August 6, 2007

"This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program."

Law signed.

Much outcry.

Kevin Drum states the objection well:
All they have to do is claim that the real target is the foreigner and that a "significant purpose" of the eavesdropping is related to intelligence gathering. Not terrorism, mind you, just intelligence generically. What's more, they don't even have to go to the minimal trouble of making that claim to a court. They can just make it and approve it themselves.

So that's that. The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll never misuse this power. They never have before, have they?
But everyone who voted for the law -- including many Democrats -- understood this and saw greater weight on the other side of the argument. Why?

ADDED: Here's some well-worded bloggage:
“Do Nothing”, “New Democratic Congress” Finally Does “Something”…

And, thanks for NOTHING…

JERKS.
That's from Gun-Toting Liberal, who goes on to riff about Congress's 3% approval rating on its handling of the war.

77 comments:

Yachira said...

Kevin Drum says: "...They never have before, have they?"

Good question. Have they?

Fen said...

Kevin Drum: The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll never misuse this power. They never have before, have they?

Ann: But everyone who voted for the law -- including many Democrats -- understood this and saw greater weight on the other side of the argument. Why?

Because unlike Kevin, they understood that we are at war with radical Islam. Terrorists are seeking WMDs from rogue states like Iran to launch anonymous proxy attacks against the West. It would be irresponsible and derelict to prevent the gathering of warfighting intelligence.

I wonder if Kevin would have allowed the US to monitor overseas calls between 5th Columnists and Germany during WW2?

My only concern is that this intel should be limited to security operations only. If Kevin Drum is calling his opium dealer in Pakistan to order more drugs, any evidence gained by NSA [including leads - they can't tip the FBI/DEA] should be barred from a courtroom. If thats the case, then I'm fine with the NSA program [even under Hillary].

Palladian said...

Who wouldn't trust the Federal government! C'mon!

Sloanasaurus said...

The government should be allowed to monitor calls overseas. I don't see the problem with that.

Henry said...

But everyone who voted for the law -- including many Democrats -- understood this and saw greater weight on the other side of the argument. Why?

Because neither party actually supports civil liberties on principle. For both parties, civil liberties are invoked only when they happen to align with a interest block.

As the Republicans show by their anti-immigration rhetoric and the Democrats show by their opposition to free trade, neither party is a natural home for internationalists.

Fen said...

As the Republicans show by their illegal immigration rhetoric

/fixed

vet66 said...

About time! Maybe now they can catch California ex-patriot Adam (Ahmabadi)Gadahn who proves that Heavy Metal is bad for the brain.

Apparently right to free speech, democratic style, is negotiable if it delays the August recess in Washington. Weren't some of our congressmen/women just complaining about the Iraqi's taking August off?

We are slowly but surely getting serious in the global war on terror. Good for us, bad for the terrorists!

tjl said...

"California ex-patriot Adam (Ahmabadi)Gadahn"

Don't you mean "expatriate?"

Gadahn showed no signs of patriotism even in his pre-Qaeda existence.

christopher said...

Anybody who believes this has anything to do with fighting terrorism is, frankly, either too stupid to live or a disingenuous dickhead.

This is, as it has been since day one, about nothing more than the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political opponents.

Somewhere in hell, Richard Nixon is laughing out his ass.

ricpic said...

Why the quotation marks around significant purpose? Sounds like a straightforward safeguard to me.

Hoosier Daddy said...

What has become so wearisome in this debate is implication that the NSA wiretapping is unprecedented and is being used as a club to hammer the argument that we’re moving down the path to a police state. Fact of the matter is FDR authorized warrentless wiretapping by the FBI in situations deemed vital to the national defense. What is telling is that he authorized it prior to our entry into the war.

The flipside to all this is that I will agree that we are granting more and more power to the government over our personal lives and I can’t say that I like it. That said I have to balance it against the threat of a terrorist attack over a government run amok with their newfound power. While some people will argue that the terrorist threat is overblown, I still recall in vivid detail the Twin Towers coming down so maybe for some, that event was no biggie.

I also find it ironic that many who have their panties in a bunch over this government intrusion into our personal life will turn around and advocate complete government control over health care, education, retirement, feeding and caring for the children and having a complete monopoly over gun ownership.

Fen said...

christopher: Anybody who believes this has anything to do with fighting terrorism is, frankly, either too stupid to live or a disingenuous dickhead

Moonbat Truther alert!

