution. For similar reasons, the War Powers Act has always been treated as a red-headed stepchild by the executive branch.
2. FISA is unworkable, given the automated nature of the analysis & collection. Those judges would be signing thousands of warrants at all hours to authorize audio sampling & automated analysis. I doubt that the 10-12 judges involved have enough time in the day to sign warrants to authorize every sampling.
3. House & Senate leadership (Dem & Rep) as well Intel committe leadership (Rep & Dem) never squawked when briefed.


Well, if (per Washington Post) we have listened to 5,000 Americans and have only pursued 10 of those, then it would seem by definition that citizens have been spied upon without receiving calls from potential terrorists unless the administration simply felt that the other 4,990 people talking to potential terrorists weren't worth the effort.
Capturing the phone numbers for calls in & out of the USA does not require a warrant.

Does the phone number capture (but not capturing content) constitute spying? Does linking an American's phone number with a known bad guy's phone number give enough justification to cature & analyze some of the call's content? These are questions that must be answered & I am not yet sure. I do know that I am a bit uncomfortable, but I know that anything sent overseas is open to be listened in on by foreign gov'ts, anyway.

Of course, remember that phone numbers are analogous to email addresses and audio content of phone conversations is analogous to the email's body.

Those of you who support the administration's warrantless wiretaps, please reread the transcripts from Gonzales' appearance and engage in the following intellectual exercise:

Imagine this is the AG from a future Democratic administration, and the topic is the warrantless wiretapping of gun owners. Considering gun owners potential terrorists is not so far fetched, since more Americans die of gun violence each year than have ever been killed by terrorists, and if this precedent is allowed to stand, we will see the practice of warrantless wiretaps spread like cancer.

In this scenario, are you still willing to support a program of warrantless wiretapping?
An ugly scenario, but it does not fit the current situation. You are assuming domestic to domestic calls, whlie the NSA is doing its business on call that are entirely outside the USA or one end is entirely outside the USA.

I would work under the assumption that the FBI already knows which numbers/email addys we all use & who we call/email.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 9, 2006, 11:58 AM
It is my understanding that House & Senate leadership (Rep & Dem) as well as the chairmen (Rep) & ranking members (Dem) of the Intel committees have been in the know from the get-go. In addition, GWB reviewed & re-authorized the operation every 45 days (compared to Clinton's every 180 days for similar operations). In 2004, the GWB admin spoke with the entire Intel committees to discuss the matter of changing FISA to make it amendable to the operation.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence committee says she was briefed since 2003 (http://www.house.gov/harman/press/releases/2005/1221PR_nsa.html). I'd be curious to see whether that coincides with the start of the program or not.

Capturing the phone numbers for calls in & out of the USA does not require a warrant. Does the phone number capture (but not capturing content) constitute spying? Does linking an American's phone number with a known bad guy's phone number give enough justification to cature & analyze some of the call's content?

The WaPo story indicated the 5,000 number referred to the number of Americans passed on by automated systems who were listened to by actual people.

These are questions that must be answered & I am not yet sure. I do know that I am a bit uncomfortable, but I know that anything sent overseas is open to be listened in on by foreign gov'ts, anyway.

Foreign governments will listen to us and they will likely pass that information on to our government when it serves their purposes. The question now is whether we will tolerate allowing our own government to say that the 4th Amendment is meaningless as long as one end of the conversation is held outside of the U.S. I don't think that is a good precedent to set.

An ugly scenario, but it does not fit the current situation. You are assuming domestic to domestic calls, whlie the NSA is doing its business on call that are entirely outside the USA or one end is entirely outside the USA.

I am assuming no such thing. I am well aware that one end of the call is outside of the U.S. What I had assumed (wrongly apparently) is that most Americans would not tolerate being told that the President's powers to gather foreign intelligence were so broad that he could listen to any conversation an American had with a foreigner on the basis that this person MIGHT be a foreign agent or terrorist.

Your rights are like your muscles. If you don't use them, they atrophy and they are a lot harder to build back than they are to maintain. The only question I see here is whether we plan to maintain our rights or hand them over to the Executive branch (and not just THIS executive; but future ones as well).

CAnnoneer
February 9, 2006, 12:56 PM
A few small points:

1) The damages to checks and balances that this administration has continually done will be with us for a long long time and may prove irreversible.

2) "Klintoon did it too" is a childish argument that no self-respecting adult should stoop to, no matter how hardpressed. It may be better to remember we are all in the same boat, so previous bad decisions are no justification for current and future ones.

3) Those who support the Imperial Presidency and think the executive does not have enough power yet, should read the "GULag Archipelago" by Solzhenitsin and "Cicero" by Everitt. (Svetonius and Tacitus would not be a bad idea either). Read them, dammit! That's the least you can do.

4) What the track records are of the Bidens of the world is irrelevant if at this juncture they do something to defend your freedoms, regardless of ulterior or partisan motives. Kicking them for who they are while they are doing something useful to you is just as bad as #2.

5) In a two-party system, the checks are provided by your opponents, whether you like it or not.

