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August 06, 2007


This weekend I went to my local Ace Hardware to purchase a new toilet seat. I chose the one that said 'real oak' and ambled home. Apparently, 'real oak' is the trade name and has nothing whatsoever to do with the materials used.

My point is, what defines a terrorist and his activities and associations? When you talk with your in-laws, are you talking to people who are associated with terrorists because they reside in a country that has known conflict? And does the definition enjoy moving goalposts according to the curiosity of the listeners? Padilla's case illustrates this right in Congress's face and yet I didn't see discussion during the FISA vote Saturday night. If indeed the Decider is the one who defines terrorist the one more block just fell into place.

I certainly agree with the analysis of the timing behind the urgency. I was watching the House vote and it was confusing to hear the Republicans explain that FISA had been out of date since the 1970s -- some really hit this point, explaining about copper wiring and kitchen phones hanging on the wall -- and how therefore it was really critical to revise this law that's been out of date for three decades, in the next month, without explaining why it was suddenly relevant or why the last two Republican Congresses hadn't dealt with it if it was so important. It left the impression that they had all just woken up that morning and realized cell phones aren't just for sex messaging.

One question I had about the technical details relates to this:
the only proof they need to offer, regarding who is the target and what is the value for intelligence collection, is the word of DNI Mike McConnell and AG Alberto Gonzales

is that actually an "AND" or an "OR"?

Also, a piece of comprehension that I have found missing in the bulk of postings on this is what you capture here:
if the government wants to collect my phone calls to my parents-in-law in Ireland...they're going to get to hear about our plans to meet in South Carolina in the fall.

I think this response would be common among Americans, in numbers greater than I think is appreciated, would say "sure, if you think it's important for intelligence, tap my phones now and then. I've got nothing to hide." If there is going to be an uprising against the renewal of this bill in six months, that attitude ought to be targeted. It either needs to be shown that the information collected is being used for some other nefarious purpose that even the most clean-conscienced American would not be ok with, or the focus should be put on the ineptitude of the government at keeping secrets and the fear of identity theft and having personal details "loose" on the internet that Americans already are alarmed by.

Thanks emptywheel, very, very sad. IMVHO, the Dems who voted for it were triangulating ahead to the next attack. They figured if they did not gut FISA, after the next attack, the GOP would have blamed our inability to stop it on them.

A handy guide to those who voted "yes" and their home pages:


"I was watching the House vote and it was confusing to hear the Republicans explain that FISA had been out of date since the 1970s..."

Yep, I think the reality is even worse. IIRC, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 has been updated frequently, most recently in 2004.

RIP the unbelievably economical 4th Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Why? Why did they capitulate. I need some reasonable explanation because I cannot believe that they (who voted in favor) are ALL idiots. It's too black and white. What is the grey area? I am trying hard to do my dialectical synthesis here.

It makes sense for dems to vote this way because...

It makes NO sense for dems to vote this way because...

Synthesis of two polar discussions.

It's dangerous for america that the dems voted this way.

It's safer for americans that the dems voted this way.


HELP I am too emotional to get to the polar arguements. You people are good at this...help us get to the kernal of truth in both sides and come up with a synthesis that works. I believe the universe always provides one.

Last I checked there weren't no stinkin telephones around or even radio signals when the the 4th Amendement waw adopted. But low and behold when telephones were invented the 4th Amendment applied. How much more disingenous from a Constitutional perspective could the technology argument be?

It makes POLITICAL sense for dems to vote this way because..., because they felt if they did not, the GOP would blame them for the next attack.

I used "political" above in its worst form. I did not mean in anyway to defend the vote as I think it was completely indefensible for both Democrats and Republicans.

Why are Pelosi and Conyers suggesting amendment of the FISA bill NOW? Seems that (great) damage has already been done...


Yes, there is an AND. But I'm not sure what that AND entails, and even if the FISA court is unhappy with the way that AND works, there's not much they can do about it.


I've nudged Kagro to do such a post--or more specifically, to explain why the Dem House bill failed and the Senate/WH bill passed. And I think th two worked in conjunction.

