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In her diary posted today, a commenter posed an important question to Representative Jane Harman, the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee:

Representative Harman, yes or no

Would you or would you not vote for legislation offered that would allow the President to spy domestically without seeking a warrant from the FISA court? Would you vote for loosening any current restrictions that would make it easier for the President to spy on Americans domestically?

Representative Harman answered:

My response (none / 0)

No and no.

But I think treatment should follow the diagnosis.  It's premature to consider legislative proposals until the Congressional Intelligence Committees are "fully and currently" briefed on all operational details of the President's NSA program, as required by the National Security Act of 1947.

The Intelligence Committees should then hold hearings to determine whether the program can comply with present law.  I believe it can, and it must.  If we determine that it cannot, Congress has only two options: (1) Change FISA, including adding IT and other resources to the Department of Justice to speed warrant applications; or (2) Change the program.  To be Constitutional, any framework must meet the Fourth Amendment requirement of probable cause.

-- Jane

Representative Harman's answer, like the question, is good but incomplete. My response to Representative Harman explains:

Representative Harman (none / 0)

Thank you for participating here at daily kos.

However, I do have a problem with your last answer.

Specifically it does not address the fact that the Bush Administration is asserting an Article II power that makes its actions on these questions beyond Congressional and judicial control.

The diagnosis Representative, is that the President is determined to violate the Constitutional design of checks and balances, ignore the Congress' Article I power and the Judiciary's Article III power.

Representative Harman, you have a Constitutional crisis on your hands already.

It is clear that Republicans are prepared to accept this outrageous assertion of unfettered Presidential power.

I hope that Democrats are not.

More on the flip.

For those who have read me on this subject, you can skip this part. But it is what underlies my question to Representative Harman. From one of my earliest posts, the issues involved:

[In] The Most Dangerous Branch  . . . I argued:

The . . . infamous Bybee Memo, is not an anomaly in the thinking of the Bush Administration. It is their doctrine:

In a series of opinions examining various legal questions arising after September 11, we have examined the scope of the President's Commander-in-Chief power. . . . Foremost among the objectives committed by the Constitution to [the President's] trust. As Hamilton explained in arguing for the Constitution's adoption, "because the circumstances which may affect the public safety" are "not reducible within certain limits, it must be admitted, as a necessary consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority, which is to provide for the defense and safety of the community, in any manner essential to its efficacy."

. . . [The Constitution's] sweeping grant vests in the President an unenumerated Executive power . . . The Commander in Chief power and the President's obligation to protect the Nation imply the ancillary powers necessary to their successful exercise.

(emphasis mine.)

In short, when acting as Commander-in-Chief, the President is above the law says the Bush Administration. And so have they argued on everything. Torture. Enemy combatants. And now warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

The Bybee memo, and by extension, the Bush Administration and Republicans, argue that it is the Constitution that grants the President these powers.

. . [T]he Bybee memo, and likely the Yoo memo, that provided the legal justification for the warrantless surveillance, also rely on dishonesty about the Constitution and about Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Papers.

For example, the Bybee memo states that:

The President's constitutional power to protect the security of the United States and the lives and saftey of its people must be understood in the light of the Founders' intention to create a federal government "cloathed with all the powers requisite to the complete execution of this trust." The Federalist No. 23.

But what does Federalist 23 actually say?

THE necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union, is the point at the examination of which we are now arrived.

This inquiry will naturally divide itself into three branches the objects to be provided for by the federal government, the quantity of power necessary to the accomplishment of those objects, the persons upon whom that power ought to operate. Its distribution and organization will more properly claim our attention under the succeeding head.

The lie of Bybee and Yoo is obvious. Federalist 23 is not speaking of Presidential power. It is speaking of the power granted the federal government. To cite Federalist 23 as support for a claim of Presidential power over the Congress and the Courts is to flat out lie.

The Bybee memo continues its dishonesty:

The text, structure and history of the Constitution entrusted the President with the primary responsibility, and thus the Power, to ensure the security of the United States in situations of grave and unforeseen emergencies. . . . U.S. Const., Art. 2, [Sections 1 and 2].

What do Article 2, Sections 1 and 2 of the Constitution say?

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. . . . The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

It appears that Yoo and Bybee are not strict textualists on this issue. What Article do they ignore? How about Article 1, Section 8? The powers of the Congress include:

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . .

So how can this possibly lead to the Yoo/Bybee assertion of Presidential plenary power? By lying about it. It is that simple.

. . . Yesterday, Senator Russ Feingold said:

The President believes that he has the power to override the laws that Congress has passed. This is not how our democratic system of government works. The President does not get to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. He is a president, not a king.

The question for all Democrats is simply this - will they accept the assertion of Kingly powers by President Bush? Republicans have said they will.

Representative Harman, what will Democrats say?

Originally posted to Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:38 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't mean to pick on Rep. Harman (4.00)
    who shows good instincts, in my view, in coming to daily kos to discuss the critical issue which is the subject of her diary. i have thoughts there as well, as any who have read me know.

    But this issue is of critical importance and Rep. Harman is one of our leaders on these issues in the Congress.

    So, I think it appropriate to pose the question to her.

    The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

    by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:41:37 PM PST

    •  Understood (4.00)
      And if my acumen is worth a damn you're quite correct, unchecked power on the part of this Executive is the salient issue.

      The soul that is within me no man can degrade. - Frederick Douglass

      by Kimberley on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:46:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (none)
        all you need to do is read the Justice memos on it.

        The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

        by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:53:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If that were so (4.00)
          Then there would be no need for this diary.

          The soul that is within me no man can degrade. - Frederick Douglass

          by Kimberley on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:57:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well (4.00)
            Okay. Maybe a little explicating is necessary . . .

            The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

            by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:01:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Armando, a larger "elephant" (none)
              with big tusks:

              As Chief Executive in "wartime" as he likes to remind us, and as CinC, does not the administration's reading of the Constitution put ANY executive agency or their methods above the law if they are acting at the behest of said Chief Executive?

              Would not the FCC, as an arm of Bush's exective branch, be within it's "rights" and therefore be outside the purview of oversight and legislative restraint if Bush decided that broadcasting dissent "damaged the war effort" and, under that scope, say, violated a licensee's right to use the public airwaves?

              Taken to its conclusion--logical or not--couldn't  this unshackle from accountability any arm of the government that serves at the pleasure of the president if he decides it furthers some concocted national security preserve?

              Rep. Harman?

            •  Wouldn't it be a fun project (none)
              for kossacks to attempt to rewrite the constitution so that "a little explicating" would become less necessary? How about writing it so crystal clear that even the biggest elephant wouldn't dare to step on it?

              I think we should take it article by article and rewrite it in a manner that the essence and intent is kept uncorrupted and all the loopholes for broad misinterpretation are tightened. And of course a couple of things we just should erase and not replace at all.

              Could you do us a little favor, Armando? Would you please reformulate the US constitution so that we wouldn't have to deal with big elephants anymore whose existence is constantly denied by us scared people?

              Many thanks in advance.

              Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." Buddha

              by mimi on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 10:40:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  That was a heartening thread. (4.00)
      The me-tooism she sought was met with hard, principled questions on basic constitutional issues that are in the balance.  I hope she and her staff really chew it over.
      •  I thought so, too (4.00)
        It was one of the more substantive discussions I've seen in a while.

        "I have a philosophy about elections. I believe issues divide and values unite."--Gov. Brian Schweitzer

        by Joan McCarter on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:00:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i don't know what she expected (4.00)
        But i hope that she did not think we are a bunch of ninnies on these issues.

        Not to be immodest, but on the LEGAL issues, I feel I know as much as anyone.

        And have written about it as much or more.

        Me and Glenn Greenwald.

        The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

        by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:00:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good work (4.00)
          From a non-lawyer's perspective, Armando, when you stick to legal issues you ace 'em. Anyone who might remember my typical responses to you on non-legal issues knows there's not much we agree on outside of where the law's involved. But your identification of the Constitutional crisis here is spot on. It's something that normal Americans can understand. It's rooted in what we all learned in grade school about American history. Plus, pursuing it will clearly out the majority of the current Republican crop as the traitors to the Constitution they so willfully are.

          There is no more important decision before the Democratic Party than that of embracing defence of the Constitution as a foremost matter of urgency and honor. The Republicans are betraying the Constitution; the president is not king; this is what we fought the Revolution about. This needs to be said, again and again, until it becomes completely identified as the position of our Party. We must own the Constitution.

        •  I'm Not At All Sure What Was Expected... (none)
          but the wording of Rep. Harman's diary really seemed like it was written by committee. It had the feel of a form letter asking for a contribution.

          This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

          by Mr X on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:38:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I was pleased (4.00)
        that the vitriol was at a low. It was also nice to see her respond to so many questions. That is not typical.