Camp David
February 9, 2006, 01:22 PM
IWhat has us all scratching our heads is why the administration secretly avoided getting search warrants via the secret court, choosing instead to conduct surveillance of U.S. citizens inside the United States without search warrants. THAT is the problem....
New information ben that might give you an answer, or at least further define threat and its potentiality...


Bush: U.S. thwarted al Qaeda attack on L.A.
Thursday, February 9, 2006; Posted: 12:04 p.m. EST (17:04 GMT)
http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/02/09/bush.terror/index.html
The U.S. Bank Tower, center, is the tallest building in Los Angeles, California.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Shortly after 9/11, al Qaeda began planning to use shoe bombers to hijack a commercial airplane and fly it into the tallest building in Los Angeles, President Bush said Thursday. The details were the first about the West Coast airliner plot, which was thwarted in 2002 and initially disclosed by the White House last year, Bush said.

Lobotomy Boy
February 9, 2006, 01:49 PM
It is my understanding that House & Senate leadership (Rep & Dem) as well as the chairmen (Rep) & ranking members (Dem) of the Intel committees have been in the know from the get-go.

That's not the conclusion I came to after reading the Gonzales transcripts excerpted at the beginning of this thread.

RealGun
February 9, 2006, 01:53 PM
What I had assumed (wrongly apparently) is that most Americans would not tolerate being told that the President's powers to gather foreign intelligence were so broad that he could listen to any conversation an American had with a foreigner on the basis that this person MIGHT be a foreign agent or terrorist.

He CAN do that, certainly with FISA clearance. The question is whether there is accountability and a procedure that serves to head off abuse.

There is a lot of breast beating about rights being violated. That is mostly nonsense. The issue is whether surveillance without FISA court concurrence is legal. Under the right conditions, they can still do whatever is believed necessary, rights be damned. Those who want to curtail that argument propose that the WoT does not involve war powers. There is a conflict between wanting to find fault with the administration and approving that someone is doing what needs to be done to protect the country's security.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 9, 2006, 02:04 PM
He CAN do that, certainly with FISA clearance. The question is whether there is accountability and a procedure that serves to head off abuse.

I'd go one further and say that the question isn't just whether there is accountability and procedure; but oversight by one of the other branches of government. DoJ currently has procedures designed to limit abuse. I am just not comfortable with one agency determining A) who to collect on, B) whether that collection is legal and C) whether that process is being abused. That is a process that will be abused at some future point if it isn't being abused yet.

I'd also say that just the fact the other guy is a foreigner is not enough to support the Presidential powers being claimed. If the President has the ability to conduct warrantless domestic/international surveillance of Americans without having a reasonable belief that the person on the other end is a foreign agent or terrorist then the exception is big enough to swallow the rule.

RealGun
February 9, 2006, 02:22 PM
I'd go one further and say that the question isn't just whether there is accountability and procedure; but oversight by one of the other branches of government.

I believe Congress delegated to the FISA court.

Lobotomy Boy
February 9, 2006, 03:06 PM
Since no one who supports the warrantless wiretapping has addressed my question, I'm going to repost it in large, red, boldfaced type:

Those of you who support the administration's warrantless wiretaps, please reread the transcripts from Gonzales' appearance and engage in the following intellectual exercise:

Imagine this is the AG from a future Democratic administration, and the topic is the warrantless wiretapping of gun owners. Considering gun owners potential terrorists is not so far fetched, since more Americans die of gun violence each year than have ever been killed by terrorists, and if this precedent is allowed to stand, we will see the practice of warrantless wiretaps spread like cancer.

In this scenario, are you still willing to support a program of warrantless wiretapping?


That'll learn you to ignore my requests.

Biker
February 9, 2006, 03:12 PM
Ain't no learnin' without a lashin'.:neener:
Biker

Camp David
February 9, 2006, 03:18 PM
In this scenario, are you still willing to support a program of ... wiretapping?
YES ;)

BostonGeorge
February 9, 2006, 03:21 PM
YES ;)

And if the wiretaps are targeting Christians, the terrorist group of the future
(as deemed by a future administration?)

Camp David
February 9, 2006, 03:24 PM
And if the wiretaps are targeting Christians, the terrorist group of the future
(as deemed by a future administration?)

Note the: ;)

NineseveN
February 9, 2006, 03:30 PM
Ain't no learnin' without a lashin'.:neener:
Biker

Oh that's just awesome! Haha. :D

BostonGeorge
February 9, 2006, 03:31 PM
Note the: ;)

So you wouldn't support the action but you support executive power to make that decision?

RealGun
February 9, 2006, 03:40 PM
In this scenario, are you still willing to support a program of warrantless wiretapping?

I would be willing to support warrantless tinfoil confiscation.

Camp David
February 9, 2006, 03:41 PM
So you wouldn't support the action but you support executive power to make that decision?

