January 7, 2006

I am a hypocrite...

But so are you.

Except that I'm not. Still, thanks for admitting that you are!

The subject: the on-and-off concern about national security, when looking at the domestic surveillance controversy and the Plame investigation, depending on where the partisan political advantage seems to lie.

The admission: from Ted of Crooked Timber, who cries gotcha on me.

The proof that I haven't taken two sides on the two controversies:

Re Plame, I've said:
I have avoided writing [about] the Plame story. There is too much detail to it for me to analyze it and come to a fair conclusion. A man faces criminal prosecution. The temptation is to say either this is a huge deal or this is practically nothing based on how much you'd like to see the Bush Administration wounded. How many bloggers have fallen prey to that temptation? How many bloggers have written about the indictment of I. Lewis Libby without imbuing it with their own political wishes? A man faces criminal prosecution. Let him go to trial, then.
Re domestic surveillance, I've consistently avoided pronouncements about the statutory law and how it relates to the constitutional law on the ground that it is too specialized and complicated. For example, in the long set of comments to this post, I chided a commenter who asserted that the surveillance program was "blatantly" illegal:
You might note that I haven't taken a position. I don't consider myself knowledgable enough to do so, and I really dislike it when other people think they are. Look how modest Kerr was about his analysis. He's an expert, and he still refrained from making any strong assertions. Take a lesson from that.
Later, in the same thread, responding to a commenter who wondered how I could miss some aspect of the FISA statute, I said:
How could I miss it? Simple: I've never even purported to analyze the statute. I can see it's complex, and I've never studied it. I've just chided people who are jumping ahead and saying what it means. I'm not myself doing the thing I'm chiding others for doing.
Shamelessly stripping this post of mine of its context, Ted says "Ann Althouse couldn't care less about Valerie Plame." That post is about the way people like Kos were exulting about "Fitz-mas." I was expressing disgust about "slavering hyenas" gloating about the indictments they hoped to get from the special prosecutor. I wasn't saying I didn't care about that leak. Not there or anywhere else! I await Ted's apology for his self-serving distortion of my writing.

Ted also tries to excuse the leaking of classified information in the domestic surveillance matter on the ground that it's whistleblowing. To that, I've already said (in the comments at the last link):
You can't reveal national security secrets and just say you're a whistleblower. The leak is really outrageous, and people who don't care about it strike me as flat-out partisans who care more about politics than national security. It's quite sickening.
I agree that the Plame leak may have been devoid of any virtuous motive, but that's beside the point. The question is: Are you concerned, in a politically neutral way, about national security? Ted tries to wriggle out of this question by just observing that he isn't seeing the damage to national security and telling me that I ought to prove the damage to national security. That's ridiculous. It's not for each person in possession of classified information to decide for himself how much it matters and to weigh how much good could be done by leaking it. And for those of us on the outside, who don't know the true scope of the program or the terrorist activities, we have no basis to spout off about how damaging the leak was. Blithe yammering about how it didn't really hurt just makes you look all the more partisan.

150 comments:

Icepick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Thanks. Corrected.

gj said...

Ann ---

if you are concerned, in a politically neutral way, about national security, then you should be concerned that senior administration officials apparently blew the cover of a CIA operative who was working on issues related to weapons of mass destruction. You didn't express concern about that. You just say, "the area of law and the case is too complicated for me to comment on."

In the more recent case you again declined to comment on the area of law, but you strongly implied that from a national security perspective you believed the administration was doing the right thing, that people who were upset about it were twinkies on national defense, and that the leak was outrageous.

Methinks the woman doth protest too much. There's nothing wrong with having an agenda and some opinions. Why try to hide that?

Ann Althouse said...

GJ: I'm deliberately refraining from making assertions about legal matters where I can see I'm not in a position to understand what I'm talking about. I can't fill this blog with all sorts of posts to block every inference you might see fit to make. I choose the things I can talk about and talk about them in the ways I feel capable of and interested in. It's a mixed bag. People are always badgering me about what I haven't said. I'd have to spend my whole life trying to plug up every hole. I can't do that.

Ricardo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ricardo said...

Speaking politically neutrally, one of the major lessons we should be learning from the current messes, is how wise our Founding Fathers were when they devised a system which encourages adequate checks and balances among the three branches of government. At times when one party (of whatever color) exerts an inordinate control over those branches, we seem to end up with a system in which "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Today, we act as if this is something brand new, and we are shocked. But our Founding Fathers understood the nature of the human beast well enough to take extraordinary measures to install adequate safeguards. Voters should understand that one of the best protections they have for decent and responsible government, is spreading their votes around in a way to ensure the functioning of checks and balances. It's not unlike a roulette player, spreading his/her chips around on the board to give him/her a better chance at winning.

EddieP said...

gi

You can trust Ann to speak honestly and carefully about that which she understands and that which she doesn't, as she tried to point out to you.

Fitzpatrick, in his indictment, was careful to note that there was no indication of national security being jeopardized in the Plame incident.

When a single injured party steps forward with a verifiable account of how he/she was targeted during 5 years of NSA intercepts, you may have point.

Until either of those situations change, I suggest you support our President 100% as he fights this terrible menace not only to our security but to the world's economy as well. People who don't support the President on this issue are woefully ignorant or disinterested in what's at stake. Regards

Vizsla1086 said...

Your response leaves me somewhat confused. You are peculiarly suited to comment on each of these things because you *are* a Professor of Law.

Even though the applicable statutes may not be precisely within your area of expertise, presumably your skills at legal analysis ought to be somewhat (immeasurably?)better than we lay folk, so why aren't you contributing to the debate?

Perhaps you might comment on the CRS analysis............

Robin said...

Partisans of either stripe can imbue anything you say with inferences which were not implied. Ann, you are right not to try to defend every statement. You could spend your life doing that and the end result would still be that people believe what they want to believe about what you say. Has our society always been so bad at arguing with intellectual objectivy and honesty? Is this something new or just the result of an increasingly divided electorate? I find it frustrating when people post such nonsense about you but rest assured, many of us recognize that you are a voice of reason in a ocean of hyperbole.

Thersites said...

So in other words, when Ann wrote, "There is reason to be more outraged, because of the actual damage to national security. Ever think about that?," by her own admission in this post, she was talking crap.

She says now she is in no position to judge whatever damge was done by the NSA leak: "And for those of us on the outside, who don't know the true scope of the program or the terrorist activities, we have no basis to spout off about how damaging the leak was."

So when she said that bit about "actual damage," she was spouting nonsense -- by her own logic. She really needs to find the commenter she was barking at there and offer a heartfelt apology.

And it's also funny how Ted gives prominence to the "actual damage" quote, but Ann leaves it out of her rebuttal. What fun!

APF said...

"So in other words, when Ann wrote, "There is reason to be more outraged, because of the actual damage to national security. Ever think about that?," by her own admission in this post, she was talking crap."

The Times itself notes that it tried its best to remove content that it felt may have harmed national security. While there was the possibility of grave damage via the Plame revelation, to the best of my knowledge there has been no official information after all this time indicating this is/was actually so.

Bob_Minn said...

Hey Ann, I love the position that, because you are a "LAW" professor, therefore you must be an expert in every area of the law. I see commentators either blatantly spouting that nonsense, or at least implying it. As a practicing lawyer, I too am expected to know every law, in every state and city, by heart...well, by less sophisticated clients, that is. Experienced clients know the reality. Maybe all commentators should be expected to know everything on the Internet, everywhere.... :)

gj said...

I'm deliberately refraining from making assertions about legal matters where I can see I'm not in a position to understand what I'm talking about.

Ann, I understand that. While I personally wish you'd engage in more open legal analysis, I see that you have good reasons for not doing so.

The point of your post, though, was about taking different positions on the Plame and the NSA leaks because of political leanings. Not different legal positions but different rhetorical and blogging positions.

You've made it clear that you're outraged by the NSA leak. You've made it equally clear that you can't be bothered to comment on the Plame leak. It may be coincidence, but those two positions fit nicely with your politics overall.

As for the national security damage caused by each of the leaks: that has been debated on both sides for each of them. I don't see that there's an objective measure that you can use to rank them for the purposes of this discussion.

Jack said...

Ann, even though I read this weblog regularly, I seldom link to it, and not because you do not take strong positions, but because often you do not comment on things that I feel are important.

Your blog, your perogative.

I do believe in both the Plame matter and in the apparent circumvention of both the FISA statute and the Constitutional provisions for warrants needed for the government to perform searches (even types of searches that did not even exist when the Constitution was written) I believe there are fundamental principles at stake.

I have been disappointed that you have chosen to not comment on these fundamental principles and how these actions by the administration are either consistent with or contrary to them in your opinion, but as I wrote earlier, your blog, your choice, and I can only vote with my visits and links.

I do find the post here rather disingenuous in light of the lack of commentary on these principles, however. I certainly would not take to calling you a hypocrite, but the earlier commenter who used the old saw "methinks thou dost protest too much" was not too far from the mark in spirit if not in details.

Cold Pillow said...

You've made it clear that you're outraged by the NSA leak. You've made it equally clear that you can't be bothered to comment on the Plame leak. It may be coincidence, but those two positions fit nicely with your politics overall.

Thank you, this is exactly what I have felt since the beginning. I would also go one step further and say that Ann does not seem to avoid discussing major legal issues unless the conlusion goes counter to her partisan beliefs.

