Laws & Sausages

Don’t watch either being made, said Otto von Bismarck who had experience with both. He was talking about politics of interest and compromise. Actually there is no other kind. When reasonable people agree we have established law, tradition or practice. Politics is precisely for those situations when the way is unclear and more controversial. Despite its unpleasant feel and odor, the negotiation inherent in politics is the best way to satisfy diverse and competing interests.

Tolerance for politics varies. As it is with Americans who tire of the negotiations involved in buying anything in a Turkish market, but also are determined to get the best price, so it is with politics. We all wish the other guy would just give us what we want without all the fuss. Politics is worse. Unlike the market politics is infused with feelings of entitlement, obligation and morality, and always carries the implicit threat of coercion. With some effort, you can get out of Mehmet's rug shop without making a purchase. In politics even the non-buyer has to leave with something or at least has to help pay for it.

That is why politics can't be avoided and must be endured. Too often people want to jump from politics to established law without going through the process. We Americans are particularly guilty of this, maybe because we carry so much moral and self-righteous baggage. The abortion debate is the most prominent example. In many other advanced countries, the abortion debate went through the sausage factory of politics. Not everyone liked the liverwurst that came out, but the process had made most of the ingredients less noxious and offensive. In America we jumped right to settled law leaving the ugly unprocessed pig parts crudely piled on the right and left sides of the plate.

Especially since Watergate, Americans have been eager to criminalize political behavior. Reagan, Bush, Clinton and now GW Bush had prosecutors nipping at their heels. In all these cases, the prosecutors abandoned their original charges and charged into new places. In the end, not much came of them except to criminalize politics and make everybody feel aggrieved. The latest tempest involves President Bush's authorization of wiretaps without first getting the approval of the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

No Administration then or since has accepted that the Act trumped a President's power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it and the issue has been settled by neither the courts nor politics. It is clearly political, not legal and should be settled in that arena. You can argue both sides, but they are normative - political - arguments. If we once again go into the fruitless investigation and prosecution mode, we will produce a bad result that may well harm the security of our country. If we go the political route, we will come to a solution that will satisfy nobody in principle, but will work in fact.

Speaking of principles, recall something else Bismarck said, "When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice."

Posted by Jack at December 20, 2005 1:32 PM
Comments
Comment #104930

Jack:

“No Administration then or since has accepted that the Act trumped a President’s power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it and the issue has been settled by neither the courts nor politics.”

On the face of it, this reasoning appears circular. By definition, passage and concomitant signing of FISA constitutes “settled.”

Second, can you point to any specific evidence of a president other than Bush 43, claiming that he could make exceptions to FISA?

Thanks.

Posted by: Arr-squared at December 20, 2005 1:44 PM
Comment #104932

Jack,

This is not politics as usual. It’s the abuse of power that is so prevalent in politics. Create a list of the abuses of power that have been done in the name of “National Security” and it’s staggering.
You cannot justify this. We must change it.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 20, 2005 1:46 PM
Comment #104933

Jack,

As always, a cogent and thoughtful post. My question is this. Why not go before the FISA court? I dissmiss the notion that “it would take too long”. I believe that reasonable people on this court knowing the sense of urgency on the matter would invest every effort in accomodating the administration’s requests. I honestly believe that this administration has over-stepped itself on this occasion and simply needs to come to terms with it. The president, should say “Indeed, I have been over-zealous in my protection of the country. I will in the future abide by the law with respect to obtaining authority for this type action”, then this would go a way in a week. However, the belligerence and arrogance that the administration continues to show will require they stay the course and call people who question violation of law “shameful”.

Posted by: Dennis at December 20, 2005 1:47 PM
Comment #104937
I dissmiss the notion that ‘it would take too long’. I believe that reasonable people on this court knowing the sense of urgency on the matter would invest every effort in accomodating the administration’s requests

I read in the paper this morning that, under FISA, the government has the power to FIRST wiretap and THEN get the warrant. So this whole argument about not having time to wait is Bull.

Posted by: bobo at December 20, 2005 1:50 PM
Comment #104943

I totally support GW’s need to protect the American people. I believe that if he had gone before FISA, practically every single one of his security actions would have been approved. If he didn’t get FISA approval, he broke the law. I believe in checks and balances in government, and the executive branch seems to have seriously overstepped its powers in this case. BTW, we wouldn’t be any less safe if he had consulted FISA.

Posted by: Loren at December 20, 2005 2:00 PM
Comment #104945

You know, it was kinda funny last night on The News Hour with Jem Lehrer. Russ Feingold and John Cornin were on debating the legality of the President’s authorization of wiretaps. Feingold went into some measure of detail as to the ridiculousness of the President’s actions in light of what was already available. Cornin sat there and simply said that the President’s actions were legal, without any supporting evidence. Kind of reminds me of a parent when they say “because I said so”. Except the difference is that parents aren’t elected, whereas Presidents are and must be held accountable to the law even more so than the People.

Posted by: ant at December 20, 2005 2:03 PM
Comment #104947

We still have much to learn about this, but from here it looks like a bad political mistake that has led to a serious legal issue.

I’m partly drawing this conclusion from George Will’s recent column: “On the assumption that Congress or a court would have been cooperative in September 2001, and that the cooperation could have kept necessary actions clearly lawful without conferring any benefit on the nation’s enemies, the president’s decision to authorize the NSA’s surveillance without the complicity of a court or Congress was a mistake.” I imagine that even a lot of Republicans in Congress are biting their tongues and quietly brooding in anger about this one.

It will all come back to politics, of course, as the GOP holds its breath to find out if average Americans give a damn about constitutional rights.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 2:06 PM
Comment #104948

Jack,
“Criminalize political behavior.” What a nice phrase. Unfortunately, crime is crime, and political behavior is political behavior. Like all US citizens of all walks of life, political behavior is subject to laws. Breaking a law is a crime. Furthermore, the laws are established. It is not a matter of a politician behaving in a certain matter, and that behavior being retroactively turned into a crime.

FISA allows warrants to be filed up to 72 hours after the event, and the court’s proceedings are secret.

There is not way to justify this current issue by claiming FISA isn’t fast enough. That is simply a lie. There is no way to justify this current issue by suggesting it’s a matter of security, since FISA acts in secret, and as a practical matter, approves almost all of the thousands of requests it receives.

There needs to be an investigation. There’s no need to be hysterical about it. But regardless of political affiliation, nearly everyone can agree: a president no longer feels constrained by the constitution represents a serious problem.

Does the constitution merely “criminalize political behavior”?

Posted by: phx8 at December 20, 2005 2:07 PM
Comment #104961
No Administration then or since has accepted that the Act trumped a President’s power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it and the issue has been settled by neither the courts nor politics.

Jack,

Please demonstrate how the exceptions to FISA were “required” by national security. You can’t. The administration can’t.

We now know that under current law wiretaps can begin immediately as long as warrants are applied for within 72 hours. So how does Bush’s actions make us safer?

This fact alone is what makes this so interesting. Because Bush’s actions were inherently unnecessary under the terms of national security, we are only left to wonder why in the world the administration felt the need to stick their necks out on this.

Best case scenario for Bush is that the reason is it just made the executive branch feel more powerful and under control - hubris. Worst case scenario is that the administration went about this as they did because they really were spying on people that any reasonable judge, and the American public, would find completely unacceptable.

Posted by: Burt at December 20, 2005 2:31 PM
Comment #104963

phx8,

Bravo. I was about to post much the same thing and you beat me to the punch.

We first heard this line (“criminalizing politics”), I believe, during the initial stages of the DeLay scandal…or was it the Rove/Plame situation? So many scandals, hard to keep them straight at this point.

You’re absolutely right. The state can criminalize any activity that doesn’t infringe upon the constitutionally protected ones. Last I checked, wiretapping without a warrant wasn’t constitutionally protected.

What you said.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 20, 2005 2:34 PM
Comment #104973

One of the problems with FISA for national security is everytime a suspect changes a phone number or ISP, you have to get a new court order.
It is a game of cat and mouse in a time of war that the extra time could be deadly. That is, deadly to someone other than a terrorist.

Posted by: Theway2k at December 20, 2005 2:52 PM
Comment #104976

So many scandals, hard to keep them straight at this point.

I seem to remember Clinton’s 8 years in office. There were so many scandals that I needed a scorecard to keep it straight. From Travelgate to bj-gate, the Dems had more than their share.

Posted by: Jim at December 20, 2005 2:57 PM
Comment #104979

Loren:
“I totally support GW’s need to protect the American people. I believe that if he had gone before FISA, practically every single one of his security actions would have been approved.”

I get the impression he isn’t trying to protect the American people in this instance. I maybe think he is trying to protect his own interests. Otherwise he could have very quickly and easily followed the law with FISA, right? As for whether every single one of these security actions would have been approved, perhaps that is exactly why he decided to break the law — because they possibly wouldn’t have been approved? Many questions still unanswered here.

Jack — what phx8 said.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 20, 2005 3:03 PM
Comment #104981

Jim,

Well, considering most of the underlying actions for these scandals happened in Bush’s first term, and only stretched into a second term because the White House and the NYT sat on information until after Bush got re-elected, he technically managed to fit all these scandals into one term. The fallout just happens to be coming in the second term. Good work, BushCo!

Moreover, I find it funny the persistence of comparisons to Clinton, despite the fact that many of us wouldn’t defend him, not to mention that the moral equivalence between “travelgate” and the scandals of this administration seems a bit off-kilter.

I forget who posted the right wing argumentative tactics in past. Was it that Elliot guy? At any rate, you just employed one of them: bring up Clinton, no matter how irrelevant. You get a pat on the head, Jimmy my boy.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 20, 2005 3:07 PM
Comment #104995
One of the problems with FISA for national security is everytime a suspect changes a phone number or ISP, you have to get a new court order. It is a game of cat and mouse in a time of war that the extra time could be deadly. That is, deadly to someone other than a terrorist.

It is patently false that following the law under current FISA rules takes any more time than the Bush administration’s current plan that falls outside the law. There is no time benefit. None.

Please try and keep up.

Posted by: Burt at December 20, 2005 3:16 PM
Comment #104997

Yeah, heaven forbid we use the same standards for both.
Excuse lawlessness when its your guy and cry about it when its not.

Nice post Jack and unless predetermined partisan thinking (the norm here) clouds the issue, your post should give people something to think about.

Posted by: kctim at December 20, 2005 3:24 PM
Comment #105011

Jack, I wonder if you feel that when poor people are sent to jail for criminal actions done as a result of the dire circumstances in which they find themselves, are we criminalizing poverty? Somehow, it rankles with me a bit that you wring your hands over the plight of fat cat politicians and the tough decisions you believe they have to make, while those who are bowing and scraping for mere survival and make bad decisions probably receive no kind of sympathy from you.

However, that’s an assumption of mine with regard to your attitude, and I apologize in advance if it is in error. But I feel that such a supposition is probably not inaccurate with regard to otheres of your political stripe.

I feel far worse for those whose poverty forces them into the nether regions of moral ambiguity and crime than for politicians.

But I suppose since we are currently in the greatest economy in the history of man, nobody has any excuse to be poor. They must just be members of a criminal underclass by choice.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 20, 2005 3:44 PM
Comment #105029

Jack

This is beneath you. Trying to rationalize this subversion of the constitution has you twisted in knots. To accept your argument in fact gives the President absolute powers, especially coupled with his right to torture and to ignore habeas corpus. You are free to make such assertions, but you lose the right to call yourself anything but a monarchist.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at December 20, 2005 4:05 PM
Comment #105034

So many Clinton jokes, so little time…..But here goes…..

Hillary in ‘08……………….

First Man Willie Clinton………

Posted by: Jim at December 20, 2005 4:07 PM
Comment #105043

Jim

Those are the two I remember, too.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at December 20, 2005 4:22 PM
Comment #105048

The author of the article in the NYT would then have to write 30 books to sell after each exercise of 1st ammendment “freedoms”, so far?
I mean the way they leak National Security materials now we could look for a weekly menu in the NYT? “Osama don’t call on tuesdays and fridays between 5 and 11 P.M. we’ll be listening then.”

Posted by: pige at December 20, 2005 4:27 PM
Comment #105049

Ok, can we once and for all say that George Bush, is in fact, a liar?

George Bush, April 20, 2004:

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

Posted by: Burt at December 20, 2005 4:27 PM
Comment #105050

1.) I would like to see an investigation to determine of Bush has committed a crime or not.

2.) I would like to see an extensive investigation into who leaked this information. Leaking confidential, secret or top secret information is a crime also.

3.) I would like to see Teddy Kennedy face a jury of his peers on charges of at least Manslaughter. This has been an abortion of justice since it happened and must be resolved.

Posted by: Jim T at December 20, 2005 4:28 PM
Comment #105054

Jim T

Leaking secret information is only a crime if it was legally made secret. I don’t think the classification of illegal activity is legally classified. I’d be interested to hear a legal opinion on this matter (other than from our esteemed Attorney General, who seems to think that Bush has royal authority).

Posted by: Mental Wimp at December 20, 2005 4:32 PM
Comment #105059

“Second, can you point to any specific evidence of a president other than Bush 43, claiming that he could make exceptions to FISA?”

Yes, as a matter of fact,

1. Clinton did it in 1994 and his deputy AG,(Gorelick), testified before the senate intel committee that the president has the ‘inherent right’ to search without warrants when national security is the issue.

2. Reagan signed an executive order (12333) I think that stated the president has such authority…{2.5 Attorney General Approval.

The Attorney General hereby is delegated the power to approve the use for intelligence purposes, within the United States or against a United States person abroad, of any technique for which a warrant would be required if undertaken for law enforcement purposes, provided that such techniques shall not be undertaken unless the Attorney General has determined in each case that there is probable cause to believe that the technique is directed against a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Electronic surveillance, as defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, shall be conducted in accordance with that Act, as well as this Order.}

And BTW, a WSJ article contained this: “In Re: Sealed Case,” the FISA appeals court decision cited a previous FISA case [U.S. v. Truong], where a federal court “held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information.”

So, as usual, you liberals are all wrong on this issue. If this were president Kerry, you would all be defending the weasel. Get a life and a grip. You may want to research a specious demorat “outrage” charge before blindly following in lock step. OOPS, I forgot; you libs always follow the bad kool-aid crowd, don’t you?

Posted by: Beak at December 20, 2005 4:42 PM
Comment #105071

Mental,

And what crimes has the US committed that are stashed in the Top Secret files of our government?

If I were a conspiracy theory nut, I’d ask “What about the murder of Kennedy?” “Why are the files sealed until 2038 (or something)?”

Was there a crime committed? Why is it secret? Why not unseal those documents?

Are all the crimes that the US government has committed over all the years suddenly “Not Secret?”

Let’s see what Eisenhour, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon did during the Cold War that we don’t know about. If there was a crime committed (with the KGB and CIA going at it, there HAD to be a crime committed) then let’s see the secrets! Trot ‘em out! Leak ‘em to the press!

Posted by: Jim T at December 20, 2005 4:57 PM
Comment #105082

For the people out there that were so upset with the Valerie Flame (ha! ha!) CIA leak gate, where are you with the NY Times leaking what the Prez and NSA did in a time of war?

Where’s the outrage over this leak? Hmmmm!!! Anybody?!!!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 5:11 PM
Comment #105087

rahdigly:

Plames identity was protected by law.

No law protects *illegal* actions by our government from being made public knowledge, whether they’ve been marked “top secret” or not. In fact, the law demands that they be made public knowledge.

But hey, you want outrage over the leak, I’ve got plenty: the NY Times should *never* have sat on it while the governments illegal actions were allowed to continue.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 20, 2005 5:15 PM
Comment #105088

Yossarian et al

Beak talks about the legal precedent. No matter what we think, it is not a clear cut legal case. It is more about politics.

Re criminalizing politics

The first time I recall hearing the phase was (pardon me) during the Clinton Administration. Clinton’s defenders accused his detractors of doing that - and they were.

I am not trying to carve out a criminal exception for politics. The point of my original post is that politics plays precisely where laws or traditions don’t obviously apply. Each time I come to a red light, I don’t take an opinion poll to determine whether or not red means stop, but IF a large percentage of the population actually believed it did not, it would become a political issue. We would have to come to a political agreement about it.

Look at the evolution of the gay marriage debate. As little as a generation ago it was not a political issue. The whole behavior was condemned by tradition and sometimes by law. As long as the vast majority of people accepted this, it was subject to law, not politics. When society’s ideas changed, it became political and is that today. Politics is for when people disagree.

The opposite happened to smoking. It used to be a right. Then it became a politcal (small p) issue. Then it became a law (or very strong practice) against it.

The attempt to criminalize politics has made it more acrimonious and less effective. Take the case at hand. Look what happened to George Bush. He did something he thought was right or if you want to be unkind expedient. There is no reason to suspect that his motives were nefarious. Now (as you already have) assume the worst. If we kept his transgression in the realm of political disagreement, he could easily back away from it. You would achieve your goal (presuming your goal is privacy protection) But now his bridge is burned behind him and he has to fight. BTW - I expect he will win on the technicalities.

A good ploy in negotiation is NEVER trap your opponent. ALWAYS give him an honorable way to give in to your demands. Politics can do that. Law takes the option away.

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2005 5:17 PM
Comment #105091

Jarandhel

Law protects secret documents no matter what. I am sure this was classified higher than Ms. Plame’s more or less open identity.

You can’t let each person decide if the secret is legal or not. Imagine a secret document comes into your (legal) possession. You probalby don’t even know enough of the background to decide if it is “valid” and even if you did, it is not your choice.

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2005 5:21 PM
Comment #105092

rahdigly, there is a difference, a grand canyon of a difference between a whistle blower who leaks information of a potential crime being committed and a leaker who leaks classified information for political and personal gain.