The premise of Lobotomy Boy's theoretical question is a bit skewed but I understand the point he is trying to make. Unfortunately, he makes assumtions such that a simple "yes" or "no" answer is really not applicable nor possible... Initially, he starts with "Those of you who support the administration's warrantless wiretaps," of which I can only agree with first seven words! Secondly, he assumes a fallacy in logic; i.e., a future democratic administration (that's a big jump)! Lastly, he puts four words together that shouldn't ever go together, particularly on a Gun Supporters Discussion Board; i.e., "gun owners potential terrorists." I threw him a bone by saying yes with a ;)... Should Lobotomy Boy recast the scenario with a realistic plot twist (and smaller font) the idea might generate serious replies!

Biker
February 9, 2006, 03:46 PM
CD, ya ol' SOB:) , concerning LB's alleged fallacy concerning a future Dem administration, are you saying that it will never happen? Also, if that were true, it seems that you're intimating that every future Repub POTUS would be worthy of trust. Am I off base?
Biker

CAnnoneer
February 9, 2006, 03:51 PM
"Even a hundred lashes is too few on somebody else's back." European proverb

NineseveN
February 9, 2006, 03:53 PM
The premise of Lobotomy Boy's theoretical question is a bit skewed but I understand the point he is trying to make. Unfortunately, he makes assumtions such that a simple "yes" or "no" answer is really not applicable nor possible... Initially, he starts with "Those of you who support the administration's warrantless wiretaps," of which I can only agree with first seven words! Secondly, he assumes a fallacy in logic; i.e., a future democratic administration (that's a big jump)! Lastly, he puts four words together that shouldn't ever go together, particularly on a Gun Supporters Discussion Board; i.e., "gun owners potential terrorists." I threw him a bone by saying yes with a ;)... Should Lobotomy Boy recast the scenario with a realistic plot twist (and smaller font) the idea might generate serious replies!


With all due respect, that entire post came off as a weak attempt at brushing the issue aside.

At some point, there will be a democratic president. Might not be 2008, might not be the next term or the term after that, but it will happen. Unless this practice of warrantless wiretapping is stopped, it is logical to assume that it just may continue into future presidencies for a variety of reasons.

As a threat vector for domestic terrorism, firearms owners are certainly not at the top, but then again, according to the VPC we're all murderers and might lash out and kill at any minute. If the plan was to confiscate the majority of the guns in this country by charging nearly all gun owners with a crime, it's not hard to presume how secret, warrantless wiretaps without oversight might figure into that strategy.

Camp David
February 9, 2006, 04:08 PM
Am I off base?Is your kickstand down?

At some point, there will be a democratic president. Might not be 2008, might not be the next term or the term after that, but it will happen... ;)

... it's not hard to presume how secret, warrantless wiretaps without oversight might figure into that strategy.... Grasping at straws?

Let me tell you something you already know; the GOP, more than any other political party, knows all too well that among their core and base supporters, the most prevalent characteristic among them all is strong support for the Second Amendment. After Al Gore's loss in 2000, I would say that DNC knows this just as well. My opinion: It would be political suicide to engage in what you are speculating, for any politician, of any party.

Lobotomy Boy
February 9, 2006, 05:50 PM
My opinion: It would be political suicide to engage in what you are speculating, for any politician, of any party.

I wish I shared your opinion, CD, but I don't. At the pace change occurs in our society today, I don't think a chain of unforseen events unfolding that would lead to a reactionary liberal regime abusing the powers the Bush administration has garnered for the executive branch in order to criminalize gun ownership.

I don't know how old you are, but I assume you must be at least my age, and must be old enough to remember Watergate. At the very least you seem to know enough about history to be aware of the dramatic changes in the U.S. political climate that occured between 1973, when Nixon triumphantly began his second term after defeating McGovern in a landslide victory, and 1977, when Jimmy Carter moved into the Oval Office. In just four years the entire political landscape had been turned upside down. Actions that would have been unthinkable in 1973 were commonplace by 1977.

I predict we are in for that sort of sea change again. I see the end result of the hamfisted way the Bush administration has run this country leading to a reactionary swing to the political left. I fully expect at least a few high-level indictments of key Bush administration officials and perhaps even an impeachment hearing if the sea change begins early enough to put Democrats in power in Congress next fall. I predict this because the administration is handling each new crisis in the same arrogant, high-handed manner that created these situations in the first place.

Personally I would like to see Bush take a play from the Reagan play book: admit it made mistakes, apologize, promise to correct those mistakes, and then move on. It worked for Reagan. Unfortunately our current president is a far cry from Ronald Reagan.

NineseveN
February 9, 2006, 06:27 PM
Unfortunately our current president is a far cry from Ronald Reagan.

Amen. Reagan was far from perfect, but he was what he was and I like him. :)

Kodiaz
February 9, 2006, 06:46 PM
Why have all this wiretapping when Osama is living in San Francisco anyway he walked across the border like everyone else. Then he went to a place where only he would have guns.:neener:

ArmedBear
February 9, 2006, 07:07 PM
I would completely and totally support a Democratic president ordering the NSA to do wiretaps on people speaking by phone with known Al Qaeda operatives overseas.

That's what's at issue here.

