The Impeach Bush Bandwagon

It’s begun, over here. Apparently, authorizing the NSA to spy on US citizens on US soil may not be entirely legal.

For the record: I think we need another impeachment process almost exactly as much as I need to strap a salmon to my scalp and headbutt a grizzly.

And oddly enough, I’m feeling a little sorry for our president. He was working up a nice head of approval steam this last week, taking responsibility for intelligence failures in Iraq and all that, and then all that gets tubed by this whole spying thing. The guy just can’t catch a break; other presidents may have had worse years in their administrations than Bush has had in 2005, but not many. The guy clearly needs a hug.

Mind you, I’m not feeling so sorry for the man that I think we need to let this whole domestic spying thing slip past us. Oh, my. Let’s not.

53 Comments on “The Impeach Bush Bandwagon”

  1. I think you are quoting the article out of context:

    “The aim of the program was to rapidly monitor the phone calls and other communications of people in the United States believed to have contact with suspected associates of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups overseas.”

    Translation: Your calls to your neighbors in Ohio are probably safe.

    There is a Middle Eastern professor in Florida who was found guilty of funneling $ to terrorists. And we all know that Al Queda has successfully placed Al Queda operatives in the U.S. (You might recall that they hijacked some planes about 5 years ago.) If the government wants to listen in to calls made by these individuals, so what?

    Given your extensive experience in law enforcement and intelligence gathering, how would you suggest that the government monitor terrorist operatives living in the United States? Or don’t you think that this is important work?

  2. Todd: You’re that guy that runs the Jesus’s General website, aren’t you? Admit it…

    Your trust in the government to do the right thing, in the face of overwhelming evidence, is touching…no, lemme scratch that, touched…that’s what I’m looking for.

    All the FBI has to do is get a warrant under their expanded powers granted to them by the disingenuously-named Patriot Act. Nobody’s saying that the FBI shouldn’t do it’s job. They’re simply saying that a blanket permission slip, by presidential fiat, is likely illegal, and certainly a bad idea.

  3. Todd, that’s why God invented warrants.

    The part of the article that I’d read that concerned me the most was the fact that they stopped the surveillance because the agents were concerned about the illegality. Man, when your field ops are concerned, you know you’re doing something wrong.

    K

  4. Well, you know, Todd, as it happens, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act quite amply allows for the Attorney General to authorize emergency surveillance on suspects for up to 72 hours, while a warrant is authorized. So everything you are so vaporous about can be handled without circumventing the law on a presidential whim. Also, the funny thing about our Constitution is that it doesn’t allow the president to be above the law.

    So, Todd, you can take your snark and shove it square and hard right back up your own ass.

    P.S. Is this the Middle Eastern professor from Florida you were speaking of? Funny, this article says he was acquitted on about half the charges, and that the jury deadlocked on the other half. Which is not exactly the same as “guilty,” now, is it. But I guess since you’re not actually concerned about the law, that wouldn’t matter to you.

  5. NYT Apologetically “breaks” old news of domestic spying illegalities

    The New York Times, in the biggest faux splash of the month, appeared to break a story on Bush-authorized illegal domestic intelligence gathering by the National Security Agency.
    Strangely, as if the publishing of illicit affairs within the administr…

  6. John writes: “Well, you know, Todd, as it happens, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act quite amply allows for the Attorney General to authorize emergency surveillance on suspects for up to 72 hours, while a warrant is authorized.”

    John, you are a nice guy, but you just don’t live in the real world. You need to step outside your home office and your online circle of lemmings now and then.

    72 hours may be adequate to gather information on a low-level drug dealer, but conducting surveillance on Al Queda is significantly more complicated…They are smart enough to speak in code, frequently change telephones, and guess what–they are also speaking Arabic. In order to get the information needed to justify that *warrant*, you pretty much need to monitor them all the time. If you have read any military history at all, you will know that gathering intelligence on an enemy depended on surveillance. But this time there are enemies on American soil. 9/11 proved that.

    Legal distinctions aside, you seem to be forgetting the context in which the Patriot Act was passed. We lost thousands of American lives, and Al Queda is actively trying to engineer an even bigger massacre next time. (A fact which you have yet to acknowledge in this thread. Or don’t you think there is a threat, John?)

    I am glad that someone is protecting your family. Perhaps someday you will acquire the maturity to realize it.

