Civil Liberties

How Big a Rubber Stamp?

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As a few commenters noted yesterday, it's not clear whether the National Security Agency is now seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for each U.S. target whose communications it monitors. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told The New York Times that Bush administration officials "have convinced a single judge in a secret session, in a nonadversarial session, to issue a court order to cover the president's terrorism surveillance program." That contradicts the administration's account:

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it had obtained multiple orders, or warrants, a week ago from the FISA court allowing it to monitor international communications in cases where there was probable cause to believe one of the participants was linked to Al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist group.

"As a result of these orders," Mr. Gonzales told leaders of Congressional Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in a letter dated Wednesday, "any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

Justice Department officials said that the FISA court orders, which were not made public, were not a broad approval of the surveillance program as a whole, an idea that was proposed last year in Congressional debate over the program. They strongly suggested that the orders secured from the court were for individual targets, but they refused to provide details of the process used to identify targets—or how court approval had been expedited—because they said it remained classified. The senior Justice Department official said that discussing "the mechanics of the orders" could compromise intelligence activities.

Since it's hard to see how explicitly saying, as opposed to strongly suggesting, that the warrants cover specific individuals would threaten national security, it sounds like the administration is deliberately obscuring the point for political reasons. Shocking, I know. But with congressional hearings focusing on this very issue, how long can the president and his men hope to keep things vague? 

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  1. How about trying to keep our enemies from knowing what we are doing to track them, in spite of the efforts of you, Weigel, the entire staff of The New York Times and The Nation?

    Is it beyond your comprehension that the Commander in Chief has every right to determine the disposition of the ENEMY without so much as a by-your-leave to busybody judges and reporters?

  2. Sooner or later, the Bush Administration is going to put that FISA court judge on speed dial.

  3. Is it beyond your comprehension that the Commander in Chief has every right to determine the disposition of the ENEMY without so much as a by-your-leave to busybody judges and reporters?

    Is it beyond your comprehnsion that giving one person this much power and authority without oversight, creates a large potential for abuse and the opportunity to use these tactics against anyone arbitrarily labeled an enemy? Like say, reporters and busybody judges.

    For every time a right or a freedom has been trampled by bad men under the cover of “the good of the people”, there’s a person who said beforehand, “that’s not gonna happen.”

  4. Yea, Manpad, too bad Bush is not a nice guy like Lincoln.

  5. “Is it beyond your comprehension that the Commander in Chief has every right to determine the disposition of the ENEMY without so much as a by-your-leave to busybody judges and reporters?”

    Guy, is it beyond your (obviously) feeble comprehension that this Commander in Chief and his administration have lost all credibility vis-a-vis who this supposed ENEMY is? Or that without checks on this arbitrary labelling of enemies we are coming to resemble all of the countries that turned the verb disappear into a transitive verb in the 1970s? I’m thinking Videla and Pinochet here. Can you dig that, Guy? Or would you like to continue flinging excrement at our democratic traditions.

  6. Guy,

    If “the enemy” is able to evade us by reading weblogs and the New York Times, I think we face a bigger problem than you realize.

  7. It is beyond my comprehension how Bush has not been impeached on this issue yet.

  8. GM,

    from another thread:

    “…but substituting hysterics for facts is a really bad way to alert people to a problem”

    Perhaps you could take some of your own advice?

  9. If it is international calls, I don’t see the issue. If it turns out that Bush is listening to Nancy Pelosi’s phone calls, then that is a problem. As it stands, the Reason position seems to be that the NSA can monitor someone’s phone calls while they are in Pakistan but as soon as the come to the United States, they enter a surveillance free zone in which their calls can no longer be tracked. That is crazy.

    Congress wants to have hearings great. Lets have a behind closed door hearing where the administration shows every person they have used this program to listen to their calls. If it turns out they are using the program for political purposes or just listening to innocent people for their own perverse pleasure, for God’s sake let’s do something about it. If it turns out that they are legitimately trying to track terrorists and are using it in good faith, then the people who object to it ought to have to come out and say that the program is being used properly but I don’t care, due process regarding listening to phone calls is more important than the value of the surveillance. Let the voters sort it out. But let’s see what is really going on in the program and stop the bait and switch. Reason acts like they are using this stuff to listen to their own phone calls.

