Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ON SPYING AND LYING

Below are a series of pieces on Bush's spy gate.

This is an extraordinary piece by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. Bush was so desperate to keep his wiretapping out of the paper that he summoned the publisher and editor of the NYT to the Oval Office. Bush wasn't worried about national security issues. He was worried about being exposed for having committed a crime against the American people.

NEWSWEEK ON "BUSH'S SNOOPGATE" HERE OR READ BELOW

Bush’s Snoopgate

WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Jonathan Alter
Newsweek
Updated: 6:17 p.m. ET Dec. 19, 2005


Dec. 19, 2005 - Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 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. The Times will not comment on the meeting,
but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.

The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone, which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties to Muslim extremists—in fact, all American Muslims, period—have long since suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations. Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so. And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

What is especially perplexing about this story is that the 1978 law set up a special court to approve eavesdropping in hours, even minutes, if necessary. In fact, the law allows the government to eavesdrop on its own, then retroactively justify it to the court, essentially obtaining a warrant after the fact. Since 1979, the FISA court has approved tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests and rejected only four. There was no indication the existing system was slow—as the president seemed to claim in his press conference—or in any way required extra-constitutional action.

This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

In the meantime, it is unlikely that Bush will echo President Kennedy in 1961. After JFK managed to tone down a New York Times story by Tad Szulc on the Bay of Pigs invasion, he confided to Times editor Turner Catledge that he wished the paper had printed the whole story because it might have spared him such a stunning defeat in Cuba.

This time, the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security—that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

© 2005 MSNBC.com

SPYING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS, CATHOLIC WORKER GROUPS, VEGANS, PEACE ACTIVISTS AND OTHERS IN THE NAME OF OUR NATIONAL SECURITY

Stunning piece in the NYT. Feel any safer? Spying on these groups is so appalling that it almost funny.

SPYING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS, CATHOLICS, VEGANS AND OTHERS

LEGAL OPINION ON BUSH'S SPYING

(Bottom line - Bush broke the law. Gonzales is full of beans. LS)

By David Cole of Salon.com

Excerpt:

Attorney General Gonzales contends that the authorization by Congress to use military force somehow implicitly gave the president power to wiretap Americans at home. But nothing in the authorization even mentions wiretaps. And that claim is directly contrary to the express language in FISA limiting any such authority. While intercepting the enemy's communications on the battlefield may well be an incident of the war power, wiretapping hundreds of people inside the United States who are not known to be members of al-Qaida in no way qualifies as an incidental wartime authority.

"BUSH'S ILLEGAL SPYING"

2 comments:

US Givernment News said...

COURT SAYS U.S. SPY AGENCY CAN TAP OVERSEAS MESSAGES

By DAVID BURNHAM, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT) 1051 words Published: November 7, 1982

A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.

Reverses 1979 Ruling

The Oct. 21 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involves the Government's surveillance of a Michiganborn lawyer, Abdeen Jabara, who for many years has represented Arab-American citizens and alien residents in court. Some of his clients had been investigated by the F.B.I.

Mr. Jabara sued the F.B.I, and the National Security Agency, and in 1979 Federal District Judge Ralph M. Freeman ruled that the agency's acquisition of several of Mr. Jabara's overseas messages violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of ''unreasonable searches and seizures.'' Last month's decision reverses that ruling.

In earlier court proceedings, the F.B.I. acknowledged that it then disseminated the information to 17 other law-enforcement or intelligence agencies and three foreign governments.

The opinion of the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals held, ''The simple fact remains that the N.S.A. lawfully acquired Jabara's messages.''

The court ruled further that the lawyer's Fourth Amendment rights ''were not violated when summaries of his overseas telegraphic messages'' were furnished to the investigative bureau ''irrespective of whether there was reasonable cause to believe that he was a foreign agent.''

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