  7. Todd, the 72 hour limit is on a non-warranted wiretap or surveilance. The 72 hour limit is not so that the government can get information, it’s so that they don’t miss information while they’re getting the proper legal clearance. Explain why the government can’t get a warrant? They have probable cause, but it’s 11pm on a Saturday night. So they place the wiretaps, with the AG’s permission, and then they get a goddamn warrant. What’s so hard about that? NSA surveillance on civilians is not about security – it’s about secrecy.

    K

  8. “John, you are a nice guy, but you just don’t live in the real world. You need to step outside your home office and your online circle of lemmings now and then.”

    Todd, you may or may not be an intelligent person with an interesting and thought provoking point of view but I’ll never know. I won’t read past the point that you show yourself to be an unbelievable asshole.

  9. I’m pretty sure that the Coast Guard’s Waterway Watch program lists wearing a salmon on your head as one of things that marks a person as a possible terrorist.

    Expect to hear clicks on your calls to friends and family.

  10. Todd:

    “John, you are a nice guy, but you just don’t live in the real world.”

    Todd, you don’t know me, so you haven’t got the first clue about the world in which I live. So on that score, kiss my ass. Also, don’t presume to lecture me on “the real world” when you are apparently profoundly ignorant of what the scope of the law allows in persuing those who would attack our country. It makes you look both stupid and condescending.

    You want people to feel that the rule of law can’t provide them security, but as I and others in the thread have pointed out to you, it certainly can. Your “72 hours isn’t enough” argument is idiotic, for the reason Kevin Q has noted. As for “Someone is protecting my family,” don’t give me that crap. If the Bush administration was doing such a fine job “protecting my family,” it wouldn’t have been given a failing grade on security by the bipartisan 9/11 commission. If you’re going to convince me that such a bunch of chronic incompetents needs to circumvent the law to achieve our safety, you’re going to have to do a lot more than try to belittle my grasp of the situation and to pull a bunch of jingoistic crap out of your own ass.

    In any event, I’m not about to give any creedence to someone who waves away the rule of law with the phrase “legal distinctions aside.” As Ben Franklin — who knew from imminent danger — said: “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” I’m not about to give up my liberty for you to ignorantly feel you are more secure.

  11. This following two paragraphs from Captain’s Quarter’s blog summarize the NYT article today and the legality of the NSA action:

    “One has to bounce around the article to put this together, in typical NYT fashion, but the core of the issue is this: the NSA and the administration defined international communications as including those where one end — and one end only — occurs in the US. Anything else still requires a warrant, as the Times acknowledges. Moreover, this effort did not take place in darkness. The FISA court did get informed of the issue, and the leaders of the oversight committees in both houses of Congress from both parties took part in the decision. It does not appear that the Bush administration sought to hide this from the other two branches of government, but sought to include them in the oversight of the new process as much as possible within the secrecy needed to conduct the program during wartime.

    And the program paid off. Information developed during the NSA effort kept al-Qaeda from destroying the Brooklyn Bridge in 2003 when Iyman Faris got captured before he could initiate the attack. He pled guilty to terror-related charges and is now serving a long prison sentence for his part in the conspiracy. If one reads further into the long and detailed article, the Bush administration received precedential decisions from courts that acknowledged the executive authority to wage war included a broader authority to set the parameters of espionage in order to guarantee security. Clearly, the administration has sought to comply with the letter of the law while getting the best possible information as quickly as it could to prevent another devastating terrorist attack.”

    In view of the fact lots of Democrats in congress were aware of this program from the start and the positive results it has yielded, I think it highly unlikely that the Democrats will want to position themselves against a president that is clearly taken a legal action designed to protect americans from terrorists. Also, the NYT article stated that the process for getting a warrant from the FISA court can take up to six months. I have no idea why an inherently law enforcement matter would be so sluggish.

  12. Well, chances are pretty good that if you cordoned off a few city blocks of New York City and then cavity searched every habitation and inhabitant within that area, it’d turn up positive results by the paddywagon full. Doesn’t make it legal or a good idea for the Prez to authorize.

    Useful ends do not justify illegal means. If they did, a whole lot of murderers would go free on the entirely valid argument that the person they killed made the world a better place when he or she stopped breathing.