  10. As it stands, the Reason position seems to be that the NSA can monitor someone’s phone calls while they are in Pakistan but as soon as the come to the United States, they enter a surveillance free zone in which their calls can no longer be tracked. That is crazy.

    “Strawman, I’ll miss you most of all”

    Reason acts like they are using this stuff to listen to their own phone calls.

    Or perhaps they act like this administration, or any administration really, can’t be trusted to police themselves.

  11. Honestly, if you have nothing to hide, why all the fuss?

    I just want the government to keep me safe. If they need to listen to some phone calls or read some mail or search some houses or gather library records, then just do it!

    Remember, the Constitution is not a suicide pact! Don’t any of you remember 9-11? We’re at war here. The President will let us know when the war ends.

  12. Yea, Manpad, too bad Bush is not a nice guy like Lincoln.

    So…you have to reach back 140 years to find something that justifies a current president bypassing a perfectly good statute and then misleading the public about it?

    Weak, Guy. Real weak. You’re usually better than that.

  13. Guy,

    This goes beyond whether Bush is a “bad guy”. It’s whether every president in the entire future of the United States is a “good guy” and won’t use this or any similarly-argued program for “bad” purposes. The framers were distrustful of the angelic intentions of men, but you don’t seem to be. Maybe when President Hillary Clinton declares Sean Hannity an enemy combatant/”enemy of the state” and ships him off to Gitmo you’ll change your mind.

  14. “Strawman, I’ll miss you most of all”

    General rule; when someone screams “straw man”, it is because they are wrong. The U.S. has become a theater of war in the sense that people from Al Quada come here to wage war against the U.S.. The President has an inherent duty and obligation to defend the country under Article II. If the a foreign army invaded tomorrow, the President wouldn’t have to ask for a court order to listen to their communications on U.S. soil. It is the same principle with Al Quada. They are a foreign army, they just don’t wear uniforms. That is why the issue is; who are they listening to? If the Administration is using this program for ordinary crime or for political purposes or any purpose other than collecting intelligence about Al Quada or other terrorist groups, then hang him. The issue is how is the program being used, the mere fact that it exists is not the problem.

  15. John, the issue isn’t about a surveilance-free zone. The issue is bypassing FISA by claiming Executive Authority. FISA doesn’t prevent surveilance…it merely provides oversight and serves to be a check on abuses of power.

  16. “John, the issue isn’t about a surveilance-free zone. The issue is bypassing FISA by claiming Executive Authority. FISA doesn’t prevent surveilance…it merely provides oversight and serves to be a check on abuses of power.”

    FISA has its limits. FISA doesn’t take away the President’s inherent authority to defend the country. Before 9-11 and the authorization for the use of force against Al Quada, I would have agreed with you. After that though, the President has the authority to wage war against Al Quada wherever he finds them, which includes the U.S. That authority includes the ability to collect intelligence on them irrespective of FISA. That is why the issue is “how is the program being used?” I will be the first one to admit Congress ought to exercise oversight of it. The oversight needs to be who are you people listening to and why, not why didn’t you play mother may I with the FISA court.

  17. “If it is international calls, I don’t see the issue. If it turns out that Bush is listening to Nancy Pelosi’s phone calls, then that is a problem.”

    That is just the thing that according to the status quo ante–what with Bush’s rejection of proper NSA oversight–we would absolutely know fucking way of finding out. Thanks for inadvertantly pointing out exactly why the law as written should never have been disregarded by the Bush administration in the first place.

    “Remember, the Constitution is not a suicide pact! Don’t any of you remember 9-11? We’re at war here. The President will let us know when the war ends.”

    And, I sincerely hope that Rommel is yanking everyone’s chain. It’s too Colbertesque.

