Wednesday, January 25, 2006



Terrifying Breakdown of Recent News on Bush's Warrantless Spying
- On Monday, Gen. Hayden claimed the reason the Bush administration went outside of the NISA's required "probable cause" standard is that it's too onerous. (Same old line about "we're at war", right)
- However, as Glenn Greenwald revealed, "in June, 2002, Republican Sen. Michael DeWine of Ohio introduced legislation (S. 2659) which would have eliminated the exact barrier to FISA which Gen. Hayden yesterday said is what necessitated the Administration bypassing FISA.
- During that time, the Administration was asked to advise Congress as to its position on this proposed amendment to loosen the standard for obtaining FISA warrants.
- In response, the Bush Administration submitted a statement from James A. Baker, the Justice Department lawyer who oversees that DoJ's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review.
- Baker's Statement:
The reforms in those measures (the PATRIOT Act) have affected every single application made by the Department for electronic surveillance or physical search of suspected terrorists and have enabled the government to become quicker, more flexible, and more focused in going "up" on those suspected terrorists in the United States...

One simple but important change that Congress made was to lengthen the time period for us to bring to court applications in support of Attorney General-authorized emergency FISAs. This modification has allowed us to make full and effective use of FISA's pre-existing emergency provisions to ensure that the government acts swiftly to respond to terrorist threats. Again, we are grateful for the tools Congress provided us last fall for the fight against terrorism. Thank you.

- In fact, Baker expressed concerns that lowering the standard for domestic wiretapping was possibly unconstitutional: "The Department's Office of Legal Counsel is analyzing relevant Supreme Court precedent to determine whether a "reasonable suspicion" standard for electronic surveillance and physical searches would, in the FISA context, pass constitutional muster. The issue is not clear cut, and the review process must be thorough because of what is at stake, namely, our ability to conduct investigations that are vital to protecting national security. If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a "reasonable suspicion" standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions.

- To summarize, the Bush administration OPPOSES legislation to reduce the standard needed to obtain a warrant and eavesdrop, stating it was "grateful for the tools Congress provided us last fall for the fight against terrorism"
- Then, after Dewine's bill is shot down, the administration continues wiretapping in violation of the federal law, FISA, as the New York Times revealed.
- Next, when the wiretapping is revealed, the administration claims that FISA was too restrictive, and that it also that it had the power under the Congress' granting the President the power to "use all necessary force" in the war on terror.
- In short, when offered the chance to change the law, they said no thanks.
- But when they are asked why they violated the law they say they needed to, to win the "war on terra."

* It's the same old cross exam question: Were you lying then, when you said you didn't need more power or are you lying now when you say you do?

The Last Question for them: What are you covering up?
The Last Question for us: Can we actually be debating whether the President has the power to break the law? If so, it looks eerily like the end of our democracy, as Lenny Bruce's lawyer claims.

Here's a link to Greenwald's revelation. Read it. It's powerful and should be on the front page. (Why isn't it?)

Uplifting Image of the Day

A picture's worth a thousand words! Here are Georgetown University Law Students unveiling a banner as Alberto Gonzalez speaks about warrantless domestic wiretapping, I mean the "terrorist surveillance program," as it's now being called. Great to see that while the press is largely complicit and cowered, the students aren't buying these subtle word games that destroy the 4th Amendment.

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