    Laws are there to assure that all immediately positive results are acheived without permanently disfiguring losses of rights, trust and freedom. Domestic or not, those taps should have been warranted. The fact that they weren’t, and that this was the President’s idea, does more harm to our country than any terrorists they may or may not have caught could ever do.

    As the wife of a contractor, I well know that termites, mold and rot damage slowly undermining a structure from within are always far more damaging, extensive and harder to repair than broken windows, busted doors or a hole in the roof. The same holds true for any infrastructure, up to and including our nation’s government. While immediate damage like a terrorist attack is more attention-getting and frightening, it’s almost always the slow, insidious and nearly undetectable damage from unchecked decay that brings it down, not a sudden and highly localized injury.

    This is in no way to diminish the damage terrorists do. But really, if we let shit like this slide, the terrorists won’t have to do anything at all – we’ll have put our very own oppressive rougue nation in charge of America by our own indifferent hand.

    I say we can have our cake and eat it too. Let’s let warranted searches and taps help our anti-terrorist organizations keep us legally safe from terrorist threats from without, and let impeachment do its work against the people who are doing serious, long-lasting harm to America from within.

  13. Soni:

    Indeed. Anyone who reads this site over the long term knows I am quite supportive of our nation’s ability to track down, contain and punish those who actively threaten it, outside its borders and within them. But we do it our way, and our way is through rule of law and by demanding accountability for the actions that our government takes in our name. Doing so is not only possible, it’s necessary.

    Tim:

    “Also, the NYT article stated that the process for getting a warrant from the FISA court can take up to six months. I have no idea why an inherently law enforcement matter would be so sluggish.”

    Nor do I, and I naturally think it’s troubling if it is. The answer to this is not to circumvent the law, but to fix that court process within the law so it is far more efficient.

    Incidentally, I don’t see this is as Democrat/Republican thing — indeed, traditional conservatives who fear wanton expansion of governmental prerogatives are the natural enemy of this sort of thing. And as it’s Senator Specter who has made the call for hearings on the matter, casting it as solely a left/right issue is probably inaccurate.

    I’d also say that I’m open to hearing how the NSA spying on US citizens on US soil without a warrant is legal, although my first inclination (quite clearly) is to be deeply skeptical of such a claim.

  14. I don’t know which is more alarming: that the administration thought this should be done, or that some people in this country seem OK with them doing it.

    But we shouldn’t be surprised – it follows the same pattern of abuse this administration has used from day one: fixing intelligence to get us into a war with Iraq, torturing detainees, etc., all in the name of protecting us from the terrorists. What a bunch of shit!

    What makes this even worse is it’s possible the NYT knew about this prior to last year’s election and chose not to say anything…

  15. The NYT was follwing a WH request not to talk about it due to the possibility that the people they were monitoring would wise up and stop talking to alleged bad guys on the phone.

    As for Todd and his strange notion that al-Arian was guilty, I think he’s going with the new conservetive definition of guilty, which is, if Bush & Co. say you’re guilty, you’re guilty. No trial needed.

    Trials are a quaint, outdated notion for todays conservatives. What’s needed is a Pinochetization of the American legal process. And who better to do it than the intelectual heirs to the ones who installed Pinochet in the first place?

    Loyal conservative Americans have nothing to fear. Everyone else needs to worry.

  16. John, you are a nice guy, but you just don’t live in the real world. You need to step outside your home office and your online circle of lemmings now and then.

    Yeah, John, you’re not on the front lines like the 101st Fighting Keyboarders.

  17. Josh Jasper:

    “Trials are a quaint, outdated notion for todays conservatives.”

    Well, we’ll see. I do think you’ll see at least some genuine conservatives ringing the bell about this one, because it’s a pretty significant land-grab of governmental power, and governmental land-grabs make actual conservatives very nervous.

    As I noted before, I don’t really think this is a left/right, liberal/conservative thing. I think this is a rational/irrational thing, and there are rational and irrational people on both traditional sides of the political spectrum.

  18. John said “As I noted before, I don’t really think this is a left/right, liberal/conservative thing.”

    But the NYT (and their intended ripple effect on the MSM, which they got) certainly intended to be exactly that.
    Funny how this issue, which does merit some real debate, has its sensational coverage (compared to Tim’s CQ missing context) timed to wipe success in Iraq off the news cycle — even though it was sat on for a year?
    And the apparent linked publication of a related book doesn’t cast any doubt on the NYT’s motives, and therefore slant?