        I'm hoping that the fact that she was attacked only infrequently will encourage her to come around more often. Maybe she will "chew" on what was said and respond to some of it in a different diary.

        "I was Rambo in the disco. I was shootin' to the beat. When they burned me in effigy. My vacation was complete." Neil Young. Mideast Vacation.

        by Mike S on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:24:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I said me-too (none)
        Because I believe that security is the bugaboo of the next couple of decades.  It will be brought up before every election that the Democrats have any chance of winning until the Democrats prove that they can handle national defense.

        I think national defense is a Democratic stronghold because it should also apply, at least equally, to the fascists who are subverting our Constitution and putting themselves above the law.

        While we are still a land of the free, and while we still remember what it meant to be the home of the brave, let us stand united on the defense of our great homeland against all enemies.  Foreign and domestic.  Just like the president said.

        -8.75;-5.28. But it don't mean nuttin if you don't put your money where your mouth is

        by ultrageek on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:28:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't think she was looking for me-tooism (none)
        That's a very naive thing to say, and I give the Representative a little more credit then that. I think she got what she wanted, which was a lively discussion over one of her ideas. I disagree with your assertion that most people were hostile to her proposal.
        •  Not hostile, but specific (4.00)
          She said, "national security", and a lot of us said, "constitution."  They're inseparable concepts, and Democrats shouldn't say the first without the second, either at roll call or out on the trail.
    •  Excellent diary Armando... (none)
      As it relates toward Rep. Harman, I can only offer a layperson thought of "this is a woman I don't trust".  IMHO, she has been too quick to cede power to the Executive, too quick to explain away the actions of the Executive, and too quick to stick to the goals of the Bush administration.

      Being tough on foreign policy seems to be a mainstay of Harman, and while she has "good instincts", I suggest those instincts are more in line with winning her next election.

      From my perspective, we don't need "tough" women who support Bush policy, we need "tough women" questioning Executive power, tough women enforcing Congressional Constituional power, and tough women who aren't afraid to step forward and state that the policies and executive orders of the current administration are unconstitutional.  

      Pardon my Dean line stealing, but "we can do better than this".  As a woman, I find Harman a sellout.

  •  I'm almost certain (4.00)
    that the winking and nudging behind the scenes is about "the law being outstripped by technology"...that's always a sexy way of putting it.

    But you Armando, would have a field day on the hypocrisy with the criticism of a "living Constitution" coming from these same criminals.

    What their program is is to electronically dragnet the entire country, probably focusing more on traffic analysis than keywords IMO, but using everything they can get their hands on.

    They can't do that and comply with FISA. Simply put.

    So the real choice is whether to scotch the program entirely or scotch the constitution.

    I don't see any alternatives.

    •  I don't know all that (4.00)
      i DO know what the bush Adminsitration is arguing.

      And that is that as Commander in Chief, the President is King.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:53:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong-o, Armand-o. (4.00)
        As Commander-in-Chief, the President is Generalismo.  Oh, and, this is no longer a nation of equal citizens under equal laws.  This is a militarized nation where those on the bottom get to follow the rules imposed on them by those in charge.

        Oh, and, as Generalismo, the President is not only above reproach, but anyone who is insubordinate is subject to harsh and immediate punishment of the Generalismo's choosing.  There is no "let the punishment fit the crime" anymore.  It is by the caprice of the Generalismo that some should live and some should die in the manner of his choosing.

        All kidding aside, the Legislative and Judiciary branches of government must apply checks and balances on the Executive's power before they're rounded up and taken away just like the rest of us.  Well, the traitors who don't agree with the Generalismo, anyway.

        -8.75;-5.28. But it don't mean nuttin if you don't put your money where your mouth is

        by ultrageek on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:37:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Technically (4.00)
        Bush's legal team have claimed he is an absolute monarch. And I mean that quite literally, and anybody who doesn't realize that has simply not been following the crisis.

        Absolutism is defined as the power of life or death over any citizen. Bush claimed this authority in a series of legal memos. First, he asserted his power to classify and detain any American citizen as an enemy combatant outside the protections of the Constitution and international law, entirely at his discretion. Second, he claimed the right to use lethal force against any detain enemy combatant. QED, Bush has arrogated the legal right to kill any American system, without any process of law.

        It's also no accident that Gonzales and Bush's other henchmen repeatedly use the word "prerogative" in discussing presidential power. To non-lawyers and non-historians, that word suggests only its modern common usages, as synonyms for "choice" or "option." In constitutional law, the word has a quite different and quite specific meaning: It refers to the unenumerated and unfettered authority of the Crown.

    •  I disagree (none)
      Suppose they are dragnetting every communication, then running analysis on it, through an Echelon Dictionary, whatever. 1) at What point is it surveillance? If the content of this thread never gets to an analyst's eye or ear, but this thread is run through some filtering machine, are we being surveiled against? 2) If someone uses certain words in certain combinations such as saying "tomorrow, we will ....Government installation X...and....river...blood...infidels...."..can that be considered probable cause to investigate a threat to the US, under what circumstances? If such a system were in place and used, could it be overseen to ensure the absolute minimal intrusion in people's lives, and to keep it from being used for nefarious purposes?

      If these things could be sorted out, with broad consensus, and bipartisanship, would we accept such a system?

      •  It's not clear what you disagree with (none)
        And it is even less clear where you are going.

        But a simple answer: If they are dragnetting every communication, it is surveillance. Whether a human reads or acts on the surveillance is a different question.

      •  Thanks for the softball (4.00)
        1. At all points; and if it never reaches an analyst then it's a waste of time and money

        2. That is the cart before the horse

        3. No...how would you "oversee" it? Raw volume of "signal" from such a dragnet precludes that

        4. I wouldn't allow such consensus, and this is something I'd form another party over easily. "Bipartisanship" is an oxymoron if this is even conceivable...we would only have two wings of one authoritarian party.
        •  let me refrain (none)
          1. at what point does it become unconstitutional?

          2. point 2 isn't the cart before the horse, point 2 is perhaps the most relevant question.

          3. overseeing it, you wouldn't monitor the volume, you oversee the design of the filters; you oversee the trigger words. You also could regularly audit the system by exersizing it, that is, start talking about knowing how Senator X has a blow problem and is having an affair with the FLOTUS.

          4. your response on point 4 tells me that your mind is decided, that something like this is, in your opinion, never necessary or acceptable. Which, while that is your opinion, certainly isn't necessarily the position of the Majority of Americans
          •  Not a lawyer, but (none)
            I think you need to look at the rulings of the Supreme Court on this kind of surveillance issue.  The rulings over time have leaned heavily in favor of the rights of the citizen, that there should be no undue burden on free speech, nor should a law be percieved to discourage free speech or free discussion.  If I know that everything I write in an e-mail and every post I make on the internet is being watched by some government computer program, this severely limits my freedom.  I know I am being watched, but I don't know for sure if what I write will be misinterpreted by some computer program to mean I'm a dangerous threat.  I know that if the government deems me a dangerous threat it can keep me from traveling on airplanes.  I can also be arrested and held without charge and without access to a lawyer for a unspecified time, whether I posed a threat to anybody or not.  We can laugh about it, and write "the eagle will drop the tortoise at sundown," but it is a nervous laugh.  So I wouldn't say that "just because its a machine doing it" is an argument that it isn't really surveillance.  The effect on the citizens being spied upon is the same.

            If not for the cat,
            And the scarcity of cheese
            I could be content.
            --Jack Prelutsky

            by Reepicheep on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:20:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're missing the whole point (4.00)
            as are the majority of Americans, if indeed a majority agrees with you.
            Say we have a machine--Big Brother--that filters every electronic transmission passing in, out, and around the country. Someone determines the criteria that the machine uses to identify suspicious communications. As things stand, those being screened (us citizens included) don't know (a) whether or not they are being watched, (b) what the machine is programmed to look for, (c) how to find out whether they have been fingered, or (d) how to "correct" any misidentification. The screening criteria are set by someone who says "Just trust me". That someone also says I won't tell what the rules are and you can't limit my right to run this operation in any way I want.
            I would say that surveillance under such a system is unconstitutional from the very outset, precisely because it denies that any checks and balances exist over the machine's master. And the notion that we should accept "Just trust me" from the present quasi-fascist administration has got to be the most absurd idea in this country's history. If you buy their interpretation of our system of government, then what the hell did we gain by fighting the War of Independence? We already lived under a monarchy.
            •  I never said that we should buy (none)
              the "Trust Me." I'm not defending the administration.

              Your first paragraph is correct. Everything you listed is a flaw in the scenario as it exist today. But that isn't the scenario that I'm talking about. I'm asking, is such a system acceptable if we can get past these concerns, and how would we get past these concerns.

