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On Policy Discussions in a Never-Ending War
December 20, 2005 7:26 AM   Subscribe

"I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story..." President Bush really did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here.] And in yesterday's rare press conference, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
posted by digaman (222 comments total)

 
Allowing for an open debate and trying to create a police state don't work well together.
posted by chunking express at 7:29 AM on December 20, 2005


What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?

To give the 'thugs a chance to blame everything on Clinton again, of course.

All hail King George -- or else.
posted by eriko at 7:30 AM on December 20, 2005


There are two quality comments right out of the shoot.
posted by dios at 7:35 AM on December 20, 2005


A U.S. president has just received word that American counterterrorist operatives have captured a senior al Qaeda operative in Pakistan. Among his possessions are a couple of cell phones -- phones that contain several American phone numbers. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, what's a president to do?
that is the example used. However, if the person in America used the phone to call outside America, and if the person captured had called that cell phone in America, the NSA would have known about it ...in short, Kristol seems unaware of what NSA has been allowed to do up till the time of this new revelation, and thus his example adds nothing worthwhile to the discussion. What then is new? spying on citizens within the country who do not make or get calls outside the country! That, if I understand NSA's "mandeate" is what is new. And add this: Bush "asks" the NY Times not to run the story (how does he know they are planning to?), and when the paper goes ahead with the story, now Bush plans to ask for an investigation as to how the material was learned. In other words: you (the paper) did not obey me and now you are going to be punished.
posted by Postroad at 7:35 AM on December 20, 2005


Bush added that leaking the program designed to protect American citizens and the country was a “shameful act in time of war” and “is helping the enemy”.

The leaker is a patriot.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:38 AM on December 20, 2005


when the paper goes ahead with the story, now Bush plans to ask for an investigation as to how the material was learned. In other words: you (the paper) did not obey me and now you are going to be punished.

If the President establishing the secret, unauthorized by FISA wiretaps is determined to be illegal does that mean that the NYT is an accomplice since they knew of it and didn't report it?
posted by jperkins at 7:39 AM on December 20, 2005


Just saw Cheney on TV saying that with this kind of surveillance they could have stopped 9-11. Um, didn't you have intelligence that said that already in the summer of 2001?

He also noted that no attacks like 9-11 have occurred since 9-11, so it's working.

I will self destruct in 3..2..1..kaboom
posted by poppo at 7:40 AM on December 20, 2005


The President on usurping American democracy 12/18/2005:

I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss -- and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly. I know this war is controversial -- yet being your President requires doing what I believe is right and accepting the consequences.

Funny how in the old days we were a representative democracy where our elected officials at least gave lip service that they represented our interests. Now the President goes on TV to tell us that he does what he believes is right, even though that might contravene what we think.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:42 AM on December 20, 2005


Please don't try to hide from the viewscreen comrade. Oops, it will have to be a trip to the ministry of love for you.
posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on December 20, 2005


There are two quality comments right out of the shoot.
posted by dios at 9:35 AM CST on December 20 [!]


Interesting someone like you would confuse "shoot" with "chute".

Actually, not really.

Basically, this is just another "if you question the Prez then the terrorists have already won" repeated by this administration for the 1,000th time.

It's getting a little old.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:46 AM on December 20, 2005


From the transcript of the press conference:

"...We're guarding the civil liberties by monitoring the program on a regular basis, by having the folks at NASA (sic), the legal team as well as the inspector general, monitor the program, and we're briefing Congress."

I get it now. He thought he was signing off on a secret moon mission.

posted by digaman at 7:47 AM on December 20, 2005


"The point I'm making is a familiar one that is justly considered depressing: The price paid for security is liberty. But there's a larger point I've been trying to make throughout this series, and it's more upbeat: This famous trade-off between security and liberty isn't ironclad. There is a third variable that can recalibrate the trade-off: the amount of discontent and hatred in the world. The less of that there is, the more secure we can be without a big sacrifice of liberty. It's the trade-off among these three things—security, liberty, and antipathy—that is ironclad. This iron triangle is our future predicament, for better and worse."
-- Robert Wright, "A Real War on Terrorism," 13 September 2002.

The government seems awfully keen on sacrificing liberty for a little temporary security, but the moment someone suggests that we keep our liberty and instead discourage terrorism by dropping some of our more vile, neocolonial-type policies towards the rest of the world (the things we probably should've been doing anyway), they're in an evil "Blame America First" crowd. Now, I don't think America's the Great Satan, but it's not the City on the Hill, either. If we'd own up to the bad we've done, tried stopping that, and maybe even try to make it right, we could have our security and our liberty.

When I heard Bush in his speech suggesting that al-Qa'ida wanted to take over the world, I asked my girlfriend, "Which do you think is more true: America wants to rule the world, or Americans just don't want to be attacked again?" She agreed the latter; it's just the neoconservatives with dreams of a Pax Americana, and they're playing on the legitimate fears of the population as a whole to move towards that. So, then I asked, "Which is more true: the Middle East wants to conquer the world for Islam, or just wants to stop being ruled by American-backed despots?" Sure, bin Ladin & co. wants a global caliphate, just like the neocons want global American hegemony. But both of them would be as harmless as the crazy homeless guy on the corner with his "The End is Coming" sandwich board, were it not for the widespread and legitimate fears and desires of the populations they manipulated towards their own insane ends.

In other words, start doing the things you should've been doing all along, and you won't need to worry about terrorism. Bin Ladin may still want to blow you up, but that'll be hard when no one is listening to him any more.

So, if it's all so simple, one really has to wonder ... why are they so keen on sacrificing all the freedom and liberty that makes America something good, and worthwhile?
posted by jefgodesky at 7:47 AM on December 20, 2005


And to all the "9/11 Republicans" out there:

This is your fault.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:48 AM on December 20, 2005


I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss -- and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly. I know this war is controversial -- yet being your President requires doing what I believe is right and accepting the consequences.

Funny how in the old days we were a representative democracy where our elected officials at least gave lip service that they represented our interests. Now the President goes on TV to tell us that he does what he believes is right, even though that might contravene what we think.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:42 AM CST on December 20


Your logic is faulty for a number of reasons:

1. You assume that the sentence "this is controversial" means that it was not popular and not in the interest of the country. That is a faulty conclusion.

2. You assume that Bush wasn't acting in what he believed was the best interest of the Country. If he was, (and he certainly gives every indication that he believes it was in our interest) then he is satisfying the function of an executive in a representative government.

3. Even if people were 100% opposed to something, Madison makes the argument in the Federalist papers that a representative is supposed to filter that popular opinion through the "cool voice of reason" and do what the representative thinks is best, even if it is not popular. Madison argues that a representative is suppose to ignore popular opinion (and I suspect you agree, because if we put up all of the issues to a direct vote, my guess is that the Metafilter Lefty Brigade would be left in the cold on pretty much every one of it is most cherished issues).

4. He was re-elected by a majority of the votes after the people already knew about Iraq, so it is a clear ratification that he has support of those he represents.
posted by dios at 7:49 AM on December 20, 2005


There are two quality comments right out of the shoot.

If by "two" you mean "three".
posted by delmoi at 7:49 AM on December 20, 2005


He also noted that no attacks like 9-11 have occurred since 9-11, so it's working.

Ever since 9/11 I've been sacrificing babies so it wont happen again. My baby sacrificial program is working. And if you don't agree, you're helping the enemy.
posted by iamck at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2005


F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
posted by orthogonality at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2005


NY Times: F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show (via Whiskey Bar)
...the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Amusingly (or not) Condi asserts that the Attorney General is, "the highest legal authority in the country..." No word of any response from the Supreme Court about their move in the Nation's orgchart.
posted by jperkins at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2005


Interesting someone like you would confuse "shoot" with "chute".

Yeah, I have a problem with homonyms that I have explained many times here.
posted by dios at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2005


4. He was re-elected by a majority of the votes after the people already knew about Iraq, so it is a clear ratification that he has support of those he represents.

We didn't elect a King, dios.
posted by iamck at 7:52 AM on December 20, 2005


Oops. Didn't catch orthogonality's post on preview.
posted by jperkins at 7:52 AM on December 20, 2005


So dios, you're saying the president can do whatever he wants, as long as he believes he is acting in the best interest of the country?
So, in your mind, the legislative branch is superfluous.
posted by Floydd at 7:54 AM on December 20, 2005


QUESTION: I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a president during wartime.

And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we're going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?

BUSH: First of all, I disagree with your assertion of unchecked power.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.

There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters.

There is oversight. We're talking to Congress all the time.

And on this program, to suggest there's unchecked power is not listening to what I'm telling you. I'm telling you, we have briefed the United States Congress on this program a dozen times.

This is an awesome responsibility, to make decisions on behalf of the American people. And I understand that. And we'll continue to work with the Congress, as well as people within our own administration, to constantly monitor a program such as the one I described to you, to make sure that we're protecting the civil liberties of the United States.

To say "unchecked power" basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: I just described limits on this particular program, and that's what's important for the American people to understand. I am doing what you expect me to do and, at the same time, safeguarding the civil liberties of the country.

posted by caddis at 7:54 AM on December 20, 2005


Well, I'm sure bush was only doing what he thought was right, but it's still a crime, and government officials have gone to jail for it in the past (Including Mark Felt, for tapping the phones of "radicals" in the 70s).

In any event, I wouldn't trust bush's judgment on right and wrong, personally, because he's clearly an idiot. This is why we have the rule of law in this country, so stupid people can just get elected and make up whatever they think is "right" or "in our best interests" and then go do it.

If it turns out not to be a crime, more power to 'em, I guess (no pun intended). However, it needs to be investigated by a third party.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 AM on December 20, 2005


dios, I'd be interested in hearing what you, yourself, believe in, rather than your analysis of the flaws in others' reasoning. Do you think the President is acting in the best interests of the country in this matter?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:56 AM on December 20, 2005


Hmm, I'm seriously beginning to think that the BBC's "Power of Nightmares" documentary is a pretty accurate assesment of the current political climate. I dismissed it at the time as a bunch of alarmist tripe, but now I don't really see any substatial reason to doubt it.

I'm now convinced that neo-conservatives are not only dedicated to the destruction of left-liberalism, but the very institution of liberal democracy itself.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:57 AM on December 20, 2005


He also noted that no attacks like 9-11 have occurred since 9-11, so it's working.

I recently noted that no attacks like 9/11 have occurred prior to 9/11.
posted by NationalKato at 7:57 AM on December 20, 2005


In any event, I wouldn't trust bush's judgment on right and wrong, personally, because he's clearly an idiot.

What, with the rapture, apocalyptic ravings and all? No, we have nothing to worry about.
posted by iamck at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2005


Do you think the President is acting in the best interests of the country in this matter?

The best interest includes not just security from attack, but also preservation of our system of government with its checks and balances, and distribution of power.
posted by caddis at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2005


and when the paper goes ahead with the story

yeah, one fucking year later.


