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Q&A: NSA Domestic Surveillance Program
AP on Yahoo ^ | 1/28/06 | Katherine Shrader - ap

Posted on 01/28/2006 9:13:58 PM PST by NormsRevenge

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration faces daily questions about a highly secretive program at the National Security Agency aimed at monitoring terror suspects. Is it legal? Who's targeted?

Some questions and answers about the domestic surveillance program launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001:

Q: Can the NSA eavesdrop on Americans?

A: Generally, it is prohibited without a court order. But under a directive signed by President Bush, and renewed more than 30 times, the National Security Agency can monitor the international communications of people inside the country, when one party to the call or e-mail is believed to be involved with al-Qaida.

Q: How many people are affected?

A: Only a tight-knit group of government officials know, and they won't say. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other senior officials have insisted the program is "targeted" to go after only the most dangerous types of communications — those that may involve al-Qaida inside the United States.

Civil rights groups, scholars, lawyers for Muslim Americans, Democrats and others fear communications may have been more widely monitored.

Q: What did Bush's directive change?

A: In national security investigations, the program eliminated the need to go before a judge for approval of surveillance on U.S. residents.

Previously, government lawyers had to show the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there was "probable cause" a targeted person was an agent of a foreign power. A federal judge had to approve a warrant, and typically did. Bush's order allowed the NSA — not a judge — to approve the monitoring when officials had a "reasonable basis to believe" one party to the call or e-mail was linked to al-Qaida.

Q: Who decides who is monitored?

A: Last month, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the government's No. 2 intelligence official, said an NSA shift supervisor makes the call. The former NSA director rephrased his answer this week, saying only a small group of senior military officers or civilian counterterror experts at NSA get to decide, using criteria that has not been disclosed.

Q: How does the surveillance work?

A: Officials won't say. But Hayden said the NSA is not vacuuming up vast amounts of communications and running searches on it. In 2003 alone, U.S. citizens spent 200 billion minutes on international calls. Ethically and practically, he said, the NSA can't be a "drift net."

Despite his words, opponents are concerned the NSA captures a lot.

Q: Has the program foiled terrorist attacks?

A: Administration officials say they have gotten valuable information that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. For security reasons, they do not provide specifics.

Q: Why the uproar?

A: For the administration's critics, the program harkens back to the Nixon administration's wiretapping. It also raises constitutional questions about whether the monitoring is an unreasonable search, prohibited under the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

Q: Was Congress told?

A: The administration says that members of Congress were briefed more than a dozen times. However, only select lawmakers were present. Called the "Gang of Eight," they include the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate and on the intelligence committees.

In the program's four years, the lawmakers included in that group have changed, so few — if any — attended all the briefings. And some privately say they weren't given all the information they needed.

Q: Has anyone who has been briefed on the program called for its halt?

No. Democrats, including California Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), the intelligence committee's top Democrat, have complained about the size of the briefings and legal questions they want answered.

But none has said the program should end. Harman says she believes the program "is essential to U.S. national security."

Q: Did the White House consider asking Congress to change the law?

A: Yes. Although Bush says he has adequate legal authority now, Gonzales said the administration considered proposing changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2004. The attorney general said congressional leaders believed that move would jeopardize the program.

Some Democrats are quietly arguing the administration thought it was on shaky ground in 2003. A draft bill proposed giving legal cover to federal officials who conduct unauthorized surveillance ordered by the president or attorney general. That update to the Patriot Act, leaked to an interest group, was never introduced in Congress.

Q: Some people have sued the government, saying they believe their conversations might have been intercepted. How can they know?

A: They can't. At least two federal lawsuits are based on a belief that the individuals may have engaged in conversations that would have attracted the NSA's attention. If the courts allow the cases to proceed, the government may be forced to disclose information about the program and its targets.

Q: What is the NSA anyway?

A: The NSA is the largest of the nation's 15 spy agencies. Its 30,000 workers worldwide are charged with protecting U.S. information systems and eavesdropping on adversaries. They take pride in the nickname, "Never Say Anything," and adequate distance from Washington — the headquarters is at Fort Meade, Md. — to ensure a healthy population of Baltimore Ravens football fans.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: domestic; gwot; homelandsecurity; nsa; patriotleak; spying; surveillance

1 posted on 01/28/2006 9:13:59 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: NormsRevenge

Associated Press

In a news conference at the White House on Thursday, President Bush defends his program of warrantless surveillance. "There's no doubt in my mind it is legal," he says.