  18. General rule; when someone screams “straw man”, it is because they are wrong.

    That was my normal voice, I wasn’t screaming. Sorry you are so sensitive.

    The rest of your rambling is unnecessary, the claim of straw man was due to your definition of “the Reason position”, not some claim about the US being a “theater of war”. You made something up, and claimed it as the official position of Reason just so you could call it “crazy”.

  19. I have an idea, what if we limit the power of the executive, and if he exceeds his authority he can be tried and convicted same as anyone else?

    Nah, it’d never work.

  20. “General rule; when someone screams “straw man”, it is because they are wrong.”

    Thanks for the tip John. Now it all makes sense.

  21. “The U.S. has become a theater of war in the sense that people from Al Quada come here to wage war against the U.S.”

    Name one. Since 2001, Jose Padailla’s the only name to come to mind, and look how often the administration’s story about his “mission” has changed. With these far-reacihng measures that are “absolutely necessary” you would think we’d have a large number of Al Qaeda terrorists in detention, no?

    “The oversight needs to be who are you people listening to and why”

    Which is what is supposed to be reported to FISA and has not been. We have rules for oversight but El Presidente does not see fit to follow them.

  22. “Maybe when President Hillary Clinton declares Sean Hannity an enemy combatant/”enemy of the state” and ships him off to Gitmo you’ll change your mind.”

    Okay…I’ll bite. As long as when he is subjected to his whole retarded kiss the flag routine while he is waterboarded and anal glowstick probes are applied…as long as all of that is televised…then I guess it’s okay.

    Wow! Carrying water for total dirtbags and being a shill is fun!

  23. “I have an idea, what if we limit the power of the executive, and if he exceeds his authority he can be tried and convicted same as anyone else?”

    I find your idea innovative and intriguing. Do go on…

  24. “”I would rather risk being … than have my freedom taken away by a papers please society.””

    Sans oversight, how do you know that this hasn’t happened? Isn’t happening? But that very excellent question should be posed here, too.

    That very good question was posed here. About potential abuse of government power and risk of adverse event. Not sure where the poster draws his lines.

  25. sounds like “stay the course…” and this guy Guy must agree with the governments opinion that US citizens are the enemy

  26. I can’t believe the president’s defenders have been reduced to arguing that we don’t need constitutional protections because we can trust the government not to abuse its power, and that terrorists would have had no idea we’re trying to listen to their phone calls if it weren’t for this story being broken.

    If I were a defense attorney, I’d move for summary judgement. The prosecution has clearly failed to make its case.

  27. The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap. That is fine when ordinary crime is involved, but not so fine when it is Al Quada who are combatants. I am not saying that this program shouldn’t be watched or that it is not possible to abuse it. Of course it is. The issue is when do you do the oversight? My argument is lets let people do their jobs and conduct the wiretaps but then look at everything they did afterwards. If it turns out that they were wiretapping a guy because they thought he was a heroin smuggler or a political dissident, then the people doing it ought to go to jail for violating FISA. If it turns out that they used it only to listen to people who they reasonably and in good faith believed were members of Al Quada, then fine. That is really what this is about; when do you have the oversight?

  28. “After that though, the President has the authority to wage war against Al Quada wherever he finds them, which includes the U.S.”

    The power to wage war has never encompassed the authority to use the means of waging war against Americans.

  29. “The President has an inherent duty and obligation to defend the country….”

    The President swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend THE CONSTITUTION. A preponderance of what the President has done, or has claimed the right to do, has been severely harmful to the Constitution.

  30. “The power to wage war has never encompassed the authority to use the means of waging war against Americans.”

    No one ever said it did. It is about where the people are located. If a foreign army invaded the U.S., would waging war against that army on U.S. territory consitute waging war on Americans? No. Further, if Americans were aiding that army, would stopping them from doing so consitutue waging war on Americans? Perhaps in a technical sense but not in a very meaningful sense.

  31. “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap.”

