Friday, May 12, 2006

The Latest Non-Issue

"Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation." ~ Henry Kissinger

I realize that I'm pretty much a novice at political commentary. Some might object to that characterization, but I really have only been blogging for about a year. So I must admit that I find it incredible that there are some that have been doing it for decades and seemingly aren't sick of the constant asinine hypocritical shenanigans yet.

Well, I am.

And yes, I know politics has been a dirty business since the word "politics" was coined. Probably before.

Do you wonder why I haven't been blogging much lately? Part of the reason is what I stated in previous posts. I don't seem to have as much time as I did. But a significant part of it is because most of what is worthy of commentary is no longer interesting to me. Perhaps that will change, but as of this moment, I am just sick of the idiocy.

The very latest "idiocy" now is this ridiculous non-issue about President Bush authorizing the collecting of phone records.

This isn't anything that previous presidents haven't done, including the Damnocrats poster boy, Bill Clinton. Including Jimmy Carter. This isn't wire tapping. It's not even surveillance. It's simply collecting existing phone records. Nothing that the phone companies aren't already doing, as a regular, ordinary, everyday part of the business.

In my opinion even raising this as an issue goes far beyond idiocy and borders on the insane. How would the Damnocrats protect National security if we don't lift a finger to apprise ourselves of who is talking to whom about what? What exactly would the Damnocrats do to protect National security?

One would think, the way they and their cohorts in the National media are acting, that if we go find bin Laden, the whole terrorism problem will just go away.

Listen:

You're not going to protect national security alone by going to Afghanistan or Pakistan and finding bin Laden. You're not going to do that at all. We didn't connect the dots before the 9/11 attacks. We could have been hunting down bin Laden all over the world and might not have prevented the 9/11 attacks because we weren't able to connect the dots.

We have the Patriot Act which allowed us to connect the dots after the fact and now we got a president who's connecting the dots accused of spying and everybody concerned about civil liberties. You know, Damnocrats and Liberals, with their damnable quest for civil liberties, are trying to make it impossible for President Bush to protect the citizens of this great country.

I'm very sensitive to that. This is about saving lives. Your life is worthless if you're dead. You don't have a civil liberty to do anything. You can't protest, you can't bomb a building. You can't go protest the environment because you're dead.

You can't do anything.

The Damnocrats seem to want civil liberties to become worthless. This is all about protecting lives. And their priorities are wrong. All of their priorities are wrong.

National security is paramount.

Why don't these lunatic Liberals understand?

28 comments:

Lone Ranger said...

They're stupid. I used to believe there were no stupid people. But then I changed my definition of stupidity. A stupid person is not someone who is incapable of learning the truth. A stupid person is someone who does not WANT to know the truth. Based only on a psychotic desire to be in power, Democrats are willing to damage this country. If the economy is bad, they cheer, if the President finds a way to pursue and catch or kill terrorists, they try to undermine him. I can understand how you are heartsick dealing with these stupid people. It's happened to me too. Don't let them wear you down.

Timothy said...

Mark,
I think you are where I got to be about 2 months ago... tired of trying to reason with the unreasonable. Liberalism is not something you can reason with. It's all based upon emotion, not reality. Therefore, those who try to use reason and logic, grow tired of convincing the unconvincible... and we move on to work in fields that yield more fruit. The Blogosphere, while interesting and in some instances, fun, doesn't yield a lot of fruit. It can't. No human contact per se... and that is part of the problem with it. There is dialogue, but not any real communication on a heart changing level.

Just some thoughts. Press on...

Liam said...

“Why don’t these lunatic liberals understand?”

Probably because calling them names and making sweeping generalisations doesn’t make for convincing anyone who doesn’t already agree with you. Calling people names is just childish but I think that you, when you calm down from the rant, can be plenty adult enough in your thinking to generate an intelligent debate.

Being sure that you are right doesn’t prove it to anyone else. To do that, you have to understand their objections and use facts to prove them groundless and, further, to prove that your point of view is correct.

Maybe start with the references to Clinton and Carter? Post some links to the _source_ of that information and it would take a lot of wind out of Democrat sails…

Sheila said...

I'm just thinking of the future. When you turn around some day and liberties that you had as a young man are gone.

