Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Heather Wilson Stands Up To Rove

As Gomer would say....Suuprzze Suprzze..

The lawmaker, Representative Heather A. Wilson of New Mexico, chairwoman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, said in an interview that she had "serious concerns" about the surveillance program. By withholding information about its operations from many lawmakers, she said, the administration has deepened her apprehension about whom the agency is monitoring and why.

Ms. Wilson, who was a National Security Council aide in the administration of President Bush's father, is the first Republican on either the House's Intelligence Committee or the Senate's to call for a full Congressional investigation into the program, in which the N.S.A. has been eavesdropping without warrants on the international communications of people inside the United States believed to have links with terrorists..........................................

Ms. Wilson said in the interview Tuesday that she considered the limited Congressional briefings to be "increasingly untenable" because they left most lawmakers knowing little about the program. She said the House Intelligence Committee needed to conduct a "painstaking" review, including not only classified briefings but also access to internal documents and staff interviews with N.S.A. aides and intelligence officials.

Thank you for your leadership Heather, God Bless ya.

Russ On The Wiretaps

This illegal wiretaps thing is big. This is something that could affect any American. It is ultimately a story of unchecked power. No Real American wants that. This is the one that can bring him down. I promise you. He just made a huge mistake. Or he's pushing the envelope to see how far he can get. The push back should be immediate. It will certainly come eventually. Some of us are ready for it to go no farther.

See the full speech here.

The President of the United States has broken the law. The President of the United States is trying to mislead the American people. And he needs to be held accountable.

Unfortunately, the President refuses to provide any details about this domestic spying program. Not even the full Intelligence committees know the details, and they were specifically set up to review classified information and oversee the intelligence activities of our government. Instead, the President says – “Trust me.”

This is not the first time we’ve heard that. In the lead-up to the Iraq war, the Administration went on an offensive to get the American public, the Congress, and the international community to believe its theory that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, and even that he had ties to Al Qaeda. The President painted a dire – and inaccurate – picture of Saddam Hussein’s capability and intent, and we invaded Iraq on that basis. To make matters worse, the Administration misled the country about what it would take to stabilize and reconstruct Iraq after the conflict. We were led to believe that this was going to be a short endeavor, and that our troops would be home soon.

We all recall the President’s “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003. In fact, the mission was not even close to being complete. More than 2100 total deaths have occurred after the President declared an end to major combat operations in May of 2003, and over 16,600 American troops have been wounded in Iraq.
The President misled the American people and grossly miscalculated the true challenge of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.

In December, we found out that the President has authorized wiretaps of Americans without the court orders required by law. He says he is only wiretapping people with links to terrorists, but how do we know? We don’t. The President is unwilling to let a neutral judge make sure that is the case. He will not submit this program to an independent branch of government to make sure he’s not violating the rights of law-abiding Americans.
So I don’t want to hear again that this Administration has shown it can be trusted. It hasn’t. And that is exactly why the law requires a judge to review these wiretaps...............

None of the President’s arguments explains or excuses his conduct, or the NSA’s domestic spying program. Not one. It is hard to believe that the President has the audacity to claim that they do. It is a strategy that really hinges on the credibility of the office of the Presidency itself. If you just insist that you didn’t break the law, you haven’t broken the law. It reminds me of what Richard Nixon said after he had left office: “Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.” But that is not how our constitutional democracy works. Making those kinds of arguments is damaging the credibility of the Presidency.

And what’s particularly disturbing is how many members of Congress have responded. They stood up and cheered. They stood up and cheered.

Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
The President’s actions are indefensible. Freedom is an enduring principle. It is not something to celebrate in one breath, and ignore the next. Freedom is at the heart of who we are as a nation, and as a people. We cannot be a beacon of freedom for the world unless we protect our own freedoms here at home.

The President was right about one thing. In his address, he said “We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.”

Yes, Mr. President. We do love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it. We will fight to defeat the terrorists who threaten the safety and security of our families and loved ones. And we will fight to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans against intrusive government power.
As the President said, we must always be clear in our principles. So let us be clear: We cherish the great and noble principle of freedom, we will fight to keep it, and we will hold this President – and anyone who violates those freedoms – accountable for their actions. In a nation built on freedom, the President is not a king, and no one is above the law.

As usual, I couldn't say it better. That is why this man is at the top of my list of persons to truly lead this country. Don't be afraid of the "aiding the terrorists" bullshit. Stand up for freedom! Russ is with you and so am I.

Expresso Anyone

The three great essentials to achieving anything worthwhile are: first, hard work; second, stick-to-it-iveness; and third, common sense. – Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, American Inventor/Entrepreneur/Founder of General Electric

Monday, February 06, 2006

They Know How Big This Is Too

Notice this story is from a right leaning website.

The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings.........

Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.

So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove's tactics.

Some have raised doubts about Mr. Rove's strategy of painting the Democrats, who have opposed unwarranted surveillance, as being dismissive of the threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists.

"Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican.