    John knows that FISA allows the government to start spying immediately and apply for a warrant up to 72 hours later. I know he’s aware of this, because he has asknowledged it on previous threads.

    What are we to conclude when someone cannot defend his positition without knowlingly misleading us about the facts? What are we to conclude about that person, and more importantly, about his argument?

  32. “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late.”

    John,

    FISA warrants can be applied for retroactively. I know it used to be 72 hours after the tap, but it may have been changed in PATRIOT 1 or 2.

  33. If the Administration is using this program for ordinary crime or for political purposes or any purpose other than collecting intelligence about Al Quada or other terrorist groups, then hang him. The issue is how is the program being used, the mere fact that it exists is not the problem.

    That may be why the people returned congress to the Dems. The president’s party refused to perform their duty of oversight and a lot of people who don’t particularly like the Democratic party just got disgusted with it. I’ll be interested to see if the administration has initiated investigations or prosecuted people that have no terrorist connections using the results of these wiretaps. IMHO the answer will be that they have.

  34. “A preponderance of what the President has done, or has claimed the right to do, has been severely harmful to the Constitution.”

    Why? Because you say so? Anymore harmful than what Wilson did in World War I or what Lincoln did in the Civil War? I don’t think so. This program listens to a few thousand calls a year.

  35. John…if Bush wants to know what al Queda is up to in the US, he can go ask the CIA, duh. Any reasoning behind circumventing FISA is just more newspeak by the Administration. They are liars. They have always lied. They will always lie. Only a fool would take anything they say for face-value. anything.

  36. “I’ll be interested to see if the administration has initiated investigations or prosecuted people that have no terrorist connections using the results of these wiretaps. IMHO the answer will be that they have.”

    Time will tell. If they did, that just means they misused the program, I will be the first one to agree with you that the people who did it ought to be prosecuted.

  37. “No one ever said it did.”

    Guy Montag has. Every single person defending the program – which listens in on phone calls involving Americans on American soil – has stated that the President has the right. Every single person saying the President can violate FISA – which requires a warrant to eavsedrop on Americans making phone calls from America – has.

  38. “John…if Bush wants to know what al Queda is up to in the US, he can go ask the CIA, duh”

    The CIA can’t operate in the U.S. by law. Further, how is the CIA supposed to know? Magic?

  39. Joe,

    When did listening in on phone calls to Pakistan become “waging war on Americans”? Isn’t that a bit histrionic?

  40. This program listens to a few thousand calls a year.

    And you know this how, exactly?

  41. “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late.”

    Too late for what? Not again that ticking bomb scenario, please. It’s totally bogus.

  42. And we are supposed to believe the government when they say they don’t/won’t break the law. Sheeple. baaaa. Just because this Administration has done everything to suppress evidence to the fact and has all it’s media outlets cranking out it’s propagandic garbage still does not mean they tell the TRUTH.

  43. 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.

  44. ‘When did listening in on phone calls to Pakistan become “waging war on Americans”?’

    When Americans were making those phone calls, and when listening in on those phone calls is a tactic the governement uses to fight a military enemy under the President’s Commander in Chief authority.

    You raised that defense – that the President can do this because of his authority to defend the country. When I respond by noting the limits of that authority as it applies to Americans on American soil, it suddenly becomes silly to equate these actions with waging war?

    Which is it, John? Is listening in on phone calls a national security action conducted as part of this war, carried out under the President’s Commander in Chief authority, or isn’t it?

  45. When did listening in on phone calls to Pakistan become “waging war on Americans”? Isn’t that a bit histrionic?

    When YOU said, “After that though, the President has the authority to wage war against Al Quada wherever he finds them, which includes the U.S.”

    Since the president has already established that he can label anyone – even Americans – enemy combatants, that pretty much opens the door to “waging war on Americans.”

    And that’s just the kind of overreach I’d like to avoid.

  46. Wow…joe and I mounted almost identical posts. Freaky.

  47. Jesus Joe,

    If Americans are working with Al Quada, then yeah, I guess we kind of have to wage war against them. I guess if one of them showed up with some explosives somewhere and the police some SEAL team shot him before he could detonate it, they would be “waging war on Americans”. Yeah, if you side with the enemy, then I guess you can’t really complain when the other side defends itself.