I have a problem with homonyms that I have explained many times here


they're not the only homo-something you have a problem with, unfortunately
posted by matteo at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2005


I'm sorry dios, perhaps you can explain how spying on your citizens with no judicial oversight whatsoever doesn't lead you down the dark road towards a police state. (Nevermind you can flag comments you think are inappropriate -- oh the irony of bitching about comments with a crap comment.)

The worse part of this mess is that the NSA and groups like it can go to a secret court to get permission for a wiretap, they were too lazy or arrogant to even do that. Bush can try and paint this however he likes, but there is really no reason for him to have authorized these sorts of wiretaps, War on Terror™ or not. This is one more example of Bush acting like King of America. One can only hope this time it bites him in the ass.

Nixon got impeached for doing pretty much exactly what Bush has done.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 AM on December 20, 2005


The Supreme Court spoke at the height of the Korean War on the president's authority to override Congress. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman ordered a federal takeover of the steel industry to prevent a strike that would have disrupted the supply of weapons to troops at the front. He cited his authority as commander in chief.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court rejected Truman's claim. In an influential concurring opinion, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote that the president's power is "at its lowest ebb" when he "takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress."

"With all its defects, delays and inconveniences, men have discovered no technique for long preserving free government except that the Executive be under the law, and that the law be made by parliamentary deliberations," Jackson wrote.
via WaPo
posted by caddis at 8:03 AM on December 20, 2005


Par for the course, he's right and the person who leaked the news is a traitor to the country.

I hope this continues to explode in his face and I saw John Dean (of Watergate fame) last night say he's never seen a president admit on national television that he committed a crime. I'd say this is pretty clear grounds for impeachment. He does not have the authority to ignore the Constitution and should be held accountable for doing so. He swore, upon his inauguration, to upheld the laws of the US Constitution, how is breaking them upholding the laws?

Bush has been acting with complete disregard to the will of the people and now he's admitted to acting without regard to the document he's sworn to protect and uphold. The last guy to authorize wiretaps without court approval lost his job.

And can we please not make this thread about dios? Thanks.
posted by fenriq at 8:03 AM on December 20, 2005


chunking express : Nixon got impeached for doing pretty much exactly what Bush has done.

Technically, Nixon resigned before he could be impeached (though he likely would have been, had be stayed in office).
posted by Godbert at 8:04 AM on December 20, 2005


Funny how in the old days we were a representative democracy where our elected officials at least gave lip service that they represented our interests. Now the President goes on TV to tell us that he does what he believes is right, even though that might contravene what we think.
Pollomacho, I'm sympathetic with your frustration but I think there's a danger implicit in your statement. We elect representatives because, to some extent, we trust them to make good decisions when faced with questions and challenges. If everyone wants free money, and the president refuses to promote Free Money For All legislation, he is doing what he knows to be right even though 100% of the electorate disagrees with him.

When we're in the minority, we tend to think that these public-opinion-flouting moves are courageous stands for principle. When we're in the majority, we tend to think that it's a betrayal of democracy.

I'm not saying that there's a perfect balance between the extremes. I'm one who opposes many of Bush's decisions in these matters, but it's important to note that the 'betrayal of democracy' angle is often a matter of perspective. Focus on actual wrongdoing rather than just unpopular decisions, and I think you'll have more weight behind you.
posted by verb at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2005


Kristol: "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly."

Well, at the time, at least some in Congress claimed they were unable to evaluate the administration's actions.

As people have pointed out, telling Congress after the fact is not an effective check. As others have pointed out, Congress has a nasty habit of opposing your political views, so they might not deserve access in the first place.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2005


It was the first election that made my mind up to emigrate to the UK. On one hand, I understand that the US is just too far gone to the right to have much hope. The most I can do is sit and wait (and hope) that in my lifetime, things will get better.
posted by katiecat at 8:07 AM on December 20, 2005


2. You assume that Bush wasn't acting in what he believed was the best interest of the Country. If he was, (and he certainly gives every indication that he believes it was in our interest) then he is satisfying the function of an executive in a representative government.

Ahhh, the key conservative point. Bush was acting in our collective interest when he knowingly violated federal law. Acted in our interest by deciding not to have judges retroactively approve wiretapping warrants on suspected terrorists. And who decides who's a suspected terrorist in lieu of a judge? A shift supervisor at the NSA.

You're a lawyer and a conservative, Dios, and unlike some of the left on this site, I don't think you're a troll. But, you've just come out and said in so many words that the President is above the law as long as he has our amorphic 'interests' in mind. That's not democracy - that's a benevolent dictatorship.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:07 AM on December 20, 2005


So dios, you're saying the president can do whatever he wants, as long as he believes he is acting in the best interest of the country?
So, in your mind, the legislative branch is superfluous.
posted by Floydd at 9:54 AM CST on December 20


Of course I didn't say that.

What I responded to what the suggestion that Bush's action were somehow contrary to a representative democracy, and that is clearly not the case.

I do believe that the presidence can do whatever he wants, within the constitutional and statutory powers authorized to him for doing his task, and those powers co-exist with constitutional rights of citizens.

Reading much of the discussion on this topic, one thinks that Bush was spying on Howard Dean's conversation with John Kerry or something. That isn't the case, and no reasonable people are alleging that is the case. Apparently the intelligence agency was looking at people who were in conversations with foreigners who were engaged in direct conflict with our country. There is a vast difference between the two.

So, don't put words in my mouth. In this context, the president had the power to do what he did, and he had the legal authority what he did. Nothing he did was an anathema to our governmental structures because it was authorized by them, despite all the hand-wringing.

Was it a good idea? Well, he will be held accountable for his actions.

But what he did was certainly not illegal, and to try to argue that it was the same as what Nixon did is just poppycock.
posted by dios at 8:08 AM on December 20, 2005


To the staunch defenders of the adminstration, a serious question: At what point do you call the president on his shit? Or question him? Can we just agree on some activity that if the adminstration were to engage in you would dissassociate yourself from the party line, and not defend it? Because then we have something to work with here. A line in the sand.

Like sheepfucking.

Just say it - "If the president fucks a sheep, I wont support it. Even if he says it's to protect us from evil."

Because I'm sure we'll get there eventually...
posted by iamck at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2005


In this context, the president had the power to do what he did, and he had the legal authority what he did.

Cites?
posted by Floydd at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2005


But what he did was certainly not illegal, and to try to argue that it was the same as what Nixon did is just poppycock.

Since when is committing a felony not illegal?
posted by SweetJesus at 8:11 AM on December 20, 2005


when he knowingly violated federal law.

But, you've just come out and said in so many words that the President is above the law
posted by SweetJesus at 10:07 AM CST on December 20


You'd have a point if I believed that what he did violated federal law. That isn't the case. I believe it was within the law and authorized by the law. So, in that regard, you asserting that I believe something that I have not said I believe in.
posted by dios at 8:11 AM on December 20, 2005


Just saw Cheney on TV saying that with this kind of surveillance they could have stopped 9-11.

Earnestly: How? Does Cheney believe that Al Qaeda had American operatives in Tribeca who phoned up Saddam on the morning of 9/11 and said Go go go? Has there been any evidence whatsoever that telephone communication from the US which could have been under surveillance played a crucial role on the attacks?
posted by digaman at 8:14 AM on December 20, 2005


So, dios, if Hillary is elected President in 2008, will you trust her with this unchecked power?
posted by orthogonality at 8:15 AM on December 20, 2005


You'd have a point if I believed that what he did violated federal law

I don't understand how his actions don't violate FISA. Can you provide a quick explanation?
posted by Slothrup at 8:16 AM on December 20, 2005


Controversy

Contra - against

Versus - turned

He was re-elected by a majority of the votes after the people already knew about Iraq, so it is a clear ratification that he has support of those he represents.

Clearly.

Even if people were 100% opposed to something, Madison makes the argument in the Federalist papers that a representative is supposed to filter that popular opinion through the "cool voice of reason" and do what the representative thinks is best, even if it is not popular. Madison argues that a representative is suppose to ignore popular opinion (and I suspect you agree, because if we put up all of the issues to a direct vote, my guess is that the Metafilter Lefty Brigade would be left in the cold on pretty much every one of it is most cherished issues).

Actually, Madison said that the "mild voice of reason" is often drowned out in a representative democracy by the majority clamoring for short term gains. He was also talking about how interstate commerce needs a Federal overseer to ensure that it runs smoothly. But hey, let's let folks read it for themselves.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:17 AM on December 20, 2005


But what he did was certainly not illegal...

Thanks for clearing that up. All these constitutional scholars seem to be confused on that matter. I'll be sure to pass this new info along!
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 8:21 AM on December 20, 2005


Dios, can you explain why you believe he acted within the law?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:22 AM on December 20, 2005


But what he did was certainly not illegal, and to try to argue that it was the same as what Nixon did is just poppycock.

I'm pretty sure that is all bullshit. In fact, I'm pretty sure what he did is expressly forbidden by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But maybe I've just been reading liberal propaganda.
posted by chunking express at 8:23 AM on December 20, 2005


Reading much of the discussion on this topic, one thinks that Bush was spying on Howard Dean's conversation with John Kerry or something. That isn't the case, and no reasonable people are alleging that is the case.

Call me unreasonable. We just don't know exactly what is going on as of yet. It would appear that there is a big Hoovering of all conversations and electronic communication with some sophisticated data mining used to highlight communications of potential interest. If so, they may be monitoring conversations between Dean and Kerry, but not necessarily tagging them for future review. Given that these people are quite likely to discuss matters of national security, terrorism and the like a key word process might very well flag their conversations. Of course, they can't tell you how far they have gone as that is a matter of deep political embarrassment national security.
posted by caddis at 8:24 AM on December 20, 2005


I'll admit that while I support this program, it's getting close to the limits of what can be done. They're spying on terrorists making international phone calls to known members of al Qaeda. George W Bush is not listening to the calls, nor is he or other politicos inventing the names of people to spy on. Qualified intelligence agents are doing so.

George W. Bush has nothing to gain here - not politcally, not financially and not personally, other than the knowledge that he's doing what's right and what's needed to protect citizens from terrorists.
posted by b_thinky at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2005


The Bush administration argument:

And, exactly a year later, the Justice Department brought that sweeping argument to bear in the context of electronic eavesdropping to deal with foreign terrorist threats. In a legal brief, it claimed that "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."

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, in Monday's special White House briefing on the legal basis for the domestic eavesdropping, applied the same argument anew, but this time in the context of listening to some Americans' conversations. "The President has the inherent authority under the Constitution, as Commander-in-Chief, to engage in this kind of activity."

About two hours after that briefing, the President made the same point to reporters. "Having suggested this idea, I then...went to the question, is it legal to do so? I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely." He based that, in part, on his dual role of "President and Commander-in-Chief," saying that "Article II of the Constitution gives me that responsibility...to protect our country."

That argument, of course, has been placed before the Supreme Court by this Administration. But, in the Court's ruling in 2004 in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Court refused to consider it. The government, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in the lead opinion, "maintains that no explicit congressional authorization is required" to order the detention of a U.S. citizen designated an "enemy combatant." The government, she added, claims that "the Executive possesses plenary authority to detain pursuant to Article II of the Constitution." No member of the Court addressed that question -- including Justice Clarence Thomas, who went the furthest to support presidential authority in that case.

