June 30, 2006
USA Today retracts... sort of...
In the adjoining article, USA TODAY reports that five members of the congressional intelligence committees said they had been told in secret briefings that BellSouth did not turn over call records to the NSA, three lawmakers said they had been told that Verizon had not participated in the NSA database, and four said that Verizon's subsidiary MCI did turn over records to the NSA.
Story still developing, but I have no doubt that the Conservasphere will jump all over this one.
May 16, 2006
Every now and then...
I even agree with Paul. This is one of them.
In creating policy, the decision must be made if the potential good outweighs the potential bad. To paraphrase Paul "Bear" Bryant (or was it Vince Lombardi?), Destroying basic civil liberties is more bad then stopping terrorists is good.*
And I have been waiting for someone on the Right to raise this issue... I just didnt't expect it would be him...
May 14, 2006
More Right Wing Logic
On Thursday, USA Today reported that three U.S. telecommunications companies have been voluntarily providing the National Security Agency with anonymized domestic telephone records -- that is, records stripped of individually identifiable data, such as names and place of residence. If true, the architect of this program deserves our thanks and probably a medal. That architect was presumably Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and President Bush's nominee to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Read the whole thing.
Now, I have a couple of questions based on the above assumptions...
1. In the already revealed domestic spying program, the NSA is already monitoring calls from inside the U.S., to suspected terrorist outside the U.S. Why is this additional data necessary. It would seem that it only overcomplicates the issue.
2. What is the reluctance of the administration to accept judicial and congressional oversight?
3. How do we KNOW that such programs will not be abused for political purposes. It is not like it has not been done before:
During the Vietnam War, the NSA used data from Shamrock to compile a watch-list (code-named "Minaret") of Nixon’s political enemies, including Martin Luther King, Jane Fonda, folksinger Joan Baez and Dr. Benjamin Spock, along with 75,000 other Americans.
The whole premise that suppossedly, "makes this all alright," is that we can trust our government to do the right thing. I dont think I need to elaborate on why that is naive...
May 13, 2006
More Logic - Theme = Credibility
Joe makes a good point here:
But the larger issue is the one that poses the most danger to this administration - particularly if White House guru Karl Rove winds up being indicted in Plamegate.
And it seems that the American people have learned a lesson that countless nations have learned before them... Trading liberty for security gives us neither...
And Right Wingers wonder why Lefty's are quick to call a lie a lie...
True American Patriots....
All I have to say is thank GOD she spared us the unladylike version. Our sensitivities may not have been able to handle it.
Thanks for the Tour Michelle, and may I say you look damned good in those jeans!
Right Wing Logic...
"I see some of the brain dead lefties are on tonight. There is a difference in tapping a phone and listening to the conversation and tracking where a phone call goes by number only. Actually i can't see why people worry about someone tapping their phone, unless they are in the drug traffic business, a criminal or associated with the dim-wit party. These people worry because they should all be doing life without parole. I hope to god we get attacked with several million deaths and billions of dollars in destruction. Then the president can stand up and say 'I told you so', you and your leakers are the cause of it. There won't be another dim-wit elected to a local, state or national office in the next 100 years. They have walked into a trap with their eyes wide open (brain closed for all business) and the terrorists have the trip wire for the trap. Let er rip."
Remember when Paul jumped all over me for allegedly wishing death on people to make a point? I notice he must have missed this one. Or is it the Hypocrisy thing again?
"I'm certainly no technical expert, but I find it really hard to believe that collecting such a staggering horde - 2 trillion call records since 2001 - will yield useful intelligence about a relatively small and increasingly amorphous newtork of clandestine operatives who by now have almost certainly learned not to use the phones. We've already had FBI agents complain about being bombarded with false leads, and now experts in the very kind of network analysis the NSA program is supposed to be doing are saying the same thing:"
"If you're looking for a needle, making the haystack bigger is counterintuitive. It just doesn't make sense."
"However, it definitely doesn't take much imagination to see how handy a database like that could be to a bunch of would-be police state captains - for everything from political dirty tricks to tracing the phone calls of suspected whistleblowers and reporters. In fact, it doesn't take any imagination at all, not when the RNC, the Justice Department and the CIA are already doing just those things."
This about sums up my thoughts...