That is, there was a real need--one even Russ Feingold agreed with--to give the govt permission to tap international communications taht traverse US backbones. That's effectivley what the House bill was, plus it had a 90 or 120 day sunset. Though I think it still left the "how do you tell an international call" undefined. So that mean Dems couldn't support that in block. Meanwhile, the other bill only needed a fraction of the Dems on board.

So "why"? Because there is a need, and Dems didn't have the leadership to address just that need and get a bill passed.

Bob Novak on the Diane Rehm show today at 11. a.m. Call in your questions 1800-433-8850 or [email protected]

Well, I just think if there is a person outside this country in the tubz on this here internets site typing with all of us, we'll all can potentially be legally monitored can't we? Just in case, I'm Waving hello to Abu and McConnell right now.

Another point, that Abu part is just frightening. As we all know he's just Cheney/ADdington/Rove's sockpuppet. Don't you think for a minute the next time any critic of Cheney's will be spared from this especially after we saw what he and his henchman did to Mr. Wilson and "the wife".

Lastly, even Fred Hiatt gets this right this time. He even understands the wide ranging implications and possible ramifications of it.

Political triangulation on the FISA vote was required by the Dems because they have no affirmative message of their own to counter the Rep spin.

The true, meaningful message of preservation of American values and upholding the constitution seems to be too tricky for them.

The next attack will not be prevented by listening in on any US citizen. The Dems should have been willing to suspend that fear. Besides, if that was the threat hanging over the Dems then they must think "something" and/or "some organization" might cause the appearance of a terrorist motivated act on our soil. Please note the word appearance and the politics behind the word. I hope our Dems are not being pulled over a barrel by a threat.

Here is my suggestion. Have millions protest this decision and let We The People take the responsibility for the next attack in the name of protecting 4th Amendment rights. The Dems cannot be blamed if their constituency is standing up in mass numbers and saying, "No!"

I see the crazy logic of Dems not overturning it.. something happens and then the Dems can say, "see, it didn't work." That thinking is dangerous because then it will okay the violation of more rights in the name of fear and protecting the US. The moral question is, "Are we going to sacrifice Constitutional rights because of fear or are we going to preserve, protect and uphold the Constitution and Bill of Rights despite threat. I'll take my chances and select preservatioon despite the threat?

The fact is, if we had spent the $$ spent on the war to secure our ports, borders, airports, energy etc... We would not be making legislative decisions out of fear and violating the rights of We The People.

Katie -- EW hits the nail on the head here, Bush pressed for FISA because with Gonzo's recent testimony coupled with Mueller's there was the very real possibility that the illegal spying that had been going on would come to light. Pelosi has known about the abuses as a member of the Gang of 8, but did nothing to stop it, so she needs the political cover as well. Both Dems and Rethugs get a lot of corporate campaign donations, and the telcos were legally exposed by their complicity in turning over records without warrants, so they wanted this legislation too. Meanwhile the 'fraidy cats in the Dem caucus are petrified of being blamed should another attack occur. So here you have a perfect storm of interests coming together to blow apart the 4th amendment.

mighty mouse -- Pelosi's letter to Conyers was political cover. Period. She also voted against the amendment, no doubt to be able to pretend that she was not in favor of it. However, as Speaker she could have prevented the bill from coming to the floor. At the very least, she could have waited until after recess for a more thoughtful debate. But, since that was the last thing the power brokers in DC wanted, that did not occur.

Note, I do not intend to single out Pelosi, Reid is also on the hook here. But, Pelosi's letter to Conyers added insult to injury.

It is important, that we don't rely on the facile response of only holding the 41 Dem Reps. and 16 Dem. Sens. who voted in favor of the legislation responsible. The leadership is primarily responsible no matter how they voted, nor what nice sounding letters they write just for show.

Some technical people have to evaluate which equipment's sales will escalate under the neoFISA bill just signed.