I would speculate that Ann's knowledge of the law with regard to both of the above cases is greater than she has posted. However, the unpleasantness of the legal conclusions lead to her laissez-faire approach.

Ann Althouse said...

Viz: "You are peculiarly suited to comment on each of these things because you *are* a Professor of Law."

You, not being a professor of law (or lawyer like Bill), imagine that I know all the answers or can at least grope toward them better than other people, so I ought to at least take a swipe at any given important matter where people would like to get an answer. But I'm saying that is not a benefit.

My expertise is in recognizing my limits here and not offering up something seemingly authoritative that just isn't. Especially in the case of a complex fact setting or detailed statutes, I know enough to talk in terms of what I don't know, what some good questions might be, or what we need to avoid jumping to conclusions about. That is what I'm doing with my expertise here.

You're hoping I'll take sides. I decline to do that. In this, I'm being a law professor and not a political partisan. The people who seem to know the answers so easily are the partisans, even if they gloss over that with professionalese.

Thersites: I do stand by the "actual damage" position. I think we've revealed to the enemy that we were monitoring them in a way that wasn't publicly known before. That's a shocking thing, tipping off the enemy. How dare anyone do that on their own analysis that it's really on balance for the good? How dare they, during a war?

By contrast, Plame seems to have had a desk job where nothing about her identity mattered, and her identity seems to have been generally known anyway. From the little I've seen, the difference seems plain. I absolutely stand by what I wrote in that earlier statement. Sorry I didn't lengthen my post with that material. It irks me to have to respond to Ted at all because he's been so unfair to me. As have you, as you well know. You're a political partisan, constantly hostile to me because you perceive me (incorrectly) as a partisan of the other side. Why should I even talk to people like you and Ted? It's not a real conversation.

GJ: Your use of expression "can't be bothered" is misleading. Would you say that a general practitioner who refuses to do brain surgery can't be bothered?

Most of the talk in the blogosphere about Plame is just political blather. It's true I can't be bothered with THAT.

Mark said...

Ann,
What "actual damage" was done by the NSA revelation? To think there was some actual damage requires a presumption that Al Qaeda did not use certain types of communications because it believed that Bush would have failed to obtain FISA warrants to listen in on those communications. That's a very very dubious assumption, at least in my eyes. From what we know about Al Qaeda, it is not run by stupid men. They operate under presumption that their communications may be intercepted. The NSA revelation did not reveal anything which was not presumed by Al Qaeda.
I wonder: don't you see any potential for abuse when interceptions are conducted without warrants and with little to none independent oversight. It certainly bothered Bush's Deputy AG at one point. The "war on terror" does not require abdication of any review of the Executive's actions.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: I see potential for abuse without warrants and with warrants. But that doesn't justify revealing classified information like this. Your level of concern about national security is quite low. If a Democratic candidate for President said things like that, how do you think things would go for him (or her) politically? I'll tell you: disastrously. That's why Hillary Clinton has yet to say anything about the controversy.

APF said...

"From what we know about Al Qaeda, it is not run by stupid men. They operate under presumption that their communications may be intercepted."

In order to assert this you must also be willing to conclude that a) the Times was incorrect in its assessment about the sensitive nature of this information, and that b) no actionable intelligence was gained via this operation. I'm not sure how any objective observer can be willing to make such assertions.

APF said...

(by "this operation" I mean the entire NSA program)

Mark said...

Ann,
I am not talking, at this time, at least about politics of this. However, since you raised the political subject, the most recent AP-IPSOS poll demonstrated that 58% of the public think that Bush should have obtained warrants and only 42% support your (and Bush's position). So, please don't characterize my concern with national security as low; otherwise you'll have to admit that the concern of 58% of Americans (if you believe this poll) is equally low.
The potential for abuse obviously exists with warrants, too. But the primary purpose of warrant requirement is precisely to decrease the potential for the abuse.

Mark said...

Apf,
No. The information was obviously sensitive; the Times did not reveal all that it knew; the details of the surveillance may surely by important to keep secret.
And I don't see how you arrive at a presumption that no actionable intelligence was collected; that actionable intelligence was collected without warrants does not demonstrate that the same intelligence could not have been obtained with warrants.

AJD said...

Hypocrite?! Banish the thought!!

I'm quite sure that you have elevated consistency to you highest value. Small minds generally do. Problem is, Ann, that leaves the door wide open for being things like consistently medicore.

Which pretty much sums up the "divine" drivel I've seen here lately.

Mark said...

Moreover, the analysis by independent Congressional research service concluded that Bush's legal justifications for the program are very weak. That's the ultimate conclusion reached by Orin Kerr, too, although he's very careful in his analysis. For purposes of full disclosure, at least one moderate law professor, Cass Sunstein, doesn't see many problems with this program.
Nevertheless, it is fair to say that the majority of independent legal observers conclude that this program was not legal.

Pastor_Jeff said...

It's amazing how many people invite themselves into other people's homes, complain about the free food, insult the host, and pee on the rug.

APF said...

No. The information was obviously sensitive [...] that actionable intelligence was collected without warrants does not demonstrate that the same intelligence could not have been obtained with warrants.

You entirely miss my point. A) you admit that there was sensitive national security information leaked to the Times, making your question moot. B) the point isn't that terrorists now know about the FISA court, but rather that terrorists can begin to investigate, through the US media, through Risen's book, and through the inevetable inquiries and hearings on this matter, how this program--which as you admit has gathered useful information--operates, and change their own procedures to compensate for this new information.

If terrorists knew they were being monitored, how is it possible for this monitoring to have gathered useful information? Your initial point is invalidated by this fact. The reality that the NSA program is now being (however necessarily) dissected in public means that its usefulness will be severely limited, regardless of what the Times and Risen chose to share with us.

ChiLois said...

I am confused.
Why do the posts pay no atention to Fitzgerald saying twice that the CIA identity of Plame was "not widely known". Not widely means known!

The 4th Amendment and ALUM seem to defer to the executive for Foreign intercepts. It seems that the FISA court concern was that NSA intel would be used for domestic 'reasonable cause.

I don't want to be difficult but I would love to see a (nonpartisan) post that just lays out reasonably factual info without trying to 'get' anyone.

Mark said...

Apf,
I didn't miss your point at all.
First, the fact that the information was "sensitive" does not necessarily mean that it should have been kept secret. Imagine that Bush was doing something which was 100% illegal but at the same time was contributing to national security. I think that this information would have been both a) sensitive and b) should be exposed. That some actions have positive effect on national security doesn't absolve that they must be legal.
So, if whoever leaked this information assumed that the program was illegal, he MUST have leaked it. That's a classic whistleblower scenario, in my mind. So, my point was valid: the person who disclosed this information to the Times was not necessarily endangering national security. It increasingly looks like the program was illegal from the beginning; if that's true, it should have been leaked.
Your second point about terrorists starting to investigate how the NSA program works is also weak. Terrorists already presume that they are being monitored; all technical details about exactly how the program operates are not and shall not be discussed openly, especially by the people who actually know.

Next, I didn't say that the program collected actionable intelligence. All I said is that my position does not require presumption that no actionable intelligence was collected.

We don't know this.
If it did, there is no evidence it would not have been collected legally.

ChiLois said...

I am confused.
Why do the posts pay no atention to Fitzgerald saying twice that the CIA identity of Plame was "not widely known". Not widely means known!

The 4th Amendment and ALUM seem to defer to the executive for Foreign intercepts. It seems that the FISA court concern was that NSA intel would be used for domestic 'reasonable cause.

I don't want to be difficult but I would love to see a (nonpartisan) post that just lays out reasonably factual info without trying to 'get' anyone.

APF said...

(inevitable, that is)

The Times itself said a) it was given information it deemed to be damaging to national security if it were released, and b) it decided against publishing that information. It isn't the Times' place to determine what is and isn't damaging to national security, much like it wasn't Bob Novak's place to decide whether or not it was OK to reveal Plame's status. If it were, the media might as well be open to all classified information, or running our intelligence operations in the first place. If this program is illegal, there are legal and confidential means through which a whistleblower must proceed in order to investigte these issues properly. Going to the media is not one of those steps. Where is your evidence that all legal means of getting this addressed were taken? Anyway, I've had enough of deflecting this silly talking point.

Mark said...

Apf,
First, there is no evidence so far that all legal steps were not taken. Second, if the violators of the law included basically all legal actors in the Bush administration: Office of Legal Counsel, Justice Department; what good is it to go complain to people who actually violate the law? Going to media may have been the best out of all bad options.
I am not saying that whoever revealed this information is necessarily a hero, however, he is not necessarily a villain either.

ToadLady said...

"By contrast, Plame seems to have had a desk job where nothing about her identity mattered, and her identity seems to have been generally known anyway."

First off, lots of covert CIA operatives have desk jobs. Should we out them all?

Secondly, Fitzgerald said in his indictment that Plame's work for the CIA was NOT WIDELY KNOWN OUTSIDE THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY. This was based on an investigation by the FBI. (Bunch of partisan wackos!)

Also, has it occurred to anyone else that Plame might have been working a "desk job" at the time because she was the mother of young twins? What would anyone else here have done - jetted off to God knows where for extended assignments and left the two-year-olds with the nanny?

Way to support working mothers!

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: "I am not talking, at this time, at least about politics of this. However, since you raised the political subject, the most recent AP-IPSOS poll demonstrated that 58% of the public think that Bush should have obtained warrants and only 42% support your (and Bush's position). So, please don't characterize my concern with national security as low; otherwise you'll have to admit that the concern of 58% of Americans (if you believe this poll) is equally low. The potential for abuse obviously exists with warrants, too. But the primary purpose of warrant requirement is precisely to decrease the potential for the abuse."