Don't ask how we got here.

This breaking of the FISA rules and whittling away of our fourth amendmant rights may not amount to much this second, but if we as a poeple don't start insisting that "A President of the United States" obey the laws like everyone else.

Including going back to congress and getting the "SAID" law amended like every other war president in History.

Then we are no better off than all of those poor people living under Iron Curtain control or something far worse.

THIS IS NOT POLITICAL PEOPLE. This is all of YOU thinking it's a right and left issue instead of really THINKING about what is happening here.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Extremists are getting their wish. They don't care about killing you and me. They love the though of killing the very American DREAM that you are taking for granted. Stop thinking of this as political. It's way beyond it now.

They're not easdropping, they put us all in a file and are monitoring where we call. They are using the internet to monitor what we look at. They are monitoring our past history and cherry picking it to see if we are a threat. YOu have no earthly idea if they are using it for the stated purpose or more.

I was in Intelligence programs during my 20 years on the military that I'm still not debriefed on to this day. I'm here to say, you guys know nothing.

I'm hear to plead to you. Think about this as your grandchildrens last chance of the freedom that you have known. Bscause you don't know what this whittling will do.

Sheila said...

Mark,

I'm going to remind you of something I said once and you agreed.

Now I'm going to share with the rest of you.

Tihs Crap that was created in the last election is NOT POlitics!!!!

It's the bluring of the line between politics and ideology. Ideology insights hate and I see hate when you guys speak here.

Politics in it's true form is interesting and fun.

This hate is not.

Erudite Redneck said...

Sheila speaks wisely.

Sheila said...

Here is a Republican Persepctive.

Scarborough: Now, for liberals who‘ve long been going against almost all of these issues to defend privacy, the news has to be disturbing. But no less so the conservatives who have fought national ID cards and gun registration for years out of fear of big government.

Now, whatever you consider yourself, friends, you should be afraid. You should be very afraid. With over 200 million Americans targeted, this domestic spying program is so widespread, it is so random, it is so far removed from focusing on al Qaeda suspects that the president was talking about today, that it‘s hard to imagine any intelligence program in U.S. history being so susceptible to abuse...click here

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Sheila speaks wisely.

Agreed; but I disagree with Scarborough.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Only through the press, we begin to learn the truth. The secret collection of phone call records tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida? If that’s the case, we’ve really failed in any kind of a war on terror.

By his logic, the TSA is way out of line for making EVERY PASSENGER go through security bag checks, rather than singling out JUST the terrorists for security screening.

The following comment is at Wizbang, and I think it a worthy point of mention:
The phone lines and air waves are not your private property, so the fourth amendment doesn’t protect the fact that you use them or who you use them with. It’s the same as if the police parked on the street and watched your coming and going. The police can even follow you on public streets and into any public location to see where you go, what you do, and who you meet, all without a warrant. The fourth amendment not only doesn’t protect individuals from such observation, but requires it in most cases to prove probable cause before a warrant can be issued.

I do not see President Bush as overstepping his Presidential authority as granted under Article II of the Constitution. To answer Liam, I think Mark is referencing the Eschelon program under former President Clinton. Here's one on FDR's domestic surveillance program.

Max Boot back in January, LA Times, had this:

The wiretaps shouldn't bug us
I CAN CERTAINLY understand the uproar over President Bush's flagrant abuses of civil liberties. This is America. What right does that fascist in the White House have to imprison Michael Moore, wiretap Nancy Pelosi and blackmail Howard Dean?

Wait. You mean he hasn't done those things? All he's done is intercept communications between terrorists abroad and their contacts in the U.S. without a court order? Talk about defining impeachable offenses downward.

If you want to see real abuses of civil liberties, read Geoffrey R. Stone's 2004 book "Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism." It tells how John Adams jailed a congressman for criticizing his "continual grasp for power." How Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and had the army arrest up to 38,000 civilians suspected of undermining the Union cause. How Woodrow Wilson imprisoned Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs for opposing U.S. entry into World War I. And how Franklin D. Roosevelt consigned 120,000 Japanese Americans to detention camps.