EW - is it possible that despite the change in legislation, a judge on the FISA court could declare the new FISA as being unconstitutional due to its violations of the 4th Amendment? The very strict application of standing rules by the federal courts make it difficult to apply for a declaratory judgment in the normal course, with of course the "national security" restrictions to prevent any case from moving forward even if a plaintiff who was directly affected could be identified, but it would seem that the only hope is for a principled FISA judge to declare the whole program unconstitutional. Now, I appreciate that Bushco ignored an inconvenient ruling for months from the FISA court, and the doctrine of mootness in the event of such a ruling would set in after the 6 month period expired, but as I understand it, the FISA judges are not simply limited to applying FISA, they can apply constitutional law as well. Correct? I'm sure the FISA judges are carefully vetted for such instincts, and true civil libertarians are just not appointed, but this seems to be the only hope for change at this point, because I do not see "making FISA more terrorist-friendly" to be a priority if the Democrats take back the unitary executive in 2009 - think Clinton and gays in the military. Is it too much to expect Judge Walton to come to the rescue of the rule of law twice in one administration?

This is not the version of "bipartisan" any of us expected from Harry Reid, let alone Nancy Pelosi. The enhanced, bipartisan version of Bush's authority to search without a warrant can access all communications with a "foreign" target for purposes of collecting "intelligence".

A target is deemed foreign when that conclusion is based on a "reasonable belief", a nasty Post-It note from Cheney, for example. For Fredo, "foreign" includes every restaurant whose name isn't written in English. I know, the "foreign" target is supposed to be overseas - but in CheneyWorld, there's the Sea of Doubt, which all of us live on the other side of. "Intelligence" is whatever Bush wants and Fredo says is OK. Finally, the "target" need no longer have any connection to "terrorism" or "crime". Among other things, this should make every foreign competitor of a US firm that has close ties to Cheney a little bit more nervous.

Consider, if you will, other scenarios. What about the combination of those low "hurdles" and modern technology, which can sweep up whatever's carried on the cable or satellite? Does the "tap" apply only to the single overseas call? What if the target or contact is a business, with lots of telephones and computers? Does it apply to them all, since Raoul or Juan or Ahmed or Trevor can just use his neighbor's phone or computer. What happens when the US side of the "target's" communications changes identity - the number or computer or other device changes hands? What's the protocol?

In CheneyWorld, a 1% risk justifies drastic govt action. What are the odds, then, that once a tap is made, it's never undone? Once the data's collected, is it ever destroyed, or does it remain on a server farm and get analyzed from time to time as ever more diligent s/w pokes and prods it? Every time that happens, is the data is collated with other data on the target's contact's file, which then gets bigger and bigger, like a J. Edgar Hoover dress-up doll that lives on steroids and baked beans?

Is the information ever verified, corrected or challenged? Can anyone challenge how it's used or distributed to any of a maze of "private contractors", who might use it for their own undisclosed purposes (because that keeps the govt's contract price lower)?

Enquirer Minds want to know, but apparently, not anyone in Congress. While we sort out what to do, let's have a contest for the best analogies. Matrix meets Enemy of the State? Is Cheney really the Architect or just another rogue program?

earlofhuntingdon -- If you're looking for movie analogies, I would go with Minority Report.

Right EofH. Are these snoopers going to be listening into my my service calls to Dell handled out of India? The implications for commercial espionage in the FISA amendement in the global economy are staggering

Fred Hiatt, like a Greek bearing gifts, is not to be trusted. His editorial sounds right, but I suspect it's main purpose is to show how badly Democrats perform when they have the majority. (Campaign '08, anyone?) Never mind that GOP'ers may do worse, which Fred never bothers to acknowledge. Hiatt's Post is about getting the Dems while appearing to be neutral, just like the GOP maneuvered-FISA legislation that just passed Congress.

As most will have seen by now, that success has merely emboldened Shrub to demand more. (I guess the Rhineland and Sudetenland weren't enough.) He wants his enablers - those who "allegedly assisted" his intelligence gathering (AT&T, the black ops contractors who set up listening/copying posts, ad nauseum) - to have a legislatively minted Get Out of Jail Free card. If Pelosi and Reid cave on that, they should pack up and go home, or ask Kneepads Lieberman for a staff job.

At some point - and going at the current rate, SOON - we're going to have to declare the 'Rule of Law' as our own partisan issue - as voices for national sanity - until BushCo is out of power - or, until we're too busy getting spanked and whipped by Sara Taylor at a Gooper Labor Camp.

When events like the FISA disembowelment happen - an obvious circumvention of individual rights in the name of 'safety' - that should tell us that RoL concerns are being drowned out by the ideological mob's desire to 'wipe-out' it's perceived enemies.