But the Court there did accept a fallback argument -- one that parallels the assertion that the Administration is now making as its second point in favor of some domestic spying in the war on terrorism, That is the claim that Congress, in the post-September 11 resolution authorizing the President to respond to those attacks, did give the President the authority to take action (in Hamdi, the authority to detain enemy combatants, even if they were U.S. citizens, if they had been captured in a foreign battle zone).

The President and Attorney General Gonzales on Monday made that argument for some domestic surveillance. "After September 11th," Bush said, "the United States Congress also granted me additional authority to use military force against al Qaeda." The legal authority for foreign intelligence gathering by electronic devices, he added, derives in part from "the authorization of force by the United States Congress."


Going into more legal detail, the Attorney General told reporters that "the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [first passed in 1978] requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance..., unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress....Our position is that the authorization to use force [the 9/11 resolution]...constitutes that other authorization...to engage in this kind of signals intelligence."

This argument has yet to be refuted in court, as is my understanding.
posted by loquax at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2005


You'd have a point if I believed that what he did violated federal law. That isn't the case. I believe it was within the law and authorized by the law.

Dios, not even the administration is arguing that. The administration is touting the line that FISA was too bureaucratic and slow, so they needed to bypass it because time was critical. As many people in government have pointed out, this is a laughable defense - FISA warrants are retroactive, the judges are secret and well known to be more than willing to give out wiretapping warrants (4 applications rejected since 1976).

So, Bush's line is not that he followed the law - it's that the law was obsolete, and he has the legal authority to go around it in a time of war. History and logic do not support this argument. Alberto Gonzales held a press conference yesterday where-in he said that the President's authority is derived from the Constitution and articles of war against Afghanistan. So, at least the way I'm reading it (by opening my fucking eyes) Bush believes he is above the law, or at least above the FISA laws.

No one is above the law.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2005


"An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war."

I'm curious. Even if you believe that Bush is confident that he was acting in the best interests of the country, doesn't the above justification seem... well, a little thin and overbroad? Is it not possible to have "an open debate" about a major change in procedure about something so important as surveilling the phone calls of US citizens without leaking "war" plans to the enemy (particularly since, as many legal authorities have pointed out, the terrorists would have already known that to satisfy FISA, all that was required was a warrant that could be applied retroactively?

In other words, even if you believe that Bush is a visionary hero, don't justifications of quashing "open debate" like this seem a little overreaching?
posted by digaman at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2005


Earnestly: How? Does Cheney believe that Al Qaeda had American operatives in Tribeca who phoned up Saddam on the morning of 9/11 and said Go go go? Has there been any evidence whatsoever that telephone communication from the US which could have been under surveillance played a crucial role on the attacks?


I hope you're not asking me. I posted it because I found it ridiculous, manipulative, and insulting.
posted by poppo at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2005


NationalKato writes 'He also noted that no attacks like 9-11 have occurred since 9-11, so it's working.

I recently noted that no attacks like 9/11 have occurred prior to 9/11.'


Coincidentally, no other attacks like 9/11 ocurred during 9/11, either.
posted by signal at 8:28 AM on December 20, 2005


Apparently the intelligence agency was looking at people who were in conversations with foreigners who were engaged in direct conflict with our country.

Hopefully, and probably, but in our system, judges, not shift supervisors, make sure that the government's views have some basis in fact.

See Orin Kerr’s recent work herefor a tentative conclusion that the administration didn't violate the Constitution, but did violate FISA.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:28 AM on December 20, 2005


"Where complaining is a crime, hope becomes despair." -- Ben Franklin
posted by jdfalk at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2005


if Hillary is elected President in 2008, will you trust her

You're making the assumption that "they" ever expect to be out of power. On the contrary, they fully expect to be in power forever. You don't act the way they do if you ever expect to be on the receiving end of your own behavior.

Expanded authority, combined with absence of meaningful oversight, equals abuse of authority for the sake of maintaining a grip on power. Always.

People who seek power cannot be trusted, ever, to rationally apply that power once they obtain it. They may be 99% trustworthy, but there will always, always, be occasions where they lose their grip.

No human being is 100% trustworthy in all situations. That's why oversight exists.

Oh, and George W Bush is not listening to the calls, nor is he or other politicos inventing the names of people to spy on. Qualified intelligence agents are doing so.?

Prove it. Go ahead, prove it. I openly dare you.
posted by aramaic at 8:31 AM on December 20, 2005


Thanks loquax. This clarifies the administration's position a great deal.

Still, this is pretty shady, using the 9/11 resolution as a carte blanche for domestic surveillance. I think it's antithetical to the spirit of American democracy, and probably illegal, but the courts may very well disagree.

Still, the Times should have had the intestinal fortitude to run this story last year.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:31 AM on December 20, 2005


50 USC 1802 does indeed state that "...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..." (50 USC 1802 a.1.)

but only under the condition that...

"there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party..." (50 USC 1802 a.1.B.)

50 USC 1809 provides for a maximum $10k/5 year penalty for each violation. Criminal prosecution is under federal jurisdiction "if the person committing the offense was an officer or employee of the United States at the time the offense was committed," which would seem to apply here.

What makes bypassing FISC seem even more stupid is that "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." (50 USC 1809 b.)

(United States Code citations from Cornell Law School.)

Seems pretty clear to me that the Attorney General and White House Counsel (both former Bush personal lawyers) have an interpretation of 1802 that includes not reading to the bottom of the page.
posted by Vetinari at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2005


I just keep thinking how we're all superfucked once we get a Democratic president in the White House, and they start flexing all their muscles that were never part of the executive branch by any president before Bush.

Bush is paving the way, but it's not like he can revoke all those powers when he leaves. His legacy will be allowing horrible presidents to do unspeakable things to the populace long after I'm long dead.

Thanks.
posted by Balisong at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2005


You'd have a point if I believed that what he did violated federal law. That isn't the case

If I stop believing in you, will you disappear?

Please?
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2005


They're spying on terrorists making international phone calls to known members of al Qaeda.

b_thinky, a clarification please. The original Times story said this: "Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years..."

So, if these "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of Americans were "terrorists making international phone calls to known members of al Qaeda" -- well, frankly, I haven't heard of the NSA or Bush or anybody else claiming to have identified hundreds, perhaps thousands of known American "terrorists." I'll need a little more info from you on that before I can really respond.
posted by digaman at 8:34 AM on December 20, 2005


“Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Bush giveth, and the Bush giveth even more; blessed be the name of the Bush.”

The Book of [Insert Your Favorite Conservative Here].
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2005


As much as I'm disgusted by Bush's actions in this case, I think the more disturbing development is the "legal" analysis that states that what Bush did was legal.

This same analysis would mean that Bush could do literally anything he wants, at all, so long as he said "I'm doing it to stop Al Qaeda" when asked for a reason.

This isn't the start of an all-powerful executive, it's the conclusion.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2005


They're spying on terrorists making international phone calls to known members of al Qaeda.

You put entirely too much faith in the government to protect you...
posted by SweetJesus at 8:36 AM on December 20, 2005


Actually, Madison said that the "mild voice of reason" is often drowned out in a representative democracy by the majority clamoring for short term gains. He was also talking about how interstate commerce needs a Federal overseer to ensure that it runs smoothly. But hey, let's let folks read it for themselves.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:17 AM CST on December 20


No, sir. You are mistaken. I was referring to Federalist #10. Read it for yourself.

I don't understand how his actions don't violate FISA. Can you provide a quick explanation?
posted by Slothrup at 10:16 AM CST on December 20


Well, the way I see it is that the President has the authority under his article 2 constitutional duties (and the authority to do warrantless searches was upheld in the Keith case).

But that leaves the question of FISA. FISA is still good law, but it does not apply to the president in terms of his duties as commander in chief in a time of war. That is, Congress cannot limit his constitutional authority and duty to protect national security in times of war.

The question is, in my mind, does the AUMF equal a declaration of war and would this action fall within that ambit. If you assume, ad arguendo, that the answer is yes to both of those, then then FISA doesn't apply to the president here. If you assume no to either one, then you have a point. The problem is, there isn't anything I can point to to prove to you that I am right, and there isn't anything you can point to to prove I am wrong on answering those last two questions. It a grey area. Hamdi might provide some guidance here because the Court treats the AUMF as a declaration of war.
posted by dios at 8:37 AM on December 20, 2005


If there are "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of terrorists operating in the U.S., that's pretty conclusive evidence Bush, even by taking the war "to the terrorists" in Iraq, has failed to protect the country.


So either he's a liar and a law-breaker, or he's dangerously incompetent. Either sound like good grounds to impeach him.
posted by orthogonality at 8:38 AM on December 20, 2005


If you assume, ad arguendo

Oooooh, I love it when you talk dirty!
But seriously, thanks for clarifying your position.
posted by Floydd at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2005


So dios, since Bush and Rumsfeld and various others have said publicly that they believe the GWOT will last for decades, I assume you're comfortable with presidential power not being limited by Congress for the next several decades?
posted by digaman at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2005


but only under the condition that...

"there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party..." (50 USC 1802 a.1.B.)


Well, as I argued, I don't think FISA applies to the President in this context, but assuming it does, I think you are ignoring some key statutory points.

Namely, the definition section (1801). FISA permits the collection of intelligence from agents of a foreign power ((b)(2)(C)), and to fit under the citizen definition, you can't be an agent of a foriegn power.

The litigated area will be whether if you are working in concert with al Qaeda, does that make you an agent of a foreign power.
posted by dios at 8:42 AM on December 20, 2005


The question is, in my mind, does the AUMF equal a declaration of war and would this action fall within that ambit. If you assume, ad arguendo, that the answer is yes to both of those, then then FISA doesn't apply to the president here.

Who in their right minds is arguing that the FISA laws don't apply? As I said above, not even the administration has the balls to parrot this line. It's fundamentally wrong, and to keep insisting that it isn't is a sign of oncoming insanity. Where the fuck are those "Rule of Law" conservatives that seemed to be everywhere back in October?

It a grey area.

That's another talking point you're seeing. It's a grey area. The law is not grey at all, it's as clear as glacial water. The only grey area is whether or not you believe the President is above the law.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2005


I think it will be most illuminating when we find out who's phones were being tapped and heaven help ShrubCo if it turns out that they were spying on people without even a remote connection to terrorism.

Which is pretty much exactly what I expect to happen.
posted by fenriq at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2005


I just keep thinking how we're all superfucked once we get a Democratic president in the White House, and they start flexing all their muscles that were never part of the executive branch by any president before Bush.

This is wrong. Clinton used the same power:

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."

"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."



In fact, it was a power that all Presidents had (the Keith opinion). Only since the passage of FISA did it even become a question.
posted by dios at 8:45 AM on December 20, 2005


Another point of interest, no one has yet mentioned Senator Rockefeller's handwritten letter to Cheney:


"As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance. Without more information and the ability to draw on any independent legal or techical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.

I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure that I have a record of this communication."