    Spare me the hyperbole. The issue is, does the President’s authority to wage war only extend overseas? It seems pretty bizarre that the President can order the military to invade a country, but can’t listen to a phone call from agents of said country if they are in the U.S.

  48. They are not “waging war on Americans”. They are waging war on foreign agents within the U.S. That is why the issue is who are they listening to. If they are listening to people at random or without any reason to believe that they are in anyway tied to Al Quada, that is a problem.

  49. The President is doing what we sent him to Washington to do — protecting us against the terrorists. It’s awfully easy for you whiny armchair leaders to criticize his actions without providing an alternative. It’s the President and the true Americans who support him that are keeping you and your children safe.

    Of course, you could just roll onto your back, grow a nice long beard and get a burqa for your wife. Don’t forget to throw out all of your music and internet porn.

  50. Listen, John. Nixon pretty much wrote the book on modern Executive abuse of power. It got reigned in for good reason. Simply put, we already know that people can and will abuse their office for devious ends.

    If you like, let’s assume that Bush is a great guy with nothing but the best of intentions at heart. Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What happens if an evil Democrat becomes president and takes those same FISA bypasses and wiretapping ability and starts tapping the Republican leadership’s phones OR starts declaring Sean Hannity an enemy of the state (which would be pretty cool, actually).

    Or what if he or she starts tapping the phones of anyone who criticises their prosecution of the Continuing And Eternal War On Terror because they are an “enemy combatant.”

    Since that’s likely to be a republican doing al the bitching, how enthusiastic would you be about presidents having that much power then?

  51. “Anymore harmful than what Wilson did in World War I or what Lincoln did in the Civil War? I don’t think so.”

    Perhaps not, but 1) does that mean those actions were right or useful? I’d lean toward yes on Lincoln (or at least an argument could be made for it), but who defends what Wilson did during WWI? How did sending Debs to prison help the war? And 2) Those were wars that dragged on longer than anyone anticipated. In our current conflict, those in charge are predicting a generation-long struggle. All the President’s war powers were allocated with the assumption that their use would be exceptional, not the norm.

  52. “They are not “waging war on Americans”. They are waging war on foreign agents within the U.S. That is why the issue is who are they listening to.”

    The issue is credibility. And that is a commodity in short supply at the White House, these days.

    *and when did I say Woodrow Fucking Wilson is my hero?

  53. I prefer “Joe Christ,” thanks.

    “If Americans are working with Al Quada, then yeah, I guess we kind of have to wage war against them.” Amd of they’re not? Or if there isn’t sufficient evidence of their involvement to convince even a FISA judge that they are? That’s the quesiton here.

    In your straw man scenario, there would obviously be both sufficient evidence, and exigent circumstances, to justify action. That’s not what this debate is about. Do you think, pretty pretty please, you could knock off the misdirection, and talk about the issue at hand? Spare ME the hyperbole.

    “The issue is, does the President’s authority to wage war only extend overseas?” No, the issue is, does the President’s authority to wage war in the United States extend to violating the law?

    “It seems pretty bizarre that the President can order the military to invade a country, but can’t listen to a phone call from agents of said country if they are in the U.S.” If anyone were arguing that, that would indeed be bizarre. Instead, we are arguing whether he can listen in on phone calls from or to Americans, without enough evidence of wrongdoing to convince a judge to issue a warrant.

  54. “What happens if an evil Democrat becomes president and takes those same FISA bypasses and wiretapping ability and starts tapping the Republican leadership’s phones OR starts declaring Sean Hannity an enemy of the state (which would be pretty cool, actually).”

    Hey! Quit stealing my hypotheticals!

  55. “They are not “waging war on Americans”. They are waging war on foreign agents within the U.S. That is why the issue is who are they listening to.”

    We don’t know this, and that’s the problem.