Wow! Don't you see the OBVIOUS problem with that as a response to what I said?! There are two separate matters: the leak and the search. I was talking about the leak. You're talking about the search. Keep it straight! Anyway, I don't give much credit to that poll, with out seeing more of that. Provide a link.

Goatwhacker said...

I don't want to be difficult but I would love to see a (nonpartisan) post that just lays out reasonably factual info without trying to 'get' anyone.

I'm with you. It seems the main determinant on how people feel about this issue is how they felt about GWB before the wiretap news came out (I have to leave Ann out of that observation since I'm not sure how she views GWB).

There is an issue here to be discussed. On the one hand, Americans deserve their right to privacy. On the other hand, most Americans would probably give up some of their privacy if it meant preventing a terrorist act. So to my non-legal mind the question is where the line is drawn between protection from the government on the one hand, and protection by the government on the other. Apparently a series of checks and balances has been set up to define where that line is set. Whether GWB crossed it or not who knows.

As you note, most of what I've read is partisan one way or the other, and it's been difficult to understand the issues.

APF said...

There is no evidence the correct procedures were or were not followed, thus my point. What are those correct procedures, Mark? Tell me.

APF said...

Also: why are you so cautious in your appraisal of one who could, to use your words, be a "villain," but are nowhere near as cautious in your appraisal of the Bush Administration or the NSA in conducting this activity? Do you find any irony in suggesting breaking the law is acceptable so long as it serves some sort of greater public good?

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: "It is fair to say that the majority of independent legal observers conclude that this program was not legal."

Provide substance to that. What independent legal observers are there who've offered conclusions? The mere fact that they've got conclusions makes me presume they aren't independent. I'm impressed by Sunstein's conclusion, because he is not a supporter of the President's, but he'd be in your minority. Does Kerr count? He's also in your minority. So you've got at least three independent legal analysts who've come forward with conclusions. And yet I doubt even that!

Toadlady: I'm against all of the leaks. I don't say Plame should have been outed. I'm just responding to people who challenged me about my estimation of the relative damage to national security by the two leaks.

Mark said...

Ann,
Here's the link:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/
ap/20060107/ap_on_go_pr_wh/
eavesdropping_ap_poll;
_ylt=At3UrhWBKSnSw
VffNewBcsys0NUE;
_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkx
BHNlYwN0bQ--

It's also linked at many sites: huffingtonpost.com for example.
As a substantive response, the leak and the search are very interrelated. The propriety of the leak (surely moral, maybe legal, too, but I am not sure) is directly dependent on whether the searches were legal. As I mentioned, my opinion is that if these searches were illegal, what the leaker did is completely justified.

Mark said...

Ann,
Professors Kerr, Balkin, Lederman, Turley (George Washington Univ), Congressional Research Service come to mind as in my majority (i.e., those who believe that the program is most likely illegal).
In the minority, among more or less independent analysts are only Sunstein and you (but you didn't really analyze the program's legality).

Mark said...

Apf,
I am cautious about analysis of the legality of the leak because I know that we don't know a lot.
I am less cautious about analysis of the legality of the program because we have enough to judge about the substance of the arguments put forward by the Administration without knowing a lot about the program itself (i.e., whether the AUMF covered intercepts and whether Article II of the Constitution gives the President inherent power to do what he did).

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: "The propriety of the leak (surely moral, maybe legal, too, but I am not sure) is directly dependent on whether the searches were legal."

No, it isn't! Ridiculous! It's not for the leaker to decide it's illegal and undermine security. There are mechanisms for dealing with illegalities that don't require leaking. If it's illegal, it should be fixed, but screwing up national security in the process is not justified.

Mark said...

"Do you find any irony in suggesting breaking the law is acceptable so long as it serves some sort of greater public good?"

Precisely. I find irony in many of the President's supporters justifying his violation of the FISA on the grounds that the FISA is somehow outdated and not adapted to the war on terror. The implicit suggestion is that it's OK to violate this law (and many other laws: recall torture memos?) in the name of the victory in the war on terror.
CRS has it right: taken to its logical conclusion, this position leads to no limit on the Executive power as long as it asserts that its actions are in the national security interests.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: I don't know if I'm the only one who doesn't know what CRS is. But I don't.

Chum said...

' I think we've revealed to the enemy that we were monitoring them in a way that wasn't publicly known before. '

Are you seriously suggesting the enemy wouldn't have considered this possibilty? If you think this, you certainly don't give them much credit for being able to think defensively...considering the plotting and carry through of hijacking US planes and turning them into weapons of destruction all within US borders.

Of course you don't believe this. What really is the basis for your outrage? It's your right to feel this way, your stated reasoning for it just doesn't wash.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Mark: I thought Kerr said he leaned toward saying it was illegal. Lederman and Balkin are strong opponents of the President's, I believe. I can't do a deep check of independence, so why don't you do the work of proving it? As I've said, I think anyone with a quick answer should be suspected of not being independent.

APF said...

"Are you seriously suggesting the enemy wouldn't have considered this possibilty?"

Explain then how usable/actionable intelligence was gathered from this program.

Mark: explain again the proper procedures for a potential whistleblower initiating an investigation into possible violations of classified intelligence-gathering operations?

Ann Althouse said...

Chum: It is simply outrageous to leak on the assumption that the enemy has already figured everything out. You do not seem to be serious about national security.

Mark said...

Ann, I am sorry. It's Congressional Research Center, the independent legal analyst part of Congress.

Mark said...

Service, not Center, sorry again.

Mark said...

Ann, I don't have neither time nor resources to demonstrate the objectivity of Lederman and Balkin. I thought they are both respected professors who may be opponents of the President but are nevertheless more or less objective. Same as you, a supporter of this President, but more or less objective.
Still, I don't know of any objective analysts who are not supporters of the President besides Sunstein who consider this program legal.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: About law professors... I know a lot of them. I don't accept them as independent on that fact alone. Believe me, I really know what I'm talking about. The average lawprof is VERY political, especially if he's writing about political subjects, especially if he's managed to make himself prominent.

As to the link to the poll, thanks, but the article doesn't even give the question verbatim or any other details that help me judge the poll. It's quite opaque.

Mark said...

Ann,
You may be right about law profs; but from my past experience as a law student, I rarely found any political professors. They may have been liberal (most of them), but they at least seemed objective.
Anyway, here's the link to the actual poll:

http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/client/
act_dsp_pdf.cfm?
name=mr060106-3charts.pdf&id=2928

Mark said...

Oops, sorry, the link is only to part of the poll. Let me find the actual link.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: "Still, I don't know of any objective analysts who are not supporters of the President besides Sunstein who consider this program legal."

Those of us who are independent are not waving opinions about on this one. That's why. You are reading material from opponents of the President, I presume. You don't want to "bother" rebutting my presumption, so I will stick with my presumption. Again, I've seen a LOT of lawprofs in my day.

Mark said...

Here's the link to the poll's question:
http://www.nola.com/newsflash/
topstories/index.ssf?/
base/politics-6/
1136650446325790.
xml&storylist=topstories

reader_iam said...

In my estimation, commenters questioning Ann's position keep ducking a point about leakers--or whistleblowers--that I think she's tried to make a whole number of times, in this comments section and in actual blog posts at one time or another.

(If I get this wrong, Ann, or simplify overmuch, I'm sure you'll let me know ... )

The leak issue comes down to these questions, I think:

Who should decide what information relative to national security, in particular, should be made public? Elected officials and their delegates, or someone "underground," so to speak, without designated accountability to us all?

It appears that a number of commenters are perfectly comfortable with some random person--whose motivations we do not know, whose qualifications we are not privy to, and whose big-picture grasp of the whole situation we cannot judge--making that call.

In essence, some unknown person made that call on behalf of us all. Maybe the damage is a little, maybe it's a lot. But if it's a lot, to what person can I point to complain? Whom can I vow not to vote for the next time? Who can I at least excoriate publicly for taking this judgment call upon himself or herself on my behalf?

That's the problem with whistleblowers and leakers: they're a law unto themselves and the nature of what they have to do in order to whistle and leak makes them at least somewhat suspect as sources, until it can be verified otherwise.

And yes, OF COURSE, I know that there have been hero whistleblowers/leakers in the past. There are always exceptions. But in any case touching upon national security, the automatic benefit of the doubt should not accrue to anonymous, unaccountable individuals.

(By the way, I don't like the actions of the leakers in either case being discussed here. And I've written a sharp word or two about the mindset I fear has begun manifesting itself in various parts of our government behemoth, and how my skepticism has deepened as a result. That's quite apart from the issues of legality or illegality, which I will leave to the lawyers.)

Mark said...

Ann,
The Congressional Research Service is not composed of partisan law professors. Nevertheless, it came to the conclusion that Bush's justifications are legally weak. Same with Kerr, hardly a partisan law professor. If anything, he's Republican and is a supporter of Bush, the Patriot Act, Roberts and Alito, etc. Nevertheless, his tentative conclusion (cautioned but conclusion nevertheless) is that the program is illegal (since it violates the FISA).
And by the way, I get my news from all kinds of places, from liberal to Malkin and National Review and the mainstream media.

Chum said...

Ann said...

