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Transcript of NSA Testimony:
The transcript of the Attorney General's Senate testimony today is available at the Washington Post website in two parts: Part I and Part II.

  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the AG's testimony is his suggestion, made at various places, that there are other classified telecommunications surveillance programs beyond FISA and the NSA program. Gonzales repeatedly limited his remarks to "the program that the President has confirmed," and suggested that some of the press coverage has erroneously reported stories about other programs with this one. Consider this exchange between Gonzales and Senator Schumer:
SCHUMER: It's been reported by multiple news outlets that the former number two man in the Justice Department, the premier terrorism prosecutor, Jim Comey, expressed grave reservations about the NSA program and at least once refused to give it his blessing. Is that true?

GONZALES: Senator, here's the response that I feel that I can give with respect to recent speculation or stories about disagreements.

There has not been any serious disagreement — and I think this is accurate — there has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed. There have been disagreements about other matters regarding operations which I cannot get into.

I will also say...

SCHUMER: But there was some — I'm sorry to cut you off — but there was some dissent within the administration. And Jim Comey did express, at some point — that's all I asked you — some reservations.

GONZALES: The point I want to make is that, to my knowledge, none of the reservations dealt with the program that we're talking about today. They dealt with operational capabilities that we're not talking about today.
. . .

SCHUMER: It's also been reported that the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, respected lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School, expressed reservations about the program. Is that true?

GONZALES: Senator, rather than going individual by individual, let me just say that I think the differing views that have been the subject of some of these stories did not deal with the program that I'm here testifying about today.

SCHUMER: But you were telling us that none of these people expressed any reservations about the ultimate program, is that right?

GONZALES: Senator, I want to be very careful here, because, of course, I'm here only testifying about what the president has confirmed.

And with respect to what the president has confirmed, I do not believe that these DOJ officials that you're identifying had concerns about this program.
  Any thoughts on what other programs might exist?
tracelan (mail):
I honestly don't care nor need to know. Why tell the terrorist more that what they already know? After 9/11 lots of people said the goverment should have connected the dots, now when they are trying to connect the dots people say you can't do that. You can't have it both ways.
2.6.2006 6:24pm
gvibes (mail):
The people saying the government should "connect the dots" were suggesting greater inter-departmental communications. The NSA program just provides more dots, and does no connecting.


I consider these statements quite disturbing. My initial guess would be wide-ranging a wide-ranging Carnivore/Echelon/TIA-type system, doing data-mining on a massive scale.

2.6.2006 6:27pm
A Blogger:
Tracelan,

This is about "following the law," not "connecting the dots." People want the government to "connect the dots" while "following the law," and don't like it when the government tries to "connect the dots" without "following the law."
2.6.2006 6:27pm
JLR (mail):
A Gladwellian "Blink" thought:

Perhaps Attorney General Gonzales was simply trying to be legalistic. He does mention disagreements over "operations," which could be interpreted any number of ways. I doubt the AG wanted to imply that there is a panoply of secret programs that only need a DOJ or CIA leaker in order to be made public. All that is doing is inviting investigative reporters to work even more doggedly, and inviting the Senate Judiciary Committee to call even more witnesses.
2.6.2006 6:31pm
colts41 (mail):
JLR:

You'd be well served to read other parts of the transcript.

In other questioning by Schumer, it becomes even clearer (if it wasn't already the case by the noon recess), that other "programs" are underway.

What are they? I'm with gvibes.

And I'm entirely with A Blogger -- follow the rule of law.

And please, don't say, "gee, what good are civil rights if you're dead?"

What good is living in America if your civil rights exist in name only?
2.6.2006 6:38pm
JLR (mail):
Colts41, thanks for the tip. Indeed, Attorney General Gonzales's repeated modifications of "program" do imply he is not merely being legalistic, but rather trying to contain himself to the surveillance program being examined by the Judiciary Committee. That is the case even with softball questions, such as one from Senator Sessions (reprinted below). Just goes to show you the limitations of Gladwell's "Blink" analysis about snap judgments. :-)

SESSIONS: Thank you, Attorney General Gonzales. I believe you've faithfully fulfilled your responsibility to give your best, honest answers to the questions so far. I think they've been very effective.
If people have listened, I think they will feel much better about the program that that the president has authorized and that you are explaining. Because some of the news articles, in particular, gave the impression that there's widespread of wiretapping of American citizens in domestic situations and in every instance there's an international call. Most of us by plain language would understand "international" to be different from domestic. And the president has limited this to international calls in which one or more parties are connected to Al Qaida. Is that correct?

GONZALES: Sir, the program that I'm talking about today, yes, is limited to international calls.
2.6.2006 6:46pm
gvibes (mail):
I'll add some wiki links on Carnivore, Echelon, and TIA.


Carnivore


Echelon


TIA

2.6.2006 6:52pm
Just an Observer:
Any thoughts on what other programs might exist?

Two or three possibilities:

1) More than once today Gonzales refused to answer when asked directly if there has been any warrantless surveillance of domestic-to-domestic communications.

2) Gonzales and Gen. Hayden have both said the NSA program they are talking about (the one the President has confirmed exists) is not data mining. But that does not mean there are no other data-mining programs in operation.

3) Closely related to the concept of data mining, but perhaps distinguishable, is automatic filtering of captured electronic communications.

Hayden said on Fox News Sunday yesterday: "When NSA goes after the content of a communication under this authorization from the president, the NSA has already established its reasons for being interested in that specific communication. I've said in other places this isn't a drift net over Lackawanna or Freemont or Dearborn, grabbing all communications and then sifting them out." (my emphasis)

As Medis has pointed out, the Washington Post story yesterday reported: "NSA rules since the late 1970s, when machine filtering was far less capable, have said 'acquisition' of content does not take place until a conversation is intercepted and processed 'into an intelligible form intended for human inspection.'"

So this filtering process itself (which may or may not be considered the same thing as data-mining) could constitute a separate program, the way administration officials mince the words.
2.6.2006 6:55pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
I repeat what I said in a long-vanished FISA thread - IMO the Bush administration is engaged in domestic surveilliance - communications with both ends in the U.S. - in violation of FISA (not that I contend this makes the surevillance illegal or wrong, just that there are in fact ongoing technical violations of FISA). And that the lefties' and Democrats' fixation on the NSA's totally legal, constitutional and long-standing surveillance of foreign communications (one end in a foreign country) is counterproductive as well as inane.