      •  Even if you do filter (4.00)
        Even if you do filter those certain word combinations in certain settings, they'll still make mistakes without actual intelligent humans.  Just ask Steve Jackson Games.
        •  mistakes (none)
          Let us imagine that this system actually exists. They would, of course, make mistakes and they would anticipate that they would.

          I actually think that it is better than 50-50 that some big filtering system is being used that is a combination of phrases and names used and sites visited or phoned, in or out, and that it turns up people who are then identified and monitored individually to some unknown extent. That closer monitoring process would probably rule out 90% (the obvious 'errors) fairly quickly.

          The rest are added to the list that is now 325,000 people worldwide from various sources that are deemed to be affiliated with terrorist organizations. Anyone in contact with one of those people for any reason (like ordering a pizza from one of them) is also then monitored more closely. They are the ones that they cannot apply to the FISA ciourt for.

          What I wonder about is how many languages could they work in and where the hell they think that all this might get them. And, how many people are wrongly on their lists (way more than half, I'd bet.)

      •  Traffic analysis /= Echelon (none)
        With traffic annalysis you're not watching what's said, but who talks to who. This has traditionally not required Warrants, but rather Administrative Subpoenas,  under precedents set in the Plain old Telephone days.

        Come email, there's a qualitative difference, not recognised in law. for starters, the "subject" line is content, but not protected. Then there's the cc and bcc fields.

        EFF's John gilmore elaborates on these distincions in a 2002 post on the politech list.

        If such "traffic analysis" systems can be deployed against our own population, by inserting them into every ISP for permanent monitoring without any warrants, then everyone's freedom of association is
        violated.  The government knows who all your friends are, who all your relatives are, who you work with, who you play with.  If you are ever a suspect, everyone who communicates with you becomes a suspect -- and
        vice verse.  You will never find out what connections they have drawn, because there is no requirement to notify you that your communications were tapped, even if they later prosecute you based on investigations that were triggered by knowing your relationships.

        This would undoubtedly be useful information for exploring the connections that a discovered terrorist had -- but there are only small numbers of terrorists in the world.  It would be much more useful for tracking their POLITICAL OPPOSITION. Their COMPETITION...

        then

        ...When my ex-girlfriend of years ago phoned me on the night of September 11th, the real message wasn't what she said; the real message was that when the world looked shaky and strange, she thought to call me. The actual words we exchanged were merely signaling information.

        A Senator YOU can afford
        $1 contributions only.
        Masel for Senate
        1214 E. Mifflin St.
        Madison, WI 53703

        by ben masel on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 11:51:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A major issue - the stored data (none)
      A major issue with the dragnet, IMHO, is that the communications being filtered are also stored, to some extent.  I have heard rumblings in Congress with questions about how much is stored and for how long, and such.  I haven't heard any clear answers.  There's a lot of speculation out there saying that basically they're tapped into the telecom networks and they grab and store all communications.  I'm not sure if this is true, but if it is, it is of major concern.  Just consider the implications of this, with or without the supposed "minimization."

      This WaPo article discusses the program in some detail, "Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects" and in it they refer to the "mountain of data":

      Participants, according to a national security lawyer who represents one of them privately, are growing "uncomfortable with the mountain of data they have now begun to accumulate." Spokesmen for the Bush administration declined to say whether any are discarded.

      and of course there are many discussions all over the net about the NSA programs and what they are really doing.  Yeah, well I'm pretty uncomfortable with it too, particularly when BushCheneyCo are in power and can find justification to do just about anything they want, based on national security.  In Congress, I don't think they have even scratched the surface of this whole thing.  

      On Bush: "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." --(borrowed from) Churchill

      by joanneleon on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:31:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Usually When We Say Strong Words (none)
    we implicitly imply strong action if we're disappointed.

    It seems to me the Democrats are just about out of options other than walking out.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:45:26 PM PST

    •  Don;t follow (none)
      Walking out?

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:52:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  An interesting idea (3.66)
        walking out of Congress and up to the microphones, explaining that the Republicans are not performing their duty of oversight and are blocking Democrats from doing their duty. Now, a walkout would shake up the cozy atmosphere of DC in a hurry. It would be hard for the media to pretend that nothing serious was going in if the Dems just up and walked out in mass.

        There are examples in Roman history, and they worked to force the issue, but I digress.

      •  If Repubs Support Unitary Executive (4.00)
        then there's no role for the Democrats. So at least on one or a few matters closely, directly related to surrendered legislative powers, Dems could walk out & hold a press conference to point out what's happened.

        I'm not at all a protest or demonstration fan but when we reach the point where the government is undeniably dismantling our system, a press announcement seems a tastefully appropriate activity to commemorate the occasion.

        I'm not talking about wholesale quitting office. I think we should wait for a formal dismissal.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:58:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  How about a walking-over (none)
      over to the Washington Post, en masse--all 250 Congress or so, and saying "the very foundations of our nation are under assault, and here's how" and then "walking" over to the New York Times, and then NBC, ABC, CBS with the same statements and documents.

      With visits again the next day, until something is addressed honestly in the media.

      Something huge, radical, and immediate is required. This is not politics as usual. Is any sizeable portion of Democratic office-holders aware of this?

  •  I'm glad you asked, Armando (4.00)
    And brought up the point that we ARE in Constitutional crisis.

    Like you, I appreciate Rep. Harman's posting here, and her willingness to participate and talk to us. I hope that she's listening, as well.

    "I have a philosophy about elections. I believe issues divide and values unite."--Gov. Brian Schweitzer

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:46:54 PM PST

  •  "treatment should follow the diagnosis," (4.00)
    she says, then lists the the prerequesites to diagnosis ad nauseum.  "It's premature to consider legislative proposals ...."

    That's exactly how they killed my Vietnam veteran friend at the VA. And that's exactly how the military hospital delayed delivery of my 10 1/2 pound great niece until she had severe brain damage.

    Hey, Jane! The govenment's spying on us. It's not only illegal, it's unconstitutional.

    Stop it NOW!

    John Murtha speaks for me

    by cotterperson on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:47:42 PM PST

  •  This kinda goes to the heart of what I asked (4.00)
    Jane Harmon.

    What do Democrats stand FOR?

    When will we know?

    •  This is certainly one of the key questions (none)
      that go the heart of what you ask.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:55:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have taken a lot of flak (4.00)
        because I keep sitting here, waiting and criticizing for having to wait.

        As I told Jane, and I'll say over and over and over.

        What do Democrats stand for?

        When will they start talking?  To do otherwise is to lose.  

        If we let Karl frame it, we've lost.  We have to be more aggressive, more astute, more perceptive.

        Anticipate.  Have the answers ready, and point out their inconsistencies and lies.

        It is the only way to win.

        •  Well (none)
          your s is a key question of 2006.

          THE question of 2006 though is "How Extreme is the Party of Dobson"?

          The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:04:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You know what pisses me? (3.50)
            The answer is so simple.  And yet, the key Democrats don't seem to sense it.  Start talking.

            Forget about Dobson, and how extreme his 'party' is.  More than the average American knows how extreme the Republicans have become.  They know.  What they don't know is how Democrats are going to fix things.

            And you know why?  (whisper) Cause the Democrats want that corporate money as much as the Republicans do.

            It's only that Republicans will rape us without a blindfold.  Democrats will put a blindfold on.

            •  They don't know (none)
              and we must make it ring in their ears.

              The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

              by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:14:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Democrats ARE talking! (4.00)
                Unfortunately, it is mostly Biden/Lieberman etc, etc, and they are talking to the likes of Russert/Matthews/Hannity.

                "... the Republicans have fucked reality so hard they need a physics professor to straighten them out." -- hamletta

                by manyoso on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:18:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I wish I was as sanguine as you (none)
                I think they know, and they just don't know how to respond.

                The most dangerous thing Clinton did was to bring the Democrat party closer to the right, meaning corporate obeisance.  That was the reason they attacked him so, because the wingnut brigade was afraid of what he'd do on the social issues and get their lock on corporate dollars.

                Do you forget so easily NAFTA, and the many goodies he gave corporations?  

                It's what's wrong with the US right now.  Corporations own us.  Period.  They own the electoral process, lock stock and barrel.  We're not a democracy, but a corporatocracy, the best vote money can buy.  (or steal).  And don't kid yourself, Democrats want in on that money.  Just why do you think Dean went nowhere?

                My grandfather was right.  He told me I'd regret buying into Reagan on his first term, because he'd sell the people out in favor of big corporations.  Continued by Bush I, and more moderately by Clinton.

                But now, we see wholesale rape.  

