February 16, 2006

"I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental..."

So the Senate Intelligence Committee is not going to investigate President Bush's (supposedly) controversial surveillance program. There was also a 96 to 3 vote today in the Senate not to hold up the Patriot Act. Quite a fizzle, no?

UPDATE: There's still the question of the extent to which the House Intelligence Committee will investigate the surveillance program, and a federal judge has ordered disclosure of documents about the program, so maybe there is still some fizz left. But the WaPo detected "a dramatic and possibly permanent drop in momentum for a congressional inquiry, which had seemed likely two months ago."

57 comments:

anonlawstudent said...

*sigh*

Semanticleo said...

Breathe a little easier now,
choke on it later.

MadisonMan said...

Quite a fizzle, no?

But apparently some objectionable parts of the "Patriot" Act have been excised. So maybe it's not so fizzly.

Very proud again that Russ Feingold is my senator. I appreciate that he is a watchdog for my rights.

vbspurs said...

Very proud again that Russ Feingold is my senator. I appreciate that he is a watchdog for my rights.

With all due respect, and usually when people start off like that, what follows is very disrespectful, but...

I hope your rights (and mine) are on our minds, when there is a terrorist attack next time.

-- Obviously, it's a question of when, not if --

Because you can be sure that these excised bits of the Patriot Act will be referred to by people like me, as having contributed to that attack, which had been prevented during the time the full Patriot Act was in place.

This is called giving people an opening.

Cheers,
Victoria

brylin said...

Bush: "If somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why."

The NY Times continues to editorialize against this program.

The comments of moderate Republican senators indicate that they view efforts of the Democrats as a punitive inquiry, not an honest attempt to protect Americans.

Since no one has shown (or even alleged) any specific abuses of the NSA program, I can only conclude that Bush Derangement Syndrome is the proper diagnosis.

wildaboutharrie said...

"If somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why."

Oh, not me. I think there should be no eavesdropping when al qaeda calls. With or without a warrant. Cause I'm a LIBERAL! ON THE SIDE OF THE TERRORISTS!

YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW!

Pete said...

madisonman,

Specifically, what rights do you not have now that you enjoyed prior to Patriot Act? And, specifically, what can you not do now that you could do prior to the Patriot Act?

Goesh said...

Madisonman is right, we are above spying on people that want to kill us. American Jurisprudence has the bastards quaking in their boots, so let it run its course.

Gaius Arbo said...

Funny how all these wild charges just evaporate, isn't it.

Oh well, there will still be dark mutterings and baseless speculations on a daily basis about something.

MadisonMan said...

Specifically, what rights do you not have now that you enjoyed prior to Patriot Act?

The right to be left alone by the government. The right to not have the government snooping into my life for no good reason.

And Victoria, I'm waiting to read an account of how the "Patriot" Act has prevented a terrorist act. From your words, it appears you are willing to sacrifice some freedoms for a little security. I'm not. I live with bigger threats than terrorist attacks every day I walk into work.

Michael said...

>The right to not have the
>government snooping into my life
>for no good reason.

You still enjoy this right.

You do not now nor have you ever enjoyed the right to keep the govt from snooping into your life for *good* reason. "Talking to terrorists" would seem to qualify as a good reason.

Goesh said...

I would hope Madisonman that the simplicity of using box cutters to kill roughly 3,000 of us would give cause to sacrifice a few granted privliges when the availability of nuclear and biochemical material looms menacingly near. The threats we face in our everyday lives cannot disrupt and quite possibly cripple an entire nation. If a drunk driver makes me a grease spot on the road, you will still have your job and your children will not have their skin oozing from their faces from a suitcase nuke smuggled in under the protection of the most liberal and robust interpretation of our Constitution possible. You falsely assume that if privliges, or rights as you deem them, are revoked, they must forever remain in said condition. Such thinking would have kept the Japanese Americans in the camps and Blacks in the back of the bus, after all, it was the Law.

DaveG said...

The right to be left alone by the government.

Unfortunately, your right to be left alone seems to conflict with my right to be protected. Fortunately, my right seems to have trumped yours.

brylin said...

The federal judge to which you refer is Henry Kennedy, a 1997 Clinton appointee. Any surprise that he ordered disclosure?

I wonder if he is one of the "Magnificent Seven?"

megapotamus said...