Sorry, you could not tell the difference, so, now it is spelled out for you. If our government is violating the Constitution in an attempt to subvert American citizen’s protected rights and an insider leaks that top secret information, give the person a raise and a medal for being the public servant of the Century.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 20, 2005 5:22 PM
Comment #105094

Jarandhel,
“No law protects *illegal* actions by our government from being made public knowledge, whether they’ve been marked “top secret” or not.”


What Bush did was legal. We had too many “walls” (for intelligence gathering) prior to 9/11 and the Patriot Act and the President’s constitutional authority to keep us safe knocked down those walls. And, it certainly did keep us safe. If the Senate doesn’t renew the Patriot Act, that wall will go back up.

Reagan, FDR, Lincoln, Clinton did it and so did our current President. It’s called keeping us safe.


So, once again, where’s the outrage over this leak?!!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 5:24 PM
Comment #105095

Beak,
Can you provide links? I’m a liberal, and although I am not a lawyer, I cannot help but note you might want to clarify your assertions.

The following is from Findlaw:

Warrantless ”National Security” Electronic Surveillance .—In Katz v. United States, 151 Justice White sought to preserve for a future case the possibility that in ”national security cases” electronic surveillance upon the authorization of the President or the Attorney General could be permissible without prior judicial approval. The Executive Branch then asserted the power to wiretap and to ”bug” in two types of national security situations, against domestic subversion and against foreign intelligence operations, first basing its authority on a theory of ”inherent” presidential power and then in the Supreme Court withdrawing to the argument that such surveillance was a ”reasonable” search and seizure and therefore valid under the Fourth Amendment. Unanimously, the Court held that at least in cases of domestic subversive investigations, compliance with the warrant provisions of the Fourth Amendment was required. 152 Whether or not a search was reasonable, wrote Justice Powell for the Court, was a question which derived much of its answer from the warrant clause; except in a few narrowly circumscribed classes of situations, only those searches conducted pursuant to warrants were reasonable. The Government’s duty to preserve the national security did not override the gurarantee that before government could invade the privacy of its citizens it must present to a neutral magistrate evidence sufficient to support issuance of a warrant authorizing that invasion of privacy. 153 This protection was even more needed in ”national security cases” than in cases of ”ordinary” crime, the Justice continued, inasmuch as the tendency of government so often is to regard opponents of its policies as a threat and hence to tread in areas protected by the First Amendment as well as by the Fourth. 154 Rejected also was the argument that courts could not appreciate the intricacies of investigations in the area of national security nor preserve the secrecy which is required. 155


The question of the scope of the President’s constitutional powers, if any, remains judicially unsettled. 156 Congress has acted, however, providing for a special court to hear requests for warrants for electronic surveillance in foreign intelligence situations, and permitting the President to authorize warrantless surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information provided that the communications to be monitored are exclusively between or among foreign powers and there is no substantial likelihood any ”United States person” will be overheard. 157”

It is one thing for a president to assert the ability to conduct warrantless searches or to assert having the power to ignore probable cause. It is quite another thing for the courts or congress to agree. And it is an extraordinary thing for a president to make the assertion, conduct warrantless searches, ignore probable cause, and then classify the program in order to prevent any meaninful controls through congress, or oversight from the courts. Furthermore, upon the program being revealed, the president states his determination to continue warrantless searches without probable cause as an expression of the executive’s inherent power.

That’s where we are today. You’re good with this?


Posted by: phx8 at December 20, 2005 5:25 PM
Comment #105101

Rah,
When you were in the military, were you compelled to obey an unlawful order? If you were ordered to commit a war crime, what was your obligation?

Posted by: phx8 at December 20, 2005 5:29 PM
Comment #105107

rahdiggly,

Typical oversimplification. If FISA was inadequate to protect us, its revision is a legislative concern. Bush has no recognized Constitutional power to do what he did. But we do have recognized Constitutional rights that were ignored. End of story.

phx8,

I don’t know if that was a rhetorical question, but given an order to perform something prohibited by int’l law, a soldier must first refuse, then he can act if his superior threatens him. If I remember correctly.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 20, 2005 5:38 PM
Comment #105113
Clinton did it in 1994 and his deputy AG,(Gorelick), testified before the senate intel committee that the president has the ‘inherent right’ to search without warrants when national security is the issue.

This was while lobbying for an increase of powers of the FISA court, which eventually got put into law through Executive order.

The difference here is that when Clinton wanted to do something not covered by the current law, he went through the proper channels and changed the law. Bush has simply gone around - and broken - the law.

Posted by: Burt at December 20, 2005 5:46 PM
Comment #105114

Jack,

Well thought out response. However, I don’t completely accept everything you say.

For instance, the Constituion is supposed to exist outside the realm of political wrangling, and ot provide context within which said wrangling can occur. When a constitutional right is at issue, that is for the courts to decide, not the executive branch.

Now, I know that even the constitution can be altered via political process, but the evidence that this was meant to be in extraordinary circumstances is that such alteration is difficult to accomplish.

Bush has yet to cite any legal or constitutional underpinnings for his action. I’m sure his counsel is working their asses off right now to come up with some kind of plausible explanation that won’t be laughed out of court, which is why we haven’t been hearing too much in the way of a justification.

The most recent diversionary tactic is the usual Right wing square dance: Clinton! Look at Clinton! This is all Clinton’s fault!

Tiresome.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 20, 2005 5:47 PM
Comment #105117

FISA court regulations state that you can do things w/out a warrant, by the way. I don’t suppose anyone of the proud, patriotic Americans that are soooo upset w/ Bush even bothered to look into that.


Phx8,
“Rah, When you were in the military, were you compelled to obey an unlawful order? If you were ordered to commit a war crime, what was your obligation?”

Yes. I was certainly compelled to obey an order. As for an unlawful order, you had the right to dispute it; however, your life would be pretty miserable. Unlawful orders didn’t happen too often b/c your chain of command (all the way up) would take the bulk of the blame.

So, I see we’ve been watching “A Few Good Men”, isn’t that right, “Cappy”?!


Yossarian,
“If FISA was inadequate to protect us, its revision is a legislative concern. Bush has no recognized Constitutional power to do what he did. But we do have recognized Constitutional rights that were ignored. End of story.”

Read the 9/11 commission report, they graded all these laws, including FISA, and they all received a low grade at protecting us from another attack. Remember, this is not “Domestic” Spying! It’s spying on Al Qaeda. Now, who wants to defend Al Qaeda’s civil liberties? Well, that is, besides Ramsey Clark. Ha!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 5:51 PM
Comment #105118

Rah,

Yes, but you need to read past the first sentence of that section. You can’t do it without a court order unless you show there ISN’T a substantial likelihood you will end up spying on an American.

The non-double negative way of saying that is, if you want to spy on americans, you need a court order.

I wonder how many times we’ll have to say this?

“Read the 9/11 commission report, they graded all these laws, including FISA, and they all received a low grade at protecting us from another attack.”

That does nothing to combat my assertion that revising FISA is a legislative concern. I said, if you recall, which you should since you just finished quoting me, that even if FISA is inadequate, Congress changes it, not President.
As Sicilian Eagle has said in the past, “simple civics”.

Come up with a new point or drop it.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 20, 2005 5:56 PM
Comment #105121
Law protects secret documents no matter what. I am sure this was classified higher than Ms. Plame’s more or less open identity.

More or less open identity? How do you sleep at night, Jack?

No response to proof that your President lied about the spying issue?

Posted by: Burt at December 20, 2005 6:08 PM
Comment #105122

Hi Jack,

As always, an interesting post. I agree that politics is very clearly a matter of competing ideas, goals, whatever. No matter how messy the alternative is either tyranny or war.

That is why I always kinda have to shake my head at people that say they have washed their hands of the whole mess and everyone is corrupt so why bother.

I often wonder if they are saying that because they feel that way or if they don’t understand what is going on, how the system works and don’t really know the difference.

Amazingly to me, the only ignorance that I have ever heard people be proud of is their ignorance of politics. Can you imagine someone proudly saying they cannot read? They cannot add?

A few years ago, at the height of the Clinton Kenneth Star investigation I was wondering why we don’t immediatley sign in a special prosecture from now on as the President is being sworn in?

Actually, there was a case, close enough to the FISA law that it might be considered precedent by the Supreme Court. This was Truman’s attempt to take over the steel (possibly iron) industry during the Korean war. The companies were not working with the workers to settle a strike and Truman attempted to take over the companies as a military necessity within his powers as Commander-in-Chief. The Supreme Court ruled that the President does not have the power to over ride laws within his role as Commander.

As with law, the Constitutionally of a law or administrative action can only be determined through the legal system and appealed to the Supreme Court. Before a law is established or an administrative action is taken the Court cannot weigh in. Someone has to bring legal action before they form an opinion.

What I am having trouble with… and this specifically applies to FISA is that the law provides for a warrant to be retroactively applied for up to 71 hours after the tap.

This law was specifically designed to give the President the power to deal with specifically these types of issues. All he had to do was take the evidence to a court judge tasked with this duty and they would have the warrant. Therefore, it cannot be the time restraints.

What it is would be unrestrained (by an independent branch of government) tapping which is a violation of the 4th Amendment.

As a nation, we depend on the rule of law. Not which party has the majority of representatives in Congress during a certain election cycle.

This will clearly be illustrated if Iraq is able to create a government of the 3 factions there… will the Sunni’s be listened to and their rights be respected if the Shiite’s are the majority? This requires that they all eat the sausage (without pork please). This will require a great, almost insurmountable dedication to abstract ideas and trust in law.

I do agree that investigations should be empowered only to deal directly with the charges or any blatant violations that they might find as a result. Not a witch hunt.

A President’s opinions on health care, social security, taxes or whatever policy should be dealt with on each issue… if you don’t like a specific policy then argue the policy, don’t try to find dirt to lower his prestige.

I do not know if the FISA argument is the best to illustrate the use of criminal investigation to counter a President’s actions. This, I believe, because it is a 4th Amendment issue will need to go the course.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 20, 2005 6:10 PM
Comment #105127

Jack,

I am sorry, I saw this late but had to comment. Bush has been totally incapable of believing that he has ever done anything wrong or ever made a mistake. Sorry.

It has taken him almost 3 years to finally admit that his reasons for going to war were flawed.

Based upon his track record, he would NEVER EVER admit or back down.

Unless there was an instance where he has admitted to an error that I am not aware of. Errr, that would be an error admitted to prior to this previous month or so when he gradually changed from…

1) No problem. I was absolutely right.
2) No problem. My evidence was based on what Clinton had.
3) No problem. My intelligence was wrong as far as the rationalization, but the Democrats agreed with me at the time.
4) Okay… maybe a problem but to talk about it shows weakness and gives aide and comfort to the enemy.

“He did something he thought was right or if you want to be unkind expedient. There is no reason to suspect that his motives were nefarious. Now (as you already have) assume the worst. If we kept his transgression in the realm of political disagreement, he could easily back away from it.”

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 20, 2005 6:21 PM
Comment #105130

phx8, I presented data that were found at NewsMax.com and NRO, as well as reading EO 12333. Your points are well taken and yes, I am OK with where we are. Jack has mentioned the real issue here: the democrats are trying to criminalize politics. There will be much debate on what the powers of the executive branch are for many years to come. Most of the arguments should be settled by the (disgusting) politicians, not the (more disgusting) lawyers and judges.

Burt:

An executive order is NOT law, it is an executive order that carries the weight of law WITHIN the executive branch of government. And you can rationalize all you want about what Clinton and Gorelick were arguing for. Their bottom line was that the president had the inherent power to conduct warrantless searches against foreign governments and/or agents of foreign governments or entities.

For all, if you go back as far as the great president, Jimmah Catah, you will find even he endorsed warrantless searches to support national security. Do your own research and you may be surprised what you find that does not support your arguments that Bush did something illegal here.

Posted by: Beak at December 20, 2005 6:25 PM
Comment #105146

Another addition to the “Bush lied” file, from April 2004:

“…there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.”

Posted by: phx8 at December 20, 2005 6:57 PM
Comment #105153

Beak,

You are correct that an Executive Order is not law. My point was that Clinton made his actions public, through that executive order - it was not done in secret as so much of this administration’s activities are. And there is no evidence that the Clinton administration ever went around what is legally allowed under the FISA court acts.

Do your own research and you may be surprised what you find that does not support your arguments that Bush did something illegal here.

I’m not sure how Clinton or Carter “arguments” would grant Bush’s actions more legality.

ph8 - I’m way ahead of ya.

Posted by: Burt at December 20, 2005 7:17 PM
Comment #105158

Yossarian,
“Yes, but you need to read past the first sentence of that section. You can’t do it without a court order unless you show there ISN’T a substantial likelihood you will end up spying on an American.”


People, you can’t continue to ignore the fact that it’s NOT “Domestic” spying; it’s “International” phone calls from Al Qaeda and other “Known” terrorists. The Prez approved of spying on terrorists that we already have intelligence that warrants (no pun intended) surveillance b/c they’re people we have reason to believe would do us harm.

Now, if you guys can’t grasp that fact, then maybe you’re the ones that need to drop it.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 7:29 PM
Comment #105164

As Sicilian Eagle has said in the past, “simple civics”.”


First of all, “The Eagle was right, damn it” Ha! Ha!


Ok, now, if it’s “simple civics” you want, let’s look at the US constitution. Article 1, section 8
http://www.njlawman.com/Feature%20Pieces/United%20States%20Constitution.htm

“Congress has the right to declare war”.

Now do you remember what congress did on September 14, 2001? They passed a joint resolution:
http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/bills/blsjres23.htm

“Section 2. Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) That the president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Bam!! There you have it. That’s as simple civics as you’re going to get. Chew on that for a while…

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 7:59 PM
Comment #105166
If this were president Kerry, you would all be defending the weasel.

Indeed not. I have a very clear memory of Bill Clinton on the Lehrer News Hour swearing he did not have sexual relations with that woman. I told my family then he struck me as being meally mouthed, despite my respect for his talents and leadership. When it was proven he lied under oath, impeachment proceedings struck me as justified, even though the actual illegal act (falsely swearing under oath in minor case) seem relatively trivial.

The bottomline is that presidents simply can’t be allow to stand above the law. If they are, then the terrorist don’t need to destroy America. We’ve done it ourselves.

If I had thought that Clinton had been massively violating constitutional rights for years on end, then I would have been among the first to speak up against him. What really chills me here is that so many so-called Americans are busy making excuses for possible illegal actions even before all the facts are in. This is one of those moments in history when we’ll get to judge true conservatives from simple power-worshipping partisans who will distort their positions no matter what. I’ve already gotten a real feel for this at WatchBlog.

None of this suggests that we should see this in strictly binary terms. Seeing the world in terms of black and white is something I think is most commonly done by extremists and children. Mr. Bush may well have been told (indeed, it may be true) that we needed a more flexible and powerful way to sift data than the FISA arrangements allowed. Fine. Then change the law in due course. But don’t carry on this way indefinitely.

Do those in the intelligence community really think the terrorists aren’t already aware the NSA is listening in? Is the formulation of new laws and standards really going to threaten their ability to gather intelligence? Probably not much, but I’ve had enough experience with tech geeks to know that they may well have lost sight of the bigger picture. They get all wrapped up in the circuitry of the electronics and schemes and the secrets and they utterly lose track of the fact that all this secrecy will ultimately do more damage than it was worth. This is exactly why we need to preserve our democratic system as well as our principals: for our own self preservation.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 8:03 PM
Comment #105167

Bear with me here:

Isn’t that what courts are for, to see if laws have or have not been broken?

I understand a number of Republicans are also calling for an investigation/hearing to determine what actually is happening and whether it should go to a court?

If the laws are this ambiguous such that all the supposed legal minds can’t agree, that is what the courts are for, to make that determination on a case by case basis.

And I don’t believe it is “criminalizing politics” to determine whether a law is broken, or whether the law is constitutional or not.

The time to politically decide how the law should exist, whether it should exist, is not after it is broken so as to retroactively find the law breaker innocent. If a law is broken, as determined by a court, it is not politics.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 20, 2005 8:04 PM
Comment #105170

Just an additional thought:

Even if the police see a murder committed, the case still has to go to court. There is a reason that the police cannot issue the punishment.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 20, 2005 8:08 PM
Comment #105177

Burt,
OK I get your point that you don’t believe anything the Bush administration does is good. Clinton’s EO was not secret. Bush’s EO was not secret. Carter’s EO was not secret. There is no real argument. All modern presidents have done surveillance without warrants. Why now the uproar on Bush? No laws have been broken by any of the chief executives on this matter.

Posted by: Beak at December 20, 2005 8:45 PM
Comment #105181

Woman Marine,
“The time to politically decide how the law should exist, whether it should exist, is not after it is broken so as to retroactively find the law breaker innocent. If a law is broken, as determined by a court, it is not politics.”


It was already decided September 14, 2001 by Congress:

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/bills/blsjres23.htm

“SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons. “

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 9:10 PM
Comment #105188

Dear rahdigly,
I did not note in your pasted wording of the Congressional authorization that the President was authorized to violate the Constitution.

Sir, neither the Congress, nor the Executive branch is allowed to do that. Period. Very simple civics lesson.

No authority in America is allowed to violate the law. Why is it so difficult for people to understand?

The only way a constitutional gaurantee can be contradicted is through a constitutional amendment and that is quite a process.

Again, whether it is liked or not, we are a nation that has determined that we shall respect the law and no individual is above the law.

Back to the original point where a Presidents policy is fought through the legal system instead of through debate… I have given that some thought…

LBJ: Turns out now there wasn’t a second attack on the ship in the Gulf of Tonkin which was used as the justification for increasing our involvement in Vietnam.

Nixon: Illegal wiretaps, breaking and entering, use of the IRS against political enemines, requesting the FBI to investigate American citizens exercising their 1st Amendment right to speech.

