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December 16, 2005

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And that's quite the dust storm you've raised at Political Animal, not to mention Daily Kos and whoever else has linked at this point. Hope you're having a well-deserved few hours of downtime - me, I'm still at the office, brooding about impeachment proceedings and just how much uglier this is all going to get. It's nucular, that's what it is.

Now I have to go off and pretend to have a social life.

I thought we were your social life *sob*

We could only be so lucky as to be hilzoy's social life.

Me, I'd like to get outraged about this and strike up the impeachment drums again--I mean, on how many different grounds does a president have to qualify before their own party is willing to hold them accountable? I just can't manage to do it. I don't see it going anywhere, not when the loon gallery at Redstate can already be seen writing apologia after apologia for these crimes. If they're willing to cheerlead for torture, what makes you think they're going to get worked up over domestic spying in service of the War On Terra?

"I had to magically transform myself into Moe first ...."

"If anyone is interested, I called for President Bush to be impeached."

Well then, you weren't Moe for long. Unless you accidentally cross-posted at Redstate.

Nice job over at Drum's place. I disagree though that the national trauma of Clinton's impeachment should make us skittish about the coming impeachment of George Walker Bush, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page will begin referring to him.... never mind, no they won't.

Clinton's impeachment was a national trauma for only, what, 43% of the electorate -- us. The rest had the time of their lives. Bush's impeachment will be instructive for those in need of deep trauma -- solemn, weighted down by the gravity of actual crimes, no sex in sight, and we'll be treated to the spectacle of the overthrow of the U.S. Government by the terminally-pissed off on the Right.

Various erstaz historians on the web, Fox News, and the mouth-breathers in the Republican Party will be observed in full revolutionary fury. Pat Robertson, Neil Boortz and Sean Hannity, among others, will yell fire in a crowded theatre. Is that still against the law?

The newly appointed Supreme Court will go into hiding. Troop withdrawals from Iraq will be a clock by which we can time the progress of the impeachment trials, with newly returned troops stationed at odd locations throughout the country and remaining on high alert and ready for domestic disturbance.

Brit Hume will interview God on FOX and scary revelatory prophecy will be revealed, all in anagrams that spell Hilzoy if viewed in mirrors..

The whirlwind will be in the thorn tree and virgins will be trimming their wick, as Johnny Cash might sing.

Apparently, and luckily for all of the above we won't have the Patriot Act in hand to discipline them.

Democrats will rue the day.


Hilzoy, your impeachment piece is rocketing around, and now that DeLong has cited the it, titled with your real name, I'm worried that you're past the tipping point of pseudonymity. You've got it all worked out, right?

Well, I emailed him. Worked with Kleiman.

We're also front. ;)

We're also front. ;)

Well, you are at least. I'm more kinda side.

Oh God, I'm on Memeorandum as my actual self. Emailed them too. No luck as yet.

So much for quasi-anonymity...

i can't wait to see the legal parsing and secret hair-splitting that BushCo will use to wiggle out of this one.

i'm hoping it's something like: ___[redacted]____ statute, section ___[redacted]____:___[redacted]____, authorizes that ___[redacted]____ officer may, with authorization from ___[redacted]____ if ___[redacted]____ and ___[redacted]____, notwithstanding ___[redacted]____.

and the Republicans will jump for joy at how those wicked Dems were proven wrong again... until President Hillary uses that same power to do something.

So glad you're back. I was afraid ObWi had been ObLiterated.

one question:

is there any allegation that Bush authorized anyone to spy on domestic calls: end-to-end in the US vs. US-to international ?

it matters.

Hil, your 'secret' identity is probably the worst-kept secret in blogdom.
;-)

BTW, did you see that Cursor linked to your Washington Monthly post re: impeachment?

Kiss your (pseudo)anonymity goodbye, alas.

Clinton's impeachment was a national trauma for only, what, 43% of the electorate -- us. The rest had the time of their lives.

John, I think you're vastly overstating the presence of partisans of both stripes in the general population. From what I recall of polls during the Clinton impeachment, common sense prevailed in that most thought it rather ridiculous.

Jonas:

Well, sure. But I recall, too, that partisans on the Right vastly overstated the "American people's" thirst for truth and justice during those delicious times.

Heck, we'll never get Bush's impeachment off the ground if (not you; me) we're going to go all squishy and reasonable now. Do you mean to say that we have to dispense with paranoid fantasizing now -- just when the fun begins? ;)

I happen to think Bush's impeachment would bring the other side to the negotiating table on the question of the parlous state of our national discourse.

First chastening. Then negotiation. Then we agree to dial back the discourse to whenever it was that Newt Gingrich and his delightful crew decided at 10:11am on a Thursday morning in whatever year to frag discourse in the service of cutting their tax bills and demonizing all government.

Yes, I know. Jefferson and Hamilton and Burr and Lincoln and their critics had potty political mouths, too.

That was then. Now I get to have fun. ;)


P.S. I need to either be a radical or dispense with the smiley faces. It mixes the message.

Well, sure. But I recall, too, that partisans on the Right vastly overstated the "American people's" thirst for truth and justice during those delicious times.

You can say that again...

Heck, we'll never get Bush's impeachment off the ground if (not you; me) we're going to go all squishy and reasonable now.

But heck, it may not be squishy, but it would be reasonable to call for Bush's impeachment if the NSA spying thing turns out to be true. As Hilzoy mentions in her post, it's completely illegal.

Mind you, it would have helped if so many hadn't been so eager to start impeaching before this story broke, but I guess that's just my squishy side speaking up...

I happen to think Bush's impeachment would bring the other side to the negotiating table on the question of the parlous state of our national discourse.