2 posted on 01/28/2006 9:22:24 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Monthly Donor spoken Here. Go to ... https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: NormsRevenge
They missed one:
Q: When will Pinchey and the rest of the traitorous scumbags at the New York Slimes be charged with treason?

A: Not soon enough.


3 posted on 01/28/2006 9:22:46 PM PST by upchuck (Article posts of just one or two sentences do not preserve the quality of FR. Lazy FReepers be gone!)
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To: NormsRevenge
"At least two federal lawsuits are based on a belief that the individuals may have engaged in conversations that would have attracted the NSA's attention. If the courts allow the cases to proceed, the government may be forced to disclose information about the program and its targets."

Two points here:

[1] My strong suspicion is that the suggestion that they might have attracted the NSA's attention is thin cover for the real purpose: to expose the program and thereby derail its mission. I'd bet a dollar or two these are people involved with others that are actively trying to oppose the United States.

[2] During 'discovery', one of the first things I'd ask from the Government side is "Okay, you think you got monitored. When phone numbers were you having conversations with?" If the numbers are not on "the list", then argue for dismissal... but consider adding them. If on "the list", then charge the plaintiffs with treason!

4 posted on 01/28/2006 9:23:35 PM PST by alancarp (NASCAR: Always turning left, but can never keep up with the Liber-commis.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Well, why rock the boat ask the inquisitors? Just go to the court and get the warrant say the inquisitors.

What if one or more of your METHODS is very secret and not widely known. What if one of the FISA judges is leaking info. What if one of the FISA judges resigned in November/December about the time GWB started avoiding the court? Why would said judge resign? Is it possible that said Judge Robertson was appointed by Bubba and is guilty of revealing methods to the NYT, etc? Now, would that be a valid reason to go around FISA? To prevent the public learning of certain methods?


5 posted on 01/28/2006 9:44:30 PM PST by Rembrandt (We would have won Viet Nam w/o Dim interference.)
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To: NormsRevenge
I'm surprised a fair and logical argument from AP.
6 posted on 01/28/2006 9:45:06 PM PST by Mike Darancette (Condimaniac)
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To: alancarp
When phone numbers were you having conversations with?"

Name the foreign person with whom you were having a phone call, why you believe that person was a member or associated with al-Queda, the phone number he was calling from and what was said.

7 posted on 01/28/2006 9:50:03 PM PST by Mike Darancette (Condimaniac)
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To: Mike Darancette

I watched a new show on Fox tonight with Paul Gigot...and 3 journalists from WSJ online, and Opinion Journal...

and they were saying that the Congresscritters that WERE told, were adamant about it NOT going to Congress for a change..because of the necessity of extreme secrecy.

Also, the FISA court being established in 1978, is SO FAR behind what the technology and the world is like...that they are pretty much obsolete for what is necessary re: terrorism.

And, now that Bin Ladin knows all about this program..in the process of calling or e-mailing orders to Zawahiri, or Zarqawi, he could fix it to where it would look like the call was originated in the US...and received there...so that his orders would NOT be allowed to be used under those rules..

It was a great discussion about why this whole NSA thing will NOT harm Bush or his presidency.


8 posted on 01/28/2006 9:56:12 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Txsleuth
"Also, the FISA court being established in 1978, is SO FAR behind what the technology and the world is like...that they are pretty much obsolete for what is necessary re: terrorism."

Actually, I do have to take issue with that, or at least question what you mean.

Not to toot my own horn, but I don't want you to think I'm just talking out my back side. I work in the high tech industry and my resume includes buzzwords like software, encryption, networking, biotech, and data mining.

Sure, we are not just talking phones these days, but there is nothing I can think of that would make fisa "obsolete". What are you thinking of?
9 posted on 01/28/2006 10:03:57 PM PST by ndt
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To: Rembrandt
"What if one of the FISA judges is leaking info. What if one of the FISA judges resigned in November/December about the time GWB started avoiding the court? Why would said judge resign? Is it possible that said Judge Robertson was appointed by Bubba and is guilty of revealing methods to the NYT, etc? Now, would that be a valid reason to go around FISA? To prevent the public learning of certain methods?"

Your thoughts echo my own. This was brought up when the FISA judge resigned, then seemingly dropped like a rock. Why was it dropped? I want to know why he resigned. Give him an MRI brain scan. :) If Clinton stacked the FISA court or if there were associations between the judges and Muslim lawyers or CAIR, I want to know. Certainly, Bush would be forewarned of any such problems and might have decided he had to protect America, FISA court be damned?

