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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief

 

better call the sledgehammer

my outrage at the president authorizing illegal, warrantless wiretaps on american citizens has grown steadily in the last few weeks as the administration has continued to defend the practice... i haven't said anything because i didn't want to start any arguments. i got pretty angry reading more details about the issue tonight...

both sides of the media have their angry tirades and their rationalizations. where critics (and the average thinking human being) thinks "isn't this outside of the president's authority?", the attorney general comes back with "it's within the powers granted by congress after 9/11". although most of congress seems to disagree with that statement. and apparently the FISA court that approves these warrants hates the president, and getting a warrant is really just a formality. but we hand out warrants for a reason. just because someone you report to disagrees with you doesn't mean you just dodge or ignore them! and now that they've ignored the pesky warrants to capture terrorists - we'll most likely have to let them go because the law was broken to capture them!

the balls on these people! i cannot believe that the administration expects the american people to believe in them when gross violations of trust - and the law - like this become more and more commonplace. after bush admitted that the intelligence that led to the war was faulty, my faith in the administration swelled for about a minute... but this... it's horrifying.

i probably sound like CNN yesterday, up in arms that maybe there's corruption in the government... but i'm not so shocked at the prospect that the government can spy on me while ignoring legal protections - i'm sure it's happened under dozens of adminstrations. i'm more shocked at their unapologetic tone and childish rationalization about the whole thing.

trust them, you say! they're only spying on you if you're talking with terrorists! well how do you know? you don't - you have to take their word for it, right?

well how could anyone possibly trust these people - take them at their word - ever again?

i don't want to sound like an extremist talking head pundit, straight off my own TV show... i know people could argue both sides of it til they collapse, twisting each other into emotional knots, and never get anywhere. i don't know. i feel like an average american here, frustrated by the biased sides of the media, disappointed, and wishing i could trust someone that was running the country.

 

for this post

 
Blogger B-Call Says:

I've said it once, and I'll say it again...
Christopher Walken '08!!!

 
 
Blogger MikeE Says:

Go ahead and spy on me ... I ain't got nothing to hide.

Granted I know that's not the point but I just wanted to point that out.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Oh please...this is not the first president to have spies spy on the American people. It's the Only president with the BALLS to admit it. I've never once seen this president "Dodge around" anything unless he himself didn't have the full facts OR because of security reasons he couldn't or just flat out integrity. Fact is if you look at the issues Bush has overcome and is handling in his presidency, I would say he's had more integrity then ANY president in the years past. News media and totally wack jobs who don't know all the facts who clam there is better people for the job yet lack in the area of debating with facts and lack in integrity themselves just need to accept it is what it is. Bush won the election because the American people trust him the most and frankly because of all the above. i'm sure my post will piss ya off Justin, but sorry I support Bush 110%

 
 
Blogger Simon Says:

What do you have to hide? If your're not doing anything stupid, then you have nothing to worry about.

And you think they're not monitoring you anyway?

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

that's physically impossible.
you can't do anything more than 100%. That's the limit, you can't top it. But that's besides the point...
Bush is a whackjob.

 
 
Blogger Bragg Says:

Okay, here's how I know Jeri's post was plagiarized...
1. It darts with cut and paste phrases,
2. It contained virtually no spelling errors,
and
3. It uses fairly correct grammar structures including punctuation (I say that because spell check doesn't fix grammar errors unless it's completely blatant and warranted).

I don't have a grudge Jeri, just trying to bring some humour into a potentially dangerous flamewar.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i see no danger in an open discussion.

that said... if i murdered someone and admitted to it, would you say i had integrity because i 'fessed up'? is that your definition of integrity - the leader of the most powerful country in the world who breaks the law and who is proud of it? that's unfortunate.

it shocks me that anyone believes that this chump is the best guy for the job. i'd rather have a president that didn't break the law, for starters. the problem isn't the media or the policitics... the probelm is that our country has set our standards ridiculously low.

and of course i have something to worry about if they're spying on me. the point is not "i'm not doing anything wrong", the point is mistrust. it's that these guys get things wrong sometimes. obviously we won't get perfection, but we should be able to trust that the government will uphold, not violate, our right to privacy. i know not everyone feels this way - but i'm a firm believer in that right.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

and good gravy, i can't believe i have to repeat this, but HE BROKE THE BLOODY LAW. he approved surveillance without warrants - warrants that are easy to get, even back-dateable. that's against the law. breaking the law is an impeachable offense. those are the facts. they are not in dispute.

i don't care if he's the most liberal dude in the world or the most staunch conservative. he broke the law. he instructed others to break the law. he got caught. when you get caught, you don't get a free pass because you're in the oval office.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Dude...Steve...I can write without misspelling. Actually I spell checked it in word then pasted it! So there. Haha

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Justin,

How do you think he broke the law? By spying on people? hate to tell you this but if you actually read up on homeland security, you would find he's not broken any laws as president.

