January 1, 2006

Reaching For the Scars

Hatched by Dafydd

"There you go again."

Coming back to the well of paranoia for the 537th sip, the New York Times now reports, with ominous, minor-key music in the background, that the Bush administration had to suspend some parts of the NSA intercept program for a few months due to concerns of legality raised by Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey. This is presented by the Times as yet more evidence of the perfidy of Bush and his tyrannical, Dick-Durbinesque Gestapo.

According to the story,

A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.

That "top Justice Department official" was Comey, according to those officials -- who evidently were not even named at birth:

The concerns prompted two of President Bush's most senior aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general - to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.

The unusual meeting was prompted because Mr. Ashcroft's top deputy, James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in his absence, had indicated he was unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects of the program, as required under the White House procedures set up to oversee it.

But let's take a deep breath and ask what this really means. First, it's pretty clear that Comey is just not comfortable with 9/11 thinking. Reading his farewell address (he left in August 2005, probably because Alberto Gonzales, not James Comey, had been named attorney general to replace John Ashcroft), it's very clear that Comey is a "9/10 guy."

He describes the various duties of the Department of Justice, mentioning every sort of crime they investigate and task they're responsible for... but he only brings up terrorism twice: once en passant, the other time merely to commiserate with the victims of 9/11. He never says even a single word about the Justice Department's role in the actual war against terrorism. My sense is that he doesn't see it as a war but just one more law-enforcement operation, like investigating bank robbers and Social-Security defrauders.

Feeling the pain of victims is nice, and I'm glad there are nice people at Justice; but it has nothing to do with combatting terrorism... and that is what the NSA program is designed to do. I'm really not surprised that such a nice guy as Mr. Comey was uncomfortable with it.

But much more important is the part that the Times just glosses over in a glib three paragraphs. I suppose the writers might just have missed it... but considering that one of them is Eric Lichtblau, who has had his paw prints on nearly every anti-Bush story to burst out of the paper recently, I have a bit of a hard time believing the "coincidence" excuse. Again.

What was the president's response to the concerns of Comey? He sought the blessings of Comey's boss, Attorney General Ashcroft. And regardless of the outcome of that hospital conversation -- which even the Times admits its informants don't know -- Bush suspended the controversial parts of the NSA program for "several months" to reexamine it:

What is known is that in early 2004, about the time of the hospital visit, the White House suspended parts of the program for several months and moved ahead with more stringent requirements on the security agency on how the program was used, in part to guard against abuses....

The audit examined a selection of cases to see how the security agency was running the program. Among other things, it looked at how agency officials went about determining that they had probable cause to believe that people in the United States, including American citizens, had sufficient ties to Al Qaeda to justify eavesdropping on their phone calls and e-mail messages without a court warrant. That review is not known to have found any instances of abuses.

After noting this, Messrs. Lichtblau and Risen immediately return to the central theme of all of the stories about the NSA intercepts: that it was a "warrantless domestic eavesdropping program." (Say, Bush is just like Nixon, and the Iraq War is just like Vietnam! Do we detect a nostalgic pattern here?)

Initially, it was focused on communications into and out of Afghanistan, including calls between Afghanistan and the United States, people familiar with the operation said. But the program quickly expanded.

As in previous stories, the Times fails to disclose exactly how it "expanded"... to what? Intercepting purely domestic phone calls from one American citizen to another? From one citizen to the local Pizza Hut? White House plumbers planting hidden microphones in DNC headquarters? That appears to be the conclusion they want readers to draw, but they've never actually specified what they mean, beyond the already-reported fact that by tapping some terrorist's cell phone, the NSA occasionally picks up a conversation between two U.S. persons within the United States.

As yet, I do not recall "America's newspaper of record" coughing up a single physical person whose rights have been abused. One would expect that if this program were as indiscriminate as the Times would have us believe, they should be able to produce victims by the sackful.

Thus, yet again we're left with a vaguely disquieted feeling, some nervous anxiety, an increased fretting about Big Brother watching us -- but without the Times' fingerprints being found on any actual, specific claims of abuse that can be verified by anyone... even by Sen. Arlen Specter's upcoming inquisition. The New York Times may not be able to define "warrantless domestic eavesdropping," but they sure know it when they manufacture it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 1, 2006, at the time of 7:01 PM

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The following hissed in response by: gphot

perhaps the esteemed gray lady needs the necessary documentation for those unfortunate victims - i would be very happy to provide authentic...

The above hissed in response by: gphot [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 1, 2006 9:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Thanks for the information on Comey. I knew something smelled funny. I've linked from Jihadis and Wiretaps and Moonbats! Oh, My! -- Part 6.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 1, 2006 9:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill M

Another exercise in the obvious from the Grey Lady. Expecting us to get all worked up over the system working as it was supposed to. Think about it. Ashcroft is laid-up and the #2 guy doesn't want to sign off on something. They kick it to Ashcroft and he also declines (apparently). The program is suspended for several months while the process is worked over, and then it gets an up-check to go forward.

Where's the beef? Sounds like the system worked like it was supposed to. Jeez, sounds like the MSM will throw just about anything up against the wall, hoping it will stick!

Truly pathetic.

The above hissed in response by: Bill M [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 1, 2006 10:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

Some, in Justice, probably don't want all that secret (hard to explain, hard to lay all the cards on the table) terror-fighting stuff to interfere with good public relations for the agency. First things first, you know.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 1, 2006 10:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Whilst watching the movie "Kinsey" and typing this, right after sending an email to PowerLine's John H. Hinderaker, humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit me realizes that my worst hypothetical nightmare predictions were correct...America needs to be pruned, and will be if it expects to survive beyond some 3rd world status in the future.

Reaching For the Scars Media Madness , Terrorism Intelligence Hatched by Dafydd

"There you go again."

Basically, and from a quote to my email to John, the President:

can order heads to be hacked off on Worldwide TV if he chooses to warn others about Attacking the Constitution of the United States...simple as that.

The Founders placed the following into the Constitution of the United States:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

From Article. II Section. 1 of the Constitution of the United States...

Bill Clinton is and was a "Beta" male, at best, and Saddam spotted it "right off the bat". That makes Saddam at least a stronger "Beta" male than Bill Clinton. W is a "Alpha" Male, and both Saddam and Bill know it.


America needs to be pruned. - KårmiÇømmünîs†

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 2, 2006 6:11 PM

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