Skip to comments.LIVE THREAD: SJC hearing on the NSA surveilance program - C-span 1; 9:30 am EST
Posted on 02/06/2006 6:08:53 AM PST by ken5050
Good Monday morning, once again, fellow political jinkies. The NFL season may be over, but the political season inside the Beltway is 24/7/365. So join us, if you can, as those wacky Dems on the Senate Judiciary committee reprise their pitiful efforts to once again smear President Bush and score political points..
Those are not the complete hearings, and omit at least Specter's closing exchange with Attorney General Gonzales.
"The Shadow Party is an investigative report by David Horowitz and Richard Poe, which examines the growing power of billionaire global investor George Soros over U.S. politics.
Posted to FrontPageMag.com in three installments, on October 6, 7 and 11, 2004, the series also appears in booklet form. "
Thank you for the information Meg.
The other site's far-left too- hence the name.
Basically true. He's not saying the program is authorized by FISA, he is saying it isn't forbidden by FISA, because the "FISA shall be the exclusive method" language in 18 USC 2511(2)(f) points to "except as authorized by statute" language at FISA's 1809(a), and the AUMF constitutes that authorization.
The argument is stated also in the December 22 letter.
Here are some of the references that Gonzales made yesterday, as well as my comments on a couple unrelated exchanges.
GONZALES [in opening statement]: By its plain terms, FISA prohibits the government from engaging in electronic surveillance, quote, "except as authorized by statute."
Those words, "except as authorized by statute," are no mere incident of drafting. Instead, they constitute a far-sighted safety valve.
The Congress that passed FISA in 1978 included those words so that future congresses could address unforeseen challenges. The 1978 Congress afforded future lawmakers the ability to modify or eliminate the need for a FISA application without having to amend or repeal FISA.
Congress provided this safety valve because it knew that the only thing certain about foreign threats is that they change in unpredictable ways.
Mr. Chairman, the resolution authorizing the use of military force is exactly the sort of later statutory authorization contemplated by FISA's safety valve. ...
GONZALES [in response to HATCH]: And I want to emphasize, Senator, this is not a case of where we're saying FISA -- we're overriding FISA or we're ignoring FISA. Quite the contrary: We're interpreting the authorization to use military force as a statutory grant. ...
GONZALES [in response to KENNEDY]: I've tried to make clear today that we looked at this issue carefully, decided that neither the Constitution nor FISA, which contemplated a new statute, would prohibit this kind of activity from going forward. ...
GONZALES [in response to KYL]: That is correct. We are acting in a way -- the president has authorized activities that are consistent with what FISA anticipated. ...
It's all about "line drawing," not just what will be surveilled, but where burdens fall between the government and the target as individuals are engaged, either by the military (we are at war, doncah know), or by law enforcement (are we at war, or not?).
KOHL: It seems to me that you need to tell us a little bit more because to those of us who are listening, that's incomprehensible. If you would go Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida outside the country -- domestic- outside the country but you would not intrude into Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida within the country -- you are very smart, so are we, and to those of us who are interacting here today, there's something that unfathomable about that remark."Think about the reaction." That's the test. Not "think about security," or "think about adhering to the Constitution." If an action is prudent, but public reaction is projected to be too strong, the President will avoid it.
GONZALES: Well, Senator, we certainly endeavor to try to get that information in other ways if we can. But that is not what the president...
KOHL: No, but isn't -- we need to have some logic, some sense, some clarity to this discussion this morning.
GONZALES: Senator, think about the reaction, the public reaction that has arisen in some quarters about this program. If the president had authorized domestic surveillance, as well, even though we're talking about Al Qaida-to-Al Qaida, I think the reaction would have been twice as great.
And so there was a judgment made that this was the appropriate line to draw in ensuring the security of our country and the protection of the privacy interests of Americans.
And I think "consider the public reaction" is entirely appropriate. It shows that the politicians are sensitive to what the public perceives as "reasonable" encroachment. When the enemy is within, the battles shifts away from military force ground, and toward political ground. "Repelling invaders" is a cloudy proposition, when some of the invaders are in your country.
But is "international call" the right place to draw the line? Was President Bush right? Or should the program be more aggressive and include domestic calls between known or suspected terrorists? There will be political ramifications when there is another successful terrorist event - what about the risk of "hasn't done enough?"
Tin foil on, perhaps these hearings are designed to inoculate the politicians, Congress and the President alike, from criticism at that juncture. "The public has already spoken, see NSA hearings. What more could we (the investigators) do, given the public opposition?"
Gonzales went on, a bit later, with this additional testimony:
GONZALES: I'm sorry. Can I make one point about in response to Senator Kohl? I made this point, but I want to make sure the committee understands this in terms of domestic-to-domestic Al Qaida communications.
I said that we're using other authorities. I mean, to the extent we can engage in intercepting Al Qaida domestic-to-domestic calls, even under FISA, if we can do it, we're doing it.
GONZALES: So I don't want the American people to believe that we're doing absolutely nothing about Al Qaida domestic-to-domestic calls.
The president made a determination, "This is where the line's going to be," and so we operate within those boundaries. And so we take advantage of the tools that are out there.
And if FISA isn't always the most efficient way to deal with that, if that's all we have, that's what we use.
So I guess I want to make sure the American people understand that we're not simply ignoring domestic-to-domestic communications of Al Qaida. We're going after it.
Here is another bit of news, also unrelated to the "legal according to the recitation of FISA" argument ...