Your comparison on Killing to just murder and our presidents "breaking the law" is flat out wrong. If anything Bush has SAVED lives. Including yours.

Fact is Bush again... has done everything for the first president ever by the book of law. Every decision both war and our country have been made like any other president with a back bone would have made it. Fact is everything you are basing your opinion on is media not the laws or the remembering the oath our president took to protect the US.

Finally, what about the role of president that he swore to protect this country no matter what. He didn't break the law he's doing all means he fells necessary to stop another 911. If that means spying on possible terrorist here in the US then SPY away!

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Steve:
No flame war here. We can debate like adults :o) It's nothing personal to Justin... we already knew we are completely opposite sides on this :o)

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

you seem to be spouting the same conservative babble that most of the right wing media outlets are. that's okay. i read the media too. i'm sure you didn't mean to say that your opinions aren't biased by the media, right? i'll assume you didn't.

anyway. yes, he broke the law. specifically US Code: Title 50: Chapter 36: Subchapter 1.. you can't engage in electronic surveillance unless you have a court order. the president told the NSA to do so without the court order.

the 'he was just protecting the country and its citizens' argument is pure semantics. let's say i see a puppy walking down the street. fifty feet ahead of it is an open sewer grate. i don't want to let the puppy fall into the sewer grate, so i shoot it in the head.

i've successfully protected the puppy from falling to its death!

no, i've just substituted one danger for another. maybe the puppy wouldn't have walked into the grate. either way the ends do not justify the means. now, instead of me being scared of terrorists, i'm scared of terrorists and my own government.

how much do we let the government do in the name of 'protecting' us? how many corrupt leaders in the history of the world robbed its citizens of their rights, one by one, in the guise of protection?

i feel like i'm on slashdot with this ben frankling quote, it's so overused, but it's still so true: "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

privacy is a piece of essential liberty. now that the government can spy on my communications at will with no oversight, what's next? what's the next thing we give up?

the worst part about all this is, the president could have told the NSA "get the court orders like you are supposed to". but he didn't. it's a simple, publicly documented process, and he told them to skip it. why? is it an arrogance thing? incompetence?

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

and do we have to assume that our leaders can't protect us while staying within the realm of the law? does the fault there lie with our laws, or with our leaders?

personally i'm a fan of judicial review and that warrants are required for law enforcement officers to be able to do things that would normally violate our civil rights. i'm glad no one gets to just walk into my house and go through my stuff whenever they want. but hey, if the government decides it's necessary to do so without review, i guess they're just protecting us, right?

 
 
Blogger ryanham Says:

Just had a long phone conversation with Jeri (since I'm at work) and it ended in a stalemate. I made many of the same points you just made Justin, but to no avail. I personally would like to see something in any law that proves the President operated in the best interest of the country with in the bounds of the office.

To quote the "oath" that Jeri so highly regards as "Presidential Law":

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

That's right, the "Constitution" of the United States. You know, that document we use to make sure we're actually doing things the way we should be? It says nothing in there about protecting the American people by any means necessary.

Show me where he has the right to do this, and I'll lay down my side of the debate. Until then, read the Constitution and educate yourself on how the government is ACTUALLY supposed to work.

 
 
Blogger ryanham Says:

Oh, by the way, the constitution can be found here.

 
 
Blogger Simon Says:

PENIS!!!

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Let's just agree to disagree on this:o) I could go on, but we obviously think compleatly diff on this. My only challege to you is visit a vet hospitol and tell me if you fee the same after talking with a legless war hero.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

fee=feel

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

Justin,
I'm glad to know that both you and I have done the same thing to a puppy.
Now I can sleep.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

Jeri - wow, again, i'm going to assume you didn't mean to imply that i'm a careless guy who doesn't like veterans and doesn't think about their service to our country. my dad was in the service. plenty of my family and friends are vets. i have friends over fighting the misguided war. i must not understand what they're fighting for, right?

and i assume you're saying that it's okay to break the law as long as you have some injured veterans to visit in the hospital?

i'll already tell you how i feel after talking to vets - pity. for these brave people that sacrifice time and money and family and their own lives for a government that, in turn, will break its own laws and dishonor the freedom they fought for. fortunately the idea of the united states of america is stronger than the corrupt criminals that currently occupy their top offices.

i feel enormous pride that my dad was a marine. i hope he fought for something a little more than a president that'd wantonly break the law and threaten his civil rights.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

I didn't say you were heartless Justin. I'm just saying I would rather have my civil rights messed with then have another 911 that our presedent will be critisized for not doing everything possible to prevent.

I come from a military family and will always feel this way.