Carter I am not sure about, they had a field day with his brother but you cannot chose your family. Surprisingly he is still the scapegoat of the Right… note the Catah implication above.

Reagan and Iran Contra was the deliberate attempt to bypass the ban put in place by Congress to aid the Sandinistas. It also involved weapons for hostages.

PLEASE DO NOT tell me that making the deals saved the hostages. It has been well estabilished that we would NEVER make a deal with terrorists or hostage takers. To do so, in the short term, save the people in immediate danger, but in the long run makes us much more at risk. So do not make this seem like it was the “right” thing to do. Won’t wash. How many other people were kidnapped and killed because they believed they might get a “behind the scenes”, “off the radar” deal.

GWB I do not remember any special prosecutors.

Clinton: Should have told them, “It really isn’t any of your business.” and moved on. What started out as some sort of really weak accusations about some financial dealings concocted to punish and make Clinton ineffectual because of health care, gays in the military or whatever else raised the skirts of the Conservative-Christian Right turned out to be about oral sex and his “playing loose with the truth” and stains of some dress.

So, to take this argument back to its origin… the only one I really see as a politicized persecution was the one against Clinton. The others were clear violations of law.

For the record… I hated what they did to Clinton but when they would talk about, “The law is the law.” I could not aruge.

What I did know was that the next Republican President would violate the law and all of the sudden the Conservative-Christian Right would discover “RELATIVE MORALITY.”

It really is sad, and terribly confusing when I try to follow the twisted logic that people will use to justify the inappropriate actions of their politicans. Instead of demanding that they uphold the highest level of what they, as a party, believe in… they toss their beliefs, morality, honor and respect out the window to keep from admiting a mistake on the part of their party/President.

That, Ladys and Gentlemen is relative morality. It all depends on what party you are affiliated with. If each of us held our own party to 1/2 the level of integrety that we demand of the opposition, then maybe we could move forward.

I listened to a Serbian citizen swear that the video he was watching of the Serbian paramilitary killing Muslims was actually mercenaries hired by the CIA to make Serbians look bad. He knew this because he had a friend that was there and knew what was happening.

Isn’t it amazing the level of self-deception we go through to avoid holding our own to task? Or to prove the other side is WRONG.

Again, rahdigly, there is nothing in the wording or in the intent or in Constitutional law that can authorize a President to break the law. Read it the way you wish, it won’t change that fact.


Posted by: Darren7160 at December 20, 2005 9:22 PM
Comment #105187

Rahdigly:

My point is:

It is not up to me, nor anyone on watchblog to determine if a law is broken or not. In this case, my understanding is that congressional oversight (hearings) will determine whether or not the issue should go to court or a special prosecutor.

My understanding also is that there are a number of the congress from both sides of the aisle requesting that hearings be held.

Please don’t keep posting stuff that you think is so important, when there can be so much more to be interpreted as to what applies to this particular situation.

Just wondering what your credentials are that you can be so sure? I know this is over my head, what about yours? Such absolute certainty concerns me when it goes against what any number of people in Congress and elsewhere are trying to determine.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 20, 2005 9:22 PM
Comment #105193

Darren7160,
“Again, rahdigly, there is nothing in the wording or in the intent or in Constitutional law that can authorize a President to break the law. Read it the way you wish, it won’t change that fact.”


He didn’t break the law. What he did was legal. That’s all I’m saying. I posted the “Authorization for use of Force” passed by Congress to the president.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-12-18-nsa-70s_x.htm

“The White House says the president has legal authority granted by a congressional joint resolution passed Sept. 14, 2001, that allows the president to use whatever force he deems necessary to stop acts of terrorism. A 2002 Justice Department legal brief argued the president can authorize wiretaps without a warrant in cases of national security.”

He has the authority just like past presidents did and what they did was legal as well. Most recently, Clinton; by the way, I like how you mentioned only the “Impeachment” scandal and not actually when he “spied” and “wiretapped” for the security of this country. One thing Clinton did was to use satelites to spy on white supremacists after the Oklahoma bombings. Now, I certainly applaud Clinton (and I really can’t stand him; I thought he was a decent Prez and a horrible Commander in Chief) for putting National Security first by using his Presidental powers to go after the civil liberties of known suspects that tried to cause us harm.

So, I applaud those leaders, even though some of them I didn’t even vote for. It’s about National Security. I really wish that the Democratic Senators, who applauded when Sen. Reid said they “killed the Patriot Act”, would stop defending the civil liberties of the terrorists over the civil liberties of our own citizens. It’s completely and utterly ridiculous.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 20, 2005 10:02 PM
Comment #105194
No authority in America is allowed to violate the law. Why is it so difficult for people to understand?

Darren,

I agree with most of what you say, but I do think that there are unusual and rare cases of national emergencies when it makes sense for the executive to exceed the limits of day-to-day law. This is a practical matter. When situations change, it may take a while for the law to catch up to new realities. That’s probably the only really good reason to have an executive at all.

That said, my problem with what we seem to be seeing here (and, again, the facts just aren’t in yet, if they ever will be the likes of average citizens such as ourselves) is that there seems to have been plenty of opportunities to amend the laws or write new ones. But they didn’t do it, probably for various reasons: A) they didn’t want Congress or the courts to prohibit or dilute their actions by calling them unconstitutional B) they didn’t want the terrorists to be given a heads up C) they were caught up in their self-isolating bubbles and cabals and D) spooks just adore their secrets, being in that business to begin with.

I will say I dislike the Bush Administration. They strike me as arrogant, amoral, obtuse and too often inept. They’re bad listeners and they’re far too divisive to be any good at leadership. BUT, whether through luck or skill or a combination of both, they have been able to so far (knock on virtual wood) to prevent another massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil. This wiretapping program MAY have contributed to that, though we’ll probably never know for sure.

Is that good enough? Are we really such a country of cowards that we’ll sell our national souls for a little safety? Several days ago I would have said no. Today, I’m more cynical.

But my point is that I think an executive can potentially break the law in the short term, even while trying to get the laws changed, but he can’t do that over the long term. It’s the long term part of this that keep gnawing at me.

We’ll have to wait and see. There need to be hearings (and I think these are certain) and there should probably be a formal investigation. The worst part is that it’s all proabably so unnecessary. Bush could have gotten almost anything he wanted in the months after 9/11. Now, for other reasons, he strikes the majority of Americans as simply being untrustworthy. At the end of it all, it’ll be interesting to read the case study. In the shorter term, the Bushies had better get over the anger and denial steps and start moving quickly into acceptance that they’re going to have to fully explain their actions.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 10:15 PM
Comment #105195

Darren, the Constitution actually grants a wide range of powers to the President which, if used by anyone but him, WOULD be illegal. It’s an enormously powerful office. That’s one reason why the President is the one figure elected by the entire country and why such a big deal is made every four years about who is going to occupy that role.

That doesn’t mean that the president is above the law. Far from it. But it’s also far from obvious that the administration has violated any laws in this matter, especially considering Congress’s having granted him the authority after 9-11 to use ALL necessary measures—including lethal measures—against terrorists and their associates.

Does this mean that Bush can use these powers to wage a campaign against his domestic political opponents, as some are suggesting? Of course not, but neither is there any indication that Bush has used those powers for that purpose.

If he hasn’t, he’s acting within not only the authority delegated to him by the Constitution but within the powers given to him by Congress. If he has, I’d like to hear about it—but so far, I’ve heard nothing of the kind.

What the administration’s detractors are doing here is exactly like saying that because the police are allowed to shoot criminals under certain circumstances, it means that they’re also allowed to shoot honest citizens on a whim without any justification whatsoever. In other words, it just doesn’t make sense.

In any case, the Bush administration has got to be loving this debate. At a time when Bush’s poll numbers are rising again, it confirms all of the stereotypes about the left not wanting to take even common sense security measures and being weak on defence. The very reason why Democrats lost the last two elections.

The latest CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll says that a whopping 62% approve of the Patriot Act or think it doesn’t go far enough. Only slightly more than half of that, 34%, think that it goes too far.

To satisfy their extreme-left base, the Democrats have fillibustered what is actually an enormously popular (and so far 100% successful) measure to keep us secure and do so without infringing on anyone’s civil rights.

The Republicans now stand to pick up seats in both the Senate and House in 06.

Posted by: sanger at December 20, 2005 10:21 PM
Comment #105196

Just for future discussion:

rahdigly correctly cites the “Use of Force” Resolution as one of the primary legal rationales the Bush Admistration gives for its actions. It looks to me that the most applicable parts are here:

Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States:

and here:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 10:31 PM
Comment #105197

Jack,

In 90% of your posts, I can follow your basic reasoning. On this one you have completely lost me. I can see how in the case of something like campaign finance or redistricting (what has gotten Delay on the docket) one could make a coherent, if dubious, argument that a certain dispute purely involves politics rather than law.

In this case, I honestly don’t see how politics is involved at all. That statement probably strikes some people as silly, because there is obviously a possibility that the fallout from this could have electoral consequences . By that standard, however, EVERYTHING that happens in Washington is politics. Therefore, none of it is illegal.

It also seems that your definition of politics has something do with ambiguity. In this case, you are looking for ambiguity that just isn’t there. Congress set up a whole court system to deal with this situation, and Bush simply ignored it. It is as if someone was caught speeding and claimed that there was no statute specifically regulating how fast they should be driving (never mind that sign they just sped by).

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 20, 2005 10:32 PM
Comment #105200
The latest CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll says that a whopping 62% approve of the Patriot Act or think it doesn’t go far enough.

Sanger, You’re right. Most Americans have never really appreciated or understood their own Constitutional rights. And this marks a real danger for the Democrats, who lack a bully pulput from which to explain the sitation. This is why I don’t think this stuff is politically motivated. But my feeling is that they’ve got to hold firm to their beliefs on this one, whatever the cost to the party. It’s better to play the role of the loyal opposition for the good of the nation, even it means more years in the wilderness. This is the time for the Democrats to stand up and demand a full accounting from King George. They may get the crap kicked out of them, but history and the nation will someday respect them for actually having stood for the fundamental beliefs of the United States of America. Let it be their redemption for the cowardice and avarice that was their downfall in the 1990s.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 10:44 PM
Comment #105205

The cowardice and downfall is continuing. Clinton and Carter did the same thing Bush is doing now, only then it wasn’t a wartime footing. The double standard exhibited by the left is done out of fear and cowardice. Cut and run is all they know. I guess the similarities they make to Vietnam is right in one respect, the terrorist murderers have the same weapon the North Vietnamese had, the American left.

Posted by: George at December 21, 2005 12:07 AM
Comment #105206

Reed, I sympathize with your concerns about the public’s appreciation of their Constitutional rights, more than you probably know considering the passion of these debates and the feeling of being at each other’s throats (even at times, perhaps, when we’re really on common ground).

Contrary to what you may think, I’m no blind follower or defender of anyone just because they have an R after their name, and I’m often a very harsh critic of President Bush himself.

Unfortunately, however, I completely reject your premise that Democrats simply and unselfishly defend these Constitutional rights while Republicans simply and selfishly attack them.

On a whole range of issues,from Second Amendment issues, to property rights, to “speech codes” in school and at work, to racially based preferential policies to “hate crimes” legislation which seeks to police people’s thoughts in addition to their actions—not to mention abridgments of the freedom of religion and the freedom of association, I just don’t see the Democrats as having anything to brag about when it comes to defending our civil rights.

In additon to all of these things, when I see Democrats attacking a Republican administration in hysterical terms for doing the same think Democratic administrations did without any protest whatsoever, I just don’t buy the idea of a loyal, principled opposition that is putting a genuine concern for our rights ahead of efforts to seek partisan advantage. Sorry.

When it comes to matters currently under debate, I see the Bush admistration skirting up against what is allowable in a sincere effort to target terrorists, not domestic opponents. And if they err, they should be called on it—and I’ll join the chorus when these errors are exposed. But so far they haven’t been, in my judgement.

The president’s opponents exhibit a reflexive hostility to ANYTHING the president does, which tends to discredit them as they take ever more extreme and radical positions. If he blows his nose, they think he should be impeached for it. If he targets Al Qaida operatives who may be operating within our borders, they pretend that THEY are being targeted, that little old ladies, schoolchildren and honest upright citizens are under attack. Like the American public who has reflected their opinions in polls regarding the Patriot Act, I just don’t buy it.

Posted by: sanger at December 21, 2005 12:13 AM
Comment #105207
Clinton and Carter did the same thing Bush is doing now

No, they did not, but believe it if it’ll make you feel better.

And as far as Vietnam goes, it was a Republican administration responsible for the pull out. But it also happened to be the right thing to do. A useless, bloody war if ever there were one, as history has proven.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 12:18 AM
Comment #105208

Thank you Sanger, you put the way I’ve been leaning, It makes alot of sense. I’ve been critical of Bush in some areas, however, he is doing the best he can with what hes got to work with. its too bad that he can’t make move without the bad feelings the left have for him. I don’t buy the Lefts con either.

Posted by: George at December 21, 2005 12:21 AM
Comment #105209

Reed, check out Carters executive order dated May 23, 1979 and Clintons dated Feb. 9, 1995. They did do the same thing. its on the Drudge report.

Posted by: George A. Casper at December 21, 2005 12:25 AM
Comment #105210

Vietnam was a failure of policy by the Johnson Administration but as with Carter and Clinton , the Johnson Adm. left a mess to clean up.

Posted by: George A. Casper at December 21, 2005 12:28 AM
Comment #105214
On a whole range of issues,from Second Amendment issues, to property rights, to “speech codes” in school and at work, to racially based preferential policies to “hate crimes” legislation which seeks to police people’s thoughts in addition to their actions—not to mention abridgments of the freedom of religion and the freedom of association, I just don’t see the Democrats as having anything to brag about when it comes to defending our civil rights.

Sanger, This is way too many issues to discuss here, but for me the “liber” in liberal is of great importance. That’s why I have a lot of respect for the Libertarians, who still have principles, and very little respect for the GOP, which stands for almost nothing these days. I consider it more morally bankrupt than the Dems were 10 years ago. But the GOP does have much power and won’t give it up easily. It’ll be a long while before America can return to fiscal sanity or stand up for the working class again. In the meantime, the Dems need to stand for things that really matter. The Constitution is a good place to start.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 12:41 AM
Comment #105218
check out Carters executive order dated May 23, 1979 and Clintons dated Feb. 9, 1995.

George, I did look at Drudge (not my most trusted news source, by the way) but didn’t find this. Perhaps you could provide a link or a URL?

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 12:51 AM
Comment #105219

More and more I’m starting to think that the Right has problems with reading comprehension.

Clinton did the same thing? Clinton authorized secret wiretaps that violated FISA and the executive order linked to on the drudge report proves it? Let’s look, shall we?

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including sections 302 and 303 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“Act”) (50 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.), as amended by Public Law 103- 359, and in order to provide for the authorization of physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes as set forth in the Act, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) of the 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.

Sec. 2. Pursuant to section 302(b) of the Act, the Attorney
General is authorized to approve applications to the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court under section 303 of the Act to obtain
orders for physical searches for the purpose of collecting foreign
intelligence information.

Sec. 3. Pursuant to section 303(a)(7) of the Act, the following
officials, each of whom is employed in the area of national security or
defense, is designated to make the certifications required by section
303(a)(7) of the Act in support of applications to conduct physical
searches:

(a) Secretary of State;

(b) Secretary of Defense;

(c) Director of Central Intelligence;

(d) Director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation;

(e) Deputy Secretary of State;

(f) Deputy Secretary of Defense; and

(g) Deputy Director of Central Intelligence.

None of the above officials, nor anyone officially acting in that
capacity, may exercise the authority to make the above certifications,
unless that official has been appointed by the President, by and with
the advice and consent of the Senate.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON
”>http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo/eo-12949.htm

Each SECTION of Clinton’s executive order cites the parts of the FISA act from which he took the authority to make that order. And, by the way, Carter’s (http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo12139.htm) is in exactly the same format.

Bush on the other hand has gone BEYOND the authority granted by FISA and removed the need for warrants entirely, not just in the initial 72 hours with attorney general approval provided for by FISA.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 21, 2005 12:54 AM
Comment #105316

Jarandhel,
“Each SECTION of Clinton’s executive order cites the parts of the FISA act from which he took the authority to make that order. And, by the way, Carter’s is in exactly the same format. Bush on the other hand has gone BEYOND the authority granted by FISA and removed the need for warrants entirely, not just in the initial 72 hours with attorney general approval provided for by FISA.”


FISA didn’t help prevent 9/11. There was a “wall” that was in place prior to 9/11 and, since 9/11, the wall has been knocked down in regards to intelligence gathering, which allows us to “connect the dots” in this information gathering. It’s a good thing that Bush went above and “BEYOND” the regular laws that were in place when 3000 of our countrymen were brutally (and visciously) murdered; b/c FISA certainly didn’t do enough prior to that day.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 6:39 AM
Comment #105353

Perhaps someone (regardless of political persuasion) can help answer a question:

Some are saying that FISA would provide the exact same kind of information and in the same time frame as what Bush got from wiretaps. If this is so, then why would Bush have gone around FISA?

My logic involves some basic assumptions:

**Politicians don’t do something the hard way if there is an easier way available.
**Politicians cover their asses, and won’t do something if there is no benefit in it for them.
**If you can accomplish something withIN the law, then there is no reason to go outside the law.
**Politicians don’t give the opposition the chance to hit them, even if its only perceptions, unless there is a reason.
**There is ALWAYS a rationale for what politicians do

Now, what is Bush’s rationale? If he could get the same info through FISA why not use FISA to get it, which would have negated any ammunition on the ‘illegal wiretap’ front?

Help….

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 21, 2005 8:03 AM
Comment #105366

Sanger,

You are right to mention the other Amendments. I would love for all Amendments to be just as resoutley defended.