He mentions that elements of Bush's domestic spying program remind him of TIA (Total Information Awareness), he mentions that he is (by law) not allowed to discuss the meeting, and he takes the unusual step of noting his "sealed copy" of record. Interest, no?
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 8:46 AM on December 20, 2005


Interest = Interesting
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 8:46 AM on December 20, 2005


The litigated area will be whether if you are working in concert with al Qaeda, does that make you an agent of a foreign power.

So, you take at face value the notion that "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of Americans were working "in concert with Al Qaeda"? This seems like a blockbuster story, which I haven't seen anywhere else but in Bush's rebuttals to the printing of a story by the New York Times.

Seriously, dios -- do you believe that "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of Americans have been working in concert with Al Qaeda?
posted by digaman at 8:47 AM on December 20, 2005


Who in their right minds is arguing that the FISA laws don't apply? As I said above, not even the administration has the balls to parrot this line. It's fundamentally wrong, and to keep insisting that it isn't is a sign of oncoming insanity.

I made the argument. Do you want to refute it with an argument or just dismiss it out of hand?

The law is not grey at all, it's as clear as glacial water. The only grey area is whether or not you believe the President is above the law.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:44 AM CST on December 20


When there is no guiding precedent in the interpretation of a statute, there is a legal grey area until the matter is litigated.
posted by dios at 8:48 AM on December 20, 2005


And can we please not make this thread about dios?

Right. Dios is a moral coward who won't answer direct challenges. I've asked for it to provide proof to backup its claims and dios hasn't bother to have the courage of conviction to actually provide proof.

The dios attitude is what Nixon tried arguing - that the President is above the rules of congress.

Too bad the oath of office has a bit about upholding The Constitution. Because at somepoint actions will collide with The Constitution.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2005


Seriously, dios -- do you believe that "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of Americans have been working in concert with Al Qaeda?
posted by digaman at 10:47 AM CST on December 20


No. I wouldn't be suprised by a hundred. I don't have any way to logically to say where my level of belief would tilt; I would like to think thousands aren't. The thing is, I thought I heard or read somewhere that this more like a "tens" as opposed to "thousands"
posted by dios at 8:50 AM on December 20, 2005


So, dios, I see that you believe the President acted within the bounds of law in this matter. Thank you for that clarification. But I ask again, do you think the President is acting in the best interests of the country in this matter?
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2005


Shorter dios: activist judge bad, activist president good, strict constructionist judge good, gray area president a-ok!
posted by orthogonality at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2005


Well, I already quoted the Times on the "hundreds, perhaps thousands," so feel free to provide a credible cite for the "tens." It's, you know, an important distinction.
posted by digaman at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2005


So, dios, I see that you believe the President acted within the bounds of law in this matter. Thank you for that clarification. But I ask again, do you think the President is acting in the best interests of the country in this matter?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:51 AM CST on December 20


I can only assume that he isn't intentionally working against the interest of the country, and I have not seen any evidence to suggest he is doing anything other than following what he truly believes in.
posted by dios at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2005


Sure, he may believe he's working in our best interests. But what do you believe?
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:54 AM on December 20, 2005


to fit under the citizen definition, you can't be an agent of a foriegn power.

Except that the law says "United States person", which is a somewhat broader category that, on the face of the findlaw link you posted, does not exclude "agents of a foreign power".
posted by Slothrup at 8:55 AM on December 20, 2005


My own personal view? Are you asking what I would do? If I had evidence that there were people here in America working with known al Qaeda groups, then I would do the same thing.
posted by dios at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2005


dios writes "I can only assume that he isn't intentionally working against the interest of the country, "

That wasn't MrMoonPie's question, and you know it. The question is, is this precedent of unchecked executive power good for the country? The Founders thought not, supreme Court precedent is against it, are you defending it?
posted by orthogonality at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2005


other than following what he truly believes in.

And this comforts you?
posted by NationalKato at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2005


I can only assume that he isn't intentionally working against the interest of the country, and I have not seen any evidence to suggest he is doing anything other than following what he truly believes in.

I have to agree that Bush clearly feels he's acting in the best interests of the country. (Of course, most "evil" is done in the name of "good"...)
posted by Slothrup at 8:57 AM on December 20, 2005


Thanks, dios. That is, indeed, what I was asking.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:57 AM on December 20, 2005


If I had evidence that there were people here in America working with known al Qaeda groups, then I would do the same thing.

You'd suspend warrants, rather than telling intelligence agencies to stop by the FISA court within 72 hours?

I don't believe it. You're a Republican apologist, but you're not a fascist.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2005


Except that the law says "United States person", which is a somewhat broader category that, on the face of the findlaw link you posted, does not exclude "agents of a foreign power".
posted by Slothrup at 10:55 AM CST on December 20


That is not what I see. Here:

(b) 'Agent of a foreign power' means -
(2) any person who -
(C) knowingly engages in sabotage or international
terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor,
for or on behalf of a foreign power;
or
(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of
activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or
knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities
described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).


So any person (that includes American citizens) who is suspected of working with al Qaeda would be "an agent of a foreign power" and therefore FISA protection does not apply to them.
posted by dios at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2005


You'd suspend warrants, rather than telling intelligence agencies to stop by the FISA court within 72 hours?

Well, there is an information asymmetry here. I don't know specific circumstances these things were done. So perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I wouldn't limit myself if I felt it was necessary.

And do you need to call me names?
posted by dios at 9:02 AM on December 20, 2005


The Founders thought not, supreme Court precedent is against it, are you defending it?
posted by orthogonality at 10:56 AM CST on December 20


Actually, as I said, the Founders were not against it. They gave the president Article 2 powers. They also only limited unreasonable searches and seizures which (using the canon of contruction inclusio unius est exlusio alterius) means that reasonable searches and seizures are fine.

And you are wrong, the Supreme Court precedent is on the side of Bush: see the Kieth case.

The only argument that Bush did anything wrong is FISA, and that is a new law.
posted by dios at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2005


(b.1) 'Agent of a foreign power' means any person other than a United States person

(i) 'United States person' means a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as defined in section 1101(a)(20) of title 8), an unincorporated association a substantial number of members of which are citizens of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or a corporation which is incorporated in the United States, but does not include a corporation or an association which is a foreign power, as defined in subsection (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this section.


What am I missing?
posted by Slothrup at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2005


The litigated area will be whether if you are working in concert with al Qaeda, does that make you an agent of a foreign power.

Yea, Nothing else could happen. No WAY anyone else could be in trouble. Because when Alberto Gonzalez showed up in front of congress and swore an oath. Some stuff was said, like this:

During his confirmation hearings for Attorney General in January 2005, Sen. Russ Feingold asked Gonzales about this precise issue:

SEN. FEINGOLD: I -- Judge Gonzales, let me ask a broader question. I'm asking you whether in general the president has the constitutional authority, does he at least in theory have the authority to authorize violations of the criminal law under duly enacted statutes simply because he's commander in chief? Does he -- does he have that power?

After trying to dodge the question for a time, Gonzales issued this denial:

MR. GONZALES: Senator, this president is not -- I -- it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.

In fact, that was precisely the policy of the President.

And immediately afterwards:

SEN. FEINGOLD: Finally, will you commit to notify Congress if the president makes this type of decision and not wait two years until a memo is leaked about it?

MR. GONZALES: I will to advise the Congress as soon as I reasonably can, yes, sir.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2005


Ah, I see where you're coming from -- I missed the (b.2) because of the horrid formatting. But "agent of a foreign power" does not create an exclusion from "United States person". One can still be both.
posted by Slothrup at 9:08 AM on December 20, 2005


(b.1) 'Agent of a foreign power' means any person other than a United States person
What am I missing?
posted by Slothrup at 11:05 AM CST on December 20


Slothrup, you are missing how a statute is read.

(1) is only one subset of (b). I quoted for you above (2) which is a second subset of (b) "agents of foriegn power."

And if you read the (b)(2)(C) or (E) then you can see how such people fit into that exception.
posted by dios at 9:09 AM on December 20, 2005


So perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I wouldn't limit myself if I felt it was necessary.

Can you concoct a believable scenario in which a wiretap is known to be neccessary, yet the standards of the FISA court cannot be met?
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:10 AM on December 20, 2005


Urgency.
posted by dios at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2005


see the Kieth case

In Keith the Supremes said you need a warrant for domestic surveillance. They acknowledged the issue of foreign agent surveillance within the US, but then made no ruling on it. Lack of a ruling does not sound like constitutional justification to me. (caveat: I have not read the case, merely the synopsis printed in a news story.)
posted by caddis at 9:15 AM on December 20, 2005


Urgency.
posted by dios at 12:13 PM EST on December 20 [!]


Yes, because perfectly legal RETROACTIVE warrant granted up to 3 days later just isn't enough.
posted by Chrischris at 9:15 AM on December 20, 2005


So urgent that asking for permission after the wiretap has occurred is too much of a delay. Uh-huh.
posted by verb at 9:17 AM on December 20, 2005


Yes, because perfectly legal RETROACTIVE warrant granted up to 3 days later just isn't enough.

That's why this whole affair -- illegal or not -- strikes me more as an assertion of Executive branch power than a practical tool to prevent terrorism.
posted by Slothrup at 9:18 AM on December 20, 2005


Define al-Qaeda.
posted by mr.marx at 9:19 AM on December 20, 2005


That's why this whole affair -- illegal or not -- strikes me more as an assertion of Executive branch power than a practical tool to prevent terrorism.

Not -- I should add -- that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. It seems like there's a lot of back-and-forth in that regard between the branches of government, which is one of the reasons we have separation of powers to begin with. But it sounds like a reasonably large number of legal scholars believe that this has crossed the line.
posted by Slothrup at 9:20 AM on December 20, 2005


Urgency.

The FISA court allows them to get the warrant retroactively, within 72 hours of the tap.

Do you have a legitimate answer, or are you just trying to prove me right, that you're simply a Republican apologist?
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:22 AM on December 20, 2005


Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act of 2004: "Lone Wolf" Amendment to the FISA. (.pdf)

Amends the definition of "Agent of a foreign power" and expanded the semi-annual reporting requirements of FISA.
Apparently the administration didn't even bother to file the reports.
posted by Floydd at 9:27 AM on December 20, 2005


We thought we were free.
posted by hortense at 9:28 AM on December 20, 2005


The FISA court allows them to get the warrant retroactively, within 72 hours of the tap.

Do you have a legitimate answer, or are you just trying to prove me right, that you're simply a Republican apologist?
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:22 AM CST on December 20


I Love Tacos, do you want a respectful dialogue on this topic or are you more interested in trying to label me and call me names? Because you are certainly acting as if that is what you are interested in despite my attempts to respectfully engage you.

As I said, there is an information asymmetry in this matter. I don't know what the circumstances are that these were acted upon. I suspect that there is some mix of a need for urgency, need to not have the encumberance of trying to go through all the legal requirements, and the need for complete secrecy that could create the need to behave as they did. I don't know the specific burdens that occur by seeking a FISA court authorization. But assuming there is some burden--any burden--, as I said, I wouldn't forclose the option since I am not even sure FISA applies in the issue of serious national security in a time of war. I don't know what else you want from me on this line of questions.
posted by dios at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2005


Dios,

As has been pointed out to you, urgency isn't an operative defense. Try again. I'm curious if you can formulate any solid support of your assertion that 1) they needed to circumvent FISA and 2) that this was perfectly legal.