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

Call me selfish, but I'd take 9/11 anyday over civil rights infringements. Seriously, civil rights is pretty much the foundation of this country. Why did the pilgrims come here? Civil Rights. Why did all the European imigrants com here in the 19th and 20th centuries? Civil Rights. Why did the blacks come here? Oh wait, they were forced to come here. Sorry.
There are few things that come ahead of national security, and I know that one of them is civil rights. The other is Chipotle.
And don't worry Justin, I'll say it, "You're heartless!!! Look at what you did to that poor puppy."
Trust me, you don't want to give up your civil rights at all, for anyone, or anything. EVER.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i'll edit that for you, brian:

"Call me selfish, but I'd take a potential 9/11 anyday over a certain civil rights infringement."

we can hide plenty of evil behavior behind the motive that "terrorists might attack us someday." but i want you to tell me when that statement won't be true.

kill the puppies!

 
 
Blogger MikeE Says:

24th post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
 
Blogger sword fighter Says:

jw,
although i do support bush, i agree with you that he does not have the right to tap lines. presidents after bush need to find the line b/w preserving civil liberties but maintaining security. in bush's defense, we have prevented another 9/11 from happening, and he should get some credit for that. on the good side, we have progressed greatly since world war 2. after the japanese bombed pearl harbor, fdr interned jap-americans in camps and then sold their homes while they were gone. yeah for progress!
on another note, i disagree with callahans comment over civil liberties. i would much rather have someone check my luggage and make me walk through a metal detector than to run a higher risk of my plane blowing up. i like my body staying in one piece, thats what i prefer.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i don't know... do you really feel more of a sense of security now because of the steps the government is taking? screw feelings - are we more secure? are we less likely to suffer another terrorist attack because the government has broken the law and spied on more people? or are our defenses just as low as they were five years ago? can a terrorist still fly to canada, take a boat across Erie to ohio, take a bus to western hills, park outside of my apartment and detonate a suitcase nuke? i've seen the so-called 'border security' up there - it's a guy sitting in front of a webcam in new york hoping terrorists will be kind enough to stop by the little booth on the island and register themselves.

i don't think we're any safer. i don't think we will be, and it's something we need to get used to. this false sense of security that the government has tried to pass off is simply a facade.

look at other countries that are frequent terror victims - countries who have far fewer civil liberties that than US and more government intrusion - are they any safer?

i have no problem defending the nation against terrorists. but you're right, ian, it needs to be done legally. if we stop obeying the law, what does that make us?

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

no, I meant that exactly as i posted it. I'll take 9/11 over ANY civil rights infringement.
why are people dying in American wars? To protect those dang civil rights.

 
 
Blogger sword fighter Says:

i think we are safer than 5 years ago, i dont think its the government trying to fool us. for some reason everyone thinks you can change everything overnight. of course our borders are still weak, but we will keep working at securing them, rome wasnt built in a day. we are learning where we are weak in our nation and we are changing that.
brian, i guess we just wont agree on this, and thats fine. americans fought to protect our freedom, but that includes our freedom from being afraid of others. how do we protect that freedom, well we have to take some of it away. and you would prefer another 9/11 instead of a breach of "any civil rights infrigement"? im not trying to sound mean (please believe me, i just wondered about your response to this), but would you feel the same if your family was on that plane?

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

"freedom from being afraid of others" is a good point. is there a tradeoff there? is safety from attack a freedom? it's definitely a part of having to provide for the common defense.

i feel like it doesn't have to be mutually exclusive - less of one for more of the other. we can have both without losing any of either. it just takes a group of people more creative than the ones we have in office.

honestly though (unpopular idea time) - americans are completely delusional if they think we live in a world where it's possible to be secure or less vulnerable to attack. we live in a dangerous, broken world. the rest of the planet has come to grips with that idea. we've just been told for the longest time that we'll never be like those other countries where they have the suicide bombers.

i agree with ian - we're not secure, we're heading in that destination... but my original point was this - does going there require breaking the law? are our standards so low that we're okay with that?

and i don't agree with the idea that we will ever be as secure as we want to be. we won't get rid of all the terrorists, or make every corner of the world think america is cool, or convert every country to the religion of democracy... i guess i feel like we need more realism now and less blind optimism.

i'm not saying anyone here is a blind optimist - this is more just the message i hear from the administration time and time again, and it's frustrating.

this thread has been awesome. i'm not ending it here.. i wanted to say thanks to everyone for making it so interesting.

 
 
Blogger Davie Says:

I don't think I'd use the Pilgrims as a good basis for maintaining civil rights in this country, as they were pretty much set on pursuing only their own freedoms, and screwing anyone else (sorry, that's just the history major coming out in me).

That being said, yes, this country was founded heavily upon the idea creating and preserving civil liberties, and I would argue that should be the chief priority of any president. Therefore, I'm not real keen on the idea of the government wiretapping without authorization.

While I am a person who doesn't automatically assume the worst about our government, I know enough about history (and read enough books like 1984) to know that this is not a good road to start down on. I don't doubt that the Bush administration undertook this with the purpose of defending our country against terrorists. However, it's not a precident I want set for some other leader down the road.