You might have missed my previous post considering the Supreme Courts ruling on whether to not a President is allowed to violate the law in times of war within his role as the Commander-in-Chief.

This was Truman during the Korean Conflict. He attempted to take over the steel industry because they could not settle a strike. He attempted to take them over because their production was needed in war. The Surpreme Court ruled that he could not violate the law even in war and even as the Commander-in-Chief.

Commander-in-Chief. That is an interesting job title. It clearly illustrates that the American military is responsible to the civilian government.

I have reread the authorization and yes, it does say any and all… in a nation of laws, in a nation where the Constitution is supreme law, could the Congress say, “Any and all means, legal or illegal…” No.

The legality of President Bush’s actions will have to be determined. That we, as a nation, are even able to make this determination is exactly what America is about.

Now, here is a clip from the Washington Post, and regardless of feelings about MSM or any particular leanings of the media, it is not opinion but facts about the FISA:

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the NSA in urgent situations can already eavesdrop on international telephone calls for 72 hours without a warrant, as long as it goes to a secret intelligence court by the end of that period for retroactive permission. Since the law was passed in 1978 after intelligence scandals, the court has rejected just five of 18,748 requests for wiretaps and search warrants, according to the government.

Note the allowance of 72 hours to retroactively get the warrant. Not the number of times this was rejected.


Beak,

Nastiness aside… exactly what part of lock stepping are you talking about? Our wanting to make sure that our rights are protected and that America is ran by the rules of law? That the counter-checks of our democratic principles are upheld?

Sir, if anyone is lock stepping it would appear to be you. Blindly following the President’s assertions. Surrendering your right to question and to think about the abstract ideas of Liberty, Freedom, Law.

Ignoring what is being said by Republicans and Democrats.

Instead, you cower in fear (which the terrorists were very successful as far as you were concerned) and willingly let the Administration do “whatever it takes” without having any idea of the implications.

No, you would rather fearfully submit and surrender our way of life while wrapping yourself in American values and patriotic fervor.

I guess you are one of those that freely get the benefits of the rights that have been fought for.

Anytime a “Patriot” denigrates discussion of whether or not what our country is doing is right then I would have to submit that the one “lock stepping” would be him.

Drinking grape cool-aid was the act of a person willing to subject himself to an authority and surrender his will and his life for the convenience of not have to make life’s decisions.

If you do not believe that the actions of our President are open to discussion and the courts of law, then you are the one lock stepping.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 21, 2005 8:25 AM
Comment #105374

Now, what is Bush’s rationale? If he could get the same info through FISA why not use FISA to get it, which would have negated any ammunition on the ‘illegal wiretap’ front?

Help….

Posted by joebagodonuts at December 21, 2005 08:03 AM

————-
JBOD,

Good post, one theory is that in order to obtain a warrant from FISA, you have to present the reasons for it to be granted. Questions may ensue as to how the evidence supporting the request for the warrant was obtained. If the evidence was obtained for the warrant in a manner that isn’t through normal procedures (i.e. extraordinary rendition, aggressive interrogation+, etc. etc.)

So, there may be a good reason for the administration not to go to the FISA court for the warrant.

Not saying it’s so, but…

Posted by: Dennis at December 21, 2005 8:39 AM
Comment #105398

www.sauduction.com

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 9:12 AM
Comment #105402

Jack-
The Emperor is naked. He has no justification under the law for what he’s done. They may have cooked up a justification, and hoped that folks would buy it, but it’s simple a violation of the Fourth Amendment and you know it.

Politics, as I’ve observed it, has no necessary connection to reality other than that we demand of it. If we’re not careful with our politics, we could be on the next trip to neverland with the credibility of the vision we apply to policy. This is what Democracy is created to prevent. One man, ruling arbitrarily, can go in whatever direction he likes. An elected official encounters greater and greater friction, the more things depart from reality.

Hold Bush accountable, or hold yourself to shame.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 9:15 AM
Comment #105405

Darren,
“Instead, you cower in fear (which the terrorists were very successful as far as you were concerned) and willingly let the Administration do “whatever it takes” without having any idea of the implications. No, you would rather fearfully submit and surrender our way of life while wrapping yourself in American values and patriotic fervor.”

No, it is today’s “give me liberty or give me death” crowd that will use our constitution and way of life to defend those who want to destroy our constitution and way of life! And, this same crowd wants to throw around quotes from the Revolutionary war, without actually understanding what was meant by that phrase. The phrase was used as a war cry, for goodness sakes! How many of the “give me liberty or death” crowd are for the war and for this President conducting the war? Would they have been for the Revolutionary war? Or, would they have tried to “reason” with and/or “understand” the British and what the US did wrong to upset them?! Think about…

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 9:16 AM
Comment #105409

Rahdigly,

Do you agree that the term “war” is thrown around just a bit to loosely these days?
WAR on crime
WAR on drugs
WAR on violence
WAR on illegal immigrants
WAR on terror

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 9:20 AM
Comment #105421
Now, what is Bush’s rationale? If he could get the same info through FISA why not use FISA to get it, which would have negated any ammunition on the ‘illegal wiretap’ front?

I’m not going to put down all my suspicions on this because, as unlikely as it I’m right, those suspicions involve an overview of possible technological strategies. In short, I think the FISA law may not be able to keep up with what the technology allows.

That said, I suspect new laws could be crafted to allow technology and law to become more compatible. So, I’m going to restate my theory about why the new laws weren’t developed (and this is all speculation):

A) they didn’t want Congress or the courts to prohibit or dilute their monitoring actions by calling them unconstitutional (though, of course, it would have taken the courts years to do this, assuming Congress played ball, which it would have at the time).
B) they didn’t want the terrorists to be given a heads up via the legislative process
C) they were caught up in their self-isolating bubbles (the “cabal” mentality some former Bushies have cited)
D) intelligence experts just hate to give up their secrets

None of these are good excuses over the long term, and they should have considered the potential backlash as well as the ethical implications. I’m hoping that you can’t keep these kinds secrets indefinitely in a democracy. Sooner or later, somebody is going to say, “Hey, this a massive infringement on constitutional rights and somebody’s got to clue the people in.”

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 9:35 AM
Comment #105422

Stephen:

The Emperor is naked. He has no justification under the law for what he’s done.

I’m not looking to discuss all the issues about what Bush has done. That can be reserved for another time. You’ve claimed there is no justification for it, yet there are many from both sides who are saying its entirely justified. It is not the cut and dried issue that you are presenting it as.

“I think the authorization of use of military force is probably adequate as an authorization for surveillance,” said Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor.

“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.”
John Schmidt, associate attorney general of the United States.under President Clinton from 1994 to 1997.

“the Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” Clinton Deputy Atty. Gen. Jamie Gorelick

The Gorelick quote shows a precedent for Presidents wanting this kind of authority. I’m only assuming they created some kind of justification for their desires as well.

Stephen, I’ll say again that I’m a bit undecided on this issue. But its certainly not right to play this off as a one sided issue, when there are plenty of varying opinions on it.


Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 21, 2005 9:40 AM
Comment #105423

One last thing. There’s obviously going to be a massive hunt for the leak in this case. Because we don’t have enough info, it’s impossible to know how to feel about that leak, but I can understand both sides on this. One extreme group will be seeing the leaker(s) as traitors and the other will be seeing the leaker(s) as patriots. If we think the Valarie Plame thing was a big deal with the press and the need to protect sources, just think what the next chapter may entail. I hate to even ponder about it.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 9:46 AM
Comment #105425

Rahdigly-
Many of the Revolutionary war crowd did indeed try to reason with the British. It was the British failure to reason back and reach a compromise that lead to many of them deciding that a split with England was necessary.

We have tried to reason with Bush. We tried to be the loyal opposition to our war president. What it got us was abused in every sense of the word.

This is intolerable. I will not be lied to, to have my generation sucked into a war on less than the best evidence. I will not see what makes my country free and just sacrificed by the shortsighted and power-hungry in the name of liberty and justice. I will not let one man effectivly rule by diktat, cutting out congress and the courts, the two co-equal branches of government meant to govern with the Executive.

This is the measure of conservative weakness in it’s defense of this country: that it would dissolve the very structure it is sworn to defend as it defends it. The truly strong party, the truly righteous one, has no need to undermine the very foundation of this nation’s founding, in order to deliver it from its enemies. I would rather die from a terrorist attack a free man, than die an old man in bed, a prisoner of my own government in my own country.

I wish to see our enemies destroyed, the monsters that threaten this nation slain. I just feel more than you that the integrity of this country means more than the absolute security no government can honestly guarantee.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 9:48 AM
Comment #105427

Has anyone checked this out yet?

www.sauduction.com

Opinions, please?

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 9:50 AM
Comment #105437

Apparently those who run this site are not in favor of the truth outside of main stream influence. I apologize that the link I have listed cannot be accessed from this site. Type it into your search engine and brace yourself.

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 10:01 AM
Comment #105444

Since the liberals like to, so fondly, refer to our President as the “chimp, mental midget etc.” how does he manage to pull the wool over the eyes of Democratic leadership so completely and so often? Since they also allege it is not illegal to break National Security secrets, if in their estimation, the secret was illegal, where were these Dem “patriots” before now? We have a staged political stunt to overshadow the elections in Iraq and to sell a few million extra copies of a book for the NYT reporter involved. End of story.

Posted by: pige at December 21, 2005 10:15 AM
Comment #105446

Pige,

Come on, what are you afraid of? The truth? Type www.sauduction.com into your web bar and see what comes of it.

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 10:18 AM
Comment #105453
FISA didn’t help prevent 9/11. There was a “wall” that was in place prior to 9/11 and, since 9/11, the wall has been knocked down in regards to intelligence gathering, which allows us to “connect the dots” in this information gathering. It’s a good thing that Bush went above and “BEYOND” the regular laws that were in place when 3000 of our countrymen were brutally (and visciously) murdered; b/c FISA certainly didn’t do enough prior to that day.

This is what I mean about reading comprehension. Rahdigly, *everything* that Bush did *illegally* could have been done under FISA just by applying for warrants within 72 hours of the start of surveillance. He didn’t give the government any new ability to catch criminals or remove any blocks between organizations sharing information by ignoring it. The *only* thing ignoring FISA did was to remove the need to obtain those warrants. And that doesn’t even give the government the benefit of increased speed in emergency situations, since warrants could be obtained up to 72 hours AFTER tapping began. Plus we’re talking about a court that has only denied five out of almost twenty thousand warrant requests in its entire history. So it’s a pretty sure bet that any warrant request the administration would have made within FISA would have been approved. Best guesses on why Bush would stick his neck out on this, since he could have done it all legally, are that a) he has absolutely no reason to be wiretapping the individuals he is wiretapping, which would indicate that they are being tapped for political rather than security purposes, or b) the way they gained the evidence justifying the wiretaps is itself in violation of our laws and the courts would be forced to throw it out and deny any warrants stemming from it. Neither of those possibilities are a good thing, and neither do anything to enhance our nation’s security or remove any blocks on agencies sharing information.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 21, 2005 10:32 AM
Comment #105463

Darren,

aside from YOUR nastiness and sarcasm and trite euphemisms straight from the democrat Cut and Run playbook, your attempt to say something lucid fails again. You liberals, or whatever you are, can wrap yourselves in the flag, call yourselves patriots and demean the president in a time of critical national security issues. Again I ask you and your liberal brethren: where was your moral outrage when Carter and Clinton performed warrantless surveillance and searches? Better find your leader Howard (KoolAid) Dean and get some better talking points. Facts, posted here by many, don’t seem to impress you.

Posted by: Beak at December 21, 2005 10:49 AM
Comment #105465

It seems that the Liberal faction of the Democrat party have short memories, Carter and Clinton were the two weakest leaks in our National security. Terrorism grew out of inaction from both of these guys. All they did was leave a big mess for the next guys to clean up. Now they cry and complain about what Bush is doing. The fact is Bush is doing something, Carter and Clinton are experts at one thing..inaction. I wouldn’t trust either man to protect anyone.

Posted by: George at December 21, 2005 10:57 AM
Comment #105466

Karen-
It’s a coding error on your part. The “a href” tag has two parts. The first contains the link URL itself. “http://domain.com/link” is only supposed to be an example of a URL. Then, after the initial href tag, you put the text that is meant to be the link. This can be anything. You mistakenly put your address in this part, rather than the first.

Pige-
Standard argument: everything is done to embarrass the president. The problem with that argument? Something doesn’t have to be false to be embarrassing. If indeed his behavior is real, whether or not it was our intention to embarrass the president is irrelevant to the need to deal with what he’s done.

So far, your people aren’t denying the president eavesdropped on the communications of thousands of Americans without having a warrant for that. Their legal excuse for this is paper thin: the constitution trumps any act of congress or the executive, even in wartime.

The president deserves the blackening of his name that this brings.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 10:57 AM
Comment #105470

Stephen,
“Many of the Revolutionary war crowd did indeed try to reason with the British. It was the British failure to reason back and reach a compromise that lead to many of them deciding that a split with England was necessary. We have tried to reason with Bush. We tried to be the loyal opposition to our war president. What it got us was abused in every sense of the word.”


Ahhh haaa! Exactly!! Thank you Stephen, you just proved what a good number of us have been saying about the anti-Bush crowd. You referenced the Revolutionary War and how the US tried to reason with the British (who were the enemy in that war) and how (present day) you tried to reason with Bush. Now, do you at least see what we’re talking about here?! In your comment, you’re equating Bush as the enemy! You could of (easily) said, “we tried to reason with the terrorists (who are the real enemy), but they failed to reason back and reach a compromise”. Instead, it’s trying to reason with Bush. Oh my goodness, WOW!!!!

So, Stephen, I don’t have a problem with your analogy, though I completely disagree with it; it just struck me that how one would equate Bush to the British, rather than the terrorists to the British.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 11:08 AM
Comment #105472

Question to all of you on the right defending these actions:

How can the people, or their security-cleared proxies in the courts and the legislature, ensure the quality of homeland security efforts if they are not consulted or asked for the authority by our executive branch?

I would think the point here is not to have a government operating in such a way that it can keep everybody in dark about how well and how appropriately this work is being done. Even if we never learn the entirety of this, we should at least have the privilege of having elected officials or judges appointed with congress’s advice and consent being involved in such a way that executive prerogative is not the sole authority required.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 11:09 AM
Comment #105475

George, Beak, rahdigly, etc.

Despite the claims from Drudge, the Clinton and Carter orders did not pertain to U.S. citizens. That is why this is a big controversy, because Bush is doing this for the first time against U.S. citizens.

There is a very good post in the center column about this if you care to read the details.

Posted by: Burt at December 21, 2005 11:16 AM
Comment #105477

Thank you Stephen! HTML does have a tendancy to elude me at times, but no the fact that the President should be excused because politics are politics. That’s just wrong. I know you agree, but those who don’t just down-right spook me.

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 11:18 AM
Comment #105480

I find it amazing that all of you think that you still have the luxury of debating legalities when the barbarians are at the gates. Obviously none of you are readers of history. When a nation or peoples are unwilling to meet the enemy on his own level they will be defeated. Just ask the Romans. You cannot play by civilized rules when the enemy has no such notion. Maybe it will be comforting to you that you have followed the rules even in defeat. I find no such comfort. I do not want to debate while Rome burns.

Posted by: Barbara at December 21, 2005 11:25 AM
Comment #105481

Barbara,

How do you explain our breaking free of British rule?

Posted by: Karen at December 21, 2005 11:28 AM
Comment #105486

Barbara,
What happened to you? You’ve been terrified. Why are you so afraid, my dear? Where is your courage? You’re willing to give up your rights, you’re willing to forgo debate. Take a deep breath. Now, look under the bed. Do you see any terrorists? Check the window. All clear.

Feel better. Getting over your fear? Who instilled so much fear in you? It’s a terrible thing. Let’s think about it. Four years ago terrorists did in fact kill people in New York City. Since 2003 terrorists activities have been negligible… an Indonesian group, JI, attacked in Bali. But don’t worry. They have been in Indonesia a long time, and never attacked the US… there was a group in London… an attack in Egypt… one in Spain. All those attacks were carried out by people living in those countries.

In the US, there have been no significant arrests in a while. As for Al Qaida, the #3 man in the organization was recently captured in a mud hut in Pakistan, a remote area near the Afghan border. No one has ever heard of him outside Pakistan.

Feel better? Feel like you have enough courage to assert you’re rights? Good. Glad I could help.

Posted by: phx8 at December 21, 2005 11:38 AM
Comment #105487

Burt,

*That is why this is a big controversy, because Bush is doing this for the first time against U.S. citizens.*

Uh, maybe you don’t remember someone named John Deutch, DCI during the Clinton administration? Seems as though the Clinton people searched his house without a warrant to retrieve computers and computer hardware in the interest of national security. Oops.

http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/ig_deutch.html

Posted by: Beak at December 21, 2005 11:42 AM
Comment #105493

All this back and forth demonstrates that this clearly is a political not a legal process. There are good arguments on both sides. Therefore it is not established law or custom. Therefore it is political, not legal.

In the legal process, you have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the law must be sufficiently clear that everyone know when it has been broken. There is certainly sufficient uncertainly about whether or not the President acted within his authority as commander and chief. As President, he has the responsibility to protect the U.S. and the implied powers to carry out that responsibility. There are things that the President should do (as president) that would be illegal if anyone else did them. The President was acting to protect us. We may decide politically that he went too far. (Altough if you tap an American talking to Osama or Atta, I don’t think you can go too far) But let’s not try to criminalize of moralize a political decision.