You can also read about how presidents from FDR to Richard Nixon used the FBI to spy on, and occasionally blackmail and harass, their political opponents. The Senate's Church Committee in 1976 blew the whistle on decades of misconduct, including FBI investigations of such nefarious characters as Eleanor Roosevelt, William O. Douglas, Barry Goldwater and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
All you have to do is recite this litany of excess to realize the absurdity of the cries of impeachment coming from the loonier precincts of the left. Muttering about "slippery slopes" isn't enough to convince most people that fascism is descending. If the president's critics want that part of the nation that doesn't read the Nation to believe that he's a threat to our freedom, they'd better do more than turn up the level of vituperation. They'd better find some real victims — the Eugene Debses and Martin Luther Kings of the war on terror.


From Flopping Aces, a link to just some of the terrorist attacks that have been thwarted:

1. The West Coast Airliner Plot: In mid-2002 the U.S. disrupted a plot to attack targets on the West Coast of the United States using hijacked airplanes. The plotters included at least one major operational planner involved in planning the events of 9/11.

2. The East Coast Airliner Plot: In mid-2003 the U.S. and a partner disrupted a plot to attack targets on the East Coast of the United States using hijacked commercial airplanes.

3. The Jose Padilla Plot: In May 2002 the U.S. disrupted a plot that involved blowing up apartment buildings in the United States. One of the plotters, Jose Padilla, also discussed the possibility of using a “dirty bomb” in the U.S.

4. The 2004 U.K. Urban Targets Plot: In mid-2004 the U.S. and partners disrupted a plot that involved urban targets in the United Kingdom. These plots involved using explosives against a variety of sites.

5. The 2003 Karachi Plot: In the Spring of 2003 the U.S. and a partner disrupted a plot to attack Westerners at several targets in Karachi, Pakistan.

6. The Heathrow Airport Plot: In 2003 the U.S. and several partners disrupted a plot to attack Heathrow Airport [outside London] using hijacked commercial airliners. The planning for this attack was undertaken by a major 9/11 operational figure.

7. The 2004 U.K. Plot: In the Spring of 2004 the U.S. and partners, using a combination of law enforcement and intelligence resources, disrupted a plot to conduct large-scale bombings in the U.K.

8. The 2002 Arabian Gulf Shipping Plot: In late 2002 and 2003 the U.S. and a partner nation disrupted a plot by al-Qa’ida operatives to attack ships in the Arabian Gulf.

9. The 2002 Straits of Hormuz Plot: In 2002 the U.S. and partners disrupted a plot to attack ships transiting the Straits of Hormuz.

10. The 2003 Tourist Site Plot: In 2003 the U.S. and a partner nation disrupted a plot to attack a tourist site outside the United States.


As for the USA Today article, the program does NOT involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. It's simply collecting external data. A bunch of phone numbers that you might easily get through a Google search, without names or addresses even asked for from the phone companies to provide. This data is being used to track PATTERNS....patterns of behavior; of calls going to and from the Middle East that might draw enough attention to warrant being compared against numbers associated to known terrorists and suspected terrorists. Most of the information is extraneous, and such is the case anytime you are profiling and gathering security- such as the way ALL passengers are checked at the airport. It doesn't mean we are suspicious of every single passenger of being Al Qaeda members until proven otherwise to be harmless.

Also at Flopping Aces, this person has experience in databases, that makes sense:

I don’t know much about a lot of stuff, but I know a great deal about databases and how to use them—and I especially know a great deal about how to manage usage of terrabytes of data.

[…]The reason they’ve been collecting this data since 9/11 was because someone at NSA was being really, really smart: if terrorists are communicating by phone, it’s possible to establish linkages between numbers, and install pattern-recognition software to collect those linkages. And the reason that this was a smart thing to do is a simple one: the phone company doesn’t store this data beyond (maybe) a few years—the amount is just too massive to hold forever—and lest we forget, we’re coming up on the 5th anniversary of 9/11 already.

Note that none of this requires any names, nor the content of the calls—that would be the privacy of the thing, and that’s where it seems that the NSA, if they’re telling the truth, has been quite circumspect.