I think that anyone who denies that we are more safe now than we were pre-9/11 is much to cynical and/or expects too much too fast from our government. As someone already pointed out, these things take time.

Plus, this process is largely going to be trial and error. Our nation has never faced anything like this before, so there will be no instant solution. There will be successes, and there will be mistakes and failures. It's important to keep this in perspective when things like this happen. It's easy to call Bush a moron when he has to tread all this new ground.

Oh, and I do hope everyone was equally outraged when President Clinton committed perjury, since we're all outraged about Bush breaking the law.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

indeed. i thought clinton should have been booted out of office for lying under oath then, and i think bush should be booted out of office for violating the foreign intelligence surveillance act now. i don't think bush is a moron, i.e. incompetent, as much as i think he's arrogant and clueless and a criminal.

i want to be clear - are you saying that we shouldn't take our rights seriously because the pilgrims were selfish?

i want to make one other point: it's very possible that i have an overly idealistic view of what a trustworthy, positive, competent government could look like because i've been watching the west wing near nonstop for a straight calendar year. maybe it can't be as good as TV writers can dream up? but i wonder if there are minds in this country that could do a better job, noble and honorable and intelligent and compassionate men that could do the jobs these criminals are doing.

i've been waiting for you and robby to chime in, dave :)

 
 
Blogger Davie Says:

No, I was just nit-picking about the Pilgrims because someone else brought them up earlier.

I tried to make it clear in the next paragraph that I do agree that civil rights and liberties are extremely important (arguably the essence of what defines America) and should be held as more important than probably anything else. Which is why I don't agree with the wire tapping without authorization.

I've been biding my time. If/when Rob finally speaks up, you know it'll be something very civil, mature, and insightful ("you're all stupid!", etc).

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

and undoubtably related to the san francisco 49'ers.

much love rob :)

 
 
Blogger Rob Says:

wow dave, why dont you get off your high pedestool of thinking your the all-seeing God of politics, because you're not.

i'm not going to comment about politics. i think its funny to see justin go from refusing to comment to going on tirades every other post. i just dont want any part of it. i dont see a point, its not like what i think its going to change anyone else's mind and its not like what others think is going to change my mind.

and the niners are rebuilding! a two game winning streak going into the offseason??? that shows the heart of the team to never give up :-)

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i did flip flop there. it dawned on me that, while i doubt my opinions will radically shift from a blog conversation, maybe i'll see other angles that others bring up. which i did. it was, at least to me, a valuable discussion.

 
 
Blogger Rob Says:

i apologize to dave for the outburst.

its been a long day.

and i see what you're saying, justin. i guess i just had a different experience then you did.

*snickers* you said flip flop *snickers*

/sorry

 
 
Blogger Davie Says:

that's why I love my robby. :D

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

I would like to shake sword fighters hand!

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

not after he's done swordfighting you wouldn't

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Ryan just told me what that meant..YUCK

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

ahahahahhaa

best. thread. ever.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Ryan said i should challence him to a dool

 
 
Blogger scott d Says:

Man... my eyes are tired after this... I saw "38 comments" and didn't imagine most would be multiple paragraphs...

Where's Mike Brown when you need him? Surely he'd have something to say about this...

Part of me says "Go ahead, spy all you want, I've got nothing to hide..." while the other part of me is thinking Bush has set a very dangerous <1984>-like precedent... Personally, I trust Bush (although I find him far from perfect and increasingly frustrating) and think his intentions are only the best, but the precedent is now there for some future Commy to use these same powers for evil.

 
 
Blogger scott d Says:

anybody wanna swordfight?

Dang, Ian, I miss the days when I would uncomfortably run away from your offers...

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

teach toby to swordfight! bring that boy up right!

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Sick ...well we are off to Boise boys. stay tuned

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

forget what the pilgrims DID, just understand WHY they came here. that's all we need to know.
i just find it funny that with the right hand, Bush sends men to die in Iraq for the American Way (civil rights) and with the left hand, he's willing to take them away.

 
 
Blogger Rob Says:

its so easy to say that when they dont report on how many attacks have been prevented. and i dont see why that's "funny".

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

i'm sure that attacks are indeed being prevented everyday and perhaps someday the people of Iraq will be able to enjoy the same civil liberties that you and i enjoy daily.
and its funny because we're getting so worked up over a politician being two faced. what do we really expect after what has been going on in DC since '72 and earlier?

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

the answer is obvious... they're taking our civil liberties and exporting them to iraq! they get more and we get less! it's a business transaction, y'all.

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

iraqi's always get more action.