' Chum: It is simply outrageous to leak on the assumption that the enemy has already figured everything out. You do not seem to be serious about national security.'

That's ludicrous. The leak isn't that phones are tapped. Besides it's hardly a leak when stating the obvious. i.e. Suspected bank robbers will be subjected to survelliance. (Oh, bugger, the cat's out the bag)

Nor does stating the obvious about something imply disregard.

Meanwhile focusing on this aspect of the issue is picking nits out of the red herring.

APF said...

? Some of my posts are only showing up on the "leave your comment" page and not the main post + comments page...?

reader_iam said...

Apf: I have that happen, too, depending on which browser I'm using. Hit refresh or reload and it solves the problem, in my experience.

APF said...

(and now everything's fine... serves me right)

ToadLady said...

reader, on that topic, then, of accountibility - when Plame's identity was reported, we didn't know the identities of the leakers. Supposedly, the President did not either. He said he would "take care of" whoever it was. This was interpreted (I guess, erroneously?) to mean that he would fire the leaker(s).

OK, so now we know one of the leakers was Rove. We can point to him. Does it irk you that he's not been fired? That he's still privvy to classified information?

Robin said...

I have only recently started reading and posting in the comments sections of the blogs I read. Frankly, I'm not sure I'll keep doing it. I'm often amazed by the discourse. I don't understand the mentality of those who insult the blog host. I read Ann because I enjoy her posts. I love her intellectual curiosity and the fact that everytime I open her blog I can't predict what the topics will be. It's the variety I enjoy, as well as, her particular expertise in some areas related to law. I particularly have enjoyed her insights into Roberts and Alito. What I'm wondering is what are some of these hostile commenters reading her blog for? Just to play gotcha?

No one should expect to agree with another person 100% of the time, it would be a little creepy if they did. But everyone can be civil. Some of the commenters with a clearly liberal bias are providing commenters on the right with support for the belief that liberals are incapable of intellectual and reasoned discourse about anything to do with the current government because they can't seem to stop themselves from decending in to personal attacks on Ann as they argue their belief that Bush has committed an inllegal act.

These uncivil people should be honest and admit that what they want is for Ann to support their position. They're angered that she hasn't chosen to come out with a definitive statement that agrees with them, with all the weight of her fame and law degree behind it. I ponder that they are jealous of her blog traffic.

Just because this particular issue floats your boat and has you in a frenzy of excitement because you think it's the thin edge of the wedge against Bush, doesn't mean Ann should choose to spend all her free time becoming a super-expert in the relevant laws and statutes. If she's not comfortable doing an in-depth analysis with her current level of knowledge she doesn't have to do one. I would think people would appreciate that she's not a know-it-all. Given that her blog persona and real-life are well-known and connected it would be stupid of her to come out with opinions that she hasn't fully studied or researched in an area related to law. So instead--she offers a few observations carefully noting that she hasn't studied the issue deeply and isn't an super-expert. That's intelligent of her, imho. It's also her right to do so on her blog.

I'll just add that Ann doesn't need to use her law degree, just her common sense, to offer an opinion that possibly these two leaks don't have the same adverse impact on national security. Without re-reading everything Ann has written, that's my take on what she has suggested as a topic for discussion.

Brendan said...

I'd hardly characterize CRS as a bastion of neutrality. In reality, it's heavy on the Birkenstock/Morning Edition crowd and is as institutionally liberal as the State Department. That doesn't make their wiretap conclusions "unworthy" or automatically biased, but I would like to know the names and party affiliations of those who authored the report.

ToadLady said...

Related, for anyone interested in responding - was the leaking of classified information on the secret CIA prisons wrong?

APF said...

"What I'm wondering is what are some of these hostile commenters reading her blog for? Just to play gotcha?"

Of course! The blogosphere is like a globally-distributed game of tag.

Eli Blake said...

The concern here is this, and the focus of the concern is civil liberties:

If the question at the forefront were in fact, only a question of monitoring terrorists, getting a court order would be simple enough to do. Further, Reagan exectutive order 12333 (which allows warrantless surveillance of foreign agents) could easily enough be cited as adequate justification for not getting one. So the fact that they have not done this leads me to believe that the ability of the government to spy on individuals, including those who have no connection or reason to suspect a connection to terrorists, is being abused, just as it was during the worst days of the J. Edgar Hoover era. It just isn't logical that the White House would go through all of this if they were intent on staying within the already existing parameters of the law.

Now I will say that the biggest hypocrisy I see is this: conservatives, who a few weeks ago were citing the Curt Weldon assertion that the Clinton administration was too focused on protecting civil rights to allow effective monitoring of terrorists (not that I agree with them, BTW-- the Clinton administration did not value civil liberties as much as they should have-- see the 1995 'domestic terrorism' bill), but yet last week were claiming that there was nothing that George W. Bush is doing that Clinton hadn't done already. Now, THAT is a contradiction.

I blogged at some length on this a couple of days ago: White House legal foundation washed out.

AJD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reader_iam said...

Toadlady: If you're still here, sorry for the delay in replying. I'm having browser issue--I can post etc. on my own blog in Foxfire, but can't reach Ann's blog through it. So I have to open another browser and then also log myself into blogger. A pain for a Saturday night.

ANYWAY, just didn't want you to think I was ducking your question ... at least by not replying.

I find part of your question easy to answer. I think, for various reasons, that this president and our country would be best served by Rove's departure, and I have felt that for some extended period of time.

I find the whole Plame story one of the more confused in our recent times (unlike the NSA and related stories, by the way, despite the fact that there's so much we don't know). I think there are very legitimate arguments on both sides as to whether she was truly undercover in the legal sense or even as the CIA uses it, as opposed to our more general sense of that. That directly bears on the "leak" issue as such (that there was some sort of underhanded attempt to get at Joe Wilson--whom I do not respect and have every reason to think is at least a spinner, if not a liar--through his wife, I have no doubt).

I think almost every character involved in this sorry tale is unsavory in one way or another, to one degree or another--including Plame herself and certainly her husband. I think that many of the charges and counter-charges are not substantiated in ways that point incontrovertibly to a clear conclusion.

I think it's very hard to come to the conclusion, in a reasoned fashion, that those in the administration involved in the Plame situation--regardless of the legalities, etc.--comported themselves either well or wisely. They certainly did not serve the public interest well, if only (and I'm not saying it IS only) because this bloody mess has been a major distraction when we have far issues facing us--and even axes to grind.

But all this does not mean that the Plame affair equates to individual people at the NSA--again, unelected and unaccountable--choosing to leak publicly whatever information about national security decisions with which they do not agree.

I think we deserve better than BOTH Rove and, potentially, that leaker.

Aren't you sorry you asked?

reader_iam said...

In thinking it over quickly, "potentially" more likely should be "probably".

Balfegor said...

Anti-Scheck, re:

You teach Constitutional Law and you don't know about the Congressional Research Sevice?!

a serious question:

Is this the site?
http://www.cnie.org/NLE/CRS/

And if so, can you point me to the Constitutional analysis? This seems to be a production of the LOC, actually, and most of the reports I see here are in fact just reports, with some statutory explanations, not legal analyses. For Constitutional law in general, I don't see how these would carry any weight at all, and even for statutory law, I don't think they would carry much weight in court(though the next time I am confronted with an unfamiliar law, I do think I'll take a peek here). Am I missing something? How is this a significant resource in Constitutional law?

Palladian said...

balfegor- It probably isn't significant, except as another facet of Anti-Shek's weird psycho-sexual rejection drama about Ann. She's not interested in you, dude. Get over it!

Thersites said...

I do stand by the "actual damage" position. I think we've revealed to the enemy that we were monitoring them in a way that wasn't publicly known before. That's a shocking thing, tipping off the enemy.

Yeah, now they know we're not using warrants. Pretty freaky.

"Partisan" isn't a dirty word, you know.

reader_iam said...

Thersites, are you so very sure we know the whole story? Seems to me that there have been a lot of hints about a method that may be technologically new, and not something about which most people, including terrorists, would have known. I'm inclined, for various reasons, to think there's something more to the picture that is being assumed in the discussions here, and elsewhere.

I think saying the only thing they've learned has to do with the warrants may be touching only one part of the elephant, so to speak. Worth considering, anyway, surely?

Balfegor said...

Yeah, now they know we're not using warrants. Pretty freaky.

People who have been looking into this in somewhat more detail than I have (and with somewhat more technical knowledge than I have) seem to have come to the conclusion that there was a reason they weren't looking for warrants -- they were performing some kind of pattern analysis over our communications networks, and that the structure of this system was such that they couldn't practically obtain warrants for each and every individual touched on in the analysis. It still isn't clear to me what we were doing -- only that it was too complicated for Senator Rockefeller to understand (though given his age and his Senator-hood, that probably isn't a very high threshold). But people with more knowledge, and a vested interest in figuring it out (e.g. Al Qaeda) may have been given notice by the leak that communications they thought were not monitorable are monitorable, and may well be monitored at the moment.

I think the fact that no one has yet come out and given a clear explanation of what was the program did and how it worked, though, is a pretty good indication that there is nontrivial concern on all sides about the effects a complete revelation would have on our intelligence gathering.

On the flip side, the obscurity of the public explanations of what was going on are such that I think they do preserve our security interest in some degree.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....So, if whoever leaked this information assumed that the program was illegal, he MUST have leaked it. That's a classic whistleblower scenario, in my mind...."