None of the “crimes” of Reagan, Bush, Clinton or GW Bush have met the reasonable doubt standard. The proof is that none of them are in jail or was forced out of office. That indicates that the accusations were politics. Politics can be a contact sport. But it is important for Bush opponents (as Clinton opponents before them) to understand that their disagreement with the President is a political disagreement. Law is being used in an attempt to further a political agenda, not the other way around.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 11:52 AM
Comment #105494

Rahdigly-
Britain was an Autocratic nation which we expected to be more reasonable and respectful. Their failure in that regard contributed to our decision to rebel against their rule.

Bush is an autocratic president who we expected to be more reasonable and respectful. His failure in that regard, contributed to the Public’s overwhelming reaction against him.

The comparison is not that strained. It would be more strained were it between Bush (or the British) and the terrorists. From them, I expect neither reasonable behavior or respect. I expect better of civilized people than I do of terrorists.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 11:54 AM
Comment #105507

Barbara-
If we become barbarians to fight the barbarians, we’ve lost. All the great empires have succeeded by making barbarians into civilized people. When they started to fail in drawing those people into that culture, they started failing as a government.

We defeat them on our own terms, not theirs.

Jack-
It demonstrates no such thing. This is a political process here, but it’s about a legal one. It is dangerous in politics to assume that politics defines the whole of any problem, for politics is just logic and rhetoric, and those those things can mutate indefinitely given the chance.

Additionally, reasonable doubt is the threshold for conviction, not for investigation. Probable cause is the standard there, the belief that a crime may have been committed, which indeed is warranted if it appears the president has been signing off repeatedly on warrantless searches of American Citizens

The subject of this political debate moves beyond the realm of politics. Politics is legitimately criminalizable once it starts breaking the law. The law supersedes politics as an organizing principle in our society. When it doesn’t, corruption results.

The President can do certain things that are illegal for the rest of us because we gave him that power through congress and the courts. But those powers are given to him by us and can be taken back. You say we gave him this power, but the fact of the matter is, we haven’t, and unless we decide otherwise, we couldn’t. We decided a long time ago, with the bill of rights, that congress could not write laws allowing for searches or seizures without warrant or probable cause. Since then, what has changed? Nothing. The Fourth Amendment stands, and overrules any legislation that stands against it.

This is the rule of law. Politics can change the law, but it must operate within the law to do so, and that law must operate within the constitution.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 12:15 PM
Comment #105510

All the facts slowly come to light, much to the chagrin of the leftist, liberal, America hating crowd that purports to be *the real patriots*. Read it and weep, Bush haters.

Secret searches and wiretaps of Aldrich Ames’s office and home in June and October 1993, both without a federal warrant.

Government officials decided in the Ames case that no warrant was required because the searches were conducted for “foreign intelligence purposes.”

Government lawyers have used this principle to justify other secret searches by U.S. authorities.

“The number of such secret searches conducted each year is classified…”

Posted by: Beak at December 21, 2005 12:30 PM
Comment #105520

Stephen,

You say Bush “should be more reasonable and respectful”; I say he certainly has been just that. He’s not spying on the American people; he was spying on Al Qaeda that were communicating here in the US and making international calls. Once again, that’s AL QAEDA, not American citizens.

I say, the anti-Bush crowd has to realize that, soon or later, they’re going to have to get over the anti-Bush stuff; it’s not healthy for the country, nor is it winning any elections for their side.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 12:50 PM
Comment #105521

Stephen,

You say Bush “should be more reasonable and respectful”; I say he certainly has been just that. He’s not spying on the American people; he was spying on Al Qaeda that were communicating here in the US and making international calls. Once again, that’s AL QAEDA, not American citizens.

I say, the anti-Bush crowd has to realize that, soon or later, they’re going to have to get over the anti-Bush stuff; it’s not healthy for the country, nor is it winning any elections for their side.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 12:52 PM
Comment #105522

Beak,

Did you actually read the Deutch report? Cite the lack of warrant and supporting documents that a DCI has not already disclaimed protection from search.

Cite sources for the alleged Ames search.

Typical load of Bush America hating propoganda.

Posted by: Dave at December 21, 2005 12:54 PM
Comment #105523

He’s not spying on the American people; he was spying on Al Qaeda that were communicating here in the US and making international calls. Once again, that’s AL QAEDA, not American citizens.
Posted by rahdigly at December 21, 2005 12:50 PM
==============================================
Ummmm, wrong. It was on American citizens who were suspected of being involved in activities justifying surveillence. Given that under the patriot act warrants are now specific to person, not just to place, and there are appx 10,000 such warrants, we can state that rahdigly believes there are 10,000 terrorists living in the US. Bush43 is the worst terrorist we have.

Posted by: Dave at December 21, 2005 12:58 PM
Comment #105529

Stephan I may be wrong, but I don’t think those barbarians had WMD available. The situation is vastly different and the stakes are higher. Obviously you will derive comfort in defeat and living in the dictatorial conditions you now profess to abhor, just to say you played fair. How misguided. What great civilizations are you talking about? The muslim world hasn’t changed in thousands of years. If you are so calm, as the saying goes, maybe you don’t understand the situation.

Posted by: Barbara at December 21, 2005 1:17 PM
Comment #105530

Stephen

The President is not accused of doing anything against the Constitution (which mandated his powers) or the Bill of Rights (which could be decided only by the Supreme Court). He is accused of violation of FISA, which when tested in the courts (as Beak mentioned) seems to have come down on his side of the interpretation.

If it ever became a matter of law, it would be FISA not the Constitution.

Dave

Some of those 10,000 might be working with terrorists of terrorist front organizations, but many may be innocently used by terrorists. If a terrorist gets hold of my personal data and uses my identity for evil, the government would have to investigate me before they could find him. But they could not approach me outright (just in case I was with the terrorists) until they had investigated.

Sometimes you have to turn over a lot of rocks before you find the snakes, especially when the snakes know your are looking.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 1:22 PM
Comment #105533

Beak,

Can you provide your source for the Ames allegation? According to this one, the FISA court was involved:

On the basis of the work done by the joint task force, the FBI put an investigative team together in March 1993, and tasked the team members to acquaint themselves with the facts.

This effort led the FBI to begin an intensive investigation of Ames. Under applicable Attorney General guidelines, this meant that the FBI was able to seek authority under pertinent laws and Justice Department guidelines to employ a full array of investigative techniques against Ames. For instance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued orders authorizing electronic surveillance of Ames’s office and residence. Other surveillance techniques used against Ames included mail cover (i.e., deriving information from envelopes addressed to and from Ames), and a clandestine monitor installed in his car to track his movements.

Posted by: Burt at December 21, 2005 1:35 PM
Comment #105536
All this back and forth demonstrates that this clearly is a political not a legal process. There are good arguments on both sides. Therefore it is not established law or custom. Therefore it is political, not legal.

Jack, how nice it must be for you that all of your opinions are immediately converted into facts. I wish I had that power.

According to you, as long as the Bush apologists continue to throw up noise and diversions, this is just a political game - not a genuine demand for answers.

Posted by: Burt at December 21, 2005 1:39 PM
Comment #105539

Dave,
“Ummmm, wrong. It was on American citizens who were suspected of being involved in activities justifying surveillence. Given that under the patriot act warrants are now specific to person, not just to place, and there are appx 10,000 such warrants, we can state that rahdigly believes there are 10,000 terrorists living in the US. Bush43 is the worst terrorist we have.”

No we can’t “state” that our President is a terrorist; I certainly don’t believe that at all! He’s a patriot and I “support our troops, our nation and our President”. Darn skippy!!!

Now, it was on Al Qaeda internationally calling the US. The Prez legally allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on them so they didn’t do us anymore harm. Remember, Prez Clinton used Satellites to spy on white supremacists after the Oklahoma bombings; where was the uproar for that?!!

And, as far as the 10,000 terrorists in the US, I’m not sure exactly how many are here; however, there are (approx) hundreds of terrorist cells in the US. And, I will say that if any of those terrorists are getting calls from OBL, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and other Al Qaeda operatives; the US better be eavesdropping and wiretapping to find out what’s going on!! Darn straight!!! We’re talking National Security, brother! This is no time for that political crap. Let’s talk about winning this war, not about “handicapping” our nation to defend itself against these despicable terrorists; to which Bush is definitely not one of them!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 1:40 PM
Comment #105566

Rahdigly-
He was spying on American citizens without warrants to present to anybody to say that there was reason to believe these people were al-Qaeda or fellow travellers of them. I think you have to get over this notion that the elections were all that mattered to us. It’s insulting to suggest we’re that cynical about our opposition to Bush. It’s convenient for rhetoric’s sake to suggest we’re all traitors and liars, but the truth is considerably different and much more complicated.

Barbara-
My calmness about such things is not born of a lack of feeling, but of feelings controlled and channelled. Just because my words don’t scream doesn’t mean there isn’t fire and ice behind them.

Which leads me to a question: If counterproliferation is so important to you, why are you not chomping at the bit to get Bush to improve his administration’s poor performance on it. Our barbarians can desire those weapons all they want to, but they will not get weapons if they are destroyed or in the hands of America and its allies instead.

As for your thousand unchanging years, go read some other books on the subject. The ones you have read have failed to inform you of two-thirds of Muslim history, a not insignificant period of great change. To neglect that is to misunderstand the muslims and have, consequently, no clear paths to victory. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s a desperate lack of options.

Jack-
What part of repeatedly okayed wiretaps without warrants do you fail to understand? If they had some evident connect to al-qaeda, they likely could have gotten the warrant for it, and should of. They could have gotten it retroactively if they were pressed for time. They did not have to break the law to defend our country.

As for turning over a lot of rocks, if you know what you’re doing, you will know what rocks to kick over. Meaningful knowledge allows to carve away the irrelevant. That’s the beauty of a system that relies on probable cause and warrants. It forces our police and prosecutors to be more efficient information gatherers.

The truth is, you don’t want to waste your time kicking over every rock. In a country this size, you could be kicking over rocks forever. if you set out with some idea of what you’re looking for (as a person with probable cause or a warrant should, to some extent) you’ve already left behind a lot of rocks you didn’t need to kick over and saved yourself some time.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 2:40 PM
Comment #105578

From National Review Online:

The debate over warrantless searches came up after the case of CIA spy Aldrich Ames. Authorities had searched Ames’s house without a warrant, and the Justice Department feared that Ames’s lawyers would challenge the search in court. Meanwhile, Congress began discussing a measure under which the authorization for break-ins would be handled like the authorization for wiretaps, that is, by the FISA court. In her testimony, Gorelick signaled that the administration would go along a congressional decision to place such searches under the court — if, as she testified, it “does not restrict the president’s ability to collect foreign intelligence necessary for the national security.” In the end, Congress placed the searches under the FISA court, but the Clinton administration did not back down from its contention that the president had the authority to act when necessary.

Posted by: Beak at December 21, 2005 3:03 PM
Comment #105613

“Despite its unpleasant feel and odor, the negotiation inherent in politics is the best way to satisfy diverse and competing interests.”

This is being posted by a Republican????

Are you aware of how the Republicans have run the Senate, the House, and yes, the Executive Branch???? When does this ‘negotiation’ you speak of take place?

Reminds of the Republican hue and cry for an ‘up or down vote’ on the President’s choices for judges. Yet the Republican party disallowed up or down votes on TENFOLD numbers of Clinton’s nominees. The Republican controlled committees used special privilege, committee votes, and other asundry means of preventing scores of Clinton’s nominees from going to the floor for a vote.

You Republicans are a joke to me. What two faces you have. One phony, the other just plain mean. Why are you worried about this issue? Republicans will NEVER exercise oversight of the President or each other. What a joke! If I ever hear Republicans talk about rule of law or ethics in government again, I swear… well, never mind.

Why do I read these red column phonies? Why? Might as well have a political discussion and debate with the neighbors labrador retriever.

Oh, yeah, I know why they’re worried. What if the opposition party took over Congress and ran it honestly? Investigations and oversight on spending in Iraq! Secret meetings exposed! Look out President Bush and Viceroy Cheney! Worse… what if the opposition party took over and ran the House and Senate like the Republicans have??? Good God! Can’t you hear it now? “Let’s start working together!!!” “This is a bipartisan issue!” My good friend and colleague Senator Liberal from Alabama (Lord, how did that happen??)…”

Posted by: Rick at December 21, 2005 3:33 PM
Comment #105635

Beak,

Please forgive me, I thought I was using simple English and concepts. If they are a bit difficult for you to follow I can understand that.

Instead of telling me that my argument is weak or my logic is wrong… it would really be much more benefical to explain. Otherwise, it becomes nothing more than empty mud slinging.

In other words, if you don’t understand what I am saying please feel free to ask. If my logic is flawed then please be specific.

I will try to summarize and make it simpler.

1) Congress represents the people and makes the laws.
2) The Executive branch (The President) is sworn to uphold all the laws.
2a) The President is the Commander-in-Chief which clearly defines the relationship between the government and the military. The Army is responsible to the civilian government.
3) The Supreme Court determines the Constitutionality of the law.
4) If the laws do not meet the needs of the executive branch then it needs to go to Congress to request the powers or laws that it needs.
5) This puts to onus on the Congress to decide what they want to do. This will represent the will of the people that they represent (us, the people).
6) If the Congress gives the President the laws or tools he needs then he may use them.
7) The Supreme Court is responsible to ensure that the laws or tools are within the Constitutional powers of Congress to give.
8) If Congress does not give the President the laws or tools he needs and he violates the law, regardless of rationale, he has violate the law. (Remeber the Clinton Impeachment… it wasn’t about the stain on the dress… it was about the fact that he lied.)
9) You may argue whether he was right or wrong to violate the law… but if he did, and that is up to the courts to decide, then he violated the law.
10) So, from what I am gathering from your arguments is that you don’t want to decide whether or not he violated the law? Because… what… it isn’t about the truth? It isn’t about the law? It isn’t about the checks and balances inherint in our government?

rahdigly

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” is an excellent example of living to an abstract idea that is greater than the temporal one we are living today.

I wonder if you understand the liberty part? Why is it more important than life itself? This is a statment saying I would rather die than submit my liberty…

It does not say that if I am threatened I will surrender my liberty. That is what surrendering to fear is when you want to take away our laws in face of the fear of a terrorist attack.

What is really so amazing is that you all wish to continue to turn truth and reality inside out in an attempt to justify the actions of the President.

There are QUESTIONS of illegality. In a democratic society such as our, do we, as AMERICAN’s have the right to question our government?

rahdigly, please forgive me if I am wrong, but I will almost swear that you have never been in the military, nor have you contemplated the oath sworn upon enlistment.

Doesn’t that just cause people to cringe! A liberal, disabled vet. Go ahead and call me a coward… we service men and vets are used to being either HEROS (when we agree with you) or COWARDS (when we don’t) That freedom is part of the reason we have volunteered and will volunteer… regardless of how qucikly you want to throw away what we sacraficed for. Please feel free to seer as you make light of the values and ideas we treasure.

I swore an oath twice during the 10 years I served. It meant to me that I was supporting a country that was based on Law and the Constitution… that I would protect and defend… and obey all lawful orders.

Some of the things I realized I was doing was protecting speech. I don’t need to worry about protecting the popular speech… that doesn’t really need the protection… it was the unpopular speech. I saw this as one of the things separting us from so many other countries.

I realized that I was dedicating my life to abstract ideas. The belief that each part of government had a role and each one was regulated by the other…


POINT ONE
No Conservative has shown how the FISA could not have been used effectively. In over 15,000 requests only 5 have ever been rejected.

POINT TWO
Nor, has any Conservative shown how the Supreme Court’s ruling against Truman’s attempt to take over the Steel Mills during the Korean Conflict shows that the President’s powers may violate the law.

Instead, what I am getting from you is nothing more than calling me a liberal or insinuations that my arguments do not add up.

Instead of substance you continue to throw out some of our most cherished mottos and blandly say they were taken out of context.

You do not want Bush to be held responsible to the American people. If this isn’t partisan on your part, then please tell me you would agree to Kerry or Clinton doing this? If you can honestly say you would support them then I will believe your sincerity… if you cannot… then we will know the truth… won’t we?

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 21, 2005 4:08 PM
Comment #105638

“Oh, yeah, I know why they’re worried”

Interesting.
You are the one making weak threats, talking to dogs and creating “what-if” scenarios and its the Republicans who are worried.

Posted by: kctim at December 21, 2005 4:14 PM
Comment #105665

Beak-
Ames was a known spy at the time, and they ultimately sought to legitimize it through FISA. Here, though, are the numbers on Bush:

Around 20 or so executive orders.
Thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of subjects.
Not one attempt, not even retroactively, to seek a FISA warrant. It’s coincidentally also the number of times the law everybody’s referring to mentions the right to bypass getting a FISA warrant, or warrants of any type. Y’all are essentially saying the president has the right to abrogate constitutional law based on an act of congress. That kind of thinking’s been dead in the legal water since Marbury v. Madison.

So, the question here is, why are you defending the president breaking the law?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 4:55 PM
Comment #105690

Stephen,

You say thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of subjects. In all honesty, you have no idea how many subjects were monitored for foreign intelligence matters. You, and Darren really need to read the constitution. There are 3 separate, and not necessarily equal branches. The executive branch is given a lot of power via the constitution. I keep hearing about breaking laws, etc. That can be debated eternally with no satisfaction for people who are ignorant of history, prededence and law or those who despise a party or particular president.

Darren,

here is my take on your idealistic concept:

I will try to summarize and make it simpler.