        •  don't engage them on the argument (none)
          of winning and losing.  its about moral character.  we don't know if a frank reliance on our bedrock principles (with which very few democrats differ) is a winning formula.  

          the real argument is that, at least right now, the only entity in a position to stem the tide of bushist klept/the/aut-ocracy is the democratic party.  and what we know is that a democratic party which goes into convuslsive apologies everytime the truth is spoken has no chance to turn back the wingnut deathspiral over the long term even though they might win some elections.

          if we lose we lose.  if we win, we might preserve and enhance the greatness of this country.  but we can't wait on the party forever.

          we'll stand him up against a wall and pop goes the weasel /rufus t. firefly

          by 2nd balcony on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 11:00:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The real question to me though... (none)
        ... is what does Congress stand for. For checks and balances to work, there needs to be some adversarial attitude (even a friendly one) between Congress and the Presidency - from both parties.

        The issue isn't merely that the President is stepping on Democratic principles, but on Congressional rights. Congress isn't supposed to fully trust the President. They should be questioning his actions when the appear out of line just as SCOTUS questions Congresses actions. As there seems to be no issue about the questionability of his actions here - plenty of Republicans have raised the NSA actions as questionable - so it follows naturally that they should embrace an investigation, even if that investigation serves to confirm the actions as legal.

        That's my biggest gripe about Congress - they're treating this as a party issue rather than a separation of powers issue which should cross party bounds. WTF is the point of Republican congressmen if they aren't acting in the best interests of Congress as well as the public. Same holds for the Democrats that play that same game.

  •  Off Top[ic, but maybe you can answer, (4.00)
    Armando.

    Is Markos even CONSIDERING a section devoted to public people's posts?

    I ask this because it troubles me to see the Recommended Diary list at DKos with THREE posts by professional politicians on it, crowding out other work by mere mortals.

    I have my own forum now, and don't post nearly as frequently here as I used to, so I ask this NOT because of self-interest but because, as I peruse the diaries, I notice a few things:

    1. LOTS of GREAT fucking work
    2. So MUCH of it, in fact, that unless the stars are aligned properly, it is VERY rare for an "untested" diarist to get any traction.
    3. A post by a sitting politician goes to the RD list within minutes of its posting. From what I know about the matrix around here, it's not just the # of Recommends, but the time frame of their accumulation. So, a simmering diary and possibly valuable discussion can accumulate as many or ore recommends as a politician's post, but if it happens more slowly, that diary might not even make it to the list. And it ought.

    All my longwinded way of explaining the initial question, which is, admittedly, only very marginally pertinent here...
    •  Yes (none)
      I unbderstand that some things are percolating now.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:02:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure where I weigh in (4.00)
      I totally see what your saying.. but at the same time, I like the idea that Congresspeople post their diaries in the same place as everyone else. Their diaries have to get recommended just like the rest of us. There is something special about using the forum as equals.. even if they have slightly better name recognition than the rest of us.
      •  Have to get recommended ?? (4.00)
        True, but what a pointless formality! Public figure diaries are Recommended as a matter of course. And I am often one of the recommenders, because Kossacks want to see these threads.

        I believe Congressman McDermott had a diary go by unrecommended once -- but he uses Jim McDermott as his ID, without the title. That is the exception -- a title gets you recommended.

        If you begin posting as "Senator Deano" or I as "Representative Elwood Dowd" there is a very good chance we would end up on the Rec list regularly.

        •  You are right (none)
          I agree with everything you say except for the pointless formality thing. I wouldn't throw a hissy-fit if things changed, I just like it the way it is.. it would feel more like the Huffington Post if things changed. Maybe extending the amount of diaries on the Rec list would be a good idea... the amount of users has gone up considerably in the last year.

          Anyway, I feel like I'm hijacking this thread now, so.. I'll shut up. :)

        •  Bullshit (none)
          I don't buy this one bit, but even if it were true, isn't it what the people want? Sorry if the democratic voting process isn't to your liking.
        •  skeptically... (none)
          the general democratic party fundraising (and dkos)method is to remind us that bushco is causing the sky to fall, and the're engaged in hand-to-hand combat.  then we hear in public about how anxious they are to act in a bi-partisan spirit and cooperate with the administration.  and when the dino's jumpon us for our unremitting pinkoism, their silence is deafening.

          from my conversations with many of them, the former is closer to what they really think and the latter is what the're afraid not to say.  i;m fucking up to here w/it.

          and thank you congressman dowd.

          we'll stand him up against a wall and pop goes the weasel /rufus t. firefly

          by 2nd balcony on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 11:15:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I have to agree on this one (none)
      and would chalk it up to an abundance of success.  More representatives post here becuase they should post here.  However, their posts are their POVs and not necessarily representative of the community.  I would personally like to see a list of public figure posts, have "public figures" vetted, and have it placed below the recommended list.
      •  I'm not sure we want to get into this... (4.00)
        Rather, I think the way the system works now is better than separating out "public figures" from others. Who decides what makes someone a public figure? Do we want to deal with the inevitable fussing because someone doesn't feel Kos appreciates how important of a figure he or she is?

        Right now, if someone has something important to say - either because of the content or because it's a public figure saying it - it gets recommended. No one makes a value judgment over whether it's important because of the content or because of the speaker: If enough Kossacks think it's worth reading it shows up on the recommended list. That means lots of politicians, but it also means some fascinating and quirky things that would never get seen if they were put in the secondary, non-public recommended list.

        Does good stuff get missed and disappear? Absolutely. I'm a writer, and it's hard not to be upset when the same thing happens in publishing - books getting crowded out by what celebrities write, or important books going unnoticed. But the solution is having someone else tell me what I should read... and I'm a lot more suspicious of that than of the pure democracy of Kos.

        The question of who's a public figure is important, too. Senators and congressfolks, sure. State legislators in key districts, maybe. Any kind of public officials? You know, I'm not a major writer, but I have nine books out, appear on the media pretty regularly, and am a town-level elected Democrat. I like that on Kos, I'm just another poster - the rest of my life is pretty public. But if there's a value judgment being made that some city council member in Dubuque is more of a public figure than I am... well, I probably have a lot more readers.

        My point is that the system works as it stands. People immediately recommend congressfolks because we're excited to hear from them; if they start phoning it in, how long will it be before people stop recommending that particular congresscritter's diaries?

        Economic -5.00 Social -5.49 http://politicalcompass.org/

        by Swordsmith on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:22:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't disagree with what you're saying. (none)
          However, and this is a very indelicate thing for me to say, but I think with the public figures there goes a certain amount of "star f*king".  I don't dispute that the well known figures (Conyers, Slaughter, Kennedy etc.) seem to consistently provide really useful information that I'm glad to see.  But there is an echelon of "stars" who write and, imo, don't really say anything *or they continually say the same thing.  

          I really truly try to browse the 'Diaries' link but can't always get to it.  My personal opinion is that the the site can accommodate a separate list.  I don't find it difficult to envision that we wind up with lots of Congresspersons and candidate-Congresspersons etc. posting here and they will always be recommended, which will really limit individual contributors who do not hold public office yet who have equally valuable things to say that people should read.

          It's just a peeve of mine and a very minor one at that and one which I feel is kind of easily remedied.  But, I'll stay with it either way.  Thanks for such a well thought-out comment.

    •  On topic in this diary: (none)
      here where I share my points of view.
    •  The people get what the people want (none)
      I like to here from our politicians, sorry that you don't. I'm sick of "Cheney shot some dude" diaries and was pleasently surprised by the number of checkins from the House. Kos, please don't change a thing. Oh, and a 1 for MsO, for advocating against the people's will.
      •  Dude, (none)
        I think your proficiency with the rating system is on par with Cheney's skill with a shotgun.

        Don't go around throwing out 1's just because you don't like what someone has said.

        A 1 is for trolls.

        (Yeah, I know. I got in an argument with Armando about it when I first started posting, but the rating labels and the way they are really used are quite different.)

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:28:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Stand and deliver (none)
    The power grab cannot be defeated right now, it can only be resisted and some ground work laid so that we can get real investigations under way when we get a majority in the House or Senate.  I certainly agree that we do not need any more evidence of a power grab than what we have been shown.

    I hope that when public officials come here to post that they have thought their positions through and that they are willing to get some intense, though maybe friendly, criticism.  We are in pretty desperate times and in real peril of actually losing real freedoms, not just some bucks or some corporations getting good-buddy treatment from the gvt.  I think the standard that we must expect is resistance to the regime and straight-forward exposure of each of the lies as it leaves the regime's lips.

    This should be what the Democratic Party stands for right now, we can quibble about details and transitory policies once we get the damn ship righted and flush out the 5th columns they have planted in positions of power.

    "I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax." Thoreau

    by NearlyNormal on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:13:20 PM PST

  •  So who decides what's an Article II power? (none)
    This is actually a really interesting (okay at the same time terrifying) question: who decides whether a power is granted under Article II?  Part of me would say that obviously the Supreme Court would have to decide this, but does the Supreme Court have the authority under Article III to interpret what Article II says insofar as it is the direct authority claimed by the executive?