  19. I’ll add that Bush ahs done plenty I don’t care for, and I think that the Patriot Act needs to have certain elements trimmed…
    but I also remember how Reagan was similarly treated with utter hysterics by the left back in the 80s.

    Somehow the Dead Kennedys et al were wrong.

  20. Well, I can’t comment on NYT’s motivations. And from what of the lefty blogs, they’re angry at the NYT for sitting on the story until after last year’s elections. So in addition to everybody being angry at Bush, everyone’s also angry at the NYT.

    I personally think we need to focus on whether the president has the legal authority to authorize these things he’s done, and if he does not, what that means and what we should do next.

  21. The quarters indulging in the usual Bushitler hysteria need to take a good hard look at the fact that the Bush admin briefed BOTH parties in Congress as well as, I believe, some relevant judges.

    The situation is both less dire AND more complicated than the shrillest voices would have one believe. That of course is not to say it should be ignored.

    BTW, John, I finally got my hands on Old Man’s War a couple months ago (library was always out) aftering seeing Reynold’s recommendation. Thumbs Up.

  22. I wholeheartedly concur with what Martin Wagner and Kevin Q had to say so I haven’t got much to add. I was glad to see that the Patriot Act stuff was not just blindly passed through Congress, though. If it had been, then it would have been made quite clear to me that our government has become exactly the government that the Consititution was written to avoid. I get the feeling that the issue is far from being over, but it’s nice to know that people have their eyes open.

    I would also like to thank Toad- er, I mean Todd for pointing out that in enjoying your blog, I am, in fact, a lemming. Does anyone know the html code for a one-finger salute?

  23. Laura: there’s one over here, although I don’t remember the tag that keeps it properly spaced in html.

  24. “Also, the NYT article stated that the process for getting a warrant from the FISA court can take up to six months. I have no idea why an inherently law enforcement matter would be so sluggish.”

    Nor do I, and I naturally think it’s troubling if it is. The answer to this is not to circumvent the law, but to fix that court process within the law so it is far more efficient.

    This is what I like to think of as an engineering problem. There’s a real-world problem (intollerable delays in getting reasonable warrants) that requires a real-world right-now solution. (Because it’s easy to imagine a very successful terrorist operation going from drawing board to body bags in less than six months.)

    First of all, it does sound like the Administration played nicely with the other branches of government on this one.

    Second, just because they played by the rules doesn’t make it right; as someone who travels overseas a lot, it bothers me. As someone who is pretty knee-jerk libertarian, the precedent bothers me.

    Third, even if the policy was required as quick-fix to a perceived threat (a point I’m willing to reluctantly concede) why the hell hasn’t anything been done to fix the FISA thing? Quick-and-dirty engineering solutions usually have limited useful lifetimes.

  25. John,

    I aggree that this is not a Democrat/Republican issue. The appropriate oversite committees in congress have clearly been briefed in since the beginning of this program, over three years ago, and nobody has seemed to have a problem with it.

    The entire issue of legality is addressed by the FISA act which allows warrantless surveillance of international communications. The only issue with a sphincter factor is the administrations ‘definition’ of international communications as any communications where one of the addresses is foreign. The NYT article is difficult to read and not nearly as concise as the CQ summary I provided earlier, but it makes it clear that this definition has been approved by the FISA court and the required oversite committees of congress. The NYT article also makes it clear that FISA court has not been a complete rubberstamp on this issue. It has established a set of procedures and limits on the process and its subsequent evidence in obtaining warrants. My whole point is that the idea that anything in this news represents some breach of law by the executive branch is absurd by the substance of the source from which it came. The NYT article is long, disjointed, and tedious and would allow/encourage someone to jump to the conclusion of ‘impeachable offense’, rather than finish it and get the whole story. The NYT could use some writing tips from you, or maybe they intended to provoke the ‘impeachment buzz’ by writing the article that way.

  26. Mark,

    Your comment:

    “Second, just because they played by the rules doesn’t make it right; as someone who travels overseas a lot, it bothers me. As someone who is pretty knee-jerk libertarian, the precedent bothers me.”

    Is understandable. In the NYT article points out the individual who was convicted of conspiring with Al Queada (spelling?) gave the signal that “the plan wouldn’t work” with the coded phrase “The weather is too hot”. It’s not hard to imagine an individual with perfectly innocent intentions accidentally stumbling into some ‘coded phrase’ and incurring unwanted attention from the feds.