The notion that Feingold is some model for how a Senator discharges his duties regarding civil rights is pretty laughable to anyone who knows the meaning of the phrase McCain-Feingold; as blatantly unConstitutional and intrusive a piece of legislation one can find in the modern era and THAT, friends and foes, is saying something.

Chum said...

'Specifically, what rights do you not have now that you enjoyed prior to Patriot Act? And, specifically, what can you not do now that you could do prior to the Patriot Act?'

If new additions to the PA are passed there's a possibilty that the Secret police will be wisking you off to one of the many detention centres to be built under the new act.

brylin said...

Hey MadisonMan, Just leave you alone? It's OK so long as they leave YOU alone?

No compassion for those who worked in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, or on United Flight 93?

In your world, it's as if September 11th never occurred, right?

EddieP said...

The NSA fizzle is not surprising, there were no sleeves in that vest anyway. The Patriot Act rumble likewise. Just more BDS. The dems will eventually get back in the White House and the few serious ones don't really want to hogtie their President with Liliputian twine in this day and age.

aaron said...

My belief was that the NSA program was legal under article II, and what not.

But, with the Patriot Act, there was likely some inappropriate sharing a of information with the FBI. One day that may come back to bite the adminstration on the ass.

As long as the surveillance was used for millitary purposes, I figure it was justified. If leads are passed onto the FBI and they generate criminal investigations and prosecutions, then there is a problem.

If the FBI simply does the leg work for the NSA and passes the information on to another DOD department, then I think we would have a good system.

The main issue is that the sharing of information could lead to unrelated investigations, or that in the future the FBI might look back to the NSA leads, which they other wise would not have, to help with non-national secutiry investigation.

Leland said...

MadisonMan:
The right to be left alone by the government. The right to not have the government snooping into my life for no good reason.

I hear you. I recently had to fill out a US Census Survey. They wanted to know how far I drive to work, whether my home was energy efficient, and how much money a year I earn. The latter question caused my wife to hold off submittal until we completed our IRS tax return. We then posted the US Census Survey through the required United States Postal Service, rather than our preferred United Postal Service. Now we receive daily phone calls from the US Census bureau asking why we haven't returned our survey that we mailed over 2 weeks ago.

I really wish the government would leave me alone. Unfortunately, the Census and Postal Service are original responsibilities of the US Constitution. The Patriot Act has not affected me negatively at all.

Montie said...

madisonman,

Ironically, I don't like Russ Feingold, because I fear that he doesn't believe in "the right to be left alone by the government."

For some reason, I suspect that if Russ Feingold was President, the government would be much more involved in my day-to-day life...even when I don't want it to be.

brylin said...

Further explanation concerning my comment on U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy:

For those who are unfamiliar with the "Magnificent Seven," this term was used by George Mason Law Professor Ronald Rotunda in a March 20, 2000 Wall Street Journal op-ed column entitled, ""Another Clinton Victim: The Integrity of the Federal Courts."

Although this column does not appear on the web, Powerline has provided some excerpts:

"Justice is supposed to be blind, deciding the law without favoritism. But there is a gradual accumulation of evidence that points in a contrary direction -- that when criminal cases important to President Clinton were assigned and decided in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., Justice lifted her blindfold and politics controlled.

* * *

"The [Clinton-appointed] trial judges ... were all members of "the Magnificent Seven," a label the Clinton appointees gave themselves * * *.

"Normally, criminal cases are supposed to be assigned randomly. However, we now know that when criminal prosecutions were brought against Webster Hubbell and others with close ties to Mr. Clinton, Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., secretly bypassed the traditional random assignment system, passed over more experienced judges, and assigned the cases to the Magnificent Seven.

* * *

"Judge Johnson assigned the case against Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken to Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., a 1997 Clinton appointee, claiming that it was "complicated or protracted," although Mr. Glicken's lawyer announced, when Mr. Glicken was charged, that he would plead guilty."

[By the way, just in case you were wondering, Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson was appointed by President Jimmy Carter. In a stunning rebuke, her power to tamper with judicial assignments was taken away from her by the D.C. Court of Appeals.]

This wasn't the only time that Judge Kennedy was accused of injecting politics to subvert the Rule of Law.

On March 7, 2000, The Wall Street Journal criticized Judge Kennedy for deliberating for over four months without deciding the Landmark Legal Foundation's motion to depose four IRS officials. The Foundation alleged that these IRS officials were "playing politics with audits [purportedly ordered by the Clinton Administration against political opponents] and/or destroying evidence."