This is classic relativism. Its what we should expect from the left. "As long as the leaker decides it is illegal, then its okay to leak it...." How absurd.

astrolabe said...

This links to the AP-IPSOS poll

http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/client/act_dsp_pdf.cfm?name=mr060107-2topline.pdf&id=2929

Sloanasaurus said...

The whole argument from the left is rooted in Bush hatred. What else would explain the suicidal arguments.

My favorite is the new argument that leaking the program certainly doesn't matter because the terrorists already knew we were spying on them....so what harm did it do.... just like Osama knew we were listening to his satellite phone....until it was published in the paper. and then he stopped using it. Hmmm... even terrorists make mistakes; no doubt some of them had no idea the governemnt was listening to their phones.... no doubt the government is no longer listening. Too bad for us. Too bad for the next victims.

Sloanasaurus said...

It is completely true that leaking facts about the secret prisons in E. Europe and the NSA listening program seriously compromise natl security, while it is totally clear that leaking the name of Vallarie Plame does not. It's outrageous that the left tries to claim that the Plame affair is somehow a worse offense, when the NSA and secret prisons were directly related to spying on Al Qaeda and stopping terrorist attacks.

The left is so blinded by their hatred for Bush that they would rather go down with the ship. It's juvenile.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Mark: Moreover, the analysis by independent Congressional research service concluded that Bush's legal justifications for the program are very weak.

Mark, you're restating that the Congressional research service found that the Exective's position about Congressional power was wrong.

There are more kind of self-interest than Republican and Democrat.

reader_iam said...

Technology absolutely exists, specifically a find function, and has existed for some time, to search for key words in audio or video streams in connection with corporate uses.

Is it such a stretch to think that this might have been refined and then applied in NSA contexts?

From what is generally known in geekdom, one could extrapolate the following (extrapolate, I emphasize; I don't know):

Basically, there's a big pool of bits that no individual listens to, and instead software looks for key words, like "Al-Zarqawi", and then returns selection results containing that key word. It's not source-based; it's results-based, which is why the warrant issue is problematic. There's likely not a team of X-large number of people listening to X-large number of individual streams, or at least there shouldn't be, under this scenario.

To put it more colorfully, if there are a thousand people talking and it all sounds like "rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb .... " then any competent software would ferret through to find the pertinent keywords and isolate that selection. Again, at this point in the process, no human ears would be needed and the source is irrelevant--you're still at the result level.

This is not bleeding-edge technology, anymore.

In the "old" world, source drove results. Now, results may be driving source.

What implications does that have for our laws? Another example of technology outstripping our legal, philosphical, and ethical constructs?

Jacques Cuze said...

Jebus Ann, I step away from the computer for a few hours right after to proclaim your resolution to stay in the real world, and we get this post from you. Oh, well, check the meds, and remember there is always tomorrow.

By contrast, Plame seems to have had a desk job where nothing about her identity mattered, and her identity seems to have been generally known anyway. From the little I've seen, the difference seems plain. I absolutely stand by what I wrote in that earlier statement.

I would like to see you prove that statement that her identity seems to have been generally known. You can't. The CIA in filing the charges, and Fitzgerald and Tatel and everyone else have said her identity was not known.

Transcript of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's Press Conference Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

FITZGERALD: The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.


And it was not only her identity that was blown, so was the CIA front organization, Brewster Jennings. While she may have come in from the cold, there was all of Brewster Jenning's other employees, and their networks. Some out of the cold. Some in the cold. All compromised. All compromised, their current work, as well as their historical work. Gone.

Was there any real damage? It's not clear anyone knows. Woodward says the CIA's damage report says there was no damage. The CIA responded saying they haven't done a damage assessment yet. I do not know. You do not know.

Without knowing the details, and admitting that you do not know the details, you use your title of Professor of Constitutional Law to say that Plame's outing was harmless. And without knowing the details and admitting that you do not know the details, you use your title of Professor of Constitutional Law to say that the NSA leak was harmful. And in both cases, while leveraging your position as a Professor of Constitutional Law in order to get interviews on NPR and articles written about you in the local paper, you state to the blogosphere that you cannot be bothered to read the newspapers, read the laws themselves, or read the analyses by other lawyer bloggers. But you will stand by your comments. Shameful Ann, just shameful.

There is much that could be added here. You have railed against Atrios and against Kos and against Barlow. And others. But when they ask you questions you say, "they are big old meanies, I am not going to reply."

The other day, you stated (and I disagreed) that without the domain knowledge and expertise, the average person could not have an intelligent conversation with joe random expert. Please state then your expertise on signal intelligence, on cryptography, on computer science, on espionage and espionage tradecraft, and a myriad of other topics that well known experts in the blogosphere do have, have demonstrated their bonafides, and have said that your conclusions are rank.

"Partisan", You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Best wishes Ann for a more reality based 2006. (Do check your meds.)

Stiles said...

It's quite possible the NSA leak was illegal, so I'd expect the investigation to yield a result.

As before, I am skeptical that the published information compromises national security Although the New York Times may have been given information, that went unpublished, with the potential to compromise national security.

I would like to pose a question that perhaps Ann or other knowledgeable persons could address. In times of major war, such as both World Wars, the government actively censored the news for national security purposes. How serious must a conflict be before the President has the prerogative to censor pre-publication for national security reasons?

I'm trying to determine whether the fact that the Administation allowed the Times to publish (with omissions) indicates tht the story did not harm national security or the current conflict is not considered a sufficient threat to national survival to allow pre-publication censorship.

This is a genuine question and not a fishing expedition. I know that censorship during WWII was accepted and, to my knowledge, not challenged legally. Is it reserved for state-state conflict only?

reader_iam said...

May I point out that it would be possible to come to the conclusion that the "leak" turns out not to be all that "harmful" AND at the very same time conclude that the leaker was dead wrong, for reasons that I, and others, have alluded to?

fateddie said...

The observation about whistleblowers: "In essence, some unknown person made that call on behalf of us all. Maybe the damage is a little, maybe it's a lot. But if it's a lot, to what person can I point to complain? Whom can I vow not to vote for the next time? Who can I at least excoriate publicly for taking this judgment call upon himself or herself on my behalf?" also applies to FISA judges denying warrants. It is for that reason that the founders recognized that an accountable, elected representative under Article I should have the power to take certain actions that the executive believes are needed to protect national security, rather than deferring that decision to an Article III unelected, anonymous lawyer in a robe with a lifetime job. The only legitimate question is whether the wiretap decision was made to protect national security or for some improper purpose. Note also that these intercepts were apparently designed to identify potential domestic terrorist threats based upon communications with known terrorists rather than to advance the criminal prosecution of a US citizen [i.e., no particular US citizen was the "target"].

Thersites said...

I think saying the only thing they've learned has to do with the warrants may be touching only one part of the elephant, so to speak. Worth considering, anyway, surely?

Then Bush should have gone to Congress in 2001 and gotten a goddamn reasonable bill passed to have obviated all this shit. If the program was so self-evidentially necessary, he could have gotten that, especially then.

Congress can do closed deliberations on this stuff. If there is some fun new technological wrinkle, it should have been explained and a procedure allowinhg for proper oversight determined.

None of the apologists for the administration have advanced any remotely plausible explanation for why Bush didn't use the obviously Constitutional path clearly open to him.

reader_iam said...

Thersistes:

I think I pretty clearly suggested that we need to take a look at our laws in light of technology.

But if you want to throw around terms like apologist (yeah, right) instead of figuring out what to do going forward, more power to you.

Thersites said...

reader iam, you miss the point. Bush could have taken such a look as you propose in 2001 and done the right thing and gone to Congress. He did not.

His troubles are his own damn fault.

Sloanasaurus said...

FITZGERALD: The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known..."

Oh yeah, thats why Fitzgerald charged Scooter Libby with making false statements...

What is clear from people like Quxxo, Mark and others is that the Democratic party is not serious about National defense. They treat our defense like its a joke or a partisan game.

What happens when the Bush hatred runs out, where will the middle go... will they vote for crazy suicidal democrats.

A lesson from history: The Federalist party opposed the War of 1812 and President Madison with the same ferocity (and idiocy) that Democrats oppose Iraq and President Bush today. The opposition reached its height with the "Hartford Convention" where Federalists laid it all out by proposing several Constitutional Amendents, all designed to undermine the war and the Presidency.... sound familiar?

Within 5 years after Madison retired, the public turned on the Federalists for being "unpatriotic" and not being a serious party. The Federalists ceased to exist as a party!

Much of this occurred because the War of 1812 turned out much better than it seemed to be going while the war was being waged... sound familiar?

These lessons from history are very prevelant. Democrats better hope Iraq does not evolve as a free and democratic state.

What a shame to hope against freedom.

Sloanasaurus said...

:"...Bush could have taken such a look as you propose in 2001 and done the right thing and gone to Congress. He did not...."

I don't get it. How would this have helped?

Bush does not need authorization from Congress to spy on Al Qaeda making phone calls to the United States.

reader_iam said...

Ah.

You're concerned about Bush's "troubles." I'm concerned about our challenges.

And I'm trying to in particular focus on the technology and issues of law, and how tough it is to get those two in line: how tough it has been, how tough it is, and how tough it will be, as we move forward, in the world that exists--and would exist even if Bush and his entire administration dropped dead tomorrow and the president of your, or my, or anyone else's, dreams suddenly took office.

Any president's troubles are our troubles, by definition. How weird to think otherwise.

Pooh said...