I think Gonzalez is a statist pig. I don't want to have a beer with him, and I think he was a crappy choice for AG (though far better than Janet Reno). But so what? This is not ABOUT Alberto Gonzalez. This is about the NSA doing what the NSA is SUPPOSED to do with our tax money, in the very context in which it is supposed to be doing it.

Art Eatman
February 9, 2006, 08:00 PM
To say that the "warrantless wiretapping" is illegal under FISA is to say that FISA supercedes Article 2 of the Constitution as to the Prez being the CinC. He's supposed to wiretap enemies in a time of war. Al Qaida sure ain't our friend. bush doesn't even need those Congresional resolutions which have blessed the power he already has under Article 2.

All this Congressional fussing and feuding is nothing but the Outs trying to mess up the Ins in the unending battle to see who wins out in the numbers game and thereby controls federal spending. It has zilch to do with law or Constitution or Iraq or Al Qaida. Strictly about efforts to regain power. The Democrats, right now, are merely using this particular "wiretap" thing to make the Administration and the Republicans look bad, hoping to make gains in the next election. If there's no blowback, they'll seize some other event in a week or three and set up more whoop-tee-do.

RealGun
February 9, 2006, 08:06 PM
Unfortunately our current president is a far cry from Ronald Reagan.

His second term poll numbers are higher.

Hawkmoon
February 9, 2006, 10:05 PM
To say that the "warrantless wiretapping" is illegal under FISA is to say that FISA supercedes Article 2 of the Constitution as to the Prez being the CinC. He's supposed to wiretap enemies in a time of war. Al Qaida sure ain't our friend. bush doesn't even need those Congresional resolutions which have blessed the power he already has under Article 2.
Apples and oranges, Art.

Leaving aside my argument that, rhetoric be damned, we are not at war because the Congress has not declared a war, let's focus on the CinC stuff. Commander-in-Chief ... of what? OF THE MILITARY. You are ex-military, I believe, so you must have had that chain of command stuff burned into your brain during basic training just as I did. The President is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

But ... the NSA is not part of the armed forces, it is not part of the Department of Defense. The NSA is a civilian agency that falls under the purview of the Executive Branch. UCMJ does not apply. War powers do not apply, at least not in any way speaking to the President as CinC.

The NSA is administrative/executive, not military. CinC simply doesn't have anything to do with this. Beyond the military, the President is not the "Commander in Chief," he is the "Chief Executive." There's a huge difference.

roo_ster
February 9, 2006, 10:21 PM
To say that the "warrantless wiretapping" is illegal under FISA is to say that FISA supercedes Article 2 of the Constitution as to the Prez being the CinC. He's supposed to wiretap enemies in a time of war. Al Qaida sure ain't our friend. bush doesn't even need those Congresional resolutions which have blessed the power he already has under Article 2.

All this Congressional fussing and feuding is nothing but the Outs trying to mess up the Ins in the unending battle to see who wins out in the numbers game and thereby controls federal spending. It has zilch to do with law or Constitution or Iraq or Al Qaida. Strictly about efforts to regain power. The Democrats, right now, are merely using this particular "wiretap" thing to make the Administration and the Republicans look bad, hoping to make gains in the next election. If there's no blowback, they'll seize some other event in a week or three and set up more whoop-tee-do.
Yep, whether I like it or not, what GWB is doing is withing the scope of his Constitutionally granted powers. I guess that is just one more instance that libertarianism is not completely in line with the US Constitution. The difference between a document meant to work in the real world of and a platform not meant to exist outside the ivory tower.

Gotta remember: the US Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 9, 2006, 10:26 PM
But ... the NSA is not part of the armed forces, it is not part of the Department of Defense. The NSA is a civilian agency that falls under the purview of the Executive Branch. UCMJ does not apply. War powers do not apply, at least not in any way speaking to the President as CinC.

Uh... the NSA IS part of the Armed Forces and it IS a part of the Department of Defense - that is why the director of the NSA is a General. The NSA is the successor to the Armed Forces Security Agency. Many of the NSA members ARE military and the UCMJ does apply to them. The argument that the NSA is not part of the military simply has no basis in reality.

I think a better point is that while the President certainly has the authority to conduct foreign intelligence under Article 2 of the Constitution, that right does not trump the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Americans talking to people who we reasonably believe to be foreign agents or terrorists is one thing. A fishing expedition where anyone talking to foreigners has their conversations monitored on the off chance they end up talking to a terrorist or foreign agent sounds like a pretty severe 4th Amendment violation to me.

Derek Zeanah
February 9, 2006, 10:33 PM
Re: the "at war" stuff.

We're "at war" with terrorists like we're "at war" with poverty and drugs.

War ain't been declared. I think the founders had a more concrete definition of the word than we're using.

silliman89
February 10, 2006, 12:10 AM
Lobotomy Boy -- #76
In this scenario, are you still willing to support a program of warrantless wiretapping?

Yes, although I don't agree that "warrantless wiretapping" is an accurate description of radio intercepts of international signals carrying phone conversations and email.

I think the crux of this matter was summed up early on.

