Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The NSA Story A Layman’s Perspective

****Update 3:15 pm*****

Welcome Hugh Hewitt Readers. Hugh actually inspired me to start this blog so it is great to have you all. I have been in meetings all day and didn't know you would be stopping by. I hope you don't mind the mess.

/bow and big thanks to Hugh.


Thanks to The Talking Points Memo and Hugh Hewitt for a link to this letter from Jay Rockefeller. There is now no doubt he knew exactly what was happening and did not stop it at the time. Instead he chose to play politics. Disgraceful.

If Senator Rockefeller was truly concerned about this as he states in his letter he should have worked it out quietly with the Whitehouse to come to some agreement on what was and was not kosher with the main goal being the safety of the American People. Not the Democrats chances at gaining back congress in 2006.

Check out Bill Baar who is a disgusted Dem like me.

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All I know is this is far too complicated for me to know the answer to. Let the Legal experts and Con Law Professors argue out the minutia and their complicated constitutional positions. What I do know is I don’t want our president running roughshod over the constitution. I also know I don’t want bureaucratic BS getting in the way of preventing terrorist plots designed to kill as many Americans as possible.

It appears President Bush used a loophole to authorize the NSA wire taps. The constitutional / legal arguments aside, is anyone really arguing that these wiretaps were a bad thing?

If our military or intelligence agencies capture a terrorist’s cell phone with Americans Phone #s on it, then those Americans phone calls should be monitored immediately. If that’s not legal or constitutional then it should be.

I think the questions about the constitutionality and legality of this policy are justified. I understand the concept of the slippery slope. This legislation should be very narrowly defined and leave no ambiguity about what does and does not qualify for monitoring phone calls of citizens/aliens/ or residents with terrorist ties.

This story should have never seen the light of day. We should not be talking about this for the world to see, alerting our enemies to our abilities and tactics. Whoever leaked this story needs to be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What should have happened is Senators or Congressmen in either party who took issue with this policy should have raised this privately with the Whitehouse and drafted legislation that clarified what was and was not kosher and got on with the business of protecting the citizens of the United States.

I am not letting the President off the hook on this one either. It seems the administration knew this was a grey area at best. They should have brought this up with responsible Democratic leaders (see Joe Lieberman) and quietly attached an amendment buried in some other innocuous sounding bill thereby keeping our enemies in the dark.

Our nation’s leaders have failed us all by playing politics with all of our lives.

You have to read

Will there be a place for Dems like me to run?

I think Just one Minute has the best round up on this topic.

I was very interested in this particular bit of information:

A high-ranking intelligence official with firsthand knowledge said in an interview yesterday that Vice President Cheney, then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, then a lieutenant general and director of the National Security Agency, briefed four key members of Congress about the NSA's new domestic surveillance on Oct. 25, 2001, and Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after Bush signed a highly classified directive that eliminated some restrictions on eavesdropping against U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Senate intelligence committee and is the only participant thus far to describe the meetings extensively and on the record, said in interviews Friday night and yesterday that he remembers "no discussion about expanding [NSA eavesdropping] to include conversations of U.S. citizens or conversations that originated or ended in the United States" -- and no mention of the president's intent to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The high-ranking intelligence official, who spoke with White House permission but said he was not authorized to be identified by name, said Graham is "misremembering the briefings," which in fact were "very, very comprehensive." The official declined to describe any of the substance of the meetings, but said they were intended "to make sure the Hill knows this program in its entirety, in order to never, ever be faced with the circumstance that someone says, 'I was briefed on this but I had no idea that -- ' and you can fill in the rest."

By Graham's account, the official said, "it appears that we held a briefing to say that nothing is different . . . . Why would we have a meeting in the vice president's office to talk about a change and then tell the members of Congress there is no change?"

I am sure there will be more later.


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