GONZALES [in response to DeWine]: Well, one of the things that, hopefully, will happen soon is the creation of a new national security division.This indicates an increase in FISA volume. The 2004 volume was 1,758 FISA applications for electronic surveillance, and 2005 is 18% above that level. Plans are to increase even above that, it appears.
As you know, the Patriot Act has a provision in it that creates a new assistant attorney general for the national security division. We believe that division will assist in the streamlining of the FISA process.
And now, back to the mundane ...
GONZALES [in response to FEINSTEIN]: Senator, it is not in contravention of the FISA law. We believe the authorization to use military force is the kind of congressional action that the FISA law anticipated.
It has never been our position that somehow the AUMF amended FISA. It's never been our position that somehow FISA has been overridden. Quite the contrary: We believe that the president's authorizations are fully consistent with the provisions of FISA. ...
GONZALES [in response to FEINGOLD]: ... the position of the administration is that the president has authorized electronic surveillance in a manner that is totally consistent -- not in violation, not overwriting provisions of FISA but totally consistent with FISA. ...
LEAHY: OK, well, let me ask you this, then.The answer could have been responsive without disclosing "operations of the program," unless Gonzales means to obscure determination of "temporary shut down." If that is what he meant, and it's the only fair interpretation I think, a more definite answer would have been something on the order of "I will neither admit or deny temporary shut down of the program, because that constitutes information about the operations of the program."
You say, several years after it started, you came up here and talked to some group of members of Congress. The press reports said that the president's program of spying on Americans without warrants was shut down for some time in 2004. That sounds like the time you were up here.
If the president believed the program was necessary and legally justified, why did he shut it down?
GONZALES: Sir, you're asking me about the operations of the program.
GRASSLEY: Thank you.Grassley is citing 50 USC 1806(j), Notification of emergency employment of electronic surveillance.
It appear to me that FISA generally requires that, if surveillance is initiated under the Emergency Authorization provisions and an order is not obtained from the FISA Court, that the judge must, quote, "cause to be served on any U.S. person named in the application and on such other U.S. persons subject to electronic surveillance as the judge and the court," quote, "believes warranted the fact of the application; two, the period of the surveillance; and, three, the fact that during the period information was or was not obtained.
A couple of observations. First, the code itself has an escape hatch, where notification is avoided on a showing of cause by the government. The language in the statue is, "On an ex parte showing of good cause to the judge the serving of the notice required by this subsection may be postponed or suspended for a period not to exceed ninety days. Thereafter, on a further ex parte showing of good cause, the court shall forgo ordering the serving of the notice required under this subsection."
But the bigger issue, the gorilla in the room, is that the statute itself has a provision that inclines the government investigators to seek a warrant before undertaking surveillance -- or to make sure the request for FISA Court order for electronic surveillance is a slam-dunk before undertaking "emergency surveillance."
It's not the time factor that inhibits emergency (unilateral) action, it's the risk of the target finding out.
Note that if there has been no surveillance, if the sequence is "ask for and be denied warrant," the statute does not require notification. Only when the sequence is "undertake the surveillance FIRST, then ask for and be denied a warrant" does FISA introduce a risk of disclosing the fact of surveillance.
KYL: Thank you.
Now, let me clear up a concern expressed by Senator Feinstein that the reason that Congress hadn't been asked to statutorily authorize this surveillance program may be because it's much bigger than we have been led to believe. Is that the reason?
GONZALES: Senator, the reason is because, quite frankly, we didn't think we needed it under the Constitution, and also because we thought we had it with respect to the action by the Congress. We have believed from the outset that FISA has to be read in a way where it's not inconsistent with the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief. ...
I just noticed your post, and it is a good one. we need to keep pushing this info out there for the people that do not know. It is disgusting that Bloomberg would do something so callous and uncaring to the victims and their families and still keep that incompetent wretch in that job. The fact that he will not allow the admission for public consumption that she is Schumer's wife is unbelievable.
And thank you for the information on Halperin and WBAP! :-)
Thanks! David Halperin is a new one for me. There's a whole nest of them. . .
I believe Operation Mockingbird is an outgrowth of FDR's policies with the Office of War Information (OWI), which was penetrated by Soviet agents, and the left-wing bias in the media has its roots there.
And that includes the NYPost, altho on rare occasion they do remark about Weinshall being Schumer's wife.
And that includes the NYPost, altho on rare occasion they do remark about Weinshall being Schumer's wife.
Good to 'see' you.
It certainly is interesting, isn't it? I didn't get as far back as FDR, most everything seems to try to tack it to Hoover.
The Kennedy admin links are fascinating.
I've come across something, somewhere where GHWB outlawed this stuff...
The Kennedy family's ties to the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal are interesting.
That was in one of the tinfoil links I popped in here earlier.
In February, 1976, George Bush, the recently appointed Director of the CIA announced a new policy: "Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station." However, he added that the CIA would continue to "welcome" the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists.
Another fun term to google is "covert propaganda." This is generically a reference to use of government money to fund persuasive material, without identifying the presentation (press release, commercial, whatever) as being government sponsored. There is a federal bureaucracy that polices "covert propaganda," and issues rulings.
That sounds like it was in response to the fallout from the antiwar journal Ramparts running an expose on CIA domestic operations. After that and some related information came out many of the CIA's assets in the newspaper business started getting exposed. This got national publicity (initiated by I believe a NYT series by Seymour Hersh) during the post-Watergate investigations of the intelligence community, which would be the time frame of the Bush quote above.
The OWI will make for some interesting reading.
But I'm heading out to a ballgame and have too many irons in the fire from now thru the weekend, to do any real reading : (
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