So far, you are doing miserably.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:31 AM on December 20, 2005


The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: An Overview of the Statutory Framework and Recent Judicial Decisions, Congressional Research Service, 2005

More background.
posted by Floydd at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2005


I suspect that there is some mix of a need for urgency, need to not have the encumberance of trying to go through all the legal requirements, and the need for complete secrecy that could create the need to behave as they did.

God, you are like a broken record. 3 day retroactive warrants (15 day after attacks) make the "urgency" claim specious. The FISA warrants are themselves "secret", so that claim doesn't pass muster as well.

FISA, since 1978, has only rejected 5 of 19,000 warrants issued. So there is no foundation for which to claim that Bush needed to supercede the current statute.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:34 AM on December 20, 2005


...need to not have the encumberance of trying to go through all the legal requirements...

This, from a lawyer. Apparently, inconvenience is now a perfectly legitimate excuse to evade the law.
posted by Chrischris at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2005


need to not have the encumberance of trying to go through all the legal requirements

Aww, poor encumbered government.

C'mon, what? Is our government not capable of doing several things at once? Send some lackey to handle the notification for the courts while the NSA goes about its business. This 'burden' argument doesn't hold water and is an affront to the success of the American government. What a crock of shit.
posted by NationalKato at 9:39 AM on December 20, 2005


The Court did not deny, in whole or in part, any application submitted by the Government in 2004.
posted by Floydd at 9:40 AM on December 20, 2005


there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.-Bush 04

Is this lie, and he must have known it was a lie when he said it, an impeachable offence?
posted by Balisong at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005


There's no point trying to convince people that this is wrong. Bush could stab a nun in the face on national TV and some people would say "he did it to defend us against terrists, and it's a time of war, so it's ok"
posted by jlub at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005


This, from a lawyer.

No. This from a Republican.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005


Its very interesting watching this administration and its apologists try to stay afloat in an ever deepening vat of their own excrement.

dios, nice try but urgency is crap, you know it. Try again.
posted by fenriq at 9:48 AM on December 20, 2005


Dios, in the quote I posted above, from a lawyer's standpoint, knowing that he authorized courtless wiretaps for years before, did he commit a crime?
posted by Balisong at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2005


I suspect that there is some mix of a need for urgency, need to not have the encumberance of trying to go through all the legal requirements, and the need for complete secrecy that could create the need to behave as they did.

Urgency has already been debunked.
Secrecy doesn't make sense unless you believe that Al Qaeda has infiltrated the FISA court.
Encumberance is the only man left standing, but there's been no evidence of it. If it's a significant problem, the administration should have been trotting out hypothetical examples of places that FISA falls down.

As for you complaints that I'm not treating you with respect, I suggest you think about the arguments you're making in this thread. Your "Urgency." post would've been less offensive if you'd instead posted "Fuck you, asshole.", since it was such an obviously incorrect argument.

The same with your original claim that you would definitely allow warrantless wiretaps. Obviously this wasn't true, since a request for reasoning was answered with remarks that show that you don't actually know that they're neccessary or useful.

Your legal posts are interesting, but your comments on policy have been unjustified party line echos that are insulting to those of us who might be otherwise interested in your commentary.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2005


The difficulty with FISA is the standard it imposes for obtaining a warrant aimed at a "U.S. person" -- a U.S. citizen or a legal alien: The standard suggests that, for all practical purposes, the Justice Department must already have in hand evidence that someone is a problem before they seek a warrant.

Ooooh, that standard sounds so tough. And yet how many of the nearly 19,000 requests has FISA rejected? Five. Funny how Kristol doesn't mention that fact in his argument.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2005


Dios just doesn't seem to get it--urgency doesn't cut it as a defense for this kind of behavior. You could tap a phone line thirty seconds after you find out it's being used by a suspected terrorist, if it were humanly possible to do it. You would just have to go to a FISA judge within three days and run it past him, at which point he'd rubberstamp a warrant and you'd be legally clear.

The only reason I can imagine for sneaking thousands of wiretaps around the courts is that you know the (incredibly cooperative and lenient) FISA judges won't give you a warrant for the people you want to spy on. Anti-war activists? Gay rights groups? PETA? John Kerry and Howard Dean? None of 'em would shock me at this point.
posted by EarBucket at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2005


As others have said, this is just bizarre. The argument that ignoring the statute in question can aid national security is completely nosensical. Taking this power doesn't seem to aid the executive branch in its investigations at all if they all are at least the least bit legitimate. So why bother? Because he can? That, to me, is what's scary; as much as I despise virtually everything about this administration, I've always assumed that they acted in order to achieve a goal. But here there seems to be no goal. They seem to be breaking the law "just for the taste of it."
posted by spira at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2005


All hail King George -- or else.

Check your brains, independence, and freedom at the door, "Yer either with us or agin' us". This attitude toward the international community (aka 'The World') apparently extends to Americans he doesn't personally know.

GWB is an insular man, highly dependent on personal connections for everything he has including his job. Little wonder he has no problem with internal spying.
posted by scheptech at 10:03 AM on December 20, 2005


Your legal posts are interesting, but your comments on policy have been unjustified party line echos that are insulting to those of us who might be otherwise interested in your commentary.

nicely said. that perfectly captures how i, for one, feel about dios.

The only reason I can imagine for sneaking thousands of wiretaps around the courts is that you know the...FISA judges won't give you a warrant for the people you want to spy on.

sad to say, but i wouldn't put corporate espionage past this admin. that is, i could certainly imagine them passing on intel about corporate dealings to their "pioneers" and "rangers," who then use the information in their business strategies.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2005


Look, I am being asked two separate questions and I have tried to answer them the only way I can.

The first is a legal question, and I have made the point above about one argument that authorizes this. That was the argument that I was addressing. Whether something is legal is not dependent on whether it makes sense or is prudent.

The second quesiton is a question of policy, which, as I stated, I can't rightly answer because there is an issue of information asymmetry. I don't know the reasons for it because I don't know the facts surrounding it. I suggested in one my earlier posts on this that I would probably not have this policy if I was president, but, as I don't think there is anything illegal going on here, I don't see anything other than a policy reason to follow it. I lack the facts to judge the policy decision; I can only judge the legal situation.

But again, the argument that it is legal is not an argument that it is the wisest policy decision. I don't have the information to judge that, and neither do any of you. And, to be honest, the insults are getting ridiculous tiring on this topic. If you want to discuss this through a dialogue, then you need to act that way. Otherwise, it looks like you just want to shout the person down, and I'm not going to waste my time with such people.
posted by dios at 10:10 AM on December 20, 2005


posted by NationalKato I recently noted that no attacks like 9/11 have occurred prior to 9/11.

Yeah, Oklahoma City and the first WTC bombing didn't count.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2005


Dios, is this a lie?
posted by Balisong at 10:12 AM on December 20, 2005


And who advised Bush to start the unauthorized wiretaps? Condi Rice as National Security Advisor. When asked about this yesterday her response was that she's not a a lawyer. Which I took to mean, she's not a lawyer but she'll be talking with one really shortly to cover her ass from prosecution.

By the way, how'd she get away with perjuring herself during the 9/11 Commission investigation?

I think the most galling thing about Bush going on national television and admitting he authorized the wiretaps is basically smacking each and every law abiding citizen in the face with the Constitution that he swore, upon his inauguration, to uphold. Bush is not acting the country's best interests, he's acting in the Republic inner circle's best interests.

History should and will judge this simpleton very, very harshly (but I'm sure there will still be apologists who will maintain that his shit smells like roses).
posted by fenriq at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2005


The line of legality the Administration is skating on is pretty thin - "the use of these wiretaps is legal because of the legislation passed after 9/11" - is a pretty thin argument and will have to be decided through the courts - and most likely the Supreme Court.

I can have some understanding of the "urgency" argument, but after a month I would be proposing new legislation to remove any doubt and allow you to continue. It is highly questionable as to what has been told congress - both Dems and Republicans are a little shakey on what they have been told about the program. Urgency sure, but several years later you are still doing this. I am concerned.

The principle of surveillance of US Citizens with the balance of the Courts is a bedrock principle of the United States - one that has been through the Supreme Court many times. I don't think one of these principles should be treated so lightly as to "we believe we have the authority."

What is most alarming is Pres. Bush's notion of checks and balances. Whatever side of the fence you want to be on with the NSA tactics, I don't believe this action has been properly vetted through the checks and balances process. I don't care who you are, Republican or Democrat, this is being treated in the Administration as "it's easier to apologize than ask permission."

This is far too important to be handled by office politics methodologies.
posted by fluffycreature at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2005


fluffycreature, you mean the same Supreme Court that's got two seats being filled by Bush appointees?

And its easier to slag the leak than ask permission too.
posted by fenriq at 10:20 AM on December 20, 2005


My own personal view? Are you asking what I would do? If I had evidence that there were people here in America working with known al Qaeda groups, then I would do the same thing.
posted by dios at 11:56 AM EST on December 20 [!]


I suggested in one my earlier posts on this that I would probably not have this policy if I was president, but, as I don't think there is anything illegal going on here...
posted by dios at 1:10 PM EST on December 20 [!]



Dios, care to reconcile these two statements?
posted by Chrischris at 10:23 AM on December 20, 2005


Shorter dios: How dare you question Dear Leader!
posted by nofundy at 10:23 AM on December 20, 2005


I made the argument. Do you want to refute it with an argument or just dismiss it out of hand?

Well, sure. This is the most accurate legal synopsis I've seen in the past few days, and explains exactly why those who are saying this is a "grey" area are either blind, disingenuous or both.

The laws regarding FISA are clear, and it's crystal clear that non-state actors (ie, stateless terrorists) do not apply to sections 1 - 3 of § 1801, and only apply explicitly to section 4.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:29 AM on December 20, 2005


Dios, care to reconcile these two statements?
posted by Chrischris at 12:23 PM CST on December 20


I did. I probably wouldn't do it as a matter of course. But I don't think it is illegal, and I wouldn't forclose the option.

Dios, is this a lie?
posted by Balisong at 12:12 PM CST on December 20


I don't know. It is certainly wrong. Bush was probably hiding the ball because of security reasons, so it certainly seems untruthful, and he should have to address that to the people.

But even if it wasn't happening, his statement is wrong in the abstract.
posted by dios at 10:31 AM on December 20, 2005



You're right Fenriq, all is lost. Give up now, what's the point?

Yes, the Supreme Court who, no matter the politics, just might, might decide to take a peek at the Constitution. It is what they have spent their life studying. Again, the principle of checks and balances is far beyond party affiliation.
Perhaps you had another question, or were you just being snarky by asking the question?
posted by fluffycreature at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2005


To me, this discussion is similar to the “ticking time bomb” torture discussion.