In my opinion, it is precisely this type of political judicial behavior that calls into question the the ability of Judge Kennedy to fairly decide the NSA papers case.

jeff said...

1. Judge Kennedy is going to be told he doesn't have an adequate security clearance, so stick the request where the sun don't shine.

2. It'll go to the Supremes... which might be interesting.

brylin said...

By the way, kudos to Professor Althouse who, I believe, opined that this NSA issue should be resolved by legislation.

Pete said...

madisonman,

Thanks for the response. Others have already answered for me so there's no point in re-stating what's already been said. Suffice to say the Patriot Act hasn't limited your rights in any way and may have helped track down terrorists. I don't see the down side.

Colin said...

Ann says:
President Bush's (supposedly) controversial surveillance program.

Ann,

I'm surprised that you consider the warrantless surveillance program only "supposedly" controversial. I'll assume that you consider any Democratic criticism of the program simply partisan, so I'll offer some examples of criticism from Republicans/conservatives:

Perhaps the best example is this press release from Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, whose members include Bob Barr, Grover Norquist, David Keene, and Alan Gottlieb, all quite conservative individuals.
http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=59381

Further, depending on how you ask the question, a 50% majority think the president should "be required to get a warrant from a judge before monitoring phone and Internet communications between American citizens in the United States and suspected terrorists."
http://mediamatters.org/items/200602130007

The warrantless surveillance program has been criticized from conversative and progressive politicians, and as much as 50% of those polled have indicated they think the president must get a warrant before spying domestically.

You don't feel this indicates the program is "controversial"?

harscand said...

"Because you can be sure that these excised bits of the Patriot Act will be referred to by people like me, as having contributed to that attack, which had been prevented during the time the full Patriot Act was in place.

This is called giving people an opening"


I think it is reasonable to assume that some parts of the Patriot Act were a power grab by law enforcement officials or other government bureaucrats that do not really have a direct bearing on rooting out terrorists in our midst.

It is human nature to overreact to a crisis situation. It is also normal bureaucratic nature to use a crisis situation to push through "reforms" which have been previously resisted, but that the bureaucrat believes are necessary.

I'm not suggesting any evil intent - only that the public's openness to changes in the law is naturally greater immediately during and after a crisis, and that bureaucratic agenda items unrelated to the crisis might be pushed through during such a time.

It is not necessarily "gutting the Patriot Act" to take a second, perhaps more sober look at the changes enacted during a time of high emotion. It stretches credulity to believe that each and every single part of the Patriot Act was necessary and wise. It also stretches credulity to believe that other, new changes shouldn't be added to the Patriot Act. Certainly, our experience in the intervening 4-1/2 years should be able to be used to refine the Patriot Act to be more effective.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one who is too worried about the supposed trampling of our rights (although I do get angry every time I have to fly, which is often). There is a reason the Declaration of Independence puts "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in that particular order.

It doesn't matter how much liberty you have if your life is constantly threatened. And the first, most important, and most legitimate role of government is to protect the physical safety of its citizens. So being hypercritical of officials whose primary goal is to protect our lives is rather foolish.

But in the mean time, I don't have any objections to minor revisions in the Patriot Act. Also, I don't support the idea of making the Patriot Act permanent. "This too shall pass." Congressmen and Senators should rightly be concerned about where to draw the line between liberty and security. Its what they get paid for. Variations in priority levels are to be expected. What bothers me most is the notion that on the one hand, one group is trying to create a police state, while on the other, supposed "rights" trump any concern for reasonable protection measures because of fear of abuse.

Grown up people should be able to debate this issue without resorting to hyperbole and extreme accusations of malice or cowardice.

MadisonMan said...

In your world, it's as if September 11th never occurred, right?

Did 1776 happen in yours? Should my compassion for those from 9/11 be more or less than compassion for those who were killed fighting for my freedom? Freedom that IMO is being whittled away too much by the "Patriot" Act.

I understand completely why the Executive Branch wants this law. After all, 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, and I'm sure he wants to make certain it doesn't happen again. Wasn't that the central plank of his re-election platform? I just think the law intrudes too much. The latest version is better than the old, however; I'll warrant that. At least it evolves in the right direction, but a little too slowly.

brylin said...

MadisonMan: "After all, 9/11 happened on Bush's watch... "

So let's get this straight, you blame Bush for September 11th? You and Cynthia McKinney and Howard Dean?