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

I think your hatred for Bush goes much deeper than this surveylance stuff. Even if the government had a warrent to search you and you're belongings...would you be happy with this. All the government has to do to get a warrent is to say that they believe this person could be a threat to national security and that's it. So then they've got a warrent. Now they're coming to search you up and down. What the heck difference did that make? None...It wasted time. But that's about it. But back to my original point...You're hatred for Bush goes deeper than this issue. As a matter of fact...your hatred of Bush is the issue. You and most other libs are blinded by hate for a man who has a backbone of steel. I mean...can you tell me that you weren't whining about every other decision or statement he made before this? What I don't understand is...why don't you just move to some island with all your Euro-minded friends and leave the rest of us alone with your anti-Bush propaganda? Heck...you could even make John Kerry your president!!! Maybe you'd feel "safer" there!

 
 
Blogger Davie Says:

ah yes, blind hatred for people of different partisan viewpoints. the very reason i no longer want to consider myself as "conservative" and definitely not "republican". nothing like two opposing political parties (which aren't even very far apart on the broad political spectrum) hating each other regardless of the actions taken by the other party. in fact, that pretty much sums up everything wrong with american politics today. thanks, champ.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

of course a right-wing psycho would lash out and confuse 'mistrust' with 'hate'. that's what they do. par for the course.

i don't hate bush. i don't trust him, i think he's arrogant and a criminal, but i don't hate him. if that's too difficult of a distinction for you... that's fine.

are you confused about the purpose of a warrant? here's a definition. it's not just step two in a process, a useless piece of paper you have to get. its purpose is review by a third party that could stop, say, criminal action by a governing authority.

naturally someone who would want to violate the law would want to skip that process, though, so they could, you know, break the law easier and without any restraint.

one more thing i don't get - do you understand the democratic process? the concept of more than one idea? not a very common view among the right, i understand, so i'll explain it. the idea behind our country is that more than one view exists. hence multiple parties. not everyone agrees with you, but that really doesn't mean that everyone that disagrees should ship off to their own island. discussion, dissent, debate - these things make us better, not worse. i'm sure you'd enjoy if every person that didn't worship Bush left the country so you could return to a police state, but as an American citizen i have a bit of a problem with that idea, and as a part of a democratic republic i hope to continue to try to choose a representative that shares my views and goals.

 
 
Blogger Rob Says:

the democratic process? the concept of more than one idea? that's not a very common view among the left, if you ask me.

everytime a bill comes up or some type of legislation comes up, what do democrats do? they threaten to filibuster it. nevermind that they're the minority, and they became the minority because americans, people like you and me, voted them in there.

but for democrats, that's not acceptable. if something can't go their way, they fold their arms and sit on the ground and refuse to budge like a three year old in the grocery store when he doesn't get his way.

 
 
Blogger Davie Says:

So to sum it up, both the left and the right are way too partisan, which is why american politics are dumb, and our system won't change.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

the worst part is that the system currently manifested assumes there are two points of view - the left and the right. i wish a third party was feasible, but dave's right, it won't happen in our lifetime.

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

No I beleive very firmly in multiple points of view. Just not when a point of view is disguised as an "honest opinion" when it is really nothing but hatred for the leader they are under. And you're right...hatred and mistrust are very difficult to distinguish when libs happen to disagree with absolutely everything that conservatives say and resort to filibustering because they can't win at the ballot box. I think that if more libs out there had their own brain, and didn't spout out the same crap as every other lib...you could have three partys: Republicans, Democrats, and the "I hate Republicans" party. Yes...I understand the Democratic process. I just don't think that our forefathers realized that 21st century politics would not be based off of conservative and liberal view points...rather, conservative verses "I hate Bush"

 
 
Blogger ryanham Says:

The minority will always filibuster the bills that have differing viewpoints then theirs because they CAN. The record for the longest filibuster ever was recorded by Strom Thurmond...a Republican. Either party can do this tactic, and many will.

Ben, let me say this: I'm neither Republican nor Democrat..I vote for whomever I feel will do the best job possible. My wife is a staunch republican (jeri) and will stand by her party until she's blue in the face. I will not, nor can I say that "I hate Bush" or Republicans for that matter, but if someone breaks the law, by all means punish them accordingly (i.e.: I agree with the impeachments of both Nixon (republican) and Jackson (democrat)). I think Bush should be punished if he did in fact break the law. I do believe our forefathers knew that leaders will try to outstep their bounds, and that's why they created the Judicial system in the first place.

Checks and Balances are the key, and they have been working (mostly) for the past 200 years. Let them.

 
 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Report Rebuts Bush on Spying

Domestic Action's Legality Challenged

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 7, 2006; Page A01

A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.

The rest of the article can be found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/06/AR2006010601772.html?sub=AR

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

ben - i'm sure some people hate bush. i'm sure you've encountered them. i'm sure that plenty of democrats really do hate bush, and hide it behind vehement arguments against his policies and his character.

i'm not one of them. i don't hate the guy. i'm sorry you're getting that twisted. but you need to stop accusing me of that. it seems that most of what you've posted is that my not trusting bush is actually cleverly disguised hatred for the guy. if that's all you've got, and you don't have anything of substance to add to the conversation besides that, stop posting here.