Er... I don't think there is anybody to bring to the negotiating table who has the authority or ability to regulate discourse....

Then we agree to dial back the discourse to whenever it was that Newt Gingrich and his delightful crew decided at 10:11am on a Thursday morning in whatever year to frag discourse in the service of cutting their tax bills and demonizing all government.

John, if we can't demonize the government, who can we demonize? I mean, really, you're way to into the government. If you like the government so much, why don't you marry it?* ;-)

*Slippery slope and all that, right?

Unfortunately (for the country), while I agree with hilzoy 117.5% on her call for the impeachment of President Bush, I have the feeling that any sort of even an investigation of the Adminstration's abuses of the law in allowing (apparently) illegal surveillance of American citizens is going to be, for political reasons, a non-starter: for several reasons.

1) The authority for investigation/impeachment rests with Congress, and there is, IMO, little or no chance that THIS Congress (so far firmly under Republican control) will be likely to do squat against the Bush White House; who they have, for the most part, uncritically supported since 2001. More likely that the House will launch an "investigation" against whoever leaked the details of the wiretappping scandal.

2) For good or ill, the "politics of investigation" is pretty much dead in Washington, the coup de grace being the Clinton impeachment fiasco - if the (actual) public support for ousting President Clinton was (as I recall) way less than the rabid partisanship of the Republicans painted it, it's hard to see where even a plurality, still less a majority of voters will get behind an attempt to oust Dubya; especially as there seems to an irreducable minimum bloc of supporters (more important for Congress that the President) who would support him under ANY circumstances.

3) Most importantly, unlike Bill Clinton with his troubles, George Bush can (as he has begun to already) use the catch-all mantra of "national security issues" to excuse almost ANY sort of legal abuse his White House has permitted (or actively connived in); more so if it can be done under the rubric of "wartime necessity". There are just too many Americans out there who are still too freaked out about the overblown "threats to the nation" from a vague and undefined "terror" to get behind removing a President/Administration who has so sucessfully exploited those fears for political advantage for so long.

Sorry, hilzoy: great idea: but it ain't gonna happen. More's the pity.

Jonas:

"but it would be reasonable to call for Bush's impeachment..."

Of course. But all Republican circuses have three rings. Why not we, as Bob Dylan asked, after observing that "dogs run free"?

"Mind you, it would have helped if so many hadn't been so eager..."

Some people can't help it if they're psychic. We see visions. Plus, it is amazing that if you leave out enough traps to catch a snipe, snipes become abundant. Lucianne Goldberg knew this, having learned it in the Nixon campaigns.

"...authority or ability to regulate discourse"

I hate regulation as much as the next guy. That's why I don't want the government in between me and Delay, Abramoff, Cheney, etc.
Why? Because it would be entertaining to observe the looks on their faces when they discover one function of government they like.

"...marry it?

Oddly enough, I did in a way. My wife is a public servant.

But, besides that, I'm just tired of the (yes, large) bits of government I like being under constant attack by people who not only love their bits of government but by those who have now enriched themselves via the offices of government, which they hate.

And yeah, I know Democratic politicians are just as corrupt.

I don't ask for a total lack of corruptability. After all, every transaction in a capitalist system is a compromise between two lies (the asking price and the offering price). I merely want those who insufferably and at all times claim to be incorruptable to writhe a bit.

No water-boarding, though.

Us weenies are just gonna haf ta suck it up. Ain't nuthin gonna happen.

Ok, there will be an investigation of the NYT. That much I'd put money on.

Jake

hilzoy's motto of the day: reasonable and squishy are not at all the same.

Hilzoy, yes they are. Nobody EVER got anything radical done by being reasonable. Reasonable = compromise, which is ok if a middle ground exists. Is there such something in between impeachment and not impeachment? No.

It's going to take zealots to get anything done with Bush. And we seem to be way short in the zealot department. They all go to church with Pat Robertson, and they don't vote democratic.

Jake

I'm going to ask again:

Is there any allegation Bush authorized monitoring of domestic communications ?

If not, which law was broken ?

John,

But, besides that, I'm just tired of the (yes, large) bits of government I like being under constant attack by people who not only love their bits of government but by those who have now enriched themselves via the offices of government, which they hate.

Yeah, most Republicans I know are pretty fed up with this. We'll see if that winds up having any influence; I'm not holding my breath however.

Jake,

It's going to take zealots to get anything done with Bush. And we seem to be way short in the zealot department.

I take it from this statement you have never read the comments section at Kos, Atrios or Kevin Drum...

Cleek,

Is there any allegation Bush authorized monitoring of domestic communications? If not, which law was broken?

Before this argument gets underway, has any blog or news outlet posted a link to:

a.) the relevant law.
b.) the exact nature of the allegations.

... because I'm afraid if this isn't established before the argument begins, it's going to get mighty dumb mighty fast.

the exact nature of the allegations, as far as i've seen, are: Bush authorized monitoring of communications between the US and other countries.

i don't know which laws are working here, but the noise from the wingnuts is "it's legal to montior communications to/from the US and other countries, because those are "international communications"".

OT: This month's Harpers came in the mail today, and http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~gloning/wom-pet.htm>this is quoted in the Readings.

I'd say there's a better chance that men in the Anglosphere can be shamed from drinking coffee by worry about "empty Pantaloons" than that the President will face impeachment.

To respond to cleek, I'm not sure what exactly was authorized and what was done. I'm guessing that the question is whether the http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/usc_sec_50_00001802----000-.html>FISA was violated, and the Fourth Amendment rights of whoever might have been the subject, on the US end, of the tap.

A former partner of mine -- who now works with von -- is married to a government lawyer who practices substantially if not exclusively before the FISA court. Good luck getting any information out of either of them, though.