"... and I'm sure he wants to make certain it doesn't happen again."

And only Bush wants make certain that September 11th doesn't happen again? Not you?

And you only want to be left alone?

James R Ament said...

Ann asks, "Quite a fizzle, no?" Yes it is... it's like all those in breathless outrage suddenly uttered, "nevermind," and nobody is asking why?

sonicfrog said...

If new additions to the PA are passed there's a possibilty that the Secret police will be wisking you off to one of the many detention centres to be built under the new act.

Are you referring to section 605, which states:

"A permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division,'" empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence" ... "or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

Here is a response from a political blog:

"For those us that practice criminal law in DC we are well aware of the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service. This Division has been around for quite a while. It used to be known as the Executive Protection Service, protecting embassies and the like. The Uniformed Division still protects embassies, but they do have general police powers here in DC. I guess the amendment intends to make the Uniformed Division national in scope. The cops that make up the Uniformed Division are the ones that didnt make the cut to be a regular Secret Service agent. Many go the Uniformed route to get their foot in the door. At least here they can effect traffic stops, make warrantless arrests for any crime occuring within eyeshot. They often handle the credit card frauds and the like. So its not a novel idea, just an expansion of a force already in place".

Now if you assume this is from Powerline or LGF or some other right wing nut job site, it's not. It's from TalkLeft.com.

The "Secret Police Gestapo" angle is not applicable to this part of the Patriot Act Part Deux because

A) they have the same rights as one making a citizens arrest, and

B) this "new" law enforcement branch is not new at all, but is being transferred over to Homeland Security

Given all that has gone on in the FMA vs Katrina hearings, I would be even less concerned, as it will become just another inefficient, bloated, bureaucratic non-functional anchor created by the Bush administration, just like reorganized FEMA, Medicare "Doh", or the TSA.

And yes, that is sarcasm.

MadisonMan said...

brylin: So let's get this straight, you blame Bush for September 11th?

Why is my factual statement that 9/11 happened on Bush's watch an assignment of blame in your book, and not a simple statement of fact like I meant it to be?

And only Bush wants make certain that September 11th doesn't happen again? Not you?

Again, where have I said that I don't want to make certain it doesn't happen again?

My point, which I'm obviously having difficulty relating, is that there are parts of the "Patriot" Act that went too far. I think laws enacted during times of high dudgeon frequently do. As others have noted, the pendulum is (thankfully) swinging back towards sense.

You might ask yourself: If The USA PATRIOT act was such a good thing, then why has Congress just voted to water it down? What's changed since 2001?

Cat said...

As for those Patriots for checks and balances - I am fed up with hearing that those "checks" aren't in place already or they are deteriorating. BS. Prove it without resorting to "Bush-Mc-Hitler." I dare you.

In the meantime MY MONEY is being wasted on an investigation into a surveilance program that is now ruined because we let the bad guys know what we were up to. THIS is the problem. Because Madisonman and all others worried about the rights of terrorists (believe me, we don't have the manpower in this country to snoop on the important conversations of Madisonman or myself) or communists or other ists in this country are concerned about intelligence gathering being squeaky clean and have been since the 70's we have few intelligence capabilities. But hey, as long as the Mohammed Atta's of the world get a fair shake and we die not having infringed on anyone's "rights" to plot and kill us, we feel much better about our selves.

KC said...

Of all the disingenuous arguments for the illegal flouting of the FISA, this one is my favorite:

"In the meantime MY MONEY is being wasted on an investigation into a surveilance program that is now ruined because we let the bad guys know what we were up to."

Are you f'ing kidding? Like the Al Quaeda people didn't assume so already? You mean to tell me that they were sophisticated enough to pull off 9/11 (and believe me, i have serious doubts that they were...they needed help from the Bush administration) that they wouldn't guess that their calls were being monitored?

Stop being so naive.

KC said...

"So let's get this straight, you blame Bush for September 11th?"

NO! I blame CLINTON! I blame Gorelick's "wall"!
Clinton is also to blame for Katrina, Global Warming, Saddam Hussein, and the death of Vince Foster!!!

BigDirigible said...

This was never going to happen. Imagine that a cabal of Democrats managed to hobble the Executive in the performance of this duty. Then who catches the heat for allowing the next atrocity to happen? The Dems won't fall into such an obvious trap.

ChrisO said...