1) Congress represents themselves, not the people and initiates the federal law making process.
2) The Executive branch (The President) is sworn to uphold the constitution.
2a) The President is the Commander-in-Chief which clearly defines the relationship between the government and the military. The Army is responsible to the Commander-in-Chief.
3) The Supreme Court determines, according to personal policy preferences, the Constitutionality of a law.
4) If the laws do not meet the needs of the executive branch then it needs to go to Congress to request the powers or laws that it needs. True enough, but the president has powers that are spelled out in the constitution and congress continues to try to take some of those powers away (the war powers act, for instance, passed after LBJ got us into a mess) and the president tries to keep those powers enumerated in the constitution.
5) This puts to onus on the Congress to decide what they want to do. This will represent the political will of those members of congress who think they know what is best for themselves.
6) If the Congress gives the President the laws or tools he needs then he may use them or not use them according to his interpretation. The war powers act has never been tested in court yet.
7) The Supreme Court, among other duties, determines the constitutionality of a law that has been challenged by some party.
8) If Congress does not give the President the laws or tools he needs, the president may act as required under the constitution to protect and defend the United States.
9) You may argue whether he was right or wrong to monitor parties for foreign intelligence matters.
10) So, from what I am gathering from your arguments is that you want to decide whether or not he violated the law based on incomplete information, heresay, blog pundits, Bush haters and your lack of understanding of the constitution. If, and when the congress decides that the president has done something they don’t like, they can pass a bill out for his signature.

Posted by: Beak at December 21, 2005 5:32 PM
Comment #105717

Darren,
“rahdigly, please forgive me if I am wrong, but I will almost swear that you have never been in the military, nor have you contemplated the oath sworn upon enlistment.”


You are wrong and yes you are forgiven. I did (volunteer) and serve in the early to mid 90’s.
Now, what comment or reply made you ask that question?


“‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’ is an excellent example of living to an abstract idea that is greater than the temporal one we are living today. I wonder if you understand the liberty part? Why is it more important than life itself? This is a statment saying I would rather die than submit my liberty…”


Yes I (most) certainly do understand the liberty part, thanks for asking. Now, to respond to your comment: “This is a statment saying I would rather die than submit my liberty.”


That’s not what he was referring to; you (seriously) need to brush up on your history, rather than throw around quotes. Patrick Henry used that line in 1775 and he was not referring to his civil liberties persay, he was referring to “liberty” from the British gov’t. The “Give Me Death” part he was referring to fighting a war with the British and he doesn’t care if he dies while fighting them. Guess it had to be in the 1700’s if he’s talking like that, huh?! Are the anti-Bush and the anti-war people that courageous or believe in something so strong (that they would go to war and die for it) like that today?! Don’t think so; not even close. However, our military is like that and they are doing it; that’s why they are heroes and they deserve every ounce of respect from all of us.

So, read up on your history before you recite the “Give me liberty” crowd that probably consists of people who don’t even know what the person was referring to.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 6:03 PM
Comment #105732

Beaks-
If they are using that language, it’s in the upper four digits, and precision doesn’t matter: repetition does. This wasn’t one break-in to a known spies apartment, subsequently approved by FISA, this is thousands of such cases, with more than 20 separately signed executive orders, all without even a retroactive FISA order.

This was illegal. You can debate that to kingdom come, but the fact is, he needed a warrant to spy on Americans and he never even bothered. The executive branch, for all its power, is supposed to operate under some clear checks and balances. it is supposed to actively support the constitution, and its orders and agencies are subject to constitutional review. It’s searches and seizures are by constitutional law subject to the approval of warrants or probable cause. The legislature can strangle them with the purse strings, or pass other laws which the executive has to execute. The executive branch, in turn, can decide how, and to what degree, it is to enforce those laws.

They are supposed to be co-equal, able to get in each other’s way when they have a good reason.

As for your list

1)Last I remembered, the congresspersons did not elect themselves. The represent their districts.
2)Yes, which includes the 4th amendment.
3)Yes, but he still is obligated to follow the law, in wartime or out of it, or suffer the consequences
4), 5), 6) The war powers act arises out of a constitutional concern about whether the president, as Commander in Chief, can authorize a war all by his lonesome. The question is, being the CINC, can the President start a war by himself, or can he only lead the war once it’s started? The reason nobody will take this to court, If I remember the explanation is right, is that nobody wants to end up the loser. It’s a compromise that allows America to go to war without needing to declare war, which yields all kinds of headaches in terms of military alliances and defense pacts.

8)The constitutional requirement to protect and defend the US exists in parallel with other constitutional obligations.

9)The question is not whether the president can do this, as there is already a procedural pathway, FISA. The issue is that he bypassed the constitutionally sound manner of doing this and apparently used these tools to monitor civilians that he could have monitored under FISA or which he had no authority to snoop on in the first place.

10)No such thing as ex post facto laws. Congress cannot make something illegal after the fact. If the basic facts are correct, Bush violated both constitutional amendments over 214 years old, and a Twenty-seven year old Act (FISA)

So, what’s your argument?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 6:37 PM
Comment #105733

Stephen,
“He was spying on American citizens without warrants to present to anybody to say that there was reason to believe these people were al-Qaeda or fellow travellers of them. I think you have to get over this notion that the elections were all that mattered to us. It’s insulting to suggest we’re that cynical about our opposition to Bush. It’s convenient for rhetoric’s sake to suggest we’re all traitors and liars, but the truth is considerably different and much more complicated.”


How do you know why he did it? He said he did it to protect Americans and the Congress believed him; that’s why they agreed and gave him Authorization back in 2002.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/terroristattack/joint-resolution_9-14.html

As far as your comment: “I think you have to get over this notion that the elections were all that mattered to us. It’s insulting to suggest we’re that cynical about our opposition to Bush.”

I do think elections matter, just not “all that matter”. However, you sound very defensive in that comment; the facts are the facts though. This reelection came after all the anti-Bush rhetoric for over a year in a half. We’re talking about Hollywood libs and they’re movies, concerts, fundraising functions, etc.; Democratic Senators & congressmen with their irresponsible comments; an uncertain economy at the time; an unpopular war; and all (but a handful) of the news media outlets that were against him. That was an impressive victory and to have the troops back him like that, should of at least quelled the critics somewhat. Wrongo, they are worse now than they were last year.


“It’s convenient for rhetoric’s sake to suggest we’re all traitors and liars, but the truth is considerably different and much more complicated.”

I didn’t suggest you are a traitor and/or a liar; you seem to have a guilty conscience. I just have a difference of opinion then you, that’s all. Relax!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 6:39 PM
Comment #105761

Darren

The Constitution gives the President broad powers as commander in Chief. FISA was created in 1978 as an attempt to define or circumscribe those powers in the Cold War Context. This has been tested in the courts.*

The only body that could decide the Constitutionality is the Supreme Court and it has not spoken on this. SO this is still politics not law.

* From article in WSJ In Sealed Case, the 2002 opinion by the special panel of appellate judges established to hear FISA appeals. In its per curiam opinion, the court noted that in a previous FISA case (U.S. v. Truong), a federal “court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information.” And further that, “We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 8:52 PM
Comment #105777
In its per curiam opinion, the court noted that in a previous FISA case (U.S. v. Truong), a federal…

Sounds like some pretty legal language for a political concern. Let’s face it; the division between those who make the laws (politicians) and the laws that they create is not clear cut. It’s all a social construction. If the politics allow, this thing will almost certainly be legally investigated. If politics don’t allow, it won’t. A “nation of laws” sounds nice but is largely a fiction. This is about power, plain and simple. I’ll have to go back and read my Hobbes.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 10:08 PM
Comment #105782

Reed

If it is a legal matter, Bush did nothing wrong, as you so helpfully point out. The investigation and all this trouble is politics.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 10:26 PM
Comment #105788
If it is a legal matter, Bush did nothing wrong

Jack, It seems you never change your mind once you’ve started arguing a point. It must come from always being correct the first time around. Me, I spend most of my life in a cloud of doubt, seldom visited by the pleasant sunshine of total clarity. Doomed to dwell in a cognitive North West, I suppose.

Truth is (I think) that neither of us knows exactly what happened or how the legal system will interpret it if ever gets the chance. I hope it does get a chance but am not optimistic. Hobbes again.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 21, 2005 10:45 PM
Comment #105796

The legal system will figure it out - or not. You are right that this is an ambiguous. You are right that I have not changed my mind since my original post. This is an ambiguous situation. It is not a clear case of someone breaking a law or stepping over a bright line.

But if I am guilty of not changing my mind, so is everyone else on both sides. My belief is the President acted within his legal power in a situation where his legal powers were ambiguous. IF at some time the courts determine that he overstepped his legitimate power, he will not be deemed to have willfully acted to break the law. I have not changed my mind.

Other people have said he broke the law and some have called him a criminal. If anyone significantly changed from that position I missed it.

As a conservative I get this a lot. Liberals just assume that I should come around to their point of view and when I don’t they think I am being rigid. I have changed my mind of some important issues. For example, I changed my opinion 180 degrees on gay marriage (to support) when I became convinced that family values could extend to same sex couples. I have changed the nuances of many of my positions. But I fundamentally believe that many liberal positions are wrong, unworkable or unjust. I voted for GW Bush because I thought he was the best candidate. Liberals just don’t believe that it is possible to have reasonable objections to their points of view.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2005 11:19 PM
Comment #105806
IF at some time the courts determine that he overstepped his legitimate power, he will not be deemed to have willfully acted to break the law. I have not changed my mind.

At least I can be sure of this, Jack. But I’m not trying to change your mind. As you can probably see from my posts, I’m mostly trying to make my own up. That’s why I come to WatchBlog. That and nervous mental energy. So, you need not protest so much. “No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i’ the world.” - Hamlet

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 22, 2005 12:45 AM
Comment #105850

Hi Jack,

“Liberals just don’t believe that it is possible to have reasonable objections to their points of view.”

That is true in some cases.

It’s also true that many right wingers call everybody who disagrees with them communistic, Saddam loving, terrorists sympathizing, cut and run traitors.

Accusing everybody who disagrees with you of treason and whatnot is an extreme, but common, form of intolerance to the views of others.

The right wing has turned intolerance of opposing viewpoints into a substitute for discussing ideas.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 22, 2005 7:50 AM
Comment #105859

Louis:

I’ve not seen much of what you claim. I certainly haven’t seen enough of it to agree with your characterization that “many right wingers” do it.

What I HAVE seen, and had done to me, is be accused of doing what you say. I’ve told people that an immediate pullout in Iraq would hurt our efforts in Iraq and would help the terrorists. When I’ve done so, I’ve been accused of calling pullout supporters “anti patriotic” or supporters of terrorism.

Of course I’ve done nothing of the sort. I’ve only commented on the effectiveness of their policy. This has nothing to do with their patriotism—-it does have to do with their judgement in which policies will be effective.

There are unpatriotic people out there—the ones who hope the US loses so we will “learn a lesson”. This group is in the vast minority. There are those who support policies that would hurt the US—this group might be patriotic but they are supporting bad policy.

Its really as simple as that.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 22, 2005 8:30 AM
Comment #105864

Hi joebagodonuts,

“I’ve not seen much of what you claim.”

Check out “Treason” by Ann Coulter or “The enemy within” by Savage, or “All liberals are evil” by Sean Hannity.

I don’t listen to Rush more than about 20 minutes/week but I’ve heard him call me (I’m a Democrat) a communist, a Saddam sympathizer, a terrorist sympathizer…

Rush Hannity are supported by the White House. The vicious intolerance they promote is mainstream right wing propaganda.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 22, 2005 8:39 AM
Comment #105872

rahdigly,

Okay, I am glad you accepted my apology. The reason I thought you might not have served was because you were so willing to want to short cut the process.

I find it so curious that you are unwilling to let the legal process go forward. You don’t believe that anything illegal was done, others do.

We don’t know enough to say whether anything was done, so you want to stop all investigation because we don’t know…. while some believe that only by investigating will we be able to find out if something was wrong.

Isn’t the argument that some want to use about violating the 4th Amendment is that they have nothing to hide, so if anyone objects to the government investigations then they must have something to hide?

“I have nothing to hide so let the government do whatever they need to do in this war on terrorism because the only people that have something to hide are the criminals?”

If the President has nothing to hide, then why worry about an investigation? If there was nothign illegal then no problem right? It is a Republican dominated Congress so it should be sympathetic to this President. Right?

Let me summarize:

1) We don’t know yet if what the President did was illegal or not because that requires the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of his actions.

2) Congress is a group of individual politicans who are all in it for themsevles.

3) The President is not a politican that is in it for himself and those that elected him?

4) Therefore, there is no need to investigate further?

rahdigly,

Along with History comes precedent upon which our legal system is based. Again, you and others have again ignored my questions concerning the limits of power on the President when the Supreme Court said that the President could not violate the law in times of war. Truman versus the steel industry during the Korean War.

Please explain to me how this is taken out of context.

I am aware that it was in the 1950’s and the war was against the Koreans which was a war against a foreign country that was not attacking us within our own boarders…

The ruling was that the President within his role of the Commander-in-Chief could not violate the law. Period.

Jack

I have followed a few of your arguments and I do believe that you are very sincere in your beliefs and I understand your reasoning.

The ambiguity that you talk about is exactly the reason why we should investigate. No President should be given a blank check.

A lot of people seem to only think of this moment. Would they argue the same if it was a President of a different party? Today? Tomorrow? In the next 25 years? Assuming that the future will be the same as today is dangerous because the Presidental office changes party hands and their party may not be in power in the future… are they willing to argue the same way then?

rahdigly

“Give me Liberty or Give me Death” Gee, it was over 200 years ago and it was against the British. If I remember my history. You are right… not a direct coorelation…

This is abstract thought here so maybe that is the problem… I do believe that we know we are not talking about the redcoats with muskets. Is that what you are talking about? The statement can only be appropriate if we are being attacked by the British because they are trying to reassert their control over the colonies?

My understanding of history is quite fine than you.

Liberty today would be regadless of where the oppression comes from… internally or externally.

Death would be the unwillingness to submit to the loss of the liberty regardless of where and by whom it was being taken.


TO ALL:
THE SUPREME COURT RULED AGAINST TRUMAN THAT THE PRESIDENT, IN HIS ROLE AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, DURING WAR TIME COULD NOT VIOLATE THE LAW WHEN HE TRIED TO TAKE OVER THE STEEL INDUSTRY.

To all those that say the President can do whatever he needs to do during war… Please tell me how, based on the ruling above, the President is legally able to violate the law?

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 9:23 AM
Comment #105896

Darren

Yes. It is ambiguous. Maybe the president acted beyond his authority. I don’t know and I believe that it is currently unknowable since the courts have not yet decided. What I objected to is the characterization of the President’s actions as criminal. What do they call it - mens rea? The guilty mind is part of the guilty act. With this level of ambiguity, I don’t think it was possible for the President to have mens rea.

Louis

Most of us on this blog have expressed that Anne Coulter doesn’t speak for us. She holds no official position in the Republican Party and represents only one stream of conservatism. If you are looking for hate speech, you can find it on both sides. Howard Dean uses the actual word. Michael Moore regularly shows contempt for his country’s government etc. You don’t have to go far to hear the president compared unfavorably to chimps. But the regular contributors to this blog have established track records and a context for their statements. For example, I have said some outrageous things, but if you put them in context of the rest of my statements, I can defend having said them. I have never accused Democrats of being either Communists or traitors. I have always concentrated on individuals or individual statements for those kinds of criticisms. As far as I can see, Joe has followed a similar course.

If one of us is quoting Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh it is appropriate to bring it up. You can even mention those people as an argument that some people associated with Republicans make outrageous statements. But it would be better to keep to what we are talking about and what we have said. I am responsible for what I say. I will take some “responsibility” for what the President says IF I defend his policies. Ann Coulter or Rush are not part of my problem, however.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 10:01 AM
Comment #105912

Jack,

Yes. Sometimes there isn’t a “smoking gun” that is obvious and shows a crime has been committed. Our justice system does mean that a person is innocent until proven guilty and that is why “allegedly” and “the accused” are used.

I believe that the only way to determine whether or not the President exceeded his authority is for the facts to be discovered and a determination made was to whether or not there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.

It seems as if some are wanting to forego this process because of political partisanship. It appears that some argue, “If a Democrat mentions the need then they are partisan… if a Republican mentions this need then he is simply take political advantage for his own personal purpose…” So, there is no way, in this type of reaoning that anyone could or should investigate the President.

What is scary, and it is sometimes overused, is the slippery slope. Do we know where this would go without supervision by Congress or a court? At what level is the determination made as to who is a threat? I have heard reports of Quaker Churches being investigate for “Communistic like ideas” and a grandmothers singing group.

Whether or not the President’s intentions were honorable, which I believe they were (and I am a Liberal Democrat) the resulting actions are performed across the board and even the people doing the intelligence gathering are concerned about where the limits are. Note the NSA Chairman’s request to Congress for them to find out what is acceptable to the American people and what isn’t.

I just read where the head of the secret court is concerned and calling for a meeting to determine what is going on and whether any warrants are tainted that have been used.

Serious doubt is cast and I really don’t see why it should if the President had used the means already available with FISA. Again, that 72 hours retroactive signature keeps coming up as a defense against the time sensitive nature of gathering information in this situation.

I just read where Clinton had secret detainees in Gitmo. I am going to read that story as soon as I complete this post. I can tell you… as a believer that truth is not partisan… if his actions were illegal or not up to the standards of what I believe a President should act… I will say so. Because, I believe that especially as a person representing the party I belong to, he needs to be held to higher standards than I would hold the other party to.

After all, should we not be more disappointed by the actions of those closest to us?

Serious questions have been raised. They do need to be looked into.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 10:24 AM
Comment #105919

“What really chills me here is that so many so-called Americans are busy making excuses for possible illegal actions even before all the facts are in. This is one of those moments in history when we’ll get to judge true conservatives from simple power-worshipping partisans who will distort their positions no matter what.” John Kerry has already tried, convicted and impeached him.

Posted by: pige at December 22, 2005 10:31 AM
Comment #105921

No. Wait. He was for it before he was against it.

Posted by: pige at December 22, 2005 10:32 AM
Comment #105926

Darren,
“Okay, I am glad you accepted my apology. The reason I thought you might not have served was because you were so willing to want to short cut the process.”