Cleek, I don't see how the supposed exemption for 'communications between someone in the United States and someone outside the United States' can be squared with the text of FISA. Must be that power to ignore the laws that emanates from a penumbra somewhere . . .

This http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?50+Duke+L.+J.+1467>article isn't bad.

For those who don't want to click through, the criminal sactions section of FISA is as follows:

a) Prohibited activities A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally— (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or (2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.

(b) Defense It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection (a) of this section that the defendant was a law enforcement or investigative officer engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

(c) Penalties An offense described in this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.

(d) Federal jurisdiction There is Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section if the person committing the offense was an officer or employee of the United States at the time the offense was committed.


my comments don't want to post. This is an experiment...

Jake: reasonable does not necessarily mean compromise. Sometimes compromise is reasonable; sometimes it's not.

cleek: apparently, he authorized surveillance of US citizens in this country, when they were communicating with people overseas, without warrants. Surveillance of people without warrants is authorized under FISA under three circumstances:

One:

"(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—

(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—

(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or

(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;

(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and

(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and

if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately."

This does not authorize surveillance of US citizens, even calling overseas.

Two:

"(f) Emergency orders
Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, when the Attorney General reasonably determines that—
(1) an emergency situation exists with respect to the employment of electronic surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence information before an order authorizing such surveillance can with due diligence be obtained; and
(2) the factual basis for issuance of an order under this subchapter to approve such surveillance exists;
he may authorize the emergency employment of electronic surveillance if a judge having jurisdiction under section 1803 of this title is informed by the Attorney General or his designee at the time of such authorization that the decision has been made to employ emergency electronic surveillance and if an application in accordance with this subchapter is made to that judge as soon as practicable, but not more than 72 hours after the Attorney General authorizes such surveillance. If the Attorney General authorizes such emergency employment of electronic surveillance, he shall require that the minimization procedures required by this subchapter for the issuance of a judicial order be followed. In the absence of a judicial order approving such electronic surveillance, the surveillance shall terminate when the information sought is obtained, when the application for the order is denied, or after the expiration of 72 hours from the time of authorization by the Attorney General, whichever is earliest. "

This requires that the AG notify the FISA judge immediately, and file for a court order within 72 hours. There is no indication that this was done, nor would it have required a special order by the President.

Three:

"Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress."

There has been no declaration of war; and there is no indication that this only lasted for fifteen days.

Otherwise, surveillance without a court order falls under this:

"(a) Prohibited activities

A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—

(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or

(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute."

Hilzoy:

A good motto for every day.

My bad. I write in haste and should have written:

"When reasonable people come up against unreasonable people, sometimes the former become squishy, preferring that to matching the unreasonableness of the opponent. Beginning with Gingrich [hey, it was nothing new; he just codified unreasonable rhetoric into the Republican (politicians, not the vast population of the reasonable middle) discourse. He and Vince McMahon of the WWF didn't come up with the idea; they merely made it mainstream]. Not that Hilzoy would become squishy but let me know when she reaches 20 million listeners like Limbaugh, et al and vanquishes the popularity and success of unreasonableness. I think she'll need to do some microphone biting, too."

See, already too wordy, but I've never found that to be drawback.

Shakespeare's sister has a post up now at Drum's place lamenting some of the same things I lament, regarding reasonable people talking to unreasonable people.

It's a different language.

But she (he?) does it better.

Is spitting on the President's shoes a crime?

hilzoy, thanks.

the reason i ask is that the first section you quoted appears to have convinced the RedStaters that no law was broken. in fact, they seem to agree that it gives the NSA explicit permission to do what they're alleged to have done.

Cleek, I don't see how the supposed exemption for 'communications between someone in the United States and someone outside the United States' can be squared with the text of FISA.

The people who either say this is true, or merely allude to the possiblility, seem to imply that there is a court ruling as precedent to that effect. Alas, I have yet to catch a cite. I agree that now being superficially familiar with FISA I ain't seeing it there.

Does this ruling exist? Or is it partisan delusion?

Thanks to everyone who posted the relevant law!

The most coherent claim I've read to the effect that the President did not break the law -- which isn't to say that it's correct, since I can't make that evaluation -- comes from the comments (?) at Washington Monthly (?!) by one of the various Als (?!?!?!):

This is against the law.

No, it's not.

The Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority. Both before and after the enactment of FISA, courts have recognized the President's inherent authority to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance. See, e.g., United States v. Butenko, 494 F.2d 593, 608 (3d Cir. 1974) (en banc) (grounding exception to warrant requirement in the President's Commander-in-chief and foreign-affairs powers; noting that the country's self-defense needs weigh on the side of reasonableness); United States v. Truong Dinh Hung, 629 F.2d 908, 914 (4th Cir. 1980) (citing the President's foreign affairs power as justifying an exception to the warrant requirement).

I repeat that I have no knowledge of these matters whatsoever, but those who do might want to check out those cites to see if a) they've been correctly relayed and b) they're relevant to the matter at hand.

I repeat that I have no knowledge of these matters whatsoever, but those who do might want to check out those cites to see if a) they've been correctly relayed and b) they're relevant to the matter at hand.

I don't have any real knowledge either, and I haven't been able to track down the texts of these decisions yet. I did find this page from the Federation of American Scientists that mentions both cases, and it does seem quite relevant to the question of legality. And this page from FindLaw, annotating the fourth amendment with mentions of these cases, makes this ominious declaration regarding warrantless surveillance: "The question of the scope of the President's constitutional powers, if any, remains judicially unsettled." Oy.