Sloann, since you keep making the same argument, I though this might explain what you are doing wrong.

reader_iam said...

So, Pooh--do you just happen to come across that kind of thing coincidentally, as you need them? Or do you have a reference library of some sort?

And where's the 'raptor, to capture my mood about now?

; )

Balfegor said...

Bush does not need authorization from Congress to spy on Al Qaeda making phone calls to the United States.

The AUMF gives the President some rather wide-ranging and unfettered power to determine (with no reference to a court) who the appropriate targets should be, but the language of the statute actually says "the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force" -- and it is perhaps not clear that what is at work here is "force."

If the President, under Article II, has such wide-ranging powers that he can order these searches without any statutory authorisation whatsoever, on the other hand . . . well, I think something is not quite right. The argument that if that's the case, FISA is superfluous is not, I think, entirely persuasive, because there are benefits to a systematic procedure even if we occasionally bypass that procedure because we perceive a great need. But I do think that endowing the President with such powers, especially to cover those ~500 intercepts which were evidently domestic is moderately troubling.

----

On the other side, with regard to Thersites' argument, I think that the Congressional consultation issue is perhaps beside the point as far as the warrants issue is concerned -- isn't that mostly a Fourth Amendment search concern? I don't think Congress can strip people of their fourth amendment rights no matter how much consultation they do.

To the extent that the argument that warrants were necessary is instead grounded in the FISA law, the question whether the AUMF overrides FISA for its limited purpose (i.e. that the "he determines" language in the AUMF obviates the need for a court to make the determination) is similarly an issue that does not really require Congressional consultation. It requires legal analysis.

That said, the President did consult with top leaders of Congress -- hence the Rockefeller letter, and (I think) Pelosi's airing some concerns back when the program began. In their turn, those Congressional leaders were not so exercised over the program that they, e.g. called for a closed-door session to discuss the intelligence gathering issue. Events in the past few months have made quite plain that they know how to do that if the mood strikes them, but they didn't. The conclusion I draw is that they weren't all that concerned. Or (more likely) that they couldn't figure out what was going on, and didn't care to find out.

Jacques Cuze said...

Audio of Bob Barr on the Charles Goyette Show, ffwd to 21:00 into the show about when Barr comes in. This is a far more interesting podcast than the next Audible Althouse.

Congressman Bob Barr, current chairman of Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances was of course one of the key leaders of the effort to impeach President Clinton discusses how and why what George W. Bush did was illegal, and what Bush could have, and should have done instead.

Ann, visit checksbalances.org and see what Bob has to write about the greatest innovation of American democracy. It was a system in which monarchs could be neither born nor chosen, and where the inherent and natural rights of the individual would be preserved; not through mere words, but through the everyday give and take of a deliberately fractured political process.

Although this arrangement has proved more resilient than any other political system in world history, it remains highly vulnerable. It is especially susceptible to the exceptional stress that any country faces when its national security is at stake. We are in such a time today.

The continuing trauma repercussions caused by of the deplorable terrorist attacks of 9/11 has knocked our system of checks and balances askew. The words "national security" are being used, unwisely, as a catch-all to justify the ever greater accumulation of power in the executive branch.

We face grave threats, yes. This new organization, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, stands foursquare with the American people and the administration against our enemies. We believe, however, that our political system is more than able to secure our safety and our liberties. We need not abandon the separation of powers, or the checks and balances that maintain that separation, to defeat the terrorists. Indeed, if we do abandon them, we will have handed them a victory of tragic and historic proportions.


(Sloany, a tip of my hat to your bot masters, there are times I would swear that you weren't a SIM. You in fact are proof that the Turing test will be passed within a few short years.)

Bob Barr, Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, John McCain, Barrons, the WSJ, any claim that this is a partisan attack is completely unfounded and intellectually dishonest.

Thersites said...


I don't get it. How would this have helped?

Bush does not need authorization from Congress to spy on Al Qaeda making phone calls to the United States.


I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were mentally ill.

Would you like a carrot?

Sloanasaurus said...

I feel so hurt.

Pooh said...

RIA, surprisingly, I spend way too much time on these here intrawebs, so I see little things like that all the time. Occasionally, serendipity smiles upon me and I can make near instant use of one.

Just good clean livin.

Chum said...

Reader,

'But if you want to throw around terms like apologist (yeah, right) instead of figuring out what to do going forward, more power to you.'

Begs the question though. Why not use the process when they knew the warrants would be approved.

Chum said...

'Bob Barr, Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, John McCain, Barrons, the WSJ, any claim that this is a partisan attack is completely unfounded and intellectually dishonest.'

Apparently they don't they don't take national security seriously.

The new 'unpatriotic'.

Aspasia M. said...

Um, there are two main topics on this thread that do not necessarily overlap:

1) Somebody told NYT reporters about a domestic surveillance program at the NSA.

People have varying responses to this that range from heartfelt approval to condemnation.

2) The president approved warantless surveillance of domestic communications.

This information has been released to the public sphere. As Americans, what do we think about this?

Speaking only for myself, I am appalled at the lack of warrants. I am not ok with trashing the great American tradition of court oversight. If it was data-mining, then this program still must have court oversight.

Some commenters do not seem to grasp that this is a principled position. I do not say that I support warrants (along with Habeus Corpus, and the rejection of torture) for political gain.

I hold this position from a belief that they are fundamental liberties that have defined our citizenship rights. I'm not ok with flushing that liberty (i.e.: probable cause) down the toilet.

If these are politically unpopular positions, I don't care. I did not arrive at this position for the purpose of political gain. For me, it is a moral stance.

But if you don't highly value things like warrants (probable cause) and Habeus Corpus, then that's your position.

What you don't seem to understand is that there are Americans (usually on this blog labeled as "partisan") that are not comfortable with losing those liberties.

FYI: (definition of partisan from the American College Dictionary: "n. 1. an adherent or supporter of a person, party, or cause; 2. Mil. a member of a party of light or irregular troops engaged in harassing the enemy..."

Thersites said...

I would like to say, however, that I am impressed with the number of Ann's defenders who come from a Small Midwestern Internet and are shocked at just how partisan things can be in the Big Bloggy City. It's true. Maybe John Lott can come and help them out in their sore distress.

Sushizuki said...

While I do have concerns about what the president is doing (though I don't know enough to have an informed opinion about its legality), the leak of this sort of information is deeply troubling. Calling it "whisteblowing" is disingenuous. People don't have the right to release classified (probably top secret level) information. It's a crime, and it should be investigated.

pb said...

Ricardo: [O]ne of the major lessons we should be learning from the current messes, is how wise our Founding Fathers were when they devised a system which encourages adequate checks and balances among the three branches of government.

One of the things we should be learning from the old messes is how wise our Founding Fathers were when they created a strong executive with broad, nearly unchecked powers over foreign affairs.

Also, in these days when the President is apparently not allowed to control and direct the FBI and the CIA, we see the Founders' wisdom when they noted that needlessly multiplying representatives and powers dilutes public attention to them, nor does it increase public accountability.

Clinton, Bush (I or II), Reagan, Carter, Nixon... the Executive branch should only respond to the people's elected representative: the President of the United States.

At times when one party (of whatever color) exerts an inordinate control over those branches, we seem to end up with a system in which "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

So the Democrats, who from 1930 to 2002 dominated the House and/or Senate, were all unspeakably corrupt? Jack Kennedy? George McGovern? Hubert Humphrey. All criminals? Wow. I'll have to think about that.

It's not unlike a roulette player, spreading his/her chips around on the board to give him/her a better chance at winning.

You never took math, obviously. You win at roulette by not playing.

Remind me to never turn down a chance to play cards and other games of chance with you. My daughter will someday require college money, and as a great man once said, it is immoral to give a sucker an even break.

Aspasia M. said...

pb:

Perhaps Ricardo was referring to the K-street project? There is a bit of a scandal in the news concerning money, lobbyists and abuse of power.

As for myself, I'm a supporter of government checks and balances.
I'm not big on trusting government politicians to "do the right thing" without oversight and significant checks on the power of the three branches of government.

Julian Morrison said...

There is a reason why someone can consider revealing of national security secrets as whistleblowing. That is: if they are specifically more worried about the increase in government power that the secret hides, than about the effect of revealing it. That doesn't mean "they think the NSA is worse than the terrorists", it means "they think the NSA plus the power to tap phones without any sort of warrant is worse than the terrorists finding out that they have this power." Noting that all that's specifically revealed is the absence of a warrant. The government also systematically phone-taps bad guys with a warrant - old news.

reader_iam said...

I did not say that I thought there shouldn't be court oversight in some fashion or some way. The only thing I said about that, in one particular comment on data mining, was that the nature of the technology makes warrants problematic. Not unnecessary, not unrequired, not undesirable--but problematic. Thus my suggestion that technology might be running ahead of our current constructs.

Finally, regarding the small Midwestern internet thing: Oh, please. What a cheap shot, and a silly one. What on earth would you know about where people have lived over the course of their lives or what they know about "Big Bloggy City"?

(Psssssst. Some of us have lived elsewhere before, for decades. Been on "different" internets. Even know their way a bit around DC-Balto., NY, Philly etc. and have been in cities across the U.S. )

You can be partisan and discuss things objectively. Or do only us magically-transformed-into-rubes-when-we-moved-off-a-coast think that? Guess so.

OhioAnne said...

I'm a cynic.

In this day and age, I assume virtually anybody may have access to record virtually anything I say or do.

What concerns me is what they do with what they have recorded.

Don't trust the administration? Then tell us how you accomplish the task without the same methods.

Cut out the partisian wrangling - it's tiresome and accomplishes nothing.

Sushizuki said...

Julian,

There are procedures for government whistleblowing. Going to the New York Times is not on the list.

ToadLady said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2005/12/21/AR2005122101994
_pf.html

Sloan, some other perspective on the satellite phone story...

reader, thanks for the reply.

Julian Morrison said...

Sushizuki: depends whether you have trust in the "procedures" - or if you think they'll be complicit and that voter attention is needed to force them into using law, rather than realpolitik, as an evaluation standard.

Ann Althouse said...

Is "CRS" supposed to be a recognizable reference? In Supreme Court cases, "CRS" hasn't been used since 2003, and in the whole history of the Court, there are only 12 references. (And there are only 26 references to the Congressional Research Service, to give you an idea of how important it's been in constitutional law.)

Is CRS in regular usage in news stories? The NYT wrote "CRS" 3 times over the past year, and each time it referred to the Center for Remembering and Sharing!

And I deleted the anti-Sheck comment that a few people responded to, because it was written in abusive language.

knoxgirl said...

Does quxxo = anti-shek? I've been wondering this for a while.

Both go to ridiculous lengths to get Ann's attention, insulting her and her blog by turns. And they both, are I think, inappropriately personal with her, and they have a stalker-like quality in their stubborn refusal to GO AWAY even though they both supposedly hate Ann, the topics she chooses, the topics she doesn't choose, the regular commenters here, etc...

Anyway, if you guys aren't the same person, why don't you become friends and take up tennis or something.

Ann Althouse said...

Knoxgirl: "Does quxxo = anti-shek?"

That's not fair to quxxo, who may be overbearing and overlong at times, but does seem to be about trying to understand things and advocate his positions. Anti-sheck is just a hater. But I wouldn't be surprised if he was the reincarnation of one of the other nasty commenters we've seen around here in the past.

Cecil Turner said...

If terrorists knew they were being monitored, how is it possible for this monitoring to have gathered useful information? Your initial point is invalidated by this fact.

Dude, that is simply hilarious. Tell it to the Germans in the Battle for the Atlantic, or the Japanese at Midway (who all knew they were being monitored, but thought their countermeasures were sufficient). The enemy must communicate, and designs its procedures to minimize chances of being intercepted . . . any information we give them on that score is extremely useful, and this leak was wayyyy irresponsible.

If I were an Al Qaeda comm guy reading FISA, I'd quickly note a couple things:

1)[1802.a.(1)]The government can monitor communications without a warrant if: (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party"; and,

2)[1805.a.(3)]FISA allows monitoring (with a warrant) on probable cause "(A) the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power"

The way I read it, as long as the government doesn't know who's on the domestic end, it can't monitor. Easy exploitation: disposable cell phones for all my Jihadist friends!

The IPSOS poll is seriously flawed. In the first place, its demographics are 52% Dem, 40% Rep. In the second, the poll question is misleading, both in presentation (e.g., "Bush Administration" vice "government") and in content (it assumes "US citizens" instead of "US Persons," cites "suspected terrorists," and poses the questions as if getting a warrant is simply a matter of choice). Wouldn't read too much into those results.

The Times covered the CRS report at some length, but perhaps overstated the bottom line (which appears to be: "murky"). Considering the main Constitutional issue here is between the Executive and Legislative branches (the President's authority to wage successful war vs. Congress's authority "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces"), I'd expect the CRS to be a bit skeptical.

APF said...

"any information we give them on that score is extremely useful, and this leak was wayyyy irresponsible."

This is exactly my point.

ToadLady said...

I thought quxxo was a chick!

knoxgirl said...

Toadlady, you could be right, I tend to not read everything s/he writes, so I could have missed that, but it really makes no difference either way.

Ann, I'd give quxxo more cred if he didn't fill up the comments with overlong posts all the time and pepper them with stuff like "take your meds." I don't necessarily believe that he wants his opinions taken seriously as much as attention from you... (or she/her, blah, blah)

Balfegor said...

Re: Chum

Why not use the process when they knew the warrants would be approved.

We don't know enough to say for sure, but the evidence available suggests to many people that what was at work was not the usual sort of surveillance, but some kind of automatic computer-aided sifting, maybe connected with Echelon, such that securing a warrant for each new momentary surveillance target would have rendered the system wholly unworkable. Or at least, too slow to be meaningful. Reader_iam points this up earlier in the thread. If you want a more hysterical (yet compelling!) take on what it may be, look at Amygdalagf. I think Orin Kerr's musings on the topic also turn eventually towards speculation that this kind of technological approach may have been behind the lack of warrants.

RogerA said...

Interesting thread as always--if we strip partisan issues out of the comments, seems to me like many of the commenters are "absolutists" with respect to constitutional rights, while others a "relativists." Can someone explain to me the use of the qualifer "reasonable" in the 4th amendment? I regard myself as a relativist based on the framers use of such qualifiers--

Pogo said...

Democrats are, with each salvo against the war effort, becoming increasingly dangerous to our country's safety.

In World War 2, the government routinely and without warrants collected text from telegrams sent between Europe and the US. The authority to do this was not questioned or undermined in the way we are doing so today.

Isolationists on the left and right operate on the spurious notion that islamofascists will leave us alone if we leave them alone (or worse, suggest, depite 9/11, that they are not a threat after all).

Listen to their own words: Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, said it thus: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

Revealing the US spy operation was dangerous, self-destructive, unpatriotic, and the act of a vile traitor. The democrats are no longer just opposed to the success of the US, they are on the other side.

I see them as traitors all. This is no parlor game; shame on them. Jail time is an insufficient punishment.

Simon Kenton said...

Toadlady -

Yes, it is Mrs. Quxxo.

Pyrthroes said...

Despite pledges to remove him that now date to over a year ago, Norman Minetta is still Bush's Transport Secretary. This is the man who pretends that FDR's internment of Japanese Americans during WWII was a "profiling" measure that the country cannot repeat in dealing with Muslim terrorists. "Politically neutral" is a canard. If anti-terrorism measures are to have any credibility at all, Minetta has to go, and the PCBS that fosters his attitudinizing in face of life-and-death exigencies will have to follow. Until then, everything bruited about in this column and elsewhere is as relevent as introducing your teenage daughter to Hell's Angels on Offissa Krupke's theory that they're "misunderstood."

Ricardo said...

pb: It sounds as if you're more comfortable as a monarchist, than as a constitutionalist. Am I reading that correctly?

geoducks2: Thanks. You're a credit to Olympia. I always knew I liked that place.

Ann: I think that trying to examine the CRS's record as a "source", may undervalue its genuine influence as the research arm of Congress. I don't believe the people who attack it (on this post) as being partisan, really understand how much valuable information the CRS provides to members of both parties. Utilizing the profound research assets of the Library of Congress, the CRS is able to provide members with background papers which often are much less "tainted" than those provided by lobbyists. And in any event, the CRS serves as a "check and balance" on materials provided to members from other sources. The impact of the CRS may be subtle, but you'll find members' offices full of their documents and memoes, which certainly has an impact on legislation.

quxxo: I mean this sincerely. Would you please tell me how to pronounce your name. The best I come up with is some Peruvian thing like Qu-ho. I need a sound to go along with the printed name. And I agree with some of your key points. Thanks.

ethernet21st said...

The problem with FISA is that it has never been amended to reflect the realities of existing communications networks and the likely future developments of those networks. Instead, it differentiates between wire and radio communications. Also, it places importance upon the location of the sender and the recipient. In 1978, before the internet and wireless telephony, perhaps those distinctions made an important difference. Now, however, the same communication can combine wireless and wire. Email and instant messages can originate on a wire and be received as a radio signal. Communications can be switched so as to appear that they originate in one location, but, in reality, originated in a completely different location. Although, IMO, the leak to the NYT was not patriotic because it undermines a legitimate federal interest in locating and destroying wacko terrorists, the leak has actually produced a good result. FISA needs to be re-considered in light of the current and likely future realities in communications.

dave said...

You really nailed it here, Ann:

As far as the Plame situation goes, I have NEVER offered an opinion about it at all. Why? Because it is complicated. It involves legal questions. And I know so very much about the law that I know that I do not understand it in this case. That is why I blog: to not explain issues in my particular professional field, a field in which I am not especially interested. Why is this so surprising?

I do not understand the issues involved in the Plame leak or the domestic surveillance issue, as I have repeatedly stated. All I know is that the Plame case is difficult, but that the leak there is not important. Likewise, the spying revelations are a mystery to me, but it is clear that that the leaker in this case is a traitor who should be shot for compromising national security in a way which is impossible to actually describe intelligibly, but which is nevertheless very real. American jurisprudence is very advanced. That is why it is so hard to explain.


As Alex Trebek would say, "nicely done!"

ToadLady said...

knoxgirl, she should just change her name to quxxochixxo.

I was wildaboutharrie but...damn that harrie!

ethernet21st said...

Police detectives regularly data mine when they request, via subpoena, the business records of a telephone company to learn every telephone number called or that called the telephone number(s) of a murder suspect. When they notice a lot of calls to and from the same number, that is data mining. When they identify the owner of every number called by the murder suspect, that is data mining. So, what is the quantitative or qualitative difference between NSA data mining with a supercomputer and the late, fictional Detective Lenny Briscoe doing the same thing by hand on the fictional Law & Order?