What a badge of honor it may turn out to be if you are on Roves Black list.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Reading Room

King George

Special, I'll do as I please edition

Alby Gonzales will spin the administration line tomorrow on the NSA/warrants situation. More is coming through the week. The right will bring out the fear and guilt in full force this week. Who's patriotic enough to save us from the bad guys. We all want to get the people trying to destroy us. The question is have they done it legally? If not why not? Does the law need to be modified? Good time to study up.

Here is a story from the Washington Post. It is long but full of interesting details.

Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls, as well. That step still requires a warrant from a federal judge, for which the government must supply evidence of probable cause

The scale of warrantless surveillance, and the high proportion of bystanders swept in, sheds new light on Bush's circumvention of the courts. National security lawyers, in and out of government, said the washout rate raised fresh doubts about the program's lawfulness under the Fourth Amendment, because a search cannot be judged "reasonable" if it is based on evidence that experience shows to be unreliable......

The minimum legal definition of probable cause, said a government official who has studied the program closely, is that evidence used to support eavesdropping ought to turn out to be "right for one out of every two guys at least." Those who devised the surveillance plan, the official said, "knew they could never meet that standard -- that's why they didn't go through" the court that supervises the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA

Michael J. Woods, who was chief of the FBI's national security law unit until 2002, said in an e-mail interview that even using the lesser standard of a "reasonable basis" requires evidence "that would lead a prudent, appropriately experienced person" to believe the American is a terrorist agent. If a factor returned "a large number of false positives, I would have to conclude that the factor is not a sufficiently reliable indicator and thus would carry less (or no) weight

But gee folks, If we don't break the law you are all gonna die!

Gonzales says there "is a serious misconception" about those provisions, and that the administration could not begin surveillance "without knowing that we meet FISA's normal requirements." He said a FISA application "involves a substantial process" that "consumes valuable resources and results in significant delay," when what is needed is "the maximum in speed and agility."

And of course politics will be big here.

So, to recap: right as the investigation is about to begin into the President's law-breaking, the Vice President goes on talk radio and accuses those responsible for disclosure of this law-breaking (including The New York Times) of causing ''enormous damage to our national security." The Director of the CIA then urges that those responsible for disclosing the President's illegal conduct be criminally prosecuted by the Justice Department (which is controlled by the President's slavishly loyal political appointees), and the Vice President says that, if anything, the CIA Director's comments were too restrained (should he have called for them to be summarily hung?).

This is thuggish behavior of the worst sort. Intimidating and threatening people who expose wrongdoing and illegality are the hallmarks of street gangs and military juntas. The idea that anything meaningful was disclosed when we learned that our Government is eavesdropping without judicial oversight and approval (rather than with it) has always been frivolous on its face. But the statement from Cheney that this disclosure caused ''enormous damage to our national security" is dishonest trash, transparently intended -- on the eve of the NSA hearings -- to stir up populist rage against anyone who blows the whistle on misconduct by the Administration and to intimidate other potential whistle-blowers with threats of criminal prosecution and treason accusations from the highest levels of our government.

Disturbingly, all of this has an effect, even -- perhaps especially -- on the Democrats in the Senate. They are not foaming at the mouth with anticipation for these hearings to be begin. They are approaching it with trepidation and concern about being depicted, yet again, as allies of Al Qaeda -- not just by the boundlessly dishonest and propagandizing Administration, but also by our "neutral" press which fails to convey the actual issues raised by this scandal, and which continues to propagate the false debate that this is about whether we should be eavesdropping on Al Qaeda.Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised on Monday and will see some aggressive and meaningful questioning from Senators from both parties who understand that one of their most central constitutional duties is to serve as a check on excesses by the Executive Branch

The opening statement does not address criticism by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a possible Presidential candidate, that Gonzales misled senators during his confirmation hearing in January 2005. During the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales whether, in his opinion, the President has "the authority acting as commander in chief to authorize warrantless searches of Americans' homes and wiretaps of their conversations in violation of the criminal and foreign intelligence surveillance statutes of this country." Gonzales, whose answer addressed administration policy on torture, replied that the senator was discussing "a hypothetical situation."

To me this is a critically important issue. Unfortunately for those in support of the president we just can't have secret laws and unchecked power. The constitution prohibits it. We have a checks and balances government and the legislative makes the laws. These are undisputable facts. Should the laws be changed? It is the 21st century and things have changed. I am all for having tools to fight terrorism. I just don't want unchecked power. I will sacrifice safety to prohibit unchecked power. Many won't and that is where the fear fear fear comes in.

This decision will become "precedent" other presidents may invoke them on their own terms. And who can doubt that one case of immunity will bring about claims to another? This is not/should not, be a partisan issue. This is fundamentals of constitutionalism. For those who hate "activist" judges IE ones that make their own law as they go along(as I understand your terms), What about a president that makes them up as he goes along? Is that ok? I want to know now because I want to throw it in your face when you whine about Hillary when she exercises the same power. I would also like to know ahead of time to what extent the president can override and circumvent the law. Shouldn't we have a few benchmarks here?

If you feel this law breaking is OK you and I have a dramatically different view of Real America.