Hey chrisopher, please enlighten us dickheads - if the NSA program is not about fighting terrorism, what is it for?

vet66 said...

Speaking of immigration, the war on terror is tied inextricably to immigration. Too bad for Mexico and their major export-illegals. Stepped up border policing is having an effect if the number of "Hiring" signs in fast food restaraunts is any indication of progress.

Now we have to overcome the cultural assumption that illegals are only used for low-paying jobs Americans don't want. The physician cell in Londonistan and Glasgowistan are red flags that illegals cover the entire spectrum of job seekers regardless of nationality. But then we knew that already from the case of al-Arian and the University of South Florida.

It will be interesting to learn who our erstwhile friends (enemies) at CAIR are receiving calls from.

vet66 said...

tjl;

I was being cute and sarcastic. I reserve ex-patriate for all of us who fled California to avoid the high taxes and cost-of-living.

Nice catch!

Bruce Hayden said...

Participating over the last day on Orin Kerr's thread over at volokh.com, I noticed a lot of paranoia, which I attribute mostly to BDS.

The reality is that, yes, the TSP, etc., could be abused. We have experience of presidents from both parties abusing the FBI, IRS, etc. in this way, most recently with the Clinton Administration (and, in particular, our president in waiting having her people pull the FBI files on over a 100 Republicans).

But I fail to see why this law and this program is any more likely to be abused than the ones protecting, for example, individual FBI files from White House operatives. Rather, I would suggest that it is far less likely to be abused, given what it covers.

FISA covers electronic surveillance of foreign intelligence information. And what the amendment did was to slightly tweak the definition of Electronic surveillance so that 1501(f)(2) was more in line with (f)(1). The gist of the law is that it is a crime to engage in Electronic surveillance as defined without a warrant.

But what has to be noted is that the NSA doesn't determine what is Electronic Surveillance under FISA, rather, the FISC does. All the NSA (and the Administration) does is to determine the procedures and collect the intelligence. So, Dick Cheney claiming that communications between any two registered Democrats is foreign intelligence information, etc., and ordering that it be collected, is not going to work. It still is going to fall prey to the law (and in this case, 1501(f)(1)).

What I am trying to say is that the law determines what is covered by FISA, not the Administration, to the extent that it isn't preempted by the President's Article II powers. None of that has changed.

The big change in the law is that communications between a foreign targeted individual and a nontargeted person here in the U.S. when the interception is done within the U.S. is now allowable under FISA w/o a warrant. This has always been the case for the situation where the interception is not within the U.S.

Note that most of the posited horribles fall out on the reality that the targeted person has to be reasonably believed to be outside the U.S.

Doyle said...

Some combination of stupidity and cowardice, IMO.

christopher said...

Fen said...
Moonbat Truther alert!

Hey chrisopher, please enlighten us dickheads - if the NSA program is not about fighting terrorism, what is it for?


Je repete:

It's about the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political oppononents.

Why else did they ever need to go around the pathetic rubberstamp FISA court?

Like I said, if you claim otherwise you're either too stupid to live or a disingenuous dickhead.

And Richard Nixon is laughing out his ass in hell.

vet66 said...

Christopher;

You are living proof that the internet can be accessed from an internet cafe in Teheran, Damascus, Pyongyang, etc., by anyone with a desire to spread anti-U.S. propaganda.

It is all about motive, opportunity, and means. One way or the other, your logic is questionable at best which is either a condemnation of our educational system in the U.S. or something else.

Bruce Hayden said...

So that's that. The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight.

No, because then you would be the targeted individual, and thus FISA would apply, and the interception would be illegal absent a warrant.

Drum's claim falls apart the same way. This is a proof problem, but the reality is that if the real target is someone in the U.S., then FISA would make electronic surveillance of them a crime, absent a warrant.


Drum is positing something akin to the pretextual traffic stops that some cops pull. But the difference here is that a lot of the oversight is procedural. The question is always, why is that person targeted? How did they get on the targeted list? Is is because they are talking to someone whom the Administration doesn't like here in the U.S.? Won't fly.

The other problem with Drum's claim is that it reverses causality. The call must be to or from the targeted individual. In other words, the targeted person (who has to be outside the U.S.) has to be targeted before the call, and not as a result of the call. Rather, it is because they were targeted before the call that allows the NSA to intercept their communications to someone here in the U.S. without a warrant.

christopher said...

vet66 said...
Christopher;

You are living proof that the internet can be accessed from an internet cafe in Teheran, Damascus, Pyongyang, etc., by anyone with a desire to spread anti-U.S. propaganda.