The cracks legally incorporated into FISA last Saturday are more than sufficient to lay the foundation for an ideological wall that spans the globe - and cuts across our own Country - to which the Fourth Amendment only applies to those on the 'inside' of our own Country.

The new FISA changes allow McConnell and Gonzo to decide who is on the 'inside,' and who is not - ideologically - while ignoring the Rule of Law.

Is that not the same as saying our Ship of State is becoming rudderless to the Rule of Law, driven by ideology, and that Citizenship might someday be a discretionary matter determined by the 'powers that be'?

Now the Administration is on to the important task of covering their own, and their
corporate co-conspirators, butts for past crimes. Take a look at what AT&T says:


E of H

With humor and impending irony, I must post two words:

Halliburton Dubai!

Now there's a streamline of information for NSA...

So I can trust there will not be consistent enactment of the legislation...

Is this new power invested in the AG one that he can delegate, like he delegated the decisions on which USAs should be terminated?

As most every sentient being now knows, in a madcap rush to cower in fear, the United States Congress, between Wednesday August 1, 2007 and Sunday August 5, 2007, rammed through passage of legislation gutting FISA Court jurisdiction and eviscerating the Fourth Amendment and other Constitutional privacy protections. The hasty and ill considered legislation was demanded by the Bush Administration. The Democratic leadership and Congressional majorities were cowed into going along with the shredding of our Constitutional underpinnings by the bully pulpit of George Bush and the well oiled machinery and media savvy of the GOP. They, as always, had their voices ready, spoke in unison and got their message out with effectively little to no objection and counterpoint. The most odious and damaging acts always get rammed past a timid and docile Democratic base by the superior message discipline and PR machine of the GOP.

If just once the Democrats and progressives in this country had their most powerful Senators, Presidential candidates and most effective public relations people and grassroots organizers together in one place, organized and with coverage by all of the mainstream media; maybe, just maybe, things would be different. With all the blogging luminaries, political movement organizers and high profile politicians in one place, say Chicago for instance, they could come together as one and focus on the sacred oath and duty to defend the Constitution. They could all discuss the critical issue at hand, hold rallies in unison, give inspirational speeches, whip their fellow bloggers and politicians into a purposeful frenzy and get the word out like never before seen from the left side of the aisle. The perfect storm of opportunity could be harnessed to once and for all fully inform the American people of what is going on in our country and make a principled stand for what is right, just and Constitutional.

Wouldn't it be glorious to see all the bloggers, their supporters and the politicians in one place and point in time, dropping their own interests, their own pet peeves, their own self congratulations, and putting duty to country and Constitution first and foremost? That perfect storm of opportunity and necessity might well be a seminal turning point in the restoration of our Democracy. I guess we can always dream of what might have been at Yearly Kos in Chicago during the first week of August 2007. Instead, the new bosses are already same as the old bosses.

"Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were, and ask why not". - Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Unlike many who believe the Dems caved in because they are wimps I am of the opinion that the Dems deliberately gutted FISA and provided Cheney legal cover to prevent any real investigation behind the extent of the spying on Americans and provide themselves cover from having to take action on the Cheney regime's absolute abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

What the Church commission warned about in the late 70s has come true. We are now in a legal dictatorship and its not just Cheney who helped create it but Pelosi and Reid too. None of the Dem presidential candidates went to the mat on the gutting of the Constitutional protections for individual liberty. Its clear as day where both parties stand with respect to the Constitution and individual rights.

Folks we are on our own!

Here is Senator James Webb's explanation for his vote on S 1927:

"Yesterday I supported two measures to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. These measures were considered against the backdrop of heightened concerns from our nation's intelligence community abut the threat of international terrorism. The ramifications of the two amendments before us last night were not political. Instead they related to the urgent demands of national security. I chose to heed those warnings. We now have six months to work in earnest to bring full accountability to the process.

This distinction and the threats to national security were stated clearly by Admiral McConnell as well as four of the eight Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. These members, Senators Feinstein, Mikulski, Bayh, and Bill Nelson, have extensive experience on intelligence matters and are respected champions of civil rights and liberties. They chose to give significant weight and deference to the intelligence community on FISA reform, and so did I.