10 posted on 01/28/2006 10:05:18 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Txsleuth

I watched the show, too. It was excellent.


11 posted on 01/28/2006 10:06:35 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: NormsRevenge
It's only, what?, a week into this kerfuffel created by the New York Times and the Associated Press gets at least part of the story correct. First, these are all international communications, not domestic. Second, the person on the international end of the call is a suspected Al Qaeda member.

H*ll, that's progress.

Of course, the article still darkly intimates that there may be many of these calls. Doesn't the AP read its own prior articles? What are there in the world, maybe 10,000 known Al Qaeda suspects? How many of them make calls into, or receive calls from, the United States? How does that possible number of maybe 30 a day compare to the total international phone traffic to/from the US on a daily basis? Maybe one in a million?

The article doesn't say anything about other Presidents using the same powers (varying with current technology, for sure). Under President Roosevelt in WW II, all letters to and from Germany and Japan were being opened and read before delivery. And there was no "suspected agent" criterion. It was all of them.

I spit on the AP for not doing their homework fully on this story. I spit twice on the New York Times, because they did even less, and violated espionage laws by even publishing their story.

Did I miss anything?

Congressman Billybob

Latest column: "Senator Ted Kennedy and Mrs. Alito's Tears"

12 posted on 01/28/2006 10:11:47 PM PST by Congressman Billybob (Hillary! delendum est.)
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To: NormsRevenge

The Times betrayed a closely held secret operation in time of war. I want to see these people in handcuffs. I am furious about it.

You can't use wire-tap information to prosecute someone in a criminal trial. This isn't a criminal matter, its war. If you are in communication with Al Qaeda, we should be hauling you away to one of those secret jails in Romania we keep hearing about, to sweat you for information about your pals, before dropping your body into the ocean.

This ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around. If you suspect your calls may have been intercepted, because you've been chit-chatting with your radical uncle from Peshawar who keeps trying to get you to carry packages for him, you are probably right. If somehow we missed you, bring it to our attention and we'll get to you as quickly as we can.


13 posted on 01/28/2006 10:12:25 PM PST by marron
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To: ndt

Okay, obsolete was my word, not theirs..

I was trying to remember exactly how they said it...and came up blank.

What the guy was saying was, that these terrorist have become so savvy, and that they know they are being "spied" on...so they change e-mail addresses very, often, as well as phone numbers...and there is no time to get a new warrant for every change that comes up...

so...they just can't "use" the FISA court for this kind of work the way they did in the days of rotary phones that were hooked to the wall...and before the internet.

Is that a better description...or are you looking for something else from me...??


14 posted on 01/28/2006 10:13:33 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Txsleuth
Also, the FISA court being established in 1978, is SO FAR behind what the technology and the world is like...that they are pretty much obsolete for what is necessary re: terrorism.

That is a weak argument, since the law is the law, change if it does not work.

That said I think the Constitutional argument regarding Presidential powers in war time is a winner. The President as Commander-in-Chief protecting the country seems to winning traction among the People. The RATS jumping on the President for doing his job is like saying apple pie tastes bad and mom is a whore.

I lucked into seeing the WSJ show it was really nerdish and one sided -- I loved it.

15 posted on 01/28/2006 10:14:32 PM PST by Mike Darancette (Condimaniac)
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To: sageb1

Whew...I am so glad you did....they said so much...and I even forgot about the guy that said that it would be really hard for anyone to take this to court...because no one would have standing..as they can't prove that they were actually "spied" on...and that they were harmed by it.

Right? that is what he said, right?


16 posted on 01/28/2006 10:15:50 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: NormsRevenge
Civil rights groups, scholars, lawyers for Muslim Americans, Democrats and others fear communications may have been more widely monitored

Why do they think that??

Are they receiving phone calls and emails from al-Qaida

Are they plotting with terrorists to murder Americans

Or are they just wearing the tin foil hats a tad too tight

17 posted on 01/28/2006 10:20:33 PM PST by Mo1 (Republicans protect Americans from Terrorists.. Democrats protect Terrorists from Americans)
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To: Mike Darancette

If you saw it...then you know the answer to why Bush didn't push for a law change...

How are you going to change a law affecting a program that is so secret and so necessary at that time??

EVEN the DEMS that were told agreed to that...