Malone LaVeigh -- #46
I wouldn'y expect privacy if I set up a soapbox on Main Street and started ranting, but I would be very disturbed to hear that the government was recording me and preserving the recordings until such a time as someone in this or some future administration wants to use it. Just because I exercise my free speech, doesn't mean I want to give the government the power to use it against me.

You see, I wouldn't be disturbed (except from the point of view of a tax payer because of the huge expense). Let's suppose you said something in public and a reporter quoted you in the newspaper (or even misquoted you). 10 or 20 years later someone could get that newspaper out of the library and use it against you. That's the same thing, and it could have happened 200 years ago.

If you're not saying anything you're ashamed of, then you've got nothing to worry about. Is anyone protesting the history THR keeps of all our old posts? Is anyone worrying about someone data-mining through our old threads to use our words against us? If you're not worried about any of us knowing what you said, then why is it so scary to imagine the government knowing?

JerryM
February 10, 2006, 12:42 AM
YES, I still support the wire taps. I'll worry about future administrations when they get in office.
In the meantime, I applaud President Bush for doing the right things and not letting polls or Congress keep him from doing them.

Jerry

Biker
February 10, 2006, 12:47 AM
YES, I still support the wire taps. I'll worry about future administrations when they get in office.
In the meantime, I applaud President Bush for doing the right things and not letting polls or Congress keep him from doing them.

Jerry
If Bush has set a legal precedent, how will you change that with future admins?
Biker

JerryM
February 10, 2006, 01:11 AM
I do not think it is a legal precedent. The presidents have had similar authority all along.
Anyway, I'll worry about that in the future. With the Dems and libs and some others, we might not have much of a future.
Jerry

Biker
February 10, 2006, 01:25 AM
The time to worry about the future of our country is *now*.
Biker

tube_ee
February 10, 2006, 04:06 AM
I'm really not getting the whole "Commander in Chief" and "we're at war" arguments.

1. The President is the Commander in Chief of the military. I'm no longer in the military, and therefore the President is no longer my Commander in Chief. That portion of his positional authority simply doesn't apply to civilians. It's simply not relevant to this program. And, from my time in uniform, I remember that nobody's authority of rank or position enabled them to give illegal orders, or to make their orders legal simply because htey were the ones giving them. Regardless of rank, "it's legal because I say it is" doesn't cut it, and never has.

2. I've read the whole Constitution. I can't find the part where it says anything about any parts of it not applying in wartime. If there's a "wartime suspension" clause, please direct me to it. And don't tell me that other Presidents did it, too. I know about Lincoln. I also know that his suspension of Habeus Corpus (spelling?) and the rest of it are now considered by most to be a black mark on his Presidency. Even for the greatest man to ever hold the office, the Constitution was bigger than he was.

--Shannon

Lobotomy Boy
February 10, 2006, 09:48 AM
We can argue about this until the last binary digit has squeezed its way through the last coaxial cable and we probably won't break the impass where we are at. Ultimately this will be a matter for congress to decide, and every day more and more Republicans are starting to side with those of us who think Bush broke the law by choosing to ignore FISA. Judging from the way the administration is trying to juxtapose successes like the foiled plot to destroy the Library Tower in L.A. with its defense of its decision to ignore FISA, which even the administration admits has nothing to do with the NSA warrantless wiretap program, the administration is starting to worry.

BTW, just putting "illegal warrantless wiretaps" in quotes doesn't refute the fact that what we are talking about is a program that engaged in wiretaps (wiretaps) without the FISA warrants (warrantless) required by law (illegal). Remember one basic fact about spin--you can put lipstick on a pig, you can even have sex with it if your morals fall below a certain standard of decency, but try as you might you cannot produce offspring with your immoral congress. The administration's spin might have convinced many of you that this pig is really Rebecca Romaine, but I still wouldn't recommend marrying it.

NineseveN
February 10, 2006, 10:06 AM
Rebecca Romaine is hot. :D

Sorry, my attention was diverted, what were we talking about again?

Lobotomy Boy
February 10, 2006, 12:39 PM
It looks like Scooter Libby is going to roll over on Dick Cheney. Libby could turn out to be this administration's John Dean, and Cheney it's Spiro Agnew. Anyone who still thinks that we might not be looking at a reactionary knee jerk to the left in the '06 and '08 elections, one that puts the worst gun grabbers into power, might want to do a little research into Watergate and its aftermath.

I think our best bet for avoiding this is to try to wrestle control of the Republican party away from the incompetent neocons who seem hell bent on putting the Democrats back in power. Or else you can continue smootching that pig, trying to convince yourself that it is Rebecca Romaine.