There is near uniform, bipartisan agreement on the need to reform FISA to reflect modern telecommunications and information technology. We must do so in a way that safeguards basic civil and constitutional rights. But we must also remember that the terrorist threat to the nation is extremely serious. I remain fully committed to bringing accountability to this process, and to protecting the privacy rights of all Americans."

From this it appears that this vote was based on:

1) Some information about a live terrorist "threat" and it's supposed connection to the need to modify surveillance law to meet these "urgent demands" and "warnings."

2) Some notion that given 6 more months to work on this, Congress - at least that part of Congress called Jim Webb - will be "fully committed to bringing accountability to this process."

3) Jim Webb trusts Admiral McConnell, with respects to "threats" and a "distinction" (???) voiced to Senator Webb by McConnell, it looks like probably in person. I would note in this context that Larisa Alexandrova of Raw Story had this to say at the time of McConnell's appointment:

"The nomination of retired Vice Admiral John Michael "Mike" McConnell to be Director of National Intelligence is part of an effort by the Vice President to tighten the Administration’s grip on domestic intelligence and grease the wheels for a more aggressive stance towards Iran, current and former intelligence officials believe. . . . "McConnell worked with Cheney during the Gulf War. . . . He is not competent, but he is someone they can control," [one] official added."

You may take that as you will, a balance it with the trust Jim Webb has invested in McConnell in his vote on S 1927.

4) Some reliance on the "experience" of Democrats on the Senate Intel Committee, including Senator Feinstein, who had this to say about her vote (at least according to her website today):

“I spoke with Admiral Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, at length this evening. He believes the United States is vulnerable, and that we need to move quickly to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The intelligence community is deeply concerned that chatter among suspected terrorist networks is up. I am concerned as well. We are living in a period of heightened vulnerability, and must give the intelligence community the tools they need to protect America.

This legislation is a temporary fix. It is not permanent and it expires in six months. It immediately addresses critical gaps in our intelligence-collection efforts – while preserving a role for FISA court review.

I voted for both bills because one needed 60 votes to pass. It is vital that we act now. We cannot leave the nation unprotected in this post-9/11 period.”

So Senator Webb seems to have agreed on the main talking points, circular argument thing. I had hoped for more independent thinking from Mr. Webb, but it looks like Potomac Fever overcame his immune system after all.

bmaz --thanks for your excellent comment above. It is painful to contemplate the "what ifs"...

I've been spending a bit of time over at FDL this morning trying to convey that we have to do something drastic. The Congressional Dems have shown us their true colors and they are not what we expected them to be. It's time to consider Plan B.

I think we need to emulate Howard Dean's 50 state strategy and find progressive candidates to run against Dem incumbents (not just the Rethugs). LHP suggested looking at Dems who voted to support Alito and the FISA bill (and I would add the MCA) as a first pass on who we most need to replace. I would include the senior leadership (starting with Pelosi and Reid, but others as well) to convey our extreme displeasure.

However, I am open to any and all other suggestions. Anybody have any thoughts on what we do now?

Phred, I think that is a good start. There are moments in time that must be seized; but we never do. I am tired of fighting from our heels even when we have the majorities. The damage done by the FISA "reform" is absolutely immense; and much of it cannot be undone, even if the act is. The legal and rhetorical cover given the criminal Bush Administration, coupled with the mortal wound to our supposed occupance of the moral high ground, will never be reeled in. I would like to note that my hands are not entirely clean either. Although I was kicking and screaming over the last week, it should have been louder and more pointed, and I should have tried to call out the Yearly Kos participants, both bloggers and politicians, during the fact as opposed to after. I wrote the comment because I thought it needed to be said; not because I am holier than any of the "thous" at Yearly Kos. We have simply got to learn, adapt and do better than we have been. I truly believe the people, at least in their subconscience, are now well ahead of even the bloggers, much less the politicians. The time of need in this country is NOW, not in the post-electoral security of January 2009.

I wonder if those "gut feelings" about another attack was part of the setup for pushing this crap through. As much as I am loath to admit it; I don't think the Dems had much choice. If they had said no, I am convinced that an attack WOULD occur.

