Four Who Dared (GOP Senators Edition)

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What do Republican Sens. Larry Craig (Idaho), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), John Sununu (N.H.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) have in common? They are standing firm against renewing the PATRIOT Act because, in the words of the Wash Post:

They say the bill is slanted too heavily in the government's favor when it comes to letting targeted people challenge national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI substantial latitude in deciding what records should be surrendered. The targeted people should have a greater ability to challenge such subpoenas and require the government to show why it thinks the items being sought are connected to possible terrorism, the Republicans contend.

Whole thing here.

While fellow GOPpers might be steamed, this senatorial quartet may well be hailed by voters. As Dave Weigel explained in the November ish of Reason, "Standing up to the PATRIOT Act can be good politics."

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  1. Just one small part of the solstice miracle that happens this day each year.

  2. Fox News will no doubt paraphrase in such a way that these renegades’ arguments are cast as a protest over of concerns about library records, because that’s the only complaint that they seem to be able to get through their (purposefully?) thick skulls.

  3. I wonder if the Senate Republicans will use the “nuclear option” on this to abolish the filibuster. I realize that the original proposal for the “nuclear option” only dealt with judicial nominations, but if they are desperate enough they could no doubt find an appropriate parliamentary maneuver to implement it here.

  4. Whoever mentioned the other day about Security Moms getting transmorphed back into Soccer Moms might find this trend happening in those four states.

    Or the laws are being used against the local militia (do they even still exist???), and that will get them unelected.

    there’s some pretty fucking thin cred in that group.

  5. I’ve noticed that Reason does the same thing as the MSM in situations like this. When every Democrat in the Senate, and three or four Republicans, opposes the President on something, the story is reported so as to give the impression that the opposition is Republican or bipartisan.

    It’s good that four Republicans are jumping the fence and adopting the decent, legal, constitutional position of the Democrats, but writing as if that is the story, and not the overwhelming partisan divide, is misleading.

  6. Thoreau, I’m pretty sure the “nuclear option” is asserted as an option because filibustering judicial nominees is seen as different than filibustering legislation. So it wouldn’t apply in this case.

  7. Joe, I don’t think it’s news when Democrats oppose the President on something as much as it is when Republicans do.

  8. joe-

    “Dog bites man” is not news. “Man bites dog” is news.

    “Democrats oppose Bush’s wet dream” is not news. “Four Republicans oppose Bush’s wet dream” is indeed news.

  9. Josh-

    I think you’re right, there is a difference in the Senate rules from what I’ve heard. Still, I wonder if they might be tempted to ditch the filibuster to keep the Patriot Act.

  10. Thanks, guys. I’m not wondering why it happens. Just pointing out that there’s a problem with it.

  11. Joe,

    You said: “the story is reported so as to give the impression that the opposition is Republican or bipartisan.”

    Gillespie said: “While fellow GOPpers might be steamed, this senatorial quartet may well be hailed by voters.”

    Is that what it sounds like to you? Cuz it sounds to me like Reason is making it pretty damn clear that the opposition is NOT Republican.

  12. Oh. Sorry.

    Then again, if the press talked a lot about how the Democrats are standing up for the Constitution and liberty, we’d hear that this is another example of liberal bias in the media.

    In some ways, this is the perfect rebuttal to that: Lavish all the attention on dissident Republicans.

  13. Media bias is real, but it really doesn’t matter. Sure, maybe there’s some slant in the news, but most people are smart enough to pick up on that, and most news really isn’t that slanted. Political stories? Yeah, probably slanted, but it depends what outlet and who you ask. Point is, it’s tin-foil-hat stuff to think there’s some BIG LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE MEDIA CONSPIRACY.

    That said, it sure is nice that PATRIOT seems doomed. Especially after they made all of the financial institutions waste billions of dollars setting up systems to comply with their bullshit. Damn you to hell Know Your Customer, damn you to hell John Kerry!

  14. The thing is, joe, that these Republicans have been consistent over time.

    Remember back in the 90s when Clinton and Reno wanted to gut the Bill of Rights and all but a handful of Democrats and these Republicans were going along with them. No, you probably don’t, party loyalty has a way of making memory selective.

