Thursday, March 09, 2006

NYT: "G.O.P. Plan Would Allow Spying Without Warrants" (Shane and Kirkpatrick)

The plan by Senate Republicans to step up oversight of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program would also give legislative sanction for the first time to long-term eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant, legal experts said on Wednesday.
[. . .]
The Republican proposal would give Congressional approval to the eavesdropping program much as it was secretly authorized by Mr. Bush after the 2001 terrorist attacks, with limited notification to a handful of Congressional leaders. The N.S.A. would be permitted to intercept the international phone calls and e-mail messages of people in the United States if there was "probable cause to believe that one party to the communication is a member, affiliate, or working in support of a terrorist group or organization," according to a written summary of the proposal issued by its Republican sponsors. The finding of probable cause would not be reviewed by any court.

The above is from Scott Shane and David D. Kirkpatrick's "G.O.P. Plan Would Allow Spying Without Warrants" in this morning's New York Times and there are many points to make here; however, we're going to start on one sentence in the article, the last one quoted above:

The finding of probable cause would not be reviewed by any court.

Do we all get that? The White House and Republican lackeys are circumventing the courts. The FISA court is seen as a rubber stamp court, but it is a court. We're tossing judicial review out the window now. When Congress created FISA the reason for the creation was to allow the review. They, then, rightly grasped that there role was to make laws. Now they fancy themselves (unappointed) judges.

The general consensus is that 99% of all requests to FISA for warrants were granted. That wasn't good enough for this administration. And now you have a "solution" that totally strips away even the appearance of judicial review.

History lesson (Pat Roberts especially appears to need one): the executive branch enforces the laws, the legislative branch passes them and the judicial branch rules on them. That's getting tossed out the window. It's as though your local police department met with the city council to complain about those mean, slow judges, always deliberating about the laws, and the city council said, "Hey, we'll create our own little subcommittee of council members and you just come to us when you need a warrant."

Is it constitutional? Not with a real Supreme Court but then . . .

Republican Senators have decided that they're going to override judicial review on the Fourth Amendment.

Since Roberts and his ilk don't seem to grasp the Fourth Amendment, let's note it here:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


That's out the window under Roberts' plan. That's big news and worthy of much more than a sentence stating:

The finding of probable cause would not be reviewed by any court.

Gonzales' love slaves have their say in the article too:

But Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine and another sponsor of the proposal, said it did not preclude an investigation by the committee if the subcommittee found that one was called for.

Oh Miss Havisham, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to leave the grounds of Satis House where everything, including your sanity, crumbles? It doesn't preclude an investigation? Where's the promised investigation, by Roberts, of the intel in the lead up to the invasion/occupation? Aren't we all still waiting on that?

Someday Snowe may have her awakening, running through the halls of Congress screaming,
"I did not know what I had done. What have I done! What have I done!" Too bad for the nation that it's not two young lovers' fate at stake but that of the entire country.

Back to the love slaves in the article:

On Tuesday, Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska and another author of the proposal, called that notion "laughable." Mr. Hagel said he and Senators DeWine and Snowe were "three of the most independent Republicans" in the Senate and added, "I have never been accused of buckling to White House pressure."

Oh Chuck, tell it to Sibel Edmonds. Your "indpendence" on that issue meant nothing more than you said her charges seemed credible and then you dropped the ball, remember?

They're making a mockery of checks and balances, judicial oversight, the Bill of Rights and just about anything else you can toss out. And why? What did Gonzales say yesterday:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made clear Wednesday that the White House is not seeking congressional action to inscribe the National Security Agency's monitoring into U.S. law, even as members of Congress negotiate with the Bush administration about legislation.
Gonzales maintained the program is legal the way it is.

That's from Katherine Shrader's "Gonzales: NSA Program Doesn't Need a Law" (Associated Press). But the only "need" love slaves think of is their own need to prove their servitude. They've now done just that.

Martha notes Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus' "Ex-Justice Lawyer Rips Case for Spying:
White House's Legal Justifications Called Weak
" (Washington Post):

A former senior national security lawyer at the Justice Department is highly critical of some of the Bush administration's key legal justifications for warrantless spying, saying that many of the government's arguments are weak and unlikely to be endorsed by the courts, according to documents released yesterday.
David S. Kris, a former associate deputy attorney general who now works at Time Warner Inc., concludes that a National Security Agency domestic spying program is clearly covered by a 1978 law governing clandestine surveillance, according to a legal analysis and e-mails sent to current Justice officials.

Kris, who oversaw national security issues at Justice from 2000 until he left the department in 2003, also wrote that the Bush administration's contention that Congress had authorized the NSA program by approving the use of force against al-Qaeda was a "weak justification" unlikely to be supported by the courts.

Lucky for the White House, the love slaves of the Senate are willing to pass over the courts.

Democracy Now! is in London, remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts).

The e-mail address for this site is