    Armando, help.  This is the kind of question that I cannot intuit - need an actual lawyer to answer it.

    Give me liberty, or give me death!

    by salsa0000 on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:13:55 PM PST

    •  Marbury v. Madison (none)
      decided the issue in 1804 - the Supreme Court decides.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:19:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was my quick answer too (none)
        But couldn't the administration make an argument that judicial review under Marbury only extends to evaluating whether an act of Congress is constitutional (the relevant one here would be, of course, FISA)?  Let's say that FISA is struck down as unconstitutional.  Now the question is can the NSA continue with its program under its 'reasonableness' standard instead of probable cause?  Here we're not talking about an act of Congress (from the administration's perspective) but an article of the Constitution itself and the 4th Amendment - how would the Supreme Court possibly tease the two apart?

        Give me liberty, or give me death!

        by salsa0000 on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:25:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In the case of wiretaps (none)
          Carter personally ordered an unwarranted "National Security" tap on Truong Dinh Hung, a Vietnamese national working for the Agency for International Development, accused of forwarding classified economic data to the Vietnamese government to protect his family who'd remained behind, This was upheld by the trial court and 4th Circuit.

          The case was the impetus for the passage of the FISA Act, as Carter had concerns about abuse of the autrhority he'd just been granted by a future President. If FISA's deemed unconstitutional, the law reverts to Truong, and everything Bushco's doing is legal.

          A Senator YOU can afford
          $1 contributions only.
          Masel for Senate
          1214 E. Mifflin St.
          Madison, WI 53703

          by ben masel on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 12:08:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry let me explain a little better (none)
        The absolute hard core of the problem to me seems the following: to what extent can the President's Article II authority trump all other instruments of the law?  To what extent can it even infringe on other parts of the Constitution?  To me that's the heart of the Constitutional crisis that the administration has opened up.

        Give me liberty, or give me death!

        by salsa0000 on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:27:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We say.. (none)
          ..that the Constitution sets forth clearly defined roles and boundaries of executive, legislative, and judicial power, and that the three are constantly in competition because that's the way the Framers designed it.

          They say that the President has plenary power by virtue of being the executive (i.e., the "doing" part of the government).

          It's all very ironic given that they're the ones who profess an attachment to original intent vs. the living document.

          Of course, they'd never put it that way, but they're behaving as if the 9th and 10th Amendments (and the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth) don't exist.

          You can never ask too many questions.

          by socratic on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:52:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sort of (none)
        But Marbury also established the precedent that the Court would be pretty darn careful, and mindful of its limited real-world powers, in choosing how and where to decide.
        •  There has to be a Buck Stop (4.00)
          My long-ago lawyer school understanding of Marbury is that as far as what is Constitutional goes, the Supreme Court rules. That applies to acts of Congress and acts of the executive branch.

          The beauty of Marbury is that there has to be a final arbiter of constitutionality---if not then chaos reigns. No Congress can decide if a law is constitutional, and no executive can decide if an act of the president is constitutional.

          Unfortunatley, that is also why Supreme Court appointments are so important.

          Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

          by willyr on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:47:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just to be contrarian... (none)
            .. The Supreme Court only decides whether something is constitutional if they have a case or controversy to decide.

            Who decides when they don't, and how do they decide?  Is constitutionality in fact a chaotic concept unless and until the Supreme Court has an opportunity to settle a question?

            You can never ask too many questions.

            by socratic on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:55:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Forgive me Armando, I don't mean to (none)
        make fun of Marbury v. Madison but that is so pre- 9-11.  We now live in a Bogart-Bergman world where "As Time Goes Bye" has replaced the national anthem and the last line in the film justifies Bush's absolute power:  "We'll always have 9-ll".

        "He that sees but does not bear witness, be accursed" Book of Jubilees

        by Lying eyes on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:13:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's not a real crisis (none)
    Amendments trump the main text.

    I'm sure that some of the powers of the Executive are unenumerated, and that when acting as CinC there are some things the President can order which are not subject to Congressional or Judicial review, just as there are some things the Congress or the Judiciary can do which cannot be checked by the Executive or each other.  

    But authorizing warrentless searches or seizures of a person, hir home, papers (including digital papers and correspondence) and effects is not within the authority of any branch of government.  Congress can write a law to authorize these warrentless wiretaps 'till they're blue in the face, but no matter how many or how clever the laws they write are, warrentless searches are illegal.  Moreover, it states that the Judiciary cannot even issue a warrent unless there is probable cause to believe that the items or persons sought are there to be found, and that the things sought are explicitly specified.  Dragnet-type programs, searching through private materials without knowing exactly what you're looking for and with a very low likelyhood of finding anything incriminating, are explicitly forbidden.

    It's a shame that the clear protection this Amendment was supposed to provide has been so drastically weakened.  

    •  I'm with you, man (none)
      I totally agree with you that that is what should be the case.  But here's the part that gets really tricky for me: as you acknowledged there are some things the president can do according to the Constitution while acting as CinC that are not subject to review.  Let's say one of those Constitutionally unreviewable things contradicts an amendment to the Constitution (how about the 4th, :-) ).  Then what?  Is the answer as easy as 'amendments trump the main text'?  And just as importantly, is the Supreme Court even allowed to decide this?  I can definitely see (a morally reprehensible) argument coming that would say 'no' because even reviewing this would be overstepping the judiciaries Article III powers..

      Give me liberty, or give me death!

      by salsa0000 on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:35:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is indeed that easy (none)
        If Amendments didn't trump the main text, then what's the point of an Amendment?

        The original Constitution had lots of things in it that were subsequently thrown out by Amendments, for example, that only male land-owners had the right to vote, that slaves got 3/5 of a vote, and so on.

        Not only can the Supreme Court decide this, if they decided in any other way then that would be grounds (at least in my opinion) for impeaching the whole lot of them that joined the majority decision.

        If the Executive was allowed to assert that Article II trumps the Amendments, then they could effectively overturn the 14th Amendment, thereby removing citizenship from people on arbitrary grounds, the 13th Amendment, reinstituting slavery, or any other Amendment they pleased.

        That's why this isn't really a Constitutional Crisis.  The Bush Administration is simply wrong.  It only looks like a Constitutional Crisis because folks are conditioned into accepting that any argument put forth by the Executive is credibly consistent with the Constitution.

    •  But the Consitution Can't Investigate, Prosecute (4.00)
      or impeach. Only elected reps can, and if they choose not to, or if the Bush Supreme Court rules in favor of him, then the Constitution doesn't actually say what it says.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:51:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, you're right (none)
        But I think this is a winning issue for Democrats.  American politics is dominated by, if nothing else, a cult of the Constitution.  Appeal to the Constitution and you've already more than half-way won the argument.  That's why Bushco is pushing it's Article II authority.  While I agree with Armando that their reading of Article II is deeply flawed, they're banking on the fact that most people haven't read it or Article I or III which check II, and that they aren't going to.  This is their Achilles heel.

        The Bill of Rights trumps the main text both Constitutionally and politically.  As simple and clear as the language in the main text is, the Bill of Rights is far simpler and much more politically accessible.

        Here's the Fourth Amendment (from memory):

        The right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects shall not be violated, and no warrent shall issue but on probable cause specifically describing the place to be searched and the persons or items to be seized.

        The Bush Administration is relying on some obscure  and vague paragraph buried in Article II.  What we're relying on has a bullet point and the number IV right before it, and takes all of 10 seconds to chant.  

        •  Rule of Law (none)
          No one is above the law.

          The President is NOT above the law.

          Sound familiar to you?

          4th Amendment is for "wussy liberals."

          Your political analysis is quite wrong imo.

          The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:21:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Of course it is a real crisis (none)
      Pursuant to it Article I powers, Congress prohibited what the Bush Administration is doing.

      You need to read my posts on the issue.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:20:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps, (none)
        the people who feel that this is not yet "a Constitutional Crisis" are expressing the opinion that this circumstance was forseen by the authors, and the Constitution provides clear guidence on what needs to happen next.

        In that case, it will only proceed to the level of a "true Constitutional Crisis" if the Congress refuses to investigate.

        My understanding is that they have refused some specific requests to investigate, but they haven't completely put the issue aside.

        An argument could also be made that even IF the Congress refuses to investigate, it STILL isn't a Constitutional Crisis if/until something happens where there is no remedy in the Constitution.

        Personally, I think that if the Executive brazenly violates the 4th Ammendment and pledges to continue the illegal activity, AND the Congress refuses to investigate, THEN it is a crisis. But I understand why some people would make aguments that it still wouldn't be a crisis, or alternatively that we are already in a crisis.