  15. The whole media conspiracy thing seems like a big straw man to me. I’d wager that most people who believe that the media are generally leftist don’t so much believe that there’s some mysterious star chamber illuminati huddled in a creepy room going over what stories will be covered and which way they’ll be covered. The over all criticism of the left-lean to the MSM resembles more the idea that those who pursue careers in media are generally leftist and tend to arrive at the same conclusions as well as have similar priorities and values, which is visible in their work. It’d hardly be tinfoil hat material to suggest that engineers tend to be conservative, artists tend to be liberal, etc. To say that gallery shows are more leftist than right isn’t to say that the artists conspired.

  16. Because of Larry Craig, Chuck Hagel, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski, we and our children may well have freer futures. Kudos to them all. And Kudos to fiscally conservative GOP reps; Bob Barr, Dick Armey and Ron Paul who led the fight in the House back when Patriot was passed to have these provisions sunset.

  17. Good for these four!!

    (But why isn’t Dr. Coburn on the list?)

  18. “But why isn’t Dr. Coburn on the list?”

    He’s too busy leading a Senate investigation into teen lesbian orgies in Oklahoma high school bathrooms. (The sad thing is I’m only making up the part about the investigation.)

  19. It ain’t dead yet. Some “compromise” will be that the FBI et al. needs a note from home and a pinky swear before running roughshod over the Constitution.

  20. The over all criticism of the biased leftist media may indeed resemble the idea that those who pursue careers in media are generally leftist and tend to arrive at the same conclusions as well as have similar priorities and values, which is visible in their work.

    But that criticism overlooks this factor: When reporters learn first-hand about the subjects they are studying so they can explain them to readers, editors, TV viewers etc. they arrive at more informed judgements than those who do not. Sometimes, these better-informed judgements are mislabeled “leftist bias” (examples: climate change, evolution).

  21. emme,

    There has been a huge political foodfight over this issue in Washington for three days now.

    During that time, Reason has put one post in H&R about the political backlash to this program, and it’s about four Republicans.

    My point isn’t about how the story was reported – it was repoted very well. It’s about story selection.

  22. Also, I’m not positting a media conspiracy here. Like bombs in Iraq making the news more than picnics in Iraq, the newsies are reporting stories that have an angle they think they’re readers would find interesting – I know that, and I don’t think political bias plays into it.

  23. I wonder if the Republicans have joined the filabuster just to help the Democrats kill themselves. Opposing the Patriot Act may be wonderful politics in the news rooms and Upper West Side and among the majority of the 500 or so readers of Reason, it is not such good politics in the rest of the country. The Democrats tried this in 2002 and got smacked in the off year elections. Further, the NSA is a wonderful “scandal” until you realize the Clinton and Carter did the same thing, although I am sure Clinton bugged his political opponents and former mistresses and Carter used wiretaps to ensure that somebody somewhere wasn’t having fun. Its all a wonderful way to take the attention off the legitimate Repubican money scandals in Congress and putting it back on the Democrats as the defenders of terrorists everywhere. If I didn’t have so little faith in the Republicans in Congress, I would sware these four were under orders to support the filabuster.

  24. The over all criticism of the left-lean to the MSM resembles more the idea that those who pursue careers in media are generally leftist and tend to arrive at the same conclusions as well as have similar priorities and values, which is visible in their work.

    Definitely, though “same conclusions” is probably a little harsh. And adding to this slant is the fact that most of the preeminent newspapers in the country are based out of metropolitan areas whose electorates lean to the left.

    Partially offsetting all of this, of course, particularly with regards to TV reporting, is a desire by media institutions not to harm their business by alienating a significant portion of their customer base (whether you’re talking about viewers or ad buyers).

  25. John,

    I know, al least, in the cases of Larry Craig, Chuck Hagel, John Sununu; that they have a good record of letting the principles of limited government influence their votes.

    of the 500 or so readers of Reason

    Try tens of thousands.

  26. Joe,
    I understand what you are saying, but I think the way Reason is reporting the story is actually the best, because it gives credit to the few Senators that have convictions, and not just partisan hacks. Lets face it, if Clinton were in the WH there would be uniform Republican opposition to what is going on and probably only 4 or 5 Democrats standing up to the POTUS. In that scenario, I’d rather those 4-5 honest Dems get credit and than the 50-some Republican hypocrites.

  27. Rick –

    greetings 🙂

    that’s as high as he can count.

    FDS: that’s no way to go through life, son.

