agree to a short, one-month extension of the Patriot Act, rather than the longer extension being sought in the Senate? Because conservatives believe “a shorter extension will make it possible to jam the unacceptable conference report through the Congress,” according to Sen. Feingold. “I will fight against that as hard in January as I did in November and December.”
Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin today criticized columnist George Will, suggesting he lives in “pre-September 11 America,” because Will argued that Congress would likely have authorized President Bush’s spying program if the White House had simply requested it.
Just one teensy weensy problem: the NSA program was (and still is) classified. Is Will suggesting that Bush could have requested the authority he needed without revealing the existence of the NSA program? Or does he think Bush should have trusted 535 members of Congress and their staffers to keep the program secret?
Michelle Malkin apparently doesn’t understand how Congress works. The existence of NSA surveillance operations is classified. The authorities under which they operate are not. (In fact, you can go read them.) Will is suggesting that President Bush could have requested the authority he needed from Congress without revealing the actual operation, because this is precisely what the NSA does, pursuant to the law.
When the NSA seeks a change in statute, a joint meeting of the House and Senate intelligence committees is arranged. If they deem the changes appropriate, the committees fashion the necessary legislation, which then works its way through Congress.
Malkin seems to believe this is a rare occurence. Actually, it happens all the time. Every year, Congress must produce an intelligence budget, the overwhelming majority of which is classified. Other than two occassions when CIA director George Tenet discussed the total intelligence budget figure, “Officials have not released totals…, nor have they ever provided a breakdown of the intelligence budget by agency or activity.”
Michelle Malkin needs a civics refresher.
Tami Birckner, the Fox Carolina reporter who ran the one-sided fluff piece on StormFront.org, a popular hub for white supremacists and anti-Semites, was an active participant in the website’s chat forums.
Think Progress contacted Birckner this afternoon and she confirmed that she is “FOXSC” on StormFront’s forums. Since joining in October, Birckner has posted five times, often gaining feedback (and praise) on her StormFront coverage:
I am FOX Carolina reporter who reported this story. I contacted dozens of Stormfront members, all of whom (with the exception of Bob Whitaker and Jamie Kelso) declined to talk with me for this story because of the believed slant I would put into this story. I hope this can show those of you who have little faith in the media that there are journalists who take pride in being factual and unbiased.
I am the reporter who did this story. For those of you who live in the FOX Carolina viewing area, I am willing to do a follow-up story to show a better make-up of the people who are members and talk more in-depth about your beliefs. THis would probably air in February. Let me know if you are interested.
Birckner’s praise of StormFront didn’t go unnoticed by Jamie Kelso (“Charles Lindbergh”), the site’s Senior Moderator, 11/14/05:
One detail that I forgot (until just yesterday) was to unmoderate our new Stormfront Member, FOXSC, so that Fox could post more easily on Stormfront.
Birckner told Think Progress that she is unsure whether or not she will be doing a follow-up piece and is waiting to hear more from the “local community.” When asked why she didn’t include some voices that were critical of StormFront, she replied she did the story exactly as she was told to and that officials at the network were very pleased with her coverage.
Fox affiliate “FOX Carolina” last month ran a one-sided fluff piece exploring StormFront.org, an online hub for white supremacists.
The Anti-Defamation League describes StormFront as a “veritable supermarket of online hate, stocking its shelves with many forms of anti-Semitism and racism.” Yet not a single critical voice is included in the Fox story — only StormFront members and moderators are included.
ThinkProgress has acquired the video of the segment. (Note: the clip is “annotated” with text commentary by StormFront members.) Watch it:
FOX Carolina’s website has removed both the video and transcript of this segment from its website. ThinkProgress called the network today to ask why the story had been removed; a network official told us it had nothing to do with protests over the piece, but rather was part of the station’s normal process of removing older stories from its website. In other words, it appears the station stands by the story.
Former Christian Coalition director and Abramoff lackey Ralph Reed says that traditional values guide all his decisions in politics. “I now realize that politics is a noble calling to serve God and my fellow man,” he once told Time magazine. He’s been an outspoken proponent of outlawing all “indecent” content from the Internet:
“We’re interested in outlawing all pornographic and indecent communication, which makes it harder for a site to entice children in.” [Washington Times, 3/24/97]
“What I want to do is to ensure that cyberspace is family friendly and children friendly.” [CNN, 7/3/95]
Given his passionate opposition to Internet smut, we wonder what Ralph thinks of his spokeswoman Lisa Baron’s column, published online, for the Atlanta Sunday Paper. Some notable excerpts (viewer discretion advised):
“There was a ho in my hotel. A real-live booty-shaking, rump-selling, shaggarific, cash (or check) taking, living cesspool of questionable life choices right there, smack dab in the middle of our lives and about to enter the Los Angeles hotel where we were staying. It was awesome.” [Link]
“I swear I don’t have a big vagina, but over the Thanksgiving holiday, I told my father-in-law I did.” [Link]
“Jimmy says that bisexual plumbers are not a good enough reason to move to San Diego.” [Link]
“Jimmy thinks that because I refer to my bootcamp instructor John, as my knight-in-shining-black-chocolate, that I want to have tantric, rabid, back-breaking, aerobic, primal, lengthy, suspended-from-the-ceiling, extracurricular, shout-it-from-the-hill-tops sex with him.” [Link]
Remember, Ralph: sanctimonious moralizing starts at home.
“After meeting with both sides through the night, state mediators have devised a preliminary framework for a settlement of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority contract dispute that would allow strikers to return to work later today.”
During his unsuccessful fight to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) displayed his acting chops as he nailed a full range of roles:
THE GRINCH: “I want you to know we’re going to be here until (New Years Day) … We’re going to stay here until this is finished. I can’t go home for Christmas. I’ve already canceled (airplane tickets).”
THE GODFATHER: “Every one of you, have you ever come as chairman of appropriations and tell me you needed help for your state and I have turned you down?”
DIRTY HARRY: “I’m going to go to every one of your states, and I’m going to tell them what you’ve done.”
EEYORE (OF WINNIE THE POOH): “This has been the saddest day of my life.”
If Stevens ever retires, he should really look into following in former Sen. Fred Thompson’s (R-TN) footsteps.
“The image of N.S.A. has been muddied considerably by this revelation,” said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian who is writing a multiple-volume history of the agency. Mr. Aid said several agency employees he spoke with on Friday were disturbed to learn of the special program, which was known to only a small number of officials. ‘All the N.S.A. people I’ve talked to think domestic surveillance is anathema,’ Mr. Aid said.”