        As far as I know, there is no precise, commonly accepted definition of what the phrase "Contitutional Crisis" even means.

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:19:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One other issue to consider (none)
    Who has access to this information?

    We've already become aware that John Bolton, our beloved nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, requested and got names from the NSA in his position as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control. Some of this information allegedly pertained to overseas contacts made by our own diplomatic corps. The system seems ripe for abuse by any Hoover wannabbes lurking within the administration who want to keep a watchful eye on their rivals. Considering how loose this administration has been with classified intelligence, the presence of huge volumes of data is going to be pretty tempting to a lot of the petty and vindictive bureaucratic types we have in Washington.

    Congressional oversight of the entire operation is of paramount importance. Congress should not make the mistake of legalizing any surveillance without building in safeguards and oversight.

  •  What bothers me (none)
    is the history of FISA.  From a diary I did a while back:

    ...in the 1970s the political winds changed. The 1975-76 Church Committee hearings documented extraordinary federal government abuse of surveillance powers. Examples included the the NSA's Operation Shamrock and Operation Minaret, CIA's Operation CHAOS, the FBI's COINTELPRO domestic harassment of dissenters and anti-war protesters that included illegal wiretapping, and the illegal burglaries of the Nixon White House "plumbers."

    The Church Committee Report found that covert action had been excessive, had circumvented the democratic process, and had violated the Constitution. It concluded that Congress needed to prescribe rules for intelligence activities.

    On the judicial front, the Supreme Court first confronted the tension between unmonitored executive branch surveillance and civil liberties in United States v. U.S. District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972), in which the United States charged defendants with conspiracy to destroy government property. Defendants sought electronic surveillance information, held by the prosecution, that the CIA obtained during a potentially illegal wiretap, wanting to ascertain whether the government had relied on information in the indictment or the case for conviction and to suppress any tainted evidence at trial. The Attorney General admitted that a warrantless wiretap had intercepted conversations involving the defendants.

    Before the Supreme Court, the government defended its actions on the basis of the Constitution and the Title III national security disclaimer. The Court rejected the statutory argument, saying that "Congress . . . simply did not legislate with respect to national security surveillances." As for the constitutional argument, the Court accepted that the President had the power "to protect our Government against those who would subvert or overthrow it by unlawful means" and that this power justified electronic surveillance of would-be subversives.

    My emphasis added.  And then:

    Invoking the "broader spirit" of the Fourth Amendment and "the convergence of First and Fourth Amendment values" in national security wiretapping cases, however, the Court was especially wary of possible abuses of the national security power. The Court then balanced "the duty of Government to protect the domestic security, and the potential danger posed by unreasonable surveillance to individual privacy and free expression," and found that waiving the Fourth Amendment probable cause requirement could lead the executive to "yield too readily to pressures to obtain incriminating evidence and overlook potential invasions of privacy and protected speech." Justice Powell wrote that the inconvenience to the government is "justified in a free society to protect constitutional values."

    The Court emphasized that this case involved only the domestic aspects of national security: "We . . . express no opinion as to, the issues which may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents." It invited Congress to act: "Given these potential distinctions between Title III criminal surveillances and those involving the domestic security, Congress may wish to consider protective standards for the latter which differ from those already prescribed for specified crimes in Title III. Different standards may be compatible with the Fourth Amendment if they are reasonable both in relation to the legitimate need of Government for intelligence information and the protected rights of our citizens."

    In addition to the question of kingly annointings, it would be a good thing to ask why we are revisiting a question that has been answered.

    •  But then the Court let Truong stand (none)
      A case in which the 4th Circuit let Carter order an unwarranted "National Security" tap. It was only then that the FISA law was passed, hopefully placing limits on the "National Security" exemption to the 4th Amendment.

      A Senator YOU can afford
      $1 contributions only.
      Masel for Senate
      1214 E. Mifflin St.
      Madison, WI 53703

      by ben masel on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 12:20:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  One comment (none)
    you asked Jane Harmon:
    Would you or would you not vote for legislation offered that would allow the President to spy domestically without seeking a warrant from the FISA court? Would you vote for loosening any current restrictions that would make it easier for the President to spy on Americans domestically?

    But yet you responded to her reply in the following:

    However, I do have a problem with your last answer.

    Specifically it does not address the fact that the Bush Administration is asserting an Article II power that makes its actions on these questions beyond Congressional and judicial control.

    While I understand your concern, it seems that you are knocking the congresswoman for not addressing a question you never asked.

    Other than that, it is great that you educated her (or her staff) about the Article II threat.  I hope she takes your words to heart.

    For years, Republicans have stated that Government is incompetent. Now they are in charge, and proving it.

    by B Rubble on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:36:44 PM PST

    •  The question I pose (none)
      is central to the issue.

      What I don't like is ignoring the elephant in the room.

      Hence, my diary.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:17:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes it is central (none)
        but it appears (at least to me) that you ignored it also, at least in your initial letter to Harmon.

        Now to amplify on your thesis statement, this is the reason this "elephant" is so important.

        We have no rights, nor no restrictions until proven in court. We won't know if the Bush Administration can charge Article II of the constitution until it has been proven in a court of law, and upheld by the supreme court. Of course, that would take years.

        Unfortunately for the Bush administration, it has been already covered.  As RenaRF had noted
        http://www.dailykos.com/...


        On the judicial front, the Supreme Court first confronted the tension between unmonitored executive branch surveillance and civil liberties in United States v. U.S. District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972), in which the United States charged defendants with conspiracy to destroy government property. Defendants sought electronic surveillance information, held by the prosecution, that the CIA obtained during a potentially illegal wiretap, wanting to ascertain whether the government had relied on information in the indictment or the case for conviction and to suppress any tainted evidence at trial. The Attorney General admitted that a warrantless wiretap had intercepted conversations involving the defendants.

        Before the Supreme Court, the government defended its actions on the basis of the Constitution and the Title III national security disclaimer. The Court rejected the statutory argument, saying that "Congress . . . simply did not legislate with respect to national security surveillances." As for the constitutional argument, the Court accepted that the President had the power "to protect our Government against those who would subvert or overthrow it by unlawful means" and that this power justified electronic surveillance of would-be subversives.

        and then

        nvoking the "broader spirit" of the Fourth Amendment and "the convergence of First and Fourth Amendment values" in national security wiretapping cases, however, the Court was especially wary of possible abuses of the national security power. The Court then balanced "the duty of Government to protect the domestic security, and the potential danger posed by unreasonable surveillance to individual privacy and free expression," and found that waiving the Fourth Amendment probable cause requirement could lead the executive to "yield too readily to pressures to obtain incriminating evidence and overlook potential invasions of privacy and protected speech." Justice Powell wrote that the inconvenience to the government is "justified in a free society to protect constitutional values."

        The Court emphasized that this case involved only the domestic aspects of national security: "We . . . express no opinion as to, the issues which may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents." It invited Congress to act: "Given these potential distinctions between Title III criminal surveillances and those involving the domestic security, Congress may wish to consider protective standards for the latter which differ from those already prescribed for specified crimes in Title III. Different standards may be compatible with the Fourth Amendment if they are reasonable both in relation to the legitimate need of Government for intelligence information and the protected rights of our citizens."

        So in other words, what the administration is arguing is a moot point, having gone before the supremes in the 70s and them stating that congress can impose restrictions.  Congress did so, with the FISA.

        For years, Republicans have stated that Government is incompetent. Now they are in charge, and proving it.

        by B Rubble on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 09:31:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  hmmmm (none)
    I for one don't understand all the fawning and deferment. Why can't we respond as critically as to any other diarist? Why are we so starstruck in America?

    Further, I'm deeply trouble by her response quoted here. They were yes/no answers. Yet her no's we're qualified. Reminds me of Animal Farm just a little bit too much.

    While I'm at it, truth went out the window as soon as Dept of War was renamed to the DoD. We should just get it over with and rename it Ministry of Oil.

    Fixing Republican screw-ups: it's what Democrats have been doing for 100 years

    by SonofFunk on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:52:22 PM PST

  •  Excellent diary, Armando. Spot on-Important-Thanks (none)
  •  Commander in Chief (4.00)
    I do not often comment (for lack of time). But, I have to wonder, is there not another elephant in this room?

    The President is asserting this broad authority as Commander in Chief to order the NSA to conduct warrantless wiretaps. The NSA is not the military and the President simply cannot extend the privileges of Commander in Chief to non-military areas.

    He's not king, he's not Commander in Chief of Everything. According to the Constitution, he's "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militias of the several State, when called into actual service of the United States..."

    Extending that authority beyond the military absurd on its face.