 
 
Blogger sword fighter Says:

justin does not hate bush, i dont think justin hates anyone or anything (except maybe michigan football). i support bush, but it is good for our country when people have different views. what bush did was illegal, i dont think he should be removed from office, but its illegal. i think its crazy how people blindly defend their political party when someone from the party screws up. i'm all about loyality (i have been a die hard bengal fan for the past 15 years of darkness, who freakin dey), but when someone messes up, they need to be held accountable to that.
not that this really matters, but strom was actually a democrat when he set the record for the longest filibuster in 1957. he switched to a republican in 1964.
carson, throw it to chad!

 
 
Blogger sword fighter Says:

justin does not hate bush, i dont think justin hates anyone or anything (except maybe michigan football). i support bush, but it is good for our country when people have different views. what bush did was illegal, i dont think he should be removed from office, but its illegal. i think its crazy how people blindly defend their political party when someone from the party screws up. i'm all about loyality (i have been a die hard bengal fan for the past 15 years of darkness, who freakin dey), but when someone messes up, they need to be held accountable to that.
not that this really matters, but strom was actually a democrat when he set the record for the longest filibuster in 1957. he switched to a republican in 1964.
carson, throw it to chad!

 
 
Blogger sword fighter Says:

sorry that i published the same thing twice. i seriously think that after teaching for only two and a half years i have developed adult a.d.d. my bad

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i'll publish you twice

what?

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

GO BEN!!!!!!!!!!!!I swear I'm realted to your family!

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Related..opps

 
 
Anonymous ben Says:

I'm sorry for accusing you. Maybe you don't hate Bush. Your stating with absolute confidence that he is a criminal bothers me. The democratic party has literally accused nearly every member of the Presidents cabinet to be corrupt and demanded that they all step down. Rest assured...if Bush has any REAL skeletons in his closet...your people will find them. The problem is...democrats have gone to sad lengths to try to prove that he is corrupt. I mean...forging documents involving his experience in the military. I think I have reason to beleive that people hate him so much that they are willing to plant skeletons in his closet without ever finding anything real or concrete. At any rate...something of substance. Presidents, Republican and Democrat alike have used methods many would say were "illegal" throughout the history of US conflict. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the Civil War...FDR ordered Japanese Americans to be put into camps. He also allowed the FBI to wiretap broadly. I already know that you think that individuals rights are more important than national security, but I think you're wrong. President Bush was acting on the power he believed was given him by article 2 of the constitution and also by "a post 9-11 congressional resolution" (Newsweek). The resolution was an express grant by Congress of authority to the President to maximise power that could be used. Newsweek described it as "all kinds of power to seek out, detain and kill terrorists". Specifically what this resolution says...I don't know. But the administrations lawyers are confident that no law has been broken. By the way. I don't think that this eavesdropping program is exactly what you think it is. The NSA calls it a "special collection program". It is a computer that searches for specific key words in conversations...Not a human listening in on private conversations. When the computer hears any of these key words...an alarm is set off, and that is where human eavesdropping begins. Anyways...I've gotta end here for tonight. Look foward to your response.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i would agree that many government officials over the years have broken the law in the guise of protecting american citizens - presidents, heads of intelligence agencies, etc... and i don't think that any of them were right in doing so, either. based on what i've read, bush broke the law, and that makes him a criminal. when i go over the speed limit, i break the law, and that makes me a criminal too. maybe lincoln and roosevelt are criminals too. the whole original point is that (1) the bypass of the FISA court was unnecessary and (2) the administration's staunch defense of their criminal actions was disheartening.

when echelon (the NSA's global electronic surveillance network you're speaking of) was uncovered in the late 90's and i first read about it - i was freaked out in the same way. and this was under president clinton. which really reinforces the point that any president, democrat or republican, is capable of this.

what it comes down to, though - i think we're simply of a different mind on this - some see a 'whatever-it-takes' approach in defending the nation, and some feel that if we break our own laws and trample on the freedoms we're trying to preserve, we've completely lost touch. but that's okay - again, that's what is beautiful about our country, we're allowed to have different views :)

i'm sure i sound like a democrat, hence the 'your people' comment, but please know that i don't vote on a party line. i've voted for democrats and republicans in my time. i voted for bush in 2000 because i felt he represented me better than gore... and i voted for kerry in '04 because i no longer trusted bush. i dont likethe concept of voting party line for every candidate in every race. i don't think i'd be fairly considering all the options if i did.