Arguments have been made that the president should have an “extra-constitutional” right to act (brief discussion of Jefferson’s thoughts here) if he sees a threat to the republic. The thing that I do not hear from this administration (or from their supporters) is the position that the president is not -- after acting in an extra-constitutional way -- accountable for these acts by review of Congress. It seems this administration desires to act in the gray area (and this wiretapping seems to be gray until litigated... SweetJesus's link not withstanding) without current or subsequent review by the legislative branch.

Who would bring this wiretapping issue to the courts for clarity?
posted by mania at 10:33 AM on December 20, 2005



Good question mania. I have been thinking the same. Congress?
posted by fluffycreature at 10:35 AM on December 20, 2005


As there are few smarter, more dedicated people in the world than those who work in our intelligence services, let's find out what they think about this use of our resources against American citizens.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:40 AM on December 20, 2005


Yes, but if he were to stab the nun WHILE fucking the sheep, then what?
posted by FredsinPa at 10:41 AM on December 20, 2005


The most serious threat to our freedom is not terrorism. It is a secretive and arrogant President who has proven that he is willing to circumvent the law and the Constitution. If the House doesn't impeach him over this, we might as well admit that we no longer have a constitutional democracy, but a dictatorship.
posted by wadefranklin at 10:44 AM on December 20, 2005


Bush was probably hiding the ball because of security reasons...

Well, there's your two camps. One camps believes Bush was "hiding the ball" for security reasons, but has no legal basis for justifying the wire taps. The other camp believes Bush was "hiding the ball" for extralegal reasons, solely to circumvent FISA.

Dios, our country wasn't founded on the notion that authority would "probably" do the right thing. It is either legal or not, and this is looking very bad for Bush.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 10:45 AM on December 20, 2005


fluffycreature, I wasn't trying to be snarky at all, I was simply pointing out that this case might be tried by people who definitely owe a debt to Bush in appointing them to the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court was absolutely above partisan bias then I would have zero issue with them trying the case.

All is not lost, Bush is in serious trouble and I don't think he even realizes just how deep he's in now. I'd like to get a picture of him when he finally realizes that he's not going to slip out of this one.
posted by fenriq at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2005


Bush, April 20, 2004:

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2005


it's way past time to bring the war home to this war president.
posted by quonsar at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2005


When there is no guiding precedent in the interpretation of a statute, there is a legal grey area until the matter is litigated.

I dunno, I thought this was the type of sentiment conservatives abhorred in the wake of the whole "Depends on what the meaning of is is" fiasco.

Color me utterly unsurprised if, as we go along, we find out that these sorts of wiretaps were employed not just to keep tabs on potential terrorists, but put to a broader, COINTELPRO-type use.
posted by kgasmart at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2005


Secrecy doesn't make sense unless you believe that Al Qaeda has infiltrated the FISA court.

pray that nobody at the White House reads MeFi.
if they do, they'll use this.
posted by matteo at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2005


If mafia/gang guys know enopugh to suspect that any and all phone communications and any and all possible electronic survelillance stuff might be used against the, why wouldn't a terror group. Or do they need to read about it in the New York Times to cover their butts?
posted by Postroad at 11:35 AM on December 20, 2005


Conservatives on Foreign Policy
A panel joins Diane to discuss President's Bush Oval Office address, U.S policy in Iraq, domestic eavesdropping, and U.S policy on torture.

Guests
Bruce Fein, former associate deputy attorney general, Republican counsel during the Iran-contra hearings, and founding partner with the Lichfield Group

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union

Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
That was the line up on the Diane Rehm Show last night. Listen to it. Not one of them thought what the President did was legal. They were incredibly harsh. When. after being asked pointblank by two callers in a row whether this was an impeachable offense, it was a bit startling to hear Norman Ornstein agree, compared to Clinton's lying about sex under oath, that *mumble mumble* well, yeah, what Bush has done is a far graver offense. An impeachable offense. The other two agreed when Rehm asked their opinion.

They all seem to assume that the President will back down as he did with McCain on the Torture amendment. But if he doesn't, well, bring on the impeachment proceedings was the consensus. The paleocons have left the building.
posted by y2karl at 11:54 AM on December 20, 2005


Who would bring this wiretapping issue to the courts for clarity?

One of the scenarios discussed on the Diane Rehm show was having Congress pass the FISA legislation all over again, send it to Bush to be signed all over again and pass it over his veto should he refuse to sign.
posted by y2karl at 11:59 AM on December 20, 2005


"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."
posted by jperkins at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2005


I'm still trying to come to terms with why they thought doing an end run around the FISA court was necessary. urgency was not an issue because of the 3-day retroactivity, concern that FISA wouldn't grant a warrant seem misplaced, since they approve 99.999998% of the requests put in front of them.

sussing out from Sen. Rockefeller's hand-written note, and comments on the washington monthly's site and defensetech.org, it seems to point to some new areas in data mining or voice analysis systems.... something like Eschelon on PCP. If the NSA was slurping up emails and phone calls of, say, 100,000 people, and then mining them for references to Al Queda, would they need 100,000 warrants to be retroactively approved by the FISA court? even if only a handful actually were relevant?
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2005


The only reason I can imagine for sneaking thousands of wiretaps around the courts is that you know the (incredibly cooperative and lenient) FISA judges won't give you a warrant for the people you want to spy on. Anti-war activists? Gay rights groups? PETA? John Kerry and Howard Dean? None of 'em would shock me at this point.

I read recently on a blog (it might have been AmericaBlog) that some people are suggesting it might be the media that was tapped. After all, some members of the media do have communications links with Al-Qaida, right?
posted by beth at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2005


From the link SweetJesus points us to above here's what the NSA spooks have to say:

A few current and former signals intelligence guys have been checking in since this NSA domestic spying story broke. Their reactions range between midly creeped out and completely pissed off.

All of the sigint specialists emphasized repeatedly that keeping tabs on Americans is way beyond the bounds of what they ordinarily do -- no matter what the conspiracy crowd may think.

"It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."


Kickstart70 quotes Bush from a previous statement. Totally different from what he now says. Which one is the lie? Both cannot be true. (Hint: look at which one dodges a felony)

Come on Defenders of All Things Dubya, crank it up a notch! Clap louder for the old Tinkerbell Gipper!
posted by nofundy at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2005


Dios: The only argument that Bush did anything wrong is FISA, and that is a new law.

Ah...I see..so it's okay to break "new laws."

But, wait, by my calculation the FISA law has been in effect for 28 years. At what point does a new law become an old law?
posted by ericb at 12:35 PM on December 20, 2005


Bruce Schneier (a security expert) weighs in on this news. (There are some good links at the end of his article as well.)
posted by chunking express at 12:41 PM on December 20, 2005


This quote from the linked article is what I liked:
The fundamental issue here is security, but it's not the security most people think of. James Madison famously said: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." Terrorism is a serious risk to our nation, but an even greater threat is the centralization of American political power in the hands of any single branch of the government.
posted by chunking express at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2005


“Right. Dios is a moral coward who won't answer direct challenges.”

I’d just like to applaud dios for taking loads of shit and taking the time to post - by my rough count - about 20 times here. I don’t think he’s getting paid to answer arguments. And however you feel about him, we should try to conduct ourselves civilly. Not that we, myself very much included, succeed.
But I will emphasize that disagreement however vehement is not disruption. I see where dios is coming from. I disagree, but that does not justify insults. He’s not a contrarian, he’s demonstrated a pattern of thought behind his comments.

That said - dios - I think the emphasis on law and ‘state of war’ are a bit much. They may well be technically correct (not being a lawyer I have no idea).
However the logic is - absent congress’ willingness to declare a war we have a situation where more by tradition than statute (or rather, by fully constitutional stature) the president can engage the armed forces and we can be arguable in a state of ‘war.’

Given that the POTUS has certain war powers, where is then the limit on his power to put the country in a national emergency and effectively suspend the constitution?

That’s the crisis. Given this uncertainty about what exactly “war” is and who declares it.We don’t know anymore.
(Don’t hand me the line about “only congress declares war” because right now that’s only true on paper. As it so happens I do agree very much that that’s how it SHOULD be, only congress able to declare war - but that isn’t the way it’s been)

Policywise Bush has upped the stakes here, because, in essence - either congress openly rescinds the resolution allowing him to be in Iraq (which is itself of questionable merit) or they play ball and grant that “were at war.”

But hell, we should have seen this coming since we had the “police actions” and such in Korea and Vietnam.
Bush is just the first president to get a bug up his ass and start pushing it.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:50 PM on December 20, 2005


Smedleyman writes "Bush is just the first president to get a bug up his ass and start pushing it."

No, you're wrong: Bush is against teh ghey stuff.
posted by orthogonality at 12:54 PM on December 20, 2005


I’d just like to applaud dios for taking loads of shit and taking the time to post - by my rough count - about 20 times here. I don’t think he’s getting paid to answer arguments. And however you feel about him, we should try to conduct ourselves civilly. Not that we, myself very much included, succeed.
But I will emphasize that disagreement however vehement is not disruption. I see where dios is coming from. I disagree, but that does not justify insults. He’s not a contrarian, he’s demonstrated a pattern of thought behind his comments.


Hear, hear. Settle down children. That said, I am deeply disturbed that he so readily defends these buffoons, but we should be courteous while he does so
posted by slapshot57 at 1:04 PM on December 20, 2005


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 20, 2004

President Bush: Information Sharing, Patriot Act Vital to Homeland Security
Remarks by the President in a Conversation on the USA Patriot Act
Kleinshans Music Hall
Buffalo, New YorK
9:49 A.M. EDT

" ...there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:17 PM on December 20, 2005


This part is truth: "I am doing what you expect me to do..." sadly so.
posted by taosbat at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2005


BoingBoing linked to a good "editorial" posted to a cryptography mailing list:
Ours is a government of laws, not of men. That means if the President disagrees with a law or feels that it is insufficient, he still must obey it. Ignoring the law is illegal, even for the President. The President may ask Congress to change the law, but meanwhile he must follow it.

Our President has chosen to declare himself above the law, a dangerous precedent that could do great harm to our country. However, without substantial effort on the part of you, and I mean you, every person reading this, nothing much is going to happen. The rule of law will continue to decay in our country. Future Presidents will claim even greater extralegal authority, and our nation will fall into despotism. I mean that sincerely. For the sake of yourself, your children and your children's children, you cannot allow this to stand.
posted by chunking express at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2005


"You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."
- Practically a mantra in the intelligence community. Tattooed on eyelids kinda thing. 'Rah.

“...one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."
- posted by jperkins

Very appropriate link jperkins.

“No, you're wrong: Bush is against teh ghey stuff.”
posted by orthogonality

Well, teh gay aside (um...no pun. I’m straight. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) - the point being it’s been an internal vulnerability waiting to be tested. It’s been there a long time. And this is the gaming of it.
You start rescinding the POTUS’ war powers during this time when TERRORISTS ARE EVERYWHERE OH MY GOD!!!! and people might call you unpatriotic or something.

Actually, openness works much better anyway. Not just the touchy feely let’s ease off our hard ass policies stuff either (although that’s a fair idea).