    There are 10 types of people in the world--those who understand binary and those who don't.

    by DoLooper on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 04:58:41 PM PST

  •  I am disposed to be nice to people called Jane... (4.00)
    ... but Rep. Harman and I part ways here.

    I see a major issue with what Sen. Feingold observed. Compliance with the law isn't voluntary. If the President has a problem with the law he can seek amendment, litigate, or, you know, comply with it.

    Go to court, go to Congress, or go to jail. Pick.

  •  The routine, unless it is stopped by you Rep. (none)
    Congress has law. President goes around law. Claims Article II. Congress amends law to fit action of President. President finds new law to go around. Claims Article II. Congress amends law to fit action of President...

    The Republican Party: The Bridge to Nowhere

    by flounder on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:23:48 PM PST

  •  Good and useful (none)
    Good diary. Recommended. I enjoyed reading it.

    However, it really doesn't take such analysis to realize that Bush and the Republicans are simply over the line. Just a few years ago the Free Republic and Republicans were whining about how horrible FISA was for allowing searches WITH warrants. They were pissed that Clinton would use such powers and worried he was spying on people for the wrong reasons.

    And now, those same folks basically want to dump FISA because FISA is just too restrictive, because we should simply trust in the goodness of Bush and he should have unlimited powers. That's about all one needs to know.

    •  Dude (none)
      You're gonna ruin your rep as an Armando-hater by reco-ing this.

      Though calling my diary superfluous helps it I grant you  . . .

      Heh.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 05:59:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't hate you (none)
        (nor do I use the 3rd person to describe myself). I just don't suck up out of fear of getting your zero's, which you hand out like candy and in a very vindictive manner. I've given some of your post 4's.

        Anyone that says something I feel is reasonable and useful, I'll support. When a post is more about ridiculing someone than it is about substance, then I'll not support that.

        Nor did I even suggest your diary was superfluous. For some of us not so academically versed on these matters, I was just giving a different, simpler, take on the issue. It was a supporting post.

        :-)

        •  Hand out like candy? (none)
          Dude, you are off base.

          Check out my ratings history please.

          BTW, I was kidding with you, but maybe i should not have . . .

          The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:14:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK... (none)
            Well you asked for it:

            Here is an example of your ratings history:

            Heh [0.00], by wer54, Rated: 0
            btw [], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            yawn [], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            At least I agreed with the poster [], by Dems2004, Rated: 0
            Insults in your mind [], by Dems2004, Rated: 0
            Baffle them with Bullshit [2.00], by Dems2004, Rated: 0
            My Point is [2.33], by Dems2004, Rated: 0
            lololol [], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            lol [], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            Um, it's true... [2.00], by scorponic, Rated: 0
            I Don't Want to Fight This Issue [], by Dems2004, Rated: 0
            Guess I mistook.. [2.00], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            You pretty much lost all credibility [], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            Oh watch out [1.33], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            Time will tell [2.00], by chemsmith, Rated: 0
            So, you're saying I'm NOT a Class Act? [3.85], by Maryscott OConnor, Rated: 4
            Very persuasive retort. [], by p j s, Rated: 0
            I am not surrendering [], by p j s, Rated: 0
            I am with you [], by p j s, Rated: 0
            The point [], by p j s, Rated: 0
            In case you [2.00], by p j s, Rated: 0
            Asked & Answered [2.66], by Realist2004, Rated: 0
            awesome. [3.66], by Jordan LFW, Rated: 2
            aoeu [3.00], by TealVeal, Rated: 0
            So don't bother. [0.00], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            Foul! [0.08], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            Transcript... [0.22], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            Does Teddy think that if he asks the question [0.17], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            This is all moot. [0.18], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            I guess Teddy wasn't listening earlier. [0.08], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            It all comes down to this... [0.00], by vgy76, Rated: 0
            Thanks [4.00], by eafredel, Rated: 4
            longer form [4.00], by TheGryphon, Rated: 4
            DeWine is on now [], by Drdemocrat, Rated: 2
            Please Explain [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            So... [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            Gee, you obviously read my thread [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            If you don't care... [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            No I don't understand that. [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            Decorum [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            I was making a joke. [0.25], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            Read the post AGAIN [], by Drgrishka1, Rated: 0
            Well we'll see in 2 weeks won't we n/t [], by Drgrishka1, Rated: 0
            What? [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            As for how I feel about today [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            What? [0.25], by Drgrishka1, Rated: 0
            I am Frank [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            The gall? [0.00], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            This question is sexist [], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            This Won't Be Popular But [0.14], by Spider Stumbled, Rated: 0
            Good try but not so much [0.14], by Drgrishka1, Rated: 0
            I would say that Presidential power is more [], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            I thought that the complaint was [], by Drgrishka1, Rated: 1
            So stop reading it [], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            Did you even bother to read [], by Drgrishka1, Rated: 0
            Uh, what? [], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            And, of course [], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            You illustrate my point exactly [1.40], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            Great [2.00], by RequestedUsername, Rated: 0
            i just don't give a bleep [0.19], by winkler, Rated: 0

            If I count right, that is 54 0's you gave out in a span of 60 ratings. (And no I didn't fabricate this. It was about a month or so ago.)

        •  I checked my ratings for the last 3 months (none)
          I gave zeroes to 5 people. 3 were banned by autoban.

          I gave one each to two other members.

          You stingy with your candy or what?

          The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:21:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Harman was answering a statutory question... (none)
        Armando, Harman was answering a question about future legislation.  You elephant is a constitutional question.  I too would like to know Harman's opinion, if she has formed an opinion, about the President's constitutional authority to disregard the Fourth Amendment.  Maybe she'll return with an answer.
  •  In simple personal terms I would tell .... (none)
    Rep. Harman that doing nothing to actively stop this madness is dangerous!  

    I mean the chances are that doing nothing and not curbing the power in the White House will result in a benign ending are almost nil.  

    That being the case, and an elected official being in possession of that knowledge, their obligation it seems to me is to the entire populace (and themselves, it is called enlightened self interest.) which is in jeopardy.  

    Abuse of power and a destructive foreign policy are having dangerous consequences.  

    Mr. Bush and gang are like babies with boxes matches that they keep striking during the dry season.

  •  Doesn't this: (none)
    "To be Constitutional, any framework must meet the Fourth Amendment requirement of probable cause."

    take care of Constitutional Art. 2 concerns?  Of course, this assumes it isn't the DOJ, but an independent court, that determines if there is probable cause and what probable cause is.

  •  the thing that gets me is (none)
    If they have decided it's necessary to pass legislation exempting the program from FISA, this is a tacit admission that the program is, indeed, illegal. they wouldn't have to give it legal cover if it weren't.  

    since a bill is now deemed necessary to legalize the spying, it is incontrovertible that shrubya was breaking the law. The response to that should not be "oh...ok. well, let's just make that activity legal so it'll be ok." He broke the law and he needs to be held accountable for that before any decisions are made on revising said law.

    and said law should NOT be revised.  as rena said above, we've been here and settled this issue.  nixon proved that such power could be abused.  oversight from other branches of government is the only means we have to make sure such a program won't be abused again.  our democracy cannot stand for anything less.

    we need an investigation into this.  NOW.

    weather forecast

    The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Paine

    by Cedwyn on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:23:18 PM PST

  •  And she ignores the other elephant in the room: (none)
    Thanks. But you miss the key security issue. (none / 1)

    It's wonderful that you're contributing here and letting it be a true dialogue.

    Unfortunately, this long list avoids the causes of threats to US security and growing terrorism.  It's like a captain solving a ship's sinking crisis with proposals for 12 kinds of pumps and bailing teams, but no plans to plug holes.

    Your list doesn't mention the explicit reasons we've become a bigger target for terrorists, and why Madrid and London suffered attacks.  And it's not like today's headlines aren't full of answers.  If we avoid those questions and the obvious answers, we're implicitly on a 'they hate us for our freedom' bandwagon that only strengthens our enemies.

    Either locking up, killing, and torturing Muslims without charging them makes us safer, or it breeds terrorism.  Either the Iraq occupation is making us safer, or it breeds terrorism.  Your credibility on national security depends on whether your answers to those questions make sense.

    If your answers aren't reality-based, all the expensive safeguards you're proposing will be like sealing up some of the pinholes in a balloon.

  •  Rep. Harmon can answer any way she wants ... (none)
    ... but, as long as Republicans are in control of Congress, it doesn't mattter what she or Democrats think about executive power. The leaders of Congress are the only ones who can move on the question, ansd they don't seem inclined to do so. Harmon and the Democrats can only make this an election issue, which they should do.

    As for Harmon's original theme in her diary, that of helping Democrats refute the "weak on national security" perception by the public, let's wish her well. She's got her work cut out for her as long as the current Democratic leadership and spokespersons, all of whom are short a quart when it comes to credibility on national security and defense/military matters, keep making conflicting policy statements about Iraq and other national security matters.