And I repeat that FISA has been utterly humbugged both by technological advances and the nature of the current conflict. Contentions that a given type of surveillance violates FISA is comparable to objecting to automobiles today on the grounds that those are illegal under 19th century laws which haven't been repealed.

FISA is plain dead. No amount of hot air (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation aka argument) can bring it back to life. It cannot be used as intended, or in any effective way. We need a statutory replacement for it.

I personally want some form of oversight of the Executive Branch's necessary surveillance of domestic communications, because I don't trust the feds not to abuse such power. They're Feds! Of course they'll abuse their power! We need such oversight to keep them from going too far.

But we can't get it given the Democrats' bankrupt irresponsibility. Their participation is necessary to get an effective replacement for FISA enacted, and they won't do that because such would impede their shilling for lefty campaign contributions. Plus they'll say anything, regardless of how ludicrous it is or how many Americans it will kill, to regain power. And the lefties simply want us to lose the war on terror.

So we're stuck with no oversight whatever of the Bush administration's covert use of the executive branch's non-statutory powers to conduct domestic electronic surveillance of foreign enemies.
2.6.2006 6:56pm
Steve:
A number of the Senators pressed Gonzales on the issue of whether purely domestic communications between al-Qaeda members, here in the US, are subject to wiretapping. They quite correctly point out that the only choices are (1) we believe this is beyond the President's power; (2) we believe it is within the President's power, but he chooses not to do it; or (3) we are already doing it.

If (1) is the case, then Gonzales needs to explain where the Constitutional distinction lies between purely domestic communications and communications where one party is overseas. After all, one might argue, if you have the inherent right to spy on our enemies than you have that inherent right regardless of where they may travel.

If (2) is the case, it's hard to square that position with the administration's oft-expressed position that they will do everything within the boundaries of the law and the Constitution to avoid another attack. At one point, Gonzales strongly denied that the administration had refrained from wiretapping domestic communications for "PR reasons"; later on, he seemed to imply the opposite when he said "if we hadn't drawn the line there, the current outcry would be twice as bad."

The most likely scenario is (3), but he didn't want to confirm or deny that. And realistically speaking, while we ought to share a belief in Congressional oversight and checks and balances in general, I hope no one really expects the administration to tick off a list of our surveillance programs on C-SPAN for the world to hear. (Then again, everything else is going open-source, so why not spying.)

It's clear that what we're seeing is a political strategy of selective disclosure. The original NYT article was very short on specific operational details, leaving lots of room for the administration to frame a defense. They seem to have picked out the most defensible aspect of a larger surveillance program, allowed the President to travel around making broad generalizations about what that one aspect of the program entails, and then qualify every subsequent public utterance to "the program described by the President." This is essentially confirmed by the testimony cited by Prof. Kerr, which seems to say "there is no internal dissent regarding this program, as opposed to the other, more controversial programs that I'm not going to talk about."

There needs to be legal oversight at SOME level, although perhaps not at the C-SPAN level. A Department of Justice review does not inspire any public confidence, particularly when dealing with the least independent AG since Bobby Kennedy. Sen. Kohl kept urging Gonzales to submit the program to the FISA court of appeals for a legal determination, to which Gonzales would only respond "we're happy to listen to whatever suggestions Congress may have for us." I think that is probably the best route - but if the FISA court were to deem the program impermissible, is the administration really willing to stop it?
2.6.2006 6:56pm
Tim Converse (mail) (www):
So ... what stops Gonzales from defining "the program that the President has confirmed" to be the subset of surveillance activities that match the President's claims about the limited nature of the surveillance activities?
2.6.2006 6:59pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I thought it was interesting that even Senator Kennedy was, to some degree off his soap box-- and actually made some almost legit lucid points. No one has even suggested the opperation not exist, they merely want oversight. I don't understand why Gonzalez was saying he was only testifying about that which the president had already confirmed, then when asked if there was more he said that was classified.

This is not a political issue; the political issue would be whether or not this is appropriate. The legal question is what is the extent of the executive power as compared to that of the congress, and can the president operate these covert activities without having to answer to the congress and American people.
2.6.2006 6:59pm
Daniel Wiener (mail) (www):
I think it is pretty obvious that Gonzales is referring to the super-secret programs which attempt to utilize telepathy and other psychic phenomena to eavesdrop on Al Queda agents and sympathizers and locate them within this country. Not only are these programs controversial because of their less-than-consistently-reliable nature, but because they clearly involve spying on residents (and in some cases citizens) of the United States.

It would of course be out of the question to risk revealing the nature of these operations by seeking FISA warrants, even if our legal system was capable of handling the issues involved. Hence Gonzales' extremely nuanced answers to the Judiciary Committee.
2.6.2006 7:00pm
tracelan (mail):
It's really simple don't call any overseas terrorists and you have nothing to worry about. If you are calling overseas terrorists I could care less about your rights. We have given up way more rights in the War on Drugs than in the War on Terrorism. Why aren't you complaining about that?
2.6.2006 7:01pm
Kovarsky (mail):
I'd also point out that references to these other programs provides a much more sensible explanation for why the administration refuses to release memoranda on a program that they nonetheless consider completely constitutional.
2.6.2006 7:03pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Tracelan,
How do you know that they only monitor calls to and from known terrorists? It's not like there is any judical oversight.
2.6.2006 7:14pm
Sara (mail) (www):
A Blogger writes:

This is about "following the law," not "connecting the dots." People want the government to "connect the dots" while "following the law," and don't like it when the government tries to "connect the dots" without "following the law."


I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that statement. This "people" wants the government to "connect the dots" first! No questions asked. And for the record, when did the "government" - i.e. law enforcement, FBI, etc. follow the law. It is "legal" for them to lie any time they want.

As to the question, the words "the President has confirmed" are the operative words. I think that means "confirmed publicly." To talk about or reveal anything not already confirmed publicly would land Gonzales in jail. Can anyone say Libby?

These Senators are grandstanding and pretending ignorance on one hand and superiority on the other. And everyone knows that trusting them with classified information is like asking my cat to ignore a bowl of tuna fish.
2.6.2006 7:15pm
SB (www):
I'd like to point out that an infinite number of dots will, if on a continuum, connect themselves very nicely.
2.6.2006 7:17pm
Medis:
I could guess about what they are doing, but I'd rather note how funny (in dark humor sort of way) I find this particular exchange. It just amuses me that Gonzales thinks it is a good idea to imply that he is keeping the most legally-suspect programs secret.
2.6.2006 7:26pm
Justin (mail):
I'm struggling to partake in this conversation when Sara and Tom can make the comments that they have with a straight face.
2.6.2006 7:32pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Ill say this - it's not a good PR move, but if the administration is really, truly concerned more about terrorism than anything else, it would behoove them to pretend that we have some other surveillance activity that they don't know about.