If you get used to living with secrets and you become accustomed to furtive acts. If I remember correctly James Woods (the actor) mentioned to the authorities some strange things were going on with some guys on flights just before 9/11.
That sort of thing happens in an open society.
In a closed society, no one wants to attract the attention of the authorities so no one tells the cops anything.
Ever seen a new immigrant (illegal or otherwise) flag down a cop? It doesn’t happen.

I’ll go one step futher - the better our communication, the better our chances of exerting influence. Right now we don’t even talk to some terrorist groups.
If we decided to negotiate with anyone, it would lend less legitimacy to specific groups and less of an impetus to bomb something to gain attention in the first place. No one would have special status or greater legitimacy just because we open negotiations with them, it would be a neutral value occurance.
Rejection of negotiation creates impediments to solving the problem and changing the situation.
To quote Cris Currie, President of the Washington Mediation Association: “We simply need to make it clear that a decision to negotiate does not mean acceptance of the other side’s behavior.”

I’m a bit far afield here, but it’s related.
The point being - the wiretapping, etc. is fixible. A kick in the ass here, pat on the head there, the NSA guys already don’t like it.

The big problem - defining, redefining, or clarifying Presidential war powers constitutionally in this “war on terrr” political environment, seems almost insurmountable.
If it’s pushed, it becomes a big big Magilla. Perhaps worthy of a...domestic state of emergency. Y’know, unrest and all that.

If he was fucking sheep I’d be far less concerned. I might like some pictures... but less concerned. (I’m a leg man - gimme four!)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:25 PM on December 20, 2005


Bush's presidency has been an endless parade of attempts to extend presidential power beyond what is commonly accepted as legal, and centralizing government power within the administrative branch. He has, by his actions, expressed his wish for unfettered power.

Back on 9/11 things got crazy, but we've had many years to regain our senses. If we as Americans don't remove him from power we don't like America.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:37 PM on December 20, 2005


Another nod to y2karl's mention of the Rehm show--it was pretty bracing to hear three conservative Reagan guys with solid legal credentials state with straight voices that this was entirely impeachable.

Short version: the President authorized crimes. Under Constitutional law, that is a crime.
posted by bardic at 1:41 PM on December 20, 2005


That said, I am deeply disturbed that he so readily defends these buffoons, but we should be courteous while he does so
posted by slapshot57 at 3:04 PM CST on December 20 [!]


Bullshit.

Supporters of this administration GOT us here. They are imbeciles, down to the last man, and they deserve to be told as much on a daily basis.

Gentle voter hand-holding and not outright attacking the other man has lost the dems 2 straight elections.

Time to grow a fucking backbone and call a spade a spade.

If you support this administration, then you are an imbecile. I keep asking the same question: what would it take for you NOT to support Bush anymore? What else is left? How much credit and benefit of the doubt do you give one man?

He fucks up EVERYTHING at home. He fucks up EVERYTHING abroad. He can't even nominate a proper conservative court justice. He can't even put his cronies in jobs that don't result in death and destruction.

He just now, in December of 2005, has finally admitted that things are not going perfectly in Iraq. Just this week.

It's pathetic. And 9/11 conservatives are the most pathetic of all. Because they were not motivated out of belief or philosophy, they were only motivated out of fear and cowardice.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2005


right now on CNN, they're saying the Administration's spin on the 2004 speech about court orders is that it was just about the Patriot Act, and not the NSA. Bullshit.
posted by amberglow at 2:07 PM on December 20, 2005


Ynoxas, thanks, that felt good to read. Maybe because I agree with just about every word.

What is left for Bush supporters to support?
posted by fenriq at 2:13 PM on December 20, 2005


Video of Bush's April 2004 speech: “A Wiretap Requires A Court Order. Nothing Has Changed.”
posted by ericb at 2:15 PM on December 20, 2005


...and we've only got THREE MORE YEARS TO GO!
posted by fungible at 2:21 PM on December 20, 2005


How many more lies can he get away with? The traditional attack group, congressmen and senators in the opposing party have been cowed in their response to the debacle in Iraq because they were stupid enough to vote for it. The gloves are off on nonsense such as this though. If they perceive their positions are at risk over this even those in his own party might turn on him.
posted by caddis at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2005


...And that gets us right back to the most important question: why would the President deliberately circumvent a court that was already wholly inclined to grant him domestic surveillance warrants? The answer is obvious, though as yet largely unstated in the mainstream media: because the President was likely ordering surveillance operations that were so outrageous, so unrelated to the War on Terror, and, to put it in Constitutional terms, so "unreasonable" that even a FISA court would not have granted them.
This is no conspiracy theory - all the signs point right to this conclusion. In fact, it would be a conspiracy theory to say otherwise, because it would be ignoring the cold, hard facts that we already know.

Two years ago, the New York Times reported that the administration is using the FBI to "collect extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators." Then, just a few months ago, the Times reported that the FBI "has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups." And just this past week, NBC News obtained a 400-page Pentagon document outlining the Bush administration's surveillance of anti-war peace groups. The report noted that the administration had monitored 1,500 different events (aka. anti-war protests) in just a 10-month period. ...

posted by amberglow at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2005


Spying on American citizens, Quakers, vegans and now --

"Pentagon anti-terror investigators labeled gay law school groups a 'credible threat' of terrorism"
posted by ericb at 2:44 PM on December 20, 2005


The non-govt guy (Bamford) who has written two books on NSA said it in a very clear way on tv a short time ago: The president can tap phones and then get ok from court. However, he can not change the rules of the game without going to Congress for this and asking specifically that the law be changed. It is not sufficient that his lawyers told him it was ok...it is only Congress that can do it. That, he noted, was what got Nixon in trouble.

But I suspect we are not truly getting a clear story in any case. If we are talking phone taps, where is the FBI in all this? And if every mob guys know not to use phones and electronic devices, why has the New York Times suddenly given away the way we work to catch spies?
posted by Postroad at 2:54 PM on December 20, 2005


and there's more--The Pentagon's newest counterterrorism agency, charged with protecting military facilities and personnel wherever they are, is carrying out intelligence collection, analysis and operations within the United States and abroad, according to a Pentagon fact sheet on the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, provided to The Washington Post.

CIFA is a three-year-old agency whose size and budget remain secret. ...


So that makes the Pentagon, NSA, FBI, Justice Dept., DHS...any more?
posted by amberglow at 3:08 PM on December 20, 2005


Republican Rep. Bob Barr on the admission of the wiretaps - "What's wrong with it is several-fold. One, it's bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it's bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it's bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order."

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, shocked by the report of this activity, promised to convene hearings in January.

This is not about partisan politics, this is about the fundamental rules for running the nation. This is about a president believing himself to be above the law. But no one is above the law. And I think the old politicians know that the slippery slope Bush is standing on will come back to haunt them in a most unpleasant fashion.
posted by fenriq at 3:45 PM on December 20, 2005


He’s [dios] not a contrarian, he’s demonstrated a pattern of thought behind his comments.

And what's that, that he buys into the Bush line of reasoning? This is why you can't argue with Bush apologists, because nothing else matters (including the law) if you believe that a) we are at war, and b) that Bush is doing what he believes will protect us.

This is why public discourse is so fucked up nowadays, because our leaders can't get down to the fundamental point without committing political suicide. We are NOT AT WAR. As long as this argument is allowed to stand the rest of the War Party's talking points fall into place perfectly. Realizing this, and realizing that the Republicans will do anything to hold onto power, it becomes obvious that a state of permanent war is where we are heading.
posted by jimmy76 at 4:36 PM on December 20, 2005


2. You assume that Bush wasn't acting in what he believed was the best interest of the Country. If he was, (and he certainly gives every indication that he believes it was in our interest) then he is satisfying the function of an executive in a representative government.

For God's sake! This is the Bush administration we're talking about! It's not like this is the first time that they've ever lied to us, or the first time that they've ever used their power to punish critics and insulate themselves from exposure.

When Bush tells you something is true, you can bet hard money he's lying.
posted by rougy at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2005


matteo: they're not the only homo-something you have a problem with, unfortunately

Matteo, take your bullshit with dios to email. kthxbye.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2005


congressmen and senators in the opposing party have been cowed in their response to the debacle in Iraq because they were stupid enough to vote for it.

Sounds like a reason to vote 'em out.

When Bush tells you something is true, you can bet hard money he's lying.

Hate to break it to ya, but lying is stock and trade for most politicians.

Bush the lesser happens to be in charge is all. That, and his lies have cost the nation more than any other politician. (Go ahead, try to justivy the debt that is being run up or how that will get paid off. )


He’s [dios] not a contrarian, he’s demonstrated a pattern of thought behind his comments.

Wow. That is bullshit. I know *I'VE* ask dios to clarify or provide proof for some outlandish claim. And not a word. Bluster,ya. But when you ask for substance, dios has got nothing.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:30 PM on December 20, 2005


and when the paper goes ahead with the story
yeah, one fucking year later.


That's why they are the paper of record.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:34 PM on December 20, 2005


(which is the active outrage thread; we have three going?)

Drudge is citing two presidential orders under Clinton and Carter which authorize searches under FISA without a court order. However, read the required certifications (no US citizens involved). You will see the Bush toadies pushing this. Of course it is nothing but an irrelevant distraction because US citizens are involved this time; that is the whole point of the outrage. Drudge is such a tool sometimes.
posted by caddis at 6:13 PM on December 20, 2005


Drudge is citing two presidential orders under Clinton

The Gorelick Myth
In the National Review, Byron York has an article called “Clinton Claimed Authority to Order No-Warrant Searches.” In it, he cites then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick’s July 14, 1994 testimony where she argues “the President has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” (This afternoon, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) quoted her testimony on the Senate floor.)

Here is what York obscures: at the time of Gorelick’s testimony, physical searches weren’t covered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It’s not surprising that, in 1994, Gorelick argued that physical searches weren’t covered by FISA. They weren’t. With Clinton’s backing, the law was amended in 1995 to include physical searches.

York claims that, after the law was amended, “the Clinton administration did not back down from its contention that the president had the authority to act when necessary.” That’s false. Neither Gorelick or the Clinton administration ever argued that president’s inherent “authority” allowed him to ignore FISA. (...the full text of Gorelick’s testimony here).

The Clinton administration viewed FISA, a criminal statute, as the law. The Bush administration viewed it as a recommendations they could ignore. That’s the difference.
posted by ericb at 6:29 PM on December 20, 2005


On CNN this afternoon:
"SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: [In] 1994, Jamie Gorelick, on behalf of the Clinton Justice Department, testified that they considered -- that President Clinton considered it within his constitutional authority to order wireless surveillance of potential terrorist operatives from a foreign power. And, you know, it goes back to an executive order signed by Ronald Reagan and others....

WOLF BLITZER: And just after the interview, we contacted the former deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, Jamie Gorelick. She said she didn't know what Senator Cornyn was talking about. She went on to say this and she gave us this statement -- 'During the Clinton administration, the Justice Department sought from Congress the extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA, to include physical searches. Congress granted that authority. The Justice Department did not seek authority to wiretap without a warrant.'