    In this country, we actually have a system to ensure that the executive branch is using its authority apporpriately; we require them to go before a judge and get his sign-off.

    Except for you, John. You don’t believe we need to have that system, because we can trust George Bush.

  56. “How did sending Debs to prison help the war?”

    From Wilson’s personal diary: Those fucking cotillions cost a fortune. By diverting the funds to help defeat the Hun, we will make the world safe for democracy.

  57. “The President is doing what we sent him to Washington to do — protecting us against the terrorists. It’s awfully easy for you whiny armchair leaders to criticize his actions without providing an alternative. It’s the President and the true Americans who support him that are keeping you and your children safe.
    Of course, you could just roll onto your back, grow a nice long beard and get a burqa for your wife. Don’t forget to throw out all of your music and internet porn.”

    Oh man. You do have Colbert down pat. Please stop…you’re bringing tears to my eyes.

    How ’bout this as an alternative from the whiny armchair peanut gallery. All of the thugs in the Bush administration who chose to aid and abet this long dark night of constitution shredding get frog marched into court to testify UNDER FUCKING OATH about what they’ve been up to exactly. How’s that? Then we can start hammering away at this infantile notion that leader knows best. Call it the “daddy” state. Fear it just as you fear the “nanny” state. Is that a goood beginning? I have no idea, just offering suggestions.

  58. de stijl-

    that was funny.

  59. FISA doesn’t take away the President’s inherent authority to defend the country.

    Please, for the benefit of everyone, don’t use terms like “inherent authority” when you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

  60. The President is doing what we sent him to Washington to do — protecting us against the terrorists.

    I didn’t send him there and the rest of us barely did (2004) or didn’t at all (2000).

    It’s the President and the true Americans who support him that are keeping you and your children safe.

    Just because we haven’t been attacked since 9/11 doesn’t mean that it’s a direct result of this administration’s actions. It could be that, since 9/11, I’ve kept this shiny stone in my pocket. That statement is no less a non sequitor than asserting that “true Americans” – whatever that means – have had something to do with it. Besides, Ashcroft said, “Ultimately, it was God’s solicitude for America that had prevented another attack on the homeland.”

    It kinda makes you wonder why that same “solicitude for America” didn’t prevent the first attack on the homeland…

  61. “We don’t know this, and that’s the problem”

    I am all for finding out. My first post on this thread was that the Congress ought to have hearings and get a full account of who is being listened to and why. That is what Congress is for. You guys assume that the program is being abused, maybe it is. I would expect Congress to find out that fact out if it is true. My point is that, using the program for the purpose of waging war on Al Quada is not abuse.

  62. “Please, for the benefit of everyone, don’t use terms like “inherent authority” when you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”

    Please for the benifit of everyone, don’t accuse people of having no idea of what they are talking about without then pointing out why and what you think the real meaning of the term is. Otherwise you are just throwing around invective and wasting people’s time reading your post.

  63. “You guys assume that the program is being abused, maybe it is.”

    Actually, I don’t assume that. Maybe there has never been an attempt to intercept a single phone call that wasn’t to or from a terrorist. That’s not the point. The point is, in this country, we don’t leave it up to the executives discretion who will be subject to searches and seizures. We require court approval, and condition that approval on the executive being able to demonstrate probable cause. We don’t do this because we assume that the individuals entrusted with executive power are out to screw us, but because we’re wise enough to see the need to have a contraints on executive power, in order to prevent violations of our rights. Maybe a cop is acting with the best of intentions when he kicks down someone’s door based on his hunch. It’s still a bad idea to let him do that.

    “That is what Congress is for.” Congress is also “for” passing laws defining the scope and limits of what the executive can do. Like FISA.

    “My point is that, using the program for the purpose of waging war on Al Quada is not abuse.” My point is that the test of the legality of the executive’s actions is not based on the “purpose” of those actions, but on whether their execution conforms to the law.

  64. John’s been called out as a total liar, yet surprisingly, that’s the one post to which he hasn’t responded. What of it, John?