But what this data gives the smart analyst is that when you establish that (357) 243-3006 belonged to Abdul El-Bomba, who received a call from his brother Aziz, a known member of Hezbollah in Syria, you now have the ability to focus only on all the calls Abdul made and received, to see who was calling him and whom he was calling. That would be a couple hundred calls, out of the (literally) tens of billions of records you’ve collected.

Here’s the Big Clue for the Clueless: if you don’t collect all the data, you can’t narrow the search at all. And it’s only once you’ve established that Abdul is a Bad Guy that you ascertain his number, and the numbers of his correspondents, and their names. Most of the calls will be innocent: the dry cleaners, the gas company, the liquor store, whatever.

But out of the couple hundred calls, you may find five that are to Mohamed Semmteks, and to Tariq Pilota, who are also terrorists, and whose calls you can now start investigating.

So from tens of billions to a couple hundred to five. And in these cases, it’s NOW when you, as the investigator, can get a warrant for a wiretap so you can start listening to actual content, which, out of all the data mentioned so far, is the only part protected by the First Amendment.

That’s how to do it—and more importantly, that’s the only way to do it when you’re starting from scratch.


Sorry Sheila. But I'm unconvinced that it is 1984, and that my civil liberties are being encroached upon. What I do see happening is our 4th Estate acting as a 5th column by publishing leaked NATIONAL SECURITY information that our enemies can use. They will get us all killed.

As a couple of military bloggers including one involved in intelligence told me, if someone like a Mary McCarthy had problems, there are proper channels through the chain of command to go through first; not the NY Times...not USA Today...not 60 Minutes.

Liam said...

It’s late here and I need to get to sleep so please forgive me if have skimped on a vital bit of research or if I haven’t been especially concise.

Interesting reading about Echelon and FDR’s program. However FDR laid several caveats on the FBI about firstly assessing the needs of each case and secondly limiting it as far as was possible to aliens; so there was to be no trolling of calls just to see what turned up. Then from a brief reading of Wikipedia, it appears that Echelon at least nominally obeyed the ‘no domestic surveillance’ rule although there may have been under-the-table exchanges between us (spying on your citizens for you) and you (spying on our citizens for us)!

The NSA program (if it has been correctly reported and, at this stage, I see no reason to disbelieve that) is directly gathering bulk data and looking for patterns to see what turns up. There is no assessment of each individual case, or attempt to limit the data gathering to non-US-citizens as FDR required. There is not even a ‘within the letter of the law’ façade as in the case of Echelon.

Looking at the way the envelope has been extended little-by-little over the years, I think Sheila probably has cause to worry about rights to privacy being on a slippery slope. Previously the law has required some modicum of Just Cause for authorities to research a citizen’s activities, but the NSA’s ‘grab everything and see what we can find’ approach betrays that principle. If we should be happy with the government having immediate access to our phone records, then why not our bank records, credit card statements, club memberships? Why not have a camera facing everyone’s front door to see who is coming and going and run their face through pattern recognition. That’s certainly technically possible already and would probably help fight all kinds of crime, not just terrorism, but would it be an invasion of our privacy? Would it be justified in the defence of the nation?

The Max Boot article references targeted surveillance, not blanket surveillance of our activities, but the book he mentions sounds like it would be worth further research. (Although I think suspending Habeas Corpus is probably the least of a nation’s worries when it’s in the middle of a civil war…)

The list of averted threats is great spin but it's a red-herring; there is (understandably) no indication of how the plots were foiled. We can’t tell whether it was good old fashioned legwork or high-tech pattern-recognition that clinched the deal, so the list is meaningless in a discussion about high-tech surveillance versus personal privacy.

The database guy is right technically, but I direct you back to the Just Cause point I made earlier. Do we trust that the government is only using this huge database to search for terrorists and not keep an eye on other aspects of our lives? Given the apparent propensity for Presidents to abuse the FBI, et al. in order to "spy on, and occasionally blackmail and harass, their political opponents," I think I would withhold the benefit of the doubt regardless of which party is in power!

Okay, that’s my stream-of-consciousness downloaded for you to pick over. Enjoy. Goodnight.

Sheila said...

Word and Liam.

Awesome commentary, both of you!!! Brovo!!!

tugboatcapn said...

Wordsmith Indeed speaks truth.