It is all about motive, opportunity, and means. One way or the other, your logic is questionable at best which is either a condemnation of our educational system in the U.S. or something else.


Je repete: Why did the Bushies need to go around the pathetic rubberstamp FISA court?

Doyle said...

Thanks for the analysis, Bruce, but if I recall you used to argue that everything they were doing was above board already? Why change the law?

Answer: Because chickens--- "centrist" Dems like McCaskill and Casey are scared of being called soft on terror.

It's criminal, and an embarrassment to all of us.

EnigmatiCore said...

"It's about the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political oppononents."

But wait, I thought the Bushies were so criminal that they did not bother with mere formalities like the law.

Of course, why political opponents of Bush would be conferring with those overseas, and why the Bushies would be concerned with setting up the law for incoming President-to-be Hillary Clinton, are details best left for each of us to fill in using our own imaginations.

MadisonMan said...

You are living proof that the internet can be accessed from an internet cafe in Teheran, Damascus, Pyongyang, etc.,

Proof would be the ip address of the posting machine. I don't understand why you equate disagreement with a governmental policy/law as something more nefarious.

Bruce Hayden said...

This is, as it has been since day one, about nothing more than the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political opponents.

Obvious severe case of BDS.

Nevertheless, I would ask you to show how the Administration could possibly pull that off without violating FISA. Please give reference to the specific portions of the statute and how they work together to allow the "Bushies" to do what you claim.

As I have noted above, I don't see anything in either the current statute or the amendment that would allow what you are suggesting. But I am always open to other interpretations of the law, and will give any serious arguments you make based on a textual reading of the statute and amendment the consideration it deserves.

Kevin said...

Je repete: Why did the Bushies need to go around the pathetic rubberstamp FISA court?

By Bushies you mean a majority of the Democrat controlled House and Senate?

EnigmatiCore said...

"Why did the Bushies need to go around the pathetic rubberstamp FISA court?"

I am guessing, based on most of the arguments I have seen made about the administration, that the reason has to be either that Bush himself is too stupid to realize he could just run roughshod through the law as he did when he personally ordered Pat Tillman to be assassinated, or that it was because Cheney simply enjoys giving the finger to everyone, especially children with small dogs.

vet66 said...

Madison Man;

Consider that software exists allowing for the "masking" of IP and computer identifying numbers.

Doing an end run around FISA is an acknowledgement that FISA is a self-imposed delaying tactic that hinders prompt pursuit of data inimical to national security.

Did I say "end run?" I meant fine tuning a program that is outdated and in need of technical sophistication upgrades.

Bruce Hayden said...

Thanks for the analysis, Bruce, but if I recall you used to argue that everything they were doing was above board already? Why change the law?

What I argued was that it was within the President's Article II power for the NSA to operate the TSP. And I think it still is.

But Constitutional Executive power is not clear cut. Indeed, there has been a lot of debate as to its extent, in particular, in view of this program.

So, under the wording of FISA, as it was written, the TSP would seem to occasionally violate the law by intercepting calls from a targeted individual to or from someone here in the U.S. And because the person who was targeted was not here, and often was of short term interest (i.e. only for a couple of days or so), no warrant had been obtained. Any purely foreign calls to or from that person would be outside FISA completely. But if he happened to call someone here (or be called by someone here), that would inadvertently trigger FISA (ignoring Article II preemption). Worse, it appears that one of the FISC judges has determined that the mere possibility that that person is here triggers FISA. Thus, if the NSA doesn't know where the other end is, it now requires a warrant.

So, with a very small tweak to the statute, the Administration is able to side step the controversy. They won't have to litigate their Article II powers and can get back to doing presumably more important things.

Summarizing that long winded answer, both the Administration and I believe that the TSP is/was covered by their Article II powers. But many don't. This likely makes the program fully legal under FISA w/o having to assert those powers.

Bruce Hayden said...

The Internet and email is not really the issue. Arguably, email has no reasonable expectation of privacy, and so collecting it is not considered Electronic surveillance under FISA.

But voice conversations are a different story. We do have an expectation of privacy (though we probably shouldn't in overseas calls), and a warrant would be required if the interception were under Title II.

Fen said...

Christopher: This is, as it has been since day one, about nothing more than the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political opponents.

Okay, you got us redhanded. I confess.