18 posted on 01/28/2006 10:22:10 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Congressman Billybob
Bush was adamant that these calls were being picked up outside our own country, if my memory serves me correctly.

Which reminds me of something. Last year I tried for months on end to do something about getting a pedophilia incubator site taken down. The problem I ran into was that the servers were located outside the U.S. The owner did this so he couldn't be touched by U.S. laws. And he can't be.

I am also reminded of how Soros keeps his money safe from U.S. taxation. And it's all legal.

In this new day and age, phone and electronic communications make it very easy for all the bad guys to wreak havoc and do things like blow up the WTC. The government needs to be able to exploit the same tools they use to protect us.

19 posted on 01/28/2006 10:27:41 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Mo1

LOL.. Thanks. That was the Q&A that caught my eye as well.

---

Civil rights groups (like the ACLU?), scholars(like Lawrence Tribe?), lawyers for Muslim Americans (Like Lynne Stewart), Democrats (specifically US Senators) and others(Like CAIR?) fear communications may have been more widely monitored.

Fear? Those who have secrets to keep or share with enemies are the ones that should fear the most. For the rest of us, if you're phone number hasn't been found amongst any number of the papers or computers captured the last few years as part of the al qaida hunt, that fear is more likely paranoia about other activities , I would suspect.


20 posted on 01/28/2006 10:28:33 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Monthly Donor spoken Here. Go to ... https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Txsleuth

Yes, that is what he said. What all of them said. And FYI, I think the show started last week. It is Wallstreet's Opinion Journal. Interesting, huh?


21 posted on 01/28/2006 10:30:05 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: sageb1

I didn't see it last week...it is a good show...but at 30 minutes...I think they aren't giving them enough time.


22 posted on 01/28/2006 10:32:25 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Txsleuth

They will..depending on ratings. :)


23 posted on 01/28/2006 10:34:00 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Txsleuth
"Is that a better description...or are you looking for something else from me...??"

Nope, that was fine, I was just wondering if there was a new word to try to add to my resume :)

There have been changes that do affect a classic type warrant which required descriptions of specific places and things to be searched. As you pointed out for example, historically, one could reasonably expect that a target would use the same land-line phone, that is just not the case with things like disposable cell phones. With the addition of the roving warrant, that should not be an issue anymore.

The only thing that I can think of from a technology perspective that would not be doable with a fisa warrant is exactly what Hayden says they are not doing. That would be a scanning and filtering of a broad swath of untargeted data. I do agree with him in his characterizing of that sort of drag net as being "ethically" wrong, but as for being impractical (from a tech perspective), it is mostly a matter money. The biggest hurdles being data volume, encryption and automatic transcription from voice to text.
24 posted on 01/28/2006 10:34:25 PM PST by ndt
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To: Congressman Billybob

I was a bit surprised to see this Q&A pop-up myself. Of course, it comes out on a Saturday evening, but..

I wanted to make sure it got posted, and as you said , it is progress in that it does define basics behind the program and is not a complete fudgejob as has been most of the reporting to date re: the NSA "Domestic" "spying" "scandal" ..


25 posted on 01/28/2006 10:36:32 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Monthly Donor spoken Here. Go to ... https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: NormsRevenge
Some of them .. like Turley are using this as an excuse to get his terrorist clients off on charges

others like the ACLU are doing it for the money and because they really hate when America succeeds at anything .. like beating the terrorists
26 posted on 01/28/2006 10:40:00 PM PST by Mo1 (Republicans protect Americans from Terrorists.. Democrats protect Terrorists from Americans)
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To: ndt

Wow...I am impressed...you really know your stuff...maybe you should apply to help out.

Regardless of the "legality" of this...as was pointed out in other posts...these taps are not being used to gather evidence for a trial per se...it is to stop another attack...or find out where the cells are, in and out of the US...IMHO..

And...I can't believe the democrats and some Rinos, like Specter and McCain, are going to force hearings that will just harm our clandestine terrorism fight more than it already has been...

It is a lose-lose plan for them....and ultimately a possible lose situation for the US...if this causes us to miss some intelligence that we might have had..if this had been kept secret.


27 posted on 01/28/2006 10:41:26 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Txsleuth
EVEN the DEMS that were told agreed to that...

RATZ have selective memory.

28 posted on 01/28/2006 10:53:41 PM PST by Mike Darancette (Condimaniac)
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To: marron

You took the words right out of my mouth....these liberals don't realize that these people want our heads in a basket, or, if they do, their insatible desire for power has blinded them completly.


