...political post, read this one.
Video of Senator Roberts on CNN talking about the NSA spying program being executed without court granted warrants.
Some interesting quotes:
"This is the highest classified program we have."
"We have a capability. It is a unique capability. It is very difficult to fit this capability into the FISA court system. It almost can't be done."
Does anybody still doubt that this program operates automatically with a wide scope? He's spelled it out right there.
I want you to think about this: Their claim is that they only spy on Americans talking to al Qaeda outside of the country. If they know who was going to be on the phone with al Qaeda so that they can listen in, then don't they have plenty of information to get a warrant? And plenty of time? Of course they do. Why are they in this muddy legal mess then? Why aren't they getting the warrants? Because they DO NOT KNOW who is going to be on the phone with al Qaeda.
No. They are automatically tapping all emails, mobile phones, and international land lines (hell, maybe domestic land lines) and scanning for key words or for anything spoken in suspicious foreign languages (Arabic), then they automatically record it if it is flagged, and intelligence analyzes it later. And no court would ever issue a warrant so broad as to allow that: "very difficult to fit into the FISA court system" indeed. A "unique capability" indeed.
More of what Roberts said:
"It is within the Constitutional authority of the President of the United States to protect us from possible terrorist attacks."
"This isn't a Bush issue. This is an issue for the next [President] ... to have the authority to protect the country."
There's your legal defense argument for the program AND your fallacy right there. "The program is legal because the President has the absolute authority to do anything he needs to, regardless of statutes, to protect the country." And then, "Without this absolute authority, the President could not protect the country."
That is bat shit fucking crazy, while also being, I might add, totally and completely wrong. Doesn't anybody remember Civics class? School House Rocks? Read the fucking wikipedia article on the Constitution. Congress writes the laws. That's how it works. That's how our Republic works. That's our system of checks and balances. Everybody has to follow the laws that Congress passes. Congress makes the law.
The President is saying he doesn't have to do what the law says. The President is saying, has said, that Congress cannot pass any law to check his power in regards to protecting the country. Does Congress not understand this? That they've lost all power? Their sole purpose, to pass laws, is rendered unneeded, ineffective, powerless, meaningless. They can't pass any new law to check the President's powers or bring oversight: he's not breaking the law because his absolute power trumps FISA, and his absolute power will trump any new statute for the same reason.
The President doesn't need absolute power in order to protect the country. Congress will pass into law what the President needs, and the President must operate inside the law OR WE NO LONGER LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. There is not a single Congress member who doesn't want to protect this country. Every last one of them would pass into law even unconstitutional programs (*cough*patriotact*cough*) for the sake of safety. None of them are on the side of the terrorists. No Western Secular Liberal wants to live in a Shia Dictatorship. Calling Democrats treasonous is fucking outrageous.
If the President has absolute power to protect the country, giving him the power to ignore laws passed by Congress, then he isn't President, HE IS DICTATOR. He can decide to lock anybody up, spy on anybody, torture anybody, kill anybody, suspend any election, fire any official, ban any journalistic topic... anything he wants in the name of national security. It's not right. The founding fathers did not create this authority for the President.
You're going to try to tell me that my worst case scenario of abuse of power isn't going to happen. However, frankly it does not matter if our President's intentions are good. It does not matter if he's only authorized spying and torture on "terrorists," because we've all seen what happens when these messages trickle down through the chain of command. By the time they get down to the mindless, unquestioning operatives, the message is poisoned and exaggerated and made extreme. Just look what happened at Abu Ghraib. Soldiers were provided an environment where systemic torture was okay. AMERICA TORTURED AND KILLED... regardless of what the President's actual orders were, look at what happened.
You don't think the same thing is happening with this spying? Even if the President is saying, "Hey, only spy on the terrorists," we don't know whose definition of terrorist is going to be used by the time the commands get down to the lone NSA operative. There's hard evidence of the FBI spying on peaceful protest organizations. Quakers. Grandmas.
If you don't have anything to hide, no harm, right? Wrong. You see, unchecked spying and unchecked detentions are inseparable. The government abuses its spy program, and innocent people end up in jail. They end up in jail where there are unchecked interrogation programs. Where people disappear. They never have a court appearance. Since there is no due process of law, there was no warrant, no evidence, no judges ruling on the spying... you have people in jail without protection of law. They are in jail where there are unchecked interrogation programs. Where there are people operating again under these distorted orders. Where there is torture.
If just one innocent person is killed or tortured by the government, because they were arrested and held without due process of law... THEN WE ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN NAZI GERMANY, SOVIET RUSSIA, OR SADDAM HUSSEIN, especially if we don't stand up and say it is wrong.
I don't know how what is happening doesn't violate the 4th Amendment. EVEN IF the Constitutional Executive Powers trump the FISA statute (which it most certainly does not), Executive Powers do NOT trump the 4th Amendment. And we don't even need to bring the 4th into this. How about the 14th? This Administration has definitely thrown due process and equal protection to the wind.
Here's a final quote by Senator Roberts:
"I think the program is lawful. ... If we don't get this off the headlines, and quit talking about it, we will lose the capability and America will be less safe."
If it's lawful, then why would talking about it bring an end to it?
It makes me sick to my stomach to hear a Senator tell the America people and the free press to suspend their 1st Amendment Rights and stop talking about something.
I WILL NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. NEVER. EVEN IF YOU MAKE IT ILLEGAL, I WILL NOT STOP.
If you don't see from this that there's been a coup, a usurpation of powers, then I suggest you read about the Department of Justice telling Congress that they cannot legislate the power of the Executive. Or read about how Bush doesn't think he needs to tell Congress about what the FBI is doing under the Patriot Act, despite that law saying he has to.
This isn't what the America that raised me had in store for us.
This is good stuff, Zach. Well done.
not TKwong (guest)
I think that the other critical part of the whole discussion is, "where the fuck are the Democrats?"
This is straight bullshit and the Dems are off sucking dick or something.
You ain't never lied.
How do I get myself some of that hot Democratic sucky sucky?
If any of you watched to the end of the video, you will hear Senator Roberts utter the cowardly words "You don't have any civil liberties if you are dead."
I have only one thing to say to that:
GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH.
I got these from my long-time Republican friend, Ethan, who also said, "i just don't think real freedom does exist anymore in the way i thought it did or should."