  28. know, al least, in the cases of Larry Craig, Chuck Hagel, John Sununu; that they have a good record of letting the principles of limited government influence their votes

    I guess that is why they were so concerned when Bill Clinton was doing it.

  29. The Democrats tried this in 2002 and got smacked in the off year elections.

    I think that factors other than the PATRIOT Act might’ve had a little to do with that. The success of the Afghan war, a general belief that Republicans were better on national security issues, and Bush’s aggressive campaigning (at a time when he still commanded 60%+ approval ratings) all were probably miles ahead of any sympathy for the PATRIOT Act in terms of importance.

    And while I’d be the last person on Earth to support a Vox Populi, Vox Dei line of reasoning, I think it’s worth pointing out that polls have consistently shown that a majority of the public is concerned about the civil liberties ramifications of the Act. Though that doesn’t of course mean that they all want it to be fully scrapped.

    As with the FMA, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of the GOP opposition to this bill came from New England and the Mountain West. If there’s any validity to the theory that fielding “Libertarian Democrats” will help the donkey party at the polls, states like New Hampshire, Idaho, and Alaska should be at the top of the list for trial runs.

  30. FDS,

    You don’t have to ask your question in the hypothetical. We already know what would happen. From the CATO Institute, “Dereliction of Duty: The Constitutional Record of President Clinton”

    The Clinton administration has repeatedly attempted to play down the significance of the warrant clause. In fact, President Clinton has asserted the power to conduct warrantless searches, warrantless drug testing of public school students, and warrantless wiretapping.

    The Clinton administration claims that it can bypass the warrant clause for “national security” purposes. In July 1994 Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick told the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the president “has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” [51] According to Gorelick, the president (or his attorney general) need only satisfy himself that an American is working in conjunction with a foreign power before a search can take place. . . .

    It is unclear why the president made warrantless roving wiretaps a priority matter since judges routinely approve wiretap applications by federal prosecutors. According to a 1995 report by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, it had been years since a federal district court turned down a prosecutor’s request for a wiretap order. [68] President Clinton is apparently seeking to free his administration from any potential judicial interference with its wiretapping plans. There is a problem, of course, with the power that the president desires: it is precisely the sort of unchecked power that the Fourth Amendment’s warrant clause was designed to curb. As the Supreme Court noted in Katz v. United States (1967), the judicial procedure of antecedent justification before a neutral magistrate is a “constitutional precondition,” not only to the search of a home, but also to eavesdropping on private conversations within the home. [69]

    President Clinton also lobbied for and signed the Orwellian Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which is forcing every telephone company in America to retrofit its phone lines and networks so that they will be more accessible to police wiretaps.

    I don’t necessarily agree with CATO and think as long as Clinton was wiretapping people with foreign connections, it is fine. That said, everyone who is so shocked now, ought to have to explain why they were not shocked then. It is not as if CATO is some fringe organization writing stuff no one ever reads.

  31. FDS,

    You don’t have to ask your question in the hypothetical. We already know what would happen. From the CATO Institute, “Dereliction of Duty: The Constitutional Record of President Clinton”

    The Clinton administration has repeatedly attempted to play down the significance of the warrant clause. In fact, President Clinton has asserted the power to conduct warrantless searches, warrantless drug testing of public school students, and warrantless wiretapping.

    The Clinton administration claims that it can bypass the warrant clause for “national security” purposes. In July 1994 Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick told the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the president “has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” [51] According to Gorelick, the president (or his attorney general) need only satisfy himself that an American is working in conjunction with a foreign power before a search can take place. . . .

    It is unclear why the president made warrantless roving wiretaps a priority matter since judges routinely approve wiretap applications by federal prosecutors. According to a 1995 report by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, it had been years since a federal district court turned down a prosecutor’s request for a wiretap order. [68] President Clinton is apparently seeking to free his administration from any potential judicial interference with its wiretapping plans. There is a problem, of course, with the power that the president desires: it is precisely the sort of unchecked power that the Fourth Amendment’s warrant clause was designed to curb. As the Supreme Court noted in Katz v. United States (1967), the judicial procedure of antecedent justification before a neutral magistrate is a “constitutional precondition,” not only to the search of a home, but also to eavesdropping on private conversations within the home. [69]

    President Clinton also lobbied for and signed the Orwellian Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which is forcing every telephone company in America to retrofit its phone lines and networks so that they will be more accessible to police wiretaps.