We had to monitor overseas traffic between Democrat Congress-critters and Al Queda. Kerry is [again] trying to hold secret surrender negotiations with OBL. He's also seeking monetary compensation from Arafat's estate for catching HIV. There's more, including something unmentionable re Kennedy & Galloway, but I don't want to spill the beans before Mothership Rove Delta enters our solar system. Enjoy what little time you have left, earthling.

Mark said...

Bruce said:

"The Internet and email is not really the issue. Arguably, email has no reasonable expectation of privacy, and so collecting it is not considered Electronic surveillance under FISA."

Bruce, I am not sure how you come to this conclusion? From everything I've read so far, email DOES have reasonable expectation of privacy.

Fen said...

Bruce: I would ask you to show how the Administration could possibly pull that off without violating FISA. Please give reference to the specific portions of the statute and how they work together to allow the "Bushies" to do what you claim.

Another flaw in Christopher's scenario is his complete ignorance re the people who work at NSA. If they were the type to monitor political enemies of POTUS, no law or court could prevent them from doing so.

MadisonMan said...

vet66 -- Not every statement contrary to the US Government come from a foreign source. Why question the allegiances of someone because they write something with which you disagree?

I'm very happy that public opionion is not one monolith one way or another on this topic. That's very healthy.

Michael said...

christopher: It's about the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political oppononents.

Well, it's about time the American left admitted that they're getting their marching orders from outside the country.

Hoosier Daddy said...

This is, as it has been since day one, about nothing more than the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political opponents.

Which just goes to show how stupid Bush is waiting until the last 15 months of his Fuhrership to implement this power. Never mind that in his infinite wisdom, he granted this diabolical power Hillary when she assumes the presidential mantle, that is, if the Bush/Cheney cabal doesn't simply do away with the election at which point he'll have the Pope stop over in Crawford and have him annointed the Holy American Emperor.

I can appreciate the privacy concerns but the belief that this is some self serving power grab is laughable.

Fen said...

Madison: I'm very happy that public opinion is not one monolith one way or another on this topic. That's very healthy.

Not in this case. Christopher has mental problems, and his best response to Bruce's analysis has been an appeal to conformity: anyone who believes x is a ____ . Thats not healthy for debate, and its been an ongoing problem re discussion of our foreign policy - moonbats like Christopher marginalize legitimate criticism from the Left, and immunize the Right from opposition opinion [ie. we stop taking you seriously].

The nation needs BOTH pov's, from the Right and the Left, because each has strengths and weaknesses that compliment the other - much like a marriage. Its not healthy if your "spouse" has been wandering the wilderness for the last 6 years, having a mental breakdown.

vet66 said...

Madison Man;

It is important to understand that the internet is a tool in the arsenal of the terrorists to affect public opinion. This capapbility is analogous to allowing illegals the right to vote in our country.

It is important to understand your enemy and how he/she can subvert our communications for tactical goals. These goals can be political, military, economic,etc., but they may be coercive enough, and corrosive enough, to affect the way we prosecute the war and defend our culture.

When dealing with the internet, it is necessary to assume that some of your assumptions may not be correct regarding the motives of those with whom you are carrying on a conversation.

christopher said...

I can appreciate the privacy concerns but the belief that this is some self serving power grab is laughable.


You're so right.

And Nixon never wiretapped his domestic political opponents. Sheer paranoia to even contemplate the idea.

Doyle said...

As an aside, could Vet66 be any crazier?

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
christopher said...

Doyle said...
As an aside, could Vet66 be any crazier?



It's early. Ask me again later in the day.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You're so right.

I know.

You claimed this is move by Bush to spy on his political opponents. Do you not see the illogic in that considering that with it being law, he has simply granted it to the next president who at this stage of the game, is likely to be a Democrat? Why on earth push a law that will inevitably grant your political opponent, a legal right to spy on you?

Assuming the Bush administration is conducting all these illegal activities, it begs the question why he would want it made into law.

And Nixon never wiretapped his domestic political opponents. Sheer paranoia to even contemplate the idea.

And Islamic radicals are not bent on killing as many Americans as possible. That's paranoia, fear mongering and 9/11 was an unprecedented tragic blip of history. Nothing to see here.

vet66 said...

Doyle, then I suppose you would consider it crazy if terrorists were concealing information in background colors and text letters in otherwise innocuous postings?

You would be amazed how large a dot is when taken down to the pixel level and inserting information onto it. I suggest you consider how many middle east students, including India and Pakistan, take graduate courses in the computer sciences and various computer languages. Compare that with the numbers of Americans who major in the sciences of any type.