" ... reasonable and squishy are not at all the same"

I agree, though am too Christmased out to provide a properly-thought-out post to this effect, and anyhow Hil does that just fine for herself. Instead, my 2-word off-the-top-of-head example in this case wd be: Patrick Fitzgerald.

cleek writes: "the reason i ask is that the first section you quoted appears to have convinced the RedStaters that no law was broken"

The RedStaters could convince themselves that the law was not broken because the NSA did not spy on domestics - not a single subject of surveillance was a butler, maid, or scullery wench.

Wow. RedState has decided Bush broke no laws? There's a shocker! Alert the media!

The problem with basing that decision on the first section of the Act is that the first section isn't meant to be read or interpreted or acted upon all by its lonesome. The first section explicitly refers to the sections that come afterwards, to wit:

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—

... and then come the limitations regarding foreign powers and US citizens.

Those successive sections appear to be the part of the law Bush broke - and that's assuming he didn't order wiretaps on Americans communicating with other Americans.

In view of the fact that Quakers have wound up on enemy lists, and that people checking Mao's Little Red Book out of the library have had the FBI come interview them, it would be ridiculous to assume Bush hasn't wiretapped Americans communicating with other Americans.

Al of the Maviva variety at ColdFury.

the reason i ask is that the first section you quoted appears to have convinced the RedStaters that no law was broken

Just for the record...you're taking the claims of RedStaters seriously?

And, you expect to be taken seriously after doing so?

Butenko was decided prior to FISA, and Truong Dinh Hung, although decided after FISA was enacted, concerned conduct that took place before. Neither, then, stands for anything like the proposition that electronic surveillance under conditions that are not consistent with FISA is somehow exempt. Neither provides any basis for avoiding the criminal liability set forth in FISA.

We're basically back to 'inherent authority' -- and the idea that somehow even if a law has been signed by a President, he/she can disregard it if he/she wants, without even having to show in any way that the provisions of the law were onerous. That's the biggest problem with what I'll call Yoo Preemption of FISA: the burden is just so slight.

Although domestic, the http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0407_0297_ZO.html>Keith case concerned terrorism, and is worth a look. Great stuff on the whys and wherefores of the Fourth Amendment. Powell for the majority, Douglas' concurrence is also worth reading.

Looking at it a little more, I found a fascinating discussion in US v. Usama bin Laden(pdf): because there is so little law on the point, the district court had to decide as an issue of first impression whether or not a warrant was required to search the home, in Kenya, of a US citizen. It decided not, but the reasoning would be of no help to the President here: the burden of getting one was the big deal there.

Completely OT: I just went to a blogger party, and for the Very First Time Ever met all sorts of nice people whose work I've been reading for ages. Until now, the only one I'd met was Kleiman. I have yet to meet any of the other members of the ObWi hive mind.

Boy, the current crop of Prospect staffers, New Republic people, etc., are young!

Don't mind them, just keep writing. Youth is wasted on the young.

Following links, as I occasionally do, I wandered over to Cold Fury [sic], and encountered a reasoned, if unconvincing, defense of Bush's legal position. I also saw this comment:

"I am a librarian in NY and I am very concerned about how the Dept. of Homeland Security obtained a library patron’s records. It is a violation of principle III of the American Library Association Code of Ethics to provide library patron records to a third party without the patron’s consent."

I understand your concern, but which would you rather: that the government checked up on the odd library patron or that Al Qaeda blew up your library? That’s the choice we have.

That's the choice we have.

Simple, really.

Why do I suddenly feel so tired and depressed?

The other position I've seen floating around is that the president's legal authority to order these wiretaps (thus fulfilling the statutory authorization requirement of Section 1809) is contained in the 2001 AUMF. This is pushing the law REAL hard, but I don't know if it's a prima facia frivolous interpretation of the war resolution. Thoughts?

Why do I suddenly feel so tired and depressed?

You're awake.

".. Al Qaeda blew up your library."

Al Qaeda is targeting libraries now?

Will they blow it up before or after the politicians in the Republican Party defund it and/or privatize it?

Odd how public libraries have so many enemies. Are Vigurie and company now sharing their mailing lists with Al Qaeda on the library issue?

The other position I've seen floating around is that the president's legal authority to order these wiretaps (thus fulfilling the statutory authorization requirement of Section 1809) is contained in the 2001 AUMF. This is pushing the law REAL hard, but I don't know if it's a prima facia frivolous interpretation of the war resolution. Thoughts?

Seems frivolous to me, but in the words of David Mamet, "I'm not a lawyer, I'm just a guy."

I'm getting the distinct impression that we're entering territory where the tension between the Judiciary and the Executive gets mighty thick. And that perhaps the Judiciary has been overly generous in its deference because of that.

and that people checking Mao's Little Red Book out of the library have had the FBI come interview them

I'm wondering if you are specifically referring to this investigation here. The fact that we are wasting investigative resources investigating something that not even the Chinese take seriously makes me wonder if there is anyone with half a clue.

Here is the key text of the AUMF:

"(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Authorizing force against "those....[the president] determines" were involved in the attacks, as opposed to those who actually were involved, was a major mistake. But I don't think a court would buy their argument about domestic wiretapping about this one for a second.

The thing is, they don't need a non-frivolous argument if it never gets to court.

And hil, that doesn't surprise me....the Prospect hires people right out of college for its writing fellows program (two time unsuccessful applicant here, from back before I went to law school) & they often become the full time staffers.

The thing is, they don't need a non-frivolous argument if it never gets to court.

A very substantial portion of the followership seems to need near infallibility on the part of the leadership. And if they can't have actual infallibility, a significant portion is willing to deem infallibility from the thinnest of rationalizations.