    I don’t necessarily agree with CATO and think as long as Clinton was wiretapping people with foreign connections, it is fine. That said, everyone who is so shocked now, ought to have to explain why they were not shocked then. It is not as if CATO is some fringe organization writing stuff no one ever reads.

  32. Greetings Mr. Moose!

  33. A Murkowski who isn’t a feckless moron, concerned only with pork? What’s next, dogs and cats living in harmony?

  34. I’m really getting tired of the Clinton, Carter mentions.

    It makes people look like playground brats who throw hissy fits when they get caught pulling pigtails.

    Especially Carter. Carter, fer cripes sake!! Relevance? The guy writes poetry.

    Clinton has been gone from the White House for five years, move on with your lives.

    Unless you’re Dick Morris, who is riding that gold-encrusted pony for all its worth.

  35. A Murkowski who isn’t a feckless moron, concerned only with pork? What’s next, dogs and cats living in harmony?

  36. OK, John, so I should have been angry back then as well.

    Explain to me why I shouldn’t be angry now?

  37. I expect that once Lisa Murkowski hears from her father about this, her position will change rather dramatically. Though I’d be delighted to be wrong.

  38. “Sometimes, these better-informed judgements are mislabeled “leftist bias” (examples: climate change, evolution).”

    That’s rich! Who writes your material?

  39. Hagel appears equally sanguine. “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president,” he recently told reporters.

  40. Hagel appears equally sanguine. “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president,” he recently told reporters.

  41. Hagel appears equally sanguine. “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president,” he recently told reporters.

  42. Hagel appears equally sanguine. “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president,” he recently told reporters.

  43. Hagel appears equally sanguine. “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president,” he recently told reporters.

  44. Hey TPG:

    what’s the word on Hagel’s response?

    heh 🙂

  45. John’s really on a roll today.

    “Opposing the Patriot Act may be wonderful politics in the news rooms and Upper West Side and among the majority of the 500 or so readers of Reason, it is not such good politics in the rest of the country.” Gee, where are all of these outraged Democrats and Republicans coming from? Oh, that’s right – AMERICA! Strike one.

    “The Democrats tried this in 2002 and got smacked in the off year elections.” Sorry, no. The Democratic strategy in 2002 was to avoid arguing about national security issues at all cost, and try to change the subject to domestic issues. Strike two.

    “Further, the NSA is a wonderful “scandal” until you realize the Clinton and Carter did the same thing,” Sorry, no. Clinton and Carter’s executive orders forbade operations that might – might – collect information on “American persons.” Strike three. Grab some wook there, bub.

  46. Clinton and Carter both issued executive orders that complied with – rather than violated – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Their orders required a finding by the Attorney General that the operation complied with the section of the act that forbade not just listening to the conversations of Americans, but any operation that can’t reasonably be guaranteed to avoid overhearing the conversations of American persons. The front page of Daily Kos has the actual language of the executive orders, and of the FISA section they reference.

    So, to sum up:

    Bush orders electronic searches of Americans. Clinton and Carter forbide electronic searches of Americans, and even searches that might record the conversations of Americans.

    Bush violates the FISA law that lays out the President’s power, Clinton and Carter comply with this federal law.

    John, not surprisingly, is regurgitating talking points without knowing what he’s talking about.

  47. Joe,

    As usual you are on a roll and putting out information that is flat out wrong. Read the CATO report I just posted. Since it is apparently too long for your limited comprehension I will post the relevent portion,

    In July 1994 Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick told the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the president “has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” [51] According to Gorelick, the president (or his attorney general) need only satisfy himself that an American is working in conjunction with a foreign power before a search can take place. . . .

    If the President beleives that the American is working for a foreign government, they can do a warrentless search. This was the position of the Clinton administration and this is what Bush is accused of doing.

  48. Clinton and Bush are both right about this. If you are an American working for a foreign power or surpa national terrorist network, it is no longer a question of criminal conduct but national security. The President ought to have the power to collect intelligence on you. The basic pricipal of intelligence law is that you don’t collect on Americans unless they are working for a foreign power, in which case they forfeit their protections. That is a fair balance between privacy and national security. As long as I don’t go to work for a forgein country I can expect my phone to be tapped. If I do, then I have no right to complain. This is only a story because its Bush that is doing it. If it were Clinton, it would not be an issue.