"If one thinks that they aren't putting names, SSNs, addresses, Amazon book purchases, credit card numbers, web sites visited, credit card purchases, magazines subscribed to, and whatever, together with these call histories then you probably believe in the tooth fairy along with belief in BushCo honesty."
Jim from Portland
The straw that broke the camel's back
Congress Daily reports that former NSA staffer Russell Tice will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week that not only do employees at the agency believe the activities they are being asked to perform are unlawful, but that what has been disclosed so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Tice will tell Congress that former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush's nominee to be the next CIA director, oversaw more illegal activity that has yet to be disclosed.
Meanwhile, Republican Icon, Newt Gingrich speaks up:
I'm not going to defend the indefensible. The Bush administration has an obligation to level with the American people. And I'm prepared to defend a very aggressive anti-terrorist campaign, and I'm prepared to defend the idea that the government ought to know who's making the calls, as long as that information is only used against terrorists, and as long as the Congress knows that it's underway.
And another poll, seems to indicate that the Conservative GLEE over a poll released earlier this week that said that Americans were not concerned about the latest NSA Spying scandal, was a bit.... premature...
May 13, 2006 - Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism? Yes, say a majority of Americans, following this week's revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens since the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA's surveillance program "goes too far in invading people's privacy," while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.
I am not ready to claim victory just yet... I think the American people have been so confussed by what is going on, that there is no clear plurality on what Americans are willing to give up, to "feel" safe. Because the reality is that we are NOT safe. Our borders and ports are open doors, our Nuclear Power facilities remain underprotected, and there are thousands upon thousands of "soft targets," in the United States. As Gingrich implies, this administration has been much more focussed on disjointed power plays than on formulating REAL policy to protect the country.
I am not a big fan of polls, especially ones related to Bush. Okay, we got it, the man is a Lame Duck President who will likely go down in history as a monumental failure. The only pleasure I take from that is knowing that right now there are a LOT of Conservatives who albiet late... have come to the same conclussion, perhaps for differen't reasons... And there are others... who no matter what Bush or his administration does, will insist on going down with the ship. There was a time when I could respect their support for Bush, and their skepticism over Lefty claims of malfeasance. The Downing Street Memo and other accussations against the administration, just wern't believable to the faithful. Just as most of us did not want to believe Clinton played doctor in the Oval Office.... Understandable. Most of us came to accept that Clinton had done what he did, once the evidence came out. Despite reams of evidence against this administration, and scandal after scandal, the True Believers refuse to acknowledge that their President could have done something wrong.
It is fascinating to watch...
I remember Bush once saying he would be a uniter for the country... Perhaps his first lie... Chosing Karl Rove to run his campaign meant there was no possibility for that. Now Rove appears headed for a day in court... The country is more divided than it has been in more than a century. Our international reputation is in shambles. We appear to much of the world, to be more of a rogue state, than those we challenge. Our flag is burned and people jeer the United States even in places that once were our strong allies. Our military, once seen as liberators, are now seen as sadistic torturers by much of the world. Our constitution is being sqweezed and challenged by those sworn to uphold it. And reasonable conservatives are starting to abandon ship, or at least question their fielty to a failed administration.
All I can say is... "Told you so."
May 12, 2006
A bit of clarity...
The Washington Post Editorializes Today:
In reality, that is what this is all about. No American could possibly NOT want our government to use every tool at their disposal to protect our country. At the root of the issues is the unbridled arrogance on the part of an Administration that seems to feel it has a broad mandate to ignore laws and our constitution in the name of expediancy. It is logical that our National Security apparatus has a need for secrecy. At the same time we have a system in place for necessary oversight to make sure that our civil liberties are not abused. The Bush administration has hypocritically used the excuse of leaks to justify broad abuses of powerm and yet the same administration has chosen the leak as a political tool when it meets their needs.
The American people WANT to trust their government. While a poll taken yesterday, indicates that the American people are willing to support data collection efforts like the phone records collection, if it indeed helps to protect the U.S. from terror attacks, Americans are concerned about the errossion of our civil liberties under this administration. The bottom line is that Congress has been derlict in its duties to the constitution and the balance of power, instead rubber stamping the initiatives of this administration and ignoring their oversight responsibilities.
We have a constitution for a reason, and secretly suspending it, without oversight or debate is not something the American people will support. While yesterday's news may not have had the impact on the American people that progressives expected, the long term corrossive effect on our civil liberties and the arrogance of this administration in feeling that they are somehow above the law, will likely have an impact in November.
