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December 19, 2005

Good Job. Liar.

In the interest of fairness, Bush's delivery and body language was much better at this morning's press conference than last night's speech. He also lied a lot. I keep repeating this, but only because it deserves repetition. First, read this exchange:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the domestic spying issue for a moment. According to FISA's own records, it's received nearly 19,000 requests for wiretaps or search warrants since 1979, rejected just five of them. It also operates in secret, so security shouldn't be a concern, and it can be applied retroactively. Given such a powerful tool of law enforcement is at your disposal, sir, why did you see fit to sidetrack that process?

THE PRESIDENT: We used the process to monitor. But also, this is a different -- a different era, a different war, Stretch. So what we're -- people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this is a -- it requires quick action.

And without revealing the operating details of our program, I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this; two, it is a necessary part of my job to protect you; and, three, we're guarding your civil liberties. And we're guarding the civil liberties by monitoring the program on a regular basis, by having the folks at NSA, the legal team, as well as the inspector general, monitor the program, and we're briefing Congress. This is a part of our effort to protect the American people. The American people expect us to protect them and protect their civil liberties. I'm going to do that. That's my job, and I'm going to continue doing my job.

So Bush's only justification for his program is speed. Fine. Which is why this can't be said enough: FISA allows for immediate wiretapping without the consent of a judge. All you need to do is, three days later, go get a warrant.

Let's put this another way. Say Bush gets word of a potential hostile element. And let's assume he's got a time machine. Under FISA, he can dispatch an aide to get a warrant, then step in his machine, travel 72 hours back in time, order the wiretap, and have broken no laws. Or, let's say you don't like bending space-time. Bush gets word of a suspect, but he's busy. Harried. Frazzled. He's got a state dinner in an hour and some time allotted for the treadmill right now. He hasn't time to dispatch someone to the judge and deal with the case. He can order the tap immediately, take a run, go to dinner, procrastinate for 68 or so more hours, and then send an underling for a warrant.

I want to say this very clearly as it is absolutely the heart of the issue: there is no possible circumstance under which FISA would slow Bush's ability to respond. None. Any emergency can be handled instantaneously, with all oversight conducted retroactively. Add in that the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Courts have denied a total of three applications out of around 20,000 and you get a sense of how deliberately non-invasive this law is. FISA does nothing but ensure Bush doesn't use the NSA improperly. Nothing. Bush is attempting to muddle the issue by suggesting evasion of the FISA allows him more freedom to protect us. That's a lie. All it does is protect him. And the question the press needs to be asking is what it protects him from.

December 19, 2005 | Permalink


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» Gonzales Defends Domestic Spying from Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said President Bush has the authority to conduct "very limited" su [Read More]

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It protects him from Democracy.

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Dec 19, 2005 6:04:09 PM

Wanna bet this will figure into the coming season of 24? Lord knows those guys don't write the episodes until the last minute. And after last season's "Amnesty Global" debacle, I think we know how it will play.

Posted by: Grumpy | Dec 19, 2005 6:09:23 PM

Another point that various peoples don't want to dwell on is that even if the huge, immense, leeway built into the FISA did hinder the activities the executive deemed desirable, the law could be changed: his party controls both houses.

Posted by: TJ | Dec 19, 2005 6:12:58 PM

Now there you go again, Ezra. Getting all worked up over the truth and facts. Sheesh.

Posted by: amy | Dec 19, 2005 6:55:15 PM

Because it's not an emergency, it's become standard practice.

The changing phone numbers aspect has been stated by the Administration quite a few times now. For me the best explanation is that the NSA is analysing all calls coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, S.A., Iraq, etc. to the US, trying to identify, track and record conversations of known terrorists. Remember that normal FISA warrants are still being issued in increasingly high numbers.

But before an emergency order can be made, there must be an emergency reasonably supported by facts. For a tracking program, no such emergency exists and so FISA can't be used and any later warrants would be refused. (The lack of reasonable grounds would make the order illegal in any event.) Ignoring the consitutional difficulties, blanket tracking near an emergency might be legal under FISA, but again only if the process took less than 72 hours and no information derived from it was stored; something that would be is unlikely given the sort of technology that would be used.

Posted by: Deuc | Dec 19, 2005 7:14:05 PM

I appears that your horse is high, and getting higher, and I fully agree.

They are hiding something that won't stand up to public scrutiny.

The SCOTUS ordered Nixon to turn over his WH tapes. What, today, would be necessary to get Bu$hCo to turn over the list of those spyed upon - to say the House and Senate FULL committees?