As to acquiring the content of any conversations between an al Qaida suspect and a "US person", as defined in FISA, the law is actually quite clear when it defines "electronic surveillance in 18 USC Sec. 1801(f). Seubsection (1) applies only to intentional targeting of a particular, known US person located in the US. Subsection (2) applies only to wire communications acquired in the US. Subsection (3) applies only to radio communications where both the sender and recipient are located in the US.

Any spying that does not fit any of those definitions does not constitute "electronic surveillance" for purposes of FISA.

Ann Althouse said...

Ricardo: I'm not disparaging the CRS, just responding to some idiot who saw fit to savage me for not knowing what the letters referred to when they were used without explanation in one of the earlier comments.

GWPDA said...

By contrast, Plame seems to have had a desk job where nothing about her identity mattered, and her identity seems to have been generally known anyway. From the little I've seen, the difference seems plain. I absolutely stand by what I wrote in that earlier statement. Sorry I didn't lengthen my post with that material. It irks me to have to respond to Ted at all because he's been so unfair to me. As have you, as you well know. You're a political partisan, constantly hostile to me because you perceive me (incorrectly) as a partisan of the other side. Why should I even talk to people like you and Ted? It's not a real conversation.

This is arguably the silliest bit of shallow 'reasoning' I've read since marking papers determined to explain why Canadians were protected by the First Amendment.

No, kid, it isn't a real conversation. A real conversation requires something more than half-baked talking points.

Ricardo said...

Ann: Actually, I think you're doing an excellent job of navigating your blog through extreme-right and extreme-left shark filled waters. The right thing to do is just ignore the attacks, and stay on message. And your message ... which if I'm interpreting it correctly is actually pretty "centrist" and lauds the value of engaging one's brain before engaging one's mouth ... is something that needs to be heard in this day and age, and will find resonance with a majority of the population. So, hang in there.

Computer Bruce said...

The fact of the program -- given what little I know -- does not disturb me, at all. What disturbs me is the President's repeated assertion of an absolute right to set aside the law, whether that is FISA, or the Geneva Conventions or U.S. prohibitions on torture, or U.S. prohibitions on indefinite detention without trial.

If you are not disturbed, or if your partisan loyalty to Bush does not permit you to be publicly disturbed, you are pretty much worthless as an American or a human being.

Pogo said...

Re: "If you are not disturbed, or if your partisan loyalty to Bush does not permit you to be publicly disturbed, you are pretty much worthless as an American or a human being."

Yeah, like that barbarous Lincoln, suspending habeas corpus, shutting down presses, and removing legislators all in the name of preserving the Union during a war.

At the time, lots of folks thought Lincoln was worthless. Someone killed him for it. Is Bush like Lincoln? Only in that he is President while we are at war. And misguided nihilists like you think we are obliged to play by Queensbury rules, observing every jot and punctuation mark, while our enemy ignores such niceties and means to kill us while we fritter our time trying to avoid any meaningful sacrifice.

That's not just a foolish consistency any more, it's providing aid to the enemy, and therefore treason.

Stiles said...

Just out of curiosity, on a scale of one to ten with one being the anarchists of the late 19th century and ten being an immediate and mortal peril to the Republic like the Confederacy in the Civil War or the Axis in WWII, where would we as commenters place the current terrorist threat? I'm just looking for a number.

As of today, I'll grade it a 4. Worse than the Mexican-American War, but not as bad as the War of 1812.

ethernet21st said...

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution permits the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it. Thus, the Constitution recognizes that the federal government may, in times of emergency, suspend the most fundamental right of due process of law; viz., the right not to be deprived of one's liberty.

FISA addresses merely one aspect of the 4th Amendment. It constitutes Congress' definition of what constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure of information from US persons during an intelligence collecting operation. But where in the Constitution does it provide that Congress is the sole arbiter of this issue?

aimai said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ricardo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Þø said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bruce Hayden said...

Jumping in where I probably shouldn't, I see the major problem with the NSA endeaver being that from a technological point of view, it is now pretty much required that interception be on U.S. soil - which moves it from 1801(f)(1) to (f)(2).

So, if the NSA is doing what the President suggested, essentially recording any conversation made by Al Qaeda, then in the past, this would not have been considered Electronic Surveilance because the target was not a U.S. Person. But now, with the change in technology essentially forcing them to intercept on U.S. soil, it is - because 1801(f)(2) doesn't care about who the target it, while (f)(1) did.

I should add that there is some reason to believe that a lot of purely foreign traffic is now being routed through the U.S. on the behest of the NSA, and that this is the real target of the surveilance program that is at issue here. It is just that the occasional person in the U.S. (presumably a U.S. Person) is being recorded as a byproduct of this program.

I will be one of the first pushing warrants if a U.S. Person (which is defined as a citizen or legal alien) in the U.S. is targetted. But, so far, I have seen nothing credible claiming that. So far, it seems much more likely that the recording of people in the U.S. (whether U.S. Persons or not) is a byproduct of the international surveilance.

Of course, we shall see how this all works out, as more details become know (and can be verified).

Bruce Hayden said...

As to whistleblowing. As I understand it, the established procedure is to go up through the agency's Inspector General, and if that doesn't satisfy the whistleblower, then he can go straight to the Joint Intelligence Committee, or something akin to that. Indeed, the last scene of Clancy's "Clear and Present Danger" had Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) doing exactly that - going to the committee as a whistleblower.

But as I pointed out in a previous thread here, whistleblowing is classic civil disobedience. And the well established cost of that is to pay the known price - in this case, presumably, the prison time.

Let me add that in order to avoid the tag of being a hypcrite, if someone in the Administration broke the law in PlameGate, then they too should pay the price, and do the time, if so warranted.

Because the hyprocricy claim goes both ways. Those who want Libby, et al. to do time because of the alleged disclosure of Plame's covert status are, IMHO, hypocrites if they don't also want the leakers of the NSA stuff to also do time, if convicted, and should be just as supportative of pursuing this later leak as they were the leak of Plame's status.

Kim du Toit said...

Ann,

I'm just curious: why would you give a rat's a** what "Turd" Barlow thinks of you?

(Sorry for posting the comment so late, btw.)

Pooh said...

Oh well played Kim. Turd Barlow, you say. A classic knee-slapper that one. Other than that. Great point.

Ann Althouse said...

Kim: Although I think it's futile to try to have a conversation with him, I realized he had admitted his own hypocrisy and was in the mood to needle him about it. My general approach to people who trade in unfair attacks is to ignore them (and certainly not to link to them), as some people who like to come over here and stamp their feet are well aware.

Kathleen said...

I wasn't saying I didn't care about that leak. Not there or anywhere else!

You are a total liar.

"The Plame Rove Affair is One of the Biggest Wastes of Time of My Lifetime..."
I see Roger L. Simon is saying exactly what I'm thinking.

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2005/07/plame-rove-affair-is-one-of-biggest.html#comments

Coco said...

Silly things about this entire comments section:

(1) people believing Ann must know or even attempt to decipher all finer legal issues of heretofore obscure, at least to her, laws becuase she is a law professor/lawyer.

(2) people expecting Ann to blog as though she must provide equal time to all issues and/or her reasons for being interested in or for/against an issue.

(3) people parsing back though Ann's previous posts as though she were being deposed - its a blog, not a congressional hearing.

(4) the usual suspects condemning in general partisan terms the other side for condemning something in general partisan terms

(5) posters calling each other names or throwing around insults or absolute condemnations on an extremely general issue based on a specific comment on a specific issue (such as "you are not serious about national security.")

None of these contribute to an interesting conversation and none are really concerned with learning something, exchanging ideas or truly intellectual debate - which is what I hope for when I visit this site.

SWBarns said...

Ted of Crooked Timber states "In the case of the NSA leak, I’m afraid that I don’t understand how it compromised our national security."

Time Magazine's Joe Klein has an answer for him. Time is reporting damage to the US: "There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them—but also, on the plus side, hampering their ability to communicate with one another."

http://www.time.com/time/columnist/klein/article/0,9565,1147137,00.html

Very similar to Osama ceasing use of his satelite phone when the fact that his conversations were monitored was published.

If Scooter Libby broke the law by leaking Plame's name he should go to jail. The same for the people who leaked the NSA information to the New York Times.

I hope I am not breaking blog etiquette by referring to the original post.

Ann Althouse said...

Kathleen: Your reading is deficient. What I was objecting to was overheated obsession with who would be indicted with the eagerness to bring down Rove. I care about all national security leaks. To the extent that the Plame affair has a component to that effect, I am concerned and have never said otherwise. Watch how you throw slurs around. It's bad for your credibility.

Kathleen said...

Prof Althouse - If you were really just objecting to "overheated obsession with who would be indicted with the eagerness to bring down Rove" then I find it very surprising you did not say so.

you in fact called the Plame affair a "tiny scandalette" in your comments to that thread. That, plus "the Plame Rove Affair is one of the biggest waste of time of my lifetime" does not come anywhere close to saying that you are "objecting to the Rove obsession (but you really care about national security!!!1)".

It is rather funny that your first response to any demonstration of your inconsistencies or faulty reasoning is met with "you just aren't understanding what I said." Try to write more clearly. Or else bury that tired excuse. It's bad for your credibility.

Justin said...

"Very similar to Osama ceasing use of his satelite phone when the fact that his conversations were monitored was published."

You do know the source of that publication was Osama himself, right?