  49. That would be phone not to be tapped, as long as I am not working for a foreign power.

  50. If I do, then I have no right to complain.

    What if you’re not working for a foreign power, but someone in power decides you are, and taps your phone. Do you then have a right to complain?

  51. Qbryzan, I’ve been asking that question all week, and the main response (aside from “shut up, you america-hating hippie”) has been “it won’t happen to me.” Cognitive bias is a wonderful thing.

    Lisa M. rules (as much as any AK politician can…) Her dad is a putz. (I know, I interned with him for about six weeks a zillion years ago.)

  52. Qbryzn,

    If it turns out that you are not, then the authorities have to stop the tap immediately. Further, they had to have a good faith basis that you were to launch it in the first place. Will people make mistakes and it turn out that Americans they though were working for foreign powers actually are not? Yes, but as long as they had a good faith basis to believe that you were and stopped the wire tap when they found out you weren’t, I don’t think it is a problem.

    Joe,

    How about this quote for Joe Schmidt, an Associate Attorny General for Clinton that was on Instapundit this afternoon,

    President Bush’s post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.

    Again, this is not new or some unprecidented extension of exectutive power.

  53. Yes, but as long as they had a good faith basis to believe that you were and stopped the wire tap when they found out you weren’t, I don’t think it is a problem.

    I agree it sounds very reasonable to say it like that, but in practice you run into problems like:

    a) Who defines what a “good faith basis” is in this case? How is it reviewed to prevent abuse?
    b) How do they find out you weren’t? How long to they listen-in to accomplish this?
    c) What happens to anything else they find out in the meantime?

  54. Sorry, John, you’re still full of shit.

    “If the President beleives that the American is working for a foreign government, they can do a warrentless search. This was the position of the Clinton administration and this is what Bush is accused of doing.”

    This was the position of the FISA act, and of Bill Clinton. However, it is not the position of George Bush, who decided he could authorize warrantless electronic surveillance of people who were NOT working for a foreign government. FISA draws an explicit distinction between those connected to a foreign government and those connected to a terrorist group (Part D of the relevant section, which I’ll look up when I get a moment), and allows the President to authorize warrantless searches only of the former, not the latter.

  55. I completely agree with the comment by wellfellow at December 21, 2005 10:53 AM.

    I think there is generally (but not rigidly) a left-leaning bias in the media — or at least what I call the Big Media or the Archaeomedia (because I like to coin words). It’s not because media types get together in some kind of deliberate conspiracy. However, I think common leftish assumptions do lead to some biases in what is covered (or not covered).

    As to Auntie Baley’s assertion that reporter’s are not only unbiased but should also be assumed to have become particularly “well-informed” about a story topic in the course of researching it — har har hardy har har!

    Very few reporters become particulary well-informed in the topics they cover — they don’t have time. They have to really on sources, who are either experts or able to pose as such. Reporters’ own biases will affect who they contact as sources, the questions they ask (or fail to ask), their understanding of the answers, and the quotes they decide to use or not use.

    Reporters often struggle to understand the topics they are covering, and they often get it wrong. They tend to favor rhetoric over logic. And the more complicated a topic is, the less well-suited it is to coverage by the Archaeomedia.

    I will also observe that, with a very few exceptions by those who specialize, that reporters have an especially difficult time understanding scientific and military topics. In fact, “interest in or ability to understand science” and “ability to write good stories” sometimes seem to be mutually exclusive abilities as a general rule — although there are also many prominent exceptions to this.

    Although to be fair, many scientist types aren’t particular good at explaining their specialties clearly to lay people. And military types are even worse. (And IT types are the worst of all.)

    I render my opinion as someone who has both worked in corporate PR and as a journalist of sorts (although only on an in-house or free-lance basis), as an interviewer, writer and editor, and who has worked with scientists, engineers, academics, real journalists, ex-journalists, journalism students, journalism teachers, military personnel and defense contractors.

  56. Joe,

    I point you to Max Boot’s comment today,

    For instance, in August 2001, FBI agents in Minneapolis stumbled onto Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the Al Qaeda plotters. The 9/11 commission later concluded that a “maximum U.S. effort to investigate Moussaoui ? might have brought investigators to the core of the 9/11 plot.” But officials didn’t seek a warrant to search his laptop because they lacked “probable cause” under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA is the law that Bush is now accused of circumventing.

