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I posted this on my own blog last night, but a comment in TPM just inspired me to post it here.
Josh Marshall asks this morning:
Here's one thing I'm a bit unclear on in this NSA domestic spying story. From reading the original article in the Times, the prime rationale for this program appears to have been to avoid the time and bureaucratic hurdles involved in getting warrants . . . especially considering the importance of speed in counter-terrorism work. The problem is that the FISA Court -- the secret court set up to handle just such warrant requests -- is designed for speed. And it is known for being extremely indulgent of government applications for warrants . . . All of this, of course, is separate from the issue of the president overruling a federal statute by executive order -- something that by definition a president cannot do. But something seems fishy about the rationale itself.
Of course there is.
Anyone who gives this two seconds thought knows that the National Security Agency hasn't spent the last four years monitoring the phone calls of homesick Arab students and their roommates and their landlords.

This is a White House where every single thing is political, where the election of a Democrat was seen as a threat to national security. So they have, of course, been spying on all of those 10,000 people on the White House enemies list, plus Democrats and peace activitists and protestors and columnists and journalists and embassies and investment bankers and bank presidents and industrialists and Colin Powell and the State Department and, well, who knows . . . just about anyone or everyone. No judge would ever give them a warrant for that stuff.
Remember those stories about John Bolton's abuse of NSA intercepts, when the White House refused to tell the Senate whose phone calls had been recorded, just accidentally-like of course? Tip of the iceberg.
How many phone conversations have Bush's opponents or potential opponents had in the last four years with their mistresses or their lawyers or their bookies or their AA sponsors? Just about everybody has something they don't want to see spread all over the local newspaper.
And are we wondering which 'sensitive' security operations would have been endangered if this operation had been revealed a year ago? How about the ones targetting the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry campaign?
People are wondering why the New York Times held this story for a year before publishing. Two reasons, I think. If the New York Times had published this before the election, it simply would not have been believed -- does anyone remember that a month before the election, when the New York Times revealed that Iraqi arms depots had been stripped of their weapons and then the whole thing was just brushed aside as partisan politics? And then after the election, the Bush administration had the media bamboozled that everybody just loved them, so again, the Times would have backed off the story thinking that no one would believe it.
But now that the Bush administration is down, well, the media can finally kick them. The National Security Agency secret spying story has hit with even more impact than the secret prisons story.
Steve Gilliard writes:
Bush's war on terror has been a failure on most levels.
But why break the law?
Because Bush and Cheney think that there would be the magic bullet, that they could torture or violate their way to Osama, and didn't want the law in the way. And enablers like John Yoo were all too eager to help to subvert the law, human decency and common sense.
The short term solution was what Bush wanted. The whole idea behind Gitmo was to round up the truly dangerous, then the secret prisons, then holding Padilla. All short cuts to Osama, they thought. But it wasn't.
The short term solution war on terror will lead to the long term legal fights by its innocent victims.
Now, we're pushing into genuine impeachment territory. NO presidential finding can break the law. Bush seems to think the Constitution is an a la carte menu, when it isn't.
Emphasis mine.
Bush's Divine Right of Kings doctrine is finally turning around and biting him in the ass. I just hope it isn't too late.

Originally posted to CathiefromCanada on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 08:59 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  RE: Bush's Enemies List (none)
    I wonder if NYT has obtained portions of list of Americans Bush has spied on, from the same leakers that provided them with the Bush domestic spying story itself, but NYT is being asked (read: threatened by WH) to not publish it?
  •  These words jumped out at me (none)
    In this morning's radio address, Bush said that the eavesdropping program was narrowly designed and used "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution."

    The words in quotes are terms of legal art. Presidents from Richard Nixon onward use similar language in referring to the 1974 War Powers Resolution, which puts limits on presidentially-ordered troop deployments.

    Here's why. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have taken the position that the Resolution treads on inherent presidential power and therefore has no legal effect. That is why, when a president takes military action, he tells Congress that he acted "consistent with" the Resolution.

    To make a long story short, George W. Bush said today that the president's power to ensure national security trumped a 1978 law regulating eavesdropping, and quite possibly the Fourth Amendment as well. Scary stuff.

  •  THis is why they insist(ed) that our Iraq (none)
    invasion and occupation is a war.  They can fake more powers in war than in peace.

    Remember when they went nuts about the Clintons and FBI files?   Were they already planning something like this then?

    Out of Iraq NOW. What Murtha said.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:45:26 PM PST

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