PCGS65
February 10, 2006, 01:31 PM
by Lobotomy Boy I predict we are in for that sort of sea change again. I see the end result of the hamfisted way the Bush administration has run this country leading to a reactionary swing to the political left. I fully expect at least a few high-level indictments of key Bush administration officials and perhaps even an impeachment hearing if the sea change begins early enough to put Democrats in power in Congress next fall. I predict this because the administration is handling each new crisis in the same arrogant, high-handed manner that created these situations in the first place.
Lobotomy Boy geez your just not going to get a good nights rest till Bush and company are all serving 20 to life. Give it a rest guy!!!

by Art Eatman, All this Congressional fussing and feuding is nothing but the Outs trying to mess up the Ins in the unending battle to see who wins out in the numbers game and thereby controls federal spending. It has zilch to do with law or Constitution or Iraq or Al Qaida. Strictly about efforts to regain power. The Democrats, right now, are merely using this particular "wiretap" thing to make the Administration and the Republicans look bad, hoping to make gains in the next election. If there's no blowback, they'll seize some other event in a week or three and set up more whoop-tee-do.

+1 Art thats the bottom line. Plus the democrats still want"REVENGE"for how wild Bill disgraced them in the '90s.

ArmedBear
February 10, 2006, 01:42 PM
Arrogance and high-handedness is what Presidents are paid for.

The NSA is a military entity, not a civilian one, no? Therefore, the President would, indeed, be the Commander-in-Chief.

WRT the Founders and the declaration of war, etc...

That is all predicated on a European imperial model of war, which is as quaint as the flintlocks used to fight those wars in 1787.

"Declaring war" on Al Qaeda presents more problems than not. For a minute example, we DO want to use effective weapons on them in CQB, right? Not FMJ NATO rounds... And even so, is there ANY provision for declaring war on an entity that's not a nation-state? I don't believe there is.

But would anyone deny that there was a "war" between the US Army and homesteaders on one side, and various American Indian tribes on the other? Was that war ever declared? That model is somewhat closer to what we now face, than 18th Century ideas about war.

Art Eatman
February 10, 2006, 01:48 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong:

It is my understanding that the U.S. telephone numbers which are monitored are numbers discovered in some sort of records of Al Qaida people: computers, cell phones, papers. IOW, folks here who were contacted by Al Qaida people overseas. That ain't your Aunt Mabel; that's a phone number KNOWN to be involved with Al Qaida.

So I'm still of the view I expressed earlier, that Bush/NSA is legal.

Art

RealGun
February 10, 2006, 02:03 PM
It looks like Scooter Libby is going to roll over on Dick Cheney.

Sources, please.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 10, 2006, 02:34 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong:

It is my understanding that the U.S. telephone numbers which are monitored are numbers discovered in some sort of records of Al Qaida people: computers, cell phones, papers. IOW, folks here who were contacted by Al Qaida people overseas. That ain't your Aunt Mabel; that's a phone number KNOWN to be involved with Al Qaida.

So I'm still of the view I expressed earlier, that Bush/NSA is legal.

Well according to the Washington Post, as many as 5,000 Americans were listened to under this program (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/04/AR2006020401373_pf.html) (selected by some sort of automated process and fed to actual human beings). WaPo also reports the administration sought ~10 warrants per year to continue further surveillance based on that analysis.

I only see two ways to read that and neither of them are comforting to me.

1) The administration is only monitoring phone numbers with known connections to al-Quaida and 4,990 people who dialed up al-Quaida got a pass.

2) The administration is fishing on a broad basis and listening to lots of calls that aren't directed at al-Quaida.

I'd also go further and say that this is about more than your usual partisan election year rumble. The Republicans have long felt that the Democrats emasculated the Executive branch during the Nixon administration and they are seeing this administration and war as an opportunity to restore the office to some of its pre-Nixon powers.

ArmedBear
February 10, 2006, 02:54 PM
I fail to see how checking on leads regarding 5000 individuals by monitoring suspicious calls in a nation of 300,000,000 people is "fishing on a broad basis." Clearly, they abandoned false leads, and any "information" they gleaned was never misused.

Say the police come looking around the neighborhood, even hiding in the bushes in someone's yard, because they got reports of someone sitting in a tree with a rifle aiming at kids, and it turned out to be a misunderstanding, like a kid with a water gun.

The standards by which this would be judged would be:

Was there probable cause?
Did the police use this as an excuse to spy on people in their homes?
Was anything seen by the police kept or misused, if it had nothing to do with the initial reason for their going to the neighborhood?
Did the police arrest anyone for something for which they had no probable cause, but they may have seen while hiding in the bushes?

If the answer is Yes to the first and No to the rest, then I don't believe any judge would rule their conduct to be a violation of anything.

Same would go for the NSA.

Derek Zeanah
February 10, 2006, 03:06 PM
It is my understanding that the U.S. telephone numbers which are monitored are numbers discovered in some sort of records of Al Qaida people: computers, cell phones, papers. IOW, folks here who were contacted by Al Qaida people overseas. That ain't your Aunt Mabel; that's a phone number KNOWN to be involved with Al Qaida.That's what we've heard in the media. However, from a geek's reading between the lines perspective, I'd bet my money on this scenario: The administration has declared "war" on the terrorists.
The terrorists are now in hiding. Those stupid enough to say "come and get me Bush!" are already dead, so those remaining are fairly cautious.
We're pretty sure that there are a number of these folks in the US. Or, if they're not now, they can come across the border pretty easily.
"Data mining" is being used to locate likely folks. This means law enforcement types logging directly into telephone switches (using facilities required by CALEA) with no oversight, and logging/recording information.
Most likely, this means that a computer is listening to most of the domestic-to-domestic calls in the US and flagging those that sound suspicious to other machines, which do some more processing, and then get passed to a person.My guess is we're dealing with a situation where most of the domestic telephone calls and internet traffic are being monitored. This is then being compiled in big databases, along with information like who's calling whom, what purchases were made on credit/debit cards, bank deposit amounts and frequency, cell phone location data (when available), and anything else that is available and might be interesting.