Support for the Admin falls into at least two categories: support for the policies and cult of personality. The former group isn't in danger, but the latter can slip away and, if you look at polling on Iraq in October, for example, does so, when it looks like the cult isn't 'true.' Some are slipping back now as a result of the recent speeches, even though nothing particularly new is being said.

(The other main category is hatred of the opposition. The Jane Fonda Republicans.)

"If anyone is interested, I called for President Bush to be impeached, if the NYT story about his having ordered violations of the law"

Is this really a good strategy? Doesn't it sound wild and reckless to go spouting off like this before we have more information?

The article clearly states that he talked to leaders of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Its comments like this makes it so easy to label the as looney. Shouldn't we wait for more information before we start calling for impeachment?

Hizoy is already diving into the pool and hasn't even checked to see if there is any water in it. The NYT sat on this for over a year for a reason. Anyone know why they were willing to sit on it for so long?

From the article:

According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters. Some of the questions about the agency's new powers led the administration to temporarily suspend the operation last year and impose more restrictions, the officials said.

That doesn't sound like an adminstration run wild and ignoring the law.

The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, they said.

Call it apologia all you want. This is just smart. It's nice to know that there is some competency in our security services. I bet the people who may have been crossing the Brooklyn Bridge when the guy was planning on blowing it up are thankful for the program. Of course the don't know they should be.

I guess it doesn't really mean that much to you unless you frequented one of the targets for destruction. People around NYC are obviously bigger targets.

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

All of you New Yorkers can rest easy tonight knowing the the New York Times has your back.

New Bush slogan:

Helping those who Hate Him at Home and Abroad

I bet the people who may have been crossing the Brooklyn Bridge when the guy was planning on blowing it up are thankful for the program. Of course the don't know they should be.

That charter member of the "Helping those who Hate Him at Home and Abroad" club, Bob Barr, differs with you on that there Brooklyn Bridge thing.

BARR: Well, first of all, or last of all, this so-called plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was bogus because it had to do with a group of idiots who were planning to dismantle it with blow torches.
link

ZZZ, no one is suggesting that the NSA shouldn't listen in on conversations it thinks it needs to listen in on for security purposes. Only that it should follow the law -- the actual law as it is written, not the neo-Stuart law some people seem to think exists. If the facts were as the President has presented them, warrants would have been forthcoming, as the FISC virtually never says no. And no, you don't even have to get the warrant in advance, so there's no risk that the delay will allow some bomb to go off.

So why not follow the law? Why not use the exact procedures created for what the President says he wanted to do? We don't know the answer. I suspect that some of the searches would not have met the FISC's standards, but we won't know whether or not this is so until the facts are out, and that's going to take a long time.

OT: Don't know if people saw http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/international/asia/18indo.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1134921221-ePvacYVnMlf5iOey/serTg>this. Pretty sad.

Just for the record...you're taking the claims of RedStaters seriously?

i'd just like to know what about that passage makes them seem so confident in their conclusion. of course they're biased, it doesn't mean they're wrong (see: broken clocks).

maybe i should have waited a few hours

zzz: what I said was: he should be impeached if the BYT story is true.. So I don't see why I'm not waiting for the facts.

As I have said, repeatedly, this is not about whether or not we should listen to calls within the US. There are provisions for that: you have to get a warrant from the FISA court, which has turned down exactly one such request, ever. The President chose to ignore what the laws require.

It's also not about whether there might be emergences in which it's not practical to get a warrant before you start wiretapping. The law also makes it possible to do that, if the government then files a request within 72 hours. The President chose to ignore that as well.

I really don't know why on earth he couldn't have stayed within the law on this one. It's not a very onerous law. But he chose to ignore it.

And frankly, whether or not he briefed members of Congress is beside the point. It's not OK for the President to break the law so long as he tells Congress about it. He doesn't get to break the law, period.

lj,

I suppose the plan to dismantle it and ship it to bin Laden's cave fell through. You exhibit a great faith that the AQ idiots aren't out to hurt anyone, but just dismantle the bridge and would never consider other options. That's funny, but sad all at the same time. Based on previous AQ behavior it seems misplaced. If blow up is erring one direction certainly dismantle goes the other direction. AQ does seem to have defenders in surprising places.

Collapsed or blown up I'm pretty sure that if you were near the bridge at the time that would suck. But nitpick all you want effectively it was a plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.

I for one don't feel so confident of the bumbling idiots given the WTC and other such bombings and beheadings. Haven't we already criticized the administration for its lack of creativity when it comes to terrorists? Is this not the same type of unimaginative interpretation? The guy was a truck driver that discussed his access to fuel and planes. When it comes to AQ whether we like it or not 2+2=4. They are unambiguous in their methods.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=19671>Link


Iyman Faris, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kashmir who lived in Ohio, pled guilty in May 2003 to casing the Brooklyn Bridge for al Qaeda, as well as researching and providing information to al Qaeda regarding the tools necessary for possible attacks on U.S. targets.11 In October 2003, Faris was sentenced to 20 years in prison.12

Faris admitted to federal agents that during another trip to Karachi in early 2002, he was introduced to KSM.15 As the two talked about Faris's work as a truck driver in the United States, Faris told KSM that some of his deliveries were made to air cargo planes. KSM was interested in Faris's access to these planes, and the two discussed how cargo planes held "more weight and more fuel,"16 and thus had excellent potential to be converted into weapons.17 Faris's employer, Yowell Transportation, confirmed that Faris regularly delivered to an air cargo company at the Columbus airport.18 It may have been Emery, a global cargo company that has its North American hub in Columbus.