    Here’s the claim:
    “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap.”

    John knows that FISA allows the government to start spying immediately and apply for a warrant up to 72 hours later. I know he’s aware of this, because he has asknowledged it on previous threads.

    So is it your position that you weren’t aware of the 72 hour rule when you wrote:
    “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap.”

    Or were you just lying?

  65. The President has an inherent duty and obligation to defend the country under Article II.

    I do not think the words in the Constitution means what you think they mean.

    The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States … he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed …

    Congress shall have the power … To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; To provide and maintain a navy; To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces …

    In plain English, Congress makes the rules and the President executes them. Should the President disagree, he must convince Congress to change the rules. The actual actions of people do not change the plain wording of the Constitution. (The judicial branch is left out for clarity.)

    I understand the concept of acting in emergencies “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”* What I don’t understand is how, after more than five years, the President and Congress have not had time to come to agreement on the laws that the President is to “faithfully execute.” I have my suspicions, though.

    *Note that the President is not bound to protect our worthless lives but instead the Constitution. Of course the Constitution was written by men who thought that life without liberty was not worth living.

  66. “I do not think the words in the Constitution means what you think they mean.”

    That’s inconceivable!

  67. Why do I respond to Trolls. The 72 hour rule only applies in emergencies. It doesn’t apply to ordinary surveilance. You didnt’ mention that fact, but that is okay, I don’t think you are a liar, just an asshole.

  68. “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States … he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed …”

    That has always been read to give the President the power to wage war. Congress authorized him to wage war against Al Quada. If Congress wants to end that war, they can always recind the authorization.

  69. Joe,

    You miss the point. FISA doesn’t apply if the President is waging war. By your logic, if a foreign army invaded the country, the President would need a FISA warrent everytime they listened to their radio broadcasts.

  70. I don’t think you are a liar, just an asshole.

    That’s cool. I happen to think you’re a liar AND an asshole.

  71. John said, “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap”

    John also said, “The 72 hour rule only applies in emergencies. It doesn’t apply to ordinary surveilance. [sic]”

    Dr Noisewater says… A situation in which the DOJ needs to get a wiretap immediately or risk losing important information sure sounds like an “emergency” to me.

  72. Am I too oblique again …

    In plain English, Congress makes the rules and the President executes them.

    No, I am not. The President does not have the power to ignore the law simply because of a state of war. He is supposed, at all times, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. He takes an oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States.

    I realize that the President claims the inherent power to do whatever he wants in the name of fighting terrorism without accountability to Congress or the courts (because the AUMF somehow gives him authorization to do so*) but claims and actions do not amount to Constitutional powers. If they did, we would call our form of government despotic not republican.

    *If one takes “all necessary and appropriate force” to mean “including extra-legal measures” then we have no longer a government of law.

  73. I guess if one of them showed up with some explosives somewhere and the police some SEAL team shot him before he could detonate it, they would be “waging war on Americans”. . . . Spare me the hyperbole.

    I love found humor.

  74. “The 72 hour rule only applies in emergencies.” – John

    “The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap. That is fine when ordinary crime is involved, but not so fine when it is Al Quada who are combatants.” – John

    I wonder what definition of “emergency” would exclude a situation in which the tracking of Al Qaeda terrorists would be compromised by waiting until the next day to get a warrant.

    One minute, we’re going to have mushroom clouds over our cities if this wiretapping is delayed even overnight. The next minute, it doesn’t count as an emergency, just “ordinary surveillance.”

  75. “FISA doesn’t apply if the President is waging war.” Says who? Alberto Gonzales?

    “By your logic, if a foreign army invaded the country, the President would need a FISA warrent everytime they listened to their radio broadcasts.”

    Listening to radio broadcasts isn’t against the law.

  76. “Of course the Constitution was written by men who thought that life without liberty was not worth living”

    Apostate Jew, Excellent point! Unlike our current crop of sheeple (and I include myself in this, since all I seem to do about it is post in blogs).