    If I am not mistaken you and every Democrat on capital hill were on here all through the 9-11 hearing yamering about the failure to stop 9-11. No question FISA restricts the ability to wiretap terrorists and needs to be updated in that regard. However, there is more to the law than FISA. Bush had Congressional authorization to go after Al-Quada. That gave him authorization to wiretap people connected with Alquada. It certainly trumps FISA. It is a debateable point but a reasonable legal argument. I agree with that great neocon conspirator Cass Sunstein on that interpretation. I have to remember to invite him to cabal meetings from now on.

    You people live in a bubble. It is unbelievable. I can go to Pakistan, train as a terrorist and return to this country to be a terrorist, but that doesn’t go into the realm of national security and the Congressional Authorization to go after Al Quada aside, I am off limits to intelligence activities and strictly subject to the police of FBI at most. Under your arguement we only wage war against Al-Quada as long as they don’t make it to U.S. shores and don’t recruit any Americans to do their bidding. Yeah, that is fucking great. I feel real safe now. Keep making that arguement Joe. All you are doing is showing the Left is no longer a serious political movement and ensureing that you and people like you never obtain any politcal power in this country.

  57. Yeah, you point me to a lot of pundits expressing their opinions. I point you to Clinton’s executive order authorizing a warrantless search under FISA:

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

    and to Carter’s similar executive order:

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

    Now, you see those phrases “…if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that Section?” Whatever could that mean?

    Let’s take a look at the section:

    “(a) Presidential authorization
    (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President, acting through the Attorney General, may authorize physical searches without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if?
    (A) the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that?

    (ii) there is no substantial likelihood that the physical search will involve the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person;”

    So, to sum up, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter authorized warrantless searches only when the Attorney General certified in writing, under oath, that Americans won’t be spied on. George Bush, on the other hand, authorized warrantless searches of Americans.

    In doing so, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were obeying the law. George Bush, on the other hand, was breaking federal law limiting the power to snoop on Americans, by approving warrantless searches that did not meet the criteria spelled out in the law.

    Game, set, match.

  58. And what’s more, John, the warrantless searches do not require a showing of probable cause. That is the standard for issuing a warrant. Boot’s mutterings are wholly irrelevant.

    “No question FISA restricts the ability to wiretap terrorists and needs to be updated in that regard.”

    Ha ha, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about!!!

    (BTW, the admission that the law just wasn’t adequate, and Bush just had to break it, is what prosecutors call “establishing motive.”)

  59. The 9/11 commission later concluded that a “maximum U.S. effort to investigate Moussaoui” might have brought investigators to the core of the 9/11 plot.” But officials didn’t seek a warrant to search his laptop because they lacked “probable cause” under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA is the law that Bush is now accused of circumventing.

    This argument would have some traction of if the FISC had actually ruled that there wasn’t sufficient probable cause to search Moussaoui’s laptop. Unfortunately, FBI HQ couldn’t be bothered to submit the request to FISC in the first place. In fact, the FBI Special Agent responsible for processing the original FISA warrant request submitted by the Minneapolis office testified before the Senate Judiciary Committe that not only was he unaware that FISA warrants were issued under a “probable cause” standard, he didn’t even know what constituted “probable cause” in that context. That doesn’t tell me the FISA warrant requirements are stifling valuable lines of investigation, it tells me that some mid-level Bureau jackasses dropped the ball. It does nothing to justify warrantless searches.

  60. it tells me that some mid-level Bureau jackasses dropped the ball.

    Exactly. We’ve got people who don’t understand the rules of the game, and who can’t be bothered to at least try to do the heavy lifting.

    These are the people whom some on this forum will trust with vast and unchecked powers?

    FBI Agent: “Hey, boss, there’s a whole bunch of files here, but they’re all in Arabic, and the translator says that everything uses some kind of code. It might take some time to piece everything together.”

    Boss: “Nah, too much work. Let’s just torture the guy and put taps on the phones of all of the students and faculty in his department.”

  61. Robert Novak wrote a surprisingly complementary column about these four in today’s WaPo…

    Stand-Up Senators

  62. Murkowski would vote for it if it were amended to include a bridge to her Mom’s house.

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