This allows for a greatly increased ability to find suspicious persons, or to quickly find someone's associates and retroactively track their behavior once one is identified.

It's also a great tool for the creation and maintenance of a police state. And I hate it.

I think this goes way deeper than the "we're only monitoring incoming calls from known terrorists" BS, and the reason secret courts weren't used for approval is that it's hard to justify a warrant for millions of phone calls that are being monitored without any probable cause.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 10, 2006, 04:15 PM
I fail to see how checking on leads regarding 5000 individuals by monitoring suspicious calls in a nation of 300,000,000 people is "fishing on a broad basis."

5,000 is the number of people listened to AFTER an automated process had been used to identify those 5,000 people. This means the initial pool is larger than 5,000 and likely much larger.

More disturbing at least 4,990 people who represent a genuine potential threat were either ignored or 4,990 people who represent no threat got listened to with no warrant. Now we can argue whether there was a "reasonable basis/probable cause" to listen to them without even trying to get a warrant; but I'd argue that a less than 0.1% success rate is going to make it tough to argue there was a reasonable basis for believing these people were talking to terrorists.

Clearly, they abandoned false leads, and any "information" they gleaned was never misused.

You say "clearly" as if it was obvious. I don't think it is. As far as I know, none of us know what they did with the information they gained on the other 4,990 people. I do know that AG Gonzales was invited to explain what happened to that information and answer whether it was kept and he declined to answer that question - so I don't think it is quite so clear.

The standards by which this would be judged would be:

Irrelevant to this discussion since Congress has already spelled out the standards by which NSA montioring Americans would be judged in the act authorizing NSAs creation and subsequent legislation like FISA. The NSA has its equivalent "probable cause" in USSID 18 (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB23/07-01.htm). Whatever the administration has been doing, they made it clear by asking Congress for more exceptions that the current program does not fit under any of the "probable cause" exceptions listed under USSID 18.

roo_ster
February 10, 2006, 07:20 PM
"Data mining" is being used to locate likely folks. This means law enforcement types logging directly into telephone switches (using facilities required by CALEA) with no oversight, and logging/recording information.
Most likely, this means that a computer is listening to most of the domestic-to-domestic calls in the US and flagging those that sound suspicious to other machines, which do some more processing, and then get passed to a person.

My guess is we're dealing with a situation where most of the domestic telephone calls and internet traffic are being monitored. This is then being compiled in big databases, along with information like who's calling whom, what purchases were made on credit/debit cards, bank deposit amounts and frequency, cell phone location data (when available), and anything else that is available and might be interesting.

This allows for a greatly increased ability to find suspicious persons, or to quickly find someone's associates and retroactively track their behavior once one is identified.

It's also a great tool for the creation and maintenance of a police state. And I hate it.

I think this goes way deeper than the "we're only monitoring incoming calls from known terrorists" BS, and the reason secret courts weren't used for approval is that it's hard to justify a warrant for millions of phone calls that are being monitored without any probable cause.
Derek, I think you hit the nail on the head, but are wrong on one point: is is not domestic to domestic, but
1. All foreign to foreign commo the NSA can get their mits on
2. All domestic to foreign & foreign to domestic commo

First, I don't have much respect for Jay Rockefeller & most others in Congressional leadership from either party, but I don't think the Dems would have stood mute for years of briefings if warrantless domestic to domestic snooping was going on. It would have got out much earlier and the indignation would not have been manufactured (as it has been to a great extent) but it would have ben a true firestorm, not just one more in a succession of Democratic attempts to smear GWB & his admin. There are attempts to play it as the next "snooping on MLK, Jr," but those attempts fall flat.

Second, I don't think the resources required for sniffing/sifting all domestic to domestic commo is in the realm of the do-able. Too many calls, too many emails, too many packets of worthless bits (to the NSA) of goat pr0n.

Third, I have no illusions that GWB is some sort of closet libertarian. He is a status quo kinda guy; his values are the values of most of the elites in our society. He thinks gov't ought to be used vigorously to "help people when they hurt." He doesn't mind spending big $$$ of other people's money. But, I don't think he has gone all Dr. Strangelove/fascist on us. He's just not that edgey or on the edge, despite the ravings of the Bush Derangement Syndrome crowd.

It's also a great tool for the creation and maintenance of a police state. And I hate it.
D@mn skippy, it is. I'll second your sentiment.

