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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bush's Spying Defense

OK, so in case you missed it yesterday, here are Bush's excuses for why we should let him spy on us.

"It's amazing that people say to me, 'Well, he's just breaking the law.' If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?" asked Bush. One of those who had been informed, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was sitting behind Bush during his appearance at Kansas State University.

You briefed only the INtelligence Committee, not Congress, liar. Those people briefed wre prohibited by law from telling anyone else what youwere doing. Their letters to the White House (Dick Cheney specifically) in protest (Nancy Peolsi and Ted Kennedy both wrote, perhaps others as well) were unanswered - ever.

Back in Washington, Gen. Michael Hayden, the former National Security Agency director who is now the government's No. 2 intelligence official, contended the surveillance was narrowly targeted. He acknowledged that the program established a lower legal standard to eavesdrop on terror-related communications than a surveillance law implemented in 1978.

But the fact that the Bush Administration is refusing to provide any details makes this 'narrowly targeted' allegation highly suspect. Provide the details to Congress and prove it. Hiding the details makes this look like a lie.

Furthermore, just how does a spying program that is itself in violation of standing law ESTABLISH any legal standard, lower or not? The legal standard was established by Congress when it wrote the FISA law back in the 70's. You don't get to change that standard just by committing a felony violation of the law.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, government officials had to prove to a secretive intelligence court that there was "probable cause" to believe that a person was tied to terrorism. Bush's program allows senior NSA officials to approve surveillance when there was "reason to believe" the call may involve al-Qaida and its affiliates.

And since 'reason to believe' is not defined in law, except the Patriot Act which says it consists solely of Bush saying so, this should still be subject to Congressional review and hearings.

"It's what I would call a terrorist surveillance program," Bush said at Kansas State. "If they're making a phone call in the United States, it seems like to me we want to know why."
WHAT is this bullshit? If you know a terrorist is making a call in the states, why not just go get him? You know he's a terrorist. And if he's calling in to someone here, you don't need to spy on them. That gives you probable cause to pick up that person for questioning, or to spy on them legally under FISA.

He said he "had all kinds of lawyers review the process" to ensure it didn't violate civil liberties or the law.

Yeah, right. Lawyers like his pocket pets Alberto 'Torture' Gonzales and Harriett Myers, who would justify his rape of an 8 year old boy if he wanted to do that.

"I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you what it means: It means Congress gave me the authority to use necessary force to protect the American people, but it didn't prescribe the tactics," Bush said.

First, authority to use force against the enemy does not constitute authority to spy on citizens or to evade existing law to do it. Second, not prescribing tactics means that Congress SPECIFICALLY DID NOT give you permission to do evade the standing laws pertaining to spying

Bush and Hayden sought to paint the program as vital to national security. "Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al-Qaida operatives in the United States," Hayden said.
Not at all. Remember the 9/11 Commission findings? The CIA knew, the FBI knew, everybody knew, but nobody was talking to anyone else and nothing happened. There were even allegations made that information within some of the agencies was squelched. So if the NSA had intercepted a call, and knew of the plan, so what? Why should we think that that would have made any difference to a government that knew in multiple agencies what was going on and couldn't manage to do anything? It appears more and more as time goes on that Bush was up to his ears in 9-11 before it happened. And if that is true, the NSA knowing ALL the details wouldn't have made an iota of difference.

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