According to Faris, KSM told Faris that al Qaeda was planning two simultaneous attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. The two then talked about destroying the Brooklyn Bridge by severing its suspension cables. Faris was tasked with obtaining the necessary equipment.19
In April 2002, Faris returned to the United States and researched "gas cutters" and the Brooklyn Bridge on the Internet. He also traveled to New York City in late 2002 to examine the bridge. He decided the plan was too difficult because of the security and the structure of the bridge. Faris then sent a coded message communicating this to al Qaeda leadership.20


CC,
" but we won't know whether or not this is so until the facts are out, and that's going to take a long time."

Right. So isn't it a little early to start talking about impeachment. Isn't that shooting yourself in the foot with those in the middle?

Hilzoy,

I understood what you wrote, but you are still jumping on too early.

In your link you say


I just wanted to echo what Shakespearer's Sister said about the report that Bush signed an order allowing the NSA to spy on US citizens without a warrant.

This is against the law.

I'm missing the grey area in your comment.

First you sensationlize, then you say if. That's fine, but that's why they call it the looney left.


We can count on a lot of ZZZ's needing to be woken from their dogmatic slumbers. So let's put a few things in simple terms:

1) There is no national security excuse for what Bush did. He had all the means to keep us safe already at his disposal, within the bounds of the law. He did not acquire any new terror-fighting capacities that he did not already have. Whatever his reason for choosing to break the law, it was not to keep us safer.

2) Since breaking the law didn't get him any new terror-fighting abilities, the revelation of this crime did not and could not give away any important information to terrorists. Did they learn that the government could instantly initiate wiretaps, without waiting for a warrant? They already knew that was true, just by reading the FISA act. FISA says you can instantly initiate wiretaps, without waiting for a warrant. It's just that you have to go to court later to explain your actions. That's called "accountability". That's called "due process". That's called "the rule of law".

3) His flouting of the law did not make us safer from terrorism. It simply made him less accountable to the American people.

"A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

Why am I completely unsurprised to hear zzz refer to "All you New Yorkers"?

"All you New Yorkers"

I didn't meant that to people posting here. I only meant to that if I still lived in New York (I escaped 3 years ago) I would feel even more betrayed by the NYT than I already do.

"There is no national security excuse for what Bush did. He had all the means to keep us safe already at his disposal, within the bounds of the law"

The Democratic leaders have just gone down the tubes. They can't figure out in 4 years what Tad and Hilzoy figure out in one NYT article. Those Dem's have been sitting on this knowledge for years doing nothing. Are they also just incompetent, stupid, or flouting the law?

You want to attack Democrats. Have at it. I have no interest in defending Democrats.

Bush's actions are an attack on the Constitution. I think it's more important to defend the Constitution.

And you, as far as I can tell, think it's more important to defend Bush.

Let's hope Bush's speech tonight is really about Iraq. Last time he used the Oval Office we ended up in a land war in Asia.

betrayed by the NYT

what is this "betrayed" nonsense ? the only thing the NYT told us was that Bush authorized a probably-illegal way of doing something that everybody knows happens anyway. really. anyone who's read the news (or even Slashdot) these past few years knows all about Echelon, Carnivore, NSLs, FISA, etc.. that the govt spies on US citizens is not shocking, not unexpected and unquestionably not a secret.

i frankly don't see a national security issue in the fact that W allegedly broke the law. the story is "interceptions without warrants", not "interceptions".

zzz:

The Democratic leaders have just gone down the tubes. They can't figure out in 4 years what Tad and Hilzoy figure out in one NYT article. Those Dem's have been sitting on this knowledge for years doing nothing. Are they also just incompetent, stupid, or flouting the law?

Le sigh. Hilzoy, your ever-luvvin' alphabet soup detractors need to update their copy of the RNC Book of Fallacious Arguments.

Why is it de rigueur for some right-leaning partisans to blame the (apparent) high crimes and misdemeanors of the current ruling party (ie, the Republican administration of President George W. Bush, bolstered by the Republican-led House and Senate) on the party in opposition (ie, the Democrats)?

Don't worry - my question is rhetorical, IOKIYAR and all that, etc etc. I'd just appreciate if zzz and his ideological fellow-travellers would offer a more substantive line of defense from time to time, just for sh*ts and giggles. Oh, wait, there isn't a substantive line of defense when one is trying to defend the indefensible. Feel free to keep shuckin', jivin' and dodgin' in that case.

But I beg your pardon while my poor head explodes for the umpteenth time post-2000.

Dogmatic? Thanks for letting me know.

Let's see if I can score this correctly.

List of winners:
Bush
Howard
Blair
Merkel
Iraqis
Afghans
Libyans
Lebanese

The list of not whiners:
Al Qaeda
Taliban
Democrats
Obsidian Wings


"the only thing the NYT told us was that Bush authorized a probably-illegal way of doing something that everybody knows happens anyway. "

We are all betrayed because they took so long in telling us what they should have told us a long time ago, but didn't care that our civil liberties were being violated. Or two, if any AQ had let their guards down at all now they are back up tight.

Either way the NY Times has screwed both those on the left whose civil liberties have been so drastically violated or those on the right that recognize that sometimes you have to take extreme measures to nail these bastards.

Tad,

"Bush's actions are an attack on the Constitution. I think it's more important to defend the Constitution"

I think its more important not to be standing next to the Brooklyn Bridge while it is dismantled by AQ, but fortunately I don't have to worry about that at this time.

Typo.

That should have read LIST OF WHINERS.

zzz:

Since your clarifying things, could you be more specific with your statement several comments ago:

"AQ does seem to have defenders in surprising places."

Thanks.

if any AQ had let their guards down at all now they are back up tight

when did alQ assume conversations were not being monitored ? dates please.