So several Republican senators finally start to show some guts and ask questions abou the NSA surveillance, and the White House puts on a full court press of arm twisting that causes them to back off. Then Pat Roberts, who is as reliable a lapdog as the White House has in the Senate, makes a deal with the White House not to investigate. (Not investigating things seems to be Roberts' forte.) And this is portrayed as somehow proving that there was nothing to the NSA story? How ridiculous. What this proves is that the Republicans still control the Senate. The Democrats don't have subpeona poower, so the Republicans get to call all of the shots. This isn't news, and it hardly establishes anyhting about the NSA program.

And Victoria, I'd like to think that if there's another terrorist attack, you'll take the time to determine how opponents of the Patriot Act were somehow responsible before declaring that it's their fault. I don't have high hopes for that, however.

And asking "how has the Patriot Act interfed with your life?" is like high school debating team stuff. If the governemnt didn't like what the Los Angeles Timnes was publishing and decided to shut it down, it probably wouldn't affect my life, since I din't read that paper. Does that mean I shouldn't care? 99% of what you read in the paper every day doesn't directly affect your life. Do you only respond to the 1% that does? I'm not a veteran, should I not care if veterans benefits are cut? I'm not a West Virginia miner, should I not care if there are mine safety regulations? What a simpleminded question.

Colin said...

Cat:

"As for those Patriots for checks and balances - I am fed up with hearing that those "checks" aren't in place already or they are deteriorating. BS. Prove it without resorting to "Bush-Mc-Hitler." I dare you."

I suspect you are immune to proof, but I feel I have to try anyway.

Nearly 30 years ago, following Nixon's abuse of wiretaps, FISA was passed to regulate how and when the government can legally wiretap communications. It explicitly covers wiretapping during wartime and peace.

The law established the FISA court to review wiretap requests. The purpose was to enforce accountability, discourage abuse, and ensure any information gathered was gathered legally and would be admissible in court (if needed).

This court acts as a "check" on the power of the govt to eavesdrop on its citizens. But it only acts as a check if the FISA law is obeyed.

Shortly after 9/11, the president decided he would not obey this law anymore, and secretly authorized wiretaps without a FISA-approved warrant.

We know he's done this because it was reported in the NYT and he has since publicly said that he authorized this and will continue to do so.

In place of the FISA court, which would at least document wiretap requests while rubberstamping them, we are told to trust that the administration is not wiretapping anyone without a good reason.

So we have gone from a FISA "check" on the administration's power, to mere assurances that they won't abuse this power. Frankly, that is not how our govt has historically worked.

Do you not consider that a deterioration of an existing "check"? I certainly do. I also consider it outright law-breaking by the president, but that is not what is under discussion.

Henry said...

Bush's surveillance program is NOT controversial, and there is no need for hearings on it. It is blatantly illegal and they should just go right to impeachment.

Armando said...

Professor Althouse:

This strikes me as an interesting thread to test some of our hypothesis of engagement, Left and Right.

first, you write that there is aonly a "supposed" controversy over the NSA surveillance program.

Here is one definition of controversy - "A dispute, especially a public one, between sides holding opposing views."

Certainly that is descriptive of the current situation I think.

Your commenters discuss this issue as if it was the Democrats who decided to let the issue pass.

This was a unilateral decision made by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who unilaterally announced this decision. Sen. Rockefeller strenuously objected as did almost all Democrats.

The story here is not "what was all the fuss about?" The story here is what a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration the Republican Congress is.

I don;t want to go on a rant here, but I must say most MODERATES have actually grasped this.

Armando said...

In your defense Professor, the Times story is AWFUL.

The Washington Post does better:

"The Bush administration helped derail a Senate bid to investigate a warrantless eavesdropping program yesterday after signaling it would reject Congress's request to have former attorney general John D. Ashcroft and other officials testify about the program's legality. The actions underscored a dramatic and possibly permanent drop in momentum for a congressional inquiry, which had seemed likely two months ago.

Senate Democrats said the Republican-led Congress was abdicating its obligations to oversee a controversial program in which the National Security Agency has monitored perhaps thousands of phone calls and e-mails involving U.S. residents and foreign parties without obtaining warrants from a secret court that handles such matters.

"It is more than apparent to me that the White House has applied heavy pressure in recent days, in recent weeks, to prevent the committee from doing its job," Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said after the panel voted along party lines not to consider his motion for an investigation."