29 posted on 01/28/2006 10:54:13 PM PST by skimask (The United States Marine Corps is the finest fighting force on God's earth.)
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To: Txsleuth
I watched a portion of that show and they had a new angle (to me ) as to why Alioto is being so strongly resisted by the DemonicRats...and it isn't about abortion....
30 posted on 01/28/2006 10:59:56 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Txsleuth
"Wow...I am impressed...you really know your stuff...maybe you should apply to help out."

No doubt a group like the NSA would make me look like an amateur but I'll take any praise I can get.

"Regardless of the "legality" of this...as was pointed out in other posts...these taps are not being used to gather evidence for a trial per se...it is to stop another attack...or find out where the cells are, in and out of the US...IMHO.."

The is a distinct difference between eavesdropping for national security as opposed to doing so for criminal prosecution. Nearly every court case I have seen that dealt with eavesdropping has been careful to point out that they are distinct and that they are subject to different levels of "reasonableness". The requirements for criminal prosecution are well defined by a mountain of case law. The requirement for national security are not.

Almost without exception, when it come to judging the extent of power possessed by president in regards to national security, beyond those specifically enumerated in the constitution, courts have erred on the side of assuming the president does have that power unless specifically limited by congress.
31 posted on 01/28/2006 11:00:25 PM PST by ndt
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Refresh my memory...I was so excited about their take on the NSA "scandal"...that I have forgotten what they said about Alito...


32 posted on 01/28/2006 11:08:06 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Txsleuth

It may be really about the commerce clause, which the Democrats used heavily for much of their legislation when they controlled the House.

Rehnquist in 1995 had an opinion on the overreaching of Congress on that....not sure of my details though.


33 posted on 01/28/2006 11:14:58 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: NormsRevenge
From Captain's Quarters :

NYT/CBS Poll Undersamples Republicans, Still Shows Approval For NSA Program
January 27, 2006

34 posted on 01/28/2006 11:19:16 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Oh...okay....I remember Feinstein spent almost as much time grilling him about the commerce clause as his abortion stance.

I think the commerce clause concern is mostly about guns...


35 posted on 01/28/2006 11:20:20 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: All
From Ankle biting Pundit:

Debunking and Explaining Yet Another Misleading MSM Poll Posted by bulldogpundit on Friday, 27 January 2006 (09:37:26) EST Contributed by bulldogpundit

**********AN EXCERPT ******************************************

Once again, The New York Times and CBS News have released a poll suggesting electoral doom for the GOP and the President, as well as saying the public's views are "mixed" when it comes to the NSA Surveillance program depending on how the questions are asked.

That's true in any poll, but what the NYT doesn't tell you is that the questions they asked were misleading and did not accurately reflect the nature of the NSA program. Oh, and the demographics were once again weighted in favor of Democrats.

Click READ MORE to see us (once again) utterly demolish an "Old Media" poll.

But here's what you won't see in the news stories. - the demography of the poll respondents

First, 13% of respondents aren't even registerd to vote, and of those that were registered, 19% didn't go to the polls in 2004. So right away you know that 32% of the total respondents didn't vote in 2004.

36 posted on 01/28/2006 11:23:08 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Txsleuth

The Commerce Clause is used heavily to regulate all kinds of things....the democrats favorite technique....and they don't want it shut down.


37 posted on 01/28/2006 11:36:02 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Mike Darancette
Mike Darancette:   "I think the Constitutional argument regarding Presidential powers in war time is a winner."

You can say that again!

"However, because of the President's constitutional duty to act for the United States in the field of foreign relations, and his inherent power to protect national security in the context of foreign affairs, we reaffirm what we held in United States v. Clay, supra, that the President may constitutionally authorize warrantless wiretaps for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence."
--United States v. Brown, 484 F.2d 418, 426 (1973)

"We agree with the district court that the Executive Branch need not always obtain a warrant for foreign intelligence surveillance."
--U.S. v. Truong Dinh Hung, 629 F.2d 908, 913 (1980)

"Prior to the enactment of FISA, virtually every court that had addressed the issue had concluded that the President had the inherent power to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence information, and that such surveillances constituted an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment."
--United States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d 59 (1984)

"The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent [constitutional] authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."
--In re Sealed Case, 310, F3d. 717, 742 (2002)

38 posted on 01/29/2006 4:13:05 AM PST by Boot Hill ("...and Joshua went unto him and said: art thou for us, or for our adversaries?")
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