Any objection to this program from the Left side of the aisle is at best Hypocritical, and at worst Seditious and destructive to the efforts by this Administration to continue to intercept and prevent Terrorist Attacks against American Citizens.

If they want to continue to cry "Foul" over violations of Civil Liberties in connection with this program, then we should ask them to produce the Innocent American Citizen who has been wrongly imprisoned or persecuted as a result of it.

They can't, because there ain't one.

It is the President's sworn duty to protect the security of the American Citizen, which he has done.

That's a fact, Jack.

Prove me wrong.

This scandal is just like the 250,000 other made-up Scandals that the Democrats have assailed us with throughout the Bush Presidency.

It's Hogwash. Much ado about nothing. Mountains out of Mole hills. More Democrat scare-mongering.

The American People will not continue to buy into it.

Keep running your mouths, guys. The more you do, the better the Republican Chances look in the upcoming Elections...

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Don't want to spend forever here, but I'll address what I can briefly..


The NSA program (if it has been correctly reported and, at this stage, I see no reason to disbelieve that) is directly gathering bulk data and looking for patterns to see what turns up. There is no assessment of each individual case, or attempt to limit the data gathering to non-US-citizens as FDR required. There is not even a ‘within the letter of the law’ façade as in the case of Echelon.


It appears to me, that with this particular program, with what we know about it so far (and we shouldn't know about it at all, imo!), it is like I said with my analogy about security check points at the airport. Everyone is treated the same, not singled out, with a certain amount of inconvenience to your person. If it turns out that you, due to what you are carrying or by your behavior, are worth further scrutiny, then that's when it is appropriate to zero in. Similarly, the database program is only sifting through phone numbers, looking for patterns. It is connecting the dots at a time when the government was harshly criticized with 20/20 hindsight, for not connecting the dots, prior to 9/11. And now some who are scared, want to take those dots away? So far, it's been said that the program isn't about wiretaps, listening in on your phone conversations, or any other intrusive encroachment upon the civil liberties of ordinary Americans who haven't done anything out of the ordinary to warrant such observation.

Remember, too, that we live in different times since the 1978 FISA law was created, let alone FDR's era. Cell phone technology, e-mails, etc. changes the nature of intelligence gathering.

Looking at the way the envelope has been extended little-by-little over the years, I think Sheila probably has cause to worry about rights to privacy being on a slippery slope. Previously the law has required some modicum of Just Cause for authorities to research a citizen’s activities, but the NSA’s ‘grab everything and see what we can find’ approach betrays that principle. If we should be happy with the government having immediate access to our phone records, then why not our bank records, credit card statements, club memberships?

Because even though you fear we might be headed in that direction, that is not what we have here. A bunch of phone numbers. Looking for patterns, so we can intercept communications between al Qaeda operatives/sympathizers here in the U.S. with those outside the U.S. They don't care about ER chewing out the pizza delivery service over the phone....or Wordsmith calling 1-800 PHONE SEX....they care about having the tools needed to protect this nation from another 9/11 event.



The Max Boot article references targeted surveillance, not blanket surveillance of our activities,

Again...I don't think the government is asking anything unreasonable of us. A...B...and C may lead to DEF and G...or it can just end at C. There are so many things in your daily life, that taken to extremes, can be abused. Yet we deal with them anyway, and dish out repercussions when the line is crossed. The line has not been crossed. Cops carry guns to protect us. We allow that to happen, even as in many states such as the one I live in, concealed carry permits are extremely hard to come by. We tend not to live in fear, "what if the cop abuses his privelege and shoots me for no justifiable reason?" Well...we have laws in place for that as well, and the majority of officers are good apples, in my opinion.

The IRS has massive amounts of your personal information- ripe for the pickings to abuse. Yet, we deal with it. Every time we swipe our credit cards, personal information is exchanged...and we end up with dumb ads in our billing, related to our purchases.

The list of averted threats is great spin but it's a red-herring; there is (understandably) no indication of how the plots were foiled. We can’t tell whether it was good old fashioned legwork or high-tech pattern-recognition that clinched the deal, so the list is meaningless in a discussion about high-tech surveillance versus personal privacy.

