Civil Liberties

Show Me the Rationale

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With the support of three Republicans, the Senate Judiciary Committee has followed through on its threat to subpoena DOJ documents that might illuminate the Bush administration's legal rationale for monitoring email and phone calls without the warrants required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In a sense, we already know the rationale: When it comes to fighting terrorism, the president can do whatever he wants. But the substance of the disagreements among administration officials about the surveillance program, including the standoff between John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales described in former Deputy Attorney General James Comey's recent congressional testimony, remains obscure. What aspects of the program did Ashcroft think rendered it illegal, and how were they fixed to his satisfaction? Did the safeguards the administration supposedly took to protect the privacy of innocent Americans vary over time?

Members of the Judiciary Committee may also want to know why it suddenly become possible, after the Democrats took control of Congress, to conduct the surveillance in conformance with FISA. How have the FISA procedures been tweaked to give the NSA the speed and flexibility the administration insisted could be obtained only by ignoring the law? And if everything is working OK now, why does the law still need to be changed?

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  1. I actually heard the following exchange on the radio this morning, in regards to this issue:

    “Yah, but there has to be reasonable cause to wiretap someone.”

    “There is – it’s called September Eleventh!”

    Friggin’ bedwetters.

  2. I actually heard the following exchange on the radio this morning, in regards to this issue:

    “Yah, but there has to be reasonable cause to wiretap someone.”

    “There is – it’s called September Eleventh!”

    Was that on WDUM talk radio?

  3. Bush just asserted executive privelege for any further document subpoenas.

    I love a good Constitutional crisis with my morning coffee.

  4. J sub D,

    Actually, iit wasn’t even talk radio. It was on WAAF, the most meatheaded of the rock stations in greater Boston.

    The morning guy is a real wingnut.

  5. After the initial shock and sadness and anger wore off my biggest fear wasn’t what terrorists could do to my country (they are not an existential threat), but what we would do to our country.

    Sadly, I was correct.

    If another 9/11 type event happens, kiss the Republic good-bye.

  6. Congress: Mr. Bush, we want to understand why you think you didn’t do anything wrong.

    Bush: I didn’t do anything wrong

    Congress: But why do you think that?

    Bush: Sorry, that’s executive privilaged information.

    Congress: But…

    Bush: Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage,Executive Privilage,Executive Privilage, Executive Privilage

    Congress: *sigh*

  7. Lost_In_Translation,

    Gonzales: I don’t recall, I don’t recall, I don’t recall.

    Cheney: Fuck off, Fuck off, Fuck off.

  8. “Members of the Judiciary Committee may also want to know why it suddenly become possible, after the Democrats took control of Congress, to conduct the surveillance in conformance with FISA.”

    Three cheers for divided government!

  9. Red Stripe Commercial guy [1]: Hooray divided government! Hooray beer!

    BTW, Pat Leahy no longer needs his Viagara prescription.

    [1] I love that guy and I would totally platonically gay marry him.

  10. No, you are very ugly!

  11. Rice: No one could have foreseen…, No one could have foreseen…, No one could have foreseen…,

  12. Joe, I feel your pain.

    Whenever I start my car in the morning, I have to listen to those idiots yammering on what otherwise is a really good radio station for the few seconds it takes me to change the channel. 🙁

  13. Bush just asserted executive privelege for any further document subpoenas.

    So that means that Cheney has to hand over documents though, right? Since he isn’t part of the Executive branch?

  14. So that means that Cheney has to hand over documents though, right? Since he isn’t part of the Executive branch?

    I think that depends on which side of the bed he got out of on the day the subpoena was received.

  15. I’m amazed – the Blues are moving forward. A little. On this.

    Hopefully, it’s a start.

  16. “Democrats ’08: Hopefully, It’s a Start”

    Now THAT would be truth in advertising.

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