    If the president wishes to intercept foreign calls, there is a procedure. Its called FISA. If he thought FISA was inadequate to preserve our national secutity, he could ask Congress to amend it. he didn’t (reports at the time said that he didn’t because the WH didn’t think they could convince a REPUBLICAN congress to do it!).
    If he instead simply ignores the statute, he has broken the law.

  77. John, can you supply a figure for how many terrorists the program has caught? Can you name ONE? Such an effective program should have visible results, no?

  78. “Unlike our current crop of sheeple (and I include myself in this, since all I seem to do about it is post in blogs).”
    (emphasis added)

    Mr. Rozas – since you were obviously unaware of the H&R rules (not the drinking ones), use of the word “sheeple” is actually punishable by deportation to Norway, and your phone will now be tapped, because, clearly, it’s “nearly too late”.

    Joe: Coast to Coast radio, although not technically against the law, it certainly is against the laws of nature.
    (are you getting tired hitting all of the “military lawyer’s” meatballs out of the park, by the way?)

  79. The only real incident in which details are public is the plot to blow up US aircraft using liquid explosives.

    The British authorities began arresting suspects after 8 months of investigation which was started by a tip submitted by a concerned citizen. The British let the investigation go as long as possible to collect intelligence on a many suspects as possible.

    The Bush adminstration has totally lost track of the idea that normal investigative procedures (by the FBI in the US and the CIA overseas) can provide the vast majority of the information that is required to prevent terrorist attacks.

    The events of 9-11 were not the result of missing some crucial piece of information in the last hours before the attacks. It was the result of petty infighting and general incompentence within and between the investigative bodies in the US.

    And you really want to give this idiots free reign to sift through our private communications?

  80. “””The problem with FISA is that by the time you get FISA authorization it is often too late. You have to get the authorization and then do wiretap.””””

    This is simply false. They do not need to go to FISA first. FISA allows them to start now and paperwork later. So my question to you is how much faster can get than now?

    There is no such speed faster than now so FISA is a fast as it gets.

    What really cracks me up on your position John, is that your claiming you know what they are doing. NO ONE HERE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE REALLY DOING!!!! You have no idea, or any of us for that matter, who they are or are not listening to? Unless your a FISA judge or take cases to FISA, you’re as clueless to the reality of the program as everyone else here.

    The sadest part is that your assuming good faith from a group of people that have pissed good faith down the toliet.

    “”””FISA doesn’t apply if the President is waging war.” Says who? Alberto Gonzales?”””

    I believe the FISA law has a section covering war time. So it would be the law that says FISA does apply during war.

  81. “Guy, is it beyond your (obviously) feeble comprehension that this Commander in Chief and his administration have lost all credibility vis-a-vis who this supposed ENEMY is? Or that without checks on this arbitrary labelling of enemies we are coming to resemble all of the countries that turned the verb disappear into a transitive verb in the 1970s? I’m thinking Videla and Pinochet here. Can you dig that, Guy? Or would you like to continue flinging excrement at our democratic traditions.”

    Pink. Yes, no doubt pink, would be the color of the sky in your little world.

  82. “So…you have to reach back 140 years to find something that justifies a current president bypassing a perfectly good statute and then misleading the public about it?”

    well, given that Islam has to reference the crusades in order to justify it’s actions, I’d say 140 years is a fairly short time.

  83. The New York Times does has some redeeming value – especially in the area of entertainment. I love those sections! However, the political stances are so one-sided against the steerage of Republican office holders especially President Bush and his staff that it makes one think to themselves, is it really all about partisan politics as this paper is trying to convey or is it about protecting the security of our nation so we can enjoy the freedom that we hold near and dear. God really blessed America when He put George Bush at the helm. It takes real guts to stand up for what is right and not just go along with the crowd or the polls. It took a great man like George Bush to keep our country safe since 9/11!

  84. “Pink. Yes, no doubt pink, would be the color of the sky in your little world.”

    Help me out former lib. I’m nonplussed. WTF? It’s been a long day.

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