Good point, that does make a difference. But it does say something about whether or not credit should be given to our government for protecting us these past 5 years, under this President. Here's some more. And here.

And a comprehensive list of terror indictments and related documents in various terrorism prosecutions.

Ok, how about these then, pooled from over at Flopping Aces:

Ohio driver caught working with al Qaeda:
An Ohio trucker has admitted to helping plan al Qaeda attacks in the United States after meeting terror chief Osama bin Laden at an Afghanistan terror training camp.

Iyman Faris, 34, checked out the chances of destroying a New York bridge and tried to buy equipment for proposed al Qaeda attacks while appearing to be a law-abiding trucker, according to documents unsealed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Faris pleaded guilty May 1 to providing material support to al Qaeda and to conspiring to do so, according to the documents. The charges together carry as much as 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

[…]In communications to al Qaeda, Faris was told to refer to gas cutters, which would be used to burn through the bridge cables, as “gas stations” and tools for the derailing as “mechanics shops.”

Faris researched the bridge on the Internet and asked a friend about how to obtain the gas cutters. He also traveled to New York to check out the bridge and evaluate the chances of a successful attack.

In coded messages, sent to his al Qaeda handlers via an unnamed third party in the United States, Faris said he was still trying to obtain “gas stations” and “mechanics shops” — or he was still working on the project.

After scouting the bridge and deciding its security and structure meant the plot was unlikely to succeed, he passed along a message to al Qaeda in early 2003 that said “the weather is too hot.”


Jeffrey Battle:

Homegrown terrorist Jeffrey Leon Battle considered America the “land of the kaffirs,” or unbelievers, and the American people “pigs.”

He once lamented to an acquaintance—who happened to be a government informant—that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks did not sufficiently damage the U.S. economy.

“This is the land of the enemy,” he said of his own country in a May 8, 2002, conversation secretly recorded by the government. He explained to a friend how his “burning desire” to become an Islamic martyr had inspired his aborted quest to join forces with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, where he could kill American troops.

Battle, now 35, is serving an 18-year prison sentence for conspiring to wage war against the United States, a crime to which he confessed and pleaded guilty.



The Brits paid the price for not implementing such a program as the NSA surveillance and database programs:
The suicide bombers who killed 52 passengers on London’s transit system had a string of contacts with someone in Pakistan just before striking, Britain’s top law enforcement official said Thursday.

However, authorities admitted they didn’t know what was discussed in those contacts and stuck with their contention that the blasts were a home-grown plot and that the degree of involvement by al-Qaida, if any, was unknown.

Thursday’s report by the Intelligence and Security Committee concluded that intelligence agents had been alerted to two of the suicide bombers before the attacks but limited resources prevented them from uncovering the plot.

Mark said...

anonymous....lets not discuss this in here. I have an e-mail address and it can be accessed by clicking my name here and going to my contact information. Use it and tell me who you are!

Poison Pero said...

If I were a criminal, pedophile, or terrorist I'd probably be worried about my phones being listened in on, too.

But I really couldn't care less if they listen in on my conversations with my family and friends........Hell, I hope they are listening to my childen babble to their freinds.

It's the classic case: IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE, YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID!

Jim said...

It violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customer’s consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by “administrative subpoena.” The first four clearly don’t apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer – the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.

It's not just Democrats:

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): “I am concerned about what I read with regard to NSA databases of phone calls.”

Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH): “While I support aggressively tracking al-Qaida, the administration needs to answer some tough questions about the protection of our civil liberties.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?”

Newt Gingrich: I don’t think the way they’ve handled this can be defended by reasonable people. It is sloppy. It is contradictory, and frankly for normal Americans, it makes no sense to listen to these three totally different explanations.

Goat said...

All I can say is "Here's a cold one", take it as you will. As I have said before conservatives can't be caught on their collective ass, ass=RINO.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, Pereo's "It's the classic case: IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE, YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID!"

No, it's a case of the frog sitting at the bottom of the pot of water as ti heats up little by little: He be boiled before he knows.

And, it's a case of the right wing, as usual, being willing to sell its American birthright for a mess of porridge.

Liam: right on.

Jamie said...