There should be a will, and there must be a way to get this illegal cabal to turn over the potential proof of the full illegality of their violations of law and the Constitution.

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Dec 19, 2005 7:28:35 PM

There is talk, from unnamed NSA sources, that the target's where no only suspected terrorists, but US journalists, based in the US, Anti-war protesters and people who caused BushCo head aches...

This was put in place in 2003. I wonder - did some of this information get Bush re-elected? Hm...

Posted by: Cabel | Dec 19, 2005 7:35:07 PM


at what point in this parade of lies will you be rethinking your objections to impeachment?

Posted by: zeke | Dec 19, 2005 7:59:28 PM

It's Echelon USA.

Bush made the distinction between 'detection' and 'monitoring'. That's significant. If you have the entire data stream tapped, with triggers based on a small target list, then you're basically drag-netting the ocean.

The technology exists. Heck, the Texas company supplying the solid-state drives and DSPs sold its biggest ever array (2.5Tb) to an unnamed customer last year.

Posted by: ahem | Dec 19, 2005 9:11:42 PM

Here's the real deal, folks:

Will Bush be ousted or will this just fade away for lack of foundation? If Bush is ousted, then you will have been proven credible. However, if Bush is not ousted, you will certainly be in the wrong, no matter how much you pat each other on the back.

The proof is in the pudding, isn't it?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Dec 20, 2005 12:22:16 AM

However, if Bush is not ousted, you will certainly be in the wrong,

Non Sequitur:

- An inference or conclusion that does not follow from the premises or evidence.
- A statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it.

Fred, maybe you should consider posting at Red State, NRO, or LGF. They might welcome your sort of 'logic'.

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Dec 20, 2005 2:02:38 AM

The "why" question is certainly the interesting one. Why not get warrants? What are they hiding? But it is possible that Bush was not acting criminally--possible, but unlikely. Given that a (weak) legal argument can be made to say that he was not bound to follow FISA, it actually seems likely that his lawyers (not to mention the AG) told him this, and he believed them. Which is unfortunate because generally speaking the President's a lying bastard and it would be nice if the crime that the AG came perilously close to admitting on his behalf was knowingly committed.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 20, 2005 4:14:01 AM

One thing you may want to think about is the Bush is not only not running from this, but agressively defending it.

The best reason I can think of for this is that this program has gotten some good stuff. Possibly very good stuff that saved lives. If some of those above get their wish, and an investigation happens this could really blow up on those who screamed against it.

I am personally not convinced that the program was legal, but not sure if it was illegal either. The partially international nature of the calls makes it seem to enter a gray area to me, both legally and philosophically.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Dec 20, 2005 11:09:43 AM

The only thing you need to remember is that the President already had a completely legal and effective means to do this - but he took another route to avoid having to disclose his purposes. That's all there is to it. They may actually find a way to call his method "legal" through a tenacious effort of lawyer jujitsu, but the problem for America is that the President willfully took a dishonorable route. Not to mention that he went to some extraordinary means to prevent Americans from ever knowing about it.

Posted by: sprocket | Dec 20, 2005 11:24:56 AM

I don't care how much good stuff it got. Crime rates drop in police states, too.

Posted by: wcw | Dec 20, 2005 12:58:13 PM

OK, so he lies about it, to protect the program. When someone such as dave (and if you can't even spell your last name right, how can we put any faith in anything else you write?) justus thinks that maybe buch is holding back all the really good stuff. Sure. Why not? Why not lie and obfuscate and mumble when the simple truth is so powerful?

This is the kind of logic that leads people to think they're "moderates" and they support a more "secure" nation in voting for bush.

It's really just stupidity.

Posted by: ice weasel | Dec 20, 2005 7:55:13 PM

Anyone who disagrees with the radical left such as Dave Justice is railed and railed upon for no other reason than he had a different opinion.
Dave is one of the few here who actually backs up his arguments with *something*. Here, it's mostly "Fuck Bush" and "Get Bush" with little logic other than what you find on Salon.com or democraticunderground.com.

I also don't think Dave is a Libertarian or pure conservative. He is one of the more neutral voices on this board....and that is what you don't like about him. He doesn't parrot the DNC faxes and emails.

Good for you, Dave.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Dec 20, 2005 11:04:20 PM

When someone such as dave (and if you can't even spell your last name right, how can we put any faith in anything else you write?) justus thinks that maybe buch...

I really wouldn't be ragging on others about spelling. C'mon.........."buch"????

Posted by: Fred Jones | Dec 20, 2005 11:06:17 PM

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