Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Domestic Spying-Fog of Complexity

The Washington Post reported today that in 2002, Senator Mike DeWine (R of Ohio) introduce a bill that would have lowered the standard for obtaining surveillance warrants for suspected terrorists. The proposed legislation was rejected by the Department of Justice, who said that the current FISA system was working well. For a really in depth report on this check out Media Matters.

In short, the White House has been caught contradicting itself. I has said that it needed to conduct warrantless searches because the FISA Courts would take too long. Then they said that the needed a lower standard than "probable cause" to conduct a search. They were offered a legislative possibility for achieving that, and they said, "no thank you". In light of General Hayden's comments (see previous post) it is refreshing to know that they were aware at all that "probable cause" was required for a warrant.

But to muddy the waters and confuse us all, now they are throwing all sorts of semantic terms at us. In order of importance, there is "probable cause" – the highest standard; "reasonable suspicion"- the lowest standard; and the most recent animal, "reasonable basis"- said to be less rigorous than probable cause but moreso than "reasonable suspicion". I am being wordy on purpose to show how confusing it can be.

It is getting so confusing and technical that the story is being killed. Once the story line gets convoluted and fraught with technicalities, the public interest starts to wane, as does the journalistic interest and accuracy. Do we think this is a new strategy to help kill the story? The Republicans can keep the story simple. Listen to Bush's press conference. "We're fighting terrorism!" People understand that message. They don't get the difference between "reasonable suspicion" and "reasonable basis" and they don't care.


Dr. Strangelove said...

Very good points, USWest. I saw the news about the Bush administration's response to a bill Sen. DeWine's proposed in 2002, and I was astonished--at last, we have finally caught the administration red-handed in lying to Congress and the public about its spying program--and yet the media do not realize its significance.

The Bush team has been doing a great job of flim-flammery, and now they are going for the big lie: they are claiming the very existence of the warrantless wiretap had to be kept secret because that would tip off the enemy. My god, that doesn't even pass the laugh test--and yet, it appears to pass by the press.

By the Bush team's adamant defense of their actions, we know they are really worried about the consequences. They have gone on the offensive, claiming the program was vital and had to be secret. I hope this final arrogance may be their downfall at last, because they cannot back down now. This is how I see it:

1. Bush knowingly ordered the NSA to violate the FISA act and wiretap thousands of Americans citizens' international phone calls without even obtaining retroactive warrants from the secret FISA court. There is no question that NSA violated the FISA act on the President's orders.

2. Bush says his actions were "legal" because the FISA law was unconstitutional. But no court has yet agreed with this position. And the President has no authority to disregard acts of Congress on any grounds. Amazingly, even though many experts question whether FISA provides enough due process to be constitutional as it is, Bush has the audacity to say FISA is unconstitutional because it guaranteed TOO MUCH freedom and due process!

3. Bush lied about what he was doing, repeatedly. It's not just that he kept the program secret. Now we know that back in 2002 when he was offered an amendment to the FISA act that would have permitted him to do so, he told Congress such a change was not only unnecessary but probably unconstitutional! Why should we believe him now that he's changed his tune?

4. Now that he has been caught, Bush claims it was all for "national security." But won't let anyone verify exactly what he has done--not even Congress--he just won't come clean. And if there is one thing we learned from Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, etc., is that we should NEVER blindly trust the President, especially when he spies on Americans. That's why we have checks and balances; that's why we have an elected President, not a king.

Bush and Cheney must be impeached.

Anonymous said...

Bush and his supporters don't respect democracy, liberty or due process. They use militarism and nationalism to quell public dissent. The push narrow interpretations of traditional folk-religion to drum up support from marginalized people. They favor particular corporations and friends over the free market. They spend money on targeted hand outs to narrow constituencies.

These are NOT traditional Republican positions on these issues. These are NOT EVEN traditional Conservative positions on these issues. Bush and his supporters can best be described as fascists! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans