Tuesday, December 27, 2005
My fellow Americans, we're now in Week 3 of the latest series of national nightmares brought to you courtesy of the NY Times (how else would we know we're in the midst of a national nightmare?).
And no, I'm not talking about that national nightmare. Thankfully, the horrific rampage of that Aryan-looking symbol of the Patriarchy in his annoying little manger is just about over for another year. At long last, the ACLU can get back to what it does best: removing swastikas from the LA county seal. Nope - I'm referring to the stunning revelation that, though Presidents going back to Jimmah Carter approved warrantless physical searches during peacetime, *we* have been living with a far worse danger.
That's right: the NSA may be listening in when Osama bin Laden makes those holiday Friends and Family calls.
After 9/11, you may be wondering why this should concern you. After all, Bill Clinton conducted door to door physical searches on public housing tenants without so much as a by-your-leave from the courts. That is, until he was stopped by the ACLU. Clinton then "ordered Attorney General Janet Reno and Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros to develop a search policy for public housing that was both constitutional and effective".
Kanye West was strangely silent - perhaps because he was just a gleam in his Daddy's eye back then. But who can forget that 1990's Grandmaster Flash paean to ghetto rage?
Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head
Uh huh ha ha ha
It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under
Bill Clinton doesn't care about black people
Those were the days... remember how the howls of "Impeach him!" rose to a deafening crescendo on both sides of Congress? I tell you, it was inspiring the way Democrats didn't let partisanship interfere with principle when the rights of The Little Man were concerned. Of course you'd never know any of this had happened, to read Reason's Julian Sanchez or the folks at Media Matters. To hear them talk, wiretapping is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a human being. Warrantless home invasions, a pair of frilly panties on the head, or being forced to listen to Christina Aguilera CDs for hours on end simply pale in comparison. Julian is outraged over the prospect of electronic eavesdropping, but most of his argument fails the common-sense test:
Question: At what point does wiretapping/spying become a fourth amendment issue? That is, when is it a violation of individual civil liberties?
Question: Why didn't Bush use the FISA courts in these instances?
Question: Is the monitoring we're discussing actually something like the ECHELON system of data mining? If so, what safeguards do you believe ought to be in place to protect individual liberties?
I'm looking forward to seeing more information about the program. I'm not entirely convinced it's illegal, but it is an important conversation for citizens of a free nation to have. What liberties are we willing to give up for a sense of security real or imagined? What protections does the program actually offer? How can the executive branch act without congressional oversight in matters of civil liberties when national security is also at issue?
More questions than answers, I'm afraid. And if it's treasonous/traitorous to even discuss, then we're going to have problems. I can't trust the Bush administration.
I think when information gathered electronically is seized and used to deprive a citizen of his life or liberty (e.g., as evidence in a court of law, then a search and seizure has clearly taken place). I think if the purpose, on the otter heiny, is to interict or prevent/detect and attack and there is no infringement of the citizens life-liberty, then no Fourth Amendment abridgement has occurred because there is no seizure and therefore no intrusion.
I've answered the FISA question several times. I'll do so again later when I have time.
I don't much care for ECHELON frankly, but I find the currently howling intensely amusing considering that I don't believe for ONE SECOND that ECHELON isn't ongoing and that no Americans are thereby listened in on. It is statistically impossible (trust me on this one Screwy - I know a little about this) to exclude us all. And there is no safeguard that can do that. But I think that the same issue of intrusiveness applies as in my answer to #1. It is a problem. But not a new one and not originating with the Shrub. So why are we just now shrieking about it?
I'm not saying (necessarily) don't shriek :) But admit it's opportunistic, politically motivated shriekery, and then yell away if you must.
On your para #4, I couldn't agree more with every word. However, I'll say this as someone who has blood relatives in the intel community. I'm not sure we are capable of having an honest dialog on this subject.
And I'll say this: you don't trust Bush. I don't entirely trust Congress, and certainly folks like Kerry (who tried to gut the CIA in 1995 and treated with our enemies who were torturing our military in 1971) or Kennedy with our national security. You look at a Vietnam POW's face who is disfigured and then was tortured for 6 years and tell me I can trust John Kerry with our national security. I will never forgive that man. Never. I'm not bitter - just not stupid.
I don't trust men who were briefed and have the nerve to say they had "concerns" but didn't complain because they were "afraid of being called names". What a load of malarky. Why not admit you have just castrated yourself? I'm female and I'm not even that much of a woman! That is just beyond scorn.
You raise some interesting questions - some I've asked in the past too. I wish we were in a more honest environment where I thought they'd be honestly addressed.
I commented in your earlier post but I see you've moved, so I'm adding the comment here, too.
This is not a simple liberal/conservative discussion. This is a nuanced, complicated constitutional, and yes political issue, that has current and former "players" on both sides of the aisle unwilling to follow party lines. The noise from the blogosphere, and "experts" steamrolling us with "I know more than you" platitudes only muddies the debate.
The question is not whether the Government should be allowed to wiretap--left and right agree it is a necessary and acceptable tool in fighting the bad guys be they terrorists or drug dealers--the question is HOW should the Government be allowed to conduct its surveillance. As SH sys, this is an extremely important debate both for our security, and our hard-fought freedoms. I, for one, am glad that this topic has come out of the NSA closet, and that all three branches of government now will have a role in determining to what degree the "We Are at War" climate will effect our liberties, and the reach of the Executive Branch.
The GWOT most likely will not end in our lifetime, nor maybe even our childrens'. As a nation of laws, it is imperative that we determine what are to be acceptable infringements on our rights individually, and on the Constitution as a whole, to protect our citizens.
I voted for Bush, but I do not want him or any other President alone decreeing what the Executive Branch can and cannot do, nor will I uncritically accept what he says or the actions he takes because "We Are At War." Nor should you.
The next POTUS may very well be a Democrat; the rights and excesses we allow the Executive Branch today, will be passed on to his successor(s) tomorrow.
That is true, but I am applying the same rule I applied under Clinton so I fail to see how that applies to me. I didn't trust Clinton as far as I could throw him, but I didn't let my personal dislike of the man cloud my understanding of his Constitutionally granted powers.
I've been in and around the military all my life, and under Clinton was the ONLY time I was EVER leaned on or pressured as a civilian and wife, or told I could not voice my opinion in public. To contrast, I have referred to Bush "the Shrub" many times in public without a single reproach (though I love the man, many people, especially in the Marines, don't always get my sarcasm when they don't know me). I have also heard others voice dissent freely without repercussions - a marked contrast to the Clinton years when we couldn't even tell jokes at parties.
Believe me -- I am well aware of the dangers of Executive branch activism. Examining the law behind something (rather than simply reading Bush's quotes and accepting them at face value) is hardly "uncritically" accepting his argument.
I took a lot of time to read up on this - if that's your idea of "uncritical" I rather wonder if your only criterion was that I had to accept that the President had done something wrong in advance of doing any research? And since I read about it several times, but didn't stop there but kept reading and found out more, but since I still wasn't persuaded of what you think (and in fact hit on an argument I haven't seen anywhere else), I am now even more deluded and uncritical? I obviously haven't been thinking enough.
That hardly seems reasonable.