I mean don't get me wrong - this whole fiasco is already out of control.

At least I got the feeling from specter today that the fix was not in, at least insofar as he is involved.
2.6.2006 7:33pm
Kovarsky (mail):
by the way, what's the rationale for not having him take an oath?
2.6.2006 7:33pm
nk (mail) (www):
As much as I would like to agree with Daniel Wiener, I don't think he's right. I have found that the tinfoil under my turban pretty much stymies the telepaths. As a backup, I constantly sing McArthur's park sub-vocally to myself.

Certainly the real technology allows more than the monitoring of international telephone calls. For one, the real-time tracking of a person's location through his cell phone. There may also be the sharing of military machinery with criminal law enforcement which might violate the Posse Commitatus Act. With all the eyes in the sky watching us, including thermal imaging that can see us moving around in our houses right through the walls, all kinds of speculation is possible.

As for the present FISA controversy, it is of interestt to the left as a weapon against the President and to law geeks like us. Most Americans could not care less. If some poor guy at NSA has been assigned to listen to me discuss with my sister-in-law overseas the strategic question of keeping our (respective) children's bowels regular .... well, I hope he's getting hardship pay and if he has toddlers of his own I wish he would cut into our conversation and give us his advice.
2.6.2006 7:43pm
python (mail):
Forgive my ignorance, but is there solid precedent on "domestic spying" or incarceration during wars with others states?

During WWII, for example, what was the procedure to "spy" on German-Americans who were suspected of aiding their former homeland? I suspect, but have no proof, that "domestic spying" occurred very regularly during various wartime actions, and was curious what the legal framework was for those actions. (One obvious question regards the Japanese internment. Did FDR receive/require Congress or Judicial consent?)
2.6.2006 7:44pm
msmith (mail):
I see Gonzales cited Hamdi yet again as authority that 1. the President has authority to do whatever it is he is doing in secret and 2. Executive review is sufficient.

One can only wonder where Gonzales finds support for those peculiar views, in light of O'Connor J.'s seemingly clear words, for the plurality, on the role of the courts when American civil liberties are at stake--even in a time of war.

How can the courts play the role O'Connor J. says they have, in Hamdi, when the courts are completely unaware of what the Executive is doing? In part because Bush went out of his way to lie previously, suggesting surveillance of Americans was only being done with a warrant, presumably subject to some kind of independent judicial review.

Not really a legal question as much as a logic question. Then again, logic seems to play little role in the claims made by Mr. Gonzales on a number of issues.

Opinion of O'Connor, J.

.......In so holding, we necessarily reject the Government's assertion that separation of powers principles mandate a heavily circumscribed role for the courts in such circumstances. Indeed, the position that the courts must forgo any examination of the individual case and focus exclusively on the legality of the broader detention scheme cannot be mandated by any reasonable view of separation of powers, as this approach serves only to condense power into a single branch of government. We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens. Youngstown Sheet &Tube, 343 U.S., at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake. Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361, 380 (1989) (it was "the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that, within our political scheme, the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty"); Home Building &Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 426 (1934) (The war power "is a power to wage war successfully, and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation. But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties").....

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-6696.ZO.html
2.6.2006 7:51pm
Just an Observer:
I remain fascinated by Sen. Specter's proposal that the Bush administration submit the NSA surveillance program to the FISA courts for a ruling on its legality. The chairman began and ended the hearings by imploring Gonzales to do so, receiving a polite brush-off from the attorney general.

Does anyone know anything more about the contours of that proposal? What form would such a case take, and would it be reviewable ultimately by the Supreme Court? What could the DOJ do to facilitate such a test case?

I am not the least bit surprised that Gonzales was not receptive, because the core of the administration's strategy is to make its "legal" arguments in the Court of Public Opinion, rather than the more rigorous venue of the federal judiciary.

A key element of this whole controversy, according to the conventional wisdom, has been that standing issues seem likely to block conventional lawsuits from getting off the ground. If there really is a possible route under the FISA courts to initiate a test case, I am very interested to hear about it.

Medis and I speculated some about that yesterday here and here, but I am not satisfied that we have explored the question completely.

Surely by now someone has asked Specter to explain his idea.
2.6.2006 8:00pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
What is the utility of having the Attorney General appear in an open hearing before a Senate Committee to discuss how the Defense Department gathers intelligence on an enemy in wartime? It seems like a fool's errand.

What is the historical precedent for this type of hearing?
2.6.2006 8:02pm
Steve:
Allegedly, the chief judge of the FISA court, Hon. Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, has expressed concerns regarding the NSA program. Judge James Robertson supposedly resigned over this issue. If I were the Attorney General, I wouldn't want to ask that court for an opinion, either. Keep in mind, as far as the administration is concerned, getting a legal opinion from Attorney General Gonzales counts as an independent review!
2.6.2006 8:05pm
Something Wicked:
What other programs might exist? I have few thoughts.

I. Given that the FISA court has heard tens of thousands of warrant requests and only declined a handful, the FISA court is a more reliable rubber stamp than any rubber stamp ever made.

II. The only reason I can think of not to go to the FISA court is if the sheer volume of intercepts would overwhelm the courts ability to process the warrant requests.

III. Further I believe that governments are very poor at self regulating.

I believe that our government is listening to every single phone call made into,from or within the US.
2.6.2006 8:06pm
Kovarsky (mail):
nk,

i find it more than a little troublesome that you would equate what is "really" important with what people care about, given that what people view as important is a function of cognitive bias attributable in part to things like lack of informations, short time horizons for payoff accounting, etc.

i mean in a perfectly totalitarian state (and before people give apeshit a literal denotation, i'm not suggesting that we live in one, i'm only using an extreme example to illustrate a phenomenon), wouldn't what is "important" be completely separated from what the public "thougt" was important?
2.6.2006 8:08pm
CEB:
I have a hard time being very concerned about this. I am not a big G. W. Bush fan on other matters, but I do believe that fighting and preventing terrorism is his first priority (for noble as well as practical, political reasons) and should be. The Democrats, unfortunately, have zero credibility on the matter of national security; it's hard to believe that they are motivated by anything other than a desire to discredit the President and the Republicans.
2.6.2006 8:23pm
taalinukko:

SB I'd like to point out that an infinite number of dots will, if on a continuum, connect themselves very nicely.