The technology is there for the using. The only thing that prevents it use is the nature and (sincere) oaths of many of our gov't employees, especially the military types. I'm sure there are lots in the employ of .gov who would gladly do the dirty work for their 30 pieces of silver (read Hitler's Willing Execuitoners & see why)...just as I'm sure that there is a sizable number who would honor their oaths and work to prevent it, consequences be d@mned. I met enough straight arows in the service to come to that opinion.

What we, as Americans, need to come to grips with, is that we can employ some safeguards that neuter the snooping tech. Those safeguards need to become ubiquitous in all our commo software, just another expected step in the activatoin of an email acct, getting a broadband hookup, or activating a digital cell phone.

ArmedBear
February 10, 2006, 07:59 PM
jfruser-

+1 on all. A rational voice.

Kodiaz
February 10, 2006, 08:48 PM
Bomb nuke Allah Osama Usama Bush Cheney. This and several other choice words are how I start my Fri. BS sessions with my cousin. Ok the NSA is now reading this thread and will summarily be monitoring all of our phone calls:neener:

Art Eatman
February 10, 2006, 09:02 PM
Derek, I follow your point. But, it looks (sorta) like two separate things are being lumped together by NSA. First, what I see as legitimate tracking of Al Qaida actives and their agents or cooperators. Second, whatever NSA wants to monitor. Sorta like the Echelon thing, it's an all-inclusive net.

And, I agree, the latter idea really sucks.

My problem about the real-world aspect is that people are naturally snoopy. Heck, look at the Census long form. Remember the FBI files of the Hoover era. Kids got toys, they're gonna use them. Or some group within an agency will use the latest and newest technology to snoop, just because it's physically possible.

My own idea of a protection is to increase laws having to do with accountability in the event of misuse of information. It's one thing to go snooping. It's something else to misuse that information to the detriment of a citizen in the absence of any crime. In my mind, the misuse is what first gets out to the public, so that's where punitive accountability should exist. IOW, I don't see how snooping can be stopped. Maybe, stopping misuse of the information can be attained.

Congress would probably disagree with me, though, as would governmental employees...

Art

CAnnoneer
February 10, 2006, 09:04 PM
The technology is there for the using. The only thing that prevents it use is the nature and (sincere) oaths of many of our gov't employees, especially the military types. I'm sure there are lots in the employ of .gov who would gladly do the dirty work for their 30 pieces of silver (read Hitler's Willing Execuitoners & see why)...just as I'm sure that there is a sizable number who would honor their oaths and work to prevent it, consequences be d@mned. I met enough straight arows in the service to come to that opinion.

+1

It is exactly because of the bootlicking statist careerist judas of the world (e.g. Alberto) that all this talk about "trust us, the gov" is so full of crap.

Malone LaVeigh
February 10, 2006, 11:49 PM
http://workingforchange.speedera.net/www.workingforchange.com/webgraphics/wfc/TMW06-02-08.jpg

RealGun
February 11, 2006, 07:51 AM
+1

It is exactly because of the bootlicking statist careerist judas of the world (e.g. Alberto) that all this talk about "trust us, the gov" is so full of crap.


I take it there are those with which you find fault. I believe the High Road is a couple notches above what you are posting.

Lobotomy Boy
April 8, 2006, 12:30 AM
Gonzales now says that Bush can wiretap without warrants within the U.S., and not just on calls originating or going overseas. Basically he is saying the Fourth Amendment is no longer applicable:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/06/AR2006040600764.html?nav=rss_politics

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.


Looks like mission creep, and the mission is the total dismantling of the Bill of Rights.

Gonzales previously testified in the Senate that Bush had considered including purely domestic communications in the NSA spying program, but he said the idea was rejected in part because of fears of a public outcry.

Consider this an "outcry."

In yesterday's testimony, Gonzales reiterated earlier hints that there may be another facet to the NSA program that has not been revealed publicly, or even another program that has prompted dissension within the government.

Given what we already know about, imagine what these people are hiding.

NineseveN
April 8, 2006, 12:57 AM
Heh, I guess the sky is falling, someone buy Chicken Little a beer. :neener:

Lobotomy Boy
April 11, 2006, 05:47 PM
How does your infantile insult negate the fact that Gonzales just nullified the Bill of Rights?

NineseveN
April 11, 2006, 07:26 PM
My insult? Um, I was arguing that the sky really is falling (i.e. that this is a lot more serious than "it's only terrorists and only certain people and I'm not one of either making international calls so this is no big deal"). I think I was supporting the same point that you were. :confused:


...though I did mispell "beer" (edited to fix it). :o

Lobotomy Boy
April 11, 2006, 07:52 PM
You're right--I didn't get it. I'm getting a bit ticked off about the fact that we are slipping down the slope towards a dictatorship at an increasing pace and no one seems to notice. I apologize.

NineseveN
April 11, 2006, 08:25 PM
No worries, I hear ya.

RealGun
April 11, 2006, 08:32 PM
Gonzales now says that Bush can wiretap without warrants within the U.S., and not just on calls originating or going overseas.

Bush doesn't do that. Gonzales passes it down, not up.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gonzales' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!