One notable example is the reading/outsourcing of radiological information sent overseas. Seems as how it is daylight in India when it is nightime in the U.S. Send the x-rays, etc., for reading at the end of the U.S. day and the results are waiting for your doctor when he returns to work the next day after 'consultation'.

The world is wired and we are way behind in recognizing the vulnerabilities of our communications systems.

Henry said...

vet66: You would be amazed how large a dot is when taken down to the pixel level and inserting information onto it.

A pixel is a pixel. For most digital images it contains 24 bits of information (8 channels each of RGB). That's good for one letter.

* * *

Fen: /fixed.

Point taken, though I think the political arguments over illegal immigration have become the touchpoint for how the parties are perceived on immigration as a whole.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You would be amazed how large a dot is when taken down to the pixel level and inserting information onto it.

Gives a whole new meaning to connecting the dots.

Again this whole debate goes back to what we as a free society need to figure out with respect to security vs civil liberties. Long ago we gave up the right to search and seizure when we decided to board an airplane. The rise in drunk driving gave way to sobriety checkpoints. Its all a matter of degrees I suppose. While I am sure a nuke in NY is the jihadists wet dream, one has to think of the impact on our free society if IEDs start going off on the streets or the malls. Considering our refusal to profile and allow complete freedom of movement, it wouldn't take many cells to start havoc. How much of that would go on before society demands strong measures?

Yachira said...

Wow! I'm sorry, but reading some of the comments to this post really drives home just how out of touch with anything approaching reality...just how insane the Angry Left really is.

Gedaliya said...

And Nixon never wiretapped his domestic political opponents. Sheer paranoia to even contemplate the idea.

It's a risk, to be sure.

The question is, what is the greater risk? Is our freedom more threatened by our Islamic mortal enemies or by the U.S. intelligence agencies who monitor their overseas calls?

Do you really believe that George Bush is a greater threat to our freedom than Al Qaeda?

Jeff said...

George Bush goes away after the next election. Will Al Qaeda?

Fen said...

/ignoring the hysteical chicken-little for a sec

Bruce, if you have the time could you address my question? My understanding is that intel picked up by NSA cannot be used in a court of law against US citizens for non-terror related criminal activity?

Example: NSA indavertently picks up an international bewtween Keven Drum and a Columbian drug cartel, arranging for delivery of narcotics into the US. Is NSA obligated to report this to FBI/DEA?

Also, assuming evidence gathered by NSA on such criminal activity is barred from court, is there any legal reason to prevent NSA from tipping off FBI/DEA to start their own investigation of Kevin Drum's illegal activity?

P. Rich said...

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of a computer program deep in the bowels of an NSA computer deep in the bowels of an NSA computer center, some secret instructions are watching for YOU. This program and millions like it are monitoring millions of communications every hour in hundreds of languages in thousands of dialects looking for threatening keywords like "lunch", or "Ann", or maybe "vagina".

They then record these critical conversations of interest and queue them up for immediate attention by the 7.4 Billion full-time NSA analysts who do nothing else 24/7, not even eat or sleep. Really. So be very afraid, Pookie, because we all know Uncle Sam is keenly concerned with everything you say. Honest. No kidding.

Revenant said...

The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll never misuse this power. They never have before, have they?

I realize that's a rhetorical question, but... have they? I assume they have, but I can't think of examples of the US government abusively wiretapping overseas calls by American citizens. Domestic calls, sure -- plenty of examples there. But so few American citizens make overseas calls that I'd be surprised if there had been much abuse in that area.

That's one of the reasons I think most Americans don't seem really bothered by this. We don't make calls to other countries. In my case, at least, if I *did* make calls to another country I wouldn't much care if they got monitored, since it is a given that the OTHER country's government can probably monitor the call if it wants to, too (even most Western nations have little in the way of wiretapping restrictions).

Fritz said...

Christopher exemplifies the cynical partisan side of the argument. Would President Bush's polling numbers be this low if he were monitoring his political opponents, the folks that drive down his numbers, conversations? Oh, that would be Russia.

Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doyle said...

I'm sorry, but reading some of the comments to this post really drives home just how out of touch with anything approaching reality... just how insane the Angry Left really is.

I know! Isn't it crazy that they don't trust the executive branch to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate surveillance of Americans? And that they resent a law restricting such surveillance was violated in secret (despite Bush's explicit reassurances) and then, once discovered, changed to remove basically all the restrictions?

