Monday, December 19, 2005

Jonathan Alter - TRAITOR >link<

Well, the liberals are doing their best to convert the NSA monitoring program, a program reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel and by Congress, into a scandal. Take a look at what Jonathan Alter at NEWSWEEK has to say:

Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Yes. A President focused on protecting the American public from attacks by terrorists from overseas has run afoul of the liberal mainstream media's sense of morality. The media will try to present this monitoring program in a light that will trigger a sense of outrage in Americans, who generally don't like the idea of the government snooping around in their private dealings.

We don't know the procedures followed by the agents carrying out this program. We don't know how specific communications were chosen for monitoring. But that does not matter. The MSM is going to howl about the very fact of the monitoring...and if it turns out that it was highly constrained and Congress was briefed...who cares...they want to bring Bush down.

And just look at how Alter is fantasizing:

This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

Alter has already convicted this President, even though he has no idea of what actually happened.

Odd thing is, American may not respond the way the liberals want. A peek over at the Volokh Conspiracy shows a split. Some people are angry; others wonder what the big deal is. I feel that if there were appropriate procedural safeguards, then these warrantless "searches" were legal and justified. 3,000 American died on 9/11 because the Justice Department would not allow the FBI to search the computer hard drive of Zacarias Moussaoui.

What do the liberals want? "Search warrants" before each and every bombing run by the US Air Force? Reading "Miranda" rights with loud speakers during battle to enemy soldiers?

The liberal argue that the FISA was good enough and that there was no excuse for avoiding its warrant requirement. But, Byron York over at NRO had a different take on this:

People familiar with the process say the problem is not so much with the court itself as with the process required to bring a case before the court. "It takes days, sometimes weeks, to get the application for FISA together," says one source. "It's not so much that the court doesn't grant them quickly, it's that it takes a long time to get to the court. Even after the Patriot Act, it's still a very cumbersome process. It is not built for speed, it is not built to be efficient. It is built with an eye to keeping [investigators] in check." And even though the attorney general has the authority in some cases to undertake surveillance immediately, and then seek an emergency warrant, that process is just as cumbersome as the normal way of doing things.

Lawmakers of both parties recognized the problem in the months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. They pointed to the case of Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who ran up against a number roadblocks in her effort to secure a FISA warrant in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the al Qaeda operative who had taken flight training in preparation for the hijackings. Investigators wanted to study the contents of Moussaoui's laptop computer, but the FBI bureaucracy involved in applying for a FISA warrant was stifling, and there were real questions about whether investigators could meet the FISA court's probable-cause standard for granting a warrant. FBI agents became so frustrated that they considered flying Moussaoui to France, where his computer could be examined. But then the attacks came, and it was too late.

Rowley wrote up her concerns in a famous 13-page memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller, and then elaborated on them in testimony to Congress. "Rowley depicted the legal mechanism for security warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, as burdensome and restrictive, a virtual roadblock to effective law enforcement," Legal Times reported in September 2002.

So, we had a monitoring program that was closely monitored by the Attorney General or the President...a program that members of Congress were briefed about.

There is a real scandal here...somebody at the CIA or the NSA is leaking copious amounts of highly classified information to the NY Times and the Washington Post. This needs to end. It is high time that a full investigation be conducted to identify the leakers and have them face criminal charges.


Blogger David Bailey said...

You may be interested to learn that Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who first brought the Moussaoui case to light, has explicitly criticized Bush's surveillance of U.S. citizens. Moreover, she debunks three right-wing myths about the Moussaoui case, insisting that it was institutional incompetence which caused problems in the Moussaoui case, not FISA. She concludes by noting that any bureaucratic hurdles which may have existed prior to 9/11 were cleared away by the Patriot Act.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Lucius Cornelius said...

Well, since Ms. Rowley is running for Congress, probably as a Dem, think her criticism might be politically motivated.

8:25 PM  

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