Um, this does not really parse - or the math is bad - where prey tell does a Cantor set connect itself to?
2.6.2006 8:25pm
Medis:
CEB,

Except it is not just Democrats expressing their concerns.
2.6.2006 8:26pm
nk (mail) (www):
Sorry, Kovarsky, but I did not make up the rule. It's one of the tests in Fourth Amendment law: To what extent does the complained of governmental activity bother the innocent? NOT THE GUILTY. You see it applied mostly in cases such as this -- the claim of a sphere of privacy outside the home -- such as checkpoints for drunken drivers, subway searches for weapons/explosives (under litigation in New York right now), etc. Sorry again, we are a democracy and, despite the danger of stretching the analogy too far, Mapp v. Ohio overruled Wolf v. Colorado (if I remember correctly) because a majority of the states had legislatively adopted what would become the Mapp rule. Our host could explain this better than I can.
2.6.2006 8:35pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
So ... what stops Gonzales from defining "the program that the President has confirmed" to be the subset of surveillance activities that match the President's claims about the limited nature of the surveillance activities?

Tim, i'm having a little trouble thinking of how there could be something in the one that wouldn't be in the other.
2.6.2006 8:52pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I think it is pretty obvious that Gonzales is referring to the super-secret programs which attempt to utilize telepathy and other psychic phenomena to eavesdrop on Al Queda agents and sympathizers and locate them within this country. ... .

It would of course be out of the question to risk revealing the nature of these operations by seeking FISA warrants, even if our legal system was capable of handling the issues involved.


I'm pretty sure, after our discussions of "wiretapping:" etc previously, that this isn't covered by the FISA act.
2.6.2006 8:54pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Something Wicked,

You said:
"I believe that our government is listening to every single phone call made into,from or within the US."
:
Meet Daniel Wiener here:
"I think it is pretty obvious that Gonzales is referring to the super-secret programs which attempt to utilize telepathy and other psychic phenomena to eavesdrop on Al Queda agents and sympathizers and locate them within this country."

Mr. Wiener was kidding. You are obviously a Buffalo Springfield fan.
2.6.2006 8:57pm
randal (mail):
I agree with the CW of this thread - they're obviously data-mining.

I've thought this since before today's testimony. It's never been explicitly excluded by any public statements that I've heard. You gotta remember how this and other administrations operate: use words and phases that imply one thing but are technically true descriptions of what's really happening. Don't look at what they have described; look at what their denials haven't. They're left themselves room for data-mining.
2.6.2006 9:13pm
SB (www):

taalinukko: Um, this does not really parse - or the math is bad - where prey tell does a Cantor set connect itself to?


The point (pardon the pun) would be that we'd have a defined answer for every input. A Cantor set, being continuous, is a solid line over the defined domain ... and is "connected" (not the set theory term ... connected as in you can draw a solid line) over the defined domain.

I never thought I'd have to be careful making math jokes on the VC. ;) If only I had all the dots ...
2.6.2006 9:15pm
E:
Simple.

Save your real concern for other government agency armed UAVs in US airspace.


[I figured this thread is the place for pure speculation.]
2.6.2006 9:19pm
randal (mail):
A Cantor set, being continuous

A Cantor set is like the most non- continuous thing ever.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantor_set:
Consequently the Cantor set is totally disconnected.
2.6.2006 9:24pm
stan (mail):
infiltrating religious organizations.
2.6.2006 9:49pm
lj (mail):
Must read article from Fox News on Zacarias Moussaoui:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,183910,00.html
2.6.2006 9:57pm
nk (mail) (www):
A straight answer to a straight question: "Any thoughts on what other programs might exist?" For sure they are monitoring web sites. It has been suggested that the terrorists have hidden codes in their posts [I am no web guru] so that a picture of a naked lady can contain the message "go to X-spot to get the explosives". Again, I hope anyone at NSA reading all these comments is getting hardship pay.
2.6.2006 10:00pm
Defending the Indefensible:
nk,

Undoubtedly web sites are monitored, but there's no problem here since publicly facing sites are fair game for anyone to read. No warrants are ever required to look at what is deliberately put on display in the public square.

As for hiding codes in pictures, it's called steganography.
2.6.2006 10:09pm
Brutus:
I believe that our government is listening to every single phone call made into,from or within the US.

Not enough federal employees to do this - let alone intel community employees - let alone the question of why they would bother, since this would be a HUGE waste of time with no intelligence value whatsoever.
2.6.2006 10:16pm
Medis:
Looking at the transcripts, I'm struck by the number of times Gonzales claims they haven't analyzed whether a certain program would be legal under their theory.

If I really believed that, it would limit the possibilities for additional programs. But I guess I don't really believe that.
2.6.2006 10:21pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"Any thoughts on what other programs might exist?"

I am not knowledgeble about that sort of thing. But, I get down on my knees and pray that the President, the military and the intelligence agencies are doing everything they can possibly do to track down and kill every Islamo-Nazi in the world, whether here in the United States or in some third world hell-hole. I hope they are using every bit of technology they can find, but if they have to give my mother a rectal probe without a warrant, I hope and pray that they do that.

I also hope and pray that there are no lawyers involved in those programs, since they can add nothing to their efficacy. Snipers only! "1 Shot, 1 Kill, No Remorse, I Decide."

Finally, I hope and pray that the New York Times, James Risen and all of his informants, including, Jay Rockefeller, are indicted and convicted for the numerous violations of law (even treason if that can be proven) that they have committed in their anti-Constitutional attempt to subvert the effectiveness of our war efforts. I hope that once they are convicted that they will have the book thrown at them, to serve as an example for future generations.
2.6.2006 10:26pm
Just an Observer:
One thing I would add in responding to Prof. Kerr's original question, in the context of the exchange with Schumer about Comey's reported dissent, is that what we generally think of as the NSA surveillance program today reportedly was modified because of Comey's objections.

So, by Gonzales' obfuscatory definition, the old progam before it was modified "dealt with operational capabilities that we're not talking about today."