Don't they know that if the government has to show cause, the terrorists have won?

As P. Rich points out, the only reason people don't think this is a great idea is because they're vain and think the government is going to spy on them personally.

Or maybe they like terrorists! I mean, those New York City liberals just loved all the attention they got on 9/11, and they probably want it to happen again.

Doyle said...

Do you really believe that George Bush is a greater threat to our freedom than Al Qaeda?

Bush basically serves Al Qaeda by giving them what they want: the ability to strike mortal fear into Americans 7 years since their last attack.

It's the fear that lets Bush do whatever he wants, and he cultivates it accordingly.

Fritz said...

Doyle,
Head in the sand. How did that Clinton policy work by not bringing attention to bin Laden? I distincly remember State Department's Jamie Rubin telling CNN viewers that we kept a low profile for bin Laden so as not to make him a hero. I think bin Laden did a fine job on his own when he blew up the embassies.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bush basically serves Al Qaeda by giving them what they want: the ability to strike mortal fear into Americans 7 years since their last attack.

Doyle

Do you really believe that AQ wants us scared or dead? Look at it from AQ’s point of view. Up until 9/11, they pretty much operated with impunity save the occasional cruise missile strike on a tent or aspirin factory. Now, you have an administration that is actively hunting them down. The rhetoric that all this ‘curtailing of civil liberties’ is just that, rhetoric. The idea that the jihadists are giving each other high fives because we have chipped away at one more of our cherished rights is absurd.

Do you think AQ wants a scared America or a complacent one which views Islamic terrorism as a nuisance?

John Stodder said...

That's one of the reasons I think most Americans don't seem really bothered by this. We don't make calls to other countries. In my case, at least, if I *did* make calls to another country I wouldn't much care if they got monitored, since it is a given that the OTHER country's government can probably monitor the call if it wants to, too (even most Western nations have little in the way of wiretapping restrictions).

This is an extremely good point. We have no expectation that our rights will be honored in any of our dealings in other countries unless we are intimately familiar with the laws and legal practices in those countries. Therefore, it simply doesn't strike most Americans as inappropriate that we would take such a minimal step to protect our own people.

I was just reading this morning an article about the old comic Mort Sahl. He was a thinking man's comedian of the 50s, a liberal who supported Kennedy but didn't consider himself in Kennedy's pocket. After JFK was elected, he started making jokes about, believe or not, Kennedy and mobsters! Also, jokes about Joe Kennedy's wealth. The Kennedys were not amused, and all of a sudden, nightclubs stopped booking Sahl. One exception was the famous "hungry i" in San Francisco. As a result, the owner of the hungry i was subjected to a punishing tax audit and driven out of business.

I've heard no outrage about this revelation -- ever. But if there had been, the correct response would not be "let's stop tax audits." It would be for the specific abuse of power to be revealed and if necessary prosecuted. We must be vigilant in watching the watchers, but that doesn't mean we should deprive the watchers of the tools they need to carry out their responsibilities.

TMink said...

Christopher wrote: "It's about the Bushies granting themselves the power to spy on their domestic political oppononents."

The "Bushies" are spying on the Republicans? Because lately, that has been the "Bushies" enemy on illegal immigration amnesty.

Nixon absolutely did illegal spying on his political opponents, when he was up for re-election. For the "Bushies" this is a fait accompli.

Trey

Gedaliya said...

It's the fear that lets Bush do whatever he wants, and he cultivates it accordingly.

Do you disagree with the proposition that we should cultivate and maintain a healthy fear of Al Qaeda, given its stated determination to destroy our nation and way of life?

MadisonMan said...

Do you disagree with the proposition that we should cultivate and maintain a healthy fear of Al Qaeda

I do. We should respect their abilities, yes. We shouldn't fear them -- the way of life in the US as founded 200+ years ago is far more congruent with human desires and therefore ultimately destined to prevail.

That sounds really boastful, but it's not meant to be.

Smilin' Jack said...

I really don't care if the government monitors my calls and email--except that that's what I'm afraid they're going to be doing. Unbreakable encryption of voice and email is so easy these days that any competent terrorist is going to use it. So the gov't is limited to listening to people like me...the electronic equivalent of the TSA confiscating shampoo and nailclippers from grandmothers at airports.

Revenant said...

christopher wrote,

Somewhere in hell, Richard Nixon is laughing out his ass.

and

Richard Nixon is laughing out his ass in hell.