Pardon me, I am getting a transmission from that Major League Baseball satellite.

Through the eye slits in my tin foil helmet, I am seeing the Big Dick threatening to trigger a bomb in a Repug district with a "made in Iran" sticker on it if he wasn't allowed to keep spying on whomever he wants to. (If it was in a Democratic district, the 28per-centers wouldn't care, Democratic voters will care as long as it's PEOPLE being hurt).

Geeze, I can see the alarms going off in Crystal City from THAT comment.

So now that everything is legal and the Democratic Chiefs have laid hands on it and said "this is good," can we all be friends?


it is tough when you find your idols have feet of clay. That happened to me with Bush.

Jodi, in a word -- no.

No Jodi, you nattering twit, everything is most definitely NOT legal, nor Constitutional. You CANNOT make criminal conduct performed under an unconstitutional statute legal by passing another unconstitutional statute or amendment thereto. This is just layered and compounded illegality and unconstitutionality. And NO, I ain't ready to make nice!

Webb says: "We now have six months to work in earnest to bring full accountability to the process."

Guess who will use that 6 months more productively. Webb didn't admit that the Big Dick now has 6 more months to dig up dirt on anyone who would be stupid enough to ask for accountability.

As soujourner said on an earlier thread

"As a long-time moderate Republican, I had to applaud last year when the Dems won control of Congress. I felt that there were (and are) some great abuses going on, and that new leadership could help to end those abuses. Instead, the new leadership is helping to continue them.

I have played with various ideas about all this, and there is only one conclusion that I can reach: the Bushies have a new "nuclear" option in play. That option, that they must be publicizing behind the scenes, is that they will stop at nothing to "keep this country safe," and they say it with a crazed look in their eyes.

It is the ultimate form of political blackmail, and one more sign of the dictatorship we now have."

What could they possibly have / do. Nuke Iran? Not hold elections? Even though the DOJ is compromised, the threat of criminal prosecution combined with personal smears / humiliations can control most any group. Dems, Rethugs, Judges, and MSM members included.

Just buy land in Paraguay. That might get you through the night.

Swwwiiiisshhhhh! *Crack*

“Allright! Listen up, you dirty fucking hippies!”

Ssswwwwiiiishhhhh! *Crack*

“My name is Sara Taylor, and you are standing in Gooper Labor Camp No. 1…affectionately known as Camp Obedience!”

“If you are here, it’s because - number one - you’re a dirty fucking hippy. And - number two - you’ve been showing your keyboarding ass at either Firedoglake or Thenexthurrah.”

“Now, a word to the wise - when you see me in my leathers, like I am today, you better run! ‘Cause it means I’m going to do some personal re-educating!”

“I haven’t forgotten all the wicked little lies you told about me testifyin’ to the former Congress.”

“You all think you’re so smart - Swwwwwiiiisssshhhh! *Crack* - but you’re ignorant! And I’m here to show you just how badly mistaken you are!”

“You will learn loyalty - mark.my.words.”

"... HELP I am too emotional to get to the polar arguements. You people are good at this...help us get to the kernal of truth in both sides and come up with a synthesis that works. I believe the universe always provides one."
Posted by: Katie Jensen | August 06, 2007 at 10:30

Katie, I agree, but like it or not by posting here you are now one of "you people". Do you realize Bush and his folks think you're a threat to them and America? They could be bugging you even as I write. And, besides, you misspelled "arguments" and that is subversive of the language. Boo!

Seriously, if you have trouble reading between the lines then I probably would too. We'd be better off just asking one or two of those Dems who voted for it to explain their thinking.

"Is this new power invested in the AG one that he can delegate, like he delegated the decisions on which USAs should be terminated?"
Posted by: turtlens | August 06, 2007 at 13:04

Wow, FANTASTIC question!

The typical approach of a Bushie is to say, "Well I don't see why not, there's nothing saying I can't".

No right of Privacy for 6 months, eh?

I wonder if the Repubs have any legal cases on abortion they can bring to the SCOTUS in that time.

>it is tough when you find your idols have feet of clay.<

When the legendary Greek General Plastiras came to meet Winston Churchill toward the end of WWII, Churchill supposedly said that he hoped the general didn't have feet of clay. This is the funniest Churchill quote I know.