This statement could refer to a more aggressive incarnation of essentially the same program in place today. Or it could refer to something qualitatively different. Gonzales was sufficiently disinformative that either scenario could have been the case.
2.6.2006 10:36pm
Simon Steel (mail):
What other programs? How about the same program. Gonzales testified that it's been reauthorized every 45 days. That's a lot of reauthorizations since Goldsmith &Comey reportedly objected to this program in its initial form. Gonzales is now testifying that the standard they are applying is probable cause. But earlier Administration statements suggested a more lenient standard. So here's an obvious hypothesis: In the beginning, there was warrantless wiretapping based on pretty much nothing and a big dragnet and data-mining. Then Goldsmith et al. got it temporarily suspended in March 2004. Either then or whenever it was in 04 that the NYT first got the story (which it has stated it held for over a year), Bush narrowed the program somewhat. Then in 12/05 the NYT came out w/ the story and Bush narrowed the program again. And all Gonzales will testify to is the form that the program has taken in the past less-than-45 days. (Thus refusing, on national security grounds, to testify to what has happened in the past, while gladly testifying to what is happening now...)
2.6.2006 10:39pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
Methinks this blog is becoming The Gong Show, or whatever it was called.

From...
"And for the record, when did the "government" - i.e. law enforcement, FBI, etc. follow the law. It is "legal" for them to lie any time they want."
to
"...if they have to give my mother a rectal probe without a warrant, I hope and pray that they do that."

Truly hilarious stuff. ROFL.
2.6.2006 10:43pm
Defending the Indefensible:
David Sucher,

I suspect that Schwartz is being intentionally ironic, but I don't even want to engage with him because I think this kind of talk is actually dangerous. Some people really don't care who gets crushed as long as it isn't themselves, and think that they won't be targeted because it's those "others" (Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, etc.) that are the scapegoat du jour.
2.6.2006 11:17pm
Kovarsky (mail):
nk,

i'm sorry i wasn't clear. i do disagree with your 4th amendment analysis, but that was not the thrust of my post. the thrust of my post was making a more general point that what the public is concerned about is not always the best index of what is important (see, e.g., the general indifference to global warming for many years).

by the way, i watch o'reilly just so i know what the right is saying. i'm sure i'm not getting the words exactly right, but he just said "I think the winning argument all day is that all of this stuff [presumably he means FISA] deals with domestic law enforcement, and this is national security."

Not that O'reilly isn't a straw man, but no matter how you ultimately feel about the administration's behavior, there's probably half the country that believes him and thinks FISA deals with domestic law enforcement.

simply amazing.
2.6.2006 11:22pm
burnspbesq (mail):
Dear Mr. Schwartz,

Under the non-rule-of-law system you seem so enamored of, someday they (whoever "they" might be at any given point in time) will come for you. Then what?

That is what is at stake here.

Do you get it now?
2.6.2006 11:40pm
Something Wicked:
Tom Holsinger,

I won't comment on your choice in music or try to belittle you. I'll keep the discussion on the level that I think our moderators would appreciate.

If you expand 'listening' to include electronic means, what part of my post do you find implausible?

Do you believe that the government doesn't have the technical capability? They clearly have the ability to listen to a large number of phone calls in the US. CALEA gave them that.

Do you believe that they dont' have the capability to electronically monitor conversations for certain words? Speech recognition has been around for a long time, admittedly this is significantly more complicated.

If the capability existed do you believe that the adminstration wouldn't listen to every single call that they could?

Look at it another way, the administration has abandonded a very successful (for the government) program, FISA? Why? If they are breaking the FISA law why stop at only international phone calls? That's like tunneling into a bank vault and taking only the $10 bills. If the Administration believes they have the authority under the President's Article II powers; they have the power for domestic wire tapping at least as expressly as for international wire tapping. And the same argument can be made for the AUMF.

Finally, can you come up with another explanation that fits the facts? The administration had access to anything it had the ability to get under FISA, and could get a warrant retroactively, but has decided to persue another means that isn't neccessarily any more effective. Why?
2.7.2006 12:04am
wb (mail):
I listened to the lagre fraction of the AG's testimony. Not only in the discourse with Schumer, but in numerous other instances, he tiptoe around the issue of other programs with many suggestions that their are undisclosed collection programs within the US that he is not tslking about. I found especially incredible his statement that the question of the limits of the implied powers claim had never been analyzed. His whole testimony reeked of avoidung telling the whole truth.

You can count on there being a massive data mining program, especially if the communication has a route that exists and then re-enters the US.
2.7.2006 12:48am
minnie:
I noticed very early on in the hearings that there was something strange about the way AG kept using modifiers like "this program" or "the program the President has confirmed", etc., etc. etc. I posted that thought on various blogspots, and was glad to see others were talking about it also. Glen Greenwald apparently passed it on to Senate Judicial Committee advisers, who fortunately followed up on it, and the truth finally came tumbling out.

Any thoughts on what other programs might exist? None of us knows. My hunch is there are many of them, and they are so Orwellian in nature that if the entire truth came out, we'd all be staggered. The degree to which such a revelation upsets an individual who truly loves this country appears to be the degree to which that person is either blindly partisan, or has bought into what I personally consider to be a total myth: that our country is threatened in any real way by Al Quaeda terrorists.

That is point one.

Point two is that a logical person listening to each and every word of the hearings could not fail to conclude that the essential Administration position is this:

l) We are at war, and will be for a long, long time, if not even longer.

2) Nobody, not the people, nor the Congress, nor the Senate Judiciary Committee, NOBODY outside the inner circles of the present Administration, is entitled to know anything about what is really going on, and no laws presently exist, nor is there any interpretation of the Constitution which would prevent the Administration from doing whatever it chooses to do. I would be interested in how much knowledge the eight members of Congress who AG says have been informed really have. I note that a poster above suggests indicting Jay Rockefeller for revealing he has certain problems with what is going on, so there is no chance we will ever find out anything from them even IF these eight were actually thorougly briefed, as that would be treason.

In a nutshell, the argument being put forth by the Adminstration is that the entire "defense" of this country, which will require a cosmic change in what we have become used to in terms of privacy and civil liberties, from now until whenever, is comparable to an event like the invasion of Normandy. To reveal anything at all about it would jeopardize our entire existence, in this viewpoint, and anyone, including Congress, who would insist upon knowing the specifics is a traitor who is playing into the hands of "the enemy."

Informed people like the 14 lawyers gave it a good shot, but the issue has gone far beyond taking a lawyerly look at our laws, and deciding if they, or the constitution, has been violated.