I sincerely have to ask how the side of the political spectrum who would defend the 2nd amendment with all their might can't see the dangers if the 4th starts sliding away.

It is not so much what they are collecting, but who is doing the collecting and how it will be used, if not by this President then some political entity in the future. At what point will your banking records, census details, medical records etc. be open to collection without warrant purely on the basis of precedent.

Maybe they only want to know patterns now, but the records of phone calls and emails are there ready to be inspected at any time. Are you so confident that no one at any time will give, sell, raid or misuse this information.

This is the government folks. Remember, the best government is the least government or absolute power corrupts absolutely. Why aren't you guys out picketing the White House. You're supposed to be conservatives.

This is not a left vs right issue, it is a freedom vs. slavery situation.

tugboatcapn said...

Oh, you mean like Income Taxes...

I get it now.

Poison Pero said...

Do any of you Liberals think if Hillary becomes president, she wouldn't use such wiretaps?

Truthfully.

Pamela Reece said...

I agree with "long ranger and "timothy". Trying to reason with the unreasonable is futile. Frankly, debating with liberals has made me see how short-sighted inidividuals can be. That is indeed a frightening thought. After all, UBL planned 9/11 for years. Liberals can't seem to wrap their heads around the idea that it's time we play a step ahead of the game. Perhaps that's because we Christians can smell evil miles away.

Sheila said...

Well,
Pamela,

I'm a Christian and you just stepped over a line. Don't put me in a box when your mind is so narrow. Look in a Mirror and read again what you just wrote and then think, what would Jesus have written.

Take a good hard look at yourself. I know I am walking in faith and if you think you are.....well then maybe we aren't as far apart as you seem to think.

My Ideology has nothing to do with MY politics. YOu seem to have blurred the line between Ideology and Politics and may just have to develop another strategy.

I sincerely pray that you aren't caught so unaware when it really counts.

Jamie said...

No matter how much President Bush may say it his job to protect us, that is not what he swore to do. The President isn't our daddy. He makes one and only one promise: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

You cannot preserve, protect and defend the Constitution by violating it. President Bush through 750 signing statements has said that his Presidential powers are th law and he is not obligated to follow the laws passed by Congress.

He is the Executive not the legislative, but in his guise as big daddy, he acts as if he is the Supreme Ruler, not the President.

Sheila said...

Jaimie,

My Friend. SOOOOO well said. Thank you.

Goat said...

Hmmm,Hillary and James Pellicano, lets discuss wiretapping.

Liam said...

Firstly a quick thank-you to Wordsmith; I’d forgotten how much I enjoy good discussion like this. Your analogy with airport security is a compelling one but for two points; firstly airport security is known and visible. Law-abiding citizens who find the searches too intrusive have the option of taking a bus, train or boat to their destination to avoid it. Secondly airport security is in place by Act(s) of Congress so has, at least nominally, received due diligence from the elected representatives and can be undone should enough people feel it is too severe/unnecessary/whatever. Americans don’t (didn't) have these options with the phone data research.

Secondly I feel I must say something to Perot. You are absolutely correct that if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear. After all no-one has ever been wrongly convicted of a crime. Even if you did mistakenly become a ‘terror-suspect’ you’d be okay because you’d have legal representation during questioning and would be able to refute the evidence against you at your public trial. Because every sane adult under the jurisdiction of American law is guaranteed those rights, correct?

Finally, Jamie reminded me of what is the real issue here. The phone records fuss is really a symptom of the problem; not the problem itself. The issue that should be under consideration is what power the President has to act outside the laws and Constitution. Personally, I accept the need for a chief executive to be empowered to act in real-time, without waiting for legislative or judicial process to direct him, but one of the cornerstones of a democratic government is the accountability of public officials and that is what seems to be missing here; accountability.

The use of the phone records will probably be advantageous in locating potential terrorists, but it is also taking away another little bit of each individual’s privacy. That may be an acceptable trade-off to most people, or it may not be. The question that should be asked though is; “Does a President have the right to limit the rights and privileges granted to American citizens under the law without telling anyone he is doing it?” If the answer to that question is ‘yes’, I think a good supplementary would be; “Are the American citizens happy with the checks and balances in place to prevent abuse of this power?”