May 02, 2006
Acknowledgement of a Police State...
The FBI sought personal information on thousands of Americans last year from banks, Internet service providers and other companies without having to seek approval from a court, according to new data released by the Justice Department.
Nice to see the paper of Woodward and Bernstein is waking up to the story...
April 08, 2006
They are reading your emails...
"Based on my understanding of the connections and equipment at issue, it appears the NSA is capable of conducting what amounts to vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the internet whether that be peoples' e-mail, web surfing or any other data. Given the public debate about the constitutionality of the Bush administration's spying on U.S. citizens without obtaining a FISA warrant, I think it is critical that this information be brought out into the open, and that the American people be told the truth about the extent of the administration's warrantless surveillance practices, particularly as it relates to the internet. Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA. And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens."
Now doesn't that just give you the warm and fuzzies inside? The thing I find particularly funny about this is that in the history of despotic regimes, it is always the "loyal party member," who gets spied on the most. So for those closeted Gay Righties, and the others who have something to hide... Maybe you too should be a bit concerned about this.
March 04, 2006
What are they afraid of?
Bill Frist threatens to re-structure the Intelligence Committee in order to block NSA hearings
Any of you Conservative types want to explain why this makes sense?
Looks to me like another Republican Strong Arm attempt to prevent oversight, on an administration that seems hellbent on giving the constitution the finger.
February 14, 2006
Congress finaly showing some spine?
Feb. 20, 2006 issue - The attorney general of the United States was playing rope-a-dope. Why, the senators wanted to know, did the White House circumvent a law passed by Congress, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires intelligence services to obtain search warrants before intercepting international communications inside the United States? Alberto Gonzales was evasive and bland. Speaking in legalisms, he offered few details about the National Security Agency's sweeping post-9/11 eavesdropping program. After a series of senatorial questions had gone essentially unanswered, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont interjected, "Of course, I'm sorry, Mr. Attorney General, I forgot: you can't answer any questions that might be relevant to this."
You know, I could get all excited about this... And I would really like to. I would like to think that the people who we pay to respresent us, ALL of us, really represent the best interest of Americans. But I have seen too much partisan politics in the last 8 years, and even before that, when republicans wanted to tar and feather Clinton over his "personal indiscretions." But instead, this:
Washington Post: Bob Barr, Bane of the Right? "Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?" Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. "Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?"
Is this what we have come to in our country... A country that excuses torture, wiretaps it's citizens and holds people indefinately without trial, some of whom have been proven innocent after over a year incarcerated. I have never liked Barr, but I have to give him credit for at least standing up for something he believes in, instead of constantly excusing and justifying the actions of a White House that is simply OUT OF CONTROL.
January 26, 2006
Why Change the Law, when you can just ignore it?
The Bush administration rejected a 2002 Senate proposal that would have made it easier for FBI agents to obtain surveillance warrants in terrorism cases, concluding that the system was working well and that it would likely be unconstitutional to lower the legal standard.
Cole has more, including some counter arguments.
Like John, I am not a lawer, so I feel ill equipted to discuss this with anything more than a general comment. I am sick and tired of this government "interpreting," the law in any way they like. There is enough questioning of this spying on both sides of the aisle for me to be uncomfortable with it. At minimum, there needs to be thorough bi-partisan hearings before the American Public on this issue.
January 18, 2006
Still think the NSA Spying thing was no big deal?
Hitchens speaks with a bit of clarity at the HuffPo:
Let me give a very direct instance of what I mean. We have recently learned that the NSA used law enforcement agencies to track members of a pacifist organisation in Baltimore. This is, first of all, an appalling abuse of state power and an unjustified invasion of privacy, uncovered by any definition of "national security" however expansive. It is, no less importantly, a stupid diversion of scarce resources from the real target. It is a certainty that if all the facts were known we would become aware of many more such cases of misconduct and waste.
Some of us have been concerned for a while now that the NSA thing was about more than spying on a few AQ Sleepers in the U.S.. This would seem to bear out that fear. It's time to get real people. Either you are a die hard Bush Partisan who believes he has the right to do as he wishes, regardless of the constitution, or you are an American, who believes too much blood has been shed and sacrifice made to take for granted those rights.