No matter what anyone says, thinks, or alleges, the Administration will have an answer to those criticisms, and will just go on doing whatever it chooses to do.

I don't see this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue, although fanning the flames of partisanship is an important aspect of distracting people from the real issues. This could not have happened if the Democrats in power were really as horrified as I and many others are.

With both parties, it's about politics, getting elected, talking points, and all the other things people do to get in office, and stay there. The only real conflict between the Democratic establishment and the Republican establishment is who gets, over any given period of time, the lion's share of the spoils.

Unless something radically different were to happen in the very near future, I don't see any way out of this mess.

It really boils down to, if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.

Finally, I agree with the poster above who suggests that the Administration has merely chosen to confirm, under duress, the most palatable part of this whole surveillance issue. It's even possible that the whole Plame affair was a deliberate distraction as the administration knew when that whole thing was hitting the press that this warrantless surveillance matter had already been leaked. Didn't the NY Times say they had been sitting on it for a year, at the Administration's request?
2.7.2006 12:51am
minnie:
One last thought. I just loved The Shawshank Redemption. One of my favorite movies. But it was a movie, not reality.

How intelligent people could think it plausible that the terrorist accused, convicted and imprisoned for attacking the Cole, could just dig a tunnel out of jail and disappear into the night is simply something I can not understand.
2.7.2006 12:58am
minnie:
Orin, in case you missed it, and if you have time, could you check out my post of 2/7 at 2:16 AM on your Inherent Authority thread?

Thank you!
2.7.2006 2:21am
SteveW:
The linked Parts I and II of the transcript cover only about the first half of the hearing. The Washington Post now has a Part III, which is linked at the bottom of Part II, but that still leaves about a fourth of the hearing without a transcript.

I believe the most important part of the hearing occurred in that fourth part when Gonzales, answering questions from Sessions, indicated that the NSA program would allow eavesdropping to determine whether or nor a person was a terrorist, but the FISA program only allowed eavesdropping after the government determines that the person is probably a terrorist or probably has contact with terrorists. I really want to read that part of the transcript to see if I understood correctly on television.
2.7.2006 9:38am
Jeek:
what I personally consider to be a total myth: that our country is threatened in any real way by Al Quaeda terrorists.

What is your interpretation of 9/11? Was that not "real" damage to the country (direct and indirect costs in the tens if not hundreds of billions)?

We are at war, and will be for a long, long time, if not even longer.

That should be obviously true to anyone. Militant Islam isn't going to go away anytime soon.
2.7.2006 10:12am
neutral:
How about this possibility: there are no other useful programs and Gonzales implying there are is just doing damage control. Judging by the sheer success of our intelligence with Iraqi WMD and such, isn't it possible?
2.7.2006 11:03am
David Matthews (mail):
Perhaps a better comment about "connecting the dots" v. "obtaining more dots" would be that, given that our "dots" are not infinitely small, enough distinct interpolated dots should usually pretty much connect themselves, assuming the underlying function is connected. But this assumes that all the "dots" have been collected together in one place and charted on the same graph. And it also assumes that all the "dots" are from the same function. Generally speaking, lots and lots of dots just clutter up the plane.

One "solution," is to employ the filters of "data mining." But beyond the question of the legality of the data collection, there is also the serious question (or should be) about the efficacy of the filters. "Data mining" is (has been for a few years now) the hot phrase, but, given the pitiful results we've seen from indirect intelligence methods in Iraq (I'm sure they were at that data with pickaxe and shovel 24/7), how much useful, accurate information does it catch? How much does it miss? Was the Iraq inteligence failure due to a lack of data, or poor mining methods?

I don't question our ability to gather unimaginable amounts of data. I don't question our ability to process it at ultra-high speed. I do question whether that processing delivers the advertised results.

The fact that we haven't been attacked inside the US since 9-11, is that because of amazing super-computer number-crunching by the NSA? Is it because of "coercive interrogation" practices in Guantanamo and elsewhere? Or is it because of the conventional tactics we employed: we smashed up and scattered the main base of operations in Afghanistan, froze many terrorist assets, deterred would-be terrorist nations (like Libya) by overthowing Saddam, and then provided a much more convenient target of 100,000 soldiers in Iraq?

If, in fact, any of the questionable methods have produced results, it should be possible for the administration to do a better job of pointing them out, without giving the detail that might jeopardize ongoing operations.

"If it is stopping terrorist attacks, then it's ok to .... " is the conditional. Funny thing about a logical conditional: a false premise makes the conditional true (although it doesn't effect the truth of the conclusion either way.) In real life, however, it is important to know whether "p" is true; becuase if "p" is false, then the conditional, though true, is irrelevant.
2.7.2006 11:38am
Medis:
SteveW,

FYI, Part IV is now up.
2.7.2006 12:15pm
Max Lybbert (mail):
When the AUMF was signed, I assumed the military would take and hold prisoners as part of using that force. The Supreme Court determined that was a reasonable assumption. I also assumed that we would listen to al Qaeda's various phone calls, especially overseas phone calls. The "program" appears to be just that.

The Attorney General was asked to speak only about this particular program, so of course he limited his comments to this particular program. EFF has sued AT&T alleging that AT&T has helped the Feds datamine AT&T's historic business records in violation of a federal law. If true, that would be one of the other programs.

However, it's also one of those things I personally expected the feds to do as part of the war effort. Think about it. ABLE DANGER was a datamining program that fingered several of the 9/11 hijackers, including Atta, a year before the attacks, but lawyers wouldn't let the military whare that. Then the Patriot Act and a court judgement explicitly permitted this kind of information sharing. What did you expect the next step would be?

I believe the secret East European prisons may be a third program that Gonzales was thinking about. To be honest, I hadn't expected that as part of the war effort. Then again, I didn't expect us to put neon lights on all of our prisons for al Qaeda captives either.

I also didn't expect the US to have a press conference for every al Qaeda member/leader captured. So the fact that some people are captured without my personal knowledge does not, by itself, bother me.

In WWII, every physical letter entering or leaving the US went through government censors. I expected the government would have a simiilar electronic program in place for email and web traffic as part of the war effort.

I also expected disinformation, old fashioned double agents, and several other techniques that civilized, brie-eating, NPR-listening society just doesn't agree with. Even so, it's how wars have always been fought.

As for judicial review -- I do believe we need some sort of audit mechanism. However, the Supreme Court upheld Japanese internment during WWII (and overturned that ruling something like forty years later). Don't expect too much from the courts.