Saw a rightwinger's blog with this about FISA

Saw a rightwinger's blog with this about FISA

I'm real curious about one part of this conversation that I have offline about this and how you guys feel about it.

It seems logical to me that Congress cannot give the President powers that are inherently unconstitutional without altering the constitution with the full vote of House and Senate to do so first.

So if they haven't already overturned the constitutional amendment numba 4, then this law is inherently unconstitutional anyway. They can't give him authority they aren't allowed to give him without first altering the constitutional amendments.

That being said, I am aware of the recent court decision that if you can't prove YOU were wiretapped then you won't have standing anyway, but let us talk about that a bit if possible.

Chris-Amending the constitution takes more than a vote of Congress. First Congress must propose by passing by 2/3rds of both houses then the proposed amendment requires ratification by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states. Or the legislatures of 2/3rds the states vote to call for a convention at which constitutional amendments can be proposed. Amendments proposed by the convention would again require ratification by the legislatures of 3/4ths of the states.

JH. Thomason - That is correct. Of course, there is the other way of amending the Constitution, i.e. by passing some half ass legislative statute that nobody understands, eviscerates constitutional protections and is designed to be effectively immune to challenge.....

This still doesn't make sense. If (as Webb proclaimed) the 4 other senators(DiFi, Mikulski,Bayh and Nelson) on Intelligence heard something so compelling that they decided to vote "yes", how about the other dems on the committee, why didn't they go along?
Also, I like the idea that an unconstituional law cannot stand. But who has the "standing" to bring this up before a court?

Katie Jacob - Well, that is the problem, nobody has, nor arguably can attain, standing. That, plus some other more technical legal reasons, is exactly why I stated above that the law "is effectively immune to challenge".


With respect to the threat Webb and others may have perceived, at some point information manipulation becomes an art where normally decency calls for simple honesty. Consider the Niger Forgeries for instance, or the forged documents that took down Dan Rather, the coordinated efforts to out Plame and the insta-declassification of the NIE or the political whisper campaigns for which Rove is famous. In the end of course it should result in a Chicken Little kind of problem for the Administration. I suppose in the post modern political environment propoganda is to be expected and so in DC it can be practiced with impunity. Still, for now should we not be reasonably suspicous that threat information was created and floated to manipulate Congress? Out here in the hinterlands some decency still holds sway.

I am amazed that anybody believes that the Bush administration is acting in good faith. I've been out of pocket for a few days (participating in a disaster recovery exercise for the day job) and haven't had a chance to comment on all this. Here are a couple of points that I haven't seen anyone make. First, we simply have to look at this in the context of the entire set of police state policies (I don't know what else to call them) being implemented by the Bush administration with the acquiescence of Congress. Think about the revelations about the NSLs, the executive order authorizing the freezing of assets of anybody the Bush administration accuses of opposing the Iraqi government, the complete politicization of all governmental functions, the selective use of classified leaks to manipulate the press, the public and Congress by punishing political opponents, the use of "state secrets" to prevent judicial oversight, denial of habeas corpus, secret prisons (we used to call those gulags), the assertion of the right to indefinitely detain American citizens without judicial review, and the glorification of torture as a necessary implement of security. The most disturbing thing about all of this is that we seem to accept the fact that this will happen in secret, without oversight, and with absolutely no recourse for the citizen. I guess nobody reads Kafka and Orwell anymore.

Second, it is clear to me that the whole point of Gonzales' testimony about the March 2004 Gang of Eight meeting was a setup for this FISA push. It was a double shot across the bow of the Democratic leadership, putting on the record their complicity then and warning them that failure to roll over now would lead to the Administration blaming them for any successful terrorist act anywhere in the world.

It was obvious that the timing was based upon the cracks in the facade on the Other Spying Shit that was going on. Bush more or less demanded that the successor bill includes immunity for spooks.

What's more interesting is the question of what Bush held over the head of Reid and Pelosi to get this POS bill through Congress. Perhaps it was some complicity in the illegal shit. Perhaps it was a promise that he'd go back to Texas and wipe his ass with ever NIE presented to him, and if an attack happened, they'd be to blame.

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