The mere possibility that such a program is used to spy on those who simply dissagree with the President's policies... rather than legitimate threats to our nation, is chilling in the least. So I ask the question... Where are the conservatives who believe in protecting our constitution. Have we come to a point in our national history where PARTY comes before Patriotism?
January 17, 2006
Looks like the Bushies got caught in another lie...
Either that, or they are too stupid to understand precedent.
January 07, 2006
Did you REALLY Think it would come to this?
Did Americans really believe that it would get to the point where not even your personal mail is sacred anymore?
WASHINGTON - In the 50 years that Grant Goodman has known and corresponded with a colleague in the Philippines he never had any reason to suspect that their friendship was anything but spectacularly ordinary.
Presidential Power... Or Excess?
"Nobody should doubt at this point that the Bush Doctrine has less to do with militaristic imperialism than it does with a vastly expanded theory of executive power, a theory more or less spelled out by presidential aide John Yoo. You'll recall that Yoo thinks that basically anything is legal as long as the president feels that it's necessary. The president, in his view, is the law."
That quote is from a dynamite piece by Tim at Balloon Juice.
Which got me to thinking....
With all the justifying going on in Conservative Circles, on everything from the justification to go to war in Iraq, to Plamegate, Snoopgate and beyond.... Just how will conservatives feel if the balance of power is shifted to the executive branch forever. Which means the next "Clinton," to take office will have the same powers. Will they howl in protest and claim the constitution is being abused then? This Presidency has almost become an academic excercise in understanding partisanship. On both sides.
My personal take... The rule of law is being dismantled, sometimes subtle ways, sometimes arrogantly, and the people who I have always respected to defend individual rights have abandoned common sense in favor of rabbid partisan political dogmatism.
December 31, 2005
Shooting the messenger...
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 - The Justice Department said on Friday that it had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a secret National Security Agency program under which President Bush authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States without court warrants.
John Cole has this to say, in response to the news:
Does this mean the Justice Department has taken the position that the Bush wiretapping bit was legal? The ACLU has taken the position (and I am sure it will soon be echoed around the left wng of the blogosphere) that the leakers are heroes and whistleblowers. If they are in fact whistleblowers, how can an investigation go forward? It would seem to me the first thing that needs to be done is that Justice has to determine the law was or was not broken, then they can investigate.
Well, I am not going to say that the whistleblowers are heroes, at least not yet. What I will say is that I agree with John... The priorities seem to be a bit skewed here. If it turns out that the law was broken,and the constitution violated... we should give the whistleblowers a parade, right after the impeachment....
As for the Attorney General's zeal in pursuing this case, my opinion is pretty straight forward. This by all appearances is typical Bush tactics, intimidate and silence. It has worked up until now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the American Public is getting a bit tired of it.
December 27, 2005
The NSA Algorithm....
Seems to be a hot topic in the Blogspere right now. Most of us are just not smart enough to "do the math," but this whole story has disturbed me since the first time I read about it.
Maybe it's because of this.
Ezra has some questions...
Ezra Klein has some questions about the latest revelations on NSA Spying. My top question remains, "Why no court orders."
December 23, 2005
It's rare, but it happens... I agree 100% with Paul's statement on the NSA Spying case.
This might surprise some of you long time Wizbang readers, but I think the Democrats are absolutely correct. We need a congressional investigation.
UPDATE: After getting a comment on this post, I am not sure if Paul and I have the same motives. (Maybe he is mixing the KA, hell I don't know...) Nevertheless, I agree that this calls for hearings. The Conservatives want to shoot the whistleblower. I want to know if the whistleblowing was justified...
Second Update: Paul ships me a crow sandwitch all the way to Costa Rica, and Yummy too. It's okay dude, I forgot about your occassional forays into satire. It's all good. Lets have the hearings anyway. And Boyd, I got your point. I am not sure I agree with it. Since I dont think the AQ guys are so stupid that they dont know we have these capabilities. Nevertheless, I am still concerned about the spying itself. No one has give a satisfactory explanation as to why Bush did not go to the Courts for the spying orders. I have no problems with the whistleblower being persecuted under principle. Likewise I want to see the people who outted Val Plame prosecuted. At least my position remains consistent huh? (wink)
Debunking the, "Clinton did it too," meme...
The other day I wrote:
I have seen the Clinton meme all over the Rightsphere, and Jeff Goldstein has went into spin overdrive on justifying the snooping, all under the guise of... "Gee I really don't know, but I suspect this is much ado about nothing." Hehe... Truth is, the Clinton thing is just another smokescreen...