  27. Tim:

    “The NYT could use some writing tips from you.”

    Heh. Possibly. Although I think it was the Washington Post that fore forcefully pressed the point about the possible illegality of the president’s actions.

    As I said, we’ll need to see how this plays out, but my general opinion on impeachment noise is to tell everyone to settle down. Neither other time it was tried did anyone any good, and I doubt the third time’s a charm.

  28. Tim writes: “And the program paid off. Information developed during the NSA effort kept al-Qaeda from destroying the Brooklyn Bridge in 2003 when Iyman Faris got captured before he could initiate the attack.”

    That’s the guy from Ohio who was apparently talking about using BLOWTORCHES to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge. (A bridge which, incidentally, is considerably over-engineered.)

    Blowtorches, Tim.

    There is no man-portable blowtorch large enough to do the job in less than a century of constant effort. The repair crews would probably be able to work faster than the terrorists.

    They might as well have been planning to bring it down with a hail of jelly donuts.

    And this is the evidence you bring of why Bush needs to violate the Constitution?

    Also, we don’t really know exactly how much discussion even happened. The man plead guilty. It never went to trial. He may have plead guilty because otherwise, Bush would have kept him in solitary forever, without ever getting a trial. (As Bush has tried to do with others.)

    If it had gone to trial, it probably would have turned out like the Sami Al-Arian case, where the government laid out reams of evidence, the defense rested without saying anything at all, and the guy was acquitted on half the charges and there was a mistrial on the rest.

    This is pretty poor evidence on which to justify a violation of law of this magnitude.

  29. “The quarters indulging in the usual Bushitler hysteria need to take a good hard look at the fact that the Bush admin briefed BOTH parties in Congress as well as, I believe, some relevant judges.”

    This is also the administration who wants to hold US citizens forever, without trial, and has a hard-on for torture.

    Forgive me if I don’t want to give them any slack. At all. This is an administration that, through its own actions, has shown that it must be kept on a short leash.

  30. John H,

    The statement:

    “And the program paid off. Information developed during the NSA effort kept al-Qaeda from destroying the Brooklyn Bridge in 2003 when Iyman Faris got captured before he could initiate the attack.”

    Was from the second paragraph I quoted from the CQ summary. That part is not accurate. The NYT article did not use the word blowtorch. I believe (could be wrong) they used the words cutting torches. Either way, the suspect realized that plan wasn’t feasible and communicated back to al-Qaeda. The suspect was also given several logistical tasks to perform related to other attack plans, but I forget the exact tasks.

    Again, there is no basis to say that anything that the administration did was not done with the approval of the FISA court and the oversite committees of congress.

    But I do aggree with you on one point, the record of the justice department on getting confictions on the terrorist suspects that they have brought to court is atrocious. It brings up the debatable argument of whether the appropriate venue for confiction is our normal criminal court procedures. The people we’re talking about here aren’t trying to steal a car. They’re deadly fanatics planning random acts of violence designed to kill innocent civilians en masse, with the intention of destabilizing our entire society. The stakes are very high for such judicial incompetence.

  31. Tim, the venue that requires this administration to prove itself beyond a reasonable doubt is absolutely the right venue for these actions. You’re right about the seat of failure here – it is the justice department’s failure. It is their insistence on secrecy here which is damaging American security. If they have evidence which can put terrorists in jail, then they need to come forward with that, and not hide behind a veil of secrecy. They need to realize that most people in the U.S. want to help keep the country safe.

    K

  32. The people we’re talking about here aren’t trying to steal a car.

    What, the defendants? No, they’re innocent.

  33. “They’re deadly fanatics planning random acts of violence designed to kill innocent civilians en masse, with the intention of destabilizing our entire society.”

    So? For this we’re supposed to give up the liberties that make our nation great?

    For some schmuck Texan and his Gestapo retread staff?

    We can handle a little “destabilization”. They can’t destroy the US.

    We can even handle another 9/11. Or three. Hell, we’ve killed ten times as many Iraqis.

    Bush says they hate us for our freedoms, and he’s appeasing them at a record pace by disposing of those freedoms.

  34. Or, to put it another way, Tim, I’m not going to let Bush tear up the Constitution just because you’re pissing yourself in fear. Buy a diaper.