MadisonMan said...

Because Madisonman and all others worried about the rights of terrorists (believe me, we don't have the manpower in this country to snoop on the important conversations of Madisonman or myself) or communists or other ists in this country are concerned about intelligence gathering being squeaky clean and have been since the 70's we have few intelligence capabilities.

My chief beef with FISA brouhaha is that if the snooping is illegal, and the evidence can't be used in court, what do you gain? Why do something that might be illegal to get the goods on someone if those goods are ultimately inadmissible?

Wouldn't it have been better to follow the law, and work to get it changed? What's the Republican House and Senate going to do -- turn down the White House?

Suddenly I'm talking FISA, not USA PATRIOT act (Does anyone know what the acronym means, without resorting to google?) How'd that happen?

Greg D said...

MadisonMan said...

[Question to him]Specifically, what rights do you not have now that you enjoyed prior to Patriot Act?

The right to be left alone by the government.


Oh, we'ev eliminated the minimum wage law? There's no more FDA, and the War on Drugs is over?

No? Then exactly how is it that you claim that "the government" is "leaving you alone"?

You Democrats want to use the government to "do good". You can't do that while "leaving people alone." Pick one.

Ann Althouse said...

Armando: I intended that "supposedly" to be a sarcastic remark about the failure of the opponents in Congress to do much opposing!

Colin said...

MadisonMan:

We should be talking about FISA, not the Patriot Act, because the issues surrounding the warrantless wiretapping are far more important than fiddling with the Patriot Act.

If we accept that the president can break any law that interferes with his ability to execute the "War on Terror", then the Patriot Act is meaningless. Why would the govt need the powers granted in the Patriot Act if the president can simply authorize any action he pleases, so long as it is somewhat related to the WoT?

The wiretapping scandal is a much greater threat to our liberty, and the Constitution, than the details of the Patriot Act.

brylin said...

Glad to see Armando and the rest of the lefties holding their issue positions in opposition to the great majority of Americans.

The Democrats need to lose more Senate seats. And more House seats. And yet another presidential campaign.

Armando, you guys really need your own political party. The Democrats just aren't strong enough to stand up for you on these important issues.

ChrisO said...

brylin, you should go back to the ad hominem attacks and ridiculous exaggerations. When you try to cite facts you fall flat on your face. I can't believe you're still trying to trot out that Rasmussen poll, which has been thoroughly discredited as reflecting anything to do with the NSA controversy.

The poll essentially learned that most Americans support eavesdropping on terrorists. Big deal. I support eavesdropping on terrorists. The White House has tried to spin the story that their critics are opposed to wiretapping terrorists, because they know there's always a certain number of peole like you who are easily led. You'll notice the poll didn't ask if the government should be allowed to eavesdrop on terrorists within the legal framework that now exists, or if they should be able to ignore the law and spy on anyone they like. I think you'd see a different result.

brylin said...

ChrisO: Then the issue is joined.

You don't believe the American people can possibly support the NSA program? Well, you should make a big battle out of it.

But don't look for many Democrats who are up for election this year to side with you. Especially those from red states or those in close races.

Take Ohio, for example. I'm watching Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine on Fox News right now. Other than throwing Hackett overboard, I haven't heard anything from the Democrats in Ohio.

Where's Sherrod Brown on this issue? I just googled Brown and NSA and found absolutely nothing. Maybe I am missing something?

brylin said...

And ChrisO, when was the last time the Democrats gained seats in the Senate or the House?

2004? Nope.
2002? Nope.
2000? Well, Dems did get control of the Senate because Jeffords jumped in that election cycle.
1998? Nope. (Well, they did gain 5 seats in the House that year.)

It's been a long time, hasn't it?

Maybe there's something wrong with the message?

brylin said...

As far as Rasmussen's accuracy is concerned, he nailed the 2004 presidential election. Not Zogby. Remember?

Pete said...

ChrisO

This thread seems to be running out of steam but I didn’t want to let your comments pass without addressing them. Take a look at what I said to madisonman and you’ll find I didn’t ask him how the law affected him personally. (Boy, talk about high school debate tactics! Take your opponents statements and change them to suit your own argument. Gosh.) Rather, I asked for specifics. So far, no one has been able to come up with anything that this law prohibits that they couldn’t do before. I dare say completing your income tax return allows the government to inquire more about what you do and when and with and for whom you do it than the Patriot Act.