Hey, I know all about the “hurry up and wait” red-tape BS; there are no short cuts in the miltary.

“I find it so curious that you are unwilling to let the legal process go forward. You don’t believe that anything illegal was done, others do. If the President has nothing to hide, then why worry about an investigation?”


Personally, I’m not “worried” about it, it’s the fact that this is “politicizing” our National Security and it shouldn’t be. The previous Presidencies haven’t been “investigated” for similiar actions, so why start with this President?! Hmmm, can you say politicizing?


“To all those that say the President can do whatever he needs to do during war… Please tell me how, based on the ruling above, the President is legally able to violate the law?”

Article 2, section 8
http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.html#section2


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/terroristattack/joint-resolution_9-14.html

Posted by: rahdigly at December 22, 2005 10:39 AM
Comment #105928

Pige,

Please go back and read your post. It was pretty hypocritical. “What really chills me here is that so many so-called Americans are busy making excuses for possible illegal actions even before all the facts are in.” Do you have all the facts? Do you have all the facts on John Kerry? Hell! I don’t support him myself. But I’m not going to repeat the thoughts of the media and try to make a point out of it. This thread was debating the issue of legal activity vs illegal activity. Is it a question or mere politics? Where is the line? If I have misinterpreted the thread, then please let me know.

Posted by: Karen at December 22, 2005 10:42 AM
Comment #105931

Rah,

More remedial civics for you — authorization doesn’t equal declaration of war. Moreover, the Congress can’t delegate powers it doesn’t have, and it doesn’t have the power to violate the 4th Amendment. So the authorization line doesn’t really take you anywhere. Yet another line of argument foreclosed to you.

You can ignore whatever portion of the facts you want. However, the bulk of your responses (and the responses of others on your side) seem to boil down to the fact that you find this to be a special situation. If you want to admit that, we can talk about whether or not this is a situation that requires ignoring the Constitutional limits. However, that would require admitting that your President broke the law.

Personally, I tire of the right harkening to a Presidents Constitutional mandate to “keep us safe”. Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention such a power. Such activism with regard to Constitutional interpretation will not be tolerated.

Sanger,

I always hear you say that you’re a harsh critic of this administration. Have yet to see it, though. I do enjoy the attempt to wrap yourself in the guise of impartiality.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 22, 2005 10:46 AM
Comment #105933

Stephen,

I guess my main argument is that you can’t read or understand the english language. Congress came up with the war powers act AFTER LBJ got the mess in Vietnam. They did that because they did not want another president to do what he did. So far, most every president has obligated troops and force without congressional approval. And you just don’t get it about the FISA court do you? Read the papers for snake’s sake!

From today’s WaTimes:
In a 2002 opinion about the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA Patriot Act, the court wrote: “We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”
Indeed, previous administrations have used that same authority.
One of the most famous examples of warrantless searches in recent years was the investigation of CIA official Aldrich H. Ames, who ultimately pleaded guilty to spying for the former Soviet Union. That case was largely built upon secret searches of Ames’ home and office in 1993, conducted without federal warrants.
In 1994, President Clinton expanded the use of warrantless searches to entirely domestic situations with no foreign intelligence value whatsoever. In a radio address promoting a crime-fighting bill, Mr. Clinton discussed a new policy to conduct warrantless searches in highly violent public housing projects.
Previous administrations also asserted the authority of the president to conduct searches in the interest of national security.
In 1978, for instance, Attorney General Griffin B. Bell testified before a federal judge about warrantless searches he and President Carter had authorized against two men suspected of spying on behalf of the Vietnam government.

Get a grip, you libs just can’t stand it when a republican president does what a demorat president did.

Posted by: Beak at December 22, 2005 10:48 AM
Comment #105938

Stephen,

I guess my main argument is that you can’t read or understand the english language. Congress came up with the war powers act AFTER LBJ got the mess in Vietnam. They did that because they did not want another president to do what he did. So far, most every president has obligated troops and force without congressional approval. And you just don’t get it about the FISA court do you? Read the papers for snake’s sake!

From today’s WaTimes:
In a 2002 opinion about the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA Patriot Act, the court wrote: “We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”
Indeed, previous administrations have used that same authority.
One of the most famous examples of warrantless searches in recent years was the investigation of CIA official Aldrich H. Ames, who ultimately pleaded guilty to spying for the former Soviet Union. That case was largely built upon secret searches of Ames’ home and office in 1993, conducted without federal warrants.
In 1994, President Clinton expanded the use of warrantless searches to entirely domestic situations with no foreign intelligence value whatsoever. In a radio address promoting a crime-fighting bill, Mr. Clinton discussed a new policy to conduct warrantless searches in highly violent public housing projects.
Previous administrations also asserted the authority of the president to conduct searches in the interest of national security.
In 1978, for instance, Attorney General Griffin B. Bell testified before a federal judge about warrantless searches he and President Carter had authorized against two men suspected of spying on behalf of the Vietnam government.

Get a grip, you libs just can’t stand it when a republican president does what a demorat president did.

Posted by: Beak at December 22, 2005 10:56 AM
Comment #105940

Stephen,

I guess my main argument is that you can’t read or understand the english language. Congress came up with the war powers act AFTER LBJ got the mess in Vietnam. They did that because they did not want another president to do what he did. So far, most every president has obligated troops and force without congressional approval. And you just don’t get it about the FISA court do you? Read the papers for snake’s sake!

From today’s WaTimes:
In a 2002 opinion about the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA Patriot Act, the court wrote: “We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”
Indeed, previous administrations have used that same authority.
One of the most famous examples of warrantless searches in recent years was the investigation of CIA official Aldrich H. Ames, who ultimately pleaded guilty to spying for the former Soviet Union. That case was largely built upon secret searches of Ames’ home and office in 1993, conducted without federal warrants.
In 1994, President Clinton expanded the use of warrantless searches to entirely domestic situations with no foreign intelligence value whatsoever. In a radio address promoting a crime-fighting bill, Mr. Clinton discussed a new policy to conduct warrantless searches in highly violent public housing projects.
Previous administrations also asserted the authority of the president to conduct searches in the interest of national security.
In 1978, for instance, Attorney General Griffin B. Bell testified before a federal judge about warrantless searches he and President Carter had authorized against two men suspected of spying on behalf of the Vietnam government.

Get a grip, you libs just can’t stand it when a republican president does what a demorat president did.

Posted by: Beak at December 22, 2005 10:57 AM
Comment #105942

Yossarian,
“Congress can’t delegate powers it doesn’t have, and it doesn’t have the power to violate the 4th Amendment.”


Where was the 4th amendment right “violated”?


“Personally, I tire of the right harkening to a Presidents Constitutional mandate to “keep us safe” Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention such a power. Such activism with regard to Constitutional interpretation will not be tolerated”

Ok, so let’s just suppose Bush didn’t authorize the NSA to eavesdrop on Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda launched another attack, would you have defended Bush for “NOT” doing anything? Would you still be arguing your “not in the Constitution for the Prez to keep us safe” point?! Be honest…

Posted by: rahdigly at December 22, 2005 11:06 AM
Comment #105979

Hi Jack,

“She holds no official position in the Republican Party and represents only one stream of conservatism.”

That’s true. You had said “Liberals just don’t believe that it is possible to have reasonable objections to their points of view.” I was pointing out examples of right wingers who are extremely intolerant of the views of those who disagree with them.

The White House is quite chummy with Hannity and Limbaugh. Intolerance of the dissenting views is essentially White House policy.

“I have never accused Democrats of being either Communists or traitors. I have always concentrated on individuals or individual statements for those kinds of criticisms.”

That’s true. I was addressing your point about liberals in general being intolerant of the views of those they disagree with.

“You don’t have to go far to hear the president compared unfavorably to chimps.”

Republicans engage in similar attacks….this sort of thing goes on all the time from both sides.

What is different is White House policy of being extremely inolerant of differing views.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 22, 2005 12:07 PM
Comment #106044

Rahdigly-
The authorization was to go after known terrorists. I keep on telling you folks that the Constitution trumps all lower laws. That’s what the whole concept of Judicial review depends on.

My opposition to Bush is without guilt. I would guiltier supporting him, as I do not like people who enlist support of me by dishonest means. I support the end of this war in terms of not leaving behind a failed or tyrannical state behind in our wake, in terms of getting us back even and denying al-Qaeda a training ground.

The election was about Bush’s policies, first and foremost, and those Godawful things continue to be applied. It might not have been a victory had the New York times Revealed that Bush had done all those literally unwarranted wiretaps.

I had the experience of rationalizing for one leader before, and it wasn’t a lot of fun. I believe that whether the next president is a Republican or a Democrat, he or she answers to us all, and they must abide by the laws of this country. I will be not a little harsh to any Democratic leader who I think is failing to live up to their office.

We don’t need to rationalize for our leaders any longer. The price of being in the dark and building these cults of personality has been too high as it is.

Jack-
The judges on the FISA panel themselves are asking about this. One has already resigned. If you think this just politics, then you already trapped yourself in the Bush bubble- this is more than politics, and just because the supreme court has not yet ruled, doesn’t mean that the law hasn’t been broken. Where is your own opinion in all this, of what this would mean if true? Are so depraved as a people that we allow the corruption of such basic values of our government?

Politics above law is fascism.

Beak-
It would have helped if FISA covered Physical Searches at the time Now it does, and the Clinton administration didn’t put up a fight about it. The violent projects idea was likely never implemented, probably for the constitutional concerns. If the president can be so inhibited, he isn’t the supporter you paint him to be.

As for 1978, that’s about the time that the law was created. Besides, it doesn’t cover warrantless searches which don’t involve our own citizens. Foreign nationals do not enjoy such protections.

So what’s your issue here? Your issue is legitimizing unwarranted searches on American, and that’s both clearly understood by me, and clearly objectionable to me. It’s also illegal under FISA, regardless of whose responsible, and I would see the law upheld.

Is that clear enough?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 22, 2005 1:03 PM
Comment #106062

Stephen

We don’t know if it is against the law. That is the point.

The president has broad powers. Most of what he can and cannot do is not covered in the Constitution. It is the result of precedent and practice. I am saying the same things on the other side, so excuse the repetition. In the U.S. we rely on precedent. It has the force of law. That is the whole basis of our system and it is the whole basis of our discussion. The Constitution gives the president certain duties and implies the powers necessary to carry them out. Presidents, courts and congress work out what this means in practice.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote that the life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience. The experience of former presidents under similar conditions is the key to judging this one.

I don’t believe the President broke the law and I think that the courts will uphold him.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 1:34 PM
Comment #106112

Jack:

I don’t believe the President broke the law and I think that the courts will uphold him.

If you are correct, do you think those who dislike, hate, revile or loathe Bush will accept what the courts have to say? Or will they instead claim yet another miscarriage of justice (pronounced “we didn’t get our way”)?

Its obvious that some have already assumed his guilt in this instance, but that’s not surprising considering that he has also been assumed guilty of lying, war crimes, manipulating the 2000 election, ‘talking down’ the economy in late 1999, being AWOL, manipulating the Ohio vote in 2004 and so on.

I think the NSA wiretapping will actually help Bush, in that he can claim that protecting American citizens from terror is his number one goal. I think this will resonate with the people, even some of whom might not like the way he did it, in this instance. Its one more plank in the idea that Republicans are more concerned with preventing terrorism argument. It doesn’t even need to be correct for it to be the perception of the people.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 22, 2005 2:32 PM
Comment #106145

rahdigly.

Sir, you are still not answering the question are you? Posting a link the the Constitution does not answer the question. The Supreme Court ruled the President cannot violate the law.

During the Korean war, when soldiers were being shot at… the President tried to violate the law by privatizing the steel industry. The Supreme Court, based on the artilces you posted, determined that the President did not have the right to violate the law in his role as Commander-in-Chief in a war.

Therefore, sending links to the Constitution does not show why this President should not be investigated IF he is violating the law.

If your rationale is that the President has broad powers within the Artlies you posted, then you have to also understand that the Supreme Court ruled that he does not have these powers you presume.

Supreme Court trumps all interpretations of Constitutional laws. The only other solution is to fix the law so it complies or make a Constitutional Amendment.

Please argue my assumption if you wish. Posting links to the Constitution is not answering the question of the interpretation of the Supreme Court on the limits of a President.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 3:14 PM
Comment #106151

Jim…
Ahhhh, the good old days… when Republicans made mountains out of molehills… I am glad that you are able to keep perspective here… that those are equivalent to the issues being argued here. I wish that those were the only things we had to worry about.

“I seem to remember Clinton’s 8 years in office. There were so many scandals that I needed a scorecard to keep it straight. From Travelgate to bj-gate, the Dems had more than their share.”

After these investigations of scandals… can you really say that what is happening now is more trivial?

To me, it looks as though your attempt to use the old Clinton as an example backfired. Who wouldn’t rather worry about a travel agent or oral sex in the White House versus trampling on a Bill of Rights article?

I am not sure what you were tring to prove… that his “scandals” were absolutely valid and Bush’s are minor in comparison?

Could you please elaborate?

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 3:19 PM
Comment #106174

JBOD

How ‘bout locking everyone up in a high security prison to protect them from the terrorists? That would really prove George is only out to protect them and raise his standing in the eyes of his obedient flock. After all, what rights aren’t expendable in protecting agains the terrorists (ooooh, scary!). You guys are so morally bankrupt that you won’t admit your guy is wrong when he flagrantly violates the constitution. You apparently favor a dictatorial president without restraint.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at December 22, 2005 3:39 PM
Comment #106178

Rah,

OK, this whole debate has to do with the 4th Amendment right protecting us against unwarranted searches and seizures. The President, by his own admission, conducted unwarranted searches on American citizens, and has stated he plans on continuing to do so, despite the fact that there was a legal avenue through which he could have easily obtained a warrant through a court which has historically granted such warrants more than 99.9% of the time, quite literally.

Unwarranted search = violation of 4th Amendment

Can’t really state it more simply.

“Ok, so let’s just suppose Bush didn’t authorize the NSA to eavesdrop on Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda launched another attack, would you have defended Bush for “NOT” doing anything? Would you still be arguing your “not in the Constitution for the Prez to keep us safe” point?! Be honest…”

No, I wouldn’t defend him for not doing anything. No one is saying he should do nothing. We’re just saying he should do things that are consistent with the law and the Constitution.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 22, 2005 3:43 PM
Comment #106195

Stephen,

you still try to torture every instance when a democrat president uses a warrantless search. It is a fact. It goes back a long way. It is precedent as Jack states. The existing FISA court has already said what Bush did is inherent power of the office.

So what is your point?

Posted by: Beak at December 22, 2005 3:56 PM
Comment #106214

Darren
Nationalizing the steel industry is a different thing. It doesn’t seem like a precedent.

You are right that the courts will decide and I think they will decide in Bush’s favor.

Yossarian

Your take on

Constitutional prohibition is similar to the one death penalty opponents use for cruel and inhumane punishment. It is THEIR interpretation, not that of the founding fathers who did in fact carry out the death penalty.

Washington, Jefferson, Franklin et all intercepted messages to and from American citizens and used them without warrants. By your logic, Washington would have had no proof against Benedict Arnold. After all they seized and searched Major Andre without benefit of a warrant. He was on American soil and he was carrying messages from an American citizen.

So I guess Washington was the bad guy and Arnold the hero (or maybe the liberal victim)

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 4:11 PM
Comment #106222

Right wing blame layers (this snarky aside isn’t directed at you, Jack. You apply reason and fact to discuss issues)

I am the official representative of the “left”, and our idea is to surrender to the terrorists. After all, that famous leftist Bill Clinton was secretly negotiating to give the US to Osama bin Laden when he was distracted by the impeachment process (so I have to say that was a brilliant move on the part of you right-wing nuts). If we take over, we will continue the negotiations, because we hate freedom and love terrorism. We disdain the tough daily intelligence work, with all those messy court orders and rules that have to be followed, that it would take to keep the terrorists out of our country and debilitate their campaign against our troops in the Middle East and elsewhere. We also disdain the silly idea of trying to use diplomatic and economic means to resolve differences and enhance our stature in the world. Everyone knows it takes actually using overwhelming military force to convince the world of our moral rectitude and since we on the left are all cowards, we just prefer to surrender. I hope that clarifies things for your, George, and doesn’t just parody your preformed judgements about anyone who thinks that maybe, just maybe George Bush might be an incompetent littel rich boob whose wealthy and smarter friends got him into office for their own nefarious aims.

Have a nice little life full of illusions of your own patriotic nobility.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at December 22, 2005 4:20 PM
Comment #106228

Jack,

I’m not certain that you have distilled my position on Constitutional prohibition correctly, and you didn’t state what you perceive it to be so that I can affirm or deny it, so I don’t really know what to tell you.

Moreover, there are distinctions a-plenty to make with the situation you’re citing from history. Somewhat fuliginous, and I think you can marshal better counterexamples.

It’s not at all clear that the Arnold circumstance was part of a surveillance operation. The messenger (John Andre) carrying those messages was a member of the British Army, and was being arrested by Americans as an enemy, (and not at part of a sort of communications-monitoring enterprise) when the correspondence was discovered on him. Not really analogous to the type of situation we have here, and it raises more issues than it deals with.

I accept that there are better arguments you can make. That counterexample creates too many collateral issues that cloud the overall argument. Let’s keep this as simple as we can, shall we?

Posted by: Yossarian at December 22, 2005 4:33 PM
Comment #106235

Jack-
I think it’s safe to say that if Bush authorized wiretaps on American civilians without warrants, it’s illegal, even in a time of war. The only exceptions to the need for warrants are for nonamericans. FISA overrules conflicting precedents, and the constitution definitely overrules any law made that allows unwarranted search and seizures.

Joe-
Why does it matter? Why does everything revolve around whether Bush and the Republicans get their feelings hurt? Why do issues of practicality, of constitutionality, of proper procedure and conduct get lower priority than Bush’s self esteem?

