Monday, December 19, 2005

Such an angry man

God, I wish I had a videotape of today's press conference. Because the President totally lost his cool this morning, and sounded bitter that we expected him to work within the law. He wants America to sign over all their rights to him so he can fight the "war on terror" that has yet to slow down the pace of terrorism, and he wants us to excuse Nixonian behavior on his part, behavior that the Supreme Court rejected in United States vs. United States District Court of Eastern Michigan (1972).

And, there's this line from Bill Arkin at the Washington Post, which sums everything up nicely.
"What has happened since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks is as pernicious and as damaging as any abuse or panic or misstep of the past: We must pledge allegiance to a certain post 9/11 Order, abandon the rule of law, compromise our values, turn against our neighbors, enlist in a clash of civilizations, all in the name of defeating the terrorists.
We are being asked to destroy our country in order to save it. "

Indeed. There isn't statutory authority for what he's done, let alone constitutional authority. It is obvious now that this President does not respect the law, and briefing a court or Congress is not equivalent to getting their legal approval. Congress never passed a law allowing this, and the FISA court didn't approve a warrant. He simply told them he was doing it. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not allow him to eavesdrop without a warrant, either. Specifically, "Title 50, Chapter 36. FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE Sec. 1802. Electronic surveillance authorization without court order
(a)(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a courtorder under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence informationfor periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies inwriting under oath that--(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at-- i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party. "

Wait, what did I just write? The law? Oh, yes, I forgot, this President thinks the law is whatever he says it is, because 9/11 happened, God thought he should be president, and he knows so much more than Congress or Americans, except with the Iraq war, where everyone saw the same(not the same), (manipulated) intelligence, then he's just as smart as anyone.

This is giving me a giant migraine. I just cannot take this abuse of power and this flouting of the Constitution. I know that some of you will say, there he goes, he's become a liberal moonbat, yadda, yadda, yadda, and my response is that you'd be repeating what the defenders of Richard Nixon said before they saw that he truly did abuse the office. And by the way, the Cold War was infinitely more dangerous than terrorism. The Soviet Union could destroy us in an hour's time with nuclear missiles. But even under that far greater threat, we believed in the law. Apparently, in Bush's world, terrorists with car bombs are scarier than nuclear destruction. Thankfully, Arlen Specter is seeing the light and is going to investigate. Hopefully more in Congress will follow.


Blogger E. M. Zanotti said...

Actually, that statute, when it is read in conjunction with the Congressional explanation, specifically includes foreign nationals living inside the country. Domestic to international calls are included within the statute. Domestic to domestic are not. These calls that the NYT has decided are "outrageous" are international to domestic foreign nationals.

And no, the Cold War was not more dangerous than terrorism. The Cold War was brought about by mutually assured destruction (we die, they die, etc.). Terrorism is the killing of innocents without regard for the international laws of war. As there is no governmental control of it, no sponsoring state body, and no indication that there is a central aspect or method to the terrorist idea, there is an infinitely greater threat to Americans (particularly innocent Americans) at this moment in time than at any other in history.

And if you think that we didn't eavesdrop on potential Russian spies during the Cold War, and potential terrorists under Clinton, you've been taught only selective history. The Cold War was based not only on weapons proliferation but ushered in an age of international espionage. What exactly do you think HUAC and McCarthy were doing when they were trying to root out "Commies." Suprisingly, though no history professors like to report it, McCarthy and, later, HUAC, were extrememly successful.

When your enemy is on your soil, the battle comes to your soil. Sleeper cells are a reality, whether it is politically beneficial to acknolwedge it or not. Those who propagated the 9/11 attacks lived and worked domestically and communicated internationally. Its a logical intelligence step to monitor those without alerting a justice system that cannot and will not keep information confidential.

And that case? You have the title wrong or its nonexistant.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Thad said...

The case is, in full, United States v. United States District Court for Eastern District of Michigan. 407 U.S. 297, 92 S. Ct. 2125, 32 L.Ed.2d 752. I have it in my constitutional law book, Constitutional Interpretation, Rights of the Individual, Volume II by Craig Ducat.

Justice Powell, delivering the court's opinion, wrote, "The government relies on [18 U.S.C.A.] Sec. 2511(3). It argues that "in excepting national security surveillances from the Act's warrant requirement Congress recognized the President's authority to conduct such surveillances witout prior judicial approval...The section thus is viewed as a recognition or affirmance of a constitutional authority in the President to conduct warrantless domestic security surveillance such as that involved in this case. We think the language of Section 2511 (3), as well as the legislative history of the statute, refutes this interpretation."

Later, Powell wrote, "National security cases, moreover, often reflect a convergence of First and Fourth Amendment values not present in 'ordinary' crime. Though the investigative duty of the executive may be stronger in such cases, so also is there greater jeopardy to constitutionally protected speech...History abundantly documents the tendency of Government, however benevolent and benign its motives, to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies. Fourth Amendment protections become the more necessary when the targets of official surveillance may be those suspected of unorthodoxy in their political beliefs. The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect "national security."...These Fourth Amendment freedoms cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances may be conducted solely within the discretion of the executive branch. The Fourth Amendment does not contemplate the executive officers of Government as neutral and disinterested magistrates. Their duty and responsibility is to enforce the laws, to investigate and prosecute."

And today the Times reported that purely domestic calls were intercepted by these wiretaps, so that's out the window too.

And let's not forget the President could have gotten retroactive warrants from the FISA court, and chose to ignore it. FISA states that the wiretaps not only cover American citizens, but also lawfully resident aliens. There has to be evidence of criminal activity. The people have to be agents of a foreign power, with the citizenship of that foreign power, as opposed to U.S. persons engaged in work for that power.

The statute also only gives the president 15 days to conduct warrantless wiretaps after a declaration of war by Congress which explicity didn't happen. Congress gave the President authority to conduct all necessary military measures to safeguard our security, but did not actually declare war.

Finally, I would say the idea of millions of people dying in one hour's time because one nation misjudges the other's intentions and launches their nuclear missiles
is far more dangerous than bombs which, at most, kill thousands of people. Both are tragedies, but nuclear war has the potential to do far more damage, hence, it is far more dangerous.

12:32 PM  

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