ZZZ, are you incapable of addressing the point? That warrantless searches are not justified where the warrant procedure presents no burden at all? (The only real burden is that the searches have to be what the President says they were. If he's trimming, again, this provides not only an explanation for why he did it this way, but also totally undercuts anything any of his supporters has said to defend him).

Cleek, I'm glad to see that the statutory question has gotten some better play. All they've got at this point is inherent authority, but I think there's a real problem with that argument here: a President might have inherent authority to do something, but once that thing is made a crime, the President's inherent authority to do it fails to immunize the perpetrators. This is especially so when the statute is explicit about the nature of the reliance defense: a federal employee cannot use a presidential directive as a defense under FISA, because only a court order gives rise to reasonable reliance.

The intercepts themselves may not have been particularly important, but the legal point is very important. If a President can order someone to break a clear criminal prohibition, then any future President can order anything. The McCain anti-torture provision springs immediately to mind.

Does the President have the inherent authority to order the Army to engage in law enforcement operations within the continental US? I would say that he probably does. Is he precluded by statute from doing so? Yes. Are there really so many people who would like to destroy any and all limits on presidential power for the rest of all time?

zzz: We are all betrayed because they took so long in telling us what they should have told us a long time ago, but didn't care that our civil liberties were being violated. Or two, if any AQ had let their guards down at all now they are back up tight.

Either way the NY Times has screwed both those on the left whose civil liberties have been so drastically violated or those on the right that recognize that sometimes you have to take extreme measures to nail these bastards.

So, let me see if I'm up to speed with the (rather obtuse) point zzz is trying to make:

The REAL scandal is that the NY Times either
A. Sat on the story despite the clear and present danger posed to civil liberties of US citizens

or

B. Actually went ahead and published the story, thus allowing the evildoers to know exactly what the noble, benevolent President is doing to keep 'mericans safe from terror.

(Like keeping an eye on Quakers. Never did trust those oatmeal-shilling pacifists.)

Oh, and those congressional Democrats should, like, totally be strung up for keeping silent for so long, too. Or for opening their terrorist-appeasing, loser-defeatist mouths.

Or something like that.

The fact that the sitting Republican administration may have been party to extra-legal violations of US law and/or the constitution is totally irrelevent, since he's, y'know, a Republican.

From Texas.

Who didn't get a hummer in the Oval Office from an intern.

Shuck; jive; dodge.

I know it's a Sunday football kind of day, zzz, but just a reminder -- could you be more specific regarding your statement:

"AQ does seem to have defenders in surprising places."

Merci.

yes, ZZZ: finding a single defender of Al Qaeda who posts on this site would clarify a lot.

Let's see if I can score this correctly.

You can't.

zzz,
Yeah, all those New Yorkers should be breathing a sigh of relief. Though I have heard that AQ has a plot to blow up the moon.

Haven't we already criticized the administration for its lack of creativity when it comes to terrorists? Is this not the same type of unimaginative interpretation? The guy was a truck driver that discussed his access to fuel and planes. When it comes to AQ whether we like it or not 2+2=4. They are unambiguous in their methods.

Well, no one will accuse you of an inability of thinking outside the box, that's for sure. And I'm sure you are happy that the creativity has become the hallmark of government cases.

Meanwhile, Faris's lawyer is puzzled. David Smith says none of the evidence against his client appeared to come from surveillance, except for eavesdropping on Faris's cell phone calls while he was in FBI custody.link

Forgive me for thinking that the Faris plea had more to do with threatening him with enemy combatant status than with any kind of 'evidence' the government had.

Though I have heard that AQ has a plot to blow up the moon.

I'm pretty sure they're also going to try to make the baby Jesus cry. It involves a machete, two tons of fertilizer and a time-machine.

Who the hell let them get ahold of that machete?

The Democrats did, of course.

Hilzoy,

Trying to discern the difference between your visible hatred of Bush and that of AQ is difficult. I don't know how you feel about AQ. You never really talk about them. By your posts one could easily conclude that the POTUS is your enemy. This is where you focus by far the majority of your time at Obsidian Wings. Is that inaccurate?

Do you spend time posting about the evils of AQ? Nope!

Do you spend time posting about the tragic crimes they commit? Nope!

Do you talk about the innocent Iraqi's that have died at the hands of AQ? Nope!

Do you talk about the women the have oppreesed? Not really!

Mostly you post about the evils of Bush and our military.

It appears that your energy here is focused on destroying Bush not AQ. If only you could use your energy in helping to fight AQ.

But no such luck. It seems Bush and his policies are the enemy. AQ only gets noticed in passing. It makes one wonder why?

Wouldn't your time these past years have been more productive if you had worked to convince those on the left to help Bush erradicate AQ? With Americans united the war could have been waged much more effectively. If you had Bush might not have been re-elected and you would have gotten what you wanted.

But mostly you hate Bush, you focus on Bush and ignore the enemy. Like I said, it makes one wonder why.

You and other posters here may not be pro-AQ just anti-Bush, right?

AQ is anti-Bush also. From their perspective many here appear to be on their side. Do you not think that AQ views hurting and bringing down this administration to their advantage?

Your actions and others indicate that is also your focus. It's not my fault your interest and AQ coincide. If you don't like the appearance feel free to change it.

Let's see:

Al Qaeda is anti-Bush.
Hilzoy is anti-Bush.
Therefore: Hilzoy is Al Qaeda.

Your syllogism is wrong on its face, zzz, even if the first two statements were true, which is doubtful. That makes you an illogical troll.

Wait a second -- has anyone ever seen DougJ from Balloon Juice and zzz in the same room together?

Tim: it's much, much worse than that. I am also a whole lot of other people. In addition, since I am against al Qaeda, and so is Bush, I am Bush. Which means, I guess, that he is riddled with self-hatred.

