Sunday, December 18, 2005

Who Is Being Watched?...


"14 members of Congress are like the husband who berates his wife for not shoveling the today's snow...yesterday." - Paul Harvey December 19, 2005

The Old Busted Media is abuzz with the news that the Administration has authorized the NSA to conduct conditional cases of domestic surveillance. In a strategically and suspiciously timed move, the New York Times broke the story on its front page, one day after historic elections in Iraq and hours prior to a critical Congressional vote on the Patriot Act. A typical knee jerk reaction reflected concern and consternation from both sides of the political aisle with both Harry Reid and Arlen Specter suggesting Congressional hearings. Yet as the story unfolded over the weekend, people actually read the Times article beyond page two to find that members of both Congress and the Judiciary were consulted and involved in the conduct of domestic security operations that were intensified after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Others analayzed the history of implementation of the program and its legal justification. Hugh Hewitt points to the 1972 decision in United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan et al, (407 U.S. 297) which is where, he suggests, "the debate over the president's executive order ought to begin and end."

Overlooked in most of the commentary on the New York Times article is the simple, undeniable fact that the president has the power to conduct warantless surveillance of foreign powers conspiring to kill Americans or attack the government. The Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable" searches and seizures has not been interpreted by the Supreme Court to restrict this inherent presidential power. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (an introduction from a critic of the Act is here) cannot be read as a limit on a constitutional authority even if the Act purported to so limit that authority.
The facts are not where this story began and the will certainly not influence its end, even as the damage has already been done... no doubt as expected. The story was cited as a reason for concern when a successful Senate filibuster on Friday blocked the extension of key aspects of the Patriot Act which will now terminate at the end of the year. Sixteen provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on Dec. 31, including the key information-sharing ones. It will effectively revert security conditions in the U.S. to a pre-9/11 stance.

In an
op-ed column in the New York Times over the weekend, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the Senate action "represents a grave potential threat to the nation's security..."

"The central provisions of the Patriot Act allow law enforcement and the intelligence community to share information. This might seem elementary, but for years law enforcement had been stymied by a legal wall that prevented agencies from sharing information. For four years now, inter-agency collaboration, made possible by the Patriot Act, has played an important role in preventing another day like Sept. 11. The act's provisions helped make possible the investigations in Lackawanna, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., in which 12 people were ultimately convicted for attempts to aid Al Qaeda and the Taliban."
Last year, Federal authorities dismissed their case against the ringleader of the Portland militant Islamic group after the FBI officially confirmed the death of Habis Abdulla Al Saoub in a shootout in Pakistan where he had joined Al Qu'aida. Portland's KATU news also reported over the weekend on the idictment of another member of the Portland terrorist ring.

A 39-year old Hillsboro man facing terrorism related charges appeared in front of a federal judge in downtown Portland this morning. Maher Hawash, a software engineer, was charged Monday with conspiracy to levy war and two counts of conspiring to provide material support to the two groups. He has been in custody since late March. The judge has now set a preliminary hearing for Hawash on Monday. Meanwhile, a US district attorney said he expects to present the case to a grand jury on Friday. If he is indicted by a grand jury, he will be arraigned Monday...

The government alleges Hawash flew to Hong Kong in October 2001, then traveled to China and tried to enter Afghanistan, but failed. They say his intent was to join Taliban and al Qaida forces in a jihad against the US. Federal officials also say they have evidence Hawash traveled with five of the so-called Portland six.

The attacks on September 11th caught America off guard and in transition after an 8 year Federal moratorium on brains. In the aftermath, the Mainstream Media was quick to condemn the new Administration for a failure of intelligence while exclusively dismissing the previous one of all responsibility. Armed with the courage of hind-sighted omniscience, Congress assembled an investigative commission to find out how it happened... relieving themselves of the burden of both introspection and responsibility. The conclusion, in short, was a tragic lack of seriousness in face of a clear and emminent threat. It is a condition that the New York Times and Congressional Democrats are attempting to ensure our return. Giuliani further explains,

"It is simply false to claim, as some of its critics do, that this bill does not respond to concerns about civil liberties. The four-year extension of the Patriot Act, as passed by the House, would not only reauthorize the expiring provisions - allowing our Joint Terrorism Task Force, National Counterterrorism Center and Terrorist Screening Center to continue their work uninterrupted - it would also make a number of common-sense clarifications and add dozens of additional civil liberties safeguards.

Given these improvements, there is simply no compelling argument for going backward in the fight against terrorism. Perhaps a reminder is in order. The bipartisan 9/11 commission described a vivid example of how the old ways hurt us. In the summer of 2001, an FBI agent investigating two individuals we now know were hijackers on Sept. 11 asked to share information with another team of agents. This request was refused because of the wall. The agent's response was tragically prescient: 'Someday, someone will die - and wall or not - the public will not understand why we were not more effective."
The MSM would have us agonizingly concerned about who is being watched in America - imagining ourselves, of course, to be the subjects of relentless observation among the innocent trappings of our daily activities. Four years have passed since that bloody Tuesday in September with no additional attacks. Perhaps it is the very success of domestic security efforts that have induced a renewed sense of safety ... and complacency. And yet, the threat lurking within our borders is both real and acute. It hides now in places like Lodi, California and Portland, Oregon and anywhere else it can nest and plot mass murder a la Madrid, Bali, London, Beslan. Thanks to the New York Times and Congressional Democrats, the issue at hand is not who is being watched... but now, who is not.

As Giuliani concludes,

"How quickly we forget."

It is soberingly clear that the United States Senate is simply not a serious representative body. Democrat insanity or Republican fecklessness notwithstanding, they are going to get Americans killed... again. In mass!

Hint: integrity, constitution, fortitude, courage, and determination.

Unfortunately the determination part exists exclusively on the Left side of the aisle... the insane side.

1 comment:

dueler88 said...

What I find particularly intriguing is that the net result of the action by the NYT will likely be that LESS communication and oversight will take place. The first posit in this context was that our allies will be reluctant to share information with us because of our inability to keep a secret, therefore placing the lives of our allies' citizens in jeapardy.

I will add to that the following: if I were W, I would be very reluctant to share the nature of intelligence/counterintelligence operations with ANYBODY outside of those critical to those operations.

W is in a bind. He is sworn to defend the citizens of the United States. In order to effectively do so now, however, he must bypass oversight.

With this leak, the NYT has forced one of two very negative results: that any President may be forced to (technically) act outside of the law to protect the citizens of the U.S., or that a string of leaks by the media will aide the enemy.

Nice going, NYT - and whoever leaked it.