  35. “… as much as I need to strap a salmon to my scalp and headbutt a grizzly.”
    You don’t need to, no, but I’d still pay good money to see it. Talk about images seared into the brain …

  36. I just have to say, that all the crap that has been dumped on Bush’s shoulders in 2005 didn’t appear out of nowhere. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. And with all the secrecy out there these days, your bound to piss somebody off when these things come to light.

  37. taking responsibility for intelligence failures in Iraq and all that

    Yeah, a precise reading shows that he took responsibility by yet again blaming the intelligence agencies. Apparently they were supposed to force him to accept the contrary evidence that he disregarded. What a hero.

    On the matter at hand, when this administration has done something that bothers Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, Bob Barr, and Joe Biden (who was the author of FISA, so what does he know?), and the pooh-poohing is coming from the likes of Captain’s Quarters, I think it’s time to be concerned. Telling members of Congress does not make ignoring the law okay; it just shows how craven Congress has become about its oversight function.

  38. As Ben Franklin — who knew from imminent danger — said: “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

    That quote bugs me everytime I hear it nowadays. Everyone, aside from possibly a few sadistic psychopaths deserves both liberty and security. A dangerous foolishness does not forfit your rights, nor does seduction by the latest tyrant on the block.

    It brings up the debatable argument of whether the appropriate venue for confiction is our normal criminal court procedures.

    That strikes me as a reasonable point. But whatever the venue is, it should provide for some sort of due process. And if the constitution is to mean anything at all, it needs to respect the constitutional rights of at least American citizens.

  39. Jeez, here we go again.

    I understand that this isn’t a Democrat/Republican thing, but it’s certainly a “hate the president reflexively” / “gather all the facts & then form an opinion” thing, both on the part of the NY Times, and many people in this thread.

    Those who gathered all the facts know this: we captured a guy in Iraq and got hold of his cellphone. The phone had recently called numbers on it that were inside the United States. It was likely that word of the capture would reach the owners of those phone numbers within hours, and they would stop using those phones. So, the government tapped the lines. Right away.

    There’s a rational argument that this was a violation of the phone owners’ civil liberties – granted. But then, you keep reading: they only listened to the phone calls out of the country. They briefed congressional leaders from both parties. They briefed the FISA judge. In subsequent iterations of the same events, they even modified the way they took action at FISA’s recommendation. These are simply not the actions of a drunk with power, damn the constitution, secretly flaunt the law administration. To someone who gathers all the facts, it sounds much more like a group that’s trying to cover their asses in every possible way while still trying to do the right thing.

    On top of all that: the dreaded Patriot Act, reviled in these pages and elsewhere, is the act that expanded the coverage of FISA warrants to include terrorist suspects. So those who are now claiming the administration should have waited for a FISA warrant before proceeding are arguing for precisely the actions they so vehemently argued against just a few weeks or months ago. Talk about wanting it both ways…

    Oh, and the fact that the guy they caught pleaded guilty seems to matter to no one…

    As for impeachment: I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: there are those who decided to impeach the next Republican president the day the vote passed on Clinton. This is just the highest profile thing they’ve been able to find so far (after the energy policy, the torture claims, and the WMD’s all fizzled as possible charges). I’m sure they’ll try eventually, especially if they win control of the house in 2006 (John Kerry all but said so recently – sorry – I don’t have the link handy). These folks rightfully believe that an impeachment of Bush will cast Clinton’s impeachment in a “Congress went crazy impeaching presidents” light, rather than a “lied under oath to a grand jury” light.

    All today’s news means is that if they succeed, they need to send a fruit basket to their friends at the NYTimes.

  40. JS: “And oddly enough, I’m feeling a little sorry for our president.”

    I’m not. He wanted the job. Somehow he got the job. Since his performance was apparently so wonderful, he got it again by a whisker. Then goes on to say that 51% is obviously a god-mandate. Between lying about why we went into Iraq –it’s WMD’s! It’s Saddam! It’s freedom — without any plan beyond “get rid of Saddam, expect roses”, extra-ordinary rendition (as opposed to the ordinary kind), refusing to face reality in Iraq (the whole “If-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now-I’d-still-go-into-Iraq-in-exactly-the-same-fashion” thing isn’t the sign of a real winning intellect), that monkey-faced scumbag deserves everything that comes his way.