Anyhow, that's just off the top of my head.
2.7.2006 1:14pm
SteveW:
Medis,

Thanks. Looking at part IV, it appears that I heard too much in what the AG said. The AG didn't dispute what Cornyn (it was Cornyn, instead of Sessions) said, but neither did he explicitly agree with it so far as I can determine.

The AG said earlier in his testimony that the standard for eavesdropping under both the FISA program and the NSA program is probable cause. I don't think his responses to Cornyn support the contention that the two programs have the same "trigger."

Following is the relevant portion of the transcript:


CORNYN: Isn't it true that the problem that this program has tried to address, the gap in FISA that it tries to address, is that, in order in order to got a warrant under FISA, the government must have grounds to believe that the U.S. person it wishes to monitor is a foreign spy or terrorist?

And, even if a person is here on a student or tourist visa or no visa, the government can't get a warrant to find out whether they are a terrorist; they must already have reason to believe they are one?

GONZALES: Well, certainly, to obtain an order from the FISA Court, the court has to be satisfied that there's probable cause to believe that the target is either a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power and probably cause to believe that the facility being targeted is actually being used or about to be used by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.

CORNYN: Stated another way...

GONZALES: OK.

CORNYN: The problem with FISA, as written, is that the surveillance it authorizes is unusable to discover who is a terrorist, is distinct from eavesdropping on known terrorists.

Would you agree with that?

GONZALES: That would be a different way of putting it, yes, sir.

CORNYN: You would agree with that statement?

GONZALES: Yes, sir.

CORNYN: So the particular program that's been debated here and the authority that the National Security Agency has to conduct it is filling a gap that exists in our intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Is that an accurate description?

GONZALES: I think we quickly realized, after the attacks of 9/11, that the tools that we had traditionally been using were insufficient.

And this was the opinion of the intelligence community. And that's why the president authorized this program. It's because we did have vulnerabilities into our access to information about the enemy.
2.7.2006 1:17pm
Scott from L-Cubed (mail) (www):
Here's my understanding (from reliable government officials): The AG kept referring to "this program" and "the program the President confirmed" because the scope of the NSA wiretapping changed a couple years ago after Ashcroft (on the advice of Comey et al.) refused to sign the required regular reauthorization (see Newsweek article). DOJ and the White House reached a compromise on a narrower wiretapping program, which is the one currently in existence. Gonzales' answers were referring to this current, narrower program, not the wiretapping in its original iteration.
2.7.2006 1:52pm
debsay (mail):
Max Lybbert is exactly right... these intelligence gathering programs have been in place for years.... the only difference between what they are doing now and what they were doing then is that because of the 9/11 commission and the Patriot Act they are sharing information with the FBI when they come across a suspicious communication that needs further checking. That's it...

The 'rendering' process of sending prisoners to secret prisions in other countries was started in the mid 1990's under Clinton to assist in combating terrorism. It isn't new....

The NSA program has been going on since the 1970's, it was expanded because of the technology leap in the 1990's under Clinton with the Eschelon and Carnivor programs. He based his inherant Presidential Powers to monetary concerns... and there still wasn't a big outcry about it... where were the Congressional hearings then???? No, instead we wait until 3000 people are murdered before we decide that the Executive is overstepping it's bounds in relation to National Security and executing a War... what a joke!!! And democrats are trying to justify the leaking of 'real national security secrets' just so they can bash Bush and the republicans.... everytime I've heard the Democrats leak/claim something and actually reasearch it I find that it is something that was going on under Clinton too, but it wasn't important then... that pretty much tells me what I need to know about the purpose of these hearings.

It is truly sad when you believe that 1/2 the country is willing for a large number of Americans to die in an attack so they can bash Bush and then 'they can get back in control of the government'...
2.7.2006 3:06pm
MNKurnmudge:
Look, folks, not one mind has been changed here. The lefties are still convinced that Bushitler is doing Unprecedented Snooping And Evil, probably using the GWoT as an excuse to spy on Andrew Sullivan for blackmail material, blah blah. The root issue is still whether FISA, which is obsolete and arguably unconstitutional, works for the situation we are in now.

Any "criminal" activity is driven by mens rea. There is no way to argue with a straight face that running a proposed program that is arguably not applicable to FISA past several lawyers form different agencies, briefing Congress again and again, and even reporting to the FISA chief, is somehow running open-loop without oversight. Period. The unwashed ignorant Americans in flyoverland actually understand that.

And they also understand that Spector, after his last fix of C-SPAN kisses two weeks ago, is doing this now only because he is upset that the Congressional briefings since 2002 were considered more relevant to the Intel committees than to the Judiciary Committee.

Heck, even I can understand the rationale for the prior briefings, and I'm not even a Senator. It's sort of like there is a difference of some sort between fighting a war and operating a law enforcement exercise to intimidate those nasty beheaders into stopping due to the threat of not getting habeas corpus until day three.
2.7.2006 3:44pm
Medis:
MNK,

Two brief points.

First, ignorance of the law--even on the advice of your lawyer--generally isn't a defense to a criminal charge, although it might well be relevant to a civil action, or in an impeachment trial.

Second, by my count there were actually at least four Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee expressing concerns about the Administration's approach.
2.7.2006 4:04pm
Le Messurier (mail):
burnspbesq

Under the non-rule-of-law system you seem so enamored of, someday they (whoever "they" might be at any given point in time) will come for you. Then what?

That is what is at stake here.


To say that the Rule of Law is "at stake" in this controversy is gross hyperbole. Most arguments pit congressional power versus administrative power... a tension that has existed as long as has the Union. To restore the lost rule of law that burnspbesq blusters about requires nothing more than congressional defunding of administrative programs. Problem solved, and we all live under the rule of law again. (Maybe not so free any more since we'll all have to grow a beard.) Yes, there should be congressional oversight. No question about that. But we also have a law, or laws, that are not up to the task for which they were intended given the new kind of war we are fighting. Congress should move to form a contained and non-public oversight mechanism; then when the flames of war have cooled to some degree, and there is greater understanding of the needs for 21st century warfare the laws should be written, rewritten, or modified.

It appears that the administration is winning the battle for public opinion on this. The public fully understands that the paramount job of the President is national security. It takes precedent over all other duties he has. While a balance of security versus privacy/personal freedom is a wonderful objective most citizens would rather he err on the side of "too much" security rather than not enough.
2.7.2006 4:21pm
minnie:
In response to a query, when a terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, bombed a government building in Oklahoma, we didn't go into War Mode.