    •  but of course (none)
      My point is that there is an election in 2006 and this is a winning issue for Dems.

      Not to mention the gawddam principle of the thing.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:19:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The principle is important ... (none)
        ... if we want to preserve freedom for individuals. If we are able to get a majority in a chamber of Congress, we should have full investigations. That should be a promise made by all Democrats up for election in 2006, to investigate the actions of the government with respect to its citizens and give a full report to the nation. Democrats must assure the public that, if we are given the chance to govern, we will make sure that all citizens are protected from both "them" (those outside our nation) and "us" (the government of our nation).
      •  Regarding elections (none)
        My biggest problem with Rep. Harmon's recent statemetns and actions is that by suggesting that this little constitutional crisis can be solved with a few new resolutions, does not help more dems get elected in 2006.  I appreciate what she said in her diary, and the fact that she posted it and engaged us with comments, but the Rep. Harmon I saw here at dkos, and the one on the Sunday shows, sometimes seem to be two different people.

        Yes, this is a Constitutional crisis, so why is she not acting like it is when it comes time to face the American public on tv news shows?  She never impressed me as a person who would try to play both sides, but something's just way off in her handling of this situation.  

        On Bush: "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." --(borrowed from) Churchill

        by joanneleon on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:52:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry to 'pimp" my diary (none)
          But I addressed this exact issue earlier today in my diary, which was an expansion of my comment to her diary:

          Open Letter to Rep. Jane Harman and Democratic Leaders. [w/POLL]

          My gist: stop enabling the Rove frame that at most, the wiretaps need to be tweaked to fit the law, but are otherwise working well and not violating civil liberties. They're not only seriously in violation of the law and constitution, but almost certainly both violating civil liberties AND not very effective or efficient in protecting national security. The program is a 3-time loser and needs to either be shut down or fundamentally changed to address its serious legal, civil liberty and security shortcomings.

          "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

          by kovie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:50:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a bit off topic (none)
    But I give Rep. Harman all of the credit in the world for remaining on the thread and engaging, even those who seemed to disagree with her.

    Maybe Deborah Howell a lesson or three...

    Chris Matthews must apologize! --- Join the Google Bomb

    by justmy2 on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:25:10 PM PST

  •  Thanks Armando (none)
    I too felt bad about the bashing we gave Rep. Harmon in the comments (I was one of the critics), but in a way I'm glad it was done.  I hope she got the messege and has a better realization of the critically important legal and constitutional issues related to the illegal and unconstitutional NSA program.  I don't fault her, I think it stems from too much time within the beltway and too much time in meetings with Republicans.
    •  She was very unimpressive on Sunday morning (none)
      ... with Russert.

      If I didn't know, I would have thought she was a Republican by the way she was talking.

      Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

      by Bob Johnson on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:18:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I commented and diared on her MTP appearance (none)
        earlier today:

        Open Letter to Rep. Jane Harman and Democratic Leaders. [w/POLL]

        I agree, she and Daschle were very unimpressive, totally feeding into the Rove frame that the wiretaps were absolutely essential and working just fine (i.e. not violating civil liberties and both effective and efficient in defending national security), and just needed to be tweaked a bit to conform it to FISA.

        I don't think this is what they necessarily believe or even meant, but that's how I and I'm sure many others like you heard it.

        I think the right frame is that we absolutely need wiretap programs, but ONLY ones that are in full compliance with FISA, the constitution and other applicable laws, with full congressional and judicial oversight, to assure that one, they don't violate civil liberties and eavesdrop on people who are not valid targets, two, that they are effective in finding and listening to actual terrorists and their accomplices, and three, that they are efficient and don'e needlessly waste valuable government resources.

        I.e. we need wiretap programs that do what they are supposed to do, do ONLY what they're supposed to do, and do it well--and of course are in full compliance with the law. Not sure I heard this from them, or from any Dems, really.

        What's wrong with these people? Don't they get it? And don't they get that they can actually WIN this framing war? Weak, very weak.

        (Btw, hope your mojo's doing well. I tried to help out last week.)

        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

        by kovie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:42:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't apologize (none)
      They need to hear this, are more than thick-skinned enough to take it, and the stakes are simply too great to worry about hurting anyone's feelings. And if they can't or won't take it, then all the more reason to find better people to represent us.

      "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

      by kovie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:44:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You lost me at 'skip this part' (none)
    Of course, I'm a literalist.

    Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

    by Bob Johnson on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:16:52 PM PST

  •  Thinking (none)
    out loud here...but it seems to me that is more serious than a "mere" constitutional crisis. After all, constitutional crises have come and gone, and the republic has survived. Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus during the civil war. Wilson censored and jailed pacifists in WWI. The supreme court condoned concentration camps for Japanese Americans in WWII. But those wars all had what we now call "exit strategies. Defeat the Confederacy--civil war over. Ditto Germany and Japan. But now we have a war on "Terror" But you cannot defeat "Terror" because terror is not an enemy. <i>Terror is a tactic employed by an enemy</i>. Terrorists come and terroist may go, but there will <i>always</i> be "Terror</i>. Any freedoms that we give up in the name of fighting terror will <i>never be restored</i>. <b>That</b> is the elephant in the room. And that is what, it seems, that most people don't get.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:31:47 PM PST

  •  Not to mention the obvious framing error (none)
    I posted a comment to Harman's diary which I then turned into a diary on what I believe is the serious framing mistake that she and other Democrats have been making about the NSA wiretap scandal, in addition to the very serious and important constitutional issues that they're not addressing adequately:

    Open Letter to Rep. Jane Harman and Democratic Leaders. [w/POLL]

    Specifically, I think they're making a mistake in saying that the wiretap program is absolutely necessary, and simply needs to be brought into compliance with FISA, the constitutional, and other laws. This implies that Bush is doing nothing wrong operationally, that the wiretap program is working fine, protecting Americans, and not violating civil liberties, and is simply not in technical compliance with the law.

    Wrong. There's a lot of evidence coming out that not only is the program almost certainly not protecting Americans' civil liberties, but that it is also hugely inefficient and ineffective, and probably isn't even protecting their national security. And on top of this, it is ALSO in violation of FISA and the constitution, in a very serious and egregious way that could have ominous consequences down the line, as Armando points out. It's basically a 3-time loser, and must either be shut down or fundamentally altered to bring it in line with the law, prevent it from violating civil liberties, and make sure that it protects national security properly. It appears to be doing none of these right now.

    That's the proper frame we should be adopting, not the weak and GOP talking point-enabling ones we're currently using: OF COURSE we should be wiretapping the phones of known and suspected terrorists and their known and suspected accomplices. But we should be doing it in FULL compliance with FISA and the constitution, with FULL congressional and judicial oversight, to MAKE SURE that it's both not violating civil liberties AND protecting national security in an effective and efficient manner.

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

    by kovie on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 08:33:29 PM PST

  •  Are Dems the 21st Century Redcoats? (none)
    Seriously, the analogy has stuck in my mind lately.

    When the British attempted to pursue King George's agenda in the American Colonies, the British troops were confronted with unconventional warfare tactics that literally kicked their ass and made them run away from the New World in defeat.

    When I listen to Congressional Dems complain and lament about GOP tactics and then line up in formation waiting to be slaughtered again, I have to think of thos British Redcoats that were so damned attached to tradition, decorum, formality, and an idea of warfare that they were literally sitting ducks for an agile, guerilla war fare style the colonists borrowed from the Native Americans.

    I hear all these complaints from Congressional Dems about how unfair, unethical, and unstatesmanlike the GOP has become, and I agree but one would think it would lead those same Dems to change their fucking strategy and fight smarter.

    Herein lies the rub.

    Sure they complain about the fascist tendencies and ruthless nature of Bushco and his GOP henchmen, but do they do anything different?

    Hell no.

    They refuse to challenge, adapt, or change their own strategy.

    What is going on in our country is political (not military, not armed) warfare in the sense that this GOP will not stop until they have destroyed any poltical opposition.And that means especially the democratic party.

    Dems in Congress need to wake up and fucking get it before it is too late to prevent their own destruction as a political party of influence.

    Or like those Redcoats, get left in a heap, humiliated and defeated, all because they were too damned attached to an outdated and overly formal approach to the problem.

  •  What I hope Harman and her colleagues (none)
    understand is that this is not an "issue" any more than Pearl Harbor was an "issue".

    The security of the people is under attack with all the visible mechanisms the Founders explicitly prohibited.

    The facts are not mitigated by spin. Using a "partisan brawl" camouflage, an organized kleptocracy is stripping of the republic from the consent of the governed.

    Do members of Congress appreciate how little latitude is left to stress our collective security before the union breaks into massive civil chaos?

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