No, the Patriot Act is intended to help the government flush out and apprehend terrorists. (And the purpose is not to convict terrorists of crimes in a court of law and have them serve sentences. The purpose is to stop them from committing terrorist acts!) You were never allowed to act like a terrorist before the Act nor are you allowed to act like a terrorist now.

So, again I ask, how is specifically is the Patriot Act compromising your rights? How is it stopping you from doing what you used to do before the Patriot Act was passed? And, by all means, don’t limit yourself to personal examples. Give me any examples.

RogerA said...

As some other poster commented on an earlier thread--and I dont recall specifically which--there are several ways to look at this: Ds versus Rs, liberals vs conservatives, executive vs legislature--now my suspicion is the the legislative branch, have preened for the cameras and expressed their displeasure, are simply not willing to put this issue before the courts--because if they did, and the court favored the executive, they would have lost big time--
The cynic in me says they pontificated, they played to their base, but in their heart of hearts, they know the court is going to side with the executive.
Its politics, sports fans--pure and simple--they bluffed and the had it stuck to them.

sparky said...

Two thoughts:
1. Pete: I thought I'd take a crack at the last comment-the suggestion that nothing has changed under the PATRIOT act. Here is just one example that applies to everyone in the US: The government, using a national security letter, can obtain any kind of information (for example, your credit card bills or the titles of books you buy from Amazon) by issuing a national security letter. There is NO judicial oversight of the issuance of these demands. Oh, and by the way, it's a crime to tell the person that the government demanded the information. Demands by government to turn over information based on speculation by government agents with no responsibility is troubling if for no other reason than that the only thing keeping the government from showing up at your home or office and pawing through your stuff without a warrant is the good faith of the agents. I'm always surprised and amused when conservatives suddenly acquire a faith in government competence. If there's anything that the last 200 years have taught us (and frankly, I would think conservatives would agree, given their usual skepticism towards the abilities of government), it's that we cannot rely on that sentimental notion.




2. Rogera: Congress punted, certainly, but I don't agree on the reason. I think it's percieved as a loser issue politically, which is far different from a loser in the courts. Most legal analysis suggests that at the least, it's far from a loser in the courts.

Pete said...

Sparky,

Thanks for the response and good point.

But the operative part of your statement is “the government CAN” issue a national security letter. The big fear seems to be that because the government can do such a thing, we’re curtailing our visits to the library or Amazon.com and cowering in fear, waiting for the government to break down our doors. That’s simply not happening.

And, though the government may be able to obtain such records, it’s an entirely different matter to use those records against you in a court of law. It’s still not against the law to check out books on how to commit terrorism. (The internet allows you to obtain just about any kind of material you’d like. Again, how does the Patriot Act stop you from doing that?) It’s the actual act of terrorism that’s unlawful. And it was unlawful before the Patriot Act.

And, yes, as a conservative, I don’t trust the efficiency of the government in such matters – I’m also a former employee of a huge Federal bureaucracy so I know first hand how these things can work. Still, I’ve yet to be pointed to a story where the Patriot Act was used, and abused, to keep a citizen from committing lawful behavior.

sparky said...

Pete--thanks for your reply. I think we will have to agree to disagree. I have a different view of what liberty consists of in this country: not what the government can prevent you from doing, but what the government is prevented from doing. If the government can spy on us without any consequences, I think it is inevitable that someday--maybe not today, or next year, but someday--someone will use that power for nefarious purposes. And once we've given that oversight away, we shall never get it back. I think we are trading away liberty for a mess of pottage.

Here's a quote from William Douglas that I think is appropriate at the moment:
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

The Ugly American said...

It seems all but the most politically driven have accepted this program is necessary to protect us.

Have any of you seen the pseudo debate on CSPAN between Professor Robert Turner and civil rights attorney and blogger Glenn Greenwald?

I have a transcript of it here if any of you are interested.

As a layman I found it very informative. It seemed to me Professor Turner's arguments were based on legal precedent and the constitution while Mr. Greenwalds arguments were based on politics.

I have a list of questions at the end of the post. If any of you are con law experts I would sincerely appreciate answers to them.

sparky said...

Mr Ugly:
I respectfully disagree. Here is a conservative law professor dissecting Turner's arguments. Note that he thinks there isn't any issue that the Supreme Court would rule against this program on A. II grounds.
http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_12_25-2005_12_31.shtml