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

My question to you would be...have you followed up on the post 9-11 congressional act granting bush more power than in times of peace? Congress is granted the power to re-write laws based on the trials of our time. My other question to you is, do you feel any better about this knowing that first a computer is looking for key words and then if these words are spoken...a human intervenes? If it doesn't...how do you feel about custums at the airport? My beleif is that our country has the right to know at all times...what comes into our borders. I don't think that foreigners have the same rights under our constitution especially when they are plotting against us. On top of all this, I feel like you've made some unfair assumptions about me as well. I'm not a sucker for George Bush/Republican politics. I don't vote by a party line either. Beleive me. I have been very vocal about issues that I firmly disagree with Bush and other republicans on. Such as out of control spending, border securety, etc. But over all, I beleive he is a man that does what he feels is right. Over all I think he makes good decisions. I guess I feel outraged when people call him things like a "criminal" because no one has proven that he didn't have the power to do what he did. Also because I see eye to eye with him about most issues. Especially those of social issues. I don't understand how people who proclaim they love Jesus, can vote for people like John Kerry who will fight ferociously to make abortion a safe guarded practice. Please, don't think I'm eluding that you don't love Jesus. That's the last thing in the world that I want you to hear. I just don't get it. I happen to agree with Bush on issues like the war, and taxes, and other conservitively minded principles. But I think that putting a man into power who will do everything he can do within the powers granted to him to abolish the slaughter of innocent babies is my biggest issue. I could not vote for Rudy J. Anyways...I know this is completely off the topic. I guess I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

no that makes sense - you're right, i did assume that you were a right-wing lunatic and that wasn't fair of me, i don't know you at all. my apologies for that - it wasn't cool.

personally i voted for kerry as the lesser of two evils. i shivered at the prospect of either of them as president. but i had four years of watching bush and my impression after that was that i couldn't trust him. that was just my personal vibe after watching his press conferences, hearing his policies and how his administration operated. seemed like kerry would do less damage.

that was a little off topic. so to get back on: so far everything i've seen on the subject: interviews with attorney general gonzales and the president, the FISA law in question, the constitution, and the preliminary congressional report - it seems like the law was broken. since the president has been on TV claiming responsibility, it seems to have come from him... hence the 'criminal' label. i know the connotations are harsh... i'm not saying he's evil. just that the law was broken, and i thought that the skipping of the warrants was a pretty despicable act.

after this incident, quite a few members of congress have gone on record saying that their mandate to allow the president to use force in fighting terrorism wasn't intended to allow this type of surveillance.

and i agree, we should have an idea of the material and information passing through our borders - but not at the expense of extreme violations of our civil liberties.

i understand that when i get on a plane, security will go through my stuff. i'm cool with the TSA opening my laptop - although i've seen firsthand how these officials botch their searches, giving me even less faith in the accuracy of the government's spy program. however, if, while my laptop was open, the TSA people pulled up my email and read it to their TSA buddies because i had the word "bomb" in it, i would certainly have an issue with it.

 
 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Resist the temptation to allow this thread to become about abortion...Keep it on topic, please. Some of us enjoy an articulate argument.

However, it is hard to take people seriously who don't know the grammar rule "i before e except after c."

Thank you,

Anon

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

Dear "Anonymous",
I think your comment about grammer did more than anything I could have said to cheapen the conversation. It was a cheap attack, to try to discredit me. Way to represent yourself well...whoever the heck you are. Not that I feel I need to justify myself...but my comments about abortion were more on a heart to heart level with Justin...not open conversation. I made the comment after reading his profiles. If you want to keep on topic, please do. But don't look for cheap ways to try and shut me up.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

yeah, agreed. cheap shots are unnecessary. that's not cool.

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

By the way Justin,

Apologies accepted. I will say one thing about the civil liberties that does make me a little nervous. The precident set could be not so good in the hands of someone truely corrupt. But again...American civilian or not...Anything comming in and out of our country we should know about it. I think that this computer program is not stepping on peoples liberties. It merely pulls out key words. There are no humans listening in on the conversations. I believe that every war is different...and that different strategies must be used in fighting each war. Terrorists do not fight conventional wars. We don't always meet them on some battle field. They don't have press conferences to declare war. They hide in shadows. They use our own phone lines to plot against us. For goodness sakes, they use our own aircraft against us. The only way to catch a terrorist is to find out where he's hiding. Sadly enough, that makes this war different than any other war in our history.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

And that ladies and gents is how to debate :o) For those of you who don't know, Ben is the brother of my best friend Rachel :o)

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

agreed - this is a very different conflict that requires creativity and imagination... makes it sound like an episode of sesame street :)... but you're right - we do need to use unconventional methods. i also think we need to avoid breaking our own laws and unnecessarily stepping on our citizen's civil liberties.

i'm not sure we can say with certainty which methods the NSA is using to spy on us. echelon is indeed filtered by software algorithms, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the NSA isn't using any other methods that they aren't disclosing. the fact that they had to go through the court system and obtain a warrant after review from a third party was our safeguard that it wasn't being used improperly or inappropriately. we just don't know - that's the problem.

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

I agree...we don't know. But don't you think that this makes your arguement that a crime has occured...a little shady even?

