It's The Law, Stupid

I can't believe how many people seem to be willing to accept the President's tortured logic that he needed to illegally tap people's phones without getting the required warrants because the FISA court would supposedly deny the government the authority to listen in on conversations between al Qaeda operatives and their contacts in America. As Roy Temple points out, Newsweek seems to have taken the bait, writing that -- despite the mounting evidence to the contrary -- "[t]he Bush administration did not throw away the Bill of Rights in the months and years that followed."

John Aravosis writes that Bush's latest defense of his illegal domestic spying program is that its only targets were suspected al Qaeda operatives. And of course, the administration would like us to think that's the issue at hand, as it would justify the program in many non-critically-thinking minds. After all, if domestic wiretapping was completely illegal, even the most serious of ACLU supporters could see the benefit of breaking the law to get crucial information, damn the consequences. Fortunately, our laws regarding domestic surveillance aren't so stupid. The FISA court exists specifically to give the government the power to spy on people on American soil if there is some evidence that they might seek to do harm to the nation.

Bush could have gone through the FISA framework, but he didn't. This brings up interesting questions as to why he did not. The disturbingly obvious answer is that the program is not limited to suspected al Qaeda operatives. As Digby sees it, "[t]he evidence increasingly points to the possibility that NSA and others illegally monitored Americans who disagree with administration policy and shared that information with all the federal police agencies in the government."

But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if Bush's illegal domestic spying program was aimed only at al Qaeda operatives or not. It was illegal. And what's worse, it was indefensibly illegal, as there has long been a structure in place to allow him the wiretaps he was ostensibly seeking.

Tags: Republicans (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

I Don't Understand! Who Got The Blow Job?
This is obviously too complex for the M$M to handle. They should leave it to the bloggers.
by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-01 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: I Don't Understand! Who Got The Blow Job?
Don't use MSM.
by Matt Stoller 2006-01-02 04:59AM | 0 recs
fundamentally this is an issue of trust
Is there a level of confidence that the Bush Administration conducted wiretaps and data mining solely in the interest of national defense?

As the Newsweek article points out, previous presidents have also gone to great lengths to protect the country by temporarily limiting civil liberties in times of war. I'll leave to the historians to determine whether those actions were appropriate.

On the Bush Administration, the deceipts, secrecy, and acts over the last five years clearly demonstrate that they are not to be trusted. Revelations of:

  • DoD- and DoJ-sanctioned torture by US military forces
  • indefinite imprisonment of prisoners without aid of counsel or Red Cross oversight
  • secret prisons in Europe and Diego Garcia
  • rendition of  foreign nationals and US citizens to brutal dictatorships to extract information
  • a pattern of lies and conspiracies leading to the invasion of Iraq
  • loss of $9 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds
  • secret military excursions into Syria

Each event in itself is damning proof that the White House has exceeded its Constitutional, let alone moral, authority.

Altogether, the above actions and countless others unknown at this point, I say let the impeachment begin.

by em dash 2006-01-01 02:49PM | 0 recs
This is the frustrating part!
The frustrating part about this whole illegal wiretap issue is:  THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON'T CARE!  I'm sorry to say it, I'm sad to say it... but its true.

At work when I tried to raise the issue people were saying things like, "Thank God Bush is President, so we have someone with the guts to watch those terrorists".  When I would argue that his methodology was ILLEGAL they would just scoff.

Have people just gone crazy?

by All Blue Map 2006-01-01 02:53PM | 0 recs
I Feel Your Pain, But
I don't think you're analysis is correct. It may or may not apply to the people at work you're talking about, but there is strong evidence that it doesn't apply to the American people as a whole.  

Even with the virtual media blackout on discussions of impeachment, there are MORE people willing to consider impeaching Bush over lying us into war than were willing to consider impeaching Clinton at the height of the impeachment frenzy.  Almost no one realizes this, since there have been so few polls done, but it's true.  If Bush's actions were presented in that context, it's hard to imagine that the numbers wouldn't go up even more.

But the media is, as usual, atrocious.  I'd bet that most of what you're encountering at work--in the way of scoffing, that is--is simply that people don't believe you because they're misinformed, not because they think that lawbreaking is a-ok with them.

One final thing--it's something that always drives people mad.  Sooner or later, a good chunk of those people will come around. But you won't be the one to do it. They have too much history with you.  In fact, they may come back and say, "Why didn't you tell me?"  This is a very common phenomena.  But it doesn't mean you haven't had an effect.  It's just tha we often don't get to see the connection between what we sow and what gets reaped.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-01 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: I Feel Your Pain, But
Still, you gotta find this lack of overt outrage a little depressing, don't you?  Were people this passive during the lead up to Watergate?  (a genuine question, not a rhetorical)

I've got to tell you, it's harder every year for me to explain anything to my friends overseas.  They also say that 9/11 seems to have driven the American public insane, in the literal, off-your-rocker sense of insane.  It's hard for me to marshall an argument to disagree with that.

by arenwin 2006-01-01 04:56PM | 0 recs
Were people this passive during the lead up to Wat
Were people this passive during the lead up to Watergate?

It was completely different. There was a enormous feeling that something was profoundly out of whack, but it took a while for poeple to come to grips with it. But our overall political culture was much stronger then.

This is not going to be like Watergate, it will be more like Argentina

by Alice Marshall 2006-01-01 05:50PM | 0 recs
I Agree, Sort Of
I'm not sure that it will be like Argentina, much less that Gore will be who people turn to.  But something from that universe of possibilities, however vague that may sound.  Meaning what?  Meaning that we no longer have the defining, tightly knit American political fabric that made Watergate possible.  