    On another note: WTH is it with the whole, “The NYT is *obviously* a liberal rag that has been against the resident from the very beginning” thing? This is the same paper that took dictation from the off-White House from the beginning about their justifications for the war in Iraq. Not exactly a qualification for Liberal Rag of the Century.

  41. Brian Greenberg:

    “So those who are now claiming the administration should have waited for a FISA warrant before proceeding are arguing for precisely the actions they so vehemently argued against just a few weeks or months ago. Talk about wanting it both ways…”

    Personally, I’m still wondering what about this executive order could not have been achieved under current law, and again, whether the executive order was fundamentally against the law to begin. Whether Bush was trying to do the right thing or not, he like everyone else has to follow the law.

    Andew Wade:

    “Everyone, aside from possibly a few sadistic psychopaths deserves both liberty and security.”

    Quite clearly. However, the point Franklin was trying to make was that you have to have the former in order to have the latter. Ditching liberty at the first sign of difficulty eventually creates problems for those who thought they were going to get security out of it.

  42. Quite clearly. However, the point Franklin was trying to make was that you have to have the former in order to have the latter. Ditching liberty at the first sign of difficulty eventually creates problems for those who thought they were going to get security out of it.

    I agree. Problem is, people, quite reasonably, aren’t going to actually think about everything they hear. The other potential problem is that I suspect that there are people that would agree with what Franklin literally said. But they’re probably not going to be reading your blog. I’ve had conversations with folks online who have seriously maintained that noone deserves to draw breath.

  43. Well, that’s when you hit them with the flat of a shovel. Because they were asking for it.
    They were asking for it all right. On the other hand they’re probably the biggest victims of their vile philosophy. Either that, or their children. :Shudder:.

  44. Brian Greenberg:

    To someone who gathers all the facts, it sounds much more like a group that’s trying to cover their asses in every possible way while still trying to do the right thing.

    Yes, it does rather sound that way. Thing is, having your heart in the right place is not an excuse for breaking the law. Nor, unfortunately, does it prevent well-meaning acts of evil.

    On top of all that: the dreaded Patriot Act, reviled in these pages and elsewhere, is the act that expanded the coverage of FISA warrants to include terrorist suspects. So those who are now claiming the administration should have waited for a FISA warrant before proceeding are arguing for precisely the actions they so vehemently argued against just a few weeks or months ago. Talk about wanting it both ways…

    Well, there’s two somewhat separate issues there: What the laws should be, and whether they should be followed.

    Oh, and the fact that the guy they caught pleaded guilty seems to matter to no one…
    Like Scalzi said, could this not have been achieved under current law? (If not, perhaps the law needs to be changed. A law that’s not enforced is not a good law.). Now with regards to whether we should have sympathy for “the guy”, the fact that he’s guilty certainly matters. But with regards to whether the law was broken: not so much.

    All today’s news means is that if they succeed, they need to send a fruit basket to their friends at the NYTimes.

    You’re importuning the journalistic integrity of the NYTimes? The timing certainly is … curious. It’s a pity that we don’t have the presidential order to read for ourselves.

  45. Your layers of sarcasm have broken my head. I wonder if that will be an adequate explanation to my employers.

    “Sorry, I can’t come in today… my head was broken by an ambiguous amount of sarcasm and immediate doubling-back on previous statements. I don’t think I quite remember the way to work, much less what I’m supposed to do when I get there. No, this isn’t a vacation request, this is disability.”

  46. Brian Greenberg said:
    “On top of all that: the dreaded Patriot Act, reviled in these pages and elsewhere, is the act that expanded the coverage of FISA warrants to include terrorist suspects. So those who are now claiming the administration should have waited for a FISA warrant before proceeding are arguing for precisely the actions they so vehemently argued against just a few weeks or months ago. Talk about wanting it both ways…”

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Bush wanted to change the law. He succeeded. And then in the situation the law was designed to address, he ignored that law. And this is somehow the fault of those opposed to the law in the first place? No. It’s not about “wanting it both ways.” It’s about wanting some goddamn consistency.

    K

  47. I’d agree that they didn’t follow the law (at least not the letter of the law), but I don’t see how you reach the conclusion that they ignored it, when they briefed, and then recommendations from the guy who would normally provide the warrants, on how to proceed without the law in a “more right” way.

    It’s also not a foregone conclusion, btw, that they broke the law, as many would have us believe. That’s going to be the big argument come the inevitable impeachment debate…