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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Democrats Play Politics With National Security

So much is being made of the National Security Agency’s listening in to overseas phone calls that you might be tempted to believe that something is wrong with that. There isn’t.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be vigilant about government actually overstepping its bounds with regard to the privacy of its citizens. But that is a completely different proposition than this.

President Bush ordered the NSA to listen in on phone calls to and from parties in other countries as a measure of thwarting potential terrorist activities. It is an age-old tool of U.S. Presidents, going back to Jimmy Carter, and has been used by every president—Republican and Democrat alike—ever since.

That should be the end of the story, but it isn’t, and the reason it isn’t the end of the story is that the President’s enemies are so desperate to find things to use against him that they put that before everything else. Literally nothing is more important than “getting George Bush,” not even combating international terrorism or preventing another September 11-style attack.

The President’s enemies are so painfully transparent in these “gottcha” activities that they ought to be embarrassed by them. It is so easy to determine that Mr. Bush’s ordering these calls to be monitored is legal that a child can do it. There are, therefore, only two possibilities for why Democrats haven’t reached this conclusion: 1) They are stupid, or 2) they think the rest of us are stupid. If you chose number 2, go to the head of the class.

According to the Chicago Tribune story on December 21, 2005, titled President had legal authority to OK taps:

President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.The president authorized the NSA program in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. An identifiable group, Al Qaeda, was responsible and believed to be planning future attacks in the United States. Electronic surveillance of communications to or from those who might plausibly be members of or in contact with Al Qaeda was probably the only means of obtaining information about what its members were planning next. No one except the president and the few officials with access to the NSA program can know how valuable such surveillance has been in protecting the nation.

In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."

It is my opinion that the Democrats are digging themselves deeper and deeper into a political hole they won’t be able to climb out of. I further believe that the American people are far smarter that the Democrats give them credit for being, and that the people will perceive this childish spectacle to be that while the United States government takes steps to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, the Democrats chose to hamper those efforts by playing cheap and tawdry political games.

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6 comments:

rygnn2@voteswagon.com said...

First it was wiretaps, now its cookies, what will be found next? Is this Sesame Street? Should we be afraid of the cookie monster? This will have the paranoid all riled up again to rally against Bush and the NSA. Most have no idea what a cookie is used for but this revelation will get them riled none the less.
Do you really feel violated by this revelation or is it something you will easily just dismiss? Many feel the evidence is piling up and they feel their privacy is being stripped away, others feel this is just another necessity that reflects the times we live in.
Raymond B
www.voteswagon.com

BGM said...

here's a comment.

i'm going to tap your phone and go thru your shit when you don't know it.

but, you won't care, right? because you have nothing at all to hide.

oh and by the way, i'm going to do it without any legal authority or warrant.

god bless america!

James Howard Shott said...

To Raymond B:

Thanks for the comment.

I think you've pretty well nailed it.

Gross over-reaction, or just not caring about facts and reality.



To BGM:

Thanks for the comment, lacking in substance as it was.

You, sir or madam, have missed most of the details of this issue. These are not domestic wire taps of folks like you and me. They are taps of calls between U.S. and foreign parties.

You might expect that all such calls are monitored, but I think you'll find a selectivity for persons suspected of having terrorist ties.

You apparently did not read the accompanying piece from the Chicago Tribune that explains whether such activity is legal or not.

God Bless Paranoia and Ignorance.

rygnn2@voteswagon.com said...

Very good points BGM.
I am torn between trying to balance protection with rights to privacy, on the outside it seems like an easy decision but when you really consider all things considered, the question gets a little tougher.
Raymond B
www.voteswagon.com

James Howard Shott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Howard Shott said...

Raymond B:

I think you’ve given bgm too much credit. As I said in my response bgm, his/her comments focused on a situation that doesn’t exist. bgm may be one of those who just accepts the liberal/Democrat lines as truth without question, or one of those for whom facts take a back seat to political expediency.

But to address your point, I, too, am torn.

No matter how hard we try, absolute protection is impossible. And no matter how much we might think to the contrary, absolute freedom is unworkable. The answer is somewhere in between the extremes. And the exact location of that answer is not always in the same place.

In the peaceful times following WWII, when our enemies were far away and easily identifiable, the nod went to freedom because there was no eminent threat to our security. However, since the terrorist attacks against U.S. interests like embassies and the U.S. Cole and against the U.S. itself in the first attack on the World Trade Center, things have changed dramatically.

Therefore, if President Bush, or any other President, wants to listen in to domestic-to-foreign phone calls in an effort to thwart terrorist activities, I say “have at it.” None of us who is not involved in terrorist activity has anything to fear, or to worry about.

What Mr. Bush did was not only legal, but also supported by decades of precedent. It is unfortunate that bgm and liberals/Democrats can understand that, or are unwilling to accept it.