We are a much more fantastical society, much further divorced from reality.  And the forces that move through us will not be tamed by the sort of finely reasoned power that sufficed to serve us in the past.  This is not to say that we should abandon that power. To the contrary, its loss in our culture makes it all the more precious, and all the more necessary for us to cultivate.  But it alone will not suffice.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-01 06:09PM | 0 recs
Re: This is the frustrating part!
Actually they do care, they care that we are aggresively tracking terrorist by any means possible. They care that the government is doing what they are suppose to be doing, protecting the citizens of the United States of America. What I and many others don't like is the leaking of highly secret and very legal programs to the New York Times. Hopefully those individuals responsible will get thier day in court, no matter what their polictal affiliation
by champiod 2006-01-01 05:06PM | 0 recs
terror cell
So by that logic, does his administration think Al Qaeda infiltrated PETA and the Quaker groups. I can see it now "PETA/Al Qaeda attack infidel chicken farms.
by mallsus2 2006-01-01 03:34PM | 0 recs
The problem I see here and on places like D Kos
That you think facts matter or this is about the correct analysis. We don't live in those times. We are in a place where facts and analysis aren't as important as belief (and I don't mean simply in God). I mean belief in what someone says even if facts and analysis don't comport with what that person has said. I have a good friend at work who puts it best- the Republicans are able to get away with so much because they simply say "we are right, and dares anyone to question them." How many Democrats can we name like this? And, how much does that affect us in a society that no longer values facts and analysis, and believes everything is subject to spin and opinion?
by bruh21 2006-01-01 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The problem I see here and on places like D Ko
I sometimes feel we have two political parties, the evil party and the good-people-who-do-nothing party.
by Alice Marshall 2006-01-01 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The problem
 Republicans are able to get away with so much because they simply say "we are right, and dares anyone to question them." How many Democrats can we name like this?

Democrats are not like this because they have no heart. Take John Kerry's comments about Iraq, in 1998 he was for regime change. In 2003 he was praising the use of force in Iraq but when in ran for President he was all over the place, where ever the polls showed he should be at that time. Look at comments by Bill Clinton and Al Gore, both claimed while they were in office that Saddam must go if he wouldn't cooperate. Once they both saw that it might politically advantageuos to change thier position to hurt Bush they did. Fornately today we have the internet which allows people to research thier own thoughts on political subjects and not rely on slanted news agencies or politicians that might like to change their historic perspective

by champiod 2006-01-01 04:51PM | 0 recs
Wanted: an opposition party
any time the Democrats want to speak up is fine with me.
by Alice Marshall 2006-01-01 04:35PM | 0 recs
He didnt just violate the 4th Amendment
He violated article I of the constitution by ignoring it and bypassing congress.
by schwompa 2006-01-01 05:34PM | 0 recs
Too many nodes of info to get warrants !`
In these perilous times, it is too difficult to get warrants for the the many many hundreds of terrorists and those who would hurt our country. It's a rubber stamp, anyway, to go back and back and back to a judge.  Have we forgotton 9.11 already?  
  We shoot ourselves in the foot and the terrorists shoot us in the head.
  If the NSA uses the 'listening' to cause harm to innocent people or groups, then congress can intervene.  Till then we are less secure than ever if we restrict this clandestine  ( no longer, perhaps) approach to defend against the next possible attack.
by howardb 2006-01-01 07:43PM | 0 recs
Incompetence
Forget 911?  No.  The lesson of 911 is that this administration ignored the terrorists promising to shoot us in the foot.  Then the administration disabled all of our protections against an enemy when all civilian and military aircraft control measures were suspended on that day because for "maneuvers".  

Then the administration decided not to catch the man they claim is responsible for this horrendous act, saying that they really don't think about him very much any more.  bin Laden just isn't important.  That was made clear by the strategy at Torah Bora.  

Then a mass of lies were used to start a war that has had the net result of tens of thousands of dead, a half a trillion dollars wasted, and much more damage to our nation.  A reasonably stable secular government is being replaced by a factional theocracy. The largest part of which will ally with Iran.  Our once fine military,a truly feared force, has been damn near destroyed.  Our military has been ground into near uselessness by the inane fantasies of a group of perfidious chickenhawks who are trying to justify the cowardice of their youth.

We have become so weak as the result of this, that we can no longer even take care of ourselves.  Look at this administration's response to  Katrina. In so many ways it is a mirror of their response to not just the overt acts of 911, but all of the very real intelligence and warnings that preceded it.  Well known risks and known counter strategies, very real problems and time tested solutions existed to deal with the issues in both of these Bush administration disasters.  All were ignored because they countered the fantasies of BushWorld.  Disaster resulted. And they don't even learn.

It is not that we shoot ourselves in the foot in response to the terrorists shooting us in the head.  No, the terrorists shoot us in the foot, and BushWorld's solution is to destroy our Constitution -- the very head, heart and soul of our nation.

by AlphaHydroxy 2006-01-02 04:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Incompetence
Our once fine military,a truly feared force, has been damn near destroyed.

Our military is still the most lethal and most feared military in the world. The problem is that our military usaully fights with one hand tied behind it's back do to chickenshit politicians who are more worried about reeelection than winning a war(Beirut, Aden, 1st gulf war, Mogadishu) Appeasment and retreat doesn't hold help well against people who will kill themselves to kill one American soldier, because they know that it is like killing 100 with the cowards in this country

by champiod 2006-01-02 01:04PM | 0 recs

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