The question is not whether we’re biased. If you culled this site of every biased individual, we wouldn’t have ten posts much less the thousands of entries and comments we do. The question is, what’s the most accurate picture of things, and what’s the best course of action for our republic, and our respective parties?

Bush is secondary to most of us. It’s the policies that are our main focus, and you guys continue to run back to this “you’re mean to Bush” B.S. time and again.

Example: the AWOL charges. There’s an actual US News and World Report article which details that Bush neither made it to enough drills nor made up enough of them in a timely manner. When somebody doesn’t show up enough to army duty, that’s being AWOL. He reached some arrangement, of course, but that’s part of the point, and the sting in the tail of this criticism: That Bush got special treatment. That on top of being kicked to the head of a waiting list with hundreds of other young men on it for a unit notorious for being a haven for rich men’s suns who wanted to sit out the war stateside. It stretches things considerably to believe that Bush was simply lucky on all these occasions.

I doubt this revelation has helped Bush. He left his fingerprints on something that violated the spirit if not the letter of the law.

Beak-
Not torture, provide context. The facts are as I’ve said. Your argument a)tries to allege that Because Clinton tried to break the law, no Democrat should blame Bush for it, and b)tries to connect them all as similar cases. I presented a case that Clinton did his best to preserve both his powers and president and remain within the law, even going so far as to suggest the clarifying legislation.

Additionally I pointed out that the original FISA statue did not cover the particular kind of search that was done, creating a dissimilar legal situation. If you want to claim I’m simply twisting words, it’s your call, but if we’re following Clinton’s precedent, Bush’s behavior would be cast in a more negative light, as Clinton was far more cooperative, and even went so far as to go back to congress to get the legitimate power.

That’s my point: Bush should have respected the Judicial and Legislative Branch’s role in oversight, as Clinton did, if his actions were along Clinton’s precedent. Since he didn’t, Clinton’s precedent is no defense.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 22, 2005 5:00 PM
Comment #106237

Yossarian

That was just one that leap to mind.

There is no indication that our founding fathers had any trouble with anyone watching or intercepting communications between American citizens and foreign enemies. Of course, they didn’t have the modern technologies. They certainly did not envision a case like ours. But they clearly did their best to figure out what other people were talking about in these cases.

My ground truth point is that the situation is sufficiently ambiguous that the president could not have broken any law. In the worst-case scenario if he overstepped his authority it was an honest mistake. To use a too glib a metaphor: no harm, no foul.

Moving again to politics, I don’t have any trouble with this kind of thing. If an American citizen is knowingly speaking with a terrorist I want him to be trapped. If he is unknowingly speaking to a terrorist, he is being duped and it would be good if his government knows and maybe can protect him.

Terrorists are not like ordinary criminals. They are not even like the Mafia or criminal gangs. Criminals want something. You may not want to give it to them, but at least you know what they might be after. Terrorists’ goal is just to kill and destroy. An ordinary American citizen could have innocent (or semi-innocent) or harmless contact with a criminal. It is impossible to have innocent or harmless contact with a terrorist. If an American is talking to a terrorist, he is either an accomplice or a dupe. We should have no qualms about finding out which.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2005 5:13 PM
Comment #106240

Jack,

OK. We’ll agree to let the counterexample go, then.

I don’t accept the contention that the Founding Fathers didn’t care about communications between citizens and foreigners. There’s no evidence they did, either. Well, except that the 4th Amendment seems more concered with the security of the communicatOR than with who the communicatED happened to be. The part about the right of a person to be secure in their person, letters, effects, so forth.

As an additional point, I’d like to point out that I’m meeting you more than halfway in applying your brand of Constitutional interpretation (trying to get in the heads of the Founding Fathers) to this point. I don’t even think that such a mode of interpretation is necessary or even helpful. And I even managed to pass some bar exams despite that fact.

On to something else I noticed about your most recent message was that you seem to be making an argument that I’ve talked about before: that somehow terrorism is some kind of special situation that merits a special kind of response.

Personally, I find that to be a kind of largely uncontested premise that I don’t necessarily accept. And I think terrorists DO want something, and the Republicans have led us to do exactly what they want. As I’ve said before, they want us to betray ourselves, to show ourselves as not categorically different than the dictators we decry, but different only in degree; and BushCo has played right into their hands.

Moreover, the “special situation” argument misses the point, I think. It’s still all too easy to get a warrant. Bush just refused to do it.

And before someone states it, time IS NOT a factor, when the whole legal procedure behind wiretapping is quick, easy, and can even be done retroactively. All they really have to show is probable cause, which, as any lawyer can tell you, is easy as pie.

Posted by: Yossarian at December 22, 2005 5:30 PM
Comment #106255

Jack-
I have a hard time believing that the Exec. Branch couldn’t get FISA warrants on associate of al-Qaeda suspects. There doesn’t seem to be much ambiguity here that Bush didn’t create himself by extended interpretation. The law was pretty clear: You need a warrant on any communication involving one of our citizens. FISA allows this to be done even three days after the fact.

Your assertion strikes me as unfounded. First, there are plenty of killers and destroyers who are simple criminals. Plenty of domestic terrorists. Plenty of Mafia hitmen, Foreign spies and maybe even saboteurs. Additionally, your dupe/accomplice duality is flawed. There are any number of ways people could be associated with one another. Regardless, it doesn’t matter, because if somebody has an evident link to the terrorist group, or is doing something suspicious that might help them, the grounds for the warrant are already there.

It just seems to me that the Bush administration is being its usual paranoid self-absorbed stuff, and it doesn’t want anybody not firmly in line with them telling them what they can and cannot do. This isn’t necessity, this is arrogance and lust for power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 22, 2005 6:21 PM
Comment #106260

Jack,

Steel, wood or iron. When it comes to Constitutional law and the law of precendent, it is not a 1 to 1 correlation between cases. It is the essence of the issue.

No law or interpretation can be made to cover every single variation… (such as the President may be able to nationalize the steel, but not the iron, wool and lumber industry) so when the Supreme Court took this case the core issue was not what industry was effected… it was to determine whether the President could violate the law when he fealt it was justified.

Here, the issue wasn’t the steel industry… it just happened to be. What was the issue, the question was, whether or not the President could violate the law… as the President, as Commander-in-Chief… even in time of war. That was the question that the Supreme Court was deciding.

They ruled that he could not. There was no justification for the President, even during war time in his role as the Commaner-in-Chief to violate the law.

That is why this case is important. The President believes that in this time of problems or war on terrorism, he has the right, as his role as Commander-in-Chief to violate the 4th Amendment and the necessity of getting warrants for wire taps.

Again, the issue is there the President has this power… the Courts said, “No.”

If people are taking the Constitution and the law of precedence too literaly then that might explain why there is such a problem.

In other words… the Supreme Court did not so much tell the President that it was only the steel industry (he could then decide to try his luck on another part of the problem and keep going back as if each instance was a new issue, but it doesn’t work that way) what they said was he was not Constitutionally entitled to violate a law regardless of his justification or job title.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 6:32 PM
Comment #106264

Yossarian

That is exactly the way to interpret the law. That is what lawyers and judges do. They try to interpret the intent of the legislators when they are assessing a case.

No law or Constitution can cover every single instance. That is one of the reasons why some believe that the Constitution is a living breathing entity… becuase how we interpret it now versus the original intent may change over time…

It is up to the Supreme Court to determine which is the appropriate intent.

For example the right to bear arms. Was it the intent of the Founding Fathers that there be absolutely no limits? Is it possible that because we no longer have frontier wars against hostile Native American Nations, and we now have a professional army to defend our boarders do we need a civiliam militia where everyone can use an automatic machine gun.

I do not want this to get into a gun issue… I just use this as an interpretation of the Constitution.

Issues such as Brown v. Board of Education determined that “separate but equal” education was not constitutional and that this opened up the desegragation of schools.

I find that a lot of people are maybe confused with how Constitutional issues are determined.

The Supreme Court in 1952 said that the President may not violate a law, even during war, even as a Commander-in-Chief. It did not matter whether or not it was a labor law, anti-trust laws, the 4th Amendment or any other law.

That is they way it works. The Supreme Court says the President may not violate the law. It does not pick and choose, going through the 1,000s of possible laws a President may or may not want to violate. He cannot violate the law.

It appears that some are unwilling to see if a law has been violted. The system says that there might be a violation of the law… without investigating we will not know…

Our Constitution is presmised on one branch monitoring the other branches. Without knowledge of what was done because it was considered secret the only way to determine this is to investigate.

Our nation was not founded on trust. We can disect the writings of the Founding Fathers… we can argue their intent… but the very structure of 3 branchs (some want to attribute more power to one than the others which is silly) and the system of checks and balances clearly shows this

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 22, 2005 6:53 PM
Comment #106299

Stephen,

Nice try, but you are beyond redemption in my book. You are, as I have said before, a democrat apologist, twisting anything Clinton did to appear as wanting to adhere to some quasi-constitutional concept. Clinton did nothing of the kind and you know it. He spied on US citizens with no warrants. Like it or not, you cannot prove otherwise.

I’m off to a new subject, see you there.

Posted by: Beak at December 22, 2005 8:59 PM
Comment #106539

Beak,

I am not sure if you are coming back but I will agress that what Clinton did was against the law. Okay? I will even go so far as to say you can prosecute him. Fair enough? There, that takes partisanship out of this.

George H.W. Bush did the same thing. Clinton’s action were a continuation of the first Bush administrations actions that are now being carried through the Clinton and now the George W. Bush’s administratio.

If we can agree that Clinton did something illegal in this instance… and we can agree that both Bushs did the same thing… can we move on now to what do we, as Americans, do about it?

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 23, 2005 8:27 AM
Comment #106635

Darren:

I know I’m interjecting, but here goes. I don’t know that what Clinton did was illegal, and I don’t therefore know that Bush doing the same thing would be illegal. There seem to be dissenting opinions from all over the political landscape on the legality/illegality of the wiretaps.

We can agree perhaps that they did the same thing, although circumstances differ in the two cases due to legal changes. The legality still needs to be determined, and if deemed illegal, then what level of repercussion is involved.

Certainly one aspect of this is the intent involved. There can be an evil power grabbing intent, or there can be the intent to prevent attacks on Americans. The intent would likely be a mitigating factor even if this is found to be an illegal act.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 23, 2005 11:17 AM
Comment #106704

Darren:


OK, one last post here. It is good that you finally admit that Clinton did what Bush has done. Since you deem it necessary to include Bush 41, I will remind you again that Jimmah Catah also spied on Americans without warrants. I have never once said that the surveillance ordered by any of these presidents was/is illegal. You think it is illegal. I, the FISC, numerous present and former presidential appointees, law professors and most Americans think what they did is legal under the power granted to the office by the constitution. What we should do about it as americans is to be thankful that this president is doing his job. IF and WHEN this or any other president orders warrantless surveillance on any of us for political or other non-national security reasons, I will be leading the charge to impeach and punish that person. BTW, have you ever considered how one would obtain a warrant (from the FISC) to search a phrase or word? My bet is that most of the non-warrant searches were applied to persons unknown.

Posted by: Beak at December 23, 2005 12:52 PM
Comment #106756
IF and WHEN this or any other president orders warrantless surveillance on any of us for political or other non-national security reasons, I will be leading the charge to impeach and punish that person.

And how would we know when such surveillance is occurring if there are no warrants? What oversight is there? How does one go back and check? And, why would we simply trust this or any other administration? I would only ask that Americans of all political stripes do their due diligence as citizens.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 23, 2005 2:11 PM
Comment #107134

Hi All,

I am glad to see that my post was completely misconstured. Intentionally or not.

I do not know if my writing was not clear. Perhaps.

My point? IF President Carter, Bush, Clinton, Reagan or this President Bush did perform an illegal act I am NOT going to defend it!

I thought I made it clear that I want to hold my party to a higher standard then I hold the opposition because I want them to represent MY beliefs as a member of that party.

Okay? We are dealing with abstract concepts here.

IF a president (regadless of who or which party) violted the law then it should be investigated. Period.

To determine IF a law was violated requires an investigation. We need to then open the investigation. Period.


I believe that I made it absolutely clear exactly the point I was making…

Mr. Beak, your conintinual reference to President Carter in such terms brings up a qustion in my mind.

I personally do not believe that President Bush represents what I want in a President. I want to make this a civil discussion and try to respect the opinions and beliefs of those I am corresponding with. Not an attempt to bring in outside cheerleaders or to make points based on my ability to “diss” the other person, his beliefs of his political party.

I do this out of respect for the position and also out of respect for the person I am conversing with.

That is why I do try to reffer to each President properly. If I fail then it was either through trying to make a specific point, or my focusing to much on making sure my intent was clear. If it wasn’t through either of these then I apologize.

Since maybe this is the holiday season and A Christmas Carol is on all the time it reminds me of the Ghost of Presidents Past.

5 years after Clinton is out of office he is still brought out as the boogey man.

Maybe your obvious dislike for President Carter is well reasoned but most of what I have heard ignores that he was probably one of the most compassionate-intelligent-Christians we have ever had as a President. I do understand that his being a Democrat more than compenstated against his virtues.

Possibly our disagreement is not with each other since we are in agreement that if a law has been violated then it needs to be investigated. We can go back through each and every instance of a Presidents tenure to Washington and determine a precedence, an executive finding, a court decision or what have you. Heck, there was the Aliens and Sedition Act for WWI… some are today taught as a blight on what America stood for… other can argue that they saved us.

My point is holding to the truth. IF a President performed an illegal act previously and was not called to task on it… that is not a reason to ignore it this time. That would be political and not a nation of law.

IF there is sufficient evidence that a law might have been violated we should not be afraid to investigate it for any reason. Period. People who want to justify before we even know if a law has been violate want to short cut the process. And sir, I would argue that it was because of partisan politics.

Yes, there are a lot of “IFs” but that is the nature of the beast. Ignoring these questions for any reason is in my opinion wrong.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 24, 2005 1:35 PM
Comment #107139

Separate post here because different issue I wish to address

“BTW, have you ever considered how one would obtain a warrant (from the FISC) to search a phrase or word? My bet is that most of the non-warrant searches were applied to persons unknown.”

This is very intersting to me because my ex wife put my daughter on the plane in AZ to fly to O’hare… she sent me an e-mail with the Subject: The Package is on its way.

I am aware of word recognition software. I was in communications in the USAF. I also realized that an innocent e-mail could be misconstrued based on a wide sweeping, rules based software package.

When I brought my daughter back I made it clear that I picked up the Package and that she is fine and now here with me.

Silly? Yes. Should I be concerned that the government could possibly intercept that message for analysis? At this point sir, I cannot say.

To say that I am being silly could be naive based on the information I have at this time about what the government is doing (within national security interests) without a warrant.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 24, 2005 2:01 PM
Comment #107204

Joe-
Bush did not do the same thing as Clinton. Clinton cooperated with Congress in setting checks and balances for Physical break-ins, which were not to that point covered under the FISA statutes. Bush, on the other hand, willfully violated the FISA statute(he signed the executive orders to that effect), concealing that violation from most of the officials involved, and now claiming some alleged constitutional right to break laws in wartime, which few are buying.

Debate on an issue does not equal factual ambiguity. As for intent, I would think that would factor in the sentencing and the consequences, not into the question of whether it was legal or not.

Beak-
Call me all the names you want, and strike me from the list of redeemable folks. Fact is, though, your analogy is highly flawed.
1)It doesn’t deal with the same law.
2)Clinton consulted with those dealing with the law anyways.
3)Clinton supported and got legislation laying out the means by which future searches could be kept constitutional.

I’m not arguing Clinton didn’t make a warrantless search. I’m saying that Clinton’s actions, even if not perfectly legal, directed the process towards greater not lesser compliance with the bill of rights.

Bush, instead, has attempted and is attempting to expand and institutionalize that breach of Fourth Amendment rights. I think this is a sufficient material difference in behavior to refute the notion that Clinton’s behavior is a positive precedent for Bush’s. Instead, his is one that argues against Bush’s case.

As for Carter, you will recall that the FISA act was signed into law under his administration. Similar arguments apply. Carter started out doing what the old system wanted, but instead sought to bring the system into greater harmony with the Bill of Rights.

It is not just the way another president does things that is important, it is the reasons and the logic by which they do it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 24, 2005 7:52 PM
Comment #107998

Stephen,

Some people want to equate discussion or debate as an exercise similiar to a Jerry Springer show. Blogs give wanna be Rushs or Moores an opportunity to try to be witty and attack the beliefs or ideas of the other side.

That is why I called Mr. Beak on his obvious disrespet for President Carter. If he does not want to respect the other person then in a debate or discussion should he expect respect?

When it somes to a point or a belief I have, I try to remember, why do I want to make my point?

Imagine for a moment, a political party (either one) has an idea or plan that they believe would make America better (any belief, any plan).

Is their intent then to use that idea or plan as a tool to “beat” the opposition or are they looking to convince the other side that maybe this idea or plan should be accepted for the betterment of our society?

If we come from the premise that each party wants what is best for America but have different ideas of how we get there, then there can be an exchange of ideas and we can move forward… maybe one issue at a time, but we are moving.

If we come from the premise that our side (regardless of which side that is) is the only side that is right then we are looking to pick up polling points or congressional districts or whatever and don’t really care about any particular issue… because it is a war to the end with the winner having it all…

Are we preaching to the choir or looking to persuade through the logic of your position and argument?

Those that want to denigrate a person’s ideas are simply partisan… for after all, no sane person starts out trying to persuade another by labeling him stupid, unpatriotic, simpleton or any other of a list of names to intimidate and quiet a debate.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 27, 2005 1:22 PM
Comment #119866

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Posted by: James at February 2, 2006 11:49 PM
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