Sheila said...

Liam Said; “Are the American citizens happy with the checks and balances in place to prevent abuse of this power?”

Wonderful anology Liam. The Answer is.

How can anyone "Know" is there are checks and blanaces, when they were unaware of the action....The "Normal" American Citizens Power of Checks and balances is not in place.

This Administration, by it's fear has taken an important "Tool" of Fredom Away.

That is not Democracy.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

You know, this WAS a good discussion. I'm sorry I didn't come back and follow up. Jim, Sheila, and Liam had some good stuff.

It violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber:

Thanks for pointing this out, Jim. I'm not aware of the Act. But my incomplete understanding of the database mining program is that it is just a list of numbers, unattached to names and addresses.

Jamie, what you are describing is akin to what we put up with anyway, already. The IRS has a vast amount of personal information on you; commercial companies in many ways do far more personal data mining than what this particular NSA program seems to do. And they don't need a warrant.

As for the 4th Amendment, I'm not sure it would apply in regards to phone lines and airwaves (regarding the original NSA surveillance program leak from the NYTs), since these are not your private property. I could be wrong. It's just, as one commenter pointed out over at Wizbang, the 4th Amendment not only doesn't protect you from being observed by the police as you come and go, or to be followed around by them if they so desire, but in some cases probably requires it to have the grounds for probable cause in order to obtain a warrant. I think I mentioned it earlier: The way I am seeing these programs, it is a way for us to gather the dots, in order to be able to connect them.

Also, Jamie said,

You cannot preserve, protect and defend the Constitution by violating it.

And I've yet to see clear-cut evidence that he has not acted within the bounds of his presidential authority, as recognized by the Constitution. I think it is possible that he might be in violation of FISA; but FISA cannot trump the powers granted to the President under the Constitution, and it appears that this could be the case. We'll just have to wait and see.

Liam, I think the airport security analogy still stands. Don't ask me to elaborate! I need to just move on, at the moment...

Liam also added this,

The use of the phone records will probably be advantageous in locating potential terrorists, but it is also taking away another little bit of each individual’s privacy. That may be an acceptable trade-off to most people, or it may not be. The question that should be asked though is; “Does a President have the right to limit the rights and privileges granted to American citizens under the law without telling anyone he is doing it?” If the answer to that question is ‘yes’, I think a good supplementary would be; “Are the American citizens happy with the checks and balances in place to prevent abuse of this power?”

I'm satisified with it. From what I recall, 24 members of Congress were briefed on...what?....a monthly basis? Periodically, at any rate. Checks and balances are said to have been put in place.

You know, we give up some of our personal freedom when we accept law enforcement officers to carry around sidearms; yet we ourselves, in many states, are disarmed of our ability to protect ourselves; even concealed and carry permits in my state are extremely difficult to come by. But why I bring this up, is that we have surrendered our trust in these police officers, not to abuse their powers and privelege of carrying weapons. Checks and balances are in place. Do abuses ever occur? You bet! Yet we don't go around screaming for the disarmament of our police force.

If there ever is an incident of abuse under the Patriot Act or the NSA programs, SO WHAT! So long as it is caught and punished through checks and balance, and it is not systematically widespread abuse. There's a provision in the Patriot Act for people to seek compensation, should their civil rights have been violated. The last I heard on this, there have been zero claims to anyone seeking monetary compensation for abuse under the Patriot Act.

Same thing with prisons and our legal system. Do innocents ever get convicted of crimes they didn't actually commit? For sure. But simply because a system is not 100% full-proof, doesn't mean the system's broke, and it don't work. Nothing works perfectly.

One thing is clear to me: Whether you agree with the NSA program or not, I would find it outlandish for anyone- ANYONE- to claim that the Bush Administration hasn't consulted with lawyers and legal scholars to find ways to PROTECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE in every way possible, within the confines of the law (It's not like President Bush made a unilateral decision, without first looking into the legalities of what he can and can't do to protect America from 21st century threats). It is in their best interest to do so. To simply say, "It's a grab for power" or "Bush is creating a dictatorship" is a mischaracterization. The Bush Administration is made up of many individuals, motivated by a desire to protect this country. And that is what they are doing.