January 19, 2007
How DARE They!
The New York Times seems positively affronted that President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales were able to work out an agreement, anent the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program, between the administration's need for speed and flexibility and the FISA court's (FISC's) desire to give some level of judicial oversight to the intercepts. I might go so far as to say the Times is downright testy:
In a four-paragraph letter on Wednesday announcing that the Bush administration had reversed its position and would submit its domestic surveillance program to judicial supervision, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales used one phrase three times. A secret court, he said, had fashioned a way to allow the program to be monitored by the judiciary without compromising the need for “speed and agility.”
That phrase also captures, some critics say, the administration’s moving-target litigation strategy, one that often seeks to change the terms of the debate just as a claim of executive authority is about to be tested in the courts or in Congress.
I picture my eight year old sister, when I would come home late, pointing an accusatory finger and yowling "I'm telling!"
There is no evidence as yet that the administration plans to drop its appeal of the appalling ruling by District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, in ACLU v. NSA, that the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program was "unconstitutional" and violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); in fact, the Times sidesteps the question entirely:
The announcement about the surveillance program came two weeks before a federal appeals court in Cincinnati was to hear the first appellate argument about the lawfulness of the program. Government lawyers now say that case is moot, but their claim is open to question.
Which "government lawyers" are those? Who said it was moot? It wasn't Alberto Gonzales. The Times wants us to believe that the Bush administration is just running from a potentially adverse decision... but the only "evidence" the paper offers is its own vague and unsupported word.
And let's not forget the underlying point here: the administration was "going it alone," but now they've found a way to compromise with the Judiciary and work in conjunction with the FISC. And the Democrats at the New York Times are pitching a tantrum.
Let me try to explain, by way of a simple analogy, why the New York Times is full of ammonium nitrate...
Imagine you own two adjoining buildings separated by a fence. The fence has a gate, but the gate is kept padlocked for "security reasons."
You frequently have to move items from one of your buildings to the other. But each time you get to the locked gate, the doddering ancient who mans it is away somewhere. You scream and you pound and you scout around trying to find him, but it generally takes a half-hour before he can be located (usually sound asleep and unable to hear you through his deafness).
This is intolerable; he works for a gatekeeping company, not directly for you, so you cannot simply fire him. You start negotiating with that company to see if something can be done.
But as you're hunting around for the gatekeeper one day, you notice the fence itself has a wide hole in it. So from then on, whenever you cannot rouse the gatekeeper, and the cargo you're moving is fairly small, you just duck through the hole in the fence. Sometimes, when you're moving something big, you have no choice but to use the gate; but you avoid it whenever you can.
A group of busy-bodies who live nearby invariably yell at you for not using the gate; but they have nothing to do with your business and no idea how absurd it is to stand there waiting so long for the tardy gatekeeper. You tell them that you own both buildings, you have the legal right to cut through the fence; they argue that you don't own the fence itself, and besides, it sets a bad example. Your employees espouse your cause: there is no other way to get through the fence quickly enough.
But at last, after several years of negotiations with the company that supplies gatekeepers, you manage to get the ol' poop fired; instead, they hire an eager, young lad who stays right there at the gate and is always quick to let you through. "Great!" says you; "I no longer need to wriggle through the hole in the fence. I can just pass through the gate, like a normal human."
(Of course, you always bear in mind that, if they ever switch back to the eldrich horror that used to man the gate -- you can always go back to using the hole, until they come to their senses.)
But as soon as the busy-bodies notice you using the gate, they loudly proclaim, "aha, you've reversed your position, and you will now submit to the authority of the gatekeeper. You have admitted that not even you believed your previous argument that you were legally entitled to use the hole in the fence between your two properties. You've admitted you were lying all the time!"
And then some of your employees start grumbling: "You said we had the right to use the hole -- but now you admit that you were lying all that time. You betrayed us! You made us look like fools!
We leave it to the alert reader to decide who is represented by each group.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2007, at the time of 11:08 PM
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The following hissed in response by: Terrye
I honest to God do not know what the big deal is here. I think part of the problem with the right is that people like Greenwald are taunting them and that pisses them off. But this is not a game, it is not a competition, it is national security and it sounds to me like a problem has been solved and people should just accept that and move on.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at January 20, 2007 3:49 AM
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
AJ has an interesting post on this too. Here is a little of it:
The notorious Glenn Greenwald, who will jump to a misconclusion like a penguin takes to cold water, is finally realizing that all his celebrations regarding the NSA terrorist surveillance program were all for naught:
Maybe Bush didn’t back down on wiretaps
Stop celebrating — it’s not yet clear whether the administration really intends to start obeying the law.
By Glenn Greenwald
But why might the president have agreed to cease violating the law? Last fall, a federal judge ruled that he had violated both the Constitution and criminal law, and an appellate court was about to hold arguments about that decision. And his loyal servants no longer control Congress. Clearly, a desire to avert a now inevitable confrontation with the courts and Congress over the lawless eavesdropping motivated the decision to abide by the law. Other than a rank fear of consequences, there is simply is no coherent explanation for the Bush administration’s sudden abandonment of an illegal program that it had emphatically insisted was central to the “war on terror.”
It’s like a baby when they first actually become concious of their surroundings. Too funny. But there is more reality that is slapping Glenn upside the head which he cannot ignore:
Has a general warrant been issued approving of the program itself? Have so-called anticipatory warrants been issued by the court to allow the administration in advance to eavesdrop whenever specifically defined circumstances arise?
Glenn has always struggled to understand the simplest aspects of the NSA-FISA issue. It is surprising he has started see a glimmer of reality. He is a product of media-fed knowledge. He knows nothing outside what the NY Times tells him. His is an intellect under the total control of others. Sort of sad really.
I can't believe that Ed Morrisey let Glenn Greenwald get to him.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at January 20, 2007 4:36 AM
The following hissed in response by: PC14
Ah, the gate story was excellent. I know some left wingers who might even understand it.
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