Apparently hell's a lot more fun than we've been led to believe.

Seriously, though... how's this law going to help Bush spy on his domestic political opponents? It only applies to overseas calls. Unless they find themselves in dire need of more campaign contributions I don't see the Democrats making a lot of politically sensitive overseas calls.

Gedaliya said...

We should respect their abilities, yes. We shouldn't fear them -- the way of life in the US as founded 200+ years ago is far more congruent with human desires and therefore ultimately destined to prevail.

This is...bizarre. I agree that we are "ultimately destined to prevail," but I believe this only because I trust our political leadership to take prudent measures to protect us from Al Qaeda's (and our other mortal enemies') designs.

We take many measures, such as deploying worldwide the most powerful armed forces on the planet, maintaining a 10,000 warhead nuclear arsenal, sustaining a global intelligence-gathering capability, and much much more, precisely because we fear that our enemies will destroy us if given a chance.

Do you really believe that we will prevail against our mortal enemies based only on the abstract idea
that our political system is "more congruent with human desires"?

PatCA said...

So that's the argument from the left: we're criminal, stupid...if we agree to a law that unfortunately is needed to weaken our enemy's ability to harm us. Unfortunate, but pretty much less draconian than laws during any other wartime. But I believer we're at war because Osama declared same.

I always find it interesting that anti-Bushies always tout the 7 years of no major attacks but fail to give any credit to Bush's policies for that 7 years of no major attacks. I guess AQ just accomplished their goals, ran out of suicide pilots, what?

tjl said...

"the way of life in the US as founded 200+ years ago is far more congruent with human desires and therefore ultimately destined to prevail."

A way of life, no matter how desirable, won't prevail without any defensive effort on the part of its citizens. The Romans too had a desirable way of life, but it ceased to prevail when they chose to luxuriate at the baths instead of serving in the legions.

Revenant said...

the way of life in the US as founded 200+ years ago is far more congruent with human desires and therefore ultimately destined to prevail.

The irony of that statement, of course, is that for most of that 200 years the federal government had the right to spy on communications between Americans and people overseas, particularly during wartime.

The notion that it *doesn't* have that right is of very recent vintage, and is younger than at least. Congress has just put things back the way they used to be.

Revenant said...

and is younger than at least.

That should read "is younger than at least some of the people reading this".

Cedarford said...

Yachira said...
Kevin Drum says: "...They never have before, have they?"

Good question. Have they?


The "Founders" read all mail they found coming from loyalists and burned down loyalist newspaper presses. All soldier's mail was reviewed by officers before being sent. Agents eavesdropped on gatherings of citizens and listened for a slip of the tongue - which is how Major Andre 1st came under suspicion. Then they opened his mail w/o warrant and nailed him.

Lincoln had every telegraph wire the Union forces encountered tapped. All captured Confederate mail opened. All authorized posts, newspapers, dispatches from the Confederacy to citizens or businesses in the North were opened and reviewed before being allowed to go to recipients.

The Wilson administration monitored every wire sent to and from abroad during WWI years before our entry. The US began (and never ended) monitoring the early version of cell phones - the shortwave radio. HAM operators have ALWAYS had signals intercept as part of their "license" the Feds give out talk to one another. All underseas cable messages were captured, any that appeared to be in code were investigated.

In WWII, FDR went back to looking at all undersea cable calls, even all those between Hawaii and the mainland. All mail sent by US soldiers was opened and censored. All mail sent to and from Hawaii and any foreign country was opened and monitored. Suspected enemy agents in the US, citizens or not, had their phones tapped by FDR's Administration with full approval of Congress.

Cold War - with nukes and 100's of thousands of tons of nerve gas and biowar agents ready to go in the Soviet Union? We did all sorts of stuff listening in without the divine blessing of mighty lawyers in black robes.

In war, the choices are simple. Do you favor enemy civil rights more than American lives? Some "lovers of law" like Feingold, claim you can serve both equally - but war by it's nature does not seek "equality" between our lives and the "precious rights of enemy".

Cedarford said...

MadisonMan said...
You are living proof that the internet can be accessed from an internet cafe in Teheran, Damascus, Pyongyang, etc.,

Proof would be the ip address of the posting machine. I don't understand why you equate disagreement with a governmental policy/law as something more nefarious.