I am so confused.

zzz: It would be a good idea to check out my actual posts here before leaping to conclusions. I have, admittedly, not spent a lot of time writing about why I think al Qaeda is bad, but that's mostly because it's so obvious. (I also don't spend a lot of time posting about why I think Hitler was bad. Same reason.)

However, if you can find me one single place where I have written in opposition to our military, I'd love to see it. I am, actually, the person here who has most often posted about problems with military benefits and military supplies, and also about the risks the Iraq war poses to the health of our armed forces.

I have also written about the need to prosecute the war on terror with more determination here, and about the need to work harder to prevent future terrorist attacks here.

I wrote about the plight of Iraqi women here.

So please don't tell me what I do and don't post on.

And zzz: claiming that anyone here supports al Qaeda is a serious insult, and a violation of the posting rules, unless you can support it a lot better than you've done. Do it again and I will ban you, unless one of the other posters objects.

"ONE" could do many things, zzz.

We now know that Hilzoy is the accused. Thank you for the clarification, so far.

But who is "one"? And when "one" "could" conclude that Hilzoy or when "one" is made to "wonder why" Hilzoy is somehow deficient in her hatred of Al Qaeda, dense, literal-minded liberals like myself tend to miss who "one" is. We can't identify the passive voiced entity who we might respond to in active voice, though as I read the posting rules, my idea of the active voice, not to mention nuclear war, is prohibited.

I didn't quite catch who is accusing Hilzoy (surely there must be others here) of these terrible crimes. Speak into my good ear.

Gracias.

By the way, zzz, I'm sure the NSA is taking note of the conversations here, so be very specific. The War on Terror requires your assistance. "One" may be asked to testify.

Speak into their good ear, too.

By the way, to help things along, I'm on record with my hatred of George W. Bush and much of his Administration.

Can "one" explain how this is like my hatred of Al Qaeda? Or, like Al Qaeda's hatred of Bush. Maybe my hatred of Bush is a little like Bush's hatred of John Kerry exhibited so vividly by Bush's facial expressions in the first Presidential Debate in 2004. Which was similar to Bin Laden's or Michelle Malkin's hatred of Kerry, had Kerry been elected. Or like Neil Boortz's hatred of that other species, the human race.

It's confusing. I think I detect a difference in the 9/11 hijackers hatred of the restaurant workers in the top of the WTC, and Bush's hatred of John McCain's adopted child during the South Carolina primary or Pat Robertson's love of targeted hurricanes.

Funny, too, I love Willie Mays, I love my mother, I hate Barry Bonds, and I hate Idi Amin. Can some"one" clarify the difference in all of those enthusiams, because they all run together for me.

But it is "one's" hatred of Hilzoy I'm interested in here. And what that might be "like"?

John: if you hate Bush, then I must be you. And you must be Bush.

The implications are mind-boggling.

Luckily, however, neither of us is ZZZ.

For cripes sake, The Kitty allows people to call me fascist, racist, sadistic, pretty much tha gamut of all the typical epithets. The problem here is that there are so many critics of the war and the Bush admin here that it is sometimes a pile-on. zzz could make the point better, that if you are against coercive interrogation, secret listening to communications between foreign countries and people in the US, against secret prisons, against normal military procedures like illuminating the battlefield with WP, accusing US soldiers with silly accusations of Koran abuse, then what is the US to do?

Now, that being said, zzz should know that hilzoy is in the No End But Victory camp, but it is much more tempting to criticise the US for lack of ethics than the terrorists, which all are agreed are bad.

And ObWi is a pretty partisan site, in case you didn't notice. (Though they may be Wesley Clark Democrats.)

DaveC: for what it's worth, I'm not against secret listening by the NSA. FISA provides for that. It also provides for cases in which there isn't time to get a warrant: you can eavesdrop on people under those circumstances, provided you apply for a warrant within 72 hours.

I'm just against the President deciding he doesn't have to bother to obey the law.

"..the Kitty allows people to call me facist, racist, sadistic ..

Alright, that's gotta stop, too, you masochist you.

I was pointing out that it is a tough thing to fight against people who want to do everything the right way, mixed in with a bunch of people opposed to everything Bush is doing, plus out and out pacifists (how ya doing Jes, Merry Xmas!), plus abunch of ACLU types. It is sometimes hard to figure out the personalities, and hell, I don't know most of the time, but I do try to figure out who are lawyers and not argue law with them. As far as ethicists are concerned, anything goes!

Von, come on strong. The Iraqi elections were a damn good thing. We are there until the next one in 2009.

DaveC, I'm going to call you on the your WP claim. Nobody that I can think of objects to the use of WP as an illuminator, it's the use as an antipersonnel weapon, particularly in areas where there might be civilians (Fallujah) that we find objectionable. What's known in military parlance as shake and bake. Similarly, noone is opposed to the secret interception of communications. FISA already allows that. What we dislike is the secretive, warrantless interception of those communications in an apparent attemt to bypass the FISC and thus any oversight. Oh, and did I mention that this is illegal?

And when have you been called all these vile epithets? Care to point a few out?

damn, hilzoy got there first on the intercepting of communications.

Wouldn't your time these past years have been more productive if you had worked to convince those on the left to help Bush erradicate AQ?

Wouldn't your time these past years have been more productive if you on the right had worked to convince Bush to eradicate AQ? 'Cause he sure as hell doesn't look like he's trying that hard.

BTW, response to Greenwald's response here.

Some interesting things discussed in comments, which could be anywhere in the range of laughably wrong to bang-on, as far as I can tell. Can't tell one point from another without a couple of hundred megabytes of US code and a law degree, it seems.

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