terrorism prosecutions. “[S]ome Justice Department prosecutors, speaking on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified, said they were concerned that the agency’s wiretaps without warrants could create problems for the department in terrorism prosecutions both past and future. ‘If I’m a defense attorney,’ one prosecutor said, ‘the first thing I’m going to say in court is, ‘This was an illegal wiretap.””
make stuff up. New television ads by a right-wing advocacy group claim: “Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had ‘extensive ties’ to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those ‘willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions.’” (Via Atrios)
The right-wing spin machine wants you to believe that critics of the Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program are all liberals. Here’s Bill Kristol in the most recent issue of the Weekly Standard:
[L]iberals recoil unthinkingly from the obvious fact that our national security requires policies that are a step (but only a careful step) removed from ACLU dogma.
Actually, there are many very conservative people who vigorously oppose the program. For example, constitutional scholar Robert Levy — who is a board member at the right-wing Federalist Society — is an outspoken critic. The Federalist Society recently posted a Q&A with Levy on their website. Here are some highlights:
– The text of FISA §1809 is unambiguous: “A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally engages in electronic surveillance … except as authorized by statute.”
– I know of no court case that has denied there is a reasonable expectation of privacy by U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens in the types of wire communications that are reportedly monitored by the NSA’s electronic surveillance program.
– [I]n FISA §1811, Congress expressly contemplated warrantless wiretaps during wartime, and limited them to the first 15 days after war is declared.
Levy makes a powerful case and he’s not alone. Other prominent conservatives who have criticized the program include Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), conservative columnist George Will, former Reagan deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein and AEI scholar Norm Ornstein.
Defenders of President Bush’s secret spying program argue that it would have been impractical for the administration to seek amendments to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in the weeks after 9/11. Here’s Bill Kristol in the most recent issue of the Weekly Standard:
Was the president, in the wake of 9/11, and with the threat of imminent new attacks, really supposed to sit on his hands and gamble that Congress might figure out a way to fix FISA, if it could even be fixed?
The fact is the administration sought, and received, major amendments to FISA just weeks after 9/11 through the PATRIOT Act. Specifically, Section 218 of the PATRIOT Act loosened the requirements of FISA. Previously, the government was required to certify that obtaining foreign intelligence was the purpose of the surveillance. Section 218 allowed surveillance to be approved even if obtaining foreign intelligence was only a purpose of the surveillance. It sounds like a small change, but it is considered one of the most controversial provisions in the PATRIOT act.
The Bush administration argued then, and continues to argues today, that this change was essential for national security. We now know it’s all a ruse. Time spent in Congress debating Section 218 of the PATRIOT Act was a charade. President Bush ignores FISA completely when it suits his purposes.
neo-con darling and self-styled leader of Iraqi exiles, receives 0.89 percent of the vote among Iraqi exiles. His bloc is unlikely to win a single seat in the new Iraqi National Assembly. (Via Atrios)
The writers of Think Progress are technically on vacation until Tuesday, January 3rd. We’ll be posting anyway, but not with the regularity and frequency you’ve come to expect. Make sure to post any news we miss in the comments.