Oops, I forgot to give credit on this one. Thanks Rogue!
December 19, 2005
I think I am all "gated" out, but this is an interesting analysis of the latest bombshell out of Washington:
Dec. 19, 2005 - Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn't agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda, but it will not work. We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president's desperation.
In the Interim the debate "Rages," at Bush Pal Jeff G's Protien Wisdom. It continues to amaze me that anyone can continue to justify this crap. We have a President, and an administration that continues to defecate on the Constitution and people who are suppossed to be SUPER Patriots, continue to act as apologist for it. Sorry guys, this one definately does not pass the smell test, and as more details become available, and more constitutional lawyers, NOT HACKS weigh in on the matter, it looks worse and worse...
I am going to ask the question again, and I am sure it will be ignored by the trolls who respond to this post... WHERE does Bush's powers as a "War Time President," end?
Jack Grant, writing at The Moderate Voice, asks another important question. One the Righties stumbling all over themselves to spin this story, seem to be ignoring....
I look at just about everything this administration does... with suspicion, as should anyone who has not spent the last year in a bunker.
P6, has a post debunking most of the rationale behind the snooping:
FACT: BUSH PROGRAM WOULD NOT HAVE PREVENTED SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS: Vice President Cheney said of the surveillance program, "It's the kind of capability, if we'd had before 9/11, might have led us to be able to prevent 9/11." This claim is false and sensational. The secret surveillance program authorized by President Bush did not provide the government with any new "capability." The government "already had the capacity to read your mail and your e-mail and listen to your telephone conversations. All it had to do was obtain a warrant from a special court created for this purpose. The burden of proof for obtaining a warrant was relaxed a bit after 9/11, but even before the attacks the court hardly ever rejected requests." Indeed, from 1979 to 2002, the FISA court issued 15,264 surveillance warrants. Not a single warrant application was rejected.
Read the whole thing, it is a great piece of work...
The limits of Presidential Power
President Bush today offered his most elaborate defense yet of his administration's domestic eavesdropping program, saying he was legally and constitutionally authorized to implement it and obligated to do so in order to protect the country from a new kind of enemy.
Now what I want to know is simple. I am not being partisan here, I just want to know. WHAT ARE THE LIMITS of Presidential power under this administration?
I dont claim to be a Presidential Historian, and it has been pointed out to me in the past that SOME of the things the Bush Administration has done, have been done by previous Democratic Administrations. I am not looking for a two column scorecard here, but it seems to me that this administration has not only stretched the boundries of Presidential power, but reinterpreted them in some pretty scary ways. From Torture scandals, to massive no bid contracts, buddy appointments and now this scandal, the Bush Administration has seemed to constantly thumb their nose at the constitution and the American people.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales this morning defended the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping operation, saying it derived its legality from the congressional resolution permitting the use of force to fight terrorism in the wake of September 11, 2001 as well as from the "inherent powers" of the president as commander in chief.
My, my my.... What other powers does the president have that we don't know about... YET?
I think Jack Grant says it best for me...
December 16, 2005
Secret wiretaps=impeachable offense?
If you still support the Bush Administration after reading this story, then your partisan political sickness may be terminal:
President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.
There is no defense for actions such as these.
Wiretapping US citizens without a warrant?
This is against the law. There is absolutely no excuse for the President of the United States to violate the civil rights of US citizens..even to stop terrorism.
I can't imagine that this isn't an impeachable offense.
I recognize that there are a lot of scared Americans out there. Terrorism is a scary business.
But terrorism has been with us for centuries. And we've had US citizens die from terrorism on our soil prior to 9/11. When Eric Rudolph murdered abortion doctors and bombed the US Olympics in Atlanta..did we allow secret wiretaps of suspected abortion doctor killers and other suspected whacked out US citizens? When Tim McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City...did we start those activities then? When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered their classmates at Columbine High School, did we start secret wiretaps of suspected angry high schoolers?
This is insanity. Any quarter of American society that supports allowing the POTUS to secretly wiretap Americans without having secured a warrant is either so blindly partisan or so blindly scared that they are beyond the reach of common sense.
2005 Weblog Awards Finalist!
2004 Weblog Awards Finalist!
Get the Best for your Ad Dollar
Get the Best Bang for your Buck!