And Jamie Gorelick went on to say this. She said that as an employee of the Justice Department, she never asked for authority to obtain a warrantless wiretap."
posted by ericb at 6:38 PM on December 20, 2005


It's comforting to know that a shit stain like dios will support President Hillary Clinton's judgement on who deserves a warrantless wiretap.
posted by 2sheets at 7:37 PM on December 20, 2005


Funny how the right doesn't mention the direct predecessor--Nixon. He spied on his enemies and protesters and antiwar people, just as Bush is doing.
posted by amberglow at 7:38 PM on December 20, 2005


matteo: they're not the only homo-something you have a problem with, unfortunately

Matteo, take your bullshit with dios to email. kthxbye.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2005


stock and trade

i don't want to damage your self of steam or anything, but the phrase is "stock in trade".
posted by quonsar at 8:56 PM on December 20, 2005


So much for the idea that the NSA spying was strictly limited to international calls. A Times update:

"At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil..."
posted by digaman at 8:56 PM on December 20, 2005


FISA Spy Court Judge Quits in Protest
"A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work."

posted by ericb at 8:57 PM on December 20, 2005


I reiterate: The NSA is spying on domestic email traffic, "accidentally" if you will, with access to Echelon's data-mining software. (I interviewed someone who built a piece of that software years ago.) Those tinfoil hats are looking more like natty revolutionary berets every day.
posted by digaman at 8:59 PM on December 20, 2005


Editorial by Bruce Fein (former Justice Department official under Ronald Reagan) in The Washington Times: "President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law."
posted by ericb at 9:02 PM on December 20, 2005


self of steam

That was good.
posted by caddis at 9:08 PM on December 20, 2005


I can only assume that he isn't intentionally working against the interest of the country, and I have not seen any evidence to suggest he is doing anything other than following what he truly believes in.

You can work unintentionally against the interests of the country. The amount of evidence we see concerning Bush's motivations is hidden because of the amazing degree of secrecy that Bush has sought.

And any arguments that Bush is allowed greatly expanded action in wartime, regardless of what else may be wrong with them, fall flat when, and I realize this is a tired point but it still fits dammit, that modern "wars" are never declared. Unless they're against emotions, I guess.
posted by JHarris at 5:56 AM on December 21, 2005


modern "wars" are never declared.

I've not seen the 'official declaration of war' for the present conflicts which are sending American soldiers back to US soils in body bags at rates greater than 1 per month.

Perhaps the MetaFilter Legal Scholars will enlighten us all and show links to the "Declaration of War"?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:38 AM on December 21, 2005


dios wrote: any person (that includes American citizens) who is suspected of working with al Qaeda would be "an agent of a foreign power" and therefore FISA protection does not apply to them.

But who determines that a citizen is working with al Qaeda? The Fourth Amendment can't cease to apply to a citizen on the executive branch's mere say-so that he has been working with al Qaeda, can it?
posted by ibmcginty at 6:42 AM on December 21, 2005


and, again, please: define al-Qaeda
posted by mr.marx at 6:54 AM on December 21, 2005


Another great article from Bruce Schneier on this subject: The Security Threat of Unchecked Presidential Power.
posted by chunking express at 7:23 AM on December 21, 2005


Robertson (the judge who resigned this morning in protest) was a Bush appointee. Something's rotten in Crawford.

And BTW, fuck anyone who supported Clinton's impeachment and doesn't think there should at least be investigations into wiretapping US citizens without a warrant.
posted by bardic at 8:10 AM on December 21, 2005


Robertson was a Clinton apointee in 1994, for what it's worth.
posted by loquax at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2005


Dios (up to his usual bag of tricks - yawn): Reading much of the discussion on this topic, one thinks that Bush was spying on Howard Dean's conversation with John Kerry or something.

I expect an that story to break any day now...
posted by Skygazer at 10:10 AM on December 21, 2005


“They are imbeciles, down to the last man, and they deserve to be told as much on a daily basis. Gentle voter hand-holding and not outright attacking the other man has lost the dems 2 straight elections. Time to grow a fucking backbone and call a spade a spade.”
- posted by Ynoxas
I get where you’re coming from. And I don’t support this administration. And in fact I agree with your assessment on the demographic level. But I disagree on general principles as a matter of personal communication - so fuck you and your stupid need to quell dissenting opinions stupid ya impolite shithead . QED.

“’He’s [dios] not a contrarian, he’s demonstrated a pattern of thought behind his comments.’
And what's that, that he buys into the Bush line of reasoning?” - posted by jimmy76

“But when you ask for substance, dios has got nothing.” - posted by rough ashlar

No, he tends to look at things from a literal and legal basis. His reasons for supporting elements of Bushco’s policies are not specious reasoning. I’m not arguing they’re cogent or well-reasoned, but they are internally consistient with the information he chooses to emphasis.
He tends not to blather opinions such as: “We are NOT AT WAR” without some substantiation. Not always of course, but he’s not getting paid. And indeed why stick around if abuse is heaped upon you?
In addition, expressing an idea without offering proof is called - an opinion.
I offer the same concessions to EVERYONE who posts (with one exception and with good reason - QED in that case).

There is a difference between arguing in a disagreement and just bitching at someone.

I’m not arguing the merit of dios’ posts.
What I’m saying is the same things being said about dios or “Bush supporters” could be said about “liberals” or “metafilter users.” In addition to limiting to the scope of thought and damaging to communication (see the QED argument to Ynoxas ), it’s just plain irritating.

I don’t like being irritated. It makes me not want to contribute or read. Furthermore this kind of thinking makes me wonder, as a conservative, if it’s me who will next be subject to this kind of simple headed “a shit stain like dios” crap if I disagree in some way.

Gaze into the abyss and it gazes into you - to paraphrase Neitche.
Public discourse is so fucked up nowadays because we label anyone who takes a contrary position as an enemy instead of considering the argument. Ridiculous.
Half of argumentation is understanding what the other person is saying. That requires consideration and an appropriate response. If you still disagree, then accept that you disagree or make futher attempts to understand each other.
I took the time to consider the positions expressed and formulate a worthwhile argument.
If I had a bunch of people continually calling me an asshole, why would I make the effort?

Borne from frustration I can see taking a devil’s advocate position and a snarky tone. I doubt I’d personally waste my time, but I understand the perspective.

Am I then an asshole like dios because I make the effort to understand that perspective?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:18 PM on December 21, 2005


My apologies for posting a long argument somewhat concerning only one member - but I think the issue is relevant.
It’s ironic that the Front Page Post concerns Bush attempting to talk the NYT out of putting forth information he didn’t like and the crushing of “open debate” about policy and users attacking and making derogatory remarks about someone designed to and ultimately leading to stopping them from putting forth information they didn’t like.

The measure of opinion in and validity of that information, in both cases, aside of course.

Being right doesn’t grant carte blanche.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2005


but he’s not getting paid.

Are you SURE about that? Most anyone posting 9AM to 5PM is being paid by someone.

Given payments to op-ed and other media-talking-heads, why not payments to web-site typers?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:35 PM on December 21, 2005


Given payments to op-ed and other media-talking-heads, why not payments to web-site typers?

Most employers would actually look for a return on their investment. Something tells me paid political speech on behalf of the Bush administration here would be money wasted. That being said, if anyone wants to pay me to post, I'll gladly take up your cause for a small honourarium!
posted by loquax at 12:45 PM on December 21, 2005


If anyone is being paid, it's Matt Drudge.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:10 PM on December 21, 2005


Bush and Executive Activism
"Unwilling or unable to obtain the power they seek though the legislative process, this administration has made up the law themselves....It highlights the hypocrisy of this administration in regularly attacking judges for their open efforts to enforce constitutional protections, while it engages in anti-democratic secret efforts to undermine constitutional protections. Bush is an Executive Activist. Spread the word."
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on December 21, 2005


Dios says: any person (that includes American citizens) who is suspected of working with al Qaeda would be "an agent of a foreign power" and therefore FISA protection does not apply to them.

Have you even read the statute?

Again, this is completely wrong, and is part of a subset of talking points being thrown against the wall by the right, who are franticly searching for the one that sticks. Unfortunately for them this particular argument is slicker than teflon.

"Agent of a foreign power" as defined in section 1-3 of subsection 1801 does not apply to Al Qaeda. In order for it to apply, Al Qaeda must be controlled by a foreign government, which as we all know, it isn't. Section 4, however, applys to non-governmental terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda.
“Foreign power” means—

(1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or not recognized by the United States;
(2) a faction of a foreign nation or nations, not substantially composed of United States persons;
(3) an entity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign government or governments to be directed and controlled by such foreign government or governments;
(4) a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor
Subsection 1802, which outlines warrantless wiretapping regulations, says
"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;
Wanna try that one again?
posted by SweetJesus at 4:27 PM on December 21, 2005


Beautiful, SweetJesus, simply beautiful. That is the way to counter Dios' talking points. Others should take a lesson from you.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on December 21, 2005


Being right doesn’t grant carte blanche.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:26 PM CST on December 21 [!]


I disagree.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:01 PM on December 21, 2005


“Are you SURE about that? Most anyone posting 9AM to 5PM is being paid by someone. Given payments to op-ed and other media-talking-heads, why not payments to web-site typers?”
posted by rough ashlar

- Point taken. And there are different things than money to get paid in . Various kinds of satisfaction. I can’t really refute that. But more to the point, he’s not on anyone’s payroll here (as far as I know) to respond to questions.

“’Being right doesn’t grant carte blanche.’
-posted by Smedleyman
I disagree.
posted by Ynoxas”

Ah yes, irony.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:13 AM on December 22, 2005


*joins FFF in applause for SweetJesus*
posted by Smedleyman at 11:14 AM on December 22, 2005


Woot! Let's give SweetJesus the clapping, Smedleyman!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2005


he’s not on anyone’s payroll here (as far as I know) to respond to questions.

Either way, paid or not, Dios is still a coward because I've asked many times for the basis of claims made Dios and it clams up.

(And I'm glad you saw my point...you don't know if it's being paid taxable dollars to post.)

Dios doesn't like being shown the better of. Look at how there is no Dios after the SweetJesus post.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:56 AM on December 23, 2005


Dios only posts from work and often does not return to a thread the following day. He was out of this thread on the 20th. I wouldn't draw any conclusions from his "failure" to respond to SweetJesus.
posted by caddis at 6:54 AM on December 23, 2005


“Dios doesn't like being shown the better of. Look at how there is no Dios after the SweetJesus post.” -posted by rough ashlar

Sure, I’m not arguing that. I grant dios some lattitude in taking crap in surround sound. But I also grant that he’s not big on seeing other POVs or conceding to superior arguments. It’s a valid criticism. And I think what you posted there is a fair criticism.
I’m saying there is a difference between criticism and name calling or automatic gainsaying or taking smaller points out of context.
I try not to look at who posted something, but rather what was posted.
Attack the idea, not the poster. I try, that is. It just allows for dissenting ideas to get explication, which is something to be prized. Otherwise we’re LGF in reverse.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:24 AM on December 23, 2005


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