The attack on the Twin Towers was by individuals, not a government.

A billion words could be, and have been, written about the governments who support terrorism, but still, there's a distinction between a band of people and a government.

Our gravest threat as a nation, imo, would be if another government decides to wage war against us. That is why I said I don't consider Al Qaeda to be a real threat. Maybe I should have said "major", instead of "real." They're a threat, as is any band of lunatics, but not enough of a threat to chuck our form of constitutional democracy. Imploding from within is also a real threat to our continued liberty.
2.7.2006 4:54pm
Medis:
By the way, I'm not sure where to put this, but I see Cheney appeared on Newshour. From the newspaper reports, it seems he was equally dismissive about legislative action of any kind.
2.7.2006 6:26pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"We have given up way more rights in the War on Drugs than in the War on Terrorism. Why aren't you complaining about that?"

This is a very good point. If one reads Raich and Gonzales carefully for the structure of the tracking and control regime of the CSA, a prediction where this "War on Terror" is going in the Adminnistration's view can readily be made. Significantly, Justice Thomas won't go for the comprehensiveness of such an all-encompassing scheme.

"I doubt the AG wanted to imply that there is a panoply of secret programs that only need a DOJ or CIA leaker in order to be made public." Exactly, because the REAL ID Act RFID chips to spy on all Americans and deny all those who don't have one all constitutional rights woould not be popular. Not popular either that this is being tested as we speak under the ANIMAL ID program with the Dept. of Ag. Wait until all Americans are forced to have the RFID chips implanted under their skin (avoids the ability to wrap the driver's license in tin foil to thwart tracking). And, how about the Administration awarding a Haiburton subsidiary a contract for the rapid construction of detentions camps all across America (not ony for immigation but also) the rapid implementation of other programs." LIKE WHAT???? The rapid implementation of a Nazi Holocaust Police State? Americans who care about their freedom and this Democracy better start asking these questions. (If someone would tell me how to use the link feature, I could provide the links to substantiate what I am saying).

"My initial guess would be wide-ranging a wide-ranging Carnivore/Echelon/TIA-type system, doing data-mining on a massive scale." FAR more wideranging, see above.

"What form would such a case take, and would it be reviewable ultimately by the Supreme Court?" The test case won't come from the FISC, no standing for the surveillance target.

"A key element of this whole controversy, according to the conventional wisdom, has been that standing issues seem likely to block conventional lawsuits from getting off the ground." Wrong, the Supreme Court has such a case now pending on petition for certiorari. (And it isn't Padilla or Hamdan). HINT: 05-7287 (on rehearing) and 05-7771 (Feb. 17th conference).

But I am not allowed to talk about it on this thread.
2.7.2006 7:41pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"It would of course be out of the question to risk revealing the nature of these operations by seeking FISA warrants, even if our legal system was capable of handling the issues involved."

Are you joking? Why would the Judiciary be incapable of handling these issues? Seems like Justice O'Connor said it WAS capable in Hamdi.
2.7.2006 8:59pm
Brutus:
when a terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, bombed a government building in Oklahoma, we didn't go into War Mode. The attack on the Twin Towers was by individuals, not a government.

Absolutely ridiculous. McVeigh was a small conspiracy of a few individuals, whereas al Qaeda is a large movement of many individuals, with the demonstrated will and ability to keep coming after the US and its citizens. Moreover, until October 2001, this movement enjoyed the protection and support of a national government in Afghanistan, which refused to release the "individuals" into US custody. We were NOT going to be able to root al Qaeda out of Afghanistan without going into "full war mode", period. Moreover, unlike McVeigh, the "individuals" who wish us harm are (thankfully) most often found on foreign soil - how are we supposed to kill bad guys in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere without being in "war mode"?

there's a distinction between a band of people and a government.

This, of course, disregards the increasing ability of individuals to inflict large-scale harm on us as a country.

Our gravest threat as a nation, imo, would be if another government decides to wage war against us.

No. That's not a problem for us. State-on-state conflict, we can do - better than any other kind of conflict. Any government foolish enough to wage war on us would be quickly destroyed. Our problem is insurgencies and terrorist groups - that we don't do so well.
2.7.2006 9:52pm
Brutus:
Debsay,

The 'rendering' process of sending prisoners to secret prisions in other countries was started in the mid 1990's under Clinton to assist in combating terrorism. It isn't new....

I'd like to know more about this. Can you cite a source and some examples?
2.7.2006 9:53pm
therut (mail):
Watching these hearing from a laymans view and listening to arguments here and other written elsewhere this is what I have decided. The 4th amendment argument is moot. Most all Senators are saying they could change the law to allow this. So there goes the 4th amendment chanting. The other was one Senator (I don't remember which Dem) was concerned about what happened to the info that had been tapped and found not to be associated with a terrorist. Like how long was it kept. I really wanted to laugh out loud. This was the same Dems that had no problem keeping innocent citizens records of firearm purchaces on file for many months even though the Brady Bill said they were to be destroyed. The NYT screamed when these records were finally being destroyed after 24 hours. Hypocrits all of them.
2.8.2006 12:49am
Medis:
therut,

What did you make of the four Republican Senators who expressed various concerns about the Administration's position?
2.8.2006 12:54am
therut (mail):
I have concerns also. But the Senate is full of political posturing and spewing. This whole thing is a power issue between executive and Congress. Congress knows they could write a law that would make them feel in control and the President could do exactly as he is now and all would be well. So the 4th amendment is just posturing. I think Bush does not trust all of the intelligence committe members to be loyal to the USA. I have some doubts also. One in particular Jay Rockerfeller not the brightest bulb in the Senate.(he has leaked before) There have been traitors in every war and I have no doubt there are some now. I have a hard time deciding who is right and wrong or on our side or not. Some I believe do not even believe in our side and would love for the whole effort to fail. Dangerous.
2.8.2006 2:26am
Medis:
You mean you think some Senators want to see us fail to protect ourselves from international terrorism?

Interesting perspective.
2.8.2006 8:10am
therut (mail):
Yes. I would think it is quite obvious.
2.8.2006 1:42pm
Medis:
So exactly which state do you think wants to be hit by a terrorist attack?
2.8.2006 2:10pm
Medis:
therut,

Sorry, on further reflection I withdraw that question. And from further participation in this line of discussion.
2.8.2006 2:13pm