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i don't think so, personally... the question is not what methods the NSA is using to spy on americans. the criminal act in question is, was bush's telling the NSA to skip the FISA court's warrants before conducting surveillance on american citizens illegal? seems like from reading the law in question, the constitution, the analysis, etc.. that it is.

 
 
Anonymous Ben Says:

And if it is??? Do you think the law needs to be changed. Here's my thing. I don't think that it is Bush who has trampled our civil liberties. Islamic terrorists are the ones to blame for that. Our phone lines are a loop hole. I was wrong on something I said earlier in this debate. First of all...the computer listening for key words does not require a warrent. It is after the computer hears these "key words" that the NSA is required to get the warrent to allow humans to tap the phone line. Here's the problem. I heard a former FISA employee on the radio today. He said that the application for the warrent is extremely difficult to get, and is an extremely slow process. At any-rate...it comes down to this. The administration beleives firmly that president Bush did not step over his bounds granted by the constitution. Obviously, you and I have no control over the outcome of the investigation. If I have beaten a dead horse on this, I'm sorry. After this entry, I'm done with this debate. It's been good!

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

stay tuned, i'll be declaring a winner to this debate soon...

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

indeed it has - ben, thanks for your honesty and all your viewpoints. and everyone else who made it interesting too.

i'll cap it off with this: whether or not the law needs to be changed is irrelevant right now. no one in the administration feels he broke the law, but it seems that the congressional committee believes otherwise, and a non-legal mind reviewing the material at hand (me) is also of the same opinion.

maybe you're right - maybe the law should be changed to make getting warrants easier if we're losing contact with potential terrorists due to the process being a pain. but until that happens, the president has to act within the scope of the law, or (1) he risks allowing the terrorists he caught because he broke the law going free and (2) in this case, he damages the civil liberties of every american citizen - the same liberties we're fighting to maintain.

whether or not he actually, decisively, broke the law is up to the congressional committee. but we have got to work within the scope of our own law or risk becoming imperial, and who knows where we'll be after that? in a hundred years, could we be an american empire that does what it wants with no regard for its own law or consequenses when dealing with the rest of the world? will our kids be safe from foreign terrorists, but threatened by domestic opression? is that totally overblowing the situation?

anyway. thanks, that was hugely cool.

 
 
Blogger leslierich Says:

I just want some accountability...is that too much to ask? I also wish we could stick to the prime issue that Justin brought up instead of trying to make claims like, "If you don't support Bush, you don't support the troops" or "If you don't vote Republican, you are a bada Christian".

Props to Justin for having the guts to bring up a topic like this!

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

leslie rich! please tell me you're blogging. i see your site but nothing up yet. fire it up!

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

Fact is we all have our opinions and frankly none of us will ever change our view. I know I've thought the way I have about politics to the point of understanding to know that you can't try and change someones mind who admits they hate athority to begining... I love Justin ....he's a great guy even though his politics are screwy (in my eyes) I love Ben because he's also a great guy. So let's move on people :o)

 
 
Blogger scott d Says:

Jesus was not a white/middle-class/suburban/Republican. Both parties are corrupt.

 
 
Blogger scott d Says:

At this point, I'm only posting here because I want to see if Y2K-type things happen when a post gets to 100 comments. Will there be fireworks? Will Justin's blog spontaneously combust? Will it show up as '00' comments? These are things I want to know. Please people, keep bickering so that I can find out.

 
 
Blogger Jeri Says:

I'm white/middle-class/suburban/Republican. Agree both parties have their issues. I will give ya that one...but we all have our issues right.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

scotty - i'm sure comment spammers will come along eventually and kick it over the limit :)

 
 
Blogger scott d Says:

Jeri, that's exactly what is driving me nuts when I hear those to the far right babble... it's that arrogant "I'm absolutely right and you're absolutely wrong, and I'm better than you because I'm right" attitude that makes dialogue so difficult. Instead of being able to talk about this stuff, comments like that just fill people with anger.

I was born and bred into GOP family, and now listening to people of my 'own' party has me questioning what I believe. Do I come across like an ass anytime politics is mentioned? Do I frustrate people with my tone?

And don't anybody say that Jesus would be a Republican if he were walking on US soil today, cause the last time I checked, Jesus wasn't enamoured with the proud and he didn't so much care for corruption. And I see as much of that amongst the elephants as I see amongst the donkeys. Christianity is not about party lines.

 
 
Blogger scott d Says:

and while I'm at it, consider this comment #91. Yeah.

 
 
Blogger The Barber Says:

I just wanted to post a comment on this mess. Politics is a dangerous topic and everything I beleive is right and everyone else is wrong. Kidding. The more education I receive the more I realize no one has a clue on this topic. Those who do are an elite and esoteric group that know that most politicians mean well and want what is best. All ya and I hate President Bush(kidding).

 

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