Except certain Blogs and Forums HAVE caught Islamists from KSA, Iran, Pakistan, UK, France posing as "concerned American citizens" that oppose the "burning of the American Constitution" or other rants made in the persona of a Lefty. Some even use Jewish names and go on pro-Israel Blogs. Sometimes they are caught by language barriers or dumb slips like calling Bush "godless one".

Other times the Blog owner reveals the Lefty dissenter who is "in patriotic disagreement" with US policies actually has an ISP in Cairo, Egypt.

It would be nice if we started weeding out the Islamists posing as Lefties with a new practice in the Blogosphere to identify country of origin - so we can see what is the unvarnished Left opposition who are US citizens, and for that matter. Also, at least flag the Euroweenies who post and wail about "precious terrorist liberties" and "all the root causes of Islamist terror lay with the faults of the West" on top of their Islamist allies.

Gedaliya said...

It would be nice if we started weeding out the Islamists posing as Lefties with a new practice in the Blogosphere to identify country of origin - so we can see what is the unvarnished Left opposition who are US citizens, and for that matter.

This is silly and overwrought. I hope you're not serious.

Moreover, I frequently travel to India on business, and not too infrequently I submit various postings while I'm there. What will your "country of origin" information say about me?

Cedarford said...

Probably, if certain blogs begin tracking origin:

ISP Source: India, Kolcut area.

Like it or not, strategic communications are a big part of the struggle against radical Islamist ideology.

They are infiltrating our Websites posing as Britons or Americans or what have you, to spread disinformation or oppose policy pretending they are citizens. Since many Leftist positions are consonant with radical Islamists, that is a logical false ID to take

Seven Machos said...

Wait a minute. I thought George W. Bushies was borderline retarded and the stupidest person ever.

But the Bushies and their evil minions are able to brilliantly create ways to spy on their domestic political opponents under the guise of fighting terrorists.

But everybody hates Bush and he is the most unpopular president ever and the Democrats will win the presidency in a blowout in 2008, so why would Bush want to give this kind of power to Democrats?

How do you kooky leftist keep all of these absurd fables straight?

But, yeah, we're the dumbasses on the right. We're the sheeple. Okay, then.

Roger said...

Good God--where do idiots like Christopher live? Spy on opponents in a lame duck administration? that has 15 months left? and a democratic controlled congress who voted for it?

I bet ole Chris is checking for those black helicopters every nite-get help Chris--and remember, just because your paranoid doesnt mean Rove isnt out to get you.

Theo Boehm said...

Cedarford:  I enjoy your comments here, even though you say...uh..."controversial" things from time to time.  But, I've got to tell you, you're way out there on this one.

First of all, trying to keep track of ISP's so we'll know if we're reading "real" Americans, is indeed "silly and overwrought."  Anyone brighter than the inside of a moose will know that there is no end of slime oozing from the Internet, including false flag propaganda.  And anyone equally bright will also know how to evaluate what they read, and be able to get alternative views and correctives on the same Internet.  The main uses of the Internet are porn, lies, and money, in whatever order you choose, and everyone understands that.  But that same free-for-all provides the mechanism for self-correction, and I frankly don't any more easily-circumvented "security" or "information" to clot things up to no purpose.

Which brings me to my second point.  I lie about my ISP all the time.  I'm lying to you now.  My ISP changes all the time, and it appears I'm in Germany, the UK, Australia, Thailand, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, etc.  I do this for most casual Web surfing and blogging for security reasons.  Only when I need to announce my ISP, such as when doing secure transactions, etc., do I allow my "real" ISP to be broadcast.  How do I do this?  With this handy little piece of software.  It's not perfectly secure, by any means, but it does prevent most casual hacking.  And if the NSA can still monitor my online activities, I don't care, because I never do anything illegal.  The Government can inspect my boring online life anytime it wants, but I sure as hell don't want purveyors of, say, "Hot Russian Babes" to do the same.

I am as American as you can get.  I am Davy Crockett's great-great-great grandson.  I am a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and related to a Delegate to the Constitutional Convention.  I am also descended from turn-of-the century immigrants who came through Ellis Island.  But you know what?  My computer network is telling you I'm German.

Go figure.

Revenant said...

Anyone brighter than the inside of a moose

Nice turn of phrase.

PatCA said...

Cedarford,
Thank you for the historical perspective on wartime eavesdropping. If more people thought historically instead of emotionally, we would have different politics indeed.

My question is, why do people on the left so diligently ignore history? Are they too far removed from WWII or from the Depression to contemplate real danger or privation?